Just Rankin’ Sh!t

The 5 Most Perplexing Examples of the Mandela Effect, Ranked

Grab your tinfoil hats!

2 people dressed in Berenstain Bears costumes
Photo Illustration: Save As/Medium; Source: Getty Images

5. Nelson Mandela’s premature death

Let’s just get this out of the way: The phenomenon dubbed the Mandela Effect stems from White people not knowing basic Black history. Yet rather than copping to cultural ignorance, someone created a concept based on a rift in the space-time continuum to explain it away. (Whoops! Did we say that out loud?) Anyway, there is a sect of people who believe that Nelson Mandela died in the ’80s while he was incarcerated. We might even understand the mistake — if he hadn’t been instrumental in toppling South Africa’s apartheid and becoming the country’s first president in 1994, before dying 19 whole years later.

4. Ed McMahon making house visits

Remember those videos of Ed McMahon pulling up on people’s doorsteps and handing them big-ass checks for Publisher’s Clearing House? Yeah, that never happened. Instead, Johnny Carson’s old sidekick actually worked briefly for a magazine marketing company called American Family Publishers, which only paid out its own employees via what we’d assume were regular-ass checks.

3. Sinbad playing a genie

A few years ago, Reddit blew up with the belief that Sinbad had once upon a time played in a movie as a genie named Shazam. Legions of people recalled this film that never happened; maybe they were thinking of Shaquille O’Neal, who had starred as a genie in the 1996 film Kazaam. Either that or Sinbad’s film was so bad that someone rubbed on a lamp and wished it out of existence.

2. The JFK assassination

For the most part, we can all agree that President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas in 1963. But for some, the details are murky — there are plenty of YouTube videos that show the car in which JFK was assassinated had varying numbers of seats, rows, and passengers. Some say it was three rows and six seats; others recall two rows and four seats. Some tally six people in the car. Whatever the case, it’s clear that the government… [loses signal].

1. ‘The Berenstein Bears’

This is the most convincing argument for the multiverse coming together to fuck with us. Since childhood, we all thought the classic children’s book series about an anthropomorphic family of bears was spelled Berenstein. We held the books in our hands and read the surname of those legendary bears: Berenstein. Turns out, it’s spelled Berenstain (like authors Stan, Jan, and Mike Berenstain). More like a Berenstain on our collective reality.

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