Popularity is a fickle thing. Anything and anyone can become famous for almost any reason. It’s very unpredictable and hard to orchestrate or control. What makes a new kind of cereal popular? Or a particular song? If anyone knew the exact recipe, nothing would ever be unpopular. That said, sometimes things are really not trying to become popular, but it happens anyway.
10. BMI Was Devised as a Statistics Tool for Calculating the Perfect Man
Obesity is a weighty problem in the world and in 2016, it was estimated almost two billion people were obese. That has inspired a lot of people on the flip side of things to really take their health to heart and worry about their weight. And people on both sides tend to be concerned with their BMI, or body-mass index. Your body mass index is a ratio that compares your weight to your height to determine what a person’s ideal weight should be.It’s a standard measure used by many healthcare professionals, including doctors and dieticians.
BMI was invented by a statistician and mathematician named Lambert Adolphe Jacques Quetelet in the 1930s. Known then as the Quetelet Index, the purpose of the ratio was not to help any random person find their ideal weight, it was just to determine the perfectly average man.
Quetelet believed math could explain pretty much everything in the world. And he believed he could use math to figure out what the average man should look like. But the thing was, the “average” man in Quetelet’s mind was based on everything being ideal. So average actually meant perfect. There was no medical professional involved in coming up with the index and it had no room for any of the myriad differences that exist from one individual to the next, instead applying a blanket figure to pigeonhole all people. And, of course, Quetelet never intended for it to be applied the way it was used, anyway.
9. Slash’s Top Hat Was Something he Stole on a Whim
Having a signature look is not something everyone can pull off. There are remarkably few people in the world who have a specific “thing” which is a physical calling card. You could consider the beards of the guys in ZZ Top or the makeup of the guys in KISS to fit this bill. And, keeping with the musical theme, there’s Slash, one of the most famous guitar players in the world known for years by his trademark top hat.
For decades, Slash, also known by his real name of Saul Hudson, was identified by a head of curly black hair under a black top hat. Turns out he never intended for that to be his go-to look at all. In fact, the hat wasn’t even his, technically speaking. He stole it.
Back in 1985, Slash saw the hat in a store and felt it would work for his look. He liked wearing hats, and it “spoke to him” as he once told Conan O’Brien. So he took it, wore it, and the rest is history.
8. PlayStation was Just Meant to Be an Optical Drive for Nintendo
Sony sold 116 million PS4 units by July 2021. PS2 was the best-selling console ever, with nearly 158 million units sold. PS3 had nearly 87 million and the original PlayStation sold just over 104 million. Clearly Sony has done well. And to think, the PlayStation was never even conceived as its own device.
Back in the day, Sony was designing what would become the PlayStation as an accessory for Nintendo. Nintendo and Sony had struck a deal for Sony to make an optical drive add-on so Nintendo gamers could play CD based games. And then, out of nowhere, Nintendo pulled a double cross. They were supposed to announce the partnership at the Consumer Electronics Show. But Nintendo instead announced they were working with Phillips N.V. instead of Sony. No one at Sony knew what was happening. The public announcement was the first they’d heard of it.
Turns out Nintendo was mad that the contract allowed Sony to make and sell their own games. So without talking to Sony, they ignored their deal and made a new one. Sony would go on to make the most popular gaming console ever. Nintendo’s N64 was a failure by comparison.
7. The Term “Alpha Male” Was Never Meant to Mean Bully
The term alpha male is a much maligned term that brings to mind very distinct images. Most people would recognize the term “alpha male” to mean at best a man who is aggressive and powerful and dominant or at worst someone who exhibits what is generally known as toxic masculinity. Neither one of these necessarily cuts to the heart of what the term is supposed to mean, though there is definitely some overlap.
The term “alpha male” is born from biology and, in specific, research into animals. Many animal societies live communally where one male seems to have a dominant or alpha role. This has been reduced, poorly, to the idea that an alpha male is the biggest, strongest male who takes charge and destroys any dissent. That’s not so.
Primatologist Frans de Waal, who helped popularize the term alpha male, explains what an alpha male truly is based on his years of research. To cut to the chase, an alpha male needs to be generous, empathetic and able to keep the peace. They are loved and respected, but not feared and hated. De Waal clearly states that being a bully is not at all what an alpha male is and that this is just a superficial understanding of the term.
6. Wolverine was Never Intended to be a Mutant or an X-Men Member
Wolverine is hands down one of the most famous comic book characters in the world and he’s not even in the MCU or DCEU, so that’s a feat. Thanks to numerous film appearances played by Hugh Jackman, Wolverine became a beloved character and the most famous of the X-Men. But it wasn’t always in the cards for the scrappy little Canadian. When he was first introduced, he was just a bit player in The Incredible Hulk, and not even a mutant.
Wolverine’s co-creator Roy Thomas has said that he pictured Wolverine as a hero and… that was it. No mutant, no X-Men, just a guy with claws in the Canadian wilderness. He told artist Len Wein that he was Canadian, his name was Wolverine, and he was short because a wolverine is a small animal. And based on that, the legend of one of Marvel’s biggest characters began.
When Marvel decided to retool the X-Men in 1975 to reinvigorate the floundering series for an international audience, they chose an international cast of mutants and everyone’s favorite Canadian made the roster.
5. The President’s Speech in Independence Day Was Just a Placeholder
Towards the end of the movie Independence Day, Bill Pullman’s President Whitmore gives a rousing speech about the world uniting against aliens. It’s been cited as one of the greatest speeches in film history on many different websites. Despite the widespread acclaim for this motivational and patriotic speech, it was never intended to be a powerful bit or oration as no effort whatsoever went into writing it.
Co-writer Dean Devlin wrote the whole speech in five minutes with no intention of even using it in the movie. According to him, he wanted to “vomit out something really fast” and then go back and fix it later. But the movie was under a time crunch to get finished and he and his co-writer forgot to replace the lazy speech. So what he figured was garbage ended up in the film,and everyone seemed to like it. It became so iconic even the real White House has used it.
4. Transporters on Star Trek Were Just a Cost-Cutting Tool
It’s hard to imagine the Star Trek franchise without transporter technology. Transporters, in the lore of the show, basically turn the matter of a thing into energy to transport it to a distant place in an instant. It’s been a staple of the show since the first series in the 1960s and perhaps the most famous example of cool sci-fi tech the show was known for. It was also never really intended as part of the show at all.
The original series had a fairly low budget and if the crew of the Enterprise wanted to visit a new planet, they’d have to take a shuttle every time. That meant using models and sets simply for scene transitions, which would cost money they couldn’t spare. So the writers invented the transporter as a way to save money and cut corners. They added in some made up limitations to the technology so it couldn’t be a miracle tool to solve problems and it went on to become central to numerous plots even to this day.
3. Saxophones Were Intended to be Orchestral Instruments
Who doesn’t love a saxophone? It’s jazzy and fun and works well for sexy songs as well as action scenes in movies. But it was never intended for that sort of thing at all. The history of sax in rock and jazz can be linked in part to the fact that it was originally designed to be part of an orchestra.
As you may know, if you’re into orchestral music, the devil’s horn is not present. The reason for this is that Adolphe Sax introduced the saxophone in 1841, well after any number of great symphonies had already been written. Essentially, he had missed the boat. The sax didn’t fit into orchestras because all of those big symphonies from famous composers like Bach, Mozart and Beethoven were not written with a sax in mind and recomposing them would have taken a lot of time and effort. Worse, people hated the sax when it first appeared. Opponents of Sax the man tried to sabotage him by stealing his instrument and even killing him because of the threat they felt a saxophone posed to the musical instrument injury thanks to the diverse sounds it could make.
So while the sax was pushed out of the world of classic music and symphonies, it was ripe to be picked up in jazz and then rock some years later and went on to become one of the seminal instruments of their sounds..
2. Toy Story 2 was Never Meant to be a Big Deal
The movie Toy Story pulled in $244 million, including nearly $30 million on its opening weekend in 1995. This movie is what put Pixar on the map and made them the animation powerhouse that is beloved today. A sequel was almost a forgone conclusion.
The sequel, Toy Story 2, has gone on to be Pixar’s highest rated film. But it was never intended to be that big. In fact, it was conceived as a direct-to-video sequel, one of those lower quality films that typically just appeals to hardcore fans and is considered a success if it makes a profit of any kind.
What happened instead was that the team behind the movie was really feeling like they had something great, so Disney upgraded the film to a full theatrical release. The team was forced to upgrade the movie to that standard on a strict timeline and end up producing the biggest movie they’ve ever made, born from something no one planned on being huge.
1. Goya’s Black Paintings
Francisco de Goya was a Spanish painter from the Romantic era. These days he may be most well known for what are known as his 14 Black Paintings, which are some stunning examples of horror in art form. Arguably the most famous one is Saturn Devouring His Son, a disturbing image of the god Saturn or Cronus from Greek and Roman mythology, who ate his own children to prevent them from overthrowing him when they came of age.
Despite the popularity of the painting, Goya never intended for this or any of the others to be seen. We know this because he painted them on the walls of his own home. It wasn’t until years after Goya’s death that Baron Frédéric Émile d’Erlanger bought the painter’s home and had the paintings transferred to canvas. They were displayed at a Paris exhibition where people found them decidedly objectionable. But if there’s one thing people like, it’s controversy, and the fame of the paintings only grew from there to where it is today. Goya is widely considered one of the bets paintings of the era.