The Darkest Timeline
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The Darkest Timeline is a reference to the multi-verse theory which hypothesizes that there are multiple universes outside of our own in which all things are possible, and that we live in the worst possible of these universes. After the phrase was popularized by an episode of Community, it became a popular reference online to discuss confusion at current events, although it has also been used as a snowclone to express different opinions at current events (i.e. "The Best Timeline," "The Strangest Timeline," etc.).
The multi-verse theory was first posited by Erwin Schrödinger in 1952 in Dublin, Ireland, when he said his Nobel equations seemed to describe several different histories that were "not alternatives, but all really (happening) simultaneously."
On October 13th, 2011, the Community episode "Remedial Chaos Theory" aired. In the episode, the character Jeff Winger rolls a six-sided die to determine which character will pick up a pizza order. The character Abed warns Jeff, "You are now creating six different timelines." The episode then shows what happens when each character picks up the pizza in a series of vignettes. In the character Troy's vignette, Troy leaves to get the pizza and a series of incredibly unfortunate events occurs, resulting in one character getting shot and the apartment lighting on fire (shown below, left). The episode ends with Jeff picking up the pizza and things returning to normal, but during the episode's credits, we see what the group's life is like in the future after Troy picks up the pizza, which Abed coins "The Darkest Timeline" (shown below, right). The show continued to reference "The Darkest Timeline" through the remainder of its run.
After the airing of the episode, the phrase "Darkest Timeline" began seeing use by fans and soon spread into other communities. On May 12th, 2012, Thought Catalog published a post engaging with the multiverse theory in regards to a breakup, saying that the breakup was "The Darkest Timeline." On November 19th, 2012, Redditor PunsAreFun published a Pokémon ROM hack titled "New Rom Hack! Pokemon TDT (The Darkest Timeline)" in which the player plays as a Team Rocket Grunt. The user confirmed that the title was a reference to the Community episode in the ensuing thread. On December 30th, 2013, a blog for the NBA team the Brooklyn Nets published an article about their bad season titled "This Is The Darkest Timeline." On May 10th, 2014, a thread was posted to /r/OutOfTheLoop looking into the origins of the phrase's popularity online.
The Mandela Effect and The Trump Presidency
The phrase began seeing more use online in 2016 with the rise of Mandela Effect phenomenons, particularly the one relating to the spelling of Berenstain Bears. On October 18th, 2016, The Angry Video Game Nerd published a video about the Berenstain Bears Mandela Effect that gained over 2.2 million views (shown below).
Meanwhile, the phrase was used often to relate to the candidacy/presidency of Donald Trump. In late 2016, The Mary Sue posted an article comparing the Community episode to "our own" darkest timeline. Daily KOS did the same a month later. The phrase "The Darkest Timeline" is often used on Twitter to comment on recent events relating to Donald Trump, or the general surreality of the present era.
 Wikipedia – Multiverse
 Community Wikia – Darkest Timeline
 Reddit – New Rom Hack! Pokemon TDT
 Thought Catalog – Maybe In Another Universe, I Deserve You
 The Brooklyn Game – This Is The Darkest Timeline
 /r/OutOfTheLoop – "Darkest Timeline?"https://www.reddit.com/r/OutOfTheLoop/comments/2567a9/darkest_timeline/
 The Mary Sue – What Community’s “Darkest Timeline” Can Tell Us About Our Own
 Daily KOS – The Darkest Timeline
 Twitter – #search The Darkest Timeline
Jun 30, 2017 at 05:01PM EDT
Jun 30, 2017 at 06:23PM EDT
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