The hazard of traveling through time attempting to preserve history in “Timeless” is the many opportunities to mess up. The show’s protagonists, Lucy (Abigail Spencer), Rufus (Malcolm Barrett) and Wyatt (Matt Lanter), are always one step behind villain Garcia Flynn (Goran Višnjić) as he gallivants across American history. And even when they're successful in stopping his plans, they have a tendency to alter history as we know it in some fundamental ways.
Here is every single change “Timeless” has made to the history of America, in order from most mundane to most widespread.
21. A nuke goes missing but no one cares Flynn heads to Las Vegas in an attempt to steal a nuclear weapon. The Time Team worries he's going to set it off (or later give it to the Nazis), but Flynn just uses it to power his time machine. Apparently the U.S. misplacing a nuclear warhead in the 1960s had no lasting repercussions.
20. Hedy Lamarr gets some credit
Actress Hedy Lamarr wasn't just beautiful and talented, she was also a brainiac inventor. That's not quite common knowledge in our timeline, but Rufus tipped Hedy off before leaving 1940s Hollywood about filing her a patent on her invention of a radio guidance system for torpedoes. The U.S. government winds up using it, making her a ton of money, but more importantly, getting her recognition for her efforts that she sorely deserved.
19. Charles Lindbergh’s transatlantic flight crashes In 1920s Paris, Flynn shoots down the Spirit of St. Louis just miles before Lindbergh is set to land in Paris and complete the first solo transatlantic flight in history. Nothing much changes, though -- Lindbergh's fame is delayed by a few weeks after the crash, but he still shows up to claim his fame and fortune. And he still becomes a vocal Nazi sympathizer, despite Lucy's best efforts to convince him Nazis are not so good.
18. Al Capone never goes to prison With a careful bit of evidence destruction, Flynn prevents Eliot Ness and the Untouchables from making their tax evasion case against Capone. Ness winds up murdered more than 20 years too early. Still, the Time Team still manages to bring down Capone without much additional bloodshed, so not much goes differently. That Kevin Costner/Sean Connery movie is presumably a little different, though.
17. Lucy gets a random fiancé The changes in Lucy's life are pretty widespread when she gets home from the first mission. She loses a sister but gains a fiancé she's never met. It's mostly just awkward, and then Lucy doesn't talk to him for the rest of the season. Until, that is, he's expedient for plot purposes in the finale.
16. Flynn saves his half-brother from bees Flynn and pals attempted to sabotage the Apollo 11 moon landing from Mission Control, but were stopped along the way by the Time Team. In the meantime, Flynn slipped off, found his own mother, and saved his half-brother he'd never met from dying of anaphylactic shock as a child. This one doesn't have many ripples, but it does show that Flynn is sometimes a good dude.
15. Wyatt's wife Jessica wasn't killed
The big trauma in Wyatt's life is that he had a fight with his wife, Jessica, and let her get out of their car on the side of the road. That was the last time he ever saw her -- until a random change to the timeline brought her back. Wyatt's been trying to make the marriage work despite almost starting a relationship with Lucy, so Jessica's arrival has had a big impact on the time team, at least.
14. Someone else records Robert Johnson's album
Rittenhouse did their best to put a stop to the creation of rock and roll by killing blues musician Robert Johnson. The Time Team saved him, but not his producer, leading billionaire industrialist and Johnson superfan Connor Mason to record the historic album instead.
13. Alice Paul dies before her big speech
Alice Paul was a key figure in the Women's Suffrage movement, but Rittenhouse managed to assassinate her. With Lucy's help, Grace Humiston stepped into the suffragette role and managed to get the attention of President Woodrow Wilson to support the 19th Amendment. History survived Paul's death without much changing.
12. Bonnie and Clyde die at a cabin and not in their car After accidentally interfering with a Barrow Gang bank robbery, Lucy and Wyatt hang out with Bonnie and Clyde for a bit. The time traveler interference changes how the pair meet their grisly end, with a posse of police descending on them in their cabin, rather than ambushing them on the road. The change robbed Whiskey Pete's Casino in Nevada of the famous bullet-riddled car the bandits originally died in.
11. Lucy rewrites Texas history Flynn rewrites history by killing Lt. Col. William Travis at the Alamo before he can complete his famous letter. Lucy takes up the task of penning a document key to Texas history and, basically, makes it up as she goes along. Everyone, including Davy Crockett and James Bowie, still dies at the Alamo and Texas is still a thing, so the overall effect is minimal.
10. John Wilkes Booth isn’t the Lincoln assassin Flynn attempts to help John Wilkes Booth be even more successful in assassinating Abraham Lincoln, adding Army General Ulysses S. Grant, Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward. The Time Team stops the additional murders, and Flynn only succeeds in being the guy who offs Lincoln instead of Booth.
9. Benedict Arnold dies in America With the Time Team helping, Flynn grabs Benedict Arnold, a founding member of the evil Rittenhouse organization, and uses him to try to assassinate the other founders. Arnold gets shot and dies, getting some traitor comeuppance. In our history, Arnold betrayed George Washington and then escaped to England to live happily ever after, dying roughly two decades later.
8. Jesse James murders people for a couple more days Flynn returns to the Old West and interferes with Jesse James' assassination. He recruits James as a guide, and in the process they add a few more folks to James' body count. James still buys it with a bullet in the back, but his historical assassin, Robert Ford, never goes on to become "the coward Robert Ford," because he winds up dead, too.
7. The Hindenburg removes Lucy’s sister from existence After messing around at the Hindenburg disaster in 1937 and saving all its victims, Lucy returns home to find the show's most meaningful time travel ripple: her cancer-suffering mother is now healthy, and her previously alive sister was never born. This one is personally devastating for Lucy and, what's worse, nobody knows how it happened or how to fix it.
6. John F. Kennedy doesn't die in Dallas
After a Rittenhouse assassination attempt, a young John F. Kennedy wound up transported to the present by the Time Team. He got loose, did some partying, and discovered he was essential to American history. Rufus warned Kennedy about his assassination in Dallas 1963, but it only added a small amount of time to his life -- instead, he was assassinated in Austin. Nothing else changes, though.
5. The Time Team stops H. H. Holmes America's first serial killer, H. H. Holmes, created an elaborate hotel that later was dubbed the "murder castle." Holmes would kill people in the building throughout the World's Columbian Exposition in 1893 (and before and after), but Wyatt shot and killed him three years before he would otherwise have been captured and hanged.
4. Wyatt erases a serial killer Stealing the time machine, Wyatt and Rufus travel back to 1983 to prevent the meeting of the parents of the man who supposedly would one day kill Wyatt's wife. The plan is to just prevent the future parents from hooking up, but Wyatt ends up causing the father's accidental death. It's still a success, since two of the killer's victims are still alive in 2017 -- just not Wyatt's wife.
3. The Hindenburg doesn’t explode (until later) The infamous disaster ("Oh, the humanity!") doesn't happen when the Hindenburg arrives in New York. Flynn intervenes, altering the series of freak accidents that causes a spark to ignite the airship's huge hydrogen balloon. The upshot is the Time Team manages to save just about everyone who otherwise would have died in the disaster.
2. The team creates a new James Bond movie In World War II, the Time Team hooks up with Sir Ian Fleming while he's an undercover spy. Claiming to be CIA operatives, they try to stop Flynn. Fleming uses the inspiration for a Bond novel that never existed in our timeline, called "Weapons of Choice." Time travel creates a new Bond movie, which rules.
1. The Salem Witch Trials never happened
The Time Team chased Rittenhouse to Salem to keep them from adding Ben Franklin's mother Abiah to the list of victims of the infamous Witch Trials. That would have messed up the early years of the United States, so the Time Team wound up putting a stop to the Salem Witch Trials and saving all its victims, erasing one of America's darkest moments from its history.