Stewie Griffin's Quantum Algorithm
In the Family Guy episode "Back to the Pilot" the characters Stewie and Brian go back in time to the pilot episode for the important reason of...finding where Brian buried a tennis ball back in 1999. O.K. I would say that that was a waste of uranium but in "Back to the Pilot" Stewie reveals that he converted the power source of the time machine's return pad from uranium to D cell batteries so I guess that's better.
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Against Stewie's wishes and unbeknownst to Stewie; Brian talks to himself in the past and Brian warns himself about the 9/11 attacks of 2001. Brian and Stewie return to their present time to find that the past Brian got on one of the 9/11 attack planes and stopped the 9/11 attacks. Lois specifically mentions the planes didn't hit the World Trade Center. I am not sure exactly how that works since Brian was on only one plane so what happened to the other plane? Does nobody care about the Pentagon or the ending of the movie Flight 93? Brian talks to himself in the past off-screen so the only part of the plan that is known is that past Brian made sure a fellow passenger videotaped Brian stopping the terrorists as he uses prepared catchphrases like an anachronistic, "I guess Mohamed Atta stayed home!".
Stewie proves that Brian's consequences for changing the past would only end up badly by taking Brian five years into the future. After seeing a future dystopian Quahog and an alternate present in which Brian wrote the Harry Potter books both Stewie and Brian go back to prevent Brian from altering the future yet again.
As they are about to warn their past counterparts many alternate time versions of Brian and Stewie (and one future Peter Griffin) appear giving alternate warnings of preventing and not preventing 9/11. There is probably a proper name I am not aware of for this time travel paradox of multiple versions showing up. I know that in the Murdoch Mysteries episode "Twentieth Century Murdoch" Dr. Ogden mentions that theoretically one can use time travel to populate a city with oneself so this idea seems to be as common a time travel paradox as the bootstrap paradox or the grandfather paradox.
In order to resolve whether or not 9/11 should happen a vote is taken on whether to prevent 9/11. 42 votes are for preventing 9/11 and 57 votes are for allowing 9/11 to take place. Brian asks aloud why the total number is odd because it should be even. One of the Stewies in the crowd responds that one of the Brians landed in the past with his throat slit. However, I am not sure that is the reason. Peter voted for both options and Stewie appeared to count both of Peter's votes so one of Peter's votes should have canceled out the dead Brian's n0n-vote so in my head canon the total number of votes was even but Stewie miscounted.
It really doesn't matter though whether Stewie miscounted or not. The neat thing I take away from this episode is the clever way it was solved like a quantum algorithm. All things being equal the vote should have been more like 58 to 58. However, not all alternate futures are equal and each pair can only see one alternate timeline at a time. Some future timelines are deadly enough to kill off Stewie and Brian before they have a chance to warn their past counterparts. Even if we don't know whether or not Peter's two votes were counted or not (call that the outlier) enough samples of the future were taken with alternate versions of Brian and Stewie to show that it is mathematically better to let 9/11 happen rather than preventing it. Each alternate version of Brian and Stewie acted like a qubit working together to resolve a problem.
Or maybe I am overthinking a cartoon with an anthropomorphic dog. I tend to do that sometimes.
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