In the Yesterday Movie, a miracle somehow consigns the Beatles to oblivion. But it also produces several other changes that are mentioned in the movie without much explanation. Cigarette smoking seems to have been forgotten, and Coca Cola, and here and there a few other things. Several musical groups that existed in fact are noted in the movie for their non-existence.

  • My take on all of this was that other changes resulted from the disappearance of the Beatles.
  • But my son, who saw the movie with me, thought that at least some of these changes were independent and not results of the Beatles' disappearance.

Neither alternative seems perfectly sensible to me.

Why did they made those changes in the story?


I just re-read this post (with comments and answers) long after the original post, and I'm struck with a perverse urge to clarify.

It seems to me that the Beatles' disappearance was a miracle to benefit Jack, a struggling musician who is thinking of quitting music. This theory is what makes the movie emotionally satisfying: he needed a miracle, and he got one, "and in the end" he showed that the Beatles influenced him not just win wealth and fame (to his advantage) but also to tell the truth (at least seemingly to his disadvantage). And of course it also suggests something about the merit of the Beatles' songs that is very gratifying to their fans today.

So while the film-makers may have said that they're not interested in the mechanics of how an event could un-happen, I'm still interested in how these other changes make sense within the fantastic theory. It can't be that the film-makers intended to pose only the question of whether the Beatles' music would be popular under the circumstances of the film (introduced at a late date, performed thus, etc); if that were the only interest, there would be no relevance to the long introduction about Jack's struggles to make it as a musician and about how much it would mean to him.

  • There are several forum discussions on the Beatles smoking habits, so it's plausible in the universe of the movie that their absence influenced that. Perhaps it was all for building up the 'strangeness' of several things missing in that universe.
    – Luciano
    Commented Jul 24, 2019 at 13:44
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    this is an interesting question, why some of those things were missing, but IMO the part What were all of the changes may put this question off-topic. I edited the question little bit without it, if you're not happy with it, please do a rollback.
    – Vishwa
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 3:57
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    When I saw the movie, it just seemed to me that a handful of things disappeared from the world. I didn't ever think they were related. I'd be curious why they "don't make sense". (And for the record, the course of pop music was so affected by The Beatles' music that removing them from history would have drastically altered pop music as the main characters know it.) Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 15:30
  • @BrettFromLA They're voting to close, and I don't know if I'll make matters better or worse by commenting. But "no Beatles therefore no Coca Cola" doesn't make sense to me. Why should the absence of Beatles cause an absence of Coca Cola? But if the miracle was performed to make Jack a star (after he said that miracle would be the only way etc) then why would a bunch of irrelevant miracles also occur? From your comment it sounds like you think that the answer is "for no reason," that changes just happen at random. I would see that as not perfectly sensible.
    – Chaim
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 16:31
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    @Chaim I noticed the answer that BCdotWEB added. He says that the screenwriter (Richard Curtis) never bothered to come up with a reason. Maybe he just peppered the absences throughout the movie as jokes, without thinking of the ramifications? I agree that it's not very sensible. But it seems that it's still the answer. Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 17:25

7 Answers 7


The changes likely happened because they were fodder for "fish out of water" jokes, e.g. Jack asking for a "Coke".

The movie's writer Richard Curtis has said that he isn't interested in the mechanics of how the blackout worked:

But we never find out why a blackout causes the world to forget about the Beatles or why Jack remembers them.

It didn’t matter for the film’s primary screenwriter, Richard Curtis. Where many films go out of their way to justify elaborate or quirky premises, Curtis opted to focus only on the existential questions the story posed: How would the Beatles fare if they debuted in 2019? Are performances as important as compositions? And what about the ethics of claiming ownership of music that isn’t yours? Is it stealing if the band didn’t exist to begin with?

  • So your answer is that there's really no explanation whether Coke disappears BECAUSE the Beatles disappeared, or whether it's an independent change.
    – Chaim
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 14:51
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    @Chaim If the screenwriter doesn't know, then nobody knows! Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 15:31
  • I read your linked article until I was told I could not proceed in Private Mode. The author seemed not to know that the miracle occurred to allow a mediocre musician to become a giant. His real mediocrity showed that his celebrity was entirely a tribute to the greatness of Beatles music. And the story arc is that in the end Jack told the truth, inspired by the lesson of truth-promoter John Lennon. So both his rise to celebrity and his fall therefrom are tributes to the greatness of the Beatles.
    – Chaim
    Commented Jul 25, 2019 at 16:39

The one thing everyone's missing in their answers is that "creepy hippie couple", who turn out to be huge Beatles fans. So, not everyone has had The Beatles wiped from their minds. I do believe the other disappearances were random and a good set-up for jokes and to make the audience know this wasn't the "world" they live in.

I also found the interaction with John Lennon to be extremely poignant. How the price of fame can greatly exceed the benefit of fame.


Since the movie is based on magical realism (in a nutshell: magic that cannot be explained), there doesn't have to be an explanation for anything. However, I think there has to be some logical reason the writer(s) zapped certain things from the new timeline.

It is possible the reason Coke disappeared had nothing to do with the Beatles, and everything to do with Oasis. "Oasis were sued by Coca-Cola and forced to pay $500,000 in damages to the New Seekers after it was alleged that the Oasis song "Shakermaker" had lifted words and melody from "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing". When asked about the incident, Noel Gallagher joked "Now we all drink Pepsi." if you follow the logic (illogical?) of magic realism, Oasis, who was inspired by the Beatles, would not have existed if the Beatles did not exist, then perhaps Coke didn't exist because Oasis drank Pepsi after the lawsuit.

It's a stretch, but you could possibly explain the non-existent of cigarettes because of the Beatles. At one time, all four of them smoked. No Beatles, no cigarettes.

Like I said, it's a stretch. The only thing I cannot come up with is even a guesstimate on why Harry Potter no longer existed, but I don't it was random. Just my two cents worth.


"other changes resulted from the disappearance of the Beatles"

Coca-Cola® has been around since 1886. We can be sure that its existence doesn't depend in any way on anything the Beatles did or did not do.

If these weren't independent changes (Mandela Effect - Wikipedia), and the loss of Coke® is the oldest change referred to in the film, then perhaps that's what affected everything else.

[ADDENDUM - Coke was not the oldest change. The lack of cigarettes was the oldest. Cigarettes date back to at least the 17th century.]

  • Even if Coca-Cola has existed continuously since 1886 or 1888, it wasn't guaranteed to be known as Coke, (the company tried to fight the short name until 1945) or to be as popular as it is now. If smoking is less popular, other unhealthy habits might be as well.
    – arp
    Commented Apr 22 at 5:33

The Blackout created a Butterfly Effect

In chaos theory, the butterfly effect is the sensitive dependence on initial conditions in which a small change in one state of a deterministic nonlinear system can result in large differences in a later state.

As time-travel movies have explored in detail, small changes can have unexpected consequences if allowed to play out over time in a complex system.

I am not insisting that the Blackout must be a time-travel effect - it may instead be a form of collective amnesia. But the alternate world post-Blackout must be internally consistent, and for that to hold there will be some unexpected side-effects of whatever the basic change was.


My interpretation is that this is a world where people choose love over fame. I think it’s summed up when he asks John Lennon if he’s been successful. John replies ‘I’ve been happy, so yes, that means successful’. Cigarettes choose image and limited feeing over health. I know many people that drink multiple Cokes a day, and they market and pry so much to be the best cola. Saturday Night Live puts celebrities and a night watching TV alone above a free weekend evening. Yes, Harry Potter inspired so many kids to read more, but it’s really an average magical story that just blew up with a fan base and was stretched into movies, spin-offs, and plays instead of taking that effort to make new art. What if people cared more a out producing original art than money. Because, in reality, John Lennon was shot. His glory didn’t bring him 78 years of happiness.

They focus on Ed Sheeran, who really seems like a genuine artists who wants to spend an after party writing a new song and sharing it just for the curiosity of making music. They mention Lady Gaga who I’ve always heard stories of how humble she is.


I believe that the reason Coca Cola doesn't exist is because they weren't going to use the song come together in the movie which mentions Coca Cola so they thought why not take the entire brand out of the movie and makes jokes about it.

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    Do you have any credible sources to back this up?
    – A J
    Commented Aug 3, 2020 at 2:03
  • No that's why I said I believe that's the reason. I dont know for sure. But let's face it come together is one of their most popular songs. Had they used that song it wouldn't make sense for coca cola to not exist in that universe. Commented Aug 4, 2020 at 3:03

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