A mutant who sees multiple futures has predicted that the world will be invaded by aliens. Every future ends disastrously for the human race with us being wiped out. The only one in which we survive is one in which the American mob retains its power into the modern age and plays a vital role in our survival, and determines that the criminal organization is somehow the only hope of our species.

Unfortunately, the mob is on the decline. The useless degenerate John Gotti, along with the RICO statutes and other missteps, have led to the loss of much of its power. The time traveler decides to send a criminal known as Sylar back to the early 1960's where the mob in NYC was in its heyday, and gives him one single mission:

Save the mafia, save the world

Sylar arrives back in time, but is unable to divulge what he knows about the future. He ruthlessly rises to the top of the Gambino crime family and becomes the most powerful mob boss in America. He then eliminates all the people who would be instrumental in the organization's downfall (John Gotti, Rudy Guiliani, Donnie Brasco, etc). However, he realizes that killing people would be curing the symptoms of a disease rather than getting at the root of the problems. These people can simply be replaced by others in history, leading to the same situation the mob faces in the future. What can he do to ensure the secret society that the mafia has built and prepare them for the future to ensure survival?

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    $\begingroup$ What happens to the cheerleader? $\endgroup$
    – dot_Sp0T
    Sep 7, 2018 at 9:55
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    $\begingroup$ "How could the Mafia retain its power in New York into the new century?" what makes you think that it doesn't? $\endgroup$
    – Mawg
    Sep 7, 2018 at 11:48
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    $\begingroup$ @Mawg they are nowhere as powerful or as influential since the days of Paul Castellano or Frank costello. $\endgroup$
    – Incognito
    Sep 7, 2018 at 12:43
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    $\begingroup$ RICO was the game changer in the war on organized crime. $\endgroup$
    – hszmv
    Sep 7, 2018 at 14:09
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    $\begingroup$ @Mawg - It doesn't. It's no where near as strong as it used to be - especially in waste management and in trucking and labor. Does it exist? Of course. But it has a fraction of the influence it had as recently as the 1980s. $\endgroup$
    – Mayo
    Sep 7, 2018 at 17:42

5 Answers 5


Hard Drugs Never Hit the Streets

The beginning of the end for the mafia was when drugs came involved in mafia business. The mafia made a pretty tidy racket doing some rather laughably mundane things prior to the hard drug trade. One such racket was stealing tanker trucks full of gas and using them to refill mafia owned gas stations. The gas stations would sell the gasoline without having to pay the taxes or purchase the gasoline. Rackets like this would bring in anywhere from \$15,000-\$20,000 a month. That's good money, but it's not "beat somebody to death with a baseball bat and ditch their corpse in the harbor" levels of income. People usually don't start committing heinous impossible to ignore crimes like torture followed by murder and mutilation over numbers like that.

Once drugs became the mainstay of mafia income you're talking about street level goons suddenly running drug rings that are cranking out a million and a half a month. The mafia wasn't ever really comprised of sophisticated people, they were largely uneducated and their scope of reach wasn't really all that great. They tended to for the most part be dumb thugs who might rough you up but rarely killed and usually had to watch their backs because johnny law would get interested in too many corpses started turning up. Once the mafia really became too successful due to drugs is when you saw massive infighting and a lot higher level of violence on the streets. This ties in with something else as well.

The War on Drugs Never Happened

Today we simply take it for-granted that entire swathes of the city are junkie riddled virtual no-go zones. It really wasn't always the case. When honest to god hard drugs like crack and heroin started hitting the streets it hit the lowest common denominator of every city like a figurative nuke. Massive crime waves, massive social decay, it terrified people. Street level meat heads could suddenly make enough to switch out their crappy .32 autos and .38 special revolvers for Uzis and street sweeper shotguns. Guys with switch blades who would have been content to just stick you up for your wallet were suddenly hooked on crack and shooting up the corner store with 1911's and Berettas to get their money for their fix. Lawlessness had always existed on some level, but hard core drugs hitting the streets changed things pretty radically. The war on drugs was a knee jerk reaction to this wave of violence and crime that was threatening to overtake our cities.

One of the biggest death knells to the Mafia rose out of the War on Drugs. Mandatory Minimum Sentencing. Believe it or not there was a time in our history not too long ago when getting caught committing various felonies only netted you 3 to 4 years in the clink. You could get caught with a bunch of stolen goods, or illegal weapons, or hard drugs, or even murder and not actually get all that much time in prison for it. The new much harsher sentences created by Mandatory Minimum Sentencing meant that once a made man was nabbed by the cops he might be taken off the streets for decades. This really harmed to mafia's ability to maintain and pass on power. Previously getting arrested was just an inconvenience, albeit a major one. Now it was a career ending event.

What's more, when the big Dons started getting locked up by these new harsher sentences the guys who replaced them were not very smart. The real dons were replaced by street thugs in fancy suits. When you give a guy whose job qualifications are "breaks kneecaps real good" and "scares store owners into paying their protection payment without a fight" several million dollars and the reins to a few hundred guys just like him things get... messy. Once the officers and bosses got locked up and the soldiers started running things is when the crazy over the top violence and endless cycle of back stabbings happened. You can't run an organized criminal enterprise that violently and get away with it for long. Thanks to mandatory sentencing decapitating their actually qualified leadership they started killing each other over the drug money they were making like feral dogs fighting over a steak, or got arrested for multi decade long sentences.

This Means That The Police Never Militarized

Again, up until very recently in police history the cops weren't really very well armed. They didn't need to be. A .38 special K-frame revolver is more than enough to handle some punk with a switchblade or a .25 auto pocket pistol. Today, modern police are basically a military organization complete with huge budgets, machine guns, hard core organization, and nation wide data (intelligence) sharing and collecting. This largely happened in response to the crime waves sparked by hard drugs hitting our streets, which largely happened because the mafia realized they could really make a ton of money selling the hard stuff and started the first major drug smuggling operations on our shores.

More devastating to the Mafia than cops with bigger guns, was the addition of military level surveillance tools to the police's arsenal. The various espionage gadgets that police got a hold of really were nothing the mafia had ever seen before. They knew about wiretapping, but had no idea about remote surveillance like hidden cameras, bugs, worn wires etc etc. They really had no idea how to deal with it. Quite a few mafia higher ups got blindsided by the police using tools that had formerly been only available to the CIA. In addition to this, departments began connecting more and more. Moving around wasn't protection anymore since with the click of a mouse every last detail down to your fingerprints could be available to every cop in the USA. These tools introduced to the police alongside the rest of the revamp the police got as part of the war on drugs really tore through the mafia something fierce.


I think that if somehow the hard drug pandemic that swept our cities never happened and the mafia never got in on it they would till be stealing gasoline tankers and shaking down business owners for protection money. The drugs made the mafia too much money, which made them too aggressive and too high visibility, which made them rather deserving scapegoats for the pandemic levels of street violence and crime that resulted from their drug trade. No hard drugs hitting the streets, no massive crime wave, and no draconian new sentencing laws and militant police to deal with. In addition to this, the 4 decade long morality crusade of "tough on crime!!!" wouldn't have placed the mafia directly in the cross-hairs as the (mostly rightful) scapegoats for the chaos overtaking the cities. The mafia see the hard drugs coming into their neighborhoods, but in this alternate timeline they resist the urges of greed and decide that crack and heroin cause too much damage to their community. Obviously if this stuff gets out of hand the police are going to go ballistic and become VERY bad for business. The mafia begin very strongly opposing the influx of hard drugs and a quiet and unofficial alliance develops between them and the cops. They keep selling TV's and VCR's that "fell off the back of the truck" and the cops don't notice as long as they keep putting the cops onto incoming drug shipments. The massive crime waves of the 80's never develop as hard dope remains a rather fringe thing that is hard to get a hold of (and VERY bad for your health to be caught selling.)

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    $\begingroup$ twist: The apocalypse is actually averted by the lack of hard drugs, the survival of the Mafia is a byproduct after Sylar launches his ‘Just say no kneecaps’ campaign and permanently alters public perception of addiction treatment. $\endgroup$
    – Joe Bloggs
    Sep 7, 2018 at 7:28
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    $\begingroup$ The mafia working with the US government is not actually unprecedented. In WW2 the Mafia acted as a defacto resistance group allowing us to infiltrate people into Italy since they detested the fascists. Maybe instead of becoming drug pushers they ally with the police on an informal basis to combat the flow of drugs. $\endgroup$
    – TCAT117
    Sep 7, 2018 at 7:45
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    $\begingroup$ Also what was important in original mafia was it close connections to society. Protection money were paid as people now pay for security, social security (kinda) was paid by mafia to those who needed it. The society itself could be much more stronger not destroyed by hard drugs but also upheld with mafia support. $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2018 at 8:03
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    $\begingroup$ You just aren't thinking outside the box enough. Aliens are going to target all obvious power structures. High profile resistance groups don't exist very long. So they take out the government, society begins to collapse, but there is one social institution to step up and provide organization. One with a long history of underhanded and shady practices that are used to operating under the radar. $\endgroup$
    – TCAT117
    Sep 7, 2018 at 12:35
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    $\begingroup$ In regard to the "police and mafia coexist" and "mafia interest in stability of the community" bit, to an extent the Yakuza in Japan are a great example of this $\endgroup$
    – Gramatik
    Sep 7, 2018 at 19:21

He knows the future. He knows that real money/power comes from technology. He needs technology for the future invasion.

So... he educates the mob's children. Send them to college/university. Have them study in economics, chemistry, physics, law. Have them become doctors and engineers. After graduation, establish companies, research centers, law firms, shipping companies etc

Buyout all, to create the first mega-corporation, a multi-billion international one.

Invest in researching new drugs, new weapons, whatever you will need to fight the aliens.

The old Mafia will continue its traditional methods, until the fathers die. The new Mafia (their children) will become "modernized" - electronic espionage, hackers, R&D of high tech, drug testing, ... whatever you want/need.

  • $\begingroup$ Great angle, for inspiration research past and present family and associate syndicates running silicon valley/government/slush funds/foundations, and how to maintain that level of power (employ and promote your own, install minions as firewalls to prevent complaints rising to the top of judiciary/investigation branches). Oh, and entice others with bribes (sex parties are a good one), collect dirt, everyone has something on someone lower/equal. Ensure monopolies for your corporations with crushing regulations. Prepare big distractions for if news starts to surface. Throw herrings to the wolves. $\endgroup$
    – Vix
    Sep 7, 2018 at 23:15
  • $\begingroup$ What if Anonymous is the new Mafia? $\endgroup$
    – KalleMP
    Sep 8, 2018 at 13:33

Short answer: Bring the mafia into the political / governmental sphere

The destruction of the Mafia was due to a variety of factors including:

  • New laws that dismantled corrupt organizations (RICO)
  • Edgar Hoover's FBI focused more on mafia crime as it was exposed
  • Italian immigrants began to have more job opportunity outside of direct crime
  • Culture began to change among young men, especially in terms of independence from parental roles.

Luckily there's still hope for the mob!

This movement really only started after an exposed mafia operation in 1957, which gives the mafia plenty of time to snake their way up into political spheres. The mob could adopt a role similar to Pablo Escobar and weave their way into government itself.

This circumvents issues that could arise from incorruptible members of government (as you are the government), pressure from the FBI, and easily results in quicker and more efficient cover ups to large scale exposure.

Eventually, those politicians could have children, who, similar to today's politicians, follow the family up the chain of command (imagine George Bush Sr. and George W Bush).

As long as the FBI stays either unaware of the mafia's ever-encroaching control or stays pocketed in the control of a mafia member themselves few laws would pass, there would be less investigation, and the culture would become far more sustainable.

  • $\begingroup$ The aliens overpower the governments, either this would cause the Mafia influence to be over powered as well or it might possibly allow the Mafia family traditions to hold the government powers firm in the face of insurmountable odds knowing that to give even an inch to the aliens would spell doom. $\endgroup$
    – KalleMP
    Sep 8, 2018 at 13:43

Just to make a point...

Who says the mafia isn't alive and well in NY?

  • The politicians? Getting elected means showing results, but it's also expensive.

  • The attorneys? They've been on the take forever.

  • The cops? Some die-hard "we gotta clean everything up" types might exist, but most would be happy just dealing with gas station burglaries.

So, who says the mob didn't go underground (like the Illuminati...) decades ago? Which leads to the only actual viable solution: they go underground.

I'm not purporting an actual conspiracy (maybe...)

But until someone can show me that racketeering, drugs, prostitution, corruption, greed, unions, etc. are gone in NYC, there isn't any actual proof that the Mafia is gone. They're just no longer visible. They offered up some sacrifices to calm the population (you know... John Gotti, Rudy Guiliani, Donnie Brasco... you know their estates are really wealthy, right? Ever wonder why that still is?) but in the end, they're secretly still very much relevant and very much in power.

Frankly, retaining power is easy. Make sure the concrete is good quality... Make sure the right palms are well greased... Stop whacking people in public (better still, clean up after yourself)... And you have all the power you want.

Who knew that the Mafia would someday become truly organized?


Organized crime exists all over the world. Some of it is overt. Some of it is covert. Some of it is the clowns in Congress. My point is, the Mafia need only go underground, removing itself from the public's eye, and they'd quickly be forgotten while retaining their power base.

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    $\begingroup$ One need only read the FBI reports about the links to organized crime in certain labor unions, the hospitality industry, and the gambling industry to realise that this is almost certainly what has actually happened... $\endgroup$
    – Perkins
    Sep 7, 2018 at 23:05

Go watch Wise Guys. The real reasons the Mob collapsed were illegal drugs and the declining power of the unions.

  1. The old timers knew that drug dealing was a bad idea, but there was/is soooo much money to be made that there's no way you can stop aggressive young members from getting into that line of business, since if the Mafia doesn't, other gangs will.
  2. Unions became arrogant, and ovegrabbed for power and wages and stifling work rules, which collapsed when -- along with the two oil crises and environmental legislation -- the Far East finally recovered after WW2 and became the go-to place low-cost, good quality manufacturing.


  1. Prevent illegal drugs like marijuana, heroin and LSD from becoming popular in the 1960s. (Demand reduction is the only feasible method, but how?)
  2. Convince unions and employers to move to the German Model of industrial relations.
  3. Point out to the relevant parties of the threat from Japan and the Four Asian Tigers as the need to keep wages moderate and quality up, while not killing those economies, since you don't want their economies collapsing, either and them becoming Communist.
  4. Solve the Palestinian Problem before the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the resulting OPEC oil shock. (My personal favorite is to have let the Six Day War play to the end and one side actually beat the other. It would have necessitate convincing the Russians to not directly intervene.)

Good luck changing the country in such deep and radical ways!

  • $\begingroup$ Alt 1: prevent any drugs being declared illegal. But then... what would Mafia derive its income from? $\endgroup$ Sep 7, 2018 at 4:47
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    $\begingroup$ @AdrianColomitchi gambling, prostitution, loan sharking, protection rackets and union infiltration, just like before. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Sep 7, 2018 at 4:50
  • $\begingroup$ What was the effect on the mob from the OPEC thing? $\endgroup$
    – Mazura
    Sep 8, 2018 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Mazura the increase in costs sent more manufacturing overseas, which weakened the unions, thus weakening the Mafia. $\endgroup$
    – RonJohn
    Sep 8, 2018 at 15:16

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