[[quoteright:299:[[ComicStrip/{{Peanuts}} http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/d95512f4574a45d0da76e7f1ad5fa61d.png]]]]
[[caption-width-right:299:[[https://lh5.googleusercontent.com/-SInCvgYsNNw/UGv3ZNl1DLI/AAAAAAAABlE/SY-mzFunCuU/s600/Photo%252520Oct%2525203%25252C%2525202012%2525204%25253A27%252520AM.jpg Charlie Brown doesn't take the news well.]]]]

%% Both page quotes are needed for either to make sense.
->''"Remember that God created all men equal!"''
-->-- '''William Wilberforce''', abolitionist, in the film ''Film/AmazingGrace''

->''"[The poor should know] that their more lowly path has been allotted to them by the hand of God; that it is their part ... contentedly to bear its inconveniences."''
-->-- '''William Wilberforce''' in RealLife

OK, let's say you're still writing that movie, which is VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory. You've chosen a period of history that involves a lot of exciting fight scenes and explosions so your audience won't fall asleep and now you need some main characters.

But there's a problem: most of the RealLife figures were [[GreyAndGrayMorality morally grey and complex people.]] How are you going to make sure that your audience knows who the [[DesignatedHero hero]] is?

Well, all you have to do is to pick someone who was on your side. If you're American, all you have to do is choose a heroic American. Or failing that, an Irishman or a Scotsman (just as long as they fought those dastardly Englishmen/Germans/Commies/Arabs). And if you're English, you'll want to support that brave and heroic King William the Conqueror against those treacherous English bas... Hey--[[ArtisticLicenseHistory wait a second...]]

But hang on. There's another problem. Your new hero doesn't quite fit our modern standards of goodness. Maybe he was a slave trader. Or a wife-beater. Or an openly admitted racial bigot. What are you going to do now?

Well, all you have to do is give your newfound hero a few [[PetTheDog Pet-the-Dog]] moments, [[HistoricalBeautyUpdate adjust his looks for modern tastes]] and [[PoliticallyCorrectHistory cut out]] or [[ArtisticLicenseHistory ignore]] anything of [[AlwaysMale his]] life that doesn't fit your artistic vision.

Note that just because this trope happens to a person does NOT mean that he was evil in RealLife; he is simply being portrayed more positively in the work of fiction than he was in RealLife. Also note that [[TropesAreNotBad this is not necessarily a bad thing]], as it is often done to [[ArtisticLicense make for a better story]].

Note that this trope isn't always played seriously; sometimes, a character will be retroactively turned into something on par with a MemeticBadass purely due to RuleOfCool, upgraded in ways that are obviously intended to go far beyond any real-world heroism. The most extreme examples of this, of course, often overlap with BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy.

This trope is the [[InvertedTrope opposite]] of a HistoricalVillainUpgrade, although many figures often get one of those as well in works with a different viewpoint. They may also appear alongside each other when applied to different people, to make the BlackAndWhiteMorality contrast even more obvious. May overlap with HistoricalBeautyUpdate, HistoricalBadassUpgrade, ValuesDissonance, PoliticallyCorrectHistory, BrokenPedestal and {{Flanderization}}.

When FanFic writers do this to a canon character, it's DracoInLeatherPants. When it's done with original characters in an adaptation of the source work, it's AdaptationalHeroism.



!!Examples using real people

[[folder:Media in General / Common Persons]]
* One example prolific enough to have its own Wikipedia article: [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clean_Wehrmacht the myth of the Clean Wehrmacht.]] Basically the very common perception that most crimes committed by the Third Reich were done by the Waffen SS or Gestapo, and that the average German soldier was basically a PunchClockVillain fighting for his home like any other soldier. In reality, the Wehrmacht were responsible for the deaths of millions of people and cooperated closely with the SS to exterminate Slavs and Jews, and the average German soldier was a hardcore genocidal racist who genuinely believed in the Nazi cause. The soldiers were heavily indoctrinated with Nazi ideology prior to and during the war. Even those who came to oppose Hitler (such as the July 22 plotters) did not always do from motives we would regard as "noble." Rather, they were mostly afraid Hitler was losing the war, and another loss would ruin Germany, feeling that overthrowing him to end it with a negotiated peace would be their best outcome. Most accepted the standard antisemitic, anti-Slavic, German nationalist view, although not always to the genocidal degree of the Nazis. Some honorable exceptions existed of course.
* The very few portrayals of UsefulNotes/{{Boudica}} and historical writings tend to paint her as a native freedom-fighter opposing AlwaysChaoticEvil Romans, and in Britain some see her as a National Hero (she ranked #35 in Greatest Britons), while feminists see her as a victim of abuse reacting against the patriarchy. The fact that she systematically mass murdered tens of thousands by killing every man, woman, and child in the cities of Colchester, London, and St. Albans is at times glorified as an example of MoreDeadlyThanTheMale (by the likes of Creator/AlanMoore who invokes her positively in ComicBook/FromHell). There is even a statue of Boudica outside Colchester built specifically to honor the revolt, despite the fact that there is a layer of ash and rubble underneath it from all the buildings she and her forces burnt. These gruesome atrocities are often [[WouldBeRudeToSayGenocide downplayed]] or even treated as justified on the basis that roman soldiers raped her daughters - despite the fact that those civilians had nothing to do with it. Also ignored is the fact that her defeat at the Battle of Watling Street is extremely impressive from the Roman perspective (20,000 Romans held off 200,000 Bretons using nothing but discipline and determination [at least according to the roman authors who recorded the rebellion]).
* Wyatt Earp, in portrayals such as ''Film/MyDarlingClementine'' (1946) and ''The Life and Legend of Wyatt Earp'' (1955), is portrayed as the paragon of the Western lawman. Even more modern takes like ''Film/{{Tombstone}}'' still can't uncouple themselves entirely from this image. Earp's legend likely in part derives from the fact that he acted as an "adviser" on a number of early Western movies - he was good at branding himself. The reality is somewhat more complicated. As a US Marshal, Earp had authority to deputize others and serve arrest warrants, but on the other hand, the [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earp_Vendetta_Ride Earp Vendetta Ride]] which took place after the attempted assassination and actual assassination of two of his brothers was a clear example of frontier justice, with Wyatt Earp, Doc Holliday, and their deputized companions hunting down several outlaw Cowboys who they believed were responsible for the assassination and attempted assassination of his family members - a very clear conflict of interest. In the end, the Earp party arrested no one, killed four men, and fled Arizona to escape murder charges. However, it was widely believed in Tombstone that the local authorities were corrupt and would never bring the outlaw Cowboys to justice, even if they committed murder. Many regarded the Earps as heroes who were standing up to cattle-rustling, murderous outlaws, and in the end authorities outside of Tombstone decided not to extradite the Earp party back there to face murder charges.
* [[UsefulNotes/RichardTheLionheart King Richard I]] of England has entered mythology as Richard the Lionheart, paragon of knighthood, King Arthur come again. The real Richard was a deeply complex individual: warlike, greedy (according to one story, Richard claimed he would ''sell London'' to finance his wars if he could find a buyer), ''probably'' not actually an Anglophone, and not above stabbing someone in the back; this becomes a case of ValuesDissonance. Creator/TerryJones even claims that after he died records were calling him grasping and portraying him in a negative light, but John becoming the bad King means Richard changed back to being a good King. He did have a good sense of humor, being one of the few medieval kings of whom amusing quips are recorded. Not a cardboard villain, but not the cardboard angel of ''Literature/{{Ivanhoe}}'' and ''Film/TheAdventuresOfRobinHood'' either.
* General Charles George Gordon, also known as "Chinese" Gordon or Gordon Pasha, was lionized as a hero in the late Victorian era, so much so, an entire expedition, UsefulNotes/TheRiverWar was launched to "avenge" him after his death at the Siege of Khartoum in 1885. Novelists like Creator/RudyardKipling, Andrew Mason (of ''Literature/TheFourFeathers'') and the film ''Film/{{Khartoum}}'' glorified Gordon's LastStand as an epitome of an English fortitude.
** Gordon did possess important virtues as an officer (he was incorruptible, generally tried to ensure that his soldiers were well paid and had proper equipment) but he was also erratic and eccentric, prone to sudden and unexpected rages, harsh punishments and summary executions, and privately a religious fanatic. In contrast to his reputation as a British officer, Gordon built his fame and earned most of his honours as a mercenary for foreign governments, whether it's the Imperial Chinese government where he led the Ever Victorious Army to suppress the Taiping Rebellion, or the Khedivate of Egypt for whom he campaigned against the North African Slave Trade, albeit for the profit-driven motive of farming cheap (albeit free) labour for the lucrative Ivory trade. Before he was called up to relieve Khartoum and oversee the retreat of the Egyptian forces in Khartoum, Gordon had accepted a contract to serve King Leopold's government in the Congo, and it was largely on account of self-promotion and his media reputation, that the British government sent him to Khartoum.
** At Khartoum, Gordon greatly exceeded his command and as biographers and later writers noted, he seemed to have become DeathSeeker hoping to drive the British to conquer Sudan (which the British govenrment did ''not'' want to do), repeatedly turning down requests to retreat from his impossible positions and refusing offers to leave by the leader of the Mahdist revolt with whom he exchanged letters. As a result of Gordon's actions, neither surrendering to TheSiege or withdrawing from his position as per his original commands, he, his fellows soldiers and the entire garrison at Khartoum were murdered.
* Brutus:
** Plutarch wrote in his book of historical biographies, ''Parallel Lives'', that Brutus was the last great republican. Creator/WilliamShakespeare saw him as a man who died for the Republic's interests. For a long time the prevailing opinion among liberal-minded intellectuals that Brutus was a shining paragon of republicanism and Caesar a grasping tyrant. In the age of UsefulNotes/TheEnlightenment, intellectuals across England, France and America claimed Brutus as a proto-revolutionary hero while Creator/OrsonWelles' famous anti-fascist production of Shakespeare's play portrayed Brutus and the conspirators as proto-LaResistance.
** Much of this portrayal derives in large part from UsefulNotes/TheRomanRepublic getting a hero upgrade courtesy of the GoodRepublicEvilEmpire dichotomy that existed during the struggle of Europe against the monarchy. This naturally led to some facts being elided. Namely that Brutus was in fact an ''optimate'', a member and defender of the aristocratic senate. Cicero's letters note that Brutus was a vicious moneylender who charged poor supplicants exorbitant interest, far more than other optimates. The idea of Brutus as a defender of conservative order against a popular reformer (which was how Caesar started out) underpinned John Wilkes Booth's citation of Brutus as an inspiration for killing Lincoln, but it rarely colors the discourse of most adaptations. Michael Parenti's book ''The Assassination of Julius Caesar'' goes into detail about this (including that Cicero apparently was the equivalent of a cruel slum lord) and Caesar was more in line with modern leftist values regarding how he treated the poor (proposing land reforms, for instance) which drew the ire of the optimate faction.
** [[http://www.humanities.mq.edu.au/acans/caesar/CivilWars_Libertas.htm Archaeological discoveries have found coins with Brutus' name and likeness]] commemorating Caesar's assassination with the word Libertas on it. Putting the face and name of a living Roman on coinage was in the Republican era, a mark of autocracy, as was more or less glorifying the death of a fellow Roman (which is what the conspirators accused Caesar of doing in a triumph where he celebrated Cato's death). It was moroever illegal and the fact that UsefulNotes/PompeyTheGreat started doing it, followed later by Caesar himself, and now Brutus, complicates the traditional view of Brutus as a principled statesman and preserver of norms. If nothing else, the existence of these coins does mean that the reluctant vacillating figure in Shakespeare's play was not true and that Brutus did have some amount of ambition and saw himself as the Leader of the conspirators, and was certainly acknowledged as such. Ultimately, he might have died a Republican before living long enough to be a Dictator or Emperor.
* Works about the French Revolution will often tend to cast Georges Danton as a moderate liberal revolutionary killed by the revolutionary excesses of the Reign of Terror. Danton was less enthusiastic about the Terror than many of the Jacobins, but unlike them he commanded huge respect and loyalty from the militant Parisian crowd, which was often even more extreme than the Jacobins. He was also quite corrupt, accepting bribes from foreign diplomats and lived a lavish lifestyle during a time of wartime deprivation and wide starvation. He was also quite willing to use violence to get what he wanted and it was him, not Robespierre, who built the instruments of the Terror: the Revolutionary tribunals and the Committee of Public Safety, justifying it by saying that "let us be terrible so that people don't have to be."
* UsefulNotes/MarieAntoinette was scapegoated during her own lifetime for royalist excess. Cartoons in her lifetime depicted her as an airhead who does not realize that cakes and bread are made of the same grain, to a decadent noble who spends all her time and state money on partying and dresses while callously ignoring the suffering of the people, or someone willing to expend money on a Diamond Necklace. Yet after she died, she became a sentimental favorite for French Restoration Royalists (and through them, British and American pop culture), where many saw her as a TragicHero who was InnocentlyInsensitive and became a scapegoat for a misogynist barbarian mob, which has infected most depictions of her since then:
** Now, it is a fact that all of the above caricatures and rumors were false. They were deliberately so since Pre-Revolutionary satirists were prevented from making direct criticisms of the state, but indirectly they could attack it by discrediting it and Antoinette proved ideal for it, since her genuine clueless nature and clumsiness made her an easy mark. She was kind to her servants and favorites, and would dole out charity, and not cruel at all. She was a young woman who was unprepared at becoming a queen (she was the youngest of several daughters, but her older sisters died of smallpox with one exception, who ended up with facial scars) and tried to cope with things the best she could. She wasn't as excessive as other French aristocrats and there was more than a little xenophobia in mocking the Austrian Woman and her trial was misogynistic even by the standards of her time.
** Having said all that, recent films and books about her go so far to the other direction that they can only be called hagiographic, with some even claiming her as a fashion icon and feminist symbol. Before the Revolution, Antoinette's attitude was more or less SlummingIt, dressing up as an Arcadian peasant in "simple" clothing (which was actually incredibly expensive). She also made excessive demands for silk and expected it at a cheap rate that Lyon's textile industry was badly affected by her. Likewise, Antoinette only cared about her station, rank and privilege, and that of her children, and she utterly loathed the Woman's March to Versailles and had no solidarity whatsoever to the poor Parisian market women complaining about expensive bread and royal indifference. So while she did not say "Let them eat cake" and wasn't literally like the caricature of the time, the fact is that she was essentially just as obnoxious, callous and contemptuous of the poor as any aristocrat of her rank and station was and the people making fun of her with cartoons and rumors, were fundamentally right about the kind of person she was.
** During the Revolution, Antoinette proved to be quite a formidable and ruthless political operator. She played a major role in the incredibly terribly decisions made by UsefulNotes/LouisXVI more or less enabling his paranoia and indecisiveness. She became the leader of the reactionary faction after 1789, urging Louis XVI to avoid compromise and accommodation with the new revolutionary order and attempting to manipulate Mirabeau to divide the revolutionaries. Moreover, she embezzled the Civil List to support the reactionaries and may have encouraged her brother Emperor Leopold II to invade France, which would have made her guilty of treason and indeed historians such as Timothy Tackett and David A. Bell do believe that she was a traitor, someone who knowingly provoked the 1792 War in the hope that France would lose and the neighboring Kingdoms would restore the French Monarchy.
* ''Jeanne d'Arc'', of course, does this to Joan of Arc. Another, more peculiar example lies in Gilles de Rais, who was an infamous serial killer in real life, but here he is one of Joan's most steadfast allies. By all accounts he WAS a loyal French royalist AND a savage, possibly, Satanic murderer. The two aren't incompatible. That, and there is no small amount of dispute over WHEN his murders started.
** Creator/MarkTwain's ''Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc, [[LiteraryAgentHypothesis by the Sieur Louis de Conte]]'', which Twain called his favorite of all his books, is a rare example of near-total SarcasmFailure on Twain's part, being a straight, starry-eyed depiction of a LadyOfWar and her noble death at the hands of evil. A lot of people called him out on this, including Creator/GeorgeBernardShaw, who kept Joan the traditional heroine in his play ''Theatre/SaintJoan'', but felt that her enemies had been the victims of a HistoricalVillainUpgrade and opted for WhiteAndGreyMorality in his version of events. Quite incorrectly, however, as regards Peter Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais, who ''was'' a swine.
** It should be noted that it is possible (and in fact most likely) that Joan of Arc never knew that Gilles de Rais was a serial killer. In any case, the fact that he is often forgotten completely is evidence of historical hero upgrade.
** It is worth noting that it is a commonly held theory that Gilles de Rais was innocent. The Duke of Brittany, who was the person given the authority to prosecute the case, was also the one to receive all of Gilles de Rais' titles and lands after the conviction. In addition, none of the physical evidence brought forth was particularly tied specifically to Gilles de Rais, the confessions were forced under torture and threat of excommunication, the only accomplices that were punished were servants despite the claim that other nobles were involved, the confessions had very different methods cited, and there were a range of other charges added on top of the murders with little to no attempt to justify this. Regardless of his guilt or innocence, he was known for his BloodKnight tendencies and his violent nature on the battlefield.
* Empress/Queen Consort Elisabeth of Austria-Hungary aka [[SpellMyNameWithAnS Sisi/Sissi]] got ''many'' "biographical novels" describing her as a mix of a grown ManicPixieDreamGirl and a full-blown PuritySue who is utterly hated or bullied by her EvilMatriarch mother-in-law Sophie (who was more of an IgnoredExpert) and pretty much brings sun and love to everyone else, solving their problems with much class and sweetness. This reaches egregious levels with the ''Sissi'' movie trilogy and the ''WesternAnimation/PrincessSissi'' animated TV series. [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elisabeth_of_Bavaria The real Elisabeth]], however, was much closer to a BrokenBird RebelliousPrincess, [[FishOutOfWater unable to withstand the pressure coming from the Habsburg Court]] and [[BreakTheCutie plagued by disgraces and mental illnesses]]. (Arguably, the most down-to-Earth and realistic portrayal of Sissi in media would Brigitte Hamann's biography, ''The Reluctant Empress''). Pretty much inverted by the musical ''Theatre/{{Elisabeth}}'', which presents her as so damaged and unstable that she spends her ''entire adult life'' hallucinating that Death (in the form of a beautiful young man) is trying to seduce her.
* UsefulNotes/ChristopherColumbus:
** He didn't set out to prove the world was not flat--everyone who was educated at the time knew that the world was round--he set out to find an easy route to Asia by going West, to avoid having to go around Africa (which was controlled by Portugal at the time). What made his voyage so outrageously unacceptable was that he assumed the world was only ''six thousand miles in circumference'', which was far below most estimations at the time and under a quarter of the actual figure. While he had a good reason for coming to this conclusion (while in the Canary Islands he heard rumors of driftwood floating from from the west), he was still gambling his life and the life of his crew on this suspicion. Some versions have him [[IMeantToDoThat suspecting that there's another continent there]] and for whatever reason not letting on.
** He even found someone to calculate the earth's circumference for him. And when that person told him, he got the unit of measure wrong. One of Columbus' problems is that he was relying on a map of the world by the Florentine polymath Paolo del Pozzo Toscanelli, who got the circumference of the Earth nearly right but who got the size of Asia wrong--by thousands of miles. This was in part because he was relying on the reports of the very few Europeans who had actually been east of the Levant; the map he made was remarkably accurate in Europe and North Africa, but eastward everything was stretched.
** The systematic enslavement of the Taino Indians under his leadership, plus the atrocities that were committed by him as governor (he would dismember and disfigure Natives to "set an example") are not commonly remembered, either. While hand chopping was a common punishment back in Spain, and while the encomienda system resembled the then-still-common European feudalism, the results were still disastrous. Much of Columbus' HistoricalHeroUpgrade can be attributed to the early United States in general and Washington Irving in particular, who sought to distance America from Great Britain by highlighting/exaggerating the accomplishments of a non-British explorer. He found John Cabot (who was the first non-Viking European to reach the North American mainland) unsuitable for that role despite him being just as Italian as Columbus (his real name was Giovanni Caboto), because he did so under a commission from King Henry VII of England. Nowadays this seems to be much less of an issue: many people are now downplaying Columbus Day in favor of Norse explorers that reportedly discovered the continent before him and his crimes are also now so well known that Columbus Day draws annual protests from Native Americans and others in the US.
* Matthias Corvinus ruled Hungary with an iron fist. He was known for imprisoning the nobles who crowned him king, and instituting high taxes to maintain his army of EliteMooks. Despite this, he is known as Hungary's greatest and most iconic folk hero, for his sense of justice and his rumoured habit of mingling with the common folk. The fact that the kingdom of Hungary was living its golden age during his rule, and practically died with him, also helps his case.
* UsefulNotes/JesseJames. American film and media portray him as a [[JustLikeRobinHood Robin Hood]] figure of the WildWest thanks to the popularity of the [[DimeNovel Dime Novels]] in the late 19th century. In reality, he started his career as a pro-slavery bushwacker serving under the terrorists William Quantrill and Bloody Bill Anderson. He robbed medicines intended for the sick and unhealthy, and was known for dressing up as a woman (because he was handsome enough to be a really convincing one), seducing unionists to a brothel and then shanking and shanghaing his targets. The myth of Jesse James was in fact a PR Stunt developed by anti-Reconstruction journalists since his targets were Unionists and Union Republicans. Almost no movie deals with this, even something like ''Film/TheAssassinationOfJesseJamesByTheCowardRobertFord'' avoids dealing with the political baggage of James' crimes, or his early life, and the fact that his family were slaveowners.
* Much like Jesse James mentioned above, Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker have been romanticized as dashing outlaw lovebirds to the point that it's easy to forget that their "flaunting of society's rules" left a ''lot'' of dead bodies in its wake, both police and civilian. As a rule, criminals generally don't get [[ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill four machine guns emptied into their bodies in an ambush]] without a ''very'' good reason, and that was because they were considered TheDreaded. They gunned down civilians at the mere hint of resistance, deliberately killed police officers, and often robbed small stores instead of banks, with one instance leading to Clyde [[MoralEventHorizon beating and shooting an unarmed shopkeeper dead for $60]]. Admitting, historians now believe Clyde had something of a FreudianExcuse; He was imprisoned in the [[HellholePrison infamously brutal]] Eastham Prison Farm for 2 years before the pair's crime spree began, and he was repeatedly abused by the [[PoliceBrutality prison guards]] and [[PrisonRape inmates]] during his stay.
* [[MisaimedFandom Aside from being the highest selling T-shirt image]], UsefulNotes/CheGuevara is given this treatment in pop culture, at least via the massive merchandise and logos. He is often seen as a [[ChaoticGood hero figure who represents civil disobedience, rebellion, and freedom]]. Less known is the fact that [[TheRevolutionWillNotBeCivilized Che oversaw the Revolutionary Tribunals in La Cabana that killed hundreds of people]], a fact which he admitted several times, without any shame or remorse whatsoever. He also expressed his desire to launch nuclear weapons at the United States (and anger that Russia didn't), even though he knew it would kill millions of people. Scholarly assessments of Guevara's virtues and flaws is more mixed than the pop culture version, with the exception of works like Spain Rodriquez' graphic biography (which is pro-Che) and Creator/StevenSoderbergh's biopic (which is detached but not entirely critical). In most cases, Che is invoked as a holdover of counterculture [[TheThemeParkVersion iconography without any of the context]].
* UsefulNotes/TheKnightsTemplar in general and Jacques de Molay, their last Grand Master, in particular. Thanks to ''Literature/TheAccursedKings'' of Maurice Druon for adding to this. While [[ThePurge executing every member of the order]] is horrific, this does not mean that the Knights Templar were saints. It was a case of BlackAndGrayMorality, which some treat like BlackAndWhiteMorality. Russian bard "Chancellor Gi" wrote a mocking song ''The plea of Jacques de Molay'' about said dead Templar worrying how he's going to be canonized, and remembering details such as his [[ReallyGetsAround bastards]] and shifty way of his ascension to the chair.
* While 19th Century Abolitionists were not racist for their time, many modern audiences assume that they held 21st Century conventional views on race. In fact, most of them believed blacks to be inferior to whites, but also thought it wrong to enslave them anyway. The vast majority of them would be considered very very racist in this day and age, and indeed Frederick Douglass considered them racist in ''their day and age'' as well.
** Similarly, not all people fighting on the Confederate side of the war were slave owners, and many were of the common soldiers were relatively fair-minded, even for being on the wrong side of a way fought to support the institution of slavery. In the notable case of Brigadier General Lewis Armistead, for example, his private writings reveal that not only was he not a truly venomous a racist (and would have been considered amazingly fair-minded for his time, though not in the modern day), he had absolutely no use for the institution of slavery, either, and said that the Confederacy would have been better off founded without it. Apparently, he really ''was'' fighting for the Confederacy because he felt more loyalty to his home state of North Carolina than to the United States as a whole.
* The American Founding Fathers are almost without question portrayed with "founders' chic" that more or less makes them out to be CoolPeopleRebelAgainstAuthority. This happens regardless of the political spectrum, whether right or left:
** UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington is usually portrayed as a freedom fighter and a pillar of moral character who established that the president will step down in a peaceful transition of power after a brief rule. This view glosses over his ownership of slaves[[labelnote:For example]]He inherited ten slaves from his father and one hundred more from his wife. They were freed from slavery by a provision in his will, which meant they remained enslaved so long as he was still alive.[[/labelnote]], his controversial tactical decisions during the Revolutionary War[[labelnote:For example]]Gambling that he could capture Fort Ticonderoga and make a 300 mile return trip in less than two weeks; this was only possible if the river Ticonderoga sat on somehow remained unfrozen for the entire time in the dead of winter. He was given direct orders ''not to attempt this''. He did it anyway, and succeeded on sheer miracle alone.[[/labelnote]], his brutal and highly successful campaigns against the Native Americans while leading a portion of the Virginia Regiment, an embarrassing friendly fire incident during the Forbes Expedition to take Fort Duquesne, and the little fact that he kinda sorta ignited the French and Indian War (the American theater of the Seven Years' War) by ambushing a French patrol, leading to the Battle of Jumoville Glen. Whoops. Is it any wonder John Adams referred to him as "Old Muttonhead"?
** Many biographies of UsefulNotes/ThomasJefferson will gloss over or outright omit his affair with his slave Sally Hemings, the [[QuestionableConsent consensuality of which]] is a subject of considerable debate amongst historians (although most do tend to agree they were in love). Actually the existence of the affair itself is far from settled fact among some historians though the consensus accepts it, and Jefferson's descendant Lucian Truscott IV has openly insisted that Hemmings and their descendants be considered part of his lineage.
** An interesting case from UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution is Paul Revere. While he played a role in building the alarm system, he actually never made it to his destination during his Midnight Ride (only Samuel Prescott arrived in Concord). Revere was caught by a British patrol and detained. After Lexington and Concord, Revere tried his luck as an artillery officer in the Massachusetts militia, but his only direct confrontation with the British was the Penobscot Expedition, after which he was court-martialed (and some say he was only acquitted of all charges because the state of Massachusetts needed to pin all the blame on the Continental Navy, otherwise they would have been bankrupt). However, Revere is nowadays remembered as one of the great heroes of the Revolution, mostly due to the poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (and his name rhyming with "hear"...)
* Due to many biographies written about American presidents, along with multiple varying portrayals in the media and the concept of American exceptionalism, this trope is pretty much inevitable and very common with many of the more well-liked presidents in American history; some examples include:
** UsefulNotes/AndrewJackson is seen in portrayals as a war hero and a populist badass who loved his wife dearly and stood up for the people against the wealthy elite. A website like Website/{{Cracked}} despite being critical and debunker of myths also indulges in this MemeticBadass glorification. However this overlooks his responsibility for the Trail of Tears and Indian Removal that forced many Native Americans from their lands and caused many to die in the process, who had been his allies in the War of 1812, after the Supreme Court ruled against it.
** UsefulNotes/TheodoreRoosevelt is often seen as a model of badassery and the founder of modern progressivism. While this may be true, it overlooks his imperialistic tendencies in Cuba and the Philippines during the US wars there from the 1890s to the 1900s and his often boorish personal behavior. Like many people of his day, Roosevelt believed imperialism was good for "less civilized" nations, as being conquered would [[WhiteMansBurden allow them to learn how to be "more civilized."]] He was also an enthusiastic supporter of eugenics, again like many people of his time.
** UsefulNotes/WoodrowWilson is often seen as a model of Progressivism and idealism, when in fact he appointed the heads of large corporations to agencies supposedly regulating business, instated the policy of mandatory segregation (while it was a widespread custom, federal agencies weren't formally segregated until he made it so, though with great support from other Progressives), was one of the first of the RedScare anti-communist and anti-socialist presidents who jailed thousands of people for "crimes" such as opposing the war or draft (in a way that today would be held as much like a dictatorship), and did little for labor, women, and other groups in need of assistance. This seems to have shifted in recent years, where he is looked on [[DeaderThanDisco much more critically nowadays]] for exactly these reasons. With many actually calling him one of the worst presidents in the US in the early 20th century, ''especially'' on Website/AlternateHistoryDotCom.
** UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt is remembered fondly for guiding the United States through both the great Depression and WWII, however most people overlook his dark side. He made multiple attempts to seize greater power for the presidency and often worked behind the backs of the other branches of government to achieve his ends. In the court packing scheme for example, he drafted an executive order that would allow him to appoint additional Supreme Court judges to "assist" the many elderly judges on the court, which would essentially grant him control of the supreme court. Congress threatened to impeach him if he went through with it, as it violated the separation of powers between the executive and the judiciary (expanding the court requires Congressional approval). The decision most people are appalled at is the internment of Japanese-Americans on suspicion of espionage, which even appalled J. Edgar Hoover. Many people today also overlook his role in developing the Atomic Bomb, though in the case of the latter he has the benefit of the doubt since the decision and strategy to bomb Japan was undertaken by Harry Truman alone, and supporters often wonder if Roosevelt would have ordered the dropping of the Bomb had he not died.
** UsefulNotes/DwightDEisenhower is often portrayed as an admirable and badass general in WWII and a great president who maintained stability in the early years of the cold war, and warned of the Military-Industrial complex. While he could be seen as admirable and these portrayals deserve credit, they tend to overlook some of his shady foreign policy actions as president. The problem is that which actions you regard as shady depends on your own point of view. On one side Eisenhower is criticized for supporting various dictatorships like Batista's regime in Cuba and Ngo Dinh Diem's in South Vietnam as long as they remained ''his'' dictatorships, and for joining with the British in instigating a coup in Iran to remove the democratically elected government in favor of the absolute monarchy of the Shah (which in in the long run paved the way to the Islamic Revolution). On the other they accuse him of "backstabbing" American allies like Britain, France, the Netherlands, and Israel, in other words e.g. for refusing to do with Egypt what he did do with Iran and to unconditionally supporting the imperialism of his allies who in the case of the Suez crisis had tried to deceive him. Some also think that he should have come to the aid of [[CavalryRefusal the Hungarian and Polish rebels/strikers of 1956]], thereby risking starting World War III, but such a view is perhaps more popular among hawkish American cold warriors than elsewhere (in 1956 a nuclear war would primarily have affected Europe as the Soviet Unions would only show they could build intercontinental missiles the following year).
** UsefulNotes/JohnFKennedy is often seen as the "last true president" of the United States and is seen in many circles as a president who saved the world from Armageddon and would have avoided Vietnam and saved America from had he lived. He is almost ''canonized'' (along with Andrew Jackson sometimes) in ConspiracyTheorist circles as a pillar of moral character that stood against the "system". The fact that the "monolithic conspiracy" speech was probably a reference to Communism and the Soviet Union gets ignored, along with his professional and personal failings. A lot of his forays into international affairs were incompetent and dangerous brinkmanship at best and disastrous at worst (e.g., the Vietnam War, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the Cuban Missile Crisis), the middle of which featuring an ineffective and [[SenselessSacrifice pointless]] CavalryRefusal and the latter of which likely owed as much to the fact that [[PragmaticVillainy even the Soviets were worried about]] the AxeCrazy claims of Castro and Che regarding the nukes as it did to JFK's success. In his personal life, he was charismatic and charming but was also dishonest, cheating on his wife so frequently he and his staff had to devise an alarm system to warn when she was nearby.
** UsefulNotes/RonaldReagan is another US President who has been raised to heroic status for allegedly "ending the Cold War without a shot", as UsefulNotes/MargaretThatcher put it. He is fondly remembered by many people for giving the USA back its self-confidence after the embarrassment of Watergate and being forced to pull back from the Vietnam War. The Reagan administration oversaw an economic policy that gave business people more freedom without government interference, which was a good thing for the rich. It has gotten to the point that Reagan is basically seen as some kind of lovable and morally incorruptible grandpa figure, which is a very romanticized image. For starters, Reagan was very tough on Communism during the first years of his administration, actively wanting to put more nuclear missiles in Europe and even in space (the "Star Wars" project) just to be safe from possible USSR attacks but he moderated in response to the biggest anti-nuclear demonstrations of all time and learned to back down from his tough-talking approach, forming a friendship with UsefulNotes/MikhailGorbachev. Likewise, Reagan led the most corrupt US Administration with more officials imprisoned and dismissed from office under his tenure than any other, among the most notable being the Iran-Contra scandal. In addition to this, there is his handling of the AIDS Crisis which led many LGBT activists to believe that his administration was either indifferent or were actively leaving them to die, taking action only after straight people became affected. In foreign-policy, Reagan supported bad actors in El Salvador, the Nicaraguan Contras, Apartheid South Africa,simply because they were anti-communist.
* This is very common in works featuring UsefulNotes/NikolaTesla. He is often portrayed as a super-geek fighting/being betrayed by UsefulNotes/ThomasEdison, who gets some {{Historical Villain Upgrade}}s in the process. They often say that he was the sole creator of his inventions, even when he was just improving on something that came before (alternating current, for instance) or gloss over his ideas that failed simply because they were completely unworkable, likewise downplay some of Tesla's flaws, such as his anti-semitism and his dismissal of UsefulNotes/AlbertEinstein.
* Fletcher Christian of the HMS Bounty mutiny is generally portrayed as a heroic, honorable man who stood up against Captain Bligh on behalf of the oppressed crew and ultimately led them to salvation and paradise on Pitcairn Island. This is not withstanding the fact that most historians agree that Bligh's tyrannical behavior has been greatly exaggerated, and that it is hard for anyone who takes an objective reading of the accounts to regard Christian's actions as anything but purely selfish, he having even admitted to that after the mutiny. By his own claim, he simply could not handle being yelled at by Bligh any longer. Portrayals of the story conveniently gloss over several important facts. Regardless of Christian's personal feelings towards Bligh, he also sent 18 loyal crewmembers adrift with him, some of whom did not survive. Responsibility for their deaths has to rest at least partly on his shoulders. On the other hand, he also forced some men to remain on the ship against their will, content on never allowing them to return home. Christian's command of the ship after taking control was also strict and somewhat abusive like Bligh before him, resulting in over half of his band losing faith in his leadership and deserting him at Tahiti. Christian and his mutineers were also responsible for the massacre of dozens of natives on Tubuai Island while trying to clear space for a settlement, and most of the Tahitians who accompanied them to Pitcairn Island, were in fact kidnapped. On Pitcairn Island, Christian and his mutineers treated the Tahitian men like slaves, to the point where they eventually rebelled, resulting in a bloody massacre.
* Charles Ogier de Batz de Castelmore, Comte d'Artagnan actually led a fairly accomplished life as a soldier and secret agent for France. This inspired memoir-novelist Gatien de Courtilz de Sandras to write a very flattering and almost completely fictionalized biography about him, ''Les mémoires de M. d'Artagnan''. Creator/AlexandreDumas, in turn, pretended that this memoir was real and used it as a base for his even more flattering [[Literature/TheThreeMusketeers d'Artagnan Romances]]. In them, d'Artagnan is portrayed as a romantic hero and adventurer of limitless courage, resourcefulness and loyalty. The series and its countless adaptations have caused d'Artagnan to become an iconic figure for the fictionalized version of his life rather than his actual deeds.
* Many UsefulNotes/WorldWarII films have shades of this for both sides of the conflict, with the RedArmy and its commanders, such as Georgy Zhukov, being the most commonly upgraded side in World War II fiction. Though it is true that the Red Army had the most to do with militarily defeating Germany, many works of fiction centered around them deem them the "heroes" of World War II who assisted in defeating the cruelest regime in history, while conveniently ignoring the ''long'' list of the Red Army's own [[VillainOfAnotherStory crimes before, during, and after the war]].
** Stalin too is often given this treatment at least in Russian media and propaganda. He's shown as a staunch rival of Hitler and one who despised what Nazi Germany did while neglecting the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact and that at the start of the war, Soviet Union and Nazi Germany invaded Poland as part of that agreement. He's also given credit for pulling the Soviet Union out of its agrarian economy and into the role of a superpower, but this forced modernization program and incompetence led to a huge famine crisis that led to the deaths of 5 million people. His repressive administration led to mass persecution of political dissidents who were either executed after torture or sent to TheGulag, and it's estimated that more than a million lives were lost as a result of his direct policies with additional deaths caused by the gross incompetence of his administration. While Stalin's programs ''did'' have a lot to do with the Soviet Union's industrialization and eventual superpowerdom, it came at a huge cost and thanks to the repressive nature of his polices, it left a mess of poor institutions and planning that created additional problems for the Soviet Union.
* UsefulNotes/MalcolmX is frequently seen as a civil rights hero and courageous political leader of the 1960s, who wanted a more rapid end to racial segregation and general societal racism than his counterparts; despite this, he advocated heavily for violence and racism against whites as a means to overturn society, going as far to try to form an equivalent to "Black Nazism" in his early years after he formed a friendship with George Rockwell, leader of the American Nazi Party. In fairness, he got better during his last years, denouncing racism and supporting alliances with sympathetic whites, but his earlier stances tend to be glossed over.
* The North Vietnamese during UsefulNotes/TheVietnamWar. Both during and after the conflict, they have been portrayed as largely-innocent victims of American and French colonial interests lashing out at their oppressors. This is more or less true, but it does lead to a fact that actual North Vietnamese war crimes are rarely depicted, nor is the fact that their government was a fairly typical hardline Communist one with most of the usual trappings thereof such as [[ThePurge mass executions]] and nationalization of business by force. The Vietcong/NLF gets the same treatment. Whereas pretty much everyone now knows about the My Lai massacre, few can name the [[https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massacre_at_Huế Hue massacre]] during the Tet offensive. At one point they killed a civil servant, his wife, [[WouldHurtAchild his children]],[[KillEmAll his daughter in law and servants]], [[AndYourLittleDogToo his cat and dog]] and [[UpToEleven his goldfish]]. After their victory, persecution of South Vietnamese in business and government occurred, plus repression of ethnic Chinese (many of whom were active in both fields).
* The IRA gets this treatment in American works, where Irish-Americans even see them romantically. It is true that the Irish and Catholics were disenfranchised in the UK at the time, and the British Army and the RIC were unquestionably brutal during the Irish War of Independence. However, the IRA (or at least elements within it) were and still are notorious for attacking civilians, anti-Protestant violence, extortion and what we recognize today as classic terrorist tactics like street bombings and letter bombs. During The Troubles IRA splinter groups were notorious for gangland-style "punishment shootings", where they would kneecap people who they felt had crossed them or as a means of cracking down on crime, particularly drug dealing (despite [[{{Hypocrite}} becoming involved with it themselves]]).
* Sergeant Alvin C. York of the U.S. Army got this treatment, which he openly lampshaded, once he returned from UsefulNotes/WorldWarI. Famed for leading a small contingent of soldiers to victory with a ''huge'' number of enemy prisoners after the rest had been slaughtered by enemy fire, York immediately got a huge hero's treatment Stateside, which he complained against and tried to deny. Books were written making his exploits completely fantastic, and movies did the same, such as one of the earliest showing him charge an enemy position with a pistol single-handedly and killing a few dozen German soldiers, which he himself said ''never happened''.[[note]] What actually happened was that he ran out of ammo for his Enfield 1917 rifle during a tense firefight and switched to his 1911 to defend himself.[[/note]] It should also be noted that York openly felt remorse for German soldiers he had killed and prayed for the dead Germans when he returned to the site of his feat.
* Vladimir I of Kiev, a Russian ruler credited with bringing Christianity to the country, is venerated as a saint in the Russian Orthodox Church and as one of Russia's best early leaders in general. He was also an extremely [[DomesticAbuse abusive husband]] even for his time, was involved in the murder of one of his brothers, and became Christian more because it was the most politically and militarily convenient thing to do at the time than genuine faith. He also coerced people to become Christians, warning they would be in trouble if they didn't.
* The Jacobite risings are usually framed as Scottish struggles to restore the [[RightfulKingReturns Rightful King]] and achieve independence from the English yoke; Bonnie Prince Charlie in particular is looked on as something of a TragicHero by Scots nationalists. In reality, there were Jacobite minorities in England and Hanoverians in Scotland, and the English Parliament had deposed the Catholic James II for being too pro-French, not pro-Scottish. Furthermore, while the Stuarts certainly wanted to reclaim the Scottish throne, at the time still legally separate from England, they were probably more concerned with the richer and more powerful Kingdom of England. So, while there was certainly an element of nationalism among the Scottish Jacobites, the risings were more of a struggle between Britain's Protestant political elite and continental Europe's old Catholic nobility than the true king fighting to free his people.
* [[TheUntouchables Eliot Ness]] is frequently depicted as a badass, incorruptible law officer who became UsefulNotes/AlCapone's ArchEnemy after refusing to take a bribe from him. In reality Ness had little to do with Capone's conviction,. and Capone might barely have been aware Ness ''[[IgnoredEnemy existed]]''. Capone probably considered whoever was in charge of the North Side gang as his arch enemy; Ness' ten man crew could barely scratch his million dollar bootlegging empire. Ironically for a man best known for fighting bootlegging, he also became an alcoholic later in life. When a federal building was slated to be named after him, a critic argued that it might as well be named after Franchise/{{Batman}}.
* Creator/GeorgeOrwell is often invoked as a free-speech dissident icon on both the Right and the Left, citing his warnings about Stalin's totalitarian regime and calling out his fellow leftists for their blind support of communism, which was certainly a valid point in the 30s and 40s. However, this has led to an ironic secular canonization (of the kind that Orwell himself criticized) where everyone assumes that because [[LogicalFallacies Orwell was right about Stalin, he was right about everything]]. Nor do they appreciate that an author who wrote about the deceptiveness of language and mendacity, [[{{Hypocrite}} was himself prone to exaggeration and outright lying]].
* {{UsefulNotes/Lampiao}} is venerated as a FolkHero in Brazil and often depicted in media as a [[JustLikeRobinHood Robin Hood figure]]: an outlaw that robbed the rich and gave it to the poor and dished out personal justice in the hard Northern Backlands, where the law could be bought by the rich. The reality was that he was a brutal and ruthless bandit that extorted people for huge amounts of money to not raid their towns and performed many horrible atrocities such as rapes, murders, castrations and branding to [[MakeAnExampleOfThem send out as message]]. Despite this, his memory is still fondly remembered in the Brazilian Northeast because of the idea he represented as a man standing up against the corrupt and taking up law in his own hands.
* Spartacus, the DoomedMoralVictor of the last known great slave revolts in Rome is constantly portrayed a hero, especially in the modern era from the 1700's onwards (before he was either unmentioned or forgotten). Someone who fought for the freedom of fellow slaves. Since most of the history we have comes down from Roman sources, we have no sure way of gauging what his motives was. Some see him as a revolutionary out to topple the corrupt republic or an abolitionist, but others insist that their original motive was simply to escape, and they also note that Spartacus' band composed or rural slaves and as such they tended to attack urban slaves who were loyal to their masters in the towns they attacked. Their last stand at the hands of Roman Legions led by UsefulNotes/MarcusLiciniusCrassis will forever be remembered as a heroic stand against slavery as popularized by ''{{Film/Spartacus}}'' and ''Series/SpartacusBloodAndSand''.
* {{UsefulNotes/Sanada Yukimura}} is often celebrated as a folk hero for his legendary skills as a warrior and has always received a near universally positive portrayal in any work he is in as a youthful samurai with undying loyalty to Takeda Shingen and later Hideyoshi Toyotomi. His last stand at Osaka is always played straight, depicting a tragic fight to serve his lord no matter the cost as he made his suicidal charge to face Tokugawa. Such efforts have immortalized in him games like ''SamuraiWarriors'' and ''{{Sanadamaru}}''.
* Among ThoseWackyNazis, Hitler's chief architect and later Minister of Armaments Albert Speer tends to be cast in a pretty favorable light by many movies that take his biased memoirs at face value. It also helps that he is one of the only Nazis who declared himself an atoner at the Nuremberg Trials, as well not being particularly obsessed with the whole racial purity thing. But they often tend to overlook his eager use of slave labor, disposession of Jewish tenants for his architectural plans, and his sheer efficiency at managing the German economy prolonging the war unnecessarily. To what extent he knew about the Holocaust is also up for debate. While not as horrible as someone like Himmler, filmmakers are too easy with swinging the pendulum in the other direction when in real life he was a very morally ambiguous man. The German docudrama ''Speer und Er'' at least got this right by never downplaying his personal failings.
* On hearing the word "Suffragette", people generally think of women advocating the extension of the franchise to their gender. However, this is the result of the term being conflated with the broader idea of suffrage activism, whose practitioners were called "suffragists". In reality, the term was used by contemporaries to describe UK militants such as the Women's Social and Political Union. Many of their activities were property damage, up to the point of domestic terrorism. Arson and bombings were not off the table. Furthermore, the amount of positive impact they had is subject to debate among historians. While it's generally agreed that their early activities had a dramatic mobilizing impact on the suffrage movement, there is a school of thought that argues the suffragettes did more harm than good overall when it came to their cause.

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* UsefulNotes/DateMasamune is played like this in many works. In real life, he may as well be categorized with UsefulNotes/OdaNobunaga; he killed his brother to rise to power (his nagging mother constantly opposed him and promoted his brother for clan leader) and betrayed the alliance with the other clans without much discussion (and conquering them). He also showed little respect to Hideyoshi when he was called to join the attack on Odawara (and late to come to boot!). But in ''Manga/SamuraiDeeperKyo,'' he ends up becoming Kyo's ally, though he may be rude and brash (aka Bontenmaru). And in ''VideoGame/SengokuBasara'', he becomes the JerkWithAHeartOfGold hero with a somewhat charming personality and several PetTheDog moments (seen with [[BattleButler Kojuurou]] and [[MoralityPet Itsuki]], or [[AllThereInTheManual in the Drama CD]], [[TheWoobie Oichi]]) And in ''LightNovel/TheAmbitionOfOdaNobuna'', ''[[GenderFlip she]]'' is a {{Boisterous|Bruiser}} CuteBruiser and LargeHam who's an ally of the heroes. This one is averted in Koei's Warriors series. In ''VideoGame/SamuraiWarriors'', he comes off as a jerk, but hides a lot of ambitions that are beneficial for Japan. But in ''VideoGame/WarriorsOrochi'', he becomes Orochi's henchman and is pretty much loyal to him and has no qualms on bringing chaos into the world.
* In ''Anime/FullmetalAlchemistTheConquerorOfShamballa'', Creator/FritzLang becomes one of Ed's allies in Weimar Berlin, and is depicted as an anti-fascist badass who opposes Nazism as early as 1923. His real-life political leanings are less well known and Lang actively obscured them with his creative retellings of his life in Germany. However, he was thrown out of at least a couple German exile parties in Hollywood for making anti-Semitic comments, and was known to be abusive to his cast and crew on set. (Granted, it's hard to expect historical accuracy from a film that [[spoiler: depicts the Beer Hall Putsch as part of a coordinated effort to take over Germany with the help of a group attempting to open a portal into Ed's alchemical universe.]]) Lang putting an entire film crew into mortal danger just to get a shot of a dragon for ''Film/DieNibelungen'' seems fairly like him, though.
* ''Manga/RurouniKenshin'' turns Saitou Hajime into a badass AntiHero. In actual history, he did manage to survive the mess that was the Meiji revolution and became a member of Japan's secret police (pretty much their equivalent of the FBI), but Watsuki freely admits that he pretty much made up all of the other details about Saitou's personality (as a minor note, [=RuroKen=] Saitou claims to have given up drinking, while in real life he died of a stomach ulcer as a result of it).
** Saito is sort of an odd example as [[CharacterizationMarchesOn he's initially]] introduced as a vicious BloodKnight and Watsuki comments on getting angry letters for giving him a ''HistoricalVillainUpgrade'', which might explain why soon after his introduction, Kenshin describes him as a morally pure WorthyOpponent, and he becomes an AntiHero from that point onward.
** The manga's treatment of Okubo is closer to this trope. He's historically seen as a SleazyPolitician, and that aspect is certainly part of his character, although he's presented as working for the best for his country and deserving of the respect he gets from Kenshin and Saito. WordOfGod comments on wanting to rehabilitate his image, noting that in terms of corruption, he [[TakeThat wasn't much different than Japan's current politicians]].
** Then, there's also the fact of how Watsuki portrayed the infamous Hitokiri Kenshin Himura. TruthInTelevision, Kenshin is actually based from a real life assassin [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kawakami_Gensai Kawakami Gensai]]. Like Kenshin, Gensai was also noted for his slim and feminine built, ties with the Ishin Shishi, and ruthless pursuit of moral agendas. Unlike the red head however, Gensai did not say "oro" as a mannerism, he did not like Western "barbarians" entering his homeland, and he killed scholars who studied Western ideologies. He was also far from the pacifist that Kenshin was after the war, instead, he continued the fight for his rights as a samurai and was executed by the same government he dedicated his life to create and defend.
* While this trope applies primarily to human beings and not machines, the eponymous CoolStarship of ''Anime/SpaceBattleshipYamato'' counts. The real life warship may have been a CoolBoat, but battleships were being eclipsed by aircraft carriers in the UsefulNotes/SecondWorldWar and the ''Yamato'' was no exception, with no kills during the war except possibly one small escort carrier, and being ignominiously sunk by aircraft while on a one-way suicide mission. Not the most appropriate ship to undertake a voyage to save the earth.
* ''LightNovel/FateZero'' takes UsefulNotes/AlexanderTheGreat, certainly an inspiring figure in his own right, but hardly a morally superior one, and turns him into what may be one of the most inspiring characters in anime and manga history; by giving him a complex philosophy that guides him while staying relatively true to the original Alexander's historical actions and fiery, straightforward personality, occasionally even calling him out on some of the less heroic actions of his historical counterpart.
** Subverted in ''LightNovel/FateStrangeFake''. UsefulNotes/RichardTheLionheart at first appears to be a noble and chivalrous (if eccentric) KnightInShiningArmor, so much so that his Master, Ayaka, starts feeling guilty that he even bothers with her. However, it eventually becomes clear that Richard had a fairly disastrous, blood-soaked reign and isn't exactly proud of his actions in life.
* ''Manga/{{Kingdom}}'' paints the young UsefulNotes/QinShiHuangdi in a far more positive light than his reputation within contemporary Chinese sources and history. Set prior to his descent into tyranny (such as burning books and burying scholars alive) as [[TheEmperor The Emperor]] of a united China; it has him portrayed here as both [[TheGoodKing The Good King]] and a [[WellIntentionedExtremist Well Intentioned Extremist]]. This is, however, a case of TropesAreNotBad - Readers are unlikely to root for Qin Shi Huang if he were portrayed historically.
* ''Manga/MagiLabyrinthOfMagic'' takes the usually [[HistoricalVillainUpGrade Historical villain upgraded]] Characters from Arabian Nights and give them their original ''proper'' roles (Ja'far to name a few...).


[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/ThreeHundred'' conveniently leaves out any mention of Spartan pederasty and slaveholding (of fellow Hellenes no less), which were major parts of their culture at the time, to keep them sympathetic to modern audiences. The film also leaves out their extreme devotion to religion in an attempt to appeal to gung-ho masculine audiences, going as far as having the hero criticize the Athenians as "boy lovers" and call out their own clergy as "corrupt."
** ''ComicBook/{{Three}}'' was born out of the author reading ''ComicBook/ThreeHundred'' and being driven apoplectic at the grandiose speeches about freedom from a culture that had massive slave population. The story begins with the Spartiates hunting down slaves who had proven a little too successful at war.
* Charles Fort may be one of the most important figures in paranormal science, but he wasn't much of a hands-on investigator. The only weird event he claimed to be present for was a painting falling off a wall for no apparent reason. Various comics have given him a more active role.
** In a one-shot comic from Creator/DarkHorseComics, he's not only depicted as being directly involved in the things he investigates, but is upgraded to a badass action hero who saves the world from aliens. A preteen Creator/HPLovecraft gets to be his sidekick. At the end of the comic, UsefulNotes/TheodoreRoosevelt puts him in charge of a secret [[Series/DoctorWho UNIT]]-like organization, putting us firmly into BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy territory.
** In ''ComicBook/{{Necronauts}}'', Fort, Lovecraft, Creator/HarryHoudini, and Creator/ArthurConanDoyle team up to save the world from an EldritchAbomination.
** The ''ComicBook/AtomicRobo'' story arc "The Shadow from Beyond Time" begins with Fort, Lovecraft, and Robo teaming up to defend the world from an EldritchAbomination, with Fort mentioning that he's had other adventures already including one associated with TheTunguskaEvent.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* The first season of ''Fanfic/ChildrenOfTime'', in the spirit of ''Series/DoctorWho'' (see the Live-Action TV folder below), contains more real-life people than it does characters original to the series, and nearly all in heroic or at least protagonist-supporting roles: [[Recap/ChildrenOfTimeS1E2MenOfEngland William Shakespeare]], [[Recap/ChildrenOfTimeS1E5TheIcarusExperiment Nikola Tesla and George Westinghouse]], [[Recap/ChildrenOfTimeS1T3AStudyInWhite Bram Stoker]], and even ''[[Recap/ChildrenOfTimeS1E9Fractures Jeremy Brett]]''. (The only real-life figure not to take on a positive light is General Groves in [[Recap/ChildrenOfTimeS1E4TheManhattanConspiracy "The Manhattan Conspiracy"]], the actual C.O. at Los Alamos during the development of the atomic bomb.
* In ''FanFic/WorldwarWarOfEquals'', some of the more... antagonistic world leaders such as Kim Jong-un, Hosni Mubarak, and Muammar Gaddafi are shown in a somewhat more positive light. Of course, anyone is better than alien conquerors.
* In ''Fanfic/KingdomHeartsNewEpicTheFirst'', being that its a NextGenFic set in Lord Cavendish's verse, the new President of the Alliance has given himself a massive HistoricalHeroUpgrade, presenting himself as a victorious war hero. The actual history shows he only got involved when it looked like things were going the Alliance's way, and only even then got involved in "easy" campaigns.


[[folder:Films -- Animated]]
* The imperial Romanov family in ''WesternAnimation/{{Anastasia}}''. Creator/DonBluth really just grabbed the opportunity to portray another idyllic [[FollowTheLeader Disney-like]] princess, while neglecting to mention all the reasons the revolutionists thought themselves justified in their actions. On the other hand, Grigori Rasputin gets quite the HistoricalVillainUpgrade, and indeed it's implied that the only reason the Revolution happened at all is that Rasputin had cursed the family.
* John Smith in Disney's ''Disney/{{Pocahontas}}'' movie, to the point where critics agree this is the version of John Smith the actual Smith would have wanted history to see him as. The real Smith wrote boastful accounts of his adventures, in which he spun fact into legend and portrayed himself as a Film/JamesBond-like figure. One of the reasons historians doubt the story about Pocahontas saving his life is that that's one of three times he claimed to have been rescued by a native woman. Either native women really had a thing for him or he was a rather uncreative writer. Also, John Smith was much more of a {{Jerkass}}, with one of his well-documented actions being taking a Native leader captive so that the leader's tribe would provide him with plentiful resources.
* Rodrigo Diaz de Vivar aka WesternAnimation/ElCid is portrayed as [[KnightInShiningArmor a young brave, romantic knight]] who rallies both Muslims and Christians to fight against a tyrant who seeks to crush both and is ultimately loyal to the king who exiled him. The real Rodrigo was largely self-serving and fought for both sides and against each other, which included sacking Christian cities for Muslims and vice-versa. He also famously murdered his wife's father for insulting and slapping Rodrigo's own father, while in the movie, Rodrigo accidentally kills Jimena's father in self-defense after he attempted to kill Rodrigo so he wouldn't interfere in her ArrangedMarriage with someone else.


[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/{{Braveheart}}'' upgraded William Wallace into the architect of Scottish Independence and downgraded Robert Bruce to little more than a background character.
** Robert Bruce is one of the great heroes of Scottish history and his guerrilla campaign against the forces of Kings Edward I and II was much larger, went on for much longer and was far more successful than Wallace's. Plus, it shows Bruce betraying Wallace. He never once betrayed Wallace (everyone else, sure - but never Wallace). Wallace also never met Princess Isabella, and certainly wasn't the father of Kind Edward III - for one, the RealLife Isabella was only a little girl at the time.
** Likewise, contrary to the kind of anachronistic Pictish barbarian highlander that Walllace comes across. The real one was a feudal Lord. Not a wealthy or prestigious one, but definitely part of that society's elite. He owned serfs, and lorded over peasants, and likewise, when he invaded England pre-emptively, he and his army sacked and burnt villages, attacking English peasants and serfs.
* ''Film/KingdomOfHeaven'':
** Balian in the movie is elevated from a knight who made a courageous, humanitarian decision to negotiate with Saladin into an archetypal heroic Everyman knight embodying the best of the chivalric ethos. Balian wasn't as nice as the film made him out to be. Not only was he raised a noble, not a blacksmith as he is in the film, but he betrayed his oath not to fight Saladin on more than one occasion, sold many of the peasants in the siege into slavery and threatened to massacre his Muslim prisoners if Saladin wouldn't accept a surrender.
** Saladin gets a bit of a Heroic Upgrade too in the film. He's been receiving Historical Hero Upgrades from both Muslims and Christian Europeans (to whom he was a WorthyOpponent) for so long that it's probably harder to represent him badly. Ironically, the modern lionisation of Saladin flows from the ''European'' depiction of him - until the late 19th century he was mostly forgotten in the Muslim world, in large part because the empire he created barely outlived him.
* ''Film/{{Kundun}}'' by Creator/MartinScorsese is one for the 14th Dalai Lama. From the view of the [=PRC=] (who are not shown as entirely without sympathy) in the film, this was essentially hagiographic. The film portrays the Dalai Lama as an InternalReformist who hopes to transform UsefulNotes/{{Tibet}}.
* The real Rob Roy was both a murderer and a cattle thief. The movie ''Film/RobRoy'' turns him into a heroic man of impeccable honor, though strangely it still does make passing mention to cattle-thieving, which was a common practice in those days.
* Lord Guilford Dudley in ''Film/LadyJane''. In the film, despite his bad boy persona, he's actually a virgin with a passion for social justice. While Guilford has a well-established historical reputation for being a JerkAss actual evidence indicates he was as much a helpless pawn as Jane herself. The film has him falling in love with Jane (and she with him). In reality they seem to have been willing to tolerate each other, Jane's real problem was with her new father in law. The story goes that Guildford requested a final interview with Jane before their executions which she refused on the grounds it would only upset them both. .
* ''Film/TheLostCityOfZ'' is an adaptation of a sensationalized non-fiction book by David Grann that was itself highly criticized portrays its hero Percy Fawcett as a BoldExplorer and unheralded genius who, despite being an officer of UsefulNotes/TheBritishEmpire, comes across as a benevolent and compassionate man with enlightened views about tribes in the Amazon jungle. [[https://www.spectator.co.uk/2017/04/the-lost-city-of-z-is-a-very-long-way-from-a-true-story-and-i-should-know/ According to John Hemming and other historians]], Fawcett was a racist who believed that the architecture of Ancient South American natives were built by "white tribespeople" who came in from the Atlantic, was an incompetent explorer who never accomplished anything, and who more or less got himself, and his son killed in an expedition that flouted basic rules of professional conduct in Amazonia. Likewise, there's been no mystery about Fawcett's death for experts in South America. A local chieftain admitted to have killed him and his son in the forties, but most people rejected that account because they liked the idea of a mysterious disappearance.
* In ''Film/{{Valkyrie}}'', the German officer corps is implied to be exclusively against Hitler for moral reasons. The fact that many of them harbored racist, anti-Semitic and classist views is glossed over. Their objections against Hitler ranged from him being far ''too'' murderous towards the "gutter races", to empowering the lower and middle classes, to simply losing the war.
* ''Film/TheUntouchables'' portrays Elliot Ness and his Untouchables skillfully combat Al Capone and ultimately bring him down on tax evasion charges. In reality, while the Untouchables put pressure on Capone's organization, and Ness weeded out the corruption in Chicago's law enforcement, it was an unrelated IRS operation that ultimately brought down Capone. Ness's self-promotion at the time helped popularize the impression that Ness was responsible. The film also portrays Ness as an ActionDad who gains resolve when Capone targets his family, but Ness had no children when taking on Capone. His later life was marked with business failures and alcoholism.
* Lucilla, sister of the Roman Emperor Commodus has been given a Historical Hero Upgrade in both ''Film/{{Gladiator}}'' and the 1964 epic ''The Fall of the Roman Empire'' (where she was played by Sophia Loren). The real life Lucilla ''was'' indeed involved in a plot to assassinate her brother...but according to contemporary historian Herodian it was because of her own jealousy and desire for power (in fact he even blames her attempt to have Commodus killed as what made him so paranoid in the first place).
* Earlier in the USA's history, General Custer was often depicted as a MessianicArchetype, a brave hero who fought against the Indians and died alongside his men. This myth extended to both literature and eventually, film. This is most notable in 1941's ''Film/TheyDiedWithTheirBootsOn''. More modern sympathies with the Indians have caused him to no longer be portrayed this way, however (though eventually this second view would soften, so that Custer now comes off as more a PunchClockVillain than an Indian-hating sadist). Custer's heroic myths are due to his wife, who outlived him (she died in 1933, a little under 60 years after him). She wrote ''three'' books depicting her late husband as a folk hero. She was afraid he would be blamed for the humiliating defeat and slaughter his troop suffered, and thus spent the rest of her life lobbying extensively to make her husband look a hero.
* ''Film/PrincessOfThieves'' upgrades UsefulNotes/RichardTheLionheart's [[HeroicBastard illegitimate son]] Philip of Cognac, a historic figure about whom almost nothing is known, into a full-blown ActionHero who prevents his EvilUncle Prince John from claiming the throne and wins the girl, who happens to be Myth/RobinHood's daughter.
* Chris Gardner in ''Film/ThePursuitOfHappyness''. Although somewhat true, he was somewhat more of a JerkAss than he was in the film, as Cracked notes [[http://www.cracked.com/article_16478_7-movies-based-true-story-that-are-complete-bullshit.html here]] (quote: "he actually didn't even know where the hell his son was for the first four months of the program."
* Cecil B De Mille's ''Samson & Delilah'' does this to the latter, whether she existed or not. Delilah never felt remorse for chopping off Samson's hair and removing his strength and her part in the story ends after that. His version has her truly fall in love with Samson and feel bad when he goes blind.
* Nicholas Garrigan in ''Film/TheLastKingOfScotland'' is based on [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Astles Bob Astles]] (he wasn't Scottish), who was imprisoned twice for his association to Ugandan presidents, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milton_Obote Milton Obote]] and [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Idi_Amin Idi Amin]]. Astles in real life was a MinionWithAnFInEvil; Garrigan on the other hand is a LoveableRogue[=/=]JerkassWoobie who, it is implied, helps bring down the Amin regime.
* While not much is known about the actual personalities of any of the well-known military leaders in the Three Kingdoms period of Chinese history, they are depicted in ''Film/RedCliff'' as having considerably modern views on things despite living in third century CE China.
* The film version of ''Film/VForVendetta'' paints Guy Fawkes as a DoomedMoralVictor and TragicHero who died to strike a blow for freedom. It fails to mention that he and the other members of the Gunpowder Plot were essentially WesternTerrorists mainly interested in replacing the Protestant monarchy with a Catholic one by murdering the whole government. This is more true in the film than in the original graphic novel, as [[AdaptationalHeroism the adaptation removes the moral ambiguity]] of V, the self-styled modern-day Guy Fawkes.
* ''Film/ThirteenDays'' was criticized by historians and then still-living members of Kennedy's administration because the movie intensely exaggerates the role that Kenny O'Donnell (the main point of view character played by Kevin Costner) played in preventing the Cuban Missile Crisis from escalating. The chief agent in the American government who pulled the administration together during the crisis was in fact Ted Sorensen, who's instead relegated to such a minor role that he's barely noticeable.
* No less a luminary than Joe Montana has criticized ''Film/{{Rudy}}'' for far overstating Rudy's role on the team and understating how much work everyone else was putting in too.
* More a mythological/literary example than a historical one, but Sun Wukong, the Monkey King in ''Film/TheForbiddenKingdom''. As an example, in the movie, the Jade Emperor suggests that the Monkey King could be given a bit more refinement if given an office in the CelestialBureaucracy, which he doesn't get because of the villainous Jade Warlord. In the original story, he ''is'' given a position (albeit as [[OddJobGods Cleaner of the Heavenly Stables]]), and becomes even more unruly because he's pissed at it not being grand enough (namely, not being the grandest position imaginable). Tricking him into thinking it was a high-standing position probably didn't help matters.
* John Nash and his (first) wife in ''Film/ABeautifulMind''. In the film, she is still with him in the 1990s when he got his Nobel prize, making it a heterosexual triumph-of-love story. In real life, she divorced him in the 60s when he got caught hanging around in public toilets picking up young men, and he wasn't allowed to accept his Nobel onstage due to being off his meds. He did, however, reconcile with and remarry her.
* The Spartans in ''Film/ThreeHundred''. In the movie, Sparta is portrayed as a secular utopia of egalitarianism and freedom. In reality:
** Sparta was almost entirely supported by their slave helots, which allowed Spartan men to spend all their time fighting. On the other hand, Spartan women ''were'' given more rights than other Greek women.
** The state was the ultimate owner of everything, with citizens being granted assets as deemed appropriate.
** While the film portrays Spartan citizens as secularists who are disgusted by their corrupt clergy, real Spartans were very devout.
** Leonidas scorns Athenians as "boy-lovers," but pederasty was also practiced in Sparta.
** The portrayal of the 300 Spartans as fighting and holding the Persians alone, with a small amount of help from a few Acadians, who are portrayed as being made up of amateur, poor soldiers. In reality the 300 Spartans formed only part (albeit a crucial part) of a coalition of forces from several Greek cities probably numbering 5-7,000 (this still left them outnumbered maybe as much as 100 to 1 though), the bulk of whom would have by this point been professional, well-trained (though perhaps not quite as well as the Spartans) soldiers.
* The 1940 German film ''Das Herz der Königin'' ("The Heart of the Queen"), viewed by many critics as an anti-British propaganda movie, portrays the troubled Mary, Queen of the Scots (Zarah Leander) as a beautiful saintly martyr whose heart is full of love for her people and who wishes above all to give them freedom and happiness. She spends the majority of the film frolicking around Scottish castles in glamourous anachronistic gowns while singing pretty songs about her tragic life.
* ''Film/DangerousBeauty'' gives this to both [[HighClassCallGirl Veronica Franco]] and Marco Venier. The film portrays Franco as bravely standing up to the Inquisition (which receives a major HistoricalVillainUpgrade) at her trial for witchcraft, and portrays Venier as being desperately in love with her, and defending her from the Inquisition, and persuading the rest of the Venetian Senate to do so as well. In reality, Veronica Franco was never in any real danger from the Inquisition. They tried her twice for witchcraft and let her go without punishment after she testified to performing rituals solely as entertainment. In fact, the Inquisition regarded accusations of witchcraft as silly superstition, and acquitted accused witches as a matter of course. The film also, in an earlier scene, depicts Franco as a hero of the Venetian republic for persuading the king of France, by being just that good in bed, to ally with Venice against the Turks. In real life, King Henry III of France did sleep with Franco when he visited Venice to negotiate the alliance, but that had nothing to do with why he allied with Venice.
* ''Film/SevenYearsInTibet'' downplays Heinrich Harrer's involvement in the Nazi Party. To be fair, he later described it as a youthful mistake and he never actually fought for the Nazis, having left Europe before the start of the war. Still, the image of him insisting that he's Austrian and only reluctantly taking the Nazi flag is a false one.
* ''Imperium: Augustus'' did this heavily with the eponymous Emperor UsefulNotes/{{Augustus}} and his rise to power. The movie presented him as an idealist whose goal was for the good of Rome. He also never wanted to do all the ugly things he did but was forced to because of the actions of his enemies. This was also done to a lesser extent with Julius Caesar who was presented as a WideEyedIdealist.
* Istvan Szabo's ''Colonel Redl'' (1985) does this for Alfred Redl, infamous Austrian spymaster-turned-traitor. Most historical accounts claim that Redl betrayed military secrets to Russia after being blackmailed for homosexuality, though a few accounts suggest he merely did it for the money. By contrast, Szabo's Redl is essentially scapegoated by officials in the Austro-Hungarian government to distract from a coup d'état plotted by Archduke Franz Ferdinand - who conversely gets a major HistoricalVillainUpgrade as a bloodthirsty warmonger.
* Subverted with UsefulNotes/RichardNixon in ''Film/XMenDaysOfFuturePast'', perhaps the most vilified president of the twentieth century, who gets a big, heroic TakeMeInstead moment during a hostage situation only for it to turn out that [[spoiler:it's a disguised Mystique getting the drop on Magneto]]. To be perfectly fair, though, Nixon does get one mild PetTheDog when he [[spoiler:calls off the mutant genocide when one of them saves his life]].
* The Owen Chase of ''Film/InTheHeartOfTheSea'' can do no wrong. He is shown to have opposed every questionable decision made by his incompetent captain, heroically dives down into the flaming, sinking Essex to retrieve navigational equipment (a feat actually committed by the ship's steward in real life) and ultimately has a epiphany wherein he realizes whale hunting is immoral, and decides to give up a career as a whaler to settle down into a family life. The latter detail cannot be further from the truth. In reality, Chase went on to have a long and successful career as a whaling captain, at the expense of his family life suffering: he went through 4 marriages in his lifetime. Chase was said by some who served under him to have carried a personal vendetta against the whale which sunk the Essex, and this may well have driven him insane, for he spent some of his later years in a mental institution. While his heroic command of the open boat is commendable, he also made some questionable decisions before, during and after the sinking that may have put his crew in danger.
* Jim Garrison is depicted in Oliver Stone's ''Film/{{JFK}}'' as a fearless crusader for the truth, driven by a deep sense of devotion to the slain president and a desire to bring justice to his assassins. The real life Garrison is considered by just about every objective historian to have been either a completely delusional paranoid or a shallow opportunist. He intimidated witnesses, suborned perjury and based his case against Clay Shaw on homophobia.
* UsefulNotes/ChristopherColumbus in Creator/RidleyScott's ''Film/FourteenNinetyTwoConquestOfParadise'' is depicted as a calm, kindly explorer who is fascinated by the Native peoples he encounters when he reaches San Salvador. In reality, as deduced from Columbus' own writings, the man was deeply religious to the point of fanaticism (which is never shown in the film) and considered the Native people he met to be an "intrusion of nature" - he had absolutely no respect for them, and as a governor of San Salvador would commit various atrocities against these people later, including massacring and enslaving them.
* UsefulNotes/VladTheImpaler gets this in ''Film/DraculaUntold'', his vampirism being a quasi-superhero origin tale. The fact the movie is closer to actual history regarding Dracula than most (not that this is saying much) also helps this trope. Namely, Vlad ''doesn't'' make a habit of impaling his own people, and he's known as the Impaler because of his deeds in the past, not his needs as ruler.
* ''Film/{{Cleopatra}}'' does this with both the title character and Mark Antony, with a corresponding HistoricalVillainUpgrade for [[UsefulNotes/{{Augustus}} Octavian]]. Antony is portrayed as a dashing romantic hero and an able leader, and it's fully implied that Rome would've been far better off under him than Octavian, who is depicted as a PsychopathicManchild. In real life, ''Antony'' was the more violent of the two. The historical Cleopatra was well-known for backstabbing and murder-for-hire, as well.
* ''Film/DeathHunt'': [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Johnson_%28criminal%29 Albert Johnson]] was a real person who was the subject of a months-long manhunt in the Yukon Territory in 1931-1932. While [[LonersAreFreaks he kept to himself]] in a cabin in the wilderness, reportedly he kept messing with the locals' hunting traps. The mounties tried to question him two separate times, bringing a search warrant the second time around, but he ignored them. This eventually resulted in a shoot-out between Johnson and the mounties after they forced his door, wounding several lawmen. The film makes him a lot more sympathetic by turning him into a Great War veteran who is really just a [[MisunderstoodLonerWithAHeartOfGold kind-hearted hermit]], having him nurse a maltreated dog back to health, and only becoming a fugitive after a group of vengeful locals force him into a shoot-out by attacking him.
* Maria Von Trapp appears in ''Film/TheSoundOfMusic'' to fulfil a ManicPixieDreamGirl role. In reality, ''she'' was the stricter parent. The real Von Trapp children were disturbed by how their father was portrayed and asked producers to soften him a bit.
* In ''Film/BridgeOfSpies'', Frederic Pryor, an American student in Berlin who was taken prisoner by the East German authorities because he was in East Berlin on the day the UsefulNotes/BerlinWall went up, is depicted as being captured in a heroic attempt to help a non-existent German girlfriend escape to the West. In reality, he was trying to return his library books.
* ''{{Film/Defiance}}'': Though the Bielski Partisans did protect and save thousands of Belarusian Jews, there were some far less heroic things they did too. In contrast to the film, the Partisan leaders held more resources than the rest, and took first pick of the women as sexual partners. Also, there are controversial allegations that they participated in NKVD-ordered atrocities against Poles that resisted giving supplies to the Soviet Partisans.

* OlderThanPrint: The ''Literature/ArabianNights'' gave Harun al-Rashid a Historical Hero Upgrade. The most memorable event in his real reign was his execution of a powerful aristocratic family, therefore making his empire weaker. Is it ever mentioned in the stories? Sometimes, but they don't go too far in [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade the opposite direction]] to Harun himself. In most stories, he's a lovable eccentric going on fantastic adventures-except in stories featuring Ja'far ("The Three Apples" especially), in which he comes off as a bit unstable.
* ''Literature/RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms'' has a few. Namely with the Shu Han kingdom. Portrayed as what would be the best path for China to being a DoomedMoralVictor.
** This is especially the case regarding on Liu Bei. True enough, he had noble goals. However, his traits have often been exaggerated to make him seem as if he was an extremely honorable man; never mind that he made lots and lots of mistakes that make him pale in comparison to Cao Cao's war abilities (such as irrationally leading the disastrous attack on Yiling, or slamming his infant son to the ground, effectively dooming his future empire). Yeah, author favoritism is also at fault here.
*** Even his goals were less than noble. While the novel depicts him as a loyal subject of the Han Empire and distant relation to the emperor himself, in reality Liu Bei spent most of his life as a mercenary, betraying many warlords who took him in before he establishing Shu Han. And his descent from the Han Dynasty was so distant that his adopted son, Liu Yong, who he ordered to commit suicide because of the birth of his biological son, was more closely related to the royal family.
** His blood brothers also are as flawed as he was. For example, Zhang Fei, often depicted as a headstrong warrior, was a ruthless bandit that kidnapped Xiahou Yuan's niece in RealLife. And Guan Yu being betrayed at Fan Castle wasn't because of treachery but due to his arrogance as well as refusing to allow one of his children to marry into the Sun family for political reasons.
** Zhuge Liang may embodies this trope even more than Liu Bei. The author portrays him as completely godlike in every way, except for the minor detail where he [[spoiler:has to succumb to overwork in the end [[DoomedByCanon because history said so]]]]. In real life his greatest weakness was his cronyism and sweeping Wei Yan aside despite his accomplishments.
** Zhao Yun gets special treatment as Liu Bei's most badass {{Bishounen}} spear-wielding hero apparently and treated like Yukimura as one of the best warriors in China. In reality he was an insignificant officer in Shu's ranks until Chengdu and only became well known after Zhuge Liang's commendations.
** Special mention goes to Ma Chao, whose father Ma Teng was a willing Han rebel who ''even served Dong Zhuo'', and what does Ma Chao do? He's abandoned his members of his family all too many times, and tried to always rebel against Cao Cao to no avail before his service in Shu.
* ''Literature/TheShahnameh'': The second third of the book mostly concerns semi historical characters or characters based on historical people performing greatly exaggerated or outright fantastic feats, i.e., a strong and patriotic warrior named Rostam probably did live and rule in Sistan, but he sure as hell never killed a WHALE or beheaded a demon!!!
* Creator/GoreVidal's historical books often give us alternative perspectives on despised and misunderstood figures. His ''Burr'' provides a more complex portrayal of the winner of the Burr-Hamilton duel. His ''Literature/{{Creation}}'' likewise shows the Ancient World from the perspective of the Persian hegemony, an abolitionist, multicultural empire as opposed to the slave-owning back-stabbing Greek city-states.
* A good deal of children's fiction about the English Civil War depicts the Royalists as being noble, flawless heroes and the Roundheads as being sly, unscrupulous villains. Adult fiction, on the other hand, often depicts the Royalists as deceitful, Frenchified, crypto-Catholic cads and the Roundheads as solid, honest, decent, beef-hearted true Englishmen. In reality, of course, both sides had legitimate points and obvious wrongs.
* ''Literature/TwentyYearsLater'' stops just short of making Charles I TheMessiah mk. II, both because it fits [[ValuesDissonance the ideals of the protagonists]] (such as seeing themselves as the last bastions of chivalry, defending royalty against a commoner uprising) and because it makes Mordaunt that much more of an AssholeVictim ([[spoiler:not only did he give Cromwell the idea of bribing the last of the king's loyal soldiers, he volunteered to be his executioner, all because the king had denied him his inheritance and title]]).
* Mary Boleyn was characterized by in ''Literature/TheOtherBoleynGirl'' as a blushing virgin who loved Henry VIII and only wanted a quiet life in the country (as opposed to her sister, who was evil by virtue of being ambitious). The real Mary was known as "The Great Prostitute" because of her promiscuity. Her family went so far as to recall her from the French court because her behavior there was scandalizing them. Anne, on the other hand, only ever slept with one guy, and [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade look how she's remembered]].
* In Harry Turtledove's ''Literature/TheGunsOfTheSouth'', Nathan Bedford Forrest is portrayed as being fiery, devoted, and honorable, though his racist ideals aren't shied away from. In the first and third Acts, he is shown to be a hero for the South, and he is a GracefulLoser at the end of the Second, ultimately agreeing to serve an abolitionist who beat him in a fair election. The real Nathan Bedford Forrest is perhaps best known for being the first Grand Wizard of the UsefulNotes/KuKluxKlan (which notably ''doesn't even exist'' in the book's altered timeline, because the CSA wins the war).
* In ''The Hooded Riders'', author Creator/JTEdson portrays the outlaw and gunfighter John Wesley Hardin as a wrongly accused hero, and his killing of a black man is presented as self-defense.
* ''Literature/ThePyrates'' reinvents Captain Henry Avery/Long Ben Bridgeman, mutineer and pirate, as Royal Navy hero Captain Benjamin Avery. But it's not claiming to be remotely historically accurate.
* ''Literature/TheEpicOfGilgamesh'' may have originally been propaganda for the real King Gilgamesh of Uruk, although it likely mutated over hundreds of years, as the story as we know it paints him as very flawed (but still incredibly badass.)
* There is a bit of this in the Literature/BelisariusSeries. While even heroic medieval warlords behave on occasion like, well, medieval warlords, there is more religious tolerance than is credible and Antonina's loyalty to Belisarius is raised above what some sources would indicate. Although the explanation is used by the book that much of that is malicious court gossip, and that explanation is not totally rejected by real historians.
* Subverted in the fictional story "Operation Chickenhawk" in Al Franken's ''Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot'', where Newt Gingrich, Dan Quayle, Rush Limbaugh, Pat Buchanan, Phil Gramm, Clarence Thomas and George Will serve in the Vietnam War (which they all avoided in RealLife), but prove to be either {{Dirty Coward}}s or dead meat.
* The Creator/GKChesterton poem "Lepanto" pumps up Don Juan of Austria ("The Last Knight of Europe") from Christian military hero to saviour of the western world from the hordes of darkness and its own political corruption... until the last verses where Chesterton talks about the other famous guy who was at the battle and the kind of book he wrote seem to subvert the trope. You can also visit UsefulNotes/BattleOfLepanto and see the entry under DudeWheresMyReward:
--> ''Cervantes on his galley sets the sword back in the sheath''
--> (Don John of Austria rides homeward with a wreath.)
--> ''And he sees across a weary land a straggling road in Spain,''
--> ''[[Literature/DonQuixote Up which a lean and foolish knight forever rides in vain,]]''
--> ''And he smiles, but not as Sultans smile, and settles back the blade....''
--> (But Don John of Austria rides home from the Crusade.)
* Thomas Cromwell is portrayed as a slightly better man in ''Literature/WolfHall'' than he would have been in real life, although not nearly as much as it might seem - most other depictions of him fall into the HistoricalVillainUpgrade variety.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' regularly gives BigDamnHero moments to admirable historical figures met by the Doctor during his various trips through time, particularly if [[AuthorAppeal the writers like the figure]]. Examples include Creator/VincentVanGogh, William Shakespeare, Queen Elizabeth, Creator/AgathaChristie, Winston Churchill, and Creator/CharlesDickens.
* Al Swearengen of ''{{Series/Deadwood}}''. Both the real and fictional Al Swearengen did terrible things. In the show, Al is a frontier mob boss who regularly orders murders, while in reality he was a sex slaver who forced unwitting women into prostitution. However, in later seasons of the show, Al becomes a force for good in the camp as he helps the locals defy the evil George Hearst. The show also gives him some PetTheDog moments, showing that he cares for cripples and outcasts in his own twisted way.
* In ''Ravna Gora'', a Serbian series about the UsefulNotes/WorldWarTwo Chetnik movement made by Radoš Bajić, Chetnik leader Draža Mihajlović is shown to be rather humble and nice, unlike the true historian picture of him and his movement, which says that they were murderous and chauvinist... The author explained how he wanted to show the truth, but he also made the movie as artistic expression (even if artistic expression and true history don't go together)... This can be explained due to growing Serbian nationalism after the breakup of Yugoslavia. That said, while they weren't saints the Chetniks probably get more sympathy nowadays due to being opposed to the communist Yugoslav Partisans led by Tito, who visited horrible fates on them after taking control of the country.
* ''Series/IClaudius'' single-handedly rehabilitated the reputation of the Emperor Claudius, who-long thought of as just another cruel despot among the Roman Emperors-is now rather positively viewed in the popular imagination. However, the idea that he wished to restore the Republic is pure fabrication. In their eyes, the Republic never collapsed, with UsefulNotes/{{Augustus}} and his successors simply being ''princeps'', or "[[JustTheFirstCitizen first among equals]]", with the remaining senators, at least superficially, sharing power with him. It wouldn't be until Commodus' reign that the senate began its true slide into irrelevance.
* ''Series/CosmosASpacetimeOdyssey:''
** In general, the show takes scientists who have been largely forgotten or overshadowed (such as Cecilia Payne or Ibn Al-Haytham) and showcases their achievements and discoveries. By necessity these tend to be simplified, covering decades in the animated segments of a 43-minute show.
** One example that attracted [[http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/outthere/2014/03/10/cosmos-pick-wrong-hero/ particular criticism]] was Giordano Bruno from the first episode. He ''was'' burned at the stake in part for his belief in a plurality of worlds, but his views on other doctrinal beliefs are only mentioned briefly in the reading of the charges. He's also portrayed as being pelted with fruit by the monks of Oxford, who in reality simply listened to and rejected his ideas, and being a homeless beggar for most of his life even though he was sponsored by kings for his memory techniques. The writer of that episode [[http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/outthere/2014/03/13/cosmos-giordano-bruno-response-steven-soter/#.UyY-KKhdUas had his own response]] to the critics.
* ''Series/HitlerTheRiseOfEvil'': Ernst Hanfstaengl is portrayed as having fled Germany in 1934 for moral reasons because he realized where Hitler's leadership was taking Germany. He actually continued to clamor for Hitler's approval for several more years and defected to the United States only after falling out of favor with the Nazis.
* ''Series/OneHundredGreatestBritons'': Several of the candidates who ended up in the list were not free of controversy:
** UsefulNotes/OliverCromwell: Ended at #10, which was controversial because Cromwell was widely disliked by his own people at the time, not just Royalists but also Republicans who considered him a traitor to their cause, and loathed in Ireland to this day, for his war crimes. Clarendon, a prominent Royalist who regarded Cromwell as the most wicked of all men neatly summed up the contradictory nature of Cromwell, noting that 'as he had all the wickedness against which damnation is denounced and for which hell fire is prepared, so he had virtues which have caused men in all ages to be celebrated' even praising his industriousness and wisdom even if they were put to what he saw as evil use.
** Nr. 16, UsefulNotes/MargaretThatcher was also considered to be a polarizing choice. Her politics and economics weren't exactly considered beneficial to the working class population.
** Nr. 30, Guy Fawkes, tried blowing up the English Parliament.
** Nr. 55, Enoch Powell, a British politician, most infamous for his "Rivers of Blood" speech, which was considered to be racist and xenophobic by many.
** Nr. 64, James Connolly, an Irish nationalist and socialist, executed by the British Crown in 1916.
** Nr. 73, Creator/AleisterCrowley was a controversial choice for being an occultist, nicknamed "The Wickedest Man In The World".
** Nr. 82, UsefulNotes/RichardIII, a king suspected of murdering his nephews.
* In ''Series/BandOfBrothers'' and the book it was based on, Pfc. David Kenyon Webster gets a pretty sympathetic portrayal, largely because author Steven Ambrose thought of him as a WarriorPoet. According to other Easy veterans, Webster was a lazy and ineffective soldier who only ever did the bare minimum, as well as a {{Jerkass}} who thought his Harvard education [[InsufferableGenius made him better than everyone else]] and wasn't shy about it either. He had few, if any, friends. Webster's own war memoir doesn't help his case, as it's mostly filled with his complaints about the army and just about every officer in the company (generally that he's smarter than they are, according to him at least) except Major Dick Winters, who gets only a single brief mention. Bill Guarnere, Babe Heffron, and Don Malarkey, who all wrote their own memoirs, disliked him and felt that the book and miniseries gave him far too much credit.
* Subverted in ''Series/{{Highlander}}''. Duncan and another immortal Scots friend of his fought in the Jacobite Rebellion of 1745. His friend idolised Bonnie Prince Charlie and resented Duncan forcing him to stay out of the final battle to keep up TheMasquerade. Many years later he tried to start another rebellion and took Duncan to meet Charlie in Italy. We initially see the meeting from the friend's perspective, showing Charlie in his pop culture persona as charismatic and noble. Then we see the true events from Duncan's viewpoint, showing Charlie as the broken alcoholic he really was at that point in his life.
* ''The Tudors'' is notable (and controversial) for its sympathetic portrayal of Mary Tudor (yes, the same Mary Tudor who burned 280 Protestants at the stake). While the show doesn't shy away from her religious extremism, a greater focus is put on her tragic circumstances...Turns out that having a [[FreudianExcuse megalomaniacal, tyrannical father wasn't all that easy.]]
* The Iranian miniseries ''Passion of Flight'', focuses on Iran Iraq War F-14 pilot [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abbas_Babaei Abbas Babaei]], which the shows portrays as an intelligent officer and skilled pilot who was loved by both his superiors and comrades and was very forgiving. In reality, Abbas wasn't a nice guy and was hated by his colleagues since he mistreated anyone he suspected who wasn't loyal to the new Iranian Regime. Furthermore, those officers who dislike him even claim he wasn't even qualified to fly an F-14.
* Parodied in ''Series/{{Blackadder}}'', where it states that Richard III's reputation was a result of Henry VIII's changing of history, and that instead of being a wicked king, Richard was a loving uncle to his two nephews, one of whom would eventually become king.

* ''Theatre/HenryV'' ignores several inconvenient aspects of the historical king, probably because he was a badass warrior King of England at a time when English nationalism was on the rise after hundreds of years of domination by French overlords. Still, he could easily have been seen as a villain, even by the Elizabethans. He executed captured enemy knights, presided over some horrible bloodbaths, doomed both sides to keep fighting a pointless war, burned "Protestant" heretics[[labelnote:*]]strictly speaking, Lollards, but these were seen as Protestant forerunners by many Elizabethans[[/labelnote]] alive--including Sir John Oldcastle, the original of Shakespeare's Falstaff--[[ArsonMurderAndJaywalking and]] [[GoodScarsEvilScars had a nasty scar across his face]].
* ''Theatre/HenryVIII'' ends with Henry and Anne eagerly expecting his heir, the future Queen Elizabeth--ignoring the fact that the entire point of the exercise had been for Henry to get a ''male'' heir, and indeed that Catherine had ''already'' borne a female heir ([[{{Unperson}} who would grow up to be Bloody Mary]])...not to mention the infamous mess that would come a few years later, with Catherine dead and Anne convicted of capital crimes, both under very suspicious circumstances.
* ''Theatre/RichardIII'' with its HistoricalVillainUpgrade for Richard, makes other characters look more heroic. Lord Stanley is portrayed as a loyal and noble vassal, who heroically acts to put Henry VII on the throne. In real life the Stanleys were notoriously treacherous and double-dealing, switching between sides, and at Bosworth Lord Stanley didn't do anything with his troops, it was his brother Sir William Stanley who basically stabbed Richard in the back when he attacked his forces. And William was later executed by Henry for supporting a Pretender. However Lord Stanley's descendants ended up funding Shakespeare's plays, hence his glowing portrayal. Another character who gets an upgrade is George, duke of Clarence, who is portrayed as, at worse, a bit naive and foolish, though his joining the Lancastrians is portrayed it is glossed over. In reality George was a massive SmugSnake, who spent a lot of his time plotting against his brother Edward IV, trying to have them declared illegitimate, joining the Lancastrians so he could gain more influence, and finally getting executed after he bullied a court into executing someone, then left court without permission, which was basically the precursor to rebellion. However he is probably portrayed as more heroic to contrast him with his youngest brother Richard.
* Thomas More's portrayal in ''Film/AManForAllSeasons'' tends to focus on his bravery in maintaining his principles even when he knew this would result in his gruesome death, presenting him as a champion of the freedom of the individual conscience. Even apart, however, from the ValuesDissonance that led him (like nearly everyone in his own time) to approve the burning of heretics, More was fully convinced that the state ''had a perfect right'' to suppress any '''open''' dissent; his entire defense was based upon the plea that he had not made his personal opinions known. He was definitely no advocate of free speech, as the play seems to suggest he was.
* The Creator/CirqueDuSoleil shows based on Music/MichaelJackson's work, ''Theatre/MichaelJacksonTHEIMMORTALWorldTour'' and ''Theatre/MichaelJacksonONE'' portray him as a transcendentally gifted performer and humanitarian. In the latter show, his iconic costume items magically grant people his core attributes -- playfulness, agility, courage, and love -- and the primary antagonists represent a StrawmanNewsMedia out to tear him down. As one might imagine, his myriad personal failings -- egotism, drug abuse, plastic surgery to the point of BodyHorror, the lingering question of whether he was a ''pedophile'' or not, etc. -- are swept under the rug; even before ''ONE'' opened, Steve Bornfeld [[http://www.vegasseven.com/ae/2013/05/29/deification-michael-jackson questioned this portrayal]] (which is the standard one amongst the more rabid Jackson fans, keep in mind): "[Cirque's] predecessor shows honored the brilliant music of Music/TheBeatles and [[Music/ElvisPresley Presley]] without suggesting that its subjects wrapped their arms around the globe and cradled it in its loving embrace." He also points out that the image of Michael as a champion of goodness and the world's greatest entertainer was one ''he'' cultivated to begin with (as in the ForcedMeme "The King of Pop").
* Not a person, but a country. ''Theatre/TheSoundOfMusic'' creates the impression of UsefulNotes/{{Austria}} being a free country trampled by Nazi jackboots. In fact, Austria became a fascist state in 1934, four years before the Anschluss. Also, most Austrians saw themselves as Germans at the time and welcomed the Anschluss. While the musical does include some Austrian characters who support the Anschluss, it portrays them as LesCollaborateurs. It is true that some Austrians opposed the Anschluss, including the real Captain von Trapp, but they were in the minority and most were monarchists hoping for a Habsburg restoration.
* ''Music/{{Evita}}'', much like ''The Sound of Music'', implies that Argentina was a democracy before the 1943 military coup that ultimately brought Juan Peron to power two years later. The country had actually been a dictatorship for over a decade, and in fact many Argentines supported the coup.
* ''Theatre/{{Hamilton}}'' gives out these all around
** The titular character's anti-slavery stance is greatly increased in order to make him more sympathetic. While the real Hamilton was more antislavery than some people of the time, he did not see slavery as nearly as important an issue as other things were, and tolerated slaveholders among his associates (John Laurens, however, really was that much of an abolitionist). Hamilton also owned a few slaves himself. The play also tones down Hamilton's elitism. Real life Hamilton was accused of being a monarchist due to wanting to re-establish a blue blood elite in the Colonies, and at the Constitutional Convention argued that the President should serve for life, though historians debate if he really believed these things or if the whole thing was an elaborate feint planned with UsefulNotes/JamesMadison to [[FalseFlagOperation make the latter's plan look better by comparison]].
** George Washington, as ever, is presented as fairly saintly in the finished play, though this may simply be [[HeroWorship how Hamilton sees him]]. In earlier drafts, there were hints that him stepping down from the role of President was due to his realization that PowerCorrupts, with King George's theme slipping into his song.
** Jefferson, while an antagonist in the play's second act, is a lot less cutthroat towards Hamilton than he was in real life.
* ''Theatre/SeventeenSeventySix'' portrays UsefulNotes/JohnAdams as having more modern views of social issues, such as slavery, than the real man possessed, though this is not due to any attempt to lionize Adams, but rather because this Adams is a CompositeCharacter of John and his more radical cousin Samuel, who really did hold the more progressive positions John espouses in the play.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* UsefulNotes/OdaNobunaga is typically portrayed as villainous in most Japanese HistoricalFiction, but from ''VideoGame/SamuraiWarriors 2'' onwards he gets treated as a pragmatic AntiHero. Historically, he was much closer to the game's portrayal of Hashiba Hideyoshi as an eccentric yet highly general and administrator. He was not only a ruthless commander, but embraced Western culture and technology before most other Daimyos and implemented several important policies that are still used or directly influence current policy today. Embracing the use of guns allowed him to rout his opponents in battle.
** UsefulNotes/ToyotomiHideyoshi. His character in ''VideoGame/SamuraiWarriors'' depict him as, while prone to silly antics at times, is an ultimately good guy who wishes for everyone to be happy and inspired loyalty from great warriors like Yukimura Sanada. The game failed to mention his brutal persecution of Christianity, crucifixion of the 26 missionaries sent to Japan, invasion of Korea (and his attempt to do the same to China), and the imposition of rigid social classes that halted the social mobility from which he himself had benefitted. The Korean invasion being omitted may be because KOEI wouldn't dare piss on the Korean due to the bad blood between them and Japanese (which was Hideyoshi's fault, and even [[VideoGame/SengokuBasara Capcom]] makes no mention of that despite giving Hideyoshi a HistoricalVillainUpgrade.) Hideyoshi even has some bonds with some Chinese warriors in ''VideoGame/WarriorsOrochi'' (although these Chinese people were in a time before Hideyoshi was born or could even invade.)
** In the 2nd 3DS game, they introduced [[UsefulNotes/YagyuJubei Yagyu Munenori]], badass swordsman of the Yagyu clan who usually is portrayed as villainous or an utter bastard. In this game, he's said to be possessing none of those overexaggerated bastardizations and is an all around just and honorable swordsman.
** Nobunaga is also pretty badass in VideoGame/PokemonConquest (A Pokemon-VideoGame/NobunagasAmbition crossover) as in this continuity he not only a Master Pokemon trainer, but is the trainer of a shiny Rayquaza. For those not known in Pokemon lore, Rayquaza is a massive dragon Pokemon, practically a god among Pokemon, and "shiny" is when a Pokemon gets a rare [[note]] very very very very very very rare [[/note]] alternate colour scheme. The only legit way to get one in the main series games, is to SaveScum about 8000 times.
** Also, while not that glaring, there's the portrayal of Katou Kiyomasa in ''VideoGame/SamuraiWarriors''. In real life, while he's a model general, he's also a ''brutal'' pro-Buddhist man, extremely ruthless against Christianity and willingly ordered his men to butcher Christians, cutting the bellies of Christian women then have their infant babies killed. Koei decided to not even touch the Christianity issues for their game, and so Kiyomasa becomes a merely snarky, loyal general to the Toyotomi army with no comments about religion. Funnily enough, in the spin-off ''Hyakuman-Nin Sengoku Musou'', this ends up giving a {{Jerkass}} upgrade to one of Kiyomasa's historical Christian opposition, Konishi Yukinaga, who's instead portrayed as a money-grubbing jerk.
* Pretty much ''everyone'' in the ''VideoGame/SengokuBasara'' series that wasn't instead [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade made into an outright villain]] gets some degree or another of this, but UsefulNotes/TokugawaIeyasu is the biggest -- by ''Sengoku Basara 3'' he's basically a MessianicArchetype, compassionate and honest, and his PowerFist combat style is symbolic of his desire to keep war from ever again severing the Bonds between people, rather than power-hungry and manipulative. Not to mention, he's a young {{Bishonen}} rather his usual portrayal of being a fat old man.
* Taking a leaf from ''Literature/RomanceOfTheThreeKingdoms'', ''VideoGame/DynastyWarriors'' promotes Liu Bei to a man concerned primarily with virtue and honourable behaviour, and one more thing: He's much more of a caring father and is capable of being proud of his son. It helps that the infamous scene where he threw his son to the ground was omitted for the game.
** To a lesser degree, his son Liu Shan is also portrayed as, while far from the warrior his father was, a man of virtue. As stated above, it helps that he's not thrown to the ground as a baby...
** Sima Zhao also gets this, as he was ''much'' worse in real life. Zhuge Dan's bio in the game even suggests that Zhao's rule was Tyrannical.
*** A prime example of this is during Zhuge Dan's rebellion after Dan killed Wen Qin. Zhao states that any soldiers who willing surrenders would be unharmed while Zhong Hui suggests that they should just kill them, when historically it was the other way around.
** Ma Chao is generally portrayed as a man who upholds justice above all else and is loyal to Shu, even in death. While the loyalty part is true...well, let's just say [[UnknownRival Wang Yi]] isn't the only person pissed at him for killing a family. He was rather brutal in real life, and certainly didn't care about whether he was doing the right thing or not.
** Lu Bu in the games has increasingly been portrayed as being a sort of [[NobleDemon Noble Demon]], going from being obsessed with strength for its own sake in earlier games to wanting strength to protect those he cares for. Historically, Lu Bu allowed his soldiers to pillage, rape and plunder which contributed greatly to his ultimate failure and death.
** Gan Ning is shown as being a pretty cool dude, and his initial bad blood with Ling Tong eventually gives way to a friendly rivalry. The real Gan Ning was a murderous bastard that most of his fellow generals would've happily killed if not for Sun Quan's protection. He even murdered a young serving boy who'd fled to Lu Meng for protection, despite promising to spare him if Lu returned the boy. Ling Tong hated him till the day he died, and Lu Meng very nearly killed him for the murder of the serving boy.
* ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedI'' has this and its [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade counterpart]] '''as its entire plot'''. The series's main draw is how the developers use the RuleOfCool to combine [[ShownTheirWork exquisite research]] with Historical Upgrades. [[InThePastEveryoneWillBeFamous Everybody of note in the past]] belonged to one of two [[AncientConspiracy Ancient Conspiracies]]; the [[BlackAndGrayMorality Templars and the Assassins]]. The [[http://assassinscreed.wikia.com/wiki/Templars Templars]] work to [[TheEvilsOfFreeWill eradicate free will in the name of peace]]. The [[http://assassinscreed.wikia.com/wiki/Assassins Assassins]] hunt and kill [[AristocratsAreEvil Evil Aristocrats]] wherever and whenever possible "[[TheRevolutionWillNotBeVilified to safeguard Mankind's evolution]]"(and peace). If somebody in the past was awesome, he's in the series somewhere with his life examined in detail - with HiddenDepths because history was [[WrittenByTheWinners Written By The Templars]].
** For starters, the Hashshashin themselves. In real life they were Hassan-I-Sabah's private army not unlike modern terrorists. They built a reputation at the time as his enemies were {{Asshole Victim}}s who they eliminated with a minimum of collateral damage.
** [[UsefulNotes/RichardTheLionheart King Richard I]] of England, however, got a fairly realistic representation: he went by the title "Lionhearted" even in his own day, and it did not refer to heroism but a love of combat. So, though he's driven to conquer Jerusalem, he [[IGaveMyWord keeps his promise]] to listen to [[PlayerCharacter Altaïr]] finally after he beats [[BigBad Robert De Sable]] in single combat, and lets Altair go free afterwards. He's undeniably a jerkass, but he's still portrayed in a relatively positive manner - basically a NobleDemon.
** Lorenzo de'Medici is portrayed as being a devout republican and a benevolent ruler. In reality, like all the noble families in the Italian city-states, the Medicis were Machiavellian schemers who committed all sorts of immoral acts to maintain their power. At least it's shown in the ''Lineage'' short how Lorenzo brutally tortures an agent of his enemies for information, and in ''[[VideoGame/AssassinsCreedBrotherhood Brotherhood]]'' Lucrezia Borgia claims, probably truthfully that he quashes the families of his rivals utterly, even those who had nothing to do with the plots against him.
** And who can forget how Creator/LeonardoDaVinci got an upgrade in heroism, despite only being the sort-of deuteragonist? Notable changes include that his inventions work, are ''completely functional'' and can be used at nearly any time. Plus he's the main character's BFF.
** According to some fan-theories, the events of the games are filtered through Altair and Ezio's impressions of them. Such as the way beggars in the first game would bother Altair and ''only'' Altair.
** Not to mention that with their advantage in information control, the Templars would obviously try to slander any historical figure who allied themselves with the Assassins.
* ''VideoGame/CallOfDutyBlackOps2'' gives one to Angolan rebel leader Jonas Savimbi. In the game, he's a gregarious and enthusiastic player ally who rides into battle at the head of his army and even pulls off a spectacular GunshipRescue at the end of the mission he's featured in. In real life, while he was known for his charisma and his courage (having a reputation for leading from the front lines as he does in the game), he was also a war criminal who massacred civilians, funded his army by selling conflict diamonds, accepted military aid from apartheid South Africa, ran the territories he controlled like his own personal kingdom, ordered the torture and execution of his own men if he had even the slightest suspicion of betrayal, and re-started the civil war ''twice'' after previously agreeing to ceasefires because he didn't win the post-war elections - it took his death in battle with government troops in February 2002, a full sixteen years after the in-game level he's featured in, to finally bring the war to an end. The characters in the game does comment that Savimbi was insane but don't elaborate over.
* [[DiscussedTrope Discussed]] and ultimately discouraged in ''[[VideoGame/WhereInTimeIsCarmenSandiego1997 Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego?]]'' When you meet William the Conqueror, who casually mentions one time that he [[RapePillageAndBurn razed a Saxon village to the ground]], your Good Guide will chime in to remind you that just because you're meeting and working with figures from history doesn't mean that they're all necessarily nice people. Your job as a time traveller isn't to pick sides, but [[StatusQuoIsGod to get history as we know it back on track.]]

[[folder:Web Original]]
* ''WebVideo/TheGreatWar'' discusses how [[UsefulNotes/WorldWarI Paul von Lettow-Vorbeck]] was idolised until relatively recently for his role in defending German East Africa against a much larger Entente force. It acknowledges his skill as a commander, stating that he was a major pioneer of guerrilla warfare in the 20th century. However, the show also mentions von Lettow-Vorbeck's role in the Herero genocide, his participation in the 1920 Kapp-Putsch (a far-right coup attempt, intending to depose the UsefulNotes/WeimarRepublic), along with his racist imperialist views.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Played with ''hilariously'' in ''WesternAnimation/TimeSquad''. When the team is given a mission, Otto always would get really excited and start rattling off the wonderful achievements of whoever it was they were going to meet, pretty much ignoring any of the flaws (arguably justified through childish idealism). When they actually meet the historic figures however, they are all stupid, insane, stubborn, cruel, or plain incompetent.
** One example that stands out, though, is UsefulNotes/JosefStalin. In RealLife a mass-murdering megalomaniac who became the TokenEvilTeammate for the Allies only after his VillainTeamUp with UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler ended in a German invasion of Russia, his appearance in the show is limited to a small role and passing mention as one of the leaders of UsefulNotes/WorldWarII, and painting him, UsefulNotes/WinstonChurchill and UsefulNotes/FranklinDRoosevelt as Best Friends Forever rather than reluctant allies - in RealLife, roughly speaking, Churchill was annoyed with Roosevelt and increasingly worried about Stalin; Roosevelt was annoyed with Churchill and rather naively trusted Stalin; and Stalin liked both of them and [[ManipulativeBastard enjoyed manipulating them even more]]. In the show, Stalin and Roosevelt decide to forgo clothes and become nudists upon prompting from Churchill. Of course, this is ''Time Squad'' - the show where UsefulNotes/MahatmaGandhi is tap-dancing in a far-future space station's prison cell because he refuses to stop doing that and start with the whole Indian independence movement - so historical accuracy is not a priority.
* UsefulNotes/ChristopherColumbus' heroic reputation is actually Averted in, of all places, an episode of ''WesternAnimation/TheFlintstones'' dealing with TimeTravel. While the mythical story of him trying to prove the world is round is kept, here he's portrayed as a {{Jerkass}} and a MeanBoss towards his crew (and the four members of the cast) who has to fend off an attempt at a mutiny while threatening the four cast members to help him. The mutiny is stopped when Wilma sees land... And he quickly takes credit for it. (Fortunately for the four protagonists, the TimeMachine starts working again and whisks them to a new time period, but they only find more trouble there.)
* UsefulNotes/{{Nero}} is never regarded as a hero, but when he appeared on Peabody and Sherman's segment of ''WesternAnimation/RockyAndBullwinkle'', there was a twist, as he was portrayed as NotEvilJustMisunderstood. [[spoiler: In this reality, it was actually Nero's ''music teacher'' who started the fire]].

* [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lei_Feng Lei Feng]] was an ordinary but not particularly notable soldier in the People's Liberation Army. Then he died, and, amazingly, it turned out he ''just happened'' to have written a big diary in which he had recorded his dutiful life devoted to Chairman Mao. Most historians are pretty sure that the entire thing was a result of the Communist Party's PropagandaMachine.
* Similar upgrades were done for the USSR's [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pavlik_Morozov Pavlik Morozov]] and Nazi Germany's [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Horst_Wessel Horst Wessel]].
* Similarly, [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nicolas_Chauvin Nicolas Chauvin]], if he really existed, got this treatment from French Bonapartists. Ironically, today he would generally get a HistoricalVillainUpgrade due to being the origin of the word "chauvinism" in spite of [[MisBlamed its later associations not being intended.]]
* Many of the Saints in the Catholic Church were often unsaintly even after renouncing their formerly wicked ways. To a large degree that is because the colloquial idea of a saint is different from the official idea of a saint; it is after all official doctrine that sinning is part of being human even if you are a saint. Thus they often got upgraded mostly by popular tradition rather then official tradition.
* Everyone knows pirates have been romanticized over the centuries, but [[PirateGirl female pirates]] in particular tend to get this treatment in media. (Grania "the Pirate Queen" O'Malley, Anne Bonny, and Mary Read especially. But Mistress Ching, curiously, does not get this treatment. ) Granted, life was tough all around and many of these women likely had justifiable reasons for their crimes, but the same can be said for many of their male comrades who aren't given as much slack. And once you read about O'Malley burning a town to the ground or Anne Bonny (maybe) murdering a chambermaid, it's hard to continue seeing them as typical adventure heroines. (But they're still pretty damn interesting to read about. )


!!InUniverse examples

[[folder:Anime & Manga]]
* ''Manga/SayonaraZetsubouSensei'' has an instance wherein during a lecture on the importance of holding one's tongue, Nozomu speaks positively about Kira, the man traditionally viewed as the villain in UsefulNotes/The47Ronin incident. Nozomu refers to him as a cultured man taken advantage of by a bunch of bumpkins.
* At the end of ''Manga/FullmetalAlchemist'', the heroes have to whitewash Führer Bradley's life and not tell anyone that [[spoiler:he was a Homunculus and willing to sacrifice his people to give Father godhood]].
* The second prequel series of ''Anime/LegendOfGalacticHeroes'' has a younger Yang Wenli trying to research the life of one Bruce Ashbey, a famous Alliance war-hero. The arc itself is a discussion of this trope, with Yang lampshading the fact that while Ashbey, admirable as he was, may not have been the great badass people remember him to be, it would be foolish to [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade automatically assume the opposite]] just to say that his interpretation is "unique."
* ''Manga/{{Naruto}}'': The Uchiha Clan. The village at large sees them as a great and noble clan that were victims of their traitorous prodigy, Itachi. The truth of the matter is that the Uchiha Clan was extremely bitter about their lack of power in the politics of the village despite being politically the most powerful clan due to their Military Police position, and about the perceived discrimination they suffered during the Second Hokage's reign and after the Kyuubi attack. [[spoiler:It eventually led them to plan a coup against the village, which forced Itachi to kill them all. It should be noted that Itachi WANTED the massacre if it meant that Sasuke wouldn't live with his clan's crimes on his shoulders, and would rebuild the Uchiha to be truly noble after "avenging" their deaths.]] When Sasuke found all of this out, his reaction was a bit... [[GoMadFromTheRevelation extreme]].
* In ''Manga/OnePiece'''s Skypiea Arc, the tale of Noland The Liar paints the king of Noland's country as a brave warrior who overcame many dangers but got suckered by Norland's lies. The flashback shows that the king was actually a greedy opportunist who relied on Noland the entire journey. When the island where the City of Gold supposed to be wasn't there, the king had Noland put in a KangarooCourt and basically destroyed his good name out of spite.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* ''Film/StarTrekFirstContact'' explores this trope with the fictional historical figure of Zefram Cochrane. Federation history paints Cochrane as a shining paragon of idealism while he was really a selfish, cynical drunk (but still kind of a LoveableRogue). Much of his widely known idealism only came long after he'd made FirstContact, while the time-traveling crew only met the earlier, broken man who'd barely lived through WorldWar3. The Cochrane they meet even sneers at the very same aphorisms [[TimeyWimeyBall he'll later famously deliver]]. The novelization hints that he may have had untreated bipolar disorder, alternating between manic creative highs that led to his [[FasterThanLightTravel inventing the warp drive]] and crushing lows.
** Perhaps even shown earlier in ''StarTrekTheOriginalSeries'' where after begin forced to land on a planet by an energy cloud, Kirk and company encounter a still alive and rejuvenated Cochrane. When he's informed that the energy cloud that's been keeping him alive is female and in love with him, he's disgusted by it as immoral which can be perceived as FantasticRacism. It's not until she takes over the body of a dying human woman is he able to return her feelings.
* ''And Starring Pancho Villa As Himself'' (2003) is all about this trope, with Villa's image being changed by the filmmakers for RuleOfDrama and to make him more acceptable to American audiences.
* In ''Film/BackToTheFuturePartII'', when Biff Tannen uses the almanac to make himself a wealthy and corrupt man, and turn Hill Valley into a wretched hive, he does this twofold: in the museum in the casino he owns, he portrays his ancestor Buford Tannen, a sociopathic outlaw, into a brave frontiersman, and unsurprisingly, portrays himself as a patriotic and generous businessman.

* In ''Literature/DragonBones'', the hero, Ward, is told to his horror that Seleg, the man he hero-worshipped and admired as role-model, had been NoHeroToHisValet, and [[spoiler: in fact, been the one who horribly punished the defenseless slave Oreg, when Oreg complained about his killing the dragons he (Seleg) was duty-bound to protect.]] Naturally, no report of those deeds made it to any ballad or other account of history.
* [[Literature/CiaphasCain CIAPHAS CAIN]], '''HERO OF THE IMPERIUM'''! Pretty much the poster boy for this trope: a cowardly, manipulative political officer who gets thrown into death and destruction at every turn, and comes out as a hero for the [[TheEmpire Imperium]], even revered as an aspect of the [[GodEmperor god-emperor of mankind]] in some circles. He doesn't believe all the hype, though.
** A recurring theme in the books is Cain using his memoirs (compiled into the books we read) to give himself a HistoricalVillainUpgrade instead. By his actions, Cain is a hero. By his own claims he's a self-serving coward. Those tropes get played with a lot, and Sandy Mitchell says [[ShrugOfGod he's not sure if Cain is a hero or a coward.]]
* Within the ''Literature/{{Dragaera}}'' series, the Dumas-[[RecycledInSpace recycling]] ''Literature/KhaavrenRomances'' novels are an example of this (and probably HistoricalVillainUpgrade as well) in universe. Paarfi, the narrator, presents a rose-colored, GoodOldWays view of Dragaeran history and tends to present historical figures in a flattering light, although in some cases, you can read between the lines and sense the real person was much less pleasant.
* In the ''Literature/BelisariusSeries'', there are a couple of comments lampshading this, in which it is said that a character who died in battle would become an epic hero. In one of those cases King Eon of Ethiopia says that about himself as he is dying (ironically Eon's case is a subversion; his behavior clearly was heroic enough to win him such an honor, it simply lacked military professionalism as might be expected for so young a WarriorPrince).
* In ''Literature/ASongOfIceAndFire'' Renly Baratheon is portrayed by the Lannister-Tyrell regime as a heroic and glamorous figure who came back from the dead to defeat his wicked brother Stannis Baratheon. In reality Renly, though brilliant with publicity and putting on an image of TheGoodKing, really has only publicity going for him. He shows himself in private to be a SmugSnake, greedy for more influence, showing no real administrative skills, along with being a terrible military leader and fighter, and trying to usurp the throne after his brother Robert's death with the Tyrells' aid, along with planning the [[TheEvilPrince death of Robert's true heir]], [[CainAndAbel his brother Stannis]]. However after his death the Tyrells join the Lannisters so they can get more power, and Garlan Tyrell disguises himself in Renly's armor so it appears he came back from the dead, therefore Renly is given a better reputation. This is suitable considering Renly is based on the treacherous George, duke of Clarence (see above). Oddly enough this was missed in the TV series, which tries to portray Renly as an ideal ruler (though this comes across as InformedAbility).
* ''Literature/WingsOfFire'': Prince Arctic is portrayed in [=IceWing=] mythology as an innocent [[spoiler:rape]] victim who happened to be kidnapped by [[AssInAmbassador Foeslayer]] and forced to [[spoiler:''rip out his own tongue'' and [[PsychicAssistedSuicide use his own claws to disembowel himself,]]]] courtesy of [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade Darkstalker.]] In reality, Arctic and Foeslayer had a consensual relationship (albeit a tragic and unhappy one), and while [[{{Patricide}} what Darkstalker did]] was ''extremely'' morally ambiguous, it is worth noting that Arctic tried to [[spoiler:kidnap and enchant his own daughter, and give [=NightWing=] intel to the [=IceWings=].]] and was just a really [[AbusiveParent lousy]] father and dragon.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* An episode of ''Series/TheBradyBunch'' showed Bobby idolizing Old West gunman Jesse James. His worried parents take him to meet one of James's victims, after which he has a nightmare in which James murders his entire family. That cures him.
** Earlier in the same episode, they watch a movie based on Jessie James, but it had been {{Bowdlerized}} due to TV censorship, leading Bobby to believe that James was not violent.
* Jayne Cobb in ''Series/{{Firefly}}''. On a backwater planet of mud-cultivating peasants, Jayne apparently stole a fortune from the local tyrant, but was forced to jettison the cargo from his damaged ship. It landed near the homes of the 'Mudders', who assumed he had done it on purpose. Stories were told and songs were sung about the legendary Jayne Cobb, folk hero. Even when the Mudders are told the truth, some of them are so loyal to the ''idea'' of their hero that they prefer to stick to the old story.
* The original ''Series/{{Star Trek|The Original Series}}'' invokes this trope by establishing that some people in the 23rd century consider [[MagnificentBastard Khan Noonien Singh]] to be one of history's heroes.
* In the ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' episode "[[Recap/StarTrekVoyagerS4E21LivingWitness Living Witness]]", the ancestors of an alien civilization are treated this way after they tried to raid Voyager and took hostages while doing so. Voyager was trading with one of their enemies while not knowing there was even a conflict between the two sides, and both are given a corresponding HistoricalVillainUpgrade to the point that they launched a horrific war against their "peace-loving" culture and staged full-on genocide against them. They themselves, on the other hand, are depicted as martyrs and freedom-fighters.
* On the series ''Series/TrueBlood'', [[Really700YearsOld 3000 year old]] vampire Russell Edgington claims that he once met Jesus, who was just a "boring hippie who stank of patchouli."
* In the ''Series/{{Supernatural}}'' episode "[[Recap/SupernaturalS10E12AboutABoy About a Boy]]", the Winchesters meet Hansel. He's in league with the [[ChildEater child-eating]] witch and has willingly eaten his own sister.
* Discussed in a ''Series/StarTrekEnterprise'' episode in regards to Zephram Cochrane. Captain Archer wants to take [[Film/StarTrekFirstContact an obscure speech by Cochrane in which he claimed cyborgs tried to sabotage first contact]] as the complete truth (which, of course, it is). T'Pol points out that Cochrane was [[PinkElephants "frequently intoxicated"]] (which is also true, and probably the only reason Cochrane ever revealed that information).
* In ''Series/GameOfThrones'' Ned Stark is considered one of the greatest swordsmen of his generation because he defeated Ser Arthur Dayne in single combat at the Tower of Joy. Dayne was a master swordsman and had a reputation for honor and chivalry. Bran Stark is shown a vision of what really happened during the fight at the Tower of Joy. Ned and five of his soldiers attacked Dayne and another knight of the Kingsguard. Ned killed the other Kingsguard, but Dayne really was as good as the stories said and he killed Ned's four remaining soldiers. He then destroyed Ned in one-on-one combat. Dayne was about to kill a disarmed Ned when he was stabbed in the back by Howland Reed who was wounded at the beginning of the fight and presumed dead. The fight at the Tower of Joy was brutal and dirty but few people know what really happened since Ned and Howland, the only survivors, refused to talk about it. Stories turned Ned into a brilliant swordsman who defeated the chivalry Ser Arthur Dayne in an honorable duel.
* On ''Series/TheGhostAndMrsMuir'', Captain Gregg tries to convince everyone that a celebrated local hero was a ne'er do well and braggard. Yet when his grave is uncovered, the headstone reads of a man 'who did not hesitate', it seems the ghost has not a chance of changing any minds. When the dedication ceremony occurs, Gregg summons a wind-storm to completely uncover the headstone, which then reads 'He did not hesitate - He Ran Like Hell!'. Played with in a later episode, when Gregg realizes his recall of a second-hand account about two of the American Founding Fathers may not be perfect, and nearly ruins Mrs. Muir's son's school report by insisting they were bitter adversaries, not the friends the boy originally believed. While Gregg's stubbornness nearly derails the reputation of another rival-in-life by showing the school he supposedly founded was in fact founded much earlier, his historian descendant is delighted; it means their school is among the oldest in all of New England.


[[folder:Video Games]]
* ''Franchise/TheElderScrolls''
** Ysgramor, the [[FounderOfTheKingdom first king of Men in Tamriel]], was a [[{{Precursors}} Atmoran (ancient proto-Nord)]] hero who led his family and some like minded individuals from their homeland of Atmora to the northernmost area of Tamriel, now known as Skyrim, after Atmora became embroiled in a massive civil war. Ysgramor later led the Atmoran people in colonizing Skyrim from their landing point of Hsaarik Head. He also became the first historian of mankind and developed the first written human language based on Atmoran and Elvish linguistic principles. After the [[OurElvesAreBetter Falmer]], native "snow elves" of Skyrim, massacred an Atmoran city, Ysgramor and his sons returned to Atmora. There, they gathered a group of potent warriors known as [[BadassArmy the 500 Companions]], and handily slaughtered the majority of the Falmer population and drove the remainder underground. However, some scholars suggest that the accomplishments credited to Ysgramor were actually performed by several early Nordic kings. Additionally, his claim that the Falmer attack on Saarthal was "unprovoked" is [[WrittenByTheWinners disputed by numerous records of the Elves]] who say that the attack was in response to repeated "provocations and blasphemies" committed by the early Nords.
** Pelinal Whitestrake, known as the "Divine Crusader," is a great hero to the races of Men, especially the Imperials, for helping Alessia free mankind from [[OurElvesAreBetter Ayleid]] enslavement. Nevermind that he was a racist [[TheBerserker berserker]] who would often go into [[UnstoppableRage psychopathic episodes]], some of which were so severe that they were said to have ''damaged the lands themselves''. His [[FantasticRacism hatred of non-human]] races extended even beyond the Elves to the [[CatFolk Khajiit]], whom he slew in droves mistaking them for another race of Elf. Imperial dogma (and his portrayal in ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsIVOblivion Oblivion]]'''s ''Knights of the Nine'' expansion) conveniently forgets about his blatant racism and psychopathic episodes, focusing only on his heroic aspects.
** Reman Cyrodiil, founder of the Reman Dynasty who would forge the Second Cyrodiilic Empire of Tamriel, is said to have divine origins and was [[AChildShallLeadThem coronated at no older than age thirteen]]. However, there is evidence that his "divine" origins were fabricated in order to legitimize his rule. Further, modern Imperial propaganda has covered up most of his [[TheCaligula debauchery and psychoses]].
** Tiber Septim (aka Talos Stormcrown), ''was'' the first emperor to unite all of Tamriel and ''is'' held up as a paragon of the human races, especially by the Imperials and Nords. Following his death, he ''did'' [[DeityOfHumanOrigin become the god Talos]], [[WarGod God of War]] and Good Governance, and even took the [[TopGod top spot as the chief deity]] on the Nordic pantheon. However, elements of his past are almost certainly embellished and/or outright fabricated as part of Imperial propaganda to appeal to the [[HornyVikings Nords]], whose support he badly needed in order to forge his empire. He may have had a hand in the assassination of King Cuhlecain (who he served as General) so that he could usurp the position. Many of his best known exploits can quite possibly be attributed to others (Wulfharth Ash-King, Zurin Artus) or, at the very least, his role in them was highly embellished. His legions were brutal in conquering Tamriel, committing many atrocities along the way (such as slaughtering the ruling family of Morrowind down to their young daughter). He almost certainly betrayed and killed one of his closest advisors (Zurin Arctus) in order to power the [[HumongousMecha Numidium]] to complete his conquests (and then had his propaganda machine paint ''Arctus'' as the villain). Of course, the worship of him isn't entirely unfounded, as there is evidence that he really did ascend to Godhood... and may be one of the last things holding Mundus together. Additionally, it is speculated that he may have used his divine powers post-apotheosis to ''[[RealityWarper alter reality]]'' to ''make'' [[CosmicRetcon his version of events "true"]].
** The Dragonborn is revered in ''[[VideoGame/TheElderScrollsVSkyrim Skyrim]]'' for being a great hero, the ultimate warrior, and the pinnacle of what a Nord should aspire to be. Despite it being revealed that the [[MonsterProgenitor First]] Dragonborn was actually a [[ReligionOfEvil Dragon-Priest]] who TurnedAgainstTheirMasters and ruled over Solstheim as a tyrant. However, this is somewhat of an subversion, since the Ancient Nord legends didn't refer to them at all, but actually the ''Last'' Dragonborn, prophecied to appear when Alduin returned. This bizarrely makes it a case of '''Future''' Historical Hero Upgrade.
* In ''VideoGame/FinalFantasyTactics'', the official history records Delita as a hero, even though [[spoiler:he left quite a body count on the way to the throne.]]
* The protagonist of ''VideoGame/MediEvil'', Sir Daniel Fortesque, became a friend of the king through various exaggerated tales of his exploits. When an actual battle occurred, Daniel ended up getting killed by arrows minutes into it. However, due to being the King's friend, he went down in history as a hero. When the evil sorceror he fought against tries to take over the world again, Sir Dan gets a chance to finally prove himself as the hero history remembers him as.
* [[VideoGame/FireEmblemTellius Raven King Naesala]] gets this in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening''. Specifically, in Olivia's supports with Donnel she sings a song about his romance with the heron princess Leanne. While this ''is'' true, the song reduces the story to a fairy-tale style romance (and "downgrades" Naesala to a [[PrinceCharming prince]]), conveniently leaving out some of his more...questionable deeds, such as his ChronicBackstabbingDisorder, selling his best friend into slavery and piratical raids on any human ships entering his territory.
** Also in ''VideoGame/FireEmblemAwakening'', this trope is inverted when Sumia talks with [[spoiler:her daughter from the future,]] Cynthia. Instead of making a morally questionable person out to be a hero, a heroic person is made out to be less ethical:
--->'''Cynthia:''' Well, in my time, you're a true legend. The most famed pegasus knight of all! There are so many stories of your heroic and terrible deeds. Like when you smashed through the enemy lines to rescue a stricken Chrom? [[note]]Sumia did rescue Chrom from a hail of Feroxi spears, but she came in from the ''allied'' side of the front line, and Chrom wasn't exactly "stricken," unless you count [[OhCrap "dumbstruck."]][[/note]]
--->'''Sumia:''' Er...did I do that?
--->'''Cynthia:''' Or the time you argued with Chrom and slapped him in the face![[note]]Sumia actually ''punched'' Chrom in the face as part of a GetAHoldOfYourselfMan moment.[[/note]]
--->'''Sumia:''' Gods above, I sound like a madwoman...
--->'''Cynthia:''' Or the time you went into a blood frenzy and downed friend and foe alike!
--->'''Sumia:''' I downed FRIENDS?! That's not heroic at all!
** Speaking of Tellius, Ashnard, BigBad of the first game, gets Hero Upgraded by his countrymen after Lekain, BigBad of the second game, turns out to be even worse.
* In the backstory of the ''Franchise/MetalGear'' series, Big Boss' exploits from before [[VideoGame/MetalGear Outer Heaven]] were declassified at some point after [[VideoGame/MetalGearSolid2SonsOfLiberty the Big Shell Incident]] (a bit of LeaningOnTheFourthWall in that the game that came after that was a prequel focusing on Big Boss before he was Big Boss). As such, by the time of ''VideoGame/{{Metal Gear Solid 4|GunsOfThePatriots}}'', Big Boss is a legendary hero in the eyes of the current war economy - a far cry from the [[BloodKnight battle-obsessed soldier]] who [[BadBoss tried to lead his own organization to their deaths]] that Solid Snake knew him as.
* Many fade spirits from the ''[[Franchise/DragonAge Dragon Age]]'' series view Loghain as a coolheaded and savvy general who refused to let his soldiers get killed for King Cailan's vanity. The reality is that [[spoiler: while this is how Loghain saw himself, he was delusional and paranoid when he made the call to retreat and leave Cailan to die]]. Other spirits take the [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade opposite approach]].
** The [[spoiler: Elven pantheon]] were actually [[spoiler: corrupt and power-hungry mages known as the Evanuris who took lower-class elves as slaves]], but are now remembered and celebrated as [[AGodAmI gods]]. (Naturally, [[spoiler: Fen'Harel, the elf who fought back against the Evanuris, freed their slaves, and eventually imprisoned them is now [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade remembered as a malevolent trickster god]]]]).
* In ''VideoGame/WorldOfWarcraft'' Kargath Bladefist is regarded as a hero for freeing himself and his fellow slaves from their ogre masters and building a new clan, as well as his service during the first two wars. As a result many places are named after him and when he is corrupted by fel blood the Horde players are told to mourn him. This glosses over his sadism and own proclivity for slavery as well as the many war crimes he committed.
** In general this is a problem for the Orcs who treat most of their leaders during the first two wars as great heroes despite their genocidal and underhanded tactics. Given that many of them were born a generation after, they grew up on stories of the leaders and think of them as legends.
* While telling the history of the Nedians to the heroes in ''VideoGame/StarOceanTheSecondStory'', [[MrExposition Mayor Nall]] describes Dr. Lantis as the one who discovered the means of defeating the seemingly-invincible Ten Wise Men. One of the heroes (an IntrepidReporter) suspects that there might actually a little inaccuracy on Nall's account. An optional quest allows the heroes to unearth the true historical records, where it is revealed that [[spoiler:Dr. Lantis is in fact the Ten Wise Men's creator, and [[BrainUploading uploaded his memories]] into the tenth and most powerful Wise Man, [[BigBad Gabriel]].]]
* In ''VideoGame/GuildWars2'' the Charr consider Bonfazz Burntfur to have been a hero for leading the invasion of Ascalon and occupying Rin. They neatly excised the fact that he was a member of the now-despised Shaman caste and his victories were only possible due to the Searing.
* In ''VideoGames/PathOfExile'' King Kaom is well remembered for his great military victories and heroic, if ultimately failed, attempt to carve out a kingdom for the Karui people from the corrupt Eternal Empire. Karui legends don't include him abandoning his people and slaughtering 500 of his own men in sacrifice to [[TheCorrupter The Beast.]]
* In ''VideoGame/TalesOfZestiria'', Artorias is remembered as the first of the great Shepherds, an upstanding man who founded the Abbey in its modern form and rallied humanity and seraphs against daemonkind. In ''VideoGame/TalesOfBerseria'', we found out he performed human sacrifices with his own family, ''enslaved'' seraphs (then called Malakhim), and would indeed protect humanity from daemons... [[spoiler: by completely suppressing their free will]]. In fact, he's the BigBad of the story, but goes down in history a hero thanks to his status as VillainWithGoodPublicity. Meanwhile, [[ByronicHero Byronic]] AntiHero Velvet [[spoiler:is remembered as the Lord of Calamity, her noble acts - if not intentions - forgotten by history]].

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Parodied on a ''WesternAnimation/RobotChicken'' sketch that shows Creator/BenjaminFranklin practicing with a bo staff and declares "For America!" at the very end.
** A different, but similar, sketch had UsefulNotes/TheAmericanRevolution done in the style of the film ''Film/ThreeHundred''.
--->''"1776! It ain't accurate, but it'll blow your fucking mind!"''
* Jebediah Springfield on ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons''. Touted as an archetypal pioneer who killed bears with his bare hands, [[spoiler: he was in fact a German pirate who once tried to off George Washington but got his ass kicked.]]
** And even before that was revealed, the narrator of the TV recreation showing a man dressed as a pioneer fighting a man in a bear suit says: ''" but modern historians think [[FridgeLogic that was the bear who killed him]]''
* One episode of the ''WesternAnimation/FairlyOddParents'' has Timmy wanting to make a parade float based on legendary Dimmsdale founder Dale Dimm; AJ scoffs at him, declaring Dale Dimm to be just a legend and wanting to base their float on Alden Bitterroot, who is given actual historical credit for founding Dimmsdale. It turns out they both sucked. When Timmy travels back in time, it turns out Dale IS real, but a moron who is an accidental IdiotHero AT BEST, and Alden Bitterroot is an obsessive and delusional witch hunter, identical ancestor of Crocker (who is actually a real witch himself and even more of an evil pain than his IdenticalGrandson!).
* ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'': Initially, in "Irrational Treasure", presumed founder of Gravity Falls Nathaniel Northwest was, in reality, a waste-shoveling village idiot that the government used to hide the ''real'' founder of Gravity Falls, America's 8th and 1/2 President Quentin Trembley. [[spoiler:As it turns out, that was merely the tip of the iceberg -- Northwest and his wife gain untold amounts of wealth with the cover-up, along with a mayoral position, and then used the townspeople to build Northwest Manor with the promise of a party every year celebrating their hard work. The people built the manor, only to be betrayed and denied entrance to the party for the next 150 years. This was the ''first'' of the many lies and deceit the Northwests, Gravity Falls' supposed "first family", has been involved in since then -- a fact that Pacifica Northwest is very much horrified to find out]].
* In ''WesternAnimation/StarVsTheForcesOfEvil'', the original Mewman colonists like to describe themselves as having bravely fought a war to purge the land of evil monsters so they could live in peace. The obvious subtext is that the monsters were the natives being driven from their lands by a superior force, and that history was WrittenByTheWinners.