So you finally get your [[TimeTravel time machine]] working, and decide to visit some out of the way town in a quiet year. You hit the BigRedButton, step out of the machine, and trip over Creator/WilliamShakespeare. Cue the {{Historical In Joke}}s. And probably the discovery that BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy.

It seems that time machines and [[HistoricalDomainCharacter real life famous people]] have a very strong attraction. Even when you manage to avoid everyone in the history books (both real and in-[[TheVerse verse]]), you'll probably run into an ancestor. And if it's a grandparent, 9 times out of 10 you'll end up [[GrandfatherParadox killing them.]] Or [[MyOwnGrampa shagging them.]] Or [[IdenticalGrandson they will look just like you]].

This means that as soon as you step out of your time machine, a well known historical figure will [[ContrivedCoincidence show up]] shortly. This can either be someone who was famous in the real world, or, if the series takes place in TheFuture, someone who became famous in the Future History.

Shows up in historical fiction too. A good deal of historical fiction is about famous people, but even the stories that aren't tend to spend a lot of time running into celebrities.

Note that this only counts if you're not specifically aiming for the famous person. For example, ''Film/BillAndTed'' don't count because A: they were actually ''trying'' to find UsefulNotes/GenghisKhan and Sigmund "Frood", and B: they had the help of a magic phone directory to find them. Though, even then, other well-known personages from the same period may crop up unexpectedly (UsefulNotes/NapoleonBonaparte ended up piggybacking with them by mistake, for instance).

If you meet a famous figure ''before'' they did anything to earn said fame, it's a case of YoungFutureFamousPeople. If you don't find out who they are until the end of the story, it's a HistoricalPersonPunchline. See also NothingButHits for a similar effect with music. When the time traveler themselves takes the name of a famous person, it's ImMrFuturePopCultureReference.


[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* ''Anime/TheDaggerOfKamui'' takes place at the end of the 19th century, and has Jiro happening to meet Creator/MarkTwain (who calls himself by his pen name) for no reason.
* In ''Anime/RoseOfVersailles'', Oscar, besides working with UsefulNotes/MarieAntoinette and Louis XVI, randomly bumps into UsefulNotes/MaximilienRobespierre and Louis Saint-Juste on many occasions. The manga is even more egregious, and name-drops Napoleon for zero reason, and only a few pages, in a later chapter.
* Subverted in ''Manga/InuYasha'': Kagome and company run into a traveling man named Nobunaga, and Kagome immediately busts out her autograph book, thinking she'd found the young UsefulNotes/OdaNobunaga, the famous warlord. Turns out it's just someone with the same given name (don't forget, these are Japanese names -- Oda is the clan name, not Nobunaga), who doesn't think fondly of the person who will end up making the name (in)famous, which is another accurate nod to history: Nobunaga was not very highly regarded in his youth, and was sometimes referred to as "The Fool of Owari".

[[folder:Comic Books]]
* In ''The Once and Future Duck'' by Creator/DonRosa, WesternAnimation/DonaldDuck and Gyro Gearloose are testing a rather temperamental time machine at Stonehenge, because they know that even if the traveller ends up millennia in the past, there will be no buildings or the like inside the ancient structure. They all end up in the past, and immediately run into the brutish real-life KingArthur and his men. Ultimately it's their visit that inspires the legends of the Knights of the Round Table.
* Again by Don Rosa, Scrooge [=McDuck=]'s life brings him to meet many real life famous people, such as UsefulNotes/TheodoreRoosevelt, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, [[UsefulNotes/JesseJames Jesse and Frank James]], Wyatt Earp, Bat Masterson, Roy Bean, Geronimo, and many others.
* In ''The Kents'', a 12-issue miniseries [[{{Retcon}} detailing]] the lives of [[{{Superman}} Clark Kent]]'s adoptive ancestors, this comes up a '''''lot'''''; In the first page of #1 alone, we get Harriet Tubman! Over the course of the story, we then get Franklin Pierce, Wild Bill Hickok, Charles Quantrill, John Wilkes Booth, UsefulNotes/JesseJames (and his brother Frank), a young John Wesley Hardin, Susan B. Antony's brother, General Custer... this is more or less {{justified|Trope}}, given that the family does get involved with both pro-abolitionists and gunslingers.
* ''ComicBook/XMen: True Friends'', a miniseries in 1999, had Kitty Pryde and Rachel Summers thrown back in time to 1936, where Kitty befriends a little girl named Lilibet, who turns out to be the future [[spoiler:Queen Elizabeth]].
* When the ComicBook/{{Runaways}} are sent back in time to 1907, Chase and Xavin try and make an arrangement with the local crime bosses to get the parts needed to return home. Said crime bosses turn out to be [[spoiler:Dale and Stacey Yorkes, Gert's time-traveling supervillain parents]]. This is about as awkward as one might expect. On the other hand, the team doesn't encounter any historical figures, aside from passing by a woman who may or may not have been early feminist Emma Goldman.
* ''ComicBook/SuskeEnWiske'': This happens to Suske, Wiske, Lambik, Sidonia and Jerom all the time whenever they time travel.
* ''ComicBook/PietPienterEnBertBibber'': When Bert Bibber is sent back in time in 1302 he accidentally meets Jan Breydel, the iconic resistance fighter of Flemish history.
* ''ComicBook/LuckyLuke'': Lucky Luke has met virtually every legendary figure of the Wild West in his adventures.
* ''ComicBook/{{Asterix}}'': Asterix and his friends have managed to meet UsefulNotes/JuliusCaesar, UsefulNotes/CleopatraVII and Brutus over the course of this series. One time all three together!
* ''ComicBook/FantasticFour'': During their very first encounter with Doctor Doom, Doom sent the FF into the past to retrieve the treasure of the legendary pirate Blackbeard. Ben Grimm wore a bulky jacket and false beard to cover his rocky exterior, and the crew of the pirate ship that carried the treasure Doom sent them to acquire started calling him Blackbeard. Reed Richards realized that, by disguising Ben as a pirate, they ended up creating the legend of Blackbeard.

[[folder:Comic Strips]]
* ''ComicStrip/{{Nero}}'': In ''De Rode Keizer'' Nero, Petoetje, Petatje and Madam Pheip travel to AncientRome and wouldn't you know it: they actually meet Emperor UsefulNotes/{{Nero}}.

[[folder:Fan Works]]
* In [[ Jesus and Hitler: A Romance]] (NSFW) Hitler literally runs in to Jesus the second he steps out of his time machine.

[[folder:Films -- Animation]]
* The (animated) film ''WesternAnimation/{{Anastasia}}'' had the title character and her entourage going [[ShoppingMontage shopping in Paris]]. Not only do they meet [[TheLongList a few historical characters]] (Creator/MauriceChevalier, UsefulNotes/SigmundFreud, Charles Lindbergh, Creator/JosephineBaker, Claude Monet, Isadora Duncan, Auguste Rodin, and [[ButchLesbian Gertrude Stein]]), they're all going shopping on the same night in the same street and all [[CrowdSong happen to know the words to the song]]. The movie features a singing ''Gertrude Stein''. Incredibly, that might be the most historically correct part of the movie. Both Hemingway and Bennett Cerf wrote of Gertrude's inability to walk by someone playing a piano without sitting down and singing along.

[[folder:Films -- Live-Action]]
* In ''Film/TimeBandits'', the titular bandits manage (through completely random time-jumping) to run into UsefulNotes/NapoleonBonaparte, Agamemnon, and Myth/RobinHood.
** Although sort of justified in that they all wanted to go to places to get lots of treasure, and kings and conquerors fit the bill. Still doesn't explain how they kept ending up in the general vicinity though.
* ''Franchise/BackToTheFuture'':
** Marty managed to avoid anyone more famous than the cousin of Music/ChuckBerry (although the {{novelization}} of ''Film/BackToTheFuturePartIII'' claims the kid who asks him what a movie is was D.W. Griffith), but he bumped into relatives without trying in both the [[Film/BackToTheFuture first]] and third movies (and let's not even get into the [[WesternAnimation/BackToTheFuture animated series]]). Everything did take place in the same town in California, though.
** He also ran into a black busboy at a diner in 1955 who responds to his boss telling him to get back to work by stating that he's going to be someone. Marty, recognizing him, states that he's going to be mayor. The busboy thinks its merely a motivational suggestion, while his boss laughs off the idea of a black man being mayor.
** He also helped save Clara Clayton from falling into the ravine and having it named after her. Additionally, "Mad Dog" Tannen was pretty well known for his gunslinging. Although we only hear about Tannen's modern day fame in the alternate timeline Biff created, where it's pretty clear his history was embellished or outright fabricated simply because he was Biff's ancestor.
* In ''Film/ShanghaiKnights'', the main characters create the personas of Literature/SherlockHolmes and Watson, freely give the idea to Creator/ArthurConanDoyle, and take on a young Creator/CharlieChaplin as a sidekick.
** And the ActionGirl kicks UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper off a bridge.
** Also, ''Shanghai Noon'' reveals that Roy O'Bannon's true name is "Wyatt Earp" at the end of the first movie. The main character, Chon Wang(pronounced 'win'), remarks that Wyatt Earp is "a bad name for a lawman". Chon's nickname, given by Roy, is John while he pronounces Chon's last name as "Wayne". At the end of ''Shanghai Knights'', Chon and Roy set off back to America, taking the young Creator/CharlieChaplin with them, while Roy proposes that he and Chon go to Hollywood, where "they're setting up a new motion picture project". In reply, Chon thoughtfully says "John Wayne: Movie Star"...
** RuleOfFunny was in full effect, as Doyle is inaccurately portrayed as a policeman (in real life, he was a doctor), and the movie takes place two years before Chaplin was even ''born''.
* ''Film/TheManFromEarth'' has the titular 14,000-year-old character ([[MeaningfulName John Oldman]], [[IncrediblyLamePun har har]]) recall close meetings with UsefulNotes/ChristopherColumbus, Creator/VincentVanGogh, Buddha, in addition to [[spoiler: [[JuliusBeethovenDaVinci being Jesus]], though [[EveryoneIsJesusInPurgatory probably not in Purgatory]]]].
** Not quite a time travel example, though, he'd been around the whole time. Encountering a few famous people over the course of 140 centuries is not especially unlikely.
* Western film ''Film/AmericanOutlaws'' does an especially hamfisted job of this. The central characters are Frank and UsefulNotes/JesseJames, and the film repeatedly has them name famous Civil War era characters, groups, and incidents as the director's way of demonstrating that they really are in the Old West.
* In Woody Allen's ''Film/MidnightInParis'', Creator/JeanCocteau pulls the time-travelling protagonist into a car and takes him to a party where Music/ColePorter is sitting at the piano. The first people he meets are Zelda and Creator/FScottFitzgerald, who introduce him to Creator/ErnestHemingway, who takes him to Gertrude Stein's place where she's arguing with Creator/PabloPicasso... Later he also meets Creator/SalvadorDali and Creator/LuisBunuel.
** Given, those people were all in Paris at the same time, and interacting pretty closely, which is one of the main reasons that the protagonist is so in love with that period of time. However, the speed with which he runs into them all is rather hard to believe . . . [[spoiler: unless it's all in his head.]]
** Later in the film [[spoiler: he and Adriana travel back to 1890's Moulin Rouge and meet Creator/HenriDeToulouseLautrec, [[ Paul Gauguin]], and [[ Edgar Degas]] within minutes. Spotting Toulouse-Lautrec in the Moulin Rouge is believable. Two other famous painters of the era somewhat less so. . .unless it's all in [[MindScrew Adriana's head]].]]
* ''Film/MenInBlack3'' featured a time travel plot with an appearance by Bill Hader as Creator/AndyWarhol, the very man who predicted that in the future, everyone would be famous. A trope twofer example, since [[BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy he's also portrayed as an undercover MiB agent]].
* ''Film/BenHur'': Ben Hur meets UsefulNotes/JesusChrist twice! First when Jesus offers him water when he is CrossingTheDesert as a slave and second when he sees Jesus being crucified.
* ''Film/ForrestGump'' has the title character meeting Elvis Presley, JFK, LBJ, Richard Nixon and John Lennon not to mention inadvertently creating the Smiley Face t-shirt and busting the Watergate burglars.

* Creator/GoreVidal's Literature/{{Creation}} is essentially a guided tour through the Ancient World of 4th Century B.C. , where the hero Cyrus Spitama grows up in Persia alongside Xerxes and Artemisia in the court of Darius and Atossa. He himself witnesses Zoroaster's death and is his grandson and heir. He later visits India and meets Vardhaman Mahavira, Gautama Buddha, King Bimbisara and King Ajatashatru. Then he visits China and meets Creator/{{Confucius}}. In Greece, he meets Pericles, Herodotus, Aspasia, Creator/Socrates and others and also Themistocles and Thucydides for good measure. SeenItAll doesn't begin to define him.
* An example of how old the historical fiction version of this trope is, is that the Victorian novelist Thackeray complained about how contemporaries like Sir Creator/WalterScott wrote novels where the main characters bumped into famous figures left and right.
* An interesting subversion in the time-travelling series ''Literature/SixteenThirtyTwo''. A small Virginia mining town from the year 2000 travels back to 1632 Europe. They do encounter a handful of famous people, but most of the significant events are done in-universe by the "little people", in a deliberate TakeThat by Creator/EricFlint against the "Great Man" theory of history. Said people become famous as a result, but definitely weren't beforehand.
** Also very well justified in this plot. When there's an [[GivingRadioToTheRomans entire town of technology from almost 400 years in the future]], the people in it are naturally curious about famous people in their history, and the famous people of the past will want to go to see it. Cardinal Richelieu is a major political figure, the high school English teacher is interested in Shakespeare...
*** A particularly hilarious example is Grantville's Catholic church, which is named for [[ Saint Vincent de Paul]], who at this point in history is very much alive and in the process of travelling around France doing the work which in OTL would get him canonised. In the end, the priest in Grantville is ordered to rename the church, before Father Vincent catches wind of it and "becomes ''completely'' insufferable".
* A novel which could be considered a subversion is Creator/ConnieWillis' ''Literature/ToSayNothingOfTheDog''. The time traveling main characters encounter only ordinary upper middle class Victorians, and the overall message seems to be that the "little people" affect history as much as more famous figures.
** The main character does happen to spot the author of one of his favorite books out boating on the Thames, but it's just a cameo. And while the time travelers do meet the ancestor of someone they know in the future, it's because they were specifically aiming for her.
* The ''Franchise/SherlockHolmes'' pastiche ''The West End Horror'' mainly seems to be an experiment by Nicholas Meyer to see how many famous historical figures he can cram into one novel. In the course of the story, Holmes runs into Creator/OscarWilde, Creator/GilbertAndSullivan, Creator/BramStoker, and numerous others.
** Justified by the fact he is investigating a crime in the West End, where all these people worked and played.
* Averted in the short story ''Child of All Ages'', where a child claims to be hundreds of years old. When someone wishes to test their claim, they ask the child about famous events and people. The child replies that they can give the answer, but only because they can read history books, too. Seems she was too busy just surviving and that not many famous people invite random peasant children to stay with them with the foreknowledge that something important is about to happen.
* In E. L. Doctorow's ''Literature/{{Ragtime}}'' famous people aren't just bumped into, they're full-blown characters who ''also'' keep bumping into each other. These "famous people" range from still-famous magician Creator/HarryHoudini to all-but-forgotten tabloid darling Evelyn Nesbit. It gets slightly more confusing when only one fictional character, Coalhouse Walker Jr., has a full name (the other fictional characters are referred to as [[EveryoneCallsHimBarkeep "Mother", "Tateh", etc]]), which leads most readers to believe that he is just another forgotten celebrity.
* M.J. Trow's ''Lestrade'' novels are full of historic characters. Given the premise (a {{Deconstruction}} of Literature/SherlockHolmes using the LiteraryAgentHypothesis but telling the "true story" behind Watson's accounts) Sir Creator/ArthurConanDoyle is justified. Having Lestrade point at a baby and tell Watson he'd make a better Holmes than William Gillette, before revealing this is the infant Creator/BasilRathbone, somewhat less so. Then there's Creator/OscarWilde, Creator/GilbertAndSullivan, UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper, Florence Nightingale...
* Creator/GeorgeMacDonaldFraser's ''Literature/{{Flashman}}'' books are a non-time travel example, in which MagnificentBastard Harry Flashman travels around the Victorian world, accidentally getting dragged into major historical events (and one or two contemporary fictional ones). There are too many historical cameos to list here, but some of the more notable ones include the UsefulNotes/DukeOfWellington, Lily Langtry, Creator/OscarWilde, UsefulNotes/QueenVictoria, UsefulNotes/OttoVonBismarck, UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln, Sam Grant, Literature/SherlockHolmes, John Brown and UsefulNotes/BenjaminDisraeli.
* Orson Scott Card's ''Literature/TheTalesOfAlvinMaker'' is set in an alternate history of America in a world where supernatural powers are real and affect history, and does this a couple of times, perhaps most notably with UsefulNotes/NapoleonBonaparte, who keeps turning up. The two historical figures who appear as main characters are William Blake (as an itinerant story collector called Taleswapper) and Tecumseh, as something of a tragic hero, though he isn't the main character. Taleswapper also knew Ben Franklin, and Washington and other familiar names have come up, though in unfamiliar places. Justified in that Napoleon doesn't turn up until he has a good reason to, Taleswapper's position as Blake is blink-and-you'll-miss-it, and Tecumseh isn't on the usual lists of 'famous people.' Also in that it carries the idea that certain people are destined to make an imprint on history, so even if the circumstances change it'll happen anyway.
** Other famous people who show up: William Henry Harrison and [[Creator/HonoreDeBalzac Honoré de Balzac]], and a recurring role for Tecumseh's brother Tenskwatawa.
*** Plus Denmark Vesey, Mike Fink, and John James Audubon.
* In Creator/RobertAHeinlein's ''Literature/ToSailBeyondTheSunset'', [[AlternateHistory alternate universe]] novel, it is remarked that one of the characters knows a UsefulNotes/HarryTruman, who couldn't be related to another universe's politician because he was a haberdasher (the real Truman was indeed a haberdasher before entering politics). In the alternate universe, Truman never entered politics.
* Like the Turtledove examples above, it's alternate history rather than time travel, but in Robert Harris' ''Literature/{{Fatherland}}'', the Beatles (with five members!) apparently still become a musical force in the early-to-mid sixties, even with Britain conquered by Nazi Germany and Hitler still in charge.
** That's actually somewhat less implausible than most of the examples given: all of the four [[Music/TheBeatles Beatles]] in our timeline (and presumably the fifth one in this timeline) would have been alive during World War 2, albeit as infants or toddlers. Their musical talent would remain intact, and since the Beatles had no formal musical training in our timeline the matter of education doesn't even come into play. The kind of music the alternate Beatles are playing, and the circumstances under which they can perform, on the other hand, ''would'' be completely different.
* In Creator/EdwardEager's ''The Time Garden'', the children occasionally do this. Though they ''do'' wish for some of the things, a lot of meetings are still entirely accidental. For example, at one point they wish to see "the Queen of England" (Elizabeth) and wind up meeting [[UsefulNotes/QueenVictoria Victoria]] (who is not amused).
* The very first person ''Literature/ArtemisFowl'' runs into in turn-of-the-century Spain in [[spoiler: The Lost Colony]] is the renowned architect Antoni Gaudí. Needless to say, he feels immediately compelled to give him unsolicited advice.
-->'''Artemis''': "You've got some mosaics planned for the roof. You might want to rethink those. Very derivative."
* Occurs several times in ''Literature/TheMagicTreehouse'' series of books. Usually justified as the famous person is related to Jack and Annie's current quest, but sometimes it's done gratuitously.
* Averted in ''Literature/InTheKeepOfTime''. Other than King James II, who is only viewed from afar, no one of historical significance appears in the story, with all the characters the children meet being original characters, or at most archetypes and positions likely to be expected in the time period. The exception might be the Laird of Smailholm who may have been a real person, but since none of the children had heard of him prior to their adventure, meeting him doesn't fully hew to this trope either. Sir Walter Scott is mentioned as having stayed at Smailholm Cottage, but this tale seems to be included simply for historical flavor (and accuracy—not only is this story true, Scott wrote of the tower, including it in his poems ''The Eve of St. John'' and ''Marmion'').
* Subverted in Creator/TimPowers' ''Literature/TheAnubisGates'', in which the only RealLife historical figure the protagonist meets is Samuel Taylor Coleridge, whom his employer deliberately sought out. For a while he ''thinks'' he's also encountered Lord Byron, but [[spoiler: it's really a magical clone of Byron, who wasn't even in the country at the time]].
* Neal Stephenson's novel ''Literature/{{Cryptonomicon}}'' and ''Literature/TheBaroqueCycle'' trilogy are full of this. The former includes, for example, Alan Turing, Douglas [=MacArthur=] and Hermann Goering. The latter includes Newton, Leibniz, Hooke and just about every other important 17th-century natural philosopher, plus UsefulNotes/{{Blackbeard}}.
** Justified in that the primary protagonist of ''The Baroque Cycle'' was a member of the Royal Society (which included most of the prominent natural philosophers of the English-speaking world at the time) and therefore it makes sense that he would interact frequently with other Royal Society members and possibly even their rivals (Leibniz, who was encountered [[YoungFutureFamousPeople before he was famous]]).
* The spirit of this trope is present in the ''Literature/{{Riverworld}}'' novels. Every human who has ever lived is resurrected on an alien planet, upwards of 10 billion people, and yet the protagonists keep running into notable historical figures, like [[ Alice Liddel]], [[ Hermann Göring]], and Creator/MarkTwain.
* Justified in the ''NeverAgain'' series of novels, as the time travelers' whole objective is to [[SetRightWhatOnceWentWrong change the past]], so of course they will run into famous people. It's really only played completely straight in the first book, because later books include people in the past who never existed in RealLife as major characters.
* Averted in the short story "The Gnarly Man" by Creator/LSpragueDeCamp. The title character is a 50,000 year Neanderthal who has managed to live a quiet, normal life over the millennia. The only famous person he ever encountered was Charlemagne, who he saw giving a speech in Paris.
* ''Literature/TheRomanMysteries'' series has its main characters meet [[ Pliny the Elder]], [[ Pliny the Younger]], [[ Emperor Titus]], [[ Emperor Domitian]], [[ Flaccus]], [[ Bernice]], [[ Josephus]] and others.
* Mostly averted by the ''Literature/TimeScout'' series, but while investigating UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper, the Ripper Watch Team runs into William Butler Yeats at a social club. Cue massive [[{{Squee}} fangasm]] by the time guide in charge.
* The protagonist of the ''[[Literature/TimeMachineSeries Time Machine'']] gamebook series apparently has no way of controlling where his his time machine will deposit him; still, he seems to keep ending up near famous and notable people (that, or in the middle of wilderness with some animal or savage tribe attacking him on sight).
* Nicely averted in ''Literature/ChronoHustle''... for the first six stories anyway. After that there are encounters with Aphrodite and Hermes, Imhotep, and Merlin.
* Everyone in the afterlife of ''Literature/TheDivineComedy'' is either a well-known historical figure or someone who would be familiar to Dante's readers. It gets a {{justifi|edTrope}}cation as Dante's guides point out these exemplary figures, or Dante himself recognizes them. They also usually have more important places in Heaven or more picturesque punishments in Hell. There are some exceptions, though; the hoarders and spenders, for instance, are so featureless that they can barely be distinguished from each other, and Dante does pause to talk with a nameless Florentine suicide.

[[folder:Live Action TV]]
* Played with in an episode of ''Series/{{Bewitched}}'', where Endora threatens Samantha that she'll tell Darrin about her relationship with Sir Walter Raleigh if she doesn't comply. Samantha protests that she never even ''met'' Sir Walter Raleigh, but Endora reminds her that Darrin wouldn't know that.
* This is the driving premise behind the ''Series/{{Blackadder}}: Back and Forth'' special. The time machine used by the characters (which had been invented by accident thanks to Baldrick having a GeniusDitz moment) was somehow "attuned" to the frequencies of Lord Blackadder's ancestors -- who just so happened to be big historical players in the eras they visited.
** As the show creators themselves have noticed, Blackadder's intelligence seems to rise as his fortunes fall. The Blackadder in Rome is scarcely above a grunt. However, the trope is affirmed and indeed parodied when you take into account the amount of times those same people are hanging around Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie....
* ''Series/DoctorWho'' does this fairly frequently.
** In the classic series: The Doctor [[Recap/DoctorWhoS3E8TheGunfighters standing in for Doc Holliday in the OK Corral]], [[Recap/DoctorWhoS2E4TheRomans meeting Nero and giving him the idea of burning down Rome]], [[Recap/DoctorWhoS1E4MarcoPolo riding with]] Creator/MarcoPolo, [[Recap/DoctorWhoS2E6TheCrusade meeting]] King UsefulNotes/RichardTheLionheart... We don't see him, but Creator/LeonardoDaVinci was a good friend of the Doctor, and H.G. Wells got his idea for the term "Science Fiction" from the Doctor - all in the classic series.
** In the new series: Charles Dickens fighting off an alien invasion in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS27E3TheUnquietDead "The Unquiet Dead"]], a werewolf trying [[TheVirus to infect]] Queen Victoria in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS28E2ToothAndClaw "Tooth and Claw"]], Madame de Pompadour falling in love with the Doctor in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS28E4TheGirlInTheFireplace "The Girl in the Fireplace"]], Creator/WilliamShakespeare battling alien witches in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS29E2TheShakespeareCode "The Shakespeare Code"]] and Creator/AgathaChristie solving a murder mystery with the Doctor involving a giant alien wasp in [[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E7TheUnicornAndTheWasp "The Unicorn and the Wasp"]].
** Possibly justified in that the TARDIS is sentient, and purposely takes the Doctor where he needs to go. If the Doctor isn't aiming for an important point in time, chances are the TARDIS is.
** Creator/RobertHolmes, the legendary scriptwriter on the classic series, hated historical episodes for this reason. When he was forced to write a story set in medieval Europe, he agreed on the condition that no historical personages appear. What resulted was [[Recap/DoctorWhoS11E1TheTimeWarrior "The Time Warrior"]], a notable aversion of this trope.
** This works not just with people who are famous in our time, but also people who will be famous in the future. When the Doctor decides to go to Mars, he [[Recap/DoctorWhoS30E16TheWatersOfMars arrives just in time to meet the first humans to establish a base on the planet]].
* Happens fairly frequently in ''Series/ForeverKnight'', mainly because the characters have been around for so long. In one episode, Nick encounters UsefulNotes/JoanOfArc; in another, Lacroix contemplates turning a young German soldier into a vampire, but decides the man has too much darkness in his soul (you can probably guess who he [[UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler turns out to be]]).
* In ''Series/{{Heroes}}'', Hiro Nakamura, through an accidental use of his powers, winds up several centuries in the past -- and immediately runs smack dab into the legendary warrior Takezo Kensei. [[spoiler:Also known as Adam Monroe, who became one of the biggest villains in the series [[StableTimeLoop due to Hiro's actions.]] ]]
* The "Soldier's Heart" episode of ''Series/NewAmsterdam'' contains a particularly glaring example of this. Throughout the episode, the 400-year-old main character John Amsterdam flashes back to an incident that happened when he was an army surgeon in the American Civil War, and a patient whose leg he had to amputate took drastic and violent action. The understanding Amsterdam gained of the "soldier's heart", which he discusses with his orderly Walt, helps him understand the current-day mystery he faces concerning psychologically troubled veterans. None of this has anything to do with what happens in the episode's last flashback, where Walt out of nowhere tells John "I want to give you a copy of this book I wrote" and hands him a book whose title page reads ''Literature/LeavesOfGrass'', revealing "Walt" to be famous poet Creator/WaltWhitman.
* ''Mostly'' averted in ''Series/QuantumLeap'', where the majority of the characters Sam becomes are ordinary people -- but he ''does'' run into Music/BuddyHolly, a young Music/MichaelJackson, Creator/SylvesterStallone, UsefulNotes/BillClinton, and a teenage Creator/StephenKing, who decides to become a horror writer thanks to him. He also became Lee Harvey Oswald, Music/ElvisPresley and Dr. Ruth in other episodes.
** And Creator/MarilynMonroe. Most of the celebrity encounters happened in the last season when they were doing everything they could to boost ratings.
** The ancestor variant shows up when Sam leaps into his own great-grandfather, a Union general near the end of the Civil War. At the end of the episode, he talks with a newly freed slave who declares that, since being emancipated has made him feel like royalty, he will be taking the surname King. [[UsefulNotes/CivilRightsMovement You can probably guess where this one's headed...]]
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' visited 19th century San Francisco in "Time's Arrow", and Samuel Clemens (Creator/MarkTwain) tried to stop their "invasion". (He also gives a spot of writing advice to an ambitious bellhop who just happens to be named Creator/JackLondon.) Later, in TheMovie, they went back in time and ended up protecting the creator of their AppliedPhlebotinum. (Justified, in that the time travel was initiated by the BigBad. Naturally they picked an important place and time to attack, namely the first test flight of a Terran ship warp drive that would attract the attention of the Vulcans to begin open interaction with that planet.)
** This is [[JustifiedTrope justified]] in the Franchise/StarTrek [[RolePlayingGame RPG]] by saying that spots where [[ButterflyOfDoom history has a chance to change drastically]], also called Nexus Points, tend to draw unintentional time travelers, and intentional ones have to take them into account when performing the calculations.
** In "City on the Edge of Forever", Spock gives a similar explanation of why they wound up in the same place that Dr. [=McCoy=] would soon arrive.
* ''Series/StarTrekDeepSpaceNine'' has done this twice, both times running into famous characters from their own [[TheVerse 'Verse]]. They ran into a martyred civil rights activist in "In Past Tense", and the [[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries original crew]] in "Trials and Tribble-ations".
** Justified in "Tribble-ations" because they were there/then to stop a bad guy who had gone to that place and time specifically because he knew the original Enterprise and Kirk were there.
** "In Past Tense" is more a case of YouWillBeBeethoven, as [[spoiler: Sisko takes the place of the martyred civil rights activist and makes the demands that lead to reforms of the Sanctuary Districts]].
* Also the entire premise of ''Series/TheTimeTunnel''.
* Pretty much the entire premise of ''Series/{{Voyagers}}''.
* ''Series/YoungIndianaJones'' did this constantly, because of the show's educational nature. In every episode Indy meets a new historical figure (and sometimes more than one).

[[folder:Video Games]]
* In ''VideoGame/DayOfTheTentacle'', a character gets stranded 200 years in the past. Without even leaving the house, he runs into UsefulNotes/GeorgeWashington, UsefulNotes/ThomasJefferson, Creator/BenjaminFranklin, John Hancock and Betsy Ross.
** Which is really silly given that Jefferson wasn't even in the same country as the others at the time that this was implied to be occurring in. This is just one of the many historical errors in that game, which the programmers were aware of.
* The ''VideoGame/ShadowHearts'' series features a degree of the historical fiction version, with the heroes bumping into such famous historical personages as Kawashima Yoshiko (As a note, the little girl in the second game is supposed to be the historical one -- the one in the first game is a wholly fictional character, who, according to the series, is the namesake of the real one), UsefulNotes/AlCapone, Creator/HPLovecraft, and the Great Gama (yes, he was a real person - ask Wiki/TheOtherWiki). Party members over the series include UsefulNotes/MataHari (under her actual name, Margarete) and Princess Anastasia Romanov.
* ''VideoGame/LionheartLegacyOfTheCrusader'', a game set in an AlternateHistory version of 1588, manages to have Creator/WilliamShakespeare, Creator/LeonardoDaVinci, Tomas Torquemada, Cervantes, Creator/NiccoloMachiavelli, UsefulNotes/HernanCortez, and Jacques de Molay all living within a few blocks of each other in Barcelona. UsefulNotes/{{Nostradamus}}, Queen UsefulNotes/ElizabethI, and UsefulNotes/JoanOfArc also turn up later in the game.
* In ''VideoGame/StarControlII'', a member of the Pkunk alien race (think happy-go-lucky Space Gypsies) explains why psychics always tell you that you were someone famous in a past life--only important people reincarnate. If you weren't important, influential, or otherwise historically notable, "you just kind of... cease. Isn't the universe a ''wacky'' place?" Sort of an Everyone's Past Is Someone Famous.
* The Animus is not technically a time machine, but in ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreedI'' Altaïr/Desmond winds up meeting [[spoiler:[[UsefulNotes/RichardTheLionHeart King Richard I.]]]] In the interests of remaining historically accurate, he's a bit of an asshole.
** The [[VideoGame/AssassinsCreedII sequel]], set in [[UsefulNotes/TheRenaissance Renaissance Italy]], features Creator/LeonardoDaVinci as a frequent ally, repairing your assassin tech and decoding messages from your ancestor. Ezio rubs shoulders with the likes of Lorenzo de Medici, Caterina Sforza and Creator/NiccoloMachiavelli! [[spoiler:And the final boss is Pope Alexander VI.]]
*** Justified, since, according to the game, just about ''every'' famous inventor/artist/mind of the era was either an [[AncientConspiracy Assassin or a Templar.]]
*** It's also noted that the reason the plot is happening is that Desmond's specific ancestry works like this. One of the modern assassins (Rebecca) notes that she's had one chance to use the Animus personally but couldn't find anything the least bit exciting available to her.
* The 1980s graphical adventure game ''Eureka!'' depicts various historical characters in five different periods of time.
* Justified in ''VideoGame/TheAmazonTrail'' series of games, since the Jaguar's blue mists specifically send you to the points in time when those famous figures are present in the Amazon for the sake of educational content (both in and out of character; the locations would be less interesting if they weren't populated with famous scientists like Alfred Russell Wallace and Richard Evans Schultes, famous conquistadores likes Lope de Aguirre and Francisco de Orellana, and other famous figures like Henry Ford and Teddy Roosevelt; but also, the Jaguar wants you to interact with those characters to gain wisdom and to complete specific objectives like saving Teddy Roosevelt's life, so he specifically sends you to those places for your growth on your journey).

[[folder:Web Comics]]
* We learn something interesting about ''WebComic/BobTheAngryFlower'' in the strip [[ "More Romantic Problems"]], concerning risky time travel, antimatter, and Julius Caesar. And a bag of chips.
* ''Webcomic/{{Narbonic}}'' explained Dave meeting people he knew when he time-traveled by having him [[MentalTimeTravel travel to his own body in the past and future]]--for example, when he went back twenty years, he became himself as a six-year-old.
** Lest you think Shaenon Garrity deserves all the credit, remember that the whole arc was largely inspired by ''Literature/SlaughterhouseFive''.
* [[ Kimiko]] is on the receiving end of this in ''Webcomic/DresdenCodak''.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* Totally describes an episode of ''WesternAnimation/{{Jem}}'' where the [[ReedRichardsIsUseless Misfits send the Holograms back in time]] to keep them from performing at a concert. The girls get sent back to the 1700s, the 40s, then the 60s, where they just happen to meet Music/WolfgangAmadeusMozart, Music/GlennMiller, and Music/JimiHendrix (though for legal reasons, the last two are referred to as "Ben Tiller" and "Johnny Beldrix"). Website/TheAgonyBooth did [[ a recap]] of this one.
* Almost every episode of the series ''WesternAnimation/TimeWarpTrio'', on the Kids' Discovery Channel, is based on this trope. Somewhat justified since they time-travel via a magic history book, which a magician uncle gave one of the trio -- apparently with the idea that the kid would eventually (1) learn a lot of history and (2) ''learn how to steer the book''.
** This is the same for the series of stories the cartoon was based off of.
* Lampshaded in the WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}} episode "All the President's Heads".
-->'''Professor:''' Where could Farnsworth have minted such a high quality fake?\\
'''Creator/BenjaminFranklin:''' Not here, but you know, I have a friend in Boston who's an expert silversmith, they could be connected... there's only, like, 40 people who do anything around here.

* Combine this trope with {{Reincarnation}}, and you get Everyone From The Past Was Famous, in which a suspiciously-high proportion of believers in past lives insist that they were once famous people, or closely associated with somebody famous. UsefulNotes/CleopatraVII is a classic one for women to claim as a previous incarnation. Because, yeah, she was beautiful and rich and that's what we all want to be, you know?
** The number of people who claim to have been passengers aboard the ''Titanic'' exceeds the actual passenger manifest of that ship considerably and is a MAJOR subject of contention on ''Titanic'' message boards.
* In January 1913, Vienna's [[ Café Central]] was patronized by UsefulNotes/JosipBrozTito, UsefulNotes/SigmundFreud, UsefulNotes/AdolfHitler, UsefulNotes/VladimirLenin and UsefulNotes/LeonTrotsky (the last two as regulars). Of these, only Freud had done by then [[AllPsychologyIsFreudian the thing]] for which he is famous today. The list of other famous (but not as famous) patrons is too long to reasonably fit here.