"I think opinions should be judged by their influences and effects; and if a man holds none that tend to make him less virtuous or more vicious, it may be concluded that he holds none that are dangerous, which I hope is the case with me."Genius, millionaire, playboy, philanthropist. Ladies and gentlemen, meet the Tony Stark of The American Revolution.Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706† – April 17, 1790) was a printer, author, scientist, musician, inventor, diplomat, ladies' man, revolutionary, and one of the coolest and most fascinating people in American history. Managed to make it onto The United States hundred dollar bill (and the 50-cent piece from 1948 to 1963) without being The President. Invented bifocal lenses, the Franklin stove, and the lightning rod, after proving that lightning was just electricity rather than the wrath of an angry god. If you ever take a tour anywhere in Philadelphia's historical district, you will learn that he invented pretty much everything. Even The Internet. He's probably the most famous person in American history to the rest of the world.But he was not a President. And he did not write the Declaration of Independence (although he did edit it). And he didn't found the Ben Franklin dime store chain. As a consolation, he is the only person whose signature appears on all three founding documents of the United States of America – the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris, and the US Constitution, as well as the treaty allying France with the United States.
Benjamin Franklin in fiction and pop culture:
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- According to the official backstory of Code Geass, one major divergence point between its history and ours is that Franklin betrayed Washington in return for a title of Britannian nobility and land, meaning that the United States of America never came into being. The show's immortal female lead C.C. speaks of Ben and his peaceful nature wistfully, implying that she knew him personally.
- Pretty much anything set during The American Revolution has to have him pop up.
- 1776 has a singing Ben Franklin, who exemplifies the wisdom and the biting wit he's known for.
- Appears in Bill & Ted's Bogus Journey, playing a game of charades with Albert Einstein, Confucius, and The Stations.
- In the film How High, Method Man and Redman end up discovering that Franklin invented the bong. Although not historically accurate, it would explain his easygoing nature. Franklin actually owned a hemp mill, and several of the Founding Fathers grew hemp, though it was the sort used for fiber which doesn't contain much THC.
- Back to the Future: Doc Brown keeps a portrait of Franklin in his home alongside portraits of Thomas Edison, Albert Einstein, and Sir Isaac Newton, foreshadowing the lightning strike climax in 1955.
- Ben And Me, a story told from the point of view of a cute talking mouse that lives in the walls of Ben Franklin's house. Contributed to the "key kite" myth. Later became a Disney animated short.
- John Hodgman apparently detests Ben Franklin, if the repeated potshots taken at him throughout Complete World Knowledge is any sign.
- A Cahill From the Lucian Branch in The 39 Clues.
- He is a major character in the James Morrow novel "The Last Witchfinder"
- In the first chapter of The Baroque Cycle, Enoch Root visits early 1700s Boston and encounters a child prodigy named Ben (surname not given, but clearly intended to be Franklin.)
- America (The Book): The foreword, supposedly written by the ghost of Thomas Jefferson, claims that if crack cocaine had existed when Franklin was alive then "that boozed-up snuff machine would weigh 80 pounds and live outside the Port Authority."
- The Age of Unreason, an Alternate History series by Gregory Keyes in which Sir Isaac Newton studied alchemy instead of physics, features a young Ben Franklin as Newton's protege.
- In Two Crowns for America by Katherine Kurtz, a "secret history" of the Revolution, Franklin plays a supporting part in his role as a Master Mason.
- He's a supporting character in The Year of the Hangman, an alternate history where the Americans lost to the British in 1777. He takes in the protagonist, Creighton, as an apprentice, unaware that he's a British spy. Franklin secretly publishes The Liberty Tree newspaper, and is later burned with his print shop by British soldiers.
Live Action TV
- Franklin appeared as a character in the [adult swim] satire Young Persons Guide To History.
- The key kite myth became one of the Tropes Examined By The Myth Busters. Tory also mistakenly thought Franklin was a President.
- The supplemental materials for Heroes have Franklin as an empowered human (he could absorb electricity).
- The Office: When Michael orders Jim to hire a male stripper for a bachelorette party, Jim calls the Scholastic Speakers of Pennsylvania and hires a Franklin impersonator. Dwight is 99% sure he's not the real one.
- Appears in the HBO miniseries John Adams, where he is generally played as Adams' foil: witty, popular and sly, in comparison to Adams' earnest and blunt firebrand.
- How I Met Your Mother. George Washington and Ben were friends with Barnabus Stinson (Barney's ancestor) who wrote "The Bro Code". George and Ben also once did a "Devil's Threesome".
- An entire two-part episode of Bewitched was dedicated to praising Ben Franklin, after Aunt Clara accidentally brought him to the present.
- In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 short "Money Talks"(which preceded "The Beast of Yucca Flats"), a shadow of Ben Franklin advises a young boy about the importance of saving money.
- In the episode "Yes Men" of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Lorelei asks one of the thugs under her control about Franklin's picture on the $100. Of course the thug, being an idiot, thinks he was President and tells Lorelei that he was a king.
- Ichabod Crane of Sleepy Hollow spent some time learning from Franklin. He was present for the kite experiment, which was an attempt to destroy the key.
- When Puff Daddy sings "It's All About the Benjamins, Baby", yes, it's this Benjamin. Franklin is the face on the American hundred dollar bill.
- In MAD #169, the article "A MAD History of Sex", writes: "Perhaps the greatest Sexual Figure in Revolutionary times was also known as "The Father of Our Country". His name was Benjamin Franklin. We realize some people think George Washington was the father of our country, and you may say "You don't know your history." All we can say is "You don't know your Benjamin Franklin!"
- Plays a pretty significant part in 1776, naturally.
- The United States one hundred-dollar bill.
- Actor Billy Bob Thornton apparently believes he's reincarnated from Ol' Ben.
- When Bobcat Goldthwait cut his hair because he was going bald, he joked that he was "starting to look like Ben Franklin". He also, in another bit, said that David Crosby looks like "Ben Franklin fucked a walrus".
- Tony Hawk's Underground 2 allows you to skate as a Ben Franklin impersonator (known only as "Ben Franklin"). His unique trick is the Franklin Grind, which has the skater be pulled along the rail by a kite (with a key tied to it, of course) as a thunderstorm sound effect plays.
- Day of the Tentacle features Ben Franklin in the past, trying out his famous kite experiment. When a storm rolls around, he goes back inside, and Hoagie has to convince him to go back out, using the lightning to charge the battery for his Chrono-John.
- In one edition of Where In Time Is Carmen Sandiego, you and your Good Guide, Polly Tix, meet him while trying to get Declaration of Independence back from one of Carmen's crooks. Later, he helps clue you to where Carmen is going.
- In The Simpsons Game, Benjamin Franklin attacks the heroes in heaven with a key that shoots lightning.
- Appears as a Founding Father in Colonization.
- Franklin appears in Assassin's Creed III. His inventions can be created by Connor to decorate his homestead with after helping him collect pages of his almanac.
- Franklin is one of Columbia's three near-deified father figures alongside Washington and Jefferson in Bioshock Infinite.
- This xkcd strip.
- Ben Franklin's clone is Dr. McNinja's mentor.
- This pictures for sad children, though his common-law wife, Deborah Read Franklin, died of a stroke while he was in England.
- His ghost is a major character in A Girl and Her Fed. (He's close friends with an attention-deficit woman who sets people on fire, a cyborg fed, and a genetically-engineered koala supergenius.)
- The Transylvito Moneymancer in Erfworld is named Benjamin, and he is essentially Ben Franklin. This incarnation also sports the addition of a gold chain with "100" as the symbol.
- Thanks to Time Travel, he's a modern-day superhero in Spinnerette. He's pretty much invincible due the universe itself making sure he survives to return to the past eventually and make history what it is.
- Franklin is one of the major artificial intelligences working for the Americans in Afterlife Blues. An oracle, or use of his full computing power on a single question, is said to be very valuable.
- A Disney short called "Ben & Me" has a mouse named Amos assist Franklin in his key biographical moments.
- Shows up in The Fairly Oddparents when Timmy decided to do research for a report on American History the fun way, by interviewing a few Founding Fathers.
- Also, as shown in a later episode, he somehow has the ability to control storms.
- Liberty's Kids, which features Walter Cronkite as Benjamin Franklin, is about Franklin's newspaper and its staff of teenage reporters and apprentice printers.
- The futuristic adventure series Spiral Zone features a Nerd Action Hero named Benjamin Franklin Davis.
- In the Beavis And Butthead episode "Lightning Strikes", the boys are inspired by a PBS special on Franklin to imitate the "key kite" myth. Hilarity Ensues—and so does hospitalization.
- An episode of Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego? ends with a cliffhanger when Carmen travels back in time to 1752 and steals Ben Frankin's key, foiling his kite experiment and preventing the development of electronics and trapping Zack and Ivy in time.
- He appeared in Nickelodeon's classic toon KaBlam!. He replaced Wesley Snipes in the Money Train sequel.
- Even South Park treated Benjamin Franklin with respect. He appeared to save the day in "I'm A Little Bit Country", and is played by All in the Family creator Norman Lear.
- An episode of The Simpsons. Homer thought Franklin was president.
- Benjamin Franklin is featured in several other fantasy sequences. In one he invents the sled and in another he plays Air Hockey with Jimi Hendrix.
- In a Family Guy cutaway about the Declaration of Independence:Speaker: We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal...Benjamin Franklin: Except the Jews!Speaker: Franklin! For the fifth time, I'm sorry you overpaid for your house, but it's not going in!Benjamin Franklin: You'll be soor-ry!
- Franklin was the featured historical figure in the Time Squad episode "Floundering Fathers." Buck, being the Dumb Muscle that he is and lacking history genius Otto's help, causes Franklin to invent the light bulb many decades ahead of Thomas Edison merely by giving him the idea.
- Among the many government secrets Dipper and Mabel stumble upon in the Gravity Falls episode "Irrational Treasure", one is that Ben Franklin was secretly a woman.
- Showed up in the final episode of Dilbert. It turns out the garbage man has his coffin in the truck ("You'd be amazed what people throw away") and the garbage man resurrects him with a magic potion (a second time after Dilbert tell him what's happened to the Post Office since his death), explains to Dilbert that the government of the US he helped put together was actually a practical joke, and finishes up back on the secret ruling council when they're selecting the new President. (Why Ben? Mostly because he's the Founder with the best known track record of boozing, philandering, and generally screwing around.)