Leonardo di Ser Piero da Vinci (can we call him Leo?) was an Italian scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer. Born in 1452 in Vinci, Italy (hence da Vinci, i.e. from Vinci). Leonardo apprenticed at the art studio of Verrocchio. According to one legend, when Leonardo and Verrocchio collaborated on a painting, Verrocchio found himself so outclassed by his apprentice that he abandoned art altogether.Leonardo spent time in Florence (where he got charged with sodomy, sparking centuries of speculation over whether or not he was gay note ), Milan and Rome, working for various wealthy patrons. He produced some of the most famous paintings history: The Last Supper, Virgin of the Rocks, and, most famous of all, Mona "what-is-she-smiling-at" Lisa, considered to be either the most beautiful or the most kitschy work of art in history.Besides above-ground art, Leonardo also trafficked in the shady world of anatomy, secretly procuring corpses and dissecting them (an act which could get you killed at the time) to study the human body.Leonardo always considered himself foremost a scientist. The areas of his interest include: aeronautics, anatomy, astronomy, botany, civil engineering, chemistry, geology, geometry, hydrodynamics, mathematics, mechanical engineering, optics, physics, pyrotechnics and zoology (allowing him to put pretty much every Omnidisciplinary Scientist in fiction to shame). His inventions range from the mundane (strut bridges, automated thread-winder, pulley systems) to the height of—for the times—science fiction, including tanks, airplanes, helicopters, and a mechanism for walking on water. Leonardo's awesomeness is such that he even gets his own genre of science fiction—Clock Punk.In fact, it is his interest and expertise in so many areas which inspired the term "Renaissance Man". Unfortunately, though, he was interested in so many things that he couldn't settle down to work on anything. Many of his artworks and engineering projects never got off the drawing board, or, in the artwork's case, the doodlepad.Leo died in 1519. He was arguably the first real celebrity. He was famous across Europe, as famous as any king, priest or soldier, and celebrated for his art, his intelligence and his good looks. He was subject to gossip and myth in his own lifetime. You can well imagine how things get out of hand after his death. He's part of the trinity of Julius Beethoven da Vinci and his life often serves as Biography à Clef. He probably was not an immortal alien... or friends with a Time Lord... or a sacred feminine worshiping cryptologist... or an ally of an order of assassins. And he was definitely not a ninja turtle. Or an ancestor of Stewie Griffin. And we're decently sure he never traveled to South America in search of a magical book of knowledge.Also note that people called him Leonardo (not da Vinci) back then. Da Vinci means "of Vinci", so it would be somewhat like saying "What would Of Nazareth do?"
Tropes as portrayed in fiction:
- Ambiguously Gay: He or characters based on him are sometimes portrayed this way, due to a long-standing rumor that he had relations with one of his male models.
- Biography à Clef: His paintings, his codes, his scientific research, those war machine blueprints, his great genius and who was "the Mona Lisa" anyway, have supplied speculation and fodder for multiple fictional representations over time.
- Clock Punk: The inventions he designed in his drawings can be described as this.
- Military Mashup Machine: The scythed chariots, primitive tanks and gliders he thought up are often seen in fiction, though they tend towards Awesome, but Impractical.
- Mona Lisa Smile: Trope Namer. The way he painted the mysterious smile of the Mona Lisa has intrigued countless people over the centuries.
- Renaissance Man: The Trope Codifier.
- Small Reference Pools: The Mona Lisa is our standard idea of a painting or a valuable painting for that matter. Countless stories about art theft will have a thief break in the Louvre and try to steal the Mona Lisa.
- Wizard Beard: Rarely portrayed without a huge beard despite not practising magic.
- Wolverine Publicity: A lot of art critics and theorists note that Leonardo tends to get this as a painter/inventor/scholar over that of other great painters, inventors and scientists of the Renaissance. It's often pointed out by more than a few that Leonardo was actually incredibly lazy and procrastinated on his commissions and the reason being less on his brilliance and more because he decided to dabble and try his hand at anything he set his mind to. In other words, Leonardo is not really a successful Renaissance Man but someone who tried to be one. Compare that to Michelangelo, a poet, a sculptor and a painter. Michelangelo actually left complete works in multiple fields. As a painter, Leonardo was not so prolific with only a few major complete works (admittedly this includes The Mona Lisa and The Last Supper so yes, Leonardo does have permission to rest on his laurels).
Appears in the following works:
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- Léonard le Génie is a Franco-Belgian comic clearly inspired by Leonardo da Vinci.
- In the absurdist French comic The Adventures of Jérôme Moucherot, Leonardo Da Vinci is a neighbor of the main character residing in the uppermost apartment of his building. He's an eccentric inventor married to a guy who behaves like a woman.
- Leonardo a major character in S.H.I.E.L.D. (2010), one of the members of the Renaissance incarnation of the Brotherhood of the Shield, who time travels to the 1950s to stop their evil new leader, Isaac Newton.
- In Safe Havens a child Leonardo is a recurring character. He's a time traveler alongside his mother Maria, and it's hinted there's a very good reason Maria and Leonardo are interested in Samantha and her friends.
- Leonardo appears at the start of Hudson Hawk, where he is painting the Mona Lisa and conducts a flying experiment.
- The Da Vinci Code has spread the idea that Da Vinci put some kind of hidden code about the Vatican in his paintings. Despite that it also made the man even more famous with the general public than he already was.
- Appears in a single paragraph in Good Omens, when he told Crowley that sure, the smile was a little off but it's not like anyone'll ever look at it, and what was that about helicopters?
- In the Discworld novels by Terry Pratchett, a recurring character is the befuddled genius inventor Leonard of Quirm, who is an obvious parody of him.
- The series Leonardo is about his (fictional) teenage adventures.
- The titular character in Doctor Who visits his studio in the story "City of Death", but he's out.
- Da Vinci's Demons is a fictionalized account of Leonardo's early life, with the addition of mystical elements.
- Shows up in Star Trek: Voyager as a holodeck character in Captain Janeway's Da Vinci's Workshop program, played by John Rhys-Davies. In one episode an alien steals his program and becomes his "patron" until Janeway gets him back—which naturally involves creating one of his gliders.
- NTSF:SD:SUV::: Leonardo Da Vinci appears as the arch-nemesis of the Time Angels, a trio of buxom agents who protect time spoofing Charlie's Angels. Leonardo invented time travel specifically so that he could steal inventions from other periods and claim them as his own. Why? He was broken up when his girlfriend left him because the Mona Lisa looked nothing like her.
- Warhammer Fantasy has a Leonardo da Miraglia, who lets you reroll bad artillery rolls and invented the steam tank.
- He appears in Assassin's Creed II and Assassin's Creed: Brotherhood as a secondary character. In the first, he's a Gadgeteer Genius that helps Ezio by creating Altaïr's lost designs for him. The latter has him forcibly working for the Borgias to create weapons incredibly advanced for their time.note
- The Journeyman Project: In the second game, Buried In Time, Gage Blackwood is assigned to investigate the studio where Leonardo Da Vinci was working with the Duke of Milan during 1488. The authors actually did some pretty good research on this interpretation, given the amount of historical facts that Arthur can provide, the staggering amount of working prototypes of Leonardo's inventions that match his real-world schematics, and that you can read his notebooks up close, which you have to do anyway, because somebody tampered with one of them.
- Leonardo of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is named after him.
- Appears in an episode of Futurama where he is revealed to have been an exterrestrial alien from a planet where everybody is such a genius that he was in fact considered to have been the dumbest one. Therefore he went to Earth because there he would have been considered the smartest. Nevertheless Fry keeps confusing him with Leonardo DiCaprio.
- The character Maestro in Il était une fois... is clearly based on him.
- In Family Guy, Stewie's evil(er) brother Bertram traveled through time to murder Stewie's ancestor (who turned out to be Leonardo da Vinci) in a Terminator-style scheme. Unbeknownst to him, due to a Timey-Wimey Ball Stewie was accidentally responsible for the Big Bang and, thus, creating the universe, and thus his actions ended up destroying everything, except for Brian and Stewie who managed to survive by stepping outside of normal time and space. When they go back to stop him, they try to reason with him by telling him that he will destroy everything if he does this - Bertram thinks for a second, then declares "WORTH IT!" and tries to kill Leonardo anyway. He succeeds, but Stewie creates a Stable Time Loop by taking his place.
- In Lupin III The Italian Adventure, Leonardo is resurrected by the MI6, to have access to his genius. They can't hold him back, and he, knowing that his new body was about to give out, tried to copy his mind in every single Italian.
- In an episode of the Animated Adaptation of Dilbert titled "Art," Dilbert meets the man himself, who has lived 500 years past his alleged date of death thanks to one of his inventions being the fountain of youth.
- The title characters (and their female accomplice) of Mr. Peabody & Sherman visit DaVinci do have him do some repairs on their time machine. They also inadvertently inspire the Mona Lisa Smile by making Leonardo's disgruntled model laugh with their antics.