[[caption-width-right:275:Just look at that [[BadassMustache glorious mustache]].]]

-> ''"The human race is a race of cowards; and I am not only marching in that procession but carrying a banner."''

Boston, Massachusetts, November 1869. A short, thin man wearing a cheap suit, an [[FieryRedhead unkempt mop of red hair]], [[BadassMustache a long red mustache]], and brandishing a [[CigarChomper smelly cigar]], ambles up the staircase at 124 Tremont Street to the second story headquarters of Ticknor & Fields, a publishing firm. Settling into the office of William Dean Howells, a junior partner of the firm, he lets fly a ravishing quip, referencing a favorable review of his latest work, "The Innocents Abroad", in a magazine published by the firm. [[ChocolateBaby "When I read that review of yours, I felt like the woman who was so glad her baby had come white"]].

And thus Samuel Langhorne Clemens (November 30, 1835 April 21, 1910) erupted onto the literary scene. He was a [[DownOnTheFarm backwoods outcast]] of low social standing who became a seminal American author, and he is considered to be the father of American literature. He took his most prominent PenName from 19th century riverboat jargon. The boatmen would call out "marks" indicating the depth of the water. "Mark Twain" indicates two fathoms, which is just deep enough for safe maneuvering. The name is deliberately ambiguous, for mark twain is the point at which dangerous waters become safe -- and safe waters become dangerous.

The son of Missouri slave owners (though an abolitionist himself), he dropped out of school at age twelve and spent his formative years working as a printer's apprentice, before becoming a riverboat pilot on the Mississippi and later a newspaper reporter in the Nevada Territory. His early fame was as a humorist and satirical newspaper writer, before he broke into the American literary landscape as an author and essayist.

His early years as a writer was out West, especially in Carson City and San Francisco. It was during his period in San Francisco where he met some of the more colorful personalities that would find their way into his stories, especially [[CrazyAwesome Emperor Norton]] (who showed up as the King in ''Huckleberry Finn''.)[[note]]Twain later regretted upon hearing Norton's death in 1880 that he never got a chance to work on biography for the Emperor of the United States.[[/note]]

He was also obsessed with the separation between the "dream self" and the "waking self", and kept a regular dream journal twenty years before Freud. He was also [[TheAtoner horribly guilt-ridden]] over the deaths of family members he blamed himself for, such as his younger brothers Benjamin and Henry and his son Langdon. In fact, ''all'' of the tragedies that occurred in his life [[ItsAllMyFault he blamed himself for]], no matter how circumstantial or accidental. He eventually became a NayTheist; when a woman told him "God must love you", he told a friend after she left, "I guess she hadn't heard of our strained relationship."

Twain was also a walking contradiction, and prided himself on it. He was from a slave state and (briefly) joined the Confederate Army, but was an Abolitionist. He was anti-Imperialism and crusaded for the poor, but himself was into {{Get Rich Quick Scheme}}s, obsessed with being rich, and befriended the very capitalists he derided, such as Andrew Carnegie. (When told by a friend, "Old Carnegie's money is all tainted!", he replied, "Yes, it is. 'Taint yours and 'taint mine.") He was also best-buddies with UsefulNotes/NikolaTesla and befriended a young half-American Boer War veteran named [[UsefulNotes/WinstonChurchill Winston Leonard Spencer Churchill]] during a lecture tour.

His early works were humorous (and Clemens in his Twain persona is one of the most famous {{Deadpan Snarker}}s there is), but he became a bit of a StrawNihilist later in life when his favorite daughter, Susan, caught meningitis, went mad and died at 24, his wife died of heart failure, and his middle daughter Jean drowned in the bathtub on Christmas morning after suffering an epileptic seizure. And let's not forget losing most of his fortune to business investments that went bad, forcing him to declare bankruptcy. Despite it all, Twain always seemed to come back from tragedy, becoming more and more of a hero to people who viewed him as a survivor.

He died on April 21, 1910, the day after Halley's Comet reached its perihelion, or closest pass to the sun. He was born two weeks after its prior perihelion in 1835. As Clemens himself said the year before he died, "I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it."
!Works by Clemens with their own pages:

* ''Literature/AdventuresOfHuckleberryFinn''
* ''Literature/TheAdventuresOfTomSawyer''
* ''Literature/AConnecticutYankeeInKingArthursCourt''
* ''Literature/FenimoreCoopersLiteraryOffences''
* ''Literature/TheMysteriousStranger''
* ''Literature/ThePrinceAndThePauper''
!Additional Works with Related Tropes:
!! ''The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County'' (1867)
* RamblingOldManMonologue: The whole story is this.
* ShaggyDogStory
!! ''The Innocents Abroad'' (1869)
* AdventurerArchaeologist: During the Holy Land leg of their journey, Twain's fellow passengers on the SS ''Quaker City'' fancied themselves as this. In real life, they were just a bunch of [[HawaiianShirtedTourist prototypical yuppie tourists]] who had a disturbing penchant for breaking off and stealing pieces of historical monuments, such as Judas' tomb and the arch that Christ walked under on Palm Sunday. As Twain put it, "Heaven protect the Sepulchre when this tribe invades Jerusalem!"
* CovertPervert: When Twain visited France and the Can Can Dancers, he mentioned he was ''shocked'' and covered his eyes at such a scene -- but peeked through his fingers. Keep in mind, ''real'' Can Can Dancers ''didn't wear any underwear''.
* InexplicablyIdenticalIndividuals: Twain refers to every tour guide he encounters on the European continent as "Ferguson". This also counts as a RunningGag.
* TheNicknamer: Twain himself gave nicknames to most of the Quaker City's passengers. One of these, a seventeen-year-old tourist who was nicknamed 'Interrogation Point' and was described 'young, and green, and not bright, not learned, and not wise', later became Twain's brother-in-law. He and the fellows he played cards and drank with at night, he called the "Nighthawks".
* SelfDeprecation: One of Twain's most famous tales in the book are how a camel feasted on some of his belongings. It finally choked to death on some of the material he wrote; even the camel couldn't stomach it.
* SlobsVersusSnobs: Twain divided up his fellow travelers into two groups: the pious, Bible-studying upper middle class "Pilgrims", and the hard-drinking, sabbath-ignoring, rule-breaking "Sinners". Go ahead and guess which group he identified with.
* TakeThat: Against 19th Century travel guides at first; the second half is a AuthorTract against American tourists and Americans in general, as well as Europeans, Arabs, and, well, everybody else he encounters. If there's a message to be found in the book, it's likely to be that people ''in general'' trust authority too much, even when the authority is bugfuck crazy. Whether he's explaining, in detail, why Abelard was a nincompoop, ranting about how the self-appointed KnowNothingKnowItAll thought that both of the Pillars of Hercules were on the same side of the Strait of Gilbraltar, crying out in agonized confusion about how he doesn't understand why the Italians ''don't rob their churches'', or mocking the bejeezus out of the aforementioned tour guides (one of whom takes him to four different silk stores ''instead of guiding him to the Louvre as he had asked in the beginning and at every stop along the way''), Twain's authorial character is always attacking ''anyone'' who takes advantage of a position of authority. Oddly enough, he keeps doing it for the rest of his career, too, all the way up through ''The Mysterious Stranger'', where he has a go at God.
* WorldTour: Clemens travels through Europe.
!! ''Roughing It'' (1872)
* [[AlohaHawaii Aloha Sandwich Islands]]
* CallingMeALogarithm: The TropeNamer is Ollendorf. He feels insulted by the word, despite admitting that he has no clue what logarithm means.
* CovertPervert: He was shocked, '''''shocked''''' at the topless natives in UsefulNotes/{{Hawaii}}. So much he covered his eyes with his hands -- but left room to peek through them, naturally.[[note]]This is a recycled joke he'd made about Can Can Dancers. Keep in mind, those girls did ''not'' wear underwear when they were doing those high kicks.[[/note]]
* SceneryPorn: Clemens' vivid descriptions of the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, and Utah and Nevada deserts are some of the finest ever written.
** SceneryGorn: As is his description of [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mono_lake Mono Lake]] in California, which he called "hideous".
* SurferDude: Twain encounters some in the Sandwich Islands. Yes, they [[OlderThanTheyThink existed in the 1860s]].
!! ''The Gilded Age'' (1873)
* TheGildedAge: This is the TropeNamer. The age lasted roughly 1865-1900. Clemens and his co-writer, Charles Dudley Warner, condemned the then present-day age of degeneration, vice, and materialism as a false, corrupted GoldenAge.
!! ''[[https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1874/11/a-true-story-repeated-word-for-word-as-i-heard-it/306511/ A True Story, Repeated Word for Word As I Heard It]]'' (1874)
* BasedOnATrueStory: Unlike most stories of this trope, everything in it ''was'' indeed accurate, told to him by his servant Mary Ann Cord, who is named "Aunt Rachel" in the story.
* BeneathTheMask: Mister C-- asks why Rachel always seems so happy. The last lines of the story: "Oh, no, Misto C--, I hain't had no trouble. An' no joy!"
* CerebusSyndrome: Mark Twain was so moved by Cord's story, he transcribed it and sent it to the Atlantic Monthly. He warned them, "It has no humor in it. You can pay as lightly as you choose for that, if you want it, for it is rather out of my line." Twain up til then had been known for his DeadpanSnarker stories and {{Troll}}ing.
* DistinguishingMark: "Boy!" I says, "if you an't my Henry, what is you doin' wid dis welt on yo' wris' an' dat sk-yar on yo' forehead?"
!! "Some Thoughts on the Science of Onanism" (1879) -- [[http://www.textfiles.com/etext/AUTHORS/TWAIN/onanism.txt Speech]] given to the Stomach Club in Paris.
* ADateWithRosiePalms: "If you must gamble your lives sexually, don't play a lone hand too much."
* SelfAbuse: DiscussedTrope. Twain's speech satirized anti-masturbation activists, who were very real in those days.
!! ''Life on the Mississippi'' (1883)
* EarlyBirdCameo: An early chapter features a raftsman yarn told from the point of view of Huckleberry Finn.
!! ''Puddin' Head Wilson'' (1894)
* FingerprintingAir: As the title character basically invents fingerprinting in the course of the story, this qualifies.
* PassFail
* SwitchedAtBirth: A slave switches her child for a white one so that he'll have a better life.
!! ''Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc'' (1896)
* AuthorAppeal: Twain had a personal fascination (some say "infatuation") with UsefulNotes/JoanOfArc.
* FirstPersonPeripheralNarrator: Told from the perspective of Joan's page, Louis de Contes.
* CheeseEatingSurrenderMonkeys: "If you confront fifty French soldiers with five English ones, the French will run". The idealistic Joan, however, refuses to accept it.
* GenreAdultery: Notable for its lack of humor compared to Twain's other works; when it was first published as a serialized novel in ''Harper's Magazine'', it was published anonymously at Twain's request so that people wouldn't expect it to be funny.
* LiteraryAgentHypothesis: The novel alleges to be an actual fifteenth-century account of Joan's life, written by her close friend Louis de Contes. It opens with an introduction by "the translator".
* MagnumOpusDissonance: "I like ''Joan of Arc'' best of all my books; and it is the best; I know it perfectly well. And besides, it furnished me seven times the pleasure afforded me by any of the others; twelve years of preparation, and two years of writing. The others needed no preparation and got none."
!! ''How to Tell a Story'' (1897)
* {{Beat}}: Essential to a horror story or a punchline.
* CannotTellAJoke
!! ''Is He Living or Is He Dead?'' (1898)
* DeadArtistsAreBetter
!! ''The Man That Corrupted Hadleyburg'' (1900)
* BatmanGambit: As the stranger expected, give the people a chance to gain an incredible fortune and they would be willing to lie to achieve it. So much for being "Incorruptible".
* ThePlan: A stranger was snubbed a the town that claims to be "incorruptible." He desires vengeance and drops off a sack of gold worth about $40,000 and leaves it in front of one family's house that said it was for the man who gave him some life-changing advice and $20. If that person wishes to claim the reward, he need only give the local Reverend a copy of that advice, the real advice is inside sack. As expected by the stranger ''every'' prominent person claimed he was the good Samaritan. At the reading, every one who submitted their claim is humiliated, and the sack only had lead in it. Further rubbing salt in the wound when an interesting development happens with the readers of the claims who kept one of their friend's from being read, so they wouldn't be shamed too. The stranger then comes forward and buys the sack for the $40,000 and the "honest" couple are filled with immense guilt over the whole thing.
* TakeThat: Mark Twain owned a house in Fredonia, New York where he was accosted by members of the Women's Christian Temperance Union for his public drinking and smoking. This was his response on their belief in their moral superiority.
!! ''To the Person Sitting in Darkness'' (1901)
* AsTheGoodBookSays: The title is an ironic reference to Matthew 4:16, "The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light."
* TakeThat: Like most of Clemens' later works, it's a denunciation of imperialism.
!! ''King Leopold's Soliloquy'' (1905)
* UnreliableNarrator: Belgium's King Leopold II argues that he's brought prosperity, peace, and dignity to the Belgian Congo. By enslaving the populace and forcing them to work on rubber plantations.
!! ''The War Prayer'' (Written c. 1904-05, published 1917)
* PrayerOfMalice: The angel points out that this is the subtext of their victory prayer.
* ShamingTheMob: Subverted.
* WarIsGlorious: The townspeople think it is. The angel shows them [[WarIsHell otherwise]], but they [[spoiler: [[IgnoredEpiphany denounce him as a lunatic]].]]
!! ''Christian Science'' (Written c. 1903-1904, published 1907)
* ChurchOfHappyology: Though it predated the TropeNamer by a little over a century, Twain's denunciations of Christian Science's beliefs and practices [[OlderThanTheyThink wouldn't seem that out of place]].
* CorruptChurch: He viewed it this way, detailing the money-making of the Christian Scientists' leadership, objecting to this and the veneration of its founder Mary Baker Eddy, predicting it would rapidly spread across the world, trampling liberty.
* TakeThat: A book-long one to Christian Science in general and its founder Mary Baker Eddy in particular. Clemens did have some belief that mental healing worked, but felt Christian Science went too far in its claims for this, and viewed the money-making of its leadership as corrupt hypocrisy. After all, his character in the book reasons, if nothing exists but mind, an imaginary check should do just fine-money wouldn't be an issue.
!! ''Letters from the Earth'' (Written 1909, published 1939)
* HumansAreBastards: [[CreatorBreakdown Written after the deaths of Clemens' wife and favorite daughter]], this is where he crosses the line from a cynic to a [[NietzscheWannabe misanthrope]].
!Appearances in Fiction:
Twain appears as a HistoricalDomainCharacter in numerous stories, TV shows, movies and comics.


* ''Anime/TheDaggerOfKamui'', inexplicably speaking Japanese. (Then again, so did everybody else, including the Native Americans in the novel.)

[[AC: Comics]]
* Mark Twain appears as a character in the ''Franchise/{{Transformers}}'' comic ''Hearts of Steel'', helping out the Autobots and even [[CrowningMomentOfAwesome defeating Ravage by himself]].
* Creastor/MattFraction and Steven Sanders' comic, ''ComicBook/TheFiveFistsOfScience'', features Twain and his real life friend UsefulNotes/NikolaTesla fighting an [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade evil]] UsefulNotes/ThomasEdison.
* Creator/NeilGaiman's comic, ''ComicBook/TheSandman'', in the issue "Three Septembers and a January" [[spoiler: Creator/EmperorNorton makes Twain the Official Teller of Stories for the United States.]]
* In ''ComicBook/TalesDesignedToThrizzle'' he and UsefulNotes/AlbertEinstein are [[BuddyCopShow Buddy Cops]].
* He appears in the ''ComicBook/LuckyLuke'' series.
* Twain makes a very short appearance in an early volume of ''ComicBook/TheUnwritten'', a story where an AncientConspiracy has spent centuries trying to take control of the very essence of imagination itself, with the end goal of shaping and using it for their own ends. [[spoiler:Except for their immortal DragonInChief Pullman, who is trying to kill off imagination itself [[DragonWithAnAgenda for reasons of his own.]]]] To aid in this, they recruit influential storytellers as {{Unwitting Pawn}}s. Twain tells Creator/RudyardKipling that he was aware of the conspiracy before they approached him and [[ObfuscatingStupidity pretended to be a country bumpkin]] until they gave up recruiting him and just left him alone. Kipling wasn't nearly so fortunate.

[[AC: {{Film}}]]
* During the archery contest in ''Film/RobinHoodMenInTights'', Robin disguises himself as an older man with a large false mustache. Prince John even [[AnachronismStew compares him to Mark Twain.]]

[[AC: {{Literature}}]]
* Appears as a friend of KidDetective PK Pinkerton in ''Literature/TheWesternMysteries''.
* Appears in Harry Turtledove's AlternateHistory novel ''Literature/HowFewRemain'' as Samuel Clemens, a newspaper editor in California.
* Mark Twain was the central character in a series of historical mysteries by Peter Heck called, unsurprisingly, ''The Mark Twain Mysteries''.
* Twain comes back to Earth for a visit in 1986 via Halley's Comet, remarking on how things have changed or haven't changed, with his usual acerbic wit, in David Carkeet's ''I Been There Before.''
* Creator/PhilipJoseFarmer's ''Literature/{{Riverworld}}'' novels see all of humanity resurrected, including Clemens, who is a major character. Farmer freely mixes biographical information with speculation and invention in an attempt to convey his sense of the man. To some readers the trials the character is subjected seem hostile. To others it seems more like a novel kind of hero worship, taken as a whole.

[[AC: LiveActionTV]]
* ''Series/StarTrekTheNextGeneration'' -- Met with Guinan and assisted the crew in the two-parter "[[Recap/StarTrekTheNextGenerationS5E26S6E1TimesArrow Time's Arrow]]". He was more like a minor villain, because he thought the crew came back in time for their own amusement. [[CaptainObvious They didn't.]] He was more than willing to assist them, though, when they proved their reasons weren't sinister.
-->'''Troi:''' Poverty was eliminated on Earth, a long time ago. And a lot of other things disappeared with it -- hopelessness, despair, cruelty...
-->'''Twain:''' Young lady, I come from a time when men achieve power and wealth by standing on the backs of the poor, where prejudice and intolerance are commonplace and power is an end unto itself. And you're telling me that isn't how it is anymore?
-->'''Troi:''' That's right.
-->'''Twain:''' Hmmm... well... maybe... it's worth giving up cigars for, after all.
** Picard is upset he can only speak to Twain for a few moments, wanting to get to know him better. Twain smiles and replies that Picard only needs to read his books. All of Twain is in his work.
* ''{{Series/Bonanza}}'' has Sam Clemens working as a reporter in Virginia City in an early episode, with later guest appearances showing him as famed author Twain.
* One of the Roger Moore episodes of the ''Series/{{Maverick}}'' TV series is set in Virginia City, Nevada, during the mining rush -- the same time Twain was working as a journalist there, as chronicled in ''Roughing It''. A supporting character in the episode is a journalist named Clem Samuels.

[[AC: WebComics]]
* He is [[NoCelebritiesWereHarmed the inspiration for]] Colonel Sassacre in ''Webcomic/{{Homestuck}}'', who has a dog named Halley.
* Webcomic ''Webcomic/{{Girly}}'' has a television show that the characters would watch now and again, in which Victorian authors would kill each other with '''GUNS!!!''' Twain appeared in one episode as the villain (the author remarked, "I like to think of Twain as the kind of guy who wouldn't mind me making him evil for NO REASON!").

[[AC: WesternAnimation]]
* In ''WesternAnimation/TheVentureBrothers'', Clemens is a founding member of the original [[WeirdTradeUnion Guild of Calamitous Intent]] (along with Col. Venture, [[LoinCloth Eugen Sandow]], Creator/OscarWilde, Creator/AleisterCrowley and even Literature/{{Fantomas}}) sometime near the turn of the century (before Wilde's death). Oddly, the Guild's enemies included Samuel's real-life friend UsefulNotes/NikolaTesla, who may or may not have split from the group for their handling of the [[ArtifactOfDoom the ORB]].
* He appeared in a ''WesternAnimation/JohnnyBravo'' episode, begging people not to abuse ''The Prince and the Pauper'' for comedy.
* Mr. Burns owns the only existing nude photograph of Mark Twain, according to ''WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons'' episode "Rosebud".
* The animated film ''WesternAnimation/TheAdventuresOfMarkTwain'', a loving {{Deconstruction}} of his NietzscheWannabe works, has Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn and Becky Thacher stowing away in Twain's CoolAirship.
* Appeared as a character in one of Franchise/TheLoneRanger segments of ''The Tarzan-Lone Ranger Adventure Hour'' animated series, where he helps the Lone Ranger solve a mystery and gets the idea for the slip that will expose Tom Sawyer's disguise as a girl in the novel.

[[AC: Other]]
* Twain is co-host of ''The American Adventure'' attraction at [[Ride/DisneyThemeParks Epcot]], along with Creator/BenjaminFranklin.
* Hal Holbrook made a career out of his one-man show where he played Twain. In fact, he's ''still'' doing them at age 91 (as of 2016). The real Twain only lived to 75.