[[quoteright:350:[[UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/01c714fabcd89e12750426703ef10715.jpg]]]]
[[caption-width-right:350:[[http://sharpwriter.deviantart.com/art/Abe-Lincoln-Riding-a-Grizzly-187840497 If only history could be this awesome.]]]]

->''"So, all in all, just a normal day in the life of Creator/LeonardoDaVinci. Turn lead into gold, paint the most famous portrait of all time, and invent the first hang glider. And I bet it’s not even 9 AM."''
-->-- '''Website/TheAgonyBooth''' [[http://www.agonybooth.com/recaps/Hudson_Hawk_1991.aspx?Page=2 recap]] of ''Film/HudsonHawk''.

Sometimes a HistoricalDomainCharacter is portrayed by adding a copious amount of badassery and StuffBlowingUp, that was either far lesser or non-existent with the RealLife person. The reasons could range from sloppy research to RuleOfCool.

Maybe a king, who was known for very little else but diplomacy, gets to be a war hero instead. Maybe Mohandas Gandhi [[ComicallyMissingThePoint gets to fist-fight]] [[BearsAreBadNews grizzlies]]. Maybe a pope was a {{vampire hunter}} in his spare time.

KungFuJesus is a subtrope.

Compare BeethovenWasAnAlienSpy for a possible justification of this trope. AdaptationalBadass is when this happens to a character from a previous work. MemeticBadass is when the Badassery is upgraded through MemeticMutation.

See also HistoricalHeroUpgrade and HistoricalVillainUpgrade, both of which this trope may very well overlap with if the character's more heroic or more villainous actions come off as Badass.



!!Examples using real people

[[folder:Media in General / Common Persons]]
* UsefulNotes/NikolaTesla was undoubtedly a major influence on the MadScientist trope, but what a lot of people either forget or choose to ignore is that after he got bored of ''sane'' science, his career totally bombed. Media depicting Tesla often give Thomas Edison (who, in all fairness, was by no means a particularly nice guy in RealLife) a HistoricalVillainUpgrade and posit some kind of grand conspiracy to suppress Tesla's discoveries, when in reality his attempts at creating a DeathRay or WeatherControlMachine or whatever else he was hoping to build that week just plain didn't work. He did some important early work on the physics of radar and may have been the first person to file a patent on a VTOL aircraft, but neither would actually be built until decades later with the actual nut-and-bolts engineering being done by someone else.
* General George Patton has often been portrayed as a highly badass American general, a lover of general Nazi-asskicking and getting his hands dirty, and is simultaneously given a HistoricalBeautyUpdate in regards to his height and appearance. All of this was mainly due to the film ''Film/{{Patton}}'' and to his very much real attitude of an all-American tough guy; however, despite being portrayed as youthful, tall, booming-voiced, and tough, he was actually fairly advanced in years and appearance when the War came around. He didn't enjoy public speaking due to his short height and raspy, very much non-booming voice, and he never actively went out in the field to get his hands dirty in combat, partly due to poor physical health. A good commander he was, Rambo he wasn't.[[note]]''In his youth'', Patton was indeed quite the badass, fighting on the front lines of the Pancho Villa Expedition and UsefulNotes/WorldWarI, as well as being an Olympic athlete and MasterSwordsman who barely missed out on the Bronze medal in the 1912 Modern Pentathlon. It's just that fiction acts as if he didn't physically decline in the 25 years after UsefulNotes/WW1, in addition to making him more physically attractive and charismatic.[[/note]]
* The battleship ''Yamato'', in real life, was one of the iconic examples of AwesomeButImpractical for military historians; the largest battleship ever built, but so flawed in design, so mismatched against its opponents, and so badly outdated that it did far more damage to the Japanese economy than it ever did to the American fleet. It only engaged other ships in one battle (Samar), where it outweighed the entire force it was going up against and had 23 ships backing it up, but at most only managed to contribute to the sinking of three much smaller ships. In its final battle, it was shredded to death by aircraft that took fairly minimal casualties, never even seeing the carriers that sent them out. Yet because of its [[BiggerIsBetter cool factor]] and the undoubted accomplishments in engineering needed to build the thing, it was a pretty firm symbol of Japanese nationalism for its entire lifespan, meaning that any depiction of it in fiction (most famously ''Anime/SpaceBattleshipYamato'') will invariably show it as being a lot more powerful than it really was.

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* This is ''the'' running theme of ''VisualNovel/FateStayNight'' and its various spin-offs. If a HistoricalDomainCharacter is summoned as a Servant, you can bet they will be at least ''ten'' times more badass than their original legends or myths depict them as. UsefulNotes/JoanOfArc, Myth/KingArthur, [[Literature/TheEpicOfGilgamesh Gilgamesh]], UsefulNotes/JackTheRipper, UsefulNotes/VladTheImpaler, [[Myth/ClassicalMythology Achilles, Heracles]], UsefulNotes/AlexanderTheGreat, Creator/WilliamShakespeare, Music/WolfgangAmadeusMozart... ALL of them. It's also established that a Servant gets an even bigger Historical Badass Upgrade when in the area of the world where their fame is the greatest, though in the main entries of the series this doesn't come into play since [[spoiler:the only Japanese Servant to be summoned isn't a "real" one]].
* ''Anime/TheVisionOfEscaflowne'': [[spoiler:Sir Isaac Newton]] is an alchemist who uses the power of Atlantis.
* Everyone in ''Manga/TheLegendOfKoizumi''. [[ButtMonkey Except Taizo.]]
* In ''Manga/TheLegendOfKoizumi'', many historical figures good ''and'' bad are represented as superpowered Mahjong gods, prominently [[BigBad Adolf Hitler]]. [[OneWingedAngel Who can become a Super Saiyan]] and has a [[PowerLevel Mahjong power level of over 30,000 Adelheids at his maximum power]]. In addition are the additional members of the Fourth Reich, including Josef Mengele, Otto Skorzeny, Hans-Ulrich Rudel, Rudolf Hess, Erwin Rommel, and, for some reason, musical composer Charles Wagner. Each of them also are formidable at Mahjong to some extent.[[/folder]]
[[folder:Comic Books]]
* ''ComicBook/TheManhattanProjects'' feature robot Wernher Von Braun, irradiated skull Harry Daghlian, [[spoiler: cannibal Evil Twin of]] Oppenheimer, [[spoiler: evil parallel universe]] Einstein, and FDR [[spoiler:AI]] meeting aliens, discovering wormholes and fighting robots zen powered by death monks.
* In ''ComicBook/AtomicRobo'', virtually any historical figure to appear will get this unless they were badass already, but special mention has to go to Creator/CarlSagan, who gets to take a break from talking about the universe to blast the crap out of an EldritchAbomination with a lightning gun ''while'' talking about the universe.
* ''ComicBook/TheLifeAndTimesOfScroogeMcDuck'': Samuel Steele was certainly an exemplary officer of the RCMP who re-established order in the lawless Yukon during the Gold Rush, but writer Don Rosa tops this by making him TheAce. The meanest, orneriest prospector imaginable rides into town on a friggin' ''bear'', but is [[BreakTheBadass so scared of Steele that he rushes off before the man arrives]]. In fact, Steele is SO badass that [[BulletproofFashionPlate explosions can't even hurt him]].
* In ''ComicBook/{{Uber}}'', Alan Turing and General Patton are turned into [[SuperSoldier Ubers]], being the only historical figures so far in the comic to be enhanced.

* ''Film/{{UHF}}'' {{parodied| trope}} this with "Gandhi II".
* William Wallace in ''Film/{{Braveheart}}'' (possibly).
* Creator/LeonardoDaVinci (post mortem), Buckingham and Cardinal Richelieu in the 2011 film adaptation of ''[[Film/TheThreeMusketeers2011 The Three Musketeers]]''.
* Qin Shi-Huangdi in ''{{Hero}}'', as befitting a character in the wuxia genre.
* ''Film/AbrahamLincolnVampireHunter''.
* ''Film/JurassicParkIII'': The real ''Spinosaurus'', despite being huge and powerful, was built for hunting in water and would be quite slow on land. Here, it's depicted as the ultimate superpredator who eats ''T. rexes'' for breakfast, which would only be possible if the tyrannosaur was standing on a bank. It also has its durability enhanced, shrugging off a ''T. rex'' bite that appeared to be perfectly placed to sever its spine.
* The character of Phillip Thomsen in ''Film/DasBoot'' is very loosely based on Heinz Hirsacker, the real life commander of U-572. Hirsacker was not as noble or brave as Thomsen is portrayed in the film and was never awarded a combat decoration for his U-Boat service, much less the Knight's Cross. He was further accused in 1942 of cowardice before the enemy after repeatedly avoiding enemy ships and retreating to base at the first sign of pursuit. Hirsacker was convicted by a court martial and sentenced to death, but committed suicide in 1943 before the sentence could be carried out.
* ''Film/IShotJesseJames'': In this film, the character John Kelley is meant to represent [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Capehart_O%27Kelley Edward Capehart O'Kelley]], who came into conflict with main character Robert Ford. In real life, O’Kelley had a history of drunkenness and only beat Robert Ford when he surprised him in Ford’s own tent. In the film, he’s able to take on two men at the same time and defeat Robert Ford in a duel by [[FlawExploitation playing to Bob’s dislike of shooting men in the back]].

* ''UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln, [[Literature/AbrahamLincolnVampireHunter Vampire Hunter]]''. [[ExactlyWhatItSaysOnTheTin That is all]].
* ''Literature/BelisariusSeries''. You would think the RealLife Belisarius was badass enough, but this Belisarius defeats an evil cyborg ConquerorFromTheFuture.
* Almost everyone in ''Literature/TheSecretsOfTheImmortalNicholasFlamel'' who's a historical figure has taken a level or two in badass. This includes the ones who were badass already, like Joan of Arc, as well as the ones who weren't, like the Flamels and John Dee.
* ''Literature/TheBaroqueCycle'' portrays Peter the Great as a giant BoisterousBruiser with enormous strength. While Peter was in reality extremely tall, especially for his era, he was also very thin and had health problems.
* Roughly half the cast of ''Literature/ThePyrates'', but particularly Calico Jack (who becomes an intelligent, level-headed, superhumanly strong leader of men) and Captain Avery (historical records are sketchy, but the real Henry Avery was definitely not a MasterSwordsman ChickMagnet CanonSue). The big exception to this is Colonel Thomas Blood, who in the book is merely a roguish, charming, highly capable antiheroic badass, but in real life was, if anything, a couple of steps up from that.
* OlderThanFeudalism: [[DavidVsGoliath Goliath]] in TheBible is described as six cubits and a span (9'9" or 2.97 metres). In the Dead Sea scrolls (the oldest version of the story we have) he's a still impressive but much more plausible four cubits and a span (6'9", or 2.10 metres). Note that the tallest human whose size is reliably documented, Robert Wadlow, was 2.72 metres.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* ''Series/SpartacusBloodAndSand'': Basically every historical person shown fighting is given a healthy dose of this due to the stylized combat. Marcus Crassus, however, is also portrayed as a tyrannical MagnificentBastard. In real life, Crassus (by many estimates the richest person who ever lived) is believed to have simply bought his way to the top and eventually got himself killed in an ill-advised quest for military glory.
* This is the entire premise of ''Series/{{Warehouse 13}}''. The emotion-based MagicalRealism of the setting makes every last HistoricalDomainCharacter ever mentioned into a terrifying badass and makes their belongings into [[ArtifactOfDoom Artifacts of Doom]].
* America's Founding Fathers are given this treatment in ''Series/SonsOfLiberty''. In reality, they were mostly middle-aged and spent their time debating and writing pamphlets, contrary to the series' portrayal of them as a band of scruffy thirty-somethings who can jump between rooftops and excel in combat.
* ''Series/DoctorWho'': Whenever a historical figure teams up with the Doctor, they will always prove very capable in a tight spot and help win the day.
* ''Series/BlackSails'' portrays Ann Bonny as a DarkActionGirl and a [[MasterSwordsman deadly fencer]] who bests everyone she fights and acts as [[MasculineGirlFeminineBoy the enforcer to her foppish boyfriend Jack Rackham]]. While Bonny was a real pirate who did participate in ship combat, there's no evidence that she was an exceptional fighter.
** Rackham himself doesn't fair too badly in this department. While historically, he was a raging alcoholic which ultimately bit him in the ass when he was too busy drinking to help fight off attackers, the show portrays him as [[DragonInChief the brains behind Charles Vane.]]
* ''{{Series/Blackadder}} Back and Forth'' features a working TimeMachine based on plans by Leonardo da Vinci.

[[folder:Video Games]]
* Most of the cast of ''VideoGame/DynastyWarriors'', ''VideoGame/SamuraiWarriors'' and ''VideoGame/SengokuBasara''. Granted, some of those ancient warriors were actually pretty badass on their own...
* In real life, [[Literature/TheDivineComedy Dante Alighieri]] was a scholar and historian, who only had some military service. In ''VideoGame/DantesInferno'', not only is he a high-ranking [[UsefulNotes/TheCrusades Crusader]], he winds up killing many of Hell's [[DemonSlayer demons]] and [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade trapped souls]] with the help of the large SinisterScythe he stole from TheGrimReaper.
* Almost any historical figure who appears in the ''VideoGame/AssassinsCreed'' franchise gets this, as well as either a [[HistoricalHeroUpgrade hero]] or [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade villain]] upgrade. "Almost" any because some, like [[YoungConqueror Cesare Borgia]] and [[LadyOfWar Caterina Sforza]], actually were that badass and didn't need the upgrade, but some others did. Among other things, Leonardo da Vinci actually ''succeeded'' in building a flying machine.
* The upcoming MOBA game ''VideoGame/ArenaOfFate'' features many historical figures with powers and abilities well beyond their actual profession. Nikola Tesla is a ShockAndAwe hero, and Joan of Arc having LightEmUp abilities.

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* ''Webcomic/IrregularWebcomic'': Sir UsefulNotes/IsaacNewton is portrayed as a [[Series/DoctorWho Time Lord]], and gathers various scientists from history to fix the time stream.
* The clone of Ben Franklin from ''[[WebComic/TheAdventuresOfDrMcNinja Dr McNinja]]''.
* WebAnimation/CoxAndCombesWashington presents the titular Washington in increasingly glowing terms, until he's ''Washington, Washington, twelve stories high / made of radiation''.

[[folder:Western Animation]]
* ''WesternAnimation/RobotChicken'' does this frequently:
** A quick sketch has Creator/BenjaminFranklin practicing his bojutsu in a forest before triumphantly proclaiming, "[[PatrioticFervor For America]]!"
** A DreamSequence of UsefulNotes/GeorgeWBush involved him in a [[StarWars lightsaber duel]] against UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln.
*** And another featuring Dubya's imagination had him as superhero Captain Texas.
** One sketch consisted of a TagTeam match (in the vein of Wrestling/{{WWE}}, no less) with Ben Franklin and (in BigDamnHeroes fashion) Gandhi vs. the Wright Brothers.
** Another was a parody of ''Film/ThreeHundred'' called ''1776''. It was a ''very'' loose retelling of the story of the Declaration of Independence.
* WesternAnimation/{{Futurama}} has done this occasionally.
** Creator/BenjaminFranklin invented a weapon he dubbed "The Franklin-ator": a live badger tied to the end of a club.
** UsefulNotes/HarryTruman in "Roswell that Ends Well" can punch his way out of a crate.
** Inverted and then played straight with Creator/LeonardoDaVinci, who is revealed to be an alien who is one of the least intelligent of his species[[note]]though this still makes him incredibly smart compared to ''humans'', which is one of the reasons he came to Earth[[/note]], but designs and builds a giant killing machine to extract revenge for his ill-treatment.

!!InUniverse examples

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* The ''Series/StarTrekVoyager'' episode "[[Recap/StarTrekVoyagerS4E21LivingWitness Living Witness]]". The story focuses on the historical depiction of an encounter with ''Voyager'' by an alien civilization hundreds of years before. The actual ''Voyager'' crew were stranded in a distant part of the galaxy on a ship built primarily for exploration and diplomacy who were constantly outclassed by far more aggressive enemies. The [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade biased depiction]] portrays them as a ruthlessly violent gang of [[PuttingOnTheReich Nazi-like]] thugs, and the ''Voyager'' as an impenetrable warship armed to the teeth with advanced weaponry, and containing a complement of Borg drones at the captain's disposal.

* In ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'', we have Nathaniel Northwest, a supposed badass pioneer and the touted founder of Gravity Falls. In reality he was a waste-shoveling village idiot who was used to hide the existence of the real founder of Gravity Falls and America's most embarrassing secret, the 8th and 1/2 President of the United States, [[CloudCuckooLander Quentin]] [[UnPerson Trembley]]. [[spoiler:Although later it turns out he [[ObfuscatingStupidity wasn't so much an idiot]] as a ManipulativeBastard, making this more of a HistoricalHeroUpgrade.]]
* Mayor Dewey ''tried'' to do this in ''WesternAnimation/StevenUniverse'' with his ancestor William Dewey, but he wrote him as so over-the-top that he was a total MarySue -- he gave his ''ordinary human'' ancestor the power to ''grow 50 feet tall at will'', entirely to invoke this trope. Pearl, who was actually there for the events the play covers, rewrote the whole thing to be more historically accurate and less absurd.