[[quoteright:220:[[UsefulNotes/AbrahamLincoln http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/abe_lincoln_croped_8884.jpg]]]]

->''"So, all in all, just a normal day in the life of LeonardoDaVinci. Turn lead into gold, paint the most famous portrait of all time, and invent the first hang glider. And I bet itís 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 {{Badass}}ery 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 fight]] [[BearsAreBadNews grizzlies]]. Maybe a pope [[VampireHunter hunted vampires 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.
* Guy Fawkes gets this coupled with heavy doses of HistoricalHeroUpgrade and a somewhat lesser one of HistoricalVillainUpgrade. People know him because he was the designated triggerman in a conspiracy to blow up most of Britain's government from the Monarchs down at Parliament, only to be caught and executed in an admittedly gruesome fashion. This has made him the sort of hip anti-prop symbol for anyone fighting against "the man". What most people tend to forget or willingly overlook is just how unsympathetic and even unremarkable Fawkes was. He was basically TheBrute (bordering on DumbMuscle ) recruited by the actual leaders of a conspiracy trying to replace a bigoted Protestant Constitutional Monarchy with an Absolutist Catholic one by mass murder and terrorism that horrified most of their fellow English Catholics. And when he was found, he was overpowered and taken into custody without a struggle. While it is true that the real Guy/Guido Fawkes did serve several years serving in [[BadassArmy the Tercios of Spain]] and remained DefiantToTheLast in a way that impressed even his supposed victim King James, he was still a traitor to his country turned religious terrorist [[FakeUltimateMook flunky]] who was only prevented from being a figure akin to OsamaBinLaden by luck and incompetence. But apparently [[BigBad "Robert Catesby]] Mask" doesn't have the same ring to it.

[[folder:Anime and Manga]]
* Every Heroic Spirit in ''LightNovel/FateZero'' is this, Gilgamesh and AlexanderTheGreat being prime examples.
* ''Anime/TheVisionOfEscaflowne'': [[spoiler:Sir Isaac Newton]] is an alchemist who uses the power of Atlantis.
* Everyone in ''Manga/TheLegendOfKoizumi''. [[ButtMonkey Except Taizo.]]

* 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.

* ''Film/{{UHF}}'' {{parodied| trope}} this with "Gandhi II".
* William Wallace in ''Film/{{Braveheart}}'' (possibly).
* 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.

* ''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.

[[folder:Live-Action TV]]
* Marcus Crassus in ''Series/SpartacusBloodAndSand''.
* 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.

* Inversion. {{Venice}} may have had a historical badass downgrade. The stereotype is a gorgeous city where lovers go to, well, make love. It was that in it's heyday as well. But only historians know it as a [[ProudWarriorRace ferocious]] city with a [[BadassArmy Badass Galley Fleet]] and ambitious and avaricious [[MerchantPrince Merchant Princes]], and [[IntrepidMerchant adventurers]] travelling throughout the known and unknown world in [[ProudMerchantRace search of gold.]]

[[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 [[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.

[[folder:Web Originals]]
* Website/{{Cracked}}.com and UsefulNotes/TheodoreRoosevelt. Who was a legitimate badass in real life, but Cracked takes it to new levels.
** Arguably, [[MadScientist Nikola]] [[UsefulNotes/NikolaTesla Tesla]] as well.
** [[http://www.cracked.com/video_18463_andrew-jackson-most-terrifying-man-ever-elected-president.html Andrew Jackson too.]]
* ''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.
*** Tacos rule!
** 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''.
** 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, 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 the Voyager crew by an ancient civilization hundreds of years before. The [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade biased depiction]] portrays them as a ruthlessly violent gang of thugs, and the Voyager as an inpenetrable warship armed to the teeth with weapons, and containing a complement of Borg drones at the captain's disposal.

* In ''WesternAnimation/GravityFalls'', we have [[spoiler: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]].]]