"He's a man whose wife leaves him because he talks in one-liners. And Steven Moffat's wife had just left him, because he talks in one-liners."The easiest character to write is one who comes premade. For various reasons, an author writes themselves or their friends into the story, as themselves. Maybe it's an in-joke. Maybe it's a message. Maybe they're just seizing the nearest source of inspiration. Although this is more common in fiction than some authors would dare admit, it really broke out in webcomics due to their less formal standards. The Ur-Example was probably Penny Arcade (although see below). A popular variation is to name the character after the person's online handle instead. The furthest extent of this is an author writing a story or script about an author having writer's block. The longer a Schedule Slip, the closer the chance of this appearing gets to 1. This has occasionally been known to create embarrassing situations when the character's inspiration recognizes themselves but objects to they way they're portrayed in the story. On the other hand, interpreters who subscribe to the idea that Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory tend to see this in every story, regardless of whether the author really intended it. This also creates opportunities for people to try armchair psychoanalysis of the author, rather than critiquing the story on its own merits. ("This character was based on the author's father, so why did he get brutally murdered in the second act? Hmmm...") See Life Embellished for what occurs when this gets out of hand (which can unfortunately degenerate into a Mary Sue if handled incorrectly), and Journal Comic for an entire comic that's taken straight from life. Also see Self-Insert Fic. Compare Her Code Name Was "Mary Sue", No Celebrities Were Harmed, Write What You Know, Tuckerization.
— Robert Bathurst on his lead role in Joking Apart
open/close all folders
Anime & Manga
- Manga-ka Rohan Kishibe of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure fame uses his Stand, Heaven's Door, when he needs inspiration for new characters to add to his manga, Pink Dark Boy. Heaven's Door is capable of reading minds literally like a book, which makes it easy for Rohan to get new "material" so to speak. Unfortunately for Koichi and Hazamada, though, he isn't too bothered about whether or not his participant is willing.
- In School Rumble, Harima becomes a mangaka and inserts thinly-veiled counterparts of himself, Tenma, and other characters.
- In The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, while Mashiro's manga art is impeccable, her storytelling is below par due to her inability to understand emotions. Her editor Ayano recommended she describe the daily happenings in Sakura Hall. Eventually her serialized manga Nanohana-sou is practically what happened in the Sakura Hall at the moment, except she and her Cloudcuckoolander's Minder Sorata switched bodies.
- Sket Dance: The Sket Dan club found itself in a situation where they had to perform a "Snow White" play for the children, but all their costumes and props have been sabotaged. Only the little puppets which were supposed to represent the seven dwarfs have been spared. What shall they do? Shall they cancel the show? No! They decide to improvise a puppet play based on a true story (which happened to them in an earlier episode), masking it as a typical Japanese demon tale.
- In Watashi ni XX Shinasai!, Yukina bases her phone novel characters off herself and her two love interests.
- I Can't Understand What My Husband is Saying:
- When Kaoru and Hajime first met, they were in a Love Triangle with another woman who worked with them. The third party took the I Want My Beloved to Be Happy route and later decided to submit the story to a publisher (after showing the rough draft to Kaoru).
- Hajime's brother Youta also tried to use the story of Hajime and Kaoru's first date in his manga, but he ultimately decided against doing so.
- Fairy Tail: Kinana’s pre-Time Skip, Wan Chanzi, Joey Fullborn and Chico=C=Hammitt designs is based off of Mashima's assistants.
- Several in-universe examples in Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun, a series that pokes fun at Shoujo Genre:
- Nozaki has a fair amount of imaginative flair, but he tends to draw inspiration from the people and situations that surround him. For example, Mamiko has Mikoshiba's personality and Sakura's freshman ribbon look, a minor male character with a horribly oblivious and brash personality is based on Seo and a minor female character who hates him but loves his alter ego is based on Wakamatsu.
- Played with in chapter 20/episode 6 where Nozaki is sick and Hori, Sakura and Wakamatsu have to make up the story themselves.
- When Hori asks Sakura and Wakamatsu to think of a girl they know as a model for Mamiko, they both think of Seo... who being the local Lad-ette is anything but shoujo heroine material, which is evident when they think of dialogue based on what she would say and said dialogue doesn't at all match the scenes. Hori flat-out remarks, "You guys have no decent women around you, do you?"
- Then when Hori has to think of someone to match Suzuki's good-looking popular guy traits, he thinks of Kashima and insists on using a sparkly screentone for all his scenes because "if it were Kashima she would shine in every scene".
- On a meta level, Nozaki is an example of author Izumi Tsubaki's Creator Career Self-Deprecation and his career reflects her own in certain aspects, such as a self-acknowledged problem with Only Six Faces and a mangaka career that began in high school.
- Tom(my) Taylor in The Unwritten.
- Archie's Token Black friend Chuck Clayton has used Archie, and occasionally their other friends, as inspiration for comic characters.
- In Shade, the Changing Man, this is how Miles Laimling wrote, taking character descriptions and sometimes full quotes from people he met in person. An unexpected consequence of living near a Weirdness Magnet inside a Weirdness Nexus was that he actually took their personality traits away as he wrote about them, until the original person was left empty and depressed to the point of suicide.
- In the German comic Werner: Many characters in the first few books are real-life acquaintances of Brösel or his brother Andi. Most of them haven't even been renamed. In the early books Meister Röhrich had the name of his reallife counterpart, but he sued against it, so the name was changed to Röhrich.
- In the Marvel Universe, it has been established the teen humour comic Patsy Walker was written by Patsy's mother, using her teenage daughter and her friends as inspiration for the characters. The real Patsy Walker grew up to become the superhero Hellcat.
Films — Live-Action
- In-Universe in Come Live with Me. Bill finally comes up with the novel that will make his career—it's called "Without Love", and it's the story of his Marriage Before Romance with Johnny.
- In the 2003 film Something's Gotta Give, Erica Barry (Diane Keaton) writes a play based on her ex-boyfriend Harry Sanborn (Jack Nicholson).
- In Deconstructing Harry the vast majority of Harry Block's characters are very, very thinly veiled versions of his assorted friends, wives, relatives. Every time a new novel hits the market, someone's going to cut all ties with him.
"And of course there's Jane, or, as you pathetically disguised her... Janet."
- Gil, the writer protagonist of Midnight in Paris, unconsciously wrote himself and people he knows into his novel. He did it with such accuracy that from reading the book, Ernest Hemingway deduces that Gil's fiance is having an affair with the pedantic pseudo-intellectual professor.
- Alain Resnais' "Providence" is built on this. An old author played by John Gielgud, spending a night in pain from late stage cancer, imagines a story populated with his amoral, backstabbing family. This is only how he perceives them. When we meet his family in real life they're all kind, responsible people who are rather embarrassed by his misanthropy.
- The Darjeeling Limited: Jason Schwartzman's character is a writer who does't seem to be aware that he follows this trope. His brothers recognize people and events from Schwartzman's life in his stories, but he keeps protesting that they're original works of fiction.
- Parodied in an article by The Onion. When an erotic screenplay is left by a company's printer, the company's employers wonder who wrote it.
''Gates brought up the possibility that a coworker had printed the screenplay for a friend, but Lyon dismissed the idea, pointing out that several of the characters closely resemble Coldwell Banker employees.
"Take the uptight woman who gets impaled on a tree branch," Lyon said. "That woman was obviously [sales supervisor] Darcy Gasney — the clothes, the hair color, the clipped way she talks. I saw a little of myself in Emily, the tough but sensitive virginal woman with the, uh, huge breasts — the one who becomes the vampire's slave, not the one who sings in the girl band. But I also saw myself in Felicia, the tough but sensitive biker bartender with large breasts. Well, neither character is particularly flattering."
- In I Remember Mama, the famous writer Florence Dana Moorhead advises aspiring writer Katrin to write about things she knows. And she does.
- Apur Sansar: Struggling young would-be author Apu hits on the idea of writing a novel about his own life.
- Martin Sargent in Welcome to the Working Week by Paul Vlitos writes a children's book in which a lonely, short-sighted hedgehog falls in love with a hairbrush. His ex-girlfriend is not best pleased. (Nor is his best friend, who appears as a saucer of milk.)
- Peter Pays Tribute has Matt writing a novel featuring a spiteful god with a striking resemblance to his father.
- In The Tightrope Walker by Dorothy Gilman, the manuscript of an author's last novel, lost at her death and subsequently rediscovered, turns out to contain characters based on her relatives, and so keenly observed that their fates in the novel foreshadow events that occurred after the novel was completed.
- In Joan Hess's Strangled Prose, a new romance novel contains unflattering expies of several members of the local college English department, providing all of them with potential motives to kill the author. This is done deliberately by the book's ghost-writer, who plans to kill the (nominal) author and wanted to confuse the issue by provoking a bunch of people into being plausible suspects.
- Adrian Mole's former school bully writes a bestseller - Dork's Diary, starring "Aiden Vole". This is triply galling to Adrian, as he is a struggling writer himself, who pushed the bully into writing.
- At the beginning of Juan José Millás' Papel mojado, main character and narrator Manolo G. Urbina says that he's going to fulfil the promise he made to his friend Luis Mary: write him into a novel.
- The Discworld spin-off The World of Poo is an In-Universe work of fiction, but features many characters from other Discworld novels, most notably Sir Harry King, whom Miss Felicity Beedle notes in the introduction was a great help in her research.
- One Sherlock Holmes story concerns finding a manuscript by a recently-dead young man, in which a cruel woman strings the main character along until his death. Despite the names being changed, it was transparently his own story, intended to ruin the woman's upcoming marriage and position in society in revenge. Holmes agrees to drop the matter, but does tell the woman not to play with fire.
- Castle: Richard Castle openly based his character Nikki Heat on Detective Beckett. He also wrote in a character based on himself, as well as thinly veiled counterparts of the rest of the cops Beckett works with. He seems to have done it before, too, such as when he based a character on Powell the jewel thief.
- The characters on Bones often debate who they are in Brennan's novels. Brennan insists that none of them appear and all her characters are original. One episode takes place entirely within the universe of a novel she's working on. While she pictures the characters as her real-life friends, their personalities are often completely different.
- NCIS: Agent McGee has a series of books with characters based on his co-workers. A few episodes center on the book or mention it, usually with the rest of the main characters pissed at McGee.
Jimmy Palmer: I read your book. And for your information, I've never had sexual relations with a corpse.
McGee: That character was not based on you.
Jimmy Palmer: His name was "Pimmy Jalmer", McGee!
McGee: He's French Polynesian.
- One Halloween Episode of Community revolves around the study group telling each other scary stories, all of which have a lot of reality subtext in them and feature characters who are thinly-veiled versions of themselves. Everyone is dissatisfied with their portrayals at some point.
- Gossip Girl: Dan writes a story based around the Upper East Side life he acquired in his last few years of high school. Every character ends up despising him for his Alternate Character Interpretations. Serena because she thought she was going to be the love interest. Blair because she was the love interest. Nate because himself and Eric were turned into a single character in the book. Dan's father is called a washed up has-been turned trophy husband. Only Chuck accepts the portrayal of the book version of his character, even though the character dies by suicide at the end. And of course Dan again when it's revealed that he was Gossip Girl all along
- In the ER episode "Random Acts", Randy finds the author-less manuscript of a very steamy romance novel set in a hospital and with a cast of characters who are all thinly-veiled, overblown, romanticized stand-ins for the various members of the ER staff. The employees spend most of the episode trying to figure out who could have wrote it and mocking the story's medical shortcomings, soap-opera plots, and Purple Prose.
- In "The One That Could Have Been" episode from Friends, Chandler publishes a story to Archie Comics based on his experiences working as Joey's assistant.
- Basis of Deadly Games, where the The Game Come to Life that the main character programmed had all the characters being based on people he knew.
- Seinfeld featured a story arc where Jerry and George create a sitcom whose characters are based on Jerry and his friends. Seinfeld itself is an example of this trope; see below.
- This is the plot of an episode of How I Met Your Mother, where Ted is outraged at a movie being about himself, his ex-fiancee Stella, and her ex-husband, from the perspective of the ex-husband, and caricaturing Ted as a sleazy villain.
- In Barney Miller, Det. Harris starts out writing a nonfiction book, then makes it into a novel with the whole cast and a few of the extras. He calls it Precinct Diary, but the publisher renames it Blood on the Badge. His depiction of sleazebag lawyer Arnold Ripner provokes a civil action, and he loses everything he owns.
- The plot of the Murder, She Wrote episode "The Sins of Cabot Cove" was that a girl who worked in the Cabot Cove hairdressers had written a steamy novel about scandals in a small town, in which all the regular customers of the hairdresser recognised themselves.
- The Doctor's holonovel Photons Be Free in Star Trek: Voyager in which he insists the cruel and tyrannical crew of the USS Vortex aren't based on the Voyager crew because he swapped a few species around (Commander Tulak and Lieutenant Torray are human; Commander Katanay and Ensign Kimble aren't), and changed some hair colours (Captain Jenkins and Lieutenant Marseilles are brunette). To teach him a lesson, Paris creates a holonovel that portrays The Doctor as a Dr. Jerk that drugs and seduces his patients. When The Doctor protests, Paris says they are obviously different since the one in the holonovel has a lot more hair.
- Family Matters:
- In an episode, Rachel writes a story about a family suspiciously similar to the Winslows. Almost all family members are portrayed rather negatively. Quarreling ensues.
- In another episode, Steve writes his own story which ends with his character asking Laura's character to marry him, but she rejects his offer. When asked why he didn't write a happy ending, he replies that he's "saving that ending for real life!"
- Frasier: Frasier's ex-fiancee Diane Chambers comes to town with a one woman play she's written where she is obviously a Mary Sue of herself.
- In the Friends episode "The One With The Inapporopriate Sister", the B-plot is that Ross is encouraging Joey to write his own play, and this has created friction between Ross and Chandler. So Joey writes a scene where the main characters are clearly Ross and Chandler discussing their differences and making up. And then makes them act it out.
- Candorville parodies this. Lemont wrote a story about his own Unresolved Sexual Tension with Susan, but when she noticed and asked about it, he told her that "all my stories are completely fictional." Clyde appeared and informed Lemont that he'd read, and found hilarious, Lemont's story about a guy named Clive who's too stupid to realize when other people are talking about him.
- In the Dating Sim Always Remember Me, the protagonist is an amateur writer who also dabbles in poetry. If her affection for a love interest is high enough and you choose to have her write something, she will write a poem specifically for that love interest.
- The subject of the art of most items made by the dwarves from Dwarf Fortress depicts events that have transpired within the fortress, which explains, for example, the obsession the inhabitants of Boatmurdered had with elephants and screaming.
- Varric Tethras from the Dragon Age series makes a living by writing adventure novels about characters based on his friends—i.e. the fellow companions of Hawke and members of the Inquisition. His only non-fiction book, Tale of the Champion, is an autobiographic account of his travels with Hawke, as well. He considers doing the same for the Inquisitor, but is concerned that the things that happened to the Inquisitor are too crazy for anyone to believe (he ultimately does publish the book... under the title All This Shit Is Weird). Party Banter between him and Vivienne has him admitting that he plans to write a political thriller based on his time in Orlais, and that the Big Bad will be based on Vivienne. Vivienne is flattered.
- Tommy Ten-Tons, Andy Anvil, and George and Lennie in Skullgirls are based on Peacock's own caricatures of the scientists of Lab 8, where she and other ASG units live: Tommy is based on a rather large, fat scientist, Andy is based on the shark scientist Stanley, and the bombs are based on a shorter scientist with a topknot, all of whom can be found as background characters.
- Powerup Comics uses this as a running joke where the (fictional) authors use idealized versions of themselves as characters.
- The cast of Multiplex are making a zombie film in which they all play themselves.
- Sabrina Online has Sabrina use expies of her own friends and co-workers in her webcomic modeled after her life. Their reactions range from mildly amused to rather peeved.
- Parodied in Sketch Comedy when a friend of the cartoonist insists on being drawn into the strip.
- In Banzai Girl, Katie's mother uses her daughter as the lead character in her Katie's World comic strip.
- In Sunstone Lisa's characters in her online erotic BDSM writings are clearly based on her and Ally. This causes problems when Lisa decides the logical way to introduce her new friend to the ideas of the scene is to link her to her bibliography. Love Triangle tropes ensue. It gets even worse when Lisa explicitly writes Anne into the story.
- Worst Muse:
Just change the names. No one in your hometown will ever figure out that your novel is actually about them.
- Rocko's Modern Life, with the son of Mr. and Mrs. Bighead creating a cartoon called "The Fatheads", based on his parents. Later in that episode, a grotesque, dimwitted beaver version of Rocko, named "Rollo", is added to said cartoon.
- The Daria episode "Write Where It Hurts" follows Daria's attempts to put people she knows in a fictional story with moral dimensions.
- The Simpsons:
- In "I Am Furious Yellow", Bart bases his comic book-turned-web series character Angry Dad on Homer Simpson.
- In another episode, "Diatribe of a Mad Housewife", Marge writes a romance novel in which the boorish Romantic False Lead resembles Homer and the desirable Fabio-alike resembles Ned Flanders. At one point she accidentally wrote in Homer's and Ned's names instead of the characters' though no one (especially not the people studying the book who point this fact out) really picks up on the reason.
- Dog City had Ace Hart based on his creator, Elliot Shag, and the supporting cast based on those in Elliot's life.
- On Doug, Doug bases his comic book Quailman on himself, Quaildog on Porkchop, various villains on Roger or Mr. Bones, and includes his friends in other roles.
- Donkey Kong Country has an interesting example. Funky Kong writes a movie script that is clearly based off the lives of the characters. However when Bluster Kong becomes director, he casts King K. Rool as the hero and Donkey Kong as the villain. Though it's more in what Bluster thinks a hero and villain should be as K. Rool is Affably Evil and so fits the standard hero archetype more than Donkey Kong. Whom Bluster has a very low opinion of.
Anime & Manga
- The Excel Saga anime is notorious for having the author of the manga, Koshi Rikudo, appear at the beginning of every episode as himself giving permission for his manga to be turned into something completely different. Furthermore, Nabeshin is an anime only character and is a self-insert of the series director Shinichi Watanabe, who also parodies this trope to the extreme and even has Nabeshin and Rikudo doing battle in a metaphor for the artistic battles that take place when a work is adapted from manga to anime.
- For that matter, Nabeshin or variations thereof also appear in most of Watanabe's works. Puni Puni Poemi has the same Nabeshin as Excel Saga and Tenchi Muyo! GXP features a Dirty Old Robot Buddy named NB. In Nerima Daikon Brothers, Watanabe voices the character — never referred to by name (or seen clearly), but in the same costume — as the owner of a rental shop that serves as a Deus ex Machina outlet. Furthermore, the Nabeshin likeness has appeared as a guest-star in several anime that Watanabe is not involved with. In one interview, Watanabe said that he'd like to get rid of the hairdo, but he's become so closely associated with the character, that he's afraid of what the fan reaction would be if he did.
- Harima Kenji from School Rumble is practically based on the mangaka, both in design and story.
- In an episode of Zatch Bell!, Victoream gets a magical melon which summons a god to grant him one wish. And who is god? Manga author Makoto Raiku, of course, who denies Victoream's wish for another melon on the grounds that he already ate it himself.
- Bakuman。 is a story about manga collaborators for Shonen Jump, by manga collaborators for Shonen Jump. The self-insertion becomes especially apparent when they start working on mystery... And even more evident later on in the manga when they begin working on Reversi, a series in which two characters with differing opinions on justice have intense battles of wits featuring powers gained from supernatural beings. Sounds slightly familiar...
- Naoko Takeuchi has stated that Usagi's (a.k.a. Sailor Moon) family is based on her own. Usagi and Minako are based on herself, with the former's hair style based on a good luck ritual of her own. Rei's miko backstory and attitude towards men came from getting hit on during her own employment at a Shinto shrine.
- Bits of the cast's quirks in Fairy Tail come from friends of Mashima's. Supposedly, Gray's stripping came from Mashima himself. In addition, Joy Fullbun, Chico=c=Hammit and Wang Chamji appearances are based on his assistants.
- Many of the '60s and '70s scenes in 20th Century Boys are based on incidents from author Naoki Urasawa's childhood, though he denies that the main protagonist Kenji is actually based on him. He's claimed in an interview that he sees himself as more like Otcho.
- The personality of Tsukimi from Princess Jellyfish is lifted wholesale from Akiko Higashimura's younger self.
- Yattaran, Captain Harlock's first mate, is based on Kaoru Shintani, the creator of Area 88 and good friend of Leiji Matsumoto. This includes the character's love of plastic models.
- Death Note's Light Yagami isn't exactly top of the list of characters you'd pick for this, but if you dig a little deeper some startling coincidences arise. Author Tsugumi Ohba's Word of God is that the character he most resembles is Light, "because I did well at school". He also says that he chose the kanji "moon" to represent Light's unusual name because he wanted the meaning to be "moonlight". This all falls into focus when you find out that Ohba's given name Tsugumi, usually rendered in phonetic hiragana, translates in kanji as "beautiful moonlight" (美月光)! It's a penname, of course, but still an amusing backstory.
- Kentarou Miura of Berserk fame partly based the characters in the Band of the Hawk on his friends in college, and feels like he has a bit of both Guts and Griffith inside himself.
- Grant Morrison appeared as himself in his final issue on Animal Man. Unusually for this trope, he tells Animal Man that he is writing the character's adventures, and proceeds to bring the character's murdered family Back from the Dead, thinking it might be nice to give a character a happy ending for once. (Of course, in the very next issue of Animal Man, the protagonist forgot all about this encounter.) Shortly afterwards a very similar character known only as The Writer appeared in John Ostrander's Suicide Squad — he was torn to shreds by a wolfman after getting a case of writer's block.
- John Ostrander has been known for this himself. A number of people have had characters named for them in Starslayer, Grim Jack and Suicide Squad... including one troper's mother.
- Dave Sim appeared in the prose segments of Cerebus the Aardvark both as Viktor Davis and to Cerebus as "Dave," the creator of Cerebus' universe and of Cerebus himself, presenting himself as more powerful than Cerebus himself though not in any way the Real World God, who he did say existed. Unlike with Grant Morrison, Dave Sim wanted his creation to remember their encounter and made sure that would happen in a particularly cruel way. Sim also appeared in person in a later story arc.
- In the Hellboy story "The Hydra and the Lion", Hellboy encounters a young girl pulling the Hydra's teeth with pliers. She claims to be half-lion and roars at him to prove it (waking the Hydra up). In the prologue to the story in the collection The Troll-Witch and Other Stories, Mike Mignola writes that the girl is heavily based on his daughter Kate, down to claiming to be half-lion.
- Brazilian artist Mauricio de Sousa created most characters from Monica's Gang based on his family (all his sons and daughters, two based on his brother) or childhood friends - many times with Tuckerization.
- Many Underground Comics artists, like Robert Crumb, his wife Aline, Dori Seda, Mary Fleener, Krystine Kryttre, Leslie Sternbergh, and so many others.
- Peter Milligan, writer of aforementioned Shade, the Changing Man, confessed to doing this often, which his editor corroborated in the letters column. The character Miles Laimling is an anagram of his own name, and Shade's initial Fish out of Water perspectives and critiques of America were based on his own as a UK expatriat.
- Peter David has stated that during his run on X-Factor he was able to define some of the characters in new ways, giving Quicksilver a previously-undefined reason for being angry at the world: Because he moves so fast, everything else is basically slowing him down to the point of constant frustration. David says this was directly inspired by his own impatient feelings whenever something slowed down his day.
- Chris Claremont did this sort of thing a lot. For instance, naming a group in Wolverine after the owners of a London comic shop or modeling an X-Men character after his translator at a 1985 comics convention in Spain. Perhaps his most egregious example was the Star Trek graphic novel Debt of Honor, which features at least a dozen of Claremont's friends as Enterprise crew members and the like, not to mention a Shout-Out to a favorite band that several were associated with.
- Steve Moncuse, creator of Fish Police, has said that lead character Inspector Gill was based heavily on him.
- Generally, comic book artists of varying degrees of quality tend to sneak in caricatures of themselves or their friends, coworkers and family in their work from time to time.
- The Judge Dredd stories featuring Cal-Hab "trashzine" artist Kenny Who? and his misadventures with Mega-City One's A1 Comics, were based on Scottish artist Cam Kennedy, who drew the strips, and his experiences with American comic companies. (The name comes from a conversation with an executive at DC Comics, which went something like "Hello, I'm Cam Kennedy." "Kenny who?")
- Geoff Johns based Stargirl's personality off that of his late sister.
- Mortadelo y Filemón: One of the companies that has employed the TIA the most (and by extension, M&F) in several books and short stories is Ibáñez's publisher, Editorial Brugera (later known as Ediciones B). Some of Brugera's personnel became recurring characters with defined personalities in those stories; the head editor, for example, is a mischievous, millionaire Femme Fatale with a penchant for long walks atop her pet elephant.
- Brian K. Vaughan based Molly Hayes of Runaways on his younger sister.
- Tom De Falco had to often mediate between his brother, former soldier and a cop, and said brother's daughter, who wanted to join the military against her father's wishes. He used that when writing dynamics between Peter and Mayday Parker in Spider-Girl
- The Batman Adventures featured a group of comedy villains called the Threatening Three, who were based on real-world superhero comics creators Denny O'Neill, Archie Goodwin, and Mike Carlin, all of whom had edited the main-canon Batman comics at different times.
- Rocky is based on creator Martin Kellerman's own life and friends.
- Scott Pilgrim is also inspired by the lives of its creator Brian Lee O'Malley, his wife Hope Larson, and their circle of friends from their early 20s.
- Would you believe that Popeye the Sailor was based off of a real life person that E.C. Segar knew in his younger days, a local vagrant named Rocky Fiegel?
- Olive Oyl was based off of Segar's schoolteacher (with her cartoon voice taking inspiration from actress Zazu Pitts), and Wimpy was based on William Schuchert, the manager of the Chester Opera House where Segar worked, and a nice man who shared Wimpy's fondness for hamburgers. Wimpy's full name was inspired by Wellington J. Reynolds, one of Segar's art instructors.
- In the cartoons, Dave Fleischer wanted Bluto's voice to resemble that of the character Red Flack in the 1930 film The Big Trail, played by Tyrone Power Sr.
- Pearls Before Swine:
- Stephan Pastis, the author, has on occasion inserted a cartoon version of himself, IN THE ROLE OF HIMSELF, into the comic. He even got killed in in one story arc. The characters openly mock him. Strangely, the comic version of Pastis smokes, while the real one does not.
- One Sunday comic was featured from the (comically exaggerated) viewpoint of a neighbor. Pastis also frequently uses names of relatives, friends, coworkers, and sometimes real-life businesses.
- This led to a rather humorous story arc in which Pastis accidentally delivers his week's worth of Pearls Before Swine comics to Darby Conley, artist of Get Fuzzy, who appeared as a cartoon version of himself. Pastis asks Conley to not look at the comics, but he proceeds to steal them and replace the main characters with the Get Fuzzy cast. The story concludes with Pastis calling to confront Darby on this and Darby blocking his number.
- The recurring character of bike enthusiast Jeff is based on Frazz creator Jeff Mallett. Pastis and Mallett are friends but Pastis made Jeff obnoxious because that's just the kind of strip it is.
- Most of the Peanuts characters were named after acquaintances of Charles M. Schulz: Shermy and Schroeder were childhood friends; Charlie Brown, Linus and Frieda were former co-workers; Van Pelt was the surname of a former neighbor. Spike was his childhood dog (whose personality served as the basis for Snoopy). Despite the widespread belief that Charlie Brown was Schulz's Author Avatar, most of the characters seem to have inherited various real life Schulz traits. One of the more frustrating things about David Michaelis' Schulz bio was that he seemed to think that Lucy was exclusively a stand-in for Schulz's first wife, when there was plenty of evidence within his own book that Lucy inherited Schulz's more irascible side. And the Little Red-Haired Girl was famously inspired by a red-haired woman who broke Schulz's heart.
- The Patterson clan from For Better or for Worse is essentially a straight out copy of Lynn Jonston's family: a son, a daughter, a husband who was a dentist, a writer mother, grandfather who fought in WWII... April was the first real deviation.
- One memorable Doonesbury Sunday strip begins with Zonker chatting with a man who we've never seen before, who is drawn more realistically than the strip's usual style. In the final panel Zonker introduces the man to Mike, saying "Mike! Meet the guy I'm modeled after!"
- On a similar note, Steve Dallas of Bloom County was based heavily, in both appearance and personality, on a guy Berkeley Breathed knew in college. He notes in the commentary for the first Complete Library volume that he "suspect[s] he was shot by an annoyed girlfriend, which saved [Breathed] many legal fees."
- Horse of Footrot Flats is based on a cat that hung around the writers house. It is noteworthy because Horse is badass, mean andborderline indestructible.
- Scott Adams based many of the characters on his real-life coworkers.
- A vegetarian that appears in one strip who insists that he may be weedy but is "deceptively healthy" bears a striking resemblance to Adams himself (who is a vegetarian in real life).
- Garfield is loosely based on Jim Davis' grandfather, James Garfield Davis. Also, Odie is loosely based on a guy he knew back home in Indiana.
Films — Animation
- Most of the characters in Hayao Miyazaki's movies are based on real people he knows in appearance, mannerism, personality, or all three. Which may explain why they tend to be somewhat similar.
- The Little Mermaid: Andreas Deja, the lead animator for King Triton, described the character as being strict and by-the-book and would often get mad at Ariel, then feel guilty afterwards, which reminded him of his own father.
- Later, Aladdin had Jasmine animator Mark Henn drawing her based on his sister. She even retributed by going to Halloween dressed as Jasmine.
- An animated version of Elton John was superimposed in the music video "Someday Out of the Blue" from The Road To Eldorado.
Films — Live-Action
- Writer Michael Nankin did this for the script of the original The Gate.
- Richard Linklater allegedly did this with some former classmates for Dazed and Confused. Three men named Wooderson, Slater, and Floyd sued Linklater for defamation in 2004. Whether Linklater used their personalities or names alone for inspiration will never be known, as the case was dropped shortly afterwards.
- In Before Sunset, lead actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy both worked on the film's screenplay and incorporated elements from their own lives to the film.
- Adam, Seth Rogen's character in 50/50, was based on Rogen himself. Writer Will Reiser is good friends with Rogen and he was the person who took care of Reiser while he battled cancer. Much of the screenplay is based on their relationship.
- He based Seth in Superbad off of him as well and Evan is based off co-writer Evan Goldberg.
- From (500) Days of Summer: "The following is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental. Especially you Jenny Beckman. Bitch."
- The Kid & I, written by Tom Arnold, unabashedly bases its stars on Arnold himself and his neighbor's son Eric Gores.
- The authors of Animorphs, K. A. Applegate and Michael Grant based most of the characters on people they knew. Applegate has said that the characters Loren and Cassie is based on herself. Grant is described as a lot like Marco but it's unknown if this was intentional (probably more of an author projection thing seeing as Marco got an Expy in Grant's series).
- The character Angela in Inheritance Cycle is named after, and loosely based on, Christopher Paolini's sister.
- John Le Carré's A Perfect Spy is a fictionalized autobiography, except that Le Carré became a novelist, while his character Magnus Pym betrayed his country and shot himself. Le Carré explained that he wanted to write about his childhood, but in order to keep it from being a sob story, he made the son even worse than the father.
- Frederick Forsyth's The Dogs of War has an unnamed journalist who is supposed to be Forsyth himself providing information to the protagonist. The whole book is based on Forsyth's experiences reporting on the Nigerian Civil War, and most of the name-checked mercenaries and secondary characters are real people.
- Possibly happens a lot in The Bible, although in many cases the true author of a section of text is unknown. Most notable is the Gospel of John's references to "the disciple whom Jesus loved" who is usually interpreted to be John himself.
- Ruth Ann and the Green Blowster is said to be written by "Ruth Ann's Mother and Ruth Ann's Daughter." Little backstory there: Ruth Ann was a real person. Not a real person who went on an Alice in Wonderland-esque trip through a fantasy world, but a real person nonetheless. Her mother wrote a book about her when she was really little, but died when Ruth Ann was 5. Ruth Ann's daughter discovered the unfinished manuscript when she was little, and rediscovered it after Ruth Ann died, and decided to continue the story. Hence, the story is a collaborative effort beyond the grave between Ruth Ann's mother and Ruth Ann's daughter, about the many adventures of a 5-year-old Ruth Ann.
- Author John Ringo, and to a lesser extent fellow Baen Books author David Weber, has done this for many of his books, using friends, relatives and even people on who post on his publisher's boards as secondary characters (who are collectively called The Redshirts for obvious reasons).
- In one book, The Emerald Sea, he even used the entire crew of a Caribbean tour cruise company as mer-people, keeping their names and personalities.
- See also the Ringo/Taylor Into the Looking Glass series. The protagonist, William Weaver, is pretty much a fictional version of later series co-author Travis Taylor (the first book was written solely by Ringo), who does or has done everything that Weaver does, save the Alien Invasion and First Contact stuff.
- Live Free or Die, has a very thinly disguised fictional counterpart of Schlock Mercenary's Howard Tayler as the lead character, and features several long-time Ringo fans as crew members aboard the battlestation Troy. Justified because the series was originally intended to be an origin story for the Schlockiverse, though it has since drifted away from being strictly canonical.
- The foreword to Under a Graveyard Sky explicitly notes that the characters Sofia and Faith were based off of Ringo's Real Life daughters.
- Louis L'Amour famously actually went out and lived in the land his books were set in, if he mentions a spring or creek in his books, it's there in real life and safe to drink from (or at least would have been in the time the books are set in). He also heavily wrote based on his own experiences, such as drawing on his time as a boxer for the fist fights or duplicating the time he walked across Death Valley as a young man to describe his heroes suffering in the desert. The blurb on the back of his books usually mentions that he could easily fill the shoes of the rugged characters he wrote.
- South African crime author (and occasional filmmaker) Deon Meyer has fallen in love with the small town of Loxton in the Northern Cape Province. Though not a permanent resident he owns a home there. Not only does the town feature in some of his recent novels (Blood Safari and Spoor / Trackers in particular) but he made two movies there (Jakhalsdans and Die Laaste Tango). In Spoor he references real people and places in the town (in particular a local restaurant) and in Jakhalsdans and Die Laaste Tango he cast some of them in bit parts.
- In Aldous Huxley's novel Point Counter Point, almost all the major characters are based on people Huxley knew. Phillip Quarles is based on himself, John Bidlake is based on Augustus John, Denis Burlap is based on John Middleton Murry, Maurice Spandrell is based on Charles Baudelaire, Mark Rampion is based on D.H. Lawrence, and Lucy Tantamount is based on Nancy Cunard. The leader of the fictional Brotherhood of the British Freemen (a fascist party), Everard Webley, is often assumed to be based on Oswald Mosley, the founder of the British Union of Fascists, however, at the time of Huxley's writing the novel Mosley was a prominent member of the Labour Party and wouldn't found the party until four years after the book's publication.
- Stephen King loves this trope in general.
- He at one point appeared as himself in one of The Dark Tower books...
- The Shining, The Dark Half, and The Tommyknockers all have main characters who are writers with substance abuse problems.
- IT, 'Salem's Lot, 1408, Misery, The Body (later adapted into the movie Stand by Me), and many other works by King also have writer protagonists.
- Geoffrey Chaucer was doing this before the printing press. He did it most famously in The Canterbury Tales, in which a character called Chaucer tells the story of a pilgrimage and accompanying storytelling contest in which he participated. Ironically, since IRL Chaucer was a talented storyteller who authored or adapted all of the titular tales, this character's initial attempt at telling a story is so bad that the host does not let him finish it, saying, "Thy drasty rymyng is nat worth a toord!" (just say it out loud). Then again, Chaucer was not averse to Self-Deprecation.
- The protagonist of The Space Trilogy, philologist Elwin Ransom, is loosely based on C. S. Lewis' good friend, the philologist J. R. R. Tolkien. The narrator of the first two novels is implied to be Lewis himself, which ties in with those novels' Literary Agent Hypothesis.
- Likewise, J. R. R. Tolkien admitted to basing the Ent character Treebeard on Lewis, particularly his speaking style and mannerisms.
- The romance between the elven lady Lúthien Tinúviel and the human Beren was inspired by Tolkien's own marriage; his wife used to dance for him in the forest. The names "Lúthien" and "Beren" are even engraved on his and his wife's tombstones.
- Many of the characters in To Kill a Mockingbird were based on Harper Lee's childhood friends and family. Scout herself is based on Harper Lee, and Dill Harris is based on Truman Capote. Harper Lee, in turn, was the inspiration for the character of Idabel Tompkins in Capote's first novel, Other Voices, Other Rooms.
- Jonathan Safran Foer is a character in his novel Everything Is Illuminated.
- Brian Jacques, author of the Redwall series, has stated that Gonff the Mousethief's personality was based on himself as a child.
- Many of Anne McCaffrey's works feature a character named Johnny Green, in memory of her real life close friend of the same name, who was tragically murdered.
- One character in the Dragonriders of Pern series is modeled on her brother Kevin.
- Twilight is notorious for this, especially considering that the description of Bella from Stephenie Meyer's own website sounds like a description of... yep, Stephenie Meyer. Even actor Robert Pattinson, who played Edward Cullen, said he felt like he was reading Self Insertion Fanfiction.
- Many of the werewolves are named for her siblings. Including Jacob. Squick.
- Not to mention Heidi (a vampire who dresses as a prostitute to attract humans for the Volturi to eat) was named after one of Meyer's sisters. Um, yeah...
- In an FAQ, she mentioned that she gave several characters the names of some of her ex-boyfriends from college. She doesn't say which ones.
- Many of the werewolves are named for her siblings. Including Jacob. Squick.
- Jules Verne was friends with Gaspard-Felix Tounachon, a pioneering balloonist and photographer who used the professional name "Nadar." So when Verne needed an adventurous hero for his novel From Earth to the Moon he put in a character named Michael Ardan (A-R-D-A-N = N-A-D-A-R).
- Harry Potter:
- Gilderoy Lockhart from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is directly based on a real person. J. K. Rowling claims the real guy is too self-deluded for the connection to ever occur to him, saying "He's probably out there now telling everybody that he inspired the character of Albus Dumbledore. Or that he wrote the books and lets me take the credit out of kindness."
- Rowling has also stated that the character of Severus Snape, Potions Master of Hogwarts, was based (at least partially) on her old chemistry teacher, John Nettleship. Understandably, Nettleship wasn't too happy when he found out. But at least he can take comfort in the knowledge that just about any of Snape's copious supply of fangirls would gladly throw themselves at him if they ever got the chance. Probably quite literally.
- Pansy Parkinson is based on girls who used to bully Rowling when she was a schoolgirl. Hermione is based on Rowling herself when she was a schoolgirl.
- The Ford Anglia that the Weasleys drove in the second book is based off of a car that Rowling's friend used to take her for rides in.
- The owner of said Ford Anglia was Sean Harris, to whom the second book is dedicated and who is more-or-less the inspiration for Ron. Rowling says that "I never set out to describe Sean in Ron, but Ron has a Sean-ish turn of phrase." She has, however, denied all claims (and there have been plenty) of Harry himself being based off a real person.
- Rowling has said that Hermoine is based on herself in school, whereas Ginny is who she wanted to be.
- Tom Clancy has already admitted Jack Ryan is a literary version of himself in official interviews, even going as far as admitting to him be an Author Stand-In.
- Ivana Trump, a former Czech Olympic skier and the ex-wife of ultra rich real estate entrepreneur Donald Trump, wrote a romance novel called For Love Alone. The plot centers around the exploits of Katrinka Graham, a Czech skier who is married to an ultra rich entrepreneur, and her close circle of ultra rich friends. Her husband has an affair and divorces her and, according to summaries of the sequel, is very bitter after the fact. Hmm...
- The Phillip Roth novels Ghost Writer, Zuckerman Unbound,The Anatomy Lesson and more feature Nathan Zuckerman- Roth's literary alter ego.
- Paul Auster himself appears as a character in some of his novels.
- Several of the characters in Jaroslav Hašek's novel The Good Soldier vejk are based on people whom the author met during his war service - in some cases, he didn't even change their names. There's also a character who tells a story about how he was fired from a natural history magazine after writing articles about imaginary animals, which had happened to Hašek.
- James Joyce based many characters in Ulysses on actual Dubliners he had known. In particular, the character of Buck Mulligan is a scathing parody of Oliver St. John Gogarty.
- C. S. Lewis based the character of Lucy Pevensie on June Flewett, a girl who (like the Pevensies) was evacuated during World War II and came to live in his home. Lucy is named for Lewis' goddaughter, to whom several of the books were dedicated.
- Mark Twain based most of the characters in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn on his own friends and family. Jim was based on a slave that his uncle owned, Judge Thatcher and Colonel Grangerford were based on his father (and Grangerford gets killed in a feud... hmmm...), Sid Sawyer was based on his brother Henry, Becky Thatcher was based on his first love, Laura Wright, Huckleberry Finn was based on Tom Blankenship, the son of Hannibal, Missouri's town drunk, and Tom Sawyer was based on Twain himself.
- Isaac Asimov inserted versions of himself, with his name, in Murder at the ABA (where he annoyed the protagonist, Darius Just, to no end) and (mostly implied or with other names) in his various short-story series. Depending on the circumstances, his self-insert is either an amiable chucklehead or a complete jerk ('Murder at the ABA'). It actually works.
- Asimov has also said that the narrator of 'Murder at the ABA' is modeled on Harlan Ellison.
- The Black Widowers are based on the Trap Door Spiders, a dining club Asmiov belonged to. The characters are modelled on other members of the club including L. Sprague de Camp (Geoffrey Avalon), Lester del Rey (Emmanuel Rubin) and Lin Carter (Mario Gonzalo). The deceased founder of the club is based on Fletcher Pratt. The guests The Great Larri ("Cross of Lorraine") and Mortimer Stellar ("When No Man Persueth") are based on James Randi and Asimov himself (complete jerk version) respectively.
- Alice, of Alice in Wonderland, was actually a friend of the author, Lewis Carroll. Each of the birds she meets early on in the book are based on her sisters and their nicknames and other things, while Mr. Dodo is Carroll himself.
- Alice's two other, lesser known sisters make appearances in the second book, as the rose and the violet in the talking flower garden. The mouse who gives the "dry lecture" and the Red Queen were seemingly based off of Alice's governess. The Queen of Hearts and the Duchess were seemingly caricatures of Queen Victoria and her mother respectively.
- The Little House books are autobiographical, with only a few changes from real life. Not only did Laura Ingalls Wilder base her stories on the lives of herself and her family, her daughter also wrote two books based on the same stories for adults. The protagonists of Let The Hurricane Roar are even named Charles and Caroline, after Laura's parents. And then, books were written about that selfsame daughter, by her lawyer and adopted grandson.
- Ian Fleming once described one of his James Bond novels as 'the latest chapter in my autobiography'.
- He also claimed to have based Bond's exploits off of World War Two operative William Stephenson ("The Man Called 'Intrepid'"), going so far as to state that Bond was the romanticized version of the spy, whereas Stephenson was the real thing.
- Sherlock Holmes was partly based (in both physical appearance and deductive ability}} on Doyle's old teacher Dr. Joseph Bell. The likeness was close enough that Robert Louis Stevenson, another student of Bell's, recognised the model from reading A Study in Scarlet in Tahiti.
- Also, Watson was based off of Arthur Conan Doyle himself (example: both were doctors).
- Carrie Fisher's novel Postcards from the Edge, which later became a film also written by her, is directly based on her own struggle with drugs and fame. Suzanne Vale (played by Meryl Streep in the movie) is Fisher and her actress mother Doris Mann (Shirley MacLaine) is Debbie Reynolds.
- The Time It Never Rained by Elmer Kelton, every character is a real person with a false name that was in or near San Angelo at the time.
- The Buddenbrooks in Thomas Mann's homonymous novel are basically all expies for Mann's own relatives.
- Dante Alighieri's famous poem The Divine Comedy features himself as the main character. A few people he knew turn up in Hell.
- Steven Brust's Dragaera books contain several shout outs to his friends. A hippy drummer is his former drum teacher, who really is that obsessed with the spirituality of drumming. A grizzled old Dragaeran soldier is a late poker buddy of Brust's. A heroic artist character in the Khaavren Romances series is an editor friend of his.
- Jo March of Little Women is based very much on the author Louisa May Alcott; her parents, sisters, and (in later books) nieces and nephews were also based on Alcott's own family. Unlike Jo, however, Alcott never married.
- In Winnie-the-Pooh, Christopher Robin was A.A. Milne's son.
- In My Family and Other Animals, Gerald Durrell mentioned that he made a story book when he was a child which consisted of adventures of him and his family dealing with animals.
- Robert A. Heinlein was said (and admitted) to basing many of his strong female protagonists on his wife Virginia, to whom he was married for forty years until his death. His archprotagonist Lazarus Long also shares many autobiographical traits, from growing up in early twentieth century Kansas City, Missouri to espousing many of his quasi-Libertarian ideals.
- In the Alasdair Gray novel Lanark, the title character is invited through a door in the fourth wall, finds himself in the author's studio, and has a discussion with the author about the novel and its plot. Gray admits that he hasn't yet written the narrative surrounding the scene they are in, so Lanark will know more about it than he does - but nevertheless, he is surprised to hear that there is a character, Lanark's son, which he has not planned to create and does not think would fit into the book.
- In A Beautiful Friendship, the Harringtons have a meeting at a restaurant called "The Red Letter", owned by a person by the name of Eric Flint. The fictional Flint is said to hail from the world of New Chicago, described as "a dumping ground for radical anarchists, socialists, and - especially - every member of the Levelers’ Association the government could round up after Old Earth’s Final War". The Real Life Flint, an occasional co-author with Weber in the Honor Harrington and 1632 series, is a self-admitted socialist, and currently lives near Chicago.
- Larry Niven does this a lot.
- He and Jerry Pournelle put their friend Frank Gasperik into several novels under various names. He's the big biker dude in Lucifer's Hammer, Fallen Angels, and Footfall.
- Niven and Pournelle also put themselves, Robert Heinlein, and several other SF writers on the fictional "Threat Team" assembled to advise the government about an alien invasion in Footfall. Niven is Nat Reynolds, Pournelle is Wade Curtis.
- In one of his Magic Goes Away stories, "The Lion in His Attic," Niven put his favorite restaurant owner, Andre Lion, into the distant past as innkeeper "Rordray" (rumored to be a were-lion).
- A Song of Ice and Fire author George R.R. Martin was interviewed on Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me!, where he admitted that the minor character Ser Patrek of King's Mountain was based on Patrick St. Denis, owner of the website Pat's Fantasy Hotlist. They were both football fans and had a friendly bet over the Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants. When the Cowboys finished ahead of the Giants, under the terms of the bet Martin had to kill Patrick in a horrible fashion in the novels. So, Martin gave Ser Patrick the sigil of a blue star on a silver backdrop (the logo of the Cowboys) and had him ripped to shreds... by a giant.
- In the Rogue Warrior series if the people are not named after real life individuals then Richard Marcinko gives code names, aliases and the like. His main foe, Pickney Prescott, is actually the real admiral who hounded and tried to do him in. Doc Trembly's real name is Albert. The Minkster from his real life story is never named. Even with fictional constructs Marcinko bases them on real life. Trace Dahlgren for example, a indian commando who tortures terrorists to death, is based on his ex wife.
- John Dickson Carr was an American mystery writer and member of England's Detection Club. His series detective Gideon Fell was based on that club's president, G. K. Chesterton
- According to an interview, Becca Fitzpatrick based the character of Patch, from Hush, Hush, off of someone she knew in high school. She got his true name, Jev, from the name of one of her sister's former boyfriends.
- Edward Ormondroyd appeared as the narrator in Time at the Top and its sequel.
- Several of the characters in the Mediochre Q Seth Series are admitted in the acknowledgements to be inspired by friends of the author to some degree (we can probably presume that the magical powers, at least, are an entirely original addition). Mediochre himself physically resembles the author (and shares a few other traits too), and Charlotte Johnson was based off of a friend who once complained that every fictional Charlotte she'd ever encountered was either an old woman or a villain (Charlotte Johnson is one of the youngest and probably nicest characters in the book).
- John M. Ford did this for his Star Trek novel How Much for Just the Planet?; the novel is packed with members of the late '80s sci-fi writers' community. Notably, "Pete" and "Deedee" are writers Peter Morwood and his wife Diane Duane (both of whom have also written for Star Trek, Duane incredibly successfully).
- Pam Muñoz Ryan's 2000 young adult novel Esperanza Rising, which is about a wealthy Mexican family that is forced to emigrate to a California migrant camp in the 1930's, uses this in spades. The story of the titular character, Esperanza Ortega, is very closely based on the life story of Ryan's grandmother, a Mexican-American immigrant named... Esperanza Ortega.
- In Hugh Laurie's The Gun Seller, the protagonist can fake a convincing American accent while his old friend has so many mannerisms in common with Laurie's old friend Stephen Fry to remove all doubt that this trope was in effect.
- In Diane Duane's fourth Young Wizards novel, A Wizard Abroad, the character of Annie Callahan - an American wizard who moved to Ireland and runs a livery stables outside the town of Bray - is based on Anne McCaffrey.
- Author Tom Angleberger based Dwight Tharp, Cloudcuckoolander of the Origami Yoda series, on himself when he was a child.
- Chester Anderson's Hugo-nominated novel, The Butterfly Kid featured Chester and his good friend Michael Kurland saving the world from an alien invasion. Kurland wrote a sequel, The Unicorn Girl, starring Michael and Chester, and introducing stage magician and writer Tom (T.A.) Waters. Who wrote the third novel in the series.
- T.A. Waters was also the inspiration for Thomas Leseaux in the Lord Darcy novels.
- In VALIS, all the main characters are based on Philip K. Dick and friends. In addition to Dick's Self Insert Horselover Fat, there are thinly-fictionalized versions of Tim Powers, K. W. Jeter, Brian Eno, David Bowie, Robert Anton Wilson (so thinly fictionalized that he's not even renamed) and Philip K. Dick.
- Brendan O'Carroll, author of The Mammy, based the character Agnes Browne on his own mother.
- Many of the women in the works of Edgar Allan Poe bear a strong resemblance to his young wife Virginia, who died of tuberculosis.
- The main characters in Max and Ruby were both based on Rosemary Wells's own young daughters which she mentioned during her interview with Japan Times.
- The Moomins:
- The eccentric and adventurous Moomin family is somewhat based on Tove Jansson's own. In particular, aspects of Moominpapa, such as his love of thunderstorms, are inspired by Jansson's father.
- Too-Ticky in Moominland Midwinter is based on Jansson's life partner Tuulikki Pietilä.
- David Gemmell's Drenai saga:
- Druss, and later characters in the same vein, were strongly based on his beloved stepfather Bill.
- The most prominent Drenai soldiers in Waylander were based on his journalist colleagues (who at the time had their jobs threatened by a rival newspaper group, after whom the Big Bad of the piece was named).
- According to John Green, Hazel from The Fault in Our Stars is not directly based on his friend Esther Earl, but the story was inspired by knowing her. She was a teenage girl with cancer, and an early member of the Nerdfighter fan community - after meeting at a Harry Potter convention they went on to exchange emails, much like Hazel and Gus do with Peter, and they remained good friends until her death in 2010. Her middle name was Grace, like Hazel's.
- Several of Neil Gaiman's stories, including Mr. Punch and "Queen of Knives", are inspired by events from his childhood and include characters based on members of his family. In "The Facts in the Case of the Departure of Miss Finch", which recounts a strange occurrence that befell a group of friends during a night on the town, the three friends who aren't Miss Finch (who is probably fictional) are clearly Neil himself, TV personality Jonathan Ross, and screenwriter Jane Goldman. The Beech Tree in Stardust was based on Tori Amos (who then played the part in The BBC's Audio Adaptation).
- Workaholics is a clear example of this, with four of the creators (Kyle, Adam, Blake, and Ders), playing characters similar to themselves named Karl, Adam, Blake and Ders. The main actors are also writers for the show, and have stated that the characters are based on them, but then dumbed down, exaggerated, and thrown into crazy situations.
- Most of the cast of 30 Rock is directly based on real people in Tina Fey's life with Liz being her Author Avatar. In some cases, the real person actually plays the character they inspired, including Liz (obviously), Tracy Morgan as Tracy Jordan, and Jack McBrayer as Kenneth Parcell. Some people, including Alec Baldwin himself, see Jack Donaghy as a Lorne Michaels equivalent. It's also commonly assumed that Josh is based on Jimmy Fallon. To finish with the main cast, we must assume Jenna was originally intended to be a Composite Character of Rachel Dratch (who was originally slated to play the character) and Amy Poehler—although that character quickly developed into someone else entirely... According to Tina Fey, Liz is "a Sliding Doors version of me, if I had never met my husband."
- A few of the characters on The League of Gentlemen are a bit of this: Pauline is based on a restart officer that Reece Shearsmith once had, while Papa Lazarou is based on an eccentric Greek landlord he and Steve Pemberton once shared (there's a good chance that Pemberton's character Pop is based on him as well). Ollie Plimsoles is based on someone Mark Gatiss met in community theatre, with Phil as an Author Avatar of Gatiss himself.
- Catherine Tate admits to doing this for her self-titled comedy show: Margaret is based on her mother, the "tactless woman" on Tate herself, and Paul and Sam on a couple she knows. She has also claimed that the Aga Saga Woman is based on a woman she met on the King's Road in London, and Geordie Georgie on someone who wrote to her asking for charity donations.
- Glee's Kurt Hummel is reportedly largely based on creator Ryan Murphy as a youth, particularly his interactions with his father
- A majority of Freaks and Geeks was based off of creator Paul Feig's life in Michigan - especially the character of Sam Weir.
- Seinfeld: The main characters are based on the real Jerry Seinfeld and his friends Larry David and Elaine Boosler, plus Larry David's former neighbor Kenny Kramer. (Larry David provided the model for George Costanza, which may explain why David was going to play George in the Seinfeld Reunion Show on Curb Your Enthusiasm.) The main reason why George got better as a character was because Jason Alexander found out Larry based him on himself and started playing the character as an exaggerated version of Larry.
- Speaking of which: every main character in Curb Your Enthusiasm who isn't already supposed to be the real thing. In fact, Larry said that he'd considered getting someone else to play him in Curb, but thought "ah, who am I fooling?". He also notes that in both Curb and Seinfeld that he wrote things in the plot that happened to him in real life and how he reacted to them. Larry has noted that his Curb persona is slightly more antisocial than he is in real life for the sake of comedy.
- How I Met Your Mother is partially based on creators Carter Bays and Craig Thomas's younger days: Ted is based on Bays, Marshall on Thomas, and Lily on Thomas's wife.
- Charlie Harper, the (former) star of Two and a Half Men, is basically the exact same character as his actor, Charlie Sheen, having the same personality traits, the same hedonistic habits, and the same characteristics.
- Saturday Night Live:
- This may be hard to believe for some, but Bill Hader's Stefon character is actually based on two people that Hader and SNL writer John Mulaney have met: one was a barista who looked, dressed, and talked like Stefon, the other was a club promoter that John Mulaney met who also talked like Stefon, and had a vast knowledge of every weird party going on in New York City.
- Another recurring character based on a real person is Jay Pharoah's Principal Frye, who is actually based on Jay Pharoah's high school principal from Chesapeake, Virginia. The only difference is in the name: on the show, the principal's name is Daniel; in real life, the principal is named James.
- Some Dawson's Creek fans speculated that Kevin Williamson based the gay character Jack on himself. It's true insofar as the main characters are all based on different aspects of Williamson's personality. He has also said that his own coming out, unlike Jack's, was pretty uneventful. Williamson also stated that film-lover Dawson and Joey were originally based on himself and a childhood friend. Though in real-life their relationship was platonic (obviously).
- Many Harry Enfield and Chums characters were based on real people Harry encountered; for example, the Lovely Wobbly Randy Old Ladies are based on women he encountered as an easily-embarrassed teenaged delivery boy, and Tim Nice-But-Dim on a period when he had a girlfriend who got invited to posh parties, where he'd have to make conversation with old public schoolboys who were friendly, but had no idea how to talk to anyone who wasn't "something in the City".
- In addition to Joking Apart, as mentioned in the quote, Steve and Susan in Coupling were based on Moffatt and his wife Sue (who was also the producer).
- Dos Gringos has written several songs based on the personal experiences of their fellow fighter pilots.
- Guns N' Roses' Appetite for Destruction has three songs based on women Axl Rose knew, "My Michelle" (a friend of his who after hearing "Your Song" wanted a song about her - and given her life was quite fucked up, he wrote an Anti-Love Song), "Sweet Child O'Mine" (his then-girlfriend) and "Rocket Queen" (a girl who wanted to have a band with this name).
- Bruce Springsteen has mentioned more than once that he had a difficult relationship with his father while he was growing up. This is reflected in songs like "Adam Raised A Cain," "My Father's House," and "Independence Day."
- The Space Gypsy Adventures creator Terry Askew has admitted that the character of Rekki G, the raccoon radio DJ (Originally a marmot by the name of Randy in the 1986 series), is largely based on himself, although Rekki's style of presentation owes a lot more to Smashie & Nicey than Askew himself.
- The Hitch Hikers Guide To The Galaxy: Douglas Adams said that there's a rumour Marvin the Paranoid Android was based on comedy writer Andrew Marshall, but it was only a rumour, and he should know because he started it. He also said that later Ford Prefect became increasingly based on "Geoffrey McGivern's [the actor who played him on radio] more extreme behaviour in pubs". He denied that Arthur Dent was based either on Simon Jones or himself, although Arthur was close enough to himself that he could put his own experiences into Arthur's life without too much difficulty.
- RENT is very loosely based on the Puccini Opera La Bohčme, in large part because the opera paralleled Jonathan Larson's own experience and those of people he knew living in New York. Many of the details that differ from the opera are drawn from Larson's own life. La Bohčme itself also reflects this trope - it's source novel, ''Scenes de la vie de boheme," was based on it's author Henri Murger's life as a penniless writer in Paris, while Puccini was allegedly drawn to that source because it reminded him of his own days as a penniless music student in Milan.
- Ultima contains a great many characters that are basically Expies of Richard Garriot and his friends, most notably Lord British and The Companions of The Avatar. As a matter of fact, much of the series was a winking fictionalization of the Society For Creative Anachronism's activities.
- Banjo-Kazooie Nuts & Bolts features a character called Trophy Thomas, an overly-competitive, cheetah-like braggart with blue hair, designed after James Thomas, an employee at the developing company Rare. "Trophy Thomas" is a nickname which he earned around the offices, explained by a post on his personal blog. His hair is also actually dyed blue.
- In Distorted Travesty, the main characters Jerry and Jeremy are based on (and named for) the developer's friends and roommates.
- Some digging into the contents of Depression Quest revealed at least three instances of this. The therapist's phone number that the main character is given is an actual phone number to a therapist's office in Toronto (don't bother calling it, though, because you'll just get an automated message asking for an extension number,) the therapist is similarly named after an actual therapist working in said office, and the name of the person on Steam that the main character talks to also exists in real life (you can even visit their Steam page.)
- Most of the TVTome Adventures characters are representations of users Chris Niosi met on TVTome (hence the series title). Chris Niosi himself is represented through the characters Kirbopher 15 and Zetto, and is the only voice actor from TTA to reprise their role in TOME.
- Broken Saints: When series writer/director Brooke Burgess lived on a Fijian island for six months prior to the creation of the series, the local chief was named Tui and his son was named Tui Jr. Sure enough, in the series, the chief of the Lomalagi islanders is named Tui, and his son is Tui Jr. How much they are based on the real people is uncertain, but considering Burgess' experiences were the inspiration for the islanders being in the series at all, it wouldn't be surprising if there were some resemblance.
- Word of God says that Homestuck's Dave Strider is basically Andrew Hussie. They even have the same typing quirks.
- David Willis appears frequently in Shortpacked! as a parody of his own obsessions; he is arguably the most entertaining character in the whole strip. At one point he actually got in a fight with Ethan after an edit war on the Transformers Wiki.
- As well as him appearing in a cameo, both Danny and Joyce in the original Roomies! were based on Willis himself. The character Mike in It's Walky! was based on a friend, and later a SEMME squad was made up entirely of people from the It's Walky! forum.
- Howard Tayler occasionally turns up in Schlock Mercenary, in strips which make it clear that he and the "narrator", Dr. Awoh, are completely separate entities. Tayler won the only ever Web Cartoonist Choice Award for Best Guest Appearance.
- Dave Anez of Bob and George not only shows up for commentary, but actively directs the plot as the Author (a recolor of a helmetless Mega Man sprite). Authors from the other comics featured on the site frequently make guest appearances as well (Rick O' Shay being the most prominent). On two separate occasions, the characters have tried to end the comic by killing him.
- The director and narrator of Books Don't Work Here is also the author. Since the comic has no Fourth Wall he goes beyond being a simple narrator and is arguably the character with the most screen time if you don't disqualify him for being a disembodied voice. Many of the fans of the comic who donated to the kickstarter campaign also have avatars.
- This has happened several times in General Protection Fault, most notably in early December 1999, when lead character Nick spends several strips arguing with cartoonist Jeffrey Darlington about having a Y2K storyline (Nick was strongly opposed to the whole idea, but lost the argument). Nick is also heavily based on Darlington, and Ki is based on his wife.
- Scott Kurtz rarely interacts directly with the characters in his comic PvP, but frequently does offtopic strips featuring (real life) arguments he has had with his father over technology, pop culture, and the direction the comic is going. These are frequent enough that "Scott's Dad" is listed on the character page.
- In Penny Arcade, the characters of Tycho and Gabe look nothing like their real-life counterparts, either in looks or (broadly speaking) personality. This is because they hadn't originally been intended to represent the authors, though they've since joyfully dived into Life Embellished. (Parodied with "WHY I AM SO BALD", a redrawn - and intentionally Macekre'd with MS Paint - Penny Arcade strip featuring versions of Tycho and Gabe that look like their real-life counterparts, only more unflattering.)
- David Morgan-Mar of Irregular Webcomic! appears both as himself in the "Me" theme, and as the Dungeon Master in the Fantasy and Space themes. Also, in those later two themes, the characters are based directly on characters in his real life role-playing games. They're the same group, which is why Alvissa and Kyros are nearly identical in personality to Paris and Serron.
- When Chris Onstad of Achewood speaks with his characters, all you can see are his legs (and once, hands). Onstad's infant daughter even showed up in a couple of strips, albeit from behind.
- A significant portion of the cast of The Wotch is based on friends of the authors.
- Much of the cast in Jack consists of friends, relatives and most of the time, online acquaintances (which sometimes explains the AOL-inspired names some of the characters have). Even the author himself has a role in the comic as the Devil, who literally controls Hell via comics he draws..
- Davan, the central character, is based on comic creator R. K. Milholland as he was several years before starting the strip, and most of the rest of the cast are Milholland's friends and family. To start with, "80-90%" of the story was based on reality, but it has diverged significantly since.
- In universe, Davan based the villain of a play that he re-wrote off of his father, Fred, justifying it as needing the villain to be the most interesting person in the play.
- And Monette plays a television character based on Davan.
- Most of the main characters of Least I Could Do are either based on the author himself (or Mary Sue versions of himself), or his friends.
- Mac Hall started out when Ian McConville drew some intended Penny Arcade guest strips, based on himself and his dormmates. He posted them on his door, and people liked them, so he started doing more. Matt Boyd (whom Ian knew from the popular fansite Bungie.Org) joined the cast and took over writing duties. Notable is the fact that the two didn't meet in person until a year or so into the strip's run.
- Jayden and Crusader involves the titular character Crusader, who is a starving artist, part time gamer and comic enthusiast. This is a clear self-insert of the artist. It has been speculated that all other characters are really just different facets of the artist's psyche
- Casey and Andy are, unsurprisingly, Andy Weir and his long-time friend Casey. Down to the crazy inventions and the dangerous pastimes. Although I pretty much doubt Andy really dates Satan.
- The main cast of Real Life Comics consists of the author and his friends.
- Geist-Panik's main character Riley is said to be the author, just in female form.
- The two male well, most of the time characters in El Goonish Shive are based on aspects of the author's personality. His avatar also drops in for the Q&A sessions.
- Exterminatus Now has four main characters, based on four authors (and occasional non-canon cameos of other people). There's a bit of Self-Deprecation involved; the admittedly self-loathing Eastwood is a Small Name, Big Ego Jerkass in the comic, ill-tempered Lothar is Ax-Crazy, easygoing Virus is Too Dumb to Live, and Silversword... is actually a subversion, his character Rogue (not Rouge) isn't really based on him at all, which the strip points out.
- Riff from Sluggy Freelance is based on an old friend of Pete Abrams's.
- This is practically every character in Sonichu, due to Chris-chan writing himself into the story as some kind of hero beating up his real life enemies. And thus naturally most of the stuff written by other people to wind Chris-chan up also applies. Whose characterizations have more basis in reality is up for debate, though. If by "debate" you mean "Chris portrays himself as some manner of God-figure, and everything goes downhill from there."
- A few characters from School Bites are based off people the author knows, heck the main character is pretty much the author herself.
- Enjuhneer's artist bases almost all of her characters on people she actually knows.
- Piro and Largo of MegaTokyo are both based off of the original authors, Fred Gallagher and Rodney Castor. Ed, Dom, and Tsubasa are based from their friends, and Seraphim is Sarah, Fred's wife (then girlfriend.)
- On SPRINGIETTE, all characters are based on real people. But there's a reason for that.
- Ret-Conned: Most characters are based off people the artist and writer know.
- Living With Insanity. David and Paul are based off the creative team, and David created Alice using his ex-girlfriend as a basis.
- Terra in 1/0 is told that she is based on a friend of the author.
- Nearly everyone in Growing Up Grunge: Komo is the crater herself, Alicia is her sister, Tilly and Jack are her dogs, Izzy was her (now deceased) hamster, Alice and Eddie are based on her and her sister as well, and her dad makes an appearance. The only one not based on anyone is Zaff.
- The main characters of Hijinks Ensue are openly based on the author (Joel) and his two best friends (Josh and Eli). It sometimes devolves into photo comics, which often include other cartoonists at conventions with silly speech bubbles and, in one memorable instance, photos of the real people from Eli's bachelor party
- The entire main cast of Voodoo Walrus follows this. Along with some secondary characters too.
- DAR! notes the problem with this.
- Most of the characters in Wasted Talent by Angela Melick are her friends or family members, usually with a nickname in place of their real name (mostly in early strips though, Red and Lucky still have their nicknames, but other characters have real names). Of note are her colleagues, identified by workplace, who were invented as fake people so Angela could avoid accidentally writing a comic about someone who wouldn't appreciate it.
- The three main characters of Eddsworld are named and modeled after creator Edd Gould and his friends who also work on the comic.
- The three main characters of Banzai Girl are creator Jinky Coronado and her best friends Katie and Michelle. Presumably their real life has fewer aliens in it.
- Nearly every main character in Weenie Licked is someone who frequents the site hosting it.
- In Kill la Kill AU, Amoridere stated that she tends to think of Nui being more or less like a benign version of her youngest sister and Ryuuko and Satsuki being more akin to herself (Ryuuko being the hotheaded and cynical half, while Satsuki being the Voice Of Reason half) and Ragyo and Soichiro being loosely based off her father and his mother.
- Survival of the Fittest has a ridiculous number of self insert characters or characters that're fictional versions of people the handler knows in real life.
- Many Protectors of the Plot Continuum characters are based, with varying degrees of looseness, on their writers. Rather ironic considering the premise, but an Author Avatar is not necessarily a badly-written character, and most of them tend to become less and less like their authors over time.
- Transformers Animated:
- The human supervillains Angry Archer and Slo-Mo are based on Aaron Archer and Samantha Lomow, both of whom work for Hasbro.
- Semi-example: The iconic voice and mannerisms of Optimus Prime as played by Peter Cullen are based on Peter's brother, who served in the US Marine Corps and the Vietnam War.
- The Simpsons: The Simpson family members are all named after creator Matt Groening's family members. Although, he has admitted that Bart was based, at least in part, on his own brother Mark. He also said that he based Lisa on himself - although his sister, after whom the character is named, used to think it was based on her.
- All the characters in Ed, Edd 'n' Eddy are based on Danny Antonucci himself, his family, and people he knew growing up. The Eds were all aspects of his personality, Jimmy was based on a cousin, Jonny was based on a loner friend who spent time with a blanket, Rolf was based on his experiences as an immigrant, and the Kankers were based on a group of girls he knew during his 7th Grade school year. He probably (hopefully) didn't know anyone exactly like Eddy's Brother.
- Many of the characters from South Park are supposedly based on people that Parker and Stone met in their hometown of Fairplay, Colorado or at school in Boulder. Trying to figure out who they might be is a favorite pastime of CU undergrads. The most commonly accepted one is that Chef's visual appearance is modeled on Chef Willie from Sewall Hall.
- Stan and Kyle's respective parents are named after Parker and Stone's, and Stan's father Randy and sister Shelley are both heavily based on their real-life inspirations — particularly Shelley, who actually was abusive to Trey when they were kids (while the violence was nowhere near as bad as it was on the show, the real-life Shelley did punch Trey, push him down the stairs, and lock him out of the house on occasion).
- Parker and Stone have said in interviews that Stan and Kyle were originally based on each of them respectively, but in retrospect they realize that they're both really more like Cartman.
- Cartman's attitude in "Fishsticks" was based on people the creators know in the entertainment industry, where they honestly believe they came up with ideas despite putting little to no effort into them.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender has done this a few times. One of the random waterbenders Katara trains with is based on a relative of one of the artists and the swordmaster Piandao is based on the show's martial arts coordinator/consultant, and the instructor of one of the creators, Sifu Kisu.
- Brendon Small, the main character of Home Movies, created by Brendon Small, should really need no further explaination.
- Mordecai from Regular Show is just J.G. Quintel as a bluejay. He even uses his normal voice for Mordecai's.
- Joe Murray wrote the recurring character of Ralph Bighead on Rocko's Modern Life as a less stable version of himself. The show's staff caught on, and convinced him to do the voice himself - because they wanted an excuse to hear the normally monotone Murray yell.
- Mike Judge wrote and voiced Tom Anderson and later Hank Hill as caricatures of the adult male authority figures he knew growing up in New Mexico.
- Lola from Charlie and Lola is based off an inquisitive young girl that author Lauren Child met on a train.
- The writers of Animaniacs based several characters on people they encountered, like the surveyors in "Survey Ladies" and Candy Chipmunk from "I Got Yer Can". Nicholas Hollander based Katie Kaboom on his teenage daughter.
- Twilight Sparkle of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic was written by Lauren Faust to be like her mother.
- The Recess Gang were based on people the creators knew.
- T.J. was based on various childhood friends of both of them.
- Vince was based on Paul Germain's friend from college, also named Vince.
- Spinelli was based on a girl they knew from college.
- Gretchen was based on co-creator Paul Germain's wife in elementary school.
- Mikey was based on two friends the creators had in middle school.
- Gus wasn't intended to be based on anyone, but the way he moves from town to town was based on how both creators moved a lot as a kid.
- Tree Trunks in Adventure Time was based on and voiced by Polly Lou Livingston, a longtime key figure in the local arts scene in San Antonio, TX and old friend of Pendleton Ward's family.
- Marc Brown has admitted that several characters in Arthur are based on people from his life. Arthur is, of course, him as a kid, Grandma Thora is based on his grandmother, who encouraged his writing/drawing, Francine is based on his sister, Sue Ellen is based on his childhood girlfriend, etc.
- Dipper and Mabel, the main characters of Gravity Falls, are based on creator Alex Hirsch and his twin sister Ariel when they were children, respectively. The voice of Grunkle Stan originates from a grandfather that Alex faintly remembers, while Soos is based off a friend from college.
- The entire cast of Undergrads was based off of the creator's real friends and experiences he had in college, which he ironically dropped out of to make the show. The voice acting is almost entirely himself performing impersonations of his friends, and he even managed to get one of them to voice the character she's based off of.
- Dan Vs.: Elise is loosely based on Chris Pearson's wife. Dan and Chris are both Author Avatars based on the flaws of Dan Mandel and Chris Pearson. And all three of them share their names with the people they're based on.
- The Loud House is based on creator Chris Savino's own experiences growing up in a large family.
- Star vs. the Forces of Evil: Star Butterfly and Marco Diaz are based on Daron Nefcy and her husband.
- In Catalan series The Triplets, the titular triplets were based on Roser Capdevila's own triplet daughters.