The second of the unifying warlords of Japan of the Sengoku Period and a prime example of Rags to Riches. He was born Kinoshita Tōkichirō, and his early life remains somewhat obscure. His parents apparently wanted him to become a priest, but he ran away from the temple and became a soldier instead. In 1558, he became the sandal-bearer of Oda Nobunaga. He was eventually drafted into Nobunaga's army, changed his name to Hashiba Hideyoshi, and used his resourcefulness to become a valuable asset. When Nobunaga was murdered in 1582 while Hideyoshi was besieging Tadakatsu Castle, Hideyoshi had the good fortune to intercept his killer, Akechi Mitsuhide, first and annihilated his army. Hideyoshi next came into conflict with Nobunaga's other top generals, Shibata Katsuie and Tokugawa Ieyasu, who each allied themselves with one of Nobunaga's two surviving sons after Hideyoshi proclaimed Nobunaga's one-year-old grandson as heir. Hideyoshi annihilated Shibata at the Battle of Shizugatake in 1583, and fought Tokugawa to a standstill at Komaki-Nagakute in 1584. From that point on, Hideyoshi continued the conquest of Japan in alliance with Ieyasu, conquering Shikoku from Chōsokabe Motochika in 1585, Kyūshū from the Shimazu clan in 1587, and the Kantō from Hōjō Ujimasa in 1590. Since Hideyoshi was of lower class stock, he could not become Shōgun. The highest title he held was kampaku (regent), awarded to him in 1585, when he changed his name to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. When Hideyoshi officially relinquished the title in 1591, he became known as the Taikō. But unifying Japan wasn't enough for Hideyoshi, whose greatest ambition was to conquer China. When Korea (a Chinese protectorate at the time) refused Hideyoshi's offer of alliance against China, Hideyoshi decided to wage war on Korea instead. Hideyoshi's army invaded Korea in 1592, and made great progress on land before being ultimately repulsed by the Koreans and Chinese. Not one to give up wild ambitions easily, Hideyoshi launched a second invasion of Korea in 1597, but this invasion was already foundering when Hideyoshi died of sickness in 1598. Since Hideyoshi's heir, Toyotomi Hideyori, was only five when his father died, Hideyoshi left his administration in charge of five magistrates: Ukita Hideie, Maeda Toshiie, Mōri Terumoto, Uesugi Kagekatsu and Tokugawa Ieyasu. It was Tokugawa, not Toyotomi, that would become the ruling family of Japan, after Ieyasu won a decisive victory over Ukita Hideie and Mōri Terumoto at the famous Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Fourteen years later, Ieyasu finally moved against Hideyori (seizing on, of all things, an imagined insult carved into a temple bell as causus belli), who perished the next year when Ōsaka Castle fell after a long siege. As noted, Hideyoshi is most known for his resourcefulness and his ability to manipulate events. Some historians to this day still argue that he might be The Starscream, and that Mitsuhide's betrayal was secretly engineered by Hideyoshi. That being said, props should be given that he actually succeeded in unifying Japan and actually did good to his people's welfare. Too bad that his dynasty didn't last past two generations, his failure at the Korean Campaign was credited as one of the reasons why and it left a sour note to his legacy, and why no one in the modern day ever touched that Campaign in any fictional portrayal that features Hideyoshi, regardless of how he's portrayed, and only featuring the Sengoku Period (there are some fictions that cover a more general history that feature that campaign). His nickname was 'monkey'. Usual portrayal would depict him being a Manipulative Bastard or a wannabe schemer, though positive portrayals of him do exist, being an eager and hard-working man that earns his peers via hard work (close enough of being a Shonen hero that defies Hard Work Hardly Works), that could seep into being a bumbling man as his vices. He's also included in one issue of Badass of the Week.
Examples of works featuring Hideyoshi:
- The famous novel Taiko. Chronicles with the life and times of Hideyoshi, from sandal-bearer to the Japanese unifier.
- Sengoku Rance where he's... a literal monkey. He's also directly responsible for the Demonic Possession of Nobunaga as a catastrophic Spanner in the Works.
- Of course, KOEI's Samurai Warriors. Hideyoshi starts out as a smug sleazeball NPC in the first game, but at the first expansion, he's given a more sympathetic personality where he really wants to make Japan a place for happy people. That trait sticks to his future portrayals. Even though he also has a friendship with Saika Magoichi as well as being a much more fun and stern guy to be around, he still looks more of a goofball in future games...oh, and he also loves treasure. He wields a sansetsukon (three-section staff) in battle, and as a note to his monkey motif, Word of God made it so it was akin to a monkey's tail whipping at something.
- Warriors Orochi is also notable of his inclusion, especially in the English version, whereas his voice now literally sounds like Bugs Bunny trying to sound like a monkey. Eww...
- The Onimusha series. Hideyoshi starts out as Nobunaga's smug henchman. But when Nobunaga dies, Hideyoshi Took a Level in Badass and unifies Japan off-screen. Then come the 4th game, he became the Big Bad using the Genma forces to wreak havoc. However, he did get an Alas, Poor Villain moment when the Genma forces ditched him and he realized that he's done something horrible, meaning, there was a time that Hideyoshi had a genuine Heel–Face Turn...
- The Sengoku Basara series. Forget about scrawny monkey-like Hideyoshi and say hello to gorilla-sized Hideyoshi who fights with huge grappling gauntlets and solves all problems by punching them. Hard. If that fails, grab a nearby mook (usually a hostile one but friendly ones will do), then bludgeon the problem at hand with said mook. Instead of a Smug Snake, he becomes a Well-Intentioned Extremist who'd do ruthless things to shape Japan into a strong nation. To put it simply, he's a Captain Ersatz of Raoh, with massive power shaped in the form of light.
- Plus, he also is voiced by a seiyuu who does characters in the aforementioned Warriors franchisenote . That guy happens to be Ryoutarou Okiayu.
- In Age of Empires II's special mission, you actually control Hideyoshi's forces trying to beat down Mitsuhide after he killed Nobunaga. There's also a mission where the player must prevent Hideyoshi's invasion of Korea.
- Hideyoshi makes an appearence in Genzo without playing a major role. Here he looks like a monkey dressed as a samurai. His expansionistic tendencies are frequently mentioned, to the point that Kiku thinks that if he could he would try to conquer not only Korea and China, but Philippines, Spain and Portugal as well.
- Hideyoshi (or rather, Yoshino Hide) is the main character of Sengoku Otome, here gender flipped into a young, somewhat clumsy girl with blond hair who gets thrown into the past, and may very well become the actual Hideyoshi.
- Hideyoshi is one of the main players in Hyouge Mono. He is a friend and fellow tea enthusiast of main character Sasuke, and is also a deft manipulator who conspires to overthrow Oda Nobunaga by turning his vassals and generals against him.
- Hideyoshi is a teenager that meets Raimon 11 in Inazuma Eleven Go Chrono Stone after they traveled to the past. He idolizes Oda Nobunaga and wishes to fight by his side.
- In The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, Hideyoshi dies saving the main character's life at the very beginning of the series, leaving him to serve Oda Nobuna under the "Monkey" nickname.
- In The 39 Clues, he is really Thomas Cahill, the founder of the Tomas branch.
- In One Piece, Admiral Kizaru of the Marines is likened to him for his craftiness and manipulation of his enemies and underlings alike.