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Historical figures with unexpectedly interesting lives in live-action TV.


  • 3rd Rock from the Sun had an episode where we find out that Dennis Rodman is an alien.
  • American Horror Story has more or less made this a recurring theme in their seasons.
    • In Murder House, the death of Elizabeth "Black Dahlia" Short is depicted as having been accidentally orchestrated by Dr. Curran D.D.S. when she had sex with him in exchange for a free check-up, suffocating under a high dosage of nitrous gas, her body hacked and dumped far away in order to cover it up. Her ghost has been haunting the place ever since.
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    • In Coven, Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and famed murderer Delphine Lalaurie were immortals via voodoo magic that knew and hated each other. The fabled Axe-Man of New Orleans was killed by the Coven of his era and has haunted the Academy ever since. Singer Stevie Nicks is a powerful witch nicknamed "the White Witch" who is a long-time member of the coven and actually appears in one episode to help convince Misty to join the coven. Also, Myrtle is certain Leonardo da Vinci was a warlock, though it's never been proven.
    • In Freak Show, the ghosts of Edward Mordrake and all of his past victims rise from Hell to claim a freakshow performer everytime a performance occurs on Halloween.
    • In Roanoke, it's revealed that the reason for the disappearance of the famed Lost Colony is because their leader — after making a deal with a forest witch — moved them all further inland. And then killed them all Jonestown style, so that their spirits would be forever bound to that land and unable to leave her.
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    • In Cult, it's revealed that the murders attributed to the Zodiac Killer were carried out by a militant feminist cult founded by Valerie Solanas. Zodiac himself was an associate of the cult who took credit for the killings.
  • America Unearthed makes these assertions regularly, such as Jarl Henry Sinclair, Earl of Orkney, being a Knight Templar that came to America in the 12th century with the Holy Grail.
  • Angel
    • In one episode, during a chase through an art gallery, to shake pursuit Angel briefly pauses to lecture on a painting of the French poet Charles Baudelaire, suggesting that Baudelaire's poem "The Vampire" was based on an encounter with a real vampire (possibly himself, as he tells his audience that Baudelaire was actually "a little taller and a lot drunker" than he appears in the painting).
    • Angel also tells Roger Burkle that Spiro T. Agnew was a demon during "Fredless".
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    • In "I've Got You Under My Skin", Wesley tells us that Lizzie Borden was possessed by an Ethros demon.
    • In "The House Always Wins", Angel tells Fred and Gunn that two members of the Blue Man Group are demons.
    • In "Why We Fight", one of the vampires captured by a WWII-era US submarine claims to have been Rasputin's lover.
  • Babylon 5
    • In the episode "Comes the Inquisitor", the Vorlons send a human named Sebastian to act as their Inquisitor. He acts, sounds, and dresses like a late 19th century upper-class Englishman, and claims he was taken by the Vorlons to do their bidding and is kept in suspended animation when he is not needed. He explains at the end that he thought he was chosen for a special destiny, but was wrong. And history was not kind:
      Sebastian: Good luck to you in your holy cause, Captain Sheridan. May your choices have better results than mine — remembered not as a messenger. Remembered not as a reformer, not as a prophet, not as a hero, not even as Sebastian. Remembered only... as Jack.
    • In the later episode "A Late Delivery from Avalon", a man claiming to be King Arthur shows up on the station. The crew don't believe any of this though, and with good reason: When one of the crew suggests that it might be another case of the Vorlons preserving a historical figure, another points out that the actual King Arthur would not speak anything even close to modern English. They soon find out a traumatic experience in the very beginning of the Minbari War simply caused the man to escape reality.
    • A more literal case is that of Jeffrey Sinclair, shifted backward a thousand years in time and physically transformed into the Minbari religious figure (and hero of the previous war against the Shadows) Valen.
  • In the Bewitched episode "Twitch or Treat", baseball star Willie Mays is shown to be a warlock.
  • Blackadder begins with the claim that the historical reports of Richard III are a near-total fabrication. Indeed, the first series presupposes that there was a decade-long interregnum between the death of Richard III and the accession of Henry VII Tudor, one that saw the reign of Richard IV, (who in actual history, was one of the child "Princes in the Tower," presumably but never proven to have been murdered on the orders of Richard III) before a bungled murder plot by Baldrick and Lord Percy of Northumbria against a group of ne'er-do-wells bend on killing the Royal Family kills the entire Plantagenet line, leaving the way open for Henry to come in and rewrite history as if he had won at Bosworth Field in 1485.
    • The series would make similar claims about other historical persons, such as Oscar Wilde, who, according to Blackadder, was the father of hundreds of illegitimate children and the author of a pamphlet entitled "Why I Like Doing It With Girls." Any evidence to the contrary is the work of a very skilled prosecuting attorney with a grudge.
      • They also claimed that all the famous female writers during the Regency era were men and that Jane Austen was really a huge Yorkshireman with a beard like a rhododendron bush.
  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
    • In the episode "Selfless", we find out (via flashback) that Anya had a hand in causing the 1905 Russian Revolution.
    • In a Season 6 episode, Anya claims that Martha Stewart is a witch, and that this is how Stewart has accomplished certain things she is famous for.
    • Buffy realises mid-history class that Rasputin might have been a vampire, explaining the difficulty they had in killing him.
    • And after another class expresses doubts that Charlotte Corday really killed Jean-Paul Marat—his death looked more fangy than knifey to her.
    • In the Musical Episode Sweet sings that he gave Nero his very first fiddle, implying that he's responsible for the Great Fire of Rome and the Temporal Paradox caused by introducing a musical instrument centuries before it was invented.
    • In the Origin graphic novel, Merrick tells Buffy that Emperor Caligula and Jack the Ripper were both vampires - or, more accurately, the same vampire.
      • Tales of the Vampires shows that, indeed, Jack the Ripper was a vampire. Tales of the Slayers also implies that Joan of Arc was a Slayer.
      • However, it is unusual that Jack the Ripper and Caligula were the same vampire. Buffyverse vampires become more and more monstrous as they grow older. A vampire who is actually old enough to have been Caligula should hardly look human anymore.
      • Tales of the Slayer also tells us that General William Tecumseh Sherman was a Watcher (sort of.)
      • An anthology of prose stories, also called Tales of the Slayer, revealed that a Slayer ran alongside Pheidippides, the messenger from the battle of Marathon. In another story, Virginia Dare of the Roanoke colony was a Slayer. Her Watcher was John Dee.
    • Billy Idol stole his look from Spike.
  • Charmed (1998): Leo claims, in Season 4 episode "A Paige from the Past", that "Dickens didn't make [A Christmas Carol] up; he was visited by a malevolent spirit".
  • Dark Skies is almost built around this trope, including such notable individuals as JFK and Norman Schwarzkopf as part of the story.
  • Doctor Who does this a lot; the "celebrity historical" has been a staple since the series' inception, and the Doctor is a shameless name-dropper.
    • The original TARDIS crew travel with Marco Polo and meet Kublai Khan.
    • One meets Emperor Nero and inadvertently inspires him to burn down Rome.
    • The Doctor's companion Vicki becomes Cressida after the end of The Trojan War.
    • One and his companions also cross paths with Richard the Lionheart, Saladin, Maximilien Robespierre, Napoleon Bonaparte, Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday.
    • "The Massacre": Steven encounters several of the people involved in the 16th century St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre.
    • Three counts Admiral Nelson amongst his personal friends.
    • Happened in real life in the case of the Third Doctor's actor Jon Pertwee; he was an awesome Doctor, but it eventually came out that he was also a British spy for the government during his time in the Navy (Hence his love of cool cars, gadgets, and fisticuffs).
    • The Fourth Doctor's scarf was made by Madame Nostradamus ("a witty little knitter").
      • Also, the Tenth Doctor's coat was a gift from Janis Joplin.
    • The Doctor has admitted to sitting in a tree and dropping apples on Newton's head.
    • "The Visitation" sees the Fifth Doctor inadvertently start the Great Fire of London while fighting Terileptils.
    • In "The King's Demons", the Fifth Doctor thwarted the Master's attempt to replace King John (whom the Doctor declared was a fairly decent king, as far as the Dark Ages went) with an android in order to prevent the signing of the Magna Carta.
    • "Timelash" reveals H. G. Wells to have been inspired by a short trip with Six.
    • "Silver Nemesis" revealed that the Doctor had launched the Nemesis weapon from the Earth inside a satellite to keep it out of the hands of his enemies, only to have that satellite's orbit bring it close to the Earth every 25 years, where the weapon's energy would adversely affect Earth history. The Doctor claimed that Nemesis may have influenced the start of World War II and the assassination of President Kennedy.
    • A future incarnation of the Doctor ends up as the Merlin of an alternate universe in "Battlefield".
    • "The Unquiet Dead" has Charles Dickens helping Nine fight alien ghosts.
    • "Tooth and Claw" reveals that Queen Victoria faced a werewolf (implied to be the source of the haemophilia widespread among European royalty in the late 19th century, although that could have been a joke), and subsequently set up the Torchwood Institute.
    • "The Girl in the Fireplace" follows the life of Madame de Pompadour as she faced clockwork robots.
    • "Smith and Jones": The Doctor used to have a laser spanner, but it was stolen by Emmeline Pankhurst.
    • "The Shakespeare Code":
      • Will gets involved with real witches.
      • Queen Elizabeth I turns up at the end, angry with the Doctor for something he hadn't done yet. What was it? He married her and ran off.
      • Shakespeare refers to the Afro-British Martha as his "dark lady", suggesting that she is the inspiration for the mysterious woman that the Bard referenced in many of his later sonnets.
    • Ten actually caused Vesuvius to erupt in "The Fires of Pompeii", to keep aliens from turning all humans into stone.
    • "The Unicorn and the Wasp" had a murder mystery surrounding Agatha Christie ... involving a Giant Shapeshifting Space Wasp. (The trope is also lampshaded in this episode: "That's like meeting Dickens at Christmas ... with ghosts!" — this was also a Shout-Out to the above mentioned episode "The Unquiet Dead".) The events of this episode led to Christie's 11-day disappearance in December of 1926.
      • The same episode also explained Christie's famous unsolved disappearance in December 1926. It turns out that Christie was a guest at a wealthy family's estate, as were the Doctor and Donna. The murder mystery mentioned above was the result of a half-human, half-Vespiform (a giant wasp-like alien) hybrid coming into its true heritage and shedding its human disguise to attack people who angered it. At the same time he awoke, his human mother (the matriarch of the wealthy family) was reading an Agatha Christie novel while wearing a psychically-empowered necklace that her Vespiform lover gave her; it formed a "psychic link" between mother and child, and the hybrid started murdering people because the necklace imprinted the book's mystery plot into his mind. Christie, blaming herself for the deaths, stole the necklace, attempted to destroy it, and nearly drowned because of her own psychic link to the wasp. She lived, but the stress badly affected her mind, prompting the Doctor and Donna to drop her off where she would be "found," thus explaining the disappearance (and, by extension, some of Christie's famous characters: Donna keeps mentioning books Christie hasn't written yet, and the Doctor explains that some of those memories came back to her over time, allowing her to create the novels).
    • "Victory of the Daleks" sees Eleven helping old friend Winston Churchill with the Daleks. Churchill also has a habit of trying to steal the TARDIS keys off the Doctor.
    • "The Time of Angels": The Doctor's apparently on Virginia Woolf's bowling team.
    • "The Vampires of Venice": Eleven is momentarily worried about running into Giacomo Casanova, to whom he owes a chicken, until he realizes he is 140 years too early. Even funnier when you realise the previous Doctor's actor also played Casanova.
    • "Vincent and the Doctor": Eleven and Amy team up with Vincent van Gogh to track down a monster. The Doctor also namedrops Michelangelo Buonarroti and Pablo Picasso.
    • Lampshaded in "The Pandorica Opens".
      River Song: I hate good wizards in fairy tales. They always turn out to be him.
    • "A Christmas Carol": The Doctor accidentally gets engaged to Marilyn Monroe.
    • Eleven may have been directly responsible for the Watergate scandal, as he advised Richard Nixon to "tape everything" in an effort to defeat the Silence in "The Impossible Astronaut"/"Day of the Moon".
      Nixon: Dare I ask — will I be remembered?
      The Doctor: Oh, Dicky. Tricky Dicky. They're never going to forget you! Say hi to David Frost for me.
      • The Doctor also mentions that two of America's founding fathers fancied him.
    • "Let's Kill Hitler": Rory shoved Adolf Hitler in a cupboard. After punching him.
    • The Doctor was friends with Albert Einstein, who kept trying to learn time-travel from him. In response, the Doctor nicked his toothbrush.
    • "Pond Life": The Doctor met Mata Hari in a Paris hotel room.
    • "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship": The Doctor helped Ancient Egypt's Queen Nefertiti out with an attack by weapon-bearing giant alien locusts, and she in turn helped with the dinosaurs of the title. And it turns out the reason she disappeared from the records fourteen years into her husband's reign is because she ran off with John Riddell, a big-game hunter from 1902.
    • "The Power of Three" sees Amy accidentally get married to Henry VIII, and the Doctor comment that Fred Perry (a famous tennis player from the 1930s) would probably want his shorts back.
    • "Robot of Sherwood": The Twelfth Doctor meets Robin Hood and his band of outlaws, and teams up with them to fight the Sheriff of Nottingham and his robot allies, while simultaneously trying to prove that Robin and company can't possibly be real. Clara apparently inspires them to call themselves the Merry Men.
    • Clara becomes good friends with Jane Austen and makes comments implying the friendship is also a bit more physical.
    • "Before the Flood": Lampshaded but averted with Beethoven himself, at least according to the Doctor. The Doctor tries to explain the Bootstrap Paradox (google it) by proposing a scenario in which Beethoven was actually a time traveller under an assumed identity, even implying he was the Doctor himself, only to stop halfway through to point out he was being hypothetical and none of this actually happened; he's met Beethoven, and says he's a nice chap.
    • "Extremis": Apparently, Pope Benedict IX was actually a woman, and according to the Doctor could do naughty things with castanets.
    • "The Ghost Monument": The Doctor can't remember whether she borrowed a pair of shades from Audrey Hepburn or Pythagoras (who the Doctor's seen with a hangover).
    • "Rosa": Thirteen and her friends encounter Rosa Parks just before her fateful bus ride, and find themselves protecting the timeline from someone who wants to make sure it doesn't happen, during which Ryan visits Rosa's house and meets Martin Luther King Jr. (Also, the Doctor met Elvis Presley and gave him a mobile phone, which he gave to Frank Sinatra, and she suggests she might be Banksy.)
    • "The Witchfinders" sees Thirteen and friends encounter King James I, who's particularly taken by Ryan.
  • The pilot of NBC's Dracula casually reveals that Jack the Ripper was a myth created by the Order of the Dragon to hide a vampiric killing spree (they mutilated the victims to hide that they'd been fed on, and wrote the letters).
  • First Wave is predicated on the assumption that Nostradamus was actually doling out coded information about an alien invasion and was, in fact, an alien himself.
  • In Forever Knight, Rasputin the Mad Monk is a vampire, which explains his legendary inability to die.
  • In Gilligan's Island there is a "James Bond" dream-sequence spoof episode that does this almost literally. Gilligan (as Agent 014) explains to his boss (the Professor) that the greatest secret agent ever was...Beethoven. Professor: "I didn't know Beethoven was a secret agent!" Gilligan: "See how good he was?"
  • Grimm has hinted, or sometimes outright said, that various historical figures/celebrities were/are Wesen (e.g. John F. Kennedy was a wesen). Notably, Adolf Hitler was a Blutbad (some sources also claim that he was a Schakal, but Word of God confirms the Blutbad version), using the Coins of Zakynthos to get people to follow him. It's also revealed that Emperor Nero hired an Excandesco to burn the homes of the Christians, only for the fire to spread and burn Rome. It's unclear if a fiddle was involved.
    • Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allan Poe, Rudyard Kipling, and Sheridan Le Fanu were according to the show all Grimms, and there was a Grimm along with Darwin on the HMS Beagle.
    • The series explains why witches don't resurrect the rich even though they can and why Jack the Ripper was so good at serial killing: he's a wraith that can possess anyone who has been recently resurrected, as the victim is left spiritually weakened and serial killers call dibs. Bringing back the dead usually results in a MAJOR killing spree, with discernible hits to their reputation and sanity. Jack himself claims that getting caught in the 1800's "was a fluke" and he's been doing this since the 1600's. Luckily for Renard, his sadistic serial-killer cousin was in town...
  • According to Heroes, Benjamin Franklin had powers — he could absorb electricity. This is how he survived his famous kite in a thunderstorm experiment.
  • An episode of Highlander has Mary Shelley writing Frankenstein after she sees Lord Byron dispatch a fellow immortal. One of the tie-in novels had Niccolò Machiavelli as an Immortal.
    • The supplemental materials also reveal Sun Tzu was an immortal and took on Methos as a student for a time.
  • Legends of Tomorrow, being a goofy time travel superhero show, loves doing this.
    • In "Out Of Time", the Legends kidnap Albert Einstein, due to believing the Nazis were going to kidnap him and force him to build them the atomic bomb. Turns out the Legends themselves were responsible for Einstein's mysterious disappearance in the history books.
    • In "Camelot 3000", King Arthur's knights are revealed to be real and end up being mind controlled by the Legion of Doom. Lancelot is noticeably absent, before it's revealed that Sara Lance was the inspiration for this figure, making her a Living Legend. Also, Merlin is actually a time displaced Star Girl.
    • In "Fellowship of the Spear", the Legends seek out J. R. R. Tolkien and use his historical knowledge to locate the real Spear of Destiny.
    • In "Aruba-Con", Julius Caesar gets time displaced and ends up on a present day beach where he has a run-in with Mick Rory. After escaping, Caesar tries to rally a bunch of beach-goers, only for the Legends to interfere and send him back to his own time. However, Caesar steals a book from Nate dictating all of his personal history, which gives him the knowledge to change his future and turn all of his defeats into victories. The Legends are again forced to head back in time and restore history by defeating Caesar and his army while taking back the book.
    • In "Welcome To The Jungle", Martin Stein brings in Isaac Newton, Galileo Galilei, and Marie Curie in a bid to get the scientists to help him separate the Firestorm Matrix. Isaac even stays around to save the day by knocking out a Brainwashed and Crazy Sara Lance with a frying pan.
    • In "Helen Hunt", a time-displaced Helen of Troy ends up in a Hollywood studio where various film directors fight over having her being featured in their film, shorty before the Darhks try to take her for themselves. In the end, the Legends return her to her own time, but Zari took the liberty to find a loophole in history and returned Helen to Themyscira, an island of Amazons where she could be away from the war that she hated.
    • In "Tagumo Attacks!!!", Ishirō Honda acquired the Book of Bridget, which brought his visions of Kaiju to life.
  • In Lois & Clark, H. G. Wells had numerous appearances which revealed that he actually did have a time machine.
  • The Magicians:
    • When Julia and Quentin are looking over all the old time machines made over the centuries, they find one built by students who wanted to kill Hitler. They note that the students weren't aware that Hitler was an expert battle magician, so he easily killed them.
    • In the second season, when Eliot is complaining about his poll numbers, he mentions that Nate Silver is a magician, and Eliot used one of his polling spells to get an accurate approval rating.
  • The Masters of Horror episode "The Washingtonians" (and the Bentley Little short story from which it was adapted) spins a tale of how George Washington was secretly a prolific cannibal, and the only people who knew this were part of a cult of cannibals in Revolutionary War-era clothes and wigs. Also, Benjamin Franklin apparently never existed and is based on the accomplishments of several lesser individuals.
  • In Moonlight Mick finds out that the reason that during French Revolution the guillotine was used to execute people was that vampires were the targets. Many of the ruling elite including the family of his wife/sire Coraline were vampires. They had a "cure" that temporarily hid the effects of being a vampire. Instead of turning to ash their skin would blister and burn like a human.
  • George in My Hero mentions that Einstein and Mozart were human-Ultron hybrids. Leonardo da Vinci is a full Ultronian. As Arnie puts it: "He was designing helicopters and tanks in the 15th century. Does that sound like normal human behaviour?"
  • The Outer Limits (1995):
    • In "Ripper", it is revealed that Jack the Ripper is a malevolent Energy Being who possesses people's bodies. It is stranded on Earth. Every time that it vacates one of its hosts, they are killed and their bodies are mutilated. The creature then takes possession of the nearest available body. While the creature is in control of their bodies, the hosts tend to cough up green bile, which allows Dr. Jack York to identify them.
    • In "Alien Shop", it is implied that Nostradamus received visions of the future due to an item given to him by the alien shopkeeper.
  • Perversions of Science (a short-lived HBO anthology series):
    • One episode has Orson Welles trying to flush out two real Martian spies by making them think the invasion has begun without them. All to get them out of the way for him and his Jupitarian brethren to begin their own invasion!
    • Another episode concerns a murderous Mad Scientist from the future who, upon being found incapable of rehabilitation, is sentenced to be exiled to mid-20th century Germany, but not before his jailer, on a random whim, shaves the prisoner's facial hair down to a toothbrush moustache.
  • Primeval reveals that Spring-Heeled Jack was actually a velociraptor. In fact, it's theorized that many mythical creatures were inspired by the Anomalies allowing prehistoric creatures to travel through time.
  • Relic Hunter, being an Adventurer Archaeologist show, often employs this trope by giving historical figures powerful MacGuffins.
  • Sanctuary tells us in its first episode that Jack The Ripper is an ageless metahuman with the power of teleportation, who was a pretty nice guy until the cumulative brain damage caused by the use of his powers drove him murderously insane. Oh, and he's father of one of the series regulars, having once been engaged to Dr. Magnus. A handful of episodes later, we discover that Nikola Tesla is an immortal, electricity-shooting vampire. But he really did legitimately think that that his death ray would result in world peace. He even had his Nobel speech prepared. All of them gained immortality of one sort or another by injecting themselves with vampire blood.
    • Furthermore, James Watson, who in real life discovered DNA, is in Sanctuary a few decades older, a member of the same group of metahumans as Jack the Ripper and Nikola Tesla, and was the real-life inspiration for Sherlock Holmes (having insisted on having his name shifted to the sidekick).
    • And if Helen Magnus is to be believed, more famous people than not were secretly "abnormals". For example, William Howard Taft had such a brief presidency because he had difficulty staying in human form, and asks what normal human would want the job in the first place, implying that this applies to multiple presidents.
    • Apparently several members of the Nazi high command didn't breathe air.
    • Oh, and also, vampires used to rule the world, and an innumerable number of ancient rulers were vampires until humanity rose up against them.
    • The Real Life master criminal Adam Worth was actually a brilliant scientist on par with the Five (but much more ruthless) who snapped after his daughter died of leukemia, developed a second personality, and went on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge.
  • In Saul of the Mole Men, Benjamin Franklin was the keeper of two of three legendarily powerful stones, or, as he called them, "igneodes". This was in addition to being the first man to encounter the Mole Men, which also sparked his invention of "interspecies erotica." Oh, and Thomas Jefferson was a brutal Axe-Crazy murderer who skinned Franklin alive for the power of the "igneodes".
    • There's also John Henry, the steel driving man of legend, who defeated the steam engine but survived, and eventually drove his way into the depths of the earth and became a cyborg; one with the engine he had once called his enemy.
  • The Secret Adventures of Jules Verne is a series in which Jules Verne is presented as the hero of fantastic situations similar to those he would later write about.
  • In the Shadowhunters episode "Raising Hell", Isobel claims that David Guetta is a vampire.
  • In Shoebox Zoo, medieval scholar Michael Scot is reimagined as an immortal alchemist/wizard who created a magic spellbook that has dark powers, transformed his students into toys, and created a prophecy to find a Chosen One to find the book when it goes missing. He also is implied to have connections to historical figures like Stradivarius and Arthur Conan Doyle.
  • In Sleepy Hollow several Founding Fathers, especially Washington, Franklin and Jefferson, are involved in the plan to stave off the apocalypse. Washington also is briefly resurrected as "Zombie Washington" as part of the plan.
    • The Boston Tea Party was engineered as a cover for stealing the Lesser Key of Solomon from the British.
    • The Roanoke island colony disappeared because the Horseman of Pestilence/Conquest unleashed a plague there as part of the Apocalypse, only for the spirit of Virginia Dare to guide them to a hidden place where time has stood still since, keeping the plague (and the Horseman) contained.
    • Benjamin Franklin, in his legendary kite-flying story, was not experimenting with electricity, but attempting to destroy the key tied to it which allows exit from Purgatory without sacrificing someone to replace a person already trapped there.
    • Benedict Arnold's betrayal wasn't voluntary, but was actually caused by one of Judas' cursed Thirty Pieces of Silver.
    • Daniel Boone wore his famous coonskin cap to cover scars on his head given to him by his brother, who became a Wendigo after resorting to cannibalism at Valley Forge.
    • The Hellfire Club was a front for, or is at least allied with, the cult that worships Moloch.
    • For a mundane example, Betsy Ross was Washington's chief spy.
    • John Wilkes Booth was an Evil Sorcerer, who allowed himself to be possessed by a demon in order to kill Lincoln, who was protected by his wife Mary Todd's own good magic. In retaliation, she sealed him away, with the Lincoln Memorial being built as a focus and reinforcement for the spell.
    • Benjamin Banneker, famed abolitionist and architect, designed a hidden Pocket Dimension in Washington DC to trap and contain any evil entities that entered it.
    • Davey Crocket, Sacajawea, Samuel Wilson, and Paul Jennings were all members of Agency 355, a secret government division that President Washington established to fight the supernatural.
    • The Burning of Washington during the War of 1812 was the result of a Mystical Plague connected to a Djinn that caused the afflicted to combust. And the "Storm that Saved Washington" was conjured by the above quartet to both quell the fire and so they could use the lightning to fight the Djinn.
  • One Smallville episode had an immortal being trying to collect Kryptonite-infected organs to grant his true love immortality. (It sort of makes sense in context). Chloe says "I didn't come here to get carved up by some Jack the Ripper wannabe!" He smiles and says, "I was Jack the Ripper..."
    • Sounds like Vandal Savage.
  • Star Trek: The Original Series:
  • Star Trek: Deep Space Nine:
    • In "The Muse", there's a non-corporeal alien seductress who psionically inspires humanoids and feeds off the neural energy produced by their creativity, a process generally fatal to the inspiree. She claims to have inspired the Earth poets Catullus and John Keats, as well as some future artists.
    • In "Little Green Men", we find out that an alien ship actually did crash at Roswell in 1947. It was Quark's shuttle.
    • Played With in the episode "In the Cards" when Jake Sisko tells Weyoun that Willy Mays is a time traveler.
  • Star Trek: Voyager: "The 37s" reveals that Amelia Earhart was among the victims of a massive Alien Abduction plot. This is perhaps the most well-researched part of the story.
  • In Stargate SG-1, the Chinese emperor Yu the Great was really a Goa'uld System Lord. Also one of the good ones (not nice enough to fully turn against the Goa'uld and become a Tok'ra, but he was good to his people instead of being a tyrant, and has no beef against Earth.)
  • Supernatural: Samuel Colt made a gun that could kill anything.
    • Which also unlocks the gates of Hell. Which are located in the middle of a giant devil's trap made of churches linked by private railroads. Which Colt owned.
    • The episode "Crossroad Blues" strongly implies that Robert Johnson, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Vincent van Gogh and other famous people that displayed great talent and died young had sold their soul to the Devil.
    • The season 6 finale states that H.P. Lovecraft's writings were inspired by regular glimpses he got of the things lurking in Purgatory, and that he was eventually killed by one of those things.
    • And the seventh season episode "Time After Time" reveals that Elliot Ness was a hunter.
    • As revealed in Season 9, L. Frank Baum was a Man of Letters, who based the Oz books on the adventures his daughter Dorothy (herself a hunter) had in Oz.
  • One The Tomorrow People serial revealed that Adolf Hitler was, in fact, an alien warlord. And had been secretly frozen at the end of the war. And used hypnotic mind-control powers to make people think his ideas about racial purity were a good idea. Seriously.
  • In Torchwood, Jack apparently had flings with Oscar Wilde and Christopher Isherwood.
  • The immortal Touched by an Angel protagonists were revealed in several episodes to have assisted famous people through spiritual crises and/or death, such as Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, and Albert Einstein.
    • ...But Albert Einstein was a Jewish pantheist (he saw God as a metaphor for the wonders of the universe), and Mark Twain an agnostic.
    • If memory serves one of their main lines was 'accept that God loves you' so...
  • True Blood has a "Is Pasteur a vampire?" moment sandwiched between greater and more astonishing revelations. Also, Einstein was a halfling (as in half-faery, half human).
  • Warehouse 13: Thomas Edison invented vehicles that run off the users' body heat. Philo Farnsworth invented a two-way video-audio communicator. Nikola Tesla, Thomas Edison's "nemesis", created an electric stun gun/Neuralyzer. Lucrezia Borgia owned a Mind Control comb.
    • In fact, the series is all about magical objects that belonged to famous people, so it is going to thrive on this trope.
      • A few artifacts invert this trope, they seem to have mystical powers due to the fame of their owners.
    • The second season reveals that H. G. Wells is an evil genius, formerly held in suspended animation in the Warehouse...and a woman.
    • Paracelsus appears as the villain of the 4th season finale/5th season premiere, he was caretaker of Warehouse 9, and he tested a philosopher's stone on his brother (the Count of St-Germain) but was bronzed for attempting to wrest total control from the regents.
  • War of the Worlds casts Orson Welles as a government operative who orchestrated the well-known Radio Drama as part of a disinformation campaign to cover up a real alien invasion.
  • In the Wayne and Shuster spoof "The Tail-light Zone", Johnny Wayne plays a man who has secretly been prolonging his youth for centuries. When told he knows more about the past than the scientist who found the Dead Sea Scrolls, he bursts out laughing. When asked why, he says, "I'm the one who lost them!"
  • Just like its comic book counterpart, Witchblade mentions several people as wielders, including Eve (as in Adam and Eve), Joan of Arc, Irish queen Boudicca, the lover of Irish king Conchobar, Florence Nightingale, even the mother of the real girl behind the story of Little Red Riding Hood. Nottingham is shown to be a reincarnation, as well. Longinus is also shown as a murderer still living in the modern day, who can only be killed by the blade.
  • In Wynonna Earp: Wyatt Earp was the owner of a magic gun and the victim of a demonic curse, both of which get passed down the his descendants. Teddy Roosevelt created The Black Badges, a special branch of the US Marshall service meant to deal with supernatural threats and Doc Holiday is still alive.
    • One of the demons created by the aforementioned curse is a man who calls himself the Jack of Knives. Between that name, his MO, and his parting words before Wynonna kills him, he's all but confirmed to be Jack the Ripper.
    • Bass Reeves, the first black deputy US Marshal, lingers long after death as a ghost, due to a bounty put on Doc Holliday's head.
    • The outlaw "Big Nose" Kate, Doc Holliday's common-law wife, was a vampire, who's still alive in the modern day. Also, she was black — the woman authorities had a picture of was a friend who posed as her, since she couldn't appear in photographs.
  • The X-Files
    • "The Unnatural" is about a gifted Negro baseball player in 1947 who turns out to be an alien Grey. The person telling Agent Mulder this story suggests that all the great baseball players were aliens, which is too crazy an idea even for Mulder.
    • The player is strongly suggested to be Josh Gibson, one of the greatest Negro Leagues players of all time. Not only was Gibson a prolific home run hitter with the same first name as the player in this episode, he also spent most of his career playing for the Homestead Grays (the team in the episode was the Roswell Grays). Furthermore, early in the episode, Mulder was running through the names of some baseball Hall of Famers, asking his informant whether they were aliens. When Mulder asks, "Gibson?" the informant responds with "Bob or Kirk?", omitting the (arguably) much more accomplished Josh.
    • A Harry Turtledove short story reverses this, with an ordinary human baseball player who's a knuckleball thrower. A visiting alien is convinced by his throwing that he has telekinesis.
  • Zero Hour!: Albert Einstein was one of the 12 New Apostles tasked with guarding the secret that could end the world.


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