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Historical-Domain Character

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Seven score and sixteen years agonote , America's forefathers elected Abraham Lincoln. Writers then used him in wildly varying contexts.

Simply put, it's taking a well-known person from Real Life history and using this person as a character in a work. This does mean any work of that kind, whether it's Historical Fiction, a Hollywood History story, or a well researched and accurate biopic of events. Needless to say, there isn't necessarily any similarity in personality between the real person and the character in the story. They may even be classical composers who were secretly sleeper agents for extraterrestrials. Whatever works.

Naturally this covers a lot of works (save for non-fiction), but given how often people can disagree about real history and our present, it would be hard to draw a line between which fictional works would fit and which fictional works wouldn't. Thus all are included.

Note that despite "Historical" in the name, present people are included. Please remove troping in these people's pages as you browse.


Compare Public-Domain Character, Anonymous Ringer, Roman à Clef, Real-Person Fic, Characterization Tropes.

A Super Trope to:

     Specific People (alphabetically by family name, if applicable) 

    General Groups of People 

Works That Use This Trope:

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  • In The United States, every February, President's Day is celebrated. George Washington and Abraham Lincoln's birth-dates are within a week of each other (though 77 years apart), so President's Day was introduced to turn the two holidays into one. While the purpose it to remember them, watching the TV that month would make you think our forefathers wanted nothing more than to sell you discount cars and mattresses.

    Anime and Manga 
  • In Berserk, there are some examples:
    • Guts: Götz von Berlichingen (1480–1562), a German knight, was the leader of a band of mercenary soldiers and attained the reputation as a Robin Hood figure. In 1504, his right arm was struck by enemy cannon fire and a prosthetic iron arm was developed to replace it. Guts' iron arm, in his original character concept, is very similar to Götz's iron arm kept in the Nüremberg Museum (minus the cannon and repeater crossbow attachment). However, Miura stated in an interview that he created Guts independently and that he did not find out about von Berlichingen until after several volumes of the manga had been published, so this appears to be a coincidence.
    • Emperor Gaiseric: The Emperor Gaiseric alluded to in volume 10 was based on the actual King Genseric who ruled the Vandals' kingdom in Europe in the 5th century. He was famed as a brilliant general who was seen as a threat even to the Roman Empire. In the manga, Gaiseric is said to have created a vast empire, similar to the Romans, that was destroyed by God's wrath. He banded together his small tribe and brought them great fame as a kingdom that exercised its authority in the Mediterranean region.
      • It is hinted that Emperor Gaiseric survived his fallen empire in the form of the Skull Knight, a recurring character who aids Guts and stands in opposition to the God Hand.
    • Emperor Ganishka: The Emperor Ganishka, working as Griffith's enemy in Berserk, was based on King Kanishka, who ruled over the actual Kushan Empire, a vast empire in India and Central Asia during the 2nd century. He was also a profound Buddhist and adorned his empire with its respective figures and promoted it vigorously. Like his real-life counterpart, Ganishka also decorates his palace with famous Buddhist and Hindu figures, but has demonized them to suit his nature.
    • Mozgus appears to be based on Ivan the Terrible, due to his daily routine of slamming his face into the ground during prayer and his biblical methods of execution.
  • Aleister Crowley appears as a character in A Certain Magical Index. Of course, the real Aleister Crowley wasn't nearly so... pretty.
    • Aiwass also makes an appearance as an otherworldly being who is also Crowley's mentor. "Aiwass" was the name of the voice that the real Crowley claimed to have heard in dreams that dictated the Book of the Law to him.
  • Most of the cast of Rose of Versailles.
  • Most of the cast of Le Chevalier d'Eon.
  • Most of the cast of Drifters.
  • Read or Die has several characters who are actually clones of historical ones, such as Beethoven and Mata Hari.
  • The Vision of Escaflowne has Isaac Newton as the Big Bad.
  • Axis Powers Hetalia has several brief appearances of historical characters, often as the bosses of the nations.
  • The Gundam saga uses expies of historical characters instead: e.g. Char Aznable (AKA: "The Red Comet") is an expy of Manfred von Richthofen (AKA: The The Red Baron), Andrew Waltfeld is an expy of Erwin Rommel (the original Magnificent Bastard), etc. Things get complicated when later series start featuring expies of expies of historical people...
  • Many of the Characters in Vinland Saga are actually historic people, among them Canute and Sweyn, and possibly even the Jomsvikings. There was also an actuall Thorkell the Tall who fought for the English and joined Canute, but it's not known if he was really a giant who could kill a hundred men with his bare hands.
  • Steins;Gate uses a rather strange example in the form of John Titor, a forum poster back in 2000 and 2001 who claimed to be a time traveler - Only this time, Okarin's discovery of time travel changed the arrival date to 2010, the claims (though slightly different this time around) are true, and her real name is Suzuha Amane.
  • While not the only anime set in the Bakumatsu period (and thus all characters are Historical-Domain Character), Gintama is one of the few that completely reinvent/exagerate character traits (e.g. Saigo Takamori is a transvestite, Hijikata Toshizo is crazed about Mayonnaise, and Kondō Isami is a stalking gorilla). Also mixed in people that are far more legendary, such as Kintaro and Hyubei, and you have a crack manga.
  • In Nobunagun the main character is a reincarnation of Oda Nobunaga. Other characters include such colorful personalities as Jack the Ripper, Galileo Galilei, and Isaac Newton.
  • In Rurouni Kenshin, both Hajime Saitou, and the Shinsengumi are characters that become important to the plot.
  • In the 1970s, Toei made Ikkyuu-san, an anime based on the (possibly fictionalized) earlier Zen Buddhist monk (according to That Other Wiki) Ikkyuu.note .
    • They also made an anime based on the earlier life of Tokugawa Ieyasu.
  • Mugen no Gunkan Yamato, being a Historical Fiction manga, has many real-life admirals from both sides of the Pacific War.
  • The entire Fate franchise runs off this. The servants are based on various historical figures (Nero Caesar, Zhuge Liang, Vlad the Impaler), mythical figures (Cú Chulainn, Hercules, Shuten-Douji), or fictional characters who are in the public domain (Frankenstein's Monster, Jekyll & Hyde, and Alice).

    Comic Books 
  • The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, by Don Rosa, sets its main character in various decades from the 1870s to the 1940s, featuring such characters as Murdo Mac Kenzie, Wyatt Earp, and Theodore Roosevelt.
  • Jonatan Hickman's S.H.I.E.L.D.. Every single scientific genius since Imhotep was a member of the Ancient Tradition of The Shield. And, as of the 1950s, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton and Nostradamus still are.
  • In the Elseworld Dark Masterpiece, Leonardo da Vinci inspired a Renaissance Batman. In the Elseworld Scar of the Bat Eliot Ness becomes a 1920s Batman!
    • Another Elseworld, Detective #27, features Theodore Roosevelt, Allan Pinkerton and Kate Warne as founders of "The Secret Society of Detectives". Later, the story includes Babe Ruth (leading to an inevitable pun on "bat-man" and a subtler one on All-Star #3), Sigmund Freud, and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
  • Julius Caesar frequently appears in Astérix. Less frequent, but still recurring, are Cleopatra and Brutus. Pompey's the main villain of one story, and Vercingetorix is only shown a couple of times from behind but is extremely significant in the backstory. More obscure figures occasionally show up, like Cassivellaunus.
  • Lucky Luke has met many historical figures of the Wild West: such encounters are one of the main drivers of the series and whole albums are devoted to his confrontation with Jesse James, Billy the Kid, Calamity Jane and many others. In an early album, he opposes the Dalton gang, whose fictional cousins Joe, Jack, William and Averell later become his collective nemesis.
  • Various historic storylines worked into The Sandman, especially the "Distant Mirrors" arc, which features Augustus ("August"); Maximilien Robespierre ("Thermidor"); Emperor Norton ("Four Septembers and a January"); and Harun Al Rashid ("Ramadan"). William Shakespeare also appears, cameoing with Christopher Marlowe in "Men of Good Fortune" and then getting two stories of his own - "A Midsummer Night's Dream" and "The Tempest", the latter being the series epilogue and featuring a cameo by Ben Jonson.
  • Marvel 1602 has Elizabeth I, James VI and I, and Ananias and Virginia Dare. 1602: Fantastick Four features William Shakespeare.
  • Mortadelo y Filemón: Practically every single famous Spanish politician of the second half of the 20th Century has appeared in more than one volume. A lot of foreign politicians and world leaders, such as the US Presidents (from Ronald Reagan to Barack Obama), Fidel Castro or the European Prime Ministers, appear quite often too.
    • Adolf Hitler sometimes appears in the comics.
      • For example, in "El racista" he has just talked with two Jews, one of which says that Hitler is preparing something to keep them warm next winter...
      • In "Mundial 78" about the 1978 World Cup, there was a fictional match (the finals) between Spain and Germany. The political authorities in the seats of honour were Adolfo Suárez, Spanish Premier at the time... and Adolf Hitler, who was waving at the reader.
    • Ronald Reagan shows up in several albums written in The '80s ("El Cacao Espacial", "La Perra de las Galaxias" and "Los Ángeles 84").
  • George W. Bush appears in Pax Americana #1. Since this universe seems to have had its own run of presidents, Dubya's appearance might be a symptom of inter-reality bleed.
  • Die Abrafaxe, which has been relating adventures across time since 1976, is filled with this. A partial list includes Albertus Magnus, Alcibiades, Francis Bacon, Nicolas Baudin, Napoleon Bonaparte, Anne Bonny, Catherine the Great, Francis Drake, Nicolas Flamel, Matthew Flinders, John Franklin (as a young midshipman), Frederick Barbarossa, St. Gertrude the Great, Robert Hooke, Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, Ludwig Leichhardt, Louis XIV, Queen Nefertiti, Isaac Newton, Peter the Great, Marco Polo, Ferenc Rákóczi, Socrates, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Wilhelm II.
  • Homer appears in the Smite comic.
  • The first issue of Back to the Future relates the story of how Doc was brought into the Manhattan Project while teaching at CalTech in 1943, and features J. Robert Oppenheimer, Leslie Groves, Vannevar Bush, and Robert Millikan as characters. A later story, set during the Cuban Missile Crisis, brings back Groves as a character.
  • Aquila: Queen Boudica and Emperor Nero appear as major characters.
  • Ultimate Marvel

    Fan Works 

    Film — Animated 
  • Again, Anastasia, which also throws in (an already dead) Grigori Rasputin.
  • "Nuvogue" from The Gate to the Mind's Eye features cutouts of Abraham Lincoln and George Washington in their video. Cheeky for a video series intending to show off then-current advances in computer animation, the cutouts use their portraits as found on U.S. currency, and these are pasted onto bodies which are clearly not meant to look like their own. Also featured is the replication of Trumbull's Declaration of Independence found on the $2 bill, the various historical figures animated to look like they are playing along with the song.
  • The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! includes (heavily fictionalized versions of) Charles Darwin and Queen Vicky.
  • Most of the characters in Pocahontas, albeit fictionalised.
  • Famous Mexican painter Frida Kahlo appears briefly in the Pixar film Coco.

    Film — Live Action 

  • Of course, many Alternate History stories feature real historical figures, both major and minor.
  • Thomas Malory appears in Phenomena, where he is aparently King Veha, the king of a country called Aldra, in the planet Erda. He is also a prophet of sorts and a vizard. He also is a huge Fanboy of modern version of his books. Supposedly based Le Morte D'Arthur on Phenomena. And apparently it's even true.
  • There is a very odd tendency lately to turn historical people into detectives. This includes ElizabethI, Abigail Adams, and Jane Austen of all people. The Trope Maker for this sub genre may be Theodore Mathieson, 1950s author of "Captain Cook: Detective", "Leonardo da Vinci: Detective", "Florence Nightingale: Detective" etc., etc.'
    • Much earlier, before the detective novel as we understand it even existed, E. T. A. Hoffmann wrote the novella Das Fräulein von Scuderi (1819/1821), in which the aged writer Madeleine de Scudéry (1607-1701) investigates a string of mysterious murders in Paris in the year 1680.
    • The still-more recent tendency to turn historical people into monsters and/or monster hunters is even odder.
  • Spanish novelist and war journalist Arturo Pérez-Reverte noticed that his 12-year-old daughter's History book had only a paragraph for the 17th century, the Spanish Golden Century. Wanting to solve the situation, he wrote a series of adventure books starring a fictional sword-for-hire, Captain Alatriste, who gets involved in state conspiracies and meets kings and important figure and fights in important battles. Spanish writer Francisco De Quevedo is a recurrent character as Alatriste's personal friend. They made a movie of the series.
  • Philippa Ballantine's novel Chasing The Bard is about Will Shakespeare saving not one but two worlds from an Eldritch Abomination type being.
  • Most of the characters in Conqueror. The protagonist is Genghis Khan.
  • Low-key example in The English Patient: Almasy and the Cliftons. Real people, with minor historical significance.
    • This use of minor historical figures as characters happens again in Michael Ondaatje's other works: The Collected Works of Billy the Kid (yes, that Billy the Kid), mysterious disappeared Canadian businessman Ambrose Small in In The Skin of A Lion, Buddy Bolden (jazz musician) in Coming Through Slaughter, and so on.
  • "The Night's Dawn Trilogy," by Peter F Hamilton, brings back 2 characters from the past as souls possessing bodies of the living: Fletcher Christian and... wait for it... Al Capone.
  • Stephen Baxter's and Arthur C. Clarke's novel, Time's Eye, has a large host of characters from various time periods: Alexander the Great, Genghis Khan, and Thomas Edison, to name several.
  • Although most characters in The Divine Comedy with dialogue were just acquaintances of Dante's, the Comedy features a handful of famous historical figures in significant roles.
    • The Roman poet Virgil serves as the guide for Dante in the first two parts of the Comedy. Fittingly, the Comedy is in the same genre as Virgil's The Aeneid. As a pagan, he's condemned to Hell, but Dante acknowledges his virtue by putting him in the relatively benign first circle.
    • Those arriving in Purgatory are greeted by Cato the Younger, who so faithfully followed the cardinal virtues that it is almost as if he was graced by God. It's unclear if Cato is an occupant of Limbo or if he is destined to be saved.
    • The Byzantine Emperor Justinian appears in the Heaven of Mercury to make it clear to Dante that even if the saints are given different graces, they are all as happy as they could possibly be in God's love.
  • George Eliot's Romola, set in fifteenth-century Florence, features Savonarola in a prominent role. It also includes walk-ons by figures like a very young Niccolò Machiavelli.
  • Almost the entire cast of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, which stars Thomas Cromwell (a Third-Person Person) and features, among others, Cardinal Wolsey, Henry VIII, Anne Boleyn, Jane Seymour, and so on, and so on. Includes an extensive Take That! against Thomas More. In fact there is only one fictional named character in the entire book, a French serving boy in Cromwell's employ.
    • Similarly, the entire cast of Hilary Mantel's A Place Of Greater Safety, which stars Robespierre, Camille Desmoulins, Danton, and many others.
  • Robespierre, Danton, and Marat appear in Victor Hugo's Ninety-Three.
  • Teddy Roosevelt, J.P. Morgan, and Franz Boas appear in The Alienist.
  • As the titles suggest, William Shakespeare appears in The Science of Discworld II: The Globe and Charles Darwin appears in The Science of Discworld III: Darwin's Watch.
  • In Scott Westerfeld's Leviathan, Charles Darwin not only creates the theory of evolution by means of natural selection, but also the 'Life threads' or DNA and how to genetically enhance and manipulate/combine elements of animals. Also, Nora Barlow, his granddaughter, is a major character. Though they have yet to appear, Austro-Hungarian Emperor Franz Joseph, then first lord of the admiralty Winston Churchill, and several other major political leaders have had a bearing on the plot.
  • The Grimnoir Chronicles has John Joseph Pershing and John Moses Browning as major characters, and Sullivan has some unpleasant dealings with J. Edgar Hoover near the beginning.
  • The Sano Ichiro series, which takes place in Edo-period Japan and uses at least two real-life figures from that period in every book: Shogun Tokugawa Tsunayoshi, who employs Sano as his sosakan, and Chamberlain Yanagisawa Yoshiyasu, who has received a Historical Villain Upgrade and serves as Sano's main antagonist for most of the books. The Shogun's real-life mother, Keisho-in, also makes several appearances throughout the series, and in later books the shogun's nephew Tokugawa Ienobu joins the court.
  • Several appear in the novels of J.T. Edson. Calamity Jane got her own series, and Belle Starr plays a major role in several novels. Outlaw John Wesley Hardin and Cattle Baron Charles Goodnight play significant roles in individual novels.
  • With the exception of Flashman, his wife and his father-in-law, nearly every major and minor character in the Flashman series is one of these. Well, perhaps not - Flashman's father, his nemesis, John Charity Spring, and (as far as I know) Rudi Von Starnberg were all creations of Fraser. And there appear to be plenty of, erm, "love" interests that are not based on real people.
  • Arthur Wellesley, 1st The Duke of Wellington, plays a role in the Gaslamp Fantasy Sorcery & Cecelia..
  • Hiob von Luzern and Alexander the Great appear in Dirge for Prester John.
  • Some real life Hollywood people would show up at the parties described in Bride of the Rat God.
  • Almost all humans in The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel except the two main characters Sophie and Josh.
  • The Shardlake books, by C.J. Sansom, are set during the reign of Henry VIII and feature real people and events mixed in with the ficticious ones - with a handy postscript by the author to assist the reader in distinguishing the one from the other, and explaining any anachronisms the author has knowingly committed. Sansom was a historian before becoming a writer, and likes to show his work.
  • Most of Tim Powers works rely heavily on this trope or its subtropes.
  • The Tome of Bill has a number of these. It's implied that all of the First Coven are this. There's Alexander as in, Alexander the Great and The Khan (actually Ogedei Khan, Genghis' son). "Joshua" is all but directly stated to actually be Jesus. James wasn't anyone famous in particular, but he mentions having sailed with Marco Polo.
  • Horatio Hornblower uses many historical figures, mostly officers from the real Royal Navy with some kings and czars thrown in. You can find a full list here.
  • In Dangerous Spirits, Nicholas II makes several appearances in flashbacks to Konstantine's life.
  • Gentleman Ranker: Trent joins General Braddock's expedition to Virginia, meets George Washington's brother and engages in a fistfight and later a target shooting match with Daniel Boone, among many others with more minor roles.
  • There are many of them throughout the Kydd series, most of them in supporting or background roles. Some of the more famous ones include Lord Nelson, and even some of the lesser-known figures make an appearance, such as Zephaniah Job in The Admiral's Daughter.
  • The works of Gary Jennings make liberal use of this trope, with both major and minor figures as characters. Justified, as his novels are historical fiction. Thematically, each novel is the story of a character set in the middle of an empire. Examples: Aztec featured several rulers including Montezuma and Nezahaulpili and made mention of a number of royal family members, as well as Malintzin (who acted as interpreter for Cortez) and many of the Conquistadors (Cortez, Geronimo de Aguilar, King Carlos of Spain, etc.). The Journeyer was the story of Marco Polo's life, beginning with his childhood in Venice and continuing through his travels to the Far East and eventually back to Venice. Some historical characters in The Journeyer include Kublai Khan, a number of rulers, and of course Marco himself. Raptor is set during the Gothic empire and follows a similar pattern (Theodoric the Great and other figures from the time period).
  • Magnus, Duke of Östergötland appears in The Kingdom of Little Wounds. He marries Princess Sophia and quickly leaves after she dies.
  • Many of the characters in both Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter and The Last American Vampire are real historical people of varying degrees of fame. Henry Sturges (significant in ALVH and protagonist of TLAV) is probably the least generally known, and yes, he's a real person and appears on real-life lists of Roanoke colonists.
  • In Theodor Fontane's novella Schach von Wuthenow, which is set in the year 1806, a number of real-life persons including Prince Louis Ferdinand of Prussia, Queen Louise, the military publicist Dietrich von Bülow, interact with the main characters. Family-minded Frederick William III for instance orders Schach to marry Victoire von Carayon, the woman he got pregnant.
  • Animorphs has a time-travelling episode where they run into the likes of George Washington, Henry V, Horatio Nelson and Adolf Hitler. However, there is very little interaction with the first three (George is too busy trying not to freeze to death, Henry is seen making a Rousing Speech, and Nelson's ship is sunk when a spark hits the powder magazine). They do instinctively try to cut Hitler's throat... but due to the messed-up timeline, he was only a corporal in WW2, with the allied French and Germans pushing back the US (who still belonged to England) on D Day.
  • Except for the protagonist and his closest associates, almost every character in The Sage Adair Historical Mysteries is either a real person or an Expy of one.
  • John Winthrop, Samuel Gorton, and Mononotto in Hope Leslie.
  • The Dragon Waiting is an Alternate History novel with a large cast of familiar names, with Lorenzo de Medici and Richard III just the tip of the iceberg.
  • The Obituary Writer features John F. and Jackie Kennedy as characters of interest to Claire Fontaine and her friends, who comment about their seemingly perfect and glamorous relationship (unlike Claire's loveless marriage). Jack London also briefly appears in Vivien Lowe's story, as an attendee at the restaurant she and David Gardner meet at.
  • Kim Newman's Bad Dreams features several flashbacks to the immortal Big Bad's activities in earlier eras, which include appearances by Joan of Arc, Joseph McCarthy, and Ayn Rand, among others.
  • Swedish author Leif G.W. Persson, in one of his Nordic Noir novels featuring the appalling Dirty Cop Backstrom, fictionalises the unsolved real-life murder of Swedish prime minister Olof Palme and advances an Author Tract that the killers were rogue policemen belonging to his own security services and personal protection squad — who knew exactly how to foul, obscure and cover up the subsequent investigation.
  • Steve Bein's Fated Blades series has Toyotomi Hideyoshi as a prominent minor character whose actions in Warring States Japan has repercussions in Modern Day Tokyo. Also this Hideyoshi was regularly sticking himself in the butthole of his fictional minion, General Shishio. This was a source of tension as Hideyoshi thinks it's shameful for a grown man to be anally penetrated, but he can't resist Shishio's supernatural seductiveness and masterful sex techniques. Shishio however has no shame being Hideyoshi's bottom and knows the power he has over the regent of Japan.

    Live-Action TV 

  • American Horror Story gleefully uses this trope with appearances by (but not limited to):
    • Murder House, Elizabeth Short, aka The Black Dahlia.
    • Asylum, an alive Anne Frank in the 1960s, though subverted, as she was actually a housewife who developed postpartum psychosis and an obsession with Anne Frank.
    • Coven uses this trope the most with famous New Orleans residents Marie Laveau the Voodoo Queen, Delphine LaLaurie and The Axe-Man all members of the cast.
  • Another Period, set in 1902, has seen appearances by the likes of Helen Keller, Mark Twain, Sigmund Freud, and Charles Ponzi - all of whom have risked getting sucked into the insanity of the Bellacourt clan.
  • Babylon Berlin, which is set in the twilight years of The Weimar Republic, features such Real Life personalities as German Foreign Minister and former Chancellor Gustav Stresemann, French Foreign Minister Aristide Briand, Berlin mayor Gustav Böß, "Buddha of criminal investigators" Ernst Gennat, and even Reichspräsident Paul von Hindenburg.
  • Black Sails mixes historical pirates such as Anne Bonny, Jack Rackham, Charles Vane, and Blackbeard with characters from Treasure Island.
  • Deadliest Warrior does this with William Wallace vs. Shaka Zulu, Jesse James Gang vs. Al Capone Crew, Attila the Hun vs. Alexander the Great, and Vlad the Impaler vs. Sun Tzu. Hannibal Barca (Hannibal of Carthage) is also confirmed to be in Season Three.
  • Doctor Who:
  • Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: Black Kettle, General Custer, Walt Whitman, and a few other historical figures show up in the series.
  • HBO has had several dramas in historical settings that make use of this trope. Deadwood, Rome, and Boardwalk Empire are period dramas with many such characters. Showtime has also mined this territory with The Tudors and The Borgias.
  • Comes up in Highlander: The Series when Lord Byron turns out to be an Immortal and acquaintance of MacLeod's. Mary Shelley appears in the same episode, where it's revealed she was inspired to write Frankenstein after witnessing Lord Byron return to life following a Quickeningnote 
  • The television adaptation of Horatio Hornblower doesn't have as many historical cameos as the books, but there are a few. Horatio's mentor, Captain Pellew, could have an interesting series done about his own life. (He also considers Horatio to be Like a Son to Me, making it unclear if the fictionalized version is meant to have the real Pellew's large family.) Hornblower takes part in the failed Quiberon Expedition, and General Charette is used as a character. The third series also includes Betsy and Jerome Bonaparte, who end up separated after Hornblower rescues them from a storm and the diplomatic service orders him to put Jerome ashore alone (rather than both of them reaching France and Betsy being refused entry, as happened in Real Life).
  • Houdini & Doyle is based on the real-life friendship of the title characters, with a healthy dose of They Fight Crime!, and features cameos by Bram Stoker, Thomas Edison, and then-President William McKinley.
  • Jack of All Trades, which portrayed Napoleon Bonaparte as... ah... a crazy little person foaming at the mouth.
  • The Man in the High Castle: The Crown Prince and Crown Princess of Japan (while unnamed, they're presumably Akihito and Michiko) feature prominently as characters at the start of the first season, as does Reinhard Heydrich in later episodes. Adolf Hitler appears in a cameo in the finale.
  • Mad Men went the obscure route. Despite being a period drama, they only had one semi-major historical character was the season 3 client Conrad "Connie" Hilton (of the hotel chain).
  • Medici being a historical fiction thriller, has many.
  • Murdoch Mysteries has featured many of these, onscreen and/or mentioned in passing, including:
  • The election of 100 Greatest Britons was full with people from British history.
  • Preacher (2016): Adolf Hitler is among the damned of Eugene's cell block in Hell.
  • Salem: Most of the main cast. Cotton Mather, a very influential Puritan minister who is shown taking a direct role in hunting witches by the show (whereas in Real Life he did not attend any of the trials although witnessing two hangings, while his writings have been alleged to be the groundwork behind the witch panic). His father Increase Mather also gets portrayed as a directly involved witch hunter, while in actuality he merely attended one of the trials. Tituba, a slave woman who was among those accused of witchcraft, gets portrayed as a ''real'' witch. In reality there's speculation that she may have inadvertently helped instigate the affair by dabbling in occult rituals at the insistence of her master's daughter, who panicked along with her friends when they were caught, accusing people left and right. John Alden and Giles Corey were also real people that have been fictionalized in the show. The real Alden did none of the things he's portrayed as doing, and he was in his sixties by then. In fact, Alden was among those accused, but fled town, returning when the witch trials had ended, at which point he was cleared by acclamation.
  • The Syfy original series Sanctuary has Nikola Tesla and Jack the Ripper among its regular cast.
  • Shaka Zulu is a semi-fictionalized dramatization of the life of, well, Shaka Zulu, along with some other historical figures of colonial-era South Africa.
  • Sons of Liberty revolves entirely around these characters. Every major named character was a real person: Sam Adams, Joseph Warren, Paul Revere, John Adams, John Hancock, General Thomas Gage, Margaret Gage.
  • Used frequently in Star Trek:
  • Timecop: Lots of them, since Time Travel is a Once an Episode thing. There's Jack the Ripper, Al Capone, Adolf Hitler, Elliot Ness, the Village People, and others.
  • Timeless: Common, since it's a time travel show. Special mention goes to when Rufus (who is black) meets Sophia Hayden, MIT's first female graduate. When he says he's also an MIT graduate, she is confused for a moment, before concluding that he must be Robert Robinson Taylor, MIT's first African-American graduate. Rufus, who has never studied history, just awkwardly says that he was "the other black guy" who was there at the time.
  • Eliot Ness and Al Capone of The Untouchables.
  • Versailles Has King Louis XIV, his family and court as main characters.
  • Vikings has King Egbert of Wessex, King Ælla, King Hórik I, Aethelwulf, Ivar the Boneless, Kwenthrith, Princess Judith and Rollo aka Robert of Normandie. That's not counting the semi-legendary figures.
  • Vinyl is set in The Big Rotten Apple during The '70s music scene, so by nature of subject and setting, the show has a lot of actual musicians and cultural figures as characters and cameos: including but not limited to Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin, Andy Warhol, Nico and Velvet Underground, DJ Kool Herc, Alice Cooper, David Bowie, John Lennon and also, 70s' Elvis Presley.
  • The Wild Wild West features appearances by President Ulysses S. Grant of the U. S. and President Juarez of Mexico.
  • Witchblade: Sort of. Irish indy rocker Conchobar took his stage name from (and is implied to be the reincarnation of) one of several ancient Irish kings who, In-Universe, became one half of a Battle Couple with Irish Action Girl Cathain, a wielder of the Witchblade who apparently became a War Goddess in later Celtic Mythology. However, the series never actually specifies exactly which Conchobar they're talking about, and the stuff about Cathain was made up for the show.
  • Practically every important historical figure who lived in the early 20th century (1908-1920) appeared as a major or minor character in almost every episode of The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles.



  • Evita is a Rock Opera musical about the life of Eva Perón, First Lady of Argentina from 1946 to 1952. Other historical domain characters include Juan Perón, her husband and President of Argentina, Agustín Magaldi, a tango singer, and Che Guevara as the story's Interactive Narrator.
  • In Little Shop of Horrors, Clare Booth Luce puts in an appearance, though she's referred to simply as "Mrs. Luce".
  • The German musical Elisabeth is about Elisabeth (Sisi), the wife of Habsburg Emperor Franz Josef II, and focuses on an ongoing romance she has with Death himself.
  • In Dorothy L. Sayers' The Emperor Constantine, most of the characters.
  • The characters in Swedish and Finnish Spexes tends to be almost exclusively historical domain characters, often mixed up with little regard for historical correctness and even anachronistically mixing characters from widely different eras and places in order to create comedy.
  • The minimalist opera Nixon In China by John C. Adams focuses on the historic visit of Richard Nixon to China and his meeting with Mao Zedong. All major characters save Mao were still alive when the opera premiered in 1987.
    • Dr Atomic, also by Adams, is about the Manhattan Project—specifically, the day of the Trinity test—with most of the major characters (J. Robert Oppenheimer, his wife Kitty Oppenheimer, project military director Gen. Leslie Graves, and the physicists Edward Teller and Robert R. Wilson) being historical figures.
  • 1776 does take some liberties with the characterization of the Founding Fathers (to start with, that they sang and danced their way through the writing of the Declaration), but every named character—from John Adams down to MacNair the Congressional custodian—was a historically-documented person. A good deal of the dialogue and lyrics are taken from the actual writings of the people involved.
  • Mrs Hawking play series: In Vivat Regina the client Mrs. Braun is a historical figure of the Victorian period under a false name. Though Mrs. Hawking indicates she has figured out her identity and hints at it, it is never explicitly revealed in the text. According to Word of God on the official website, she is Princess Beatrice, the youngest daughter of Queen Victoria.
  • Like its animated predecessor, Anastasia includes the Romanov family, although other characters (Vlad, Dmitry, and Gleb) are invented.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Being an alternate history Rocket Age is awash with them, frankly too many to list here.
  • 7th Sea has a fair share of them too, not only just royalty ones.º

    Video Games 
  • The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage. With occasional cameos from characters like Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Queen Victoria, and Charles Darwin.
  • Amazoness!! features Sappho as a recurring character.
  • Dawn of Time has Gideon Mantell and Richard Owen.
  • The Dreamer has many historical figures in it, including Nathan Hale.
  • Dresden Codak features several historical figures in cameo roles, but a recurring character is Tiny Carl Jung.
  • Pretty much the main premise of Hark! A Vagrant.
  • The New Adventures of Queen Victoria, of course, has several.
  • Kevin & Kell has Dorothy's paramour Douglas who turns out to be the legendary hijacker D.B. Cooper. Fun fact: in this universe, he's a squirrel.
  • Balderduck is full of historical characters. Some of them include Julius Ceasar with bad parenting skills, Sir Francis Drake working at McDonald's and Van Gogh watching Reservoir Dogs.
  • Lovecraft Is Missing is all about . . . H.P. Lovecraft going missing.
  • Mayonaka Densha being a time travel murder mystery involving Jack the Ripper includes not only the man himself but cameos from various other figures involved with the case such as Inspector Abberline, Mary Kelly and various other Ripper victims (Including speculated and unconfirmed ones).
  • Albert Speer is one of the central characters in Misguided Light.
  • Girl Genius has R. van Rijn, aka Rembrandt van Rijn, more commonly known in real life as Rembrandt - in our world, a famous Dutch painter; in the Gaslamp Fantasy world of Girl Genius, a Spark and the creator of the famous Muses of the Storm King, mechanical works that have still not been paralleled 200 years later.
    • The Storm King himself is the equivalent of Louis XIV, the Sun King. However, the Storm King is Andronicus Valois, whereas Louis was of the House of Bourbon, suggesting that in Girl Genius the House of Valois never died out.

    Web Original 

    Western Animation 
  • Many bit part and recurring characters in Liberty's Kids.
  • Several minor characters in Futurama, though mostly as only as heads in jars. The most commonly recurring character, with roles in the plot, is Richard Nixon.
  • Princess Sissi is about Elizabeth of Bavaria.
  • Time Squad is about a small police unit traveling through time making sure famous people do what they're historically famous for — if Copernicus ever forgets the Sun existed or George Washington Carver manifests an Evil Twin, the Time Squad will be there to fix it.on
  • Filmation's The New Adventures of The Lone Ranger incorporated a bit more historical old west characters in order to give it a slightly educational context.
  • The entire premise of Clone High was this. Take as many historical characters as possible, clone them, put the clones in a high school setting, and Hilarity Ensues.
  • A ten-year-old Leonardo da Vinci appears in one episode of The Magical Adventures of Quasimodo.
  • Besides King Richard I and Prince John, Ivanhoe: The King's Knight also features Alexander II of Scotland as a prince and Inge Magnusson.
  • In all three iterations of Mr. Peabody & Sherman, the world's smartest dog and his boy are time travelers who interact with historical figures on a regular basis.
  • Pirates Passage features Captain Charles Johnson (Daniel Defoe if you subscribe to the belief they are one and them same), Calico Jack and Anne Bonny.