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"I invented the Knights of Saint Hagan. Everybody always uses The Knights Templar for this kind of thing, but I like to make up my own guys so nobody can tell me I got my facts wrong."

Some authors borrow ideas. Others steal them outright. Regardless, one of the most common approaches is to steal from reality, inserting thinly disguised versions of historical personalities into a work of fiction.

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This trope exclusively refers to characters that reference historical figures (herein defined as people who are dead at the time the work was first exhibited to the public). From emperors based on Augustus, Nero, or Caligula through modern military dictators inspired by Hitler, Stalin, Churchill, Pinochet and their ilk, from revolutionaries based on Che Guevara and gangsters who homage Al Capone through pirates who owe something to Blackbeard (if male) or Anne Bonny (if female), to Howard Hughes style eccentric millionaires, fiction abounds with characters inspired by deceased real-life counterparts.

This trope differs from Expy in that it refers to characters derived exclusively from real-life historical figures and not other fictional characters. It differs from No Celebrities Were Harmed because it does not describe figures who are contemporaries of the author at the time of writing, nor is it a Roman à Clef in which historical events are deliberately disguised. Rather it can be considered Historical Fiction or a Sidelong Glance Biopic with the Serial Numbers Filed Off to make a historical figure into someone fictional. The character need not exactly line up to the historical narrative in overall trajectory, and one shouldn't judge for accuracy since Dated History and Future Society, Present Values abound, and new evidence will occasionally arise to challenge preexisting conceptions. On occasion, an author may also utilize a Composite Character modeled on several different figures, or a Decomposite Character who divides a single historical figure's role among more than one character. So long as the character or characters are recognizably modeled on a historical figure or figures (or at least the public perception of that figure) this trope remains in play.

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Remember that almost every author bases characters on someone they know from life and reading. This is when explicit historical models supply the base, overall characteristic, themes and impressions of the character design. If the character model is fictional instead, then see Fountain of Expies.

Super-Trope of:

May crop up as part of a Fantasy Counterpart Culture. Contrast Historical Domain Character, where a version of the historical figure actually appears directly rather than having a fictional character based on him.


Example Subpages:

Examples:

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     Anime and Manga 
  • Berserk
    • Supreme King Gaiseric: The founder of Midland alluded to in volume 10 was based on the actual King Gaiseric who ruled the Kingdom of the Vandals in the 5th century AD. 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.
    • Emperor Ganishka: The man himself, 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.
  • The Shinsengumi in Gintama are all based on the members of the historical Shinsengumi; however, they have slightly different names (for example, Sougo Okita is based on Souji Okita) and their personalities and behavior are very much their own and not based on historical fact. They also wear black military uniforms instead of the historical Shinsengumi's well-known blue and white haori.
  • Later volumes of How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom introduce Fuuga Haan, who is clearly based on Genghis Khan, a point the main character brings up pretty often, with additional comparisons made to Oda Nobunaga and Napoleon.
  • March Comes in Like a Lion: The series has a few characters based on real-life figures who had passed away by the time of its publication. The most prominent example is Harunobu Nikaidou, whose backstory bears heavy similarities to real-life shogi player Satoshi Murayama.
  • Mobile Suit Gundam's Principality of Zeon is essentially a mashup of Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan, and their leader, Gihren Zabi is what happens when Adolf Hitler is given Hideki Tojo's job. The parallels to Hitler are acknowledged in-universe by both Gihren and his beleaguered, near-powerless father, Sovereign Degwin, who as a helpless figurehead dominated by Gihren, is playing the role of Emperor Hirohito (or Hirohito as depicted in the seventies and eighties).
  • One Piece: A lot of the pirates in the verse are based on famous historical Real Life pirates, such as Bartholomew Kuma (to Bartholomew "Black Bart" Roberts), Eustass Kid (to William Kidd), and Marshall D. "Blackbeard" Teach (to Edward Thatch).
  • Rurouni Kenshin: Several characters are based on historical figures of the Japanese Meiji period or the preceding civil war (when they aren't outright Historical Domain Characters such as Saitou Hajime). This includes protagonist Himura Kenshin, whose former persona as the assassin Hitokiri Battousai was, per mangaka Nobuhiro Watsuki, based on the historical pro-revolutionary assassin Kawakami Gensai (though their fates diverged after the fall of the Tokugawa Shogunate).
  • Shin Angyo Onshi: Most of the characters are named after and based on figures from across Korean history, not just the 18th Century the series is set in. Most of the time the author simply removes the family names and combines the personal names into one — such as Munsu (Bak Mun-su), Wonsul (Gim Won-sul) and Yeongsil (Jang Yeong-sil) to name a few.
  • Pharaoh Atem in Yu-Gi-Oh! is based on Pharaoh Tutankhamun, the famously-deceased boy king. Both died at a young age, his name of Atem is similar to Tut's birth name of Tutankhaten, and the story of him reclaiming his name is based on theories that Tutankhamun was forced to change his name to reflect Egypt's Top God. His father and uncle are named Akhenamkhanen and Akhenaden, which is similar to Tutankhamun's father Akhenaten. At one point in the manga, it was suggested that Atem's tomb had been discovered only recently and those who found it were mysteriously killed, a reference to the myths about the cursed tomb of Tutankhamun. Both also apparently lived during the 18th Dynasty, and both chose their successor to be a competent military leader who led major reforms.

     Comic Books 
  • Batman antagonist Arnold "The Ventriloquist" Wesker deliberately modeled his dummy (and alternate personality) Scarface on Al Capone, with just enough differences that your average Gotham criminal won't notice.
  • In Doomsday Clock, Carver Colman appears to be inspired by Rock Hudson, one of Hollywood's most beloved Golden Age stars who was a closet homosexual.
  • Judge Dredd: Judge Cal, a more literal case of The Caligula than most. He was actually based on John Hurt's portrayal of the real Caligula in I, Claudius right down to the flowing blonde locks. He even names his pet fish as Judge.
  • Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is a Deconstruction and Pastiche of literary fiction that portrays many fictional characters in the past as substitutes for historical figures:
    • Black Dossier argues that John Dee, the Elizabethan Occultist, was the inspiration for both Prospero from The Tempest and Johannes Subtil in Ben Jonson's The Alchemist.
    • Moore also argues that Harry Lime from The Third Man was based on Kim Philby, the leader of the Cambridge Soviet spies, while Horatio Hornblower replaces Admiral Nelson on the Column on Trafalgar Square.
    • Likewise the third volume explores the many versions of Aleister Crowley: Oliver Haddo, Macato, Karswell, Cosmo Gallion, many of them being occultists interested in sex and drugs as a means to access the higher mysteries. Also the many London Gangsters who were thinly disguised versions of the Krays.
  • Legends of the Dead Earth: In Action Comics Annual #8, the owner of the Amusement Park Bizarro World is Barn'm P'Tee.
  • Marvel 1602: Sir Nicholas Fury and Doctor Stephen Strange are essentially Sir Francis Walsingham and Doctor John Dee, respectively, in all but name.
  • The Red Star: The comic takes place in a Magitek version of the USSR, so some stand-ins for historical figures pop up. In particular, the former leader Imbohl is a stand-in for Joseph Stalin, as he was once a revolutionary sorcerer whose lust for power drove him to become a Sorcerous Overlord.
  • Requiem Vampire Knight is no stranger to using outright using historical characters though a couple of characters are heavily inspired by them such as:
    • Queen Perfidia resembles Elizabeth I in more than one way, since her whole nation being a hellish version of the British Empire.
    • Mother Terror is strongly hinted to have been Mother Teresa, reflecting various real-life controversies surrounding her, such as the poor care given in her hospitals and misappropriation of the donations she received.
    • The Arch-Hierophante is the supreme master of the Archaeologists and was said to be a specialist at human vivisection in real life. One of the possible people he may have been inspired by is Josef Mengele, the infamous Nazi doctor who performed many gruesome human experiments.
  • Roderick Burgess in The Sandman (1989) is based on Aleister Crowley, i.e., a British occultist who explores folklore via a series of rituals.
  • Usagi Yojimbo: Miyamoto Usagi is based on Miyamoto Musashi, one of the most legendary samurai in Japanese history.
  • Wonder Woman foe Dr. Poison (I) has always been an immoral Imperial Japanese doctor and poison user who experimented on civilians and soldiers operating during WWII. In the modern era, she's become a Distaff Counterpart to real life Japanese war criminal Ishii Shiro, who experimented on Chinese civilians with bubonic plague, smallpox, anthrax, and other biological and chemical agents.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animated 
  • One of the main villains of the second Hellboy Animated movie, Blood and Iron, Erzsebet Ondrushko, is basically Elizabeth Báthory if she were a vampire in league with Hecate.
  • Scarlett Overkill in Minions resembles Jacqueline Kennedy,as she wears similar lenses, the same gloves and has a hairstyle similar to hers.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Bad Times at the El Royale's McGuffin is a piece of film, created by the FBI, showing a well-known figure doing something scandalous in a room at the eponymous motel. All we're told about the film's subject is that he's recently dead, and with the movie set in 1969, the most obvious candidates are John F. Kennedy (probably dead too long at this point, and his philanderings already well-recorded), Martin Luther King, Jr. (who had indeed been the target of an FBI campaign hoping to discredit him, but most of what they had had already been made public by the time the movie is set) and Bobby Kennedy (the most likely subject).
  • John Ford's Fort Apache features Colonel Owen Thursday, a thinly disguised and revisionist take on General George Armstrong Custer, i.e. a Glory Hound martinet who blindly leads his soldiers into a suicidal charge against the Apache in a manner similar to the Battle of Big Horn.
  • The villain of Ghostbusters II is Vigo the Carpathian, a medieval Eastern European dictator renowned for his cruelty and inventive torture methods. This makes him a dead ringer for Vlad III ("the Impaler") of Wallachia — a region within the Carpathian Mountains.
  • The Godfather has a couple of characters who are clear stand-ins for historical people:
    • Moe Greene is clearly the gangster Bugsy Siegel
    • Jack Woltz, who is "convinced" to hire Johnny Fontaine in his movie, is based on Harry Cohn, head of Columbia Pictures, who it was believed gave Frank Sinatra a role in the movie "From Here to Eternity" due to pressure from the mafia.
    • Frederick Keinszig, a Vatican banker who tries to swindle Michael Corleone in The Godfather Part III, is based on Roberto Calvi, the chairman of a bank called Banco Ambrosiano which was involved in a huge scandal involving large amounts of money that went unaccounted and a secret group called Propaganda Due. To further the connection, both share the same nickname of "God's Banker", and both end up dead and hanging from a bridge.
  • GoodFellas: All the gangsters were based on Real Life gangsters:
    • Henry Hill was based on the gangster of the same name.
    • Paul Cicero was based on Paul Vario.
    • Jimmy Conway was based on James Burke, while Tommy DeVito was based on Thomas DeSimone. The disturbing part comes when you realize that these people, Burke and DeSimone, were even more Ax-Crazy than their film counterparts.
  • High Sierra features a gangster Roy Earle (played by Humphrey Bogart in a star-making role) who was modelled on John Dillinger.
  • Enrique Monteverde in La Llorona is based on Efraín Ríos Montt.
  • Charlie Chaplin's Monsieur Verdoux is based on the real-life Serial Killer Henri Desiree Landru who died in 1922, 20 years before the film was made. Like Landru, Verdoux is a Bluebeard killer who seduces wealthy widows and then murders them to steal their fortune.
  • Orson Welles modeled the titular Mr. Arkadin, a shady Georgian with Chronic Backstabbing Disorder who purges his former rivals by appointing an agent to track them down, on Josef Stalin, as he admitted to Peter Bogdanovich.
  • The movie A Night to Remember makes sure to not address the lesser noble characters in the film by name, as to avoid hurting their families.
    • The snobby Lady and Lord Richard are obviously modeled after Sir Cosmo and Lady Lucile Duff-Gordon.
    • The cowardly chairman is clearly Bruce Ismay. He’s only referred to as ‘mr chairman’ and ‘sir’.
    • The rude sailor is Robert Hichens.
    • Stanley Lord is only referred to as ‘Captain’. He was the only one still alive when the film came out. He saw the film and hated how he was portrayed.
  • Infamous serial killer Ed Gein served as the inspiration for Norman Bates, Leatherface, and Buffalo Bill.
  • Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger's The Red Shoes (1948) is modeled on the Ballet Russes and the Muse Abuse relationship between Sergei Diaghilev and Nijinsky, with Boris Lermontov in particular modeled on Diaghilev.
  • Screenwriter Ben Hecht noted that the original subplot in Howard Hawks' Scarface (1932), the attraction between Tony Camonte and his sister Cesca, is based on the rumoured incest of Cesare and Lucrezia Borgia.
  • Star Wars: The Star Wars prequels are inspired in equal parts by the collapse of the Weimar Republic and the fall of The Roman Republic. Accordingly, Palpatine possesses many features of Hitler and Caesar Augustus, using a False Flag Operation to take control of the country (echoing the once common belief that the Reichstag Fire was a set-up), and insisting that despite his new title of Emperor that the Senate will continue to rule the Republic (in parallel to Augustus' claim that he had restored the Senate's authority).
  • Clint Eastwood's White Hunter, Black Heart has John Wilson, a thinly veiled spoof of John Huston, a macho womanizing dandy with dreams of living a Hemingway fantasy, released two years after Huston's death. Many of the other major characters are thinly veiled versions of other people involved with the film: Pete Verrill is Peter Viertel; Paul Landers is producer Sam Spiegel; Kay Gibson is Katharine Hepburn; and Phil Duncan is Humphrey Bogart.
  • Many a Film Noir Outlaw Couple were based on Bonnie and Clyde, such as Fritz Lang's You Only Live Once and Joseph H. Lewis' Gun Crazy. In a case of Recursive Adaptation, the official Bonnie and Clyde was greatly inspired by these film versions.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The 4400: In "The Marked", Curtis Peck, a filmmaker who developed a cult following because of extremely low budget films starring his friends, is an Affectionate Parody of Ed Wood. The episode also features a Shout-Out to Wood as Marco has the poster for his best-known film Plan 9 from Outer Space in his apartment.
  • Nursie in the second series of Blackadder is a parody of Elizabeth I's real-life nanny, Blanche Parry.
  • Cold Case: In "Beautiful Little Fool", the 1920s film star Carmela LaFleur is based on Mae West. Lt. Stillman even lampshades this when he describes Carmela as a "Mae West-type actress."
  • Game of Thrones:
    • House Targaryen of the House of Normandy and also, The House of Plantagenet, the longest ruling dynasty of England.
    • Aerys Targaryen:
      • To the French King Charles VI the Mad who was initially seen as a good and wise King but eventually became mentally ill. Charles VI was famously paranoid, believed he was made of glass, would randomly attack and kill pageboys and knights and in the infamous Ball of the Burning Men, he and a bunch of people covered themselves in inflammable resin which accidentally caught fire. The attendants rushed to protect the King and four people died in the process.
      • His idea of burning down King's Landing together with himself rather than surrender it to the Rebellion's armies? Surprise! It's the same idea Adolf Hitler had in his last days when Germany was pretty much expected to fall.
      • Roman emperor Nero might be an inspiration as well. He was reputedly mad and cruel, and he is said to have caused the Great Fire of Rome himself.
    • Rhaegar Targaryen to Edward the Black Prince. He was seen as the ultimate embodiment of medieval chivalry and subject to a great deal of romance in his life and after his death, and regarded as the ultimate Great-King-That-Never-Was, at least by his supporters.
    • Varys as seen in "Stormborn" is a kind of fantasy take on Charles Maurice de Talleyrand-Perigord, an official who claimed to be Loyal to the Position while boasting Vetinari Job Security, serving multiple administrations loyally while secretly working to undermine and/or replace it when he dislikes it. The resemblances is more in career and profile rather than biographical or visual similarity (Talleyrand was well-known sybarite while Varys is a celibate eunuch). The line he mentions to Tyrion about how he paddles along while storms come and go echoes Talleyrand's famous line "Regimes may fall and fail, but I do not". His interview with Dany in Season 7 echoes his meeting with King Louis Philippe of the July Monarchy who wondered if Talleyrand would serve him or eventually try and replace him as well.
    • Robert Baratheon:
      • To King Edward IV, of the House of York (who also inspired Robb Stark), a brave warrior king who became a fat man harassed by schemers at court.
      • His having led a rebellion against a megalomaniac sovereign also evokes the fictionalized Henry Bolingbroke in William Shakespeare's Richard II. Interestingly, the monarchs they overthrew even have the same numerical.
    • Renly Baratheon serves as the parallel to George, Duke of Clarence, brother to Edward IV and Richard III — having been a King-claimant at odds with his siblings. It's probably appropriate to note, however, that Renly in the show appeared way more circumspect, well-meaning and better-connected compared to Clarence's open and ill-conceived power grab—which makes his assassination by Stannis less well-deserved (as Clarence was eventually executed by Edward IV for another treason accusation) and more genuinely tragic.
      • Renly also has a bit of Richard I in him, being a gay guy who is great as a military leader but lacks the temperament for kingship.
  • The Man in the High Castle, which isn't afraid to use Historical Domain Characters with many high-ranking Nazis making appearances in the series, curiously chose to use the fictional Martin Heussmann as something of a stand-in for Albert Speer. Like the latter, Heussmann is an architect and a close friend of Hitler and is chosen as Hitler's successor because he was believed to be a lesser threat compared to the rest of Hitler's inner circle. He could even be seen as something of a Take That! directed at Speer, who is nowadays viewed to have attempted a Historical Villain Downgrade on himself. Heusmann is more bureaucratic and rational than most of his peers, but he undeniably embraces the genocidal tenets of naziism.
  • Sliders: In "Greatfellas", Rembrandt's double is the Deputy Director of the FBI and the leader of the Incorruptibles. They are essentially this world's answer to Eliot Ness and the Untouchables.
  • The Sopranos: The DiMeos were based on the Real Life DeCavalcante crime family, which controls much of central New Jersey (South New Jersey is part of the Philly Mob's turf, while northern New Jersey is controlled by the Five Families, especially the Genovese and Lucchese families).
    • Ercole "Eckley" DiMeo, the crime family's namesake, was based on Simone "Samuel" DeCavalcante, who was nicknamed "Sam the Plumber" because he owned and operated from a heating and plumbing company in Kenilworth, NJ. But he loathed that nickname, and preferred to be called "the Count" because he often claimed that he was of Blue Blood.
    • Tony Soprano was based on real-life New Jersey mobster Vincent "Vinny Ocean" Palermo, who later became the DeCavalcante crime family's acting boss (acting on behalf of Giovanni Riggi) before becoming an FBI informant in 2003. Elements of Sam DeCavalcante were also added to Tony Soprano.
    • Corrado "Junior" Soprano was based on Giovanni "John the Eagle" Riggi, who became boss of the DeCavalcante crime family after Sam DeCavalcante stepped down in 1982.
  • St. Elsewhere: George Wyler, a doctor who spent forty years working in Africa and won the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts, is based on Albert Schweitzer.
  • Taken:
    • In "Jacob and Jesse" and "High Hopes", the former Nazi rocket scientist Dr. Kreutz is based on Werner von Braun.
    • Also in "Jacob and Jesse", Dr. Peter Quarrington is the author of the book My Life Inside of the Flying Saucers. He claims to have visited Venus multiple times and refers to the aliens as "Space Brothers." It turns out that he is secretly an agent of the UFO project who says whatever they tell him to say. Quarrington is based on George Adamski, who made similar claims about meeting friendly, peaceful aliens whom he called the Space Brothers and traveling around The Solar System. Adamski is now considered a con artist.
  • In World on Fire Helen Hunt plays Nancy Campbell, an American Intrepid Reporter who reports on the outbreak of the war. She is based on real life journalist Clare Hollingsworth who is credited with the first international report of the German invasion of Poland.

    Tabletop Games 
  • Pathfinder:
    • Kazavon of the Curse of the Crimson Throne module, is Vlad the Impaler as an actual dragon.
    • Emperor Cyricas of Taldor is Theodore Roosevelt as the leader of a fantasy monarchy, down to the mustache and glasses.
  • Warhammer:
    • Sigmar Heldenhammer has some similarities to Charlemagne, albeit Charlemagne spiced up with a bit of Conan the Barbarian and Thor. Like Charlemagne, Sigmar forms an Empire by conquering a number of Germanic-esque tribes. His later deification by the Empire might be a reference to Charlemagne's (illegitimate and later revoked) recognition as a Saint.
    • Luthor Huss is a Composite Character of both Martin Luther and Jan Hus, both of whom were late medieval preachers from Central Europe known for starting religious movements that challenged the Catholic Church.
    • Louen Leoncouer, the current King of Bretonnia, is clearly modeled after Richard the Lionheart. Not only does his heraldry bear a lion on red and blue, but his name is a French rendition of his inspiration's epithet (Leon — Lion; Couer — Heart). He is actually much closer to his inspiration's cultural identity than most other depictions, as the real Richard identified himself more as French than English, and Bretonnia is set in the Warhammer world's equivalent of France.
    • Repanse de Lyonesse is the setting's version of Joan of Arc, though she repelled Chaos invaders rather than the English (or the elves that correspond with England's location).
    • Leonardo of Miragliano, inventor of the Steam Tank, is an obvious one of Leonardo da Vinci.
    • Lucrezzia Belladonna, a noblewoman known for her skill in using poison to dispose of inconvenient people, is based on Lucrezia Borgia, a Renaissance noblewoman reputed to have made liberal use of poison to remove her political enemies.
    • Marco Colombo, an explorer who discovered the New World continent of Lustria, is based on Christopher Columbus, an Italian navigator who accidentally landed in the Caribbean during his voyage to Asia.
    • Likewise, Losteriksson is a dead ringer for Leif Erikson, the first European to discover North America. He also has a dash of Thorfinn Karlsefni with his daughter Skeggi Losteriksson basically a gender-flipped Snorri Thorfinnsson.
    • Isabella Von Carstein is modeled after Elizabeth Báthory, even wielding an unholy chalice named after her inspiration. Her husband Vlad has a more obvious inspiration.
    • Settra the Imperishable can be seen as the setting's equivalent to Ramses II, being the greatest king of Nehekhara. He also has some elements from both Alexander the Great (being an ancient conqueror) and Gilgamesh (being a Middle-Eastern king known for his futile quest for immortality).
    • Nehekharan queens Khalida and Neferata were respectively based on real-life Egyptian queens Hatshepsut and Cleopatra VII, the former being an independent female ruler while the latter is frequently stereotyped as an infamous seductresses.
    • Tamurkhan is basically the setting's equivalent to Timur the Lame, as both are steppe leaders turned conquerors (the former's name is meant to evoke the latter).
    • The Dogs of War character Al-Muktar is basically T. E. Lawrence, being a western man who leads an army of bedouins.
    • Supreme Patriarch Kostaltyn of the Great Orthodoxy of Kislev is a dead ringer for Rasputin the Mad Monk, even sharing his inspiration's alleged near-unkillability.
  • Warhammer 40,000:
    • Ursakar Creed for Winston Churchill, down to the enormous cigar.
    • Solar Macharius for Alexander the Great, including being stopped mid-conquest because his men demanded they turn around (although in this case, it's because going further would more than likely have resulted in becoming lost in the Warp).
    • Many armies are based on historical army uniforms and equipment: the Praetorians are Anglo-Zulu War-era British troops (red uniforms, pith helmets and glorious mustaches), Kriegers are Gas Mask Mooks who specialize in WWI trench warfare, the Vostroyans are Tsarist Russian soldiers, the Valhallans are (the Western vision of) Soviet conscripts...
    • According to some, the ork warlord Ghazghull Mag Uruk Thraka is a Take That! to Margaret Thatcher, by virtue of entirely destroying an industrial planet.
    • Jaghatai Khan for Genghis Khan and Mogul Kamir for Attila the Hun. The actual Genghis Khan is implied to now be the oldest and most powerful of Khorne's daemon princes, Doombreed.
    • Roboute Guilliman is Julius Caesar IN SPACE.
    • Angron is basically Spartacus, being a gladiator turned rebel leader.

    Video Games 
  • Assassin's Creed enjoys using actual Historical Domain Character most of the time, but when it can't find history interesting enough, it creates fictional characters directly patterned on historical figures.
    • Assassin's Creed III uses Decomposite Character to divide the historical Charles Lee into a character that is mostly In Name Only in both looks and background, while Haytham Kenway, the true Big Bad shares more in common with the real Lee, namely his romance with a Mohawk chieftain's daughter resulting in the birth of a son (the Player Character Connor).note 
    • Assassin's Creed IV: Black Flag is Historical Fiction of real-life pirates in the Caribbean, but the main Player Character Edward Kenway is based on Edward Low, with similarities mirroring the pirate (his troubled marriage, affection for his daughter). An explicit Allohistorical Allusion has Kenway promising to cut Governor Torres' lips and stuff it down his throat, something the real-life Low actually did carry out.
    • Assassin's Creed: Unity has two unusual examples:
      • The Big Bad Francois-Thomas Germain shares a name and surface background with a highly obscure historical silversmith, but his overall character and persona, a leader of an Illuminati-esque cabal that ushers the Revolution and secretly being a reincarnation of an immortal is derived from the legend of Comte de Saint Germain, who often appeared periodically in many 19th Century stories by Alexandre Dumas and Aleksandr Pushkin as a Humanoid Abomination Evil Sorceror The Man Behind the Man manipulator much like his counterpart in the game.
      • Likewise the Templar La Touche has a greater biographical and visual resemblance to Maximilien Robespierre than the game's own portrayal of Robespierre. He starts out as an honest bureaucrat who slowly resorts to violence, wears a pair of spectacles (much like the real man) and finally quotes a famous speech of Robespierre saying that Terror "is nothing but justice, prompt, severe and inflexible."
  • Baldur's Gate 2: A minor sidequest for the Radiant Order features a Fallen Paladin named Raynald de Chatillon who shares the same name with a very infamous knight from The Crusades that was later featured as an antagonist in the movie Kingdom of Heaven made five years after the game.
  • Andrew Ryan in BioShock is based on Ayn Rand, while visually he's Mr. Alt Disney. His ideology of classical liberalism, private ownership, and anti-altruism is essentially Objectivism, with his paranoid and authoritarian control over his subordinates derived from Rand's own domineering leadership of Objectivist circles.
  • The Leper from Darkest Dungeon is blatantly inspired by Baldwin IV of Jerusalem as a Religious Bruiser also afflicted with leprosy with his design is evocative of Baldwin's depiction in Kingdom of Heaven. The Leper's backstory comic reveals he also used to be a king, further expanding the similarities.
  • Disco Elysium has Kras Mazov, the Father of Scientific Communism. As the founder of the setting's version of communism, Mazov is clearly meant to be a stand-in for Karl Marx, right down to his name, initials, and even his appearance: full beard, balding in the front, hair longer in the back. There are also several other allusions to other historical characters contained within him, such as the fact that he actually led a communist revolution instead of merely theorizing about it, which clearly evokes Vladimir Lenin. There is also his popularity as icon amongst youth culture, which has clear parallels to Che Guevara, while his ignominious bunker suicide on the eve of the Revolution's defeat resembles the death of Hitler.
  • Dishonored has Anton Sokolov, a Renaissance Man artist and inventor/scientist of deadly weapons based on Leonardo da Vinci while taking some cues from Grigori Rasputin (alcoholism, whoremongering, visual appearance).
  • Dragon's Crown has artwork epilogues after each successful mission you tackle. In one of these where you fight a kraken, it mentions that the only other person who had beaten a kraken was the legendary pirate queen Anna Bonnie (a stand-in for infamous female pirate Anne Bonny).
  • The Elder Scrolls:
    • Tiber Septim to Charlemagne and Julius Caesar as a great conqueror and unificator.
    • Wolf Queen Potema is Margaret of Anjou if her negative traits were cranked up to eleven. A beautiful, ambitious and ruthless queen that wanted to put her son on the throne, fought a war in the attempt and ended up outliving her offspring in the process.
    • Uriel Septim V has some mild parallels to Alexander the Great as a conquering European emperor who drove his armies far past the edge of the "known world" at the time and died under mysterious circumstances, though Uriel fell in battle.
    • Emperor Pelagius the Mad is not only an example of The Caligula, but he is also very clearly based on Caligula himself.
    • General Tullius is also based off of Julius Caesar in both appearance and his reputation as a brilliant commander dealing with barbarians (with Ulfric Stormcloak as a rough equivalent to Vercingetorix).
  • Ghost of Tsushima: The leader of the Mongol Hordes invading Japan is named Khotun Khan, and is heavily based on Kublai Khan, the real-life leader of the Mongols during that time period.
  • El Sueno in Ghost Recon Wildlands was modeled after real-life Colombian drug lord Pablo Escobar who established a powerful narco-empire through intimidation and charity work. They also use the same catchphrase "plata o plomo" which means "silver or lead" (either take the bribe money or you take the bullet).
  • The Persian King in God of War: Chains of Olympus was clearly based on the Persian emperor Xerxes I right down to his physical appearance.
  • Mafia III: Sal Marcano's position as The Mafia Don of New Bordeaux from the 40s onwards parallels Carlos Marcello's control of the New Orleans crime family during the same period. He's also a suspect in the Kennedy assassination, mirroring various conspiracy theories involving Marcello's role in the assassination of Kennedy and Lee Harvey Oswald.
  • Many of the Hero Units in Paraworld are thinly veiled parodies of real life scientists:
    • Nikolaj Taslow is Nikola Tesla. Like his real world counterpart, Taslow is an skilled inventor, and leveling him up will unlock special units, such as Jetpack Warriors for the Norsemen or Taslow Towers for the Dustriders.
    • James Warden is Charles Darwin. Like his real world counterpart, Warden is attuned to the natural world and in-game he prevents wild animals from attacking him or his allies.
    • David Leightington is Dr. David Livingstone, a British explorer famous for briefly going missing in Africa before being found alive. When he is introduced in the campaign, Ada is surprised to see him, reflecting what happened to his historical counterpart.
    • Heinrich Schleimmer is Heinrich Schleimann, a German archaeologist (in)famous for his role in excavating the city of Troy.
    • Ada Loven is Ada Lovelace, a pioneer in the field of programming. In the campaign, she initially acts as Babbit's right-hand woman, reflecting how their historical counterparts played a major role in the development of modern computer science.
    • Jarvis Babbit is Charles Babbage, the inventor of the modern computer. He may also have a few shades of Thomas Edison, given how he is a ruthless businessman and inventor. Leveling him up will unlock SEAS units, such as Exo Enforcers for the Norsemen and Triceratops Transports for the Dustriders.
  • Samurai Shodown series has various historical cameos in their characters: Hattori Hanzo, Yagyu Jubei, and Amakusa Shiro are portrayed straightly, so there're others with changed names like Haohmaru (Miyamoto Musashi) and Tachibana Ukyo (Sasaki Kojiro), not to mention an American called just as "Andrew."
  • Giliath Osborne of the Trails Series is based on Otto von Bismarck, being a chancellor with a talent for Realpolitik who wields massive political power despite serving a monarch, sharing a similar moniker ("The Blood and Iron Chancellor"), political savvy and an aggressive foreign policy.

    Western Animation 
  • Phaeton, the Big Bad of Exosquad, is clearly based off Adolf Hitler, from being a disillusioned veteran of the previous war between Neosapiens (his own species) and Terrans to building his popularity on species supremacist rhetoric. Like Hitler, he starts off claiming that the Neosapiens' superiority obligates them to take care of the inferior Terrans, but after a series of military defeats, becomes more and more unhinged and begins hoarding Terrans into death camps, executing his most capable supporters, etc. that puts his empire into a death spiral. Also, the show loves using the Hitler Cam effect on him whenever he is giving his demagogue speeches.
  • The Legend of Korra: Several characters are fantastic expies of real-life figures:
    • Hiroshi Sato is an expy of Henry Ford, a famous industrialist best known for mass production of cars.
    • Varrick is this universe's Howard Hughes — an eccentric businessman involved in aviation and film with a love of cookies.
    • President Raiko is similar in appearance to Sun Yat-Sen, China's first president.
    • Earth Queen Hou-Ting looks remarkably similar to Empress Dowager Cixi.
    • Kuvira's life rather closely resembles that of Napoléon Bonaparte, in that she is a brilliant military leader who rises to power during a chaotic revolutionary movement for the ostensible reason of restoring order. Like Napoleon, she then seizes absolute power and crowns herself Emperor of a newly militaristic and expansionist empire that answers to her alone while her megalomania gradually grows to dangerous proportions.


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