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Useful Notes / Francisco Franco

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"Wait...I'm still dead?"

Generalissimo Francisco Franco Bahamonde (4 December 1892 – 20 November 1975) was dictator of Spain from 1939 until his death. He came to power during the Spanish Civil War, during which time he was supported by both Benito Mussolini and Adolf Hitler. He wisely chose to keep his distance from them, however, when the dress rehearsal ended and the big show began. Not to mention that, to the day he died, there were Republican Spanish strongholds that would resist him.

Originally third in command of the Spanish rebels, Franco rose to power after his superiors died in a pair of rather convenient plane crashes. It is worth noting that, while he enjoyed support from fascists both abroad and within Spain (most notably the "proto-fascist" Falangists), Franco did not fully subscribe to the ideology, choosing to shun its revolutionary aspects in favor of Catholic traditionalism, earning him support from the monarchist factions and the Catholic Church itself, further cementing his power.


After obtaining power, Franco brutally cracked down on political opponents to solidify his reign. The Blueshirts, his paramilitary secret police and equivalent to the Nazi Einsatzgruppen or SS, killed scores of people in Spain both on the streets and through means such as concentration camps. Unfortunately, any international scrutiny over these actions faded when Cold War began. This shift in international politics, combined with Franco's opposition to Spanish communists during the civil war and his neutrality in World War II, led to something of an Enemy Mine situation with the western world. NATO and the United States quietly supported his regime and looked to other way in regards to his crimes, and Franco in turn moderated some of his stances and policies over the years in order to maintain their support.


Franco was something of a film aficionado, and wrote the screenplay for Raza, a film set during the Spanish Civil War.

He died relatively peacefully in 1975. In 2019 his body was moved from his gargantuan Valley of the Fallen mausoleum to a private family gravesite.

As of 2022, he is still dead.

Probably not related to Dave or James.

See also The Franco Regime and Spanish Civil War.

Appears in the following works:

  • In the fanfic Sister Floriana Franco is strongly supported by the main characters, who see him as their defender against the Red Terror. Him and the Nationalist Army are consistently blessed and prayed for.
  • In the Alternate History timeline Fight and Be Right, Franco becomes a famous director after a successful career in the Spanish Navy.
  • Given the penchant of the Spanish film industry for making movies about the Civil War, he's appeared in several:
    • Madregilda
    • Espérame en el Cielo (where the protagonist is his body double)
    • Dragon Rapide
  • "Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead" was one of the first Catch Phrases of Saturday Night Live. On "Weekend Update", Franco's continuing death was repeatedly reported as "news" by Chevy Chase. This was a parody of earlier real news coverage, which had constantly reported on Franco's declining health during slow news days, in particular NBC's own Today Show. The obvious joke was that Today had spent so much time assuring viewers he was about to die that it was only natural that it would spend equal time assuring viewers he was still dead, but the Today show's bizarre taping schedule added an extra layer to the jokenote .
  • Franco was referenced twice in Fawlty Towers. In "Basil the Rat", Basil explains to the Barcelona-born waiter Manuel that a local "hamster" is in fact a rat. Under his breath, Cleese mutters: "You do have rats in Spain, or did Franco have 'em all shot?" In another episode, a hotel guest asks where the Generalissimo is (referring to Basil), to which Manuel incredulously replies, "In Madrid!"
  • Monegasque singer-songwriter and anarchist Léo Ferré wrote "Franco la muerte" (1964). In this highly confrontational song, he directly shouts at the dictator and lavishes him with contempt. Ferré refused to sing in Spain until Franco was dead.
  • Portrayed by Pep Miràs on the third episode of Spanish science fiction series The Ministry of Time, as the mission is related to his meeting with Hitler in Hendaye.
  • Franco appeared in the classic Danish children's cartoon Cirkeline (1967-71) as a sneaky, evil cat, who wore black riding boots and loved to trap Spanish mice in cages. He was voiced by a popular folk singer, and had a great, creepy Villain Song: "I'm the sneakiest of cats".
  • In The New Order Last Days Of Europe, an Alternate-History Nazi Victory mod for Hearts of Iron IV, Franco appears as a co-leader (along with António de Oliveira Salazar) of the Iberian Union, a union of Spain and Portugal that was formed in response to Nazi aggression.
  • French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo mocked Franco's long agony with a cover saying "Franco gets better — he walked to the cemetery", illustrated by a drawing of a walking coffin.
  • In the Dreamhounds of Paris campaign frame for Trail of Cthulhu, from 1936 on, a sea squirt-like monster becomes the dominant creature of the Underground Sea in the Dreamlands. With searching tendrils it tries to snatch up anyone passing the shores of the lake. Anyone who knows earthly politics intuitively associates the creature with Francisco Franco, as envisioned by one of Pablo Picasso's surrealist protest poems.

Tropes as portrayed in fiction:

  • Asshole Victim: In The Last Circus he tries to comfort the main character Javier while he's being treated like a dog by one of his colonels, but since Javier's whole life has been plagued by the Civil War, the least he can do when he's in front of the man who's the true main culprit of his misery is savagely biting his hand.
  • Body Double: In his second appearance on The Ministry of Time, the season 4 premiere, he employs at least two of them to corner a would-be murderer, and after they're done with him, he asks one of the doubles to fill in for him on a reception while he goes hunting.
  • Enemy Mine: Despite his staunch anti-Communism, he developed a fairly cordial relationship with a certain Fidel Castro - they both had their origins in Galicia, were very socially conservative, had a significant anti-American streak and disliked Fulgencio Batista - he once called for Franco's overthrow, and was of course Castro's main enemy.
  • The Generalissimo: His ceremonial title as head of the armed forces for Nationalist Spain. Interestingly, while many during his lifetime and after his death referred to him as such, this was actually not the official title of head of state during his reign. He styled the office of 'El Caudillo', an equivalent rank to Mussolini's 'Il Duce' or Hitler's 'Der Furher'. The title already had negative connotations applied to it in Latin America and elsewhere, connotations which Franco would cement during his rule as he wore the title proudly at home, which is why its usage was downplayed in the West. After all, it was easier to stomach working with a run of the mill military dictator than a remnant of Fascism.
  • Greater-Scope Paragon: In the fanfic Sister Floriana he is blessed and praised by the inhabitants of the Cristo el Rey Monastery, as their noble defender against the Red Terror.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: In The Shadow of the Wind he is constantly mentioned and explained that the current situation is due to his government.
  • The Napoleon: In his portrayal on The Ministry of Time: tiny, fat, with a high-pitched voice, but cruel.
  • Not Quite Dead: In 1975 Franco fell ill and for quite some weeks there was a lot of media buzz that he was dying. Spanish officials denied the story for a long time, but eventually they had to admit the undeniable. The rumors led to a Running Gag in Saturday Night Live's "Weekend Update" sketches, particularly when Chevy Chase was the anchor.
    Chevy Chase: Our top story tonight: Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.