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Useful Notes / Grigori Rasputin

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Lover of the Russian queen!
There was a cat that really was gone!
Russia's greatest love machine!
It was a shame how he carried on!
Boney M., "Rasputin"

Grigoriy Yefimovich Rasputin (Григо́рий Ефи́мович Распу́тин, 22 January [9 January in the Old Style calendar] 1869 – 30 December [17 December in the Old Style calendar] 1916) was a Russian mystic and preacher. His family name was actually Novykh, but he is best known by the nickname Rasputin roughly meaning "the debauched one".

Born of peasant parents (his father was a former postman fired for alcoholism), he arrived in Saint Petersburg in the early 20th century, where he had some success in treating Tsarevich Alexei, who suffered from hemophilia. He managed to turn this, and the fascination in upper-class Russian circles with religious mysticism, healing, and sex, into becoming a close associate of Tsar Nicholas II's family and an important figure in pre-revolution Russia. Rasputin also was never an ordained cleric or monk of the Orthodox Church (and had quite a lot of enemies among them); his official status in Orthodox Christianity was that of a lay preacher. However, authors tend to forget that and call him a "mad monk".

When Tsarina Alexandra called upon him to pray for the healing of Tsarevich Alexei, he told Alexandra "God has seen your tears and heard your prayers. Do not grieve. The Little One will not die. Do not allow the doctors to bother him too much." Alexei's hemorrhage stopped the next day and he began to recover, something that even the doctor treating Alexei couldn't describe as anything but a miracle. Alexandra regarded Rasputin as a starets, a venerable religious elder figure with a direct connection to God, and would manifest Mama Bear-like instincts, fervently defending him and turning her wrath against anyone who dared to question "Father Grigoriy" after Alexei's miraculous healing. However, the famous song at the top of the page is incorrect. He debauched his way through St. Petersburg society with behavior that may have been illegal, but he was smart enough to keep all of that away from the Tsar's family; he was not the straitlaced and prudish Alexandra's lover, with no evidence that their relationship was anything other than one of religious fervor. None of that stopped gossip, of course, especially when Alexei's illness was only known by a handful of people.

Rasputin's healing ability was uncanny and apparently perfectly genuine. His effect on the tsarevich is well documented by hostile witnesses who admitted they couldn't explain it. Modern doctors suggest that Rasputin coincidentally gave Alexei the best treatment available by keeping their early-20th-century predecessors away from the boy — doctors of the 1900s-10s would have prodded him a lot and recommended aspirin, the former of which could aggravate or even create new bleeds and the latter of which is a blood thinner that would make bleeds worse. Some say his reassurances to Alexei and his mother calmed both of them down, lowering the stress on both of them and making the hemorrhages less severe. Despite his many moral failings, he was genuinely loyal to the Tsar and Tsarina and saw himself as their God-appointed protector. Alexei wasn't the only Romanov child that became close to Rasputin; his four older sisters, Olga, Tatiana, Maria and Anastasia, were grateful to him, and Rasputin responded in kind, reading them stories and generally being a good man towards them. Their official caretakers were quite leery, but the Grand Duchesses' letters show nothing but trust and affection and his answers give some excellent advice. Rasputin's own daughter, Maria, claimed he was a strict but affectionate father. She also wrote three memoirs about him (of questionable veracity), which painted him as a borderline saint who was unjustly slandered by his enemies.

Rasputin's disproportionate influence over the Tsarina, and through her the Tsar, was resented by many, not without reason, and he became a target of anti-Romanov and anti-Tsarist groups in Russia. He was murdered in 1916, ostensibly by Prince Felix Yusupov note  and a band of his cronies. Yusupov's story (as embroidered and added to through the years) was that Rasputin was lured to a meeting with Yusupov where he was fed cakes and wine laced with cyanide; when that failed to kill him, he was beaten, shot, stabbed, had his genitals chopped off and was thrown into the Neva River, where he died of hypothermia after trying to claw through the ice. In reality, he was shot four times. No cakes (he had a bad stomach and wouldn't have eaten them even if the cyanide could have survived the baking process), sipped a very small amount of wine, the first shots fired by Yusupov's trembling hand either missed or did not hit vital organs, no beating, no freezing. Though he may have reincarnated as Alan Moore.

As an aside, some have theorized that the British Secret Intelligence Service was involved in the plot to some degree. While Yusupov himself did not have any obvious connections to the organization, its director at the timenote  was a friend of a friend.note  The fact that he was pushing the Tsar to get Russia out of World War I certainly gave the British a reason to want him dead, as that would have freed up a significant portion of Germany's forces for a push against Allied lines in western Europe (it did happen eventually, when the Bolsheviks signed the Treaty of Brest Litovsk with Germany in March 1918, though by that time the Allies were ready for counter-offensives).

Trope Namer for Rasputinian Death. The frequent myths and interesting history around him has made him a frequent target for a Historical Villain Upgrade, Historical Domain Superperson or Beethoven Was an Alien Spy, as well as a prominent figure in many a conspiracy theory.

No relation to the current Russian President, Vladimir Putin (though Putin's grandfather very likely cooked food for him). Their surnames are actually antonymous in Russian, with Putin meaning "of the path" while Rasputin stands for "off the path" or, figuratively, "the libertine".

He is also (indirectly) the reason why nearly all films end with "This is a work of fiction. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events, is purely coincidental." in the credits. His assassin, Felix Yusupov, was exiled for his actions (ironically sparing him the fate of the other Russian royals who were killed during the revolution) but ended up destitute in Paris. In 1933, MGM produced the Rasputin biopic Rasputin And The Empress (starring John, Ethel, and Lionel Barrymore) which Yusupov claimed to be defamatory. Not toward himself, though, because he openly bragged about being the assassin. Rather, it was defamatory towards his wife, Irina. They were awarded the equivalent of about $125,000 in today's money, the film was pulled from circulation for decades, and almost every other movie since has included that disclaimer to avoid similar issues.


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Like the equally evil Jack the Ripper, Mad Monk Rasputin has a bit role in the anime Soul Eater. In a dream sequence, no less!
  • Master Of Mosquiton has him as an arguably Necessarily Evil mastermind trying to prevent the return to Earth of evil "Star-Gods".
  • Rasputin shows up during a flashback episode in Blood+. Here he was a Chiropteran servant of the Big Bad Diva. His powers enabled him to survive his historical assassination. Rasputin went into hiding in his hometown using his shapeshifting abilities to disguise himself as a young girl. It is hinted that Diva impersonated Anastasia at some point. He’s ultimately killed in a confrontation with Saya and Hagi in 1918. Notably the episode acknowledges that Rasputin is actually a nickname as well as correctly identifying his hometown as Pokrovskoye. The manga adaptation casts him as the leader of a Chiropteran cult who helped Diva pull a Kill and Replace on Anastasia. It oddly portrays him as clean-shaven and younger than his historical self unlike the anime which showed a photo where he looked exactly like his historical self.
  • Dance in the Vampire Bund makes him into an alias of a power-hungry Vampire Lord named Ivanovic who's willing to lie, kill, and steal. He's killed some 90 years after the Russian Revolution with the help of Anastasia, who he turned and made his plaything until she escaped him. The worst part? He was using poor Anastasia as practice to get himself ready for Mina.
  • In Drifters, Rasputin shows up on the side of the Ends as one of the chief servants and advisers of the Black King. Oddly, this puts him on the same side as Anastasia Romanova, a character he is more often portrayed as being antagonistic towards when they meet in other media.
  • Rasputin is listed as one of Humanity's representatives in Record of Ragnarok.

    Comic Books 
  • Corto Maltese: A sometimes-ally sometimes-rival of Corto Maltese is known as Rasputin (and looks a lot like the other one) — though he tends to feel insulted if he's "mistaken" for the "other" one (it's not quite clear, but since he's been active for quite some time after the historical one's death, they're probably two different people).
  • Hellboy: He is an antagonist of Hellboy's, in service of an Eldritch Abomination. He also used to work for the Nazis in order to bring Hellboy into the world and bring about its destruction (unfortunately for them, Hellboy materialized in England, and received a very different education than what the Beast of the Apocalypse might be expected to have).
  • Inspector Canardo: The main recurring villain and Arch-Enemy of Canardo is a cat named Rasputin, who is basically a Captain Ersatz of Rasputin in a Funny Animals setting. He's also a mystic from Siberia, but otherwise their stories are completely different.
  • Nikolai Dante: While obviously dead by the 27th century, his legacy lives on, as a cult known as the Devil's Martyrs have dedicated themselves to his sexual practices. Every member is required to grow a beard like his, women included.
  • Superboy: When Karl Kesel homaged elements of Kamandi in Superboy (1994) he introduced a Ratsputin as the Evil Chancellor of Great Caesar.
  • X-Men: He is an ancestor of Colossus (aka Piotr/Peter Nikolaievich Rasputin). An ancestor that is very eager to be reincarnated in one of his blood.

    Fan Works 
  • His equivalent in the Discworld is Gaz Putin, a scheming wizard who died boasting that he managed to seed the mighty Romanoff family with a streak of magic that they'll never be able to remove. Read more in the works of A.A. Pessimal.

    Films — Animation 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In The Devil Rides Out, the Duc refers to Rasputin as the greatest dark magician of his age, who unleashed the four horsemen of the apocalypse and almost caused armageddon - i.e. the First World War.
  • The Doctor Who Past Doctor Adventures novel Wages of Sin is set in pre-Revolution Russia and has Rasputin as a character. It's a historically-straight portrayal mostly, although his famous hard-to-kill-ness does turn out to be due to a time traveller trying to keep him alive.
  • He gets far more hilarious in Faction Paradox. To start with, the Faction recruited him a few days before his death, took him to the Eleven-Day Empire, and replaced him with an exact duplicate. Then the Celestis came along, didn't realise the Faction had made the switch, and offered him their standard deal that includes resurrection. The duplicate had been briefed not to argue with any War-era powers it met, and so accepted the deal. By the time of the assassination attempt, the Great Houses noticed something was going on, assumed the Faction would try to take him to the Empire at the point of death, and so implanted a device that would replace the Faction duplicate with a Great House duplicate. House constructs are by default immune to poisoning. As such, when the poison failed, he was shot. Then the Celesti protocols resurrected him, producing a creature whose mind was struggling between Great Houses, Celesti, and Faction protocols which had to be shot repeatedly and beaten to death simply to get it to lie down long enough to be thrown ino the river, where it finally froze to death. As a result, none of the three powers involved like to talk about it and everyone in the War agreed to leave celebrities well alone. The real Rasputin, meanwhile, persuaded Anastasia (who was also a Faction recruit) to set up a rival state, then went mad and died under mysterious circumstances. Anastasia's Thirteen-Day Republic was shortly afterwards annihilated.
  • Heretical Edge casts Rasputin as an Akharu who somehow managed to cast magic despite the blood curse that's supposed to prevent that; this enabled him to both perform his miraculous healings and fake his death. He was subsequently possessed and forced to betray the Romanovs, but he nonetheless managed to save Anastasia by turning her into a vampire. Unfortunately, she doesn't know about the possession and is hunting him down for revenge.
  • A Cahill from the Tomas branch in The 39 Clues.
  • A Night in the Lonesome October has Rastov the Mad Monk.
  • The Last American Vampire has protagonist Henry, along with Nikola Tesla, involved in killing off Rasputin, who was just a bit much for humans to handle, being a vampire himself.
  • Percy Jackson and the Olympians/The Heroes of Olympus: The Manual suggests that he's a son of Hades. Considering that the children of Hades we meet in story tend to be dark (if not necessarily evil), brooding, and somehow subtly wrong, it checks out (for the record, his half-siblings include a voodoo queen's kid who constantly summons cursed jewels, a kid whose only friends are the dead, and Hitler).
  • One chapter of Julius Evolas "Eros and the mysteries of love" is almost entirely dedicated to Rasputin and his sex life.
  • The Onion book Our Dumb Century features an article from 1923 called "Russians Continuing to Kill Rasputin." It's Exactly What It Says on the Tin.

    Live-Action TV 
  • He was the subject of an episode of The Crow: Stairway to Heaven.
  • Leonard Nimoy played a Rasputin-like character in "The Choice", an episode of Mission: Impossible, indestructibility and all.
  • Played by Alan Rickman in HBO's 1996 biopic Rasputin, aka Rasputin Dark Servant Of Destiny. His portrayal argued Rasputin may actually have been a saint with legitimate supernatural powers derived from God and at the very least didn't deserve the crap piled on his memory.
  • When the topic of Rasputin's death was brought up on QI, Bill Bailey, inspired by the Boney M song's line about Rasputin's glowing eyes, put forth the theory that Rasputin was, in fact, a Terminator. Complete with him dragging himself along the panel like the end of the first film.
  • Rasputin shows up among the army of wax droids in an episode of Red Dwarf, serving mainly as Emperor Caligula's lackey.
  • Forever Knight. Rasputin is a vampire who gets executed on the orders of LaCroix the vampire so as to spark off the chaos of revolution.
  • In the Angel episode "Why We Fight", after Angel tells the vampire Nostroyev he's never heard of him, Nostroyev lists various atrocities he's responsible for, closing with "I was Rasputin's lover!"
    • Meanwhile, over in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, during a history lecture on the circumstance surrounding Rasputin's death, Buffy wonders out loud whether he was actually a vampire. The professor giving the lecture is not amused.
  • Grimm: Aunt Marie's records indicate that Rasputin was the same kind of being as Koschei the Deathless, thus explaining how hard he was to kill and his supposed magic powers. No indication is given on whether he was evil, but the Koschei that the protagonists meet certainly isn't.
  • Legends of Tomorrow: In the Season 5 premiere, Rasputin is the first of the Encores resurrected from Hell by Astra in order to sow chaos across history. He bursts out of his coffin during his funeral, and immediately sets about planning to assassinate the whole royal family so that he can take over Russia. The Legends try to stop him, but the Resurrective Immortality provided by having his soul chip still in Hell impedes them, until finally Ray shrinks down to enter his mouth and grow to full size again, bursting his body apart; the Legends keep the remains in multiple jars to keep him from regenerating from that.
  • In the Doctor Who episode "The Power of the Doctor", the Master appears using Rasputin's identity, although it isn't clear whether the Master always was Rasputin, or was temporarily impersonating him (The script on the BBC website stated that he is Rasputin because there's a deleted scene where he gets thrown into a bag by a Prince who historically did that.). To cap it off, the Master even dances to Boney M.'s "Rasputin" while carrying out his Evil Plan.

  • "Rasputin" by disco band Boney M., which refers to him as "Russia's greatest love machine". It's been covered by a number of bands and is a staple of the Just Dance series. In a very odd and ironic twist of fate, Bobby Farrell died on a December 30 (2010) in Saint Petersburg, just like the Mad Monk.
  • Funkadelic put a photograph of him on the back cover of their album One Nation Under a Groove with the caption "Rasputin raps" and a Speech Balloon of him saying, "Ahhh - dese Funkadelic ist very good for America!"
  • "Rasputin" by Austrian/Polish band Kontrust seems to take a satirical look at his relationship with the Tsars.
  • Rasputin serves as a spirit guide to the central character in the Mastodon Concept Album Crack the Skye.

    Newspaper Comics 
  • One Dilbert comic had the Pointy-Haired Boss hiring Rasputin, saying he had "charisma". He then proceeded to suffocate Asok with a Death Glare. After that, he tried to do the same to Wally, but Wally's powerful anti-charisma caused him to choke instead.

  • Dan Carlin's Hardcore History covers Rasputin's relationship with the Romanovs in one of his World War One Blueprint for Armageddon episodes. Specifically likening him, appearance wise at least, to someone you'd expect to see out of a 70s metal band.
  • The Last Podcast on the Left did a four-part series on Rasputin, aimed at exploring his mystique while dissecting it. The hosts came to the conclusion that he was a somewhat modern thinker with a knack for politics and pattern recognition, aided and facilitated by Empress Alexandra's hunger for mysticism as a possible cure for her son Alexei's hemophilia. However, he was vastly out of his depth, the target of the press's hate because they didn't understand why he was hanging around the Romanovs (and the Romanovs couldn't very well say, lest the bloodline look weak), and he dragged a number of absolute clowns into the government, effectively promoting the image of institutional rot that led to the revolution. He also had no grand design: all he wanted was to live high on the hog and be "as Rasputin as he could be", and working his way into the royal court was the route he chose to achieve those goals.
  • Mike Duncan's Revolutions naturally includes him as a character in Season 10, which covers the Russian Revolutions of 1905, February 1917, and October 1917. He only appears briefly in two 1/3-length episodes released in April 2021,note and in which Duncan summarizes the modern research explaining why the Romanovs relied on him so much (and also why he wasn't so mad as he seemed).

    Tabletop Games 
  • Appeared in about a dozen books in the Old World of Darkness... and each of them told a different story with him as another type of supernatural. They are all true — Rasputin became a Wraith after death and possessed all the supernaturals he was featured as.
  • Appears as the Big Bad of part 5 of Pathfinder's Reign of Winter adventure path. In the Pathfinder mythos, he is the estranged son of Baba Yaga, who abandoned him on Earth. His magic allowed him to communicate with his distant sister Queen Elvanna of Irrisen on Golarion to conspire against Baba Yaga, kicking off the adventure path's plot. He also took the time to have an affair with the Tzarina and father Anastasia.
  • While the man himself doesn't appear in Warhammer 40,000 (that we know of — there are several immortal humans still running around), the Dark Angels had to put down a rebellion called the Rasputin Uprisings.

    Theme Parks 
  • While The Haunted Mansion was in development, imagineer Marc Davis had planned for a portrait of Rasputin to be one of the changing portraits in the loading area at Disneyland. The portrait would have had Rasputin's staring eyes grow larger and larger until the portrait was all one eerily staring eyeball. Walt put the kibosh on that, though, as Rasputin still had living relatives who might have brought legal action against Disney. However, the original Marc Davis concept art was re-purposed into one of the "Sinister Eleven" portraits in Disney World with moving eyeballs. This one's officially known as "The Ogre", with a shaggy gray beard but a face and expression similar to Rasputin's. (Some fans refer to this portrait as Rasputin nonetheless.)

    Video Games 
  • He gets a mention in Assassin's Creed II, as an agent of the Templars who stole the Staff of Eden from Czar Nicholas and thus precipitated the revolution that would follow. The Assassin order were the ones who killed him, though naturally, it took a while.
  • Yuri from Command & Conquer: Red Alert 2 is an expy, serving as a mysterious and manipulative advisor to a Romanov, with psychic powers to boot.
  • Destiny features an ancient super-advanced AI codenamed Rasputin as a major supporting character. Since the series is set centuries After the End, nobody gets the significance of the name, though Rasputin (the AI) himself is all too happy to brag about it:
    I bear an old name. It cannot be killed.
  • A Rasputin shows up in the Muffinwind mod for The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. His theme music is Boney M's Rasputin, and at one point he slips up and refers to himself as Russia's greatest love machine (he tries to backtrack and claim that he meant Stros M'Kai when your character asks where in Oblivion this Russia he speaks of is), so it seems he is in fact this Rasputin. Yes, Muffinwind is not a very serious mod.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, Rasputin appears in the Russian Lostbelt possessing Kirei Kotomine, the main villain of Fate/stay night. However, this version of Rasputin is remarkably accurate to how he was said to be in life — he acts as an advisor towards Anastasia, who still seems rather close to him, and devotes himself to overthrowing the monstrous Ivan the Terrible ruling the Lostbelt so Anastasia can claim her birthright of the Russian Empire. Once he accomplishes his goal of making Anastasia the Tsar, he turns over control of the body back to Kirei. Rasputin did not become playable initially due to his role as an Apostle of the Foreign God, but he was eventually released as part of the New Year's 2023 Campaign.
  • Iron Harvest turns him into what is effectively a James Bond villain leading a secret organization called Fenris, plotting world domination, starting wars for personal gain, and trying to steal a bunch of high-tech weapons from Nikola Tesla.
  • In both Persona 2 games, Rasputin appears as a Persona of the Magician Arcana. He is weak to all of the physical elements, but nulls all magical elementals in exchange.
  • Razputin is the psychic prodigy star of Psychonauts. He lacks any major connection to his namesake besides a reference to Rasputin's supposed death by drowning, given Raz's curse-induced Super Drowning Skills.
  • A robot from the future made in the image of Rasputin shows up as an antagonistic Devil Summoner in Raidou Kuzunoha vs. The Soulless Army (set years after his supposed death and in Japan no less).
  • Showed up as a Big Bad (though not THE Big Bad, since he basically shows up in the middle of the game) in Shadow Hearts: Covenant. Turns out, he's secretly a demon. Fortunately, you've got the help of a camera-wielding Princess Anastasia, and her magical, flying Fabergé Egg!
  • A Team Fortress 2 achievement for the Heavy references Rasputin. The Heavy needs to suffer several types of damage in a single life.
  • Total War: Warhammer III introduces a Legendary Lord called Kostaltyn, the Supreme Patriarch of the Great Orthodoxy. He is the head of the official religion of Kislev (a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to Russia), his appearance is heavily modeled after the Mad Monk himself and even possesses the man's legendary durability.
  • Wizardry has Ratkin NPC named Ratsputin. Though he's a ninja, not monk — the name is due to mice- and rat-related puns Theme Naming.
  • He shows up as a Camp Gay fighter in the World Heroes series.

    Visual Novels 
  • Rasputin is the final boss of Lime-iro Senkitan. He's presented as a monk, at least. He's also presented as a villain mastermind with his own henchmen and an intent to take over Russia (and then, presumably, the world).


    Web Original 
  • Count Dankula covered him as one of the Absolute Mad Lads, going over his background and his interactions with the Romanov royal family.
  • Rasputin raps against Josef Stalin in the Season 2 finale of Epic Rap Battles of History.
  • The OverSimplified video on the Russian Revolution featured Rasputin and how he contributed to the Tsar's reputation being destroyed.
  • The SCP Foundation currently have him contained as SCP-4680, due to him possessing immortality, and keep him subdued with copious amounts of alcohol. While his immortality allows him to heal from wounds, it unfortunately doesn't grant him the ability to regrow severed parts, which is something he's not happy about due to his penis being currently held in a museum.
  • At the end of the third season of TANIS, Nic meets a man in Tunguska known only as "The Father". As season four starts, Nic investigates the Father and discovers he has an uncanny resemblance to old photographs of Rasputin.
  • Extra Credits detailed his life in one of their Extra History series.

    Western Animation 
  • In an Animaniacs short, Rasputin has the ability to hypnotize others instantly into doing his will...until he meets the Warners.
  • Appears in a cameo towards the end of an episode of The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy as a spirit manifesting from some ectoplasm Mandy has sucked out of Grim's skull, alongside Attila the Hun and Abraham Lincoln. Mandy immediately asks Attila and Rasputin to tutor her, and for Lincoln to bring them snacks.
  • Time Squad: In the episode, "Nobel Peace Surprise", Rasputin appears as one of Alfred Nobel's recipients for his Evil Prize, and along with other notoriously evil historical figures (including Lizzie Borden, Jack the Ripper, and Catherine O'Leary's cow) and attempts to try to murder the Time Squad officers.
  • Snerdly in Top Cat and the Beverly Hills Cats is a manipulative sleazy bastard posing as a loyal servant but with truly homicidal plans on his own. The name of his Right-Hand Attack Dog? Rasputin.

Alternative Title(s): Rasputin The Mad Monk