Follow TV Tropes


Useful Notes / Nikola Tesla

Go To

"Genius, scientist, inventor,
penniless at death, yet ignored.
Nikola Tesla,
who remembers?"
Joy Electric, "Nikola Tesla"

Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) was a Serbian-American electrical genius, brilliant engineer, Mad Scientist, possibly asexual (or just celibate, voluntarily or not), pigeon-loving weirdo, and exceedingly poor businessman.

Born to Serb parents in the village of Smiljan (Austrian Empire at the time, Croatia today) and immigrant to the United States, Tesla is best known for his eponymous electrical transformer, the Tesla Coil, closely followed by his development of the first feasible alternating current power generator, ultimately built at Niagara Falls. Other patents of his include the equipment for radio, vertical take-off and landing gear, fluorescent light bulbs, and a radio-control mechanism that contained the earliest practical example of a logic gate. He's also credited with a lot of early theoretical work on electromagnetic radiation that was later expanded into radar.

However, a combination of poor business decisions, economic trouble, and pressures from arch-rival (but not enemy) Thomas Edison eventually led to the end of his good fortunes, and he acquired obsessive/compulsive tendencies and other eccentricities. He ultimately died alone in a hotel room after failing to sell a giant Death Ray to the US government. It is safe to say that without this man, the 21st century would not exist as we know it. But for most of the later twentieth century, not a lot of people knew him (although the good news is that recently, he has been gaining more and more publicity).

Despite his relative obscurity later on, Tesla was well known in his own time. Examples include having things named after him, receiving multiple Nobel Prize nominations, being on the front cover of TIME Magazine on his 75th birthday, and New York City mayor Fiorello La Guardia reading a eulogy over the radio for him when he (Tesla) died. In recent years, his reputation has very much swung the other way as a new generation of writers and scientists rediscovered his inventions and research.

This essay lists 4 reasons for Tesla's lack of public recognition.

  1. Tesla lacked marketing ability and business knowledge. He concentrated on science and ignored the need to build a network of contacts. An unfortunate tendency to make wildly enthusiastic claims about how every new invention would bring about world peace, provide limitless free energy or occasionally both probably didn't help.
  2. Thomas Edison had such ability and knowledge; he also made political connections and promoted his public image.
  3. The corporate leaders of the time were scared of Tesla’s objective to invent free energy and took advantage of his business naiveté.
  4. The United States government covered up his inventions during World War I and World War II since they were scared that the German Empire or the Nazis would develop a superweapon from his designs.

These are the facts. Everything else is very, very much up for grabs. Artificial lightning? Never left home without it! (In fact, one of the highlights of any of his demonstrations was shooting lightning from his fingertips.) Earthquake Machine? Probably not. Faked his death and escaped to Soviet Russia? Doubtful. Assisted by an Ancient Tradition of assassins reaching back to Biblical times? No. Rescued by an immortal time-travelling prostitute who took him away so he could continue his work? Say what? Caused The Tunguska Event with the help of Guglielmo Marconi while testing an experimental antigravity teleportation engine ...You're just messing with us now, right?

Conjecture and conspiracy aside, some of the things that we do know Tesla was either working on or had plans for are quite terrifying. Aside from the above mentioned Artificial Lightning, Earthquake Machine, and the Death Ray (a particle beam weapon, to be precise) he tried to sell to the Government, Tesla had plans (whether or not any were close to functional is up for debate) for Force Shields, Gravity Manipulation, Wall Phasing and Teleportation. You know what they say about "genius and madness"! Another famous incident in which he claimed to have received a 'message from Mars' may have been Tesla receiving the signal from a pulsar, in which case he also accidentally invented radio astronomy.

Because of both his behavioral and intellectual eccentricities, Tesla is both the Ur-Example of the Real Life Mad Scientist (literally as some of the first depictions of the trope in film came from Thomas Edison's studios) and the fictional person to go to for all technological arcana and fringe science. The tesla, the S.I. unit of magnetic field strength (defined as a field that applies a one-newton force to a one-coulomb charge moving orthogonally at one meter per second), takes its name from him, as does the Tesla Motors Company, a firm dedicated to building electric cars.

For examples relating to his most famous invention, see Shock and Awe.

On a final, completely unrelated note, he was also close friends with Mark Twain. Here's a picture of them goofing around in Tesla's lab.

Tropes as portrayed by fiction:

  • Gentleman and a Scholar: Despite being portrayed as a Mad Scientist in fiction, in Real Life, most people who met him described him as a polite, cultured, and educated individual.
  • Mad Scientist: Considered to be the Trope Codifier, if not the Ur-Example, due to his crazy electric experiments.
  • The Rival: His relationship with Thomas Edison is usually framed this way. It's more correct to note that Tesla worked for Edison's rival, George Westinghouse, after leaving Edison's company over a pay dispute,note  and that the supposed personal animus between the two men tends to be exaggerated.
  • Super Breeding Program: Tesla was an ardent eugenicist in real life, although he was an advocate of 'positive eugenics' (encouraging "the right people" to breed) rather than 'negative eugenics' (prohibiting the breeding of 'unfit people', sometimes by forced sterilization). Interestingly, he did not personally contribute to this; he was known to be polite and charming to women, but never demonstrated any romantic or sexual interest.
  • Tesla Tech Timeline: A genre of Alternate History and Science Fiction in which Tesla somehow overcomes his lack of business sense and goes on to drastically change the world with his technology.

Appears in the following works:

    open/close all folders 

    Anime & Manga 

    Eastern Animation 

    Comic Books 
  • Atomic Robo, Tesla is the "father" of the title character. He is also the inventor of a wide array of devices, from an atomic reactor/battery to an artificial intelligence and the body hosting it (the hero), passing by all sorts of "smaller" projects such as flight by lighting, death rays (portable) and such. He is also the founder of Tesladyne, in-universe megacorp specialised in the progress of science. In his earlier days(Atomic Robo Real Science Adventures), he was the leader of a team of noir heroes; Ehrie "Harry Houdini" Weisz, Charles Fort, Winfield Scott Lovecraft, George Westinghouse, Annie Oakley and Wong Kei-Ying. It didn't end well, given that Lovecraft's son was driven mad just hearing about the time they turned Wardenclyffe Tower into a Death Ray in an attempt to stop a Cosmic Horror (Volume 3, Atomic Robo and the Shadow From Beyond Time).
  • A brief note in The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen implies that in that world, Tesla and Edison merged their electric companies, contributing to the Steampunk-ishness of the series' Britain.
  • The Five Fists of Science features Tesla and Mark Twain teaming up to fight Thomas Edison. With a Steampunk giant robot. After Edison summoned cosmic horrors. Also Tesla was trying to become a superhero. It's pretty much as awesome as it sounds.
  • Tesla is a significant character in the DC Comics Elseworld JLA: Age of Wonder, in which he quits Edison Machine Works at the same time as Lex Luthor and Clark Kent. The combination of wacked-out science ability, ruthless business savvy and superpowers changes the world, until Luthor remembers he's a supervillain and asks Tesla to take out those Death Ray plans again.
  • As part of the Transformers: Hearts of Steel portion of IDW's Infestation 2 Cross Through event, which took place in the Industrial Revolution, Nikola Tesla fought Cthulhu-powered Decepticons alongside Optimus Prime. Just go ahead and bask in that sentence for a bit.
  • Gets put into historical focus and made an inspiring figure to the hero in Jeff Smith's RASL.
  • In the 2010-2013 S.H.I.E.L.D. series, Marvel Comics depicted Tesla as a cyborg called Night Machine with electrokinetic powers. He works with an Immortal time-traveling Michelangelo. Really.

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Tesla plays a brief but important role in The Prestige, played by, of all people, David Bowie. He rips physics a new one by inventing a matter duplicator.
    Nikola Tesla: Anything is possible, Mr. Angiers; what you are asking for is simply expensive.
  • The Secret of Nikola Tesla by the Croatian director Krsto Papić, done in 1980.
  • While not appearing in them, many film versions of Frankenstein fit out the laboratory with lots of Tesla coils and things driven by them that make ultra-high-voltage sparks
  • In Tomorrowland, Tesla was one of the founders and leaders of the secret organization Plus Ultra. He first discovered the alternate dimension that would become known as Tomorrowland through experiments at his Colorado Springs laboratory, caused The Tunguska Event in an early experiment to enter the realm (And subsequently spearheaded research into less destructive means of entry), and had a fully operational version of the Wardenclyffe Tower constructed in the alternate realm to power all of Plus Ultra's research.

  • Tesla is a character in Spider Robinson's extended universe of Callahan's Crosstime Saloon books.
  • In Robert Rankin's The Witches of Chiswick, it's revealed that in the ideal timeline, Nikola Tesla was respected and befriended several other scientists (particularly Charles Babbage), which led to him perfecting his inventions and bringing about the space age (plus broadcasted electricity and androids) in the Victorian era. This is screwed up when time-traveling witches pollute the timeline, which leads to a dystopian timeline. This is patched up, and we end with the current timeline we all live in.
  • His inventions are a center point to the plot of an early Repairman Jack novel.
  • Tesla is the replacement/rival for Santa Claus in the short story As Dry Leaves Before The Wild Hurricane Fly.
  • He's not exactly a character in the novel Crazy For Cornelia, but Cornelia, a big ol' fan of lightning, is an obsessive fan of him.
  • Flaming's The Kingdom of Ohio features the rivalry between Tesla and Thomas Edison, Tesla being the good guy of course. There's also time travel and an obscure royal family.
  • Tesla is a character in the Worldweavers books, where he also has elemental powers.
  • He appears in the Alternate History novel New Amsterdam by Elizabeth Bear, where he has fled to France from Russia's encroaching imperialism and the French government has hired him to build his broadcast energy system for Paris. His death ray, a concentrated form of his broadcast energy, also makes an appearance but is ineffective, at least against werebeasts.
  • Tesla is a central character in Samantha Hunt's novel The Invention of Everything Else, which fictionalizes his last years of life. You know that page quote above about everything being "very, very much up for grabs?" The book is that trope in spades.
  • In Behemoth, the sequel to Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld, the Steam / Diesel Punks that make up the Central Powers have 'Tesla Cannons,' which are, predictably, lightning generators. In the third book in the trilogy, Goliath, Tesla becomes a major character. He is a great deal more unstable than in real life. Which is saying something.
  • Lewis Shiner's short story "The White City" casts Tesla as a hero, or villain, as he perfects his device to banish night and darkness by electrifying the sky into a solid glowing sheet of energy. Permanently.
  • Tesla is a Posthumous Character in The Grimnoir Chronicles and his inventions are vital to the plot of the first book. Thomas Edison takes the role in the second book Spellbound.
  • Tesla was featured quite prominently in the Titanic themed novel Distant Waves.
  • The Astounding, the Amazing and the Unknown by Paul Malmont, in which Pulp Magazine sci-fi writers have been tasked by the US Government in World War II with creating miracle weapons. After Tesla dies, a team including Robert A. Heinlein, Isaac Asimov and L. Ron Hubbard investigate his experiments in the hope of finding a Death Ray or a new source of power.
  • He was a member of the Ekaterina branch in "The 39 Clues" A online mission revealed that he discover one of the 39 Clues: mercury.
  • Tesla is an important supporting character in Jacek Dukaj's Ice novel. He's the one who develops a device to break the hold of the titular "ice" upon Earth, on top of supplying the protagonist with an Impossibly Cool Weapon.
  • He shows up in The Last American Vampire, participating in the assassination of Rasputin.
  • H. P. Lovecraft's biographers and fans suspect that Tesla and his public demonstrations were one of the inspirations for Lovecraft's original dream of Nyarlathotep.
  • Andrew Seiple's Teslaverse universe is set in a world where the Wardenclyffe Tower experiment came out a bit differently, resulting in Tesla gaining lightning powers and fighting in the war against Ghostapo troops while the rest of the world started developing powers. He was also successful in getting broadcast power to be used throughout the world.
  • Tesla does not appear as a character in Victoria, but is mentioned when the Victorians discover wireless transmission of power and other technologies theorized by him.
  • Neal Shusterman's The Accelerati Trilogy features Nikola Tesla's inventions, time travel, and a sinister cabal of inventors led by an undead Edison as a group of kids try to prevent the end of the world. Tesla himself is primarily heard only as a (time displaced) voice on the telephone, but his legacy looms large.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In an episode of Criminal Minds the main characters each contribute pictures to a Day of the Dead shrine, in addition to a picture of Maeve, Spencer Reid adds a photograph of Tesla.
  • Doctor Who: He appears in "Nikola Tesla's Night of Terror", played by Goran Višnjić, in which he teams up with the Doctor and Edison to fight off an alien invasion.
  • Eureka gave someone else credit for Tesla's Death Ray. But hey, at least they named the local school Tesla High School. Which has got to count for something, right?
  • The mid-90s TV series Legend featured a good-natured, brilliant, mad-scientist character named Janos Bartok (played by the Large Ham John de Lancie AKA Q) who was expressly inspired by Tesla.
  • Modern Marvels did a whole episode to him called "Mad Electricity".
  • Canadian period drama Murdoch Mysteries has Tesla show up in the first episode, partly to fight it out with another business over whether Toronto is lit by alternating or direct current and partly so that Murdoch can fanboy him.
  • MythBusters tested Tesla's earthquake machine. While there were some surprisingly large vibrations, the idea that it could take out a building without external power was quite busted. The bridge these guys were using their Tesla inspired device on was relatively modern, meaning that it had been built to withstand mechanical resonance. This theory has already been proven by incidents such as that of the Angers Bridge in 1850 (with the vibration of soldiers marching in step dislodging the bridge) and of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge in 1940 (with the wind happening to have a frequency that matched the structural frequency of the bridge). This could potentially work, but that would depend on whether or not the building or bridge had been fortified against such frequencies.
  • Croatian mini-series Nikola Tesla.
  • In Sanctuary, Tesla is introduced late into the first season and quickly became one of the most popular characters on the show being a colleague of Helen Magnus from the 1800s. They were members of The Five, a group of scientists who had discovered a preserve sample of blood from the extinct vampire race. He, Helen, and the other three took the blood and gained mutations that granted them superhuman abilities: Tesla in his case became a vampire-human hybrid while Helen became The Ageless, John Druitt (aka Jack the Ripper) gained teleportation, James Watson (In-Universe inspiration for Sherlock Holmes) gained super-intellignce, and Nigel Griffin gained invisibility (making him the Invisible Man). The series also took his Mad Scientist reputation and ran with it, making him a scientific genius whose recurring character arc involves finding a way to resurrect his ancestral race and take over the world. Despite that, he's a pretty affable guy and its made clear on occasion its out a (deluded) belief that it will bring about a new Golden Age for the worldnote . At one point he temporary loses his vampiric abilities only to gain electro-magnetic ones instead.
  • An episode of Team Knight Rider revealed that in his childhood, Trek had managed to design a fully functional version of Tesla's earthquake machine, which was being used by a renegade priest to do "God's work" by destroying Las Vegas.
  • Warehouse 13 has a handgun shaped and sized machine made by Tesla that shoots electricity and causes short term memory loss. He and Edison also apparently stopped their war long enough for both of them to create the warehouse's electrical system. The designing of the actual warehouse, however, was done by M.C. Escher, which is enough to give anybody Nightmare Fuel...
  • The MacGyver (2016) episode "Tesla + Bell + Edison + Mac" sees Mac and his gang discover a secret lab owned by Tesla, containing details and notes in relating to a electromagnetic cannon the bad guys are trying to obtain. After the room gets raided by said villains and Mac gets hit with a memory-disrupting concussion, he gets sent on a drug-induced trip to help remember important clues he found in the room, and at the end of it, Tesla himself (or just his conscience depicted as him) shows up to guide him to what he's looking for.

  • Tesla (Band)
  • Teslathrone
  • The band 8in8 (Ben Folds, Amanda Palmer, Damian Kulash, and Neil Gaiman) opened their album Nighty Night with a pun-laden love song to a time-traveling Tesla. [1]
  • Joy Electric, the Christian Electronica band, has a rather odd song dedicated to Tesla (as noted in the page quote).
  • Jay Electronica, no connection to the above, used a photo of Tesla as the cover to his set of EPs, "Exhibit A" and "Exhibit C." Seen here and here. Electronica also name drops Tesla in a verse of "Exhibit C."
  • Tesla Girls was a minor hit for the new wave band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark... and its music video was a major source of controversy.
  • Unitopia has a tribute to Tesla on its album Artificial World, and it's as schizophrenic as any progressive rock epic has ever been. However, it seems fitting given the subject.
  • They Might Be Giants has a song dedicated to Tesla (titled, appropriately enough, Tesla) on their 2013 album Nanobots.

    Tabletop Games 
  • GURPS Infinite Worlds, drawing on the earlier GURPS Alternate Earths, includes among its many Alternate Earths one codenamed “Gernsback”, in which the marriage of Nikola Tesla to the daughter of J.P. Morgannote  is the key divergence point which produces a late 20th Century Earth almost identical to the future as envisioned by Golden Age Science Fiction or H. G. Wells' Things to Come. This is based on the idea that she managed to tame some of his crippling eccentricities, and he thus had access to the business savvy of his father-in-law.
  • Tesla is an important figure in the "Ravaged Earth" setting of the Savage Worlds RPG. In that timeline, following the Martian Invasion of 1898, a.k.a. the "Red War", Tesla used scavenged pieces of Martian technology to invent a whole host of new inventions, becoming incredibly rich when he sold them to Edison. In that world's setting of 1936, he is the head of a major scientific research institution.
  • In the Old World of Darkness game Mage: The Ascension, Nikola Tesla was a Son of Ether, a Tradition of Mad Scientist mages. His Arch-Enemy Thomas Edison was either a rival in the Technocratic Union or a pawn of the Technocracy, depending on who you asked.
  • He's been merged into Genius: The Transgression; this time he's a Etherite, putting him as one of the villains. Then again Etherites are often considered to be the least nasty of the villians, more interested in their crazy theories and experiencing the wonders of science than hurting anyone. They just tend to have a mental breakdown when someone disagrees with them, and have easy access to rayguns.
  • In the Eurogame Through The Ages: A Story Of Civilization, one of the six Modern Era leaders available for your civilization is Tesla (at least, in the more recent editions - the original version of the game had Bill Gates filling the same role).
  • The rather detailed Alternate History Back Story to tactical boardgame Tannhäuser has Tesla defecting to rival great power the Matriarchy and equipping them with that world's equivalent to Soviet Super Science (which was combined with the power of the old pagan gods to create highly effective Magitek). The leader of the free world, US President Thomas Edison, considers his bad treatment of Tesla the main cause of such a Face–Heel Turn. Oh, and did I mention that the year's 1948, that World War I never concluded, that the Reich's warmachine is powered by demonic pacts, ancient artifacts, Black Magic and Zeppelins? And that the latter just recently started a tentative alliance with a similarly occult-inclined Imperial Japan? Yeah, the setting pretty much runs on Rule of Cool.
  • In Warhammer 40,000, the Necrons make use of Tesla weapons, which fire a kind of living lightning that can bounce around and hit multiple targets. Tesla himself is said to be the first human to have developed the technology, although the Necrons had already perfected it long beforehand.
  • In Punk Rock Saves the World, Tesla creates a Time Machine shaped like a giant gramophone, then uses it to hide in the timestream as Thomas Edison pursues him.
  • In Rocket Age, an Alternate History retro sci-fi, Nikola Tesla helped build and fly the first rocketship to Mars alongside Goddard and Einstein. Due to this, he's a major celebrity and incredibly well respected.


    Video Games 
  • Tesla: The Weather Man has an AU version of Tesla wielding a gauntlet that controls the weather against Edison and his robot army. Yes.
  • Zen Pinball has a pinball table themed around him, and it's easily the most popular table.
  • Tomb Raider: Legend had an entire level set in a secret Siberian lab that belonged to Tesla.
  • BioShock Infinite has Tesla Coils as aids that can be brought in through tears.
  • Command & Conquer: Red Alert gives his Tesla Coil technology to the Russians (in the real world Tesla coils do not work that way, but Red Alert has always preferred Rule of Cool to realism.)
  • Fallout 3 has higher-level Enclave soldiers decked out in Tesla Armor, which has giant glowing electric coils on the back, and gives the wearer a better handling of energy weapons.
    • Books entitled "Nikola Tesla and You" add +1 to your Energy Weapon Skill.
    • Tesla Armor appeared also in previous installments, but, despite the fact that it was quite fancy-looking, shining item, it was quite useless.
    • In the DLC "Broken Steel", you have to find a Tesla Coil in order to build the Tesla Cannon, a BFG that shoots lightning.
    • It's back in Fallout: New Vegas, and it's even better!
  • In Fate/Grand Order, Tesla is an Archer class servant and a rather powerful one, it's stated that despite having a rather 'young' legend, what he does influences the human society on such a large scale to the point that his life became one of humanity's biggest turning points and those feats are sublimated into an EX-rank Noble Phantasm, granting him incredibly powerful electromagnetic abilties. His powers that made him an archer? Shooting lightning out of his hand.
  • Dystopia has a gun called the Tesla Rifle. It's primary fire arcs electricity from the gun to the target, and the secondary fire launches a shiny, slow-moving ball that discharges electricity as it flies through the air.
  • In Arcanum you can lay your hands on Tesla Guns and other Tesla-as-adjective weapons, provided you play a technological character. As it seems, every 'verse has a Tesla to develop electric technologies.
  • In Assassin's Creed II, it's revealed that Tesla had an ancient artifact, called a "Piece of Eden", apparently loaned by the secretive Templar order, from which he reverse-engineered all of his inventions. He wanted to take it many steps farther and start the Internet decades early while providing the world with free electricity; Thomas Edison, a Templar, notes in a letter that this would be easy. As it would also completely reshape the world away from what the Templars want it to be, they engineer his downfall, only for the Templars' rivals, the Assassin order, to recruit him so he can use science to destroy a Piece of Eden for them. Naturally, the result of that is the The Tunguska Event.
  • In the Ratchet & Clank series, there are a number of weapons named after Tesla, such as the Tesla Claw, a lightning gun of sorts, and the Tesla Barrier, an upgraded shield that arcs electricity at nearby enemies.
    • He also pops up in the Backstory to Resistance, where he's credited with the invention of VTOL aircraft akin to the modern V-22 Osprey in the early 1930s. (Sort of Truth in Television, if you can call a patent application and an article Popular Mechanics "inventing" something.)
  • Dark Void features an alternate dimension where the main character, his ex-girlfriend, and Tesla all end up. Tesla ends up outfitting the player with jetpacks to battle the game's villains.
  • Team Fortress 2 has Tesla as the Engineer's 1800s predecessor.
  • Silent Hill: Origins has a secret alien "gift" known as the tesla rifle. It is a rifle that can electrocute every monster near!
  • Mega Man Battle Network 5: Team ProtoMan features Ms. Tesla Magnus, operator of MagnetMan, the electric Navi of the installment.
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein has another Tesla gun.
  • Dungeon Crawl has the nasty mid-game unique Nikola, known for blasting players to smithereens with his chain lightning.
  • Super Robot Wars gives us the Tesla-Leicht Institute (TLI), a mecha design and development think-tank, as well as the Tesla Drive, a portable anti-gravity device used to make mecha fly (or in the case of the Alt Eisen Riese, allow it to simply stand up under the weight of its own armor and armaments).
  • One Nancy Drew video game, "The Deadly Device", centers around Tesla's life and works. The Macguffin of the game is his claim to possessing technology that can make free electricity.
  • The 2014 Point-and-Click Adventure Game Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure involves discovering lost inventions of Tesla's.
  • Nikola Tesla appears in the Ultima spinoff Martian Dreams as one of the many period characters.
  • In Civilization: Beyond Earth, Quake bombs are said to be "described in the Apocryphica of Saint Tesla of Serbia.
  • The cancelled MOBA game Arena of Fate had Nikola Tesla as a playable hero. His specialty was Shock and Awe attacks, also dislikes Thomas Edison and sleeping.
  • Tesla plays a key role inThe Invisible Hours... as a murder victim. Despite not being active for most of the story, his actions help to set the plot in motion and his machines are key to the resolution of that plot. Also, he's a time-traveler.
  • Tesla is the player character in the game Tesla vs. Lovecraft, a top-down Shoot 'Em Up. He even has a mecha to fight off the eldritch hordes after his inventions!
  • Tesla is a major character in Iron Harvest and is responsible for the development of Humongous Mecha and Powered Armor during this game's version of World War One.
  • The Darkside Detective: A Fumble in the Dark: At one point, the protagonists encounter the ghost of Nikola Tesla, depicted as a mad scientist who's building a death ray as payback against the person he holds responsible for the loss of his favorite pigeon. When McQueen suggests that such behavior risks tarnishing his legacy, he replies that it's insignificant next to the hit his legacy has taken from his name being linked with Elon Musk.


    Web Original 

    Web Video 
  • He faces off against Thomas Edison in Epic Rap Battles of History and scores a crushing victory; 83%! He's presented as a "impeccably dressed" genius who was ripped off by Edison, dissing him by referring to Edison's well-known tactic of buying patents and then presenting them as his own, as well as referencing the recent upswing in his own popularity. He can also shoot electricity from his finger tips.
    Tesla: So confess to your thefts and let the whole world know what the Serbian did for The Wizard of Menlo
    History is getting rewritten and I have Reddit, your best invention was a way to steal credit.

    Western Animation 
  • The character Nikolai Technus from Danny Phantom is named after Tesla.
  • On Clone High, the words "Tesla rules" are perpetually visible on the blackboard in Mr. Sheepman's classroom. Tesla himself never appears.
  • One episode of Histeria! talked about Tesla's work and character in surprising detail, even noting his questionable sanity and his rivalry with Thomas Edison. (It's noteworthy that Tesla here is portrayed as Christopher Walken.)
  • On Family Guy Peter tries to console his sister-in-law and tells her she wasn't the only one to get a bum deal, then they cut away to a turn of the century boardroom:
    Man: Mr. Edison, we're going to use your invention to power the world. And Mr. Tesla, we're going to use yours in the background of Frankenstein movies.
    Thomas Edison: Aw, I wanted that one!
  • Tesla is a supervillain in a flashback in The Venture Bros.., allied with the Avon Ladies. Interestingly, he's depicted as fighting against his Real Life Heterosexual Life-Partner Mark Twain.
  • The setting of The Weekenders includes a theme park named Tesla Park, complete with a "Great Moments with Mr. Lincoln"-esque animatronic attraction starring its namesake. Bonus points for Tish clarifying that Tesla, not Marconi, was the inventor of radio and citing the Supreme Court ruling that posthumously awarded him the credit he deserved. Now you've learned something, kids!
  • The Edison/Tesla rivalry comes up as the subject of a science fair project in the Bob's Burgers episode "Topsy". The teacher who's in charge of the fair is a big Edison fan, and the kids decide to reenact the demonstration of the alleged dangers of alternating current in which Edison deliberately electrocuted an elephant.
  • Teslo from Mixels is named after Nikola Tesla, and is fittingly, the leader of the Electroids.
  • Listed as one of Dexter's inspirations in an episode of Dexter's Laboratory. Notably, he names Tesla but not Edison, suggesting he knows about the Tesla-Edison rivalry despite it being obscure during this series's production.
  • He appears on an episode of Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, where he teaches Xavier how to think big.
  • Let's Go Luna!: In "Lights Out", the kids visit Dubrovnik, Croatia and learn about the Tesla Coil. Even though the show takes place in a World of Funny Animals, Tesla is shown as a human.

  • He's been called the Man That Invented the 20th Century. As his two best known groups of inventions are all the basic technology of AC power and all the basic technology of radio, this is not an exaggeration.
  • He finally achieved honored status in scientific literature when the SI unit for magnetic flux density was named after him in 1960 (previously known as "Webers per square metre").
  • Tesla Motors, which builds high-performance electric vehicles, is named in tribute to him.
    • The electric induction motor powering some of the most advanced cars on the road was invented by Tesla himself, in 1888.
    • The Tesla Roadster aka The Tesla Dark Star - a sports car that gets an average of 240 miles on a 4-hour charge (the record is over 300 miles) and goes from 0 to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds.
    • The Tesla Model S, a family/executive sedan with a 300-mile battery pack and 17-inch touchscreen controls.
    • Tesla Blue Star
  • ZOMGSmells makes a scent as a tribute to Nikola Tesla entitled The Melancholy Death of Nikola Tesla.