Osama bin Laden was a Saudi Arabian noble and the leader of the international Sunni Muslim terrorist organization al Qaeda. He was responsible for both major terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center in New York, as well as the bombing of the USS Cole.
He was eventually located in a fortified compound in Pakistan. He was killed at the compound on May 1, 2011 during a U.S. Special Forces operation, closing a chapter in the war on terrorism.
For more information on global terrorism's overal influence on media, see The War on Terror.
Osama provides examples of numerous tropes:
- Dead All Along: Some people believed that was dead for a long time, before he was found and killed.
- Elite Army: Osama had them in the form of these guys.
- Eye Scream: News reports over the May 2 assassination of Bin Laden reveal that Bin Laden was either shot in the left eye when he refused to surrender, or the bullet went high and blew away part of Osama's skull. Stephen Colbert squeed quite a bit at this particular detail.
- Hypocrite: When his compound was searched after his death, among the items found in his compound were American soft drinks (including Coke and Pepsi), Nesquik, and Vaseline, all items that seem contradictory to his anti-capitalism views.
- Large and in Charge: An intimidating 6' 5".
- Lean and Mean: The FBI described bin Laden as having a thin build.
- Middle Eastern Coalition: He and his organization desired the restoration of the medieval Islamic caliphate.
- Mission from God: From Allah.
- Multinational Team: His army of fanatics was said to consist of Arabs, Afghans, Pakistanis, Uzbeks, Chechens, Somalis, converted Western citizens, and others.
- One of Us: Yes, actually - it was discovered after his death that he was a huge anime and video game fan. (Of course, being in the position he was in, he pirated said anime and games.)
- The Stateless: From 1995 on, he was no longer a Saudi citizen because of his terrorist activities.
Osama bin Laden in documentary and fiction:
- Osama is the only guy the H-Doujinshi Viva Freedom who doesn't get to have sex. (And serve him right!) Specifically, his men kill him for interrupting their orgy.
- The movie Osama — the first film to come out of Afghanistan since the Taliban banned films in 1996—is actually not about that Osama. Well, not explicitly about him.
- Mentioned in Planet Terror as having been found and killed by Bruce Willis' character.
- The 2008 Morgan Spurlock documentary Where In The World Is Osama Bin Laden.
- Zero Dark Thirty covers the hunt for Osama bin Laden by CIA and US army operatives, culminating in the SEAL team raid on Bin Laden's compound in Pakistan. Bin Laden is The Ghost throughout pretty much the entire film, and during the raid only brief shots of his face are seen.
- In The Dictator, the Sacho Baron Cohen comedy, Bin Laden is hiding in Middle Eastern tyrant Shabazz Aladeen's mansion. Aladeen doesn't like the situation, not because he hates Bin Laden, but because he always makes a mess of the place.
- Lord of War: Osama bin Laden is mentioned (but not seen) by Arms Dealer Yuri Orlov when he's running guns in Afghanistan in the mid-1980s during the Afghan-Soviet War. He notes that he didn't deal with Bin Laden not for any moral reasons, but because his checks were always bouncing.
- Osombie is an Exploitation Film where Osama bin Laden returns as a zombie after his death in 2011 at the head of an army of undead terrorists.
- The novel Osama by Lavie Tidhar is set in an Alternate Universe to ours, where Middle Eastern terrorism does not exist (by implication, because the state of Israel was never created, either because the Holocaust never happened or more unpleasantly because it was more successful), but there is a series of Villain-Based Franchise technothriller novels about "Osama bin Laden" which echo al-Qaeda's actions in our universe. It's also the Ironic Hell for the souls of al-Qaeda suicide terrorists, who find themselves ghosts in a universe where their motivations and actions are completely irrelevant and incomprehensible.
- Appeared in Dead Ringers, particularly in one memorable sketch where he went on a Blind Date-style show.
- Brazilian comedy group Casseta & Planeta has a sketch in their TV show depicting Osama living in Rio de Janeiro with an abusing wife.
- An absolutely bizarre book entitled Where's Bin Laden? parodies the Where's Wally? series with bin Laden and his minions hiding around the globe, in the midst of their own terrorist plots.
- Bin Laden's death just so happened to coincide with The Rock's birthday, and as well as John Cena announcing his death the night before Raw was dedicated to Rock's birthday party, which he spent part of honoring those who took part in the operation and those fighting to keep America safe in general.
- Fugitive Hunter, a PS2 first-person shooter/fighting game, has Osama bin Laden as the final boss. You kickbox him to a gangsta rap about...beating up Osama bin Laden.
- Homage: Broken Saints features an aging, bearded middle-eastern man of a fearsome disposition who speaks in quotations from the Qu'ran. His name is Osama. Coincidence? The character's first involvement in the series occurred before 9/11, his identity (as father of Iraqi Anti-Hero Oran) was revealed well afterwards, and his canon name is never mentioned in the series itself at all. Make of that what you will.
- A Brazilian comedy website, Charges.com.br, have Osama (and sidekick "Zuanta", pun on "sua anta", "you ass") as frequent characters.
- Bin Laden was a big target on Newgrounds in the early 2000s (joined by Saddam Hussein in the mid-2000s), with many flash videos and games based around killing Bin Laden.
- American Dad! did one episode where Osama is already in the US working undercover as an accountant.
- Family Guy: Osama bin Laden is beaten up by Stewie Griffin in the opening sequence of the episode "PTV", after being prevented from sending a hostile message to the United States.
- A Robot Chicken sketch has the army throw Bin Laden's body into the sea to cover up that he actually died of autoerotic asphyxiation. They felt that America's reputation would be forever ruined if everyone knew the greatest terrorist attack on American soil was masterminded by a sexual deviant.
- There was a "Bin Laden in a Blender" web site on The Simpsons. Implied in one episode (where Homer and Marge met each other as kids) that he was Homer's pen pal.
- South Park: The episode "Osama bin Laden Has Farty Pants" was the first one aired after the 9/11 attacks. The South Park boys go to Afghanistan to visit their Afghani counterparts after they sent them a live goat and run into Osama. The sequences with the terrorist leader are played out as a Looney Tunes spoof.
- Appears in 2DTV, usually in sketches where he gets annoyed by the Taliban's lack of high-tech weapons to fight the Americans with.