The second of the unifying warlords of Japan of the Sengoku Period and a prime example of Rags to Riches. He was born Kinoshita Tōkichirō, and his early life remains somewhat obscure. His parents apparently wanted him to become a priest, but he ran away from the temple and became a soldier instead. In 1558, he became the sandal-bearer of Oda Nobunaga. He was eventually drafted into Nobunaga's army, changed his name to Hashiba Hideyoshi, and used his resourcefulness to become a valuable asset.
When Nobunaga was murdered in 1582 while Hideyoshi was besieging Tadakatsu Castle, Hideyoshi had the good fortune to intercept his killer, Akechi Mitsuhide, first and annihilated his army. Hideyoshi next came into conflict with Nobunaga's other top generals, Shibata Katsuie and Tokugawa Ieyasu, who each allied themselves with one of Nobunaga's two surviving sons after Hideyoshi proclaimed Nobunaga's one-year-old grandson as heir. Hideyoshi annihilated Shibata at the Battle of Shizugatake in 1583, and fought Tokugawa to a standstill at Komaki-Nagakute in 1584. From that point on, Hideyoshi continued the conquest of Japan in alliance with Ieyasu, conquering Shikoku from Chōsokabe Motochika in 1585, Kyūshū from the Shimazu clan in 1587, and the Kantō from Hōjō Ujimasa in 1590.
Since Hideyoshi was of lower class stock, he could not become Shōgun. The highest title he held was kampaku (regent), awarded to him in 1585, when he changed his name to Toyotomi Hideyoshi. When Hideyoshi officially relinquished the title in 1591, he became known as the Taikō.
But unifying Japan wasn't enough for Hideyoshi, whose greatest ambition was to conquer China. When Korea (a Chinese protectorate at the time) refused Hideyoshi's offer of alliance against China, Hideyoshi decided to wage war on Korea instead. Hideyoshi's army invaded Korea in 1592, and made great progress on land before being ultimately repulsed by the Koreans and Chinese. Not one to give up wild ambitions easily, Hideyoshi launched a second invasion of Korea in 1597, but this invasion was already foundering when Hideyoshi died of sickness in 1598.
Since Hideyoshi's heir, Toyotomi Hideyori, was only five when his father died, Hideyoshi left his administration in charge of five magistrates: Ukita Hideie, Maeda Toshiie, Mōri Terumoto, Uesugi Kagekatsu and Tokugawa Ieyasu. It was Tokugawa, not Toyotomi, that would become the ruling family of Japan, after Ieyasu won a decisive victory over Ukita Hideie and Mōri Terumoto at the famous Battle of Sekigahara in 1600. Fourteen years later, Ieyasu finally moved against Hideyori (whose list of offences against the shogunate ranged from rebuilding the great fortress of Osaka and gathering an army of the Tokugawa clan's enemies to, of all things, sponsoring a temple bell with an inscription that the shogunate claimed contained subversive wordplay), who perished the next year when Ōsaka Castle fell after a long siege.
As noted, Hideyoshi is most known for his resourcefulness and his ability to manipulate events. Some historians to this day still argue that Mitsuhide's betrayal was secretly engineered by Hideyoshi. That being said, props should be given that he actually succeeded in unifying Japan and actually did good to his people's welfare. Too bad that his dynasty didn't last past two generations. It should be pointed out that Hideyoshi was also ruthless. He forced his heir-apparent Hidetsugu to commit suicide after an unsuccessful coup, but that apparently was not enough for Hideyoshi, who ordered Hidetsugu's entire family, including 31 women and children, executed. Moreover, his failure at the Korean Campaign was credited as one of the reasons why and it left a sour note to his legacy. It is probably also why very few productions in the modern day ever touches that Campaign in any fictional portrayal that features Hideyoshi, regardless of how he's portrayed, and only featuring the Sengoku Period. The Korean Campaign, nevertheless, has begun to become a period of interest for some nuanced fictional worksnote .
His nickname by Oda Nobunaga was 'monkey' and 'bald-rat', though nobody except Nobunaga would dare call him that to his face. Usual portrayal would depict him being a wannabe schemer, though positive portrayals of him do exist, being an eager and hard-working man that earns his peers via hard work (close enough of being a Shonen hero that defies Hard Work Hardly Works), that could seep into being a bumbling man as his vices. He's also included in one issue of Badass of the Week.
Examples of works featuring Hideyoshi:
- The famous novel Taiko. Chronicles with the life and times of Hideyoshi, from sandal-bearer to the Japanese unifier.
- Sengoku Rance where he's... a literal monkey. He's also directly responsible for the Demonic Possession of Nobunaga as a catastrophic Spanner in the Works.
- Of course, KOEI's Samurai Warriors. Hideyoshi starts out as a smug sleazeball NPC in the first game, but at the first expansion, he's given a more sympathetic personality where he really wants to make Japan a place for happy people. That trait sticks to his future portrayals. Even though he also has a friendship with Saika Magoichi as well as being a much more fun and stern guy to be around, he still looks more of a goofball in future games...oh, and he also loves treasure. He wields a sansetsukon (three-section staff) in battle, and as a note to his monkey motif, Word of God made it so it was akin to a monkey's tail whipping at something.
- Warriors Orochi is also notable of his inclusion, especially in the English version, whereas his voice now literally sounds like Bugs Bunny trying to sound like a monkey. Eww...
- In the Onimusha series, Hideyoshi starts out as Nobunaga's smug henchman. But when Nobunaga dies, Hideyoshi levels up and unifies Japan off-screen. Then comes the fourth game, where he becomes the Big Bad using the Genma forces to wreak havoc. However, he does get an Alas, Poor Villain moment when the Genma forces ditch him and he realizes that he's done something horrible, meaning, there was a time that Hideyoshi had a genuine HeelFace Turn...
- The Sengoku Basara series. Forget about scrawny monkey-like Hideyoshi and say hello to gorilla-sized Hideyoshi who fights with huge grappling gauntlets and solves all problems by punching them. Hard. If that fails, grab a nearby mook (usually a hostile one but friendly ones will do), then bludgeon the problem at hand with said mook. Instead of a Smug Snake, he becomes a Well-Intentioned Extremist who'd do ruthless things to shape Japan into a strong nation. To put it simply, he's a Captain Ersatz of Raoh, with massive power shaped in the form of light.
- Plus, he also is voiced by a seiyuu who does characters in the aforementioned Warriors franchisenote . That guy happens to be Ryoutarou Okiayu.
- In Age of Empires II's special mission, you actually control Hideyoshi's forces trying to beat down Mitsuhide after he killed Nobunaga. There's also a mission where the player must prevent Hideyoshi's invasion of Korea.
- Hideyoshi makes an appearence in Genzo without playing a major role. Here he looks like a monkey dressed as a samurai. His expansionistic tendencies are frequently mentioned, to the point that Kiku thinks that if he could he would try to conquer not only Korea and China, but Philippines, Spain and Portugal as well.
- Hideyoshi (or rather, Yoshino Hide) is the main character of Sengoku Otome, here gender flipped into a young, somewhat clumsy girl with blond hair who gets thrown into the past, and may very well become the actual Hideyoshi.
- Hideyoshi is one of the main players in Hyouge Mono. He is a friend and fellow tea enthusiast of main character Sasuke, and is also a deft manipulator who conspires to overthrow Oda Nobunaga by turning his vassals and generals against him.
- Hideyoshi is a teenager that meets Raimon 11 in Inazuma Eleven Go Chrono Stone after they traveled to the past. He idolizes Oda Nobunaga and wishes to fight by his side.
- In The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, Hideyoshi dies saving the main character's life at the very beginning of the series, leaving him to serve Oda Nobuna under the "Monkey" nickname.
- In The 39 Clues, he is really Thomas Cahill, the founder of the Tomas branch.
- In One Piece, Admiral Kizaru of the Marines is likened to him for his craftiness and manipulation of his enemies and underlings alike.
- In Shogun, the novel by James Clavell, he is the inspiration for the character Nakamura, a former dictator of Japan.
- Nioh occurs after Hideyoshi has died, but his legacy is still referenced by historical characters: Kuroda Kanbei was imprisoned during his tyrannical rule, while he forced himself upon Tachibana Ginchiyo into an affair when her husband Muneshige was fighting for him during the Civil War. Finally, Ishida Mitsunari still continues to serve the Toyotomi clan as a vassal and leads their forces at the Battle of Sekigahara. For all his flaws, Mitsunari still saw values within Hideyoshi's dream to make Japan unified and strong. Also despite making Hideyoshi more tyrannical, Koei still had him not touching the Korean Campaign.
- In Ikemen Sengoku, Hideyoshi is a kind and protective man who acts as a big brother to the rest of the Oda-allied warlords and is very popular with the ladies. It's implied, however, that if the time-traveling main character had not prevented Nobunaga's historical death at Honno-ji or been there to support him when he believes Nobunaga to be dead later on in his route, Hideyoshi would have crossed the Despair Event Horizon and become closer to the more ruthless depictions of him that Sasuke mentions are more common in the historical reports on him.
- Fate/Koha-Ace: He doesn't appear, but he is mentioned as a hypothetical Servant, and Oda Nobunaga is a Servant who occasionally talks about him. He was later given a profile as a Saber class Servant. When summoned, he will start out as a child, but then his Noble Phantasm Child of the Sun will cause him to rapidly age into a powerful adult over the course of a week, and then into an elderly man the next week. This symbolizes his growth from a no-name farmer to one of the most important names in Japan. He also has Sword Hunt, which gives him a chance to render his opponent's weapon useless, and can summon the Sunomata Castle.
- He is still The Ghost in Fate/Grand Order, but his liege lord Nobunaga and his second wife Chacha are playable characters in-game, with their characters colored by their perception of him. Furthermore, in the 3rd GUDAGUDA event, much of the motivations of that chapter's main villain (Akechi Mitsuhide) is colored by his resentment of being Always Second Best to Hideyoshi in Nobunaga's eyes. And beforehand, in the 2nd GUDAGUDA event, while he personally did not appear, one Demon Pillar took his name (or just his title Taikou) and recreated his golden castle after capturing Chacha, enabling it to get a perception of Hideyoshi from her to make it happen.
- Chibichuki!: In a parody, several characters reenact Momotaro and he plays Monkey.
- In Ikemen Sengoku he is a love interest, and far from being a schemer, he's almost fanatically loyal to Nobunaga, to the point that the main character considers the latter a love rival. The reason for his loyalty is that he was born very poor, stated specifically by himself to have been sanka, and ultimately was treated so badly by the world he gave up on himself and became a petty thief. But when he tried to rob a young noble one day, that noble turned out to be Nobunaga, who handily disarmed him. Hideyoshi waited for death, not seeing his life worth anything, but was told by Nobunaga that class and caste differences were meaningless and that he strove to create a unified Japan where all people would be equal. So moved was Hideyoshi that he tracked him down to become his sandal-bearer and rose through the ranks to be his right-hand man. When the main character meets him, he is a reliable, friendly Team Mom who is beloved by the town for his good nature, but widely acknowledged as a bad romantic prospect, due to his willingness to throw his life away for Nobunaga at a moment's notice. Later in his route, the main character catches a glimpse of what the future will be if she leaves the time period to go back home, seeing Hideyoshi as a bloodthirsty, wealth-obsessed tyrant totally unlike the man she knows. She realises that's what the historical Hideyoshi was like, and that's who he will become if she allows him to continue his self-destructive path in the wake of Nobunaga's (apparent) death.