Top 10 Beloved Fictional Characters That Are Actually Based On Real People

Tags: #IndianaJones ,   #JamesBond ,   #Popeye ,   #Macbeth

Peony Hill

Peony Hill

Last updated:  2022-12-01 18:00:09

Everyone is familiar with the feeling of looking at a screen, engrossed in the character's life as it unfolds into extraordinary narratives. Therefore, we get attached to these characters, feeling as if they're real people. Sometimes, even though the characters we're seeing are a work of fiction, they are actually grounded in reality.

10. Indiana Jones

How many archeologists have run away from a giant boulder on their bucket list?

Finding someone who hasn't heard of Indiana Jones might be impossible. The look of this explorer is both iconic and easily replicable. With a leather jacket, sachet, bullwhip, and fedora, anyone can achieve it. When you pair this with the jaw-dropping adventures he gets to go on, the immediate rise to popularity is not surprising at all.

Pinning down Indy's inspiration to just one person is nearly unthinkable as he is an homage to all the action heroes of the 1930s. But he also had a couple of rumored real-life inspirations, even though neither Lucas nor Spielberg have definitively confirmed them. All of them are notable historians, archaeologists, or diplomats, from Carl Ethan Akeley, the father of modern taxidermy, to Vendyl Jones, who had searched for the holy ark himself.

9. James Bond

From looking for birds to looking for criminals

This MI6 agent has been part of popular culture for generations, first appearing in Ian Flemming's "Casino Royale." Since then, Bond has been featured in numerous books, movies, comics, and video games. His suits, fancy cars, and drink preferences are embedded in our brains to the point of AHHH.

The character is based on several people Flemming met during the Second World War, but mostly his brother Peter, whom Flemming adored. However, the funniest part of Bond's origins is his name. This suave spy who has a way with the ladies picked it up from an ornithologist. According to Flemming, the ornithologist and his wife were quite fond of the joke.

8. Bloom (Winx Club)

Quick, someone, make an edit of Bloom's magical girl transformation set to Toxic

Most people who watched the Winx Club growing up know that our five girlies' looks were based on five different celebrities. Bloom was based on Brittney Spears, Flora on Jennifer Lopez, Stella on Cameron Diaz, Tecna on P!nk, and Aisha on Beyoncé. Each of the girls took inspiration from the stars' looks and fashion sense when the show was created.

However, people might not know that Bloom is based on another person as well. Iginio Straffi, the show's creator, revealed that her story is inspired by someone he met in real life. While he was at University, Straffi met a girl named Antonella, who was raised by an adoptive family. Antonella's wish to meet her biological parents inspired him to create Bloom.

7. Dipper and Mable Pines

Hey Alex, when are you dropping the selfies with all the magical creatures you've met?

"Gravity Falls" is a show aired on Disney and DisneyXD for two seasons from 2012 to 2016. Dipper and Mable's adventures quickly gained a cult following because of their charisma and supernatural setting. Most of the Pines family is based on real people, whether the show's creator himself or people in his life. 

The dynamic between Dipper and Mable Pines, the show's main characters, is loosely based on Alex Hirsch, the show's creator, and his twin sister. While his adventures with his twin might not have been as fantastical as Dipper's and Mable's, they ended up providing an excellent base for a supernatural adventure.

6. Buzz Lightyear

One small step for a man…

This plastic astronaut is a staple of all of our childhoods. He first appeared in "Toy Story" (1995), going down in history as one of the first completely computer-animated characters. He has since appeared in the rest of the "Toy Story" movies, and he got a spinoff film called Lightyear in 2022. Furthermore, he was voted the no.1 Pixar character in 2007 by "Empire" magazine readers.

While Buzz was always meant to be an astronaut, his name changed several times. He was first called "Lunar Larry," but the name was deemed too wacky (appropriately, might we add). Eventually, the creators gave him the name "Buzz" in honor of the Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, the man who first walked on the moon.

5. Popeye

Do you think either of them liked spinach?

Popeye the Sailor Man is a character known to multiple generations. He was introduced in a daily comic strip in 1929 but has appeared in multiple comics, webcomics, cartoons, and feature films over the century. This one-eyed and spinach-loving sailor is firmly set in pop culture and parents' tales of why kids should eat their greens.

Popeye's appearance is generally attributed to two different people. The first is Frank Fiegel, whom the cartoonist creator knew in person. Fiegel was a one-eyed brawler always seen smoking a pipe, and his jutting chin undeniably resembles Popeye's. The other person is a picture of an unknown British sailor later nicknamed Popeye because he resembles the character.

4. Miranda Priestly

Florals? In spring?

"Devil Wears Prada" is definitely one of the most iconic movies of all time. So many quotes have lodged themselves into our brains that we might as well know the entire movie by heart. Dome of the outfits even stand the test of time and remain iconic even years after the movie first aired. And the legendary Miranda Priestly is in the center of it all.

Miranda is irrevocably tied to the Vogue editor Anna Wintour. While the book's author has refuted the claims, there can be seen numerous connections between Miranda and Wintour, such as career parallels and friendships with famous tennis players. While most comparisons between women in power are unnecessary, there is definitely a connection between these two.

3. Literally Everyone in "Our Flag Means Death"

And a bottle of rum!

Whether you're already familiar with 17th-century pirate lore or not, you can see something about OFMD research. It's abundantly clear that everyone did a ton of research on these characters and then chose to ignore everything that they could find. And honestly, good for them. Taika Waititi knows you don't need historical accuracy for a good show.

Besides, staying true to the source is practically impossible when dealing with pirates. While some books claim that they will tell you the truth about a pirate's life, they are simply lying. Waititi took bits and pieces that the world thinks it knows about Blackbeard and made up the rest. Therefore, we got one of the best LGBT-friendly shows.

2. Hannibal Lecter

Tell me, Will…

What horror fan doesn't know about Hannibal Lecter as one of the most famous movie villains? Hell, even non-horror fans must have heard of him at some point. Between the sexy Mads Mikkelsen and the terrifying Anthony Hopkins, everyone has at least heard of one version or the other. This insane cannibal has his place, whether in our hearts, nightmares, or maybe even both. Hey, we don't kink shame.

The most terrifying part of Hannibal is that he is based on a real person. Thomas Harris, the author of the books that started this phenomenon, interviewed a person with a mental health condition on death row. You might think that this patient is the inspiration for the famous killer, but no, it's actually the prison doctor that treated him. Harris took in the peculiar way he stood and his philosophies on pain and transformed them into Hannibal Lecter.

1. Macbeth

More like Macslay

He might not have the same notoriety as Hamlet with his existential crisis or Romeo and Juliette with their love declarations. Yet, Macbeth is still one of the best-known Shakespearean plays. And how couldn't he be, especially since he's literature's biggest malewife that doesn't know quite how trees work? Pair that with a wife that uhm… slays, and the gaslight-gatekeep-girlboss trio of witches is the recipe to achieve iconic status.

While copying isn't the move, we'll forgive Shakespear for impersonating Taika Waititi. Waititi, of course, invented creating stories around historical figures. Shakespeare merely followed in the footsteps of this mastermind when he based Macbeth on the Macbeth King of Scots. We recommend delving into why Shakespeare decided to characterize Macbeth the way he did. 

While logically, we know that writers take inspiration from the life around them, we're always surprised when we find out someone is based on a real person. Thus, we always wonder how many of them ended up as fictional characters. It's fun to delve into that type of research, but we should never forget that real people aren't our personal entertainment, even though some characters are based on them.

What character on this list surprised you the most? Is there someone else you'd like us to add? Let us know in the comments!

Cover photo: Youtube screenshot


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