10 Famous Fictional Characters Who Were Inspired by Historical Figures

In literature, some of the most famous and well-loved characters were inspired by real people.

Last Updated on October 27, 2022 by BiblioLifestyle

Famous Fictional Characters Who Were Inspired by Historical Figures

Historical figures have inspired many famous fictional characters, and we will discuss some of the most well-known ones.  Characters like Sherlock Holmes and James Bond were based on real people.  It is interesting to see how these fictional characters were shaped by the lives of the people who inspired them.  So from literature, we will share twelve fictional characters inspired by real people and historical figures.

Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is one of the most famous fictional detectives of all time.  He was created by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle based on a real-life doctor named Joseph Bell.  Bell was an Edinburgh surgeon who used his powers of observation to solve crimes. He even consulted with the police on occasion.

James Bond

James Bond is another well-known fictional character who was inspired by a real person. Ian Fleming, the author of the James Bond books, based the character on a number of different people. One of them was Forest Yeo-Thomas, a British secret agent during World War II. Yeo-Thomas was known as the “White Rabbit” because of his ability to escape from capture.

Peter Pan

Peter Pan is a beloved children’s character who was inspired by five real boys. J.M. Barrie, the author of Peter Pan, credited five boys with inspiring the tale: George, John (Jack), Peter, Michael and Nicholas (Nico) Llewelyn Davies, sons of Arthur and Sylvia Llewelyn Davies. Barrie was a close friend of the family and became the guardian of those same five boys.


Dracula is another famous fictional character who was inspired by a real person. Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, based the character on the real-life Vlad the Impaler, also known as Vlad III, Prince of Wallachia (present day Romania) who was known for his cruelty and was said to have impaled his enemies on spikes.

Hannibal Lecter

The character of Hannibal Lecter was inspired by Alfredo Ballí Treviño. Treviño was a Mexican doctor who was convicted of killing and cannibalizing his patients. Thomas Harris, the author of The Silence of the Lambs, based Lecter on Treviño who he met in the 1960s and who left a very strong impression on the young writer.

Dorian Gray

The character of Dorian Gray was inspired by a real-life man named John Gray. Gray was an English poet who was friends with Oscar Wilde, the author of The Picture of Dorian Gray. Wilde based the character of Dorian Gray on John Gray.

Moby Dick

The character Moby Dick was inspired by a real-life whale named Mocha Dick. Mocha Dick was a sperm whale that lived in the Pacific Ocean. He was known for attacking ships, and he was said to have killed over 20 sailors. Herman Melville, the author of Moby Dick, based the character on Mocha Dick.

Iron Man

The character of Tony Stark, a.k.a the Iron Man, was inspired by a real-life man named Howard Hughes. Hughes was an American businessman and inventor who created the world’s first successful helicopter. He also developed the Spruce Goose, which was the largest airplane ever built at the time. Stan Lee, the co-creator of Iron Man, based Tony Stark on Howard Hughes.

Professor Moriarty

The character of Professor Moriarty was inspired by a real-life person named Adam Worth. Worth was a German-born American criminal mastermind who was known as the “Napoleon of Crime.” He was active in England and Europe in the late 19th century. Arthur Conan Doyle, the author of the Sherlock Holmes stories, based Moriarty on Adam Worth.


The character of Catwoman Catwoman aka Selina Kyle was created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger. Bob Kane said that he took inspiration from actresses Jean Harlow, Hedy Lamarr, and his own cousin, Ruth Steele. Steele was an American dancer and acrobat who performed under the name “the Cat Girl.” She was active in the 1930s and 1940s. Bill Finger, one of the creators of Catwoman, based the character on his own wife, Norma.

These are just a few of the many famous fictional characters who real people inspired. It is fascinating to see how these characters were shaped by the lives of the people who inspired them.


What other fictional characters do you know of that were inspired by real people? Please share them in the comments below!

Famous Fictional Characters Inspired by real Historical Figures

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