Some fictional characters are so larger than life that it’s hard to believe that they could ever have been inspired by anything other than a writer’s no doubt drug fueled imagination. And yet there are some legendary fictional characters that not only could have been real, but actually were real. Indeed, the following seven real-life people each inspired a legendary fictional character. Sure, they might have lived extraordinary lives but you’d probably still beat them in a bong water chugging contest so don’t let this get you too down about your own life. We’re still proud of you.
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Inspiration for: Ebenezer Scrooge
“Oh, don’t be such a Scrooge.” You hear that all the time, mostly as a way to shame someone into not being such a flaming asshole. But there actually was a dude who lived in the 18th century who was such a tremendous douchebag that he inspired the very concept of being a Scrooge. Now that’s some quality assholery right there. The man was John Elwes, a British Member of Parliament appropriately nicknamed “Elwes the Miser.” The stories of his miserly ways are legendary – he dressed like a beggar, ate garbage, and even once complained that the birds were robbing him of his hay to build their nests. My favorite Elwes as Scrooge story, though, has to be the time Elwes reportedly wore a wig for two weeks that a beggar threw away and Elwes found in the bushes. Either that or the time he ate a hen that a rat pulled from the river. Maybe the Ghost of Christmas Past made him do it. Who knows?
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Inspiration for: James Bond
To be fair, there are probably dozens of people who inspired James Bond, but no one was a bigger inspiration for the most famous spy in history than the man who created him, Ian Fleming. Fleming, a former intelligence officer himself – although one who never did much besides desk-work, created Bond much in his own image, or deluded image I suppose. Bond shared his tastes, his mannerisms and even chunks of his past. It’s clear that Bond was basically Fleming’s idealized version of himself, everything that he wished he could be. Even better, though, is that late in life Fleming fell in love with a Jamaican woman and decided to create a character based on her. That character? Pussy Galore. I’m sure she was honored.
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Inspiration for: Sherlock Holmes
Dr. Joseph Bell was a brilliant lecturer at the medical school of the University of Edinburgh where one of his assistants was none other than Arthur Conan Doyle, creator of Sherlock Holmes. Bell was famous for his keen observations and it is widely believed that he helped the police solve several cases during his day. The best part is that Arthur Conan Doyle created Sherlock Holmes while Bell was still alive. Imagine being able to go around and tell people you actually were one of the most famous characters of the day, especially one known for being almost absurdly brilliant? I bet back in the day that would have pulled some serious ass for Bell. Sure, Sherlock Holmes is kind of a nerd but science was a total panty dropper in 19th century Britain. I mean, what else did they have to do?
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Inspiration for: Norman Bates
Yes, the most famous of all movie psycho killers was inspired by a real person. And that real person was fucking terrifying. Ed Gein was a monster who not only killed people but made a habit of robbing graves in order to use the body parts he found to create trophies and keepsakes. He would skin the corpses and use the skin to upholster his furniture, and he once apparently decided to create a “woman suit” out of the skin of dead ladies after his mother died because he decided he wanted to have a sex change. Uh… yeah. He was also accused of having sex with some of the corpses because they reminded him of his mother and… Jesus Christ! Aside from Psycho’s Norman Bates, Gein was said to be an inspiration for both Leatherface of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre fame and Jame Gumb of The Silence of the Lambs and put the lotion in the basket fame. Basically, he was the worst dude ever.
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Inspiration for: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
William Brodie was a respected cabinet maker and an Edinburgh city councilor. He was involved in trade guilds and basically was one of the city’s leading lights in the 18th century. At night, he would rob people, gambled incessantly, went whoring, and even had a secret family with five kids and a bunch of mistresses. All this was enough to inspire Robert Louis Stevenson to write The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I guess people must have been more easily shock those days because honestly, all that sounds pretty standard for a politician, doesn’t it?
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Inspiration for: Count Dracula
Vlad Tepes is perhaps better known by the English translation of his name: Vlad the Impaler. But there is no doubt that he is best known by his other alias: Count Dracula. Yes, when Bram Stoker was creating his legendary vampire, he drew heavily upon the life and times of the infamous Vlad the Impaler, a Prince of Wallachia from the House of the Drăculeşti. Vlad is actually an interesting case because to most people he was a madman and a butcher, notorious for, well, for impaling thousands of people, but to the people of Bulgaria he is revered as a national hero for his protection of Bulgarian Christians from the Ottoman Muslims of his time. It is estimated that Vlad impaled up to 100,000 people and burned entire villages to the ground and that the Ottoman leader Mehmed II once tried to attack Vlad’s stronghold but turned right around and hauled ass back to Turkey after becoming sickened by the sight of 20,000 people impaled outside the walls of Vlad’s palace. Frankly, occasional blood drinking and turning into a bat seems a little tame compared to the real thing.
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Inspiration for: The Whore of Babylon
Sure, nobody will believe this but Kim Kardashian was actually the inspiration for The Whore of Babylon in the Bible’s Book of Revelations. I don’t know how, maybe someone had access to a time machine but it’s all right there for anyone with eyes to see. Just check out the Whore of Babylon’s official title: “Babylon the Great, the Mother of Prostitutes and Abominations of the Earth.” Sounds like Kim K to me. I’m guessing they just tastefully cut the story of the Apostle Ray J pissing on her out of the final print of the Bible. After all, those were simpler times and people just weren’t ready for that kind of thing. I guess this makes Kris Jenner Satan then? Works for me. Or maybe the devil is actually Khloe Kardashian. After all, Satan is referred to throughout the Bible as “the beast.” The important thing, though, is that now that we know the truth we can defeat this hideous evil because as a wise man – I think his name was Joe - once said, knowing is half the battle.
Photo credit: Kim Kardashian image by s_bukley/Shutterstock