There are some people that just make an impact in their lives, one that is often felt around the world. But as it turns out, you don’t have to be alive to be one of those influential people.
In fact, some of the most influential people ever to walk the earth, never did. Instead they arose from works of literature, of art, of film and television and so much more. Though they never really lived, they live on in a positive way in the hearts and minds of millions of people, all influenced by their stories.
So we thought we’d bring together 10 of the most influential people in our books, who at the end of the day have never lived at all (except perhaps in the imagination).
There are few children in the Western World, and even beyond, who don’t know the magical presence of Santa Claus. Yet despite his popularity as Father Christmas, and his many mimics the world over, there’s no indicator that he ever lived. A legendary figure by all accounts, Santa is responsible for one of the greatest and most wondrous feats known to man: to deliver presents to all the children of the world in a single night. He also embodies an integral part of the childhood experience, that of believing in what adults know to be impossible. Multiple folk tales came together to create our modern Santa Claus, and he doesn’t look to be going away any time soon.
Barbie is on the top list in one of the most influential people who never lived but has greatly shaped every generation. It is a name that for years has been synonymous with dolls for girls (and boys) all over the world. Yet despite her global fame and her spot as the figurehead of her brand within Mattel toys, she never existed. Despite this she has a fully formed, fictional, biography that includes her parent’s names and home town. She has also represented just about every interest and fashion trend that’s ever hit the mainstream. The doll was first manufactured in 1959 and has played an important part in the toy fashion doll market for more than five decades. Over the years she has been an inspiration to girls, and a focus of critique from many others, resulting in both controversies and even lawsuits. Pretty impressive for a lifeless plastic doll.
James Bond is a fictional British Secret Service agent with the code name 007 who was created in 1953 by Ian Fleming. As a character Bond was known for being suave and mysterious, with a power over the ladies, and a knack for always saving the day in knick of time with his heroics. During Fleming’s lifetime Bond appeared in twelve novels and two short-story collections, but after Fleming died Bond became considerably more popular. He has appeared in books published by eight more authors, with permission of the Fleming estate, and in the longest continually running and third-highest-grossing film series. The films, of which there are now twenty-four, began in 1962 and continue today. Fourteen actors have played the role, all bringing to life a man who never lived.
4.Dr. Jekyll & My Hyde
A literary powerhouse, the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde book, published by R. L. Sevenson in 1886, has gone so much further than its author could have ever known. Many consider the two characters integral in influencing all the ‘monster’ focused literature that came after, including Dracula. Indeed, any heroes thrown aside by their mentors or left in the cold despite their kind hearts owe their stories to these two. Stevenson’s book was also the first big win in the category of ‘mad scientist’ making an incredible impact on the future of literature and culture as well know it.
Robin Hood is a name that is as linked with the word ‘hero’ as any we can think of. Created by English folklore and seen in his early forms in the 14th century, Robin Hood has undergone a transformation that has seen him become the face of the lower class fight against the rich. Although he initially began as a bandit and a rogue, Robin Hood now commands a reputation as a outlaw-hero portrayed in film by some of the sexiest of the generation. There are few others who have made such a name for themselves in their work of taking from the rich and giving to the poor, especially considering Robin Hood never did any such thing.