13 Fictional Characters Based on Real People

Zohaib Ahmed
These 13 people provided the inspiration for fictional characters we all love.

Some fictional characters are so original that one can't help but wonder how a human mind was able to think of them. That wondering often isn't baseless as in many cases writers simply base the characters they pen on people they've met, seen or heard of in real life.

Here are some such fictional creations that actually owe all or most of their traits to real people.

Shrek and The French Angel

Though the DreamWorks writers have never admitted it, it's fairly obvious to see where they found the inspiration for Shrek's physical appearance.

Avon Barksdale and Nathan Barksdale

The Wire creator David Simon has a knack for basing his on-screen characters on criminals he reported about during his career as a journalist for the Baltimore Sun. On the left is actor Wood Harris and on right is the real druglord, Nathan Barksdale.

Cosmo Kramer and Kenny Kramer

The famous Kramer character from the legendary sitcom Seinfeld is loosely based on comedian Kenny Kramer, who was the show creator Larry David's neighbor at the time.

Nucky Thompson and Enoch L. Johnson

Boardwalk Empire protagonist Nucky Thompson was actually based on  Atlantic City's Prohibition era political boss and racketeer Enoch L. Johnson.

Popeye the Sailor Man and Frank "Rocky" Fiegel

It is said that Popeye-creator Elzie Crisler Segar based his famous cartoon on Frank "Rocky" Fiegel, a man who was handy with his fists. He even sent checks to Fiegel in the 1930s, which gives further credence to this folklore.

Bunk Moreland and Rick Requer

The Wire favorite Bunk Moreland's character is based on a retired Baltimore City Police Detective named Rick Requer.

Indiana Jones and Hiram Bingham III

While many people are said to be the real-life inspiration of the Indiana Jones character, the one that comes closest is Hiram Bingham III, who rediscovered and excavated the lost city of Machu Picchu.

Viktor Navorski and Mehran Karimi Nasseri

Iranian refugee Mehran Karimi Nasseri famously lived in the departure lounge of Terminal One in Charles de Gaulle Airport from 26 August 1988 until July 2006. He provided the inspiration for Steven Spielberg's Tom Hank-starrer comedy-drama,The Terminal.

Steve Zissou and Jacques Cousteau

The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou's titular character is based on the great French sea expert, Jacques Cousteau.

Zorro and Joaquin Murrieta

Legend has it that Mexican bandit Joaquin Murrieta at least partially provided the inspiration for pulp writer Johnston McCulley's fictional invention, Zorro.

Sherlock Holmes and Joseph Bell

According to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the character of Sherlock Holmes was inspired by Dr. Joseph Bell, a surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh for whom Doyle had worked as a clerk.

George Costanza and Larry David

The Seinfeld funnyman George Costanza's character is based on the show's co-creator Larry David himself.

Jeff "the Dude" Lebowski and Jeff Dowd

Film producer and political activist Jeff Dowd is the basis for one of Coen Brothers' most popular characters, Jeffrey "The Dude" Lebowski from The Big Lebowski.

Read more: 11 Real People Whose Lives Resemble Famous Characters