11 Real People Whose Lives Resemble Famous Characters

Meet the real-life Walter White, Tarzan, Count Dracula and more.

Writers often draw inspiration for their fictional characters from people they come into contact with in real life. In some rare cases, people’s real lives mirror those of fictional characters.

1. Tarzan and Ho Van Lang

Tarzan and Ho Van Lang

The father and son duo of Ho Van Thanh, 81, and Ho Van Lang, 41, disappeared into the Vietnamese jungle 40 years ago during the war with the United States.

After four decades of living in a tree house and surviving on fruits and nuts, they were spotted and brought back to urban civilization by locals.

The journalist who interviewed them said: “When I met them, I felt exactly like I was meeting Tarzan. They were naked, wearing only a loincloth like Tarzan, and their hair was long and dirty. They looked dumb and dazed.”

Unfortunately, unlike the Tarzan of fiction, the Tarzan of real life wasn't a muscular hunk.

2. Nicholas Brody ("Homeland") and Bowe Bergdahl

Nicholas Brody (Homeland) and Bowe Bergdahl

The story of American soldier Bowe Bergdahl, freed by his Afghan captors, in June is reminiscent of "Homeland" character Nicholas Brody (played by Damian Lewis). Both spent years in captivity, where they grew long beards. In their absence, Bergdahl's girlfriend and Brody's wife both found new lovers. They've also been analyzed from the treason angle.

3. Walter White ("Breaking Bad") and Walter White

Walter White (Breaking Bad) and Walter White

While the Walter White of Billings, Montana, is no chemistry teacher, he shares his name with the Breaking Bad character. And like his fictional namesake, he also used to deal meth. He got caught by the police after getting shot by his own son. This former slinger is now in the slammer serving a 12-year sentence.

There is also a secondary school teacher from Cardiff who was a cocaine supplier before getting caught. Another case worth mentioning is that of an incarcerated felon named Dicky Joe Jackson who transported meth in order to pay for his son’s lifesaving medical treatment.

4. Benjamin Button ("The Curious Case of Benjamin Button") and Sam Berns

Benjamin Button (The Curious Case of Benjamin Button) and Sam Berns

Do you remember Brad Pitt's 2008 movie "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" in which he plays the role of a man who ages in reverse? A Massachusetts high school student named Sam Berns went through something similar. He suffered from progeria – a rare genetic disorder wherein symptoms resembling aspects of ageing are manifested very early on. He passed away this year at the age of 17, although his condition meant that he looked like a 90-year-old.

5. Andy Dufresne and Glen Stewart Godwin

Andy Dufresne and Glen Stewart Godwin

In 1982, Stephen King wrote his novella "Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption" – which was turned into an outstanding Hollywood movie starring Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman a decade or so later. But, in 1987, a Folsom Prison inmate named Glen Stewart Godwin slipped through an open manhole and crawled 750 feet down a storm drain to the American River, where he used a raft left by an accomplice to paddle his way to freedom. Those who've seen the movie or read the novel would understand the similarities.

Like his fictional counterpart, Godwin headed to Mexico after regaining his freedom.

6. Jason Bourne ("Bourne Identity") and John Smith

Jason Bourne (Bourne Identity) and John Smith

In December 2013, Norwegian police found a Caucasian man who was suffering from amnesia but was able to communicate in five languages. He immediately reminded movie fans of the Bourne series protagonist, Jason Bourne – who also is adept at speaking multiple languages but has zero recollections of his past. In the movies, Bourne's character was played by Matt Damon.

7. Larry Wilson and Richard Parker ("Weekend at Bernie's"), and David Daloia and James O'Hare

Larry Wilson and Richard Parker

In a nutshell, "Weekend at Bernie's" has two guys lugging their dead boss around to convince everyone that he is alive. In 2008, David Daloia and James O'Hare tried the same with their dead friend Virgilio Cintron in an attempt to get his $355 Social Security check cashed. It goes without saying that they got caught.

8. Neil McCauley and Chris Shiherlis ("Heat"), and Larry Eugene Phillips Jr. and Emil Matasareanu

Neil McCauley and Chris Shiherlis

In 1995, Michael Mann made action flick "Heat" starring Robert De Niro and Al Pacino. The movie had a very memorable scene in which the robbers clashed with the police outside a bank. Their body armor and heavy weaponry meant they dominated the ill-prepared cops and fled. Two years later, Larry Eugene Phillips Jr. and Emil Matasareanu tried the same at a California bank, resulting in the infamous North Hollywood shootout. They too held their own against the police, thanks to their assault rifles and body armor. But, soon came the SWAT teams, and let's just say the duo is now 6 feet under.

9. Mowgli and Tippi Benjamine Okanti Degre

Mowgli and Tippi Benjamine Okanti Degre

Like Rudyard Kipling's famous pen creation Mowgli, a French girl named Tippi Benjamine Okanti Degre has spent much of her first 10 years in African jungles. This was due to both her parents being wildlife photographers.

So comfortable she is living with the wildlife that she calls an elephant her brother and a leopard her best friend.

10. Peter Gibbons ("Office Space") and Michael Largent

Peter Gibbons and Michael Largent

Cult classic "Office Space" is the story of disgruntled workers who infect their company's accounting system with a computer virus designed to divert fractions of pennies into a bank account they control. In 2007, a 22-year-old named Michael Largent from Plumas Lake, California, pulled off a similar stunt. By using an automated script he opened up 58,000 online brokerage accounts and used their small verification payments to amass thousands of dollars in his bank account. His scheme would've succeeded if he hadn't used cartoon character names as account titles. The FBI noticed it and he got caught.

11. Count Dracula and Fritz Haarmann

Count Dracula and Fritz Haarmann

Between 1918 and 1924, German serial killer Fritz Haarmann murdered at least 25 people, many of whom he killed by biting through their necks. He may be sporting Hitler's toothbrush mustache in the pic above but his mode of operation was reminiscent of a certain fictional vampire from Transylvania.

Recommended: 13 Fictional Characters Based on Real People

View Comments

Recommended For You