Along the course of time, there have been many people who have influenced the world and changed it for better or for worse. But these are people who although created a frenzy in the minds of millions, influencing them for decades, even centuries, but they never really existed!
1. Santa Claus
What child has not been frightened into behaving thanks to the ever-present youthful fear of Santa not bringing him presents for Christmas? Almost all western children were told by their parents that Santa would leave them nothing if they misbehaved. It was in fact the most effective methods of stopping tantrums! Funnily enough, though, the fear always dissipates on Christmas Eve as you just know that Santa will be coming – even if you did slip up a few times.
The epitome of beauty across the globe, Barbie has progressed from being a pretty young woman to whom all girls could aspire, to something often verging on the likeness of a harlot. From dolls and doll houses to movies and even girls undergoing surgeries to transform into their favorite doll, Barbie has definitely proven to be an icon of glamour and beauty worldwide. One can wonder whether it was Barbie influencing children, or children influencing Barbie. There are certainly many similarities. Barbie has depicted almost every possible female lifestyle choice and there is no doubt that she has been at the start of the path that many women have taken in their lives.
3. Robin Hood
Although his existence is highly debated, Robin Hood has been a symbol of bravery and resistance to local oppression — freedom and liberty in whatever shape you need it to take. We have all heard someone justifying theft because the victim is wealthy – and where did this justification come from? Not just the principles of redistribution of wealth that many of us live under in Western Society (read envy taxes) but the fact that to this day, we are all raised believing Robin Hood was a hero – when, in fact, he was a thief. The storied charlatan may not have lived, but the fabled figure withstands the test of time.
4. The Marlboro Man
Prior to his appearance on Marlboro cigarette ads, “real men” didn’t smoke filtered cigarettes — it was considered a sign of femininity. But that idea went up in smoke when the macho Marlboro man materialized in 1955. Clad in cowboy gear, he became an emblem of masculinity and boosted cigarette sales by 300% in the two years following the ad’s debut, BBC reported. The ad ran for nearly five decades and is considered one of the most successful ad campaigns of all time, according to BBC. The Marlboro Man was portrayed as an invincible character, but ironically, the three actors who embodied him died of lung cancer and so, the mythical man has since rode off into the sunset.
5. Daedalus and Icarus
In a short 24 hours, you can fly from one side of the planet to another. This (one of man’s greatest achievements) may never have happened if it had not been for the mythological characters Daedalus and Icarus. The story tells of Daedalus building mechanical wings for his son Icarus and ever since the tale was told, man has lusted after the ability to take the sky and fly. This eventually came true and the entire planet is a changed place as a consequence of it.
6. Rosie the Riveter
Rosie the Riveter may not be a familiar name, but her picture certainly is. Rosie the Riveter told women that they could do anything – and they did! Rosie managed to motivate an entire generation of working-age women to get out of their homes and in to factories to help the war effort. This is probably one of the most influential events of the Second World War. Once the floodgates of working women were open, they would never be closed again.
7. Big Brother
A relatively modern addition to this list, Big Brother has been an influence in so many social protests that he had to be included here. His name comes up every time a government passes a restrictive law or a law which seems to remove aspects of our eternal freedom. Everyone recognizes his face, everyone knows what he stands for, and everyone is terrified of the potential for our own lives to be governed by our own version of the fictional character. Big Brother was, of course, created by George Orwell for his novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.
8. Sherlock Holmes
The most famous fictional detective, Sherlock Holmes, invented the CSI Lab. Many such TV shows have in fact been inspired by Sherlock which are testimony to our attraction towards the behind-the-scenes workings of forensic detectives. Sherlock’s methods separate him from other detectives, as they are unique and relevant to his character. His observance, wit and vigil are probably what make him stand out from the rest, thus leaving a mark on our minds for over a century now. Sherlock will always be Sherlock!
9. Dr. Frankenstein’s Monster
Dr. Frankenstein’s monster was one character that was, and is still, feared upon by children and adults alike. The vast popularity of the Frankenstein story may well have triggered or inspired such medical advances as organ transplants, cardiac defibrillation, and reattachment of severed limbs. To this day, Frankenstein’s monster remains to be the most feared fictional characters of all time.
10. Romeo and Juliet
These star-crossed lovers may be to blame for unrealistic relationship ideals that still resonate among throngs of hopeless romantics today. The tragic tale of the ill-fated lovers emanating from rival families, has been adapted into modern films, stage performances, musicals and has inspired a handful of popular songs. The play itself remains the most performed work from Shakespeare’s oeuvre, alongside Hamlet, according to the Royal Shakespeare Company. Parting may be such sweet sorrow, but the tragic myth of these doomed paramours has serious staying power.