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Video Game Characters That Were Based On Real People

It’s not uncommon, when film writers create a character with a specific actor in their mind. Video game designers often do the same thing. Sometimes the resemblance is undeniable, but other times they make it different enough so that they can’t get sued. Check out our list of video game characters that were based on real people.

1. Kratos is based on Edward Norton in ‘American History X’

krotos edward norton

Kratos is a fictional video game character from Sony Santa Monica’s God of War video game series, which is loosely based on Greek mythology. Kratos creator David Jaffe revealed that he took his inspiration for this charackter from Edward Norton in ‘American History X’, when he played a neo-Nazi.

“It took a long time to figure out what Kratos would look like, and ultimately we took inspiration form Edward Norton in American History X, when he played a Nazi. There’s this scene in which the cops arrest him and you just see how buffed and built he’s gotten. I showed that to the artist and I said, ‘Okay, that sense of power and aggression that you just see in his face, can we somehow take that, the essence of what he’s exuding, and somehow turn that into a character that fits into this Greek mythology world?”

2. Sonic the Hedgehog is based on Bill Clinton and Michael Jackson

sonic clinton jackson

According to Sonic creator Naoto Oshima, Sonic’s boots are based on the ones worn by Michael Jackson in his “Bad” video. Sonic’s attitude is based on Bill Clinton’s similar demeanor and reputation.

3. Dr. Robotnik is based on Theodore Roosevelt


robotnik roosevelt

Sonic’s main antagonist is based on other United States President, Theodore Roosevelt.

4. Boo is based on Takashi Tezuka’s wife

boo tezuka

Boos (originally known as “Boo” Diddlys and later Boo Buddies) are common ghost enemies in the Mario series that first appear in Super Mario Bros. 3. Boos behavior are directly based on Takashi Tezuka‘s wife. As Miyamoto explained in an interview with Nintendo Power magazine:

“Mr. Tezuka got an idea about putting his wife in the game. His wife is very quiet normally, but one day she exploded, maddened by all the time he spent at work. In the game, there is now a character who shrinks when Mario looks at it, but when Mario turns away, it will grow large and menacing.”

5. Balrog is based on Mike Tyson

balrog tyson

Balrog, known in Japan as Mike Bison or M. Bison, is a character from the Street Fighter fighting game series. Capcom was afraid of a lawsuit from Mike Tyson over a character with his likeness and a similar sounding name, so they changed the character’s name to Balrog.

6. Johnny Cage is based on Jean-Claude Van Damme

cage van damme

Johnny Cage, a fictional character from the Mortal Kombat series, was created as a parody of Belgian martial arts actor Jean-Claude Van Damme.

7. Nathan Drake is based on Johnny Knoxville

drake knoxville

Nathan “Nate” Drake is a fictional character and the protagonist of the Uncharted video game series. The game is inspired by Indiana Jones films, but according to designer Richard Lemachard, Drake’s appearance and attitude was based on MTV’s Jackass star – Johnny Knoxville. But, of course, there are other influences like Harrison Ford and Bruce Willis in him.

8. Ganondorf is based on Christopher Lambert

Ganondorf lambert

Ganon (spelled Gannon in early materials, and also known as Ganondorf), is a fictional character and the main antagonist of Nintendo’s The Legend of Zelda series. According to Satoru Takizawa, the big visual inspiration for the character was Highlander star Christopher Lambert.

We made three forms of Ganon: Ganondorf in the beginning, Ganondorf seven years later with long hair, and Ganon at the end. Just to let you know, Ganondorf actually has a tentative model. We kept Christopher Lambert’s image in our heads…. But the end result came out quite different we think.

9. Samus Aran is based on Kim Basinger and Pelé

Aran basinger pele

Samus Aran is the protagonist of the Metroid science fiction action-adventure game series by Nintendo. According to the character’s creator, Yoshio Sakamoto and Hiroji Kiyotake, Samus’s appearance was based on actress Kim Basinger from ’91⁄2 Weeks’ and ‘My Stepmother Is an Alien’. The character’s last name “Aran” was taken from Edson Arantes do Nascimento, the birth name of famous football player Pelé.

10. Lara Croft is based on Neneh Cherry

croft cherry

Believe it or not, but Tomb Raider’s main character, Lara Croft is based on Swedish-born pop singer Neneh Cherry, and to be more specific – her dress-style were early inspirations for Croft. Other big influences on Lara were the comic book character Tank Girl and Indiana Jones.

11. Mordin Solus is based on Clint Eastwood

Solus eastwood

Mordin Solus, a character from BioWare’s Mass Effect franchise is based on Hollywood star, Clint Eastwood. The creator’s first idea for the Salarians was to take the stereotypical idea for extraterrestrials. But then they decided to get more specific and unique look and then Clint Eastwood came to their mind. They look almost the same, am I right?

12. Fei Long, Liu Kang, Marshal Law, and Hitmonlee are all based on Bruce Lee

bruce lee

Bruce Lee was (and still is) an icon of a martian arts fighter. At least one character in every fighting game is based on Bruce Lee.

BONUS: Every 1980s action game character is based on an 1980s action film (mostly Stallone and Schwarzenegger)


metal gear


navy moves

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Geralt Nowak

There will be something about me. I’m too lazy now.

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