More Underrated, Overlooked, Forgotten, and Ignored Historical Heroes Who Need More Love

While some people have their names enshrined on a plaque, a statue on a public square, a biopic, and are remembered for generations in the history books, others get barely a footnote in some long history academic encyclopedia. Whether they’re ignored for their race, gender, or other feature that doesn’t fit in the historic narrative or are overlooked in other ways, we have these people who the history books just don’t do justice to. Last October, I compiled a list of forgotten and not so forgotten figures and this time I have an assortment for your pleasure. I’ll only list people who are now dead.


1. William Parker, 13th Baron Morely, 4th Baron Monteagle

His Feats: English noble and member of the House of Lords. He’s best known for the discovery of the Gunpowder Plot in which a group of 13 Catholics conspired to blow up the Houses of Parliament with 36 barrels of gunpowder in the cellar directly below it during the 1605 opening. Before the fateful 5th of November, he received a mysterious letter, presumably from a fellow Catholic (most likely his brother-in-law Francis Tresham) who wanted to spare his life from the upcoming scheduled terrorist attack. After deciphering the letter, he rushed to Whitehall, showed it to the 1st Earl of Salisbury Robert Cecil. He then joined Thomas Howard where they found a stash of Gunpowder and explosives which resulted in Guy Fawkes and his fellow conspirators arrested, tortured into confession, and executed through being hung, drawn, and quartered. He was rewarded with £500 and 200 acres of land

Why He’s Ignored: Parker was a lifelong recusant Catholic who was in favor with court despite having a checkered past of being linked to Catholic terrorist plots as well as a stint in prison as well as a £8,000 fine. Of course, given the status of English Catholics as a persecuted minority since Elizabethan times (as well as the fact that acts of Catholic terror caused Protestant pressure to crack down on them), putting him in the history books wouldn’t fit with the historical narrative most 17th century English Protestants wouldn’t be happy with. Also, despite the Stuart monarchy being too Catholic friendly for their own good, things wouldn’t get better for the English Catholics in Great Britain after the Gunpowder Plot as priests continued to be expelled, fines were taxed, and the recusant Catholics worshiped in secret. So in spite of Parker basically saving Parliament and the Stuart royal family, his actions didn’t help the persecuted English Catholics in the PR department (then again, Catholic terrorists blowing up Parliament might’ve made things worse). Not only that, now since we have the film V for Vendetta, Guy Fawkes now has his own fanbase (and souvenir mask) despite only functioning in the group as the explosives expert as well as being the first guy caught who ratted out all his fellow collaborators while under torture. Nevertheless, whether Parker wrote the Monteagle Letter or not, he certainly knew about the Gunpowder Plot and acted accordingly. Yet, when it comes to Fawkes and Monteagle, it’s very clear which one should be seen as the hero in the story of the Gunpowder Plot.


2. Philo T. Farnsworth

His Feats: A self-taught American physicist and child prodigy who built a motor and produced the first electric washing machine his family ever owned when he was 12 years old. At 14, he figured out a way to transmit images electronically. In 1921, he diagrammed and described television in a school science paper. 5 years later he built his first television camera and receiving apparatus. He would build the electronic transmission of television, using a carbon arc projector to send a single line to a receiver in the next room of his apartment.

Why He’s Ignored: Unfortunately for him, the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) owned a patent for television by another inventor. He would spend years embroiled in lawsuits, defending himself from infringement claims, and seeking to guard his own patent rights. In 1939, RCA would finally license Farnsworth’s patents and paid him $1 million. Nevertheless, despite that TV has basically has had a major impact on the lives of billions of people who tune in every day, most people don’t really know the man who invented it. In many ways, just being the inventor of TV alone, Farnsworth should be a household name.


3. Frank Wills

His Feats: Nighttime security guard at the Watergate Hotel and Office Complex who while on his rounds in the summer of 1972, found a strip of duct tape preventing a door latch from closing all the way. He removed it and continued on his way. 30 minutes later, he returned to the spot and saw that someone reaffixed the tape to the latch. Feeling something suspicious was going on, he promptly called the cops. What he discovered would become front page news as the late night burglary of the Democratic National Convention Headquarters which would lead to a major coverup as well as a series of scandals that led to the resignation of a US president.

Why He’s Ignored: Well, despite being held a hero with a few talk show appearances immediately after the Watergate break-in, he died broke and in obscurity. Once his 15 minutes of fame were up, he had constant trouble finding employment and was unsuccessful. Even Howard University wouldn’t hire him because they didn’t want the government to withhold their funds in retribution. In 1983, he’d be arrested for shoplifting a pair of $12 shoes which led to a year in prison. Still, if he’s ignored for anything, it’s because he was just an ordinary guy doing his job and a reluctant whistleblower, which doesn’t go well with the Watergate narrative. Yet, there are plenty of people who’ve made history every day and Wills is one of them.

4. Aryabhata

His Feats: Indian astrologer and mathematician. Said by many to have invented zero and narrow down the value of pie to the correct four decimal places. Studied both lunar and solar eclipses as well as the Earth’s rotation on its axis as well as measured the Earth’s circumference to 99.8% accuracy.

Why He’s Ignored: Well, since history is basically told in the our euro-centric point of view in most western countries, his Indian nationality is certainly an obvious factor. That and imperialism has basically promoted the notion of European supremacy bias. The fact that this Indian mathematician and astronomer existed at all doesn’t suit that narrative.


5. Subhas Chandra Bose

His Feats: Leader of the Indian National Congress who sought full, immediate independence for India from Great Britain in contrast to Mohandas K. Gandhi’s “passive resistance” methods (though he was a great admirer and called him, “father of our nation” while Gandhi plotted against him). As a statesman and rebel leader, he was jailed as well as wore various disguises while traveling to India and beyond to bolster support for the cause. Was known in India for his decorum and respect as well has had mysterious death in 1945 with rumored sightings of Elvis-like proportions.

Why He’s Ignored: While he’s certainly revered in India, he’s seldom known anywhere else mostly because he courted the Axis Powers during World War II and the fact that Gandhi’s means of peace makes a far more better story in the PR department. Yet, like it or not, Bose’s more aggressive techniques (as those of other freedom fighters) did a far more to bring India’s independence than Gandhi ever did.


6. Rosalind Franklin

Her Feats: British Jewish scientist who unraveled the structure of DNA with the double helix as well as was part of her team that won the Nobel Prize of 1962. Also helped unravel the structure of the Tobacco Mosaic Virus and RNA.

Why She’s Ignored: Well, three reasons. First, as a female scientist, she wasn’t acknowledged for her work by her male colleagues until 1968 and even since, she’s just a footnote in a high school biology textbook. Second, working in x-ray crystallography that helped her that famous discovery, also lead to her early death from ovarian cancer in 1958 at the age of 37. Third, the Nobel Prize isn’t awarded posthumously, though you’d think they’d make an exception with her. Still, with her work in unraveling DNA, Franklin is possibly the most important female scientist in history.

7. Elijah McCoy

His Feats: Canadian-American inventor notable for 57 U. S. patents most to do with lubrication of steam engines. Born to runaway slaves in Canada and moved to Michigan at the age of 5, he studied as a mechanical engineer in Edinburgh, Scotland. Though he only could find work as a fireman and oiler at the Michigan Central Railroad, he invented an automatic lubricator for oiling steam engines, locomotives, and ships. Also invented the folding ironing board and a lawn sprinkler. Produced more patents than any other African American inventor up to the 20th century.

Why He’s Ignored: To make a short story short, despite having all those patents and debate on how much he revolutionized the railroad and machine industries with his devices, he’s not well known outside of industry and the African American community. This is mostly because he was black as well as the fact he didn’t have the money to manufacture his lubricators in large numbers until close to the end of his life and usually assigned patent rights to his employers investors. Not only that, but racial prejudice in the day was the main reason why he could only find work as a fireman and oiler in the first place, which is why he’s barely mentioned at all in any early 20th century literature at all relating to lubricators.

8. Norbert Rilleaux

His Feats: 19th century Creole African American inventor and engineer. Born in Louisiana and cousin of Edgar Degas, was the youngest teacher at the Ecole Centrale (an engineering school in Paris) at the age of 24 instructing in applied mechanics as well as a competent blacksmith and expert machinist. Best known for inventing the multiple-effect evaporator which was an energy efficient means of evaporating water as well as an important development in the sugar industry. When a yellow fever outbreak plagued New Orleans in the 1850s, he proposed a plan to the city that would eliminate the moist breeding grounds for the mosquitoes that carried the disease by addressing problems in the city’s sewer system and drying swamplands in the area. Though rejected, it was addressed several years later.

Why He’s Ignored: Well, despite helping to revolutionize the sugar industry with his refining contraption, the fact he was black and a Creole of color certainly doesn’t give him much recognition in the history books as well as those of other African American engineers, scientists, and inventors. Also, for many white Southerners of the day, giving credit to a black guy for making a device that helped the growth of the sugar industry is kind of an embarrassment.


9. Oscar Micheaux

His Feats: Born to a former slave father in Illinois and to a family of 13 children. Moved to Chicago at 17 in which he had several different jobs from working in stockyards and steel mills to setting up his own shoeshine stand and working as a Pullman porter. He then became a homesteader in South Dakota with all white neighbors who wouldn’t let him eat at their tables and started writing articles for the press. Wrote 7 novels based on his experiences and the failure of his first marriage as well as had his stories revolve around the theme of African Americans realizing their potential and succeeding in areas from which they were previously excluded. When his 1918 book The Homesteader was being planned for a feature film, negotiations between him and producer, he decided to form his own book and film company in Chicago and made the adaptation himself. He would go to collaborate in over 40 films focusing on contemporary African American life, black and white racial relationships, and blacks trying to achieve the American Dream in a larger and segregated society. He’d also use his films to counter white portrayals of African Americans and inferior black stereotypes. He was perhaps the most successful black filmmaker in the early 20th century and gave a lot of opportunities to African Americans in the film business. Once said, “My results…might have been narrow at times, due perhaps to certain limited situations, which I endeavored to portray, but in those limited situations, the truth was the predominate characteristic. It is only by presenting those portions of the race portrayed in my pictures, in the light and background of their true state, that we can raise our people to greater heights. I am too imbued with the spirit of Booker T. Washington to engraft false virtues upon ourselves, to make ourselves that which we are not.”

Why He’s Ignored: Outside of film buffs and the African American community, most people don’t really know who he was. Of course, the fact that Hollywood and mainstream US History tends to downplay the achievements of African Americans so we shouldn’t be surprised. Not to mention, the fact that Hollywood tends to take movies made by blacks less seriously than whites is also a factor as well as the fact that some of Micheaux’s films are now lost. Yet, as his tombstone reads, this pioneer in African American cinema was certainly, “A man ahead of his time.” Still, when it comes to the history of film and Hollywood, you can’t really ignore this man who’s certainly a historical hero indeed.


10. Mary Anning

Her Feats: 19th century British fossil collector, dealer, and paleontologist known for the important finds she made in the Jurassic marine beds in the cliffs along the English Channel at Lyme Regis. Discoveries included the first correctly identified ichthyosaur skeleton she found at the age of 12, the first two plesiosaur skeletons, and the first pterosaur skeleton located outside Germany, and important fish fossils. Her observations played a key role in the discovery that coprolites were fossilized feces and that belemnite fossils contained fossilised ink sacs like those of modern cephalopods. All this despite having almost no formal education and barely enough money for journal subscriptions as well as collected fossils during landslide season which was very dangerous and killed her dog.

Why She’s Ignored: As a woman from a poor family of religious dissenters who lost her cabinetmaker dad at eleven, she was screwed by the British scientific establishment from the get-go. Also, she was only published once in the scientific press in which she wrote a letter to the Magazine of Natural History disputing the “discovery” of a new genus prehistoric shark based on her own findings. Still, this didn’t stop other British scientists from wanting to talk shop with her.

11. Rabban Sauma

His Feats: 1200s Turkic/Mongol Nestorian monk turned diplomat who traveled in places such as Mongol controlled China, Baghdad, and Europe where he met with many of the monarchs and the Pope. He then chronicled his lifetime of travel which is of unique interest to modern historians giving a picture of medieval Europe at the end of the Crusading period painted by a keenly intelligent, broadminded, and statesmanlike observer as well as provides a viewpoint of East looking West.

Why He’s Ignored: Let’s just say that people may find it hard to believe that a Turkic/Mongol managed to write anything about the Crusades and medieval Europe. Yes, Western Eurocentric history, indeed.


12. Nicholas Steno

His Feats: Danish Catholic Bishop and major figure in the Catholic Counter-Reformation (enough to make him headed for sainthood) as well as tutor to the de Medici family and scientific pioneer in both anatomy and geology (that a device is named after him). In 1659, he resolved not to accept anything simply written in a book and decided to do the research himself. This self-study led him to become the father of geology and stratigraphy. Responsible for the recognition of geological strata and the theory that successive layers of geologic transformations (strata) contained a fossil record of life in chronological order.

Why He’s Ignored: Despite his many great achievements, he’s largely unknown which may be due to his religious zeal and the fact that the Catholic Church in the 17th century is best known for the Galileo Affair. Yet, even when his theological studies and religious duties caused him to put his natural science studies in the back seat, he never totally abandoned them and no one in the Catholic Church saw anything wrong with it. Still, his story doesn’t go well with some people’s point of view with the science vs. religion debate because Steno didn’t see such a conflict at least when it came to the his relationship with the Catholic Church in his later years. Was said to be a decent bishop though.

Greek Mythology Reexamined: Significant Mortals and Demi-Gods

Last time, I posted about the Greek gods an their great and not so great exploits if you’re stuck in their mythological universe. This time I write about the significant mortals and demi-gods most likely featured in Greek myths. In many ways, they’re a diverse lot with heroes, maidens, and other figures. Some were the children of gods and others were just regular people who made good. Yet, some might have suffered tragic fates since someone tried to avoid fulfilling a prophecy without using much common sense. Still, either way, they’ve inspired all kinds of literature and movies as well as tend being depicted better or worse than in actual mythology. So without further adieu, here is a cheat sheet of significant mortals and demi-gods in most Greek mythology mediums.

1. Heracles (or Hercules)

Heracles capturing Cerberus in the Underworld not to be confused with the resident ferocious three-headed dog Fluffy in Harry Potter. Sure he may have super strength to take on the gods, but he has a bad temper, kids all over the place, and had two episodes of insanity. Oh, and was killed by a poisoned shirt. Yet, to the ancient Greeks he was Superman.

Heracles capturing Cerberus in the Underworld not to be confused with the resident ferocious three-headed dog Fluffy in Harry Potter. Sure he may have super strength to take on the gods, but he has a bad temper, kids all over the place, and had two episodes of insanity. Oh, and was killed by a poisoned shirt. Yet, to the ancient Greeks he was Superman.

You know him as: One of Ancient Greece’s most beloved mythical heroes known for his super strength (which surpasses many Greek gods) and performing his Twelve Labors as well as whatever stepmother Hera threw at him. In many ways, an epitome of Greek manhood with his sexual prowess, athletic skill, and success in war though smart enough to use his wits when needed (the Spartans, Greek kings, and Alexander the Great claimed descent from him) who shows up whenever a strong man is needed. Upon his death he was made a god. In some ways, the Ancient Greek equivalent to a modern day superhero.

What you don’t know about him: That Heracles performed his Twelve Labors as penance for killing his first wife and children during a bout of insanity thanks to Hera. Though he’s said to do a world of good and was willing to help his friends, he’s not exactly a paragon of heroic virtue since he killed more than one innocent person for being to close to him during one of his temper flare-ups (he did  show remorse though). He was also prone for starting a huge war over a mere verbal insult. Also, had to live as a woman for three years after killing a king and his family. Still, didn’t take well being cheated by his enemies and was killed by his third wife with a poisoned shirt.

2. Perseus

Perseus is smart enough to realize that Medusa's head is a very effective weapon against bad kings who want to marry his mom as well as sea monsters. Still, he couldn't have done it without the gods help though. Add to the fact he was chosen to slew Medusa.

Perseus is smart enough to realize that Medusa’s head is a very effective weapon against bad kings who want to marry his mom as well as sea monsters. Still, he couldn’t have done it without the gods help though. Add to the fact he was chosen to slew Medusa.

You know him as: The guy who killed Medusa and saved Andromeda from a sea monster (which wasn’t a Kracken by the way) with quick thinking outside the box as well as gifts and stuff he stole from the gods. Was great to his mom and contrary to what Disney would’ve told you, he rode Pegasus, not Hercules.

What you don’t know about him: Actually killed Medusa just to save his mother from marrying the evil king Polydectes who he later killed by using her head at him. Still, he only killed Medusa because the gods wanted him to and she may not have deserved their wrath (said to be a priestess to Athena who Poseidon might’ve raped and was turned into a monster by Athena). Not to mention, he might’ve been involved with the death of his grandpa which was said to be an accident (of course, he did drive his mom out after the golden shower incident with Zeus). Also, said to be the founder of and king of Mycenae according to the Ancient Greeks. Still, though he might’ve been the chosen one, he was one of the nicer Greek heroes who was a loving son and faithful husband, rarity in Greek mythology.

3. Atalanta

Hangs out in the woods, kills ferocious animals, has guys compete with her in athletic competitions at the cost of their lives, and is distracted by shiny things. Yet, after she gets married and makes love to her husband in a temple, is turned into a lion.

Hangs out in the woods, kills ferocious animals, has guys compete with her in athletic competitions at the cost of their lives, and is distracted by shiny things. Yet, after she gets married and makes love to her husband in a temple, is turned into a lion.

You know her as: Greek mythology’s most famous heroine known for being very fast, unwilling to marry, and hunt in the woods. Her dad also abandoned her at infancy for not being a boy as well as won in a Calydonian boar hunt for drawing first blood. Made a deal to only marry a guy who’d beat her in a foot race and any guy who lost to her would be executed. However, with a guy like Hippomenes and a few golden apples, she met her match.

What you don’t know about her: That her winning the Calydonian boar hunt led to a family disintegration of one of her admirers which yielded fatal results. She also had a son named Parthenopaios though his paternity varies according to version (Hippomenes, Ares, or Melager were suggested) who’d also have his own story. Yet, she was also said to abandon him, too, in order to hide she wasn’t a virgin anymore. As for her and Hippomenes, they would be later turned into lions for having sex in one of Zeus’ temples (of course, Ancient Greeks thought that lions couldn’t mate with each other contrary to science). Also, said to be one of the Argonauts along with Heracles (and Philocetes who wasn’t a satyr).

4. Medea

With her great powers of sorcery she will do anything she could to help you obtain the Golden Fleece, even if she has to go against your family. However, if you promise to stay with her forever, don't ever cast her aside, or she will let all hell break loose before escaping on her golden chariot.

With her great powers of sorcery she will do anything she could to help you obtain the Golden Fleece, even if she has to go against your family. However, if you promise to stay with her forever, don’t ever cast her aside, or she will let all hell break loose before escaping on her golden chariot.

You know her as: A powerful demi-goddess and princess of a distant kingdom who falls in love with Jason as well as helps him obtain the Golden Fleece while betraying her father and brother (and killing him) in the process. She is said to restore the dead to a younger and healthier state as well as could kill immortals with a mere look. She even accompanied him on the return trip in which he promises to stay with her forever and they had two boys together. However, once home, Jason sets to marry Creusa to strengthen political ties with Corinth so she killed his fiancee an her dad as well as their kids (in some versions) before taking off on her grandfather Helios’ chariot to Athens (some say she might’ve set Corinth on fire or have the city hit by an earthquake). Of course, Ancient Greeks thought she was totally justified since a woman dumped at the time could result in having her children killed or enslaved anyway.

What you don’t know about her: After her life with Jason, she’s said to heal Heracles at Thebes before driven out of town as well as marry King Aegeus in Athens making her stepmother to Thesseus who she tried to poison to ensure her own son would get the throne but escaped when the scheme produced the exact opposite result. Some say returned home to kill her uncle and restore her dad to his throne or went to Iran depending on the version. Said to have become a goddess after her death.

5. Orpheus

So his wife is dead and he goes all the way to the Underworld just to bring her back and lose her just the same. Perhaps it would've been better if he'd just go there for a visit or seek grief counseling, seriously. Still, he ends up being ripped apart by the end anyway.

So his wife is dead and he goes all the way to the Underworld just to bring her back and lose her just the same. Perhaps it would’ve been better if he’d just go there for a visit or seek grief counseling, seriously. Still, he ends up being ripped apart by the end anyway.

You know him as: The guy who can charm all living things with his music as well as even Hades an Peresphone. Tries to get his wife Eurydice back from the Underworld after she dies but fails when he looks back at her during the journey to the upper world either for being careless or not fully trusting Hades, which leaves him heartbroken.

What you don’t know about him: He was an Argonaut with Jason as well as the son of the muse Calliope. He never recovered from losing Eurydice in the Underworld and disdained the worship of all gods save Apollo and was eventually ripped apart by the Maenad nymphs for not honoring his previous patron Dionysus (there are other versions though). Still, some accounts said he didn’t really die and was still singing sad songs until the people of Lesbos buried his head and built a shrine in his honor.

6. Odysseus

Spent ten years fighting a war in Troy he managed to win with his intelligence and cunning only to spend ten more years trying to get home to his family after blinding and pissing off a cyclops.

Spent ten years fighting a war in Troy he managed to win with his intelligence and cunning only to spend ten more years trying to get home to his family after blinding and pissing off a cyclops. Granted the cyclops wanted to eat his sailors but boasting about it to him?

You know him as: The king of Ithaca who left to fight the Trojan war and trying to return home while leaving a wife and son at home for twenty years. Of course, he also helped ally the Kings of Greece for Helen’s hand as well as came up with the idea of the Trojan Horse to capture the Troy and end the war (which lasted for ten years). However, he had to apply his intelligence and cunning as well as his willingness to take advice from Nestor or anyone else. Yet, he also spends the next ten years trying to get home to his family in Ithaca but his pride as well as gouging and boasting about blinding Poseidon’s son Polythemos doesn’t do him any favors and his daddy makes the trip a nightmare (though the cyclops also tried to eat his fellow sailors). Sure he may have had sexual relationships Circe and Calypso but they were goddesses and weren’t really consensual on his part. He does come home to his wife Penelope (thanks to Athena) and him and his son, Telamachus kill all her suitors and maids allied with them.

What you don’t know about him: That Penelope didn’t recognize him when he came back for obvious reasons (since it was twenty years since she last saw him) until she said their bed was moved but he says it would be impossible since he carved the thing. Not to mention, the citizens of Ithaca weren’t too pleased with him killing his wife’s suitors but Athena tries to get both sides to make peace. Also, he was an influential champion in the Trojan war with a long list of accomplishments including winning Achiles’ armor through persuasion as well as has a lot of fanfiction attributed to him in non-Homeric continuations (and yes, the ancient Greeks weren’t above doing this with some depicting him and his wife both cheating on each other and him dying at sea). And then there’s a dispute whether Laertes or Sisyphus was his real father.

7. Agamemnon

So he spent ten years fighting a war in Troy after his sister-in-law ran off with Paris and he successfully managed to win after sacrificing his daughter and having a bunch of other guys die under him. Comes home to find his wife cheating on him and eventually killing him. Apparently dysfunction runs in his family.

So he spent ten years fighting a war in Troy after his sister-in-law ran off with Paris and he successfully managed to win after sacrificing his daughter and having a bunch of other guys die under him. Comes home to find his wife cheating on him and eventually killing him. Apparently dysfunction runs in his family.

You know him as: The king of Mycenae as well as leader of the Greek forces during the Trojan War and Menelaus’  older brother who has the most ships than anyone else. Manages to get in a fight with Achilles which nearly results in his army’s defeat as well as pisses off Artemis after killing a deer in which he has to sacrifice his daughter Ipheginia for a favorable wind. May not be as smart as Odysseus but does give him good advice before they part ways. However, unlike Odysseus, he does not return to a happy home and is killed by his wife Clytemnestra and her boyfriend. His kids Orestes and Electra kill them both in retaliation and are driven insane by the Furies at least for awhile.

What you don’t know about him: That Agamemnon’s family was so screwed up with a family history that reads like a Game of Thrones marathon complete with rape, murder, incest, and treachery. And Menelaus is about one of the only adult members who doesn’t do something unforgivable and probably married Helen just to get the hell out of Mycenae (and become king of Sparta and the fact Agamemnon was married to her sister). Also, took Cassandra as a concubine from Troy but she was killed by Orestes and Electra. Still, he was no more evil than the other Greek or Trojan warriors.

8. Telamonean Ajax or Ajax the Great

Second best fighter of the Greeks who kept fighting even when the gods deserted the field despite being wounded. Has a body count roughly equal to his cousin Achilles and was never beaten in a fight. Name lives on as a brand for cleaning products.

Second best fighter of the Greeks who kept fighting even when the gods deserted the field despite being wounded. Has a body count roughly equal to his cousin Achilles and was never beaten in a fight. Name lives on as a brand for cleaning products.

You know him as: King of Salamis and the biggest soldier among the Greek forces during the Trojan War who’s determined to follow his will even without help from the gods as well as the second best warrior. He’s a cousin to Achilles and their dads were Argonauts and companions of Heracles. Still, when the gods stopped helping the Greeks, he’s the only hero standing who never stops fighting despite being wounded by several gods. He never gets beaten not even by the gods, has a body count roughly equal to Achilles, and would’ve killed Hector if the gods weren’t there to save his life. Just as smart as Odysseus who is close to his half-brother Teucer and could be a pretty decent guy outside the battlefield. His pride and individualism eventually lead him to be driven mad by Athena and he ends up committing suicide shortly after.

What you don’t know about him: That he fought against Hector twice and actually went on a sadistic sheep killing rampage. Also, he didn’t take it too well when Odysseus gets Achilles’ armor. Not to mention, archaeologists might have found a palace which might’ve been his home on Salamis and he’s been popular among the people there sort of like a folk hero. Still, while there’s no evidence that he existed, his house certainly did. Oh, and there’s a line of cleaning products named after him.

9. Achilles

Sure he's the best they got on the Greek side and all but he's only in it because he likes killing people. He cares more about himself than anyone else and is one of the biggest jerks in ancient literature. Yet, he spends less time than his compatriots on the battlefield and sometimes has to be coaxed out of his tent. Also, a bit weak in the heels if you know what I mean.

Sure he’s the best they got on the Greek side and all but he’s only in it because he likes killing people. He cares more about himself than anyone else and is one of the biggest jerks in ancient literature. Yet, he spends less time than his compatriots on the battlefield and sometimes has to be coaxed out of his tent. Also, a bit weak in the heels if you know what I mean.

You know him as: The Greek hero of the Trojan war and cousin of Ajax. Said to have his mother Thetis dip him in the river Styx when he was a kid in order to be invincible though she held him by the heels (we’ll get to that later). I mean he beats a local river god while crossing a river. Though one of the biggest jerks of ancient literature (since he has facing a lot of stiff competition even in Greek mythology in that department), he has his moments such as being upset at Agamemnon for justifiable reasons and bringing Hector’s body to his family after killing him. And then there’s him falling in love with a dead Amazonian queen as well as his relationship with Patroclus. Basically fights because he likes it and not for honor or gain even if it means an early death. Is killed by a poison arrow shot by Paris either in the heel or somewhere else depending on the version.

What you don’t know about him: Contrary to popular media, his experience in the battlefield is minimal compared to the other kings participating. Also, the judgement of Paris is supposed to take place at his parents wedding and that Zeus and Poseidon both had designs on his mom (and that Greek storytellers may not be very good at math or that Achilles was born some time before then but I highly doubt it). His father was king of the Myrmidons and his mother was a nymph and a goddess (and he was said to be a mamma’s boy with good reason). Not to mention, he didn’t give Hector’s body back to Priam after mutilating it in retaliation for killing Patroclus who may have been more than his best friend which he blamed himself for (you’d never know about these relationships in Greek mythology but he’s said to have kids though). Still, though he was a raging killing machine, he had a lot of trouble caring about anybody but himself and sometimes Agamemnon had to coax him into fighting. And when he does, he doesn’t learn the lesson of team work and friendship.

10. Hector

Just a decent family man whose crown prince of Troy and can cut you in a million pieces. Unless you're Achilles, which in this case, he will run away when he shows up because you don't want to meet him in a fight. Knew that kidnapping Helen was spectacularly stupid but has too much honor to do the reasonable thing. But when he dies, Troy will fall soon after him.

Just a decent family man whose crown prince of Troy and can cut you in a million pieces. Unless you’re Achilles, which in this case, he will run away when he shows up because you don’t want to meet him in a fight. Knew that kidnapping Helen was spectacularly stupid but has too much honor to do the reasonable thing. But when he dies, Troy will fall soon after him.

You know him as: The crown prince of Troy and Trojan hero of the Trojan War. A noted family man with wife Andromache and little boy Astyanax (seriously?). The only guy among the Trojans who thinks that kidnapping Helen from Menelaus was a spectacularly stupid idea (you think?) but can’t really avoid fighting once the war’s on. One of the only decent guys of the whole lot who just wants to live a quiet life. Too bad he never gets that chance since he’s killed by Achilles after he slays his best buddy Patroclus. Luckily his foe brings his body back to his dad Priam. Had a fan following during the Middle Ages as well as modern times. Doesn’t hurt that he has a name most would consider normal by today’s standards.

What you don’t know about him: That Hector probably would’ve died in the Trojan War earlier if the gods didn’t save him in some of the duels he fought. Also, he mutilated Patroclus’ corpse to Achilles’ ire and only attacked him with a swarm of men. And he tries to flee when Achilles (or whoever he thinks is Achilles) confronts him and is only willing to fight him when he thinks his brother Deiphobus is with him. Still, that’s kind of understandable since you don’t want to one-on-one with a Achilles and he kind of knew he was a goner in such situation. Yet, he’s one of the few people in Troy to treat Helen decently despite having every right not to and she actually mourns for him. However, while he may be a great warrior and decent guy, he’s nowhere near as heroic than his depiction in modern portrayals. And he doesn’t really listen to advice as well as overconfident. Also, after his death, his wife and sister become sex slaves (his mother becomes a slave, too) while his son is thrown from the city walls.

11. Paris

Started the whole Trojan War by judging a divine beauty contest and running off with somebody else's wife. Is destined to damn Troy and is seen as a philandering, cowardly jerk even by his own people and both sides want him dead. Ends up killing Achilles with a poisoned arrow instead until his own demise.

Started the whole Trojan War by judging a divine beauty contest and running off with somebody else’s wife. Is destined to damn Troy and is seen as a philandering, cowardly jerk even by his own people and both sides want him dead. Ends up killing Achilles with a poisoned arrow instead until his own demise.

You know him as: The guy who started this whole mess by choosing Aphrodite as a winner in a divine beauty contest and asked for Helen as his prize, despite her being already married to Menelaus. Oh, yes, and he goes to Sparta and runs off to Troy with Helen causing her husband to invoke an alliance with the other Greek kings, which kicks off the whole ten year Trojan War. Also, fights as an archer during the war and kills Achilles in retaliation for him killing his brother Hector as well as duels with Menelaus before Aphrodite spirits him away (of course, neither are said to be very good soldiers but the Spartan king could’ve kicked his ass even bare handed). Gets killed by Philocetes (who’s not a satyr.)

What you don’t know about him: That he already had a girlfriend who was a nymph named Onene who knew prophecy and medicine which he later dumped for Helen. Oh, and he usually relies on Aphrodite to bail his ass out as well as turns to archery due to his fear on the front lines (which in ancient Greek terms makes him a dirty coward). Also, even the Trojans think he’s a philandering, cowardly jerk responsible for the war and were rooting for Menelaus to crush his ass. Not to mention, everyone in Troy knew he was foretold to damn Troy since he was a baby and his dad took great pains to kill him but no one had the heart to do it (as with most Greek works). And though he abducts her, he doesn’t defend Helen when other Trojans call her a whore (Hector and Priam do though). Not to mention, his kidnapping Helen breaks serious hospitality values (taken very seriously in the ancient world) and has plenty of political ramifications for Menelaus.

12. Helen

Seen as the most beautiful woman in her day that she got plenty of unwanted attention since she was a little girl when Thesseus tried to abduct her. Fast forward when she's with Menelaus and she's abducted and brought to Troy by Paris which may not have been what she wanted. Has a miserable time in Troy and just when she may get to go home after Paris dies she gets passed to her brother Deiphobus. Luckily she gets to return to Menelaus again but it takes ten years and a lot of men dying in the process.

Seen as the most beautiful woman in her day that she got plenty of unwanted attention since she was a little girl when Thesseus tried to abduct her. Fast forward when she’s with Menelaus and she’s abducted and brought to Troy by Paris which may not have been what she wanted. Has a miserable time in Troy and just when she may get to go home after Paris dies she gets passed to her brother Deiphobus. Luckily she gets to return to Menelaus again but it takes ten years and a lot of men dying in the process.

You know her as: The woman who launched a thousand ships after she was abducted by Paris (though he more or less started it). She was also Queen of Sparta and Menelaus’ wife  (in an arranged marriage) as well as considered one of the most beautiful woman in the area and gets a lot of unwanted attention for it. Was in Troy during war as Paris’ wife and later married to his brother Deiphobus after he was killed. Once he’s killed during the Greek sack of Troy, she goes back to Menelaus. Also, she was nearly kidnapped by Thesseus and his buddy when she was a girl but brothers Castor and Pollux save her. Said to have been conceived during her mother’s encounter with Zeus disguised as a swan.

What you don’t know about her: That she probably may or may not have consented to running off with Paris to Troy and perhaps may or may not have had feelings for him depending on the version. Also, she calls Aphrodite a jerk when she urges her to sleep with him and only seems to have kind words for Hector and Priam (as far as Homer is concerned). Oh, and her brothers were both killed in the Trojan War as well as feels a lot of guilt over the whole thing but only because so many Greeks were killed. And it’s said when she and Menelaus get back together, their marriage is strained (which is understandable), but at least she gets a better deal than her sister Clytemnestra.

13. Theseus

Born an illegitimate prince, he had to do almost everything on his own and didn't have an easy time. Known for killing serial killers, bandits, and the Minotaur but abandons the woman who helped him and forgets to change the sails. As a result his dad kills himself. Has a nasty tendency of kidnapping women against their will or their husbands.'

Born an illegitimate prince, he had to do almost everything on his own and didn’t have an easy time. Known for killing serial killers, bandits, and the Minotaur but abandons the woman who helped him and forgets to change the sails. As a result his dad kills himself. Has a nasty tendency of kidnapping women against their will or their husbands.’

You know him as: The guy who slew the Minotaur in the Labyrinth at Crete during the regular sacrifice and with help from Ariadne (who was the Minotaur’s sister). He also slew and sacrificed the Marathonian Bull in order to be recognized as King Aegeus’ son (though he may have been Poseidon’s kid). Was king of Athens and married the Amazon queen Hippolyta and Phaedra (who later tries to bang her stepson Hippolytus which ends very badly). Also, known for killing serial killers and bandits (kind of like an ancient Greek version of Dexter that is if Dexter actually had to kill a guy with a bull head and everyone knew about his deeds). Not to mention, he appears in stories involving Heracles, Oedipus, and Medea with the first two turning to him for asylum.

What you don’t know about him: Although he may have been a son of a king (or god), he basically had to do almost everything on his own. After the Minotaur slaying, was a massive jerk to Ariadne and her sister Phaedra who he abandoned on the island (though some versions said he was forced to but at least Ariadne got a happy ending, Phaedra not so much). Also, forgot to change the sails when returning home resulting in Aegeus’ suicide. Had a nasty habit of kidnapping women against their will or their husbands.’ Notable abductions include kidnapping his first wife which started a war and him and his buddy’s attempt to kidnap Helen and Persephone even if he knew it wasn’t a good idea (but unlike his buddy, he lived). Almost got poisoned by Medea.

14. Oedipus

Kills his dad for cutting him in traffic and marries his mom to become King of Thebes. Twenty years and four kids later, plague strikes because someone killed the last king. Has to bring killer to justice but then finds out he's adopted and he's already committed patricide and incest. Proceeds to gouge his eyes out. Frankly, he's irony's bitch.

Kills his dad for cutting him in traffic and marries his mom to become King of Thebes. Twenty years and four kids later, plague strikes because someone killed the last king. Has to bring killer to justice but then finds out he’s adopted and he’s already committed patricide and incest. Proceeds to gouge his eyes out. Frankly, he’s irony’s bitch.

You know him as: Literally the most famous motherfucker who ever lived and where we get the term Oedipus Complex (though he didn’t really suffer from it since he killed his dad and married his mom without deliberation or knowingly). He also kills his dad for cutting him off in traffic and being an asshole. Of course, he didn’t know it until right before he gouged his eyes out at the revelation because the people he thought were his parents never told him he was adopted at a time as well as who his real parents were when having no known direct ancestry could cause no end in problems for a guy in a prominent position like King of Thebes. Also, known for solving the Riddle of the Sphinx. Of course, this would make his two sons his half-brothers and his two daughters his half-sisters. Though he was foretold to kill his dad and wind up with mom which his parents took great pains to avoid by abandoning him, the prophecy probably would’ve never been fulfilled if he was raised by his parents in the first place. Not to mention, if you follow Sophocles, his kids become pretty messed up as well.

What you don’t know about him: That the tragedy surrounding Oedipus is that he was actually a good king who committed patricide and two decades long incest without even knowing it before it was too late. However, eventually he had to find out about it twenty years later amid a crisis in Thebes in which whoever killed King Laius must be brought to justice. Well, guess who becomes irony’s bitch to the self-fulfilling prophecy? Of course, his fate depends on version since Sophocles says he gave up the throne and exiled himself while Homer states he ruled until his death. And in Greek mythology, prophecies will always come true.

15. Cassandra

The Trojan princess who would rather be a virgin than make good use on her talents for prophecy. Sure she could tell the future but no one's going to believe her and Troy burns anyway. Can only get worse from here like being raped, enslaved, and killed. No wonder she went nuts.

The Trojan princess who would rather be a virgin than make good use on her talents for prophecy. Sure she could tell the future but no one’s going to believe her and Troy burns anyway. Can only get worse from here like being raped, enslaved, and killed. No wonder she went nuts.

You know her as: The beautiful Trojan princess  who could tell the future but no one would believer because she was cursed by Apollo after his thwarted rape attempt. And all her prophecies would come true, especially when it pertained to Troy falling in a fiery blaze. She also ends up losing most of her male relatives as well as losing her sanity and gets to watch Troy burn. The Trojans should’ve listened to her big time.

What you don’t know about her: It gets worse. When the Trojan War is over, she hides in the Temple of Athena but is kidnapped and violently raped by Ajax the Lesser and later becomes Agamemnon’s concubine as well as taken to Mycenae. Oh, and she later gets killed by Clytemnestra. As a princess, her story veers in the exact opposite as you’d see in a Disney movie in which she doesn’t live happily ever after at all.

More Historical Heroes and Why They Probably Don’t Deserve Their Fame


Since I got a number of views on my last post on historical heroes, there are plenty of others I didn’t seem to touch upon who are immortalized for their heroic deeds but weren’t as great people as thought or the stories were just plain made up.  I’m not going to use John F. Kennedy though he may not have had as great a presidency as it’s perceived, he’s still considered a hero since he managed to have the kind of life he led despite suffering from serious health problems like Addison’s. Also, I’m not going to use King Henry V though he may not be the guy Shakespeare depicted and actually quite ruthless, though no more than most medieval kings in his day. Yet, sometimes history isn’t as unbiased as you think it is. Here are more historical heroes I will kindly list here:

1. Medieval Knights

Known for: Being the champions of Christendom and chivalry who fought baddies, wooed ladies without seducing them, behaved honorably, and saved the day with a sword. They always fought for their country, king, and God. As good guys, they were always willing to protect the weak and vulnerable you could always count on them to rescue a damsel in distress. They’d also fight tournaments to win a lady’s favor.

Why they may not deserve their fame: Of course, there may have been some knights like this but they were human beings like any other. For instance, we all know that King Arthur’s knights weren’t all like that. I mean Sir Lancelot may do good in battle and be able to heal others yet he deserted his wife and kid as well as banged his boss’ wife. Mordred was an evil product of incest who does his old man in (in some versions, in others, he’s just Arthur’s evil nephew, brother-in-law, or not related to him at all). Sir Gawain was a homicidal maniac and had many other issues. Still, though a knight may claim loyalty to a nation, a king, or his lord, he was ultimately a mercenary working for himself mostly for land, power, and riches. If they were of the a Crusade Order, they could be ruthless and fanatical but so was everyone in the Middle Ages to some extent. However, it’s interesting to note that the Crusades weren’t just fought in the name of God to capture the Holy Land from the Muslims. Rather, many thought the Crusades were a good idea since it would not only grant knights penance for killing Muslims but also keep many of them from fighting and terrorizing each other as well as raping, pillaging and burning peasant villages. Really, they would do this to their fellow Europeans or even their own serfs, let alone Muslims. Yet, they wouldn’t kill each other unless it was in battle and considered the slaughter of peasants after capturing a village whether they be men, women, or children. Still, as for medieval damsels in distress, they probably wouldn’t call on a knight in shining armor to save them unless it was a last resort or if the guy was her husband. Most damsels in distress at the time usually tried to save themselves, because they’d never know what a knight may do to them.

2. King Richard the Lionheart

Known for: Being the good King Richard in the Robin Hood stories and seen as a paragon of knighthood and champion of Christendom. Badass hero of the Crusades.

Why he may not deserve his fame: King Richard I was a rather complex individual like any member of his family (like King John, for instance). He wasn’t the biggest jerk but he was as warlike as he was greedy. He certainly liked being in France better than England (there’s a story where he claimed to sell London if he could find a buyer, oh, and he only spent six months of his reign there anyway). And as like anyone in his family, he wasn’t above stabbing people in the back (of course, you can say that about any ruler in the Middle Ages.) Of course, he only saw his subjects as producers of tax revenue to support his exploits abroad. Then there’s the time when he was taken hostage by Archduke Leopold I of Austria and Holy Roman Emperor Henry VI. Of course, he was ransomed after two years but it was from the pockets of his English subjects. And he was taken prisoner by a guy he used to boss around. Richard may have been a great warrior king but he wasn’t good at anything that didn’t involve warfare and tactics like budgeting, tolerating, or judging. So Good King Richard wasn’t such a great English king after all. Yet, as a paragon of knighthood and chivalry, well, as far as actual medieval knights go, he may not be far off.


3. Charles Lindbergh

Known for: Being the first man to fly across the Atlantic solo from New York to Paris on The Spirit of Saint Louis. One of the biggest celebrities of his day. Also, his son was kidnapped and killed in one of the most infamous child abduction cases in history.

Why he may not deserve his fame: Well, Lindbergh certainly does deserve his fame but there’s no doubt about that. Yet, just because his picture may be in the history books and your grandpa might have had a poster of him, doesn’t mean that he’s a kind of role model you’d want to emulate or put on a pedestal. For one, he believed in eugenics and racist which wasn’t unusual at the time yet his beliefs on either may have been too much for those in the 1930s. Also, it certainly doesn’t help his case that he was a staunch isolationist (though he stuck with his country before Pearl Harbor), accepted a medal from Nazi Germany (and didn’t return it after the Kristallnacht), had a friendship with Anti-Semitic Henry Ford, and was willing to make excuses for Hitler. So no wonder he was suspected of being a Nazi sympathizer. Oh, and 29 years after his death it was discovered that he fathered seven children to three German women (trust me, you can’t make things like this up and it was mentioned on PBS).


4. Lady Godiva

Known for: 11th century pre-Norman Conquest Saxon noblewoman who pleaded with her despotic husband Leofric to be nice to his subjects and reduce taxes. Yet, when he refused, as a protest, she got up on her white horse and rode the streets of Coventry in her birthday suit.

Why she may not deserve her fame: Well, Lady Godiva has a bit in common with Betsy Ross, two famous women who get credit for something they didn’t actually do but receive credit long after their deaths. Still, though Betsy Ross most likely didn’t design the first American flag, there’s reasonable evidence that she might have had some involvement with its production. With Lady Godiva, however, there’s no historical evidence that she was ever known for anything from being beyond a sweet and charitable woman. She may have pleaded with Leofric to be nice and reduce taxes but that’s probably as true as the legend about her gets. Still, there’s no evidence that she ever rode naked into Coventry and that legend only surfaced about 200 years after her death. She was, however, the only female to remain a major Saxon landholder after the Norman Conquest.

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5. Andrew Jackson

Known for: Seen as a war hero in the War of 1812 and a populist bad ass who loved his wife and stood up for the people against the wealthy elite. President of the United States during the late 1820s and early 1830s. Nicknamed “Old Hickory.” Father of Jacksonian democracy as well as one of the godfathers of the modern Democratic Party. Picture is on the $20 bill.

Why he may not deserve his fame: There’s more than one good reason why Andrew Jackson is considered one of the most controversial US presidents to this day. The most obvious being his policies towards Native Americans such as his aggressive enforcement of the Indian Removal Act (despite that the law was struck down by the Supreme Court) which resulted in the relocation of thousands of Indians to Oklahoma and the Trail of Tears. Of course, it was said he did it out of belief that it would prevent a war with the tribes and possibly a civil war but still, it was a policy that denied human rights to a group of people for no good reason, resulted in genocide, and has put a strain on Native Americans ever since. Then there’s Jackson’s policy of getting rid of the Bank of the United States which would later be a direct cause of the Panic of 1837 throwing the nation into a deep depression (basically this is what would happen if we got rid of the Federal Reserve). Finally, you got the introduction of the spoils system which chose unelected government workers based on party loyalty regardless whether these people had any qualifications to do their jobs. This brought widespread corruption and incompetence as well as lack of accountability on every level of government and would eventually played a role in the assassination of a US president (James A. Garfield was shot by a rejected office seeker). As a side note, he appointed Roger B. Taney as Chief Justice to the Supreme Court (who will have an important role in the notorious Dred Scott Decision). Also, engaged in dirty campaign tactics against John Quincy Adams, did a bunch of things that would certainly get him arrested today (such as fighting duels), and might have been a bit crazy (yet he’s still a rather interesting and complex man).

6. Ronald Reagan

Known for: President of the United States during the 1980s, and seen as the greatest president of all time by American conservatives. Said to have ended the Cold War, revived the economy through Reaganomics, restored dignity and self-respect to the presidency, restored American pride and morale, and did all these super wonderful things that helped make the USA the greatest nation on earth. Voted as the Greatest American on the History Channel.

Why he may not deserve his fame: I tried to refrain from writing about him since he was a popular president but still, he doesn’t really deserve all the hype. Not to mention, conservatives still sort of make Reagan into a man he wasn’t. For one, the 1980s weren’t a wonderful time in history, especially since it was a time when many corporations started basically outsourcing their productions to other countries (and many areas never recovered). Reagan’s economic policies also started widening the gap between rich and poor, created budget deficits as well as an increase in homelessness. However, he did increase taxes a few times when he realized that tax cuts for the rich weren’t helping. Other blunders include the Iran-Contra Affair (which lowered American credibility), huge budget deficits (which made GOP “fiscal conservatism neither fiscal nor conservative), his environmental ignorance (believed that trees caused pollution), his do-nothing reaction to the looming AIDS epidemic, courting Saddam Hussein, and the list goes on. As for the Cold War, Reagan showed little sign of burying the hatchet with the Soviet Union (“evil empire” as he called it) until the Mikhail Gorbachev assumed power in 1985. And even then he was uncooperative in peace talks with the Russian leader until facing a scandal and low approval ratings, he was willing to do anything. And as for Russia’s bankruptcy, it was due to the War in Afghanistan that started while Reagan was still in California so bankruptcy was the Soviets’ own fault. Also, he had Alzheimer’s during his presidency (his son has even said this.) Then there are the times before he became president. For one, he didn’t become a Republican until age 51 and was mostly willing to change his political views for his declining career and satisfy his father-in-law. He opposed civil rights and Medicare, was almost recalled during his term as governor of California, sent the California Highway Patrol to crack down on campus protests at Berkeley, and oh, legalized no-fault divorce and abortion in California (though he later switched his position on the latter after realizing what it might to do him politically but still he didn’t do anything to make abortion illegal again and this was in 1967 so he had a good six years). Not to mention, he was divorced (from actress Jane Wyman), certainly engaged in pre-marital sex (wife Nancy was pregnant at the altar), was more into astrology than Jesus, and basically betrayed his fellow actors by leaking some of their names to the House Committee of Un-American Activities while president of the Screen Actors Guild. Reagan may not have been one of the worst American Presidents, but he certainly shouldn’t be ranked among one of the best. In fact, he wasn’t much of a great president anyway. I may be a liberal but even so, I don’t believe he deserves the hype regardless of anyone’s political affiliation.

7. Woodrow Wilson

Known for: US President during WWI and was seen as a model for Progressivism and Idealism. His 14 Points speech helped set the stage for the United Nations and earned him a Nobel Peace Prize.

Why he may not deserve his fame: Wilson’s presidency has come under significant controversy in recent years. Though many of his economic policies tend to be seen in a positive light since many his reforms on that front were greatly needed, he appointed the heads of large corporations to agencies supposedly regulating business. Not to mention, they did no favors for women, minorities, immigrants, workers, or others in need of assistance. Though his Virginia upbringing during the Civil War might have inspired his commitment to peace, it also served as the major influence to his hardcore racism and his policy of mandatory segregation of the government. I mean he was considered a racist even by early 20th century standards and seem to have a nostalgia for slavery (though he deemed it uneconomical). Oh, and he barred blacks from serving in the Navy which was at times more than 1/3 African American dating from the revolutionary war. To be fair, he was no fan of immigrants either and criticized Irish immigrants harshly. Then there’s the fact he’s one of the nation’s first of the Red Scare anti-socialist and anti-communist presidents, launched the Espionage Act of 1918 which arrested those who spoke out against WWI, and ran his reelection campaign on a pacifist platform (though he would be calling for war at the start of his second term). Though he’s seen as an anti-imperialist, he ended up intervening in places like the Dominican Republic, Haiti, and Mexico. Of course, the Mexicans were attacking our borders but in some ways, they were doing it in response for the US occupation of Veracruz. As for ending WWI and other related foreign policy, let’s just say that it’s complicated. Wilson may have consented to punishing Germany for starting the war (even though Germany certainly didn’t). However, it would be unfair to blame him for the events surrounding actions during the Treaty of Versailles, especially when it came to Germany getting the short end of the stick. For one, Wilson wasn’t well aware about European politics and saw WWI as a war between Democracy and Absolute Monarchy (Germany was actually a constitutional monarchy while Russia was ruled by Czarist autocrat before the Russian Revolution.) Second, the US only entered the war in 1917 when it started in 1914. Also, France’s Georges Clemenceau was more the dominating influence at Versailles than Wilson ever was and wanted to punish Germany for a lot more than just WWI (like the Franco-Prussian War). Thus, Clemenceau wanted revenge, not peace. Not to mention, David Lloyd George was more concerned with politics in his native Britain than anything. Wilson may have been a bad president but he’s far from being one of the greats.


8. Nathan Bedford Forrest

Known for: Well, I’ll get to part of that in a moment. However, in the South, he’s considered a great Confederate Civil War general and kind of a hero. I mean he has so many places and memorials dedicated to him it’s ridiculous.

Why he may not deserve his fame: Forrest is perhaps one of the worst examples when it comes to being seen as a historical hero. Of course, this would stem from the Pro-white Southern “Lost Cause” school of history which seemed to prevail during segregation. However, while Robert E. Lee may not have been the great general or the great man he’s portrayed as but at least he has some admirable qualities you can respect. Despite his flaws, Lee can be seen as a great hero and a great man. However, this is not so with Forrest since he’s best known as the first Grand Wizard of the KKK as well as a figure associated with white supremacy (he may not have been as racist but still). And it doesn’t help he was a slave trader before the Civil War either. Nevertheless, Forrest still embodies the worst of the Confederacy during the Civil War mostly because of what happened at the Battle of Fort Pillow. Fort Pillow was a Union held fort which Forrest managed to attack and capture back in 1864. However, it was a battle that where countless black and Southern Unionist troops were killed and may not have died in combat. In other words, these two groups of captured soldiers were basically slaughtered after surrender, which is a war crime. Of course, Confederate commanders didn’t record that such massacre took place at Fort Pillow (even Forrest’s report doesn’t mention it), yet there is significant evidence that states such slaughter took place. For one, there are accounts by Union survivors and some even from Confederate soldiers writing back home. Second, the Union casualty rates pertaining to the battle are unusually higher (like nearly 300 killed out of around 600-700) than what the Confederates sustained (which was about 14 killed and 86 wounded out of 5,000-6,000). And in some ways the Union casualty rate is much higher than it should be if the Confederates sustained a rate like that in 1864. This is also telling when you consider that only 90 of the 262 black Union troops involved managed to survive the battle. Out of the white Union forces, only 205 out of 500 survived. If this doesn’t convince anyone why Nathan Bedford Forrest shouldn’t be remembered so fondly, then I don’t know what does.

9. Dwight D. Eisenhower

Known for: Being an admirable and badass general during WWII as Supreme Allied Commander and a great president who maintained stability in the early years of the Cold War and warned of the Military-Industrial complex. Affectionately nicknamed Ike in the 1950s. Possibly the most bipartisan and compromise-friendly US president of the 20th century.

Why he may not deserve his fame: Eisenhower certainly does deserve his fame and certainly can be considered a hero, in some ways, a lot of what happened under his presidency that have long term implications for the United States and need to be discussed. For one, Eisenhower appointed Richard M. Nixon as his running mate and it’s clear to say that Nixon may not have been elected president if he wasn’t tapped as Ike’s VP. Of course, we all know about the long term implications with that appointment. Of course, what should really get more attention in regards to Eisenhower’s presidency is his foreign policy which done its share of long term damage of US credibility over the decades. For one, Eisenhower supported a couple of coups against democratically elected governments such as Prime Minister Mossadegh in Iran and President Arbenz in Guatemala. Both these guys were replaced by dictators. Overthrowing Mossadegh has critically strained relations between the Islamic world and the West to this day. Overthrowing Arbenz had put Guatemala under the successive rule of military dictatorships for decades. Also, Ike supported the Batista regime in Cuba which gives the Castro brothers a few good reasons to hate the US. Then there’s the fact he blocked an important vote on Vietnamese unification and installed pro-US dictator Ngo Dinh Diem in South Vietnam after finding out that 80% of the Vietnamese would’ve sided with Ho Chih Minh and the Communists in said referendum, setting the stage for US involvement in the Vietnam War. Sure Eisenhower may have been a good president or even a great one, yet some of his shady foreign policy decisions have done more than its fair share to hurt US credibility and these should not be ignored.

10. Mohandas K, Gandhi

Known for: Seen as a saint who through the principles of ahimsa (nonviolence) brought independence to India in 1947.

Why he may not deserve his fame: This is a controversial one since Gandhi did help bring independence to India as well as inspired hundreds and has certainly earned respect. However, the Indian Independence Movement was a strong force well before he entered the scene when he did, he basically served as a figurehead for a cause and was happy to take the credit while other leaders did most of the work (like Nehru, Jinnah, Bose). Sure he talked of peace but also played politics as ruthlessly and slimy as any politician (more of a pacifist Machiavellian if you will). And he wasn’t above politically stabbing people in the back. Also, his ideas weren’t that original and even he knew that (basically nonviolence had been a kind of idea dating thousands of years. Not to mention, he was a British educated lawyer who spent a spell living in South Africa (of you knew that). Then there’s his private life which isn’t pretty. For one, he was difficult and demanding, a tyrannical and abusive father, obsessed with the workings of his own and other people’s bowels, and subject to long bouts of depression during which he refused to speak to even his closest associates. Also, slept naked alongside his female disciples after the death of his wife.


11. Medieval Outlaws

Known for: Being honorable men who steal from the rich to give to the poor, live in the forest, and stick up to corrupt sheriffs and noblemen, you know, like in Robin Hood. Basically a fugitive from a unfair justice system.

Why they may not deserve their fame: Outlaws then were probably no better or worse than today’s criminals. However, with lack of adequate law enforcement outlaws can basically get away with a lot more shit then (seriously no one would want to be the sheriff of Nottingham, it would’ve been a lot worse than being a cop on The Wire, especially since there was a lot more crime in the Middle Ages as there is today). Of course, outlaws would certainly steal from the rich yet they’d also rob or harm just about anybody. Also, many of those in England became knights later on so you might want to see what I have to say about them.


12. Cowboys

Known for: Seen as heroes of the Wild West who travel the open range on cattle drives while doing a bunch of other shit, I’m not sure what. They traveled on horseback by day and sang songs by the campfire at night. Sometimes they’d even shoot bad guys or Indians. Still, cowboys are seen as one of most prominent American cultural icons and loved by everyone everywhere.

Why they may not deserve their fame: This might depend on your definition of heroism since real cowboys were much different from the ones you saw in the movies. Besides, if you ask any boy in the 19th century whether he’d like to be a cowboy, he’d more likely say no unless he was black, Mexican, Indian, a poor white, gay, or an immigrant off the boat. I mean the job of cowboy was a low wage and low status job that entailed herding cattle from the ranches to the railroads which would transport them to the slaughterhouses in Chicago. The average cowboy earned a dollar a day for his hard work, slept in a barracks on the home ranch, and were more concerned with cattle rustlers and predators than Indians (Indians were more of a job for the US Army). Also, they wouldn’t be wearing those nice cowboy outfits you’d see at rodeos. Not to mention, they were notorious in Kansas for their wild and violent behavior especially since the place was seen as an end of a long cattle drive where cowboys received their pay as well as had towns with drinking and gambling establishments.

Underrated, Overlooked, Forgotten, and Ignored Historical Heroes who Need More Love

Some historical heroes get all the glory and praise even though they didn’t really deserve it. Others perform great deeds but are barely recognized for them for some reason whether it be by race, gender, job, or just that they don’t really fit into the historical narrative. Others are famous for one reason or another but aren’t really fully recognized for their work because they may share some unlikable quality the status quo doesn’t like or their accomplishments just get lost in the historic record. In some ways, history doesn’t do much justice to them either. Here are some of the great historical heroes who need more love. (I’m not including Tesla because he’s on too many lists already.)

1. Frank J. Wilson

His Feats: He was the IRS agent who nailed Al Capone, used the serial numbers on ransom notes to help solve kidnapping and murder of the Lindbergh baby (well, he nailed Bruno Hauptmann), and eventually became head of the Secret Service where he successfully resisted attempts of an FBI takeover orchestrated by J. Edgar Hoover, nearly eliminated the production and distribution of counterfeit money through a nationwide education program, and initiated practices in presidential security which have since become standard procedure, all before retiring in 1947. It’s been said that Al Capone had a plot to kill him which he later cancelled and came to regret.

Why He’s Ignored: Wilson couldn’t bask in the glory of his accomplishments since secrecy was part of his job. Even during his three year investigation of Al Capone, he didn’t even tell his wife about his work if that gives you any idea. So naturally the credit went to Elliot Ness instead.

2. Mary Seacole

Her Feats: She’s best known as a nurse in the Crimean War who used her own resources to set up her own hospital to treat the wounded even though she ended up bankrupt afterwards and her popular made it possible for much of the British public to support her. Known as “Mother Seacole.” Her autobiography was one of the first written by a black woman in Britain as well as successfully combated racial prejudice.

Why She’s Ignored: Well, she’s not actually ignored in Britain and her home country Jamaica, most people in the world have barely heard of her. Also, she was black (though her father was Scottish), not conventionally educated (mostly learned to be a nurse from her mother), and her presence in the Crimean War doesn’t fit well with the Florence Nightingale. Also, Nightingale criticized her for keeping a “bad house” in the Crimea and was responsible for “much drunkenness and improper conduct.” Whether Nightingale was either telling the truth or acting out of jealousy is unclear. Not to mention, there’s some debate over whether Seacole’s achievements were exaggerated for political reasons, especially in recent years. Of course, she’s no Florence Nightingale but even that shouldn’t dismiss her from the history books or even as a pioneer in nursing since she did have an amazing story as well as helped make nursing a more respectable profession . Still, since she was quite popular with the soldiers who were willing to raise money for her, she was certainly no fraud.

3. Helen Keller

Her Feats: Overcame her blindness and deafness after a bout with illness as a toddler as well as graduate from Radcliffe College. Later she became a writer, lecturer, and lifelong activist for the disabled, disadvantaged, women, and ethnic minorities as well as sent money to the NAACP and helped co-found the American Civil Liberties Union.

Why She’s Ignored: Helen Keller isn’t really ignored as a historical figure per se, but almost everything about her and the reason why she’s such an influential figure often is. Of course, this is because to talk about her adult life and how she achieved fame is to acknowledge Keller’s radical politics, namely the fact she had been a Socialist since she was in college. Her radical political views stemmed from her realization of how social conditions had an impact on how likely a person was going to end up disabled. Not only that, but she also knew full well that she was able to receive the guidance she got from Anne Sullivan was because of her privileged background. Her Socialist politics and activities were very well known at the time and she made no secret about them either. If you don’t believe it, here’s a quote of hers from 1911, “The few own the many because they possess the means of livelihood of all … The country is governed for the richest, for the corporations, the bankers, the land speculators, and for the exploiters of labor. The majority of mankind are working people. So long as their fair demands—the ownership and control of their livelihoods—are set at naught, we can have neither men’s rights nor women’s rights. The majority of mankind is ground down by industrial oppression in order that the small remnant may live in ease.” Of course, you’ll never hear that from Helen Keller in elementary school. Of course, many conservative parents wouldn’t really want their children to glorify a Socialist, would they? Still, you don’t make it to the TIME 100 of the 20th Century just by overcoming being blind and deaf.


4. Clara Barton

Her Feats: Well, she was a teacher who started New Jersey’s first public school, a patent clerk (first female to work in the US government), army nurse, humanitarian, political activist, and founder of the American Red Cross as well as ran the Office of Missing Soldiers.

Why She’s Ignored: Well, she’s not really much ignored when it comes to moments of her life such as the Civil War and founding of the American Red Cross. Of course, most people know her for being a Civil War nurse but she wasn’t just that. For one, she started out as a teacher for a dozen years in schools in Canada in West Georgia and was rather successful. She even started a free school in New Jersey which she ended up quitting after being past over for a promotion. After that she worked at the U.S. Patent Office as a clerk, which made her the first woman to hold a job in the US government. After the war, she ran an office to find missing Civil War soldiers whose fate were unknown other than they didn’t come back. Before the Civil War, searching for dead soldiers wasn’t done before even though we take the concept for granted today. The Clara Barton National Historic Site is one of the first national historic sites dedicated to the accomplishments of a woman. However, in American history class, she’s only a footnote.


5. Helen Hunt Jackson

Her Feats: She was one of the early Native American rights activists who wrote A Century of Dishonor chronicling the mistreatment of Indians that was legally sanctioned by state and federal policy and a novel Ramona. Both books remain in print to this day as she also attracted considerable attention to her cause.

Why She’s Ignored: Well, for one, she was living at a time when Native American rights was a fairly controversial issue (like gun control in some states), especially since the US government’s higher priority was taking land from the Indians and placing them on reservations. Speaking of the US government, she wasn’t well liked by them, the settlers, or the military officers she documented as being corrupt as well as encroaching and stealing Indian lands. Doesn’t fit in the Western movies does it?

6. Dr. Charles R. Drew

His Feats: He was a physician, surgeon, and medical researcher best known for developing techniques for blood storage and applied his expert knowledge in developing large-scale blood banks early in WWII, allowing medics to save thousands of lives of Allied Forces. Also, bears distinction as the first black surgeon selected to serve as ab examiner on he American Board of Surgery.

Why He’s Ignored: Unfortunately the racial politics at the time cost Drew his job after he protested the racial segregation in the donation of blood over it lacking scientific foundation. Also, he was black and most black doctors and scientists weren’t going to be the ones winning the Nobel Prizes in Medicine or be talked about in a school history or science class. I mean most of history was written by white men, right? Then there’s the fact that he’s responsible for saving thousands of lives back in WWII which many white veterans might not even want to admit, especially if they’re from the South. Not to mention, his work in blood storage continues to save people’s lives to this day but not many would want to hear that it was a black man who made that possible.

7. Percy Julian

His Feats: He was a research chemist who pioneered in the chemical synthesis of medicinal drugs from plants. He was first to synthesize the natural product of physostigmine and a pioneer in the large-scale industrial chemical synthesis of human hormones, steroids, progesterone, and testosterone from plant sterols such as stigmasterol and sitosterol. His work would lay the foundation for the steroid drug industry’s cortisone, other cortisteroids, and birth control pills. Later, he started his own company for synthesized steroid intermediates of the Mexican wild yam, greatly reducing the cost of these products to large multinational pharmaceutical companies, helping significantly expand the use of several important drugs. Received more than 130 chemical patents and was the first African American to hold a doctorate in chemistry as well as inducted into the National Academy of Sciences and second African American scientist inducted from any field.

Why He’s Ignored: Still, though Julian’s scientific contributions radically changed the world, perhaps the only recognition he gets nowadays is his own Nova episode called Forgotten Genius. Still, most people outside the black scientific community don’t really know who this guy is. His race has a lot to do with this since any white scientist with a similar list of accomplishments would’ve certainly become a household name. There are other factors in his life that play a role as well. For one, unlike his much more famous counterparts, Julian didn’t spend most of his career at a college but in a corporation (mostly because he couldn’t get an academic position after a scandal got him fired from Howard University. Not to mention, he didn’t have a good chance getting hired anywhere else mostly because he was black and this was pre-Civil Rights Era). Still, working in a corporation isn’t going to help a scientist’s chances receiving a Nobel Prize which Percy Julian certainly didn’t receive (but definitely deserved). Nevertheless, for a man like him to make the kind of contributions he did despite tremendous odds makes him a very significant figure indeed.


8. James Madison

His Feats: Founding father, “Father of the Constitution,” secretary of state, and 4th President of the United States. He was the first president to lead a nation into war (reluctantly after negotiations and embargoes had failed), first president to face enemy gunfire while in office, and the first (and only) president to exercise his authority as Commander in Chief while in battle. He did all this while presiding over a divided cabinet, a factious party, a difficult Congress, and useless generals. In 1814 as the misnamed War of 1812 continued, he and Dolley were forced to flee Washington while British troops burned down the White House and Capitol. Yet, he still signed a peace treaty with Great Britain later that year, which ended the “Second War of Independence” and resulting in the US losing no territory. Madison miraculously brought peace to America (despite near-treasonous actions by New England), and showed that the new nation still had what it took. Outside the War of 1812, created the Second Bank of the United States, a stronger military, a high tariff to protect the new factories opened during the war, and a federally subsidized road and canal system. When he stepped down in 1817, ex-president John Adams wrote to ex-president Thomas Jefferson (Madison’s former mentor, predecessor, and close friend) that Madison had, “acquired more glory, and established more union than all three predecessors…put together.”

Why He’s Ignored: As a founding father, Madison is very well known since he’s the one delegate from the Constitutional Convention who devised much of the system of the US government as we know today. As president though, he’s best known as Dolley Madison’s husband. And though Mrs. Madison might have had plenty of contributions of her own such as stopping Congressmen from killing each other, playing hostess, saving critical memorabilia from the British, and set precedent for the role of First Lady, Mr. Madison is continually placed on the lists of Top 10 US presidents by academics. Also, the War of 1812 isn’t a significant war on the American radar mostly because it lasted less than 3 years, didn’t have Americans fighting each other or abroad, was fought at a time before photos and film documentation, and didn’t result in the loss or gain of any territory. Not to mention, it only comes up when we talk about “The Star Spangled Banner,” Tecumseh, the Battle of New Orleans (fought two weeks after the war had ended due to slow communication), and Dolley Madison’s heroic actions as the White House burned.

9. Elizabeth Kenny

Her Feats: She an unaccredited Australian nurse who devised a controversial new approach for the treatment of polio before Dr. Jonas Salk developed the vaccine which eradicated the virus in most countries. Her findings ran counter to conventional medical wisdom, which demonstrated the need to exercise the muscles affected by polio instead of immobilizing them. Her principles of muscle rehabilitation would become the foundation of physical therapy. Polio survivor and actor Alan Alda basically stated that she was his main reason for being a feminist since his mother used her methods for treating him.

Why She’s Ignored: Her idea of physical therapy to combat polio though successful stirred significant controversy in the medical community, especially in her own country who questioned her results and methodology. Also, she wasn’t formally trained as a nurse (and might have learned her craft from a midwife.) Then there’s the fact she’s a woman whose methods challenged conventional medical wisdom. Not to mention, her treatments weren’t always successful. Even so, they helped improve the quality of life of thousands of people who probably would’ve ended up paralyzed otherwise and her methods nowadays are considered medical gospel.

10. Beulah Henry

Her Feats: Known as “Lady Edison” she had a role in over 100 inventions though she was more of a visionary who relied on model makers and engineers to bring them to life since she lacked the technical knowledge. Of her many inventions lists the vacuum ice freezer, the “protograph” (a primitive photocopier), the inflatable doll, the can opener, hair curlers, the “Latho” (a sponge that held a bar of soap in the center), and an umbrella with a snap-on cloth cover that allowed it to be color coordinated.

Why She’s Ignored: For one, she’s a woman at a time when the most famous inventors were men. Also, she only took 49 patents while many of her male counterparts took way more for things they weren’t totally their own ideas (I’m talking to you Edison).

11. Walter Reuther

His Feats: Labor activist, trade unionist, and helped make the United Auto Workers a force to be reckoned with as well as helped legitimize the presence of unions as a method of leverage for employers and a powerful political force. He successfully led major strikes against Ford and General Motors during the 1930s and 1940s. Founded Americans for Democratic Action in 1947, negotiated a merger that formed the AFL-CIO, marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, and the list goes on.

Why He’s Ignored: Well, to put it this way, politics. Although Reuther’s union activism was responsible for improving the lives of millions of Americans, he’s not a kind of guy Red State school board would want to see in an American History textbook. Also, the fact he was a Socialist in the 1930s and spent a stint in the Soviet Union don’t help his case either along with a 200 page FBI file. Not to mention, how unions continue to decline in power since the 1980s. I mean conservatives don’t like him at all.


12. Frances Perkins

Her Feats: First US female cabinet member who served as Secretary of Labor under President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She played an essential role in the New Deal program as well as the second-longest US cabinet member in history. Not only did she help pull the labor movement into the New Deal coalition, she also championed many New Deal aspects like the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Public Works Administration (succeeded by the Federal Works Agency and the labor portion of the National Industrial Recovery Act she also played a role in). She helped established unemployment benefits, elderly pensions, welfare,minimum wage, overtime laws, and defined the standard of the 44 hour workweek. She pushed to reduce workplace accidents and helped craft laws against child labor as well as formed policy dealing with labor unions and alleviating strikes through the US Conciliation Service. The US Labor Department building is named after her in her honor.

Why She’s Ignored: Well, there was a recent scandal involving a mural depicting her in the Maine Labor Department Headquarters, which the governor wanted removed. The claims were that he received complaints from state business officials and an anonymous fax charging it was reminiscent of “communist North Korea where they use these murals to brainwash the masses.” He also ordered that the names of seven conference rooms in the state’s labor department be changed, including one named after Perkins. If that gives you any idea why she’s seen as a token cabinet member in a U.S. History book, then here it is.

Historical Heroes Who Probably Don’t Deserve Their Fame


As with fictional heroes, there are plenty of real life examples of real life heroism as well, especially in history. Some of them could be said to be our role models and inspirations as well as those whose stories are told time and time again. Of course, there are those who do great deeds in history which are heroic and then there are those whose heroism is just a load of crap and doesn’t seem to hold still to the facts. Of course, I’m not going to use recent examples unless there are really serious implications. For instance, I may love to put Ronald Reagan on here since I think he’s one of our worst presidents in the US as well as a highly overrated historical figure, but since many people’s opinions of him usually depend on their political affiliation, I know that to make that move would be controversial. Not to mention, I’m not going to put on movie stars, writers, and other celebrities unless known to accomplish something big.

1. Wyatt Earp and Co.

Known for: The famous 1881 gunfight at the O. K. Corral in Tombstone, Arizona against a group of outlaw Cowboys of ranches who were unhinged of the silver boom in the area, which killed Tom and Frank McLaury as well as Billy Clanton. Of course, Wyatt Earp is the best known but his brothers Virgil and Morgan as well as friend Doc Holliday were there as well. However, I’m just going to stick to Wyatt Earp since he’s the most famous of the bunch. Wyatt was said to be a respected and fearless lawman who helped bring law and order to the town of Tombstone. Has the reputation as the “toughest and deadliest gunman of his day.”

Why he probably doesn’t deserve his fame: Wyatt was very savvy with PR  as well as blessed with the gift of longevity so he was able to develop his modern image, which he did during the 1920s as a consultant for an article and a movie about his life. He even gave an interview for a biography that was published after his death (which is now considered mostly fiction by today’s standards). However, before the 1920s, he was pretty much known as a dubious minor figure in Western history. And his reputation has been confused by inaccurate, conflicting, and false stories told about him by others and by his own claims that cannot be corroborated. And though he did have a reputation as a lawman, he didn’t really help bring law and order to the Old West, especially with the gunfight at the O. K. Corral. In fact, the gunfight only made things worse. For one, after the gunfight, Ike Clanton tried to get the Earps and Holliday charged with murder but the four got by with self-defense. Later on, Virgil was ambushed and shot in the left arm and shoulder by a shot gun in a saloon where Ike Clanton’s hat was found in a building across the street. A few months later, Morgan was shot in the right side by gunmen firing from a dark alley while playing billiards, in which the bullet shattered his spine as well as killed him forty minutes later and eventually lodged in the thigh of George A. B. Berry. Wyatt was almost shot there himself.  Wyatt then decided to take the law in his own hands and resolved to kill all his enemies so he gathered a posse and to pursue the Cowboys in revenge which the Tombstone sheriff tried to stop him from doing. which was bloody. Separating the fact from fiction from Wyatt Earp’s life may be a difficult process, but one thing’s for sure, he didn’t leave Tombstone a better place and was more shadier and self-interested.

2. Jesse James

Known for: Famous Western outlaw and most famous member of the James-Younger Gang who staged many train, stagecoach, and bank robberies and shootings. Said to be a manifestation of frontier lawlessness or economic justice. Said to be the “American Robin Hood.” Said to be shot by the coward Robert Ford.

Why he probably doesn’t deserve his fame: Again good PR comes into play which Jesse was willing to take advantage of and it was mostly done in efforts to encourage the rise of the ex-Confederates in Missouri during Reconstruction, which many ex-Confederates like those in the James-Younger Gang were not too happy about at all and it’s pretty much a given they were no friend to racial minorities. Also, the notion of James being the “American Robin Hood” is pure bullshit because the James-Younger Gang only robbed for themselves and weren’t above killing unarmed soldiers and civilians. Many modern scholars have now placed the James-Younger Gang among those regional ex-Confederate insurgencies following the American Civil War. Not to mention, James was an unstable cold-blooded killer and after the demise of the gang, even the people of Missouri eventually got fed up with him. Oh, he once said he was absolutely committed to slavery and vowed to shoot any black in Missouri not fulfilling his role of a slave. As for Robert Ford, he wasn’t a coward and certainly no fool since he killed James with the governor’s blessing. Still, a lot of famous outlaws have this kind of image, Jesse James is the best known in America.


3. Elliot Ness

Known for: An American Prohibition agent famous for enforcing the 18th Amendment in 1920s Chicago as well as leader of a team of law enforcement agents known as the Untouchables. Also credited with taking down Al Capone.

Why he probably doesn’t deserve his fame: Though he led many raids in Chicago with the help of wiretapping as well as claimed to seize $1 million in booze, Ness had almost nothing to do with taking down Capone at all and his efforts had very little impact on Capone’s operations. Also, is mostly by media savvy where Ness attained his reputation as a man who tried to rid illegal vice wherever he went but was later withered by a series of grisly murders in 1930s Cleveland followed by a string of business ventures such as a stint as chairman of the Diebold Corporation and a downward spiral after that. Not to mention, was said to be a heavy drinker, ironically. Still, if you want to know of the true people who took down Al Capone, then look to the IRS who got him on tax evasion in which the guy on his case was IRS agent and former accountant Frank J. Wilson who also worked on the Lindbergh kidnapping case in which his investigation of the money led to the arrest of Bruno Richard Hauptmann and eventually became head of the Secret Service who nearly eliminated counterfeit operations through an education program, resisted pressure from J. Edgar Hoover to transfer the Secret Service under the Justice Department under FBI jurisdiction, and initiated the practices of presidential security which is now standard procedure. Now where’s Frank J. Wilson’s TV show, Hollywood?

4. Robert E. Lee

Known for: Famous Civil War general and head of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia. Said to be a father to his men as well as a symbol of Southern Confederate honor that hearken to the days of the Old South.

Why he probably doesn’t deserve his fame: Of course, Robert E. Lee certainly deserves his fame as Jefferson Davis’ top general as well as a Father to his Men. However, his star has been amplified by the Lost Cause Southern historians after the Civil War who paint him as some sort of saint which he certainly wasn’t. In some ways, many Southern whites tend to see him in a way that many Republicans view Reagan. Sure he graduated with no demerits at West Point which still stands, was a great soldier, and sacrificed a lot for his beloved Virginia (such as buddies, citizenship, and Arlington), but he wasn’t great with his family and was certainly no friend to black people, especially his slaves. Sure he might have hated slavery, but he was a slavery apologists as well as one of slavery’s greatest defenders and was very upset about Lincoln’s anti-slavery actions. Oh, and he committed treason against his country as well as partially responsible for so many deaths and why his four daughters were never able to find husbands. As a military leader, Lee might have been able to win battles early in the war, but he was very much a 19th century general who couldn’t adapt to the strategy and tactics that Grant and Sherman were using to defeat him and his colleagues. Oh, and then there’s Gettysburg which was the result of Lee’s planning to stage a Northern Invasion. And we know how that worked out for him.


5. Betsy Ross

Known for: Designing and producing the first American flag during the Revolutionary War. Was said to be a patriotic role model for young girls and a symbol of women’s contributions to American History at least in the 19th century.

Why she doesn’t deserve her fame: Although Betsy Ross was a real women who did have an upholstery business in Philadelphia, the claim of her sewing the first American flag is dubious and might as well been cooked up by her grandson since there’s a lack of historical evidence of the famous story with her and George Washington. Also, her story didn’t come out until after her death. Not to mention, though it wouldn’t be unusual for an upholster to sew flags, she would’ve been one of 17 women who did sew them and might have contributed by using 5-point stars instead of the traditional 6-point stars or the production of it. Then again, the banner might more likely have been designed by Francis Hopkinson who was originally credited with the flag design. Still, there are plenty of Revolutionary heroines out there and other American heroines who contributed much more.

6. William Wallace

Known for: Being Scotland’s greatest hero as well as the inspiration for that God awful Mel Gibson movie (historical inaccuracies abound). A martyr for Scottish independence.

Why he probably doesn’t deserve his fame: Well, not much is known about Wallace but we’re pretty sure that he didn’t sleep with Princess Isabella (who was a child) nor did he father Edward III (who was born nearly a decade after his death). He also wasn’t a Scottish highlander but a minor aristocrat from the Scottish South whose dad fought for the English. Oh, and Robert Bruce never betrayed Wallace either (and was far more successful than him and was actually referred to as Braveheart as well as one of the greatest Scottish heroes whose claim Wallace staunchly supported). Not to mention, Wallace wasn’t above raping women and burning down schools with children and monks still inside. Then again, everybody was pretty brutal during the Middle Ages.


7. Che Guevara

Known for: Being one of the architects for Cuban independence as well as the highest selling T-shirt image. Seen as a hero figure who fought for freedom as well as represented civil disobedience and rebellion.

Why he probably doesn’t deserve his fame: Well, aside from being a Communist (not that there’s anything wrong with that, just ask Upton Sinclair whose novel The Jungle helped start the FDA) he was buddies with Castro and is sort of responsible for putting him and his brother in power and without the Castros, there probably wouldn’t be a Cuban Missile Crisis. Also, personally killed hundreds of people to spread communism to “liberate” the poor. Not only that, but had a strong dislike for rock music that he saw as a product of American Imperialism, even going as far as to have Cuban rock fans imprisoned in labor camps. Then there’s the fact that there some fellow Communists who couldn’t stand him either.

8. Guy Fawkes

Known for: If V for Vendetta is a guide, he’s basically known as a tragic hero who tried to blow up Parliament and died trying to strike a blow for freedom. He also gave rise to V for Vendetta and the Guy Fawkes mask.

Why he probably doesn’t deserve his fame: He and his co-conspirators in the Gunpowder Plot were terrorists and were more interested in replacing a Protestant monarchy with a Catholic one. Also, he was one of the last men brought in since he worked as a mercenary in Spain that gave him the Catholic sympathies and the demolitions expertise. And it was a Catholic who turned Fawkes in (who got a tip from one of the conspirators Francis Dresham). Not only that, but King James I was quite tolerant of Catholics and might have possibly been married to one (his son Charles had a Catholic wife and son James was openly Catholic for most of his life and his mother was known as the Catholic Mary Queen of Scots). He even handled religious issues remarkably far better than his own successors. However, King James might have granted Catholics greater freedoms if the Gunpowder Plot didn’t happen and he only went along with stricter laws on Catholics because Parliament passed them (is it difficult to explain why?) and were willing to give a load of cash to do so. Thus, Guy Fawkes actually did more to harm the freedoms of English Catholics than good at least in the 17th century. So perhaps having a terrorist represent freedom isn’t such a good idea.


9. Saint Sir Thomas More

Known for: One of the best minds of early Renaissance England who served as chancellor to Henry VIII as well as wrote Utopia and corresponded with Erasmus. Refused to recognize the king as the head of the English Church as well as opposed the formation of the Church of England and Henry VIII’s dissolving his marriage to Catherine of Aragon in order to marry Anne Boleyn. His bravery for sticking up to his principles even if it meant his gruesome death provided the inspiration of the play A Man for All Seasons where he’s presented as a champion of the freedom of individual conscience.

Why he probably doesn’t deserve his fame: This is a complicated case but in large part Sir Thomas More certainly does deserve his fame as one of the great Renaissance figures in Tudor England as well as his sainthood for he did stick to his religious principles. But as a champion of the freedom of individual conscience? Well, maybe according to 16th century standards where he’s perfectly fine with the burning of heretics and believed the state had every right to suppress any open dissent (guess which one went back to bite him) as well as base his defense on the plea he had not made his personal opinions known. Also, he’s certainly a guy who would certainly not be okay with his daughter marrying a Protestant as well as had his own opinions about the Catholic Church which might shock some people nowadays (such as perhaps not having a pope and more conciliatory power). Oh, and did I say he was friends with Erasmus and Thomas Cromwell (who was godfather to his first grandchild)? Catholic martyr and Renaissance intellectual, absolutely but advocate for free speech, absolutely not.

10. Hypatia

Known for: She was a female philosopher in ancient Alexandria who was said to be a martyr to science, atheism, and rationalism since she was killed by a bunch of misogynist religious fanatics.

Why she probably doesn’t deserve her fame: As a female philosopher and scientists whose teachings influenced many, she certainly deserves her fame for there aren’t many women in that field, especially in ancient times. As an atheist martyr and poster child, certainly not since she was a monotheist pagan (Neo-Platonist to be exact) who was respected and beloved by the people in Alexandria even by Christians, some of whom were her students, including a future bishop. And no one cared about her being a woman either. So what led to her death? Politics. Also, despite the Rachel Weisz portrayal, she was sixty-five at the time of her death. Still, the myth that rises from her story means that religious people aren’t the only ones to believe in ridiculous things (and I’m talking to you Carl Sagan).

Fictional Heroes Who Probably Don’t Deserve Their Fame

There are heroes in both real life and fiction who we all root for and admire but there could be instances when heroism is a tricky thing. Sure most heroes aren’t perfect but by the end of the day, they are the ones who save us, protect us, and inspire us. However, sometimes we tend to heroize people we really shouldn’t not because they’re flawed individuals (for even flawed individuals can achieve heroic deeds) but because their heroic deeds are either fraudulent, could easily become disastrous, or weren’t at all heroic in the first place. A good example of such would be Lance Armstrong who though it’s heroic he managed to overcome testicular cancer and win the Tour de France seven times, the fact he won on steroids is the main reason why he doesn’t deserve to be on a pedestal. Here are a list of fictional heroes who we may admire but don’t really deserve their fame.

1. Superheroes

From: Comic books, movies, and other media

Why we admire them: Well, they save everyone from total annihilation from some crazed super villain all for the greater good and with awesome super powers (or really cool gadgets) that really come in handy. Also, many of them tend to be fairly safe and accessible role models for kids and adults of alike who can be destined for nerdom compared to many of today’s professional athletes.

Why we probably shouldn’t look up to them: Sure superheroes may be pretty awesome but except when there’s a dangerous super villain who needs to be vanquished, their heroism might have the potential of inflicting more harm than good in other. For one, superheroes have a terrible habit of inflicting collateral damage that might cost not only dollars but perhaps lives. This may not mean much if faced against a notorious super villain but in the realm of day to day crimes, using superpowers might be a little overkill to bring those crooks to justice. Not to mention, many of these superheroes don’t take any responsibility for the damage they may have inadvertently caused either because they can’t afford to (like Spiderman) or just choose not to (like Batman). I mean many of these guys have secret identities for a reason and certainly don’t want their deeds traced to them (of course, Tony Stark is an exception since everyone knows he’s Iron Man and certainly takes responsibility for the damage he causes). Second, most of them tend to be the poster children of vigilantism who usually take the law in their own hands whether the authorities authorize it or not. Sure some authorities in the DC and Marvel universe may be perfectly fine with superhero vigilantism especially if it’s against a super villain but no authority would allow a normal person get away with all that. Third, some superheroes tend to be a magnet for danger since many of their loved ones tend to get into bad situations a lot and some super villains may have a personal vendetta against a superhero as well.

2. John Wayne characters

From: John Wayne movies, of course, usually westerns and war movies

Why we admire them: Since they’re the ones who usually save the day in the end and are the only people who know how as far as his fans are concerned. Also, tend to be the leaders many American men once saw as an All-American hero who embodies the best aspects of American values, patriotism, and masculinity.

Why we probably shouldn’t look up to them: Because most of John Wayne’s characters are really full of crap and tend to be assholes at best who don’t listen to anybody else’s idea of the situation, always insist that they’re right, and whine as well as bully everyone else all the more tomorrow until he gets his way. He’s not considerate for other people nor seems to think of the consequences of his own actions. Meanwhile, the townspeople are totally lost on what to do while the bad guys are making preparations to strike because John Wayne won’t shut the hell up. Oh, but since John Wayne is always the hero, he could do no wrong usually gets away with it, too mostly by luck. And how does John Wayne get rid of the bad guys? Usually through violence, which really isn’t the best solution, especially if the bad guys are Indians who just want to remain on their land like their ancestors had for thousands of years but keep getting driven off to reservations by white settlers who don’t wish to share with them or the U. S. government. Not to mention, most of John Wayne’s characters aren’t nice to women, especially if they’re played by Maureen O’Hara. Definitely not guys you want to have around.

3. James Bond

From: The Ian Fleming novel series and the movie franchise

Why we admire him: He’s a spy and makes working in an intelligence agency seem classy. Not to mention, he’s a gentleman who attracts pretty women and drinks martinis. Also, he’s willing save the world from hostile takeover from treacherous selfish men who will stop at nothing for power, revenge, or other selfish whims.

Why we probably shouldn’t look up to him: For one, he’s not really a spy, he’s more of an assassin who doesn’t seem to be very covert about his activities (I mean you can’t really cover up an explosion, car chase, or anything that consists of a climatic action scene). Also, tends to cause collateral damage which spies and assassins usually try to avoid at all times. Not to mention, he smokes and drinks as well as screws with any beautiful woman there (even if they’re affiliated with the enemy which isn’t a good idea)  and gets all the glory. Then there’s the fact he lives an extravagant lifestyle everywhere he goes with all expenses paid by MI6. Meanwhile, there are countless secret agents who are doing the actual spy work from 9 to 5 at the office who don’t get to travel, don’t get the pretty women (or men in Money Penny’s case), and don’t get the credit when a Bond villain is taken down John le Carre has to write about. Also, most Bond villains are pretty much idiots to begin with and intelligence work usually tends to be a group effort anyway. 007 may be a brave and loyal spy but he’s not the only one trying to take down Goldfinger.

4. Indiana Jones

From: The Indiana Jones movies

Why we admire him: He’s a badass archaeologist who tackles Nazis with his whip to protect precious artifacts despite his fear of snakes.  He’s a great adventure hero to boys despite being a horn dog. I mean what boy doesn’t want to be Indy? Not to mention, he’s a very likeable guy despite his flaws that we don’t care how much of a jerk he is at times.

Why we probably shouldn’t look up to him: Bad habits aside, Indy is probably not an accurate depiction of the adventurer archaeologist even by 1930s standards. I mean he’s a professor who obviously doesn’t take some of his grad students with him to the places he’s at. Not to mention, he’s rarely seen doing what an archaeologist normally does which is looking for artifacts from a archaeological dig. Sure this may be boring and the artifacts might not be that valuable or interesting (like pottery bits) but still, that’s what archaeologists do. Not to mention, he unintentionally destroys ruins when fighting the bad guys and doesn’t seem to authenticate his findings (like a crystal skull perhaps). He may kick Nazi butt, but he’s hardly a good archaeologist. Also, slept with the enemy on one occasion.

5. White Saviors

From: Any kind of media that takes place in history which may or may not have happened that usually deals with the relationships between white people and minority groups and natives.

Why we admire them: Because many of them are actual historic figures known for helping minority groups or natives and they usually make most white people feel good about themselves. Also, we know their hearts are usually in the right place and they always seem to do the right thing despite what everyone else may think.

Why we probably shouldn’t look up to them (or at least some of them): Well, this is more of a mixed bag since many of them are genuine heroes who either helped save them or even allowed them to save themselves. However, they do have a tendency to cause unintentional racism like the notion that these people are incapable of saving themselves or need a white person from the outside to help them and complaints among ethnic minorities. Not to mention, fiction dealing with white saviors tends to be sentimentalized  a great deal. Also, some of the scenarios are pretty unrealistic in themselves as well. Whites living as Indians? Pretty plausible as in Dancing with Wolves, Last of the Mohicans, and Little Big Man. An American samurai warrior? Oh, hell no. Sure white savior movies might be entertaining but perhaps we can have a little more diversity, Hollywood?

6. Private Eyes

From: Pulp fiction novels, film noir, and similar media.

Why we admire them: They dress nice, have a cool head, and stick to their principles no matter how much they clash with the cops or their own flaws. Not to mention, they’re the smartest guys in the room who solve the crimes and are willing to show the bad guy who’s boss. We always love these tough guys and loveable rogues.

Why we probably shouldn’t look up to them: Because even though they do get the bad guy and solve the case it’s usually when the perp has already left a trail of bodies in the mean time. Also, they tend to drink and smoke a lot as well as sleep with a great many women who may seem helpless at first but then usually end up being their worst nightmares. Not only that, but they also tend to make their own job seem like a glamorous profession when it really isn’t. Most private eyes don’t really solve murders unless upon request by the victim’s family or police (and many of their cases don’t really involve murder at all, initially). But what kind of cases do private eyes mostly investigate? Well, background checks, dirt digging, and spying mostly. Many of them tend to spy on people who are suspected of cheating on their spouses. Also, many of them tend to be disgraced former cops who may not be the nicest people in the world.