10 Fictional TV Characters You Didn’t Know Were Based On Real People

Most of us assume that amazing fictional TV characters are completely made up. But this isn’t always true. Real people have solved crimes in crazy ways or handled political scandals like masters. This led to them being the inspiration for awesome TV shows. So which of your favorite characters are based on real people? These nine are some of the few!

1. Scandal: Olivia Pope is based on Judy Smith

ABC / Wenn
ABC / Wenn

Olivia Pope has a business fixing people’s problems. Most of them are politicians, and deal with crazy scandals that involve sex, drugs, and murder. Judy Smith actually did this for a living and worked on fixing the Monica Lewinsky, Michael Vick, and Paula Deen scandals and more. She still works in crime management and goes by “the fixer.”

2. Empire: Jamal is based on Lee Daniels

FOX / Wenn

FOX / Wenn

A lot of creators and writers go by the saying, “write what you know.” So Jamal is actually based on the shows’ creator who is gay. The tragic scene of young Jamal being put into a trash can by his father is a real experience that happened to Daniels. A lot of his other story lines that have to do with his sexuality is also based on the creator’s experiences.

3. Seinfeld: Kramer is based on Kenny Kramer

NBC / Wenn

NBC / Wenn

When Jerry Seinfeld and Larry David started creating their hit show, they based Kramer on their neighbor across the hall. Kenny Kramer often spent time on projects that didn’t work out, according to The New York Times. He along with Jerry and Larry would often leave their apartments unlocked and so they would drop in on each other. Now he conducts Kramer’s Reality Tour for fans of the show. 

4. Mad Men: Don Draper is based on Draper Daniels

AMC / Myra Janco Daniels
AMC / Myra Janco Daniels

The fictional ad executive is based on an executive in Chicago who worked on the Malboro Man campaign and more. He also started his life in modest beginnings on a farm to later become a success. However that maybe a coincidence. Creator Matthew Weiner was asked what he took from the real man for the character. He told Vulture, he’s “not related to the show. I just saw the name. I also love Dorothy Draper. But Don’s not related to Draper Daniels.” 

5. Community: Abed Nadir is based on Abed Gheith

NBC / Abed Gheith
NBC / Abed Gheith

The beloved character is obsessed with pop culture, but isn’t great at picking up social cues. He happens to be based on Dan Harmon’s best friend, Abed. Harmon campaigned to get him to play the role himself but was upstaged by Danny Pudi. The show itself is also based on the time Harmon took classes at a community college and he joined a study group. Joel McHale‘s character is actually based on Harmon.

6. Medium: Allison Dubios is based on Allison Dubios

NBC / Allison DuBois Facebook
NBC / Allison DuBois Facebook

Patricia Arquette’s character is actually based on a real woman who helped law enforcement as a medium. She went on to talk about her experiences on OprahAfter the show made its debut people started seeking her out to help them with their cases. “I got to a point where I got so depressed,” Dubois told The Huffington Post. “It was very hard to live in that dark place for so long.”

7. Boardwalk Empire: Nucky Thompson is based on Enoch L. Johnson

HBO / Wikipedia
HBO / Wikipedia

Steve Buscemi plays the corrupt Atlantic City politician during prohibition, which is based on Enoch “Nucky” Johnson who did run the city for 30 years. That was done partially through organized crime. He was however eventually brought to justice when there was evidence of him being paid illegally. In 1941 he was slapped with charges of tax evasion and was convicted. He was sentenced to federal prison for ten years.

8. The Wire: Bunk Moreland is based on Rick Requer

HBO / Wikipedia
HBO / Wikipedia

Requer served in the Homicide Unit in Baltimore and later worked in retirement services before retiring himself in 2007. He was the inspiration for Bunk, but he also got another shout out on the show. In “Transitions” there is a patrolman named after him played by Roscoe Orman.

9. Bones: Dr. Temperence Brennan is based on Kathy Reichs

FOX / Wenn
FOX / Wenn

The show follows an anthropologist and a FBI agent investigating cases together. The show is actually based on the real Bones’ book and her life. She also was a huge help in getting the show started. “We changed ideas about the character,” said Barry Josephson “what the anthropologist forensic would do in all kinds of situations Hart created in the script and we checked with Kathy. ‘Is this real? Is this right? Could she be here? She would be like that? Would she be here?’.” So the show tries to stay realistic. 

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