history The Most Influential People of All Time  

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List Rules Vote on humans who have had the most influence on the history of the world--good or bad. They can be from any period of time.

This is a list of the most influential people of all of human history. This means that the individuals on this list have had a significant effect on how regular people live their lives today and have had a large impact on how modern society works. The names on this list include religious figures, scientists and inventors, and some of the most important leaders in world history. Vote for your top choices and re-rank this list your way.

What makes an individual worthy of a spot on a list of the most influential people ever? Certainly, some of the greatest minds of all time deserve to be ranked highly. Examples include Leonardo da Vinci, Sir Isaac Newton, and certainly Albert Einstein. Each one of these incredible people used the power of their minds to change the world. Not surprisingly, several names on this list are also among the most famous role models we'd like to meet in person.

And modern-era figures also deserve to be listed here. Can anyone argue that Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg aren't among the most influential contemporary Americans? It's time to add your opinions on who you believe are the most influential people who ever lived, with your votes and your rankings.
list ordered by

1
36,443 26,124
Jesus Christ is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Jesus Christ Jesus, also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth, is the central figure of Christianity, whom the teachings of most Christian denominations hold to be the Son of God. Christianity regards Jesus as the awaited Messiah of the Old Testament and refers ...more

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2
23,847 19,075
Isaac Newton is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Isaac Newton Died at 84 (1643-1727) Sir Isaac Newton PRS MP was an English physicist and mathematician who is widely recognised as one of the most influential scientists of all time and as a key figure in the scientific revolution. His book Philosophiæ Naturalis Principia ...more

3
24,644 18,918
Albert Einstein is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Albert Einstein Died at 76 (1879-1955) Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist. Einstein's work is also known for its influence on the philosophy of science. He developed the general theory of relativity, one of the two pillars of modern physics. Einstein is best ...more

4
21,729 16,094
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Leonardo da Vinci Died at 67 (1452-1519) Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian polymath, painter, sculptor, architect, musician, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, and writer. He is widely considered to be one of the greatest ...more

5
17,969 15,709
Aristotle is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Aristotle Died at 62 (383 BC-321 BC) Aristotle was a Greek philosopher and scientist born in the Macedonian city of Stagira, Chalkidice, on the northern periphery of Classical Greece. His father, Nicomachus, died when Aristotle was a child, whereafter Proxenus of Atarneus became ...more

6
37,698 29,867
Muhammad is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Muhammad Muhammad, full name Abū al-Qāsim Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh ibn ʿAbd al-Muṭṭalib ibn Hāshim, from Mecca, unified Arabia into a single religious polity under Islam. Believed by Muslims and Bahá'ís to be a prophet and messenger of God, ...more

7
16,781 13,700
Galileo Galilei is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Galileo Galilei Died at 78 (1564-1642) Galileo Galilei, often known mononymously as Galileo, was an Italian physicist, mathematician, engineer, astronomer, and philosopher who played a major role in the scientific revolution during the Renaissance. His achievements include ...more

8
14,416 13,155
Plato is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Plato Plato was a philosopher, as well as mathematician, in Classical Greece. He is considered an essential figure in the development of philosophy, especially the Western tradition, and he founded the Academy in Athens, the first institution of ...more

9
15,892 15,407
Charles Darwin is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Charles Darwin Died at 73 (1809-1882) Charles Robert Darwin, FRS was an English naturalist and geologist, best known for his contributions to evolutionary theory. He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors, and in a joint publication with ...more

10
13,986 13,129
Alexander the Great is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Alexander the Great Died at 33 (355 BC-322 BC) Alexander III of Macedon, commonly known as Alexander the Great, was a King of the Ancient Greek kingdom of Macedon and a member of the Argead dynasty. Born in Pella in 356 BC, Alexander succeeded his father, Philip II, to the throne at the age ...more

11
13,838 11,884
Socrates is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Socrates Socrates was a classical Greek philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy. He is an enigmatic figure known chiefly through the accounts of classical writers, especially the writings of his students Plato and Xenophon and ...more

12
13,435 12,105
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
William Shakespeare Died at 52 (1564-1616) William Shakespeare was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". ...more

13
17,429 15,219
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Mahatma Gandhi Died at 79 (1869-1948) Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was the preeminent leader of Indian independence movement in British-ruled India. Employing nonviolent civil disobedience, Gandhi led India to independence and inspired movements for civil rights and freedom across ...more

14
15,775 13,296
Martin Luther King, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Martin Luther King, Jr. Died at 39 (1929-1968) Martin Luther King Jr. (born Michael King Jr., January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who was a leader in the Civil Rights Movement. He is best known for his role in the advancement of civil rights using ...more

15
14,954 12,208
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Abraham Lincoln Died at 56 (1809-1865) Abraham Lincoln was the 16th President of the United States, serving from March 1861 until his assassination in April 1865. Lincoln led the United States through its Civil War—its bloodiest war and its greatest moral, constitutional and ...more

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16
35,577 50,088
Adolf Hitler is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Adolf Hitler Died at 56 (1889-1945) Adolf Hitler was an Austrian-born German politician who was the leader of the Nazi Party. He was chancellor of Germany from 1933 to 1945 and Führer of Nazi Germany from 1934 to 1945. As effective dictator of Nazi Germany, Hitler was at the ...more

17
15,230 12,525
Moses is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Moses Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible, a former Egyptian prince later turned prophet, religious leader and lawgiver, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed. Also called Moshe Rabbenu in Hebrew, he is the most ...more

18
11,532 11,324
Gautama Buddha is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Gautama Buddha Gautama Buddha, also known as Siddhārtha Gautama, Shakyamuni, or simply the Buddha, was a sage on whose teachings Buddhism was founded. He is believed to have lived and taught mostly in eastern India sometime between the sixth and fourth ...more

19
10,374 10,765
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
George Washington Died at 67 (1732-1799) George Washington was the first President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He presided over the convention that ...more

20
10,127 12,593
Karl Marx is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Karl Marx Died at 65 (1818-1883) Karl Marx was a German philosopher, economist, sociologist, journalist, and revolutionary socialist. Marx's work in economics laid the basis for much of the current understanding of labour and its relation to capital, and subsequent economic ...more

21
9,749 9,210
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Julius Caesar Died at 56 (99 BC-43 BC) Gaius Julius Caesar was a Roman general, statesman, Consul, and notable author of Latin prose. He played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman Empire. In 60 BC, Caesar, Crassus, and ...more

22
11,277 9,253
Nikola Tesla is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Nikola Tesla Died at 87 (1856-1943) Nikola Tesla was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer, physicist, and futurist best known for his contributions to the design of the modern alternating current electricity supply system. Tesla gained experience ...more

23
8,118 8,235
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Napoleon Bonaparte Died at 52 (1769-1821) Napoléon Bonaparte was a French military and political leader who rose to prominence during the French Revolution and its associated wars. As Napoleon I, he was Emperor of the French from 1804 until 1814, and again in 1815. Napoleon ...more

24
6,965 7,251
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Martin Luther Died at 63 (1483-1546) Martin Luther was a German friar, priest and professor of theology who was a seminal figure in the Protestant Reformation. Initially an Augustinian friar, Luther came to reject several teachings and practices of the Roman Catholic Church. He ...more

25
6,204 6,638
Johannes Gutenberg is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Johannes Gutenberg Died at 70 (1398-1468) Johannes Gensfleisch zur Laden zum Gutenberg was a German blacksmith, goldsmith, printer, and publisher who introduced printing to Europe. His invention of mechanical movable type printing started the Printing Revolution and is widely regarded ...more

26
7,778 8,114
Thomas Edison is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Thomas Edison Died at 84 (1847-1931) Thomas Alva Edison was an American inventor and businessman. He developed many devices that greatly influenced life around the world, including the phonograph, the motion picture camera, and a long-lasting, practical electric light bulb. Dubbed ...more

27
9,105 7,970
Nelson Mandela is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Nelson Mandela Died at 95 (1918-2013) Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician and philanthropist who served as President of South Africa from 1994 to 1999. He was South Africa's first black chief executive, and the first elected in a ...more

28
9,384 8,094
Genghis Khan is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Genghis Khan Genghis Khan, born Temüjin, was the founder and Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his demise. He came to power by uniting many of the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia. After ...more

29
5,905 5,559
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart Died at 35 (1756-1791) Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, baptised as Johannes Chrysostomus Wolfgangus Theophilus Mozart, was a prolific and influential composer of the Classical era. Mozart showed prodigious ability from his earliest childhood. Already competent on keyboard ...more

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30
4,774 3,854
Marie Curie is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Marie Curie Died at 67 (1867-1934) Marie Skłodowska-Curie was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who conducted pioneering research on radioactivity. She was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first person and only woman to win twice, the only person to ...more

31
4,651 3,959
Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Ludwig van Beethoven Died at 57 (1770-1827) Ludwig van Beethoven was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between the Classical and Romantic eras in Western art music, he remains one of the most famous and influential of all composers. His best-known ...more

32
4,517 4,973
Homer is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Homer Homerus, best known as his anglicised name Homer, is the author of the Iliad and the Odyssey. He was believed by the ancient Greeks to have been the first and greatest of the epic poets. Author of the first known literature of Europe, he had a ...more

33
5,620 5,663
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Thomas Jefferson Died at 83 (1743-1826) Thomas Jefferson was an American Founding Father, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence, and the third President of the United States. He was a spokesman for democracy, and embraced the principles of republicanism and the ...more

34
5,943 5,245
Henry Ford is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Henry Ford Henry Ford was an American industrialist, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and sponsor of the development of the assembly line technique of mass production. Although Ford did not invent the automobile or the assembly line, he developed ...more

35
6,103 5,261
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Benjamin Franklin Died at 84 (1706-1790) Benjamin Franklin FRS was one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. A renowned polymath, Franklin was a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. ...more

36
6,670 6,487
Bill Gates is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Bill Gates age 61 William Henry "Bill" Gates III is an American business magnate, philanthropist, investor, computer programmer, and inventor. Gates originally established his reputation as the co-founder of Microsoft, the world’s largest PC software ...more

37
6,007 6,791
Confucius is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Confucius Died at 72 (550 BC-478 BC) Confucius was a Chinese teacher, editor, politician, and philosopher of the Spring and Autumn period of Chinese history. The philosophy of Confucius emphasized personal and governmental morality, correctness of social relationships, justice and ...more

38
6,431 5,980
Paul the Apostle is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Paul the Apostle Paul the Apostle, originally known as Saul of Tarsus, was an apostle who taught the gospel of Christ to the first-century world. He is generally considered one of the most important figures of the Apostolic Age. In the mid-30s to the mid-50s, ...more

39
4,991 4,203
Michelangelo is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Michelangelo Died at 89 (1475-1564) Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian sculptor, painter, architect, poet, and engineer of the High Renaissance who exerted an unparalleled influence on the development of Western art. ...more

40
5,339 4,697
Pythagoras is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Pythagoras Pythagoras of Samos was an Ionian Greek philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. Most of the information about Pythagoras was written down centuries after he lived, so very little reliable ...more

41
4,473 5,773
Christopher Columbus is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Christopher Columbus Died at 55 (1451-1506) Christopher Columbus was an Italian explorer, navigator, and colonizer, citizen of the Republic of Genoa. Under the auspices of the Catholic Monarchs of Spain, he completed four voyages across the Atlantic Ocean. Those voyages, and his efforts ...more

42
3,922 5,366
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
John F. Kennedy Died at 46 (1917-1963) John Fitzgerald Kennedy (May 29, 1917 – November 22, 1963), also referred to as John F. Kennedy, JFK, John Kennedy or Jack Kennedy, was the 35th President of the United States. He served from 1961 until his assassination in 1963. Major events ...more

43
3,348 4,220
Charlemagne is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Charlemagne Charlemagne, also known as Charles the Great or Charles I, was King of the Franks who united most of Western Europe during the Middle Ages and laid the foundations for modern France and Germany. He took the Frankish throne from 768 and became ...more

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44
4,812 6,844
Vladimir Lenin is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Vladimir Lenin Died at 54 (1870-1924) Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, alias Lenin was a Russian communist revolutionary, politician and political theorist. He served as head of government of the Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic from 1917, and of the Soviet Union from 1922 ...more

45
5,101 5,325
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Winston Churchill Died at 91 (1874-1965) Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, KG, OM, CH, TD, DL, FRS, RA was a British politician who was the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945 and again from 1951 to 1955. Widely regarded as one of the greatest wartime leaders ...more

46
2,466 2,409
Archimedes is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
acalabr added Archimedes Archimedes of Syracuse was an Ancient Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded as one of the leading scientists in classical antiquity. Generally considered ...more

47
5,194 4,764
Wright brothers is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Wright brothers The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation pioneers who are credited with inventing and building the world's first successful airplane and making the first controlled, powered and sustained ...more

48
4,127 4,758
Nicolaus Copernicus is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Nicolaus Copernicus Died at 70 (1473-1543) Nicolaus Copernicus was a Renaissance mathematician and astronomer who formulated a model of the universe that placed the Sun rather than the Earth at its center. The publication of this model in his book De revolutionibus orbium coelestium ...more

49
2,531 3,429
Johann Sebastian Bach is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
EnriqueSanchez added Johann Sebastian Bach Died at 65 (1685-1750) Johann Sebastian Bach was a German composer and musician of the Baroque period. He enriched established German styles through his skill in counterpoint, harmonic and motivic organisation, and the adaptation of rhythms, forms, and textures from ...more

50
4,237 4,353
Alexander Graham Bell is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Alexander Graham Bell Died at 75 (1847-1922) Alexander Graham Bell was an eminent Scottish-born scientist, inventor, engineer and innovator who is credited with inventing the first practical telephone. Bell's father, grandfather, and brother had all been associated with work on elocution ...more