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The Most Influential People of All Time

Updated September 25, 2020 2.3m votes 195.3k voters 3.0m views2.8k items

List RulesVote on important figures who have had the most influence on the history of the world, for better or for worse. They can be from any time period.

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 iconic religious figures, recognizable scientists and inventors, and some of the most powerful 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 and inspirational 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.

Featuring historical figures, interesting men, and impactful people, this list of the world's most legendary figures have had all kinds of effects on the biggest and historic events.

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 in history, with your votes and your rankings.

  • 1
    Jesus (c. 4 BC – c. AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a...  more

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  • 2

    Leonardo da Vinci

    Dec. at 67 (1452-1519)
    Leonardo di ser Piero da Vinci was an Italian polymath, painter, sculptor, architect,...  more

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  • 3

    Nikola Tesla

    Dec. at 87 (1856-1943)
    Nikola Tesla was a Serbian American inventor, electrical engineer, mechanical engineer,...  more

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  • 4

    Marie Curie

    Dec. at 67 (1867-1934)
    Marie Skłodowska Curie ( KEWR-ee, French: [kyʁi], Polish: [kʲiˈri]; born Maria Salomea...  more

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  • 5

    Albert Einstein

    Dec. at 76 (1879-1955)
    Albert Einstein ( EYEN-styne; German: [ˈalbɛɐ̯t ˈʔaɪnʃtaɪn] (listen); 14 March 1879 – 18 April...  more

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  • 6
    Moses () was a prophet according to the teachings of the Abrahamic religions. Scholarly...  more

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  • 7

    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Dec. at 39 (1929-1968)
    Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and...  more

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  • 8

    Abraham Lincoln

    Dec. at 56 (1809-1865)
    Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who...  more

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  • 9

    Julius Caesar

    Dec. at 56 (99 BC-43 BC)
    Gaius Julius Caesar (12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman general and statesman who...  more

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  • 10

    Isaac Newton

    Dec. at 84 (1643-1727)
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  • 11
    Socrates (; Ancient Greek: Σωκρᾰ́της, romanized: Sōkrátēs, [sɔːkrátɛːs]; c. 470 – 399 BC) was...  more

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  • 12
    Muhammad (Arabic: مُحمّد‎, pronounced [muħammad]; c. 570 CE – 8 June 632 CE) was an Arab...  more

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  • 13

    Mahatma Gandhi

    Dec. at 79 (1869-1948)
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  • 14
    The Wright brothers, Orville and Wilbur, were two American brothers, inventors, and aviation...  more
  • 15

    Galileo Galilei

    Dec. at 78 (1564-1642)
    Galileo Galilei ( GAL-il-AY-oh, also US: -⁠EE-oh, Italian: [ɡaliˈlɛːo ɡaliˈlɛi]; 15 February...  more

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  • 16
    John the Baptist (Hebrew: יוחנן המטביל Yokhanan HaMatbil, Ancient Greek: Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστής,...  more
  • 17

    Benjamin Franklin

    Dec. at 84 (1706-1790)
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  • 18
    Genghis Khan (born Temüjin, c. 1162 – August 18, 1227) was the founder and first Great Khan...  more

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  • 19

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Dec. at 57 (1770-1827)
    Ludwig van Beethoven ( (listen); German: [ˈluːtvɪç fan ˈbeːthoːfn̩] (listen); baptised 17...  more

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  • 20
    Archimedes of Syracuse (; Greek: Ἀρχιμήδης; c. 287 – c. 212 BC) was a Greek mathematician,...  more
  • 21

    George Washington

    Dec. at 67 (1732-1799)
    George Washington was the first President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the...  more

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  • 22


    Dec. at 89 (1475-1564)
    Michelangelo di Lodovico Buonarroti Simoni, commonly known as Michelangelo, was an Italian...  more

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  • 23

    Winston Churchill

    Dec. at 91 (1874-1965)
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  • 24

    Nelson Mandela

    Dec. at 95 (1918-2013)
    Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela (; Xhosa: [xolíɬaɬa mandɛ̂ːla]; 18 July 1918 – 5 December 2013) was...  more

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  • 25
    Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम Siddhāṛtha Gautama, c. 563/480 – c. 483/400 BCE)...  more

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