Weird History
197.0k voters

The Most Influential People of All Time

Updated September 25, 2020 2.3m votes 197.0k 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.

Photo:
...more
  • 1
    57,330
    34,647
    Jesus (c. 4 BC – c. AD 30 / 33), also referred to as Jesus of Nazareth and Jesus Christ, was a first-century Jewish preacher and religious leader. He is the central figure of Christianity. Most...  more

    More Jesus Christ 

    There's A Hidden Gospel Of Jesus's Childhood, And Its Contents Are ShockingHere Is All The Physical Evidence That Jesus Christ Was A Real Person

  • 2
    31,495
    20,254

    Leonardo da Vinci

    Dec. at 67 (1452-1519)

    BirthplaceVinci, Italy

    GenderMale

    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...  more

    More Leonardo da Vinci 

    #10 of 16 16 Famous Bodies From History Found In Inconspicuous Places#78 of 472 The Most Interesting Star Trek Characters

  • 3
    20,918
    13,318

    Nikola Tesla

    Dec. at 87 (1856-1943)

    BirthplaceSmiljan, Croatia

    GenderMale

    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...  more

    More Nikola Tesla 

    12 Surprising Things Not Many People Know About Nikola Tesla#10 of 25 Famous People From History You Had No Idea Were Foxy

  • 4
    12,389
    7,797

    Marie Curie

    Dec. at 67 (1867-1934)

    BirthplaceWarsaw, Second Polish Republic

    GenderFemale

    Marie Skłodowska Curie ( KEWR-ee, French: [kyʁi], Polish: [kʲiˈri]; born Maria Salomea Skłodowska; 7 November 1867 – 4 July 1934) was a Polish and naturalized-French physicist and chemist who...  more

    More Marie Curie 

    12 Things About Marie Curie That Prove She's One of the Most Influential Women Ever#188 of 319 The Most Inspiring (Non-Hollywood) Female Role Models

  • 5
    32,202
    22,400

    Isaac Newton

    Dec. at 84 (1643-1727)

    BirthplaceWoolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, United Kingdom

    GenderMale

    Sir Isaac Newton (25 December 1642 – 20 March 1726/27) was an English mathematician, physicist, astronomer, theologian, and author (described in his own day as a "natural philosopher") who is widely...  more

    More Isaac Newton 

    The Surprisingly Sad, Strange Life of Sir Isaac Newton#2 of 20 30 Things People Had Achieved by Age 30

  • 6
    21,493
    14,665
    Moses () was a prophet according to the teachings of the Abrahamic religions. Scholarly consensus sees Moses as a legendary figure and not a historical person, while retaining the possibility that a...  more

    More Moses 

    #10 of 16 Here's Every Event And Individual In The Bible We Have Physical Evidence Of#2 of 13 The Most Messed Up Passages From The Old Testament

  • 7
    22,752
    15,436

    Abraham Lincoln

    Dec. at 56 (1809-1865)

    BirthplaceHodgenville, Kentucky, United States of America

    GenderMale

    Abraham Lincoln (February 12, 1809 – April 15, 1865) was an American statesman and lawyer who served as the 16th president of the United States from 1861 until his assassination in April 1865....  more

    More Abraham Lincoln 

    A Timeline Of The Hunt For John Wilkes Booth13 Fascinating Things You Didn't Know About Lincoln's Assassination

  • 8
    36,794
    25,378

    Albert Einstein

    Dec. at 76 (1879-1955)

    BirthplaceUlm, Germany

    GenderMale

    Albert Einstein ( EYEN-styne; German: [ˈalbɛɐ̯t ˈʔaɪnʃtaɪn] (listen); 14 March 1879 – 18 April 1955) was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of relativity, one of the two...  more

    More Albert Einstein 

    Behind Einstein's Disastrous First Marriage To Physicist Mileva Marić#6 of 12 Historical Figures Whose Descendants Looked Just Like Them

  • 9
    15,479
    10,796

    Julius Caesar

    Dec. at 56 (99 BC-43 BC)

    BirthplaceRome, Italy

    GenderMale

    Gaius Julius Caesar (12 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC) was a Roman general and statesman who played a critical role in the events that led to the demise of the Roman Republic and the rise of the Roman...  more

    More Julius Caesar 

    The Craziest Romans Who Helped Kill Julius Caesar#449 of 3,517 The Best Movie Characters Of All Time

  • 10
    26,107
    17,886

    Martin Luther King, Jr.

    Dec. at 39 (1929-1968)

    BirthplaceAtlanta, Georgia, United States of America

    GenderMale

    Martin Luther King Jr. (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968) was an American Baptist minister and activist who became the most visible spokesperson and leader in the civil rights movement from 1955...  more

    More Martin Luther King, Jr. 

    14 Events That Happened Immediately After Martin Luther King Jr.'s Assassination#60 of 342 The Greatest American Writers of All Time

  • 11
    18,658
    13,357
    Socrates (; Ancient Greek: Σωκρᾰ́της, romanized: Sōkrátēs, [sɔːkrátɛːs]; c. 470 – 399 BC) was a classical Greek (Athenian) philosopher credited as one of the founders of Western philosophy, and as...  more

    More Socrates 

    The Best Socrates Quotes#43 of 753 People We Wish Were Still Alive

  • 12
    47,836
    34,350
    Muhammad (Arabic: مُحمّد‎, pronounced [muħammad]; c. 570 CE – 8 June 632 CE) was an Arab religious, social and political leader and the founder of Islam. According to Islamic doctrine, he was a...  more

    More Muhammad 

    #213 of 410 The Most Important Military Leaders in World History#141 of 170 If You Fought To The Death, Who Would You Want By Your Side?

  • 13
    21,575
    15,537

    Galileo Galilei

    Dec. at 78 (1564-1642)

    BirthplacePisa, Italy

    GenderMale

    Galileo Galilei ( GAL-il-AY-oh, also US: -⁠EE-oh, Italian: [ɡaliˈlɛːo ɡaliˈlɛi]; 15 February 1564 – 8 January 1642) was an astronomer, physicist and engineer, sometimes described as a polymath from...  more

    More Galileo Galilei 

    #5 of 22 22 Historical Figures With Preserved Body Parts You Can Still Visit Today#20 of 134 The Most Controversial Writers of All Time

  • 14
    John the Baptist (Hebrew: יוחנן המטביל Yokhanan HaMatbil, Ancient Greek: Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτιστής, Iōánnēs ho baptistḗs or Ἰωάννης ὁ βαπτίζων, Iōánnēs ho baptízōn, Coptic: ⲓⲱⲁⲛⲛⲏⲥ ⲡⲓⲡⲣⲟⲇⲣⲟⲙⲟⲥ or ⲓⲱ̅ⲁ...  more
  • 15
    23,341
    16,657

    Mahatma Gandhi

    Dec. at 79 (1869-1948)

    BirthplacePorbandar, India

    GenderMale

    Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi (; 2 October 1869 – 30 January 1948) was an Indian lawyer, anti-colonial nationalist, and political ethicist, who employed nonviolent resistance to lead the successful...  more

    More Mahatma Gandhi 

    The Best Movies About Gandhi, Ranked#20 of 107 Famous Politicians You'd Want to Have a Beer With

  • 16
    9,368
    6,556
    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...  more

    More Wright brothers 

    #8 of 15 Historical Events You Most Want To Go Back and See#12 of 432 The Most Important Leaders in U.S. History

  • 17
    12,744
    9,153
    Genghis Khan (born Temüjin, c. 1162 – August 18, 1227) was the founder and first Great Khan of the Mongol Empire, which became the largest contiguous empire in history after his death. He came to...  more

    More Genghis Khan 

    #1 of 16 The Most Brutal Medieval Monarchs#11 of 14 14 Of The Biggest Overreactions In History

  • 18
    8,768
    6,218

    Ludwig van Beethoven

    Dec. at 57 (1770-1827)

    BirthplaceBonn, Germany

    GenderMale

    Ludwig van Beethoven ( (listen); German: [ˈluːtvɪç fan ˈbeːthoːfn̩] (listen); baptised 17 December 1770 – 26 March 1827) was a German composer and pianist. A crucial figure in the transition between...  more

    More Ludwig van Beethoven 

    18 Grim Facts About The Life Of Beethoven You Never Learned As A Kid#1 of 1,891 The Greatest Musical Artists of All Time

  • 19
    6,143
    4,401
    Archimedes of Syracuse (; Greek: Ἀρχιμήδης; c. 287 – c. 212 BC) was a Greek mathematician, physicist, engineer, inventor, and astronomer. Although few details of his life are known, he is regarded...  more
  • 20
    10,742
    7,739

    Benjamin Franklin

    Dec. at 84 (1706-1790)

    BirthplaceBoston, Massachusetts, United States of America

    GenderMale

    Benjamin Franklin (January 17, 1706 [O.S. January 6, 1705] – April 17, 1790) was an American polymath and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Franklin was a leading author, printer,...  more

    More Benjamin Franklin 

    The Best Benjamin Franklin Quotes#3 of 302 The Most Influential Politicians in American History

  • 21
    8,131
    6,030

    Michelangelo

    Dec. at 89 (1475-1564)

    BirthplaceCaprese Michelangelo, Italy

    GenderMale

    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...  more

    More Michelangelo 

    #55 of 250 The Best Gay Authors#17 of 18 Famous Writers And Artists Who Were Terrible Humans

  • 22
    16,172
    12,151

    George Washington

    Dec. at 67 (1732-1799)

    BirthplaceVirginia, United States of America

    GenderMale

    George Washington was the first President of the United States, the Commander-in-Chief of the Continental Army, and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. He presided over the convention...  more

    More George Washington 

    George Washington's Teeth Weren't Wooden At All - They May Have Been The Teeth of Slaves#5 of 44 Which US Presidents Do You Wish Were In Charge Right Now?

  • 23
    18,021
    14,208
    Plato (; PLAY-toe Greek: Πλάτων Plátōn, pronounced [plá.tɔːn] in Classical Attic; 428/427 or 424/423 – 348/347 BC) was an Athenian philosopher during the Classical period in Ancient Greece, founder...  more

    More Plato 

    A List of Famous Plato Quotes#19 of 1,172 The Best Writers of All Time

  • 24
    18,954
    15,117

    Alexander the Great

    Dec. at 33 (355 BC-322 BC)

    BirthplacePella, Greece

    GenderMale

    Alexander III of Macedon (Greek: Αλέξανδρος Γʹ ὁ Μακεδών; 20/21 July 356 BC – 10/11 June 323 BC), commonly known as Alexander the Great (Ancient Greek: Ἀλέξανδρος ὁ Μέγας, romanized: Aléxandros ho...  more

    More Alexander the Great 

    #4 of 16 Who Was The Toughest Of History’s Legendary Warriors?#2 of 9 9 Savage Quotes From Historical Conquerors

  • 25
    15,811
    12,366
    Siddhārtha Gautama (Sanskrit: सिद्धार्थ गौतम Siddhāṛtha Gautama, c. 563/480 – c. 483/400 BCE) or Siddhattha Gotama (शिद्धत्थ गोतम) in Pali, also called the Gautama Buddha, the Shakyamuni (i.e. "Sage...  more

    More Buddha 

    The Best Gautama Buddha Quotes#28 of 347 The Most Important Leaders In World History