Weird History

The Most Influential People of All Time 

Ranker Community
Originally by Ranker Community
Updated July 6, 2020 2.5M votes 184.2k voters 2.8M views 2,444 items

List Rules Vote 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.

list ordered by
1
Jesus Christ is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time

Birthplace: Judea

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

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2
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 67 (1452-1519)

Birthplace: Europe, Vinci, Eurasia, Italy, Southern Europe, + more

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

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3
Nikola Tesla is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 87 (1856-1943)

Birthplace: Smiljan, Eurasia, Croatia

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

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4
Albert Einstein is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 76 (1879-1955)

Birthplace: Ulm, Germany

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 ...more

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5
Marie Curie is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 67 (1867-1934)

Birthplace: Warsaw, Second Polish Republic

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

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6
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 56 (1809-1865)

Birthplace: Hodgenville, Kentucky, United States of America

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

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7
Isaac Newton is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 84 (1643-1727)

Birthplace: Woolsthorpe-by-Colsterworth, United Kingdom

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") ...more

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8
Moses is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time

Birthplace: Land of Goshen

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 ...more

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9
Muhammad is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time

Birthplace: Mecca, Saudi Arabia

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

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#778 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #27 of 370 The Most Important Leaders In World History #812 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time

10
Martin Luther King, Jr. ... is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 39 (1929-1968)

Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America

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

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11
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 84 (1706-1790)

Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, United States of America

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, ...more

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12
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 79 (1869-1948)

Birthplace: Porbandar, India

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

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13
Socrates is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time

Birthplace: Classical Athens

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 ...more

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14
Galileo Galilei is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 78 (1564-1642)

Birthplace: Pisa, Italy

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 ...more

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15
Michelangelo is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 89 (1475-1564)

Birthplace: Europe, Eurasia, Province of Arezzo, Italy, Southern Europe, + more

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

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#27 of 925 People We Wish Were Still Alive #12 of 1,471 The Greatest Minds of All Time #58 of 250 The Best Gay Authors

16
Wright brothers is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time

Birthplace: Dayton

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 ...more

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17
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 56 (99 BC-43 BC)

Birthplace: Lazio, Europe, Eurasia, Province of Rome, Rome, + more

Gaius Julius Caesar (; Latin pronunciation: [ˈɡaː.i.ʊs ˈjuː.li.ʊs ˈkae̯.sar]; 12 or 13 July 100 BC – 15 March 44 BC), known by his nomen and cognomen Julius Caesar, was a populist Roman ...more

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18
Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 57 (1770-1827)

Birthplace: Bonn, Germany

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 ...more

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19
Henry Ford is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 84 (1863-1947)

Birthplace: Greenfield Township, Wayne County, Michigan

Henry Ford (July 30, 1863 – April 7, 1947) was an American industrialist and a business magnate, the founder of the Ford Motor Company, and the sponsor of the development of the assembly line ...more

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20
Genghis Khan is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time

Birthplace: Delüün Boldog

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 ...more

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21
Archimedes is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
acalabr added

Birthplace: Syracuse, Italy

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 ...more

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22
Plato is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time

Birthplace: Classical Athens

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 ...more

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23
Stephen Hawking is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Алпан Балкыш added Age: 77

Birthplace: Oxford, United Kingdom

Stephen William Hawking (8 January 1942 – 14 March 2018) was an English theoretical physicist, cosmologist, and author who was director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the ...more

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24
Walt Disney is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
rwomick added Dec. at 65 (1901-1966)

Birthplace: USA, Chicago, Hermosa, Illinois

Walter Elias Disney (; December 5, 1901 – December 15, 1966) was an American entrepreneur, animator, voice actor and film producer. A pioneer of the American animation industry, he introduced ...more

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25
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Dec. at 52 (1564-1616)

Birthplace: Stratford-upon-Avon, United Kingdom

William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English poet, playwright, and actor, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's greatest ...more

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