Historical Figures The Most Influential People of All Time  

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Originally by Ranker Community
2M votes 137.9k voters 2.2M views 2,814 items

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 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 top 100 and more of the world's most inspirational 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
48,578 32,423
Jesus Christ is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

2
32,456 23,381
Albert Einstein is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

3
30,168 23,008
Isaac Newton is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

4
27,759 19,695
Leonardo da Vinci is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

5
22,656 19,201
Aristotle is listed (or ranked) 5 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

6
21,136 16,209
Galileo Galilei is listed (or ranked) 6 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

7
17,664 15,435
Alexander the Great is listed (or ranked) 7 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

8
46,173 35,508
Muhammad is listed (or ranked) 8 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

9
18,084 15,212
Plato is listed (or ranked) 9 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

10
20,289 18,298
Charles Darwin is listed (or ranked) 10 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

11
17,190 14,294
William Shakespeare is listed (or ranked) 11 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

12
21,444 15,435
Martin Luther King, Jr. is listed (or ranked) 12 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

13
17,222 13,448
Socrates is listed (or ranked) 13 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

14
22,104 17,489
Mahatma Gandhi is listed (or ranked) 14 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

15
19,735 13,775
Abraham Lincoln is listed (or ranked) 15 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

16
14,309 12,408
George Washington is listed (or ranked) 16 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

17
39,964 55,030
Adolf Hitler is listed (or ranked) 17 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

18
19,132 14,444
Moses is listed (or ranked) 18 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

19
15,675 10,646
Nikola Tesla is listed (or ranked) 19 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

20
14,790 13,371
Gautama Buddha is listed (or ranked) 20 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

21
12,490 10,549
Julius Caesar is listed (or ranked) 21 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

22
12,655 15,158
Karl Marx is listed (or ranked) 22 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

23
10,423 9,780
Napoleon Bonaparte is listed (or ranked) 23 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

24
9,496 8,624
Martin Luther is listed (or ranked) 24 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

25
8,053 7,791
Johannes Gutenberg is listed (or ranked) 25 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

26
10,178 9,415
Thomas Edison is listed (or ranked) 26 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

27
7,996 6,621
Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart is listed (or ranked) 27 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

28
11,638 9,499
Genghis Khan is listed (or ranked) 28 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

29
7,019 4,897
Marie Curie is listed (or ranked) 29 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

30
11,861 9,439
Nelson Mandela is listed (or ranked) 30 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

31
8,495 6,012
Benjamin Franklin is listed (or ranked) 31 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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, ...more

32
6,627 4,864
Ludwig van Beethoven is listed (or ranked) 32 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

33
7,665 6,546
Thomas Jefferson is listed (or ranked) 33 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

34
6,608 4,903
Michelangelo is listed (or ranked) 34 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

35
7,819 6,085
Henry Ford is listed (or ranked) 35 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Died at 84 (1863-1947) 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 ...more

36
5,947 5,995
Homer is listed (or ranked) 36 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

37
6,008 7,145
Christopher Columbus is listed (or ranked) 37 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

38
7,272 6,155
Winston Churchill is listed (or ranked) 38 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

39
9,077 7,917
Bill Gates is listed (or ranked) 39 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
age 62 William Henry "Bill" Gates III is an American business magnate, philanthropist, investor, computer programmer, and inventor. Gates originally established his reputation as the ...more

40
7,445 7,658
Confucius is listed (or ranked) 40 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

41
5,645 6,828
John F. Kennedy is listed (or ranked) 41 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

42
6,716 5,494
Pythagoras is listed (or ranked) 42 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

43
7,802 6,886
Paul the Apostle is listed (or ranked) 43 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

44
4,425 5,071
Charlemagne is listed (or ranked) 44 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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. ...more

45
7,024 5,311
Wright brothers is listed (or ranked) 45 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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

46
3,710 3,009
Archimedes is listed (or ranked) 46 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
acalabr added 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 ...more

47
4,553 3,516
Walt Disney is listed (or ranked) 47 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
rwomick added Died at 65 (1901-1966) Walter Elias "Walt" Disney was an American entrepreneur, cartoonist, animator, voice actor, and film producer. As a prominent figure within the American animation industry and ...more

48
3,261 2,603
Louis Pasteur is listed (or ranked) 48 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Died at 73 (1822-1895) Louis Pasteur was a French chemist and microbiologist renowned for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation and pasteurization. He is remembered for his ...more

49
5,596 4,835
Alexander Graham Bell is listed (or ranked) 49 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
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 ...more

50
2,898 2,642
Hippocrates is listed (or ranked) 50 on the list The Most Influential People of All Time
Died at 83 (459 BC-376 BC) Hippocrates of Kos, was a Greek physician of the Age of Pericles, and is considered one of the most outstanding figures in the history of medicine. He is referred to as the "Father of ...more