Now past its 17th printing!

The 101 Most Influential
People Who Never Lived

The Original! The funny version!

Real-world significance -- wars, revolutions, prejudices.

Serious and thoughtful, with enough comic relief and whimsy not to be stuffy.

Cinderella debunked! Sherlock Holmes promotes scientific crimefighting!

Frankenstein and organ transplantation, blood transfusion, cardiac defibrillation!

Smokey Bear started superfires! Rosie launches paycheck feminism!

Teachers (college and high school): Visit the Teacher's Guide to The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived; you can download the entire Guide.

Here's a sample listing of discussion questions.


Also: Endorsed for ESL, useful for English, Reading, Social Studies, and History classes -- "the book not only teaches vocabulary & reading skills, it's also interesting and teaches American culture." -- Susan M. (teacher of a popular ESL course)


Here are the top 12 fictional characters:

  1. Marlboro Man

  2. Big Brother

  3. King Arthur

  4. Santa Claus (St. Nick)

  5. Hamlet

  6. Dr. Frankenstein's Monster

  7. Siegfried

  8. Sherlock Holmes

  9. Romeo and Juliet

  10. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

  11. Uncle Tom

  12. Robin Hood

And here's a complete list of all 101.


Think fictionals never change? We have some news.


Buy the book on-line now from Barnes & Noble or Amazon or Booksense.

Does Barbie set high achievement standards for girls?

How many will die following The Marlboro Man's example -- smoking cigarettes?
In Nancy Drew stories, girls saw -- and continue to see -- abilities and attitudes that they soon acquired.

"When I examine myself and my methods of thought, I come to the conclusion that the gift of fantasy has meant more to me than my talent for absorbing positive knowledge." -- Albert Einstein

   Makes a great gift!

 Buy the book on-line now from Barnes & Noble or Amazon or Booksense.

   Makes a great holiday gift!
New! Hardcover edition (Library Binding)!
The 101 page at HarperCollins is here.

Our fantasy life does more than sell books and movies, it drives technology, social change, war, and the everyday thoughts that fill our lives.

Mike Israel (Prof. Emeritus, KEAN U., NJ):

"[The] book is not about popular culture, but is popular culture. . . . Students will be able to see a culture through its heroes and villains. . . . There's also rich material for cultural comparisons. "


What is importance or influence, after all? Read this article.



Hey, we all make mistakes. Here are the corrections and updates.




Buy the book on-line now from Amazon.













"Slightly silly and infinitely entertaining, The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived is also, in fact, seriously interesting. The contemplative coauthors of this unusual book treat the reader to an amusing short essay about each of the 101 fictional characters they deem to be the most significant in American cultural history. Among the great invented luminaries, you'll find Icarus, Santa Claus, Don Juan, King Kong, Jim Crow, Luke Skywalker, Sherlock Holmes, G. I. Joe, Captain Ahab, Alice, Hamlet, HAL 9000, Mary Richards, Bambi, the Marlboro Man, Big Brother, and Archie Bunker." -- CH, Bas Bleu 



What do Archie Bunker, Hercules, Nancy Drew, and Santa Claus have in common?

Who was more influential in women's liberation: Lady Chatterley or Rosie the Riveter?

How are ancient legends used to justify political decisions?

What moral behavior do we expect of our machines?

What are the 10 most recognizable, and the 10 most important, characters in fiction today?


"The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived is a riot. It's a brilliant concept, charmingly executed. Even when you disagree with their choices-and disagreeing is half the fun-Messrs. Lazar, Karlan, and Salter make such good, solid, and clever cases for their nominees that you have to nod in agreement or at least in admiration. From Odysseus to Bond, James Bond and Lilith to Mouse, Mickey Mouse, the selections are provocative, the writing lively, the discussion animated and engaging. Any book that can bring together Othello, Hiawatha, and Kermit T. Frog gets my vote. Over and over again, I found myself musing, why didn't I think of this? I'm insanely jealous. And grateful."

Tom Foster, author of How to Read Literature Like a Professor

More Reviews


               Consider The 101 Most Influential People Who Never Lived for your next Book Club 

               selection. It's guaranteed to provoke lively and enthusiastic discussions.




               Buy the book on-line now from Barnes & Noble or Amazon or Booksense.

               We've got some related sites linked here.

               If you want to contact the authors to do a radio (or other) interview with you, or 

               to arrange a booksigning, click here.


               If you want to contact the authors regarding a possible joint business

               venture (television production based on the book, for example), you

               must contact our agent, here.



We regret to report the death of co-author and friend Allan Lazar on August 23, 2011.



               Have some questions about the book or authors?

                   Here are a few frequently asked questions (FAQs).


               To contact the authors, click here.


               In the future, additional features might be added to this site. Stay tuned.


               You can even buy the book at your local bookstore.

                Website created and maintained by Dan Karlan, 2006 and beyond.
                Last updated October 4, 2020