By Augustine Okondor, Learnhall Contributor

The 20 Most Popular Literary Figures of All Time (in descending order)…

I don’t know about you, but I have been reading books of old, legends, and myths.  Lest I forget, I have also been watching TV shows and seeing movies where all the great literary icons, superheroes, and villains are the talk of the town.  These names will not be strange to you if you are like me.  If you are not like me, follow my lead as I tell you about some of the most popular literary figures of all time.

  •  Sherlock Holmes #1

sherlock holmes

Regarded as the most popular literary figure, Sherlock Holmes is a fictional character who plays the role of a British detective.  He is known as a “consulting detective” and is popular for his ability to investigate and solve mysteries and crimes that are difficult to solve.

  • Harry Potter #2

It won’t be insincere to say that the Brits are great writers. Harry Potter is also of British origin.  Harry Potter is the protagonist of literary works of the same name.  He became popular due to his quest and discovery of power in the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

  • Robin Hood #3


Robin Hood is cherished by the masses and glorified as a hero.  He has been featured in many works of literature and film and is known for his generosity toward the poor.  Slogans such as “he who steals from the rich and gives to the poor” is often used to describe him.  Although some people believe Robin Hood to be a real person in history, there is nothing written or documented about him outside of his fictional tales that originate from English folklore.

  • Cinderella #4

Cinderella is the most popular of all Disney princesses.  She is the protagonist of Walt Disney’s feature film of the same name released in 1950.  Born into a wealthy family, Cinderella grew up as a simple girl.  She lost her mother at a tender age and had to live with her father who showed little care for her.  Her humility in the face of hardship would help her navigate life along with a bit of help from a fairy godmother.

  • Hercules #5


The story of Hercules originated from Roman mythology; he is the Roman adaptation of the Greek god Heracles.  He is famous for his adventures and strength.  His notable triumphs include the 12 labors that comprised 12 feats considered impossible for anyone to accomplish.

  • Batman #6


Batman is a superhero from a wealthy family created by DC comics.  After losing his parents to the evil in Gotham, Batman decided to sacrifice everything he had and began to fight evil in the City.

  • Snow White #7


Also known as “Sleeping Beauty”, Snow White first appeared in Walt Disney’s 1937 fairy-tale animation, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.  She was a beautiful young lady hated by her stepmother, the Queen, because of her beauty.  She would escape and go into hiding with these seven friendly diminutive supporters and friends.

  • King Arthur #8


Also known as Arthur Pendragon, King Arthur was a legend of Celtic origin in medieval history.  It’s believed that he led the Celtic Britons in wars against the Saxons in the 5th and early 6th Centuries.  His story has been told and retold a lot of times, but the most popular of these is in the magical TV series “Merlin”.

  • Spiderman #9


Spider is a superhero created by Marvel Comics.  A young boy who was bit by a spider would discover that he has developed superpowers and superhuman agility.  This boy would become Spiderman.  He tries to use his superpowers for good while also trying to hide his real identity.

  • Peter Pan #10


A fictional character with the ability to fly but an inability to grow up, Peter Pan was adventurous and free-spirited.  He was an icon of youthful escapism, curiosity, and innocence.

  •  Achilles #11


If you’ve ever had the story of the Greek Trojan horse, then you have heard the story of Achilles.  He was a great warrior and a hero of the Trojan wars.

  • Alexander The Great #12

Alexander the Great was the king of Macedonia who became prominent in literary works due to his conquests and determination to rule the whole world.

  • Superman #13


Superman is another superhero created by DC comics.  Also known as Clark Joseph Kent, Superman is considered one of the strongest heroes of the DC universe.

  • Helen of Troy #14


Helen of Troy is a literary figure that originated from Greek mythology.  She is considered the most beautiful woman in the ancient Greek world.  It is believed that the ten-year-long Trojan war between Troy and Sparta started because of her and the men who fought over her.

  • Tinkerbell #15


Tinkerbell is a fictional character in the animated play Peter Pan.  She is popular for her loyalty to her friends.

  • Alice in the Wonderland #16


Alice was a curious character created by Lewis Carroll based on a real person named Alice Lindell.  This literary figure is a part of almost everyone’s childhood.  Alice is the icon of curiosity and adventure.

  • James Bond #17


James Bond is a member of the British secret intelligence service known as MI6.  James Bond is a British literary icon and the Queen’s most trusted officer in the franchise film James Bond.  Also known as “007” or “Mr. Bond”, the icon is a top spy and vicious womanizer capable of getting almost anything done in the service of the Queen.

  • Rapunzel #18


Rapunzel is a literary icon in children’s literature and a German fairy tale icon famous for her long, golden hair, which is also magical.

  • Huckleberry Finn #19

huck finn

Huckleberry Finn, known as Huck, is a literary figure sometimes credited as a role model of freedom.  He is a superstitious, uneducated young boy with morals and an astute character judge.  Huck is considered an icon of morality, nationality, and free spirit.

  • Robinson Crusoe #20

robinson crusoe

A literary figure created in 1719 by Daniel Defoe, Robinson Crusoe is a historical figure and the pioneer of realistic fiction in literature.


The above literary figures are powerful and influential in their different spheres, some more powerful than others, some heroes and heroines, some villains, while some are simple people whose lives and character resonates with a lot of us and are worthy of emulation.  Some of these characters are fictional, the product of the creative power of some of the best writers to ever walk the face of the earth such as William Shakespeare, George R. R. Martin, J. R. R. Tolkien, Stan Lee, and J. K. Rowling among others. However, others on the list are real people who once lived here, their lives and influence so powerful and great that they made it to the history books. 

It is hard for me to choose a favorite literary figure from this list because I love a great number of them; maybe you can help me do that.  Please tell me the name of your favorite literary figure in the comment section even if your icon didn’t make it my list!


What to read next


All About TOEIC

Globally, English proficiency tests are now a necessity for employment in many organizations and admission into many universities and colleges.

Read More ›

Stay up to date ...

Subscribe to our newsletter to get inbox notifications.