Benjamin Franklin in popular culture
Benjamin Franklin, one of the founding fathers of the United States of America, has appeared in popular culture as a character in novels, films, musicals, comics and video games. His experiment, using a kite, to prove that lightning is a form of electricity has been an especially popular aspect of his biography in fictional depictions.
- Franklin appears as a main character in the Broadway musicals Ben Franklin in Paris (portrayed by Robert Preston) and 1776 (portrayed by Howard Da Silva in the original production).
- Franklin is portrayed in a central role in the PBS cartoon Liberty's Kids voiced by Walter Cronkite.
- In HBO's 2008 miniseries John Adams, Franklin was portrayed by Tom Wilkinson.
- A young Franklin appears in Neal Stephenson's novel of 17th century science and alchemy, Quicksilver.
- Proud Destiny by Lion Feuchtwanger, a novel mainly about Pierre Beaumarchais and Franklin beginning in 1776's Paris.
- Franklin was a character in the 1997 Thomas Pynchon novel Mason & Dixon.
- Franklin appears in several episodes of Histeria!, voiced by actor Billy West similarly to Jay Leno. He is frequently shown flying his kite in a lightning storm and being electrocuted as a running gag.
- Franklin appears in Fred Saberhagen's "The Frankenstein Papers", and part of the novel is written as letters to Franklin.
- The Walt Disney cartoon Ben and Me (1953), based on the book by Robert Lawson, counterfactually explains that Franklin's achievements were actually the ideas of a mouse named Amos.
- Stan Freberg's comedic audio recording, Stan Freberg Presents the United States of America: The Early Years, depicts all of Franklin's accomplishments as having been made by his young apprentice, Myron.
- The 2004 film National Treasure has the main characters trying to collect clues left by Franklin to discover a treasure that he hid.
- Franklin has been portrayed in several works of fiction, such as The Fairly OddParents, as having lightning-and-kite-based superpowers akin to those of Storm from X-Men.
- The anime Code Geass takes place in an alternate universe where Great Britain is known as the Holy Britannian Empire. Franklin, who was responsible with appealing to France for aid in the American war for independence, is instead bribed by the Duke of Britannia with promises of territories in the colonies and becomes an Earl. As a result, George Washington is killed during the Siege of Yorktown and the American movement for independence fails.
- Sixteen-year-old Ben Franklin plays a significant role in The Age of Unreason, a series of four alternate history novels written by American science fiction and fantasy author Gregory Keyes.
- In Bentley Little's short story The Washingtonians and the Masters of Horror episode of the same name, Franklin was revealed to have been a composite of the accomplishments of several different people as opposed to one real individual.
- In Assassin's Creed III, Benjamin Franklin appears as a non-playable character. The player has the optional side-quest of retrieving lost pages from 'Poor Richard's Almanack' for Ben. Also, he is present in the cutaway scenes involving the raising of George Washington to leader of the Continental Army and the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
- The time-travel card game Early American Chrononauts includes a card called Franklin's Kite which players can symbolically acquire from the year 1752.
- In season 3 of Bewitched, Aunt Clara accidentally brings him forward in time to repair a broken electrical lamp.
- The science-fiction TV show Voyagers! had the main characters helping Franklin fly his kite in one episode and save his mother from a fictionalized Salem witch trial in the next episode.
- Franklin appears in the LucasArts Entertainment Company Game Day of the Tentacle.
- A 1992 Saturday Night Live spoof of Quantum Leap, "Founding Fathers", had Franklin traveling through time with George Washington and Thomas Jefferson to help modern day Americans with deficit reduction, only to find twentieth century reporters are only interested in scandal and sensationalism.
- The children's novel Qwerty Stevens: Stuck in Time with Benjamin Franklin has the main characters using their time machine to bring Franklin into modern times and then to travel back with him to 1776.
- In a 2004 sketch on the TV show MADtv, Franklin, played by Paul Vogt, sends Samuel Adams, played by Josh Meyers, to the future in a time machine he made from a rolltop desk. Franklin wanted to know if the American Revolution was a success, but gets frustrated when Adams only comes back to tell him that Samuel Adams Beer is a success. The time machine also brings back a man named Jerry, played by Ike Barinholtz, who is little help to Franklin.
- A Saul of the Mole Men episode entitled "Poor Clancy's Almanack" uses Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson to explain the true mainstream conflict while revealing Clancy Burrows' past. Both Franklin and Jefferson appear again in the spin-off Young Person's Guide to History. Dana Snyder portrayed Franklin in both series.
Characters based on Franklin
- In the webcomic The Adventures of Dr. McNinja, McNinja's mentor in medical school was a clone of Franklin.
Characters named after Franklin
- In the 1904 Giacomo Puccini opera Madama Butterfly, the lead male character is Lt. Benjamin Franklin Pinkerton.
- M*A*S*H protagonist Benjamin Franklin "Hawkeye" Pierce is named after both Benjamin Franklin and President Franklin Pierce.
- In the 1993 movie The Sandlot, actor Mike Vitar's character is named Benjamin Franklin Rodriguez.
- The Prison Break character Benjamin Miles "C-Note" Franklin is named after Franklin.
- In the 2004 film National Treasure and the 2007 sequel, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Nicolas Cage portrays the protagonist, Benjamin Franklin Gates, a fictional historian/treasure hunter.
- The 2013 video game Grand Theft Auto V features the character Franklin Clinton, named after Franklin.
As portrayed by fictional characters
- "Julian McGrath", played by Cole & Dylan Sprouse, appears as Franklin in a school play in the Adam Sandler comedy Big Daddy.
- In the 2007 episode "Ben Franklin" of the sitcom The Office, an actor portraying Franklin is hired for an office party.
- The YouTube web series Epic Rap Battles of History features a video where Benjamin Franklin is placed in combat against Billy Mays and Vince Offer.