Nikola Tesla in popular culture

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Nikola Tesla (10 July 1856 – 7 January 1943) is portrayed in multiple forms of popular culture. The Serbian-American engineer has particularly been depicted in science fiction, a genre which is well-suited to address his inventions; while often exaggerated, the fictionalized variants build mostly upon his own alleged claims or ideas. A popular, growing fixation among science fiction, comic book, and speculative history storytellers is to portray Tesla as a member of a secret society, along with other luminaries of science.[citation needed] The impacts of the technologies invented by Nikola Tesla are a recurring theme in the steampunk genre of alternate technology science-fiction.

Board games[edit]

  • In the alternate World War I setting in the board game Tannhäuser, Nikola Tesla is a major figure in the Russian Matriarchy faction, where his inventions have not only been used to create deadly weaponry but also harness the power of other worldly forces.




  • In John Case's thriller Ghost Dancer (2006), an evil genius tries to harness research by Nikola Tesla to build an ultimate weapon. Following his trail, the main protagonist comes to Belgrade and pays a visit to the Nikola Tesla Museum.[citation needed]
  • Some researchers have suggested that the character of Nyarlathotep in H P Lovecraft's short story "Nyarlathotep" (1920), was inspired by Tesla.[8]
  • In the Nick and Tesla book series for children, the two main characters (11-year-old twins Nick and Tesla Holt) are named after Nikola Tesla.

Comics and graphic novels[edit]



Events and holidays[edit]

Nikola Tesla Day[edit]

Tesla's birthday, 10 July, has been suggested by some to be World Tesla Day, Nikola Tesla Day, or simply, Tesla Day.[14] Some organizations celebrate Tesla Day informally on 10 July.[15] However, The Tesla Memorial Society wrote letters to several officials asking to commemorate 10 July as international Nikola Tesla Day.[16]

Google honored Tesla on his birthday on 10 July 2009 by displaying a Google Doodle in the Google search home page, that showed the G as a Tesla coil.[17][18]




  • Disney's Tomorrowland depicts Nikola Tesla as one of four members (with Thomas Edison, Gustave Eiffel, and Jules Verne) of a group of inventors called Plus Ultra, dedicated to finding dreamers and inventors who wanted to create a better future. Plus Ultra later discovers an alternate dimension in which the titular City of Tomorrow is constructed.
  • In Jim Jarmusch's film Coffee and Cigarettes, the vignette "Jack Shows Meg His Tesla Coil" features Jack White of the band The White Stripes praising Tesla's work and showing his bandmate Meg a Tesla coil he built; Jack is also a fan of Tesla in real life.[27][28]



  • Tesla is the subject of The Handsome Family's song "Tesla's Hotel Room". The song is featured on the duo's 2006 album Last Days of Wonder.[29]
  • The Human Abstract released the album Midheaven, which includes songs referring to Tesla and his struggles.[citation needed]
  • The electronic dance album RISE (2013) by electro-pop band Renaiszance is themed after The Inventor: The Story of Tesla graphic novel created by Ravé Mehta. The first single and "I Will Rise" are written to Tesla's story and use edgy electronic Tesla coil sounds and dubstep in the production. RISE is produced by Ravé Mehta and co-written with his sister and Renaiszance lead singer Radha Mehta.[30][31]
  • Tesla is the subject of the song "Tesla" by the American band They Might Be Giants which appears on their 2013 album Nanobots.[32]
  • Tesla is the last album the polish band Silver Rocket, whose main theme is the inclusion of an underrated scientist's genius (2008).[citation needed]
  • The rock band Tesla is named after him. They have referenced his life and works a number of times, such as in their debut album Mechanical Resonance (1986), their second album The Great Radio controversy (1989) and the song "Edison's Medicine" (and accompanying music video), from their 1991 album Psychotic Supper[citation needed]
  • Tesla featured in the official "My Demons" music video by the electronic rock group Starset.
  • The Norwegian artist Sturle Dagsland released a single in 2013 entitled "Wardenclyffe Auquarium" with reference to Nikola Tesla's Wardenclyffe Tower
  • Russian synthpop band Tesla boy, is named after Tesla.
  • Some of Rami Fortis's 2012 album "החבר אני" (The Friend Me) lyrics was inspired by the life and works of Tesla. Fortis had dedicated the album to Tesla, and said his works inspired him.[33]
  • Tesla Girls was a 1984 single by English band Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.


  • In the YouTube series Epic Rap Battles of History, in season 2, Tesla is depicted in a rap battle against Thomas Edison.[34]
  • The Oatmeal, a website created by Matthew Inman, contains a section on "Why Nikola Tesla Was The Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived"
  • In the Wattpad story, Cuphead Texts, Nikola Tesla is mentioned in the Season 1 episode, "HALLOWEEN-XTRA!!!"



  • In episode No. 11 ("Die Hindenburg") of the German radio play series Offenbarung 23, which deals with conspiracy theories, Tesla, the circumstances of his death and his work with "death ray" weapons play a role.[citation needed]

Stage productions[edit]

A number of live theatrical plays based on Tesla's life have been produced and staged worldwide.




  • Nikola Tesla (1977), Yugoslav TV series about the life of Nikola Tesla, in 10 episodes. Tesla was played by Rade Šerbedžija.
  • Phenomenon: The Lost Archives (1998), a television series hosted by Dean Stockwell, Season 1 Episode 14 is an N. Tesla alternative-science documentary titled Lost Lightning: The Missing Secrets of Nicola(sic) Tesla (Apr 1998)
  • PBS television documentary Master of Lightning, (2000), with accompanying book by Cheney/Uth, and PBS website with historical timelines, teacher lesson plans, etc.
  • On the cartoon Histeria!, Nikola Tesla is featured in an animated piece where he looks and sounds like Christopher Walken.
  • Tesla was a crucial character in the pilot episode, "Power", of Murdoch Mysteries, and appeared in the last episode of the third season, entitled "The Tesla Effect". He was played on both episodes by Canadian Ukrainian actor Dmitry Chepovetsky.
  • In Sanctuary, a fictional version of Tesla is revealed to have been transformed into a semi-vampire as a result of being injected with vampire blood. He appears to be one of the primary antagonists of the series' first season, but becomes more friendly later on. He is played by actor Jonathon Young.
  • In a segment of the HBO series Funny Or Die, called "Drunk History", Duncan Trussell while intoxicated tells a story of Nikola Tesla's life and his encounters with Thomas Edison. Tesla is portrayed in the reenactment by John C. Reilly while Thomas Edison is portrayed by Crispin Glover.
  • On Season 9 Episode 15 of Family Guy Nikola Tesla was portrayed in cartoon form along with Thomas Edison.
  • In the animated series Super Science Friends, a fictional Nikola Tesla is one of the main characters and is voiced by Hayden Finkelshtain.
  • He is referenced many times on the show Ancient Aliens including an episode called "The Tesla Experiment".


Video games[edit]

Tesla's proposal of teleforce weapons and the destructive possibilities of massive electric arcs created by tesla coils have inspired many video game designers to create Tesla weapons and armors.


  • In the Command & Conquer Red Alert series of video games, Nikola Tesla is a scientist working for the USSR, and "Tesla" is the name of the technology the Soviets use to generate power and for their lightning-based weapons. Perhaps the most widely known example is the Tesla Coil defense structure, capable of sending short electric arcs towards oncoming units, also in their arsenal are Tesla troopers, who carry portable tesla coil-based weaponry and tesla tanks, which have a large glowing blue sphere that ejects great bolts of electricity ( the Red Alert 2 version is a small tracked vehicle with a pair of forward-facing, miniature Tesla coils mounted on a turret).
  • Nikola Tesla is also one of the characters in the game Martian Dreams, by Origin, which is part of the Worlds of Ultima series.
  • Tesla features in The Order: 1886, and aids the main character in the game set in an alternate history 1886.
  • Tesla is one of the main characters in the game Dark Void, where he is kept in an alternate universe, like a 'skin' between universes, to which one can travel through the Bermuda Triangle. He uses his great intelligence to create a huge spaceship called the Ark, kept in another, tropical Earth-like universe called the Void. The Ark can be used by others stranded in the alternate universe to defeat the post-singularity robotic AI that manifests itself as an army of anthropomorphic robots. After defeating the robotic menace, Tesla and the other protagonists return to the 'skin' universe, where Tesla stays to keep his youth and his inventions.
  • In the Rockstar Games 2018 title Red Dead Redemption 2, Tesla is paid homage to with a character called “Marko Dragic”. In the game, the player meets Dragic in the town of Saint Denis where he is convincing investors to invest in his work on electromagnetic waves, showing off a remotely controlled boat. A later mission entails the player helping Dragic set up a series of lightning rods, assisting Dragic in the activation of an automaton, and a return to the laboratory uncovers a deceased Marko Dragic, and awarding the player with the “Artificial Intelligence” achievement or trophy. Exploration into the mountain region will allow the player to find the automaton sitting on the edge of a mountain, regretting its transgressions.
  • Tesla is the protagonist of Tesla vs Lovecraft and fights monsters summoned by Lovecraft.[38]
  • Tesla is an ally of the Assassin's order in the Assassin's Creed series.
  • In Fate/Grand Order, Tesla appears in the London Singularity and briefly in E Pluribus Unum Singularity as an Archer-class Servant. His Noble Phantasm, System Keraunos, is a powerful electromagnetic attack that deals extra damage against servants with Earth or Sky Attribute.
  • Zen Studios developed a virtual pinball table about Tesla's work and experiments, which became one of the first four tables in its first pinball game, Zen Pinball, released in 2009. It went on to appear in the game's subsequent ports and is available as add-on content for the game's sequels.[39] Nikolai Tesla himself, portrayed by a voice actor, is the table's unseen announcer.


  • The 2014 adventure game Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure deals with many of Tesla's inventions such as the Spirit Radio, Tesla's Egg, the Death Ray, and a recreation of the Wardenclyffe Tower. It also includes an organization called the "Tesla Legacy Society" dedicated to solving the problems of humanity through the works and inspiration of Tesla.
  • The historical background of the Fallout series of computer games is based on Tesla's inventions all working as expected and as if his physical theories were correct. Tesla Armor has high resistance to laser and plasma weapons.
    • The book within the game, entitled Nikola Tesla and You, raises the player's Energy Weapons skill.
    • In Fallout 3 Tesla armor is some of the strongest armor in the game and is designed with Tesla Coils and a field of electricity around the character.[citation needed]
  • Virtual World, LLC virtual reality game centers in the 1990s were ostensibly operated by an organization called the Virtual Geographic League, which had been founded in 1897 by Tesla and Alexander Graham Bell with the purpose of exploring other dimensions and alternate futures via "Tesla pods."[40]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "". Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  2. ^ "Tesla Memorial Society of New York – "To Mars with Tesla; or, the Mystery of Hidden Worlds", a Science Fiction Tale from 1901, Tesla and the Exploration of Cosmos". 4 July 1997. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  3. ^ "Sherlock Holmes Pastiche Characters – T". 1 March 2003. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  4. ^ "Sherlock Holmes Pastiche Story Summaries – V". Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  5. ^ "Robert G. Barrett – Trifecta". Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  6. ^ Dirda, Michael (21 July 2011). "Books". The Washington Post.
  7. ^ Dirck, Rob (15 March 2015). Where the Hell is Tesla? A Novel. Goldfinch Publishing. ISBN 0692370668. Retrieved 18 June 2019.
  8. ^ Will Murray, "Behind the Mask of Nyarlathotep", Lovecraft Studies No. 25 (Fall 1991); cited in Robert M. Price, The Nyarlathotep Cycle, p. 9.
  9. ^ "Generacija Tesla". Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  10. ^ "New Comic The Inventor Electrifies Nikola Tesla’s Mad Genius" – Retrieved 2012-07-10.
  11. ^ "Happy 156th Birthday Nikola Tesla! A Conversation With Graphic Novelist Ravé Mehta at Comic-Con" – Retrieved 2012-07-10.
  12. ^ "Cached article".
  13. ^ "Red Giant Entertainment Reveals First Look of 'Tesla'". 31 May 2013.
  14. ^ "How are you planning to spend your Nikola Tesla Day?". 10 July 2010. Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  15. ^ "REPORT: Tesla Days and Tesla Science Foundation Conference". Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  16. ^ "Nikola Tesla Day". Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  17. ^ "Nikola Tesla's Birthday". Google. Retrieved 14 May 2012.
  18. ^ Wardrop, Murray (10 July 2009). "Nikola Tesla: Google commemorates birthday of pioneering electrical engineer". The Telegraph. London. Retrieved 28 November 2010.
  19. ^ Walter Laqueur (8 July 1999). The New Terrorism: Fanaticism and the Arms of Mass Destruction. Oxford University Press. p. 265. ISBN 978-0-19-028361-2.
  20. ^ Nikola Tesla; David Hatcher Childress (1993). The Fantastic Inventions of Nikola Tesla. Adventures Unlimited Press. pp. 247, 248. ISBN 978-0-932813-19-0.
  21. ^ Charles H. Hapgood (December 1999). Mystery in Acambaro. Adventures Unlimited Press. p. 173. ISBN 978-0-932813-76-3.
  22. ^ "Internet Archive: Details: Superman". Retrieved 10 July 2012.
  23. ^ a b Byford, Sam (21 August 2012). "'Oatmeal' Tesla museum campaign reaches funding goal after $33,333 pledge". The Verge.
  24. ^ Kolawole, Emi (23 August 2012). "The Oatmeal raises over $900K towards Tesla museum". The Washington Post.
  25. ^ Langfield, Amy (18 October 2014). "Underdog inventor Nikola Tesla gets his due with new museum". CNBC.
  26. ^ >
  27. ^ Gilbey, Ryan (2003). "Coffee and Cigarettes". Sight & Sound. BFI.
  28. ^ "The White Stripes on Coffee and Cigarettes". Coming Soon. 11 May 2004.
  29. ^ Murphy, Matthew (5 July 2006). "The Handsome Family: Last Days of Wonder". Retrieved 24 April 2014.
  30. ^ "Conversations With José James, Otis Taylor, Erin Boheme and Renaiszance's Radha & Ravé Mehta, Plus an Unknown Component Video" – Retrieved 2013-02-05.
  31. ^ "Renaiszance: A Brother, a Sister, Music, Art + Science" – Retrieved 2013-04-18.
  32. ^ ""Tesla" by They Might Be Giants is Educational and Awesome". Retrieved 30 June 2013.
  33. ^ "רמי פורטיס כותב על האלבום החדש "החבר אני" - בלעדי". וואלה! תרבות. 13 September 2011.
  34. ^ "Nikola Tesla vs Thomas Edison. Epic Rap Battles of History Season 2". Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  35. ^, Discovery World Center for Public Innovation
  36. ^ "'Tesla' review: Illuminating production so stuffed with facts the story gets short-circuited". 12 May 2013.
  37. ^ "NTDB". NTDB.
  38. ^ O'Connor, Alice (26 January 2018). "Crimsonland devs blast out Tesla Vs Lovecraft". Rock, Paper, Shotgun. Retrieved 21 February 2019.
  39. ^ "Zen Pinball: Tesla Table Trailer". YouTube. Zen Studios. 17 January 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
  40. ^ "VGL". 3 July 1997.

External links[edit]