10 Famous People Who May Never Have Existed

By Raza Mehdi

Dec 15, 2022

One of Britain's most popular folk heroes, Robin Hood was best known for robbing the rich and giving to the poor. He was believed to be the best archer who could accurately hit targets from long distances. However, no solid evidence has been found in history about the existence of England’s most celebrated anti-heroes.

Robin Hood

The legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table has been around for centuries. But was Arthur real, or was his story based on an actual man? Historians believe Roman military commander Lucius Artorius Castus, while others to the king of the Britons Riothamus, as the inspiration. As for King Arthur himself, he's probably fictional.

King Arthur

Confucianism has influenced Chinese philosophy since its genesis. But there are debates about the historical authenticity of its founder, Confucius. Some scholars argue that many of his sayings come from other sources. Also, no concrete evidence of a man named Confucius exists, which leaves unresolved questions.


Helen of Troy was an important figure in Homer's Odyssey and Iliad, as well as Greek mythology. She was the most beautiful woman in the world who sparked the Trojan War. While there is some evidence that the city of Troy existed, Helen's existence is questionable.

Helen of Troy

The Art of War is a book about military strategy attributed to the Chinese general Sun Tzu. Doubts about his existence have persisted since the 12th century. Many believe the ancient book is a compilation of military knowledge over centuries, not the work of a single author.

Sun Tzu

Deemed the Greek writer of 'The Iliad' and 'The Odyssey', he is believed not to be the original author of these mythological epics -he simply wrote them down. Homer has been described as blind, a woman, and even a group of Greek scholars. It is unknown whether Homer ever existed.


High school geometry has familiarised us with Pythagoras and his famous theorem. However, the facts about Pythagoras came from his followers’ writings, and many are highly mythologised, including Pythagoras being Apollo’s son. The man may have existed, but he's probably quite different from the stories told about him.


In Disney movies, Mulan is the daughter of a warrior who disguises herself as a male warrior. But Mulan's name does not exist in relevant historical records. However, it is speculated that the legend of Mulan was based on a real Chinese warrior named Wei Huahu.


The famous English playwright is recognised worldwide. But was he real? Some scholars believe "William Shakespeare" was actually a pen name, and the person who wrote all those tales never came forward publicly.

William Shakespeare

The iconic image of American patriotism - "Uncle Sam" never actually existed. His initials - "U" and "S" - personify the "United States". It is believed Uncle Sam was the nickname given to entrepreneur Samuel Wilson, who supplied meat rations to American soldiers during the War of Independence.

Uncle Sam