For those of you who've ever dreamed of turning your childhood enemies into objects of ridicule and hatred, with a side of jackass to boot, this list is for you. These iconic fictional characters were based on real-life people, and their creators couldn't give the least bit of a damn who knew it.
#5. Severus Snape
Never in the history of children's literature has a character generated as much hate as Harry Potter kind-of villain Severus Snape. Except maybe that selfish blockhead in The Giving Tree.
More like the guilting tree.
For the three or four of you who are unfamiliar with Professor Snape, we'll give you a quick and dirty lowdown. Imagine the teacher who always had it out for you, the one who was quickest to point out how stupid you were and slowest to see the faults of others. Now put that teacher in a greasy black wig and a long black dress and give him the power to do black magic.
Hans Gruber has scaled down his act to only terrorizing teenagers.
The Real-Life Inspiration
There's a reason we asked you to imagine a specific teacher. Because that's exactly what J.K. Rowling did when she created the second-greatest villain of the Harry Potter series. And the teacher she pictured was her own secondary school chemistry master, John Nettleship.
In retrospect, Nettleship described himself as "a short-tempered chemistry teacher with long hair ... [and a] gloomy, malodorous laboratory" who enjoyed picking on students, particularly bright students like Rowling. Which was why it was kind of weird that it took reporters straight up asking him if he was Snape before he figured it out. Even his wife knew the connection, but, tellingly, was too scared to bring it up.
Via Wales Online
It looks like somebody has been hitting the butterbeer hard.
The bad news is that sadly, Mr. Nettleship passed away from cancer in March 2011. The good news is that he lived long enough to know that in the end Severus Snape was (HONKIN' BIG SPOILER ALERT) the hero of the whole damn series.
#4. The Soup Nazi
Here are some tips for anyone who has made nostalgia for the '90s their defining characteristic: unhook one strap of your multicolored overalls, Rollerblade everywhere and don't make a pot of soup without hilariously shouting "No soup for you!" to all in hearing distance. They'll laugh soooo hard because it's a really funny thing to do.
"Oh, my sides! If they weren't shriveled from hunger they'd be splitting!"
You'll probably remember that "No soup for you!" was the catchphrase of a character on Seinfeld called the Soup Nazi. This was the guy who sold life-changingly good soup, but forced customers to adhere to a strict set of arbitrary rules in order to get their food. Questioning or looking askance at the rules resulted in a tongue lashing and a refusal of service. Visiting the Soup Nazi was like going to a prostitute, but having to cluck like a chicken for the opportunity to pay for sex. And then ending up grateful to get two indignities for the price of one.
"I'm going to need to see you do the Truffle Shuffle before I get in this car, big boy."
The Real-Life Inspiration
Seinfeld's Soup Nazi was based on Al Yeganeh, an actual soup kitchen vendor in New York City. Just like in the episode, his soups were known for their excellent quality, but Yeganeh was also famous for the unusual way he treated his customers, which was, how do you say ... like shit. Instead of calling him a Nazi, local patrons called him a terrorist, presumably because they knew Yeganeh was born in Iran, not Germany. Yeganeh was so pissed by the Seinfeld episode that he forbid the use of the "N word" in his restaurants. Even the slightest reference to Seinfeld would piss him off, as you can tell by the following video.
So when some cast members and writers from Seinfeld ballsily visited the restaurant after the episode aired, the Soup N-word claimed that the show had ruined his life. Naturally, Jerry Seinfeld gave a sarcastic and insincere apology to Yeganeh, at which point Yeganeh yelled "No soup for you!" and kicked Seinfeld out of the restaurant, presumably because he missed the memo on how not to become a cartoon of yourself.
#3. Moe Szyslak
Unless you've been living under a pop-culture-blocking rock for the last 22 years, you know Moe. He's the owner of Moe's Tavern on The Simpsons, the lovable galoot with the gruff voice and the longest-suffering victim of a running gag since the British decided to start pronouncing the word "schedule" like "shedule." Bart Simpson would call the bar and ask to speak with a hilariously named patron, like Amanda Huggenkiss or Maya Buttreeks. Imagine getting calls like that for 22 years. You'd end up looking like a jaundiced gorilla, too.
He looks bad for a gorilla, but pretty good for an Internet comedy writer.
The Real-Life Inspiration
The real Moe was ex-boxer Louis "Red" Deutsch, who owned a bar in Jersey City and wound up becoming famous for screaming at phone pranksters. Here's a picture of him in the early 1950s. He's the genial-looking grandpa who looks like he wouldn't hurt a fly:
Fist-bumping Rocky Marciano, who would knock you out without even trying.
But when Matt Groening created the character of Moe Szyslak, it wasn't Red's face he had in mind, it was his voice. Specifically, recordings of Red unleashing an unholy tirade of insults, profanities and creative death threats at prank callers.
What a glorious legacy.
Before there was such a thing as 4chan, there were Jim Davidson and John Elmo, two punks in the '70s with nothing better to do than call up local bar owners and ask for ridiculously named guests like Ben Dover and Cole Kutz. Most of the bartenders caught on and hung up; others occasionally called out the names, realized their folly, then hung up and moved on with their lives.
Perhaps due to 20 too many knocks to the old noggin, or perhaps due to his own refusal to believe anyone would have the gall to mess with a 6-foot-tall former heavyweight boxer, Red fell for the pranks every time. But that wasn't the interesting part. The interesting part was what happened on the occasions when Red figured out he was getting played the chump. He unleashed insults so hilarious that the pranksters ended up recording them for the entertainment of others, especially since Red had an unusually raspy voice that was amusing in its own right.
The recordings were so funny, in fact, that friends made copies and spread them throughout the country. Before you knew it, Red Deutsch went viral. Groening himself admitted he was a fan of the Tube Bar prank calls. Watch this recreation using real audio to see why:
And in case you didn't make it through that, or the others, here's a little snippet:
"Why you yellow rat bastard, you motherfucker, cocksucker. Your mother's been sucking my prick for many years .... Why don't you come over and meet me face to face, you motherfucker .... I'll meet you wherever you want ... you sonovabitch, I'll cut your belly open."
That one became an actual line in The Simpsons.
"You know your mother sucked my prick the other day. Now you can come down and suck my tube."
"I'll come over you without my friends to your place! I'll meet you wherever you want, you yellow sonovabitch. And you know somethin? I happen to know who you are, and wait till I catch up with you, I'll put the "Z"s on both cheeks for your life, you'll remember me for the rest of your life."
Damn, we wish he still owned a bar so we could call him.