Movie and TV Characters That Seriously Remind Us of Donald Trump
Donald Trump‘s rise to the presidency was a complete shock to most people. Yet at the same time, when rewatching certain classic films and TV shows, it’s obvious that many filmmakers saw someone like him coming. Indeed, there exist quite a few fictional characters that mirror Trump — in some cases intentionally, but in most cases, by pure accident.
Here are some of those characters from movies and TV shows that remind us a lot of President Donald Trump.
1. Senator McLaughlin — Machete
His main platform is a promise to deport all illegal immigrants and build a border wall. He uses shocking language while dismissively talking about those illegal immigrants. No, we’re not talking about Trump, but rather Senator John McLaughlin from the 2010 movie Machete.
At one point in the film, a character describes the Robert De Niro villain to the Mexican protagonist by saying, “If he had his druthers, he’d ship you back to old Meh-Hee-Co. That’s his platform: Ship ’em back. But first, he’d make you build a wall along the border for no pay.”
McLaughlin also says that illegal immigrants make a mockery of the country, and he even compares them to terrorists and parasites. Despite McLaughlin being so clearly Trump-esque, the movie came out in 2010, five years before Trump announced his candidacy for president.
Next: It’s impossible to rewatch this classic science fiction movie and not think of Trump.
2. Biff Tannen — Back to the Future Part II
In Back to the Future Part II, there’s a great sequence in which Doc and Marty return to 1985 and discover that they have inadvertently altered the timeline.
In this version of 1985, Biff Tannen is a millionaire with an extraordinary ego who plasters his name on skyscrapers, owns casinos, has terrible hair, and is currently married to his third wife. He also uses his massive wealth to help advance a political agenda. Remind you of anyone?
The similarities are no accident. In 2015, screenwriter Bob Gale confirmed that he based the 1985 Biff on Trump.
Next: This TV character runs for office for publicity, and everyone’s shocked when he really starts winning.
3. Waldo — Black Mirror
Charlie Brooker’s science fiction show Black Mirror has been known to accidentally predict the future. But by far the most prophetic episode is Season 2’s “The Waldo Moment.”
In it, the producers of a show starring a foul-mouthed cartoon bear decide to have the cartoon bear himself run for Parliament. During the election, Waldo goes around insulting his opponents rather than talking about issues. But to everyone’s surprise, after going on a rant about how dishonest politicians are, Waldo actually starts winning.
The 2013 episode came very close to predicting Trump to a tee; the only issue is the fact that Waldo doesn’t end up winning and instead comes in second place. But the idea of a TV personality who runs for president mainly as a publicity stunt, insulting people and attacking career politicians but still gaining a lot of support, certainly brings Trump to mind.
Next: This outsider comes into the presidency with no political experience.
4. Dave Kovic — Dave
A more charitable Trump comparison that was originally drawn by The New Republic would be to Dave Kovic from the 1993 comedy Dave.
In the Ivan Reitman film, Kevin Kline plays a normal businessman who unexpectedly becomes the president of the United States. He has none of the necessary experience, but he brings common sense to the table. None of the politicians can believe Dave has the gall to, for example, cut money from the budget, even though a lot of it is going to waste.
This idea of an outsider coming in and shaking things up in Washington using his experience as a businessman is exactly what many Trump supporters were looking for when they voted for him.
Next: This 1992 movie predicted one really specific moment in the 2016 presidential campaign.
5. Bob Roberts — Bob Roberts
In the 1992 mockumentary Bob Roberts, Tim Robbins plays the titular politician. He’s a Republican who runs for office and builds a cult of personality, both due to his experience as a businessman and due to his career as an entertainer. All throughout the campaign, he promises to return America to a time when it was truly great, and he trumpets his own wealth while making offensive comments.
As if all of that wasn’t a close enough comparison, there’s also a scene in which Bob appears on a sketch comedy show that is obviously supposed to be Saturday Night Live, and not everyone’s happy about it. This would seem like a direct parody of Trump’s 2015 appearance on Saturday Night Live had this film not been released 23 years earlier.
Next: This character on a current TV comedy definitely calls Trump to mind.
6. Jonah Ryan — Veep
Since Season 1 of Veep, Jonah Ryan has always been the butt of the joke. He starts off as a liaison between the vice president and the president, but despite having little real power, he carries himself like he’s some kind of god.
Later, Jonah runs for Congress, and no one around him thinks he has a shot. But against all odds, Jonah ends up winning the seat. While in Congress, he advocates for incredibly dumb issues that still resonate with much of the electorate, including a plan to abolish Daylight Saving Time (mainly because he doesn’t understand it).
In a 2017 episode, Jonah launched a campaign for the presidency in 2020. That election will be depicted in the final season. Veep doesn’t always mirror real life, but if the writers want to comment on the rise of Trump, they would end the show with Jonah — a buffoon who doesn’t know nearly as much about government as he claims to and rose to power through unlikely means — becoming president.
Next: This character from a 1957 TV show is so similar to Trump that it’s actually eerie.
7. Walter Trump — Trackdown
This one is just downright weird. There’s an episode of the 1957 CBS series Trackdown in which a man by the name of Trump comes into town and convinces everyone that the solution to their problems is to build a wall.
The episode is called “The End of the World,” and in it, Walter Trump is a con man who tells everyone that the world is going to end. He also tells them that he’s the only one who can save them, and he’ll do so by building a wall. “I am the only one,” he says. “Trust me.”
The similarities between the two Trumps are so unbelievable that Snopes had to contact a network that airs Trackdown to verify that this is a real episode. As it turns out, it very much is.
Next: This character is overly confident that his experience negotiating business deals will apply to any situation.
8. Harry Ellis — Die Hard
In Die Hard, Harry Ellis is a relatively minor character, a Nakatomi employee who arrogantly attempts to negotiate peace with Hans Gruber. But rewatching the movie these days, it’s hard not to think of Trump when he comes on screen.
After all, Ellis is a businessman with an enormous ego who brags about his Rolex watches and the fact that he negotiates million-dollar deals for breakfast. He’s ridiculously confident that his own business experience — and the fact that he watches television news — has equipped him to take on a much more perilous situation, only for this to backfire spectacularly. Oh, and he’s also a womanizer who flirts with married women, something Trump himself admitted to doing on the leaked Access Hollywood tape.
Let’s hope that none of Trump’s negotiations with world leaders ever backfires like Ellis’ did.
Next: This character on a great TV comedy seems like he’d be a Trump stand-in, but he was written years earlier.
9. Bobby Newport — Parks and Recreation
Parks and Recreation ended a few months before Trump’s campaign began. But if there’s any character on the show who calls Trump to mind — even if unintentionally — it’s Bobby Newport.
That was the character, played by Paul Rudd, who was Leslie Knope’s main competitor in Season 4’s city council election. He’s a wealthy businessman, which allows for his campaign to be extremely well funded. But he’s not very knowledgeable on the issues. He basically expects the election to just be handed to him as everything else in life has been, and he assumes all of the town’s problems have simple solutions.
But in Parks and Recreation, Newport loses the election. Even a ridiculous comedy like this couldn’t imagine a scenario where an ill-prepared businessman stumbles his way into office.
Next: This is the main character of the movie Trump himself cites as his favorite.
10. Charles Foster Kane — Citizen Kane
In Citizen Kane, Charles Foster Kane is a wealthy man who inherited a lot of money from his parents and decides to pivot from a completely unrelated career into a run for office.
In a classic scene in which Kane holds a rally, he makes the crowd laugh while talking about how everyone thought he had no chance of winning. He also ends his speech by promising to lock up his political opponent, which elicits cheers from his supporters. Ultimately, Citizen Kane suggests that Kane ran for office not to help the average person, but rather to boost his own ego. One character explains that “he never had a conviction except Charlie Kane in his life.”
Appropriately, Trump has cited Citizen Kane as his favorite film, though he may have seen Kane as more of a role model than Orson Welles intended.
Next: Stephen King himself has compared this character of his to Donald Trump.
11. Greg Stillson — The Dead Zone
In The Dead Zone, Martin Sheen plays Greg Stillson, a candidate for U.S. Senate who gains popularity in part due to his anti-establishment rhetoric. In a rally scene, he fires up the crowd and asks them, “What the hell has happened to this country?” Later in the movie, the main character sees a vision of Stillson becoming president and bringing about the end of the world after ordering a nuclear strike against Russia.
In the original novel, Stillson is even more reminiscent of Trump. As King wrote it, Stillson is a businessman who promises to “throw the bums out” of Washington. During the campaign, he’s seen as a clown, and so most people laugh him off as a funny distraction.
“So people want a giggle,” one character says. “Even more, they want to thumb their noses at a political establishment that doesn’t seem able to solve anything.”
One person who feels that Stillson and Trump are similar is actually Stephen King himself.
Next: This is one of the main characters of a Will Ferrell movie that was oddly prescient.
12. Cam Brady — The Campaign
During the election, Trump repeatedly did and said things that convinced everyone that his campaign was over, only for his polls to keep going up. Years earlier, the 2012 Jay Roach comedy, The Campaign, was all about this phenomenon.
A key moment in the movie involves Will Ferrell’s character, a politician named Cam Brady, literally punching a baby. But this turns out to just be a minor setback from which Brady quickly recovers and wins his election. There’s also a scene in which Brady says that polls “aren’t scientific.”
Of course, unlike Trump, Brady is a career politician and a Democrat. But the idea of a ridiculous candidate getting elected despite some key, seemingly campaign-ending gaffes, all while denying the scientific nature of polls, makes a Trump comparison fairly easy.
Next: This is one of the main characters of a beloved science fiction franchise.
13. Zaphod Beeblebrox — The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
In The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Zaphod Beeblebrox is the galaxy’s president. While not all of the details of his character made it into all adaptations, a closer examination of Beeblebrox as depicted in the books by Douglas Adams reveals quite a few Trump similarities.
After all, Beeblebrox, a “manic self-publicist,” becomes president for reasons that are baffling even to him. He often doesn’t know what’s going on, but he gets away with it by being so charismatic. He also has an enormous ego, believing himself to be the most important being in the universe.
Finally, Adams suggests in the book that it doesn’t really matter whether Beeblebrox is a good president because his real job is to draw the conversation away from those who really have power.
Next: This fictional character shares Donald Trump’s obsession with TV.
14. Chance — Being There
Chance in the 1979 movie, Being There, is a fairly ordinary guy who only really knows anything about politics through watching television. After a series of ridiculous events, Chance becomes an adviser to the president.
At no point does Chance really have anything particularly insightful to offer the movie’s politicians. But they continuously convince themselves that what he is saying is brilliant.
Decades later, this story of a guy who watches a lot of television and whose plain speak causes some to believe him to be a political genius has even more resonance.
Next: This character builds a large following through TV and is able to masterfully manipulate the public.
15. Lonesome Rhodes — A Face in the Crowd
In the 1957 film, A Face in the Crowd, Andy Griffith plays Larry “Lonesome” Rhodes, a womanizer who builds a large following due to his television show. These followers love Rhodes because he is a straight-shooter who says what he really thinks.
Rhodes also gains popularity by attacking those in power, and he’s obsessed with TV ratings. As his ego continues to grow, he realizes the profound influence he has over his audience, who he secretly considers to be a bunch of idiots. Soon enough, he ventures into the world of politics.
Appropriately, Turner Classic Movies aired the movie on the day of Trump’s inauguration in 2017.
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