The time travelling shenanigans of the heroes on DC’s Legends of Tomorrow feature plenty of comedy and heart, but also includes a fair amount of education about history. No one is saying you should skip history class in favor of Legends, however, it does offer some interesting tidbits about real people.
When the Waverider crew heads to the past, they often find themselves running into historical figures. This usually complicates things, as changing the life of one person can impact countless others on the timeline. In trying to save time, things can become hilarious, so we’ve ranked all the appearances from real historical figures.
16 JERRY GARCIA, JIMI HENDRIX, JANIS JOPLIN
The team started the fourth season by heading to Woodstock to prevent a unicorn attack. While they were there they met some rock legends. Though each star had very quick scenes, they were instrumental in defeating the unicorn.
The spell Constantine used on the unicorn needed Hendrix’s necklace, a lock of Joplin’s hair, and the saliva of Garcia. Thanks to the unicorn’s magic, the team even experienced hallucinations, so they got the full Woodstock experience.
15 AL CAPONE
As they battled the Legion of Doom throughout season two, the Legends found themselves meeting several real historical figures. When the Legion decided to head to 1927 Chicago to work with Al Capone, the Waverider crew teamed up with Eliot Ness.
Since he wasn’t central to the story and this was really about the Legion getting another amulet, Capone was pretty much a generic gangster. This visit did reveal the ultimate story of the season, which had the bad guys going after the Spear of Destiny so they could rewrite reality.
14 LYNDON B. JOHNSON
With the Legends in Vietnam to stop Gorilla Grodd from starting WWIII, they needed to rescue Lyndon Johnson from assassination. Jax feels a need to prove he can be a hero without Firestorm, so he rushes out to save the president on his own.
While leading Johnson out of a minefield, Jax proves his worth to himself and Martin, and gets the secret recipe to Lady Bird Johnson’s pecan pie. He’s not the only president they’ve interacted with, but he spent the least the amount of time on screen.
13 BARACK OBAMA
When it was announced that Legends would feature a young Barack Obama, fans were excited to see how they would use the former president. Turns out there actually wasn't much to look forward to.
After a quick moment where “Barry” was saved from Gorilla Grodd, Sara received some very diplomatic advice about working with Damien Darhk and that was it. Though, Sara did make her political feelings known when she told Obama how much she missed him.
12 QUEEN ANNE AND KING LOUIS XIII
The team headed to France to save the king from assassins with future technology. King Louis is understandably confused by all the superheroes suddenly coming to his rescue. Though, Queen Anne is busy seducing Sara (or perhaps, the other way around...).
Like most of their missions, it doesn’t go according to plan and things become a little chaotic. Of course, the team still manages to save the king and the future of France. It’s a short moment meant to establish the changes to the team and the tone of the show since the first season.
11 ULYSSES S. GRANT
During a trip to the Civil War to stop a time pirate, the team discovers that zombies have started attacking. Meanwhile, Jax must take on the identity of Henry Scott, a spy working for the Union. They meet Ulysses S. Grant while trying to save everyone and complete Henry’s mission.
Grant, like most, is shocked by the Legends explanation, but eventually cannot deny what he sees. As unsettling as this episode is, there’s an emotional moment where Martin tries to keep Jax on the ship, so he won’t experience all the horrible feelings of the time.
10 GEORGE LUCAS
Having the man behind Star Wars show up on Legends seemed like the perfect fit, and it was. An amnesiac Rip was hiding out from the Legion of Doom in 1960s Hollywood when an unlucky film student was drawn into the action.
What made this episode work so well is that we got to see the filmmaker's impact in real time. When the danger got too much, Lucas decided to leave school, erasing Star Wars and Indiana Jones from the timeline. Without these movies, Ray and Nate weren't inspired to become a scientist or historian and also weren't heroes.
9 GEORGE WASHINGTON
During season two, a now evil Rip almost destroyed America by spiriting away George Washington before he could lead the defeat of the British. Fortunately for us, he was taken with Mick, leading to the most unexpected, hilarious buddy adventure. Washington is a man of honor, which Mick is decidedly not.
Thankfully, Mick has a lot of experience in escapes, and he helps Washington get free. Once time is restored and the team decides to celebrate Christmas, we get a fun reveal about Mick’s place in history.
8 ERNEST HEMINGWAY
Nate’s father has questions about the Legends’ funding, so he accompanies them to 1927 Paris, where he meets his hero Ernest Hemingway. This younger Hemingway is an obnoxious product of his time, who thinks without acting.
As they’re hunting a minotaur in the catacombs, Hemingway learns that his antiquated ideas about being a real man are no match for a magical creature. We’re sure die-hard Hemingway fans didn’t appreciate this adaptation.
7 JULIUS CAESAR
When Julius Caesar runs into Mick in Aruba, the situation is exactly as hilarious as expected. He tries to rally a beach full of frat boys on spring break into battle. Then Sara beats him down, so the team can take him in.
An interesting moment comes when Sara needs leadership advice and turns to Caesar for help. He may be a pompous jerk, but he can understand her predicament. There’s nothing new about this version of Caesar, but this adventure gets the Legends back into time travel.
6 P.T. BARNUM
As much as we all love the catchy song and dance numbers in The Greatest Showman, we also know it's not an accurate portrayal of P.T. Barnum. Legends of Tomorrow went the more realistic route, with guest star Billy Zane playing the carnival owner as a con man with no ethics.
Predictably when he discovered Nate's superpowers, Barnum saw dollar signs and nabbed the hero. It was the portrait of Barnum historians have painted over the years.
5 ELVIS PRESLEY
It's actually quite surprising that it took a show about time travel three seasons to include the king. As the team continued its search for the various totems it needed to defeat Mallus, it turned out a young Elvis carried the death totem on his guitar.
Elvis’ influence on individual lives and as such, the timeline as a whole, meant the team had to be extra careful on this mission. In the end, it took a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace to give the ghosts attacking the town a peaceful transition.
4 J.R.R. TOLKIEN
In the culmination of the Spear of Destiny storyline, the team needs the author’s help to find the blood of Christ so they can destroy the Spear. While describing their dilemma to Tolkien, Rip tells him that he and his friends are on a quest to destroy the most dangerous object in the world. Sound familiar.
This young version of Tolkien is portrayed as a historian who agrees to help the Legends, because he’s all about doing the right thing. There are a lot of Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit jokes that are fun easter eggs for fans of the franchise.
3 ALBERT EINSTEIN
To stop the Nazis from destroying New York with an atomic bomb in 1942 the Legends take Albert Einstein on board. Professor Stein is very excited to meet the famed physicist, but you know what they say about meeting your heroes. Turns out Einstein is an obnoxious womanizer, who seems unimpressed with Martin.
As is usually the case, it’s actually Einstein’s ex-wife Mileva who is the brains of the operation and she’s the one the Nazis are after. Once New York is saved, the team gets Einstein to publicly acknowledge Mileva, thus protecting her and securing her place in history.
2 HELEN OF TROY
The face that launched a thousand ships lands in Hollywood in the ‘30s. With her ability to influence men, it doesn’t take long for her to conquer the movie business. However, her presence causes a studio war that’s being encouraged by Damien Darhk.
Perhaps the most important development comes when Zari uses a loophole in time to take Helen to Themyscira, setting up her return in the season finale as a fully trained Amazon warrior.
1 HEDY LAMARR
During their trip to Hollywood, the Legends got to meet Stein’s major crush, Hedy Lamarr. The actress wasn’t just a silver screen star, she was also a brilliant scientist. Due to an earlier experiment, Jax and Martin have switched bodies, so he feels much more confident about talking to her.
Hedy’s impact on time is immediately felt when the Waverider loses power, because her scientific developments were never explored. She’s also able to figure out how to fix Jax and Martin. She even lets Stein know she prefers older men.