20 People Discuss What Dead People Would Be Surprised That They Became Famous After They Were Gone

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Well, this sure is an interesting question, huh?

Some people really don’t become famous until after they’ve passed away. Vincent Van Gogh, Edgar Allan Poe, all kinds of scientists and philosophers I’ve never heard of. The list goes on and on…

Who would be surprised to learn they were famous if you had a chance to bring them back to life?

Here’s what AskReddit users had to say.

1. The Black Dahlia.

“Elizabeth Short, posthumously known as the Black Dahlia .

Even people who do not know much about true crime always still seem to know her name..”

2. Now they believe him.

“Alfred Wegener, who invented techtonic plate theory.

No one believed him until long after he was dead.”

3. Mathematical genius.

“Niels Henrik Abel, mathematician completely unknown in his lifetime, died at age 26 of tuberculosis.

Then his mathematical work was discovered which put him near the top rank of mathematicians ever.

When Norway raised a statue of him they put it on a tall column because nobody knows what he looked like.”

4. A great poet.

“The poet John Keats, who died at 25, convinced he’d been robbed of a chance to make a significant contribution to English literature.

His gravestone literally reads, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.””

5. Now it’s a classic.

“Herman Melville (author of Moby Dick) he was considered an unsuccessful writer while he was alive.

He only managed to sell about 3,000 copies of Moby Dick in his time, now it’s one of the most well known classics.”

6. A lifesaver.

“Alan Turing.

God i love him. He created a computer against the hardest code on the planet at the time. For those that don’t know. Alan Turing created the first computer against Nazi codes in WW2.

Enigma had 17 quadrillion different codes and 1 way to break it that was randomized every 24 hours. Enigma was broken by Alan Turings computer because of Germany love for Hitler and every document ended in Heil Hitler. Alan Turing saved unknown numbers of men that was approximately 7 million.

He was caught as a homosexual which was against the law and was forced on pills that made him depressed and he committed suicide.”

7. The Elephant Man.

“Joseph Merrick other wise known as the Elephant Man.

I think he would be surprised about how many plays, books and even had a movie made about him.”

8. Try explaining that one.

“Ötzi the iceman. It’s the earliest surviving naturally mummified human remains, at about 5,000 years old.

It would take a while to explain the concept of fame to him first.”

9. The Bard.

“I think Shakespeare would be floored if he knew his works were still being taught and read!”

10. Two masters of the macabre.

“I’m torn between Poe and Lovecraft. Both were spectacularly unsuccessful in life, if you go by wealth and fame.

It’s challenging for a modern reader to grasp how utterly obscure Lovecraft was when he died. Despite Derleth’s many faults, he must be given credit for having started the Old Gentleman’s posthumous career by founding Arkham House.

And it’s difficult to read about Poe’s last days without pangs of sympathy. There’s mordant amusement in contemplating how Rufus Griswold is now remembered only for trying to bury Poe’s reputation with his corpse.”

11. A pirate’s life.

“Edward Teach a.k.a. Blackbeard.

Dude was a pirate for a few years. He had some reputation, but he wasn’t exactly out there for decades doing pirate stuff, and well, he was just another outlaw.

Don’t think he’d see pirates being romanticised like this coming, or him being the face of old-timey pirates in general.”

12. Kafka-esque.

“Franz Kafka.

He had no faith in his work, and his will stated the Executor of it to destroy them all.

Other guy went against these wishes and published.”

13. Rest in peace.

“Emmett Till.

He’s not “famous” enough for the price he paid sadly. This should be higher on the list though. The way he was treated as a human is what made him well known.

Emmett Till probably just wanted to live an undiscrimated, fulfilling life like most people I know – no matter what color they are.

Unfortunately, it was the way he died that made him famous so he probably wouldn’t have any guess “fame” was coming as it was happening.

I think some of these people may have been able to guess they’d be famous after the art they created and left behind. Most of the people listed here got some chance at life and creating something. Most of them probably wanted some level of fame.

Emmett Till became the face of a movement against lynching and racism because of how he died.

We must not forget.

May he rest in power.”

14. His side gig.


He was known as a prodigious organist in his time and composed as sort of a side gig. His music was decently appreciated in his time but as soon as he died he was completely forgotten, as he expected.

It wasn’t until Mendelssohn resurrected his works in the 1800s that anyone cared for his music, and now he is seen as possibly the greatest composer of all time.”

15. A more recent one.

“Stieg Larsson who wrote “The girl with the dragon tattoo” series.

He was a dedicated and talented writer who, in life, never found great success.

His became a best selling author many times after his death.”

16. Now called a genius.

“Vincent Van Gogh, definitely.

He just wanted to sell and make his art his whole life. He died without having that, he died dirt poor. His grandson made him famous. It was his dream to be famous for his art, and he’ll never know because he died before it happened.”

17. Two blues greats.

“Robert Johnson and his impact on music.

I would also say Blind Willie Johnson. He was a blind blues guitarist/performer who was later a huge influence on all of the rock gods. Johnson died in obscurity, poor and desolate.

His recording of “Dark Was the Night” is on the golden record on the Voyager spacecraft which is now well out of the solar system. (I believe Mozart is also on that record, which would blow his mind also if he was brought back.)”

18. Rediscovered.

“Gregor Mendel.

His published works related to heredity were almost completely ignored until they were rediscovered about three decades later.”

19. A tragic story.

“Mathew Shepard, he was just a college kid that was tortured and beaten to death for being gay.

I don’t think he knew he’d be remembered for anything.”

20. Huge fan of Jim Croce.

“Jim Croce.

If you don’t know him, he wrote and performed the song Jim Hopper sang along to (Season 3 of Stranger Things) after telling Mike off. “Don’t Mess Around With Jim”.

Jim died in a plane crash in 1973. He recorded 5 studio albums, but was still a struggling musician, who was taking part-time jobs to make ends meet. After he was killed, his albums went to #1.”

Very, very interesting…

Who do you think would be surprised to learn they became famous after they passed away?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments!