Can You Guess If These Presidents Are Real or Made Up?

By: Torrance Grey
Estimated Completion Time
8 min
What did Chester Z. Arthur preside over?
The actual United States
The United States in a TV show
Chester Z. Arthur was a former president of the United States on the show "Futurama," meaning that he's a "future" president from our vantage in 2019. On the show, he's was just an animated head in a museum of past presidents. His name, of course, is a play on real president Chester A. Arthur.
The United States in a feature film
None of these

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Was Thurgood Marshall a U.S. president?
Yes. He served two terms in the early 20th century.
No. He was president in a popular series of spy novels.
No. He was president in a Broadway musical.
None of these
Thurgood Marshall was the first African American justice of the Supreme Court of the United States. Prior to that, he tried several cases before the Supreme Court, including Brown v. Board of Education, the case which ended school segregation in the United States.

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Which voters elected Josiah "Jed" Bartlet?
The voters of the United States
U.S. voters in a dialogue-driven television drama
Josiah "Jed" Bartlet was played by actor Martin Sheen on the television drama "The West Wing," in which he and his staff debated the current issues of the day, foreign and domestic. The show ran from 1999 - 2006.
Registered citizens of a merged North American continent in a science fiction novel
None of these

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Which of these was John F. Kennedy?
An American president assassinated by Lee Harvey Oswald and succeeded by Lyndon Johnson
A president in a TV episode assassinated by the Rosenbergs and succeeded by J. Edgar Hoover
A president in a novel who survives an assassination attempt when it is thwarted by a student
All of these
JFK was of course, a real person and a real president, cut down in his prime by Lee Harvey Oswald. He was also a cultural icon who shows up in speculative fiction and alternate universes across various media. The TV show mentioned above is "Sliders," and the novel is Gregory Benford's "Timescape," but the list goes on ...

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How could Grover Cleveland best be described?
A late 19th Century American president
Born Stephen Grover Cleveland in 1837, he actively chose to go by "Grover" as an adult. Difficult to fathom, until you realize that he won the election with the support of a faction known as the "Mugwumps". Then it makes a little more sense.
An adorable Muppet
The first android president
None of these

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Which of these phrases describes President Charles Lindbergh?
Famous World War I pilot who really did become president of the United States
Famous pilot in real life who is president in a memory on "The Simpsons"
Famous pilot in real life who runs for president in a book and wins
Author Philip Roth makes the historical figure Charles Lindbergh the center of his alternate-history novel "The Plot Against America." In real life, Lindbergh was the first pilot to cross the Atlantic, the father of a kidnapped son, and a vocal opponent of America's entry into World War II. In the book, these factors converge as he runs against and defeats FDR, sending history on a very different path.
None of these

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President Rutherford B. Hayes served as leader of which of these?
The United States of America
Rutherford Birchard Hayes was the 19th president of the United States, serving from 1877 to 1881. He pledged to serve only one term, and kept that promise. His wife, Lucy Ware Hayes was the first first lady with a college degree. Rutherford and Lucy hosted alcohol-free dinners at the White House, leading one cabinet member to joke that the "water flowed like wine."
The State of Jefferson
The United Federation of Planets
None of these

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Calvin McKinley rose to power in which of these Americas?
The real world United States of America, where he railed against corruption
The historical America in a "Star Trek" episode, where the flagship is named after him
The 22nd century America, where Martian-born Americans are not allowed to vote
None of these
These are both presidential names, but there was no such president in fiction or real life. Calvin Coolidge and William McKinley were two different presidents of the United States.

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Greg Stillson was president ...
In real life
In a television sitcom about a talk radio station
In a possible future seen by a psychic coma survivor
Hey, it's Martin Sheen again! He plays candidate Greg Stillson in "The Dead Zone," based on the novel by Stephen King. Candidates have to shake a lot of hands, of course, but when he clasps palms with coma survivor and newly minted psychic Johnny Smith (Christopher Walken) can see his future, and it's not good. For any of us.
None of these

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President Dave Kovic made radical policy changes as which of these?
A president of the actual United States
A president in a movie
A presidential imposter in a movie
Dave Kovic is a fake fake president! His side hustle as an impersonator of President Bill Mitchell draws the attention of devious administration officials, who hire him to cover for one of Mitchell's romantic affairs. When said rendezvous leaves the Most Powerful Man in the World in a coma, Dave is off on a mad whirl of photo ops and policy. Top scene: when he convinces a cop that both he and the real first lady are both just impersonators.
None of these

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John Tyler's claim to fame was which of these?
Being the real 10th president of the United States
John Tyler became president after his predecessor, William Henry Harrison, died after only a month in office. Harrison and Tyler ran as members of the Whig party, but Tyler shortly changed his party to "unaffiliated." Possibly so people would take him more seriously.
Being the first heavy metal president, as shown in his band's music video playing at his own inauguration
Winning the presidency in a game of beer pong in an '80s movie in which his entire fraternity is elected to the White House
None of these

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President Matthew Ellis was likely to encounter which of these people?
American farmers who came out to greet him on a whistle stop tour of the Midwest
Superheroes who just saved him and his staff from certain death in a popular movie franchise
President Ellis has his hands full governing a fictional America with heroes, villains, magic and tech the likes of which no real administration has to deal with. He's a character in the Marvel Universe; in "Iron Man 3," Tony Stark and James Rhodes race to thwart the Mandarin's plan to hijack Air Force One and kill President Ellis on live TV!
A Soviet agent embedded in his administration in a banned Russian novel
None of these

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President Thomas J. Whitmore did which of the following?
Married a railroad heiress halfway through his first (real-life) term, leading to conflict of interest
Battled space aliens mere hours after they killed his beloved wife
In the 1996 movie "Independence Day," Bill Pullman plays President Thomas J. Whitmore, a former Gulf War pilot whose administration is taking the usual political hits until hostile spaceships begin methodically destroying Earth's major cities, including L.A., where his wife is killed in the attack. Soon, Whitmore finds himself in a fighter jet again, leading a ragtag group of pilots against the intergalactic threat.
Fell for a beautiful French prime minister, leading to wacky movie shenanigans
None of these

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How did President Gerald Ford end up in the Oval Office?
His real-life predecessor was forced to resign the United State presidency after an investigation
Gerald Ford was sworn in after Richard Nixon resigned the presidency in 1974. He was portrayed by Chevy Chase in the earliest days of "Saturday Night Live," making him the first in a long line of SNL "presidents."
His fictional predecessor was forced to resign after a sex scandal
His character was elected by the handful of citizens still able to submit votes after a zombie apocalypse
None of these

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In what section of the library will you find a book on President John Adams?
The biographies - he was the second president of the U.S.
John Adams was truly one of the Founding Fathers. He was vice president to George Washington, was frequently advised by his wife Abigail, lived to see his son John Quincy Adams become president, and died on the 4th of July, 1826, within hours of his friend and rival, Thomas Jefferson.
The mysteries - he's a crime solving Commander in Chief!
The teen section - he's the figurehead for a dystopian shadow government
None of these

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Dwight D. Eisenhower could put what on his resume?
Commanding Allied Forces in World War II before assuming the actual presidency
Dwight Eisenhower became president in 1953 after a very successful military career. He established NASA in response to the Soviet launch of Sputnik and was a staunch opponent of Communism, but warned about the dangers of excessive military spending, particularly through private military contractors.
Leading a fictional rebellion in the breakaway state of Hawai'i
Becoming president on short notice in a movie about a deadly plague
None of these

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President Andrew Shepherd ran into which of these difficulties?
He was a real president of the young U.S. who sought to normalize relations with Britain.
He was a widowed movie president who began dating again.
Martin Sheen, you again? OK, in this one he just plays the chief of staff to Michael Douglas' President Shepherd, which set him up nicely for his future West Wing role. Annette Bening plays Sydney Wade, the lobbyist who steals the president's heart, while Michael J. Fox steals scenes as a high energy staffer.
He was a television president whose staff became romantically entangled.
None of these

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President Frank Underwood's encyclopedia entry would describe him how?
As the longest serving president of the United States after FDR
As the president in a TV show that eventually finished its run without him
Kevin Spacey played the ruthless and manipulative Frank Underwood for 5 seasons on "House of Cards." He was fired in 2017 after sexual allegations, and rather than recast the role, the show wrote the final season around him.
As the president in a children's picture book in which all the characters are dogs
None of these

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President David Palmer's approval numbers could be found where?
In a Gallup poll, because he was a real president
In an Entertainment Weekly poll, because he was a TV character
President David Palmer is played by Dennis Haysbert in the TV thriller "24". Kiefer Sutherland, who plays agent Jack Bauer, later got his own turn in the Oval Office in "Designated Survivor."
In a Facebook poll, because he was a YouTube personality
None of these

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Which of these describes President Hubert Humphrey?
A president elected in the 20th century on a platform of peace and good jobs
The bumbling president in a counter-culture novel of the 1960s
The wealthy president in a 1930s comic strip
None of these
Hubert Humphrey was vice president of the United States from 1965 -1969, and was the Democratic nominee for president in 1968 after LBJ decided not to run for another term. Humphrey was defeated by Richard Nixon. At least there's a terminal named for him at the Minneapolis airport!

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Why did President Herbert Hoover have "Hoovervilles" named after him?
He was president during the Great Depression, and "Hoovervilles" were the shantytowns that sprung up.
Herbert Hoover was the president of the U.S. before Franklin Delano Roosevelt was elected. FDR then unveiled his sweeping New Deal reforms, which aimed to help those who were out of work and displaced by the Depression.
He was the egotistical president in a satiric film, in which towns were trying to curry favor
He was the president in a Dr. Seuss book where everyone is named "Hoover"
None of these

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How come you don't hear much about President William Henry Harrison?
He was only U.S. president for a month.
William Henry Harrison died of pneumonia only a month into his term. The country had never had a president die before, and was unsure if John Tyler should take on the full office or just the duties thereof. Tyler chose to be sworn in as president, setting the precedent for other VPs after him.
He's referred to in a TV drama but never seen.
He's a character in a very obscure novel.
None of these

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President Thomas Kirkman was shocked to find himself being sworn in for what reason?
Last minute votes came in by horseback, after he thought he'd lost the election.
In a movie thriller, his predecessor turns out to be a clone.
The premise of his TV show is that the Capitol blows up, leaving him the most senior official left alive.
Thomas Kirkman is played by Kiefer Sutherland in the TV show "Designated Survivor." The title is a reference to the practice of leaving one member of the cabinet behind while the rest of the White House, Congress and Supreme Court are attending the State of the Union.
None of these

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How did President Matthew Santos make history?
By becoming the first divorced man to be elected president of the United States in real life
As the first former astronaut to return to space after his term as a film president
By becoming the first Hispanic president in a popular TV show
Matthew "Matt" Santos was played by Jimmy Smits on the TV show "The West Wing." He is a congressman from Texas running on the Democratic ticket. His opponent, California Republican Arnold Vinick, is played by Alan Alda, and the two actors filmed their television "debate" live and in real time.
None of these

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What made Martin Van Buren stand out from presidents before him?
He was the first U.S. president to be born after independence from the British.
He was the first president to not have English as his first language.
In a film, he was the first male president in a United States dominated by women.
He was both born after independence AND considered English a second language.
Van Buren was the eighth president of the United States. While he wasn't from an official colony of the Netherlands, Dutch was what his family spoke at home, making him the only president to speak English as a second language.

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In which years did President Michelle Obama hold office?
From 2008 to 2016 in real life
From 2008 to 2016 in the movie "Dear White People"
From 2016 to present in the movie "Southside With You"
In the future, maybe?
Michelle Obama was "FLOTUS," or the first lady of the United States, from 2009 to 2016, while Barack Obama held the highest office in the land. Michelle Obama has been mentioned as a future candidate for president, but as she hasn't jumped into the 2020 field, that is looking less and less likely.

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How did President James A. Garfield die?
He was assassinated while serving as the 20th president of the United States.
Garfield was shot in a public train station. Despite Lincoln's assassination after the Civil War, presidents still moved freely in public, and were not generally guarded. Lincoln's son, Robert Todd Lincoln, was Garfield's Secretary of War and was traveling with him when he was shot.
He was poisoned by an ambitious Vice President in a historical novel.
He doesn't. He is the first vampire president in an HBO series.
None of these

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Who voted President Andrew Jefferson into office?
The real voters of the United States
Voters on the TV show "Madame Secretary"
Voters in the novel "Years of Rice and Salt"
None of these
We're mixing up the names of Thomas Jefferson, the third president, and Andrew Jackson, the seventh. Jackson is sometimes portrayed as a folk hero, a defender of the common man--but his very active participation in the wars of Indian extermination cast a shadow on his history.

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When people say President James Marshall had to fight for his life, what do they mean?
He had to regain new political allies after nearly everyone turned against him as the (real) U.S. president.
He battled pneumonia in a series of novels, as different cabinet members vied for power.
He had to fight off movie terrorists who boarded his plane and tried to take it over.
President James Marshall is none other than Harrison Ford in "Air Force One." He hides in the depths of the plane, emerging to take on the terrorists with military skills he gained in the Vietnam War.
None of these

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Whom did James Monroe have to thank for his presidency?
U.S. voters in 1817
James Monroe was the fifth president of the United States. Like three of the four men before him, he was from the state of Virginia.
The writers of a short lived Nickelodeon series
Developers with deep pockets and their sights set on a moon colony in a 1987 book
None of these

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Who exposed President Allen Richmond's violent secret?
His sergeant in the Spanish-American war, who accused him of mistreatment of prisoners
His roommate at a fictional boarding school, who detailed incidents of hazing
A movie thief hiding in a closet who witnesses the death of Richmond's mistress
In "Absolute Power," Gene Hackman plays Richmond, who is meeting with his mistress in the house Clint Eastwood's burglar plans to rob. The tryst goes awry, and Eastwood's character has to find a way to get the truth out and protect those he loves without revealing why he was there.
None of these

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Which phrase best identifies Millard Fillmore?
The 13th president of the United States, and the last to be elected from the Whig party
Millard Fillmore was lucky number 13! He was an opponent of slavery, though not as vigorously opposed as some other would-be presidents of the time. A conservative comic strip, "Mallard Fillmore," is named for him.
The idealistic pastor who runs for president in an allegorical short story
The eventually victorious candidate who bloodies his opponents (literally) in a cult horror film
None of these

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Over which country did Richard Clinton preside?
The real United States, in the 1990s
The real United States, in the 1890s
A future U.S. in a sci-fi novel
None of these
Here, we've combined the names of two 20th-century presidents, Richard Nixon and William J. "Bill" Clinton. If you were confused, it might have been because President Clinton's had brother named "Roger" -- a scapegrace from their native Arkansas.

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What challenge did VP Mackenzie Allen face upon taking office as president?
His party felt the real-life president was too sympathetic to the recently defeated Confederacy.
The comic book version of the U.S. was not ready for a mutant president, even one educated by Charles Xavier.
Her (fictional) cabinet felt a female president would have difficulty working with more traditional foreign nations.
"Commander in Chief" was a 2005 - 2006 show on ABC which followed President Mackenzie Allen (Geena Davis) as she navigated her role as the first female president of the United States.
None of these

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In what years was Donald Trump Jr. president?
Presently; he's up for re-election in 2020.
He was president in a "fantasia" episode of "Celebrity Apprentice."
He was president in an alternate-history novel in the 1990s.
Maybe in the future ...
Did we get you with this trick question? Donald J. Trump is the 45th president of the United States, facing a Democratic field large enough to double as the cast of "Les Miserables." Donald Trump Jr is his son, and it's not impossible that he might seek office some day.

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