Most Famous and Ubiquitous Classic Stories

A list of the 10 most famous stories that everyone knows, whether they have read them or not.

The Top Ten

1 The Iliad

Everyone knows the story of Paris and Helen, and everyone knows the story of the Trojan horse.

2 Chinese Zodiac
3 Romeo and Juliet

I couldn't decide on which one Shakespeare play to put on this list. This is probably the best known, and is probably the most famous love story ever.

4 Aladdin and the Lamp

The most famous story from one of the most famous compilations of stories, 1001 Nights or Arabian Nights.

5 King Midas / The King with the Horse's Ears

Most European cultures have a tale to similar effect. The two mentioned here, which I think are the most famous, are the Greek and the Irish.

6 Titanic
7 Sleeping Beauty / Snow White

Two stories about a woman who ought to be living like a princess, and falls into an eternal sleep--that is, until a Prince's kiss wakes her. Cinderella is similar, but she never fell asleep.

8 King Arthur

The boy who could take the sword from the stone and became king.

9 Cinderella

This story's so popular we describe other stories with this one. "A Cinderella story".

A rags to riches tale that predates Oliver Twist by a few centuries

10 David & Goliath

The Contenders

11 A Christmas Carol

There have been more adaptations of A Christmas Carol than pretty much any other story on record. I would argue that this story is even more ubiquitous than Oliver Twist in terms of Dickens.

The story of the miserly moneylender Ebenezer Scrooge who, after being visited by 3 ghosts, changes his ways.

I would argue that the miserly Scrooge is even more ubiquitous than the workhouse orphan.

12 Pandora's Box

The story of the creation of man in the gods' image, why there is bad in the world and why women can't be trusted, all in one. Inspired the story of Adam and Eve.

13 Oliver Twist

Some may be surprised to see a Victorian novel on this list, but I think that Oliver's story is one of the better known of our time, and has set the standard for rags to riches tales since.

14 The Borrowers

The little people that live under the floorboards of the human beans.

15 Great Expectations
16 Perseus

The famous story of Perseus' journey to the gorgon Medusa. He takes advice along the way from the three Fates, who inspired the weird sisters in Shakespeare's Macbeth.

17 The Wind in the Willows

The toad with an obsession with motorcars.

18 Nicholas Nickleby
19 Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
20 Casablanca
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