If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him.
- Voltaire, Épître à l’Auteur du Livre des Trois Imposteurs
If [John F. Kennedy] didn’t exist, it would be necessary to invent him, and then shoot him.
- Rob Sheffield, Vanity Fair
The following is a list of some of the people, groups, places, and varyingly abstract concepts that folks on the internet believe would need to be, in the case of their non-existence, invented, according to Google.
I searched only for cases that matched the (seemingly canonical) English translation that leads this post; there are more lax forms, e.g. “…we’d have to invent him”, that turn up many additional hits if you care to go looking, but I wanted to keep things simple and go for the (arbitrarily?) pure snowclone with this one.
It’s interesting that the intention of any given citation may vary: in some cases (especially with political figures) it seems mostly to be used as a jab at the named figure, or at those who depend on that named figure or group for fodder; with less political figures, it tends to be more of a neutral or even laudatory expression.
The list, in as-the-hits-arrived order:
The Twenty-First Century
Osama bin Laden
The Codex Seraphinianus
Evolutionary biologist Massimo Pigliucci
This Potato Salad
The PC Controversy
William “The Refrigerator” Perry
The Roman Empire