Qin Shi Huang is credited with founding the Qin dynasty, the first dynasty of Imperial China. He reigned as the first emperor of a unified China from 221 BC to 210 BC. Under his rule, the Chinese state expanded greatly and he also enacted major political and economic reforms. His life and work inspired several films like The Emperor's Shadow.
Puyi served as the final emperor of China's last imperial dynasty, The Qing dynasty. After Manchuria was invaded by Japan, Puyi became a puppet at the hands of the Japanese and was chosen as the emperor of the puppet state of Manchukuo. He then signed many edicts, given to him by the Japanese, including the one that made slavery legal.
Yongle Emperor reigned as the third emperor of the Ming dynasty from 1402 until his death in 1424. He is credited with preserving Chinese culture by constructing monuments like the Porcelain Tower of Nanjing, which was counted among the wonders of the world until its destruction in 1856. He is considered one of the most influential rulers in Chinese history.
7 Liu Bei
Liu Bei was a warlord in the Eastern Han dynasty. He is credited with founding the state of Shu Han. Liu Bei went on to reign as the emperor of Shu Han from 221 until his death in 223. Liu Bei is best remembered for his remarkable skills as a leader and politician. His life has inspired several TV series.
Emperor Taizong of Tang was the second emperor of the Tang dynasty of China. He ruled for over two decades from 626 to 649. He is considered to be one of the greatest emperors in China's history. Under his reign, Tang China flourished. The emperor was a scholar of logic and scientific reason. He was married to Empress Zhangsun.
Hongwu Emperor is credited with founding the Ming dynasty, which ruled over China from 1368 to 1644. He reigned as the first emperor of the dynasty from 1368 until his death in 1398. Under his reign, China witnessed many unprecedented political reforms. He is also credited with establishing the famous secret police organization, the Embroidered Uniform Guard.
Daoguang Emperor reigned as the emperor of the Qing dynasty from 1820 to 1850. His reign not only witnessed the First Opium War but also the commencement of the Taiping Rebellion. Over the years, he has been portrayed by several actors in TV series, such as The Rise and Fall of Qing Dynasty, Sigh of His Highness, and Succession War.
Shunzhi Emperor of the Qing Dynasty was the first Qing ruler of China proper. Shunzhi relied on Buddhist priests and eunuch officials. While some believe he had died of smallpox, others state he had retired to a monastery to cope with the death of his favorite consort.
21 Sun Quan
Sun Quan was the founder of Wu during the tripartite division of China. He went on to reign as the emperor of Eastern Wu from 229 to 252 AD. Today, he is known as a playable character in popular video games, such as the Warriors Orochi video game series. He has also been portrayed in TV series like Three Kingdoms.
22 Hong Taiji
Hong Taiji reigned as the khan of the Later Jin from 1626 to 1636. He is credited with establishing the Qing dynasty and reigned as its emperor from 1636 to 1643. He also played a major role in consolidating the empire founded by his father Nurhaci. Over the years, Hong Taiji has been portrayed in many TV series and films.
23 Cao Pi
Legends state that Shennong, or the Divine Farmer, who was a Chinese mythological figure, was born with the body of a man and the head of a bull, and had learned to speak by 3 days of his birth. He revolutionized agricultural methods and made a catalogue of medicinal plants.
Kaidu, the great-grandson of Genghis Khan, emerged as the main opposition to his cousin Kublai Khan’s reign over the Mongol empire. Kaidu’s war against Kublai’s empire didn’t end with Kublai’s death, and continued for almost 30 years. He has found mention in literary works such as The Journeyer.
29 Wang Mang
Known as Shehuangdi, or The Usurper Emperor, 1st-century Chinese monarch Wang Mang was initially a Han dynasty official. He seized the Chinese throne from the Liu family of the Han dynasty, to form his own short-lived reign, also known as the Xin dynasty. He was later overthrown.
30 Li Zicheng
Emperor Yang of Sui is remembered for constructing countless canals and palaces in China during his reign. He apparently took over the throne after executing his father and brother. Though a patron of the arts, he killed two poets when he found they wrote better poetry than him.