There are just too many similarities between Frank and Claire Underwood vs. Bill and Hillary Clinton:

  1. Both couples are both political animals
  2. Both Claire and Hillary are the US "ambassadors" oversea, thanks to their husbands
  3. Both Bill and Frank are adulterers, and their wives choose to "forgive" them because of their own political ambitions

All these similarities can be coincidence in nature. But I can't help wonder whether the writers of House of Cards actually actively model the Underwood couple after Clintons? Is there any admission somewhere?

  • Given that the series is based on a BBC series about British politics and, in many aspects follows the plot details closely (at least for the first series or two) it is hard to see how it could be based on the Clintons. Except accidentally.
    – matt_black
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 17:29

3 Answers 3


There's mixed answers. Robin Wright (Claire) said that she is not based on Hillary:

“People were suggesting to base the character on Hillary Clinton or other strong women personas, and I didn’t want to do that,” Wright told the magazine in an interview posted Wednesday.


Absolutely not as a matter of history

If the characters of House of Cards are based on the Clintons, then the BBC has access to amazing foresight.

The American series is based on a 1990 BBC original and initially follows the plot closely. Bill Clinton didn't even become president until 1992.

Moreover the plot and character behaviour don't follow the Clinton's path closely (unless you are a believer in some pretty extreme conspiracy theories).

For example, Francis Urquhart (the same character as Frank Underwood in the US series) doesn't initially become prime minister by getting elected but by machiavellian plotting against the existing PM. Frank Underwood follows exactly the same path to the presidency. Bill Clinton, on the other hand, was elected as a somewhat outsider candidate and didn't plot to overthrow his boss and gain the presidency because of some personal slight. Moreover, the lead character's wife in both series encourages her husband's adultery as a means to achieve various goals. It is hard to see how any of Bill Clinton's alleged or demonstrated dalliances has done anything to further Hillary's career nor did they help his own.

The wife-husband relationship involves a strong woman in both series who supports or eggs on her husband's nefarious activities. You can read the relationship between Bill and Hillary into this, but it can hardly be based on that relationship since the Clintons were complete unknowns when the original BBC series was aired.

Given the similarity of the US series to the BBC original it seems considerably likely that any intentional mirroring of the Clintons was not intended. You can, of course, read into it whatever you want but the history strongly suggests that no similarity was intended.


Their political resume's both match perfectly. Claire has always wanted to be like Frank, and Hillary wants the power Bill once had. Claire shows crazy strength and so does Hillary. They show extreme similarities that almost makes the show that much better.

  • Thank you for assisting the community. Ideas for framing an answer may include describing your sources along with a synopsis of what they said, and/or adding links to the resources and visuals you’ve found. I hope you enjoy participating.
    – John
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 16:25
  • But that could be coincidence. Moreover the basic plot of house of cards is based on a British TV series from the 1980s including some of the key relationship points between the husband and wife team and many details of the events. It is hard to see how this could intentionally be referring to the Clintons.
    – matt_black
    Commented Nov 14, 2016 at 17:26

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