This article examines the portrayal of Mehmed II, the conqueror of Istanbul, in Turkish historical fiction, as well as the literary and ideological implications of his portrayal with regard to Turkish national identity. Since the early Turkish Republic, Mehmed II has been described as a major character in over thirty historical novels. The article argues that over time the literary characterization of Mehmed II in Turkish fiction has undergone substantial change. During the early republican period, historical fiction adopted an ambivalent attitude toward Mehmed II. While one historical novel under discussion focuses mostly on Mehmed II's despotism and aggressive tendencies, another novel contemplates his military bravery and his ability to govern. However, with the arrival of the multi-party system in 1950, these ambivalent approaches toward Mehmed II changed, and he began to be portrayed as the ideal Turkish statesman, gaining the status of a national hero. The latter attitude toward him dominated historical fiction writing as late as in the early 1990s. At that time, Turkish historical meta-fiction began to portray a more complex and ambiguous Mehmed II, thus both challenging as well as re-producing his previous representations.