This article examines ideologies surrounding Quechua's use as a lingua franca and contrasts these ideologies with the historical and ethnographic record across pre-Colombian, colonial, and postcolonial times. Drawing from classic and recent research on Quechua sociolinguistics and comparatively on current work in the study of World Englishes and English as a lingua franca, we describe ways in which Quechua possibly served as a lingua franca, but also argue that Quechua's role and potential as lingua franca have often been misunderstood. We illustrate how these misunderstandings are intertwined with some of the myths and ideologies surrounding the Quechua language in particular and lingua francas more generally. Specifically, we argue that Quechua as lingua franca has been neither one stable, standardized variety nor a politically neutral communicative tool. Further, we highlight some of the overlooked ways in which local varieties and local speakers of the lingua franca have responded to, and in some cases resisted, the inequities and ideologies associated with the lingua franca.