[[quoteright:333:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/friedrich-pecht-hamlet-horatiothe-grave-digger-and-the-skull-of-yorick_9939.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:333:AlasPoorYorick]]

->''To be, or not to be...''

''Hamlet'' is one of [[Creator/WilliamShakespeare Shakespeare's]] best-known plays and certainly his [[WhatDoYouMeanItsNotDidactic most over-analyzed]]. It is one of the most influential works of literature ever written.

Hamlet is the Prince of Denmark, whose uncle Claudius has succeeded the throne after Hamlet's own father mysteriously passed away. Hamlet receives evidence that Claudius murdered the late king to seize power, and decides to exact {{Revenge}}, covering his behavior by ObfuscatingInsanity. As the play progresses, though, it becomes ambiguous as to whether Hamlet's really faking his madness. Complicating matters are the presence of a number of other characters: Ophelia, the object of Hamlet's affections; Polonius, her father and royal chancellor; Gertrude, Hamlet's mother who has now married her brother-in-law; and Claudius himself, who is well aware that Hamlet is Denmark's rightful heir [[note]]Typical rules of primogeniture say that the king's son takes the throne after him, even if the king has a brother[[/note]] and is scheming to remove him from the picture.

Shakespeare did not invent the story of Hamlet's quest to bring the murderer of his father to justice. The earliest surviving "record" is in the twelfth-century ''Literature/GestaDanorum'' ("Deeds of the Danes"), by Saxo Grammaticus, wherein Hamlet -- or Amleth (Amlóši) as he's called in that version -- is shown as a legendary character who succeeds in destroying his uncle and becoming king, only to die in a later battle. The story was abbreviated and amended numerous times and had been presented as a play in English more than once when Shakespeare decided to tackle the story. By that time it had been changed almost beyond recognition -- Hamlet's mother, who had originally been forced to marry her brother-in-law, was now an accessory to his usurpation of the throne, while Hamlet had been turned into a Christian and aged a number of years.

Even more than is usual for Shakespeare, ''Hamlet'' is filled with expressions that have [[OlderThanTheyThink become clichés]]; examples include "HoistByHisOwnPetard," "The lady doth protest too much," "Frailty, thy name is woman," and "The play's the thing". Oh, and something about whether or not to be that was really difficult to [[InTheOriginalKlingon translate into Klingon]]. And that's not to mention many subtler {{neologism}}s that have wormed their way into everyday English.

!![[Administrivia/ThereIsNoSuchThingAsNotability Notable]] productions include
* c.1605 -- the premiere at the Globe Theatre, London, with Richard Burbage playing the lead.
* A two-minute 1900 film, ''Le Duel de Hamlet'', showed the duel between Hamlet and Laertes, and may be the first filmed adaptation of the play. As this production starred Sarah Bernhardt as Hamlet, this means the first movie Hamlet was a {{Gender Flip}}ped version.
* The 1911-12 Moscow Art Theatre production, seeing the play as a symbolist melodrama with a very plain set.
* Asta Nielsen made her own version in the 20s, based off of a book called "The Secret of Hamlet", where Hamlet was a SweetPollyOliver raised to secure her mother's position on the throne.
* A 1948 film starring and directed by LaurenceOlivier, which remains the only filmed Shakespeare to win the AcademyAward for Best Picture. This is a heavily cut version (excluding such characters as Rosencrantz and Guildenstern entirely), with a murky Gothic aesthetic, and a prominent Freudian leaning (it carries PlayingGertrude to extremes--the actress playing Gertrude was eleven years ''younger'' than Olivier!)
* A 1961 German made-for-TV production starring Maximillian Schell as Hamlet (with Ricardo Montalban dubbing Claudius into English). This version was featured on ''Series/MysteryScienceTheater3000'' and information on that episode can be found [[Recap/MysteryScienceTheater3000S10E09Hamlet here]].
* A 1964 Russian film directed by Grigori Kozintsev, starring Innokenty Smoktunovsky and scored by Dmitri Shostakovich. It uses SceneryPorn to "oust period stylization and express the essentials"; it's also more political than Olivier's version, probably reflecting its post-JosephStalin production. Despite lacking original text and being heavily truncated it was critically very well-received, but it's never been televised in the United States.
* A 1964 BBC production filmed on-location in Elsinore, and featuring an AllStarCast including Christopher Plummer as Hamlet, MichaelCaine as Horatio, Robert Shaw as Claudius, and Donald Sutherland as Fortinbras.
* A 1980 BBC production starring Creator/DerekJacobi and directed by Rodney Bennett. This is an almost full-text production, made as part of the BBC's complete Shakespeare series. Also notable for featuring Creator/PatrickStewart as Claudius and Lalla Ward (Romana #2 in ''Series/DoctorWho'') as Ophelia.
* A 1990 film starring Creator/MelGibson and directed by Franco Zefirelli. This is heavily cut and rearranged and probably even more Freudian than the Olivier version. However, Gibson was praised for playing a youthful, energetic Hamlet.
* Another 1990 version is a filmed version of the play starring Kevin Kline, mostly notable for featuring minimal sets and modern costuming.
* A 1996 film starring and directed by Creator/KennethBranagh. This is a highly lavish, cinematic full-text[[note]]with the exception of a few transposed lines, and thus clocking in at around 246 minutes long[[/note]] version set in the 1800s, which includes Creator/BrianBlessed (as the Ghost) and a FallingChandelierOfDoom. With KateWinslet as Ophelia. Oh, and Creator/RobinWilliams as Osric, and Billy Crystal as the gravedigger.[[note]]The AllStarCast also includes Julie Christie as Gertrude, Jack Lemmon as Marcellus, Charlton Heston as the King of the play, Richard Attenborough as the English Ambassador, and Dame JudiDench and Sir John Gielgud as Hecuba and Priam of Troy.[[/note]] It's essentially ''Hamlet'' as an EpicMovie. Not financially successful, but critically acclaimed with some even calling it the greatest onscreen adaptation of Shakespeare. Was nominated for an Oscar for best adapted screenplay (which led to a lot of jokes in theatrical circles on who ''technically'' wrote the script).
* A 2000 film directed by Michael Almereyda and starring Ethan Hawke. [[SettingUpdate Claudius is the CEO of Denmark Corp., and Hamlet is a disaffected film student.]] The characters still use the Shakesperean text despite the SettingUpdate.
* Director Gregory Doran's 2008 production for the RoyalShakespeareCompany had Creator/DavidTennant as Hamlet and Creator/PatrickStewart as Claudius. A film version was released in 2010, [[http://www.pbs.org/wnet/gperf/episodes/hamlet/watch-the-film/980/ and can be seen here legally for free]].

Since ''Hamlet'' is almost always performed with cuts (performing the whole thing usually takes almost four hours), arguably ''every'' production is an adaptation, some even switching out scenes for pacing purposes (like the 2010 version did as explained [[http://blip.tv/file/4634599 here]] and [[http://blip.tv/file/4631899 here.]] Sometimes the basic idea is what's adapted, more or less faithfully, and little or none of the original language is used.

!!Some notable adaptations include:

* The German play ''[[http://members.efn.org/~dredmond/Hamletmachine.PDF Hamletmaschine]]'' by Heiner Müller, a celebrated surrealist adaptation of ''Hamlet'' which still enjoys frequent performances 30 years after it was written... despite being ''completely'' incomprehensible.
* A POVSequel play called ''Theatre/RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead''. It was later made into a film with GaryOldman and TimRoth.
* Several [[EverythingIsOnline weird internet versions]], including:
** [[http://versificator.co.uk/hamlet/ The text adventure.]]
** [[http://stickfigurehamlet.com/ The stick figure version]]
** [[http://web.archive.org/web/20080301101130/http://amethyst-angel.com/hamlet_eng.htm The Manga version]] --Currently incomplete (but up to Act III) and starring characters from the anime ''{{Slayers}}''.
** ''[[http://www.adventuregamers.com/newsitem.php?id=1970 Gamelet]]'', an in-production video game with a YouWillBeBeethoven premise.
** [[http://www.angelfire.com/art2/antwerplettuce/hamlet.html The Facebook news feed edition]].
** The NicoNicoDouga medley [[http://www.nicovideo.jp/watch/sm9401296 techo-musical version]].
** [[http://users.elite.net/lkfaunt/DJHamlet.html The Dick and Jane version.]]
** [[http://www.fanfiction.net/s/4756599/1/Luigi The Mario Bros. version.]]
* ''Disney/TheLionKing'' is a rather loose adaptation by {{Disney}}. Minus the DownerEnding and KillEmAll, obviously.
* The play ''I Hate Hamlet'' in which a TV star has to play Hamlet on stage but is unsure. So he gets help from the ghost of one of the greatest Hamlets, John Barrymore.
* The {{wuxia}} film ''Film/LegendOfTheBlackScorpion'', which is basically Hamlet [-IN FEUDAL CHINA!-] The most interesting difference is that the Gertrude stand-in is the stepmother of the Hamlet stand-in, and is actually the woman he was in love with before his father stole her away. She's also a lot more of a MagnificentBastard.
* The 1983 [[Series/{{SCTV}} Bob and Doug MacKenzie]] adventure ''StrangeBrew''. Creator/MaxVonSydow has taken control of Elsinore Brewery after killing his brother. Hamlet is actually [[GenderFlip a girl]]. Bob and Doug are essentially good-guy versions of Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Oh, and there's a horde of {{Mind Control}}led hockey players, one of whom is Horatio. [[CanadaEh It's Canadian. Don't ask.]]
* An expansion of the {{MMORPG}} ''VideoGame/{{Mabinogi}}'' is switching from adapting CelticMythology to this. Whether it's gonna be one major patch or a series remains to be seen. It is now live on both Korean and NA servers. Still no word on whether or not it's a series or a patch, [[spoiler:but the CelticMythology is still in force near the end of the Hamlet storyline.]]
* After a line in ''Film/StarTrekVITheUndiscoveredCountry'' claimed that Shakespeare's plays were actually the work of a Klingon, some fans took the trouble to actually translate the entire play into the Klingon language.
* Parodied in ''Film/LastActionHero'', casting Arnie as Hamlet and turning him into a TheAhnold. HilarityEnsues.
* The 1994 film ''Prince of Jutland'' (AKA ''Royal Deceit'') is a mashup of Shakespeare's ''Hamlet'' and the original Saxo Grammaticus tale, set in [[HornyVikings Viking-age]] Denmark and starring Creator/ChristianBale as Amled. Opinion is divided on whether it's SoBadItsGood or SoOKItsAverage.
* A poorly received 2008 novella by OrsonScottCard where it turns out that Old King Hamlet was a [[spoiler:[[DepravedHomosexual pedophile and raped most of the male cast]], [[RapeAndSwitch turning them all into homosexuals and pedophiles]]. Also he came back as a spirit in order to make Hamlet do evil things so that he can rape him in hell for eternity.]]
* ''SonsOfAnarchy'' is another loose adaptation, set in modern day with an outlaw biker gang.
* Scott G. F. Bailey's novel ''The Astrologer'' updates the action to the court of Christian IV in seventeenth-century Denmark.

Many of the aforementioned film versions of the play, plus several others (nine total), are compared and contrasted in [[http://www.brightlightsfilm.com/51/51hamlet.php this neat little article]].
----

!!Tropes include (spoilers abound!):

* AbusiveParents: Certain interpretations of Polonius show him as this towards Ophelia, manipulating her and keeping her emotionally stunted.
* ActingForTwo: Due to the briefness of the first part and the fact that they were supposed to be brothers anyway, some productions have the Ghost and Claudius being played by the same actor. Some see Hamlet's "Look here upon this picture"-speech as proof that this was Shakespeare's intentions and him [[LampshadeHanging lampshading]] it. Note that the guards hang around talking at the end of act 1 scene 1 just long enough for the actor playing The Ghost to jump into his Claudius costume for the start of scene 2.
* AdaptationExpansion: Gregory Doran's 2008 production made this with Osric, having him present in all the court scenes, giving magnificent "Bitch, please!" EyeTake over what is happening around him, elevating him from a OneSceneWonder to a EnsembleDarkhorse.
* AddedAlliterativeAppeal: "Marry, this is miching mallecho; it means mischief."
* AlasPoorYorick: TropeNamer. Hamlet finds the skull of Yorick, the court jester, in the graveyard, prompting him to reflect on his mortality.
* AnachronismStew: Hamlet attends a university that was not founded until 300 years after the play was set and is a member of a religion that hadn't yet reached Denmark.
* AntiHero: Hamlet, ranging from III and IV. He acts rudely to many who (may) mean him no harm, kills Polonius for spying on him (though he seemed to think it was Claudius hiding and watching) and has Guildenstern and Rosencrantz sent to death (it is arguable what are their personal intentions over them spying for Claudius, making Hamlet's actions to them be justifiable [[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation to varying degrees]]).
* AuthorFilibuster: Hamlet's famous lecture on properly acting a scene he'd written.
* BadassBoast: Before Hamlet and Laertes' duel. Laertes accuses Hamlet of mocking him. Hamlet's answer: "No, by this hand."
* BlackAndGrayMorality: Few if any of the primary characters are indisputably virtuous.
* BlackComedy: Can be played this way, and it's hilarious:
** "He will stay till ye come." (Hamlet about Polonius' body)
** Also when Hamlet quips that Polonius is at a feast, "not where he eats, but where he is eaten" (by worms). Really, Hamlet has a lot of darkly humorous lines, especially when he's faking insanity.
* BluffingTheMurderer: Hamlet's reason for staging ''[[ShowWithinAShow The Murder of Gonzago]]''.
* BreadEggsBreadedEggs: The earliest example:
-->'''Polonius:''' The best actors in the world, either for tragedy, comedy, history, pastoral, pastoral-comical, historical-pastoral, tragical-historical, tragical-comical-historical-pastoral...
* BreakTheCutie: Ophelia. See also ButtMonkey, KillTheCutie, and TheWoobie. Hamlet was cute (according to his friends) before he was broken by the murder of his father, which has already happened by the time we meet him.
* BrokenBird: We don't meet Hamlet until after he has been broken, but according to his friends he used to be a generous, loving, and level-headed man. Due to his father's death and his uncle's betrayal, he is consumed by his own sadness and therefore unable to trust or show compassion to anyone. He cruelly mocks Ophelia, but he would not be this way if it hadn't been for the tragedy of his father's murder.
* BroodingBoyGentleGirl: Hamlet and Ophelia could be seen as a deconstruction.
* ButNotTooEvil: Lots of people seem to ignore [[HypocriticalHumor who]] says "brevity is the soul of wit" and treat it as Shakespeare's own views.
* CainAndAbel: Claudius murders his brother prior to the beginning of the story.
* CampGay: Osric in some performances.
* CaptainObvious:
** Polonius is the master of this trope. Appropriately enough, his last words are, "O! I am slain!" It has been assumed he says that due to the difficulty the audience would have had confirming the death of a character behind a curtain, but still....
** Several minor characters in the play find themselves playing this trope as Hamlet verbally spars with them; they revert to saying inanities because they're so vastly outmatched in wit -- witty though they might be compared with almost anyone in almost any other play.
* CatchTheConscience: TropeNamer. Hamlet hires an acting troupe to perform a play about a king being murdered, with a few additions to make it more like Claudius's murder of King Hamlet, to get a reaction out of Claudius.
* CharacterFilibuster: Through the character of Hamlet talking to a performer, Shakespeare tells people about his pet peeves in acting.
* CharactersDroppingLikeFlies: Although much less gory than Shakespeare's ''Theatre/TitusAndronicus'', the play also ends with a pile of corpses on stage.
* ComfortingTheWidow: Claudius "comforts" Gertrude. It helps win him the throne. On the other hand, he does seem to genuinely love her. It is not an unpopular AlternativeCharacterInterpretation that the throne was an afterthought and Claudius killed the king solely for Gertrude.
* CountryMatters: TropeNamer.
* CreatorCameo: It is said that Shakespeare himself provided for the role of Hamlet's father in the 1600s.
* CurtainCamouflage: Poor Polonius should have picked a better place to hide.
* DareToBeBadass: Hamlet tries to talk himself into it; "To Be Or Not To Be" is an attempt that fails. It takes him maybe three acts, but he finally gets the point with "My thoughts be bloody, or be nothing worth!"
* DarkerAndEdgier: Considered one of Shakespeare's darkest plays.
* DeadGuyPuppet: It's not quite explicit in the text, but the graveyard scene can be very naturally played this way.
* DeadPersonConversation: With the ghost of King Hamlet.
* {{Deconstruction}}: Of the "revenge drama" in vogue at the time.
* DefeatMeansFriendship: At least between Laertes and Hamlet. Unusual in that neither has really defeated the other, as the fight results in both their deaths.
* DemocracyIsFlawed:
--> For who would bear the whips and scorns of time,
--> The oppressor's wrong, the proud man's contumely,
--> The pangs of despised love, ''the law's delay'',
--> ''The insolence of office''...
* DeusExMachina: In Act IV, Hamlet is conveniently kidnapped by pirates on his way to England, who kindly return him to Denmark just in time for the play's climax.
** ''However,'' there's several subtle points of the play that imply he may have arranged the "pirate attack" himself.
* DoesNotLikeShoes: In many adaptations -- theatrical productions, films, paintings, etc. -- Ophelia is barefoot during the mad scene.
** The recent RSC film has Hamlet barefoot in most of the indoor scenes.
* DoubleEntendre: Ubiquitous throughout the entire play. [[http://www.cracked.com/blog/6-reasons-shakespeare-would-write-for-cracked-if-he-were-alive-today/ Let these guys do it instead. Scroll down to #2 ]].
--> "Do you think I mean '''c'''o'''unt'''ry matters?"
** The 2008 RSC production made this into a Single Entendre by leaving a pause between the first and second syllables of 'country'.
** A recent version, sometimes played at the Globe, is performed with the actors using the "Original Pronunciation" that would have been standard at the time of Shakespeare as well as among his audience. The newly resulting homophonies (e.g. "from hour to hour we ripe and ripe" thus sounds close to "from whore to whore we rape and rape") uncover "new" entendres that are lost in the modern idiom.
** Thanks to the change in pronunciation and the archaic language in the play, many double entendres and sex jokes that would have caused the early 17th century playgoers to bust a gut laughing sail right over the heads of most modern viewers.
* DoubleStandard: Polonius forbids his daughter to so much as spend time with Hamlet, but doesn't see much harm in spreading rumors that his son visits brothels. Ophelia doesn't buy into this, and tells her brother he'd be a hypocrite if he admonished her to be chaste and then went off and had sex himself.
* DrivenToSuicide: Ophelia drowns herself in a river. ''Or'' she was really just so insane she didn't even think to save herself from drowning after falling into the water while hanging garlands from a tree. It's not an unpopular theory that Gertrude murdered Ophelia after learning [[HeKnowsTooMuch she knows too much]] (that or she was {{Mercy Kill}}ing her). The 2010/2011 London production at the National Theatre heavily implied this was the case.
** Another interpretation is that, in her madness, Ophelia simply fell and, being nobility, didn't know how to swim. Ophelia is often depicted wearing a dress and well... just try swimming in that.
* DroppingTheBombshell: "My lord, I think I saw him yesternight."
* DueToTheDead: In the final scene of Hamlet, Fortinbras orders Hamlet be given a soldier's burial as a mark of honor.
* EmoTeen: Hamlet, the original emo kid, is a brooding pessimist who dresses all in black and pontificates about suicide. He's also spoilt, and resents his mother for remarrying. The slight hitch occurs in the Gravedigger scene, where it's stated that Hamlet is actually 30. This means either (A) Hamlet is too old to be acting like this, adding to the theory that he is 'actually' mentally unbalanced (though that still doesn't explain how he's a University student at his age), or (B) Hamlet isn't 30 and [[WritersCannotDoMath Shakespeare made another mathematical error]]. [[WildMassGuessing Shakespeare scholars have suggested]] that the Gravedigger's line was thrown in at the insistence of Richard Burbage, the actor who originally played the lead role and was probably unwilling to play a teenager. Or, alternatively, Shakespeare could do maths just fine, but the gravedigger can't.
** Alternatively, the gravedigger had it right, but later translations got it wrong. In the original spelling of the Folio text, one of the two authoritative texts for the play, the Gravedigger's answer to how long he has "been a grave-maker" reads "Why heere in Denmarke: I haue bin sixeteene heere, man and Boy thirty yeares.." "Sixteene" is usually rendered as "sexton" (a modernization of the second quarto's "sexten"), even in modern texts that take F1 as their "copy text." But modernizing the punctuation — a normal practice in modernized texts — renders "Why heere in Denmarke: I haue bin sixeteene heere—man and Boy thirty yeares." In other words, this reading suggests that he has been a grave-digger for sixteen years, but that he has lived in Denmark for thirty. According to this logic, then, it is the Grave-digger who is thirty, whereas Hamlet is only sixteen.
* EverybodysDeadDave: The only major named characters who survive are Horatio and Fortinbras (who is often left out). A messenger even arrives at the very end to assure you that, yes, even RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead.
* EvilUncle: Claudius.
* FamousLastWords:
-->'''Hamlet:''' The rest is silence.
* FatalFlaw: It's widely agreed that Hamlet has one[[note]]he discusses the concept in an early scene[[/note]]. There's rather less agreement on what, specifically, it ''is''.
* FleetingDemographic: Determining, of all things, the setting: Shakespeare probably chose the Hamlet story as an appeal to [[TheHouseOfStuart James I's]] theater-loving queen -- Anne of Denmark.
* FlowerMotifs: Ophelia's mad scene is one of the most famous in the Western canon.
-->''There’s rosemary, that’s for remembrance; pray, love, remember; and there is pansies, that’s for thoughts. [...] There’s fennel for you, and columbines; there’s rue for you, and here’s some for me; we may call it herb of grace o’ Sundays. O, you must wear your rue with a difference. There’s a daisy. I would give you some violets, but they wither’d all when my father died.''
** Rosemary = memory
** Pansy = thought
** Fennel = flattery
** Columbine = determination
** Rue = regret
*** Notably, rue is also a powerful poison and abortifacient, which might be the way Ophelia "wears it differently."
** Daisy = innocence
** Violet = faithfulness
* {{Foil}}: Hamlet has several. Most notable are Fortinbras, Horatio and Laertes. Before they fight, Hamlet (mockingly and very ironically) refers to himself as a foil to Laertes. Also the swords which they are using are called foils making that line a {{Pun}}.
** Also, the player who weeps TenderTears over Hecuba overtly inspires Hamlet to reflect on the contrast between them.
%%* FridgeLogic: [[Headscratchers/{{Hamlet}} Several issues.]]
* GenderFlip: While not exactly ''common'', there is a recurring trend of recasting characters as the opposite sex in modern productions:
** Sarah Bernhardt, the most famous actress of her time, played Hamlet in an 1899 production (and was the first to portray him on film in ''Le Duel de Hamlet''.)
** Alexander Fodor's 2007 arthouse film adaptation featured a female Horatio and "Polonia."
** The 2008 RoyalShakespeareCompany production converts minor character Cornelius to Cornelia.
* GenderScoff: "Frailty, thy name is woman!"
* GetTheeToANunnery: TropeNamer. The play contains several double entendres that go over the heads of modern audiences; among the best known are the "nunnery" and the "fishmonger" (slang for a brothel and a pimp, respectively), from the scene where Polonius tries to manipulate Hamlet through Ophelia.
* GondorCallsForAid: Fortinbras's entrance is somewhere between this and DeusExMachina.
* GoodNightSweetPrince: TropeNamer. The phrase originates in Horatio's farewell to the dying Hamlet in the final act.
* GuessWhoImMarrying: The actual reveal happens before the play starts, so the story is about the fallout from this trope.
* HeldGaze: The "long distance love-scene" from LaurenceOlivier's film version of ''Hamlet'', where Hamlet and Ophelia hold each others' gaze from opposite ends of a corridor.
* HeroOfAnotherStory: Fortinbras, who has his own revenge plot (directed against Hamlet's father/the Danes), and whose movements are referenced throughout the play, although he only appears in person at the end, wherein his revenge completely succeeds and he conquers Denmark (aided by almost everyone else being dead).
* HoistByHisOwnPetard: TropeNamer.
** Rosencrantz and Guildenstern deliver their own death warrant, not realising that Hamlet altered the document before his escape by replacing his name with theirs. Hamlet remarks:
--->'tis the sport to have the engineer\\
Hoist with his own petard
** Claudius and Laertes are killed by their own poison.
--->'''Laertes:''' Why, as a woodcock to mine own springe, Osric,\\
I am justly killed with mine own treachery.
* HotBlooded: Played straight with Laertes on Ophelia's death, and with Fortinbras who goes to war over a valueless piece of land. Hamlet himself subverts this, claiming to admire these characters but never taking the initiative himself and passing up chances to kill his target. In something of a contradiction he castigates himself for own his lack of passion ("I am pidgeon livered and lack gall") while praising Horatio for it ("Give me the man who is not passion's slave and I will wear him in my heart's core").
** Also {{subverted|Trope}} with Fortinbras: the "war over a valueless piece of land" was actually an excuse. [[MagnificentBastard His real aim was to conquer Denmark on the way home.]]
* HurricaneOfAphorisms: Polonius.
* HurricaneOfPuns: The whole play.
* HypocriticalHumor: Polonius. For example, he gives the well-known line "brevity is the soul of wit" -- at the end of a very long-winded speech -- but he is one of the least brief and least witty talkers around. He proceeds to give plenty of other advice that he also doesn't follow. Later, he complains that the Player King's speech is too long.
* IgnoredEpiphany: Claudius comes to realize what evil he's done, but keeps right on being evil.
-->''My words fly up: my thoughts remain below.''
-->''Words without thoughts never to heaven go.''
* IncestIsRelative: Hamlet is very squicked at the idea of his mother and his uncle doing the nasty.
* InnocentInnuendo: Ophelia and Laertes, brother and sister, admonish each other to remain chaste. They probably don't mean to get as graphic as they do. Ophelia's going to keep her lock to herself, not open up her chaste treasure to Hamlet's unmastered importunity, while Laertes will keep his key to himself.
* {{Irony}}: In a LongList to Ophelia about all the things he hates about women, Hamlet says he dislikes women pretending not to know things in front of men. Ophelia often has to resort to pretending to know nothing to try and pacify Hamlet or in an attempt to avoid further humiliation such as in Act 3, Scene 2 where he makes crude jokes in front of the whole court. Ashamed, Ophelia says, ‘I think nothing’ which instead fuels more lewd comments. The irony appears lost on Hamlet.
* ItsAllAboutMe: When Hamlet comes across Laertes burying Ophelia, his beloved sister, how does he react? He claims that he loved Ophelia ''far'' more than her brother did, and no woe can ''possibly'' equal his.
* KarmaHoudini:
** Arguably, young Fortinbras - some readings of the text and some adaptations have him attempting to conquer Denmark underhandedly rather than just passing through with his army as he claims, and the ending for him is Hamlet supporting him to be the next king. If this was his plan, then he's not only not made to pay for his treacherous actions, he ends up being ''rewarded'' for it.
** Hamlet, sort of. He kills Polonius, and although Claudius tries to have him killed on the quiet Hamlet evades punishment. He also seems to receive no punishment for the deaths of Rosencrantz, Guildenstern OR Ophelia, until the very end, and it's implied that Laertes's forgiveness absolves him completely.
** Discussed when Hamlet considers murdering Claudius while Claudius is praying, which Hamlet worries would send him (Claudius) to Heaven. Subverted when, after Hamlet departs, Claudius reveals that he was not actually praying ("Words without thoughts never to Heaven go"), so Hamlet's hesitation was moot.
* KarmicDeath: Ophelia and King Hamlet ''didn't'' suffer this. Everyone else who died -- [[KillEmAll i.e., almost the entire cast]] -- did, in one way or another.
* KickTheDog: In the 1990 and 1996 film adaptations, Laertes explicitly breaks the rules of the dueling conduct to wound and poison Hamlet. In the lines of the play, Claudius lets Gertrude drink from a cup of wine he knowingly poisoned for Hamlet to drink, only telling her to not drink from it (which she does anyway) as opposed to rushing over to ensure she doesn't -- despite earlier claiming that he really does love her. This differs by production. Derek Jacobi in Branagh's film version is visibly shaken at not being able to stop her from drinking.
* KillEmAll: The play has become famous for this, even though it was a standard trope in tragedy at the time. Actually, Horatio and Fortinbras are both still alive at play's end.
* KillHimAlready: A major part of the premise.
* KillTheCutie: Ophelia.
* LeaningOnTheFourthWall: During Act 3, Hamlet says "my father died within these two hours". This at first seems like an accident, but how long has the play been going on at this point?
** Also, virtually everything to do with the Players.
* LocalReference: The gravedigger says that Hamlet has been sent to England to cure his madness, and if it doesn't work nobody will notice since everyone there is mad anyway.
* LoveHurts: It also kills.
* MadOracle: [[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation Possibly]] Ophelia, in her mad scene.
* MakeUpIsEvil: One charge he brings against Ophelia
-->''I have heard of your paintings too, well enough; God has given you one face, and you make yourselves another.''
* {{Malaproper}}: The First Gravedigger, though unfortunately his slips (like saying "argal" when he means "ergo") can be very easy to miss given all the formal language surrounding them.
* MaliciousSlander: "Be thou as chaste as ice, as pure as snow, thou shalt not escape calumny."
* ManChild: Hamlet is apparently 30, if the gravedigger scene is any indication, but continues to live with his parents, has not found a wife, does not possess a castle or any other feudal fief, and in general has not accomplished anything one would expect of a college-educated nobleman. (Many, though not necessarily all, scholars think that he's actually in his late teens or maybe early twenties.)
* TheMasochismTango: Hamlet's terrible treatment of Ophelia.
* MostWritersAreWriters: Hamlet and Polonius are obsessed with words and the craft of writing, and Hamlet has a LOT of opinions about the right and wrong way to act.
* NietzscheWannabe: "What a piece of work is man ... and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me."
* ObfuscatingInsanity: Hamlet fakes insanity. Or hell, maybe he is actually insane. Or possibly he's faking insanity ''and'' is actually insane.
* OldWindbag: Polonius
* OverProtectiveDad: Polonius again.
* TheOphelia: TropeNamer. Ophelia becomes ''the'' Ophelia after going mad in Act IV.
* ParentWithNewParamour: A big source of Hamlet's angst.
* PetTheDog: Claudius prays and confesses his sins, unaware that Hamlet is watching him. He also states that it will not be enough to absolve him as he still benefits from his sins. Though some adaptations seem to imply that Claudius knows that Hamlet is listening and prays because [[BatmanGambit he knows that Hamlet will not kill him while he is confessed because that means he will go to heaven.]]
* PleaseShootTheMessenger: Claudius famously sends Hamlet off to England with a message (and with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern to watch him.) The message directs the English to kill the person holding it. Hamlet manages to escape, and gives them the message to deliver instead.
* PosthumousCharacter: King Hamlet, whose [[CainAndAbel murder by his brother]] prior to the beginning sets the story in motion.
* PungeonMaster: Hamlet
* RailingKill: Part of Laertes's death in Branagh's version.
* RasputinianDeath: Claudius. Although it's likely Hamlet's determination to make sure he's dead.
* {{Revenge}}: ''Hamlet'' was written in the tradition of the revenge tragedies that were popular in the Elizabethan and Jacobean eras.
* RocksFallEveryoneDies: The final scene sees most of the cast dead with almost farcical suddenness.
* ShowWithinAShow: ''The Murder of Gonzago''. (for CatchTheConscience.)
* SiblingTriangle: Claudius murders his brother and marries his brother's wife. Interpretations vary as to how complicit Gertrude is in the plot.
* SketchySuccessor: The late King Hamlet is considered a ruler among rulers. King Claudius assassinated him to get the job and spends his reign doing nothing but trying to keep people from becoming suspicious. Also inverted at the end of Hamlet, after everyone has died. The Danish crown is passed down to King Fortinbras, monarch of Norway. Throughout the story, it is mentioned that Denmark and Norway are having conflicts, but by the end, the entire Danish royal family is dead and Fortinbras is implied to be an improvement over Claudius.
* SleazyPolitician: Polonius in certain interpretations, also Claudius, who quickly turns the rebellious Laertes to his side.
* SpeechImpediment: In [[http://www.hamletregained.com/arguments_with_arden3.html certain]] [[http://www.playshakespeare.com/forum/7-hamlet/360-hamlet-q2-version?limit=10&start=150 interpretations]], Ophelia does have a lisp, and some of her lines actually reflect this (for example, "twice two months" is understood as "two-es...two months). This gives Hamlet's line ("...you lisp, you nickname God's creatures...") a second, literal meaning.
* SpinOff: Many, many, many. The most famous is Tom Stoppard's play ''RosencrantzAndGuildensternAreDead''. A more recent example is John Updike's novel ''Gertrude and Claudius''.
* StealthInsult: Hamlet's weapon of choice.
* SubvertedRhymeEveryOccasion:
-->'''Hamlet:''' For thou dost know, O Damon dear,
-->This realm dismantled was
-->Of Jove himself; and now reigns here
-->A very, very -- peacock.
-->'''Horatio:''' You might have rhymed.[[note]]Horatio was expecting Hamlet to go for "ass", the obvious rhyme.[[/note]]
* SuddenlyAlwaysKnewThat: Hamlet has "been in continual practise" at fencing since Laertes went to France. Really? Because not a single word was uttered about that until Act V, Scene II. {{Creator/Kenneth Branagh}}'s film version actually has Hamlet practicing continually.
* SuicideIsShameful:
** The play's subplot involves deciding whether Ophelia drowned herself on purpose or not. If it were to be determined a suicide, she would have not gotten her burial rights, which according to the belief of the characters, would have denied her soul entry to heaven.
** Hamlet's famous "To Be or Not to Be" soliloquy is about how he would kill himself if he weren't afraid it would damn his soul.
* SurrogateSoliloquy: The AlasPoorYorick bit.
* SuspiciouslySimilarSubstitute: Osric can very easily be argued to be this to Polonius.
* SwordFight: Hamlet vs. Laertes.
* TakeThatAudience: The First Gravedigger casually insults England, saying that everyone there is mad.
* TalkativeLoon: Hamlet (feigned), Ophelia (real).
* TenderTears: A player, over Hecuba.
* ThatCloudLooksLike: In a surreal touch, this scene is often set indoors, far from any windows.
* ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill: How Claudius dies in the Branagh version. Hamlet stabs him in the back with a sword thrown from across the room, crushes him with a FallingChandelierOfDoom and force-feeds him poison.
* ThoseTwoGuys: Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
* TogetherInDeath:
** ''Attempted'' by Horatio, when he [[YouAreWorthHell tries to poison himself to follow Hamlet]]. Averted by Hamlet, who ordered Horatio to live.
** Possibly Gertrude and Claudius.
* TomatoSurprise: During the duel with Laertes, Gertrude casually mentions that Hamlet is fat and short of breath. This fact seemingly justifies the whole deal with everyone assuming fight will immediately make him thirsty. Authenticity of this line is fiercely challenged by many Shakespearean scholars, who argue it's supposed to read "hot", not "fat".
* TooDumbToLive: Hey, Polonius. Maybe it's not a good idea to hide behind the curtains while spying on Hamlet. '''*stab*''' Never mind.
* {{Tragedy}}: One of Creator/WilliamShakespeare's four major tragedies.
* ATragedyOfImpulsiveness: After blowing his first chance to kill Claudius, Hamlet strikes out blindly at a shape in the curtains he thinks is Claudius. This turns out to be Polonius, who is the father of the woman Hamlet loves, which sends everything straight to hell for him.
* TragicHero
* TragicMistake: Hamlet's downfall can be traced back to the moment where he sees Claudius at prayer and decides to wait until later to avenge his father.
* UpperClassTwit: Polonius. Osric.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse: Reynaldo is an agent of Polonius's sent to both spy on and ruin the reputation of Laertes when the latter leaves for France. Whatever actual impact Reynaldo has on anything is never touched on, and he hasn't returned to Denmark by the end of the play.
* WhatTheHellHero: After Hamlet kills Polonius.
-->'''Gertrude:''' O, what a rash and bloody deed is this!
* WhoIsThisGuyAgain: Claudius is only named in the stage directions; the other characters all refer to him via sobriquets such as "the King" or "my uncle".
* WindbagPolitician: Polonius is prone to being long winded. Lampshaded when he says "Brevity is the soul of wit," at the end of one of his rambling speeches.
* {{World of Ham}}let
* WritersCannotDoMath:
** Hamlet is at least 27 if his memory of Yorick is to be believed, but he was studying at Wittenberg University when his father died (see AnachronismStew above). In Shakespeare's time, most university students were teenagers. People seem to forget this when insisting that Hamlet ''must'' be thirty years old. There is a theory that Shakespeare originally wrote for Hamlet to been in his teens but somewhere towards the end decided to age him up so a specific actor could play the part.
** Dawn comes, by Horatio's count, one hundred seconds after midnight.
* YouKilledMyFather: The main plot. Also, the reason Laertes kills Hamlet and possibly why Fortinbras wants to invade Denmark.

The [[ShowWithinAShow Play Within A Play]] contains examples of the following tropes:

* DoesThisRemindYouOfAnything: And how!
* KarmaHoudini: Lucianus, unless his comeuppance was left out of the dumb-show and occurred after the play is stopped.
* StylisticSuck: A spoileriffic dumb show followed by a series of tedious heroic couplets. This may be Hamlet's fault, since he rewrote bits of it, and was more concerned with trying to CatchTheConscience of Claudius than with coming up with a truly decent play.
* TrailersAlwaysSpoil: Before the play properly starts, three clowns come out and act out almost the entire plot. Many modern productions omit this part, since you're not supposed to spoil ''TheMousetrap.''

In addition to all the above, the [[Franchise/StarTrek Klingon]] version also contains examples of the following tropes:

* AlternateHistory: Wherein Earth has owed tribute to Qo'noS.
* AnachronismStew: In-universe.

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