[[caption-width-right:300: Fill me from the crown to the toe top full / Of direst cruelty!]]

->''"By the pricking of my thumbs,\\
Something wicked this way comes..."''

''The Tragedy of Macbeth'' is a 1606 play written by Creator/WilliamShakespeare. It was written at the express request of King James I/VI of England and Scotland, who asked Shakespeare to present a new play to honor his visitor, the King of Denmark.

The play takes place in the Scottish Highlands. Fresh from putting down a rebellion against King Duncan, Lord Macbeth meets three witches who relate a series of prophecies, one of them being that he will rule Scotland. When one of the other seemingly unlikely predictions comes true, his scheming and heartless wife convinces him to kill Duncan and his heir. Both are [[MurderMakesYouCrazy driven mad with guilt]]; while Lady Macbeth copes by sleepwalking and then [[DrivenToSuicide killing herself]], Macbeth enters into [[TheParanoiac a paranoid frenzy]], [[HeKnowsTooMuch killing everyone in sight]] in order to consolidate his power -- especially after the witches predict that "[[NoManOfWomanBorn none of woman born]]" shall slay him. After being visited by the ghost of one of his victims, Macbeth is overthrown and killed by Macduff, who was "from his mother's womb untimely ripped" -- in other words, delivered via crude caesarean section from his mother's dead or dying body, [[ProphecyTwist not "born" as Elizabethans defined it]]. [[DidntSeeThatComing D'oh.]]

Many of the inconsistencies in ''Macbeth'' come from the fact that Macbeth was a real person who was featured in ''Holinshead's Chronicles'', a best-selling popular history of Shakespeare's time. Holinshead played fast and light with the facts in many cases, though -- for instance, he includes legendary or wholly fictional characters such as Fleance, who was supposedly an ancestor of the Scottish royal family. (In the play as produced now, Fleance disappears in Act Three: in the original 1606 presentation, he was brought back on stage after the play in a "dumb show" that explained he was the ancestor of the [[UsefulNotes/TheHouseOfStuart Stuarts]].) Holinshead also refers to Lady Macbeth as "burning with an unquenchable desire to bear the name of a queen". In reality he had no historical justification for this -- the only thing that's actually known about Lady Macbeth is that she existed (and that her first name was Gruoch, and that Macbeth was her second husband) -- but Shakespeare turned that one sentence into one of his best-known female characters.

Shakespeare also takes liberties with the facts, although in his case his changes are {{justifi|edTrope}}able as they [[PragmaticAdaptation improve the dramatic tension and the flow of the action]]; after all, he was writing a play, not a history. For instance, he makes Duncan a wise, old good king ([[AlternativeCharacterInterpretation at least superficially]]) instead of a young wastrel, he has Macbeth [[DickDastardlyStopsToCheat kill him while sleeping instead of in a fair fight]], and he compresses the action into two seasons when the real Macbeth ruled for 17 years (and successfully). He also leaves aside the fact that the real Macbeth actually did have a legitimate claim to the throne[[labelnote: *]]For centuries, the succession rule in Scotland was called Tannistry, by which the throne alternated between different branches of descent from the first King, [=Kenneth MacAlpin=]. Duncan's father, Malcolm II, had been the first to attempt to abandon it in favour of his eldest son. By Tannistry, it would have been Macbeth's branch's turn[[/labelnote]].

Another source of the inconsistencies is that Shakespeare wanted to get in all kinds of things that he thought King James would like -- witches, ghosts, the legitimacy of the Stuart line, the divine right of kings (something James was for, to put it mildly), and the portrayal of his Scottish ancestors as [[ProudWarriorRace noble and warrior-like]]. The fact that Shakespeare [[GettingCrapPastTheRadar snuck in]] the trope that "power corrupts, but absolute power corrupts absolutely" -- possibly a criticism of James's desire for absolute power -- was not noticed until after Shakespeare had died, and may not even be noticed these days by readers [[JustHereForGodzilla looking for the blood and guts]]. And yet, even considering all this, the play still endures to this day.

Superstitious actors refer to this as "[[TheScottishTrope The Scottish Play]]" (or, occasionally, "The Tartans"). The head role is "The King" or "Mackers" anywhere outside the play itself. And though the script calls for it, sometimes things still happen, though they are usually less injurious. Some of the wackier ones talk about [[UsefulNotes/McDonalds The Scottish Restaurant]].

''Macbeth'' has been adapted into several notable films over the decades by the likes of Creator/OrsonWelles, Creator/AkiraKurosawa, Creator/RomanPolanski, Creator/BelaTarr and recently a 2015 version by Justin Kurzel starring Creator/MichaelFassbender, Creator/MarionCotillard and Creator/DavidThewlis.
!!Notable adaptations:
* An Italian {{Opera}} by Music/GiuseppeVerdi. It was the first of Verdi's three Shakespeare operas, along with ''[[Theatre/{{Othello}} Otello]]'' and ''[[Theatre/TheMerryWivesOfWindsor Falstaff]]'', (the former of which was used to entice him out of retirement).
* The 1936 "voodoo" stage production by the Negro People's Theatre (an all-black unit of the Federal Theatre Project), directed by Creator/OrsonWelles and set in Haiti, was considered one of the best stage productions in history. (A snippet of this production was filmed for the WPA newsreel [[https://archive.org/details/we_work_again_1937 "We Work Again."]])
* Welles also made a film version in 1948, where he played the title role. Bombed due to several changes that critics didn't like, such as transposing scenes and dialogue, dropping the redundant characters of Donalbain and the Third Murderer, inventing a new character (a Christian minister), and actually having the cast speak in Scottish accents. Since Vindicated By History, though it still has some amators among ''Orson Welles'' fans who don't care that much about the changes as long as there is Welles's genius in it.
* Creator/RomanPolanski's 1971 film version, memorable for its explicit violence (allegedly influenced by [[CreatorBreakdown the murder of Polanski's wife and unborn child]] by the UsefulNotes/MansonFamily) and for Lady Macbeth's nude sleepwalking scene (non-explicit). This is notable for being produced by [[Magazine/{{Playboy}} Playboy Productions]], as part of a short-lived attempt to create a mainstream film arm as well as a personal attempt by Polanski's friends to pull him out of depression.
* ''Film/ThroneOfBlood'', Creator/AkiraKurosawa's take on the story, set in feudal Japan. Considered by many to be the best film adaptation of the material.
* ''uMabatha'', a South African adaption, turning Macbeth and King Duncan into Zulu chiefs. Made Peter Ustinov claim that he after having seen it finally truly understood Macbeth.
* ''From a Jack to a King'': Bob Carlton musical, with a lot of Sixties songs.
* It's one of the four adapted-to-modern-times stories from the 2006 BBC mini-series ''Series/ShakespeareReTold''. They changed the setting to a plush Glaswegian restaurant. Duncan is the owner, who carries the laurels off the actual chef, Macbeth (played by Creator/JamesMcAvoy). [=McAvoy=] would later portray the titular character on stage in a 2013 production directed by Jamie Lloyd, and the actor was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award.
* ''Film/ScotlandPA'', a [[BlackComedy dark comedy]] also set in a restaurant, this one in 1970s Pennsylvania.
* ''Mac Homer'', Rick Miller's one-man show, which casts ''[[WesternAnimation/TheSimpsons Simpsons]]'' characters in the roles. While largely following the play's basic story, many liberties, [[BreakingTheFourthWall fourth wall breaks]] and {{lampshade|Hanging}}s unsurprisingly occur for comedic effect.
* A 2006 Australian film starring Sam Worthington, with a SettingUpdate to the [[Series/{{Underbelly}} Melbourne ganglands]]. It sticks to the play fairly well, but adds a few silent scenes, and suggests that Lady Macbeth acted out of grief of a dead child. And she's also a cocaine addict.
* British immersive theatre company Punchdrunk created ''Theatre/{{Sleep No More}}'', a loose adaptation of ''Macbeth'' mixed with elements of Creator/AlfredHitchcock, Creator/StanleyKubrick, and other suspense/noir styles, set in the late 1930s. Audience members are masked and silent as they wander on their own through the massive 100,000-square-foot [=McKittrick=] Hotel and the play and actors move around them. Characters are lifted from The Scottish Play and mingle with new, more Hitch-like characters. One of the more popular theatrical adaptations, with consistently sold-out shows extending the run well past its initial six weeks. It's now been running for six ''years''.
* A 2007 West End stage production with a SettingUpdate to a vaguely Soviet-Russia-[[NoCommunitiesWereHarmed esque]] or AlternateHistory setting, starring Creator/PatrickStewart. Transferred to Broadway in 2008, and adapted into a television production in 2010. Free to watch on http://video.pbs.org/video/1604122998/.
* An audio novelization by A.J. Hartley and David Hewson, narrated by Alan Cumming. It features deep analysis of several characters, portraying both Macbeth and his wife as tragic figures.
* A 2013 stage production for the Manchester International Festival (and later moved to New York) co-directed by and starring Creator/KennethBranagh, with [[Series/DoctorWho Alex Kingston]] as Lady Macbeth and Richard Coyle as Macduff. It was praised for its visceral, immersive atmosphere that placed the audience right in the middle of the action. Creator/MartinScorsese will soon [[http://www.telegraph.co.uk/film/macbeth-stage/martin-scorsese-kenneth-branagh/ direct a documentary]] about the production, which will be restaged at the Second World War Leavesden Aerodrome in Hertfordshire.
* A film adaptation directed by Justin Kurzel and starring Creator/MichaelFassbender and Creator/MarionCotillard, released in October 2015. Filmed on location in the Scottish Highlands, performed with Scottish accents, and uses carefully-researched 11th-century costumes and settings.
!!The play itself provides examples of the following tropes:
%% Zero Context Examples have been commented out. Please write up an actual example before uncommenting.
* AffablyEvil: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are often portrayed as having a loving relationship and are great ones for entertaining their guests.
* AllWitchesHaveCats: One of the witches has a {{Familiar}} named [[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grimalkin Greymalkin]], a name associated with witches' cats.
* AmbiguousDisorder: Macbeth seems to hallucinate at points, like seeing a dagger pointing the way to Duncan's chamber. When he sees the ghost of Banquo and starts addressing it, Lady Macbeth excuses him by saying he's had episodes like this before (The guests are not impressed that their king isn't always right in the head).
* AmbiguousGender: Banquo is unsure what gender the three witches are. Remember that the play was written in a time where only men were allowed to be actors, meaning that the witches were originally played by men pretending to be women, so his line that they have beards is likely an inside joke. In the Orson Welles version, one of them was played by a man.
* AmbiguouslyHuman: The Witches, which seem to have attributes that a normal human would never have.
* AmbitionIsEvil: At least if you have to murder your king for it. What's especially sad is that Macbeth had already gained enormous prestige and rewards for his heroism in putting down the rebellion and invasion from Norway, and the high esteem he was held in by Duncan would have given him tremendous influence even if the king had stayed alive and passed the throne on to Malcolm. At that period in Scottish history the kingship was more adoptive than hereditary, and Macbeth, as a successful general and a lord in his own right, had every reason to suppose that he might be tapped as next in line to the throne. (This is the back-story to the part about "if chance will have me king, then chance may crown me" and the reason he is so shocked when Duncan names his son Malcolm as Prince of Cumberland, i.e. heir to the throne.) In real life, Macbeth drew his support from the more conservative element in the Scots ruling class, who were horrified at the thought that supreme power might become a monopoly of one family. In that sense, he might be seen as the DarkerAndEdgier version of Brutus in Shakespeare's ''Julius Caesar.''
* AnachronismStew: A clock is mentioned centuries before they would have been found in Europe. The same error is found in Theatre/JuliusCaesar.
* AndYourLittleDogToo: Macbeth goes after the families of his numerous enemies. Banquo's son, Fleance, manages to escape, leaving Macbeth in mortal fear of some future revenge on his part... [[WhatHappenedToTheMouse which is never carried out.]]
* AntiVillain: The Macbeths. Before the Witches put the idea of kingship in his head, Macbeth was a very loyal general, and even after his ambition drives him to murder, he feels incredibly guilty about it. For all Lady Macbeth's tough talk about abandoning human kindness in order to commit the murder, she ultimately can't go through with it and her involvement in the deed drives her insane with guilt, leading to the famous sleepwalking scene and eventually her offscreen suicide by jumping off the battlements.
* ArbitrarySkepticism: Witches can predict the future and cast spells, dead men can come back as ghosts, apparitions can rise from cauldrons... but trees can't ''move.'' That would just be silly.
* ArcNumber: 3. Three witches, three murderers, twenty-seven (three cubed) scenes, et cetera.
* AssassinationAttempt: The play revolves around Macbeth's cold murder of King Duncan and the downward spiral Macbeth falls into trying to ensure his continued rule by killing anyone else of political significance.
%%* BearerOfBadNews
* BetterToDieThanBeKilled: Inverted. Macbeth refuses to "play the Roman fool and die on [his] own sword", instead choosing to die in single combat with Macduff.
* BigBad: [[VillainProtagonist Macbeth himself]]. The play is about his murdering his way to the top, culminating in his death. In an unusual twist, he's also the main character. Macduff acts as this in the sense of being the main antagonist, but he's a HeroAntagonist.
* BitchInSheepsClothing: Lady Macbeth encourages Macbeth to be one: "Look like the innocent flower, but be the serpent under it."
* BittersweetEnding: Despite being named a Tragedy (as it details a man being corrupted and descending into evil and ruin), the ending is far more positive than most of Shakespeare's Tragedies, but still quite dark.
* BondOneLiner: "Thou wast born of woman."
* {{Bookends}}: Towards the beginning, Macbeth displays the severed head of the traitor Macdonwald. At the end, his own treasonous head is on display.
* BringIt: This line:
--> '''Macbeth:''' Lay on, Macduff -- and [[DuelToTheDeath damn'd be he who first cries "Hold, enough!"]]
* TheCaligula: Macbeth, supposedly. We never actually ''see'' any evidence of vices from him save for, y'know, all the murder. More clearly, Malcolm describes himself this way to Macduff at first, but then admits that he is nothing of the sort, and he was merely testing Macduff. (Macduff is ''not'' amused.)
* CardCarryingVillain: Lady Macbeth, to the point that she prays for demons to come and [[GenderBender turn her into a man]] out of the belief that it will allow her to be even eviler than she already is.
* ComeToGawk: Invoked, and why Macbeth's willing to fight to death.
%%* ContractOnTheHitman
* CreepyChild: The second and third apparitions take this form.
* TheDarkSideWillMakeYouForget: Specifically, Lady Macbeth ''wants'' to become evil so that she will be able to carry out the murder without remorse. It doesn't work, however -- the guilt drives her insane and eventually [[DrivenToSuicide to suicide]].
* DeathOfAChild: Macduff's entire family is murdered, including his children.
* DecapitationPresentation: Macbeth decapitated Macdonwald (after disemboweling him), then affixes the rebel's head to a Scottish battlement. In [[BookEnds the last scene]], Macduff greets Malcolm with Macbeth's severed head.
* DeceasedFallGuyGambit: Macbeth pins Duncan's murder on a pair of guards, then kills them, supposedly out of grief from just seeing Duncan's body.
* DespairEventHorizon: Macbeth reaches it when he learns of his wife's death, which prompts his DespairSpeech.
* DespairSpeech: The "tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow" monologue.
* DisproportionateRetribution: Mentioned by the first Witch in one of the Witches' first scenes. Supposedly, she once tracked down a sailor at sea and drove him insane by cursing him with permanent insomnia, all because the guy's wife [[EvilIsPetty refused to share some chestnuts with her]].
* DrivenToSuicide: Lady Macbeth. Macbeth, however, rejects suicide and decides to [[DuelToTheDeath fight to the death]].
* DyingForSymbolism: Banquo is more conscientious than Macbeth, and tends to point out what Macbeth ''ought'' to be doing. After Macbeth [[JumpingOffTheSlipperySlope Jumps off the Slippery Slope]], he has Banquo killed; this represents the loss of Macbeth's moral conscience.
* ElectiveMonarchy: In the play, the Scottish kings are elected, which explains why the title character is chosen after Duncan, rather than his son. Reading between the lines, it may be that Duncan incurred some ire from the nobles for making his son heir-apparent while he was living.
* EvenBadMenLoveTheirMamas: GenderInverted. Lady Macbeth mentions that the only reason she doesn't kill Duncan herself is because he looks too much like her dad.
* EvenEvilHasLovedOnes: Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are typically depicted as loving towards one other.
* EvenEvilHasStandards: As Macbeth sinks further into underhanded deeds and cruelty, even the ''witches'' start to regard him as evil. "By the pricking of my thumbs, something wicked this way comes."
* ExactWords: Macduff's family is well at peace. Resting in peace, that is.
* EyeOfNewt: The witches' song features a long list of the ingredients they're boiling in their cauldron to power their spells.
-->'''Second Witch:''' Fillet of a fenny snake/ In the cauldron boil and bake/ Eye of newt and toe of frog/ Wool of bat and tongue of dog/ Adder's fork and blind-worm's sting/ Lizard's leg and owlet's wing/ For a charm of powerful trouble/ Like a hell-broth boil and bubble.
* FaceHeelTurn: Macbeth begins the story as a straight-up hero of the Scottish people, despite seemingly [[{{Foreshadowing}} being a bit bloodthirsty]], and is well-regarded by his peers, feared by his enemies, and highly respected by King Duncan. But his ambition and his subsequent guilt over all the murders he's ordered done to keep his crown [[MurderMakesYouCrazy cause him to go straight-up insane]] towards the end. The play seems to hint that Macbeth knows what he is doing is wrong and wants to stop, but once he's murdered the king, there is simply no way but forward since he is going to burn in hell anyways.
* {{Fainting}}: Lady Macbeth fakes a faint when Duncan's murder is discovered.
** More specifically, she does it when Macbeth almost [[SayingTooMuch says too much]] regarding his murder of the king's guards. The fainting was likely a ploy to draw attention away from her husband's actions.
%%* FallenHero: Macbeth.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Duncan mentions that the treacherous Thane of Cawdor who had just been executed for treason in Act I, Scene 4 "was a gentleman on whom I built an absolute trust." Duncan also trusts the new Thane of Cawdor -- Macbeth -- implicitly, and Macbeth, just like the old Thane, betrays him and ends up dying in battle with loyalist forces.
* GirlsWithMoustaches: The Weird Sisters are bearded, according to Banquo.
* TheGoodKing: There's no indication that Duncan was a bad king.
* GreaterScopeVillain: The witches are this to Macbeth, as their SelfFulfillingProphecy leads to Macbeth's FaceHeelTurn. Hecate is also this to the witches, being their superior that makes them deliver their second round of prophecies.
* GuttedLikeAFish: "Till he unseamed him from the nave to th' chops" is how a character in an early scene describes how Macbeth killed a rebel. In other words, Macbeth stuck a sword in the guy's belly and sliced up to his chin.
* HappilyMarried
** We never see Macduff and his wife in a scene together, but they seem to be this, despite her complaints about his leaving her behind. He's certainly devastated when she's killed, along with their children.
** Despite their horrific deeds, Macbeth and Lady Macbeth are very much in love with each other. Critic Harold Bloom points out that it's the ''only'' happy marriage in Shakespeare among protagonists.
* HealingHands: King Edward is said to be able to cure diseases.
* HenpeckedHusband: Macbeth. His wife loses her hold on him, however, after Duncan's murder.
* HeroAntagonist: Macduff and Malcolm, fighting the good fight against VillainProtagonist Macbeth.
* HeroicSelfDeprecation: Malcolm fears that he would become lustful, greedy for his subjects' land and money, and that he would make a poor king because he appears to lack the necessary royal virtues. After Macduff reminds him of the virtuous character of Duncan and his mother, he reveals that this was a SecretTestOfCharacter to Macduff, who had felt guilty about leaving his wife and son behind to be slaughtered.
* HeWillNotCrySoICryForHim: Malcolm attempts this to Seward. Seward stops him.
* HistoricalVillainUpgrade: The actual historical figure Macbeth is based on killed Duncan fairly on the field of battle (after Duncan invaded his lands), then proceeded to rule with little resistance for 17 years and was generally celebrated as a generous and decent king. However, James I, whom Shakespeare was no doubt aiming to please, was descended from the guy who overthrew him, ''[[WrittenByTheWinners sooooo...]]''
* HorribleJudgeOfCharacter: Duncan, who holds Macbeth in high esteem, makes him Thane of Cawdor, and goes to stay in his castle. Bad move.
* HourglassPlot: Twofold:
** At the start of the play, the original Thane of Cawdor, who has turned traitor, is put to death for treason, and is redeemed by his bravery in death. At the end of the play, Macbeth, who had become the new Thane of Cawdor, has the same fate.
** Initially, Macbeth shows more scruples/hesitancy to kill Duncan than does his wife, and she pushes him into doing it. Afterward, however, while Lady Macbeth goes increasingly mad from guilt, Macbeth's reaction to guilt is to seemingly lose all emotion and scruples and he far surpasses his wife in villainy.
* HumanResources: The potion in Act IV includes some.
* IgnoredEpiphany: Macbeth [[HeelRealization realizes]] several times, most prominently after the feast, the wrongness of what he's done and that he has a chance to turn back. He doesn't.
* IHaveComeTooFar: "I am in blood / Stepped in so far that, should I wade no more, / Returning were as tedious as go o'er"
* TheInsomniac: "Glamis hath murdered sleep, and there Cawdor/Shall sleep no more, Macbeth shall sleep no more!"
* ItGetsEasier: Macbeth feels a lot more guilty about murdering Duncan than about any of his later crimes.
* ItsPersonal: Macduff learns that his wife, kids, and servants are all murdered.
* ItWasHereISwear: Banquo's ghost. It doesn't help his case that Macbeth's the only one who can see the ghost anyway.
* IWillFightSomeMoreForever: As befitting an ex-soldier. This is Macbeth's [[FamousLastWords last line]] to Macduff, even though he's re-interpreted the prophecy and already knows he's screwed.
* KarmaHoudini: The Murderers who do in Banquo and Macduff's family subsequently disappear from the story without receiving any comeuppance.
* KickTheDog: The witches have a lengthy discussion of all the petty, cruel things they've been doing in their free time.
* KlingonPromotion: How Macbeth becomes thane of Cawdor, and later king.
* LadyMacbeth: Um, [[TropeNamer duh]]. Macbeth is keen on becoming king from the beginning, but it is his wife who persuades him to murder Duncan.
* LastNameBasis: Lady Macbeth's first name is never stated. This may be because the historical Lady Macbeth had what most non-Scots would consider to be an EmbarrassingFirstName -- Gruoch.
* LastVillainStand: Macbeth has an extremely famous one.
* LeaveNoWitnesses: Banquo, who was unlucky enough to be present at the witches' citation.
* TheLoinsSleepTonight: The Porter's scene is chock-full of this stuff. (Hey, this ''was'' written by Shakespeare, master of the DoubleEntendre.)
* LonelyAtTheTop: Once the Macbeths rule Scotland, there's no-one beside them (since Macbeth murdered his friend Banquo to avert a prophecy that Banquo's descendants would be kings) and their underlings are suspicious of them.
* LouisCypher: Macbeth's servant is named Seyton -- sometimes pronounced like [[{{Satan}} you-know-who]]. Though whether he's actually a diabolical figure or just has an {{Unfortunate Name|s}} is [[EpilepticTrees open to debate]].
* TheLowMiddleAges: Technically set in this era. [[note]]By a very slim margin: the historical Macbeth ruled during the 1050s.[[/note]]
%%* By [[MagpiesAsPortents Maggotpies]] and [[CrowsAndRavens Choughs and Rooks]]: Act 3, scene 4, line 126.
* MagicCauldron: The three witches use a cauldron for their magic. Quite a few subsequent depictions of witches' cauldrons likely stem from this.
* TheManBehindTheMan: Macbeth wouldn't have gone so far without the encouragement of his wife. This is taken UpToEleven as Macbeth was spurred on by the witches, who in turn work for Hecate.
%%* ManipulativeBastard: Macbeth. Also, LadyMacbeth is the Manipulative Bitch.
* ManlyTears: Macduff, after learning of the death of his children, reprimands Malcolm for suggesting that real men don't cry.
-->'''Malcolm:''' Dispute it like a man.\\
'''Macduff:''' I shall do so; / but I must also feel it as a man: / I cannot but remember such things were, / that were most precious to me.
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane: It's up to the director to decide whether to actually show Banquo's ghost or the blood on Lady Macbeth's hands.
* MedicalMonarch: In England, while Malcolm is taking refuge there, King Edward is touching for the King's Evil off-stage -- thus providing a {{Foil}} to Macbeth's less humane and efficacious kingship.
* MobileShrubbery: "Birnam Wood to Dunsinane." The soldiers attacking Macbeth's castle disguise themselves as trees.
* MoodWhiplash: Between the scene in which Duncan is murdered and the scene where his body is found, we're treated to an interlude involving a drunk doorman complaining about [[TheLoinsSleepTonight how he can't get an erection]] when liquored up.
** In his famous essay "On the Knocking at the Gate in ''Macbeth''", Thomas De Quincey argues that MoodWhiplash is the ''entire point'' of this interlude, commencing of course with the loud knocking from offstage; its effect is to increase the horror of what the Macbeths have done by abruptly throwing us back ''out'' of the horror and into more mundane concerns.
* MoreDeadlyThanTheMale: Lady Macbeth is the one who inspires her husband to actively kill for power. She's such a shining example of this trope that she named [[LadyMacbeth a subtrope of it].
* MurderIsTheBestSolution: A ham-fisted murder coverup quickly turns into a bloodbath as Macbeth targets his potential rivals. He's got a big field to go after, too.
* MushroomSamba: Macbeth initially tries to explain away their encounter with the witches as this, before concluding it must indeed have been real.
* MyGodWhatHaveIDone: Lady Macbeth in the sleepwalking scene.
* NeverOneMurder: Explored from Macbeth's perspective as the body count rises.
* NietzscheWannabe: Macbeth becomes this when he realizes that Birnam Wood has indeed come to Dunisaine, concluding that life is "a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."
* NiceJobBreakingItHerod: The murderers successfully kill Banquo, but Fleance escapes, which makes the Witches' prophecy to Banquo that "he shall get kings, though thou be none" more ominous when Macbeth asks if Banquo's descendants will ever reign, followed by a train of ghosts whose appearances resemble Banquo's future descendants.
* NoManOfWomanBorn: The witches tell Macbeth that no man of woman born can kill him. Macbeth drops this knowledge on Macduff before their fight, only for Macduff to drop the bomb:
--> And let the angel whom thou still hast served\\
Tell thee, Macduff was from his motherís womb\\
Untimely ripped.[[note]]In layman's terms, it means he was born via Cesarean.[[/note]]
* NoPronunciationGuide: Seyton's name is actually pronounced "See-tin" not like the way the Devil's name is pronounced.
* OminousFog: "Fair is foul, and foul is fair/Hover through the fog and filthy air." The play opens on the creepy, fog-bound moors of Scotland, where Macbeth and Banquo meet the witches after defeating the Thane of Cawdor's rebellion.
* OmniscientCouncilOfVagueness: The Three Witches. They observe everything in the play, but "only" interact by delivering prophecies.
* OnlyInItForTheMoney: One of the assassins hired by Macbeth notes that they shouldn't doubt the orders they're given as long as they get paid.
* OutDamnedSpot: The famous sleepwalking scene, where Lady Macbeth, guilt-ridden over Duncan's death, dreams that she has a bloodstain on her hand that she cannot get out by any means.
* PapaWolf: A variation; Macduff is unable to protect his family (because he was elsewhere when they were murdered), so avenging their slaughter becomes his motivation against Macbeth.
* PetRat: The murderers Macbeth hires to kill Banquo.
* PetTheDog: Lady Macbeth's kind treatment of an exhausted servant who serves as an envoy contrasts with the following scene of her wishing her best nature destroyed so she can properly vie ruthlessly for Macbeth's rise to the throne.
* {{Pride}}: Like a lot of Shakespeare's tragedy protagonists, Macbeth has this as a major failing.
* ProperlyParanoid: The survivors flee to England to marshal forces against Macbeth, just as he feared.
* ProphecyArmor: Macbeth believes he has this near the end, thanks to the witches' prophecy that "none of woman born shall harm Macbeth". In the final battle, even though the odds seem to stand greatly against him, Macbeth takes courage from the fact that he still cannot be defeated by anyone "born of woman", and warns his opponents to attack him because (he thinks) he is unkillable. This assumption proves to be wrong with Macduff, [[NoManOfWomanBorn who was delivered by Caesarean section]].
-->''Let fall thy blade on vulnerable crests:\\
I bear a charmed life, which must not yield\\
To one of woman born.''
* ProphecyTwist: The witches have nasty surprises for Macbeth. No man of woman born can kill him -- but Macduff was born by C-section. He can't be defeated until Birnam Wood comes to Dunsinane -- but it sure looks like that happens when soldiers dress as trees (using branches chopped in Birnam Wood) to hide their numbers.
* ProtagonistJourneyToVillain: Macbeth's journey from war hero to psychopathic tyrant king is one of the most famous examples of this trope ever.
* ProtagonistTitle: As is standard for a Shakespeare tragedy.
* ThePurge: Averted in that Macbeth fails to prevent Duncan's sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, from getting away, which comes back to bite him; however, as he slips into madness and paranoia, he starts ordering that more of his enemies and their families (including children) be murdered -- which also comes back to bite him, as it sets Macduff off on a RoaringRampageOfRevenge. Damned if you do, damned if you don't -- and Macbeth is certainly damned.
* ARealManIsAKiller: Lady Macbeth makes this point to convince her husband to murder the king, but the rest of the play can be seen as a massive deconstruction of this trope. Also played straight in Act I Scene ii, where a minor character recites Macbeth's bloodthirsty feats of arms to universal applause. "Unseamed him from the nave to the chaps and fixed his head upon our battlements" comes pretty close to LudicrousGibs.
* RememberTheNewGuy: The Third Murderer, who appears out of nowhere -- Macbeth charges two Murderers with killing Banquo and Fleance, but when the time comes three show up. Given that the Third Murderer is of no importance, this is probably a continuity error due to textual corruption. Even the other murderers act this way, asking, "But who did bid thee join with us?"
* RightfulKingReturns: Malcolm back from England to take the throne.
* RippedFromTheHeadlines: The ''Tiger'', wracked at sea "Sennights nine times nine", was based off the story of a ship called the ''Tiger's Whelp''. This ship had disappeared at sea and been presumed lost in 1604, but returned to port five hundred sixty-seven days later.
* RoaringRampageOfRevenge: Suffice it to say that Macduff does not take the [[RelativeButton murder of his family well.]]
* RuleOfThree: The witches total three, chant in threes, and spin around in circles ('winding up' their spells, so to speak, like a clock) three times.
* SacredHospitality: Macbeth worries about killing Duncan while he is a guest in Macbeth's castle.
-->He's here in double trust:\\
First, as I am his kinsman and his subject,\\
Strong both against the deed; then, as his host,\\
Who should against his murderer shut the door,\\
Not bear the knife myself.
* SanitySlippage: An archetypal example, as gnawing guilt drives the Macbeths crazier and crazier as the story progresses. Lady Macbeth also suffers this, as she starts to have visual and aural hallucinations and eventually kills herself.
* SecretTestOfCharacter: When Macduff finds Malcolm, Malcolm claims to be a lustful, greedy son of a bitch completely unfit to rule and then asks if Macduff will still restore him to the throne. Horrified, Macduff refuses, and then Malcolm explains it was a test and he's actually PurityPersonified, and knowing Macduff has scruples means he can join the righteous cause of toppling Macbeth.
* {{Seers}}: The Witches appear to have powers like this, as they predict various things set to happen to Macbeth.
* SelfFulfillingProphecy: The witches do this a lot, to the point where critics are not sure whether they actually predict the future or are just [[ManipulativeBastard Manipulative Bitches]] using a BatmanGambit by telling people what they need to hear for these futures to come about.
** The prophecy that Macbeth would become king put the idea of kingship into Macbeth's head -- enough so that when he is told that the heir will be someone else (Malcolm), he decides to take matters into his own hands by assassinating Duncan, which makes him king.
** Macbeth is told to "beware Macduff". If he hadn't heard that, he wouldn't have thought Macduff was a threat, decided to kill Macduff's whole family, pissed Macduff enough to join a rebellion against him, and found out that Macduff, being born by C-section, was an exception to the prophecy that 'none of woman born' would kill Macbeth.
* ShoutOut: Macbeth disdains the idea of acting like a "Roman fool" who "dies on my own sword," as Brutus does in Shakespeare's own Theatre/JuliusCaesar.
* ShutUpHannibal: Macduff delivers one to Macbeth during their climactic fight.
* SlainInTheirSleep: The assassination of Duncan.
* TheStarscream: An UnbuiltTrope variant. After Macbeth successfully usurps King Duncan and claims the throne, he descends into paranoia and [[HeKnowsTooMuch kills off anyone else that remotely seems to be a threat to him]]. [[spoiler:He himself is overthrown by Macduff, [[RoaringRampageOfRevenge whose family was murdered by Macbeth]].]]
* StartOfDarkness: The beginning of Act II, when Macbeth murders King Duncan.
* StuffedInTheFridge: Lady Macduff is murdered along with her son, which is what properly motivates Macduff to go after Macbeth.
* SuccessionCrisis: Shakespeare's intent was to show why you should ''always'' follow proper succession laws, otherwise look what happened in Scotland! A guy who wasn't related to the king was appointed heir and ended up murdering everybody to get ahead. Obviously, this subtext was particularly relevant to Shakespeare's patron, King James I. That said, some scholars[[labelnote: *]]''cf. the intro to the Bedford Shakespeare series''[[/labelnote]] speculate it was the other way around: Shakespeare was subtly attacking the idea of divine succession and sowing the seeds for the English Commonwealth in peoples' minds. Since the guy's been dead for four hundred years, the "true" answer isn't likely to be forthcoming.
* SuperOCD: Freud compared Lady Macbeth's obsession with bloodstains with mysophobia, a typical trait of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.
* SymbolicBlood: Macbeth is drenched in symbolic blood, like the blood on the floating dagger and the blood on Lady Macbeth's hands.
* ThereIsNoKillLikeOverkill: Banquo gets his [[SlashedThroat throat slashed]] and receives "twenty trenched gashes on his head" before being thrown in a ditch to rot. To say that he was murdered is an understatement.
* ThisCannotBe: How Macbeth usually reacts to the Prophecy Twists.
* UngratefulBastard: Macbeth, as Duncan rewards him for his heroism by giving him the lands and titles of Macdonwald, the rebellious thane who tried to help King Sweno of Norway conquer Scotland. He'd have probably been more than happy with this if the witches hadn't inflamed Macbeth and his wife's ambitions.
* UnholyMatrimony: Macbeth and his lady manage to be both this and HappilyMarried.
* VeryLooselyBasedOnATrueStory: Shakespeare changed lots of historical details in order to please the newly crowned King James, who believed himself to be a descendant of Banquo, a friend of and probable co-conspirator with Macbeth that Macbeth eventually killed. [[HistoricalVillainUpgrade The character of Macbeth himself was also changed dramatically]]. In reality, Donnchad (Duncan) failed badly at invading part of England, and so decided to pillage Mac Bethad's (Macbeth's) territory. Mac Bethad defeated him in battle, Donnchad dying, and Mac Bethad became king. He proceeded to rule for the best part of two decades and evidently felt pretty secure in his position, since it's documented that he took several months off to go to Rome and get personally blessed by the pope. The time frame of Shakespeare's play isn't entirely clear, but seems to be quite a bit shorter than the seventeen years of Mac Bethad's historical reign.
* VillainProtagonist: Macbeth himself. He murders his way to the top, and becomes a tyrant ruling with an iron fist over Scotland, killing anyone who could possibly get in his way, suffering SanitySlippage all the while. He is also without a doubt the protagonist of the play.
* VillainousBreakdown:
** Macbeth has one when he hears Lady Macbeth has died. "Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day..."
** Lady Macbeth has her own breakdown out of guilt for her actions, resulting in her becoming so unhinged that she starts sleepwalking and sleeptalking, bemoaning her crimes and trying to get an imaginary spot of blood off her hands.
* VillainousBSOD: Well, sort of. Macbeth's brain sort of breaks for a while after he kills Duncan.
* VillainousValour: Macbeth, at the end. Having spent the latter half of the play convinced nobody can kill him, all the omens of his doom are before him and he loses his courage. Then, realizing he'll be captured and humiliated, he resolves to go down fighting, and does.
* TheWeirdSisters:
** Macbeth's descent into villainy is triggered by his encounter with three old and freakishly ugly witches who predict that he is destined to be king of Scotland, which prompts Macbeth to murder King Duncan. In act IV, Macbeth seeks out the witches again and receives three more prophecies which lull him into a false sense of security. While the witches manipulate Macbeth, their prophecies are truthful, just worded in ways apt to be misinterpreted by Macbeth, and they do not interfere with fate directly.
** There are also three more witches who form the company of Heccat (Hecate), and who do not have any speaking lines.
* WhatHappenedToTheMouse:
** So Donalbain just stayed in Ireland, then?
*** Malcolm's last speech makes a reference to "calling home our exiled friends", which likely included his brother.
** Banquo's son, Fleance, simply flees from some murderers and never returns despite the claim of the witches that his father's descendants would rule. Although this was undoubtedly meant as a reference to King James (as he was supposedly a descendant of Banquo), there is no resolution whatsoever in the context of the play.
* WhyDidItHaveToBeSnakes: Macbeth mentions that he could face a tiger without fear, but seeing Banquo's ghost is too much for him.
* WorthyOpponent: Banquo is killed not only because of what he knows but because Macbeth ''respects him so highly''; in fact, he is the one man Macbeth is intimidated by. So of course, Banquo has to go.
* WouldHurtAChild: Lady Macbeth claims she would kill her baby child if she had sworn to. Later Macbeth has no qualms about sending his murderers to kill Macduff's children.
* WrittenByTheWinners: Or written to appeal to a descendant of the winners, to be more precise; Duncan was an ancestor of King James, and portraying him in a historically accurate way might have upset King James; he was in fact an ineffective ruler who died in an unsuccessful attack on Macbeth.

!!Particular productions and adaptations provide examples of:

* AdaptationExpansion:
** The 1948 adds more scenes for the witches to increase their significance. Notably they appear at the very end of the film to watch the carnage.
** The 2006 version suggests that Lady Macbeth lost a child and is partly motivated by that.
* AdaptationalAttractiveness: Traditionally, the Witches are repulsive old hags, whose status as women (or even ''humans'') is questioned at least once. The 2006 Australian version chucks that out the window and turns them into sexy young Wiccan girls who gladly make out and even have a squicky ''four way'' with Macbeth. They're still really creepy, though.
* AdaptationalNationality: The 2015 version changes Lady Macbeth to a French woman, in order to accommodate actress Creator/MarionCotillard. Scotland has had a few French queen consorts, making this plausible from a historical point of view.
* AdaptationalVillainy:
** Hecate, in Welles's "Voodoo Macbeth", was given a much-expanded role. [[GenderFlip He]] was given dialogue and scenes from several minor characters, transforming him into an Iago-esque villain, manipulating the other characters to his own sinister ends.
** Ross in the Polanski film, an AscendedExtra who becomes the Third Murderer and is instrumental in the murder of Macduff's family, [[KarmaHoudini but gets off scot-free]] when he defects to Malcolm.
** The Porter in the Patrick Stewart version. A mere comic relief character in the original play, here, he's just as creepy as the witches, and even helps Macbeth murder Macduff's family.
* AdaptedOut: Donalbain is cut from the 1948 film.
* AgeLift:
** The Witches in the 2006 version. Instead of old hags, they're depicted as a trio of sexy young ladies. It somehow manages to be more creepy than titillating, considering the fact that they're ''still'' AmbiguouslyHuman.
** When Patrick Stewart played the role in 2007, the portrayal of the character was changed into that of an aging general with a young trophy wife, rather than the vigorous thirty-something (sometimes forty-something) warrior he is portrayed as in most film and stage productions of the last century.
* BadassMustache: In keeping with the pseudo-Soviet style of the adaptation, Patrick Stewart's Macbeth sports one that would make [[UsefulNotes/JosephStalin Stalin]] proud.
* BeardOfEvil: In Roman Polanski's film, Macbeth starts as a baby-faced young Thane, and as his murderous intentions grow, so does his beard.
* BloodierAndGorier: Roman Polanski's version was infamous for the violence and gore it contained.
* {{Bowdlerization}}: The 1948 film had to censor the double entendres in the Porter's speech at the behest of the Hays Code.
* CanonForeigner: The 2015 adds two witches (a child and an infant), a child soldier who Macbeth gets attached to (and who dies during the battle against Macdonwald), and a child for the Macbeths (who died prior to the events of the movie).
* CoitusEnsues: In the 2006 film, out of nowhere, Macbeth ends up having a foursome with the witches while they discuss about his future.
* CombatPragmatist:
** The 1990s adaptation ''Macbeth On The Estate'' turns Macduff into this. He goads Macbeth into charging him, then pulls out a gun. Given the setting, a gun would be hard to obtain, but when taking revenge for your murdered family...
** The 2006 version from Australia turns the final fight between Macduff and Macbeth into this. After their guns run out, they go at it with knives, fists, wine bottles, broken glass, and more.
** The 2007 production starring Creator/PatrickStewart takes a page from the ''Film/RaidersOfTheLostArk'' book in Macbeth's fight with Young Seward:
--->'''Young Seward:''' With my blade, I'll prove the lie thou speakest!\\
''(Macbeth pulls out a pistol and shoots him dead)''
** The 2010 movie gave Macduff's army camouflage suits, in comparison to the {{Badass Longcoat}}s of Macbeth's men. Though, they do not travel through any forest despite the lines about trees moving.
* CompositeCharacter: In some productions, the mysterious third murderer is another previously established character in service to Macbeth, charged with being a ''spy'' on the first two. The idea adds more depth to the idea that Macbeth is pretty paranoid at this point. Sometimes it's even Macbeth himself.
* CreepyChild: The 2011 Royal Shakespeare Company production changed the Weird Sisters into three eerie children -- two boys and one girl. This made the Act IV prophecy scene especially creepy; the three played with dolls as they gave their predictions.
* CrossCastRole: In the 1948 film, one of the witches is played by Brainerd Duffield, a man, and Orson Welles's daughter played Macduff's son.
* DeathByAdaptation:
** In the 1971 version, the murderers who kill Banquo are drowned by Ross (the Third Murderer) for failing to kill Fleance. Thus, different murderers kill Macduff's family.
** In the 2006 version, the murderers of Banquo and Macduff's family; there's a silent scene where Macduff and Malcolm kill them before attacking Macbeth.
** The 2007 version has Seyton killed by Malolm's forces in the final battle
** In the 2010 film, the witches kills the Sergeant.
** In the 2013 Globe version, the Third Murderer kills the first two after they've mortally wounded Banquo, and then finishes Banquo off.
* DemotedToExtra: Most of Duncan's scenes are cut from the 1948 film.
* DownerEnding:
** The 1971 adaptation adds a silent epilogue (sometimes tacked onto the play) in which [[spoiler:Donalbain goes to the witches' hut, presumably to do exactly what Macbeth did.]] It is deeply unsettling.[[note]] Interestingly, though, it may be TruthInTelevision: the Wiki/{{Wikipedia}} article for "Donald III of Scotland" mentions that he took the throne after his brother's death, usurping his brother's sons, and may have invaded Scotland to do so -- the historical record isn't clear -- and killed one of them who tried to regain power.[[/note]] Though it could also be argued that [[spoiler: he [[DeathByAdaptation kills the witches]] for their role in his father's death]], since he obviously knows of them now.
** The 2006 Australian version has Fleance, who Banquo tried to keep out of the gang warfare, sneaking into the attack on Macbeth's home, even killing a maid in a StartOfDarkness.
** The 2015 film foreshadows a future conflict by ending with Fleance coming across Macbeth's body on the battlefield and taking his sword, intercut with the newly-crowned Malcolm looking unsettled.
* DraggedOffToHell: The 2007 version has a scene after the credits showing Macbeth and his wife in a descending elevator symbolizing their souls going to hell
* DramaticThunder: The Welles adaptation leans on this trope pretty hard for the scene in which Macbeth murders Duncan.
* ElectiveMonarchy: The 1971 film version goes further than the play by actually showing Macbeth's election, which involves a special ceremony.
* ExpositoryHairstyleChange: For Roman Polanski's film, Lady Macbeth's hair starts out being done very simply. After Duncan is murdered and Macbeth becomes king, it's styled much more elaborately. But for the "out, damned spot" scene, it's completely down.
* FanSequel: Author Noah Lukeman's play ''[[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Tragedy_of_Macbeth_Part_II The Tragedy of Macbeth Part II: Seed of Banquo]]'' continues the story about ten years after the original's conclusion, following Malcolm's reign as king, his marriage to Macbeth's daughter, and his eventual downfall at the hands of a vengeful Fleance.
* GetItOverWith:
** Twice in the 2015 film, forming BookEnds. In the opening battle scene the Thane of Cawdor sees Macbeth on the battlefield and sort of just gives up and allows Macbeth to whack off his head. At the end, after Macduff drops the "from my mother's wound untimely ripp'd" bomb, Macbeth goes right up to him and embraces him while delivering the "Lay on, Macduff" line, allowing Macduff to finish him off with a few gut-stabs.
** In the 2007 version when Macbeth almost kills Macduff he sees the witches and simply says "It's over." before giving up and letting Macduff kill him.
* GoryDiscretionShot: Averted in the Polanski film; we see Macbeth stabbing Duncan several times.
* HeelFaceDoorSlam: In the 1971 film Macbeth hesitates before killing Duncan, and in fact looks as if he's going to turn away. Then Duncan wakes up, seeing Macbeth standing over him with a sword. So he goes ahead and kills him.
* HitlerCam: One of Orson Welles' favorite tropes, which he used in the 1948 film to film the scene where Macbeth is raging after the murderers tell him that Fleance got away.
* IdenticalStranger:
** Orson Welles's film had the witches appearing as other characters - The First Murderer, Gentlewoman and Lady Macduff respectively.
** A couple of productions have had Hecate played by the same actress as Lady Macbeth, adding a new layer of subtext.
* InTheBack: Banquo meets his end this way in the 1971 film.
* LightFeminineAndDarkFeminine: In the 1948 film Lady Macduff is clad in white with blonde hair (light feminine) while Lady Macbeth is dark haired and wearing darker colours (dark feminine).
* LightIsNotGood: Francesca Annis in Roman Polanski's film has blonde hair and frequently appears in white dresses. Yes she's playing LadyMacbeth.
* MaybeMagicMaybeMundane:
** The 1983 BBC production made for television did not show Banquo's ghost, instead all we saw was an empty chair. Likewise, for the apparitions all we saw Macbeth's reaction making it all seem like Macbeth going insane. However, the prophecy involving Birnam Wood, no man of woman born and all that still comes true as the text dictates it must.
** The 1978 filmed staged production featuring Creator/IanMckellen in the title role did much of the same. The witches are portrayed as charlatans taking advantage of a man's superstitious belief in something as dated as fate and have an OhCrap moment when Macbeth asks them to show him if Banquo's issue will ever reign in Scotland.
* MoreDeadlyThanTheMale: The 1948 film implies that Lady Macbeth already fatally stabbed Duncan before Macbeth attacked him.
* NotEvenBotheringWithTheAccent: In the 1948 version, Macduff's son speaks with an American accent when the others do Scottish.
* RuleOfSymbolism: Orson Welles inserted a Holy Man character into his film to illustrate a struggle between new religion and old religion (represented by the witches, who are portrayed like Celtic druids).
* SceneryPorn: The 2015 film takes advantage of filming in Scotland, with many shots spent just highlighting the gorgeous landscape.
* SettingUpdate: Very popular for this particular play, with the kingdom usually replaced with either a business or an organised crime syndicate. The fun part is seeing what the Witches are changed to (practitioners of Wicca, Gothic schoolgirls, Japanese forest spirit, black garbage collectors, nurses/organ poachers...).
* ShellShockedVeteran: The 2015 film portrays Macbeth as suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, which gives a new context to his visions.
* ShooOutTheClowns: The 2015 film cuts everything related to comic relief, including the porter at the gate and large chunks of the Witches' dialogue.
* SinisterSilhouettes: Orson Welles's film depicts the witches this way. Their faces are never seen, kept only in shadow with their long grey hair visible.
* ThoseTwoGuys: Many productions put Ross and Lennox together as this. Some productions in which Ross is given more presence play Lennox and Angus as this.
* VomitIndiscretionShot: In the 2015 film Macduff upchucks outside of Duncan's tent after going inside and discovering that the king has been murdered.
* VoodooDoll: The 1948 film has the witches creating one of Macbeth at the start.
* YoungerAndHipper: Roman Polanski chose to make his leads in their twenties, feeling that older characters wouldn't be as ambitious.