* AdaptationDisplacement: though Shakespeare's play is the most famous version of the story, variations on it existed prior to said play. See also OlderThanTheyThink below.
* AlternativeCharacterInterpretation:
** Academics and tropers are split over the play. Either Romeo and Juliet were in love, but died due to rushing into things and a lot of bad luck, or Romeo just wanted to get into bed with her, or Juliet was looking for a way out of marrying someone she doesn't like and out of her controlling family and Romeo happened to be that way. As far as most of the modern audience is concerned, it's the first one.
** It could also be argued that what Romeo and Juliet thought was true love was in fact just romantic infatuation intensified by ForbiddenFruit.
** Friar Lawrence. Is he a kindly man of God, trying his best to help the two lovers live happily ever after? Or a ManipulativeBastard who knows full well how dangerous his plans are, but wants peace in his city and is willing to risk two children's lives for the greater good?
** Tybalt is the closest thing the story has to a main antagonist, but in the Zeffirelli version, when his friends drag him away from his fight with Mercutio, you can see clear shock on his face as he realizes he has actually stabbed Mercutio, suggesting that [[JerkassFacade most of his villainy was nothing more than posturing]] and that he never meant to really hurt anyone.
** Paris can vary in characterization depending on how the production presents him. Some will show him as a {{Jerkass}} to justify Juliet fleeing her proposal, while others could show him just as yet another victim in the feud. Notably his role in the play is to be an obstacle preventing the lovers from being together, yet not out of any maliciousness of his own.
* BigLippedAlligatorMoment: Mercutio spouting gibberish at the beginning of Act 3, scene 1 in the Franco Zeffirelli version.
* ClicheStorm: Even ''when it was written'', the story had been told in various other forms.
* CriticalResearchFailure: Not in the work itself, but the countless derivatives and parodies often assume "wherefore" means "where", when in actuality it means "why".
* DracoInLeatherPants: Tybalt sometimes receives this treatment. Especially when he's portrayed by a sufficiently attractive or charismatic actor. In the Zeffirelli version, he's played by a young Michael York. Creator/AlanRickman has also played the role. In the 1996 version, almost literally, as he's dressed in tight-fitting black pants, with sharply tailored jackets and... very tight vest tops.
* EnsembleDarkhorse: Several.
** Mercutio, who has all the good lines in the early part of the play, making it more jolting when he's killed.
** Arguably, Benvolio too, who seems to have found some standing amongst young people who value sanity over romance.
** On a similar note, the Friar. In his first appearance, he scolds Romeo for falling for a girl he just met, while completely forgetting about the girl he was talking about two days ago. In his next appearance, he [[QuitYourWhining calls out]] Romeo for [[{{Wangst}} whining]], and tells him to suck it up and look on the bright side.
** The Nurse is also a well-liked character with some great lines. Doubly so if the actress playing her is a LargeHam. Back in the Golden Age of Hollywood, Edna May Oliver turned down a chance to star in ''Show Boat'' just to play the Nurse in a film.
** Rosaline gets a lot of focus in academic circles and various adaptions/expansions of the story, especially for a character that doesn't even appear in person and is only mentioned a handful of times. Like Benvolio this is partly because a lot of the more sensible fans latch onto her and find her an interesting foil to Juliet.
* {{Fanon}}:
** Mercutio is CampGay
** Rosaline is - along with Benvolio - one of the [[OnlySaneMan only sane characters]] in the play and made the right choice in rejecting Romeo's advances. Everyone else is either feuding or eloping.
** Strangely for such a minor character, both fanfictions and published adaptations have portrayed Valentine as an agoraphobic recluse, both to justify his absence at the Capulet party and make him a [[SiblingYinYang counterpoint]] to Mercutio.
** Another common interpretation is that Mercutio is the unworthy heir to Prince Escalus and was raised by him.
* FanPreferredCouple: Benvolio/Rosaline is easily the biggest ship even though the two never interacted throughout the play. It has spawned numerous unofficial spin-offs, including: Prince of Shadows, Still Star-Crossed, Rosaline's Ex, After Juliet. Benvolio/Mercutio follows closely behind despite never really being implied in the text. Mercutio/Romeo also has a fanbase because of their HoYay, but Romeo being infatuated with Juliet puts a stopper on this popularity.
* FoeYay:
** Between Romeo and Tybalt. "The reason that I have to love thee," indeed...
** While evidence in the original text is scarce, many adaptations portray Tybalt and Mercutio this way, often with sexual taunting, sometimes with a TakeThatKiss, and once in a film from Quebec, even a BDSM sex scene that leads to Mercutio's death.
* HilariousInHindsight: One of Juliet's lines in Act 2, Scene 2 is "Dost thou love me? I know thou wilt say 'ay'." Read this with knowledge of a conversation in ''VideoGame/DragonQuestI'', in which the princess also asks "Dost thou love me?" and serves as the TropeNamer for ButThouMust.
* HoYay: Mercutio/Romeo, Mercutio/Benvolio.
* ItWasHisSled: The titular couple die at the end. This play is more this trope than the TropeNamer, being OlderThanPrint
* IdiotPlot: Mercutio, Tybalt, Romeo, Capulet, Juliet, Balthazar and Paris make some ''very'' bad decisions in this play. It might actually be more convenient to list the characters who ''aren't'' TooDumbToLive.
* IronWoobie: The Nurse. Despite having lost her husband, daughter, surrogate daughter and very close kinsman, she is possibly the least {{angst}}y character in the play. Her Woobie status is even bigger in the original tale, where she gets banished after the death of the lovers.
* MemeticMutation: "Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow." This line is widely used and quoted to express a pair of lovers have to leave each other.
* MisaimedFandom: A ridiculous number of people with bad reading comprehension skills (or that haven't actually read the play) [[CompletelyMissingThePoint think that this is the way to have a relationship,]] ignoring the fact that the couple ''dies'' at the end. On the other hand, there's people who assume it's not actually a love story and that Romeo and Juliet are just stupid teenagers who should have listened to their parents, even though those parents are too busy being locked in a completely pointless feud to really do any sort of parenting (which is a big cause of why Romeo and Juliet's relationship is doomed) and even though their lines about being in love are some of the best poetry Shakespeare's written. Romeo and Juliet mishandled their love for each other, but they were in love.
* MoralEventHorizon: Tybalt crosses it by killing Mercutio with a cheap shot, thus setting off a chain of events leadig directly to the DownerEnding. This is [[AdaptationalHeroism softened in some adaptations]], including the Zeffirelli version, where Tybalt kills him ''[[AccidentalMurder accidentally]]'' while trying to knife Romeo (who was trying to intervene) and is [[MyGodWhatHaveIDone somewhat horrified]] upon realizing who he had wounded.
* OlderThanTheyThink: It was not uncommon for Shakespeare to "borrow" his plots from other works. The story of Romeo and Juliet was heavily based on a poem by the English poet Arthur Brooks called ''The Tragical History of Romeus and Juliet''. Brooks in turn got the story from a number of Italian and French novellas about Romeo/Romeus and Juliet/Julietta/Giulietta. These works bears many similarities to the story of "[[Myth/ClassicalMythology Pyramus and Thisbe]]" in Creator/{{Ovid}}'s ''Literature/{{Metamorphoses}}''.
* RonTheDeathEater: Some fans tend to be a little too hard on the two lovers. Romeo and Juliet are essentially two kids who want to date and get to know each other better. But because of the stupid feud that their elders have prolonged, they're forced to do some rash and stupid things in the hopes of being together. The Aesop that the young often have to suffer for the mistakes of the old tends to be lost on people who just blame the kids.
* SignatureScene: The balcony scene is the most often quoted, referenced and parodied scene in Shakespeare's plays. Say "what light through yonder window breaks" and 99% of people will get the reference at once.
* StrangledByTheRedString: Is the TropeCodifier in the Western canon. While it's considered one of Shakespeare's best plays, as well as one of the greatest written works ever, let's face it; the title characters are the textbook definition of this. They fall in LoveAtFirstSight and are immediately making out at the Capulet's party. Okay, not so bad. However, Romeo goes from [[{{Wangst}} wangsting]] over breaking up with Rosaline earlier that afternoon to being engaged to marry Juliet later that night, and Juliet is so in love with him that she's willing to fake her own death to keep from marrying Paris. Lampshaded by Friar Lawrence when he says "Young men's love lies not in their hearts but in their eyes." A popular interpretation is that part of the tragedy is these two kids mistaking their shallow youthful lust for true love. It's worth noting that the original tale the play is based on has the romance unfolding over several months, making it a bit more believable.
* TooCoolToLive: Mercutio. Legend goes that Shakespeare once claimed that he "had to kill Mercutio before Mercutio killed him." This is referenced in ''Film/ShakespeareInLove'', where Shakespeare tells the LargeHam leader of the acting company (Creator/BenAffleck) that Mercutio is the ''lead'' while the play is still a work in progress.
* UnintentionallyUnsympathetic: For some, it's hard to feel sorry for Romeo and Juliet at the end of the play, considering that their misery is partially their own fault. Of course, very few of Shakespeare's protagonists are written as particularly heroic or worthy of emulation, so it's entirely possible that you're not really [[ComedicSociopathy supposed to]] 'feel' for them, necessarily.
* ValuesDissonance:
** Juliet is ''only thirteen and already getting married'', not to mention her parents are trying to push her into an ArrangedMarriage (whether she wants it or not). Whilst the brawls and murders are treated with some gravity, the idea that characters would be easily carrying swords around and killing each other off at the drop of a hat would, likewise, be ''unthinkable'' today. Some modern adaptations have the rival families be criminal gangs that would be more inclined to carry weapons and kill at a moment's notice in order to mitigate the latter.
*** Although it's important to keep in mind that a lot of the talk about Juliet's marriage was ''meant'' to come off as awful, especially all that jazz about how thirteen-year-olds having babies is awesome. Elizabethans knew darn well that younger than she happy mothers are ''not'' made, even without the benefit of modern medicine. Girls of Juliet's high social status certainly married that young for economic or political reasons (see below), but it would have been considered at the very least stupid if not immoral to actually consummate the marriage before a few years had passed. Hell, it's also ''in the text'' as Juliet's father is really off-put by Paris' desire to marry Juliet and says they should wait a couple of years at least.
** Some modern viewers also tend to miss the gravity of Juliet's betrothal to Paris. A betrothal was essentially a business merger - and it meant that the Capulets stood to gain either money or political favour by marrying Juliet to Paris. Juliet refusing to marry him is not simply turning down a date she doesn't like; it's deciding the fate of their entire estate and family. ''That'' is what Lord Capulet is so furious about when Juliet tries to delay the marriage.
* ValuesResonance: The moral of the story that parents end up passing on their mistakes to their kids is a timeless one, as is the plot of teenagers DatingWhatDaddyHates - and the disastrous results. That's one of the many reasons this play has endured over the years.
* TheWoobie: The main couple, and also Benvolio qualifies; he's [[OnlySaneMan the voice of reason among his friends]] and he has his cousin banished from Verona after the latter kills Tybalt in revenge for Mercutio.
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