Referenced By / Hamlet

List of references to Hamlet, organized by media. See also Good Night, Sweet Prince and Alas, Poor Yorick. note 
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    Anime and Manga 

    Comic Book 
  • An issue of Uncanny X-Men from 1975 has the speech ("To sleep, perchance to dream.") in its opening narration.
    The bard of Avon said it best: "To sleep, perchance to dream...Aye, there's the rub! For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause." And if the dreams of the dead must give us pause...what then of the dreams of the living? For example, the dreams of Charles Xavier?
  • Astérix: In The Great Crossing Asterix and Obelix are brought to Denmark by some Vikings. At one point the Viking chieftain has the feeling one of his subordinates lied to him. He holds up a skull and says: "There's something rotten in my kingdom." Later another Viking wonders whether he discovered a new continent or not and says: "To be or not to be, that's the question."

    Film — Animated 
  • In The Nightmare Before Christmas, a clear reference appears in "Jack's Lament":
    And since I am dead, I can take off my head/ To recite Shakespearean quotations.
  • "What piece of work is a man" was done awesomely in Coraline. Especially since they were saying it ironically, though Coraline and unfamiliar viewers wouldn't know it at the time.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Withnail & I:
    • Uncle Monty was an aspiring actor, and he says it's a sad day when a young man realizes he's never going to play the Dane.
    • It has Withnail quoting the 'I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth' speech. And thereby proving he's actually a good actor.
  • In The Return of the Pink Panther:
    Clouseau: Cato, something is rotten in the state of Denmark!
    Cato: Switzerland?
    Clouseau: Yes, that too.
  • Musical Hair uses "What a piece of work is a man" for song lyrics.
  • In the sixth movie of Star Trek, The Undiscovered Country, with the famous quote that to truly appreciate Shakespeare, you need to hear it "in the original Klingon."
  • The Princess Diaries: The second movie has Lilly referring to Mia's chambermaids as 'Rosencrantz' and 'Guildenstern'.
  • True Romance: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."
  • Gettysburg: Hamlet's "What a piece of work is man" speech is said by a fictionalized version of Joshua Chamberlain.
  • At the end of Revenge of the Sith, the late Padme Amidala is actually laid out in a similar way to how Ophelia died by drowning for her funeral in Naboo after she has been strangled to death by her own husband Anakin Skywalker Darth Vader due to him completely falling to the Dark Side.
  • The chairman of Apocalypse, Inc. says "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" in The Toxic Avenger Part II.
  • "To thine own self be true" was used by Heather in Clueless
  • Des McGrath in The Last Days of Disco says the "To thine own self be true" speech.
  • The Departed:
    • Before an operation, Captain Queenan tells Collin that "readiness is all."
    • Costigan quotes Hawthorne. Dignam isn't impressed: [fart noise] "What's the matter, smartass, you don't know any fuckin' Shakespeare?"
  • The character poster for the titular villain of X-Men: Apocalypse evokes the Yorick's skull scene.

  • British statesman Lord Chesterfield's opinion in Letters to His Son: "for, To BE, or NOT To BE, is a question of much less importance, in my mind, than to be or not to be well." (letter 235)
  • Professor Mmaa's Lecture: Two royal agents Rosencrantz and Guildenstern.
  • While Wyrd Sisters is most obviously Macbeth as noted below, the Ghost of the Murdered King seeking revenge, and the idea of guilting the Duke with a play that duplicates the events of the murder are both straight from Hamlet.
  • The book The 13 Clocks has its hero quote Nanki-Poo, thereby also quoting Shakespeare. Nanki-Poo's famous song in The Mikado, the line "A thing of shreds and patches" echoes Hamlet's line, "A king of shreds and patches.".y.
  • "How all occasions do inform against me" comes up often in Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis, they might as well be Arc Words. Polly Churchill chooses all her aliases from Shakespeare, and she falls in with a famous Shakespearean actor who constantly speaks in allusions to the Bard.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Arrested Development: "Well, it's like the Ten Commandments say. 'Be true to thine ownself, and to thine own self..." "Be true. Yeah. Number seven."
  • Frasier: An episode is titled "Roz's Krantz And Gouldenstein Are Dead". This is a reference to Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (whose title is itself a line from Hamlet).
  • Horatio Hornblower:
    • In "The Duel", Clayton refers to the play when he talks with Hornblower about suicide.
      Clayton: Damned unsporting of the Everlasting to have fixed his canon 'gainst self-slaughter, if you ask me.
    • Archie Kennedy is a great fan of the bard, and he paraphrases Osrick's "a hit, a very palpable hit" when he reports that Lt. Bush's heated shot was successful.
  • "To thine own self be true" was used in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, as said by Leslie.
  • Mash:
    • Frank Burns uses the line "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" (rather inaptly) to Radar.
    • Winchester, at the end of the "Dreams" episode. "To sleep, perchance to dream." Thus encouraging everyone to get another cup of coffee.
  • The Mighty Boosh: Howard offers death-related quotes, and at one point the 'Death, the undiscovered country' soliloquy.
  • Murdoch Mysteries: The Coroner Dr Julia Ogden is examining a skull and quotes "I knew him, Horatio" and laughs heartily at her little joke. Detective Murdoch and Constable Crabtree are rather disturbed by her morgue sense of humour.
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "The Screaming Skull," Tom says, "Alas, poor Yorick; she threw him well!"
  • Power Rangers Ninja Storm featured this memorable exchange:
    Lothor: "...there's something rotten in the state of Denmark..."
    Marah: I thought they were in California?
    Lothor:'s Shakespeare. Read a book.
    Kapri: Technically it's a play...
  • Star Trek: The Next Generation: "What a piece of work is a man; how noble in reason; how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable in action; how like an angel in apprehension; how like a god." Picard proves he knows Shakespeare. Even more impressive, Picard also notes to Q that while Hamlet said it ironically, he says it with conviction. Patrick Stewart has been in two productions of Hamlet, both in which he played Claudius, and was originally trained as a Shakespearean actor.
  • The Suite Life of Zack and Cody "Neither a borrower nor a lender be," quotes Carey Martin.
  • An exchange on Salute Your Shorts is inspired by Hamlet's observation that "a man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm" and therefore that "a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar."
    Pinsky: Think about it. When you die they stick you in the ground and it's the worms that eat you up!
    Z.Z.: Then somebody digs up the worms that ate you and use to catch fish which somebody else eats.
    Donkeylips: So wait a second guys, when we had fish sticks the other night, I could have eaten a fish, that ate a worm, that ate Elvis?
    Z.Z.: You could be burping up the King as we speak!

  • Emilie Autumn:
    • "Opheliac" quotes a big part of Hamlet in "Doubt thou the stars are fire/Doubt thou the sun doth move/Doubt truth to be a liar/But never doubt I love." But then, the song is basically a tribute to Hamlet's Ophelia, so this was to be expected.
    • "Goodnight Sweet Ladies" takes its name from a quote from Ophelia.
  • The Major from the Hellsing Ultimate OVA quotes Hamlet, although instead of saying "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy" he says "there are more things in heaven and hell then are dreamt of in their philosophy"
  • The band This Mortal Coil lent its name from a line from Hamlet.

  • Ned Martin, a radio announcer for baseball's Boston Red Sox in the 1960s and '70s, was fond of using Claudius' "O Gertrude, when sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions" when things went bad for the team.

    Stand-up Comedy 
  • Eric from Morecambe and Wise decided to do Hamlet's soliloquy because drama makes more money than comedy. After Ernie interrupting him, he eventually starts: "To be or not to be. That is the question. ... Thank you." He bows and leaves. Ernies then explains that there's more to it than that, so Eric goes back to doing comedy (after the skull comments that the entire thing was rubbish).

  • In Ruddigore, Robin quotes "Alas, poor ghost!" Also, his faithful servant Adam is named after a similar character in As You Like It.
  • In "Show Me" from My Fair Lady, Liza interrupts Freddie's romantic song verse with "Words! Words! Words! I'm so sick of words!" Reference to "Words, words, words".
  • "Words, words, words" is used "Martin's Laughing Song" in Leonard Bernstein's adaptation of Candide.
  • The Anthony Burgess translation of Cyrano de Bergerac riffs off the "Oh that this too too solid flesh" speech as well as quoting "In thy orisons Be All My Sins Remembered."
  • In Nanki-Poo's famous song in The Mikado, the line "A thing of shreds and patches" echoes Hamlet's line, "A king of shreds and patches."
  • "To thine own self be true" was used in Merrily We Roll Along

    Video Games 
  • There are a ton of references to Hamlet in the Marathon trilogy. Marathon 2 has a level entitled "The Slings & Arrows of Outrageous Fortune". Marathon Infinity has a level called "Poor Yorick". In the level "Rise Robot Rise", Tycho compares Durandal and himself, respectively, to Claudius and Hamlet, "only I'm not crazy".
  • In Mass Effect, there are references to an all-elcor production of Hamlet on the Citadel. The elcor are an alien race who express emotions in ways that are undetectable to humans, such as pheromones and extremely subtle visual cues. The director states that the idea behind an all-elcor cast was to challenge the audience by stripping out all the emotional subtext and leaving the audience to judge the characters on the merits of their actions alone.
  • The description for Flight Rising's Poultrygeist is "A ghastly turkey, gobbling from beyond the grave. This bird was clearly victim of a murder most fowl, strange and unnatural."
  • In Advance Wars: Dual Strike, Sonja can give the speech ("What piece of work") verbatim, then muses that she said something meaningful and asks someone to write it down.

    Web Animation 
  • The Most Popular Girls in School: the motif of revenge and characters from the original play is used to make analogies regarding the ongoing strife between the three seasons, in class in Episode 32, eventually into the form of an argument between the students.

    Web Comic 

    Western Animation 
  • Looney Tunes: In the Shakespeare themed shot "A Witch's Tangled Hare" Bugs meets a man who looks a lot like The Bard. Witch Hazel says she recognizes him, but they haven't seen each other in a while because Crubish had the wrong apartment number (2B). The poet and Witch Hazel leave talking about who made the mistake of saying "2B" and the cartoon closes with Bugs Bunny quoting the famous line from Hamlet - "To be, or not to be".
  • Futurama: "Something is rotten on the planet Wormulon," says Leela in "Fry and the Slurm Factory".
  • The Simpsons:
    • Lisa uses Hamlet to explain the concept of "a play within a play" and Nested Story. She figures "a video tape of you watching TV" would be more successful.
    • There was a version of Hamlet in on of those trilogy stories, with Bart as Hamlet, Homer as dead king, Moe was Claudius and Marge was Gertrude. Carl and Lenny were of course Rosen-Carl and Gilden-Lenny. Lisa had a brief scene as crazy Ophelia.
  • Beast Wars:
    • "Tell my tale to those who ask. Tell it truly; the ill deeds along with the good, and let me be judged accordingly. The rest... is silence," says Dinobot before dying.
    • Dinobot says: "Alas! Poor Tarantulas. I knew him, Cheetor." Dinobot was holding Tarantulas' severed spider legs though, not his severed head.
    • Dinobot also tosses out a "To be or not to be, that is the question" when contemplating Free Will vs Fate.
  • In Kappa Mikey Mikey auditions for a very odd version of the play called Hamlet the Christmas Giraffe. He has a skull on hand, needless to say.
  • When Toxie in Toxic Crusaders gets a whiff of another dastardly plan by Dr. Killemoff, he proclaims "There's something rotten in the state of New Jersey!"

  • "To thine own self be true" was said in Renaissance Man by Bill.