Theatre / Romeo and Juliet
Parting is such sweet sorrow...

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet..."
Juliet Capulet

It's impossible to imagine there are many who don't know the plot, but here's a quick outline:

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In fair Verona, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.
From forth the fatal loins of these two foes
A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life;
Whose misadventured piteous overthrows
Do with their death bury their parents' strife.

What, can't read Shakespeare? Fine. In troper's terms:

Boy Meets Girl. It's Love at First Sight. But Boy and Girl are members of Feuding Families. Boy secretly marries Girl. Boy's friend is murdered by Girl's cousin, so Boy kills Girl's cousin, then skips town. Girl agrees to dangerous plot to avoid an Arranged Marriage set up by her parents. Plot goes horribly right. Boy, hearing of Girl's "death," returns to town and kills self for real at her grave. Girl, waking and discovering this, kills self in turn. Grief-stricken families reconcile. The End!

And yes, it all happens about that fast — one of the major themes is that rushing into things is never a good idea, particularly when love and/or family are involved. The other is that this is a not just a tragedy, but a comedy of errors in that sometimes, everything that can go wrong does go wrong.

Your opinion of the play is likely to be shaped by the quality of the actors you saw performing it. While that's true of most plays, it's especially true of this one. When done poorly, it's hours of Wangst. When done well, there's a verve and passion to the play that can be lacking in Shakespeare's more critically beloved works. When done with middle-aged or older actors in the title roles, it just doesn't make sense.

Your opinion of the play is also likely to be shaped by whether you can accept the Love at First Sight premise at face value. Though now largely a Discredited Trope, it was a highly popular plot device in Shakespeare's day. If you can buy into that premise, this is a story of true love struggling against impossible odds, and failing. All those warnings about moderation are well-intentioned but ultimately meaningless. If you don't buy the premise, it's a story of two shallow, overdramatic young people who don't really understand what love is.

The play is a simple one and doesn't feature any of Shakespeare's famous side plots or other distractions. It's titled Romeo and Juliet, and dammit, that's who we're going to be watching.

Despite the heavy subject matter, there are many lighter moments (as in most of Shakespeare's works). This, combined with the impression that some have of the title characters as immature and selfish, has led to productions of different moods. Quite a few directors have made comedic productions which can, in the right hands, become Black Comedy at its finest.

Has been adapted for silver screen numerous times, most famously by the Italian director Franco Zeffirelli in 1968. That production is widely regarded as an exceptional movie, though it gained a measure of infamy for featuring teenagers Olivia Hussey and Leonard Whiting partially naked. Perhaps more well known today is Baz Luhrmann's zany 1996 adaptation which moved the story to a modern setting, and starred Leonardo DiCaprio at the height of his teenage heartthrob-dom.

One of the most notable meta-textual features of the play is the way most of it fits comfortably in an author's arsenal of Small Reference Pools. That is, the vast majority of the English-speaking world knows that Romeo and Juliet are icons of passionate, youthful love... but not everyone is aware that their story ends tragically, nor that their much-celebrated love was actually their downfall.

Note: The play's full title is The Most Excellent and Lamentable Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet. No one uses it, though.

    Works based on Romeo and Juliet 
  • Roméo et Juliette, a 1839 "dramatic symphony" in seven movements (choral and instrumental scenes) by Hector Berlioz.
  • Roméo et Juliette, an 1867 opera by Charles Gounod.
  • Romeo and Juliet, a 1932 short story retelling by Karel Čapek.
  • Romeo and Juliet, a 1935 ballet with music by Sergei Prokofiev.
  • Romeo and Juliet, a 1936 film directed by George Cukor that received four Academy Award nominations. Featured 34-year-old Norma Shearer playing a teenaged Juliet.
  • Romeo and Juliet, a 1954 film directed by Renato Castellani, starring Laurence Harvey and Susan Shentall in the title roles.
  • Romeo and Juliet, a 1968 Franco Zeffirelli film starring Olivia Hussey as Juliet and Leonard Whiting as Romeo.
  • William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet, a somewhat polarizing update directed by Baz Luhrmann starring Claire Danes and Leonardo DiCaprio. It keeps Shakespeare's text but dramatically reframes it in a late-1990s setting in Mexican-influenced Southern California ("Verona Beach"). The duels and dialogue about them are retained by naming the characters' gun models after various types of bladed weapons instead (e.g. "Sword 9mm class").
  • Romeo and Juliet, a 2013 film by Carlo Carlei, and the first traditional retelling to hit screens in quite a while, starring Hailee Steinfeld and Douglas Booth in the lead roles. The dialogue was heavily rewritten, although the new dialogue was still in the Shakespearean style. The rewrites were...not well received.
  • Romeo X Juliet, an anime adaptation set IN SPACE! with less Grey and Gray Morality (the Montagues are villains who ousted and all but extinguished the rightfully ruling Capulets)
  • West Side Story, probably the most famous adaptation out there, telling the story of a romance between two teens from rival gangs in the 1950s.
  • Romeo Must Die, a modern-day retelling (from 2000) moving the action to LA and changing the feud to one between rival black and Chinese gangsters.
  • China Girl (1987), which could be described as West Side Story meets Romeo Must Die. It's reset in 1980s Manhattan with rival Italian and Chinese gangs.
  • Tromeo and Juliet, a typically outrageous outing from Troma Films with a rather different ending.
  • Private Romeo, a film which uses an all male cast and the original dialogue of the play as a commentary on "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Romeo is a cadet desperate to get into West Point and Juliet is the new boy to the military academy he attends. Due to DADT, the school's staff finding out about the fact that the two are in love serves as their 'death;' no one actually dies in the film, but they'll both be kicked out of school and any hope of continuing their military careers (including Romeo's dream of West Point) is finished.
  • Roméo et Juliette, de la Haine à l'Amour, a French musical by Gerard Presgurvic, which has played in more or less similar format in Canada, Mexico, Japan and various countries throughout Europe and in a much Darker and Edgier Hungarian adaptation.
  • The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride, which followed up the first film's Lighter and Softer African Hamlet with a similarly brighter version of this story.
  • Shakespeare in Love, in which we learn the "real" story behind the production of the play.
  • Romeo & Harriet, a musical parody of Romeo and Juliet.
  • Romiette and Julio, a 2001 novel by Sharon Draper about two teenage lovers dealing with the taboos of interracial dating.
  • You Never Dreamed, a 1980 Soviet film.
  • November 30, a 1995 Swedish movie with a Nonindicative Name where the Official Couple consists of a Peruvian immigrant and repentant neo-Nazi.
  • Romeo Va Julietta Yohud Lan'atlangan Sevgi, an Uzbek film from 2006, which loosely resets the story in contemporary Tashkent.
  • Romie O and Julie 8, a 1979 animated TV adaptation with robots.
  • Romeo & Juliet: Sealed with a Kiss, an animated adaptation with seals playing the roles.
  • Gnomeo and Juliet, a 2011 CGI animated family comedy film with living garden gnomes in place of the original characters.
  • Naturally, it was the subject of an episode of Wishbone as well.
  • The Sims 2 features the "Veronaville" neighborhood, with the Montys and the Capps as major players, complete with a feud and teenagers from both families in love.
  • Prince of Cats, a short 2012 comic by Ron Wimberly set in a mid-Eighties Brooklyn crossed with samurai films and centered around secondary characters Tybalt and Rosalyn.
  • Romeo And Julieta, a very, very loose adaptation of the work starring two sentient llama piñatas. Yes, really.
  • Warm Bodies, a novel by Isaac Marion where the Montagues and Capulets are replaced with zombies and humans. Also made into a film.
  • Often done as a Show Within a Show when a film production or School Play is needed (because it's a play that most people, even those who have never read Shakespeare, are familiar with). If at least one of the two leads is a major character, expect Ship Tease. This includes an episode of Hey Arnold!, an episode of Pokémon, two episodes of K-On!, the second OVA to Cardcaptor Sakura, and an ongoing arc in the first part of Season 12 of Degrassi.
  • Diana Wynne Jones used the story as a subplot in The Magicians of Caprona in which the feuding families of Casa Montana and Casa Petrocchi eventually learn that two of their younger members have fallen in love with each other.
  • Juliet, a 2010 novel by Anne Fortier, in which the main character discovers that her ancestor was the "real" Juliet behind the famous story.
  • Romeo and Juliet: A DreamZone Parody: The porn version.
  • Upside Down, starring Jim Sturgess and Kirsten Dunst. A science fiction retelling where the two clans are replaced with inhabitants of two planets tightly revolving around each other. Where each person is only affected by the gravity of his or her birth planet.
  • Korean MMO Maplestory adapts the story for a party quest, though the characters live in a town of feuding alchemists(one more focused on nature, the other on technology) and somehow Frankenstein's monster is also involved.
  • Jules and Monty, a 2014 webseries that translates the story to a modern college setting.
  • The radio drama featuring AKB48, known as "Watashitachi no Monogatari", did their own version of Romeo and Juliet, with the two aces of SKE 48, Matsui Rena and Matsui Jurina, as the main pair. Not only do they change the characters names (basing them more of their respective members names), but they also give it a much happier end. As to be expected, this broadcast pleased lots of WMatsui fans.

This play contains examples of:

    open/close all folders 

     A To B 

  • Adult Fear: The two main characters, who are just kids (Juliet is thirteen in the play - Romeo's age isn't given, but he's most likely in his late teens), take their own short lives for each other. While many people may have thought it romantic or stupid when they were teenagers, it's pretty unsettling to any parent (particularly since teen suicide is a far more publicized issue today that it ever was in previous decades).
  • Age Lift: In the original poem, Juliet and Romeo were both about sixteen, while in the Bandello novel, she was 18 and he was 20.
  • An Aesop:
    • Grudges are bad; don't hold them.
    • Love in moderation.
    • Do not jump into things you're not ready for.
    • Extremes in anything, love or hate, can lead to tragedy.
  • Alternate Ending: Shakespeare is believed to have written one.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: The Nurse (who is more of a mother figure to Juliet than Juliet's own mother). In particular, the whole story of Juliet's weaning. Juliet's comment, "Stint thou too, I pray thee, Nurse," should be translated as, "Dang it, will you please stop telling stories about the embarrassing things I did when I was three?"
  • Anti-Villain: Paris is Romeo's rival for Juliet's hand but is a good man who would have made a good husband for Juliet.
  • Anyone Can Die: Mercutio, Tybalt, Paris, Lady Montague, Romeo and Juliet all kick the bucket.
  • Apothecary Alligator: Mentioned in the description of the apothecary's shop in Act V Scene I.
    Romeo: And in his needy shop a tortoise hung,
    An alligator stuff'd, and other skins
    Of ill-shaped fishes
  • Badass Boast: Tybalt to Benvolio.
    Tybalt: Turn thee, Benvolio. Look upon thy death.
  • Barefoot Sage: Friar Lawrence is often portrayed as this (justified, since Franciscan friars often went barefoot). However, as "sagey" as he is, he still makes a fatal mistake.
  • Betty and Veronica: Juliet's decision between her two suitors. Paris courts her in the 'proper' way, by asking her father's permission. Romeo falls in love with her, marries her in secret and kills her cousin.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "ill-shaped fishes" feature in Romeo's description of the apothecary's shop where he buys the poison. The French for fish is 'poisson'; 'ill-shape' it and it becomes 'poison'.
  • Black Comedy: Sometimes performed this way, as noted above. Mercutio provides black comedy in-story as he dies.
  • Black Comedy Rape: Act 1 Scene 1 is filled with constant rape jokes.
  • Blatant Lies: Immediately before the famous balcony scene, Benvolio and Mercutio try to get Romeo to come out by making fun of how he was mooning over Rosaline. After they leave, Romeo re-enters and mutters "He jests at scars that never felt a wound" — which is, of course, completely untrue.
  • Break the Cutie: Both of the lovers, but especially Juliet.
    Juliet: Alack, that Heaven should practice stratagems
    Upon so soft a subject as myself!
  • Bromantic Foil: Mercutio to Romeo.
  • Bus Crash: Lady Montague, who has an important role in the first scene, then disappears almost entirely until the last scene where Montague mentions she died offstage.

     C To D 

  • Cargo Envy: From Romeo:
    Romeo: See, how she leans her cheek upon her hand!
    O, that I were a glove upon that hand,
    That I might touch that cheek!
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Balthasar, a servant who has a small appearance in the first scene of act 1, ends up indirectly causing Romeo's suicide in act 5.
  • The Chessmaster: Friar Lawrence only agrees to marry Romeo and Juliet in order to stop the feud, and puts their lives at risk in the process. Tragedy ensues.
  • Child Marriage Veto: Juliet refuses to marry Paris. She's already married to Romeo, but her parents don't know that...
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Benvolio, one of the main characters in the first three acts, does not appear in the fourth or fifth. Nobody seems to notice this, which is weird since he's just about the only young person left alive at the end.
  • Conflicting Loyalty: Romeo during the scene with Tybalt.
  • Courtly Love: Subverted. Romeo abandons his courtly love for Rosaline as soon as he meets the much more... open... Juliet.
  • Crazy Enough to Work: Faking Juliet's death... wasn't.
  • Death by Despair: Lady Montague, who died after learning of Romeo's exile. Also the presumed cause of Juliet's first "death" by those who don't know about the Friar's potion.
  • Death Is Dramatic:
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Repeatedly. The line about "star-crossed lovers" in the opening narration is a Lampshade Hanging; the stars - meaning Fate - are going to make sure everyone ends up miserable.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Tybalt's initial response to Romeo's showing up at the party is to call for his sword and announce that he's going to kill him. Lord Capulet thinks it's a bit much.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • There's sexual imagery all through the death scene. The bit where Juliet welcomes being penetrated by Romeo's dagger is still pretty clear to modern audiences, but it's only the tip of the iceberg. The cup that Romeo drinks his poison from is supposed to be a symbol of femininity, and furthermore, Shakespeare often used "die" as a euphemism for "orgasm".
    • Heck, the whole show is like that. Especially Juliet's "Gallop apace, you fiery-footed steeds" monologue. "Come, night; come, Romeo; come, thou day in night."
  • Double Entendre: Some of Mercutio's lines, overlapping with Get Thee to a Nunnery.
  • Downer Ending: There is the glimpse of a Bittersweet Ending, as the rival families finally reconcile their differences, but two statues raised in pure gold above Verona are a poor compensation for the loss of their children, and everyone knows this.
  • Dramedy: While best known as a tragedy, it incorporates many comedic elements. Many have noted that the play starts out largely as a comedy, with the two families feuding for particularly silly reasons, and Romeo being a hopeless romantic with his friends trying to snap him out of it. The drama arguably doesn't set itself in until Romeo and Juliet are married and the two have to deal with the consequences of their actions afterwards.
  • Driven to Suicide: The two leads.
  • Due to the Dead: Romeo honors Paris' request to lay him beside Juliet, after having killed him because Paris thought that Romeo was coming to do the evil version of this trope.
  • Dying Curse: Uttered by Mercutio when he was dying from a wound delivered from Tybalt.

     E To F 

  • Elopement: Romeo and Juliet run away to Friar Lawrence to get married, and apparently plan to run further away to get away from their families.
  • Emo Teen: Romeo is this at first, moping around and reading emo poetry because of his one-sided love on Rosaline. It is also worth noting that Romeo's lines regarding his romance of Rosaline are very over-used cliches at Shakespeare's time, but as soon as Romeo starts describing Juliet, his lines become very creative and much more poetic. When he has to be separated from Juliet, he gets even worse than he was at the beginning.
  • Enter Stage Window: Probably the Ur-Example.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Prince and the Nurse. (Although on the character list the Prince's name is given as "Escalus" and Capulet calls the Nurse "Angelica" at one point.)
  • Exact Time to Failure: Juliet wakes up from her potion right on schedule. If she'd woken up five minutes later, then the Capulets and Montagues would have discovered her alive. If she'd woken up five minutes earlier, Romeo would have met her.
  • Faux Death: Juliet. Unfortunately, it's shortly followed by actual, self-inflicted death.
  • Feuding Families: Montagues and Capulets.
  • The Fighting Narcissist: Mercutio's description of Tybalt's ornate fighting style implies that Tybalt may fit this trope.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Even if, by some strange power, you've never heard of the plot of this thing, it's stated in the very beginning that the title characters die... on line six of the Prologue, to be precise. Supposedly, there was a happy alternate ending that contemporary audiences could vote for in lieu of the tragic ending. No one has ever discovered it, though.
  • Forgotten Fallen Friend: Romeo is heartbroken about Mercutio's least during the scene where Mercutio actually died. After Romeo kills Tybalt to avenge him, Mercutio is forgotten. Romeo expresses far more grief over Tybalt's death than Mercutio's.
  • Fourth Date Marriage: The titular characters get married less than 24 hours after meeting, and plan their marriage the night they meet. The entire plot unfolds over all of four days.
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: Juliet reacts to the news of Tybalt's death with heartbreak and tears, her beloved cousin. The Nurse exclaims that Tybalt was her best friend. Tybalt never spent time on-stage with any of these women. All of his stage time was consumed in proving himself a Hot-Blooded and pitiless fighter.

     G To H 

  • Gallows Humor: Most of Mercutio's dying speech. "Ask for me in the morning, and you will find me a grave man."
  • Genre-Busting: It was the first play to combine the idea of comedies and tragedies. In a typical comedy, there are young lovers who live Happily Ever After. In a typical tragedy, there are political figures and families that feud and kill people. All of this happens in Romeo and Juliet. Except the happily-ever-after part.
  • Genre Shift: It looks exactly like your typical Shakespearian comedy (two teenagers are in love, but they're kept apart by the stubbornness of unhappy old men; servants and outsiders conspire to help them; their fathers are convinced to let go of their silly feud, and everyone lives happily ever after) until Mercutio kicks it in Act III, at which point a Cycle of Revenge screws everything up. The only other comedic character was the Nurse, and then, after Mercutio dies, she and Juliet have a falling out.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Shakespeare in his usual idiom:
    Mercutio: I conjure thee by Rosaline's bright eyes,
    By her high forehead and her scarlet lip,
    By her fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh,
    And the demesnes that there adjacent lie
  • The Ghost: Rosaline. Though she's not even that important anyway.
  • Grey and Gray Morality: Both families seem equally responsible for keeping the feud alive.
  • Hanlon's Razor: Two teens in "love" die because of a problem with the post. Not much malice against them from anybody except Tybalt, who proves pretty pathetic.
  • Have a Gay Old Time:
    • Some of the archaic uses of the word "ho" become a tad awkward in this day and age. Such as "Fetch me my long sword, ho!" Even funnier because, as mentioned previously, at this point in the play, his wife is trying to stop him from jumping into the fight. Or the Nurse calling for "Aqua Vitae, ho!", and getting a response from Lady Capulet.
    • Romeo talking about his "Well-flowered pump." "Pumps" were shoes, which would be adorned with flowers at dances and other gatherings.
    • There are several with Capulet as well, such as "You are a saucy boy" and "You are too hot," the latter being said to him by his wife.
  • The Hero Dies: Both Romeo and Juliet themselves at the end.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Mercutio and Benvolio are typically viewed as these in the Fanfiction universe.
  • Hot-Blooded:
    • Tybalt. He's responsible for most of the fighting that goes on... and his aggression can be seen as what turns this otherwise traditional romantic comedy story into a tragedy.
    • Romeo, too. When Mercutio kicks the bucket, his immediate reaction is going to Tybalt and fight him. Romeo's reaction to Paris threating to arrest him was to fight him. He won, as well.
    • Even Mercutio has a little of this. Every young guy in this play who's not Benvolio.
    • It's beyond the young people. Capulet and Montague wanted to fight each other, but their Ladies held them back. In Act III, Capulet went berserk when Juliet refused to obey him.
  • Hufflepuff House: There's actually a third clan- the Prince's family (historically, the Scaligers or Della Scala- the Prince's name, Escalus, is a Latin version of this), consisting of the Prince himself, Mercutio, and Paris. This being Shakespeare, the Prince loses his two kinsmen over the course of the play too, leading him to say in the final scene that he has also been punished for the violence in Verona alongside the Capulets and Montagues.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The beginning of the first scene, or act 2, scene 4. Despite it's hidden in Shakespeare's archaic English, they're in there.
  • Hypocrite: Mercutio really has no right to be angry about the feuding of the Capulet and Montague families leading to his death, seeing as he threw himself into their feud quite willingly and displays many signs of being a Blood Knight.
    • He makes a big speech about how dangerous a swordsman Tybalt is, and Romeo wouldn't stand a chance against him. Then, for some reason, he gets mad when Romeo declines to fight Tybalt.

     I To J 

  • Idiot Ball:
    • Romeo. If he had turned in Tybalt for killing Mercutio instead of going after him himself, the entire rest of the play would not have happened.
    • Mercutio deciding to start a fight with Tybalt, when Romeo may have been able to defuse the situation.
    • Friar Lawrence for coming up with faking Juliet's death.
    • Juliet for going through with such a plan.
      • The most beautiful irony here is that in most stories it might prove impossible to prevent the plan going wrong, meaning it's nobody's fault. Perhaps when things went wrong, it could have been something impossible to foresee. In this story, the most likely problem - what if Romeo didn't get Juliet's message - is the one that happened, and even so Juliet and the Friar didn't prepare for it.
  • Impeded Messenger: Due to the plague sweeping through Europe, a priest carrying a vital message to Romeo never reaches him. Many places would close their doors to priests, who were believed to carry the plague as they visited those with it for religious ceremonies.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: Whenever the Nurse asks for "aqua vitae", it's this...
  • Informed Flaw: Mercutio describes Benvolio as Hot-Blooded, willing to start a fight for any reason at all. In practice, Benvolio is a level-headed Nice Guy, and the description better fits Mercutio himself.
  • In Love with Love: Romeo, particularly with Rosaline.

     K To L 

  • Large Ham: Mercutio loves to make dramatic speeches.
  • Lost Aesop: If Romeo And Juliet was intended as condemnation of hormonal teenagers who think their first relationship is true love and go to melodramatic extremes to prove that it is love rather than simply lust, it failed horribly.
  • Lost in Imitation: The two are a pair of shallow barely teens who want to have sex. Good luck finding anyone who realizes this today.
  • Love at First Sight: The title characters fell in love like this. They fell HARD.
  • Love Triangle: Paris wants Juliet, who is already in a relationship with Romeo.

     M To N 

  • Maid and Maiden: Trope Codifier, The Nurse is the Maid who plays Secret Keeper for Juliet the Maiden as she tries to get with Romeo.
  • Mandatory Motherhood: Apparently this is one argument Romeo tried on Rosaline, who is determine to live without love: she is wasting her beauty by producing posterity.
  • Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: By their times's standards. Compare their behaviors: Romeo is the one with emotional reactions for better or worse, whereas Juliet is more practical and stages their doomed escape. Romeo kills himself with poison, which is considered a feminine way to commit suicide, whereas Juliet uses a dagger, which was a weapon used typically by men.
  • Masquerade Ball: Capulet holds one, which just so happens to be the place Romeo and Juliet fell in Love at First Sight.
  • Matron Chaperone: The Nurse.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Lady Montague may have had a Bus Crash, but she evened the death toll to 2-all: 2 for the Capulets (Juliet and Tybalt), 2 for the Montagues (Romeo and Lady Montague), and 2 for the Prince's family (Mercutio and Paris).
  • Meaningful Name:
    • Tybalt/Tybert/Tibert is the name of the hot-blooded prince of cats from the folk tales of Reynard the Fox. Tybalt is frequently made fun of for this, and is indeed hot-blooded.
    • Benvolio means "Good will" and he is the most reasonable of the Montagues.
    • Mercutio is taken from Mercurial, as he is changeable.
  • Name and Name
  • Nice Guy:
    • Paris, although how nice he is depends on the staging.
    • Romeo is also implied to be this, considering the fact that Lord Capulet doesn't actually care when he's told that Romeo is at his party and says he's heard nice things about the boy. Keep in mind, this is the guy that was trying to kill said boy's father less then 24 hours earlier for no other reason than some old rivalry that no one remembers the cause of.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Friar Lawrence hatches a plan that involves Juliet pretending to be dead, and visibly so, WITHOUT CHECKING PERSONALLY THAT ROMEO IS AWARE OF THE PLAN. As he is aware of Romeo's somewhat emo nature, he really should have thought about this.
  • No Antagonist: Tybalt is the closest thing the play has to an antagonist, and he dies in Act 3 of a five-act work.
  • Noodle Incident: During his "Queen Mab" speech, it soon becomes clear that Mercutio was once greatly hurt by a woman.

     O To P 

  • Only Sane Man: Benvolio. No wonder he disappears after Act III. And is the only major surviving character of the younger generation.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Subverted. At the masquerade ball, Romeo wears a mask but Tybalt easily recognizes him.
  • Parental Substitute: The Nurse for Juliet.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: The fact that Romeo had killed Tybalt just after Tybalt had come out on top in an earlier duel and so basically had it coming is strongly implied to be a mitigating factor that results in Romeo's dueling sentence being exile and not the standard death penalty the Prince had instituted to prevent further disruptive dueling.
  • Plucky Comic Relief: Mercutio, when he died, things went to hell real quick.
  • Plucky Girl: Juliet, especially considering the time period it's set in. She disobeys her parents, follows her heart and braves disownment and being trapped in a tomb to stay true to the man she loves.
  • Poor Communication Kills: This is one of the major things that contributed to Romeo and Juliet's deaths. Most notably, the reason the whole play ends in tragedy rather than with a happy reunification of the lovers is that Friar Lawrence isn't able to warn Romeo that Juliet is only feigning death before he hears about it from someone else.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis: Probably the main reason people think Romeo and Juliet are the model for a good relationship, and probably the reason a surprising number of people forget the ending in the prologue. Ironically, the title has become a kind of shorthand for idolizing the very behaviors it exists to make fun of.
  • Power Trio:
    • The Montague lads:
      • Romeo - passionate, somewhat emo guy, and romantic (Id)
      • Mercutio - cynical and snarky (Superego)
      • Benvolio - nice guy / The Generic Guy (Ego)
      • Another way to look at is in their reactions to the Tybalt situation: Mercutio's quick to fight (Id), Romeo resists until he can't any longer (Ego), Benvolio tries to keep the peace and stay out of it (Superego)
    • Also, the women of the Capulet family fit into this:
      • Lady Capulet, trying to get her daughter married to someone rich and suitable (Superego)
      • Juliet, especially at the beginning when she tries to please others rather than herself (Ego)
      • The Nurse, trying to get Juliet laid (Id)
  • Prince Charmless: Sometimes Paris is played as this, making the audience sympathize more with Juliet for not wanting to marry him.
  • Pun: A good handful of the characters, though Mercutio seems to live off of them. He even belts them out as he lies dying...

     Q To R 

  • Reasonable Authority Figure:
    • The Prince wants to stop the two families from fighting in the streets of his city, and it's explicitly stated he's showing Romeo mercy by banishing him instead of having him executed for Tybalt's death.
    • Downplayed with Lord Capulet. On his own turf, he's a gracious and generous host, and when Tybalt informs him that Romeo has snuck into their ball, his response is to shrug and say that he's heard the boy has a good reputation, and tells Tybalt to leave Romeo alone and not do anything since, after all, Romeo hadn't done anything wrong to him.
  • The Reliable One: Benvolio (notice a pattern to his tropes yet?), the Nurse.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Juliet for the nurse's deceased daughter. Also probably Tybalt for Capulet's deceased children, and/or the Capulets for Tybalt's dead parents. While never explicitly stated to be dead, his parents never show up, and when he dies himself, Lord and Lady Capulet do all the mourning for them.
  • Roaring Rampage of Romance: Romeo and Juliet's romance causes six deaths:
    1. Mercutio: Killed defending Romeo.
    2. Tybalt: Killed by Romeo.
    3. Romeo's mother: Died of sadness because of Romeo's banishment.
    4. Paris: Killed by Romeo.
    5. Romeo: Killed by Romeo.
    6. Juliet: Killed herself because Romeo did.
  • Romantic False Lead: Paris shows up asking for Juliet's hand before she meets Romeo.
  • Runaway Fiancée: The Faux Death set up by Juliet was an attempt to get out of marrying Paris.

     S To T 

  • Sacrificial Lion: Mercutio, for Romeo, and Tybalt, for the Capulets.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: One could say that this is Friar Lawrence's intention (although it's more like "screw societal tradition" than "screw rules"), although he ends up failing miserably.
  • Secret Relationship: The root of the tragedy.
  • Serial Romeo: Romeo's object of hopeless affection changes on a dime in the play, and it's implied he's done this sort of thing before. He knew Juliet for about a minute, and was already making out with her.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: After Mercutio's death, the play turns into a tragedy.
  • Silly Rabbit, Romance Is for Kids!: Romeo and Juliet is already one big slam against romance. It's not so much a critique of romance itself note  as a critique of dumbass kids who, as soon as they think they're in love, immediately overreact. They're so blinded by love that they kill themselves the moment something goes wrong. Plus all the people they get killed along the way. The message seems to be the opposite of this trope: Romance should only be for people mature enough to deal with it sensibly, and kids should stay out of it.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Tybalt has about 3 scenes in the play, but without him it would be a vastly different story.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: The play never reveals what happened to the apothecary, but the source story ends with him being sentenced to death.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Romeo and Juliet are kept apart by a string of misfortunes. Possibly an Unbuilt Trope, as the play can be read as a deconstruction of same.
  • Tag Team Suicide: Juliet uses Romeo's dagger to kill herself.
  • Tempting Fate: Just before his wedding Romeo says this:
    Romeo: Do thou but close our hands with holy words,
    Then love-devouring death do what he dare
    It is enough I may but call her mine.
In modern English that can be summed up as "I'm so happy right now, after I'm married to Juliet death can do whatever he wants. I'll die happy." Death must have taken that as a challenge.
  • The World's Expert on Getting Killed: Mercutio gives a very detailed description of how skilled a swordsman Tybalt is. He later starts up a fight with Tybalt himself, and ends up getting killed by him.
  • Threatening Mediator: In Act 1 Scene 1, The Prince of Verona enters in the middle of a brawl that includes servants from Capulet and Montague, the hot-blooded Capulet heir Tybalt and his cronies against the Montague youths, and the heads of the houses. The Prince commands them to stand down, "on pain of death." At the end of the scene, he makes it clear to the heads of the houses that if another brawl erupts, punishing their servants won't be enough: the Lords themselves will be executed.
  • Together in Death: Romeo and Juliet, who actually end lying side by side (or at least sufficiently close) in the middle of the Capulet mausoleum.
  • Too Dumb to Live: It's probably easier to list the characters who don't act like idiots...
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: Impulsiveness is the downfall of many characters, up to and including the lovers themselves.
  • Tragic Mistake: Romeo's killing of Tybalt in vengeance for Mercutio, leading to his banishment. Everything goes straight to hell for both lovers because of it.
  • Translation Convention
  • Trope Breaker: Any and all of the many attempts to update it have to work their way around the fact that the story hinges around two teenagers from well-off families being unable to communicate in time. Even just setting it post-plague raises issues; accept that the main characters would have the latest smartphones, Twitter and Facebook accounts and you have some serious plot-preservation problems.

     U To V 

  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Romeo and Juliet, especially during their first scenes.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Romeo's servant Balthazar tells Romeo that Juliet is dead, oblivious to the fact that the death has been faked. Romeo takes this badly.
    • Friar John is another Unwitting Instigator of Doom, although, ironically, this stems from his failure to deliver a letter. He doesn't know what it contains.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: Tybalt sees Romeo as this; when Tybalt tells Lord Capulet that Romeo has come uninvited to the Capulet masquerade ball, Lord Capulet lets it slide because Romeo has a decent reputation (not to mention Lord Capulet didn't want any trouble).

     W To X 

  • What the Hell, Hero?: Friar Lawrence's speech to Romeo in Act III is him calling Romeo out for crying like a baby, not realizing how lucky he is that he's not dead as a result of his idiocy, and for generally not manning up.
  • Women Are Wiser:
    • Juliet is far and away the more sensible and level-headed one of the title duo. Also, when a street brawl breaks out, Lords Montague and Capulet try to fight, and their wives have to hold them back.
    • Even between the Nurse and Friar Lawrence, this trope is applicable - although in a darker way. Friar Lawrence sets about making tons of risky plans that, although well-intentioned, have a thousand ways to go wrong. The Nurse tells Juliet to be sensible and marry Paris, and give up Romeo for dead, because it involves less risk and heartache.

     Y To Z 
  • Young Love Versus Old Hate: The young lovers come from families that have been at war with each other for generations. The hatefulness of the older generation eventually led to the death of both characters.
  • Youth Is Wasted on the Dumb: The fights are often portrayed as this.

Productions and adaptations (apart from those with their own pages) add examples of:

    A to Z 
  • All Part of the Show: Variant in the Zeffirelli movie. Everyone thinks Mercutio, the local Sad Clown, is joking around after being injured by Tybalt; it is only when they check on him they realize his injuries are fatal.
  • Ambiguously Gay: Mercutio, in some modern productions.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Very commonly seen to distinguish the two families and highlight how irreconcilable they are. In Franco Zeffirelli's adaptation, the Capulets wear red and the Montagues blue (or sometimes green), and the Prince's family wear somber, dark browns. In the 2013 film adaption, the Montagues wear red and Capulets wear blue.
  • Composite Character: Many adaptations have Benvolio take the roles that random Montagues take in the final acts, since otherwise he disappears without explanation.
  • Dance of Romance: Though Juliet off-handedly mentions that Romeo doesn't like to dance, some renditions have the duo dance together before they exchange dialogue.
  • Demoted to Extra: Most adaptations seem to forget Paris. His death is one of the most frequently omitted sequences, even though it makes a nonsense of the Prince's "I have lost a brace of kinsmen" lines. (This may be because Romeo murders him, which is odd coming from the hero.)
  • The Dying Walk: Some adaptations of the story have Mercutio doing this after or while he's uttering his Dying Curse.
  • Mortal Wound Reveal: Mercutio's death is often played as this in modern versions, with Franco Zeffirelli's screen adaptation being one example.
  • Sad Clown: Mercutio, in some versions.
  • Science Cocktail: In the 1936 film the Friar has the standard movie scientist's arrangement of exotic glass flasks and beakers bubbling with smoke.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: In the 1936 film Romeo climbs over Juliet's balcony, and we get a cut away to shots of the trees and the stars in the sky and such.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Some film versions and some productions leave Paris and Lady Montague alive since their deaths have little impact on the plot.
    • In the Spaghetti Western adaptation, The Fury Of Johnny Kid, the characters based on Romeo and Juliet live — but everyone else dies, mostly by each other's hands (with a lone gunslinger cleaning out the rest).

For never was a story of more woe
Than this of Juliet and her Romeo.

Alternative Title(s): Romeo And Juliet