YMMV: Romeo and Juliet

  • Adaptation Displacement: though Shakespeare's play is the most famous version of the story, variations on it existed prior to said play. See also Older Than They Think below.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • 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 Forbidden Fruit.
    • Friar Lawrence. Is he a kindly man of God, trying his best to help the two lovers live happily ever after? Or a Manipulative Bastard 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?
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Mercutio spouting gibberish at the beginning of Act 3, scene 1 in the Franco Zeferelli version.
  • Cliché Storm: Even when it was written, the story had been told in various other forms.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Tybalt sometimes receives this treatment. In the Zeferelli version, he's played by a young Michael York. Alan Rickman 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.
  • Ensemble Darkhorse: 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 calls out Romeo for 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 Large Ham.
  • Fanon:
    • 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 counterpoint to Mercutio.
    • Another common interpretation is that Mercutio is the unworthy heir to Prince Escalus and was raised by him.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple: Benvolio/Mercutio and Benvolio/Rosaline are both quite popular, despite never really being implied in the text.
  • Foe Yay:
    • 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 Take-That Kiss, and once in a film from Quebec, even a BDSM sex scene that leads to Mercutio's death.
  • Freud Was Right: All the talk about swords, with a healthy dose of Ho Yay.
    • The first scene alone is full of Double Entendre dialogue about "taking the wall of any man or maid" and taking "maiden heads". Being Shakespeare, this is not surprising.
    • Juliet's death by stabbing. Shakespeare was very fond of the double meaning of le petit mort/the little death/orgasm.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: 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 Dragon Quest I, in which the princess also asks "Dost thou love me?" and serves as the Trope Namer for But Thou Must.
  • Ho Yay: Mercutio/Romeo, Mercutio/Benvolio.
  • Idiot Plot: 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 Too Dumb to Live.
  • Iron Woobie: The Nurse. Despite having lost her husband, daughter, surrogate daughter and very close kinsman, she is possibly the least angsty character in the play.
  • It Was His Sled: They both commit suicide.
  • Misaimed Fandom: A ridiculous number of people with bad reading comprehension skills think that this is the way to have a relationship, ignoring the fact that the couple dies at the end.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Tybalt crosses it by killing Mercutio with a cheap shot, thus setting off a chain of events leadig directly to the Downer Ending. This is softened in some adaptations, including the Zeferelli version, where Tybalt kills him accidentally while trying to knife Romeo (who was trying to intervene) and is somewhat horrified upon realizing who he had wounded.
  • Older Than They Think: 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 "Pyramus and Thisbe" in Ovid's Metamorphoses.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: A very short one in Romeo and Juliet, but Romeo drops an important point when he's at the apothecary and is paying the poor shopkeeper-money makes more people die than poison, and is just as bad, if not even worse, than poison.
    There is thy gold, worse poison to men's souls,
    Doing more murder in this loathsome world,
    Than these poor compounds that thou mayst not sell.
    I sell thee poison. Thou hast sold be none.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Is the Trope Codifier 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 Love at First Sight and are immediately making out at the Capulet's party. Okay, not so bad. However, Romeo goes from 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.
  • Too Cool to Live: Mercutio. Legend goes that Shakespeare once claimed that he "had to kill Mercutio before Mercutio killed him."
    • This is referenced in Shakespeare in Love, where Shakespeare tells the Large Ham leader of the acting company (Ben Affleck) that Mercutio is the lead while the play is still a work in progress.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: 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.
    • The "unintentionally" is the YMMV part. 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 supposed to 'feel' for them, necessarily.
  • Values Dissonance: Juliet is only thirteen and already getting married, not to mention her parents are trying to push her into an Arranged Marriage (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.
  • The Woobie: The main couple, and also Benvolio qualifies; he's the voice of reason among his friends and he has his cousin banished from Verona after the latter kills Tybalt in revenge for Mercutio.