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Just For Fun / The Zeroth Law of Trope Examples

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Shakespeare Did It First!

He may not have been the Trope Maker, Trope Namer, Trope Codifier, or even the Ur-Example, but you can bet your bottom dollar that he did it before you! Whatever great invention, character or plot device you come up with, Shakespeare is always the guy who has already done it and done it better than you could ever hope to. Note that he wasn't the first to use a lot of these conventions, however he's the earliest writer most people know who used so many of them.


His fans have been aware of this long before the Internet. Horace Walpole, widely recognised as the inventor of the Gothic Horror genre, proudly admitted he borrowed most of the ingredients for the Gothic recipe from his idol. Yes, even realising that Shakespeare did it first is something that has already been done long ago.

Shakespeare was not only the first to use many a trope, but the first troper. That is, the first to comment on it. Some examples:

Quite possibly the ultimate proof of the truth of this law: Shakespeare has an example of a Sock Puppet in Julius Caesar. Yes, a character uses a made-up persona in a play set in ancient Rome and written in Elizabethan England. It's also used as an early example of Astroturfing.

For virtually all other professions, an appropriate substitution would be 'Leonardo da Vinci did it first'. Seriously, look the guy up. He did just about everything you can do except being an accomplished author or famous rock star, and that was just because getting a decent scribe to take down his lengthy fictional masterpieces for him would have been quite expensive in 15th-Century Italy.

Has nothing to do with Zeroth Law Rebellion.

Dedicated in memory of TV Tropes founder William Shakespeare, who started every page on this site.

Alternative Title(s): Zeroth Law


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