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Literature / Romeo and/or Juliet

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Ryan North's follow-up Gamebook after the success of To Be or Not To Be: That Is the Adventure, this time adapting William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. Again using the idea that Shakespeare merely used one path as his actual play, the reader can go through multiple plotlines, with wildly varying degrees of realism as Romeo, Juliet or unlockable characters.


Romeo and/or Juliet provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Badass:
    • It's immediately established from the get-go that Juliet is incredibly swole in this version of the story and she puts those muscles to good use whenever she can.
    • Lady Macbeth takes up the option of fighting to the death instead of Macbeth in Foul is Fair and/or Fair is Foul, with her putting up far more of a fight before succumbing.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Twelfth Night, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Macbeth all make appearances within the narrative but since they're not the focus of the book, the narration is just limited to one character's perspective and heavily abridges their stories.
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  • Adaptation Expansion: The path that follows up on the canonical ending of the play uses Lady Montague's sudden death as the primary Driving Question for its player character and whether or not it was accidental or deliberate.
  • Adaptational Sexuality:
    • In a roundabout way, as in one ending, the narrator declares that whoever Juliet falls in love with is dependent on the reader and notes that if you're into girls, than so is Juliet.
    • The book's version of Twelfth Night establishes that Olivia is bisexual.
  • Adapted Out: Parodied with Valentine and Signor Valentio. When Romeo reads the guest list for the Capulet's party, the narrator decides that the similar names would be too confusing, and declares that he's cut them both out of the story. All well and good, except neither character actually appeared on-stage in the original play to begin with.
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  • All Just a Dream: A Midsummer Night's Choice is a dream that Juliet had while faking her death, but that only applies to her path.
  • Amazonian Beauty: Juliet is really muscular in this adaptation and it becomes one of her defining traits. It's explained that since she had nothing to do in the castle all day, she turned to bodybuilding as a hobby that she could actually do.
  • Anachronism Stew: Zigzagged throughout the book. On the one hand, characters frequently chide each other for using modern vernacular by reestablishing what they mean in 1585 for the cast and technology is generally kept to its contemporary level (with the exception of Clock Punk robots which is hand waved away by explaining that it only happened after years of intense research), but on the other hand the concept of modern weightlifting is about three hundred years too early for Europe and Juliet.
  • Another Side, Another Story: Nurse Quest explains why Nurse took so long to give the message to Romeo and is so tired when she returns because of the many, many obstacles from Capulet grounds to Verona and back.
  • Arranged Marriage: Juliet, of course, is still betrothed to Tom Paris with a variety of options on what to do about him. Meanwhile, Romeo can end up getting pressured into marrying Amelia of the Ameliason family, staunch allies of the Montagues.
  • Art Shift: Everything in Nurse Quest is pixelated to homage old-school adventure games.
  • Ascended Extra:
    • Nurse is fleshed out significantly and is one of the playable characters, with her own playable segment, Nurse Quest.
    • Rosaline is the final playable character, reinvented as a Noir-style PI of Verona, much more cynical and world-weary compared to everyone else.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Romeo literally wishing to be Juliet's glove results in him becoming it... but gloves are non-sentient (so Romeo can't explain what's going on) and Juliet is disgusted by the glove inexplicably growing humanoid features. Also, the wish being fulfilled means somewhere a kid has drowned because Romeo used up the wish quota.
  • But Thou Must!: The book again has some choices that cannot be avoided no matter what and the most blatant example parodies this.
    Let Angelica answer: Turn to 9
    Answer for her so that––wait, nevermind, Angelica's answering already. That's what you get for never speaking up, Juliet. GUESS WE'RE GONNA LET ANGELICA ANSWER AFTER ALL. Turn to 9
  • The Cameo:
    • Juliet can run into Jacques from As You Like It in a tavern. She gets fed up with his monologuing when she tries to socialize with him.
    • Iago from Othello attempts to hijack the plot when the narrator loses track of who the reader was controlling but he's quickly kicked out.
  • Color Motif: Red and pink in accordance with being a much more romance focused book and also to highlight the violence in the otherwise Deliberately Monochrome art. The stories featured within the narrative lack red in their illustrations with the exception of "Pyramus and Thisbe" because it is the only other romance-focused story.
  • Continuity Nod: If Romeo or Juliet go to Denmark, they run into Ophelia who has killed everyone in town with her ninja training. She notes that she is merely one possibility out of dozens and it's completely possible they could've run into another version of her.
  • Cutaway Gag: After getting married as Romeo and choosing to continue the story, the next story portion depicts a T. Rex rampaging through Verona as the narrator states that Romeo made some good and bad choices that eventually led to this.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Romeo has the option of fighting Benvolio to the death after the latter... cheated at rock-paper-scissors.
  • Distant Finale: One ending has Romeo and Juliet as ghosts drifting in the cosmos long after the Earth's destruction. The narrator is mainly just annoyed at how it's so far removed from the premise of the book.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: Juliet has the option of wearing a sexy guard uniform to distract the other guards as part of the plan to infiltrate Capulet Castle. If Romeo wears it instead, the two are so distracted by how arousing Romeo is, they opt to just completely abandon their plan of robbing the Capulets in favor of horny hijinks.
  • Divide by Zero: Juliet puts her foot down on using the ghost time machine to travel back to the year zero because of the possibility of running into a terrible anomaly caused by this.
  • Downloadable Content: Parodied. In one ending, the narrator laments that you should've bought the DLC for this book to see the further adventures of Romeo as a vigilante and Rosaline as his insane nemesis.
  • Dreadful Musician: Juliet would really like to get a hang of the lute, but her mother's insistence on more and more practice suggests it's not really worth listening to at the moment.
  • Driven to Suicide: In a variety of ways for a variety of reasons, like how Romeo and Amelia could't cope with their families' pressure and committed suicide to get away from marrying.
  • Drugs Are Bad: Every single possible choice in A Midsummer Night's Choice that results in using Puck's drugs positively is shot down and the reader is presumably killed by the librarian for choosing this. The only way to not die is to pick the path that hammers in this trope.
  • Faking the Dead: Friar Lawrence invents the serum early on to get out of any inconvenience that bothers him like jury duty and watering his mother's plants, and both Romeo and Juliet have the option of taking it at certain points in the story. If you take Rosaline's path, it's also revealed that Mercutio was also using it.
  • Famous Last Words:
    • The narrator is annoyed at how Romeo chooses to say "DAAAAAAANNNNNNGGGG" as his last words and decides that between the reader and him, it was always "Thus with a kiss I die." He is much more impressed with what Juliet says.
    • Not that Juliet gets the impressive last words in all the endings. In one ending, after stabbing herself and falling down on Romeo so her butt lands on his face, her final words before dying are is "I hope we spend eternity with my butt on your face." The narrator is not happy.
  • Gender Flip: Christine Marlowe wrote the In-Universe Choose-Your-Own-Adventure books, the author presumably being a riff on Christopher Marlowe.
  • Giver of Lame Names: One ending mentions that Romeo is banned from naming their kids since the best he could come up with for their daughter was Romeo-ella.
  • Goth: Juliet decides after she gets over Romeo's death in one ending that wearing black clothes and using black makeup is actually really cool and inadvertently starts this movement four hundred years before it historically started.
  • Happily Married: Romeo and Juliet can end up like this if you can successfully marry them and avoid dying. Alternatively, simply choosing the ending that wraps up the narrative once they marry technically fulfills this since their fate after marriage isn't shown.
  • His Name Really Is "Barkeep": Nurse's last name is... Nurse. After the narrator informs you of this, he immediately chastises you for making fun of her chosen profession.
  • Hurricane of Puns: Every breakfast restaurant has a menu filled to the brim with puns.
  • Kill 'Em All: Taken Up to Eleven when Juliet teams up with Ophelia to lash out at all of humanity for Romeo's murder and poisons every human on Earth by using a specialized poison that only kills humans and stays in every liquid known to man in bodies of water, weather, and drinks.
  • Laser-Guided Amnesia: Friar Lawrence has a potion that erases someone's memory of one specific thing for 42 hours.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: In certain endings, characters allude to how Verona will mainly just be known for the two lovers or how Romeo and Juliet would be famous just for their love as an allusion to the actual play's status today.
  • Lemony Narrator: Back in full force, and while he's okay with how the reader can follow the original plot of the play this time around, he snarks on a lot of options and is frequently annoyed at how the reader chooses to skip certain scenes. The only time he's not around is when it shifts to Rosaline's perspective who narrates everything herself.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Friar Lawrence refuses to give out poison for murder due to his oaths as a friar, but poison for the supposed purpose of committing suicide is a-okay as he believes in a radical form of self-realization. Likewise, getting enough rat poison to get rid of rats that will also happen to be enough to kill a human is okay.
    • The reader can abuse their power of character choice to various degrees of tolerance by the narrator. For example, going from Romeo in Mantua to Juliet in the tomb and then back to Romeo in rapid succession gives the player the option to use Juliet's knowledge despite Romeo technically not knowing any of this.
  • Love at First Sight: It's Romeo and Juliet, the couple best-known for this trope. The only times it doesn't happen is when they make a terrible first impression.
  • Love Freak: Romeo starts out as one and eagerly talks about love at every opportunity.
  • Love-Interest Traitor: Juliet can make the inexplicable decision to fatally poison Romeo with absolutely no remorse on her part for no driving reason besides the reader's whim. The narrator is baffled at this sudden pivot to murder.
  • Mad Scientist: Friar Lawrence is reinvented as one because he is the guy with a Faking the Dead serum.
  • The Many Deaths of You: It is a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book and every ending comes with an illustration so you can see how Romeo and Juliet meet their grisly demises.
  • Messianic Archetype: Juliet's supposedly miraculous resurrection after two days and her very public funeral makes people believe that she was imbued with some sort of holy power and begin to create a cult forming around her in one ending. The narrator informs her that everyone is now hanging on to her every word and will fight wars over interpretations of what she said. Her Significant Monogram of JC further hammers in the Jesus allusion.
  • Metaphorgotten: The narrator gets carried away with his North Star metaphor for Romeo when he swears to be as constant as the North Star since it really isn't constant and would only appear that way when you take into account an earthbound perspective and all of that should be considered for the metaphor. He decides that he'll have to test these out before using them.
  • The Most Dangerous Video Game: Parodied, A Midsummer Night's Choice isn't capable of harming its in-universe reader when you reach a bad ending, but the librarian standing right behind them has decided to murder them if they do.
  • Multiple Endings: The main conceit behind the book is that there are many ways one can play the story of Romeo and Juliet, ranging from zany (horses have become religious after consuming Romeo's body, devoting themselves to eating flesh and rampage across Europe!) to dark (Romeo drowns himself out of his despair at Juliet not responding to his letters.).
  • Murder Is the Best Solution: Murder is frequently given as a possible fix to their problems, especially if Tom Paris is involved.
  • My Nayme Is: Chip Zdarsky's name is spelled "Zudarsky" in the list of illustrators, with his bio simply saying that he wanted to be the last one in the list.
  • The Namesake: You can control Romeo or Juliet or Romeo and Juliet at the same time.
  • Old Shame: In-universe, if Romeo chooses to use Lawrence's memory serum to temporarily forget about Rosaline, he has a brief relapse of remembering her in his adulthood, but realizes that his young self was an embarrassing lovestruck teenager and moves on.
  • Only Sane Man: Friar Lawrence — most of the time. He does have a slightly disturbing obsession with people faking their deaths, but apart from that he tends to be more together than the majority of the other characters.
  • Police are Useless: They generally can't resolve the gigantic feud between the Capulets and Montagues (with the exception of the path where Benvolio, Mercutio, and Tybalt all die in the same fight at which point it can't be ignored) or figure out why people suddenly die in mysterious circumstances (though in general this is to Romeo or Juliet's advantage). The notable exception to the latter is the path where Juliet chooses to murder Tom Paris via knife and ends up covered in blood to the point where she couldn't even wash most of it off, allowing the police to easily track her back.
  • Portmanteau: Romeo and Juliet in one ending reject their families and instead combine their last names, coming up with Montalets and Capagues.
  • Private Eye Monologue: The entirety of Rosaline's path is narrated like this instead of the Lemony Narrator commenting on what Romeo or Juliet does.
  • Product Placement: One choice informs you to go out and buy To Be Or Not To Be, consume it in its entirety, and tell your friends how awesome it was and that they should buy it too.
  • Psychic Link: One is created between Romeo and Juliet when the reader takes control of both of them, allowing them to do things much more efficiently. In one ending, they become so synced-up through their link, they do everything in tandem from greetings to eating to sex.
  • Rapid-Fire Fisticuffs: Benvolio punches Romeo to death in one ending with the narration describing it as a tornado of punches.
  • Secret Character: As a reward for Juliet's epically tragic suicide, the narrator gives the number corresponding to the fourth character option, Rosaline Catling.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot:
    • The narrator gives you the choice to skip over Romeo and Juliet's sex scene, and if you don't, he tells you to go look up a sex scene from literally any other written media and mentally substitute in their names and pronouns to get the desired scene you want.
    • An illustration of their sex has a [CENSORED] bar over it in one ending.
    • The narrator informs the reader that they physically consummated their marriage in one path but chooses to skip over it.
  • Scoring Points: The narrator gives out a ridiculously high amount of points for some of Juliet's endings and throughout Nurse Quest, the reader has a set amount of points to get and certain actions raise or lower the amount of points you have.
  • Show Within a Show: Three this time, with Fair Is Foul and/or Foul Is Fair, a Gamebook version of Macbeth, A Midsummer Night's Choice, a choose-your-own-adventure version of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and a condensed version of Pyramus and Thisbe. There are also several made-up books mentioned like Eleventh Night and Much Ado about Choices. To Be or Not to Be is also depicted in this manner and so is Romeo and/or Juliet.
  • Shout-Out:
    • One ending has the ghosts of Romeo and Juliet possess George and Lorraine at their high school dance, unfortunately the sudden shock of possession causes the two to piss themselves, tearing the two apart in embarrassment. The narrator says it's probably fine and they'll find someone else to marry, it's not like they ruined anyone's life by splitting them up.
    • In Fair is Foul And/Or Foul Is Fair, the narrator briefly muses on the importance of killing Macduff's son, lest he become a bat-themed crusader of the night who'll come after them to avenge the death of his father.
    • In the ending where Juliet becomes a religious icon, it's mentioned that someone's written an opera called Juliet Capulet Superstar.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Rosaline's path which follows up on the actual ending of Romeo and Juliet reveals that Mercutio faked his death to murder Lady Montague.
  • Take a Third Option: After the attempts to get past Capulet Castle guards fails since Romeo or Juliet aren't able to respond, a third option is revealed: Take control of both of them in order to respond fast enough to the guards.
  • Tempting Fate: In one ending, Juliet says "Hope we can... iron out our problems" after Romeo decides to stay with her for longer than intended, only for her dad to run in and immediately start beating Romeo to death with an iron pole.
  • Unfortunate Names: It's mentioned in one ending that Romeo and Juliet unintentionally named their child (Tycolia, a portmanteau of Tybalt, Benvolio, and Mercutio) after a deadly disease that would come in a few years.
  • Values Dissonance: In-Universe, the narrator notes that a lot of what Romeo could do would be seen as stalker-like or creepy today.
  • When All You Have Is a Hammer...: Friar Lawrence's solutions for problems generally start and end with faking a person's death for forty-two hours.
  • Wholesome Crossdresser: Romeo has the option to dress up as a maid to infiltrate Capulet Castle.
  • Who Names Their Kid "Dude"?: In one ending, Romeo and Juliet name their daughter after Juliet's mom. Her name is Manhump Buttstuff. The narrator suggests giving their baby a cute nickname like "Mannie" or "Stuffie" if they don't want to use her actual name.
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