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William Fakespeare

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"All hail... Fakespeare."
Kyle "Oancitizen" Kallgren, Brows Held High review of Anonymous (2011)

William Shakespeare is obviously a celebrated and well-known author, leading to a number of references to his writings in countless works. See ReferencedBy.William Shakespeare. However, some works, typically Medieval European Fantasy or those in a Renaissance or Baroque analogue, go a step further by having an in-universe writer obviously modeled after Shakespeare. Besides being referenced/read by characters, characters will also often attend or act in one of this writer's plays, allowing for an Affectionate Parody of Shakespeare with lots of Stylistic Suck and lampshading of dramatic conventions associated with his works (e.g. characters giving long speeches while dying, men playing female roles, including female roles disguised as men, and the tendency of tragedies to end with the deaths of nearly the entire cast). On occasion, the Shakespeare analogue will even be a character in the story. Because of some evidence that Shakespeare may have acted in some of his own plays, including according to legend, the Player King in Hamlet, some Shakespeare expies that appear will likewise be (invariably hammy) lead actors in their own plays.

Besides Shakespeare's popularity, one likely reason for the frequent creation of in-universe equivalents is that Shakespeare's own plays often had meta-theatrical elements (e.g. The Tempest, Henry V, and As You Like It), and also sometimes included play-within-a-play scenes containing Self-Parody (e.g. The Taming of the Shrew, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and Hamlet). which also likely explains the large number of works involving a play-within-a-play where the characters perform Shakespeare (e.g. Kiss Me, Kate and The Dresser).

Subtrope of No Historical Figures Were Harmed. Not to Be Confused with The Bard on Board, which is about works that borrow the basic plot line of one of Shakespeare's plays. See also Shakespeare in Fiction, which is Shakespeare himself appearing as a Historical Domain Character rather than a character based on him.


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    Fan Works 

  • In the Discworld novel Wyrd Sisters, one of the characters is the dwarf playwright Hwel (a Welsh name that is pronounced like "Will"), who is hired to put on a Macbeth-like play as propaganda by the Evil Prince usurper-to-the-throne. He's also mentioned in two other books that riff on Shakespeare, the A Midsummer Night's Dream flavoured Lords and Ladies (where for some reason, his play based on the events of the book is called The Taming of the Vole) and the loosely Romeo and Juliet inspired Unseen Academicals (where he's the author of a play called Star-Crossed).
  • In the Gentleman Bastard books, Genius Bruiser Jean is a big fan of and likes to quote an in-universe playwright and poet named Lucarno. While the excerpts we get aren't direct quotes from Shakespeare, the general style is very Shakespearean, as are the titles of his plays, and he's obviously used in-story in part because of the author, Scott Lynch's love of Shakespeare.
    • In the second novel, Red Seas Under Red Skies, Jean's romance with noblewoman turned pirate Ezri, who is also a fan, involves a lot of quoting of Lucarno in their flirtations. Also in the book, Jean has an extended debate with a Wicked Cultured pirate, who is a fan of another playwright (probably an analogue of Marlowe or Jonson), who he praises for edifying and erudite political messages, and who scorns Lucarno for his frequent bawdry and lowbrow appeal.
    • In the third novel, Republic Of Thieves, there's a flashback section where the characters acted in one of Lucarno's plays as con artist training, allowing Lynch to write extensive "excerpts" from a Shakespeare pastiche.
  • The K. J. Parker story "Told By An Idiot" is a rare instance of this being done without a secondary world setting, with the central joke of the story being that Shakespeare is never mentioned, because the narrator can't remember his name, but is lurking in the background throughout. The unnamed narrator is a shady Welsh-born theatre owner (presumably Henry Evans of The Blackfriars Theatre), who is Born Lucky and thinks he has a good nose from what sells. The narrator often does business with a struggling hack playwright named Master Allardyce, whose playwrighting attempts mirror successful Shakespeare plays. In-story, Allardyce coined the phrase "All The World's a Stage", and it's mentioned that he sold a bunch of his unfinished comedies to "some hack who worked for the Other Lot, across the river" (i.e. Shakespeare himself). Parker uses the It Will Never Catch On trope for humor, as the narrator rejects Allardye's play about a man who can't make up his mind, and is also uninterested in a play about Henry II, because he believes audiences aren't interested in plays about kings named Henry because they won't be able to tell the different Henries apart.
  • In one scene in Swordspoint, the main characters attend a Shakespeare-like play, and mock it for features like characters giving long speeches while dying.
  • In A Song of Ice and Fire, while Arya Stark is in the City of Canals, Braavos, she hears of Shakespeare-like plays being performed (unlike the medieval Westeros, which only has bards and mummers, Braavos is in the Renaissance and has playwrights), and later performs in one herself, titled "The Blood Hand", written by Phario Forel, known as the "bloodiest quill of all of Braavos" and performed by the troop of a guy named Izembarro. The play gives an in-universe Historical Villain Upgrade to Tyrion Lannister, who is framed as a Richard III-style Evil Cripple murderous schemer. note 
  • Arcia Chronicles features a character obviously based on Shakespeare, though it's not a very favorable portrayal: more like a Take That! for his work on Richard III, since Richard III's expy is one of the good guys in the story.
  • In John Hornor Jacobs' novel The Incorruptibles, which is set in a fantasy version of the American West which was settled by Romans, Shoe, a dwarf is forced to help the seemingly mild-mannered and nondescript but totally despicable engineer Beleth torture and experiment on one of The Fair Folk, because Shoe can understand their language. At one point, when Shoe hesitates to translate because of his disgust, Beleth quotes their version of Shakespeare while semi-jokingly threatening Shoe with a Cold Iron blade:
He came closer to me and he crimson knife was very near my chest. I looked at its tip. He saw where I was staring, grinned again, and gave two small jabs in jest. '"Now sir, before I prick there."' What a great comedian, this engineer, quoting from the master wordsmith, Willem Bless, and his play Our Heavenly War.
  • Detlef Sierck of Drachenfels, occasionally mentioned in other Warhammer Fantasy works. A widely famed poet and playwright, like the Bard, though his name is a reference to Hollywood director Douglas Sirk.

    Live-Action TV 

  • In Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead, the eponymous characters have a lot of interaction with the Player (King) that Hamlet hires, and Stoppard's play clearly uses him as part of its overall parody of Hamlet specifically, as well as Shakespeare generally, and in some productions (e.g. the 2017 Old Vic production with Daniel Radcliffe), he looks like a very seedy William Shakespeare. Shakespeare's use of male actors to play female characters as well as his plays' frequent Ho Yay is represented by the Player's use of Alfred, a young actor who he frequently sexually harasses. Not only does Alfred function as both Ms. Fanservice and Mr. Fanservice in the Player's plays, but the Player prostitutes him to earn extra funds. Additionally, Stoppard satirizes the violent nature of Shakespeare's tragedies with a quote from the Player about the type of plays his troop performs (despite the fact that Shakespeare wrote a lot of comedies and romances that all had happy endings):
    The Player: We're more of the love, blood, and rhetoric school. Well, we can do you blood and love without the rhetoric, and we can do you blood and rhetoric without the love, and we can do you all three concurrent or consecutive. But we can't give you love and rhetoric without the blood. Blood is compulsory. They're all blood, you see.

    Video Games 
  • In the Fable universe, there is Philipth Morley, whose plays seem to have a Shakespearean flavor to them.
  • In Final Fantasy IX, the play that the main character is performing at the start of the game, 'I Want to Be Your Canary', is an obvious parallel to Romeo and Juliet. The play is credited to a Lord Avon, as in Stratford-on-Avon, Shakespeare's birthplace. Also, one of the minor characters in the game is named Puck and the Tantalus theatre troupe includes Marcus and Cinna. Additionally, in the original Japanese, the king, played by Baku, was named King Lear (Leo in the English versions); his daughter Cordelia appears in the play as Cornelia.
  • Team Fortress 2 has Shakespearicles, the strongest writer who ever lived, along with inventing the stage play, America, the two-story building, and the rocket launcher (to get to the second story, as he never mastered the concept of stairs).

    Visual Novels 
  • The Great Ace Attorney gives us William Shamspeare, an untalented British actor who takes after Shakespeare's image and rips off several of the Bard's plots.