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Referenced By / King Lear

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  • A 2009 adaptation published by Amulet Books, illustrated by Ilya and adapted by Richard Appignanesi, takes place in the British colony of New York during the French and Indian War. Lear is depicted as a chieftain of the Iroquois Confederacy, the Earl of Gloucester is depicted as an elderly white mountain man, and his illegitimate son Edmund is implied to be descended from an African-American mother.

Comic Books

Films — Live-Action


Live-Action TV

  • Blackadder: The first episode was basically the last act of Richard III crossed with Macbeth, complete with three witches whose names in the shooting script are those of the princesses from King Lear. Some of the more grandiose characters quote directly from Henry V and Julius Caesar.
  • In the Bull episode King Bull, Bull says he and Lee Donaldson are two King Lears.
  • In the first episode of Garth Marenghis Darkplace, a title card appears (in the middle of a scene), reading "This cold night will turn us all to fools and madmen." It's actually somewhat appropriate, which is immediately ruined by the fact it cites King Lear, p46 rather than an act and scene, demonstrating just how much of a hack writer Garth Marenghi is.
  • The Just Shoot Me! episode "King Lear Jet" is a Whole-Plot Reference to Lear. Jack wins tickets to the play and has Nina and Eliot fighting over them, while neglecting Maya, who is a Shakespeare fan. A scene where Maya explains the plot to Dennis intercuts with Nina and Eliot plotting against each other and Jack going mad due to an out-of-control automatic door. The tickets finally go to Dennis, who is seen crying at the theater.
  • President Bartlet on The West Wing has three daughters, but it's the middle one, Ellie, with whom he has the difficult relationship. In the episode named after her, the Surgeon General says in an Internet chat that generally speaking marijuana isn't worse for you than cigarettes, and the White House is planning to fire her when Ellie (a medical student herself) sticks her oar in by telling the press her father would never fire a doctor for giving accurate if impolitic medical information to the public. Bartlet has a fight with her, assuming she did it just to give him a hard time and demanding to know why she isn't always on his side like her sisters. Later, reflecting, he mentions King Lear and says that, after all, it was actually a nice thing she said about him.
    • The West Wing borrows a lot from King Lear, especially in the earlier seasons. Leo takes the Earl of Kent's role (Bartlet's oldest friend, more pragmatic where Bartlet is idealistic), Charlie is the Fool (younger and less educated than other characters but wise, father-son relationship with Bartlet), the Vice President is Edmund (hungry for power that he feels he is owed, something of a schemer).


  • As if "I Am The Walrus" wasn't bizarre enough, at the end part of a BBC radio production of King Lear was mixed in live. The part they got was Act 4, Scene 6, from Oswald's Final Speech to Edgar saying, "Sit you down, father; rest you."

Professional Wrestling


Western Animation

  • Animaniacs: In the song "Hello Nurse", it's mentioned among her many achievements that she played the lead in King Lear.
  • The Simpsons:
    • In "Guess Who's Coming to Criticize Dinner?", Krusty plays the title role of King Lear at the local dinner theater. He bombs spectacularly (read: bad enough to be called the worst King Lear in 400 years), having not realized that it's not a comedy.
      Krusty: How do you make a King Lear? Put the Queen in a bikini!
    • There is an episode titled "King Leer".

Real Life