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Referenced By / William Shakespeare
aka: To Shakespeare

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"Brush up your Shakespeare
Start quoting him now
Brush up your Shakespeare
And the women you will wow!"

Using a phrase or character from Shakespeare's work. Often a Literary Allusion Title.

This trope has been done to death, yet it continues to thrive. For one thing, Shakespeare wrote some really good lines. For another, reaching back to the Western past keeps Western authors grounded and helps maintain a cultural vocabulary for sharing ideas. It could be argued that a good deal of the English language is a shout out to Shakespeare, considering the amount of idioms and coinages he's responsible for. There's also the simple fact that Shakespeare's words and works have become so ingrained within Western culture that many creators may end up quoting and referencing it without even realising that they're doing so.


Besides naming things after lines from Shakespeare, books may begin with a quote by Shakespeare or some other source that lends an aura of erudition; another common source of these is the Bible. Or they might just use him as a character.

Good Night, Sweet Prince and Alas, Poor Yorick are subtropes. When an entire work is adapted from a Shakespearean source, see The Bard on Board. See also The Zeroth Law of Trope Examples. For characters speaking in quotes of other authors or sources, see Speaks in Shout-Outs.

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    All's Well That Ends Well 
  • Helen B. Narbon is named after Helen de Narbon, who likewise is the daughter of a notable doctor and has inherited their skills. The Shakespearean version isn't a Mad Scientist, though.

     Antony and Cleopatra 
  • In "The Duchess and the Devil" from Horatio Hornblower, delirious Archie quotes an extract from Antony and Cleopatra. He later says to Horatio that his friend Duchess may be Cleopatra or Gertrude, Lady Macbeth, Beatrice, but she's no Duchess. She's an actress named Katherine Cobham.

    As You Like It 
  • Irish poem An Chead Drama (The First Play/Drama) by Seán Ó Coisdealbha is based entirely on this, where life is a play written and directed by God, and Satan is the prompter trying to lead the actors astray.
    Chum Dia dráma "gleann na ndeor"
    Agus thug sé páirt ann do go leor
    Dráma fada ar stáitse mór
    An Domhan.
    • (God composed this drama "valley of tears" / And gave everyone a part / Long drama on the big stage / The world.)
  • "All the world's a stage, its inhabitants merely actors. And thus, by definition, ponces," says the League Against Tedium in Attention Scum.
  • A Very Potter Musical has a subtle one (apparently an Actor Allusion): "Snape is at the door and much importunes access to you."
  • The basis of an observation in Calvin and Hobbes.
    Calvin: "They say the world is a stage. But obviously the play is unrehearsed and everybody is ad-libbing his lines."
    Hobbes: "Maybe that's why it's hard to tell if we're living in a tragedy or a farce."
    Calvin: "We need more special effects and dance numbers."
  • The same line is repeatedly quoted in Idlewild.
  • "The world is a stage, and the play is badly cast." Oscar Wilde.
  • In Pearls Before Swine, the dumb crocodiles try to get a "smart" croc to intimidate their would-be prey, the Zebra, with words. Instead, he apologizes to Zebra: "When I look upon my crocodile bretheren, I am reminded of the words of William Shakespeare, who said, to wit, 'Here come a pair of very strange beasts, which in all tongues are called fools.'"
  • Rush, "Limelight:" "All the world's indeed a stage / and we are merely players / performers and portrayers / each another's audience outside the gilded cage."
  • In the same episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation that provides the Hamlet-quoting Patrick Stewart Speech below, Q begins the discussion of Shakespeare by misquoting As You Like It. Picard corrects him.
    Q: Hear this, Picard, and reflect: "All the galaxy's a stage."
    Picard: "World," not "galaxy;" "all the world's a stage."
    Q: Oh, you know that one. Well, if he was living now, he would have said "galaxy."
  • "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts, his acts being seven ages." Dr Henry Killinger in The Venture Bros. Very chillingly delivered.
  • From V for Vendetta (graphic novel), V to Evey as he prepares to meet Prothero: "All the world's a stage, and everything vaudeville."
  • "I believe it was Shakespeare who said, 'All the world's a stage, and you're crap!'" said Colin Mochrie in Whose Line Is It Anyway?.
  • All the Disc's a stage, and all men and women merely players. Except for those who sell popcorn." - Hwell the Playwright, Wyrd Sisters.
  • Denis Norden may have originated the joke: "If all the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players, where do all the audiences come from?"
  • And, of course, several of Shakespeare's shows themselves requote this line. The Merchant of Venice, for example.

    The Comedy Of Errors 
  • The terminal text in the Marathon Infinity secret level "Two for the Price of One" is lifted verbatim from Dromio of Ephesus' speech in Act 4, Scene 4.

     Henry IV Part 1 

     Henry IV Part 2 
  • In Icebound the Judge says "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown" to Ben after Ben is given sole control of the Jordan family estate.
  • In Spider-Man: Far From Home, Nick Fury says "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown" after giving E.D.I.T.H. to Peter Parker. He then adds that Tony Stark thought that Peter wouldn't get the reference because it wasn't from Star Wars.

    Henry V 
  • The title Band of Brothers comes from the Saint Crispin's Day speech: "we few, we happy few, we band of brothers; for he to-day that sheds his blood with me shall be my brother".
  • The Saint Crispin's Day speech is (mis)quoted in Buffy the Vampire Slayer (episode "The Gift"):
    Giles: We few, we happy few...
    Spike: We band of buggered.
  • In Dawn of War, one of the Space Marine commander's lines is, "Who stands with me shall be my brother".
  • In The Dinosaur Lords, when the Final Battle of book 2 is about to commence, Rob murmurs to himself "once more unto the breach", even though there's no breach in sight.
  • Hidden Frontier has a fan-favourite speech in which 'Once more unto the breach' is used to inspire the Starfleet crews to similarly defend their homes and families. Which is odd, because the breach in question is one the English have made in the walls of Harfleur, so that they can attack French homes and families.
  • In Horatio Hornblower, Midshipman Kennedy's line "we few, we fortunate few! Keene has recommended our transfer to the... Indefatigable" very much resembles King Henry's line "we few, we happy few, we band of brothers".
  • Jailbreak: The hero attempts to quote Shakespeare and was clearly going for Henry V, but doesn't actually know any lines.
  • Zaheer's speech in the finale of book three of The Legend of Korra, about ending the avatar cycle, is rather reminiscent of the Saint Crispin's Day Speech.
  • In The Legend of Total Drama Island, Noah rallies his team with an original blank verse speech based on the "St. Crispin's Day" speech.
  • When Mick Foley was being interviewed as Mankind, relatively early in his WWF/WWE run, he was asked about taking part in death matches, barbed wire matches, and the like. Foley responded with the St. Crispin's day speech — not perfectly, but close enough — and making it creepy as hell.
  • Phineas and Ferb: "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers...and the girl across the street."
  • In Sports Night, Dan reminds Casey that he once recited the St. Crispin's Day speech when they were first paired together as anchors. Later in the episode, Casey apparently does it in the broadcast to fill up time, though we don't see it.
  • The Saint Crispin's Day speech is performed by Mr. Fabian on stage in the film Tombstone.
  • Star Trek:
    • "Once more unto the breach, dear friends" (Act III, Scene 1) shows up in quite a few Star Trek settings, including words uttered by Chang in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and as the title of an episode in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
    • The Next Generation episode "The Defector" begins with Data performing Henry V (to Picard's approval) as part of his ongoing attempts to understand the human condition. The rest of the episode alludes to the play's King Incognito plot multiple times, with Picard quoting it directly once.
      Picard: "Now if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it."
  • Empire Earth has a level where you play as Henry V, so includes a few of the play's lines as dialogue.
  • The Doctor Who New Adventures novel So Vile a Sin takes its title from a line in the play, among other references.

     Henry VI Part 2 

  • The Eagles' song "Get Over It" contains the lyric, "The more I think about it, old Billy was right/Let's kill all the lawyers, kill them tonight".

    Julius Caesar 
  • A Running Gag in Asterix is that Caesar is always saying "Et tu, Brute?", and it's getting on Brutus's nerves. "One of these days, I'll..."
  • Et tu, Jimmy?
  • The title of the Frederick Forsyth novel The Dogs of War is taken from the line "Cry 'havoc', and let slip the dogs of war." (3.1 273)
  • The 1984 Charles Bronson action movie The Evil That Men Do.
    • In All About Eve, Margo remembers the first part of the "evil that men do" quote, but can't quite remember the second part.
  • The Fantasticks: when Henry boasts of his acting ability El Gallo asks him to do "Friends, Romans, Countrymen." Henry fucks it up.
  • The Fault in Our Stars' title comes from a line in Act I, Scene II.
  • Iron Maiden has a song called "The Evil That Men Do". Bruce Dickinson sometimes uses the quote "The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones" (3.2 77-8) with the two lines reversed.
  • "Et tu, Humanite?" from Justice League episode "Injustice For All".
  • In a form of Shout-Out Theme Naming, the dub-name of the main character's father from Kimba the White Lion is named Caesar, while a villain who had a bitter past with him is named Cassius.
  • In an early episode of Milo Murphy's Law, Sara delivers a Rousing Speech to quell a fan war between longtime and more recent fans of The Doctor Zone Files:
    Sara: Oldbies, newbies, lend me your ears! (A cosplayer hands her the prosthetic ears from his costume) No, not literally.
  • The Mr. Bogus episode "Et Tu, Brattus?" is a reference to the line from Act III Scene I, "Et tu, brute!"
  • "Et tu, Gabby Gums?" from My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic episode "Ponyville Confidential".
  • In an episode of The Odd Couple the Trigger Phrase for Oscar's post hypnotic suggestion to be neat is "The fault likes not in our stars but in ourselves."
  • A Patsy Walker comic has Hellcat quoting mostly right a Brutus soliquoy from Act 4 while being swept by a wave:
    There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune; Omitted, all the something something is uh, tied to shallows and in miseries. [...] On such a full sea are we now afloat, and we must take the current when it serves or lose our ventures.
  • In Pearls Before Swine, Rat gets a job writing horoscopes and writes, "The fault, dear Brutus, is not in the stars, but in ourselves." When Goat tells him that Shakespeare already wrote that, he responds, "Good literature is not a race."
  • One of Ray Stevens' albums is titled Lend Me Your Ears.
  • Unlike Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, where Caesar is given that name after he picks out of a dictionary, Rise of the Planet of the Apes has the chimp being named by the father of the human protagonist starting to quote Julius Caesar once he sees the baby ape.
  • Done interestingly in Rome. The scene of Caesar's death is an incredibly tense, violent and brilliantly acted scuffle, almost free of dialogue — Caesar doesn't say "Et tu, Brute?" or anything else while he's dying, since he's too busy spasming and bleeding to death all over the marble senate floor. Instead they went with Plutarch's version of events, where he pulls his toga over his face (or tries to). However, once he's twitched his last and the conspirators are standing around shaking and silent, Cassius raises Brutus' arm and declaims, "Thus ever for tyrants!" Brutus doesn't take it well.
    • It gets better. Instead of seeing Brutus and Antony give the legendary speeches to the plebeians, we see the aftermath, where a smug Antony sarcastically consoles Brutus for giving a good speech but perhaps "a bit too cerebral" for the crowd to appreciate. Later, a pleb describes the speeches to his friends, showing yet another perspective of these famous monologues without showing us exactly what happened.
    • In the next episode when Brutus goes home — thoroughly regretting his part in the whole thing — and realizes his co-conspirators are considering killing Antony too, his mother encourages him to do it, and he responds, "You too, Mother?"
  • "Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears!" The first part is occasionally left out.
  • Mrs. Henscher, the local drama teacher in ParaNorman, yells the famous "dogs of war" line at one point, only to discover her compatriots aren't familiar with the reference.
    Mrs. Henscher: (beat) Let's tear 'em apart!
  • The Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Improbable Cause" opens with Garak and Bashir having one of their literature discussions over lunch. Garak, hailing from a society where everyone really is out to get you, views Caesar's blind spot regarding Brutus as farcical instead of tragic. In the following episode "The Die is Cast", however, Garak's former boss Enabran Tain makes a similar mistake.
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): In the final scene of "The Passersby", Abraham Lincoln quotes the following line from Act II, Scene II: "Of all the wonders that I yet have heard, it seems to me most strange that men should fear, seeing that death, a necessary end, will come when it will come."

    King Lear 
  • 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."
  • 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.
  • In The Lost World, the T-rex attacks a San Diego video store, in which a poster for a King Lear movie starring Arnold Schwarzenegger can be briefly glimpsed.
  • In the graphic novel Preacher, protagonist Jesse Custer greets a storm with a cry of "blow, winds, and crack your cheeks! Rage! Blow! You cataracts and hurricanoes!" and a sheepish admission of "always wanted to do that".
  • 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, somthing of a schemer).
  • In The Wheel of Time, one character is described as "a king in every inch of him."
  • Scott Keith titled his rant about WWE's decline in the early 1990s "The King Lear Rant".

    The Merchant of Venice 
  • Battlestar Galactica:
    Roslin: You have your pound of flesh.
  • In the second expansion to Civilization V, Venice's unique replacement for the Great Merchant unit is called a Merchant of Venice.
  • In the Buffy episode "I Only Have Eyes For You", a poltergeist is haunting Sunnydale High, and it turns out to be the ghost of a student who had an affair with his teacher, only to kill her and himself when she rejected him. Buffy has no sympathy for the student, saying he should spend the rest of his life in prison. Xander's reaction is, "The quality of mercy is not Buffy".
  • In Cinderella by Rodgers and Hammerstein, the wicked stepsisters have different names in various productions. In the 1957 original, they are Joy and Portia, both of which are Ironic Names: Joy is a Grumpy Bear and Portia, named for the clever lawyer, is a Dumb Blonde.
  • Cracked has one in a parody in "The 9 Most Utterly Insane Products Released by Famous Brands":
    "If you prick us, do we not stomp your teeth into the curb?"
  • The Critic:
    Keanu Reeves: (as Shylock in a film adaptation) Hath not a dude eyes? If you prick us, do we not get bummed? If we eat bad guacamole, do we not blow chunks?
  • This Dilbert comic.
    Tina: If you prick us, do we not bleed like engineers?
  • And in Discworld.
    Rock: If you prick us, do we not bleed?
    CMOT Dibbler: Err, no. You're made of stone.
    Rock: Aha, but if I had blood, I'd bleed buckets!
  • Family Guy
    Brian: Does a dog not feel? If you scratch him, does his leg not shake?
  • This speech is parodied by the gargoyles in Disney's The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
  • An episode of the German import of Monty Python's Flying Circus featured a scene of Venice... as performed by cows.
  • Subverted in Neverwhere.
    Mr. Croup: ... if you prick us, do we not bleed?
    Mr. Vandemar: Erm, no.
  • The New Yorker satirized the Citizens United ruling with a cartoon where a lawyer asks the judges, "If you prick a corporation, does it not bleed? If you tickle it, does it not laugh? If you poison it, does it not die?"
  • "If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?" (III.i) is quoted in The Pianist. Later, a character is seen reading the play; he bought it because it was appropriate for the situation.
  • The lines "The quality of mercy is not strain'd/It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven" is quoted in several books by P. G. Wodehouse.
    • "The man that hath no music in himself/Is fit for treasons, stratagems and spoils" also comes up a few times; in Thank You, Jeeves Bertie quotes it to defend his banjolele-playing when the neighbors in his flat start complaining.
    • This line is also paraphrased by Psychopomp Mr. Coffee in On the Verge.
  • In Schindler's List, when Nazi commander Amon Goeth is about to kiss his Jewish maid:
    Goeth: Hath not a Jew eyes?
  • In Se7en the serial killer literally takes a pound of flesh from a victim. He makes the guy chose the spot it is taken from, just like in the play.
  • Silver on the Tree:
    Merriman: If you prick us, we bleed, if you tickle us, we laugh—only, if you poison us, we do not die, and there are certain feelings and perceptions in us that are not in you.
  • In the play and the movie version of Six Degrees of Separation, Elizabeth is an aspiring actress, and she delivers part of "The quality of mercy" speech to show off her acting abilities. Becomes an Ironic Echo in the movie when she bitterly delivers it to the Kitteridges' doorman.
  • That quote is something of an arc-word in the dark comedy To Be or Not to Be, and it's ironically paraphrased at one point by The Quisling to argue that "Nazis are people too".
  • Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory is one of the few films to quote The Merchant of Venice but NOT "If you prick us..." Wonka's line "So shines a good deed in a weary world" comes from Act 5, Scene 1.
  • Beast quotes the same speech during his trial in an early episode of X-Men.
    Beast: ... if you prick us, do we not bleed?
    Judge: Don't tempt these people, Mr. McCoy.
  • Also parodied in 3rd Rock from the Sun when Harry interrupts a sci-fi convention to rave about their portrayal of aliens. ("Hath not an alien eyes or buttocks?")
  • In the third season of Veronica Mars, Veronica mentions how Parker's parents are extracting their pound of flesh from the university administration after Parker gets raped.
  • Babylon 5 has an episode called "The Quality of Mercy".
  • One of the songs for the soundtrack of ''Dead Man Walking" (by Michelle Shocked) is called "The Quality of Mercy".

    A Midsummer Night's Dream 
  • When Emma Woodhouse from Emma imagines that her matchmaking goes along splendidly, she quotes "the course of true love never did run smooth" and jokes that this line would require a note in Highbury edition of the play.
  • Oberon, Titania, and Puck all make an appearance in Gargoyles (Word of God is that God really likes Shakespeare) and Oberon is king of the Third Race.
  • In Iolanthe, a spoken selection of the Act One finale has the fairy queen laying down the new Parliamentary order to the horrified Peers in couplets of trochaic tetrameter, a verse form also used by Shakespeare's fairies (particularly Puck). Sullivan's composition of "Tripping hither" is also reminiscent of Mendelssohn's famous incidental music for Shakespeare's play.
  • The Discworld novel Lords and Ladies has several references, most notably the Lancre Morris Men as the Rude Mechanicals ("Bum!") and the final confrontation between the Elf King and the Elf Queen involving "something about meeting by moonlight".
  • A Mickey Mouse Works short of the same name spoofed this play, with Mickey and his friends taking on the roles of the characters in a dream sequence.
  • The one-act play Perchance To Dream is centered around a rather terrible production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, and characters frequently quote other plays by Shakespeare as well.
  • In Phineas and Ferb's Storybook Episode "Excaliferb", Candavere demands to know: 'What flaxen homespun have we swaggering here?!"
  • Princess Tutu had an episode with a girl named Hermia (who dresses like a donkey and calls herself Bottom) who was in love with a man named Lysander.
  • In the Rainbow Magic series, the fairy king and queen are named Oberon and Titania. The ball in the first series of books is the Midsummer Ball, as well.
  • The school play in The Spectacular Spider-Man is A Midsummer Night's Dream. Green Goblin even quotes a few of Puck's lines. Oh, did we mention the guy writing this episode is Greg Weisman?
    • Weisman loves this trope so much he actually used it for foreshadowing. In the school play, Harry Osborn was to play the role of Puck, and was one of the big suspects for being the Green Goblin. At the time of the play, Harry was absent (which forced them to use the understudy) and the Goblin was off doing evil and quoting Puck. Turned out to be a Red Herring, but excellent touch.
  • In one episode of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, the titular boys and their classmates are performing Midsummer, which goes horribly Off the Rails when Cody's crush (playing Hermia) is cast opposite Zack as Lysander, while Cody (playing Bottom) gets stuck with Zack's Abhorrent Admirer as Titania.
  • The Other Kingdom has the fairy king and queen named Oberon and Titania, and the first episode is titled "What Fools These Mortals Be."
  • In Unavowed, the Arc Villain for the Wall Street mission turns out to be one of The Fair Folk, going by the human identity "Roy Fellows". In fact it turns out that Mr. Fellows is actually Robin Goodfellow aka Puck himself.

  • Angel's "Soulless" includes Angelus comparing Gunn and (Wini)Fred to Othello and Desdemona, respectively, and Wesley to Cassio. They were involved in a love triangle for over a season, in which Fred chose Gunn over Wes, but Wes and Fred had feelings for each other at this point and Gunn recently walked in on them kissing. This is also a reference to Angelus pitting the team against each other (like Iago) and Gunn who is the black guy and feels as though his skills are going unrecognized.
  • In Aladdin, the villain's parrot sidekick is named Iago. Which, considering it's set centuries before Shakespeare was even born, is just another ingredient of the delicious Anachronism Stew that Aladdin serves up.
  • One of the Dino Attack agents in Dino Attack RPG is named Desdemona.
  • In Dom Casmurro the main character watches it in the theater.
  • Iago from Fire Emblem Fates is very much like his namesake from Othello, being an adviser who hates the main character and tries to make them as miserable as possible.
  • The Gargoyles arc involving Coldstone borrows heavily from Othello. Coldstone is in the role of Othello, Goliath is Cassius, the antagonist gargoyle (Coldsteel) is credited as Iago initially, and the female (Coldfire) is credited as Desdemona originally.
  • The father in Eugene O'Neill's Long Day's Journey Into Night professes a love for Shakespeare, and for Othello in particular. The reason for this is because he "bought the play," meaning that he'd make a lot of money but he would have to do the same play for the rest of his acting career.
  • Baron Sardonicus and Sir Cargrave bring up Iago while discussing about evil characters in Shakespeare's work during dinner in Mr. Sardonicus.
  • The titular character of Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf quotes Othello when she thinks to herself that "if it were now to die 'twere now to be most happy."
  • In The Punisher (2004), the title character's plan for revenge against the man who killed his family is very similar to Iago's plan against Othello.
  • Tosca: In his first scene, Scarpia explicitly compares himself to Iago, apparently for no other reason than to make sure that the audience knows who the bad guy is from the start.

    Richard II 
  • The Muse song "Knights of Cydonia" contains the lyrics:
    How can we win / when fools can be kings?/ Don't waste your time/ or time will waste you.
  • Richard II is about a rather foolish king, whose final soliloquy contains the line "I wasted time, and now doth time waste me."
  • The Scarlet Pimpernel has Sir Percy quoting John of Gaunt's "this blessed plot/ this earth, this realm, this England" speech before going before Chauvelin's firing squad.
  • In the Total Drama story, Legacy, one chapter begins with the quote,
    For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground
    And tell sad stories of the deaths of kings;
    Some deposed, some slain in war...

    Richard III 
  • Once when Stephen Colbert substituted for Jon Stewart on The Daily Show he introduced the show;
    "I'm sitting in for Jon Stewart, and here's the thing...Plots have I laid, inductions dangerous, by drunken prophecies, libels and dreams, to set Comedy Central and Jon Stewart in deadly hate, the one against the other; and if Comedy Central be as true and just as I am subtle, false, and treacherous, this day should Jon Stewart closely be mewed up."

    The Sonnets 
  • One young man in Dead Poets Society tries to impress a girl by reciting Sonnet 18. ("Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?...") He goes on to claim he wrote it...
  • Doctor Who contained a veiled reference to Sonnet 57 (among many, many less subtle references, natch) in the episode featuring the Bard himself.
    The Doctor: Come on! We can have a good flirt later.
    Shakespeare: Is that a promise, Doctor?
    The Doctor: Oh, fifty-seven academics just punched the air.
  • Proust's masterpiece In Search of Lost Time has been published in English under the title Remembrance of Things Past, a line from Sonnet 30. ("When to the sessions of sweet silent thought...")
  • The Marathon Infinity level "Poor Yorick" (itself a Shakespeare reference) has a secret terminal that consists entirely of the text from Sonnet No. 131.
  • In an episode of My So-Called Life, Mr. Katimsky's class discusses Sonnet #130 (the one that begins, "My mistress' eyes are nothing like the sun"), which leads both Brian and Jordan to make a realization about Angela.
    • The name of Sting's album, "...Nothing Like the Sun", is derived from the first line of that same sonnet, and that line is also borrowed in the song "Sister Moon" (which doubles as an Album Title Drop).note 
  • Kate Wilhelm's Hugo-winning novel Where Late The Sweet Birds Sang, whose title is taken from Sonnet 73. ("That time of year thou mayest in me behold...")
  • In In a Lonely Place, the drunken Classically Trained Extra who stumbles down the stairs in Steele's apartment quotes from Shakespeare's Sonnet 29.

    The Tempest 
  • In Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, when Bonk gets angry at the Joker and calls him a fake, the Joker replies, "Ah, brave new world...that has such [putzes/yutzes] in it." This is a parody of a line spoken by Miranda in The Tempest: "O, wonder!/How many goodly creatures are there here!/How beauteous mankind is! O brave new world/That has such people in't" (V, i).
  • Miranda's speech is, in fact, the Title Drop in Brave New World. The Savage really knows his Shakespeare.
    • Arguably, "Brave New World" is almost the opposite of "To thine own self be true" nowadays. Whereas "to thine own self be true" was meant as ironic (in context), it is now used seriously. Whereas "brave new world" is meant to be said seriously, but chances are, if something's described as a "brave new world" in fiction, something is—or will soon be—Gone Horribly Wrong (most likely because Huxley's dystopian novel has become more well-known than the play it got its title from.
  • Chapter Sixteen of the original Web Animation Broken Saints is called "Tempest".
  • Another little one in Call of Duty: Black Ops: while the player is being led into the inner sanctum of the Pentagon by Robert McNamara, the clearance codes he gives at the checkpoints are "Sycorax" and "Prospero".
  • The Collector: The main female character is called Miranda, and she gets kidnapped by Frederick who sees himself and introduces himself as Ferdinand, because he would like to invoke a romance between them, based on the couple. Miranda thinks of him as monster and calls him Caliban.
  • The Decemberists' epic song "The Island" is a retelling of The Tempest In the Style of... Emerson, Lake & Palmer (well, Progressive Rock more generally, too).
  • Daughters of the Dust: As the boat Viola's in approaches the island, where she grew up but moved away from years ago, Viola says "What's past is prologue."
  • Exception: In the Doctor Who/Sherlock Holmes crossover All-Consuming Fire, Watson uses the line straight, to describe a future "that has such people" as Bernice Summerfield.
  • The Firefly universe has planets named Ariel and Miranda, after characters in The Tempest. Moreover, Miranda's most famous line in The Tempest is "O brave new world, that hath such people in it!", and the planet Miranda was at one time a Brave New World-like dystopia. If one wants to stretch it a bit, the Reavers could be seen as a reference to Caliban.
  • There's a little one in Galaxy of Fear. A long-dead witch went by the name of Sycorax.
  • In The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy Zaphod wants to trip the light fantastic with Questular.
  • Prospero's "We are such stuff as dreams are made on" was paraphrased by Humphrey Bogart for his iconic final line in The Maltese Falcon: "The stuff that dreams are made of".
  • In On the Verge, Alex does the "O brave new world" line straight, only to be immediately lampshaded as a plagiarist by Fanny.
  • The Relativity villain, Phanthro, is a big fan of Shakespeare. In his introductory story, "Pressure Cooker", all of the clues he gives the heroes are in the form of "Tempest" quotes. His outfit even indirectly references the play.
  • Rain of the Ghosts takes place on Prospero Keys and features a character named Miranda among other references.
  • The Simpsons did it with "Three Men and a Comic Book", Martin Prince also paraphrases Prospero's line when he touches the pages of the comic book "Radioactive Man # 1":
    Martin Prince: (Clearly moved and respectful): "This is the stuff that dreams are made of"
  • In the movie Time After Time, time-travelling H. G. Wells says "O brave new world that hath such people in it" as he observed 1980s Los Angeles.
  • Warhammer 40,000: The Primarch Magnus was found on the planet Prospero, known these days as the Planet of the Sorcerers, while Lion'el Jonson was found on Caliban. There is also a planet named Sycorax, a psychic storm-plagued Death World that serves as Training from Hell for psykers.
  • Both Ariel and Miranda are moons of Uranus in real life, as well as Caliban, Sycorax, Prospero, Setebos, Stephano, Trinculo, Francisco, Ferdinand, Titania, Oberon, Puck, Cordelia, Ophelia, Bianca, Cressida, Desdemona, Juliet, Mab, Portia, Rosalind, Margaret Perdita, and Cupid. In fact, according to Wikipedia, Ariel was one of the few moons of Uranus that wasn't initially named after a Shakespeare character—the first four were Titania and Oberon (after A Midsummer Night's Dream) and Ariel and Umbriel (after Alexander Pope's The Rape of the Lock). It just so happened that when they started finding more moons, Pope only got one more shout-out (Belinda) and Shakespeare got a couple dozen or so, with The Tempest alone receiving nine, ten if you include Ariel as a Tempest shout-out as well.
  • The opening ceremonies of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games were packed with references to The Tempest, including Kenneth Branagh quoting at length.
  • A plot point in the Big Hero 6: The Series episode, "Big Problem". A monster who was attacking various locations in the city growled out such cryptic comments as "All the Devils are here", "This thing of darkness I acknowledge as mine" and "What's past is prologue." Honey Lemon realized these were quotes from The Tempest, which helped the team uncover the monster's identity and the reasons for his attacks.
  • In the novel Ready Player One, a clue to the Crystal Key is "I must uneasy make, lest too light winning make the prize light". Parzival recognises this as "a quote from Shakespeare" and reckons that it simply implies that getting the Crystal Key won't be easy, but Art3mis corrects him, pointing out that it is a quote from The Tempest and is a clue that to earn the Crystal Key, players have to play Tempest.
  • Discworld:
    • Octarine, which can only be seen by magic-capable creatures (such as wizards and cats), is described as the colour of magic and the light fantastic — the latter being a quote from The Tempest.

    Titus Andronicus 

    Twelfth Night 
  • "If music be the food of love, play on" is quoted by Dr. Phibes in Dr. Phibes Rises Again.
  • "Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." A very frequently parodied line, with "greatness" replaced with some other quality. Probably the most famous example is from Catch-22: "Some men are born mediocre, some men achieve mediocrity, and some men have mediocrity thrust upon them."
  • Emilie Autumn's "O Mistress Mine" is based on a song from this play, and "Girls! Girls! Girls!" contains a variation on the "Some are born great..." line.
  • Thank You, Jeeves has Bertie trying to quote the "patience on a monument" speech, only to break down when he gets to the word "damask", which Jeeves both supplies and defines.
  • The Neverending Story by Michael Ende quotes the Twelfth Night song that begins:
    When that I was and a little tiny boy
    With hey, ho, the wind and the rain
  • "There is no darkness but ignorance" is quoted in Pop Team Epic as the official website's substitute for a premise.
  • In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy misquotes or paraphrases Shakespeare by remarking "if poetry be the food of love"...

    The Winter's Tale 
  • The Jeeves and Wooster story "Indian Summer of an Uncle" ends with Bertie and Jeeves taking off to avoid the wrath of Aunt Agatha, as Bertie utters the famous "Exit, Pursued by a Bear" beloved of schoolboys everywhere.
  • Phineas and Ferb invent Hockey Z-9, and at one point, their musical accompaniment exits, pursued by a (polar) bear.

  • In Adventures of Huckleberry Finn the Duke's and King's acts are basically mashups of half-remembered lines from Shakespeare plays.
  • In one of the nightmare sequences in the original A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), Nancy's class is analyzing Julius Caesar. After Nancy starts seeing a corpse talk to her, one of the students quotes a line from Hamlet:
    "O God, I could be bounded in a nutshell and count myself a king of infinite space, were it not that I have bad dreams."
  • Blackadder did this to varying extents throughout its seasons.
    • The original series had a lot of Shakespearean references, particularly to Richard III, given its Alternate History premise in which far from being killed, one of the "Princes in the Tower" grew up to be Richard IV, a psychotic Boisterous Bruiser (BRIANBLESSED). The end credits even list "Additional dialogue — William Shakespeare".
      • In more detail: 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. (The account of the King's charge into Constantinople later in the series echoes Coriolanus, but that may be a coincidence.)
    • The second series was a Retool, but one episode ("Bells") had Blackadder Jumping the Gender Barrier and falling in love with "Bob" (thus referencing Twelfth Night), and since Bob was actually named Kate, they used the line "Kiss me, Kate." In one episode Percy says "Let us sit upon the carpet and tell sad stories", (a paraphrase of John of Gaunt in Richard II: "For God's sake, let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the death of kings") and in the finale, Melchett says "Like private parts to the gods are we, they play with us for their sport" (a paraphrase of the Earl of Gloucester in King Lear: "As flies to wanton boys are we to the gods, they kill us for their sport.") The episode "Money" loosely parallels the plot of The Merchant of Venice, and includes a mad beggar who has wandered out of King Lear and quotes from it incessantly. The character of Nursie is a pretty clear tribute to Romeo and Juliet; then there are the names of several unseen characters (Romeo the Builder, Uncle Osric, etc.).
    • The third season had an episode involving the Scottish Play and its related superstitions.
  • In Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis, Polly Churchill chooses all her aliases from Shakespeare, and she falls in with a famous Shakespearean actor who constantly speaks in allusions to the Bard.
  • Quite a lot in Coraline. The poster in the old ladies' apartment reads "King Leer". The boy in the uniforms store yelled "My kingdom for a horse!". Several lines from Hamlet were quoted during the theater scene. And to top it off, Oregon natives will recognize the city the titular character's family moved to as Ashland, Oregon, where the Shakespeare Festival is held annually.
  • Batman; Being a narcissist who loves showing off how smart he is - or how much he perceives himself to be - the Penguin tends to quote from the Bard all the time in the comics and some animated adaptations. For instance, in one story from 1997:
    Penguin: "And lilies that fester smell far worse than weeds". Shakespeare's Sonnet 94, don't you just love that Bard?
    Batman: Not when he's quoted by a ham like you, Cobblepot.
    Penguin: Ham? I'll have you know I studied Shakespeare at - (Cut off as Batman belts him.)
  • Dan Vs. "Ye Olde Shakespeare Dinner Theatre" is essentially made of Shakespeare quotes, which makes sense, since Dan's beef is with the terrible acting at a Shakespeare-themed dinner theater. Further, the plot references the Bard multiple times: for example, Dan takes out one of the actors by pouring soda in his ear, referencing the play-within-a-play from Hamlet. Then he defeats another actor by gluing a donkey mask onto his face, referencing A Midsummer Night's Dream. And the trio of tech ladies working at the theatre seem to be modeled after the witches from Macbeth.
  • One of the Dragaera books explains that Paarfli's verbose and anachronistic writing style is borrowed from the style of the popular play Redwreath and Goldstar Have Traveled to Deathsgate. This page, lists several other Shakespearean allusions as well as many allusions to other works.
  • The villains of The Father Luke Wolfe Trilogy all have motivations similar to those of a Shakespeare villain; the play featuring that villain is mentioned throughout the novel in Father Wolfe's class discussions. The specific connections are: Dr. Brandt and Claudius, Allie Carpenter and Iago, and Colonel Stone and Brutus.
  • In FoxTrot, Jason and Marcus begin an attack on Paige with a yell of "Cry havoc, and let slip the bugs of war!" (Julius Caesar III.i) Paige corrects them, saying "It's 'dogs',"... and then they each squirt a bug at her. Jason explains that "Dogs wouldn't fit in out squirt guns." Marcus asks, "Did we shoot two bees, or not two bees?"
  • 1949 Looney Tunes cartoon A Ham in a Role features a cartoon dog who works for Looney Tunes but really wants to do Shakespeare. The dog even has a portrait of Shakespeare on his wall! Over the course of the cartoon the dog recites from Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, Richard III, and Julius Caesar.
  • In The Hunger Games, Katniss remembers a boy who was eliminated from one edition of the games for cannibalism. His name? Titus. There are some other minor characters with names from Shakespeare—Cressida comes to mind, for one and Lavinia, who has no tongue.
  • In Jesus of Montreal, Rene, while narrating a documentary on outer space, quotes "the winter of our discontent" speech from Richard III, and then later, while playing Pilate in the passion play he helps put on, quotes from Hamlet, specifically the "To be or not to be" speech.
  • Kill Shakespeare is a comic based around all Shakespeare characters and stories... there's no place to start.
  • The Monkey Island series has got plenty of them, and I mean PLENTY:
    • In The Secret of Monkey Island, Stan S. Stanman quotes Polonius in saying, "Neither a borrower nor a lender be" (Hamlet I.iii).
    • In Monkey Island 2, if the player has Guybrush examine the skull in his inventory, he says, "Alas, poor Dad", in a spoof of Hamlet (V.i).
    • In The Curse of Monkey Island, a character decides to rewrite various Shakespeare plays to better suit the local pirates' tastes, mangling not only famous Shakespeare quotations but entire plotlines, resulting in lines such as "Wherefore art thou treasure, Romeo?", "Spot, ye blasted dog, get out of me bloomin' garbage! Out, Damned Spot!!" and "Alas, poor Yorick, I knew him...and his two pals!", the latter spoken while juggling three skulls (one of them being Murray, of course).
      • Speaking of Murray, if the player tries having Guybrush use him anywhere else, he'll say, "Alas, I can't use Murray with that" (another spoof of Hamlet (V.i)).
    • Tales of Monkey Island has a few of the shout-outs to Shakespeare:
      • At the beginning of the intro to Chapter 2, the Voodoo Lady quotes England's deposed king Edward IV's words to Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick (a.k.a. just Warwick), before the former is taken captive in Henry VI Part 3: "What fates impose, that men must needs abide; / It boots not to resist both wind and tide" (IV.iii). Only her subtitle got it right ("needs"), while her voice got it wrong ("need").
      • In Chapter 4, if the player has Guybrush use one of the severed legs on the altar without dipping it in sugar water, he will quote a few lines in a spoof of "Alas, poor Yorick" from Hamlet (V.i) (this is done in the PS3 version in order to net the player a "Guybrush Goes Classy" silver trophy).
      • Speaking of PS3 trophies, there are a few trophies that are shout-outs too ("What's in a Name?" from the balcony scene of Romeo and Juliet (II.ii), and "Adieu, Adieu..." which is a reference to Hamlet's father's written line, "Adieu, adieu, remember me," from Hamlet (I.v)).
      • In Chapter 5, Morgan stabs LeChuck and calls him a "bunch-backed toad", which is taken from the line from Richard III, in which Queen Margaret, widow of King Henry VI, curses Queen Elizabeth (wife of King Edward IV) with: "The day will come that thou shalt wish for me / To help thee curse that poisonous bunch-backed toad" (I.iii).
  • Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru is a gender flipped Twelfth Night Adventure (right down to the most powerful cast member getting the Wholesome Crossdresser) that quotes Hamlet ("To be, or not to be" in Japanese) and has Romeo and Juliet as the class play.
  • In the movie Renaissance Man, Danny DeVito's character is assigned to teach a class of undereducated students on an Army base. To that end, he takes the novel approach of using the various works of Shakespeare to kick-start their minds.
  • In Ruddigore, Robin quotes "Alas, poor ghost!" from Hamlet. Also, his faithful servant Adam is named after a similar character in As You Like It.
  • The Rupert episode "Rupert and Algy's Misadventure" had a scene where Algy Pug tried to stall for time by quoting various works by Shakespeare, including Hamlet and Richard III.
  • Many of the grisly deaths in Theatre of Blood (though not the overarching plot itself) were drawn directly from Shakespeare's tragedies, and he's quoted liberally throughout.
  • An episode of The Simpsons ("Funeral for a Fiend"), when Sideshow Bob attempts to blow the Simpson family up:
    Sideshow Bob: Let's not tarry. As Shakespeare said, "If it were done—when 'tis done—then 'twere best / It were done quickly." Power on! [turns on the laptop as a detonator and laughs maniacally] This time I've made no mistakes.
    Lisa: Actually, you made one. What Shakespeare really said was, "'twere well / It were done quickly."
    Sideshow Bob: Yes, I'm sure you've studied the immortal bard extensively under your "Miss Hoover." [leaves and shuts the door]
    Lisa: Macbeth, Act I, Scene vii. Look it up.
    Sideshow Bob: [reenters the room] I shall! [takes the laptop] Come on, Wikipedia. Load, you unwieldy behemoth!
    [the laptop explodes, and Bob falls to the ground]
    Sideshow Bob: "Hoist on his own petard."
    Lisa: [corrects him again] It's "Hoist with his own petard".
    Sideshow Bob: Oh, get a life!
  • Just about every other line in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, especially if it's said by General Chang.
    • Its very title is from Hamlet: "[D]eath—the undiscovered country, from whose bourne/No traveler returns". (III.i)
    • Hamlet
    • Henry IV, Part II
      • Chang: We have not heard the chimes at midnight?
    • Henry V
      • Chang: Once more unto the breach, dear friends.
      • Chang: The game's afoot.
    • Julius Caesar
      • Chang: Cry havoc! And let slip the dogs of war!
      • Chang: I am constant as the northern star.note 
    • The Merchant of Venice
      • Chang: Tickle us, do we not laugh? Prick us, do we not bleed? Wrong us, shall we not revenge?
    • Richard II
      • Chang: Let us sit upon the ground and tell sad stories of the deaths of kings.
    • Romeo and Juliet
      • Chang: Parting is such sweet sorrow.
    • The Tempest
      • Chang: Our revels now are ended.
  • Vorkosigan Saga: Miles Vorkosigan frequently quotes from Shakespeare, especially but not exclusively Richard III — like Shakespeare's Richard, Miles is a physically deformed smooth talker with a possible but dubious claim on the throne (although a good guy).
  • Also from Whose Line, a suggestion from "Scenes from a Hat" involves "Outtakes from the Hillbilly National Theater's Shakespeare Festival":
    Greg: "Juliet, you get down here! I love you and you're my cousin, get on down here!"
    Colin: "Oh, that this too too solid flesh would squeal like a pig!"
    Wayne: "Yea, the two revenuers from Verona approacheth... read a book, people!"
    Greg: (to Wayne) "Look, Othello, we don't mind y'all movin' here, I just don't want you datin' my sister no more!"
  • In the first episode of Westworld the, apparently malfunctioning, Peter Abernathy threatens Ford and Bernard saying: "By most mechanical and dirty hand I will have such revenges on you both. What they are yet I know not, but they will be the terrors of the earth." before he is shut down. The first sentence is taken from a scene in Henry IV where Pistol tells Fallstaff to take revenge for the imprisonment of Doll, a prostitute he loves. The second is King Lear rebuking his daughters.
    • The phrase that seems to trigger sentience in the hosts is "these violent delights have violent ends" from Romeo and Juliet.
  • The Simpsons story "Bard Boiled" revolves around parodies of Antony and Cleopatra, Julius Caesar, Henry V, Romeo and Juliet, The Two Gentlemen of Verona, Richard III, Titus Andronicus, and King Lear.
  • Fanfic Much Ado about Shakespeare: Love's Labours Won has bucketloads and bucketloads of Shakespeare's quotes, puns and allusions. The title itself refers to two Shakespeare's plays and Archie quotes so many of Shakespeare's plays and poems which he knows by heart. Several sonnets appear in full. Horatio and Archie go to a bookseller's and read lines. Horatio buys a copy of sonnets as an apology gift for Archie. Basically this fic is one large appreciation of the Bard's genius and especially Archie's love for his work. And also the fandom's appreciation of this character trait of Archie's. He paraphrases Shakespeare in canon, too, but in fandom he's a major bookworm, major theatre geek and Shakespeare's most devoted admirer. This fic takes it Up to Eleven.
  • There is a Professional Wrestling organization called Renaissance Rumble, who perform Shakespeare-themed events and their Tagline is "No Holds Bard."
  • The Twilight Zone (1959): William Shakespeare]]:
    • Three of the episode titles are "Perchance to Dream", "The Purple Testament" and "A Quality of Mercy"; Rod Serling even quotes Portia's words to Shylock at the end of the latter episode ("The quality of mercy is not strained, / It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven / Upon the place beneath: it is thrice blessed, / It blesseth him that gives, and him that takes"; The Merchant of Venice, IV.i).
    • A running joke in "The Bard" (in which the hack would be TV writer Julius Moomer brings Shakespeare to life and puts him to work writing for television) has Shakespeare quoting his plays, title and verse. At one point the Bard says, "To be or not to be - that is...." looks confused, and then exits.

Alternative Title(s): Shout Out To Shakespeare, To Shakespeare


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