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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 to 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 our past keeps us grounded and helps us 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.

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.

Goodnight, Sweet Prince and Alas, Poor Yorick are subtropes. See also The Zeroth Law of Trope Examples.

Examples of Shout-Out/To Shakespeare include:

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.

As You Like It

  • "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 world's a stage, not galaxy," says Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • "All the world's a stage, its inhabitants merely actors. And thus, by definition, ponces," says the League Against Tedium in Attention Scum.
  • The same line is repeatedly quoted in Idlewild.
  • 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?"
  • "The world is a stage, and the play is badly cast." Oscar Wilde.
  • "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 Brothers. Very chillingly delivered.
  • And, of course, several of Shakespeare's shows themselves requote this line. Merchant of Venice, for example.
  • 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."
  • From V for Vendetta (graphic novel), V to Evey as he prepares to meet Prothero: "All the world's a stage, and everything vaudeville."
  • All the Discworld's a stage, and all men and women merely players. Except for those who sell popcorn." - Hwell the Playwright, Wyrd Sisters.
  • 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.)
  • 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.'"
  • A Very Potter Musical has a subtle one (apparently an Actor Allusion): "Snape is at the door and much importunes access to you."

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.


  • "What a piece of work is a man; how noble in reason; how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable in action; how like an angel in apprehension; how like a god." Picard proves he knows Shakespeare in Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • Used many, many times in all Star Trek (not just Next Generation)
    • Notably in the sixth movie, The Undiscovered Country, with the famous quote that to truly appreciate Shakespeare, you need to hear it "in the original Klingon."
  • The Princess Diaries: The second movie has Lilly referring to Mia's chambermaids as 'Rosencrantz' and 'Guildenstern'.
  • True Romance: "Something is rotten in the state of Denmark."
  • The Departed: Before an operation, Captain Queenan tells Collin that "readiness is all."
    • Erlier, Costigan quotes Hawthorne. Dignam isn't impressed: [fart noise] "What's the matter, smartass, you don't know any fuckin' Shakespeare?"
  • Gettysburg: Hamlet's "What a piece of work is man" speech is said by a fictionalized version of Joshua Chamberlain.
  • Beast Wars: "Tell my tale to those who ask. Tell it truly; the ill deeds along with the good, and let me be judged accordingly. The rest... is silence," says Dinobot before dying.
    • In an earlier episode, Dinobot says: "Alas! Poor Tarantulas. I knew him, Cheetor." Dinobot was holding Tarantulas' severed spider legs though, not his severed head.
    • Dinobot also tosses out a "To be or not to be, that is the question" when contemplating Free Will vs Fate.
  • Frasier: An episode is titled "Roz's Krantz And Gouldenstein Are Dead". This is a reference to Tom Stoppard's tragicomedy, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (whose title is itself a line from Hamlet).
  • Withnail and I has Withnail quoting the 'I have of late, but wherefore I know not, lost all my mirth' speech.
    • And thereby proving he's actually a good actor
  • The Mighty Boosh: Howard offers death-related quotes, and at one point the 'Death, the undiscovered country' soliloquy.
  • Futurama: "Something is rotten on the planet Wormulon," says Leela in "Fry and the Slurm Factory".
  • In the Mystery Science Theater 3000 episode "The Screaming Skull," Tom says, "Alas, poor Yorick; she threw him well!"
  • "Neither a borrower nor a lender be," quotes Carey Martin in The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
  • Another M*A*S*H example: Winchester, at the end of the "Dreams" episode. "To sleep, perchance to dream." Thus encouraging everyone to get another cup of coffee.
    • An issue of Uncanny X-Men from 1975 has this speech in its opening narration.

 The bard of Avon said it best: "To sleep, perchance to dream...Aye, there's the rub! For in that sleep of death, what dreams may come when we have shuffled off this mortal coil, must give us pause." And if the dreams of the dead must give us pause...what then of the dreams of the living? For example, the dreams of Charles Xavier?


 Lothor: "...there's something rotten in the state of Denmark..."

Marah: I thought they were in California?

Lothor:'s Shakespeare. Read a book.

Kapri: Technically it's a play...

  • Ned Martin, a radio announcer for baseball's Boston Red Sox in the 1960s and '70s, was fond of using Claudius' "O Gertrude, when sorrows come, they come not single spies but in battalions" when things went bad for the team.
  • In "Jack's Lament": "And since I am dead, I can take off my head/ To recite Shakespearean quotations."
  • While Wyrd Sisters is most obviously Macbeth as noted below, the Ghost of the Murdered King seeking revenge, and the idea of guilting the Duke with a play that duplicates the events of the murder are both straight from Hamlet.
  • In Kappa Mikey Mikey auditions for a very odd version of the play called Hamlet the Christmas Giraffe. He has a skull on hand, needless to say.
  • "How all occasions do inform against me" comes up often in Blackout/All Clear by Connie Willis, they might as well be Arc Words. 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.
  • Emilie Autumn's "Opheliac" quotes a big part of Hamlet in "Doubt thou the stars are fire/Doubt thou the sun doth move/Doubt truth to be a liar/But never doubt I love." But then, the song is basically a tribute to Hamlet's Ophelia, so this was to be expected.
  • The Major from the Hellsing Ultimate OVA quotes Hamlet, although instead of saying "there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy" he says "there are more things in heaven and hell then are dreamt of in their philosophy"
  • There is a SpongeBob SquarePants episode called "The Play's The Thing".
  • An exchange on Salute Your Shorts is inspired by Hamlet's observation that "a man may fish with the worm that hath eat of a king, and eat of the fish that hath fed of that worm" and therefore that "a king may go a progress through the guts of a beggar."

 Pinsky: Think about it. When you die they stick you in the ground and it's the worms that eat you up!

Z.Z.: Then somebody digs up the worms that ate you and use to catch fish which somebody else eats.

Donkeylips: So wait a second guys, when we had fish sticks the other night, I could have eaten a fish, that ate a worm, that ate Elvis?

Z.Z.: You could be burping up the King as we speak!

  • At the end of Revenge of the Sith, the late Padme Amidala is actually laid out in a similar way to how Ophelia died by drowning for her funeral in Naboo after she has been strangled to death by her own husband Anakin Skywalker Darth Vader due to him completely falling to the Dark Side.
  • There are a ton of references to Hamlet in the Marathon trilogy. Marathon 2 has a level entitled "The Slings & Arrows of Outrageous Fortune". Marathon Infinity has a level called "Poor Yorick". In the level "Rise Robot Rise", Tycho compares Durandal and himself, respectively, to Claudius and Hamlet, "only I'm not crazy".

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.

  • The Saint Crispin's Day speech is performed by Mr. Fabian on stage in the film Tombstone.
  • Phineas and Ferb: "We few, we happy few, we band of brothers...and the girl across the street."
  • Jail Break: The hero attempts to quote Shakespeare and was clearly going for Henry V, but doesn't actually know any lines.
  • 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.

Julius Caesar


 Robin: Lend me your ears!

(popping sounds, followed by ears being thrown at him)

Robin: ... That's disgusting.


 Mark Antony: I'm Mark Antony.

Flavius: Mark Antony?

Mark Antony: Yes. I just made a speech over the body of Caesar. I said, "Friends, Romans and countrymen, lend me your ears!"

Flavius: Yeah... What have you got in that sack?

Mark Antony: Ears.

  • 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?"
  • One of Ray Stevens' albums is titled Lend Me Your Ears.
  • 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, Jimmy?
  • "Et tu, Humanite?" from Justice League episode "Injustice For All".
  • The Fantasticks: when Henry boasts of his acting ability El Gallo asks him to do "Friends, Romans, Countrymen." Henry fucks it up.
  • 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."
  • 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."
  • 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.

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 graphic novel Preacher (Comic Book), 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.
  • In the first episode of Garth Marenghi's 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 Jurassic Park: 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.



 As the cauldron bubbled, an eldritch voice shrieked, "When shall we three meet again?"...

Another voice said, in far more ordinary tones, "Well, I can do next Tuesday."

  • Macbeth is a villain in Disney's Gargoyles, as are the Weird Sisters. In an interesting twist on the original prophecy, Macbeth can still be killed "by no man of woman born" because he is bound to live so long as Demona (a Gargoyle) does not kill him (and vice-verca in Demona's case). Gargoyles hatch from eggs. It should also be noted that Macbeth is more in line with the real life Macbeth than Shakespeare's character and Lady Macbeth is never an antagonist. Word of God has stated that he planned an episode where the characters had to act out the play Macbeth.
  • In Beauty and the Beast's Angry Mob Song, Gaston sings "screw your courage to the sticking place". A lovely Lady Macbeth moment.
  • Princess Ida has one who could not say that the three girl students are men because "'are men' stuck in her throat," spoofing a line from Macbeth II.ii.]
  • A Halloween-themed commercial for Empire Carpets spoofs the Weird Sisters' incantation. A witch stirs her cauldron, saying, "Boil, boil, toil and trouble/Time to call Empire on the double!"
  • Star Fox 64 has the planet Macbeth, which according to the official Nintendo Player's Guide has its own Birnam Wood, though Andross had most of it cleared away in order to build his weapons factory.

The Merchant of Venice

  • In the movie "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.
  • "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.
  • 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.


 Mr. Croup: ... if you prick us, do we not bleed?

Mr. Vandemar: Erm, no.


 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!


 Roslin: You have your pound of flesh.


 Tina: If you prick us, do we not bleed like engineers?


 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?

  • The lines "The quality of mercy is not strain'd/It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven" is quoted in several books by PG 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.
  • 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?"

A Midsummer Night's Dream

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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.
  • The Gargoyles arch 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 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."
  • Baron Sardonicus and Sir Cargrave bring up Iago while discussing about evil characters in Shakespeare's work during dinner in Mr. Sardonicus.
  • The father in Eugene O'Neill's Long Days 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.

Richard II


 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."

Romeo and Juliet

  • Romeo and Juliet makes part of the song "Flesh Failures" in the rock musical Hair.
  • "What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet?" says Susie Barton in Time Flies.
  • "Not if you call them 'Stench-Blossoms'." "Or 'Crap-Weeds'."
  • The Tick made references to the "What's in a name" line.
  • The line is brought up in Charlies Angels Full Throttle after discovering that Dylan's former name was "Helen Zaas".
  • "Wherefore art thou, Romeo?" Of course, "Romeo" is often replaced with another character's name. Though "wherefore" means "why", most parodies forget that.
    • Grease: (Putzie, referring to Sandy)
    • The eponymous Joey says, "I did the soap thing, but I can be serious. 'Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?' That's Romeo."
  • Blue Oyster Cult's Don't fear the Reaper mentions that Romeo and Juliet are "together in eternity".
  • An entire boss fight in the Karazhan instance of World of Warcraft is an homage to Romeo and Juliet, featuring "Romulo" and "Julianne." The two even make quotes from various acts in the play throughout the fight.
  • In the 1993 film Gettysburg, Longstreet asks Harrison, a former actor, if he can spy the Union's position at night, Harrison quotes Juliet: "all the world will be in love with night and pay no worship to the garish sun."
  • "What light from yonder window breaks.... That window over there, dummy!"
    • "Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou, Romeo? Oh, There's Romeo!"
  • "Oh, Romeo...Catch!"
  • From the UK version of Whose Line Is It Anyway?, one session of Number Of Words involved the four players reenacting the final scene, with a handicap reducing all their lines to two to six words long. Stephen Fry, who got the largest number (six) managed to work around it in a noticeably rigid fashion, uttering lines like "Once a Capulet, Always a Capulet!", "You love Romeo? You love Romeo?!" and the immortal line "I'm going to count to six."
  • In Irregular Webcomic, the sysadmin and Linux-user Mercutio to his co-workers (who prefer Windows or Mac OS): "A curse on both your OSs"
    • And in Good Omens, this line is misquoted by Wensleydale as "A plaque on both your houses!"
    • The White Deer by James Thurber: "A plague on both your horses!"
  • The Sims 2 has the town of Veronaville, which is named for the town of Verona in Shakespeare's work. It also has a pair of Feuding Families named the Montys and Capps, with a pair of Star-Crossed Lovers named Romeo and Juliette.
  • When playing as Venice in Europa Universalis III, you get prompted with a message to expand your territory, before being asked "Why not fair Verona, where we lay our scene?"

The Sonnets

  • 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...")
  • 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...")
  • 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.

  • The Marathon Infinity level "Poor Yorick" (itself a Shakespeare reference) has a secret terminal that consists entirely of the text from Sonnet No. 131.

The Tempest

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Chapter Sixteen of the original Web Animation Broken Saints is called "Tempest".
  • The Decemberists' Epic Rocking song "The Island" is a retelling of The Tempest In the Style Of Emerson Lake and Palmer (well, Progressive Rock more generally, too).
  • 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".
  • 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 On the Verge, Alex does the "O brave new world" line straight, only to be immediately lampshaded as a plagiarist by Fanny.

Twelfth Night

  • "If music be the food of love, play on" is quoted by Dr. Phibes in Dr Phibes Rises Again.

 If music be the food of love, play on;

[[Phlebotinum Overdose Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting

The appetite may sicken, and so die]].

  • In Pride and Prejudice, Mr. Darcy misquotes or paraphrases Shakespeare by remarking "if poetry be the food of love"...
  • "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."
  • 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

  • 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 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.


  • 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 Le Chucks Revenge, 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 PlayStation 3 version in order to net the player a "Guybrush Goes Classy" silver trophy).
      • Speaking of PlayStation 3 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).
  • 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.
    • 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 death of kinds.
    • Romeo and Juliet
      • Chang: Parting is such sweet sorrow.
    • The Tempest
      • Chang: Our revels now are ended.
  • 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.
  • 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).
  • 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 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?"
  • 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".
    • The second series was a Retool,but one episode 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 third season had an episode involving the Scottish Play and its related superstitions.
  • 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.
  • 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!"