William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright, widely regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's preeminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon". Although he never existed during the time of movies or television, his name and works were used in some Disney movies and characters.

Shakespeare's works have been adapted several times by Disney: Hamlet was adapted by Disney in The Lion King, whilst Romeo and Juliet have been adapted as The Lion King II: Simba's Pride and Gnomeo & Juliet. A Midsummer Night's Dream was adapted into Strange Magic, Taming of the Shrew was adapted into Ten Things I Hate About You and various elements of his plays were added into Gargoyles.

Disney films based on his plays

Appearances in Disney productions

Short films

  • In the Donald Duck cartoon, Trick or Treat, Hazel the Witch says one of the famous lines in Shakespeare's Macbeth while making the witch's brew: "Double, bubble, toil and trouble, fire burn and cauldron bubble."

Animated features

  • In Oliver & Company, Francis is seen watching the grainy TV and a theatrical production of Macbeth, one of Shakespeare's most famous plays and which he apparently knows by heart. The part shown was from Act V, Scene 5 of Macbeth.  
  • In Beauty and the Beast, during "The Mob Song", Gaston briefly quotes Shakespeare by saying "Screw your courage in the sticking place!" In addition, the Special Edition of the same film, during the song "Human Again", had Beast and Belle reading Romeo and Juliet.
  • In Tarzan, a portrait of Shakespeare is on one of the many slides Tarzan views on the projector during "Strangers Like Me".
  • In Aladdin, Iago was named after the villain, Iago in his play, Othello, as evidenced by mention in the TV series revealing that he has a twin brother called Othello. In the Aladdin episode; "The Return of Malcho", he was spoofed by Genie. In "Smells Like Trouble", Genie transformed into the three witches from Macbeth while making a witch's brew "Double, Bubble, Toil and Trouble, Fire burn and cauldron bubble". In "SandSwitch", Genie (as a gondolier under Sadira's spell) mentioned having once "set up Anthony and Cleopatra... Shame it didn't work out." when Sadira suggests marrying Aladdin (under her spell too) one night. In "Night of the Living Mud", Genie was seen turning into Julius Caesar himself one night. In "Snowman is an Island", Genie was seen turning into William Shakespeare again and Hamlet from Hamlet. In the third Aladdin movie, Caesar and Cleopatra were seen walking through the crowd while bringing gifts for Aladdin and Jasmine's wedding.
  • At the end of Toy Story 3, the toys were performing Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, and Hamm suggested they do Shakespeare's Hamlet.

William Shakespeare in Pocahontas II: Journey to the New World during the song "What a Day in London".

  • In Pocahontas II, Shakespeare made a small cameo appearance, where he is seen singing with the townspeople and after holding a skull, he is seen writing something, probably the plot for his next masterpiece, Hamlet. However, in real life, Shakespeare died two months before Pocahontas came to England for the first time.
  • In Soul during the part where Joe Gardner and 22 arrive in the Lost Souls area at the Great Before, 22 throws a ball of dust on a Soul of a theatre actress reciting her line for the Romeo and Juliet play, causing the actress to forget her line and tell the director what her line is for the play.

Animated television shows

  • The Pepper Ann episode "Romeo and Juliet" is about the titular character and her friends putting on the play.
  • In the House of Mouse episode "Goofy for a Day"'s short, How to Be a Waiter, Goofy and Clarabelle were seen dressed and acting as Romeo and Juliet in the film production based on Shakespeare's play.
  • In an American Dragon episode, Jake Long and Rose were about to perform Shakespeare's Marc Anthony and Cleopatra until Rose was replaced by Spud, due to Rose's foot injury from a fight between Jake as the American Dragon and Rose as the Huntsgirl.
  • Penny Proud and Kwok Wong were performing Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet in The Proud Family episode, "Romeo Must Wed".
  • In The Weekenders, Tish is a fan of Shakespeare and his works; she even has a bust of him. In "Talent Show", the bust tells her not to be envious of Lor and help her out.
  • In the DuckTales episode, "Much Ado About Scrooge", Scrooge McDuck and Huey, Dewey, and Louie track down the lost play written by the famous playwright and parody of Shakespeare, William Drakespeare. It contains several references to the works of Shakespeare including Macbeth and A Midsummer's Night Dream.
  • In the Quack Pack episode, "Heavy Dental", Donald Duck (under hypnosis) performed Hamlet's title character. In "Snow Place to Hide", the Green-Eyed Monster of Jealousy mentioned Romeo and Juliet/Anthony and Cleopatra when trying to convince Donald that Daisy was having Kent Powers for "another boyfriend".
  • In the Mighty Ducks episode, "The First Face-Off", Chameleon was seen transforming into Hamlet while carrying a duck skull.
  • Gargoyles featured numerous references to Shakespeare's works, ranging from characters named after Shakespearean characters to storylines adapting elements from various plays.
    • Macbeth is a recurring villain in the series, having gained immortality from the Weird Sisters in the form of a pact with Demona that ensures neither of them can die while the other one lives, with the implication that this inspired the play's prophecy. In the present, Macbeth has two henchmen named Banquo and Fleance.
    • Oberon, Titania, Puck, and the rest of the fairy court from A Midsummer's Night Dream serve as the basis of the "Children of Oberon", a race of magical folk linked to numerous mythological characters around the world in the series.
    • The character Coldstone was a cyborg comprised of three Gargoyles named Othello (the main personality), Desdemona and Iago, after the main characters of the play Othello, with these three souls wrestling over control of the body. In the episode "Legion", a flashback sequence adapts the events of the play with Iago convincing Othello that his mate Desdemona is having an affair with Goliath. The other two souls are eventually given their own robotic bodies, Coldfire and Coldsteel.
    • The comic book spinoff "Bad Guys" featured a character based on Henry IV's Falstaff as a member of the Illuminati.
  • In the Gravity Falls episode, "Headhunters", one of the wax figures, named "Wax William Shakespeare", is based on him.
  • In The Legend of Tarzan episode, "Tarzan and the Silver Screen", Stanley Obrowski quotes Shakespeare's Hamlet: "To be or not to be?"
  • The plot of the Mickey Mouse Works short "A Midsummer Night's Dream" is based loosely on the Shakespeare play of the same name.
  • In the House of Mouse episode, "Everybody Loves Mickey", a picture of Donald Duck portraying Duckspeare in a play called Duckspeare in Love is shown on the screen.
  • In the Hercules episode, "Hercules and the Drama Festival", Icarus playing Hades quotes: "To be evil or not to be evil?"; a reference to the line "To be or not to be?" from Hamlet.
  • In The Emperor's New School episode, "The Emperor's New School Musical", a picture of Yzma is seen holding a skull in her hand like Hamlet from Hamlet.
  • In Big Hero 6: The Series, two of Shakespeare's plays are referenced in two episodes.
    • "Kentucky Kaiju": Obake quotes from Measure for Measure "Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt"
    • "Big Problem": Orso Knox/Monster is a fan of Shakespeare, and quotes three lines from The Tempest. Liv Amara's company is also called "Sycorax" who was the mentioned witch and mother of Caliban from the same play.
      • "What's past is prologue!" Act 2, scene 1
      • "This thing of darkness I acknowledge mine!" Act 5, scene 1
      • "All the devil's are here!" Act 1, scene 2
  • In Dave the Barbarian episode "King for A Day or Two" Dave is performing his musical Pastry, where he's dressed up like Hamlet and in one scene he is kneeling and holding a Danish, similar to how Hamlet holds Yorrick's skull.
  • The Once Upon a Time episode "Murder Most Foul" is based on Hamlet.
  • In the Big City Greens episode "Wild Side", Cricket and Remy disrupt a Shakespeare in the Park performance of Romeo and Juliet.
  • In the Amphibia episode "A Caravan Named Desire" during the scene where Renee Frodgers takes Anne and the Plantars to the caravan, one of the background frog actors briefly recites the lines, "To be or not to be" from Hamlet.

Live-action TV shows

  • The two-part season 7 of The Golden Girls A MidWinter's Night Dream takes its name from A Midsummer's Night Dream. In the end, Dorothy compares the episode's event to the Shakespeare play and quotes Puck's closing lines.
  • The season 2 episode of Jessie "To Be Me or Not To Be Me" takes its name from the famous Hamlet line "To be or not to be", in the episode Jessie performs Macbeth in a Shakespeare in the Park play.

Live-action features

"That he's mad, 'tis true, 'tis true 'tis pity, And pity 'tis, 'tis true".

The Muppets


  • In The Muppet Show episode 323, William Shakespeare is called upon by Sam the Eagle to provide commentary for the play that the Muppets are putting on, Robin Hood. He was performed by Richard Hunt. Of course, this gentleman doesn't actually claim to be the William Shakespeare -- he's just a William Shakespeare. Sam gushes that he's seen The Sound of Music at least a dozen times before Shakespeare stops him short by telling him that the real William Shakespeare is dead. Sam is horrified, and asks if he left a wife and children. It turns out this Shakespeare isn't even actually named William Shakespeare; he's just using it as his "nom de pluem" (sic), to keep something of Shakespeare's legend alive -- "principally, his royalties". Sam asks to hear a portion of one of Shakespeare's masterpieces, and "Shakespeare" looks around for an actor. He grabs the Swedish Chef as he passes by, and hands him the famous soliloquy from Hamlet to recite ("To be, or not to be..."). It goes about as well as one might expect.
  • Shakespeare himself was caricatured as one of the schoolroom busts in The Muppet Christmas Carol.
  • The Panel Discussions for episode 107 of The Muppet Show poses the question, "Was William Shakespeare, in fact, Bacon?" Episode 213's Veterinarian's Hospital involves a series of puns on the writer and his famous plays. Statler is offended at the lack of respect, claiming to be a student of Shakespeare. Waldorf notes that he was a student with Shakespeare.
  • When Spike Milligan assists Sam the Eagle in episode 317, Sam gets so frustrated that he says he wishes they had gotten Lawrence Olivier instead. Milligan quotes Shakespeare to point out that Olivier, a Brit, only spoke as clearly as he did so that Americans could understand him.
  • Christopher Reeve, Fozzie Bear, Link Hogthrob, and a skull named Yorick sing "Brush Up Your Shakespeare" as part of a "Hamlet" sketch in episode 418. After the number, Waldorf comments that he always regretted not studying Shakespeare as a boy. Statler replies that he could have at least talked to Shakespeare.
  • In The Muppet Show Diary 1979, Link Hogthrob appears as Hamlet to celebrate Shakespeare's birthday (listed as April 23 along with his date of death, although the date is disputed).
  • Garth Brooks and Miss Piggy try to perform the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet in episode 102 of Muppets Tonight, but Piggy's nephews, Andy and Randy Pig (playing "The Two Men from Bologna") ruin the number. Statler notes that Shakespeare would've hated the performance. Waldorf says that Statler should know about that because he dated one of Shakespeare's sisters. Statler responds "Boy, was she ugly."
  • Bear quotes William Shakespeare in the episode "Words, Words, Words", and comments "I hear he was pretty good with words." The lines quoted by Bear are from Shakespeare's Sonnet 18.
  • Shakespeare's The Two Gentlemen of Verona is spoofed in episode 205 of Muppets Tonight with the sketch "The Two Homies of Verona".


William Shakespeare

Shakespearean roles

Gargoyles Characters inspired by Shakespeare

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