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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 has been adapted as The Lion King II: Simba's Pride and Gnomeo & Juliet. A Midsummer Night's Dream was adapted into Strange Magic, 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, 1 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 Gnomeo & Juliet, the characters were based on his most famous play, Romeo and Juliet. Also, a statue of Shakespeare appears saying that the story is similar to his own, and thinks that it will have the same ending.
  • 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 3 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 to marry 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 they suggested either doing Cats or Shakespeare's Hamlet.
Pocahontas William Shakespeare

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.

Animated television shows

Live-action features

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 plum" (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".


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