Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
For the works of Shakespeare in-universe, please see William Shakespeare.

Shakespearean works, the plays and sonnets of William Shakespeare, and the Star Trek franchise have always been closely linked. Characters in the series quote the bard, episodes are titled after his works, and stories are adapted to fit the outer space locales. The following is a list of examples taken from the various series.

The Original Series Edit


The Karidian Company of Players perform Hamlet

"Dagger of the Mind"
The title is a reference to Macbeth (II.i.38-39): "Or art thou but / A dagger of the mind, a false creation, / Proceeding from the heat-oppressed brain?"
Witches of Pyris VII

The three witches on Pyris VII

"The Conscience of the King"
The title is a reference to Hamlet, Act II, Scene II: "the play's the thing wherein I'll catch the conscience of the king." The entire episode is around Shakespeare's works and themes, including the Karidian company performing both Hamlet and Macbeth on screen.
The crew of the USS Enterprise beams down to the surface of the planet Pyris VII. Once on the ground, they investigate and are confronted by three witches reminiscent of those from Macbeth who chant:
"Winds shall rise
and fog descend
So leave here all
or meet your end.
At this point, the logical Commander Spock replies, "Very bad poetry, Captain."
"By Any Other Name"
The title is from Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II. Kirk makes additional reference while talking with a woman as he holds out a rose-like flower and says, "As the Earth poet Shakespeare wrote, 'That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet'."
"Elaan of Troyius"
Here the plot is lifted straight from The Taming of the Shrew with Kirk playing the part of Petruchio. Also, Captain Kirk's difficulty escaping Elaan's charms to fight a threatening Klingon warship echoes Antony and Cleopatra.
"Is There in Truth No Beauty?"
Kollos, in Spock's body, references The Tempest when Kollos sees Miranda Jones for the first time through humanoid eyes: "O brave new world, That has such creatures in't." Miranda replies with the play's next line, "'Tis new to thee." Additionally, the character Miranda Jones would seem to be named after Prospero's daughter Miranda from the play.
"Plato's Stepchildren"
Kirk recites part of Sonnet 57 while being manipulated by the Platonians.
"Wink of an Eye"
Although the phrase itself has passed into the modern vernacular and may not have been intentionally taken from Shakespeare, it originates in The Winter's Tale (V.ii.112-133): "every wink of an eye some new grace will be born: our absence makes us unthrifty to our knowledge." A Voyager episode would later be called "Blink of an Eye", a commonly used variant.
"Whom Gods Destroy"
Marta partially quotes Sonnet 18.1-4 to Garth of Izar and claims authorship. Garth is not fooled by Marta's attempt. Marta drops a beat and uses a modern translation of a line, "and summer's lease hath all too soon" instead of the original, "too short a date." Though her interpretation is correct, the missing beat causes the iambic pentameter of the sonnet to break. This disruption may be a reflection on the chaotic situations of the episode.
"Requiem for Methuselah"
The plot of this episode borrows parts of The Tempest.
"All Our Yesterdays"
The title comes from Macbeth, Act V, Scene V. It refers to the inhabitants of Sarpeidon, who intended to escape from the future by living in the past.
Claudius Marcus - coat of arms

Claudius Marcus' coat of arms.

"Bread and Circuses"
The coat of arms of the Roman Proconsul, Claudius Marcus was actually Shakespeare's coat of arms.

The Animated Series Edit

"How Sharper Than a Serpent's Tooth"
The title is taken from a passage in King Lear, Act I scene IV: "How sharper than a serpent's tooth it is / To have a thankless child!"

The Next Generation Edit

"Encounter at Farpoint"
Picard briefly references the line from Henry VI, Part II "The first thing we do, let's kill all the lawyers" (IV.ii.74).
"The Naked Now"
Data recreates Shylock's court monologue from The Merchant of Venice, asking, "When you prick me do I not... leak?" The original line, in which the Jewish character Shylock tries to convince a group of Christians that Jews too are people, reads, "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.60-63).
"Hide and Q"
Q misquotes As You Like It, saying "All the galaxy is a stage." Picard corrects him. Later Picard states that he does view mankind as "one day becoming that" which Hamlet asserts of it in irony: "Oh I know Hamlet. And what he might say with irony, I say with conviction: What a piece of work is 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!" (II.ii.304-308). Later in the episode, declining Riker's offer to endow him with Humanity, Data again references Hamlet, quoting "This above all: to thine own self be true," from Polonius' speech to Laertes in Act 1, Scene 3.
Annotated Shakespeare

A copy of The Annotated Shakespeare, Volume II on display in Jean-Luc Picard's ready room

"The Schizoid Man"
When it becomes clear that before Doctor Ira Graves died he must have programmed his own mind into Data's body, Picard, marveling at the achievement, recites the last two lines from Shakespeare's Sonnet 18: "So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see, / So long lives this, and this gives life to thee."
"The Measure Of A Man"
While searching through Data's belongings, Bruce Maddox finds a book of Shakespeare's works, a gift from Captain Picard. Inside is a quote from Sonnet 29: "When in disgrace with fortune in men's eyes, / I all alone beweep my outcast state."
"The Defector"
The episode begins with Data performing Act IV, Scene I of Henry V, unaware that Captain Picard is watching. After the captain applauds his performance, Data says that he is using Shakespeare's works as a way to study Humanity, specifically observing the title-role performances of Olivier, Branagh (whose adaptation was still in theaters when the episode aired), Shapiro, and Kullnark.
The role of Michael Williams was played, under heavy makeup, by Patrick Stewart, who, a noted Shakespearean actor, had asked to appear as one of his characters.
"The Most Toys"
Believing that Data is dead, Picard reads aloud from the android's copy of Shakespeare's works, quoting from Hamlet: "He was a man, take him for all in all, / I shall not look upon his like again" (I ii 187-188).
"Ménage à Troi"
Picard recites a string of quotes from Shakespeare's sonnets and Othello as part of his facade:
  • Sonnet 147.1-2
  • Sonnet 141.1-4
  • Sonnet 18.1-2
  • Othello. V.ii.13–16
It is interesting to note that Shakespeare's sonnets as a collective represent a ménage à trois that Shakespeare was believed to have been a part of (the young man, the dark lady, and the rival poet). Whether or not this information about the sonnets inspired the title of the episode, "Ménage à Troi," is unknown.
"The Mind's Eye"
This title may have been taken from Hamlet (I.i.112) "A mote it is to trouble the mind's eye." The phrase is also referenced later in Hamlet (I.ii.186). The phrase also appears in Plato's Republic.
"Time's Arrow, Part II"
Trapped in the past (San Francisco in the 1880s), Captain Picard explains their seemingly odd behavior by explaining that they are practicing a performance of A Midsummer Night's Dream. They later rehearse Act II Scene i with Riker as Oberon, Data as Puck, and Crusher as the First Fairy.
When Picard awakens in Q's "afterlife", Q quotes briefly from Hamlet's famous "To Be Or Not To Be" speech with the words "Now that you've shuffled off the mortal coil," from Act 3 Scene 1.
"Thine Own Self"
The title is taken from Polonius' advice in Hamlet, Scene I, Act III: "This above all: to thine own self be true, / And it must follow, as the night the day, / Thou canst not then be false to any man."
Data as Prospero

Data as Prospero

The episode opens with Data performing the final scene in the The Tempest as Prospero. Also, much of the plot is taken from The Tempest as well as character names.
An interesting note is that this is one of the series' final episodes and the use of the play is seen as an homage, since it is widely believed that The Tempest is Shakespeare's own farewell to the theater.

Deep Space Nine Edit

"Past Prologue"
The title is taken from The Tempest, Act II, Scene I. It actually reads "What's past is prologue." As prologue is something that comes before the body, the intention is that the past (specifically that of Kira Nerys) is the prologue for the series, as this was only its second episode.
"Blood Oath"
Writer Peter Allan Fields based Kor (as seen in DS9) on Falstaff. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
"Heart of Stone"
The title is taken from Twelfth Night (III.iv.201), in which Olivia pleads with a man who is actually Viola in disguise: "I have said too much unto a heart of stone." In the episode, Odo is similarly trapped with a Founder pretending to be Kira and betrays his love for her only to learn he has been talking to an impostor all along.
"The Die is Cast"
The title is from Julius Caesar's The Gallic Wars while the following lines were paraphrased from Julius Caesar I.ii.
  • Tain: "How could this happen?"
  • Elim Garak: "The fault, dear Tain, is not in our stars but in ourselves. Something I learned from Dr. Bashir."
"Statistical Probabilities"
While watching Damar's speech, Jack quotes Shakespeare twice: first a line from Henry IV, Part II: "Uneasy lies the head that wears the crown" and then a paraphrased line from Macbeth: "Methought I heard a voice cry 'Sleep no more! Damar does murder sleep."
"Once More Unto the Breach"
The title is taken from Henry V, Act III, Scene I. "Once more unto the breach, dear friends, once more." (The title is also spelled "Once More Into the Breach" in re-run listings.)
"Inter Arma Enim Silent Leges"
Dr. Bashir uses the phrase "never say die" at one point, which catches Senator Cretak by surprise. When she asks what it means, Luther Sloan, who claims etymology is one of his hobbies, politely interrupts to explain that the line originates from The Merchant of Venice and has passed into the vernacular as "an exhortation never to give up".
"Tacking Into the Wind"
Kahless is quoted as saying "Great men do not seek power; they have power thrust upon them." This is a variation on a line from Shakespeare's Twelfth Night :"Be not afraid of greatness: some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them." This parallel may explain Chang's claim that the Bard was originally written in Klingon.
"The Dogs of War"
The title is taken from Julius Caesar. The quote is "...and Caesar's spirit, ranging for revenge with Ate by his side comes hot from hell, shall in these confines with a monarch's voice Cry Havoc, and let slip the dogs of war, that this foul deed shall smell above the earth, with carrion men moaning for burial."

Voyager Edit

Shylock's speech from The Merchant of Venice is recreated again, by the title character when he claims to Captain Janeway that he's a separate living creature with his own will and rights.
"Mortal Coil"
The title is taken from Hamlet, Act III, Scene I. "To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there's the rub; / For in that sleep of death what dreams may come / When we have shuffled off this mortal coil..."

Enterprise Edit

Captain Drennik quoted from Hamlet, Act I, Scene V: ""There are more things in Heaven and Earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy."

Discovery Edit

"Vaulting Ambition"
The title is taken from Macbeth, Act I, Scene VII. "I have no spur to prick the sides of my intent but only vaulting ambition, which o'erleaps itself and falls on the other"
"What's Past Is Prologue"
Like DS9: "Past Prologue", the title is taken from The Tempest, Act II, Scene I.
"Perpetual Infinity"
Spock quotes from Hamlet, Act I, Scene V: "Time is out of joint. O cursed spite, that I was born to set it right."
"Such Sweet Sorrow" and "Such Sweet Sorrow, Part 2"
The title is taken from Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II: ""Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say goodnight till it be morrow."

Films Edit

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
A copy of King Lear and a book labeled Complete (illegible) Shakespeare sit upon Khan's bookshelf on the Botany Bay.
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
The only Shakespeare reference here is Dr. McCoy, who again quotes Hamlet: "Angels and ministers of grace, defend us!" (I.iv.3).
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country
Firstly, the title is from Hamlet, Act III, Scene I: "But that the dread of something after death, / The undiscovered country from whose bourn / No traveller returns....".
One character, General Chang (Christopher Plummer), constantly quotes Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet (II.ii.184), 2 Henry IV (III.ii.212), Richard II (III.ii.155-56), Henry V (III.i..1; III.i.32), Julius Caesar (III.ii.168; III.i.60; III.i.274), The Tempest (III.i..148), Merchant of Venice (III.i.56-63), and Hamlet (V.ii.10-11; I.iii.78; V.i..163; III.i.58-60; III.i.57).
The character of Martia (Iman), a shapeshifter, quotes from Hamlet when she says, "I thought I would assume a pleasing shape" (II.ii.612).
Star Trek Nemesis
In the script, Picard makes a toast to new worlds, to which he adds "to brave new worlds", referencing the Tempest. The line was cut by the time the scene was filmed, and the scene was then deleted wholly.

Apocrypha Edit

An okudagram that does not appear to have been used on screen contained a character called B. Ornot Tobe, referencing the "[To] be, or not to be" quote from Hamlet.

Several Star Trek comics have bore titles taken from Shakespeare:

External link Edit

Community content is available under CC-BY-NC unless otherwise noted.