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Shakespearean Trekkie

William Shakespeare’s works have been around since the 16th century.  It continues to flourish even up to now.  Among other great writers, his works are most well-known and most adored by people.  His works have never been forgotten and survived through the test of time.  Different forms of media have already used and commercialized his works.  For sure his works would continue to be remembered even in the future.

Star Trek writers have accomplished spreading Shakespeare to the world through the use of their works.  They have incorporated Shakespeare’s works into their TV shows, movies and cartoons.  The characters of Star Trek quoted Shakespeare’s works and even made their episode titles with references to Shakespeare.  Patrick Stewart, who played as Captain Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, was also a Shakespearean actor.  In one example, Captain Kirk, Spock and Bones were met by three witches after they landed in the Planet of the Scary Things.  The witches told them, “Winds shall rise, and fog descends. So leave here all or meet your end.” Spock then commented, “Very bad poetry.”

Spock’s comment refers to some parts of Macbeth, especially the lines of the witches as being badly written and not very Shakespearean.  Another one is Hamlet’s soliloquy in the Klingon language.  Klingon is an alien race in Star Trek. Note the following:

Khamlet (Hamlet) III.i.55ff. (“To be, or not to be….”)

Khamlet: taH pagh taHbe’. DaH mu’tlheghvam vIqelnIS.
quv’a’, yabDaq San vaQ cha, pu’ je SIQDI’?
pagh, Seng bIQ’a’Hey SuvmeH nuHmey SuqDI’,
‘ej, Suvmo’, rInmoHDI’? Hegh. Qong — Qong neH —
‘ej QongDI’, tIq ‘oy’, wa’SanID Daw”e’ je
cho’nISbogh porghDaj rInmoHlaH net Har.


Here are some Star Trek episodes that refer to Shakespeare’s works:

STAR TREK (The Original Series 1966-1969)

“Dagger of the Mind”
The title is a reference to Macbeth.

“The Conscience of the King”
The title is a reference to Hamlet. There is more in this episode as the main plot concerns a traveling troupe of Shakespearean actors.

“All Our Yesterdays”
The title refers to Macbeth.

“By Any Other Name”
The title is a loose adaptation of Romeo and Juliet. 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.'”

“Whom Gods Destroy”
The character of Marta quotes Shakespeare’s Sonnet 18.

“Elaan of Troyius”
Here the plot is lifted straight from The Taming of the Shrew with Kirk playing the part of Petruchio.

The plot of this episode borrows parts of Macbeth.


“How Shaper Than A Serpent’s Tooth”
The title is taken from a passage in King Lear.



“Encounter at Farpoint”
Just a brief 2 Henry VI quotation by Captain Picard: “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers” (IV.ii.74).

“The Naked Now”
The Android Data recreates Shylock’s court monologue from Merchant of Venice, asking, “When you prick me do I not … leak?”

“Hide and Q”
Q mistakenly quotes As You Like It, saying “All the galaxy is a stage.” Picard calls him on it. Later Picard quotes Hamlet: “What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason, how infinite in faculties, in form and moving how express and admirable, in action how like an angel, in apprehension how like a god!” (II.ii.304-308).

“The Defector”
As the episode opens; Data and Picard are performing a scene from Henry V in the holodeck with Data as Henry and Picard playing Williams (a combination of the character of Williams and Court).

“Sins of the Father”
The title is taken from Merchant of Venice.

“Menage A Troi”
In this episode Picard frequently quotes Shakespeare’s Sonnets and a little Othello.

“Remember Me”
The title is taken from Hamlet (I.v.112).

“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 Beverly Crusher as First Fairy.

“Thine Own Self”
The title is taken from Polonius’ advice in Hamlet.

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 homage, since it is widely believed that The Tempest is Shakespeare’s own farewell to the theater.)


“Past Prologue”
The title is taken from The Tempest.

“Heart of Stone”
The title is taken from Twelfth Night.

“Once More Into the Breach”
The title is taken from Henry V.

“The Dogs of War”
Here the title is taken from Julius Caesar.

STAR TREK: VOYAGER (1995-2001)

“Mortal Coil”
The title is taken from Hamlet.


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.
First, the title is from Hamlet (III.i.80), but not only that — 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).

Shakespeare has been immortalized through a Sci-Fi themed TV series, movie and cartoon.  Not only is Shakespeare known by his literary works but also through very famous TV show, movie and cartoon.  Maybe even alien races would know Shakespeare in the future just like the made up alien race, the Klingons.  Shakespeare has become a cultural icon an important piece of human history and he will always be remembered.

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