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William Shakespeare's bust in The Muppet Christmas Carol.

Miss Piggy and Kermit portray Titania and Bottom from A Midsummer Night's Dream, photographed for a 1982 calendar.

Gonzo recites lines from The Merchant of Venice while hanging by his nose from a feather boa.

Muppet Meeting Films, "Great Salespeople in History."

"A bee, or not a bee, that is the question!"

William Shakespeare (1564-1616) was the Elizabethan playwright and poet behind such enduring works as Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, Richard III, Julius Caesar, The Taming of the Shrew, and Hamlet. The latter in particular has often been spoofed or referenced by the Muppets. Shakespeare himself was caricatured as one of the Schoolroom Busts in The Muppet Christmas Carol.


In addition to the named plays above, which have been referenced many times, there have been assorted references to Shakespeare himself, his work as a whole, or one-shot references to other works.

The Muppet Show

  • 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 Laurence 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.

Sesame Street

  • Several Monsterpiece Theater sketches parody Shakespeare plays, including "The Taming of the Shoe" (by William Shoespeare), "The Monsters of Venice" and "Much Ado About Nothing" (by Wilma Shakespeare).


  • 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".
  • Beginning in Season 2 of Muppet Babies, a photo of a young Uncle Deadly can be seen on the walls of the Nursery. The character is dressed in Shakespearean garb, holding up a bee-colored letter B, as if to recite his own take on the famous Hamlet quote: "A bee, or not a bee, that is the question!"


Much Ado David Tennant dressed as Miss Piggy.jpg
  • A 2011 West End production of Much Ado About Nothing filmed for distribution by Digital Theatre featured David Tennant as Benedick and Catherine Tate (The Office) as Beatrice set in the present day. The masquerade ball is staged as a costume party in which all the attendees are dressed as modern pop culture characters and celebrity personalities (i.e. Super Mario, Darth Vader, Indiana Jones, Princess Diana, etc). Benedick attends the party dressed in female clothing; a blonde, curly wig; bright, red lipstick; and a pig snout (and speaking in an over-the-top falsetto). Given the recognizability of the other characters, it's implied that Benedick is dressed as Miss Piggy.


Several actors who have worked with the Muppets have also performed in Shakespeare (on stage, film, or elsewhere).

  • Kenneth Branagh has acted in numerous Shakespearean productions, and for a time ran his own theatre company, The Renaissance Theatre Company which specialized in putting on Shakespeare plays and toured all over the world. His roles include Peter Quince in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Edgar Son of Gloucester (both for Renaissance). He also worked with the RSC where he appeared in Henry V, and,Love's Labours Lost, other Shakespearean credits include Twelfth Night. He has also acted and directed numerous films including Henry V, Much Ado About Nothing, and Hamlet.
  • Louise Gold has played Kate in a production of The Taming Of The Shrew at The Nuffield Theatre in Southampton in 1993, and Titania in A Midsummer Night's Dream at The Open Air Theatre in Regents Park in 1991.
  • Ben Kingsley has performed with The Royal Shakespeare Company including playing the title role in Othello. His Shakespearean credits also include: Demetrius in A Midsummer Night's Dream, Claudio in Measure For Measure, Ariel in The Tempest (for which he also composed music), and, Ford in The Merry Wives Of Windsor. He has also appeared in MacBeth.
  • Patrick Stewart has performed countless times with the Royal Shakespeare Company and on Broadway and in television and other venues.
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