TV Movies & Shows You Didn't Realize Were Based on Shakespeare 

Lisa Waugh
637 votes 209 voters 15.2k views 13 items

List Rules Vote up the best shows with roots in the Bard's work.

Here’s to William Shakespeare. May the Bard never fade. TV shows based on or influenced by Shakespeare are perhaps more popular than ever in 2016. There’s something for everyone in these Bard-based series; tragedy, comedy, prophecy, love, a bit with a dog, and bloody quests for power. Which of your favorite shows draw from this rich well? House of Cards, Breaking Bad, and Game of Thrones, to name a few.   
There are the television series Shakespeare adaptations. Have you seen Romeo x Juliet? Juliet’s a vigilante, Neo Verona is a floating island, and there are dragons. If you want another take on the young lovers, try Star-Crossed where Romeo (Roman) is an alien and Juliet a human trying to bridge the gap between the two species. f you’re looking for more Shakespeare adaption TV shows, look no further than Slings and Arrows. The show based each season on a different play, while featuring a troupe of Shakespearean actors. And it’s helmed by Mark McKinney of Kids in the Hall.   
There TV shows inspired by Shakespeare. Twelfth Night on the motocross track? Why not? A twin takes her injured brother’s place in competition as she faces off against a bunch of leather-clad villains who like to cross their arms as they smirk. It’s Motocrossed on the Disney Channel. 
Which of these TV shows based on Shakespeare resonate most for you? Vote it to the top. 

SPOILERS throughout the list. 

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Shakespearean Inspiration: King Lear  
Let's see, so, a king has three children and tries to get them to run his empire, or rather, kingdom, for him. The ensuing power struggle - who really wants 1/3 of a kingdom? - leaves dead bodies in its wake, drives some people insane, and turns siblings against one another and their parents. Is that King Lear or Empire? Wait, it's both. 

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Romeo × Juliet
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Shakespearean Inspiration: Romeo and Juliet  

Romeo x Juliet. You'd be a moron if you didn't realize this was adapted from Shakespeare. But it does very interesting things with its source material, casting it way into the future and incorporating ideas and references from Twelfth Night, As You Like It, Hamlet, Othello, and Two Gentleman of Verona.

Romeo x Juliet takes place on Neo Verona, a floating island, there’s an enchanted tree inside Montague castle, Juliet is a vigilante named Red Whirlwind, and there are dragons.

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Shakespearean Inspiration: Richard III  
Dr. House has a few traits in common with Richard III - physically challenged, brilliant mind, biting sense of humor. And, much like Richard, House views the world with a cynical squint. Whether or not there's any direct connection or influence between Dr. House and Shakespeare remains unclear, and so all this is just speculation. 

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More House 

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Shakespearean Inspiration: Taming of the Shrew  

Most who defend Bruce Willis as a good actor point to Moonlighting, in which he stared before Diehard, and one of the earliest examples of dramedy on TV, as proof.

So what about the Shakespeare connection? Well, on DVD audio commentary, show creator Glenn Gordon Caron says he got the idea for Moonlighting during a production of Taming of the Shrew in Central Park. Moonlighting offers various takes on Shakespeare, including the episode “Atomic Shakespeare,” which parodies Taming of the Shrew

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More Moonlighting 

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