7 Most Shakespearean Moments on "Star Trek"

William Shakespeare's works have been celebrated for hundreds of years, so it makes sense they would still be popular in the future. Star Trek and Shakespeare have been linked since the very first series. Over thirteen episodes of various Star Trek series have taken their titles from Shakespeare's works. Whole episodes have been based on Shakespeare's plays. Characters often quote Shakespeare to comment on events in the series. Here are some of the most significant Shakespearean moments in the franchise.

of 07

Data Performs Virtual Shakespeare

Data as Henry V
Data as Henry V. Paramount Pictures/CBS Television

In this episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, a defector from the Romulan Empire comes to the Enterprise for asylum. In the opening scene, Data is performing Henry V on the holodeck. Picard is shown encouraging Data to practice Shakespeare as a way to understand the human condition. It's a good way to highlight their appreciation for the depth of his work.

of 07

A Green Lady's Plagiarism

Marta dancing
Marta dancing. Paramount/CBS

In "Whom Gods Destroy" Kirk and his crew are trapped in a mental institution with escaped prisoners. An insane captain's green consort Marta tries to recite some poetry she wrote, When the captain points out the poetry is taken from Shakespeare's Sonnet XVIIII, she insists she still wrote it. Technically correct.

of 07

Picard Woos Lwaxana Troi with Shakespeare

Picard recites Shakespeare
Picard recites Shakespeare. Paramount/CBS

In the Next Generation episode "Menage a Troi," a Ferengi captain kidnaps Counselor Deanna Troi and her mother, Lwaxana Troi. In his attempt to rescue her, Picard claims to be a jealous lover and recites poetry  Picard tries to recite poetry to bring her back by quoting various Shakespearean sonnets.

of 07

A Midsummer's Night's Time Travel

Data's experiments
Data's experiments. Paramount/CBS

In "Time's Arrow, Part 2" on The Next Generation, Data is sent back in time, and crew members from the Enterprise go back to San Francisco in the 1800's to save him. While living in the past, Picard's team explains their odd behaviour by claiming to be Shakespearean actors rehearsing for a performance. They even offer their landlady a part in their alleged performance of Midsummer Night's Dream.

of 07

"All the Galaxy's a Stage"

Picard and Q in the Ready Room
Picard and Q in the Ready Room. Paramount/CBS

On the Next Generation episode, "Hide and Q," the omnipotent being Q tests Riker by giving him god-like powers. At one point in the episode, Q is reading Shakespeare from a book in Picard's ready room. Picard quotes Hamlet to show how Q should observe humanity. Shakespeare's skill at commentary on Mankind resonates deeply.

of 07

Klingons Love Shakespeare

General Chang
General Chang. Paramount/CBS

In the sixth Star Trek movie, The Undiscovered Country, a major disaster forces the Klingons to seek help from the Federation. During a diplomatic mission, the Enterprise is framed in an attack on a Klingon warship. Shakespeare is a major theme of the film. The title itself is a reference to a line from Hamlet, referring to death. In the movie, "undiscovered country" is a reference to the future. The Klingons themselves turn out to be big fans of Shakespeare. One of the main villains General Chang is constantly quoting Shakespeare, including Hamlet, Henry V, and Merchant of Venice. It's also said by another Klingon that Shakespeare is best enjoyed in "the original Klingon."

of 07

Kirk Ponders "To Be Or Not To Be"

Kirk confronts Anton Karidian
Kirk confronts Anton Karidian. Paramount/CBS

On Star Trek's Original Series, the episode "The Conscience of the King" is a huge homage to the Bard. When Kirk arrives on a remote planet, he encounters a leader of a Shakespearean acting troupe. He suspects the actor is actually a mass murderer he encountered in his past. Kirk struggles against his desire for revenge and fears of convicting an innocent man. This entire episode is an adaptation of Hamlet with Kirk taking on the titular role, grappling with the question of guilt versus innocence. As if that wasn't obvious enough, the troupe is also performing Hamlet.

Final Thoughts

These seven moments are just examples. Watch the series for yourselves with a copy of Shakespeare in your lap, and you'll find many more.

Watch Now: 8 Fascinating Facts About Shakespeare