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Your Three Favourite TV Series Inspired By Shakespeare

Updated on May 31, 2017

Almost all of us now are thrilled by our favorite tv-series. My 14-year-old brother asked me once why wouldn't they watch series in classes instead of reading these joy-killing books? My version was that we read books to know the sources of the TV stories we love. What we probably haven’t noticed so far is that our favorite TV plots are actually based on the well-known literature pieces. And especially fruitful sources of dramatic characters were William Shakespeare’s plays. Even though for my brother the biggest drama of Shakespeare's plays was that he had to read them. To encourage those who struggle with their reading, I’d like to point out three TV series inspired by Bard of Avon’s works.

The Game of Thrones Was Played in Richard III

The struggle for the throne, court conspiracies, сontractual marriages, greed, betrayal, lots of violence, and a bit of witchcraft. Doesn't it sound familiar? I’m actually talking about Shakespeare’s plays and I bet, you think about the Game Of Thrones. Yes, one of the glaring examples of a smooth borrowing from the classics is demonstrated by George Martin.


The very story in the core of the plot - the Warring Houses - is taken from the Richard III. The play tells the events behind the Wars of the Roses. It was the range of wars for the crown in the center of which was the rivalry between two Houses - the Yorks and the Lancasters. Accordingly, the story in the TV series unfolds around the conflict between the Starks and the Lannisters. But not even the characters but foremost the atmosphere and a dramatic tension of the GoT make a clear reference to the Shakespearean plays.

Put it in short, a pinch of sex and a few dragons mixed with the Shakespeare's story gives you one of the most admirable TV series of all times.

The House of Card Is Built by Lady Macbeth

Even if you just skim Macbeth plot summary you see how influential the woman image is in this story. She instigates her husband (alternately by flattery and humiliation) to make his way to the power. She initiates and plans the King murder. Finally, she keeps a cool head and helps Macbeth to clean up the crime scene. Basically, among the characters of Macbeth play, she is the one who drives all the drama. She is an ambitious partner who chooses to remain in the shadow of her husband's glory.


Lady Macbeth was definitely an image that inspired the character of Claire Underwood in the best TV series on politics - The House of Cards. She also supports her husband in the climbing up to the top. Although Frank Underwood is more decisive (at least, compare to the Macbeth in the beginning), he also owes his wife his successes.

‘The woman behind the man's power’ is one of the most important themes in the Macbeth. However, it’s not the only one that builds up the dramatism of the play.

From Walter White to Heisenberg in the Footsteps of Macbeth

Another important motive in the Scottish Play is the change that we trace in Macbeth’s character. At the beginning of the play, he hesitates to think about the seizure of power. He refuses to think about the King’s murder and even after the murder he cannot put himself together and cover his tracks. Yet, gradually as the story goes, he becomes less merciful. And ultimately he ends up as child-killer and tyrant.


In other words, Macbeth breaks bad.

The same metamorphosis we see in Walter White’s character from my most favorite TV-series - Breaking Bad. This transformation makes this personage both startling and tragic. For an audience, tracking this change becomes as heartbreaking as breathtaking. As the story goes, he loses his humanity and turns into a murderer. Finally, he turns into a person that even his own son refuses to accept.

Final Thoughts

The plot twists and characters I’ve mentioned are just a drop in the ocean of Shakespeare-based stories. If you pay a bit of your attention to it, you’ll find hundreds of stories you’ve never thought they are inspired by classic literature. I had talked to my brother about the impact that classic books had on what he thought were cool and modern. After that, he actually read all Shakespeare tragedies. Now he admits that what he called 'boring stuff' is not that boring after all.


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    • Veronica Hunt profile image

      Veronica Hunt 8 months ago from Philadelphia, PA

      Thanks for your positive feedback, Robert. I'm pleased to bring some cool stuff:)

    • Robert Sacchi profile image

      Robert Sacchi 8 months ago

      I enjoyed your Hub. Yes, many, probably most, stories are based on ancient stories.