Wait, William Shakespeare Was A Klingon?
References to Shakespeare are literally everywhere in Star Trek: from the classically-trained actors they hired to episode titles and random quotes to just straight-up filming a scene from Hamlet in the original show's first season. The playwright himself is name-dropped several times, and once specifically as "the Earth poet Shakespeare." This, naturally, suggests that Star Trek's utopian future is built firmly on our dystopian-plagued past.
But a throwaway line in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country suggests something else entirely: that in the Star Trek-verse, William Shakespeare was, in fact, a Klingon.
During the aforementioned film, Klingon chancellor Gorkon casually quotes Hamlet during a fancy dinner, then remarks to Spock that "You have not experienced Shakespeare until you have read him in the original Klingon." This is promptly followed by Christopher Plummer's guttural recitation of "to be or not to be" in said language.
Drama nerds and sci-fi fans alike were quick to jump on the moment. The argument goes like this: since no one at the table (and specifically no one from the Enterprise) pushes back against Gorkon's claim, or even so much as blinks, then the assertion must have been true. And, well, truth is truth to the end of reckoning, right? So reckon they did.
An entire history was soon created. Klingon Wil'yam Shex'pir was the actual author of Earth history's most famous plays, and our notion of Shakespeare as a human was only because of centuries of deception, misinformation, and Federation propaganda. Everyone's favorite Elizabethan bard was merely a "conveniently remote medieval Terran" with no skills of his own.
The Klingon Language Institute is responsible for most of this and, in fact, took things even further with an actual Klingon translation of Hamlet – a book that was not only published but included as part of the famous Folger Shakespeare Library. Khamlet, as it's known, reimagines Shakespeare's existentialist revenge fantasy as a play "about the dangers of a weakened and ineffectual society."
This was followed up with a translation of Much Ado About Nothing, now titled paghmo' tIn mIS, or The Confusion Is Great Because of Nothing.
To date, no Star Trek show or movie has officially refuted this claim in-universe, and, as we all know, silence is the perfectest herald of joy. Which means that someday we might finally get to see a Klingon interpretation of Titus Andronicus, reinvented as the child-murdering romantic comedy it's always meant to have been.
Eirik Gumeny is the author of the Exponential Apocalypse series, a five-book saga of slacker superheroes, fart jokes, and assorted B-movie monsters, and he recently added werewolves and assassins to The Great Gatsby. He’s also on Twitter a bunch.
Top Image: Paramount