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Rating the Bard

January 28, 2013

I recently completed a long-term project: I have now read, seen, or listed to all 39 canonical plays by William Shakespeare, in many cases in more than one medium. I’ve been involved in several fun debates about which is his best and worst, so I thought, why not rank them all, from best to worst?

I have intentionally left out any rationale for my choices, to stimulate discussion and maybe get folks to come up with their own lists. Have fun!

  • King Lear
  • Macbeth
  • Hamlet
  • Richard III
  • Julius Caesar
  • As You Like It
  • Romeo and Juliet
  • Henry IV, Part II
  • Henry IV, Part I
  • Othello
  • Much Ado About Nothing
  • Henry V
  • Twelfth Night
  • Winter’s Tale
  • Titus Andronicus
  • Coriolanus
  • Midsummer Night’s Dream
  • Tempest
  • Cymbeline
  • Love’s Labour’s Lost
  • Henry VI, Part II
  • Richard II
  • Taming of the Shrew
  • Troilus and Cressida
  • Antony and Cleopatra
  • Henry VI, Part III
  • Henry VI, Part I
  • Two Gentlemen of Verona
  • Merchant of Venice
  • Two Noble Kinsmen
  • Pericles
  • Measure for Measure
  • Comedy of Errors
  • Timon of Athens
  • Henry VIII
  • Edward III
  • King John
  • Merry Wives of Windsor
  • All’s Well That Ends Well

Peter Sig

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Kate permalink
    January 28, 2013 12:25 pm

    NO!!! King John is amazing!! Timon of Athens would be last for me, I hated it. What medium did you do King John in? I saw an amazing production of it last year which I enjoyed more than when I read it (I’ve read every play). But I totally agree with Lear being #1. But give John a chance!!

    • January 30, 2013 3:29 pm

      I think it depends on the production of Timon…. I saw the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ’s version a few years ago, and was blown away…When the production is awesome you can get a lot more out of that play. In fact, it became my favorite after that… it so relates to today… otherwise, I won’t argue, because Late Blooming, you have taken on a task I haven’t!!! I’m impressed!

  2. January 28, 2013 5:39 pm

    I’m actually torn on whether “Lear” or the Scottish Play is my absolute favorite, and I’ve been persuaded that Henry IV 1 is better than Henry IV 2.

  3. The College Theatre Dork permalink
    January 29, 2013 12:11 am

    The Scottish Play, Henry VI Parts 1 + 2 and Othello are ALL the way up there for me. I also have an irrational love for Troilus and Cressida and Pericles. But reading this list also reminds that I should read more Shakespeare, take Shakespeare class and how I wish we were doing Shakespeare (or a Greek tragedy!) before I graduate.

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