We’ve been performing Shakespeare’s plays for 400 years, but we’ve been telling stories about the Bard himself for nearly as long. From speculation about Shakespeare’s “lost years” to doubts about the authorship of his plays, Shakespeare is an elusive character in our historical record. Even the common belief that Shakespeare both was born and died on April 23rd dates back to an 18th-century scholar’s mistake; in truth, his birth date is unknown. We’re not even entirely sure what the man looked like—the famous Droeshout portrait was commissioned 7 years after Shakespeare’s death, so all we’ve got is Ben Johnson’s word that it’s a good likeness of the poet.
It’s no wonder, then, that our modern fascination with Shakespeare extends into our favorite fictional realms: From a starring role in a big budget alt-history romance to a cameo appearance as a Master Builder in The Lego Movie, we relish the chance to rub elbows with “Shakespeare” in any number of unexpected settings. Below, I’ve gathered some of the best (and weirdest) stories that make use of the immortal Bard.