I Just Figured Out that Sons of Anarchy is Hamlet

I’m guessing that this is probably going to be an “ohhh yeahhh” moment for some and a “no shit” moment for others. This weekend I was informed that Sons of Anarchy, one of my favorite shows currently on air, is actually a loose retelling of Hamlet, with a biker gang subbing in for a royal family.

This is exceptionally apparent this season in particular, and after doing some more research, the parallels now seem pretty obvious.

(Creator) Sutter has said of the Shakespeare element, “I don’t want to overplay that but it’s there. It was Jax’s father who started the club, so he’s the ghost in the action. You wonder what he would have made of the way it turned out. It’s not a version of Hamlet but it’s definitely influenced by it.” Ron Perlman believes “they’re going to stick to the structure of Hamlet all the way to the end (of the series).

Jax’s father as the ghost is now quite obvious in this season, as his influence via lost letters is causing King Clay to go nuts and start murdering to protect himself. And if you think back, Jax has been referred to as “the prince” about a dozen times throughout the course of the series. If Perlman is right, and they really do follow the structure of Hamlet all the way through the end, there are going to be a lot of dead bodies piling up, the king, the queen, the prince, and half the court. But with a show as mainstream as this, could they possible pull something like that off? Is it really going to be Chibs, Juice and the fat prospect left standing at the end?

Anyway, it’s going to be interesting to watch the show with all this in mind now. I guess I was blind to the parallels as I haven’t read Hamlet since… I watched the Mel Gibson movie in high school English, but I think retelling it here in this format is pretty damn creative, and if that’s what they intended all along, bra-vo.

Similar Posts


  1. I hope that they do stick to it, that would be a ballsy ending to the show, and it would get the show off TV before it went stale. I love the show too, but things need to start heading towards a conclusion. 5, or maybe 6, seasons would be fine with me if it ended cleanly.

  2. Yeah I always knew it was based on Hamlet but I am interested to see how this will end. IMO Clay needs to be killed. Hes way passed the point of redemption at this point.

  3. I agree with the above commenters. Before this season began, I was thinking about how this series needs to end very soon. Some aspects have been going on for far too long. For instance, Chief Unser has been dying of stage three terminal cancer since season one episode one. I know the character is invaluable to the series, but the logistics of that are starting to become an issue the longer they have him alive (especially after the guys spent 14 months in prison or whatever it was, and he was the exact same when they got out).

    I love this show, and I really hope they find a way to tie all these loose ends up and have a satisfactory ending. I have no idea how they will choose to end it, but someone dies is almost every normal episode, so I can hardly imagine what a series finale would look like.

  4. You know what’s also loosely based on Hamlet? Believe it or not, Strange Brew. Yes, Bob and Doug McKenzie, though neither of them is Hamlet, obviously.

    That’s why the brewery is called Elsinore.

  5. I know i’m a little late to this party, but…..

    @Jim Lahey: I agree, there are some elements of the show that have gone on far too long (Unser’s cancer being the biggest one for me).

    That having been said, I think the last few episodes have made it abundantly clear that no one is safe and that Kurt Sutter isn’t the least bit afraid to take chances when it comes to the “lives” of his characters. They might be a mainstream show, but I think if anyone has the writing skill to pull it off it’s definitely Sutter.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.