7 Shakespearean Boyfriends, Definitively Ranked

If you’ve ever read a Shakespeare play, you know that his comedies are basically Elizabethan chick flicks with puns and comments on the human condition. Here’s your definitive guide to the boyfriends in the best rom-coms of all time. WARNING: contains spoilers (for 400-year-old plays, but still).

7. Petruchio (The Taming of the Shrew)

Richard Burton as Petruchio

The “Kiss me, Kate” line was cute, but that’s really all that Petruchio has going for him. For the five acts leading up to that, he’s kind of a jerk. He only dated Kate in the first place because she was rich.  No, thank you.

6. Claudio (Much Ado about Nothing)

Best Shakespeare movie ever.

You might be surprised that Claudio ranks so low on this list. But need I remind you that this man took Don John’s word over Hero’s and publicly humiliated her at their wedding? It took Hero’s (faked) death to make him realize the error of his ways! I’m sorry, but if I had to die for my husband to figure out that he’s wrong, it wouldn’t do me a lot of good because I’d be, you know, dead. Next!

5. Duke Orsino (Twelfth Night)

Yes, I used a picture from She's the Man. That counts as Twelfth Night, right?

Duke Orsino isn’t that bad. I mean, he was persistent in his love for Olivia for a few months. Viola likes him, and she’s the coolest. But it’s hard to get over how quickly he switched from Olivia to Viola, especially when you remember that up until the last act, he thought that Viola was a boy. Not the kind of guy you want to marry.

4. Romeo (Romeo and Juliet)

So. Many. Romeos.

You can’t rank Shakespearean boyfriends without giving a shout-out to the most famous boyfriend of all time. The whole “It is the east, and Juliet is the sun” speech was adorably romantic, not gonna lie. But Romeo’s not too strong in the brains department. I’d be sad if Mercutio died, too, but killing your new wife’s cousin? Not the smartest of moves. And let’s not forget that at the beginning of the play, Romeo was obsessed with Rosaline. Then he met a thirteen-year-old and forgot all about her. Gross, right?

3. Ferdinand (The Tempest)

This is Avery Glymph, whom I saw in 2014 in a great production of The Tempest. (heart eyes)

Ferdinand’s a nice guy. He and Miranda are cute, and he was willing to work for her terrifying wizard dad in order to prove himself worthy of her. If Ferdinand can handle Prospero, he can handle any of our dads, right? He’s kind of boring, though, which is why he’s in third place. But he gets a solid 4 out of 5 stars, and I’d definitely date him.

2. Benedick (Much Ado about Nothing)


Benedick and Beatrice are basically the cutest ever. They start out hating each other, but then they fall in love, and—AAAHHH it’s so perfect! Benedick can be cocky sometimes, but Beatrice is more than a match for him. Overall, Benedick is manly, quick-witted, and loyal. 100% boyfriend material.

1. Orlando (As You Like It)

I didn't know that Benedict Cumberbatch had played Orlando before this. Now my life is complete.

He’s the youngest brother. He is denied an education by the despicable Oliver, but manages to educate himself all the same. He beats a wrestler twice his size. He goes around declaring his love and nailing sonnets to trees. He rescues the same despicable Oliver from a hungry lion. Orlando has a big heart and lots of guts, and he’s the only man who could begin to deserve Rosalind, my favorite Shakespeare character ever. That’s why there are two kinds of people in the world: those who are in love with Orlando, and those who haven’t read As You Like It.

What do you think? Are there any Shakespearean hunks that I’ve forgotten? Let me know in comments!

21 thoughts on “7 Shakespearean Boyfriends, Definitively Ranked

  1. Petruchio is definitely a jerk. The movie was funny, but the end of it made me want to poke both Petruchio’s and ole William’s eyes out.
    But I won’t. For the puns. The puns must live on. Also, I’ve made use of the online Shakespearean insult generator more than once… 😉
    Love the post!!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I love this!! This is so great, what a fun and entertaining post. Thank you for sharing this! Another bonus for Orlando is he was played by Bennidict Cumberbatch!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’d like to throw in a dishonorable mention for Posthumous Leonatus, who tries to kill his wife once he thinks she’s been unfaithful (Cymbeline). And an ambivalent nod for Lysimachus, who meets his future wife in a house of ill repute but is converted by her virtue (Pericles). So there’s that.

    Liked by 1 person

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