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Every minute now

Should be the father of some stratagem:

The times are wild: contention, like a horse

Full of high feeding, madly hath broke loose

And bears down all before him.
Northumberland, I.i

A history play by William Shakespeare. It is the second in a duology (the first being Henry IV, Part 1), and is a prequel, of sorts, to the far more famous Henry V. Part 2 has a much darker tone than Part 1, mostly due to the somewhat tragic ending.

The play begins with returning fan-favourite character Sir John Falstaff, a fat drunken rogue and friend of Hal's. He banters with his page over the quality of his urine, which has been sent to the doctor for analysis. He then announces he's off to the whorehouses for some fun. He spends much of the rest of the play cracking jokes, taking bribes from draft dodgers, and drinking with his buddies.

Meanwhile, conflict brews between King Henry IV and his son, Prince Hal. After their victory in the Battle of Shrewsbury last play, they are gearing up for another confrontation against the king's remaining enemies. Despite his efforts in Part 1, Hal still doesn't have his father's trust because he remains friends with Falstaff and his ilk. This mistrust is deepened when Hal's brother, Prince John, defeats the remaining enemies through political know-how and manipulation instead of battle. Hal no longer has any way to prove himself worthy to his father.

King Henry IV suddenly falls ill. He passes out in his bed, and a visiting Hal mistakes his sleep for death. He swears to his father's "corpse" he will be a good king and takes the crown from off the king's head, leaving. Henry IV wakes up to find his crown has been stolen, and he berates Hal for the theft, thinking he is only waiting for his father to die so he can become king. Hall gives an impassioned speech explaining why he took the crown and swearing that he will be a good king. Henry IV dies happily soon after, and Hal becomes King Henry V.

After spending most of the play apart, Falstaff and Hal meet again in the final scene of the play. Falstaff is extremely excited to hear the news of Hal's coronation, believing Hal will reward him, but instead, the new king flatly rejects his former friend. Hal likens his association with Falstaff to a bad dream he's just woken up from and proclaims that as king, he can no longer associate with thieves and drunks. He forbids Falstaff from coming near him under pain of death, and continues on his parade, leaving Falstaff and all the other rogues devastated in his wake.

Tropes used in Henry IV Part 2 include:
  • Aesop Amnesia: At the end of Part 1, Prince Hal reconciles with his father and embraces his role as heir to the throne. At the start of Part 2, Prince Hal is goofing off with Falstaff again and the king is back to worrying about Hal's competence.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: After Hotspur's father makes a big scene about Hotspur's death, Hotspur's widow justifiably chews out her father-in-law for sending Hotspur to war, then calling in sick.
  • Final Speech: King Henry gives Hal advice as he dies to attack France, and Hal most certainly does.
  • Miles Gloriosus: Pistol, one of Falstaff's companions in Part 2.
  • Mood Whiplash: Falstaff is extremely excited that his drinking buddy Hal is now the king of England. When he sees Hal passing by, he shouts greetings, which Hal ignores. Finally, when he walks up to him, Hal claims he doesn't know who he is, calls him an old man, and banishes him from his sight on pain of death. Ouch.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: Initially, Falstaff was "Sir John Oldcastle", an actual historical figure who was burned at the stake for Lollardy, but Oldcastle's descendants complained, so Shakespeare substituted in the name of a knight who lived two generations after the play took place and was accused of cowardice (this character appears briefly in 1 Henry VI, where his name is usually rendered as "Fastolfe" by modern editors). A few remnants of the original name survive in the play--e.g., at one point Hal calls Falstaff "my old lad of the castle".
  • Trailers Always Lie: The epilogue, which is an ad for Henry V, promises that Falstaff will be back for Henry V. He isn't.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: Hal's serious war plot and Falstaff's comic plot pretty much never meet throughout the play, until the Mood Whiplash moment at the end.
  • Wandering Minstrel: Hal and a friend dress up like some to play a prank on Falstaff in part 2
  • Warrior Prince: Hal.
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