Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
Howard Pyle: pirates with prisoners. (Type 1. Definitely Type 1)

"No, Frederic, it cannot be. I don't think much of our profession, but, contrasted with respectability, it is comparatively honest. No, Frederic, I shall live and die a Pirate King."

The Pirate King, The Pirates of Penzance

Not those ones. We don't talk about them... (Not these, either.)

Dashing villains who lived free on the open sea, with a parrot on each shoulder and a chest full o' gold. Fond o' drinking and prone ta fights, out to live "a short life and a merry one." The pirates we know and love were greatly influenced by those of Peter Pan and Treasure Island.

The legal definition of "piracy" is "crimes such as robbery, kidnapping, or similar violent and destructive activities on the high seas." This means that so long as there have been manmade seafaring vessels, there has been piracy. However, pirates the way modern folks envision them came about during the colonization of the Americas, where mercantile trade via ships was at its highest. Of course, no matter what the time period, pirates were not nice people. They robbed, killed people, usually treated women like dirt, and most of them probably smelled bad. But stories involving folks like Captain Kidd, Coleco Jack, and Edward "Blackbeard" Newgate created a near-mythical reputation that turned the infamy of piracy into admiration.[1]

Fiction divides pirates into two main types:

  1. Some pirates are major threats whenever they appear. Seeing the Jolly Roger on the horizon is bad news for the dashing, clean-cut heroes, who will soon have to deal with a wave of unwashed brutes intent on looting as much as they can, killing the crew, and... ahem..."abducting" the women. Generally the easy go-to bad guys for anything in The Cavalier Years. These pirates are pure evil. They have, in fact, thoroughly earned their Real Life designation hostis humani generis or "enemy of all mankind."
  2. Pirates featured as dashing romantic heroes and rebels, ranging from the rather goofy to the total rebel; generally, they follow a code of honor. Frequently featured as The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything to prevent their romantic aura being tainted by them harming innocents. The Romantics were fond of this trope, as in Lord Byron's The Corsair. It appeared in Gilbert and Sullivan's The Pirates of Penzance with pirates who can not oppress an orphan (and swallow any and all claims to be an orphan) and are easily overcome by appealing to their loyalty to Queen Victoria. In Real Life, this type of pirate tended to overlap with Privateers (people hired by a government during wartime to capture enemy vessels or otherwise cause problems for enemy ships). The Spanish viewed Sir Francis Drake as a pirate, and the British, John Paul Jones (not remotely that one).

Both types are among The Oldest Ones in the Book, and can, indeed, be found in the same works.

Pirate tropes include:

Mostly, the pirates can be found in the Caribbean, a few hundred years ago, but they pop up anywhere and everywhere—any sea-faring hero can expect to meet pirates at least once. Elizabethan-era privateers (such as the aforementioned Sir Francis Drake) used to be quite popular but have fallen out of favour in recent decades.

Space Pirates occur in the far future, sailing the ocean of space. They usually throw people out of the airlock rather than making them Walk the Plank, and may substitute some alien flier for the parrot.

Sky Pirates have flying ships but otherwise resemble the standard Pirate.

If the pirates are mixed up with the occult, expect voodoo, zombies and/or skeletons (sometimes including the pirates themselves), and cursed treasure.

Not to be confused with real pirates. Were you attacked by pirates around the 1700s, the 'nicest' you could hope for would probably lean towards Type 2 - they would steal your things but might not harm you. Modern day piracy is less covered in fiction, with the 1979 Soviet film Piraty XX veka ("Pirates of the 20th Century", one of the first real Soviet "action" films) and the Japanese anime Black Lagoon being some of the few rare examples of the opposite. So far, the pirates currently active off the coast of Somalia have been interested in money, not lives (indeed, their "business model" is based on extorting ransom from the shipping companies), but the entire meme of pirates is in danger of becoming a huge Funny Aneurysm Moment these days.

Note that in fiction, many Pirate Captains are presented as absolute masters of their ship, with The Mutiny being regarded as fully as serious as on merchant or naval ships. In Real Life, the captain had command only in battle; out of battle, he could be freely deposed - and often marooned - for incompetence.

For some reason, there's a running joke about them being the arch-enemies of Ninjas.

Honored every September 19 with International Talk Like A Pirate Day. Reading/watching/playing any of the below works, at least in parrrt, would be a good way to celebrate.

See Pirate Tropes for a full list of tropes associated with pirates and their kin.

Examples of Pirate include:

Anime and Manga

  • One Piece: Type 1 for some of the villains, but easily Type 2 for the Straw Hats and a few others. Oda states that there are two types of Pirates in the world of One Piece, Type 1 being "Morgania" and Type 2 being "Peace Maine."
    • Some of the villians? About all of the One Piece villians besides Foxy are murderous sociopaths who enjoy causing pain and misery- Hell, in the 10th movie some Mooks were laughing at a village being blown to kingdom-come; and let's not forget the latest amoral bastard Fishman Hodi Jones, who shot Queen Otohime to death in front of her 6 year old daughter and her teenaged sons, enslaved and murdered humans for being humans, and almost killing the rest of Otohime's family after 10 years of plotting to do it. One Piece may look silly on the outside, but when you really double-take at the villains and what they planned to do, this world of pirates is actually on the rougher side of the pirating life.
      • It's "some" of the villains, as in order to be type 1, they have to be pirates. Whereas several of the villains are marines or otherwise not pirates. The Skypia, Enies Lobby, Impel Down, Marineford, and arguably Baroque Works arcs take up quite a bit of the current storyline (current one piece is in it's low mid-600s chapter wise), yet have non-pirates as the main "villain". Baroque Works is arguable as while the big bad is a pirate their underlings aren't. Though perhaps it should say the majority instead of some.
    • In earlier depictions of One Piece (Romance Dawn and Wanted one-shots), pirates are described as being of two types: The "Morganeers", who are all about pillaging and looting, and the "Peace Mains", who are more about fun and games and beating the Morganeers for their loot.
      • Oda intentionally avoided using those terms in the regular series, feeling they were a bit too on the nose. Although most One Piece pirates fall into one category or another early on, as the series progresses things get a bit more gray and some pirates straddled the moral line(although the Strawhats remain staunchly in the second category.)
    • The Strawhats are SO type two that they're never even shown (successfully) stealing loot. Lampshaded in the Skypeia arc, when they tried to steal a bag of gold...except that the owners of said gold had just decided to give it to them as a reward.
      • Not only that, they were going to give them a giant gold pillar as well.
      • The exception to this rule is Nami, a rather shameless and highly skilled thief and con artist.
      • Well, Luffy, Ace and Sabo did quite a lot of stealing. That's right, seven-year-old Luffy was more of a pirate than seventeen-year-old Luffy.
  • The main cast of Black Lagoon are an example of your average modern-day South-East Asian variety of pirate, and prefer AKs and pistols to swords and cutlasses- though in fact, Revy's signature weapon is a pair of local knock-offs of the Beretta M-92 called "Cutlasses," marked with a version of the Jolly Roger used by "Calico" Jack Rackham.
  • Kyouran Kazoku Nikki's tenth episode is 21 minutes of pirate absurdity. This on top of the normal absurdity the show already has. Interestingly, the episode is about the differing ideals of shows like One Piece where the lead pirates don't do anything and the traditional view. The traditional view wins.
  • The main Big Bad of the ninth Pokémon movie, Pokemon Ranger and the Temple of the Sea, was a pirate, complete with a Chatot, a parrot Pokemon.
  • First episode of Slayers REVOLUTION has Lina Inverse laying waste to a group of pirates.
  • Mugen's backstory in Samurai Champloo features a group of pirates.
  • It is shown that England in Axis Powers Hetalia was a pirate for awhile.

Comic Books

  • Y: The Last Man - Because of the shortage of food and medicine caused by the plague the Australian navy has turned to piracy - one of their spies even has an eyepatch. It later turns out that the Australians are actually trying to stop the pirates who are taking all the food in exchange for heroin.
  • El Cazador was comic book from Cross Gen. In the opening issue, the ship carrying Spanish noblewoman Donessa Cinzia Elena Marie Esperanza Diego-Luis Hidalgo and others of her family is attacked by pirate captain Blackjack Tom. The Donessa is one of the few survivors of the attack. She swears to hunt down Tom and rescue his prisoners. To accomplish this, she re-names her ship El Cazador ("The Hunter") and becomes a pirate herself, dubbed "Lady Sin" by her crew. The remaining issues of the series detail the beginnings of Lady Sin's quest as she forsakes her privileged past for life on the high seas.
  • Captain Hawk, a.ka.a. 'the Sea Snake', was a fairly treacherous sometimes-ally of Travis Morgan in The Warlord.
  • The Phantom features The Phantom's arch-rivals, The Singh Brotherhood, a criminal organisation that used to be pirates. Nowadays they are landlubbers who work with more "modern" crimes like drug-dealing, blackmailing and kidnaping.
  • In Watchmen, Since superheroes exist people don't bother reading about them in comics, so instead pirate comics are popular. The type depicted in "Tales of the Black Freighter" are definitely Type 1, and both the one issue we're shown, and the other issues described, are squarely of the dark and horrific type.
  • Tintin album "The Treasure of Rackham the Red" features Type 1 pirates in the flashbacks to Captain Haddock's 17th century ancestor.
  • Batman has been a pirate in at least two stories: an Elseworld story called Batman: Leatherwing and an upcoming story in the mini-series Batman: The Return of Bruce Wayne. Also, there's one of his villains, Captain Stingaree, A Pirate 400 Years Too Late.
  • Little Nemo in Slumberland had a series of strips in which Nemo, Flip and the Princess are taken aboard a pirate ship, which in the end is sunk by the Slumberland navy.
  • The Spirit has Long Jane Silver and her all-female crew.
  • Empowered had the pirate-themed villainous group "Advanced Restraining Research". A.R.R.!!
  • Both types of pirate have appeared in Red Sonja, as enemies or allies as the situation dictates.
  • Asterix has a recurring crew of pirates that very much fall into Type 2.


  • Treasure Island—The 1950 Walt Disney movie version of this featured British actor Robert Newton as Long John Silver. His wildly over the top performance as the ragged, full-bearded, wild-eyed, sinister but charismatic pirate leader was purely his own creation and quite unlike the actor himself. (He had been considered for the role of the role of the handsome, brooding Heathcliff in the 1939 version of Wuthering Heights, narrowly losing out to Laurence Olivier.) His distinctive Argggh growl and English West Country accent have been imitated by, literally, hundreds of millions of people over the decades. It is unlikely that any line of recorded cinema can match its popularity. (Given that Robert Louis Stevenson was in the West country for his health and used two pubs in Bristol as models for those in Treasure Island and given the distinctive 'arrr' local accent, Robert Newton wasn't that far from the truth.)
  • Muppet Treasure Island is...well, the above but with muppets. While the original plot's obviously been mucked around with quite a lot, they play a lot of the dramatic moments completely straight. "Shiver My Timbers" is an especially chilling song, given the film.

Now take Sir Francis Drake: The Spanish all despise him.
But to the British, he's a hero, and they idolize him.

  • Pirates of the Caribbean—Captain Jack Sparrow was apparently originally written as a fairly strait-laced character. Until Johnny Depp decided he was going to chuck Keith Richards into his portrayal.
    • Barbossa even has the accent, lampshaded in the third movie.
    • The first film in the series is notable for having both types of pirates, with Jack and his crew of living pirates being type 2 and Barbossa and his crew of undead pirates being type 1.
      • In the second two, though, everyone is type 2, chaotic good or chaotic neutral pirates who might keep changing sides and tricking each other, but are on the whole much better than the Always Lawful Evil East India Trading Company.
      • And in the fourth, we get Blackbeard himself, very much a Type 1. In terms of main characters, Jack and Barbossa both vary between the types, with Jack leaning towards Type 2 and Barbossa towards Type 1.
  • Blackbeard's Ghost, in which modern-day Dean Jones learns that the famous pirate Blackbeard was cursed to forever remain a ghost unless he could perform a single selfless act. Being a Disney movie, hilarity ensues until the predictable ending.
  • Pirates, starring Walter Matthau, in which the trope is taken to the other end of the spectrum (i.e., the whole lot is dirty, vile, etc.) for comedic effect.
  • The Pirate Movie, starring Kristy MacNichol, which was a (very) loose adaptation of The Pirates of Penzance.
    • And the film adaption, Pirates of Penzance which played it straight. Well, as straight as anything based on Gilbert and Sullivan could be.
  • Yellowbeard: The title character is a Type 1 pirate if ever there was one.
  • The Crimson Pirate Burt Lancaster has fun playing a Type 2.
  • The Dread Pirate Roberts in The Princess Bride. He's a Type 1: he never takes prisoners, always killing everyone aboard the ships he captures. Well, except for one.
    • That's what everyone thinks, anyway. "Takes no prisoners" does not mean "kills everyone." It means "if you resist, you're dead, but otherwise we'll just take your stuff and leave." Roberts cultivated the reputation so that no one would resist having their stuff taken. It helps that no actual piracy is shown, and the only pirate in the movie is the current Roberts.
  • In Stardust, we meet a group of Sky Pirates. Led by a Camp Gay Robert De Niro.
    • They seem to be pirates only in name, the only thing we see them do is carry passengers, harvest lightning, and sell it. They mostly just seem to entertain themselves by going "ARRRG!" a lot.
      • In the movie, at least, they don't do any piracy, but they do do some smuggling. Which is also illegal, but perfectly safe to put on the silver screen.
  • "Bully" Hayes in Nate and Hayes gives what might well be the core creed of the Type 2 pirate:

Hayes: Are you saying in that book that I'm a pirate?
Clerk(hesitantly): I suppose I am
Hayes: Good. Because I am one, and a damn good one. Oh, I never flew the skull and crossbones, that's for your fictioneers. But I have sought pleasure and profit in every port known to man without regard to any man's law. That's not to say I lack morals and standards. I got morals and standards. I never killed a man who didn't deserve it, I never cheated an honest man, I never pillaged and I never raped.

  • The Goonies, anyone? One-Eyed Willie certainly counts as Type-1!
  • Pirates and its imaginatively named sequel, Pirates 2, XXX movies known for being, by porn standards, rather well-made, both cram in as many pirate cliches as they possibly can. However, the main characters are not pirates themselves but pirate hunters, tasked with hunting down and capturing (and having sex with) the titular buccaneers.
  • The pirates in the 1976 film Swashbuckler are definitely Type 2.
  • The upcoming fourth Ice Age film will involve Sid, Manny, Diego, Scrat, and friends all being captured by evil pirates (all portrayed as prehistoric predatory animals) whose ship is made from an iceberg, and they all must find a way to escape them and head back home.


Of note in Pirate Blood is the large number of cold-blooded murders, rape and enforced female sexual slavery, suicide, an illegitimate pregnancy between the "hero" and "heroine," and a total lack of regret or remorse by all of the characters.

  • Conan the Barbarian has been a pirate more than once in his career. In addition to his membership in the Red Brotherhood, he has also captained several ships as well as being the lover and right hand of Belit, the Queen of the Black Coast, in the story of the same name.
  • Andre Norton's Scarface (historical) and the Jacks (Space Pirates) in many of her science fiction novels.
  • The Pyrates — comic novel archly highlighting all the pirate tropes.
  • The second of Scott Lynch's Gentleman Bastard Sequence books gets his heroes involved with pirates.
  • Douglas Morgan's Tiger Cruise takes the modern route, and depicts a Navy destroyer beset by a typhoon and a well-equipped band of Indonesian pirates. They don't fit any of the typical traits of type-1, but they're definitely not type 2.
  • In Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson's Hoka stories, some of them decide to be Pirates! When Alex Jones foils their plot to loot a city, the mayor suggests that actually, they think it would be kind of fun. Of course, being Hokas, they agree to give back their plunder after they loot the city. (What do you take them for, thieves?) And the looting of the city becomes an annual event.
  • Many, many of Emilio Salgari's books. The Black Corsair series, the Pirates of Malaysia series, the Pirates of Bermuda series... and the list goes on.
  • Vampirates
  • In Forgotten Realms novels, as usual, all variants are represented—including Type 1, Type 2 and Chaotic Neutral pirates. One of latter captains, among other achievements, was given "elf-friend" status, got imprisoned for debauch in Wretched Hive sort of port where tavern brawls are so common normally no one gives a damn and essentially adopted drow mage (and Lolth priestess) as a daughter. There's also group named 'Wolves of the Waves'... and it's quite definitely not a metaphor.
  • In Patricia A. McKillip's The Bell At Sealey Head, Dalia wants Gwyneth to write about pirates. When Raven objects that pirates are uncouth and wouldn't know what to do with tea—probably use the teapot to drink rum—Dalia objects that she wants nice pirates who were driven to it and would be glad to give it up.
  • The Takers, a Two Fisted Tale by Jerry Ahern, has the protagonists having to battle the modern-day version when the owner of the yacht they chartered plans to get rid of it in an insurance scam. Which would be made more authentic by their deaths.
  • In Nick Kyme's Warhammer 40,000 Salamanders novel Salamander, the Divided We Fall between the Salamander and the Marines Malevolent culminates in the discovery that the Marines are out to resupply themselves from a Mechanicus delerict. Or loot it, as the Salamanders put it, accusing them of being pirates.
  • In Over the Wine Dark Sea these are a recurring peril. Most of the Mediterranean is in constant war and the Rhodian Navy can only handle so much.
  • Stationery Voyagers has the very Type 1-ish Yehtzig Pirate League, who take Exclusively Evil to extremes. They not only rape and pillage, they also take over the drug trades of entire worlds, establish candy factories as drug fronts, hijack educational curricula, spread infertility viruses to wipe out Stationery types they don't like, and try to collapse entire societies by forcing women to have more out-of-wedlock births than they can financially sustain. They don't always rape directly, but will shoot men and women with darts that basically contain weaponized Viagra. And for those religious idealists who continue to stand in the way...a good bullet almost always seems to do the trick. Oh yeah...they also consider themselves kinda-sort-of a devil-worshipping cult as well.
  • Gideon Dafoe's The Pirates! In an Adventure With... series, featuring the Pirate Captain and his crew (none of whom are named, only given descriptions such as the Pirate with a Scarf) having wacky misadventures with famous historical figures including Charles Darwin, Karl Marx, and Napoleon Bonaparte. They are portrayed as somewhat lecherous and violent, but generally good-hearted.
  • The Thirteen and A Half Lives of Captain Bluebear contains Minipirates; 4-foot tall pirates born with eye-patches, hook hands and peg legs, who would be the scourge of the seas, if they were big enough for anyone to notice them.
  • Gustaf Drake in The Freebooter of the Baltic, apparently based on a historical figure.
  • Maquesta Kar-Thon, captain of the Perechon, and her crew in the Dragonlance novels are Type 2 pirates, rebelling against the oppressive Dragon Highlords conquering the continent. After the War of the Lance ended, she and her crew gave up piracy, and instead became seafaring mercenaries.
  • Bertolt Brecht wrote a "Ballad of the Pirates" in his early years. Later he followed with "Pirate Jenny", otherwise known as "The Black Freighter".
  • Tim Powers' On Stranger Tides, featuring Blackbeard himself (see Real Life). Soon to be the basis of (or at least lend its name to) the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean movie.
  • In Catherynne M Valente's Orphan's Tales, Tomomo's (or, as she prefers to be known, Tommi's) crew are a type 2. They're made up entirely of female monsters, and they steal things, including more people for the crew, like Sigrid. Most of their actual skullduggery is off-screen until Sigrid gains the captaincy, and then they get in trouble with a shapeshifter and get swallowed by a sea monster.
  • While the Greyjoys are somewhere between this and Norse Raiders, Euron "Croweye" Greyjoy is explicitly stated to be a pirate, among other things, before his first appearance.
  • Miya Black Pirate Princess has a couple.

Live Action Television

  • In the LazyTown episode that the page quote comes from, the children have been playing type 2-ish pirates, and are shown a history book that tells them about Rottenbeard, a type 1 pirate who once victimised LazyTown and stole a corner of a stone containing a message from the town's founder, then was driven off by a hero who bears a suspicious resemblance to both Sportacus and a ninja. Despite him being type 1, the kids are impressed, so Robbie decides to take advantage of the kids' pirate fever by dressing as Rottenbeard and getting them to 'help' him look for the missing corner, which he has made a mock-up of that makes the message say "LazyTown should always be lazy".
    • Fred Perry, author of the comic Gold Digger, actually made a short animation sketch of the first part of said episode's song, featuring his Voltron Pirate Ninja Leprechaun characters. Apparently, he actually bought the rights to do it legally, despite it being a test animation, and yes that's a ninja doing pelvic thrusts with a katana/shovel strapped to his crotch.
  • Doctor Who, episodes "The Smugglers", "Enlightenment," and, of course, "The Pirate Planet," as well as the novels "The Resurrection Casket" and "The Pirate Loop".
    • Doctor Who and the Pirates seems to start off as a Type 2, with a gallivanting, musically-inclined band of pirates. The Doctor even sings along, at times! And then the lead pirate makes a man eat his own tongue...
    • The new series had pirates in "The Curse of the Black Spot".
    • And then there's "The Time Meddler"; in those days, "Vikings" meant Norse pirates.
  • On SpikeTV's Deadliest Warrior, they had a Caribbean pirate fight one-on-one against a French knight. The pirate manages to defeat the knight with his superior firepower.
    • Such a shame they didn't go for the obvious route.
      • That's probably because there would be a huge Internet Backdraft and flame wars all over the place no matter who won.
  • There was a pretty faithful version of Treasure Island on British TV in either the late '70s or early '80s. The theme song was an extended version of Sixteen men on the Dead Man's Chest, including the lines "No more of the crew were left alive, that put to sea with seventy-five".
  • Also on British TV in the '80s was Long John Silver's Return to Treasure Island, which with modern sensibilities, contrasted "evil" Silver, who looted and pillaged with "good guy" Trelawney who owned a whole plantation full of slaves. Better yet, Silver was played by the largest Large Ham of them all, Brian Blessed. Shiver Me Timbers!
  • In 1990 a TV movie was aired staring Charlton Heston as Long John, Christopher Lee as Blind Pew and Christian Bale as Jim Hawkins.
  • Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, the pirate-themed Super Sentai series. It's an anniversary series too, but pirates the predominant theme. The Gokaigers themselves are Type 2.
  • A crew of type 1 pirates shows up in Charmed.
  • CSI: Crime Scene Investigation once had a lobotomized victim show up dressed and talking like a type 2 pirate (headscarf, eyepatch, earring and all) and insisting on being called "Captain Jack".


  • Emilie Autumn has always had one pirate captain since the first Asylum tour in 2007. The first was Captain Vecona who was also the Asylum seamstress and left the Bloody Crumpets after the first 2008 tour. The second was Captain Maggot who took over in fall 2008, she appears to be far more popular of a captain owing to her more pirate-y feel including being a drunkard who speaks like a pirate and having a costume that looks more like a pirate. She also is a circus performer in the real world, during the tours she stilt walks and hula-hoops...Mind you EA's shows take place in a victorian asylum...
  • Flogging Molly has some songs about pirates.
  • Australian children's music group The Wiggles have Captain Feathersword, sometimes known as the 'fifth Wiggle'. He's definitely The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything type, though he can tickle you to death.
  • German metal band Running Wild is one of the first metal bands to pick up the pirate image. Their songs on the subject take cues from Type 2 pirates.
  • The Arrogant Worms have "The Last Saskatchewan Pirate", who, according to the song, plunders ships on the Saskatchewan river, "stealing wheats and barley and all the other grains".
  • Alestorm are a Pirate Metal band. Yes, they are as awesome as they sound.
  • Svarta Malin in the Povel Ramel song of the same name.
  • "Captain Kidd" by the Canadian celtic-rock band Great Big Sea.
  • Cosmo Jarvis gives us Gay Pirates, who have the misfortune to be sailing with a bunch of the first type. "I hope they didn't tie up your hands as tight as mine..."
  • Other german metal band with a pirate image was Zed Yago, which was the first pirate metal band with a female singer.
  • Abney Park has a Steampunk image related to the dashing, romantic type 2 pirates. They are mostly awesome Airship Pirates.
  • A Filk song by Tom Smith, Hey, It's Can(n)on has Hermione Granger, in response to learning that her birthday is also Talk Like a Pirate Day, become a Type 2, with Harry and Ron as her "young stallions."

"Hermione Granger, the Pirate Queen, the pride of Gryffindor!"

Professional Wrestling

Tabletop Games

  • Dungeons & Dragons has some whenever salt (or sometimes even fresh) water is in sight.
    • AD&D2 got slightly different kits Pirate/Outlaw in The Complete Fighter's Handbook, Buccaneer in The Complete Thief's Handbook, Pirate in Player's Options.
    • 3.5 has a prestige class called Dread Pirate. The player must choose which of the two kinds of pirates he wishes to be; honorable pirates gain bonuses to two weapon fighting and inspiring allies, and dishonorable pirates gain sneak attack and intimidation bonuses.
  • Dark Elves from Warhammer Fantasy Battle Fantasy Battle on whom Warhammer 40,000 Dark Eldar are based, are also largely pirates. They engage in piracy partly for the sake of survival (their homeland of Naggaroth has very little arable land, so they steal resources from other races and take them as slaves) and partly out of sheer malice for everyone else in the world.
  • Exalted; The Lintha. A family of terrifying, demon-descended, bloodline-obsessed, super-powerful buccaneers. Who make you eat your shipmates. They will normally leave a survivor - just one - to spread the tales of their viciousness and bloodlust.
  • This is the hat of the Lhazaar Principalities in Eberron. Numerous sources have noted that legitimate Lhazaarite merchantmen will not hesitate to engage in piracy if the opportunity arises or if they are down on their luck.
    • The airships of the setting also open the door to Sky Pirates, though getting the funds to purchase and man an airship, not to mention the fact that controlling one is quite difficult without the Mark of Storm, makes this an expensive proposition.
  • Pirates in roleplaying games... and thar's yet to be a tip o'the hat to 7th Sea, an RPG mechanically oriented for piratical adventures.


Video Games

  • The Kremlings in Donkey Kong Country games are always pirates, but they've never really looked the part. Except for the pirate-themed sequel, where the enemies undergo a superficial change that gives them a more gritty, aggressive look. No explanation is ever provided for why they undergo this change (or why it never carries over), but it looks cool.
  • Monkey Island Though most of the pirates seem to be Type 2. This gets subverted when Guybrush contracts a Pox that makes everyone type 1 for progressively longer periods of time.
  • Final Fantasy I had the very brief encounter with Bikke the pirate, who fixes the Broken Bridge of being stuck on the initial continent by awarding you a boat after his defeat. Ironically, enough, outside of the hat and the "Argh"-speak, he could easily just be a regular boat-owner.
    • Final Fantasy II has Leila, who talks like a pirate and steals the gang's gear, before Defeat Means Friendship happens.
    • Final Fantasy V on the other hand, has pirate captain Faris, a long lost sister of Princess Lenna, who was raised by pirates who found her, and disguised herself as a man. The Playstation version is known for giving her the stereotypical pirate accent.
      • This is in fact made even better since the game's job system lets you make her a ninja, thus combining two of the most badass forces in the universe.
  • A couple of Wario Land platformers pits the greedy anti-hero against Captain Syrup and her pirate minions.
    • And the Shake King from Wario Land: The Shake Dimension is a pirate with very much similar minions to Captain Syrup. He's also more like an Evil Overlord and a viking.
  • Sid Meier's Pirates!, naturally. NPC pirates are mostly of the first type, but the Player Character can be either.
  • For some odd reason the MMORPG Pirates of the Burning Sea features them.
  • The arcade/Dreamcast shooter Gunbird 2 has a Team Rocket-esque group of pirates, called the Queen Pirates, as the Big Bads. With a buxom female pirate as the leader. Plus, they also have an army of Humongous Mecha. What a winningcombination!
  • Yohoho Puzzle Pirates is almost (but not quite) all Type 2. It's hard to be a mean, evil, unkempt scourge of the seas when you're a cartoon pirate in pretty outfit, with no nose.
  • The Legend of Zelda the Wind Waker
  • A bonus character in the Play Station 3 version of Tales of Vesperia will be a Loli-Pirate named Patty.
  • The undead pirate captain, Cervantes.
  • Chosokabe Motochika from Sengoku Basara is a self-styled pirate, though he seems to do it more for the adventure and his tendency to rob you blind varies between adaptations.
  • In Chapter 4 of Eternal Sonata, the ship you're on is attacked by the pirate ship Dolce. You confront her captain (and namesake), later fight her again, and may fight her yet again before the game is over. Additionally, there are pirates in the Mysterious Unison.
  • In Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door, you take on the animated skull of the infamous pirate Cortez. He's simultaneously parts 1 and 2: during the battle he devours half the audience; afterwards, he joins you, and Mario doesn't even blink at the recent mass murder.
    • And earlier in the series, there was the shark pirates led by Jonathan Jones in Super Mario RPG: Legend of the Seven Stars. He seems to be Type 1 at first, but after being defeated, he befriends Mario and company, freely giving them the star piece and then helping them to corner Yaridovich. There's also the occasional pirate enemies in other Mario games such as the Shy Guy Pirates in Yoshi's Story.
  • "Cap'n" Ginny of My Sims is obessed with pretending to be a pirate, and her best friend (boyfriend?) goes along with it. By My Sims Kingdom, she's moved on to a new profession, but her old obsession is still referenced by Vic Vector when you give him a figurine of her.
  • Tropico 2: Pirate Cove shows that it takes a lot of work to be a successful pirate lord, far more than just sailing the high seas to find victims or Buried Treasure.
  • Dubloon is an RPG about pirates and their conflict with The Navy.
  • Skabb and his crew from the The Legend of Spyro: The Eternal Night serve as the main villains for a story arch early in the game. Ironically, Skabb himself is too stupid to be captain so his two birds Scratch and Sniff are the real captains of the pirate fleet. Also ironic is Skabb ultimately meets his Disney Villain Death by Walk the Plank after Spyro badly hurts him.
  • The able men of Champa resort to piracy in Golden Sun when the beginning of the return of Alchemy to the world drives the fish from their waters. As a result, they're goodhearted Type 2 pirates, and their leader Briggs even befriends the heroes of The Lost Age after they defeat him and send him to jail. His son grows up and joins the heroes in Dark Dawn to avenge Briggs's death by monsters the bad guys brought about.
  • The Pirats in Raskulls.
  • Kingdom of Loathing has The Obligatory Pirate's Cove on the Mysterious Island of Mystery, which is full of stereotypical pirates. They Talk Like a Pirate, engage in Insult Beer Pong, and drop bottles of rum. Though for some reason, they swear by Mike Nesmith's locker instead of Davy Jones.
  • Risen features classical pirates. They are also the main theme of the sequel.
  • Taipan! has a warlord who commands a whole private navy of pirates (which had actual counterparts) that will come after you if you don't pay protection (or "make a contribution to the sea goddess", as he puts it). The up side is that he will often protect you from other pirates though sometimes that will entail showing up just after you have almost finished the job yourself and collects the booty for himself. There are also ordinary pirates. These are not usually much of a threat to the well armed.

Web Comics

Web Original

Western Animation

  • On Codename: Kids Next Door, the KND sometimes had to deal with candy-stealing pirate and recurring foe Stickybeard.
  • Pirates of Dark Water offers a fantasy take, complete with fantasy swearing.
  • Kim Possible is on a field trip to a Colonial Williamsburg-type historical reenactment town, when Dr. Drakken gets possessed by a pirate ghost and comes gunning for the town in the episode "Captain Drakken". The heroes, complete with Wade who arrives on a white charger, fight him off the old fashioned way, to save their grades.
    • By shocking coincidence, this episode aired on The Disney Channel about a week before Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End opened.
  • La Résistance in Skyland are proud to call themselves pirates.
  • Captain Pugwash.
  • Captain Hook and his crew in Disney's Peter Pan.
  • The Veggie Tales videos once had a Silly Song with Larry titled The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything. Originally it was just, well, a silly song where Larry and some of the other cast dressed up as pirates and sang about how they just sat around and looked cool all day, but the popularity of the characters and song meant that eventually they became (sort of) real pirates for the two feature films.
  • Parodied in a recent episode of South Park, where Cartman and his assembled gang meet the Somalian pirates (see the real life section below) and turned them away from modern piracy and fashioned them into pirates as seen in popular culture.
  • Danny Phantom: Youngblood and his crew of dead pirates. Complete with Ghost Ship.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender had the kids run in to pirates in season one during which Karata "high-risk trades" a scroll that has waterbending moves on it from them. The pirates team up with Prince Zuko to capture the gAang and when the pirates refuse to hand Aang over to him the resulting brawl allows the kids to escape. Later on in the season final the same pirates are hired by Admiral Zhao to kill Zuko. Also in season three when Sokka andZukosearch for Sokka's father in a Fire Nation prison. They don't find him at first but when they hear other guards talking that new prisoners are arriving and one of them is a pirate!
  • There be Pi-Rats (type 2) in two episodes of Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers.
  • Featured in two episodes and two songs from Nick Jr.'s The Backyardigans.
  • Darkwing Duck featured an Elseworlds episode called "Darkwing Doubloon", where the Justice Ducks were type 2 pirates and the Fearsome Five were type 1 pirates.
  • Aardman Animations' upcoming film The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, loosely based on the first book in Gideon DeFoe's The Pirates! In An Adventure With... series (see Literature).

Real Life

  • Talk Like A Pirate Day
    • Everything's Better With Pirates: University of York (in England)[3] recently[when?] held an election for student president. There were two sensible candidates and Mad Cap'n Tom, who carried a duck named Brian on his shoulder, said 'Aharrr' a lot and promised cutlass training for all student officers. Guess who won. [dead link] Cap'n Tom has legitimate pirate credentials: he runs the UK branch of Talk Like a Pirate Day.
    • On "Talk Like A Pirate Day 2008", Facebook created an option to display everything in Pirate Speak.
      • And unlike Google, they actually put some effort into it.
  • Henry Morgan, later governor of Jamacia. Since he fought only the Spanish and while they were at war with the English (at least to the best of his knowledge) a border-line case. Many fictional pirates (Type 2) have drawn on his history, which explains why so many became colonial governers.
  • Likewise Henry Every—The most Badass pirate you've never heard of. Nicknamed the King of Pirates, he was one of the few Great Captains to successfully retire with pretty much all of his loot and suffer almost no repercussions for his crimes. Made a spectacular fool out of the East-India trading company through out his entire career and was more or less the impetus for the creation of hired Pirate Hunters like Captain Kidd.
  • Blackbeard—While having far from the largest haul, Blackbeard is particularly notorious for the stories about him, such as that once, while playing cards, he blew out the light and shot at random, seriously wounding one of his crew, and declared afterward if he didn't act like that, they would forget who their master was; or the time he proposed they test themselves against their future destination, and filled up below decks with sulfur pots to see how long they lasted in the fumes, and when he lasted the longest he was proud of it. Heavily influenced the Type 1 pirate.
    • Blackbeard best showed his badassedness by blockading the port of Charleston, South Carolina for several days. He eventually left with his small fleet after getting their ransom demands, after blockading a major British colonial port for days with impunity. For those wondering what the ransom was, it was a chest of medical supplies, most likely to treat the VD of his crew
      • What, no menton of his Rasputinian Death ? It took five gunshot wounds and 20 rapier slashes to kill him! His headless corpse proceding to swim laps around the ship until they shot some more holes in it is probably an exaggeration, though.
    • The book The Pyrates, cited above in Literature, includes an author's note commenting on a couple of Blackbeard's log entries as quoted by Daniel Defoe, and saying that whatever else he was, Blackbeard had a way with words:

"Such a Day, Rum all out — Our Company somewhat sober — A damn'd Confusion amongst us! — Rogues a-plotting — great Talk of Separation. So I look'd sharp for a Prize — such a Day took one, with a great deal of Liquor on board, so kept the Company hot, damn'd hot, then all Things went well again."

  • Captain Kidd was executed as a pirate, though some modern historians believe he was framed.
  • Bartholomew Roberts, one of the more successful Caribbean pirates, is probably the closest pirates ever got to Type 2 in reality. He did kill a bunch of people, but often treated captives with compassion (unless his crew really wanted to hurt them).
    • It was actually pretty common for pirates to treat their prisoners reasonably well. They mainly replenished their ranks from among them after all, as they all tended to be former sailors from navy or commercial vessels fed up with lousy pay and tyrannical captains. The officers tended to be free game, however.
      • And if you treat your captives reasonably well and allow them to leave alive, then the crew of any future ship captured is less likely to fight and be more compliant. This, in turn, heightens the success rate of future endevours, meaning its in your best interest as a pirate to treat your captives well and let them live.
    • Roberts captured OVER 200 SHIPS in 2 and a half years. Blackbeard managed something like 20-40 in 18 months. Oddly enough, he himself was originally a prisoner of the pirate crew, they took him because he was a good navigator, in a time when your average person couldn't read or do advanced math this was a very important job.
  • The Barbary Pirates started as vassals of the Turkish sultan and raided Christian lands and ships, taking slaves and plunder. (See, for example, Robinson Crusoe and Sabatini's The Sea Hawk.) Eventually they realized they could become The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything by converting their business into a protection racket. They still raided territories that didn't pay up, but mostly sat back and let the money role in. Until an upstart young country called the United States of America decided to send some marines to the shores of Tripoli. European countries soon followed suit, and most of the Barbary states ended up under the control of Europeans.
    • When the USMC has you in their Anthem, you're screwed.
  • Real-life pirates just re-entered the news cycle. On April 8, 2009, the Maersk Alabama, a U.S.-flagged cargo ship, was taken by (once again, Muslim) pirates off the coast of Somalia. Captain Richard Phillips of the Maersk Alabama gave himself up as a hostage to ensure his crew's safety. According to the International Maritime Bureau, a watchdog group based out of Kuala Lumpur, the Maersk Alabama was the sixth vessel taken by Somali pirates in a week, and they have staged 66 attacks since January and are still holding 14 ships and 260 crew members as hostages. (This entry added April 9, 2009, using a fresh newspaper article April 10, 2009, using the previous day's newspaper as reference.)
    • And yes, like the intro to this article suggests, these pirates definitely seem more threatening and less comical than The Theme Park Version we're used to here. That could just be the modern weaponry and technology talking, though—these guys are armed with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, and anti-tank rocket launchers, and coordinate their attacks with GPS systems and satellite phones. In other words, the only similarities between these Somali pirates and the pirates of fiction is that both of them are plundering ships. The general rule of thumb with modern pirates is that if they're covering their face, they're not planning on killing you.
    • As of shortly after noon Eastern time, Sunday April 12, the score stands at one pirate captured, the other three killed by U.S. Navy snipers and Capt. Philips liberated unharmed.
      • The fact it took this long demonstrates something. Piracy had been an issue in that area for about a year but in South East Asia the problem never fully went away.
      • From the Somali point of view, many of the foreign fishermen that pretty much emptied their country's territorial waters and ruining their livelihoods in the process, could be seen as the pirates. Not to condone their actions, of course, just playing Devil's Advocate.
      • Check out news in the PI to find out it's been popular for many years. Kidnapping anyone on a ship that looks vulnerable has been big business in the area for years—Philipino sailors happen to tend to work for foreign businesses and not have rich families.
  • The US Coast Guard likes to think of themselves as all... piratey. It has to do with the whole "Arr, matey's, let's seize us some ships" deal. The Revenue Cutter Service, which was the original service, included hunting pirates among its duties. So does the modern one.
  • Julius Caesar was once captured by Mediteranian pirates. He ended up befriending them, however. He later had them all crucified, though; they fell out after the pirates got around to sending off the ransom demand. Caesar was deeply offended that the demand wasn't large enough for how important he felt himself to be, and swore revenge.
    • Partially myth. Caesar did befriend the pirates to obtain a better treatment, and for sure told the pirates to raise the ransom demand; reasons where more practical. He had already identified the pirates' hiding place so that, after the release, he raised a personal navy and raided the kidnappers, taking for himself all their treasures, including the ransom paid for his life. And then, requested a further reward for the service of defeating the pirates.
  • Stepan Razin was the Russian contemporary to Blackbeard and Morgan. Russia of this era was landlocked, but it didn't stop Razin: he looked for his prey on the rivers and on the inland Caspian sea. The pinnacle of Stepan Razin's career was a rebellion to overthrow the Tsar. He failed and was executed.
    • Later remembered as the Russian Robin Hood, especially during the Soviet era.
  • Benjamin Hornigold was one of the few real-life Type 2 pirates, and later became a pirate hunter for the British crown. On one occasion, his vessel attacked a merchant ship, which promptly struck its colours. Upon boarding the ship, the terrified sailors were relieved of their hats - Hornigold explained that he and his men had got drunk the night before, and thrown theirs overboard. Having got the hats, they left the merchantman in peace.
  • East Asian pirates at the time of China's low point in the Nineteenth Century, could have so much power at their disposal that they were one step away from being independent princes.
  • Though almost all pirates were threats, the simple truth is that most pirates ended up with things like sailcloth, flour, rum, and other low-value staples as "plunder" from most of their raids. Treasure ships or vessels with wealthy passengers usually had escorts, guards on board, or both. Contrary to media depictions, pirates didn't earn much of a living.
  1. The all-but-veneration they receive from Pastafarians probably doesn't help either, nor does Lindsey Stirling's use of them as a positive symbol of self-empowerment.
  2. Ouelett actually had a glass eye
  3. "York University" is in Canada