Admit it – we all love a good pirate story. They’re daring and “heroic” and bloody and dangerous. Sometimes there’s romance, sometimes it’s just full of plain old selfish glory. Personally, I am one of the biggest suckers for all things pirate, whether it’s a movie, video game, or themed birthday party. In fact, if it weren’t for the whole scurvy thing or the absolute havoc they wreak, the pirate life is a pretty attractive one.
So without further ado, here’s a list of the most piratey characteristics I could think of, complete with the (mostly fictional) pirates that portray them quite effectively.
1. Ruggedly handsome
Let’s get this one out of the way. A pirate – especially one portrayed in visual media – tends to think very highly of his looks. More often than we’d like to admit, we fall for these devilishly charming faces.
Charles Vane – Black Sails – What more can I say? Even his love handles have muscles.
Not loyal to the Queen, mind you, or to any political figure – to his crew and his ship. Sometimes he’s loyal to a significant other (I’m looking at you, Will Turner), to his family, or maybe even to a parrot, but most of the time a pirate is quite loyal only to himself and his riches. He’s fiercely loyal to his way of life, and would die before he’d give up his freedom.
One-Eyed Willy – The Goonies – walled himself up with his treasure and died with it in his arms.
Pirates cannot be afraid of anything of this world if they wish to succeed. They certainly aren’t afraid to fight for what they desire, nor do they fear a little (read: a lot) of time sailing the open ocean.
Anne Bonny – Assassins’ Creed 4 – You might know this name from AC4 (she’s friends with Mary Read/James Kidd), as she’s the lover of Calico Jack. Even historically, Anne Bonny is known as one of the most notorious pirates of the Caribbean – she even escaped being hanged with dear Jack after their ship had been captured, as the authorities weren’t about to hang a pregnant girl. Her last words to him were “I’m so sorry to see you there, but if you had fought like a man they wouldn’t hang you like a dog.” Ouch.
4. Knows how to drive
You have to respect even the most murderous of pirates for their ability to drive a ship, shoot a gun, sword fight, and so forth. To stay alive, they have to be able to jump to their toes at a moment’s notice. Most of them are very skilled at their jobs, even when quite inebriated.
Captain Barbossa – Pirates of the Caribbean – Barbossa is the perfect example of a proper pirate captain. He leads his crew effortlessly and can drunkenly steer a ship through a massive storm. Also, he’s a pretty darn good shot.
It’s no secret that pirates drink. A lot.
Edward Kenway – Assassins Creed 4 – Throughout the first three-fourths of the game, Edward spends a lot of his time drunk and wandering the seas, trying to do what he wants and avoiding any and all responsibilities. And he’s pretty good at it too.
A pirate takes what he wants. He doesn’t see the need to ask for anything unless he’s feeling particularly generous. He can be a stone-cold killer and a heartless ruffian; he’ll shoot cannonballs at an innocent tugboat if he deems it necessary.
Davy Jones – the legend or the one from Pirates of the Caribbean – The definition of a heartless and cruel pirate, his curse is to watch (or own, depending on the tale) each and every soul lost at sea. But he doesn’t even want to do that, so he breaks free and becomes a monster in the process. To him, the freedom of the high seas is preferable to being cooped up in the afterlife, even if it means trading in what’s left of his humanity.
The opposite of the legend of Davy Jones is this Davy Jones. He’s not super great at being assertive, especially if Spongebob is around.
There’s a time and place for a pirate to be reckless. Albeit most the time, a pirate picks and chooses his battles, oftentimes for their adventure rather than for their ease.
Hook – Once Upon a Time – At the beginning of the show, Hook was a bit of a reckless fool, seeking revenge for his lover’s murder no matter the cost. As the show goes on and his heart becomes a little less angry, Hook (aka Killian Jones) and his recklessness don’t stop. He’s willing to do anything for love, even if it involves fighting monsters or jumping in a one-way-only time portal.
8. Bloody rich
A pirate’s gold is definitely one of his obvious assets. . . . That is, when he has any. Pirates generally spend their acquired riches on drink, food, fanciful clothes, a little love, or just gamble it all away. But there is a reason treasure trope exists – a pirate’s treasure map always* (read: usually) has a trunk full of gold and silver waiting on the coast of some lost island somewhere.
Blackbeard – all sorts of stories – The real Blackbeard died one of the richest pirates in history, worth about $12.5 million.
Some pirates’ names live on forever. They are eternally remembered for their great schemes, feats of glory, or their utter mystery.
Dread Pirate Roberts – The Princess Bride – Famous for never allowing survivors to leave his captured ships, The Dread Pirate Roberts is actually a name handed down a successor. There has not been only one Dread Pirate Roberts – there have been many, including a certain stable boy whose motto is “As you wish.”
10. Absolutely no cares in the world
Above everything else, a pirate is a free man. It is this quality, I think, that makes a pirate’s life so romantic to those of us who work for a living.
Who is a freer man than Captain Jack Sparrow?
Now we only need a few more famous lady pirates out there – what say you?
Who are YOUR favorite pirates? Let us know @theMoshery!
Corinne Pachl is a recent graduate from Truman State University whose heart will always lie in the depths of Kansas City, MO. Since studying abroad in Europe, she just wants to travel and eat food from all over the world. Until her next adventure, she aspires to find happiness and understanding in the soundtrack of everyday life.