Top 10 Fictional Pirates

Ahoy and Happy International Talk Like a Pirate Day, maties! In honor of the day where we talk like a bunch of swashbucklers, I wanted to talk about my top ten favorite fictional pirates of all time. From sailing everywhere from the seven seas to the stars in the sky, these pirates take many forms and fight on the side of good, evil, or even sometimes both! Now raise your Jolly Roger and join me as we explore these ten buccaneers from the screen and page. If you don’t, well then you’ll just have to walk the plank!

10. Long John Silver

Novel: Treasure Island

The main antagonist to cabin boy, Jim Hawkins, in Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic 1883 novel, Treasure Island. Silver’s main objective is to find the treasure of Captain Flint, who he was the quartermaster under. He is introduced in the story as a hardworking and likable seaman and also a father figure to young Jim. It is only as the story goes on that his villainess nature is slowly revealed. Silver is portrayed as very wise and physically courageous despite only having one leg. His portrayal, appearance, and ownership of a pet parrot greatly influenced the modern iconography of the pirate and remain one of the most iconic pirates in all of literature.

9. Hector Barbossa

Film Series: Pirates of the Caribbean

The primary antagonist of the first film in the Pirates series, “The Curse of the Black Pearl”. Barbossa is introduced as the man who led a mutiny on the then Captain of The Black Pearl, Captain Jack Sparrow. He took his ship and crew and left Sparrow marooned on a deserted island. Shortly after this, Barbossa and the rest of the crew are cursed by stolen Aztec Gold and are forced to sail the seas as part of the undead. After being defeated and killed by Sparrow after his curse is removed, Barossa is brought back to life in the second film, “Dead Man’s Chest”, and becomes a rival and sometimes ally of Sparrow in the following films of the series. I loved Barbossa as a villain in the first film. His charm (portrayed by the great Geoffrey Rush) and intimidating appearance made him a great adversary for the likable and witty Sparrow. His change from enemy to rival to ally of Sparrow was seamless and shows the complexity and depth of the character.

8. Captain James Hook

Play/Novel: Peter Pan

The main antagonist to the boy who never grew up, Peter Pan, Hook was the Captain of the Jolly Roger and lead his men against Peter Pan, the Darling children, and the Lost Boys. His main motivation was to kill Pan as revenge for Pan cutting off his hand, which had been replaced with a hook, and feeding it to a crocodile which stalked him to consume the rest of him. I’ve always had a soft spot for Hook and felt he was the true hero of the story in a sense. I mainly felt this as I hated the Peter Pan character due to his arrogance and selfishness and felt that Hook had a legitimate grievance against him. While you can argue that Pan cutting off Hook’s hand could be a case of self-defense, Pan did not have to feed the hand to the crocodile and have Hook stalked for the rest of his life by a giant reptile. That was just excessive. As I get older, I identify more with Hook as he has accepted the perils of growing older while Pan refuses to face it. If you want to see a truly great example of how terrible Pan and sympathetic Hook is, watch the 2003 film adaptation of Peter Pan, where Pan literally bullies Hook to death. That is why I will always carry the flag that Hook was right.

7. Ryoko Hakubi

Anime Series: Tenchi Muyo!

One of the main characters of the “Tenchi Muyo!” franchise, and my favorite character in the show, is Ryoko Hakubi. Her backstory changes depending on which version you watch, so for the sake of this article, I am going to concentrate on her portrayal in the original OVA. A synthetic composite being created by mad scientist, Washu, Ryoko is a fearsome, semi-reformed space pirate who is madly in love with the series’ protagonist, Tenchi Masaki. She is an impulsive, short tempered, violent, tomboyish troublemaker. She holds an intense rivalry with Princess Ayeka over Tenchi’s love. I love her character due to her mad behavior that is balanced with her genuine soft side and is the woman who I root for to be the one to finally earn Tenchi’s love.

6. Monkey D. Luffy

Manga/Anime Series: One Piece

The main protagonist of the long running manga and anime, One Piece, “Straw Hat” Luffy is one of the most iconic anime characters in history. After eating the Gum-Gum Devil Fruit as a boy, Luffy gains a body of rubber which allows him to stretch any part of his body at will. With a dream to become the next “King of the Pirates”, Luffy forms a crew called the Straw Hat Pirates to search for “The One Piece”, the collective treasure of the last Pirate King, Gol D. Roger. With a child-like nature and an immense appetite, Luffy and his friends go on many adventures and face many dangerous enemies thoughout the series. While at first I didn’t like the character much as I found his lack of intellect and his tendency to get his crew into trouble because of his stupidity annoying. However, his character grew on me as he developed throughout the show. His superhuman abilities make for epic fight scenes and amazing moments that I still enjoy to this day.

5. Dread Pirate Roberts

Film: The Princess Bride

Westley is the male protagonist of the film. He is originally a farmhand for the beautiful Buttercup, who he falls deeply in love with. One day, Westley’s ship is captured at sea by the previous Dread Pirate Roberts, who spares his life and eventually makes him his successor. After hearing of his capture, Westley is believed dead by Buttercup due to the Dread Pirate Roberts' reputation of never leaving his captives alive. Five years later, Westley, with the help of new allies, must rescue Buttercup from marrying the evil Prince Humperdinck. Westley is a great character who uses his charm and intelligence to outwit his opponents. Cary Elwes’ portrayal of the character led to him becoming one of my favorite actors.

4. Brook

Manga/Anime Series: One Piece

An undead musician and the eighth member to join Luffy’s Straw Hat Pirates. Brook was once a living human being, but after he and his crewmates became lost at sea, they all die. However, due to eating the Yomi Yomi no Mi Devil Fruit prior to his death, Brook’s soul separates from his body instead of passing on, but before it can return to his body to resurrect him, his soul becomes lost in the thick fog. By the time he finds his body and returns to it, it had decayed to just bones, making him an immortal, living skeleton. After being found by the Straw Hat Pirates, Brooke is invited to join by Luffy as the crew’s official musician. Brook is my second favorite character in the show. His sense of humor and unique laugh is infectious. Not just comic relief, Brook is also very skilled with the sword and can hold his own with most opponents. As his crew title suggests, he is immensely talented with both the violin and the guitar, earning the title of “Soul King”.

3. Captain Jack Sparrow

Film Series: Pirates of the Caribbean

The main character of the Pirates of the Caribbean film series. He was Captain of the legendary Black Pearl until a mutiny led by Barbossa led to him being marooned on a deserted island. After escaping the island, Jack meets young Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann. Together, they help him defeat Barbossa and reclaim his ship. The series continued with Jack facing fearsome enemies like Davy Jones and Blackbeard as he sailed the vast seas. Charming, intelligent, and a master of strategy, Jack is a fantastic and likable character whose unique way of overcoming incredible odds have always been fun to watch. All of this makes the Pirates films some of my favorite films of all time and Jack one of my favorite film characters of all time as well.

2. Roronoa Zoro

Manga/Anime Series: One Piece

My favorite character in One Piece, Zorro is a master swordsman and is the first member to join Luffy’s Straw Hat Pirates. His dream is to become the world’s greatest swordsman and battles his enemies using up to three swords at a time, with one in each hand and another in his mouth! I was immediately drawn to his character due to his cool aura and awesome fighting skills. A funny running gag in the series is that, when left alone, he always gets lost even when given exact directions. Zorro is fiercely loyal to Luffy and will battle any enemy who gets in the crew’s way.

1. Captain Harlock

Manga/Anime Series: Space Pirate Captain Harlock

The main protagonist of the Captain Harlock franchise, Captain Harlock is one of my favorite anime characters of all time. He has an individualist philosophy of life and is noble, taciturn, rebellious, and will always fight against totalitarian regimes both Earth-based and alien in orgin. Though his backstory changes depending of the version of the story you watch or read, they all tell the story of Earth succumbing to despair after being invaded by aliens and Harlock, refusing to admit defeat, leading a one ship war against the oppressors with his outlaw crew aboard his starship, Arcadia. I have always admired Harlock as a character as we share similar political philosophies, especially his hatred of corrupt governments and his noble nature.

That’s it for the list, me hearties! Join me next time on the next edition of Nick’s Noble Notions or else you might be receiving a black spot! Harrr!

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