Talk Like a Pirate Day: 12 of TV's Saltiest Pirates

Evan Lewis

David Bloomer/Starz

There be pirates in these waters

Avast, landlubber! If it be seafarin’ plunder yer seekin’, ye be in dangerous company. TV’s waters be teemin’ with bilgerats and scurvy dogs who’d sooner pay a visit to Davy Jones’s locker than live an honest life ashore. It be International Talk Like a Pirate Day, so grab a bottle of grog, set a course through our bounty board of TV’s most notorious known pirates and scour the cutthroat airwaves fer these terrors o’ the high seas. But beware: dead men watch no shows.

David Bloomer/Starz

James Flint - Black Sails

Before Long John Silver met Jim Hawkins or set his mutiny in action in Treasure Island, he honed his sea legs (or sea leg, as of the end of Season 2) on Black Sails, aboard The Walrus under the command of legendary marauder Captain Flint. Black Sails follows Flint two decades before the events in Robert Louis Stevenson’s seminal novel, and shows how he survived the pirate’s life, earned his nefarious reputation and amassed a sizable stockpile of booty in the process.

Eric “Fatbeard” Cartman – South Park

Cartman mistakes reports of Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean for news that the swashbuckling ways of the Golden Age of Piracy have returned. With his ragtag crew of Clyde, Kevin, Ike and Butters, Cartman travels to Mogadishu to make a name for himself as a scourge of the seas, but he’s immediately captured and successfully ransomed to a French vessel. Undeterred by this turn of events, Cartman seizes control of the French vessel -- with the help of Kevin's space age toy lightsaber technology -- and returns an even bigger haul to the Somalis. Unsurprisingly, Cartman proves to be more cruelly committed to the life of a pirate than the Somalis, who steal to survive.

Bob D'Amico/ABC

Killian “Hook” Jones – Once Upon a Time

The quintessential child-hating, crocodile-phobic pirate of fantasy, Captain Hook, received a thorough reimagining for ABC’s Once Upon a Time. Killian “Hook” Jones became a pirate when a mission to Neverland for his king turned deadly for his brother, who poisoned himself in an attempt to demonstrate that the plant they had been tasked to retrieve was as harmless as their king had led them to believe.

Flying the crimson flag as the captain of the newly dubbed Jolly Roger, Hook convinced his crew to be honorable pirates, but ones who would show their enemies no quarter. Later, Hook’s life of piracy took another grim turn when Rumpelstiltskin, the crocodile, took his hand and his love. Much of Hook’s life since then has been dedicated to vengeance.

Sterling Archer, Pirate King – Archer

After killing the former king of a tropical pirate island paradise, Sterling Archer (still ostensibly grieving his bride Katya) took over for a temporary stint as Pirate King himself in the three-part season 3 opener “Heart of Archness.” Archer, immediately reaching a level of debauchery even an island full of looters and murderers couldn’t tolerate, didn’t reign for long. But despite not performing any actual piracy, he briefly lived the dream of riches and comfort unfettered by law.

Francisco Roman/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank

Blackbeard – Crossbones

Despite the star power of John Malkovich as the infamous Blackbeard Edward Teach, NBC gave this pirate drama the Black Spot before its first season had even finished airing, pushing its final two episodes to air on the same day to open up its time slot. The pirate’s life isn’t for everyone, and the quick cancellation of Crossbones proves that it wasn’t all rum and treasure for the pirate boss of Santa Compana.

Long John Peter – Family Guy

Stealing a parrot from a vet’s office was all it took to turn Peter Griffin into Long John Peter persona. In a drawn out action sequence, Long John Peter and his band of pirates attack a car full of old-timey goods defended by Brit Shelley Boothbishop. During the raid, Peter’s parrot is fatally wounded, effectively ending his career in piracy, but his short, bloody run is the stuff of which pirate legend is made.

Salladhor Saan – Game of Thrones

Unlike the Onion Knight Ser Davos Seaworth, Salladhor Saan is undoubtedly a pirate. Ser Davos, a former smuggler, explains the difference between the two professions quite succinctly as he works to gain the financial backing of the Iron Bank of Braavos for his king: “Well, strictly speaking, I didn't do the thieving, that would be the pirates,” Ser Davos explains. “I just moved what they stole from one place to another." Saan, however, takes pride in title of pirate. He is the commander of 30 ships, and when standard piracy isn’t enough for him, he will occasionally branch out into mercenary work, as he did on behalf of Stannis Baratheon. Given Stannis’s downfall, Saan may have been better off sticking to piracy and steering clear of the ever-shifting battle for the Iron Throne.

Pirate Captain – Venture Brothers

The Pirate Captain on Venture Brothers is not the most successful or imposing pirate, but he looks the part. Unintentionally anchored in the seaweed of the Bermuda Triangle for 10 years and relying on Scooby Doo-style ghost ship antics to rob ships transporting not-so-valuable goods (like the pantyhose his crew wear as headbands), he had no idea what he was getting into when he tried to rob a ship with Brock Samson on board. Spared by Samson after a run in with a real ghost, the Pirate Captain eventually goes to work for Jonas Venture Jr. on Skull-Spider Island, a workplace that sounds much more pirate-ish than it actually is.

History Channel

Floki – Vikings

Vikings are known best for ship-building and village-pillaging, both of which are Floki’s particular specialties. With a hint of Jack Sparrow-esque swagger (and eyeliner), Floki epitomizes the Viking pirate, eager to explore far off lands and plunder them for riches and glory. As the seasons of Vikings have progressed, he’s transformed from quirky sidekick to aggressively volatile adversary to King Ragnar’s Christian sympathies, making him a presence to be feared by friend or foe on land and sea alike.

Painty the Pirate – Spongebob Squarepants

One of television’s most immediately recognizable pirates is less a nefarious corsair and more of an almost entirely inanimate object. Singer of the Spongebob Squarepants theme song, Painty the Pirate is undoubtedly the man to see if you have questions about the major players in subaqueous fruit-based real estate ownership.

Monkey D. Luffy – One Piece

Captain of the Straw Hat Pirates Monkey D. Luffy, also known simply as Straw Hat, wants to find the legendary One Piece to secure his position as the King of Pirates. Along the way, he acquires a crew, does battle with rival pirates and finds himself at odds with the World Government to the point that the bounty on his head reaches into the hundreds of millions. Luffy tends to play it cool, but thanks to the Gum-Gum Devil Fruit he ingested as a kid, he’s surprisingly formidable, able to stretch his body to perform unusual combat feats.

Tobias Fünke – Arrested Development

On paper, Dr. Tobias Fünke is among the vilest sea scum in this gallery of wretches. He’s a registered sex offender and a self-proclaimed “analrapist.” Most of his criminal reputation is built on misunderstanding, but it’s not uncommon for a pirate’s legend to outgrow the man it’s attached to.

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