Best Fictional Pirates in Movies, Ranked

ytsfreeSeptember 18, 2022

Though few of us achieved our childhood dreams of becoming a pirate (probably for the best), we do still love to see them on screen. There’s something so exciting about swashbucklers sword-fighting on the deck of a ship, sailors scrambling as they fire cannons at an enemy, adventuring around the world in search of treasure and success. The life of a pirate can offer a lot– and it can certainly offer a lot of entertainment. For people of all ages that love pirates, this list is for you. Here are some of the best fictional pirates we’ve seen in movies.


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7 Sinbad – Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas (2003)

This early 2000s film was a fun pirate story with a great animation style. The film stars Brad Pitt as the voice of Sinbad, a mischievous and arrogant pirate who is trying to steal a mystical Book of Peace back from the trickster goddess Eris. While Sinbad can be selfish and impulsive, he also shows great loyalty and care towards the people he cares for. He’s a good leader and a good friend, and proves this by going after the book in order to save the life of his childhood best friend instead of selling the book for a fortune. Sinbad shows courage and growth throughout his film, making him an interesting character to follow throughout the troublesome adventure.

6 Red Rackham – The Adventures of Tintin (2011)

While Red Rackham only shows up for a short period of time in the film, he certainly leaves an impression. A fearsome fighter with an iron will and a sharp sword, he doesn’t let anyone stop him, and no one dares cross his path. Red Rackham makes his appearance fighting Sir Francis Haddock – an ancestor of a main character – dressed in illustrious red clothing and fire from the burning ships behind him. He comes for blood and treasure. While Red Rackham is, by all means, a villain, that doesn’t make him any less exciting to watch. He’s intense yet calculating, a fierce thespian of pirates that manages to turn every conquer into a show.

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5 Dread Pirate Roberts – The Princess Bride (1987)

The Princess Bride is a film beloved across generations. It shows a story of bravery and love and fighting for the life you want. The character that exemplifies this the most is one of the main protagonists Westley, who at the start of the story has to leave his true love Buttercup, and is soon presumed dead after his boat is attacked by pirates. Later on he makes a grand return as the infamous Dread Pirate Roberts, revealing that when he was attacked he took up the mantle and became captain of a pirate ship. Even though this pirate persona is based on a real pirate, the film still makes the identity its own unique character. Westley allows people to believe that he’s a ruthless scoundrel when in reality he is a gentleman, as shown by his duel with Inigo and his love for Buttercup. The Dread Pirate Roberts adds an extra layer of excitement and intrigue to the story, both for the characters involved as well as for the audience watching.

4 Jack Sparrow – Pirates of the Caribbean

These pirate films are likely some of the most popular pirate movies of all time. The franchise is still going strong with an upcoming sixth movie that will hopefully feature the main character that made it so loved in the first place. Jack Sparrow is an iconic and unforgettable pirate. With muddy morals, an insatiable romantic heart, and a desire for adventure, you know that he’s going to get himself caught up in some kind of hilariously chaotic trouble– and that amongst it all, he’s still going to find time to drink a bottle of rum. Jack Sparrow is a character that audiences find fascinating and captivating because of how real he is; he’s charming and clever but also selfish and occasionally cowardly. He’s a character that isn’t really a good guy or a bad guy; he’s just a damn good pirate.

3 Jim Hawkins – Treasure Planet (2002)

This Disney film is a classic. A lot of people tend to forget about Treasure Planet, but it is arguably one of the best animated Disney films from the 2000s. It isn’t just a regular pirate story; it’s a story about space pirates. It has a myriad of interesting characters with diverse appearances and personalities that create a beautiful story. It centers around rebellious teen Jim, who is left with a map and a warning from a dying pilot that crashed in front of the inn belonging to him and his mother. Soon after their home is attacked and destroyed by pirates that were following after the crashed pilot. Jim takes it upon himself to follow the map towards Treasure Planet, which had been a story his father told him as a child before abandoning him. With a motley crew of space sailors, he sets out for his destiny, facing danger and adventure and treachery as he goes. Jim Hawkins is a troubled boy that learns to be better and to believe in himself and his instincts. He learns how to heal and bond with others and figure out what’s right and wrong. Throughout the movie, he discovers as much about himself as he does about the universe around him, making him an inspiring character to watch in the course of his story.

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2 Yondu – Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

Continuing the theme of space pirates is Yondu from Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s the kind of guy that makes sure he gets what he wants, no matter the cost; he raids other spaceships, smuggles, makes shady trade-offs, all of it. There’s no limit to what Yondu will do in order to get what he thinks he deserves. Even still, he cares about his crew and has a soft spot for Starlord, who he raised and thinks of as a son. Yondu is another character that is well-rounded due to his realism and the fact that he is neither purely good or bad. He’s in a shady business as a pirate, but he looks out for the people that are loyal to him. He’s got his deceptive southern charm that he distracts people with before summoning his arrow with a whistle to kill his rivals. But in the end he saved Starlord’s life, saying how proud of him he was. So while he most likely won’t be in the third Guardians of the Galaxy movie (though who can really say with Marvel), he will still be remembered as an iconic character in the series.

1 Captain Shakespeare – Stardust (2007)

This movie is an adaptation of an incredible fantasy adventure written by Neil Gaiman. It centers around Tristan and Yvaine, a young boy and a fallen star who get swept up into trouble after various people come after Yvaine for her power. On their tempestuous journey together, they fall onto a flying pirate ship led by the fearsome Captain Shakespeare, who captures lightning and sells it to the highest bidders. Captain Shakespeare makes a big show of threatening the pair on deck, cheered on by his crew. When Tristan and Yvaine are down in the captain’s quarters, he reveals that his ferocity is all an act for a crew and his business. The pirate is naturally a sweetheart with a passion for music and a love of extravagant clothing, both feminine and masculine styles. After parting ways, a murderous son of an aristocrat forces his way on board in search of the star, but instead finds Captain Shakespeare dancing, and playing dress-up. When the man mocks him and threatens his life, Shakespeare’s crew comes to his rescue and admit that they had all figured out his secret, but were waiting until he wanted to tell them – and that they accept him as their leader no matter what. Captain Shakespeare shows that a pirate doesn’t have to be a ruthless bad guy to be successful. He shows that as long as you have the right crew around you, you can do just about anything.

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