The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise was an unexpected success. When Curse of the Black Pearl premiered in 2003, no one expected the series to become such a phenomenon. However, Dead Man’s Chest and At World’s End broke box office records, cementing the franchise as a Hollywood heavy player.
A large reason for its success is the slew of charming, kooky, and hilarious characters that turned the story into an unforgettable cinematic experience. From drunken pirates to rebellious ladies, Pirates of the Caribbean has an ensemble of likable characters who fans continue to adore.
Based on the superstition of Davy Jones’ locker — a popular metaphor for the bottom of the sea –, Davy Jones is the half-man-half-cephalopod captain of the Flying Dutchman. Tyrannical and bitter yet surprisingly sympathetic, Davy Jones has some of the best quotes in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, not to mention an impressive design.
Davy Jones is one of the Pirates franchise de-facto antagonists, the other being Lord Cutler Beckett. However, unlike Beckett, Jones isn’t loathsome. A tragic villain to a tee, Jones inspires the audience’s sympathy numerous times, even if he never achieves their admiration.
Making her debut in Dead Man’s Chest, Tia Dalma is a voodoo and hoodoo practitioner and the mortal guise of Calypso, goddess of the sea. She was once Davy Jones’ lover, but their romance ended in tragedy when she left due to her immortal nature, and he abandoned his duties out of spite.
Tia Dalma is a mysterious and alluring character. Like most gods in media, she is also treacherous and self-serving, and while she harbors feelings of love towards Jones and sympathy towards Jack and the other pirates, they aren’t enough to make her an ally, much less a friend.
Like the other members of the Flying Dutchman crew, Bootstrap Bill Turner is a man with several sea-like elements. Bill is Will’s father, once a crew member of the Black Pearl and the only one who refused to participate in the mutiny against Jack.
Bootstrap Bill is arguably the most tragic character in the series. He gets constantly punished for doing the right thing, paying the consequences for his goodwill. He might not be the funniest character, but fans certainly liked him because he was a decent man in an increasingly corrupt world.
Introduced in Curse of the Black Pearl, James Norrington is a dashing commodore and Elizabeth’s would-be finacé. He goes through a lot during the original trilogy, going from friend to foe, eventually ending his days as a tragic hero who dies doing the right thing.
Norrington is a prime example of a movie villain who became a friend. He was never outright villainous but played mainly an antagonistic role throughout the series. Still, Norrington’s acidic personality made him one of the franchise’s most popular characters, with many fans appreciating him, especially during his downtrodden era in Dead Man’s Chest.
Slightly clumsy but staunchly loyal, Gibbs is Jack Sparrow’s best friend, a former Royal Navy warrant officer who eventually becomes a pirate. He likes indulging in the pleasures that pirate life brings but is always ready to fulfill his duty.
Gibbs might be the most virtuous character in the franchise. He is a genuinely good friend who cares about Jack, Will, and Elizabeth, following to the world’s end, quite literally. Gibbs’ devotion, good-natured spirit, and self-deprecating sense of humor quickly turned him into one of the best characters in the series.
Barbossa is the main antagonist in The Curse of the Black Pearl and an unlikely ally in At World’s End. He was the Black Pearl’s first mate who led a mutiny against Sparrow and brought doom upon the crew by claiming the cursed Aztec gold in Isla de Muerta.
Despite being a supporting figure, Barbossa has main character energy, and fans would love to see more of him if the Pirates franchise continues. Thanks to Geoffrey Rush’s committed performance, Barbossa is incredibly likable, so much so that fans can almost forget the despicable things he once did.
Like Barbossa, Pintel and Ragetti start as villainous supporting characters before becoming more heroic. However, unlike Barbossa, Pintel and Ragetti are clumsy to the point of stupidity. They are pirates to a tee but lack the skill and ambition to succeed in their schemes.
Pintel and Ragetti are among the series’ funniest characters. They are comedic relief, especially when the situation becomes overly serious, always ready to deliver a funny one-liner or observation. Contrary to what some might believe, they are also very capable in battle, proving their worth as pirates on numerous occasions.
As the sole female lead character in the franchise, Elizabeth Swann was instantly iconic. She is the female lead in the original trilogy, a strong-willed yet inexperienced lady thrown into the world of piracy. Elizabeth eventually becomes a strong fighter and capable leader and the Pirate King of the Seven Seas.
Elizabeth is independent and strong-willed. Despite being a lady, she also has several pirate traits, mainly a natural ability for deceit. Her manipulative side comes out in Dead Man’s Chest, although she quickly regrets her actions. Elizabeth is a fan favorite and one of the main reasons for the franchise’s success, not to mention the role that turned Keira Knightley into one of the most iconic actresses of the 2000s.
Will Turner is the deuteragonist of the original trilogy, a blacksmith forced to become a pirate to rescue Elizabeth from Barbossa. Eventually, Will becomes the new captain of the Flying Dutchman, vowing to do a better job than Davy Jones ever did.
Self-sacrificing and heroic, Will is the prototype of a hero, and fans immediately fell for him thanks to his kindness and sense of duty. Will remains likable throughout his time in the series, and his sacrifice at the end of At World’s End cemented him as one of the best heroes of the 21st century.
As the franchise’s lead, Captain Jack Sparrow has conquered the audience’s heart. Sparrow is a flamboyant pirate who always comes out on top thanks to an unparalleled combination of talent and good fortune. Morally ambiguous yet willing to do what’s right, Jack is the perfect combination of charisma and piracy.
At first sight, Jack Sparrow isn’t the typical swashbuckler hero. He is weird, far from gallant, and seemingly perpetually drunk, traits that made him stand out. However, Sparrow was also charming and hilarious, a truly unique creation that became instantly iconic. Sparrow cemented Johnny Depp as one of the most iconic actors of the 2000s and the king of weird and provided audiences with a new kind of hero.
NEXT: 5 Times Jack Sparrow Had A Brilliant Plan (& 5 Times He Got Lucky)