Seadog Beard

"I know I'm only a bluff old cove with no legs and a beard you could lose a badger in..."

Men of the maritime or naval business, especially the more experienced ones, will usually grow beards. It's more an issue of practicality- shaving requires fresh water, and you have to conserve this on a ship. But in any case it is one way to tell that a character is a real Father Neptune.

For Pirate Captains, a prominent beard is such an obligatory part of the dress code that you have a high probability of being named after it. Real Life gave us Blackbeard and Redbeard, and fiction has responded with Redbeard Rum (see right), Whitebeard, Yellowbeard, Purplebeard... everything but Bluebeard, which was already taken by a non-pirate.

Any character sporting this is guaranteed to Talk Like a Pirate. Something about the way the densely packed follicles baffle the sound waves... Combine with Beard of Barbarism for Pirates and Horny Vikings.

Examples:

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    Advertising 
  • The Gorton's Fisherman.
  • Captain Birdseye
  • Despite what it says in the trope's description, there was a Weetabix advert which featured "Black-, Blue-, Red- and Yellowbeard". All were afraid of the pirate captain of the Marie Celeste, who was in turn scared off by learning the Royal Navy had their Weetabix.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Captain Smudge from Serendipity the Pink Dragon has a big grey beard like this, and talks like a pirate too.
  • Despite mostly serving in space, Captain Okita of the Space Battleship Yamato wears the traditional bushy captain beard.
  • Due to the franchise's roots as an intended parody of the SF anime cliches of the 70s, most Macross series traditionally have the captains of their respective Cool Ships to wear the traditional bushy beards. Bruno Global and Jeffrey Wilder being the most prominent examples.
    • Max Jenius, though, is an aversion — he's clean-shaven and impeccably clad in white, and wears a Cool Shades just to show off what an Ace he is. He even looks like a total Bishōnen at 52.
      • Kawamori reportedly outright stated that Max stopped aging due to his sheer awesomeness.note 
  • One Piece runs on this trope.

    Comic Books 
  • Captain Haddock in Tintin, and his old mate Captain Chester.
  • Jommeke: Captain Jan Haring.
  • Aquaman had one for a while.
  • Lex O'Malley in Dan Dare.

    Film 

    Literature 

    Live Action Television 

    Newspaper Comics 

    Video Games 

    Western Animation 
  • Captain McCallister of The Simpsons fits this to an extent given his nautical work, Verbal Tic of "yar", and roughed up beard.

    Web Comics 

    Real Life 
  • In the Royal Navy, you can have a beard and moustache, or be clean shaven. That's all the choice you have.
    • Prince Philip grew an impressive beard while serving at sea during World War II. Then-Princess Elizabeth kept a photo of the bearded Philip in her room because their courtship had to be kept secret and he looked like an entirely different person from his normally clean-shaven look.
  • The US Navy actually prohibits beards among sailors- due to the need to get a gas mask on.
    • Beards were a bit of a naval tradition in the Royal Navy, and in the US Navy (since the latter was pretty much based on the former). During Zumwalt's term as the American Chief of Naval Operations, beards were re-authorized for American Navy personnel, though they've been banned since. This rule does not appear to stop certain SEALs.
      • It's fairly common for commanders of special forces units to turn a blind eye to shaving regulations. It's almost an unspoken rule that they've "earned the right" due to the particularly grueling and dangerous work they do.
      • It also helps them do their job in places like Afghanistan, where most men have beards. Beards are considered an essential sign of masculinity in Afghan culture and many Afghans won't take a clean-shaven man seriously.
      • They also aren't breaking any rules. Spec Ops personnel (and those working with them) are given "grooming waivers." Other personnel with skin issues can be issued "No Shave Chits" which, well, allow the bearer to not shave.
    • Many US submarines allow the beards while underway. Traditionally, a sailor buys a $5 No Shave Chit, which goes into the ship's recreation fund. However, as soon as the ship pulls into port or if there are riders aboard, then they're immediately required to shave.
  • Edward Teach had such an ominous beard that he's better known as Blackbeard.
  • During World War II, the Kriegsmarine took pride in not shaving, as they considered it a waste of resources.
    • Even nowadays, German sailors on subs tend to eschew washing and shaving. But yes, with limited freshwater resources, this is justified.