"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 fiction has responded with Redbeard Rum
(see right), Whitebeard
... 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
and Horny Vikings
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- 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 And Manga
- 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.
- While not strictly speaking sea dogs, many of the Sky Pirates in The Edge Chronicles have beards of this nature, especially Tem Barkwater.
- The Ancient Mariner is usually depicted like this (which makes sense, he spent an unclear period of time stuck in the middle of the sea long after the fresh water supplies had run out).
- Surprisingly not prominent in Honor Harrington, Aivars Terekhov is one of those few who have it.
- Invoked in Going Postal, where Reacher Gilt affects an ostentatious pirate "look" including a beard. Mostly so that he can lose it when it's time to disappear
Live Action Television
- In the Royal Navy, you can have a beard and moustache, or be clean shaven. That's all the choice you have.
- 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.