Seadog Peg Leg

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An iconic trait of seamen of all kinds, be they pirates, sailors or fishermen, is to have a wood (might also be metal, bone or some other material) stump in place of one of their missing legs, which they probably lost to a shark, whale, crocodile or other aquatic hazard somewhere. Expect those characters to be badass (as would be expected of any character that lives a dangerous life at the sea), often of the retired variant.

This was Truth in Television as several pirates, privateers and admirals had those during the modern era. Before the invention of antibiotics in the early 20th century, a broken or otherwise injured limb would often become infected. It was therefore common practice to amputate. Unlike the stereotype, however, a character with a wooden leg would most often become the ship's cook, as the peg leg meant he couldn't climb the rigging anymore.

A form of Artificial Limbs and a typical feature of a character that is Dressed to Plunder. A Sister Trope to Hook Hand.


Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 
  • One Piece:
    • As a series about pirates, it inevitably has an example in the form of "Red Leg" Zeff, a retired pirate whose kicking strength was legendary (and still is fairly strong nowadays), but he had to sacrifice one of his legs in order to eat it so he wouldn't die from hunger while stranded in a desert island with a young Sanji, who had all the "regular" food.
    • The main antagonist of the tenth movie One Piece Film: Strong World, Shiki, is a legendary pirate with two swords replacing both his legs (which he had to cut in order to escape jail). It was not a big deal for him though, thanks to his floating powers.

    Comic Books 

    Films — Animation 
  • Gobber the Belch from How to Train Your Dragon is a viking with an artificial arm and leg, both which he made himself. Hiccup, who gets his own peg leg at the end of the first movie could technically count as well.
  • Long John Silver from Disney's Treasure Planet has a pneumatic peg leg, one of many cybernetic fittings. Jim Hawkins punctures it, crippling Silver, which allows him to escape the galley with intel that the Legacy's crew is composed of pirates.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Pirates of the Caribbean:
    • Captain Barbossa loses his leg between sometime after the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and has a peg leg in On Stranger Tides. Fitting, since he's been the most stereotypical pirate throughout the series. Then, just to take that stereotype Up to Eleven, he had it hollowed out and uses it as his personal bottle of rum. You can't get more pirate-y than that.
    • Davy Jones has a crab leg that presents the same problems as an ordinary peg leg.
  • A peg leg-wearing pirate is featured in The Black Pirate.

    Literature 
  • Long John Silver of Treasure Island is one of the Trope Codifiers, although he didn't have a peg leg in the original book, using a crutch to help him move around instead. The peg leg would originate in later adaptations.
  • Captain Ahab from Moby-Dick is the other Trope Codifier (to the point that some examples on this page are Expies of either him or Long John Silver mentioned above). Captain Ahab lost a leg during a previous whaling voyage while hunting the white whale and now has a grudge against it. In fact, his missing leg is the main force that drives his revenge plot against the titular whale. Notably, Ahab's peg leg was apparently made with whalebone.
  • In Fred Saberhagen's Berserker: Blue Death, space captain Nils Domingo loses his leg leading a Boarding Party against the Berserkers about halfway through the book. Much like Captain Ahab, he has a prosthetic made from Berserker steel.
  • Bush in the Horatio Hornblower series. At the end of Ship of the Line, Lieutenant Bush loses his leg, and in Flying Colours he gets a wooden leg and a promotion to Captain. He then serves under Hornblower as Captain of the ship Nonsuch in Commodore Hornblower and Lord Hornblower.
  • The Sea Wolf: Implied in the first chapter. The "red-faced man" is clearly an experienced seaman and though he's wearing long trousers, walks in an odd way that Van Weyden surmises is caused by having two artificial legs.
  • Jonathan Small from the Sherlock Holmes novel The Sign of the Four is a former soldier who lost his leg to a crocodile while serving the British army in India and replaced it accordingly. He has also sailed throughout the world, although that happened after losing his leg.
  • The Bounty Trilogy: Huggan, the ship's surgeon, has a peg leg. He lost his leg when his ship engaged in combat with John Paul Jones during The American Revolution.
  • Deptford Mice: In Thomas, a book in the prequel trilogy, Mulligan has a peg leg. It is explained that he lost his leg in a battle with the Big Bads, the Scale.

    Live-Action TV 
  • In the Get Smart two-part episode "Ship of Spies", the captain of the ship has a peg leg which makes a distinctive "clip-clop" sound when he walks - but so does practically everything else on the ship.
  • On Black Sails, John Silver loses the lower part of his leg at the end of season 2. In season 3 he is using a metal peg leg to move about. He is warned that he should be using a crutch instead since the amputation is still too recent for him to use a peg leg. He risks reopening the wound and losing the rest of his leg. He abandons the leg for a book-accurate crutch at the beginning of season 4.

    Comic Strips 
  • Wiley from Johnny Hart's B.C. has never sailed the seas, but he does have a peg leg. Wiley functions as poet / bartender / coach among his cave-dwelling peers.
  • The Far Side has a comic where an old sailor is pointing at his peg leg and saying "Well, that's not such a bad story... But wait 'til you hear how I lost this!" to a man with a peg head.

    Radio 
  • Parodied in Bleak Expectations, where Admiral Hardthrasher has a wooden leg — and another wooden leg, two wooden arms, several wooden ribs, a wooden kidney, wooden hair...

    Tabletop Games 
  • "Peg Leg" is a selectable character Trait in the pirate-themed Pathfinder Skulls & Shackles campaign. A PC who takes it has had his leg chewed off by a shark as a child, but they suffer no normal penalties for using a prosthetic and instead gain a bonus on damage rolls against sharks and other aquatic predators.

    Video Games 
  • The basic Kremling enemies had those in Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy's Kong Quest, fitting the general pirate motif of the game. Some even had two peg legs, meaning they could only move by leaping.
  • Team Fortress 2. The Demoman's "Swashbuckler's Swag" outfit includes a peg leg. It's a reskin of Ali Baba's Wee Booties, which bizarrely means having a pegleg increases the Demoman's mobility while charging and health.
  • Several characters from the Monkey Island series have those. Most of them pirates.
  • Shorty Leg from Alone in the Dark 2 lost one of his legs to the recoil from two cannons he fired. Notable because his peg leg is the first hint the enemies you're fighting, who up to that moment look like mere 1920s gangsters (even if their skin colour just looks weird), are more than they seem.
  • Captain LeFwee from Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, who is also a literal Pirate Parrot.
  • In Puzzle Pirates, if your ship is sunk in battle, there's a certain probability that you'll end up with a peg leg.
  • Woodlegs, the playable pirate character from Don't Starve.
  • In Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle, Morgane's childhood home has a rack of them, left from prominent pirate ancestors. She doesn't have one herself, although Simpkins, one of the villains, does.
  • Itan Carver from Ittle Dew is an extreme example, with two peg legs, one peg hand, and one hook.
  • Moshi Monsters:
    • Mr Mushy Peas, one of the Ghost Pirates, has a peg leg.
    • Exaggerated for Octopeg, an octopus with most of his tentacles being replaced with peg legs.

    Toys 
  • LEGO: The LEGO Pirates line has Captain Redbeard, whose right leg is designed to look like a wooden stump.
  • Sharx and Skulzy, both members of the Pyrratz tribe in Mixels sport a peg leg. Skulzy's is a standard-looking one, while Sharx's is a barrel, which he stores things in.

    Web Animation 
  • Russel, the pirate otter from Happy Tree Friends has all the features of a typical pirate, including a peg leg.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Recurring Disney villain Pete had one at the time of Alice Comedies (where he played the role of a pirate once), but it was later removed from his design. He still gets one when typecast in a pirate role in more recent works, however.
  • Parodied with the character of Seamus from Family Guy. He's a fisherman with a typical pirate getup who has pegs replacing all his limbs, including his arms. One episode even shows him with a wooden torso.
    Peter: How are you alive?
    Seamus: Me mother was a tree.
  • Also parodied in The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy with a Captain Ahab Expy who had replaced his entire body with wood.
  • Captain Stickybeard from Codename: Kids Next Door has a peg leg made out of candy cane.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • Patchy the Pirate has one.
    • On the episode "Aargh!", Mr. Krabs gives SpongeBob and Patrick some pirate gear to put on when they go treasure hunting. SpongeBob puts on two peg legs and calls himself Peggy the Pirate.
  • The episode "Ocean Commotion" from Dexter's Laboratory featured yet another Ahab Expy, with a peg leg and exaggerated pirate speak.
  • Captain Kidd steals "The Goose That Laid The Golden Egg" in the 1936 Felix the Cat cartoon. He duels ably with Felix at first, until his peg gets stuck in a knothole on the pirate ship's deck.
  • Cow and Chicken. Whenever Red Guy poses as a pirate - such as Cap'n Butz Pirate - he will often tape his feet to his butt and attach peg legs to his knees; however, in "Lawnmower Chicken," he actually had peg legs, despite just being a grumpy old neighbor.
  • Rocko's Modern Life. In "Fish n Chumps", former pirate-turned-local mariner Crappy Jack not only had wooden legs, but also wooden arms, and wooden eyes!
  • Captain K'nuckles from The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack has wooden legs, wooden hands, and a wooden 'sittin' muscle'.
  • Futurama: Space Pirates are featured in the episode "Godfellas". Their captain is a four-legged alien dressed in typical pirate attire, including peg legs for three of his legs.
  • The pirate captain from Mike, Lu & Og has two wooden legs.

    Real Life 
  • François Le Clerc, the French corsair who led the first French privateering fleet to the New World and in 1553-1554 sacked several Spanish ports in the Carribean, was nicknamed Jambe de Bois ('Wooden Leg', i.e. Peg Leg) after he had lost a leg in a sea-fight with the English at Guernsey in 1549.

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