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Western Animation: The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists
The Pirate Captainnote  and his very odd parrot, Polly.

"It's only impossible if you stop to think about it!"

The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists! is a Claymation film directed by Peter Lord and made by Aardman Animations based on the pirate stories of Gideon Defoe. It's Aardman's first full-length stop-motion film in seven years.

Outside the UK, the film was marketed under the title of The Pirates! Band of Misfits.

The film features a nameless crew of pirates (who are only referred to by description, as in "The Pirate With Gout," "The Albino Pirate," and "The Pirate Who Likes Kittens and Sunsets") who aren't very good at piracy but are incredibly enthusiastic about it. The Pirate Captain is obsessed with winning the Pirate of the Year Award so he can at last earn the respect of his peers, but his incompetence renders this almost impossible.

To earn the prize, the crew navigates a ridiculously exaggerated caricature of Victorian London, running afoul of Charles Darwin, Jane Austen, and the Elephant Man, and braving the hellish wrath of Queen Victoria (whose official royal motto is "I hate pirates!")

This film shows examples of:

  • The Ace: Black Bellamy, much to the Pirate Captain's frustration.
  • Achievements in Ignorance: See the page quote above.
  • Acrofatic: Queen Victoria in the climactic fight scene.
  • Adaptational Heroism: In the original book, the pirates are rather disdainful of each other and even casually execute one of their own when the crew becomes too large. In the film, they're True Companions.
  • Adaptational Villainy: Darwin and Mr. Bobo, for the first half of the film.
  • Adipose Rex: Queen Victoria.
  • Adorkable: The Albino Pirate.
  • Advertised Extra:
    • Though Black Bellamy and Cutlass Liz are featured prominently in trailers and posters, they only appear for two scenes.
    • Rule of Sexy applies to the latter.
  • Affably Evil: These are the most friendly, loveable terrors of the high seas you will ever meet.
  • Affectionate Nickname: The Pirate Captain occasionally refers to Darwin as "Chuck."
  • All Love Is Unrequited:
    • Darwin has a crush on Queen Victoria, who couldn't care less about him. Also, it's implied that the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate has feelings for The Pirate Captain, who has no idea she's even female. Darwin gets over Victoria, while Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate's plotline is left unresolved.
    • According to Peter Lord, The Pirate Captain has a bit of an unrequited crush on Cutlass Liz which is hinted at in his Dream Sequence.
  • All-Star Cast: Hmm, lessee here... Hugh Grant, David Tennant, Martin Freeman, Jeremy Piven, Salma Hayek, Lenny Henry, Brendan Gleeson, and last but not least, BRIAN BLESSED!
  • All There in the Script: The Pirate Who Likes Sunsets and Kittens is named only in the credits.
  • Also Sprach Zarathustra: On an accordion and conga drums, no less!
  • Always Someone Better: The other three Pirates who have better chances of winning the award than the Pirate Captain.
  • Anachronism Stew:
    • The movie states at the very start that the year is 1837, which instantly confuses a few things. Victoria was queen at this point, but only just; she was crowned that year. Darwin was already famous in scientific circles by now. The film also features cameos from Jane Austen and Joseph Merrick. In 1837, the former was already dead and the latter was yet to be born.
    • Apparently, people in 1837 are aware of who BRIAN BLESSED is.
    • And this is putting aside the fact that 17th century style pirates are still hanging around in the 19th century.
      • Though this is actually Queen Victoria's reason for hating pirates—they're out of date and need to go.
    • Many, many science issues in the film, including the (albeit limited) public use of electricity in 1837.
    • The pirates' first disguises was as a group of Girl Guides. However, the scouting movement didn't begin until 1907.
    • Some usage of modern linguistics in Victorian times, such as the 'crew in the street sense, yo' line in the trailer.
    • It should be noted that all of these examples use the Rule of Funny excuse.
  • Arc Words: Or rather, Arc Question. "What's the best thing about being a pirate?"
  • Art Shift: The opening credits and each Travel Montage are done in stylized CG across a Here There Be Dragons-style sea map, with all the peril that entails.
  • As Himself: Mr. Bobo is credited as this.
  • Aside Glance: Done by Victoria when the Pirate Captain tries and fails to conceal his identity from her with a fake accent.
  • Author Avatar: The Pirate Captain in the books is a blatant wish fulfillment fantasy on the author's part.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Queen Victoria is no pushover when it comes to a throw-down knife fight.
  • Badass Beard: The Pirate Captain.
    • In the books, Black Bellamy and the Pirate King have even more fantastic ones.
  • Barefoot Cartoon Animal: Mister Bobo.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Cutlass Liz.
  • Bastard Girlfriend: Cutlass Liz can barely even walk across a room without stabbing someone. Apparently, this just makes her even more attractive.
  • Been There, Shaped History: The Pirate Captain may have inadvertently inspired Darwin to study evolution. Take this exchange, for example;
    Pirate Captain: We didn't evolve from slugs just to sit around drinking our own sweat, now did we?
    Darwin: What was that about slugs?
    • It can also be inferred from one of the travel montages that the crew are responsible for the panama canal.
  • Berserk Button: Don't mention pirates around Her Majesty. Just don't.
  • Big Bad: Queen Victoria.
  • Big Damn Heroes: Mr. Bobo and the crew coming to the Pirate Captain's aid in the climax.
  • Big Eater: Queen Victoria.
  • Big Entrance:
    • The Pirate Captain's competitors for Pirate of the Year show up in the Barnacle's Face tavern in Reverse Order of Awesomeness. Peg Leg Hastings swings through the door. Cutlass Liz blows a hole in the wall with a hand-held cannon. Black Bellamy arrives inside a whale full of gold doubloons.
    • The Pirate King's principal method of travel seems to be by giant, Vegas-esque clam shell.
  • Big Fancy House: Darwin has one. With the pirates inside, though, it doesn't last long.
  • Black Comedy: Just by the trailers there seems to be a lot of it.
  • Black and Gray Morality: On one hand, we have the murdering, looting pirates that want nothing but fame in the pirate world, on the hand we have the Queen of England, who is definitely not shown in a sympathetic light.
  • Bowdlerise: Executive Meddling is to blame for this in the American release. The title was changed for the official reason that the longer title wouldn't take, Albino Pirate's lines were redubbed with an actor known by American audiences, an announcer was redubbed by Al Roker, and any jokes that were deemed too inappropriate were removed entirely.
  • Brainy Brunette: The Pirate With A Scarf.
  • Break the Haughty: Darwin believing he's smarter than the pirates doesn't exactly work out for him.
  • Brick Joke: Several:
    • "We could have made that with a good wind behind us, except there's this great big sea monster in the way".
    • The best thing about the airship being that it allows its users to look down women's tops. (Bowdlerised in the American version to being a "chick magnet" instead.)
    • When depressed about being mocked at the Pirate of the Year Award signups, The Pirate Captain makes a crack about "getting into baby clothes" instead. Guess what he's doing after being cast out of pirate society?
  • Broken Pedestal: The Pirate Captain becomes this for his crew when they discover that he sold Polly to Victoria. He wins back their approval by saving her.
  • Buffy Speak: "Fire those long things that go bang!"
  • Butt Monkey:
    • Oh, Darwin...
    • The old man in the rowboat who always seems to be in any harbour the pirates happen to drop anchor in.
    • Surprisingly not the actual monkey. He does get a bathtub dropped on him at one point, though.
  • The Caligula: Victoria.
  • Call Forward:
    • At the scientific conference, Darwin gets caught in an explosion of vinegar and baking soda, which makes him look like he has his trademark beard.
    • Similarly, the Pirate Captain tells Darwin to grow a beard.
  • Captain Obvious: After changing into their Paper Thin Disguises (both of them), the pirates feel the need to remind Darwin that it's really them.
  • Card-Carrying Villain:
    • The pirates in the movie are so proud of being pirates they hold a "Pirate of the Year" awards and pirates who receive pardon for their crimes are disqualified for the prize and banned from Bloody Island. When Queen Victoria revoked Pirate Captain's pardon and set the reward for his capture to be higher than the reward for any other pirate on the world, Pirate Captain actually liked it.
    • On the other side of things, Victoria's royal crest literally says "I Hate Pirates!"
  • Celebrity Paradox: One joke involves a mention of BRIAN BLESSED, who voices The Pirate King.
  • The Centerpiece Spectacular: The bathtub chase.
  • Chain of People: Formed by the crew to rescue the Captain near the end.
  • Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: On two separate occasions, Darwin (and the camera) look away from the crew for a few seconds, only for them to all be wearing matching disguises when he looks back.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • Vinegar and baking soda.
    • The airship.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: According to Peter Lord, everyone in the film is this to some extent. The Pirate Captain and the Albino Pirate stand out from the crowd, though.
  • The Chew Toy: Darwin. After a few minutes you will want to see bad things happ/4.0 Safari/534.30
  • Comedic Sociopathy: A lot of it.
  • Comforting Comforter: The Pirate with a Scarf tucks the Pirate Captain in.
  • Conspicuous CG: The sea monster sticks out like a sore thumb, despite all the CG water and environment.
  • Cool Boat: The Pirate Ship and the QV1.
  • Cowardly Lion: Mr. Bobo flees when the Pirate Captain decides to try and save Polly, but later rows across the sea to gather The Cavalry.
  • Creative Closing Credits: Featuring a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue and a montage of the background jokes from the film.
  • Cruella to Animals: Queen Victoria
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right: "There's a sea monster in the way."
  • Dark Reprise: "Rule Britannia," which triumphantly opens the film and returns in an ominous form whenever Victoria's up to no good.
  • Deuteragonist: Darwin.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: The Albino Pirate.
  • The Dog Bites Back:
    • A literal example of this trope; Polly finally escapes from Victoria by pecking her in the eye.
    • Darwin is the one who opens the shaft that Victoria gets knocked down in the climax.
  • Dramatis Personae: Done in the first part of the closing credits.
  • Dual Wielding: Victoria can fight with two katanas.
  • The Dulcinea Effect: Darwin's crush on Victoria.
  • End of an Age: This is why Victoria hates pirates; the modern world she envisions has no place for them and their old-fashioned way of life. She's ultimately proven wrong when the Pirate Captain triumphs over her.
  • Epic Fail: Whenever the Pirate Captain boards a ship to demand gold. Special mention goes to the part where he boards a ghost ship and ends up falling through the ghost deck.
  • Epic Movie: By Aardman's standards. It's by far the studio's largest and most technologically complex film to date.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • "I! HATE! PIRATES!"
    • The Ham Nite scene serves as one for the pirate crew in general.
    • Black Bellamy's flashy entrance.
    • Darwin's first scene has him writing in his journal about discovering a new species of barnacle and generally being all Darwin-ish, then he says this; "I'll never get a girlfriend. I am so unhappy."
  • Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: The Pirate Captain and his crew (which include The Pirate With A Scarf, The Albino Pirate, The Pirate With Gout, The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate, and The Pirate Who Likes Sunsets and Kittens).
  • Everything's Better with Monkeys: Charles Darwin's pet monkey, Bobo.
  • Evil Albino: Averted. Apart from his skin condition, the Albino Pirate is a normal guy (for a pirate, anyway) and probably one of the more good-natured pirates on the crew.
  • Evil Is Hammy: Queen Victoria throws a lot of hissy fits.
  • Exactly What It Says on the Tin: The title of every book in the series, which include "The Pirates! In An Adventure With Communists", "The Pirates! In An Adventure With Romance!", and "The Pirates! In An Adventure With Ahab".
  • Excited Title! Two-Part Episode Name!: Played straight in most markets, averted in North America when the film was released as The Pirates! Band of Misfits, without the second exclamation point.
  • Executive Meddling:
    • Besides the title change, the American release cuts out a few of the more risque jokes and redubs the Albino Pirate's lines with Anton Yelchin for apparently no reason.
    • This was also the movie that caused Flushed Away to end up being released in 2006 as it was planned that the next movie after Chicken Run would be a pirate movie. DreamWorks nicked it claiming at the time, they weren't marketable.
  • Exotic Entree: A recreational hobby for all the world's leaders. Queen Victoria somewhat uses this in an Eviler Than Thou speech aimed at the Pirate Captain.
  • Eye Scream: Polly biting Victoria.
  • Fake Ultimate Hero: The Pirate Captain in the books, where he is feared and admired by more or less everybody as the greatest pirate who ever lived despite being ridiculously incompetent. In the movie he's seen as a loser by everyone outside of his crew.
  • Fat Bastard: Queen Victoria.
  • A Father to His Men: The Pirate Captain.
  • Five-Man Band: There are two Sixth Rangers note  on the team.
  • Fool for Love: Darwin, who calls himself this after realizing that Victoria manipulated him into bringing her Polly.
  • For the Evulz:
    • Queen Vicky has an obsession with eating endangered animals to extinction, seemingly just because she can. And judging from her rant in the opening scene, she also has rather petty reasons for hating pirates, citing their shanties, hats, and roaring as reasons for their extermination.
    • She hates pirates for the same reason as endangered animals- they're outdated remnants of the past.
  • Franchise Zombie: The book series is a parody of this. The first book is supposed to take place long after the series has released hundreds of books and had three spin off series.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: It wouldn't be an Aardman film without this trope.
  • Frying Pan of Doom: Victoria wields one in the final battle.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: The Captain does this to Darwin.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Again, Aardman.
    • "I could have sworn they were girls."
    • When the crew is showing Pirate Captain their tattoos of him, Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate's tattoo is on her naked backside.
    • The scientist lecturing about his airship and it's main purpose, which is for "looking down ladies tops". It's changed in the American verion, as noted above.
    • Mr Bobo's written on cards to The Pirate Captain after he runs off near the end, which include Symbol Swearing.
    • As Darwin is about to walk the plank, he writes down in his diary:
    Charles Darwin: Dear diary, am about to meet a watery grave. Will die without getting to second base with a lady.
  • Girls with Moustaches: The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate wears a fake one.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Victoria, portrayed as a bloodthirsty supervillainess with a penchant for dining on very rare animals.
  • Grand Romantic Gesture: Darwin thinks that getting Victoria a dodo will be seen as this. He's wrong.
  • Gray Rain of Depression: After the Pirate Captain is expelled from the pirating community.
  • Groin Attack: When the Captain stabs the ceiling. Whoops.
  • Hammer Space:
    • The source of Mr. Bobo's seemingly endless amount of notecards.
    • The Pirate Captain's luxuriant beard is revealed to be Hammerspace Hair.
  • Hartman Hips: Cutlass Liz and the Queen, but especially Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate, necessary because her large fake beard covers almost all evidence of other possible curves. (The occasional side and back shot, such as the scene where Darwin walks the plank, reveals that she's actually curvy all over.)
  • Harmless Lady Disguise: Pirate Captain and the crew (even Polly!) disguise themselves as Girl Guides when they first arrive in London, due to Victoria's hatred of pirates.
  • Heel-Face Turn: Darwin and Mr. Bobo.
  • Heel Realization: Darwin finding the pamphlet about Victoria's rare animal eating society. His face practically screams "My God, What Have I Done?".
  • The Hero: The Pirate Captain.
  • Heroic Albino: The Albino Pirate, whilst not a technical 'hero', is definitely a positive and upbeat character.
  • Hero's Muse: Victoria is this to Darwin. Until he finds that pamphlet.
  • Historical-Domain Character:
  • Historical In-Joke:
    • The Pirate Captain tries to refuse Darwin joining the crew due to his "nose being too big for his face." Darwin almost got refused his position on his historic expedition because the captain, a firm believer in physiognomy, thought Darwin's nose meant he was lazy.
    • The captain also suggests that Darwin grow a beard to help even out his face. Darwin took the advice to heart evidently. (Before that of course, Charles gets a temporary beard of Vinegar-Baking Soda foam.)
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Despite many atrocities across the British Empire including in India and Ireland during her reign, Queen Victoria herself was not a vicious, bloodthirsty psychopath.
    • She also wasn't a member of a society that ate rare animals. Darwin was, though.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: The Pirate with a Scarf seems quite a bit smarter than the Pirate Captain. The same goes for Mr. Bobo and Darwin.
  • I Am Big Boned: Before Polly is recognised as a dodo, the Pirate Captain gets mocked for having such a fat parrot. He claims that she is just big boned.
  • I Choose to Stay: Mr. Bobo joins the pirate crew in the end.
  • Idiot Ball: If the Pirate Captain picked up any more of them, the story would plummet straight into Downer Ending territory.
  • Idiot Hero: The Pirate Captain. Oh god, the Pirate Captain.
  • I Don't Like the Sound of That Place: The island where all the pirates meet up for the contest is named Blood Island. Not because of a history of bloodshed, but because it's "exactly the same shape as a bit of blood".
  • It's All My Fault: Darwin says this word-for-word when he encounters the Pirate Captain after learning Victoria's true plan for Polly.
  • Jabba Table Manners: Queen Victoria talks with her mouth full while discussing plans with Admiral Collingwood.
  • The Jeeves: Mr. Bobo.
  • Katanas Are Just Better: Victoria wields two of them during a fight scene. Probably because she thinks they're better than ordinary, pirate-related swords.
  • Keet: The Albino Pirate.
  • Kick the Dog: Victoria rejecting Darwin, especially the second time.
    Victoria: You know, I think...secretly...I've always loved you, Charles.
    Darwin: ...Really?
  • The Lancer: The Pirate With A Scarf, who is both the Only Sane Man and The Reliable One.
  • Large Ham:
    • The Pirate Captain and Victoria, when her Berserk Button is pressed. Also, BRIAN BLESSED as the Pirate King.
    • BRIAN BLESSED himself says the Pirate King is the most "larger than life" character in the whole story. Boy, was he right.
  • Last of His Kind: Polly is the last dodo in existence. This is a pretty big deal.
  • Leitmotif: "Rule Britannia" is used as Victoria's theme, and it shows up whenever she does. The bigger a threat she is, the darker the music gets. By the climax, it sounds positively demonic.
  • Let's Get Dangerous:
    • The Pirate Captain pulls off some pretty Badass feats in the climax.
    • Specifically, he chases, breaks into and subsequently blows up what is essentially the steampunk equivalent of the Death Star. All to save his pet.
  • Lighter and Softer: Compared to the book, which is much more mean-spirited and violent.
  • Living MacGuffin: Polly.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Darwin's pursuit of Victoria drives him to do some rather unheroic things. He gets better.
  • Loving a Shadow: Darwin loving Victoria.
  • Manipulative Bitch: Victoria.
  • Market-Based Title: The US title is The Pirates! Band of Misfits, while the title everywhere else is The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists. (see Executive Meddling)
  • Missing Trailer Scene: The leper boat is a subversion. Though the offending joke is redubbed, the footage itself remains.
  • Mistaken For Parrot: Polly.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Cutlass Liz.
  • Mythology Gag: In the Plundering Montage, the pirates go to America and get chased by cowboys and Native Americans. This is a nod to a Noodle Incident from the first book.
  • Naked People Are Funny: There's a nudist ship in the movie.
  • Nerds Are Virgins: Darwin really wants a girlfriend, and scientists are impressed by a hot air balloon having some uses with women.
  • Ninja: Not literally, but Queen Victoria does dual-wield katannas and has some fancy acrobatic moves.
  • No Animals Were Harmed: "No dodos were made extinct in the making of this film."
  • No Endor Holocaust:
    • Don't worry, all of the world's most powerful and ethically questionable leaders and everybody working on the QV1 got to a lifeboat before the ship sank.
    • Similarly, Victoria formally unpardoned the Pirate Captain (as shown by those new wanted posters), so we can be pretty sure that she didn't get eaten by those animals.
  • Non-Action Guy: Darwin.
  • No Flow In Claymation: Neatly averted in a similar fashion to Coraline.
  • Non-Human Sidekick: Polly for the Pirate Captain and Mr. Bobo for Darwin.
  • No Name Given: All of the known pirates so far, with the exception of Black Bellamy, Cutlass Liz, and Pegleg Hastings.
  • Noodle Incident: While giving the Pirate Captain a pep talk, the Pirate With A Scarf mentions the crew's adventures with Aztecs, librarians and a pig.
  • Number Two: The Pirate With A Scarf is even called Number Two by the Pirate Captain.
  • Odd Friendship: The Pirate Captain and Darwin.
  • Offscreen Villainy:
    • The pirates, so as to retain sympathy, never actually commit any successful crimes on-screen. Unless impersonating scientists is a crime.
      • Stealing a one-of-a-kind exotic animal worth the entire contents of the Tower of London and sinking its owner's ship certainly is. But Queen Victoria deserved it.
    • Given his whopping twelve doubloons-and-a-pen bounty, It's doubtful if he's ever committed any serious crimes.
    • He does say something about using babies as squid bait though...
    • The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate likes making people walk the plank, especially the bit where the victim falls off, so they must have done it at least once before.
  • Only Sane Man: The Pirate With A Scarf and Mr. Bobo.
    • The Pirate With A Scarf plays a variation of this in the books. He's still one of the only intelligent and competent characters, but he honestly believes that The Pirate Captain is the incredible pirate he claims to be and trusts him completely.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise:
    • Twice. When they arrive in London, the pirates disguise themselves first as Girl Guides, then as scientists.
    • Up to Eleven: When disguised as Girl Guides, even the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate keeps her beard on.
    • It doesn't exactly take a genius to figure out that the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate is a Sweet Polly Oliver.
  • Parental Bonus: It's an Aardman film, and therefore loaded with them.
  • Parodied Trope: About half the tropes listed here are spoofed.
  • Pimp Duds: For the Pirate of the Year awards, Pirate Captain dons a hat and coat that are like this, including zebra print lining.
  • Pimped-Out Dress: Victoria's dress is not only loaded with frills, it has a mechanical casing under the skirt.
  • Pink Means Feminine: Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate's shirt has pink and white stripes.
  • A Pirate 400 Years Too Late: A very important plot point, as the root of Queen Victoria's hatred of pirates is because they are an anachronism.
  • Pirate Girl: Cutlass Liz and The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate.
  • Pirate Parrot: Actually, the last living dodo.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The Pirate Captain's crew consistently fails to board a ship worth stealing from, though not for lack of trying. It's implied that they have engaged in actual piracy in the past, though; one of them says his favorite bit about being a pirate is the looting. (Plus, they've been at this for over twenty years; they must have been doing something to stay in the black.) In the end they do manage to steal one very valuable thing — Polly, who the captain had sold to Queen Victoria for all the gold in London Tower — and even sink a ship in the process.
  • Point That Somewhere Else: Darwin does this with the Pirate Captain's cutlass when they first meet.
  • Pragmatic Adaptation: In a collection of the first two books, released around the movie's theatrical showings, the Pirate Captain himself writes a foreword where he acknowledges the difficulty in adapting a literary work to a visual medium, and incidentally he'd prefer a pet dodo to the stupid parrot he has in the books.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: Victoria has one, which Darwin finds attractive.
    Darwin: It's the bun, the bun really does it for me.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "I! HATE! PIRATES!" Accompanied by slamming a knife into a table, no less.
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits: Guess who.
  • Record Needle Scratch: When the Pirate of the Year Award presentation is interrupted.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Polly.
  • Royal "We": Victoria uses it.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Victoria takes her crusade against pirates very seriously.
  • Rule of Funny: The films is just loaded with silly and impossible stuff.
  • Sad Times Montage: After The Pirate Captain loses everything, including Polly and his crew. With "I'm Not Crying" by Flight of the Conchords playing, no less!
  • Scenery Porn: Aardman certainly went all out on detailed backgrounds and sets.
  • Sea Dog Beard: Several of the pirates. The Pirate Captain's is frequently drawn attention to, with the word "luxuriant" being used repeatedly.
  • Self Plagiarism: Or maybe Mythology Gag or Shout-Out—but the climactic scene of this film bears a surprising resemblance to Aardman's previous effort, Chicken Run. In both, someone is trying to get away via an ungainly flying device (the bird machine in the first one vs. a blimp in this film). In both, someone else is trying to catch them via climbing up a long string or rope (Christmas tree lights in the first, a rope in the second). In both, the person trying to fly away attempts to cut the string/rope as the other person climbs. The main difference is that in this film, it's the hero (the Pirate Captain) trying to climb up and the villain (Queen Victoria) trying to get away, whereas in Chicken Run the situation was reversed.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Plenty of the usual Aardman sight gags, like one of the Pirates having a Blue Peter badge.
    • The Pirate King resembles Elvis Presley.
  • Shown Their Work: The meeting place of the Royal Society closely resembles Somerset House, where the group really was based at the time of the film. A subtle example, but quite impressive for a film that indulges in Anachronism Stew.
  • Silent Snarker: Bobo. Remember, this is the same studio that gave us Gromit. When Darwin is explaining his plan, Mr Bobo holds up a "BUT..." card. When Darwin hushes him, he rolls his eyes and changes it to a "but..."
  • Silk Hiding Steel: Victoria. Literally as well as figuratively.
  • A Simple Plan: Take Polly to London, show her off to the Royal Society, get some money out of it and use that booty to snag the Pirate of the Year award! What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
  • Sir Not-Appearing-in-This-Trailer:
    • Darwin gets this treatment in the American trailers; he only appears for three or four shots, is never named and gets almost no lines.
    • Arguably, this is justified, since there are people who... rather strongly dislike Darwin and his theories. And that's all we'll say.
  • Sky Pirate: The Pirate Captain is briefly one when he uses the airship.
  • Sleep Mask: Pirate Captain wears one.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Darwin's introductory voiceover.
  • Spanner in the Works: Darwin's first attempt to steal Polly would have been successful if the Pirate Captain hadn't been dreaming about fighting with Black Bellamy over the Pirate of the Year Award.
  • Spell My Name with a "The": The Pirate Captain.
  • Steampunk: The airship, the QV1 and Victoria's mechanical hoop skirt.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: The QV1 in the climax.
  • Sue Donym: The Pirate Captain's scientist alias is The Scientist Captain.
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: The Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate (her actual name in the credits).
  • Sweet on Polly Oliver: The Pirate Captain seemingly tries to invoke this when he asks the Pirate With A Scarf if he's really a woman. Hilariously, he misses the actual Sweet Polly Oliver in his crew.
  • Symbol Swearing: When The Pirate Captain decides to board the QV1 and save Polly, Mr. Bobo responds by running off and leaving behind a series of cards reading "Are you out of your [Symbol Swearing] mind?!" The Captain reads them out loud as "Are you out of your... oh my!" — and an elephant sounds in the pause after "your", acting as a Sound Effect Bleep.
  • Talking with Signs: Mr. Bobo
  • Tar and Feathers: Happens to Darwin at one point.
  • Team Pet: Polly.
    Albino Pirate: She's like an auntie! With a beak...
  • Technology Marches On: Aardman previously switched Flushed Away to an All-CGI Cartoon due to the amount of water required. Come the announcement of a stop-motion film, and there's a lot of water to be seen.
  • Tempting Fate: When the Pirate Captain decides that there's a sea monster on their route because there's a drawing of one on the map, Darwin remarks that the drawings are only there for decorations. At the end of the film, the aforementioned sea monster jumps out of the water and swallows the ship... only to spit it out again.
    • Also, with an added serving of Genre Blindness:
      Albino Pirate: This can only end brilliantly!
  • That Poor Cat
  • Throw a Barrel at It: How Victoria is initially defeated.
  • Token Good Teammate: The Pirate With A Scarf is the closest thing this movie has to a truly good character. He's loyal to his friends, never does anything openly evil and although he's a pirate, he would rather go on adventures than plunder ships.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: Ham.
  • Trade Your Passion for Glory: Pirate Captain trades Polly away for a load of treasure Victoria offers.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The Titanic Trailer Spoof gives away not only the existence of the QV1, but also its destruction, the Pirate Captain nearly falling onto the propeller and being rescued by his crew.
    • Some behind-the-scenes videos available on YouTube spoil The Reveal of Victoria's plan to eat Polly.
  • Trailer Spoof: One TV spot parodies The Hunger Games, and another parodies the trailer for the 3D re-release of Titanic. Yet another spoofs American Idol.
  • Travel Montage: Three of them; the pirates searching for treasure (which doubles as the opening credits), the pirates and Darwin sailing to London and the Pirate Captain and Darwin chasing the QV1 across Europe. The latter two include the vessel's path being shown on the map as a trail of red dots — intercut with a shot of the vessel in which someone is actually dropping a series of red circular objects off the stern.
  • Treasure Room: Victoria has one.
  • True Companions: The Pirate Captain and his crew members.
  • Turn in Your Badge: Pirate Captain has to turn in all of his pirate stuff once it's found out that he was pardoned and therefore is technically no longer a pirate.
  • Unexplained Recovery: During the Pirate of the Year Awards, at one point we can see Cutlass Liz stab Pegleg Hastings in the back. He's fine during the epilogue, though.
  • The Unreveal: We don't see what the Suprisingly Curvaceous Pirate looks like without her beard. The one time she's seen without it, her face is blocked by bubbles.
  • Unwitting Pawn: The Pirate Captain to Darwin, and Darwin to Victoria.
  • Victorian London
  • Villain Opening Scene: The film starts in London and shows a meeting between Victoria and Admiral Collingwood, during which Victoria is told that pirates are still at large. She subsequently goes into a violent, over-the-top rant about them which transitions into the introduction of the crew.
  • Villain Protagonist: Well, obviously. This is, after all, a movie starring pirates.
  • The Voiceless: Bobo, who speaks with index cards. When dropped through a hole in the ground, his cards even spell out "AHHHHHH" as he falls.
  • Walk the Plank: Darwin almost ends up doing this before he notices what species of bird Polly is. Double subverted when the Surprisingly Curvaceous Pirate gets carried away and ends up forcing Darwin off the plank anyway.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Zig-zagged when the Pirate Captain catches Darwin stealing Polly. At first he's furious and demands an explanation, but when Darwin confesses that he's trying to win over a girl, the Pirate Captain instantly softens up and is willing to help him. Then he learns that the girl in question is Victoria and reacts as one would expect him to. Ultimately, he forgives Darwin.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue
    • Darwin returns to the Galapagos Islands and successfully woos a local girl.
    • Mr. Bobo joins The Pirate Captain's crew.
    • The Pirate Captain becomes the most wanted pirate of them all, and his crew presents him with a makeshift Pirate of the Year award.
    • Queen Victoria is cornered by the rare animals she was planning to eat, some of which look very hungry.
    • Black Bellamy's Pirate of the Year Award is revoked by The Pirate King, though it's not clear why.
  • Willing Suspension of Disbelief: This movie isn't supposed to be realistic. Or make sense.
  • World of Ham:
  • You Have Failed Me / You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Victoria pulls a tamer version of this on Darwin. He brings her Polly but also leads the Pirate Captain to her by accident, and she repays the favor by rejecting his affections and dropping him down a garbage chute.
  • Young Future Famous People: Darwin.

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alternative title(s): The Pirates Band Of Misfits; The Pirates In An Adventure With Scientists; The Pirates Band Of Misfits
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