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A Pirate 400 Years Too Late

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Salty dogs of the highway.

"Whenever pirates turn up in a romance set more recently than 1843, you figure the filmmakers ran out of ideas."

Swashbuckling, rum-swilling, Dressed to Plunder pirates in modern times.

Compare and contrast Sky Pirates. Space Pirates is when they are a few more centuries late. For modern, Real Life pirates of the type who are very good at shivering people's timbers (with an AK-47, not a cutlass), see Ruthless Modern Pirates. If the pirates are more concerned with looking the part than acting it, they're probably The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything.

Compare to Born in the Wrong Century for when they feel like they belong in The Golden Age of Piracy.



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    Asian Animation 
  • Episode 42 of Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf: Joys of Seasons has Weslie, Paddi, and Sparky meet a trio of pirates and join them on their ship. The show is supposed to take place in the year 3513, so it's more like 2,000 years too late.

    Comic Books 
  • Batman:
    • Villains Captain Stingaree and Cap'n Fear. Somewhat subverted in the case of Cap'n Fear and his crew, as Detective Harvey Bullock doesn't find them funny or charming at all ("I hate them swishbucklers.") and one of Fear's own men mutters about how he's getting "sick of this Popeye rap" (though he promptly changes his mind once the Dark Chick threatens to slit his throat).
    • In one Golden Age story, Batman fights a one-shot villain called Blackbeard, who styles himself after the historical Blackbeard.
  • Captain Storm of The Losers (the original World War II version) became one of these after losing his memory (and an eye) to an explosion. He already had a wooden leg, it was a reasonable assumption.
  • The Subway Pirates from Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers.
  • Scar and his crew from The Strangers comic book in The Ultraverse. After gaining superpowers, they moved to the Caribbean and become pirates, basing their costumed identities on classic pirates.
  • Commander Kraken, foe of the Sub-Mariner in the Marvel Universe.
  • The "Trial of Superman" arc had a character named Freelance, a bounty hunter who traveled space in an 18th century-style pirate ship, complete with holographic figurehead changeable to whatever female he happens to be attracted to. He enjoys letting enemies onto his ship simply to throw them off, fighting with a sword, and sports an eyepatch.
  • Wonder Woman once faced a husband and wife team that lead a group of (mostly women) air pirates who operated out of a small fleet of aircraft. While most of the group was well adapted to "modern" (1940s) times the husband styled himself after an old timey pirate and went by Captain Redbeard. Amusingly their fight attracted the attention of a Clock Roach that then put the pirates, Diana, Steve Trevor, Etta Candy and the Holliday Girls back in the more appropriate time period for a swashbuckling confrontation on the high seas.

    Comic Strips 

    Films — Animated 

    Films — Live-Action 

  • In a Black Lagoon novel, Shaitan Baidi, one of the people the Lagoon is transporting is a woman who is, or believes herself to be, a direct descendant of the infamous Captain Morgan...and dresses the part.
  • Alec Checkerfield from Kage Baker's The Company Novels.
  • Invoked by some (not all) space pirates in The Flight Engineer. Putting on the affectations of movie pirates makes them feel like holo heroes instead of the thieves and murderers they actually are.
  • The plot of Peter Benchley's 1979 book Literature/The Island centers on a long-isolated band of Caribbean pirates who prey on 20th Century boaters.
  • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle 's deceased husband was a pirate when he was alive, and the story takes place in The '50s.
  • The Pirates' Mixed-Up Voyage by Margaret Mahy.
  • In Star Wars Legends, this is the hat of the Tof race, who embrace the wooden-ships-and-iron-men aesthetic despite living in a Space Opera universe.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. actually had an inversion - one member of John Bly's gang and his lackeys were a group of actual pirates who were bikers around 80-100 years early. Somehow or another they'd gotten driven off the high seas, so they took to pirating on the American plains, and they just so happen to have stolen some experimental new bicycles Professor Wickwire just knocked up...It's also a literal example of this trope, as they're very much classical pirates (maybe 17th century-ish), but the show is supposed to take place right around the turn of the 20th century.
  • The Armstrong and Miller Show parodied this in a sketch which involves random people getting press-ganged by the Royal Navy into joining the "South Harbour Club Patrol" after buying t-shirts reading exactly that. And if that concept isn't 18th century enough, then Somali pirates attack South Harbour... by firing audible cannon broadsides.
  • A character in a recurring skit on The Flip Wilson Show was The Pink Pirate played by Tim Conway.
  • Sorry, I've Got No Head: "The Bluebeards" sketches are about a modern-day pirate family whose son Jim Bluebeard struggles with his life at a Privateer school.
  • The Wrong Door had the "The Train Pirates", disenfranchised modern people who swapped their suits and briefcases for 17th century dress and cutlasses but took to the rails rather than the seas and rode aboard "The Whore of Clapham" led by by Captain Goitier played by BRIAN BLESSED.
  • You're Skitting Me: In one of the "Tatiana the Sailor" sketches, Tats's friend Em was supposed to be disguised as a Somali pirate. However, having no idea what a Somali pirate actually was, she instead appears as one of these.

  • Alestorm embraces this trope. While their songs about "rum, beer, quests and mead", most of their music videos set the band in modern times as a Fun Personified, hard-drinking crew, with each of them as a Cloud Cuckoolander.
  • Captain Dan & the Scurvy Crew, the "only rap crew with Buccaneer technique".
  • Captain Maggots, one of Emilie Autumn's backing band, the Bloody Crumpets.
  • The trope name is paraphrased from the Jimmy Buffett song "A Pirate Looks at 40"; though the line in the song is "two hundred years too late." The song contains the bittersweet confession of a modern-day, washed-up drug smuggler as he looks back on the first forty years of his life, expresses lament that his preferred vocation of piracy on the high seas was long gone by the time he was born, and wonders what he should do with himself now.
  • The Last Saskatchewan Pirate Tractor Jack became one of these (on the Saskatchewan River) due to a lack of jobs and an unwillingnes to accept government buyouts, unemployment insurance, or welfare. And all while covering The Arrogant Worms, too!
    • Just for clarity, the music video shows that Tractor Jack isn't even sailing the Saskatchewan... It's froze over so he drives his pick-up truck and raids the other farmer's trucks as if they were Spanish Treasure ships.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Absolute Intense Wrestling's second championship tag team, Morty Rackem and Ruthless Rufio Rapier: The Cut Throat Crew. They were sometimes accompanied by Syd Smythe as well and Morty also serves in Pirate Justice, primarily for Prime Wrestling, and sometimes the two groups got together.
  • The Pro Wrestling Syndicate has The Drunken Swashbuckler and Salty The Deckhand.
  • In WWE Paul Burchill briefly became a "wrestling pirate" after discovering that he was a descendant of Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard.

    Puppet Shows 
  • One "Pigs in Space" sketch in The Muppet Show had John Cleese attacking the Swinetrek as a pirate- of the swashbuckler variety. Link Hogthrob informs him that he's a few centuries out of place, which leads to an argument between John and his parrot.
  • In the SuperMarioLogan Movie "Chef Pee Pee's Father", Chef Pee Pee's father is a present-day pirate.

    Tabletop Games 
  • The Back East: The North sourcebook for Deadlands has the Vikings of Duluth; a group of Scandanavian descendents who adopt Viking trappings to fight the British Navy on the Great Lakes. There are also pirates (drawn in full seventeenth-century garb) in the Great Maze in what used to be California.
  • Captain Kraken of Mutants & Masterminds Freedom City setting is a form of this. Essentially, he's an alien Space Pirate who started watching broadcasts of Earth pirate movies and decided that it would be fun to dress himself and his crew in the same style. How serious he is about following the tropes depends on the GM.


    Video Games 
  • Hidden Expedition 5: The Uncharted Islands features a mostly-Affably Evil group of pirates led by a man nicknamed Undertow. Justified because the islands in question are under a force field which grants its denizens rather long lives, at the price of never being able to leave.
  • Bonne Jenet and her crew from The King of Fighters (and before that Mark of the Wolves) are somewhere between this and Ruthless Modern Pirates. The crew dresses like stereotypical pirates, but their ship is a nuclear sub.
  • The Monkey Island games occasionally cross into this due to the Purely Aesthetic Era.
  • Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves features a trip to Blood Bath Bay, a series of small islands inhabited by "throwbacks" who still live by old fashioned pirate culture.
  • The Soul series resident pirate Cervantes de Leon is an inversion, as the games are set during the late 16th and early 17th centuries, but his design cues harken to The Golden Age of Piracy, which only begins in the mid-1600s, thus his pirate style is about a century early.
  • The Piranha clan from Urban Rivals.

    Web Animation 
  • Russell from Happy Tree Friends, whose catchphrase is "Yar".
  • The main cast of Lego Pirate Misadventures, made more prevalent in #3, when they attend an office party in a cube farm and go into a crappy dive bar.
  • The Weebl toon Somalia portrays Somalian pirates like this.

    Web Comics 

    Western Animation 
  • Almost Naked Animals: The lobster pirates who attempt to take over the cabana in "Narwhal's Birthday".
  • The Pi-Rats from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers.
  • Even though most of the Cubby Bear cartoons are clearly set in the 1930s, there are old-fashioned swashbuckling pirates in "Bubbles and Troubles".
  • Codename: Kids Next Door features the candy-swiping Captain Stickybeard and crew. Fortunately for them he also hates vegetables.
  • Youngblood and his pirate crew in Danny Phantom hits the mark of the traditional, swashbuckling pirates we know and love, though this may be a justified case as Youngblood constantly dresses up in costumes for his own childish amusement.
  • One episode of the Dennis the Menace (UK) (from The Beano) cartoon has a group of actors turn out to be real pirates.
  • Played for Laughs in a Family Guy episode when Peter goes from stealing a parrot as a pet from a veterinarian's office, to dressing as a stereotypical pirate, then hiring a pirate crew and finally going on the road and engaging a motorist in an epic swashbuckling fight, in the course of which Peter's car acquires a mast and sails.
  • Filmation's Ghostbusters had to deal with the likes of Long-John Scarechrome, a cross between this and a Space Pirate. Any ghostly pirates seen in the show.
  • A Garfield and Friends episode featured a TV repairman who decided to follow the footsteps of his pirate ancestor and become a full pirate (In fact, the episode describes the TV repairman job as a way for pirate descendants to keep close to their roots). This modern day's pirate's criminal career was helped by the fact the authorities refused to believe whenever his victims reported him. Fortunately Garfield saved the day.
  • Gatlocke from Generator Rex. And he lives in the middle of a desert.
  • Captain Tighty-Whitey and his crew in Grojband.
  • I Got A Rocket has Captain O'Cheese (referred to as "Pirate" in the credits) drives a pirate ship on the streets.
  • On episode of Inspector Gadget has Gadget on a Caribbean cruise ship that is attacked by stereotypical, pegleg-having eyepatch-wearing pirates who sail a galleon. Though, as Penny discovers, the pirates do have some modern equipment, like a Video Phone.
  • One Jackie Chan Adventures episode featured pirates.
  • Captain Walker D. Plank is a villain in the animated TV series James Bond Jr.. He fits the traditional stereotype to the extent that even his Pirate Parrot has an eyepatch and a wooden leg.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes had a crew of them appearing in a Season 2 episode.
  • The first episode of Jonny Quest: The Real Adventures had pirates dressed like what you would expect from the typical traditional pirate from a few centuries ago. Justified because they were posing as ghosts to keep people away from a shipwreck while they carry off the loot.
  • Played with in the Kim Possible episode where Dr. Drakken gets possessed by a pirate ghost:
    Drakken: Aye. Set the mainsail, wench.
    Shego: Okay, first of all we don't have any sails. Second of all, call me "wench" again and we'll be planning a burial at sea.
    Drakken: (nervously) Yearr. Arrgh.
  • Cartoon Network's Mike, Lu & Og has a trio of pirates who are the shipwrecked descendants of the pirates who shipwrecked the island's other inhabitants.
  • PAW Patrol's Season Four finale introduces a pirate villain named Sid Swashbuckle, who displays multiple stereotypes associated with pirates.
  • Rocko's Modern Life, "Sailing the Seven Zzzs": After accidentally digging up a childhood trauma involving a play about pirates, Mr. Bighead starts to sleepwalk and acts out dreams of being a pirate, trying to reclaim his "treasure map" from Rocko.
  • Red Dog the Pirate from Roger Ramjet.
  • Scooby-Doo:
    • Mystery Inc confronts these, posing as ghosts no less, in Scooby-Doo! Pirates Ahoy!
    • Mystery Inc does the same thing in various episodes of the original series... and those pirates are also posing as ghosts.
  • The Pushy Pirate Posse in SheZow.
  • In the South Park episode "Fat Beard", after hearing about the recent increase in piracy in Somalia, Cartman decides to go and live there (along with Butters, Clyde, Kyle's little brother Ike, and one of the ginger kids, that latter of whom Cartman quickly kicks out for being ginger, since Cartman believes they have no souls). Kyle and Stan realize what an incredibly stupid idea this, but instead play up his fantasy, encouraging him to go, hoping that he will be killed along the way. Cartman is disgusted to learn that modern Somali pirates are "a disgrace to Blackbeard", and tries to get them to act more traditional.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants:
    • The series often throws in pirates for no reason other than to go with its nautical theme. Most notable are the Flying Dutchman (who is a ghost) and Patchy (more of a cosplayer than anything else). (Fish) pirates sell Squidward the pie bomb in "Dyin' for Pie", and Mr. Krabs plays pirate in "Aargh!". A later episode reveals that his grandfather was a pirate... and still is.
  • A variation: The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries episode "You're Thor?" has Vikings a thousand years too late.
  • An episode of Teamo Supremo had the kids' teacher tell them that there are no such things as pirates in the modern day. The identity of the Villain of the Week proves her wrong.
  • The ThunderCats has a robot version as a very minor recurring villain, complete with robo-parrot and speech pattern.
  • We are The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything...
  • The pirates in The Venture Bros. episode "Ghosts Of The Sargasso".

    Real Life 


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