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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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    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
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Subway Pirates from Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Steve the Pirate in DodgeBall: A True Underdog Story.
  • Pirates of the Plain. Pirate Jezebel Jack and his mutinous crew end up in modern day Nebraska via a time vortex.
  • The Disney movie Blackbeard's Ghost is about a modern day man having to deal with the titular ghost as he unwittingly read an incantation to see him.
  • The Crimson Permanent Assurance from Monty Python's The Meaning of Life.
  • There's also Pirates of the Great Salt Lake about two wanna-be pirates in modern Utah.
  • In Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Matthew Patell (the first evil ex) dresses like a pirate and gets mocked by the crowd for it. "Pirates are in this season!"
  • The plot of the 1980 film The Island, which stars Michael Caine, centers on a long-isolated band of Caribbean pirates who prey on 20th Century boaters.
  • The Sengh Brotherhood in The Phantom.

  • Alec Checkerfield from Kage Baker's The Company Novels.
  • The Pirates' Mixed-Up Voyage by Margaret Mahy.
  • In the Star Wars Expanded Universe, this is the hat of the Tof race, who embrace the wooden-ships-and-iron-men aesthetic despite living in a Space Opera universe.
  • 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.
  • Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle 's deceased husband was a pirate when he was alive, and the story takes place in The '50s.
  • 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.
  • The plot of Peter Benchley's 1979 book The Island centers on a long-isolated band of Caribbean pirates who prey on 20th Century boaters.

    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.
  • 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.

  • The trope name is paraphrased from the Jimmy Buffett song "A Pirate Looks at 40"; the line is "two hundred years too late."

    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.
  • In WWE Paul Burchill briefly became a "wrestling pirate" after discovering that he was a descendant of Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard.
  • The Pro Wrestling Syndicate has The Drunken Swashbuckler and Salty The Deckhand.

    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 
  • 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.
  • 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.


    Video Games 
  • 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.
  • 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 Piranha clan from Urban Rivals.
  • 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.
  • The Soul series resident pirate Cervantes de Leon is an inversion as the games are set during the late 16th (and early 17th in SoulCalibur V) century but his design cues harken to The Golden Age of Piracy, which only begins in the mid-1600s, thus being too early for the era.

    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 
  • Even though most of the Cubby Bear cartoons are clearly set in the 1930s, there are old-fashioned swashbuckling pirates in "Bubbles and Troubles".
  • The pirates in The Venture Bros. episode "Ghosts Of The Sargasso".
  • 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.
  • One episode of the Dennis the Menace (UK) (from The Beano) cartoon has a group of actors turn out to be real pirates.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Codename: Kids Next Door features the candy-swiping Captain Stickybeard and crew. Fortunately for them he also hates vegetables.
  • Red Dog the Pirate from Roger Ramjet.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • The Thunder Cats has a robot version as a very minor recurring villain, complete with robo-parrot and speech pattern.
  • 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, Kyle's little brother Ike, and one of the ginger kids). 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.
  • 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.
  • A variation: The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries episode "You're Thor?" has Vikings a thousand years too late.
  • The Pi-Rats from Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers.
  • Gatlocke from Generator Rex. And he lives in the middle of a desert.
  • 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.
  • One Jackie Chan Adventures episode featured pirates.
  • Jimmy Two-Shoes had a crew of them appearing in a Season 2 episode.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • We are The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything...
  • Captain Tighty-Whitey and his crew in Grojband.
  • The Pushy Pirate Posse in SheZow.
  • A very important plot point in The Pirates! In an Adventure with Scientists!, where the root of Queen Victoria's hatred of pirates is because they are an anachronism.
  • 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.
  • Almost Naked Animals: The lobster pirates who attempt to take over the cabana in "Narwhal's Birthday".
  • 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.
    • The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie has pirates going to see the movie as a Framing Device.
    • Burger-Beard from The Sponge Bob Movie Sponge Out Of Water clearly doesn't belong in the movie's modern United States coast town setting. In fact, his pirate ship has wheels on it and doubles as a food truck.
  • I Got A Rocket has Captain O'Cheese (referred to as "Pirate" in the credits) drives a pirate ship on the streets.
  • PAW Patrol's Season Four finale introduces a pirate villain named Sid Swashbuckle, who displays multiple stereotypes associated with pirates.

    Real Life