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"Like a devil's tattoo from Death's drum! Fi! Fo! Fum! These be very parlous times for old legends of the sea. Vanderdecken is taboo'd, the Sea Sarpint is pooh-pooh'd, but 'tis plain as any pikestaff they can't disestablish Me!"
Davy Jones, Punch (Vol. 103, December 10, 1892)
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If he's not the most prestigious face of Western Nautical Folklore, Davy Jonesnote  is giving the other entrants a run for their money. His character is fluid, but always a powerful ocean entity best to be avoided, notwithstanding the occasional Adaptational Heroism that's inevitable with over 300 years worth of material. He's primarily known from the idiom Davy Jones' locker, which refers to Hell or the ocean floor as a final resting place for ships and sailors.

Because Jones is a folkloric invention and by people who spend most of their lives away on a boat, it's uncertain when and how he came to be. The earliest known mention of him and his locker, at that time an established term, is in Four Years Voyages of Capt. George Roberts from 1726. As for Davy's origins, the leading theory regarding "Jones" is that it's based on the Biblical Jonah. "Davy" is of less certain origin, with the three primary suggestions being "duffy" ("duppy"; "evil spirit"), "devil", and Saint David of Wales. Another theory is that Davy Jones is named after someone. Traditionally, he resides on the bottom of the ocean, specifically at the Equator. A ship that passes the line is likely to catch his attention and be visited.

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In the mishmash of depictions of Davy Jones that exist, four categories can be discerned. These are divided between "classic" depictions (dating from the 18th Century) and "modern" depictions (dating from the 20th Century). The exact traits of the four categories overlap:

  • Classic:
    • Satanic Archetype: The primary identification for Davy Jones is that of the Devil or specifically the devil of the ocean. His appearance may be human, semi-human, or outright monstrous. This version has a minor tradition of being either the husband or the partner-in-crime of Mother Carey, an entity that's somewhere in the middle of a witch, a psychopomp, and a siren. She has her own idiom in "Mother Carey's chickens", referring to storm petrels.
    • Lord of the Ocean: Sometimes, Davy Jones is the big man of the ocean himself, up to being nothing more than another name for Neptune. In this context, Davy is more of a loose cannon than the usual ocean god, who already is temperamental, but he's not "evil". This version may be accompanied by other sea spirits, mermaids in particular.
  • Modern:
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    • Ghost Pirate: Davy Jones would be a former human who for whatever reason died and became some manner of undead. It depends on the story how powerful this leaves him. Whereas other versions are usually found on the bottom of the ocean, this Davy Jones roams the surface. Expect the Flying Dutchman and/or its captain to show up alongside him (if they are not portrayed as the same character).
    • The Bartender: Rarely, Davy Jones' locker is interpreted as an eating establishment, of which Davy is the proprietor. It's essentially his role as devil re-imagined neutrally into the host of any seafarer's ghost.

A sailor's locker is the place where their personal possessions are stored during their travels. Davy Jones's locker, therefore, is where he stores wrecks, corpses (mostly just the bones), and souls. On occasion, this is switched up with the locker being an actual locker Davy sits on as on a throne or the locker is the name given to his residence, be it a wreck or, again, an actual locker.

This page is for instances in which Davy Jones or his locker play a role. It is not for listing instances in which the idiom or a variant of it is used solely to communicate the action takes place on a boat.

A Sub-Trope of Nautical Folklore, Satanic Archetype, Lord of the Ocean, and Ghost Pirate. See also Flying Dutchman. Not to be confused with the musician Davy Jones or David Bowie, officially David Jones, who took a stage name to avoid confusion with the other musician.


Examples:

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    Comic Books 
  • Davy Jones is the Big Bad of "Davy Jones' Locker" in #10 of the supernatural comic book version of Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. He's depicted as an old sailor who goes around barefoot, is armed with a trident, and rides a seahorse. Because he is a myth, he has no physical substance and can hurt but not be hurt, prompting Admiral Nelson to declare him a Will-o'-the-Wisp. His two main henchmen are the pirate Blackbeard and the siren Elaine. Davy is a Collector of the Strange; that being whichever ship catches his fancy and the Seaview is set to be added to his locker. The crew can't actually beat the trio (and the rest of Davy's crew), just hold them off, but then Nelson awakes from what he's told was a crew-wide black-out due to a faulty oxygen unit. Nelson wonders if Davy Jones used his dark powers to make them think that so he can strike again another time.
  • Mary Marvel befriends Davy Jones in "Mary Marvel Dives to Davy Jones' Locker!". This Jones is a 3000-year old survivor of Atlantis. At the time, the Atlanteans invented artificial gills to breathe underwater and they even could return life to a recently drowned person. However, the gills are permanent and prevent the wearer from breathing air. In the past millennia Davy Jones has been running an organization, his famed locker, to save and house drowned people. He uses sunken ships and their cargo to create more living space. Recently, two saved souls have been sinking ships to get a starting fortune with which to return to the surface, unaware that they can't breathe air anymore. It makes it a simple case for Mary.
  • "There Is Something Strange about Mister Jones!", published in Tales of Suspense #17, depicts Davy Jones as a sea king, friendly or vengeful depending on who deserves which treatment. Occasionally, he pretends to be a human and comes ashore, where he enjoys several friendships. One day, a petty thief overhears how all of Mr. Jones's fortune is safely stored within a single locker. He stalks him to the docks and demands the locker's whereabouts, which his supposed victim complies with by dragging him under water. The thief gets to see the spilled riches all across the ocean floor, but now is Davy Jones's slave.

    Comic Strips 
  • Davy Jones became part of the Popeye universe in the 1941 storyline Davy Jones and the Sea Goon. Initially presented as an evil entity even King Neptune feared, he turned out to be pretty friendly. He is a sea spirit who looks like an old pirate wearing a Phrygian cap and who inhabits the ocean floor, living in his locker located in a wreck.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Davy Jones is the Big Bad of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest and At World's End. In the past, he was a mortal pirate until he fell in love with the sea goddess Calypso. For her, he became the captain of the Flying Dutchman and the ferryman for the souls lost at sea. In return, she'd be waiting for him every ten years to spend a day on land together. She didn't show up, so Davy arranged for her to be trapped in mortal form. However, because he still loved her and couldn't bear the emotional turmoil, he carved out his own heart and locked it away in the Dead Man's Chest, whose key he kept in his beard. Becoming corrupted, Davy and his crew transformed into sea creature-human hybrids, and went on to gather more heads for the crew by offering lost souls the choice of enlisting or truly dying. Eventually, his heart came into the possession of Cutler Beckett, who could order the demon pirate around with it. Then Calypso was set free and, learning of Davy Jones's betrayal, unleashed her powers on the sea until his heart was pierced and he died.

    Pirates of the Caribbean utilizes a patchwork of different stories to create its own for Davy Jones. His origin story is primarily based on the captain from the opera The Flying Dutchman, with Charon's shtick thrown in. His present self is based on the legend of Davy Jones, looking like an Cthulhu-fied Blackbeard and with a Soul Jar named after the song "Dead Man's Chest" from Treasure Island. He commands a kraken, and his consort, Calypso, is the sea nymph from The Odyssey.

    Literature 
  • The Adventures of Peregrine Pickle describes Davy Jones thusly: "I'll be damned if it was not Davy Jones himself: I know him by his saucer-eyes, his three rows of teeth, his horns and tail, and the blue smoak that came out of his nostrils. What does the black-guard, hell's baby want with me? I'm sure I never committed murder, except in the way of my profession, nor wronged any man whatsomever since I first went to sea." This same Davy Jones, according to the mythology of sailors, is the fiend that presides over all the evil spirits of the deep, and is often seen in various shapes, perching among the rigging on the eve of hurricanes:, ship-wrecks, and other disasters to which sea-faring life is exposed, warning the devoted wretch of death and woe.
  • In Vol. 103 of Punch, the entry Davy Jones' Locker is written by Davy Jones himself in response to the HMS Howe running aground on a shoal due to reliance on outdated charts. He merrily if scathingly mocks the skill of modern-day sailors that ensures he won't be out of a job for a long time to come despite so-called "scientific progress". He compares himself to other nautical threats who do face their final days, give or take his buddy Death, calls himself the Demon-Sexton of the Deep, and remarks that Neptune hates him for having equal say in his kingdom.
  • Possibly inspired by the Punch story is "On the Dry Seas" by Keith Preston. It mourns the disappearance of all terrors of the sea and wonders if perhaps Davy Jones closed his locker when John Barleycorn, a personification of beer, went under.
  • In The Figurehead, Davy Jones is a sea god and has a mermaid daughter. They reside at the Equator. When the titular figurehead refuses to acknowledge her and her love for him, the mermaid has Davy sink the ship with a summoned hurricane so she can take the figurehead home with her.
  • Unsurprisingly, Davy Jones appears in several works by John Masefield, though surprisingly never as a protagonist.
    • Masefield opens A Sailor's Garland with "Old Sailors", presumably an adaptation of a sea shanty. In the last stanza, the speaker wishes that "in Davy Jones's Taverns may [old sailors] sit at ease".
    • "Mother Carey (As told Me by the Bo'sun)" is foremost about Mother Carey, but Davy is mentioned several times as her partner. Notably, they're said to eat the sailors that fall victim to them.
    • In "Davy Jones's Gift", the Devil and Davy Jones sometimes meet to play cards and throw dice over each other's right to claim a soul, because they find it boring to always deal with landsmen and sailorfolk respectively. Davy cajoles the Devil into betting the soul of a bishop and wins, angering the Devil. To keep the peace, Davy gives him a reefer in return. The devil is delighted until he learns that Davy tricked him, for no reefer has a soul to begin with.
  • The implication raised in "The Figurehead" by Cicely Fox Smith is that you'd want a female figurehead specifically because Davy Jones is kind of a Dirty Old Man. As the finishing touches are to be added to a new ship, the owner insists that his property won't have "one of those outrageous heathen goddesses with hardly any clothes" for a figurehead and that the ship will be better off flaunting the likeness of his pious self. The ship's finished as per his instructions and sets sails. However, when the ship reaches Southern waters, Davy Jones comes out of his skeletal home to check out the figurehead. He's enraged to find not a sexy broad, but an ugly bloke. So he rips off the figurehead and throws it far away from him.
  • In Davy And The Goblin, Davy is mistaken by the Sea-Dog for the addressee of a letter he's been safe-keeping. The letter is meant for Davy Jones and contains an unfinished poem.
  • In The Pearl And The Pumpkin, Davy Jones' Locker is a boarding house for drowned seamen of all stripes, including pirates. Davy Jones is the proprietor and the maids are mermaids. As much as he finds his infamous boarders — the Ancient Mariner, Blackbeard, Captain Kidd, Long John Silver, and Midshipman Easy — tiresome, he does lead them in a quest to learn the secret of growing exceptional pumpkins (for pie) or otherwise butcher the secret-holder into pies. Mother Carey and Neptune save the secret-holder and get the pirates to help rescue the Corn Dodger, so that, as they wanted, they'll get their hands on the pumpkin-growing secret.
  • The Pirates In The Deep Green Sea features Davy Jones as the Big Good (although not as the protagonist) who maintains and protects the knots: the points at which the parallels of latitude and longitude cross. They're essential to keep the world stable. Aiding him are the ageless sailors inhabiting his locker and opposing him are the ageless pirates led by Dan Scumbril and Inky Poops.
  • Saviour Pirotta's The Buccaneering Book of Pirates contains the Short Story "Davey Jones' Locker". In it, Captain Marriott orders an attack on a schooner which decks hold many treasure chests out in the open. The pirate is told that this has to be the Flying Dutchman, but he doesn't believe in superstition and ascribes the fact that no one can be seen manning vessal and its red glow to a very capable captain. Just as his crew is about to attack, a vicious storm kicks up. The last thing Marriott sees before drowning is the other ship's captain: a shrouded figure in tattered rags. Thereafter, he finds himself on the ocean floor, where Davy Jones — a pirate skeleton with glaring eyes sitting on a chest — greets him.
  • In "The Phantom Ship (1927)", Davy Jones and a ghostly woman sail a phantom ship to hunt down a captain who for unknown reasons has caught their attention. They kill him and his daughter.

    Music 

    Pinballs 
  • Davey Jones' Locker in Black Rose has a skeletal pirate at the entrance, ostensibly Old Davey himself.

    Puppet Shows 
  • The protagonist of Davy Jones' Locker is a boy named Joey, who hallucinates that he's joined a pirate crew and has to get a treasure from the ocean floor for them. He dives and ends up in a bar of sorts called Davy's Place, where ghosts and one mermaid wander. Davy himself drops by just in time grant to Joey the ability to breathe under water. Referred to as the Ghost King, the Pirate King, and the King of the Undersea, Davy looks like an old sailor with a net cape and is fairly jolly. He also has a shell chariot pulled by hippocamps. At first he tries to get the pirates to accept books as the true treasure, but when they won't take that he gives them his gold so they'll leave Joey alone. Then they want the books after all, which Davy lets them pay for with the gold.

    Tabletop Games 
  • In Pirates Constructible Strategy Game, you can't attach crew members to sea monsters. But since every rule in that game has a piece with the power to negate it, you can equip Davy Jones to them, as he's portrayed as a sort of pirate zombie. As CR puts it...
    Sea Monsters can't carry any cargo or living crewmember. Ah, but I have a special crewmember, one who isn't among the living. Davy Jones himself! Captain of all cursed pirate vessels, which means only he and he alone can be linked to the Kraken herself. You ever see an undead pirate king ride atop a giant cephalopod? You'd drop anchor right there if you did!

    Theatre 
  • In Davy Jones, or, Harlequin and Mother Carey's Chickens by W. Barrymore, Davy Jones is Mother Carey's Number Two. They have three guests over for dinner at the sea floor just off the coast of North Foreland, those guests being a mermaid named Finny Fanny, the fishmonger Major Sturgeon, and the pirate John Dory. Fanny nearly gets abducted by Captain Crosstree, enraging Mother Carey and Davy Jones, but their ire hits the wrong person: William. He, however, is under protection of the Polar Star, forcing the duo to call upon their guests for aid. They lose and the quintet has to return to the sea.
  • In the classroom play The Runaway Pirate by Rowena Bennett, a Wooden Ships and Iron Men pirate escapes from Davy Jones' locker while the spirit is asleep. He emerges in modern times to find the world too confusing for his liking and so returns to Davy Jones.

    Toys 
  • Monster High:
    • Dayna Treasura Jones was one of the last characters created for G1, but released as part of G2. This means that whatever background information created for her was never published, because G2 ditched the diaries that used to come with the core and default dolls. Dayna's theme is "searching for treasure", as her dress is a map, she herself appears to be made of gold, and her lower limbs are covered in stars for navigation. How this reflects on her father is ambiguous, not in the least because it's relatively common for the characters not to be biologically related to their parent(s), either because they were adopted or manmade.
    • Meta-wise, Dayna's unorthodox design probably came to be because there already was an ocean-embodying pirate ghost character, Vandala Doubloons, introduced about 1.5 years prior. It was a popular fan theory that Davy was Vandala's father before Dayna's introduction.note 

    Video Games 
  • In Nightmares from the Deep 3: Davy Jones, Davy Jones lived a happy but poor fisherman's life with his daughter until he demanded better for them and was gifted with luck. He worked himself up to merchant, but one who was dishonest and compensated his long absences from home with gifts that his daughter grew to resent. Then a gang of pirates attacked the Jones' home when they got the short end in a deal and killed her. Davy Jones wished to live long enough to resurrect his daughter, which was fulfilled by him getting immense demonic powers, including immortality, but nothing useful for reviving. More or less as he operated as a merchant, as a pirate he arm-twisted his prisoners into enlisting their souls until his daughter lived again. At first he was optimistic, but after the first and best shot at reviving the girl failed, he stopped hoping. After some centuries, the curator Sara Black found the missing ingredient, brought the daughter back to life, and put Davy and his crew to rest.
  • Realm of the Mad God has him as the mid-game dungeon boss of Davy Jones' Locker. He'll chase you around the room periodically with highly damaging shots which can make you bleed, and the only way to make him vulnerable is to attack all of the lanterns in his room in a short amount of time. He has plenty of minions to slow you down and there are quite a few ways for the fight to go sour- if he catches up to you, you'd better have a trigger finger on the Nexus button, or you're toast. He's dangerous to solo, but in a group (which will often happen) his attention is divided enough and there's usually enough people to weather him down and activate the lanterns quickly. Upon death, he can drop some niche items for the Trickster class.
  • In Banjo-Tooie, the route to the Underwater Boss Battle in Jolly Roger's Lagoon involves opening an undersea locker with the name "D. Jones" on it.

    Web Comics 
  • Played with starting Chapter 5 of Paranatural. A "local business owner" named Dave Jones makes an appearance. He has a hook hand. Despite his name and aesthetic, he's a vampire who may or may not be the actual Davey Jones. He's also the chief of police with the entire force in his thrall, and using crooked means to buy land all across the city for some nefarious purpose.

    Western Animation 
  • "The First Flying Fish" short of the Terrytoons collection depicts a hammerhead shark and a sawfish working for the Davy Jones Building Corp., ostensibly owned by Davy Jones. The corporation's business model appears to be renovating sunken ships to rent out as apartments.
  • "The Haunted Ship" short of the Aesop's Fables collection features Davy Jones as the captain of the Davy Jones, a haunted and infested sunken ship. Waffles and Don board it and find a piano, which they play to appease the other creatures. Unfortunately, their music also awakens Davy Jones, a skeleton wearing a bicorne. He comes out of his cabin — his locker — and gives chase. Although Waffles and Don are swimming back to the surface, it isn't shown how the chase ends.
  • He's not named, but it follows that the pirate living on the ocean floor in "Davy Jones' Locker" from the Willie Whopper series is Davy Jones. Willie and Mary are on a boat, which get sunk by King Neptune when they accidentally harass him. The wreck gets collected by a lobster, whom the duo follows to the wreck that serves as the home of Davy Jones: a drunk, rotund, peg-legged pirate. They try to appease him with music and dance, but when he gets handsy with Mary, Willie is forced to fight him.
  • Based on the poem, "The Figurehead" emphasizes the sea god version by making Davy huge. Like, the mermaid is human-sized and she's smaller than his ear.
  • For the most part, references to Davy Jones's locker in SpongeBob SquarePants are about the guy from The Monkees (who even makes a cameo appearance on "SpongeBob vs. The Big One"). Two appearances, however, seem to be the entity. In "The Curse of Bikini Bottom", Davy Jones's locker is where the Flying Dutchman stores his clothes. A skeleton, addressed as "Davy", also is inside. The Flying Dutchman speaks to him as if alive, but he doesn't appear to be so. In "Krusty Kleaners", SpongeBob pogo-sticks through an office and lands in Davy Jones's cubicle, occupied by a skeleton. It's just as unlife as the previous time, but this episode he wears pirate clothes (and a mustache). One line in "Bossy Boots" uses his name as an exclamation when Spongebob asks "What in the name of Davey Jones is a sah-lad??"
  • Prior to Spongebob, writers Stephen Hillenberg and Mark O'Hare tested the waters with the Rocko's Modern Life episode "Fish-N-Chumps," which features an Overly Long Gag of boat rental clerk Captain Crappy Jack telling an absurdly long, largely ad-libbed (by Tom Kenny) fishing story. One such ad-lib was about "...a scream that could be heard from Davey Jones lockers! Mickey Dolan's locker, too. And Peter Torque's locker. All The Monkees had lockers." It's safe to say Hillenberg, O'Hare and Kenny really liked this joke.

    Real Life 
  • There's an unpleasant Initiation Ceremony associated with crossing the Equatorial line that appears to have gone From Bad to Worse over the centuries. Davy Jones, as a sea spirit of importance, has long had a role within it.
    • In The Voyages and Adventures of John Willock, Mariner., published in 1798, a prank ritual is described. Two of the sailors are picked to dress up as Davie Jones and his wife, to represent their visit to the ship. Any passengers and "pollywags"note  on board are kept below deck during the preparations, and when they are summoned back up one by one they are told the visiting couple manages a turnpike gate and needs their toll. Those who can't are blindfolded and sat down upon a stick above a tub of water. Davie Jones then brushes their faces with a mixture of tar, grease, and lampblack, and "shaves" them with whatever vaguely sharp piece of metal is at hand. Afterwards, the victim is dropped in the water as a wash. Because this is a great way to make people sick and angry, eventually the captains put a stop to the shaving part of the ritual and the toll was lowered and paid for the whole ship at once.
    • By the 20th Century, the ceremony became a matter for the crew only, as a way to turn "pollywogs" into "shellbacks"note . In this form, Davy Jones, played by the second eldest shellback, visits the ship first to announce the arrival of King Neptune and sometimes the rest of his courtnote  the next day. When that day comes, the captain hands control over to King Neptune, who is played by the eldest shellback and supervises the hazing.
  • There's a sailor belief thought to be developed alongside the "Jones" part of Davy Jones. Sailors have their own name for The Jinx: The Jonah, who'll have to be cast overboard for the ship to stay afloat. People especially seen as the Jonah, and therefore generally not welcome, are women and religious workers. The latter are thought to offend the spirits of the seas, who abide by their own rules.
  • The 1808 Narrative Poem The Cruise, only known to have been written by a naval officer, describes a ritual in which seamen would throw an item no longer of use into the water before sailing out as a gift to Davy Jones. Within this context, Davy Jones is defined as the personification of the ocean.

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