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Father Neptune

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"If it's wet, I can sail on it."
Angus "Grim" Grimaldi, Tomb Raider (2013)

This is a sailor who has endured storms, pirates, fog, and all the perils of the sea. He has been in a Bar Brawl in every port and he has never lost. Sometimes he is a Drill Sergeant Nasty to all the scurvy foc'sle swabs. He is a maritime Old Master. Sometimes he develops a Big Brother Instinct toward the Plucky Middie. But he is a lord of the sea and all sailors must heed him or endure his wrath. Often wears a Seadog Beard.

Can end up The Storyteller with all the tales he has to tell about his adventures and the wonders and dangers of the sea. If he actually serves in a Navy then he's likely to cross over with Old Soldier.

Compare and contrast Lord of the Ocean, who is often more aggressive and temperamental due to the association with more "active" water (ocean waves), and Water Is Womanly, usually more calm and graceful as associated with more "still" water.


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  • The Gorton's fisherman resembles an older, seasoned mariner, dressed for the job of fishing.
  • Captain Birdseye, when they're not casting someone for Mr. Fanservice.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Too many examples to name in One Piece.
    • "Whitebeard" Edward Newgate and "Red-Haired" Shanks come to mind, though the Seven Warlords of the Sea, the rest of the Four Emperors, and several Marine Admirals could very well qualify.
    • Luffy's grandpa Garp, who is depicted as one of the oldest (Or at least, oldest-looking) Marine man in the series. Has a beard, too.
    • Then there is the mermaid king named Neptune who is a father as well.
  • Pokémon the Series: Ruby and Sapphire:
    • Drake of the Hoenn Elite Four is shown in the anime to be a ship captain, befitting his naval uniform. However, his Pokémon are Dragon types instead of Water types in both media.
    • Mr. Briney is also this type of character, being a retired sailor who sailed seven seas in his youth (back when he was buff and handsome). He has a Wingull named Peeko as his companion and still sail on his boat called the S.S. Wingull to both see the world and help escort travels across rugged seas inhabited by dangerous wild Pokémon.
  • Although it's set in space, Star Blazers/Space Battleship Yamato's military is portrayed very much as the Navy In Space, right down to bellbottomed uniforms. Captain Avatar/Okita is every inch this trope, as is Captain Gideon in the second season.

    Comic Books 
  • Captain Haddock from the Tintin comics.
  • Jommeke: Captain Jan Haring.
  • Nero: Captain Oliepul.
  • Tom Poes: Captain Wal Rus.
  • Pouvoirpoint: Quint, the grumpy chief cook of starship Entreprise-2061, obviously based on Sam Quint from Jaws. The one-eyed and one-armed sea-dog has been through a lot, although we learn at the end that Every Scar Has a Story...
  • The Legend of Wonder Woman (2016): The elderly couple that takes Diana in when she first leaves Paradise Island confuses Diana because of how the old man is a sailor who is rarely home and she feels like his wife deserves more attention. She quickly learns that the two are perfectly quirky together and both are very happy with their relationship which helps her not to judge so quickly in the future.

    Comic Strips 
  • Popeye's father Poopdeck Pappy.
  • Captain Eddie from the Non Sequitur comic strip likes to portray himself as this. How much of if is purely in his own mind is open to debate.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • Gibbs, Barbossa, and Jones from Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • Captain Gregg, the ghost of The Ghost and Mrs. Muir, was presumably this in life, considering he titles his biography Blood and Swash.
  • Sam Quint from Jaws certainly counts.
  • Thomas Wake from The Lighthouse, though he's a lighthouse keeper and not a sailor anymore. He ticks so many of the boxes for this trope that Winslow eventually complains that he "talks like a goddamn parody". It may actually be an act however - he gives conflicting stories about what happened to his bad leg, and at one point Winslow accuses him of being a total fraud who was never a sailor, which Wake doesn't really confirm or deny. Then again Winslow might have been projecting a little, as he himself is lying about his true identity.

  • Diokles the oarmaster in Over the Wine-Dark Sea by Harry Turtledove.
  • Long John Silver in Treasure Island.
  • Poseidon in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series DEFINITELY qualifies due to him almost essentially being the trope namer, what with being, you know, Poseidon. It mainly applies in the fifth book when he is defending his kingdom of Atlantis from the original god of the sea, Oceanus.
  • Disko Troop, the captain of the fishing vessel in Captains Courageous.
  • Captain/Commodore/Admiral Sir Edward Pellew as he is portrayed in the Hornblower series. (Arguably Truth in Television as Pellew was a Real Life naval commander.)
  • Clear and Present Danger features Captain Red Wagner of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Panache. Started out as an enlisted man, became so badass that a U.S. Senator, who's nephew Wagner had rescued during a storm, took upon himself to get him promoted to officer's rank.
  • Captain John Charity Spring from the Flashman novels.
  • The Mariner
  • The title character of Coleridge's The Rime of the Ancient Mariner.
  • Davos Seaworth from A Song of Ice and Fire. He actually has seven children, as well as being an ex-smuggler.
  • Amos Trask/Captain Trenchard from The Riftwar Cycle boasts that "I'm Captain Trenchard! The Dagger of the Sea! I've sailed the Straits of Darkness on Midwinter's Day! My ship's the Raptor and I've taken her into the Seven Lower Hells, drunk ale with Kahooli and sailed home again! My mother was a sea dragon, my father was lightning and I dance a sailor's jig on my victim's skulls! I fought with the war god and kissed death herself. Men tremble at my shadow and women swoon at my name and no one lives who can call me liar!"
  • Captain Ahab is a classic example. Throughout the book he's referred to consistently as an "old man", but despite having a whalebone pegleg above the knee, he's portrayed as a skilled whale hunter to this day (and even called the best harpooner in Nantucket), the Pequod's owners have utter faith in his competence, and his crew genuinely admires him. He also charts whale migrations and manages to successfully locate a single whale that could be anywhere in the world's oceans, suggesting that his reputation as a captain is well earned.
  • The title character of the Sherlock Holmes story The Adventure Of Black Peter. Peter Carey earned his nickname both from the way he captained his whaling ship and also for the way he violently abused his wife and daughter. No one who knows Black Peter is grieving when he ends up skewered on one of his own harpoons. His killer Patrick Cairns also counts, being one of Carey's crew from his whaling days and whose own skill with harpoons saves his life when Carey tries to cut his throat.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Parodied in Blackadder with Captain Redbeard Rum who, despite having suffered innumerable injuries at sea, talking like a pirate and having a beard you could lose a badger in, is an absolutely terrible sailor, who has no idea how to navigate, regards an actual crew for his ship as an unnecessary luxury, and whose typical sailing trip is to take the ship around in circles until everyone gets dizzy and then head home.
  • Also parodied with Uncle Albert in Only Fools and Horses. Every ship he sailed on sank.
  • Game of Thrones: Ser Davos Seaworth, a smuggler-turned-knight, complete with Sea Dog Beard.
  • Scotty in Star Trek is a Father Neptune in space
  • The eponymous character of the Käpt'n Blaubär (German for "Captain Bluebear") series. Whenever he tells one of his past adventures, his three grandkids usually don't believe a word of it.
  • Flint's Quartermaster Mr. Gates in Black Sails is a highly respected and experienced sailor who is starting to feel his age, a fact Jack Rackham is able to use against him in their dealings.
  • Captain Gregg in The Ghost and Mrs. Muir led a very adventurous life at sea to judge from the memoirs he dictates to Mrs. Muir.
  • In The Terror, Ice Master Thomas Blanky is a tough old seaman with a long Sea Dog Beard and Sea Dog Peg Leg. He navigates the Cool Boat HMS Terror through the Arctic pack ice, battles a demonic polar bear, and discovers the Northwest Passage.
  • Pee-wee's Playhouse: Cap'n Carl (Phil Hartman), from the first season as well as the stage show's original run, is a gritty sea captain who puts up with Pee-wee's antics for the sake of friendship. He's always up for a fight and constantly carries a pipe.
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power: The sail master is a seasoned captain in the Numenorian Sea Guard, and his job is to prepares new apprentices how to become sailors. He is always tough on them and unforgivable.

    Pro Wrestling 
  • Canada based All Star Wrestling has Salty The Seaman, who is a maritime expy of Blue Demon.
  • During his Wrestling/WWE run, Fred Ottman had the character of Tugboat, a wrestling sailor. His ring gear included a striped sailor's shirt and a sailor's cap.

    Video Games 

    Web Animation 
  • RWBY: When a sea dragon Grimm attacks the ship Blake and Sun are travelling on, the crew are stunned, having never fought a Grimm that huge. The captain observes that no-one has ever fought such a large Grimm before, and then calmly, efficiently, takes full command of the situation. He instructs the crew on how to fight, he strategises the use of the ship-board side-guns and main cannon, as well as turning the entire ship into a battering ram. He also takes command of the Huntsmen on board, instructing Blake and Sun on what he needs them to do for his ship to become effective against the fast-moving, flight-capable monster. No-one questions his orders once he takes over, not even the anti-social Blake or mischief-making Sun, and it's his tactics that result in the defeat of the Grimm, rather than any plan the younger heroes come up with.

    Western Animation 
  • Captain McCallister ("the Sea Captain") from The Simpsons certainly has the look and accent, though he's often shown to be fairly nautically incompetent and some episodes suggest it's all a gimmick to promote his seafood restaurant.
    Sea Captain: Arrrr, I hate the sea and everything in it.
  • Parodied with "Two-Patch" Crappie Jack from an episode of Rocko's Modern Life
    "All the way to Davy Jones Locker! And Micky Dolenz's locker, too, and Peter Tork's locker! All The Monkees had lockers."
  • Mr. Krabs on Spongebob Squarepants has some characteristics of this, especially in the very early episodes. He's an old Navy deckhand and certainly carries the accent and slang around.
  • Admiral Ledger from the Five-Episode Pilot Pyramid of Darkness story arc of G.I. Joe: A Real American Hero is so "old navy" note  whales ask him for directions. He even gives his old superstitions of women being bad luck as a reason why he's not too fond of letting Lady Jaye on board the U.S.S. Flagg.
    • Hector "Shipwreck" Delgado could be considered the U.S. Navy's equivalent of Han Solo, ready to join the fight, and usually fighting the enemy on his own terms when he's not being so salty, which gets him into occasional trouble now and then.
  • Seamus from Family Guy will sometimes play this role when some salty exposition is needed, though at other times he's as oblivious as the rest of the cast.

    Real Life 
  • Michiel de Ruyter, a hero of the Anglo-Dutch wars.
  • Joshua James, an almost legendary figure in the US Coast Guard. Had his first rescue experience at age 15, rowing out into a storm with other volunteers to help save the crew of the ship Mohawk. He spent the rest of his life working maritime search and rescue for the Massachusetts Humane Society and later the US Lifesaving Service (one of the precursors to the Coast Guard). At age 75, he was conducting intensive training alongside his (much younger) crew. After finishing the drills, he stepped out of the boat, looked out to the sea, and said "The tide is ebbing" before dropping dead from a heart attack. Instead of a coffin, he was buried in a lifeboat. Plus, just look at the guy.
  • Gideon Welles, the Secretary of the Navy during the American Civil War, whose nickname was, in fact, "Father Neptune." Although a political apointee, he became an invaluable asset to the Lincoln administration during the war.
  • Admiral William Halsey (though the USN is a little embarrassed about some of his decisions). Granted, they were the same decisions that Spruance had been criticized for not making just a few months prior.
  • Admiral Marc Mitscher.
  • Horace Beck
  • Tristan Jones, the first man to sail a boat from the Dead Sea to Lake Titicaca, the highest and lowest bodies of water on Earth. He also spent months trapped in an iceberg in the Arctic Circle, and continued sailing even after losing his leg. That is, if you believe him. The iceberg thing is bollocks. He did sail on both the Dead Sea and Lake Titicaca (albeit not in the same boat), though, and the leg bit is also true — it was losing his other leg that finally knocked him out.
  • Samuel Eliot Morison: Historian, Intrepid Reporter and writer of History of U.S. Naval Operations in World War II.
  • Anyone who lives to collect his pension after spending their adult life deep-sea fishing in the northern latitudes probably qualifies by default.
  • Both the commanders in the Russo-Japanese War's Battle Of Tsushima apply, albeit in different ways:
    • Japanese admiral Togo Heihachiro was a keen student of Britain's naval academies, which helped make the British Royal Navy one of the world's finest fleets. He knew the era's most advanced naval strategies and tactics, which allowed him to track the Russian Navy's progress, choose where and when to fight and outmaneuver his Russian foes during the battle itself. The Battle of Tsushima was a vicious Curb-Stomp Battle where Japan lost only three torpedo boats while it sank 21 Russian ships of different types, captured 7 more and disarmed 6 others. Admiral Togo was richly rewarded for his victory, and he's remembered as one of Japan's great naval heroes. In his journal, Togo wrote that he considered himself the reincarnation of British admiral Horatio Nelson, a Father Neptune in his own right.
    • Russian admiral Zinovy Rozhestvensky also counts as one despite the Tsushima disaster. Despite problems ranging from a fleet made up of The Alleged Boats to an officer corps of Upper Class Twits to inexperienced crews to constant supply shortages, and a journey that consisted of one Epic Fail after another, Admiral Rozhestvensky somehow managed to get the Russian fleet he commanded halfway around the world, past Europe, Africa and Asia, to finally reach Tsushima. Admiral Rozhestvensky's Hair-Trigger Temper and habit of throwing his binoculars into the sea when he was angry led his officers to have a large supply of binoculars on hand during the voyage. Admiral Togo considered him a Worthy Opponent, and visited him when he was injured in the battle and treated in a Japanese hospital. Admiral Rozhestvensky was court-martialled for the disaster and insisted on taking sole responsibility for Russia's defeat, although he was pardoned by the Tsar.


Video Example(s):



Robert Shaw's character Sam Quint in Jaws. He's a Great White Hunter who hunts great white sharks. But he's also haunted by his past experiences with sharks, and has become a merciless shark-hater and borderline psychotic, not unlike Captain Ahab in Moby-Dick.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (4 votes)

Example of:

Main / GreatWhiteHunter

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