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Horny Sailors

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A whole new meaning to The Sea Wolf

"The happiest hour a sailor sees
Is when he's down in an inland town
With his Nancy on his knees, yo ho,
And his arm around her waist!"

Ah, the sea! The ideal setting for adventure, danger, and...constant sexual longing?

At least, so you'd think from some fiction, where every single crew member on a nautical adventure seems to be in a constant state of hunger for, well, naughty adventure. In such works, sailor types are never shown as being apathetic about romantic horseplay—not even if they're exhausted from overwork, or stranded on an island.

This trope particularly runs rife in a Wooden Ships and Iron Men setting. Pirates are often involved as well, since they have the loot to spend lavishly on drinks, prostitutes, and A Girl in Every Port. But it can be and pretty much always has been applied to all kinds of seamen (heh heh, "seamen"), including the spacefaring variety.

For a long time, this was Truth in Television to some extent: historically, women were not allowed on naval ships in many countries, which meant that sailors spent months on end without seeing a member of the opposite sex. Naturally, upon reaching shore, many of them would be starving for female companionship. (Docks were long known as crucibles of prostitution.)

Now that the gender imbalance is less pronounced in most places, the whole concept is largely in Dead Horse Trope territory, but you can still expect to come across it in historical fiction (and, of course, older works). Hello, Sailor! is often the result of this trope plus Situational Sexuality. See also Our Sirens Are Different.


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    Comic Strips 
  • The French comic Les Passagers Du Vent has one story set on board a slave ship, where the sailors regularly go into the hold to rape a female slave whenever the opportunity presents itself. One sailor forgets to remove his knife from his pocket (despite the quartermaster warning everybody about it earlier) and the slaves steal it while he's busy, resulting in the slaves cutting their bonds and revolting.

    Fan Works 
  • The Mountain and the Wolf: Given that the Villain Protagonist leads a ship of Horny Vikings powered in part by a Sex God, this is inevitable.
    • The Wolf jokes that he keeps a pig onboard his ship during very long voyages for meat and because the sailors get too lonely. It's a cover for Cersei being held captive on his ship, but it might well be true.
    • The Wolf often makes rape threats towards the women he holds hostage, and even describes Missandei's likely fate in loving detail to get Grey Worm to fight him. Cersei in particular ends up sleeping with his men around the clock, though it's more due to a connection with Slaanesh than pointless cruelty.

    Films — Live Action 
  • The Bounty: The men of the Bounty are very, very excited when they land on Tahiti after a long and grueling voyage, and discover a whole island full of gorgeous, topless native women. Their unwillingness to go back to a grueling sailor's life after leaving Tahiti is a root cause of The Mutiny that follows.
  • In Forbidden Planet, the crew of the spaceship is all-male and stir-crazy from a long flight, and respond energetically when they come across the Mad Scientist's Beautiful Daughter. Two of the ship's officers start a Cock Fight over her.
  • In the original 1984 Ghostbusters film, the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is a mascot character dressed in an old style navy outfit. Peter Venkman snarks that it's one way they may be able to defeat him: "He's a sailor, he's in New York— we get this guy laid, he won't be any trouble!"
  • In Hail, Caesar!, a bunch of sailors celebrate the night before going onto an 8-month-journey. They mourn the fact that they won't see no dame during that time.
  • Operation Petticoat: The whole premise of the film is that a WW2 submarine crew can be thrown into hormonal chaos just by adding a few female nurses. At one point the entire crew complement save the Captain decide to present for sick call in order to have the nurses treat them.
  • Exploited in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest. After Elizabeth Swann sneaks on board a ship, the captain finds her dress after she disguises herself as a male sailor. He motivates his crew to look for the stowaway by telling them that she's likely naked, making the crew suddenly surge into action.
  • Pool of London: Harry, one of the sailors on the Dunbar, is juggling two girlfriends in London, and is implied to have 'a girl in every port'.
  • The title song of the movie musical The Fleet's In:
    Hey there, rookie!
    You'd better call your cookie
    And your sweets in.
    The fleet's in!
    They'll take anything if it isn't nailed down.
    She may be dark or fair,
    But sailors don't care
    As long as she's wearing a gown.
    So if you love her,
    Keep under cover—
    The fleet's in town!
  • In A Study in Terror, two sailors attempt to procure the services of prostitute Liz Stride, mentioning that have returned from a long voyage and want her for the entire night. A constable moves them on and Liz goes in search of another client and winds up becoming the next victim of Jack the Ripper.

  • Three sailors and a woman find themselves marooned on a desert island. After a week, the woman is so ashamed of what she'd been doing that she kills herself. After another week, the sailors are so ashamed of what they'd been doing that they buried her. And after another week, the sailors are so ashamed of what they'd been doing that they dug her back up.
  • A woman on the docks looks wistfully at a cruise ship. A passing sailor asks her what's wrong, and she says she wishes she could cross the ocean. The sailor tells her that he'll smuggle her aboard his ship in exchange for regular sex. The woman agrees.
    Two weeks later, the captain is conducting a surprise inspection and finds the stowaway.
    "And what are you doing here?"
    "One of the sailors is screwing me in exchange for crossing the ocean."
    "He's certainly screwing you, this is the harbor ferry!"

  • Animorphs: During the battle of Trafalgar (due to time-travel shenanigans), Rachel ends up being leered at by a sailor who spots her. The nearby Officer and a Gentleman tells him to knock it off and inform the captain they have a stowaway.
  • In the Aubrey-Maturin book series, this reaches the level of a Running Gag. Whenever one of Aubrey's commands returns to port—particularly if the crew have recently been paid—it's the only thing on half of the men's minds. Before they set sail again, Aubrey has to order that the ship be searched for stowaways (and having once gotten in trouble himself for sneaking a girl aboard, he knows exactly where the crew are hiding them).
    • In one of the early books, Aubrey makes an ill-considered joke while dining (and drinking) with some other officers and their wives, about his crew lining up along the rail "with their pricks a yard long," waiting for the ship to anchor. When several of the women stand up to leave in disgust, he quips that they needn't hurry; they'll be in port for a few more days.
  • The Malloreon: In a one chapter in the third book, a sailor who had been at sea for months and stealing from his captain after landing, gets relief at the tavern and spends his loot by drinking his ass off and sleeping with a local barmaid. When he wakes up, he finds the girl dead with a Slasher Smile on her face, and, out of fear that he thought he killed her, escapes to Mal Zeth, carrying nothing but the clothes on his back and the deadly plague he caught.
  • This trope is one way of reading the Siren scene in The Odyssey - the whole crew can't resist the sight and song of the Sirens, even though it means shipwreck. A less sexualized reading, of course, is that the song itself is magically enchanted to be irresistible.
  • In the Gentleman Bastard book Red Seas Under Red Skies, Zamira Drakasha's pirate crew has co-ed membership and a tolerant attitude towards liaisons of all kinds, including when one new recruit turns out to be another's Closet Key. Relationships only become an issue when one crewman realizes he's been tricked into taking a bunk next to a notoriously noisy couple.
  • Discussed in The Screwtape Letters where Screwtape josses the idea that exercise is useful for chastity by pointing out this trope... while suggesting that Wormwood should invoke this trope on his patient to trick him.
  • In Mister Roberts, the crew of the U.S.S. Reluctant become practically giddy upon learning that they being sent to a port with a hospital. With nurses. FEMALE nurses!
  • Naked In Death references a futuristic version: Eve's best friend Mavis wants to go out to a club frequented by astronauts, who she claims are perpetually horny thanks to their long tours in space.
  • The Shadow Over Innsmouth: Lovecraft doesn't provide much detail into the "breeding" of the Hybrids. But considering Innsmouth is a port, its only major industry was shipping, and it was a sea captain who made the alliance with the Deep Ones, it's implied that sailors out at sea with nobody else nearby but the Deep Ones could be the main contributors to the Hybrid gene pool.
  • In Always Coming Home, "The Trouble with the Cotton People" has the teller claiming he had a lot of problems with that at one point during his journey. Relief was problematic, since the Kesh people tend to be careful about the possibility of STD, which are very rare among them, but not in other places.

    Live-Action TV 
  • How I Met Your Mother references this, alongside the theory that manatees and dugongs were the inspiration for mermaids. Barney thinks the only reason sailors mistook manatees for beautiful women is because it had been so long since they'd last seen a woman, and they were desperate.
  • Parodied in Rutland Weekend Television's musical On the Town spoof, featuring three American sailors on shore leave, looking for "exciting, vicious, naughty gals" in the quiet English town of Tunbridge Wells.
  • The Two Ronnies: At the end of their parody of The Onedin Line, Baines is captured by pirates who've "been at sea for months without setting eyes on a member of the opposite, as you might say". What he neglects to mention is that the pirates are also young, attractive and female.
  • Horatio Hornblower, "The Duchess and the Devil": Hornblower doesn't appreciate that his sailors stare at the Duchess who is supposed to be given passage when she comes aboard. Styles points out he hasn't seen a woman in six months.
    Styles: Captain Pellew's coming aboard, sir. And, uh, a lady, sir. Nice dress, sir; good-looking.
    Hornblower: Don't froth at the mouth, Styles. You've seen a woman before, man.
    Styles: Not in six bloody months, I haven't.
  • Person of Interest. In "Liberty", the POI is one of thousands of sailors during Fleet Week. Joss Carter gets a lot of appreciation from the sex-starved squids during the case, and she's not adverse to the attention.
  • The Fast Show did a sketch in the vein of a Broadway musical with a trio of sailors singing a musical number about shore leave, with the first two singing about stereotypical things a tourist would do in New York. When the third sailor is asked what he'll do, he proudly states that he's going to go on a bender that culminates in him picking up a prostitute and having sex with her. His two buddies agree that this is a great idea and start singing the song again, changing the title from "Shore Leave" to "Whore Leave".

  • The traditional Bawdy Song "The Good Ship Venus" is about a ship whose crew consists entirely of these. Sex Pistols put their own twist on it, called "Friggin' in the Riggin'", in which it's even more obvious.

  • The Navy Lark: One of the stock plots is Sub-lieutenant Phillips' romantic pursuit of WRNS Heather Chasen. He's also not opposed to a bit of freelance womanising and innuendo if some other females are around.

  • In Carousel, Jigger (at least ostensibly a sailor) throws himself at Carrie out of unbridled lust, despite her being engaged to wed. The script remarks that one of the cons he uses on her "worked once long ago on a girl in Liverpool."
  • Fancy Free, the ballet that inspired On the Town (see below), has a similar premise that can be summed up in two stage directions: "Enter Three Sailors" and "Enter Two Girls."
  • Played with by Gilbert and Sullivan:
    • The Pirates of Penzance carry off a whole chorus of picnickers, intending to "marry them on the spot".
    • The Mikado includes a rollicking sea shanty about how landlubbers love sailing...and sailors love being inland cuddling girlfriends.
    • The Gondoliers has all the boatmen in a Venetian neighborhood sail off to rule a small kingdom (It Makes Sense in Context), and as one of them says, "it is dull without female society." Their lady friends, feeling the same way, make the trip across the sea themselves to rejoin the men.
    • Ruddigore: Rose Maybud has several qualms about her betrothed, the dashing sailor Dick Dauntless, but the one she keeps coming back to is the probability that he has A Girl in Every Port:
      Rose: I shall be left all alone to moan,
      And weep at your cruel deceit, complete;
      While you'll be asserting
      Your freedom by flirting
      With every woman you meet, you cheat!
    • Averted and Lampshaded in H.M.S. Pinafore. The sailors demonstrate their hilariously unstereotypical manners by the fact that they "welcome ladies so politely."
  • In Les MisÚrables, the number "Lovely Ladies" begins with a bunch of sailors singing about how much they want to have sex. The song in general is about prostitutes who cater to sailors, told from various perspectives.
  • On the Town runs on this premise, with three sailors all seeking to hook up in an Extremely Short Timespan.
  • Stephen Sondheim is a multiple offender...
    • Pacific Overtures has a whole song about young prostitutes being trained to appeal to sailors, as well as a trio in which three English sailors hunger for a young Japanese woman they glimpse in a garden ("I've sailed the world for you...").
    • Anthony in Sweeney Todd seems to be cut from exactly the same (sail)cloth.
  • South Pacific's chorus of sailors all agree—in song, no less!—that "There's Nothing Like A Dame", but whatever they may say or fantasize among themselves, the sailors are completely respectful to the nurses. Stephen Sondheim took the musical to task for using this trope, but see above for his own history with it.

    Urban Legends 
  • The "true stories" section of a Filipino men's magazine told the story of a sea captain who had a blowup doll in his bed, in fear that he might get an STD outside. One day while the captain was out, a janitor walked in, found the doll, had his way with it, and forgetting to clean the doll, walked away. Days later, the captain got gonorrhea and got mad, remarking that even a doll can get it.

    Video Games 
  • In A Dance with Rogues, the docks of Betancuria is the location with the single highest concentration of Optional Sexual Encounters, and the generic sailor NPCs will actually chase after the Player Character with very indecent proposals. The docks is also the most likely place in the game to catch STDs.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons: One of the occasional jokes regarding Captain Mac Allister (the Sea Captain) is that his long stays at sea make him so lonely that he becomes sexually attracted to anything. Anything.
  • Private Snafu: A Running Gag in "Seaman Tarfu in the Navy" is a sailor lecherously pursuing a beautiful woman for the entire cartoon, even across the bottom of the ocean, only to lose her to Snafu.