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Pirate Booty

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Sissy Pirate: Uh, captain? Captain? I know we usually bury the treasure, but what if, this time, we use it to buy things? You know… eh… things we like?
Captain: [shoots him, then looks at his other men, who furiously begin digging a hole] Ahhr! We'll dig up the treasure in seven yarr. I've drawn a map on this cracker, which Polly will hold for safe keepin'.
The Simpsons, on why there is treasure buried everywhere

In media the goal of every pirate is to plunder shipping for the large wooden chests overflowing with gold, jewels and other valuable trinkets invariably carried by every vessel on the high seas. Mundane cargoes carried in the ships' holds are completely ignored as cackling buccaneers make off with their ill-gotten riches, which they then buried or hid in a cave on a remote island, with only a Treasure Map to remind them of the location.

The reality of piracy was a lot more pragmatic. Food, fresh water, weapons and ammunition, timber, ropes, and sails were all of more immediate value to the corsair than a chest full of gold (which, if they ever got any, would promptly be spent on food, fresh water, weapons and ammunition, timber, ropes, and sails, with what was left going to drinking and whoring before they got caught and hanged). These things kept their ships and crews operating outside the reach of the law. In addition, very few cargo vessels carried that kind of wealth. Those that did were warships sailing in groups with enhanced security to fend off any pirates that might attempt an attack. (Certain, more mundane-looking cargoes, mind, might be more valuable than we would think of today—alcohol, fabrics, spices, and various "exotic" items from extremely far afield) Furthermore it was much easier to fence cargo goods than gold and jewels, and even if a pirate found such treasures they might not even understand the value of the items. In one famous case a pirate smashed a large diamond with a hammer because a crew mate got numerous smaller diamonds as his share. Feeling cheated, he smashed the diamond into numerous smaller pieces to make it seem like he got the same amount!

Furthermore, pirate ships probably didn't have space for huge chests: real pirate ships were often very small and fast, although a few of the more successful and grandiose pirate captains got quite big ships.

Pirates sustained themselves and their vessels by using supplies and cargoes plundered from their victims and selling what they had no use for. This provided the coin for obtaining things they couldn't steal, paying their crews and spending a raucous night enjoying the pleasures of a seedy port. Also, given the fact that piracy was a very high-risk career, there also wasn't much point in caching loot for the purpose of digging it up later: most of them would end up sunk, killed in a boarding action, or hanged long before the planned time to retrieve the treasure came around, so there was no real incentive to not spend it at the first opportunity.

But as they say, behind every story is a grain of truth. The idea of pirate gold most likely arose from the "Treasure Fleets" used by the kingdom of Castile-Leon to transport the silver mined in Mexico and Colombia (90% of it from just one mine in Potosi, Colombia) to Seville. On one notable occasion in the 16th century the fleet was scattered by a cyclone, and several ships were picked off by English privateers and Dutch sea beggars, both officially sanctioned by the English government and the Dutch resistance, respectively. Even today, sunken treasure ships are highly sought after by modern treasure hunters. Additionally, the passengers on ships typically carried money in the form of gold or silver, in small quantities.

The greatest amount of pirate treasure is said to be on the Swedish island Gotland in the Baltic Sea. Though obviously not the Caribbean type of pirates, generations of vikings buried treasure from their raids to Northern and Eastern Europe and the Black Sea there.

See also Inexplicable Treasure Chests what be buried on a Desert Island in The Spanish Main.

Has nothing to do with that kind of "Pirate Booty".


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    Anime & Manga 
  • Doraemon: Nobita's Great Adventure in the South Seas: The adventure is kicked off when Nobita and Doraemon sees a news report of pirate treasure being discovered in the Pacific, with Nobita immediately dragging Doraemon and his friends, S Hizuka, Suneo and Gian, into a pirate adventure. But then an unexpected time warp displaces the gang to the 16th century, during The Golden Age of Piracy. In the climax once the gang defeats the villainous Cash and his army, and saves their pirate friends, it turns out there is another pile of booty hidden underneath Cash's island.
  • The Heroic Legend of Arslan: At one point, Arslan and his men are lured away from the city they're running with the directions to a legendary pirate treasure containing a hundred million gold coins. It's actually a trap so that more modern pirates can sack the city. Which they expected, so they only pretended to buy the story to lure them out. Narsus actually points out that the notion of a treasure of a hundred million coins is absurd to begin with — assuming that much gold existed in minted currency, it would a man's lifetime to count that many coins, so how could anyone know how much there was?
  • One Piece:
    • The title actually refers to the fortune of legendary Pirate Gold Roger. Though the exact nature of this "fortune" is the greatest mystery in the series. The only real hints about what it actually is come from two times Oda said that it definiely is a physical reward, and not the whole journey as he does not like that kind of endings. And Whitebeard seems to imply that it does have genuine importance, as "The world will be shaken to the core". Indeed, as of Wano Arc, we know that the treasure actually belonged to Joy Boy, and Roger, upon seeing it, just laughed (hence the name of the island is Laugh Tale) and even lamented about not being a contemporary of Joy Boy. Supporting Whitebeard's statement, Roger also learned about the Will of the D., the Void Century, and the Ancient Weapons, implying the treasure will definitely turn the world upside down.
    • There are, however, other instances of Pirate booty that more fit into the cliche. Nami spent ten years collecting booty stolen from pirates to try and buy back her village from the pirates who had occupied it, only to have it taken by corrupt marines when she almost had enough.
    • The sky island arc is driven by the search for treasure as well, and after saving the entire island from civil war and an evil overlord with a god complex, the Straw Hats decide to steal a whole bunch of treasure from those people they just saved and make off in the night. Made hilarious by the fact that as they made their escape, they were pursued by the sky islanders who they thought were trying to stop them, but were instead attempting to give them a huge golden pillar worth many times that of the loot they'd stolen. To show their appreciation. The islanders eventually gave up and let the Straw Hats think they were being all evil and piratey, much to Robin's amusement (she was the only one who knew)
    • In general, this trope is mostly averted as, while pirates do focus on treasure a lot, they're equally keen on spending it. The only two who really value treasure for its own sake are Nami (who has an obvious Money Fetish) and Buggy (and it's implied that that tendency is a big part of why he's so weak compared to his former Heterosexual Life-Partner Shanks).
    • The Filler Arcs (and TV specials and movies) will usually be a lot more focused on traditionally buried loot, though it's almost a cert the Straw Hats won't be able to keep it by the time the end credits roll.
  • Transformers: ★Headmasters: An episode revolved around the Autobots and Decepticons trying to get a massive stockpile of energy hidden on a Space Pirate planet.

    Audio Plays 

    Comic Books 
  • Birds of Prey: Lady Blackhawk (Zinda Blanke) was captured and brainwashed by supervillain Killer Shark into thinking she was his partner, Queen Killer Shark. She helped beat and capture her teammate Huntress (Helena Bertinelli). It was revealed that this Killer Shark was the grandson of the original one that brainwashed her when she battled him in the 40s, and he wanted her to lead him to his grandfather's treasure. She led Killer Shark to his grandfather's treasure, but she broke free of her brainwashing and, with the help of her teammate Huntress defeated Killer Shark. Later while Zinda and Helena are bragging to their friends about defeating Killer Shark, one of their friends asks if they can borrow some of their treasure, implying that they took the treasure Killer Shark wanted for themselves.
  • Hitman had an arc centered on finding a coffin full of wealth in an unmarked grave in a huge cemetery. Subverted rather cruelly when it turns out the dollar bills didn't survive, leaving only a green-tinted pile of papery mush in the coffin.
  • Tintin in Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn (a ship) and Tintin: Red Rackham's Treasure combines this with a pirate treasure island and a Dismantled Macguffin Treasure Map.
  • Wonder Woman (1942): Before his execution the long dead pirate Capt. Storm buried his famous treasure in a location which would decades later be right by the bandstand at Holliday College.

    Fairy Tales 
  • Alexander Afanasyev's "Little Master Misery": After leeching off Ivan until he has run out of money, Misery leads him to a great loot of gold buried and hidden under a big stone in the middle of a faraway field. It is not revealed who buried it down there or how Misery knew of its existence.

    Fan Works 
  • By the Sea: As early as the start of the first story, before Cody even shows up, Obi-Wan narrates that there are rumors that the shore he lives near was once a pirate hangout. It turns out that those rumors have truth to them when Eyayah manages to dig up a bunch of buried gold nuggets. Obi-Wan pawns some of the gold and gets enough money to buy himself a boat.

    Film — Animation 

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Played with in Disney's 1954 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. During the extended diving scene, Ned Land and Conseil find a chest full of treasure in a sunken ship and try to take it before they are almost attacked by a shark. When Ned complains about it afterward Nemo angrily tells him that the purpose of the dive was to collect food, and then proceeds to reveal that he does in fact collect treasure... because he uses it for ballasts.
  • Battle Beyond the Stars. Although he's a Professional Killer rather than a pirate, we're introduced to Gelt sitting on a luxurious throne surrounded by overflowing chests of jewels. The irony is that he's living in poverty, as he can't risk going to a civilized planet to spend his wealth, having made so many enemies.
  • The pirates in The Black Pirate have plenty of it, some of which they bury.
  • In Captain Blood, Capt. Peter Blood shows Arabella all of his Pirate Booty in an effort to impress her. It fails.
  • The Deep has divers discovering a WW2 ship containing a cargo of morphine, which has sunk on top of a Spanish treasure ship that went down in the 18th century holding a priceless royal dowry. When a local drug kingpin takes an interest, the protagonists have to buy him off by salvaging the morphine while concealing what their real area of interest is.
  • In The Goonies, Mikey finds a Treasure Map leading to the "rich stuff" of legendary pirate One-Eyed Willy.
  • Played with in the Pirates of the Caribbean series:
    • Justified in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, as the pirates are waiting to spend the treasure they gathered as incidentals while reclaiming the cursed coins until they are uncursed (as the curse renders them unable to enjoy anything that they could have bought apart from necessities to keep the ship going). Heck, averting this trope is the very reason they have a problem to begin with, because they spent all of the treasure from a certain raid immediately after finding it, and thus have to go around recollecting all of the coins that comprised it to lift the curse.
    • Justified in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: the "treasure" buried for safekeeping is the source of Davy Jones' immortality, and while extremely valuable, isn't something that can be spent.
    • Inverted in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales; Pirate "Commodore" Barbosa's Flag Ship, The Queen Anne's Revenge, is decked out (pun intended) from stem to stern with gold decorations, including a live string quartet. Justified, since he commands an enchanted vessel and many other, smaller ones which do most of the active pirating.

  • In the gamebook Seas of Blood, you assume the role of a pirate captain who's competing with your sworn rival, Abdul the Butcher, on who can collect the most amount of booty within thirty days and be honored with the title of "King of Pirates".

  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea depicts Captain Nemo as salvaging sunken treasure. He justified it by saying that the treasure's former owners had been dead for centuries.
  • The Crowner John Mysteries: The search for a buried Saxon hoard forms a major subplot in Crowner's Quest as, by law, all buried treasure belongs to the Crown and one of John's duties as coroner is to secure it.
  • Ghost In the Noonday Sun: Both Captain Scratch's former boss and Billy Bombay have treasure buried on the island and the pirates want to dig it up.
  • One of the first stories to feature buried Pirate Booty was "The Gold-Bug" by Edgar Allan Poe, in which the treasure in question is actually Kidd's. Naturally, being a Poe story, madness is involved somewhere. Poe also uses the story to discuss how to crack a substitution cypher.
  • James Bond
    • Live and Let Die deals with pirate treasure discovered in Jamaica, which is being smuggled piece by piece into the States by Mr. Big.
    • In Thunderball, the SPECTRE members residing in Bahamas are there under the guise of searching for sunken pirate treasure.
  • In the Lord Peter Wimsey story "The Learned Adventure of the Dragon's Head", Lord Peter and his nephew track down the treasure of "Cut-Throat" Conyers, who was widely believed to have been a pirate and sailed with Blackbeard. Conyers hid the treasure many years after he'd retired from piracy and settled down as a country landowner.
  • In the splendid Tim Powers novel, On Stranger Tides, Blackbeard is doing this so that he can unearth it after he's killed and he uses the resurrection ritual he learned at the Fountain of Youth to return to life minus his criminal record.
  • Partners in Crime: In story "The Clergyman's Daughter/The Red House", the detectives suspect that the deceased old lady whose niece hired them to solve the mystery of her house may have buried her missing fortune in the garden, or more likely got the gardener to do it for her. When they question the gardener, however, he tells them he never buried anything. This is because he never buried anything unusual; the tins he was told contained potatoes were a perfectly normal thing to bury. The lady even left a sort of treasure map in the form of a rebus.
  • Like every other piratical trope, this one is used (and parodied) in George MacDonald Fraser's comedy novel The Pyrates.
  • In L. Jagi Lamplighter's Rachel and the Many-Splendored Dreamland, Rachel is directed to pirate treasure when she needs some. However, this is not buried treasure; their ship was wrecked.
  • Possibly averted in Redwall; the corsairs seem to do it For the Evulz, spending less time on treasure than on capturing slaves and randomly slaughtering everything in sight. Used in Pearls of Lutra because Emperor Ublaz is specifically telling them to bring back loot for him.
  • In "The Shadow Over Innsmouth", it's speculated that Obed Marsh had found some sort of pirate treasure through which he acquired immense wealth. The reality is much worse...
  • Played straight twice in Swallows and Amazons:
    • In the first book Titty hears burglars hiding Captain Flint's old sea chest on Cormorant Island. The treasure turns out to be the typescript of the Captain's memoirs, which is valuable to him but worthless to the thieves.
    • In Peter Duck the treasure turns out to be a small chest containing a collection of pearls. Valuable enough for a couple of seamen to want to steal and hide, but not an improbable amount of wealth.
  • The most famous story of Pirate Booty, and indeed Pirates in general, is of course Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson.
  • Possibly the Trope Maker (in fiction at least) in the 1824 short story "Wolfert Webber" by Washington Irving which - like Edgar Allan Poe's "The Gold Bug" - is about Kidd's buried treasure. Robert Louis Stevenson acknowledged "Wolfert Webber" as the primary inspiration for Treasure Island.

    Live Action Television 
  • The Bones episode "The Man with the Bone" was based on the Oak Island Money Pit, rumoured to be a burial place of some of Captain Kidd's treasure (or maybe Blackbeard's, or possibly the lost Templar fleet, or maybe...).
  • Justified in the Doctor Who episode "The Curse of the Black Spot" — the pirate in question was Henry Every, one of the very few pirates to actually get his hands on a cargo of gold and jewels (and the episode even specified that it was the Mughal's treasure).
  • Ensign O Toole: In "Operation Treasure," Ensign O'Toole and his shipmates come across a coded map to buried treasure. It turns out the treasure is only root beer, part of a publicity stunt for a new brand
  • The reality game show Pirate Master. There wasn't any plundering involved, but all they really did was look for treasure.
  • The Glades episode "Booty" centres around the search for lost pirate treasure, and the murder of one of the treasure hunters. Jim and Callie dig up the treasure just before being confronted by the murderer.

  • Scottish pirate-metal band Alestorm.
  • Dead Man’s Chest/Derelict. “Yo-ho-ho, and a bottle of rum!”
  • The song "Pirates" by Emerson, Lake and Palmer, which squeezes just about every pirate movie cliche ever into 13 minutes.
    • NB The remix version on the Return of the Manticore box set has better sound quality than the original.


  • Our Miss Brooks: Miss Brooks once jokes about finding a pirate treasure on the way to school.

    Tabletop Games 
  • A scenario in a tavern where someone sells you a map leading to a treasure the seller knows about but "can't" recover, similar to Alestorm's Over The Seas and Nancy's Harbour Cafe, is discussed repeatedly in Fifty Fathoms. These could be completely made-up maps of nonsense geography, lead to islands which no longer exist, or to traps, or simply nothing. Often the best you might find is a chest, empty but for a note saying the 17th-century equivalent of "haha FU u n00b, ive run off with yer money".
  • Warhammer 40,000: The notorious Freeboota (ork Space Pirate) Kaptin Badrukk is said to have buried vast amounts of wealth on remote asteroids. Subverted because orks use their own teeth as currency (they grow back), which end up disintegrating over time (thus preventing inflation), making them useless to humans and orks alike.

    Video Games 
  • The Age of Pirates series averts the trope in the same way. While you can certainly find treasure hordes and ships with substantial sums of gold and silver aboard, the majority of your income will be from the regular cargo aboard your targets—as well as from selling the ships themselves if you're able to take them as prizes in combat. Also, this will likewise be a good source for obtaining vital supplies like food, repair materials, and rum. Especially rum.
  • Assassins Creed IV: Edward Kenway can attack other ships on the high seas and plunder them for booty. Subverted in that only the largest ships (or heavily-guarded convoys) will actually have any gold on them. Instead, most of the profit comes from the mundane cargo of sugar and rum that Edward can sell, or from plundered wood, metal, and cloth that while can also be sold, is far more valuable in upgrading his own ship, the Jackdaw.
  • In Atlantis Underwater Tycoon, treasure chests are frequently present on the ocean floor alongside the wrecks of old sailing ships. They can be plundered for treasure that can be sold to humans and Atlanteans for various prices.
  • In Captain Morgane and the Golden Turtle, the titular Golden Turtle is generally assumed to be either an example of this. It's actually... a turtle. Well, a spirit in the form of one.
  • Parodied in Caribbean Hideaway, where the following exchange takes place in the text intro to Chapter 3.
    Dewey: Why do pirates always hide their treasures in caves? I'm glad Captain Caninbahl is smart enough t' invest a percentage of our swag.
    Planky: Squawk! Diversify yer portfolio! Squawk!
  • Crimson Skies has the first few missions centering around Sky Pirate Nathan Zachary attempting to retrieve the lost treasure of Sir Francis Drake. He and his crew end up having to battle a rival pirate gang, the Medusas, and the British Royal Navy who also want the treasure for themselves.
  • Discussed in Cuphead: Captain Brinebeard's game over message has him compare your skills to his buried treasure - "just a myth!"
  • Most of treasure in Dubloon can be found by digging, with varying levels of invisibility.
  • Pirate Treasure is one of the unique treasures that can be found in the second Endless Ocean game. You find it in the Antarctic of all places, where the pirate captain had to dump it overboard to stay afloat.
  • The Monkey Island series features a number of examples that alternately play it straight or parody it.
    • In The Secret of Monkey Island the treasure of Melee island turned out to be a Fun T-Shirt reading "I found the Treasure of Melee Island™, and all I got was this lousy T-shirt."
    • In Monkey Island 2: LeChuck's Revenge, the McGuffin "Big Whoop" turned out to be a worthless ticket for an amusement park, though actually, it was later revealed that the Big Whoop was the entrance to hell, where LeChuck became an immortal Ghost/Zombie/Demon.
    • The trope image is LeChuck's personal horde from The Curse of Monkey Island, which holds everything from gold and jewels to small appliances and a bag of wooden nickels. Later on in Act III, whenever Guybrush successfully raids a pirate ship (to get the money he needs to upgrade his cannons) he'll proudly declare "We're loaded with booty."
  • In Monster Hunter 3 (Tri): One of the items found in the best treasure location is literally Pirate Booty; it sells for as much as a golden egg though.
  • The missing man in Mystery Case Files: 13th Skull has been searching for pirate treasure. If you're playing the Collector's Edition, the Master Detective actually finds it still stashed in a locked cabin on one of Captain Crown's ships.
  • Pirates (NIX) have you playing as a buccaneer in search for an ancient treasure hoard, while battling entire legions of pirate mooks throughout. Complete the final stage and you're treated to a cutscene where you sail away with a ship filled with chests of gold.
  • The multiplayer game Pirates Vikings and Knights has an entire gamemode based around this. Teams must gather the treasure chests scattered across the map and bring them back to their base. Of course, in their voice commands, the Pirate team exclusively refers to these chests as 'Booty'.
    "Haharr, I got all the Booty!"
    "Oi, someone be plunderin' our Booty!"
  • Luigi's Mansion 3: The 12th floor of the Last Resort is a pirate-themed restaurant, titled "The Spectral Catch". At the far end of the floor is a lagoon with an actual pirate ship, which serves as the location of the boss battle. On the far right of the lagoon is a secret island with a buried treasure chest that is mandatory to find if you're collecting all the gems.
  • Puzzle Pirates has pieces of eight as the main currency, which is also dispensed as treasure following pillage. On the other hand, winning shipboard fights also entitles you to cannonballs, rum, and even pineapples and other produce. A little bit of trope, a little bit of truth.
  • In Royal Envoy the king's laughably incompetent accountant comments during the Pirate Island stage that said pirates tasked him with coming up with a new place to keep their treasure due to burying it being "so out of date these days." To which Tippi Long-Boots replies that burying it isn't the problem so much as finding it again years afterwards.
  • Predictably enough in a game about salvaging sunken treasures, Salvage Hidden Treasures features the pirate Blackbeard's Treasure as one of the many possible loots.
  • Averted in Sid Meier's Pirates!, where you mainly raid for cargo, especially sugar, for later resale in ports. However, the other "Top 10 Pirates" all have buried treasures hidden throughout the Caribbean. The manual lampshades and discusses this: an excerpt from "Captain Sydney"'s memoirs points out the problems with burying treasure ("Seems to me that every time they buried their treasure, along'd come some blasted thief to dig it up and steal it."), while another sidebar discusses the historical accuracy, or lack thereof, of buried treasure. The latter sidebar is even titled "Robert Louis Stevenson Has a Lot to Answer For".
  • In Skies of Arcadia, some can be seen in Pirate's Isle.
    • Later subverted. The great Air Pirate Daccat's treasure, hidden at the end of a cave of traps that requires at least two people to get through, turns out to amount to a single coin minted by him and a note to the effect that whoever found it already has the greatest treasure of all: The Power of Friendship. As Vyse puts it, "He probably spent it all while he was alive. You can't take it with you, you know." Ironically, you can sell the coin for quite a bit of money.
  • Skull & Crossbones, a pirate-themed arcade Beat 'em Up, have areas in-game marked with crosses, which is the location where treasure and booty is buried. After clearing an area of enemies, you can stand on the cross and press the "attack" button to dig up those treasure, gaining yourself a higher score in the process, but be warned that you'll need to stay on the spot even as more enemies comes at you.
  • Uncharted 4: A Thief's End has Nate chasing after the legendary treasure of Henry Avery, which he and his brother had been dreaming about since childhood. They eventually discover that a large part of it was used to fund Libertalia, a colony for pirates that eventually self destructed. The remains of the treasure is found in Avery's explosive-ladden ship

  • Homestuck: Vriska Serket uses a pirate-based persona modeled after a real piratical ancestor of hers when engaging in Alternia's high-stakes and often deadly LARPing culture. Over years of battles and adventures on the seas, she's amassed a considerable stash of gold, gems and other treasure that she hoards beneath her home.

    Web Original 
  • BigStackD Casting is one man's quest to amass a literal ton (1,000kg) of treasure by salvaging scrap metal, which he melts down and casts into ingots, coins and other trinkets, including pirate-themed props like copies of the Copper Bones key from The Goonies and Monkey Island coins. His hoard includes a classic treasure chest full of booty, and a literal pile of shiny trinkets in his front room.
  • Dreamscape: Zig-zagged with the pirates Seleenara and Boru. While they are primarily after treasure, they'll also steal anything they find remotely interesting, such as books.
  • "Saltbeard" from The Most Ever Company's Pirate ASMR video lets us in on the extremely convincing sound of "5 million golden doubloons" towards the very end of the video.
  • Servants of the Imperium: The initial plot arc follows the party as they race to find the hoard of a crew of legendary Space Pirates.

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of the Donkey Kong Country cartoon brought Scurvy and his crew into the plot by having them trying to find some treasure they buried on Kongo Bongo's beaches. It turns out burying treasure is part of the code, article and section and everything.
  • One episode of Futurama has a gag with Bender stealing a chest of swag from a pirate-themed parallel universe.
  • Heckle and Jeckle make off with a pirate's loot in "Pirate's Gold," only to have all but one coin glomped by a tax collector.
  • Shows up on Jimmy Two-Shoes, when Lucius accidentally digs it up.
  • Looney Tunes: Yosemite Sam (this time as a pirate) is burying his chest full of booty in the ground on an island ("Buccaneer Bunny"), only Bugs has plundered it himself.
  • The Simpsons:
    • A brief sight gag shows that the Sea Captain pays his income tax in gold and jewels from a treasure chest. "Yarr, sometimes I wonder why I bother plunderin' at all."
    • Parodied when Bart imagines that a pirate who inquires why the treasure should be buried instead of used is shot— see quote above.
  • After becoming obsessed with finding the buried treasure of the Flying Dutchman in a board game, Mr. Krabs has SpongeBob SquarePants and Patrick go looking for the real thing. They do, and the Flying Dutchman is pleased because he had forgotten where he had buried it, and they saved him the trouble of finding it and digging it up. So he rewards them with two gold doubloons. When Mr. Krabs protests that he's The Captain and therefore deserves a reward (even though he didn't do anything), F.D. gives him a plastic treasure chest.
  • Talespin: Averted in the Pilot Movie, where Don Karnage's Air Pirates start to raid Shere Khan's cargo planes and ignoring obvious treasures as they look for seemingly worthless items like goldfish bowls. When the robbed crews look on in disbelief, all Karnage would say "Worth is in the eye of me, who is doing the beholding!" Turns out they needed those mundane items to create a massive energy cannon or "Lightning Gun" to attack Cape Suzette.

    Real Life 
  • Only two pirates are known to have actually buried treasure. The first was Captain William Kidd, who buried a portion of his wealth on, of all places, Long Island, New York, in an attempt to use it as a bargaining chip to avoid punishment for his piracy. It didn't work (hey, Long Island is a very nice place to live).
    • William Kidd also allegedly buried a portion of his treasure on Gallops Island, Boston, as well as Henry Avery who allegedly buried diamonds on the island.
  • On the rare occasions where a pirate did manage to get their hands on massive piles of gold and silver, they generally wound up becoming quite famous. For example, Francis Drake earned a knighthood and status as one of the founding heroes of the British Empire, largely by stealing Spanish treasure. Tons of it. Of course, he didn't bury it (or at least, not most of it, see below); he took it back to England. Where, predictably, most of his crew spent their shares of the treasure on drinking and whoring, also known as "the fun way" of putting said treasure into your sponsor nation's economy.
    • Drake was the second of the two known pirates to have buried treasure - he stole so much treasure from the Spanish that he couldn't fit it all on his ship, so he took the gold and hid the silver. Of course, since the spot where he buried the silver was only a few hundred yards away from the spot where he stole it in the first place (not wanting to haul a lot of very heavy treasure that he wouldn't be able to take with him any further than he absolutely had to), the Spanish were able to find and recover it fairly quickly... Until Drake and his fellow privateers returned and stole it off them again!
  • Piet Hein became a Dutch folk hero for capturing a Spanish treasure fleet during The Eighty Years' War. A popular song about him notes that 'his name is small, but his deeds are great!'
  • One of the most famous pirate treasure hauls came from a massive convoy belonging to the Grand Mughal Empire, who were on the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The envoy was attacked by a pirate fleet led by the infamous Captain Henry Avery and Thomas Tew, who made off with about 52 Million £ in modern money, though Tew was killed in the battle. Notably, Avery and his men committed horrible crimes against the passengers, far worse than what most pirates would normally do, to the point that the attack damaged Britains relations with the Mughal Empire, and led to Avery becoming the target of the first international manhunt. Avery disappears from history afterwards, but about 25 or so of his men were tracked down and publically hanged. No one knows for sure what happened to the treasure.
  • Come The Great Depression, and with gold seizures taking place across the West, especially in the USA and to a lesser extent in Europe, people began burying their gold coins and other gold objects to ensure the metal couldn't be requisitioned by the government. Some of these hoards weren't buried in the ground, but hidden in more unexpected places; in 2017, a huge hoard of gold full and half Sovereigns (pre-Decimalisation pound and half pound coins used in the UK and elsewhere in the British Empire) was discovered sewn into purses and hidden underneath the keys of a piano donated to a college.
  • For a smaller, but still valuable example of buried treasure, look no further than something that gets metal detectorists excited - a coin spill. This event's name is pretty self explanatory; at some point in the past, a small to large number of coins were accidentally spilled, perhaps because of a burst purse or pocket, and those coins, staying exactly where they fell, eventually get covered by a few centimetres of soil over a few decades or centuries. Sometimes these spills can lead to other finds, or they might happen to contain particularly valuable or rare coins... or they might just be modern, ordinary cash without any precious metal to speak of, though there's still some value to be taken from it.
  • Just fresh from the headlines: certain US company lifted from the seafloor the load of early XIX-Century Spanish frigate sank by English privateers, worth about half a billion USD. The Spanish government went to courts, arguing that it's their gold (for added fun, one of the other claimants — who were quick to jump in for the cash — was Peru, apparently as the source of Spanish colonial gold). It seems this is not the first time something like this happens; Spaniards, as it seems, won this time, so, before finding an old treasure, best make sure nobody can track their lineage to original owners. Salvage laws can be so incomprehensibly torturous that there are several very valuable wrecks whose locations are known today that have not been recovered because the value of the booty would be offset by legal fees.


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Alternative Title(s): Buried Treasure


Luigis Mansion treasure chest

Luigi finds a treasure chest the pirate ghosts buried on an island. It contains a gem.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (2 votes)

Example of:

Main / PirateBooty

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