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Space Pirates
aka: Space Pirate

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Arrrr! Hand over yer space booty, or I'll blast ye with me space cannons!

Palutena: The story doesn't end there. See, there's also this space-pirate ship...
Pit: Wait, what?
Palutena: You know, a pirate ship... in space.
Kid Icarus: Uprising, chapter 8

Space Is an Ocean, so it's only logical that it must have pirates as well.

Depending how you view the future, lawlessness will always be present in society. There's always going to be a shadier, nastier way of doing business, and that will almost certainly follow humanity to the stars. Thus, sci-fi authors will include Expies of modern and historic un/organized crime, be they space mafia, gangs, or—in our case—pirates.

It's not as anachronistic as it might seem. After all, Ruthless Modern Pirates have made a Real Life comeback in Somalia and South East Asia, and it's a lucrative enough "business" that it's taken a multinational military response to fight back. Surely an established society in outer space with significant trade and commerce would suffer similar problems!

…Well, maybe. The major problem with space pirates preying on space commerce is that space is vast. The challenge of catching commercial shipping in open space is orders of magnitudes more difficult than catching them on the open seas. On the other hand, detecting commercial shipping in open space is orders of magnitude easier, just because it is so empty and clear. Sometimes, this is cleverly worked around and justified. Most of the time, however, it isn't. Particularly since doing so would require working in a plausible means for the pirates to escape undetected after plundering their target.

As with Pirates in general, there are two kinds of Space Pirates in science fiction:

  1. The normal version are violent criminals with a spaceship, who attack other spaceships, just like present-day pirates—or, in fact, most pirates of any kind. Once you have shipping between different solar systems/planets, pirates preying on said shipping are bound to show. Simple as that. Done this way, piracy actually makes sense, provided there's an enabling factor. That could be anything from the technology of the setting creating trade lanes (via a Portal Network, predictable Hyperspace Lanes thanks to Negative Space Wedgies, or timed space flights between planets to reduce time spent between planets, as in Real Life), to using a variant of the method employed by modern pirates (say, smaller ships striking at commercial shipping in the orbit of a planet).
  2. The other version does a Recycled In SPACE on every eighteenth century pirate cliche ever. Reasons for including this version will typically be along the lines of "Because Space Is an Ocean, it has to have Pirates" rather than making any meaningful attempt at justifying their existence. They have Cornish accents and say "Arr!" a lot. They have parrots (probably robotic or alien), and they're Dressed to Plunder with false limbs (probably cybernetic), beards, tricorn hats, and eyepatches (or cybernetic eyes). They may even have ships shaped like boats, and instead of making their victims Walk the Plank, they set them adrift in escape pods waiting for the oxygen tanks to run out or just throw them out the airlock without any protective gear. Lacking ropes, they'll beam a Boarding Party over to their victim's ship, or send out a shuttle, or use a Tractor Beam. And if the space pirate is an alien or even lives in a universe where Earth doesn't exist, that's no obstacle to them acting like the stereotype of an Earth pirate in the age of sail.

It is possible for a mix of the two types to occur, with an otherwise relatively realistic space pirate who's familiar with the history of piracy on Earth adopting some of those pirate clichés just for fun. But this is much less common; the "cliché" style of space pirates usually have no attempt at a "realistic" justification at all.

Compare Sky Pirates and Salvage Pirates. See also: Pirate and Pirate Girl. You will often see them fighting Space Marines and/or Space Police.


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  • The adverts for Nestle's "Honey Stars" often feature these.

    Anime & Manga 
  • Bodacious Space Pirates (a.k.a. Mōrestu Pirates), as might be deduced from the title. The anime is definitely of the second variety, with the tons of Shout Outs to other similar shows, including Captain Harlock. Then you read the light novel, the original story, and figured it is probably one of the most, if not the most, hard sci-fi space opera in anime, manga, Japanese game, light novel history. Not surprising, it is from an author that is in the group of "Space authors group" and is involved in building a real-life rocket that went to space.
    • It should also be noted that their new standard M.O. is more of a performance than an attack: They hit pre-determined cruise ships, put on a scripted show with crewmembers pretending to oppose them, and the "victims" are even compensated for their losses. It's basically a staged insurance scam where the company itself is also in on it. When not engaging in pretending to be Type 2 versions, they also take a variety of other jobs, such as high speed, secure cargo transport or providing space based security.
    • It does have softer side sci-fi in it, with FTL travel and communication, magical artificial gravity devices and inertia storage. However, the author tries to compensate every one of these with actual reasoning and their impact in science, and all of these are with high limitations in use.(e.g. inertia storage only store a certain amount of inertia and that's it, you will need to release it or face horrible g-forces if you continue your high-g motions.) Spaceships uses tons of propellant to even go slightly faster, and propellant is costly. Solar sails go for dozen of kilometres in diameter, accelerates really slow, but also act as really good antenna for radar.
    • Also technically they'd count as privateers rather than pirates, operating under Letters of Marque from their home government. They were originally issed for a war that never happened because both sides were thoroughly beaten by a much more powerful third party, but the Letters of Marque that were issued before hand are considered valid as long as certain conditions are met.
  • Captain Harlock, a Lovable Rogue space pirate who has also appeared in other works of Leiji Matsumoto. The second version. His ship is a Military Mashup Machine with a submarine prow, a battleship body and a galleon rear. The Leijiverse also has Emeraldas, who sails the Sea of Stars in a frigate attached to a dirigible.
    • It's implied that both Harlock and Emeraldas are merely rebels against the status quo, and that Harlock adopted the pirate motif as a clear sign of it, while Emeraldas did it in a strange combination of Rule of Cool (she already sported the skull and crossbones as an hairpin and on her clothes well before becoming a space pirate) and Ascended Fanon (her ship Queen Emeraldas was already decorated with the skull and crossbones when she acquired her, and Emeraldas was an anti-status quo rebel with a pirate-minded dress sense).
    • Type 1 space pirates had the misfortune of encountering them: in the series Captain Harlock SSX a group of space pirates calling themselves the Space Wolves attacked a small colony ship and murdered almost everyone on board only to have Harlock board the ship and slaughter them all alone, while the Queen Emeraldas OVA features the Alfress fleet engaging in acts of piracy only to be attacked by Emeraldas because they dared flying a red JollyRoger (her own flag) (the first time she let them go with a warning and a pained butt, but the second time she unveiled the ludicrous amount of hidden weapons of her ship, including multiple Wave Motion Guns and exterminated them).
  • Cowboy Bebop has the Red Dragon Syndicate, an interplanetary group that deals in smuggling and assassinations. The most prominent member, Vicious, plays up the archetype by having a longcoat, sword, and shoulder bird.
  • Bojack and his crew from the ninth Dragon Ball Z movie are space pirates.
    • In the English dub, Kuririn/Krillin outright called the Saiyans space pirates who go around killing innocents so they can sell their planet to the highest bidder.
  • In FLCL, the Pirate King Atomsk is said to be so powerful he can steal entire planets.
  • Gintama: The recurring antagonists, Harusame, is a type one pirate syndicate. Among his members is Kamui, Kagura's brother.
  • Cleo and his crew in Glass Fleet are more or less space pirates.
  • Groizer X is called "O Pirata do Espaço" ("The Space Pirate") in Brazil.
  • Gundam:
    • In the Universal Century of Mobile Suit Gundam, a lot of Zeon remnants became space pirates after the One Year War, including Cima, the antagonist in 0083. Instead of rationalizing them the scientific way, the stories usually tell of how the Federation tolerated or even encouraged them to exist, in order to provide a sense of risk to civilians to keep their large forces active and not decommissioned. It is also a good way to obtain info from the remnants.
    • The Mobile Suit Gundam SEED spinoff series Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Astray reveals a surprising number of pirates operating at the fringes of the SEED universe.
    • The manga Mobile Suit Crossbone Gundam has the main characters from Mobile Suit Gundam F91 opposing the Jupiter Empire under the guise of space pirates, even going so far as to take on the name of the original antagonists, the Crossbone Vanguard. They employ all the standard pirate tropes, including spaceships that look like sailing ships (complete with broadside beam cannons) and a robot parrot (apparently for no other reason than that they can), but are actually preventing the Earth from being attacked by the Jovians.
      • It gets even crazier. The titular Gundam has X-shaped thrusters (though they're actually practical), a beam cutlass and daggers instead of the standard saber, a beam gun shaped like a flintlock pistol, a targeting lens shaped like an eye patch and an extra antenna on its head modeled after a feather. Apparently just sporting the Jolly Roger insignia on its forehead wasn't enough for Hajime Katoki.
      • This actually gets a lampshade in the side manga Skull Heart, where we're shown the Crossbone Gundam shortly after it's finished, and one of the pilots, Umon Samon, suggests adding the familiar pirate elements (like a skull and crossbones on the forehead). The Gundam's pilot Kinkaid Nau teasingly asks "Isn't that a little much?", to which the other man says "Well, if going to be space pirates, we might as well run with it!"
      • As a minor note, Umon had been inspired by a Dom pilot he fought at the Battle of Solomon in the One Year War, who used a skull and crossbones as his insignia.
    • Gundam AGE also gives us a group. They're known as Bisidian, they pirate Federation vessels, and as of the Kio arc, they have their own Gundam. In actuality, they're led by Asemu Asuno, and they've been attacking both Federation and Vagan forces in order to preserve the balance of power and keep large-scale battles to a minimum, in an effort to minimize casualties in the war.
    • Iron Blooded Orphans has the Brewers, a group of space pirates mainly operating in the route between Earth and Mars. Known to be very ruthless, they also utilize Child Soldiers.
  • They are seen in Kurau Phantom Memory when Kurau and Christmas attempt to return to earth from the colonized moon.
  • One Piece — a few appear during Enel's cover story on the moon.
  • Outlaw Star is full of the first type. As a rather interesting variation, they are Chinese and use Tao-magic. They seem to be modeled after the Triads.
    • It's also interesting to note that the space pirates in this series were the pioneers of warp speed travel and it was their creation of grappler ships that changed the nature of space warfare.
  • Sol Bianca, also the name of the ship that serves as both the home and the interstellar headquarters for an all-female band of notorious space pirates.
  • Buichi Terasawa's Space Adventure Cobra is also the second version. He is slightly less altruistic and noble-minded than Harlock, being mostly in it for his own interest, but he is also a hero, and has some morals and is better than an organized Guild of pirates that are his archenemies.
  • Luluco's mother in Space Patrol Luluco.
  • Space Pirate Mito has the title character and her crew, though she is actually the exiled heir to the galactic throne and her ship is part of the royal regalia.
  • Ryoko from Tenchi Muyo! is the first type. Spinoff Tenchi Muyo! GXP also. With Tarant Shunk around, it will be for fun.
  • The main characters of Vandread are female examples of this trope.

    Asian Animation 
  • Happy Heroes: A space pirate in a spaceship greatly resembling a typical sea pirate ship appears in episode 47 and is fought off by Happy S. in his Car Knight before he can actually make off with any loot. He returns near the end of the episode to take on the Superman again, but is unwittingly battling Big M. who has hijacked Happy S.'s Car Knight.

    Audio Plays 
  • Big Finish Doctor Who: The Rocket Men from the audios "The Rocket Men", "Return of the Rocket Men" and "Requiem for the Rocket Men" are a roving gang of space pirates who use Raygun Gothic Jetpacks to fly and ambush people.
  • Journey into Space: In The Host, Edie Harper believes that Jet, Lemmy, Doc and Mitch are space pirates from a rival corporation who are trying to steal the research being conducted on the Enceladus station.
  • Space Opera: The protagonist Sebastian and his alien friend Byron end up being lured into a pirate trap after receiving a distress call from a woman whose ship is under attack. Their ship is boarded, but the duo manages to disable them with knockout gas (Sebastian puts on a gas mask, and Byron is immune). They end up rescuing the woman, Mona. It turns out that Byron's mate Isolde has also been captured by pirates and put in a zoo. The knocked-out pirates are put on their ship, and Byron sets its course for the nearest Guard station, figuring the pirates are likely wanted men.

    Comic Books 
  • Darkhawk wears armor meant for an army of space pirates.
  • Doctor Who (Titan):
    • The Twelfth Doctor story "The School of Death" begins with a Batman Cold Open in which the Doctor is fighting an alien Space Pirate named Lucifer Van Volk.
    • The Corsair makes her (currently) entrance unto the comic in a TARDIS shaped like an old-fashioned sailing ship and dressed in the matching fashion. And, well, her name is "The Corsair".
  • Space Smith, from Fantastic Comics, often fought Space Pirates.
  • Judge Dredd: Pirate spaceships are known to plague the outer rim of the Sol solar system and beyond; fighting them is one of the Space Corps' prime objectives.
  • Legends of the Dead Earth:
    • In Adventures of Superman Annual #8, the Sarkons are a race of space pirates who routinely pillage and conquer worlds. Captain Grumbb's ship attacks a city on the planet Colu in order to obtain a recently discovered 500,000-year-old relic from Old Earth containing Jor-El's holographic message to Superman. Although they claim that they wish to spread the stories of Old Earth's heroes throughout the galaxy, the Coluan Xurl Dox determines that their true ambition is to distort the historical record and recast themselves as heroes, which will make for easier conquests in the future.
    • In the Supergirl Annual #1 story "The Legend Lives On", five female space pirates, S'Age, Leedra, Flexi, Zip and Yola, pulled off a daring raid on the Mauck trade platform.
    • In the Green Lantern Annual #5 story "The Value of I", the Barooki are a species of space pirates who plunder entire worlds for their riches. After mortally wounding the Green Lantern Rak Arranya by firing maser blasts at him, they proceed to loot the city of Metro Nine on the planet Zilliph. A young Zilliphi named Taa, a messenger for the Conference House of Metro Nine, receives the Green Lantern ring from Rak. Although he is told to dispose of it, he instead uses it to defeat the Barooki.
  • Roxxas from the Legion of Super-Heroes comics, which also gave us the Sklarian Raiders; an Amazon Brigade of space Pirate Girls.
  • Captain Fate in the Marvel Universe is a Flying Dutchman Space Pirate. He occasionally visits Earth and acts as a Sky Pirate.
  • Rex Dexter, from Mystery Men Comics, fought Space Pirates in his first appearance.
  • Despite the name, Star Pirate from Planet Comics did not do much pirating. Blackbeard, from the same comic, fits the Space Pirate motif better.
  • The Silver Surfer encountered a group of space pirates while tracking down one of the Elders. Him and Nova even get dressed up as pirates to blend in among the various species that make up the group in an attempt to infiltrate it.
  • Jeb and Tommy from Star Raiders are implied as such, though the reader never sees them actually commit any sort of piracy. Tommy even sports an eyepatch...
  • Starslayer Pirates in a Space Opera setting.
  • Star Trek: Early Voyages:
    • In "The Fires of Pharos", Starbase 13 is a frequent target of space pirates, including Orions, Arcturans, Khodini and renegade humans. After Kaaj discovers that the Pharos siteworld is rich in dilithium so pure that it does not need to be refined after being mined, he convinces these disparate groups to band together under his leadership so that they can breach Starbase 13's defenses and gain access to the dilithium.
    • In "Immortal Wounds", it is mentioned that Orion raiders destroyed a Julthan colony many years earlier.
  • Star Trek: Untold Voyages: In "Silent Cries", the pirate Raydeen, the commander of the Orion Black Star Squadron, attacks the Enterprise in the vicinity of Duran 12 as it intercepted a message from a Federation science team on the planet referring to a lifeform, the Crier, which allows for instantaneous communication throughout the galaxy. The Orions think that possession of the Crier will be a major boon to their pirate operations.
  • Superman:
    • This was basically Terra-Man's schtick in The Bronze Age of Comic Books. Aliens kidnapped Tobias "Toby" Manning as a boy from the 19th century American West. He eventually broke free and became a pirate in the aliens' own society. When he finally returned to Earth, he found that spending years traveling at relativistic speeds had let 100 years pass him by, so that his 19th century mannerisms made him a literal space cowboy. As Superman once observed, Earth wasn't really of much logical interest to a planet-hopping thief like TM, but TM took offense to an alien being called Earth's greatest hero, and so christened himself Terra-Man and kept returning just to pick fights with Supes.
    • In Superman vol. 1 #318: "The Wreck of the Cosmic Hound", Superman meets a woman who dresses like a pirate, has a peg leg, an eyepatch and modified her spaceship to look like a pirate ship. She really doesn't do much pirating but she considers herself one because she used to "pirate" or, more accurately, collect extraterrestrial animals from different planets so scientists could study them. She admits that she took up the pirate persona mostly as a way of dealing with her boredom.
    • In the The Third Kryptonian, Karsta Wor-Ul reveals she and her friends joined a pirate band for a while after becoming homeless outlaws.
    • This is also Amalak's schtick. In the Pre-Crisis continuity, he lived off piracy to support himself in-between his attacks on Superman. In the Post-Crisis universe, he was already leader of a band of bloodthirsty space pirates before meeting Superman.
    • In Adventure Comics #415: "The Space Pirates", Supergirl runs into the Space Marauders, a pirate band from planet Somar who plunder entire planets with the intent of putting together an army to overthrow their world's corrupt government.
  • Thanos Rising: After fleeing Titan, Thanos traverses the cosmos for many years and becomes a pirate in the process. Eventually he takes over the ship after killing the previous captain in a duel and uses his new forces to destroy many worlds.
  • Wonder Comics featured many Space Pirates, including Tara the Pirate Queen.
  • In Wonder Woman, the "Silver Serpent" saga featured an all female cadre of Space Pirates who travel from planet to planet to steal that world's technology, recruit a small group of the females for membership and the remainder of the planet's people for food stock. Before that, a mid-90s story arc in Wonder Woman (Volume 2) had Wonder Woman herself becoming one to topple a galactic slaving empire. It's as crazy as it sounds.
  • X-Men:
    • The Starjammers. Their leader is nicknamed Corsair, wears a headband, thigh boots, and a handlebar mustache, and fights with a blaster pistol in one hand and a cutlass in the other. They're a huge mashup of pulp space opera and swashbuckling tropes. Corsair is from Earth, and probably decided to look like a traditional high seas pirate just for the hell of it. His alien crew also look the part, but mostly to a less extreme degree.
    • During his first abortive return to the main X-titles in 2000, Chris Claremont introduced a vast number of new characters. They were given the umbrella term "the Neo", and most of them were possessed of an extremely fragile glass jaw (since they tended just to turn up, say their names and give a description of their powers in typical Claremontian fashion, and then get punched into oblivion, never to be seen again). Amongst the Neo was a faction of slave traders called the Crimson Pirates, one member of which actually had a giant comedy cannon on his shoulder. No, really. The Crimson Pirates reappeared in the Nightcrawler solo series, without the Neo baggage, although they now seem tied to old Excalibur slaver villains. Who, coincidentally, the team encountered in another dimension where they teamed up with a blue-skinned princess-cum-sky pirate and a humanoid version of Lockheed.
    • Nightcrawler himself might count, given his penchant for swashbuckling swordplay and all the different places in time, space and dimension he's been too. His father Azazel recently rebranded himself as a pirate straight out of Hell and tried to invade Heaven.

    Fan Works 
  • Golden Age: Karkat and company are kidnapped by a crew of type-one space pirates. This is apparently a bit of a problem in the Alternian Empire.
  • Gone Supernova: The Straw Hats, Kid Pirates, Heart Pirates and other crews are reimagined as Space Pirates instead of sea pirates.
  • Rocketship Voyager: When it's suggested that K'Zon space pirates might have been responsible for abducting them from the other side of the galaxy, Captain Janeway is surprised as This Is Reality and criminals have more cost-effective ways of making money. The K'Zon are revealed to be The Remnant of a collapsed galactic empire who bully former subjects into paying the same tribute, without any of the benefits. The Briori, who control a galaxy-wide Portal Network, hire them as mercenaries to raid planets for technology and biological specimens they wish to study. Ironically they also hire the K'Zon to guard the convoys they send through the portal network from space pirates, so it's as much a protection racket as anything else. Nee'Lix says it's not unusual for a K'Zon sect out raiding to attack another sect on guard duty, and it's rumoured the Briori secretly encourage this so the sects won't join forces and seize the portals for themselves.

    Film — Animated 
  • Treasure Planet, being Treasure Island IN SPACE!, naturally features this kind of character rather heavily, most centrally John Silver and his crew of mutineers. In the backstory, there's Captain Nathaniel Flint, the most feared Space Pirate to ever live In-Universe, whose vast hidden treasure provides the motivation for most of the plot. Due to the extremely open way that Space Is an Ocean in the setting, these are all Type 2 Space Pirates.

    Film — Live-Action 
  • Ad Astra: The now-colonised Moon has no borders, but rather than leading to a spirit of international cooperation the surface has become a No Mans Land with countries seeking control of the Moon's resources giving safe haven to privateers who take hostages and launch random attacks. The protagonist has to be escorted to his launch site by US soldiers, and even then their convoy of Moon buggies is attacked by an armed group driving unmarked buggies.
  • Alien: Resurrection has the crew of the Betty, which is not unlike another Joss Whedon creation. The Betty crew are a band of criminals and mercenaries who were hired by amoral military scientists to kidnap unconscious space travellers and deliver them to a secret science lab, where they become victims to experiments with the eponymous Aliens.
  • The American Astronaut: The Blueberry Pirate steals and bootlegs fruit across the solar system.
  • Battle Beyond the Stars. We're first introduced to Space Trucker Cowboy being attacked by jackers who are blasting his ship with laser fire in order to wear down the shields, whereupon they'll blast him and steal his cargo. Cowboy responds by laconically calling for help and playing a Captivity Harmonica.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy (2014): Yondu and the Ravagers. Although we never see them actually do any pillaging on-screen, they are described as (and act like) a group that will steal anything, and everyone else treats them as such. When they deploy in force for the finale they seem to be on an even keel with the force Novacorp has protecting their capital. The sequel has the rowdier elements mutiny and kill off Yondu's loyalists; he and his first mate then wipe out the lot of them in one bloody fight with some help from Rocket. It then reveals this was only one independent faction out of a hundred, and not even the biggest one.
  • The Ice Pirates was a So Bad, It's Good '80s sci fi adventure film where the protagonists were... you guessed it... interstellar pirates looking for water.
  • The Martian:
    • Mark Watney humorously (and accurately) describes how he is humanity's very first space pirate:
      Watney: I've been thinking about the laws on Mars. There's an international treaty saying no country can lay claim to anything that's not on Earth. By another treaty, if you're not in any country's territory then maritime law applies. So Mars is international waters. Now, NASA is an American organization, it owns the Hab. But the second I walk outside, I'm in international waters. So here's the cool part; I'm about to leave for Schiaparelli Crater where I'm going to commandeer the Ares IV lander. No one gave me explicit permission to do this, and they can't until I'm on board Ares IV. So I'm going to be taking over a vessel in international waters, which by definition... makes me a pirate. Mark Watney: Space Pirate.
    • After NASA re-establishes contact with Watney, Vincent Kapoor is informed that Watney is claiming to be a space pirate, and insisting that he be addressed as "Blondebeard". Rather than be stricken by the latest absurdity, Kapoor starts to go off on a verbal tangent about maritime law...
  • Space Mutiny had pirates (recycled footage of Cylon warships) with at least one inhabitable system as claimed territory. Keep in mind this is a setting where space travel is less than light speed, necessitating multi-generational ships. Except when they forget and it isn't (it's that kind of movie, watch the MST3K version and be amazed. The Agony Booth did a recap that tried and failed to make sense of the tech level).
  • Space Truckers has the protagonists go "off-road" in order to avoid being stopped by the authorities but end up getting captured by a giant pirate ship, which literally swallows them. These pirates were of the second, Recycled In SPACE type, complete with cybernetic false limbs and a skull-and-crossbones flag.
  • Star Wars references to "Corellian Pirate Ships". And Han Solo is a smuggler. The Expanded Universe shows them more often, with Wilhuff Tarkin (who'd later blow up a planet to try and scare the Rebellion into submission) starting his military career as a pirate hunter in the Outland Regions Security Force and first acquiring fame by capturing the "pirate queen" Qa'nah and her crew, throwing them into a star and broadcasting both their screams and the destruction of anyone who tried to save them, cleansing the Seswenna Sector from piracy by showing what awaited them once caught.
  • You Only Live Twice sees recurring James Bond villain Ernst Stravo Blofeld become one of these, of the Ruthless Modern Pirates variety. His spacecraft, the Bird One, is used to steal American and Soviet space ships in hopes of provoking a war between the two superpowers so that China (for whom SPECTRE is working on contract) can rule over what remains.


By Author:

  • Isaac Asimov's The Complete Adventures of Lucky Starr:
    • David Starr, Space Ranger:
      • A pirate attack on Venus killed David's parents and a hundred other people.
      • Pirates living in the asteroid field are the ones claiming responsibility for Earth's food poisoning. They're handled offscreen as David tries to go after their leaders on Mars.
    • Lucky Starr and the Pirates of the Asteroids: Most prefer to be called "men of the asteroids", but Lucky's adventure this time allows him to cleaning up the last of the pirate leadership from the group that killed his biological parents.
  • Isaac Asimov and Janet Asimov's The Norby Chronicles:
    • Norby's Other Secret: In chapter 11, the Wells brothers have to deal with members of the Inventors Union who have gone pirate and are trying to salvage/steal the crashed ship of the Others (aliens who visited Earth during the last Ice Age and established the Mentors on Jamyn thousands of years ago) which was supposed to resupply the Jamyn Mentors. Fargo distracts them while Norby steals their ship and contacts Space Command.
    • Norby Finds a Villain: Unusually, there are two examples in this book, and both of them are good. Remberant's ancestors self-identified as pirates because they fought (and won) against a more controlling organization of the Others. Blif and her crew are pirates fighting against the Master Cult, an oppressively tyrannical organization.
  • C. J. Cherryh's Alliance/Union works:
    • The Mazianni started as the Earth Company's navy. When the Company decided that the war against Union wasn't cost-effective, Conrad Mazian and his captains felt that they'd shed too much blood to just be called back, and that they'd continue the fight on their own — and if a merchant ship had resources they needed for that aim, they'd hand it over if they knew what was good for them.
    • In the Chanur Novels, the kif, who see every action as a bid for dominance, turn out to make excellent pirates. The knnn might also qualify, if they had enough concepts in common with oxygen breathers to be able to formulate the idea. They used to force their way onto stations and take what they want; after lengthy negotiations through t'ca/chi intermediaries, now they take what they want and leave something behind.
  • Peter F. Hamilton:
    • In Fallen Dragon the mega-corporations on Earth which funded the establishment of interstellar colonies are beginning to decline, so they now make a profit by 'asset realization' — turning up in orbit and implying they'll blast the colony if the colonists don't hand over various manufactured goods, leaving information on the latest Earth technologies as compensation, then returning several years later to do the same thing again once the colonists have upgraded their technology and gotten back on their feet.
    • In his The Night's Dawn Trilogy, pirates prey on asteroid settlements, poorly-defended early-stage colonies and commercial shipping routes. The primary reason for the Navy to exist is to combat these pirates. It's a good example of this trope played relatively straight in a space-opera that balances its "hard" science fiction elements (much of the science behind the advanced technology is explained, the human societies are detailed to an absurd level) with soft (the fantastical horror of "the beyond"). Hamilton loves doing this.
      • He also shows how pirates would work in practice — they're interstellar traders who covertly supplement their income with smuggling and piracy, rather than permanent raiders operating from a secret base. All merchant vessels are armed against pirates (and because they hire out as mercenary warships) so carrying weapons isn't unusual; therefore stopping piracy involves undercover policework more than dramatic space battles.
  • Andre Norton called them Jacks, presumably short for "hijackers." Their actual methods of operation weren't detailed, but they often had connections with the Thieves' Guild. Ordeal in Otherwhere features a raid by them, and Forerunner Foray ventures to their stronghold, and they travel on a Jack ship because the captain owes a man for supplies after his raid failed.
  • Alastair Reynolds:
    • In the Revelation Space Series space piracy comes in flavour no. 1 and several variations.
      • Pirates lurk in the Rust Belt, the remains of the Glitter Band (a vast ring of space stations above the planet Yellowstone) and deeper into the Epsilon Eridani system. The pirates, the "Banshees", are thoroughly unromantic bastards who grapple onto freighters to kill the crew and sell anything on board.
      • The Ultranauts, the frequently-augmented, transhuman spacer crews of the massive slower-than-light lighthuggers, often have elements of space piracy, as they'll just as often loot as save a ship in trouble. Reynolds' Ultranaut characters themselves note that the Ultranauts are an umbrella term rather than a coherent faction, and vary greatly in character: Some are fundamentally decent and helpful adventurers or space trucker equivalents, others are pragmatic traders, mercenaries and hired guns, some are anarchic, self-centered adventurers and weirdos, and some are out-and-out pirates and criminals. Strangely and amusingly, due to the majority of surviving lighthuggers ending up in Ultra hands, interstellar travel, commerce and news-sharing between human-colonised systems is now almost entirely dependent on these motley crews of spacers and on their current mood ! It doesn't help that few human colonies even bother to intimidate them directly, given that the average lighthugger has some serious firepower. There's a touch of humour in the fact that many Ultranaut crews are a Oddly Small Organization, aboard a gigantic starship.
      • The tough-to-read, secretive, and sometimes infighting crew of the lighthugger Nostalgia for Infinity from the main "Inhibitor trilogy" of the series, fit roughly under the third variation of Ultras. They're not exactly warm people to be around, they're secretive and mysterious, their motives are very personally driven (though to their credit, they want to help their rogue nanotech-affected captain get better), and they're interested in neither straight heroics or villainy. Ilia Volyova, the most central character of the Nostalgia crew, is rather anti-social, reserved, willing to kill even a fellow crew member if there is no other choice, and a chain-smoker. She's also rather honourable and friendly under that tough, worldweary exterior, willing to bluff when needed and a bit of a courageous screw-up. She reflects her crew's antiheroic, not-quite-good-nor-nasty nature rather well.
      • While Ultranauts are common characters throughout various stories of the series, these vast variations are explored a bit more in-depth in the short story Weather. Captain Voulage and the crew of the Cockatrice are some of the few explicitly piratical Ultras, even kidnapping a Conjoiner lady and intimidating her to reveal technological secrets of lighthugger drives (as the Conjoiner faction actually invented and manufactured these starships, despite most of them gradually falling into Ultra hands). The crew of another lighthugger from the story, the Petronel, led by captain Van Ness, are the viewpoint crew of the story. They are the polar opposite in attitude, ferrying passengers in reefersleep and just trying to do their jobs, all the while desperately fighting off the Cockatrice's attacks (at near-light speeds). Once the Cockatrice is destroyed in a lucky freak accident, the shipmaster of the Petronel even pleads with his boss to retrieve any survivors. They find only one, the kidnapped Conjoiner lady. The rest of the story, while not as action-focused, is an interesting character piece on the crew, the nature of the Ultranauts, and the differences and similarities between the societies of the two factions, Ultranauts and Conjoiners.
    • The Revenger series of novels are set in a far-future Solar System reliant on space habitats, where space piracy occurs quite frequently. Also a bit of a nod to the stylistics of flavour no. 2, with human space pirates having their own Future Slang equivalent of early modern pirate talk.
  • In Charles Stross's blog, he describes the never-going-to-happen third book in The Eschaton Series, including how space pirates work in that universe. Summed up by the working titles of Space Pirates of KPMG, or The Crimson Permanent Assurance In Space.
  • Because people in Lone Huntress live in a quasi-libertarian Federation, there's plenty of opportunity for unscrupulous types to try their hand at piracy. Lisa absolutely HATES pirates. With good reason.

By Work:

  • In Alice, Girl from the Future, there are the recurring villains, space pirates Rat and Jolly U. In The Voyage of Alice, it's said they and their (probably robotic) crew are the last remaining pirates in space, however, the following books introduced more of these and even an entire region of the galaxy called the Grey Nebula and inhabited by space outlaws.
  • The Affastffern Confederation in All Hands! apparently has a whole navy's worth.
  • Discussed and averted in Eric Frank Russell's "And Then There Were None": interstellar travel is so prohibitively expensive that a would-be pirate has to become a millionaire first.
  • The Skrit Na of Animorphs are basically a whole race of them. They aren't specifically in either type, though...maybe a bit of type one without the violence and death. They go around kidnapping creatures to either add to their own collections, sell or get ransom for and whatever items they can sell or trade.
  • In Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany, while they are technically privateers, the crew of Tarik's Mountain are barely a step away from being full-blown pirates. They're generally on the Alliance side, but there are suggestions that they're not above a little opportunist looting of both sides in a pinch. Fortunately, when they rescue Wong's ship, the captain turns out to be a big fan of Wong's poetry, and therefore welcomes her and her crew.
  • In Piers Anthony's Bio of a Space Tyrant series, pirates of the second kind show up as a form of Refuge in Audacity, since the authorities won't believe (or don't want to admit to) ancient-looking pirates operating in space. After they murder and rape most of the refugees on the ship he was travelling on and abduct his kid sister, the protagonist dedicates his life to wiping out piracy from the spaceways.
  • Space piracy is a major theme within Daniel Crux's Black Sun series, such that the main protagonists are known as the Flint Pirates. The first book alone details the hijacking of a prototype starship from her dock, followed by her being refitted into the titular Black Sun, crewed and then sent back into space again, while the second opens with her engaging in a traditional pirate raid. That being said, the central plot is less a pirate story and more along the lines of The Da Vinci Code (In Space)…
  • In the Boojumverse, the protagonist of the story "Boojum" is Black Alice Bradley, a crew member of the pirate ship Lavinia Whateley. Unfortunately their captain makes the mistake of stealing a cargo on its way to the Mi-Go, then trying to sell it back to them.
  • Though we never see any up close, Space Pirates are the background in the classic "Heinlein juvenile" Citizen of the Galaxy. The protagonist destroys a ship full of them, and later learns that he was originally sold into slavery by pirates who killed his fabulously wealthy parents. He decides to devote his life to fighting the pirate-slaver complex, then has to decide if he will do it in the military or by using his family's money and influence.
  • James Cambias' Corsair has a hard sci-fi take on this trope: the prevalence of autonomous transports between the Moon and Earth that relies on the L1 point as transit point note  means that a hacker with a small private craft can remote control their craft at L1 point to jack and send those cargo off-route to different drop zones on Earth so their employers can claim it for themselves while the hacker then uses their skills to mask their location from the authorities if a police craft tries to get close and trace their Earthborne location. The craft can only be used once, but the payoff is more than worth the craft + launch cost. It's also possible for hackers to hack into target spacecraft itself.
  • Consider Phlebas (the first Culture novel by Iain Banks). The crew of the Clear Air Turbulence are ostensibly Private Military Contractors, but are actually just a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits raiding whatever they think will be vulnerable. Seeing as they're carrying out their activities amidst the chaos of an intergalactic war, that tends not to be very much.
  • Debatable Space has the pirates supporting their rebellion/terror activities with piracy, as well as using it as a cover.
  • In Pursuit of Bark's Finest features the crew of the eponymous Bark's Finest, who are a bunch of Type 1 space pirates. There won't be much plank-walking from them, but they're more than willing to threaten defensive freighters into handing over their cargo. That said they have some nuance in how they operate, as they conduct espionage and even have political parties aboard their ship.
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe:
    • The genetically-engineered badger pirates in the novel The Pirate Loop, who wear gold earrings and space-suits with a skull-and-crossbones. They also speak with Southampton Accents.
    • The novel The Resurrection Casket features robotic space pirates, and some extremely reminiscent, not to say recycled, names and/or characters. (Let's just say it involves a young lad named "Jimm" and "Captain Glint's treasure" and leave it there...)
    • Blurring the line between both types (and the line between Space Pirates and Sky Pirates) is the Doctor Who New Adventures novel Sky Pirates! In the pocket dimension of The System, the difference between sky and space isn't particularly clear anyway.
    • Captain Cornelius and the Pirates of the Second Aether. who are after the MacGuffin in Michael Moorcock's Eleventh Doctor novel Coming of the Terraphiles or Pirates of the Second Aether.
  • In Heinlein's Farmer in the Sky, Bill Lermer meets the captain of the shuttle up from Earth, who mentions having been "captured by pirates". Bill doesn't challenge him, but thinks he's spinning a yarn. But when Bill tells his father about the encounter,
    "Maybe you are too young to remember it. [Captain DeLongPre] let himself be sealed into one of the robot freighters used to jump thorium ore from the lunar mines—and busted up a ring of hijackers, a gang the newscasters called the 'Ore Pirates.'"
    I didn't say anything.
  • The Fat Men in Daniel Pinkwater's Fat Men from Space act as a variation on type 1, closer to a Horde of Alien Locusts in that they invade a planet, steal the junk food, then force the inhabitants to prepare more of it until the raw materials thereof are at dangerously low levels before they leave. They return in Slaves of Spiegel, where they abduct the greatest junk food chefs of the galaxy to compete in a Cooking Duel.
  • In Andrey Livadny's The History of the Galaxy series, most Space Pirates come from the desert world of Ganio. Oh yeah, and they're all Arabs In Space.
    • One short story had a passenger ship attacked by an infamous pirate ship known to leave only debris behind and no survivors. By chance, the passenger ship is also transporting a shipment of Space Fighters, and a few of the passengers are shown to enjoy a virtual space fighter simulator. As the gamers prepare for another round of simulated fighting, they are drugged and placed in the cockpits of the real fighters, just as the pirate destroyer is approaching. Many end up being shot down thanks to the pirates' PD systems, but the protagonist ends up taking out The Bridge (exposed, of course).
  • In Poul Anderson and Gordon R. Dickson's Hoka stories, when the Hokas set out to emulate a Space Patrol, Alex has horrified visions of their being tried for piracy. He's not even sure that hanging isn't still in effect as the approved form of punishment.
  • Honor Harrington:
    • Among the nastiest things they do is throw people into space as a means of execution, which is widely regarded as an unforgivable atrocity. Space piracy is the major raison d'etre for military power in times of peace, and plays heavily in the various works of fiction. It typically serves as a place for new characters to "start off small" in deadly, but relatively low-stakes, combat (prior to the war with Haven, anti-piracy operations in Silesia were the primary source of combat training for RMN personnel). They also tend to come up as disposable pawns in Mesa's latest Evil Plan. Space pirates are never portrayed the least bit sympathetically. Piracy is universally a capital crime, and for excellent reasons.
    • It may be worth noting that many of the pirates operate under an agreement with a local polity. In Silesia, it is not uncommon to turn over a batch of recently captured pirates to the local government, and then six months later the same pirates have a new ship and are back in action. The local government is basically taking a bribe to ignore the piracy, or has funded the pirates to plunder shipping from richer nations (i.e. Manticorian shipping would carry better goods that the government can buy through normal means) and will turn a blind eye to rape and murder to gain such benefits. However, the pirates that turned over also get put on Manticore's list. If they get caught a second time...
    • Some privateers (which, historically, were separated from pirates by rather thin margins), however, get better treatment. Like Admiral (Royal Naval Reserve) Thomas Bachfisch, one of Honor's mentors. After he was beached by the first Janacek admiralty, he retired from active duty, and managed to obtain the Letter of Marque, starting, effectively, a privateer shipping line. Equipped with fast, armed, merchantmen (actually, surplus Andermani Navy transports) it operated in Silesia, where their improved speed and protection allowed him to charge a premium and engage in a little pirate hunting of his own. Not to mention his side work as a Manticoran intelligence resident (Admiral Givens of the RMN intelligence service being the source of the pressure to give him a Letter of Marque) in Silesia.
    • Piracy is also a career of choice for military units from non-existent governments. After the Saint-Just dictatorship is defeated State Security forces go into piracy and mercenary work. Some get hired by Mesa, while at least one set of battleships finds a small planet to set up a local lords. In fact the first armed ships in the Honorverse were pirates with space navies being created to counter them.
    • In fact, one of the People's Republic of Haven's few redeeming qualities was that they drew a very hard line against pirates and slave runners. The Manticorans turn captured pirates over to the local authorities. The Havenites have them Thrown Out the Airlock, though it is a customary mercy to execute the pirates by firing squad first. In fact, this stance was part of what lead the Mesans to drive the Manticorans and Havenites into an extended bloody war.
  • In SA Swann's Hostile Takeover series, Tjaele Mosasa was a space pirate before the pirate clan to which he belonged tried to salvage what turned out to be an active Artificial Intelligence piloted spacecraft.
  • The Bad Guys in Invasion of Kzarch are space pirates, type 1, but it's mostly an Informed Ability, as they only once fight in space, in a brief early skirmish.
  • Islands in the Sky, the sci-fi juvenile by Arthur C. Clarke. One of the apprentices on the space station thinks a suspicious spacecraft might be involved in piracy — an idea denigrated by everyone else as large corporations can afford to maintain spacecraft, but not criminals. They think otherwise on discovering the ship's hold is full of ray guns which turn out to be props for the first movie being filmed in space.
  • Jason And The Intragalactic Troubleshooters: Book 2 (Jason and the Lizard Pirates) features the eponymous lizard pirates, anthropomorphic lizard aliens who travel around the universe and rob people. The plot of the book is kicked off when they happened to be passing by the planet Lumaloon and its twelve solid diamond moons right when the locals' Illusion Device (essentially a system-wide cloaking field) failed. Seeing the diamonds, they promptly landed and ordered the pacifist Lumaloonians off the planet; the heroes are promptly called in to kick them back off, tricking them into fleeing Lumaloon (by making them think the planet's about to explode) so the Lumaloonians can reclaim their home.
  • Known Space: The impossibility of space piracy and the trick Julian Forward uses to make it work is central to the plot of "The Borderland of Sol".
  • S. L. Dyscadian's Laszlo Hadron and the Wargod's Tomb features a number of these, such as the eponymous Laszlo and his partner Isis Lagato, and the former's nemesis Morgan Strannik and his crew.
  • E.E. Smith's Lensman series is very big on space pirates, the battle against which forms a central part of the plot. Played straight in that the pirate ships are crewed by "the dregs of space", attack merchantmen for their cargo, board through airlocks (or in armour, through holes in the hull), and slaughter their opponents hand-to-hand (except the women). Subverted in that they are (later seen to be) more or less an integral part of the Boskonian military, and thus representative of an intergalactic spacefaring culture (albeit a highly dysfunctional one), rather than freelancers or organised criminals in the accepted sense.
  • In Lucifer's Star, the crew of the Melampus vacillates between this and Space Trucker. They also regularly deal with Space Pirates as enemies given the space lanes are packed with them due to the general breakdown in law and order due to the recent conflicts between the major powers.
  • The title space pirates in Mark Delewen and the Space Pirates are a type two. Their ships are pretty much copies of 18th century or so style sailing ships.
  • In The Martian, marooned astronaut Mark Watney comes to a realization that his best option for rescue technically involves this, due to a burned-out radio and an intersection between international treaties, maritime law, and the Rule of Cool. By international treaties, Mars is international territory governed by maritime law; by maritime law, commandeering a vessel in international waters is piracy; ergo: "That makes me a pirate! A space pirate!"
  • In M.C.A. Hogarth's Paradox series most pirates are slavers, with a side business in drug dealing. And in the employ of the Chatcaavan Empire, if not part of the dragons' Navy themselves.
  • In the Paradox Trilogy, Devi has had many clashes with them while working as a mercenary. In a Shout-Out to Star Wars: A New Hope, one notorious space pirate hideout is called Kessel.
  • Averted in Terry Bisson's Pirates of the Universe, despite the title, which actually refers to a theme park ride. Although the main character's coworkers might be considered Space Poachers.
  • The Pirates of Zan by Murray Leinster. The protagonist is from a planet whose sole occupation is space piracy. He tries moving to another world and going legit, but when things go badly wrong he has to resort to the traditional methods of his kin. Serialised for Astounding in 1959 as "The Pirates of Ersatz" with its famous zeerust cover of a space pirate climbing aboard a rocket with a slide rule clasped between his teeth. (This cover can be seen here.)
  • As you might expect, Anne McCaffrey's Planet Pirates series includes space pirates. They evade the scale problems by mainly hitting settlements and ships near planets. They also go a step further in many cases, being Planet Looters who will enslave and/or kill the inhabitants of a colony world, then settle their own people on it. Hence the name of the trilogy.
  • The Ben Bova novel Privateers had an interesting variation on this. Set in an Alternate History where the Soviet Union gained a "Star Wars" anti-ballistic-missile system first and nuked Paris, effectively dominating all the world except the United States (which is thrust into a massive recession by refusing to knuckle under) the novel revolves around American cosmonauts (all space travelers were called as such because the USSR dominated space travel) trying to restore American power and liberate Europe from their communist oppressors by highjacking soviet asteroid mining facilities. Sadly Worse Than It Sounds.
  • In David Drake's RCN novels, space piracy is a problem occasionally dealt with by Leary and his crew, and at one point Leary enlists a pirate world in order to counter a vastly superior Alliance fleet.
  • The titular character of The Red Vixen Adventures is a bit of a type 2, justified by her being a bored noblewoman raiding as a side business/hobby, while her more brutal rival Bloody Margo is type 1.
  • The setting of The Rock Rats by Ben Bova involves space pirates, space cowboys, space corporations, and space privateers/space pirates for a cause. They're all violent, though in different ways.
  • H. Beam Piper took this trope one step further in his book Space Viking. That's right. Vikings, In Space!
  • In the Spiral Arm series, the Cynthians are notorious as space pirates, living by the philosophy "the strong take what they can, the weak suffer what they must".
  • Star Wars Legends:
    • The franchise has more than a few, most of them overlapping with information brokers and smugglers. Some Space Pirates are slavers. Since most interstellar travel in Star Wars has charted routes and it's considered dangerous to split away from them, and Space Pirates actually tend to strike planets and ships going to and from planets, it's basically justified. A merchant who had found a way to avoid the pirates lying in wait around a planet unfortunately bragged about this. By the way, if you're wondering why Han Solo wasn't able to use his reward for saving Leia to pay off his debt to Jabba the Hutt? A space pirate stole the money from him.
    • In the X-Wing Series book Iron Fist, Wraith Squadron, aware that the Big Bad is hiring pirates to harass his enemies, succeeds at The Infiltration by posing as a pirate band called the Hawk-Bats which focuses on a system in Imperial territory, doing things like breaking into a hangar to steal TIE fighters, preying on merchants, and, once, robbing a bank. They have so much fun doing so that Wedge feels it necessary at one point to remind his men that they aren't, in fact, actual pirates.
    • Some Star Wars pirates play more to the clichés than others. For example, the space pirate Raskar loves every swashbuckling trope there is, and even carries a "lightfoil" (a relatively low-quality, short-hilt lightsaber otherwise mostly popular among Sith-wannabe noblemen of the Tapani sector) despite unauthorized ownership of anything that could be seen as "Jedi paraphernalia" being a death penalty offense in the Empire (of course, being a pirate means that if they caught him, the Empire would probably kill him regardless of whether he had the lightfoil).
    • Ideologically motivated pirates are what led to the Trade Federation being allowed to build an army in Cloak of Deception, a lead in to The Phantom Menace.
    • During the New Jedi Order Han and family have some fun playing pirate on some Yuuzhan Vong collaborators. Leia is not amused by the "Princess of Blood" moniker he picks for the Falcon.
    • In I, Jedi, a former Imperial Moff with a Star Destroyer (something far beyond the resources of most pirates in the EU) unifies several pirate gangs under her command and terrorizes New Republic shipping. The Star Destroyer gives the pirates enough firepower to raid even the largest ships and crush most opposition. This means the only potential threat is a concerted attack by the New Republican Navy itself—and she's got a group of Force-sensitive advisers who give advance warning whenever such an ambush is being planned.
    • Pirates aren't depicted at all sympathetically in Razor's Edge. Most pirates (at least in that part of the galaxy) take ships and crews whole instead of just looting cargoes, selling the crews into the slave trade, which is tolerated and resurgent under Imperial rule. Piracy is big enough business that they have a "clearinghouse" where they meet to repair and upgrade their ships, and fence goods and slaves. Captain Metara and her crew of renegade Alderaanians are portrayed as hopelessly naïve for thinking they can work with these pirates, attacking only Imperial targets and otherwise stealing cargoes without harming freighters' crews.
    • The Han Solo Trilogy: Recurring throughout the trilogy. In The Paradise Snare, some of them are hired by Desilijic to attack Besadii spice shipments, with Han barely escaping one of the raids. In The Hutt Gambit, some are hired by Besadii to kill Jabba on his yacht, which Han (who's commanding it) foils. Also a pirate fleet commanded by Drea Renthal is hired by the Hutts to defend Nal Hutta from Imperial attack, siding with the smugglers fighting them near Nar Shaddaa. In Rebel Dawn, the same fleet attacks a star liner carrying Boba Fett and his captives, Lando and Bria: because of her past relationship with Lando, she pressures Fett into releasing them. Also most smugglers are basically pirates themselves according to Lando.
    • The Courtship of Princess Leia: The Hapans are descended from a group of these who settled the Hapes Cluster, while their good looks result from taking beautiful female captives as their wives. Isolder's older brother as well was killed by one space pirate who attacked their ship. Later to find him Isolder became one himself, infiltrated the gang and caught the murderer.
  • The Star Diaries: Parodied in "The Twenty-eighth Voyage", when Ijon Tichy tells of his grandfather Euzebius, a space pirate. Euzebius would lure rockets off course by "scatter[ing] tiny flashlights along the Milky Way", then fall upon the duped and plunder them. Because of his habit of simply chucking dead bodies into space, over time there formed a cloud of corpses forever orbiting his black rocket. Ijon Tichy also mentions that interplanetary piracy is generally unprofitable and therefore practically inexistent; indeed Euzebius (says Ijon Tichy) had no material motives, but was a Romantic idealist who wished "to bring back the venerable Earth tradition of piracy on the high seas". Since Euzebius would frequently wait for years for rockets to prey upon, and therefore suffer terribly from boredom, he would after a completed robbery give back his victims all their belongings and let them travel on, then overtake them again to board and plunder them another time ("this would happen six, even ten times in a row").
  • 'Jackers' are mentioned in the Terran Trade Authority books by Stewart Cowley. In one story they start turning up with more sophisticated weaponry, and it turns out the jackers have discovered a Derelict Graveyard and are looting it.
  • There and Back Again by Pat Murphy has a few different versions, including a ship whose crew explicitly call themselves pirates, and whose captain takes on the pseudonym "Blackbeard". The novel is set in a galaxy with a Portal Network, and the pirates all tend to hang around the entrances of wormholes to avoid the scale problems mentioned in the trope description.
  • Time Machine Series, The Rings of Saturn: There's a gang of Cyborg space pirates, who operate out of a secret base on the moon.
  • In Tour of the Merrimack: The Ninth Circle, the titular Ninth Circle is a group of space pirates.
  • The Vatta's War series, by Elizabeth Moon, features pirates as well. In this case, they are usually only a major problem if you venture off the charted and patrolled space routes. This changes when the Pirates form a large organized fleet, leading to the creation of first an ad-hoc fleet of privateers, and later an alliance of different navies (including what amount to a large corporate security space force and a Private Military Contractor with its own fleet of warships). The formation of such alliances is only made possible with the development of technology for ship-to-ship faster than light communications.
  • In the 1940's Venus Equilateral tales by George O. Smith, the eponymous Space Station is threatened by Evil Genius Allison Murdoch. Space stations or spaceships aren't armed because piracy in space has never happened before, so the Gadgeteer Genius heroes have to come up with a defense against Murdoch's Death Ray-armed spaceship the Black Widow. In a later tale Murdoch allies himself with a Corrupt Corporate Executive also seeking revenge against the protagonists, using his enterprise as a financial cover for Murdoch's activities.
  • In Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga, Miles's Dendarii Mercenary Fleet gets hired to rescue hostages from hijackers. Also, in the later books, the Barrayaran Fleet is put to use as bodyguards for Komarran merchants. This is a win-win for both parts, since the Komarrans get protected by an army with a reputation for ruthlessness and the Barrayarans get to give good military training to their soldiers, without needing to declare war on anybody.
  • Pirates are major villains in the Warchild Series. One of them, Falcone, could even be considered the Big Bad… as much as anyone in such an ambiguous universe. Lowachee never goes into detail about how the pirates find their victims. Most of the ships they prey off of, however, are running through the notoriously hard-to-police DMZ.
    • The pirates' modus operandi deserves special mention here, too. Falcone, their de facto leader, was an ex-Space Marine. He left because he thought the government of EarthHub was a little too civil, and saw a lot of opportunities to make his own empire out in deep space. He also believed absolute loyalty could be achieved by raising his "protégés" from early childhood. Of course, no one told him that ritualistic child abuse would maybe, possibly undermine what he was trying to do. In the end, he dies at the hands of one of his ex proteges, and before this moment, spent much of his life on the run from a different protege. The man made his own enemies.
  • Worlds of Shadow: The passenger ship which the characters are traveling on is hijacked by some. In addition to raping and murdering the hero's wife, they sell the rest into slavery on a nearby planet.

    Live-Action TV 
  • Babylon 5:
    • The Raiders are of the first kind. They were a recurring threat for the first half of the first season, but bit off more than they could chew when they tried to raid the station directly and lost all their fighters before being annihilated by the Shadows.
    • Other Raider groups are shown as a cross between minor nuisances and comical victims of enemies much stronger than they are, like the one who attacked a lightly-defended shipment of Quantium-40 that was actually a bait from the Army of Light, or the Drazi-supported group that tormented a planet for years and was visited by the whole White Star Fleet.
    • As per the Expanded Universe, raiders and privateers had a surprisingly large impact on galactic history:
      • Once upon a time the Orieni Empire rivaled the Centauri Republic and was locked in a cold war with them... Then the Centauri caught the Orieni supporting Drazi raiders that were raiding on Centauri shipping, triggering a war that ended up with the Orieni Empire disassembled at mass driver point and the Centauri too weakened to actually occupy it.
      • Before first contact Earth's solar system had a heavy raider presence, prompting the miners of the asteroid belt to arm themselves and form the Belt Alliance and Earth Alliance forming its space fleet... And inadvertently starting tensions between the Belt Alliance, Earth Alliance, and Earth's states that would have caused World War IV had the arrival of the Centauri not scared everyone into presenting a unified front.
      • Once upon a time, the Centauri Houses had a habit of using privateers to attack shipping belonging or friendly to their rivals, no matter if they were Centauri or aliens, as after the fall of the Orieni nobody would dare to protest and risk a war with the Centauri Republic (nobody but the Minbari, but the Centauri had no trade with them and weren't stupid enough to pick fights with them anyway)... Nobody but the fledgling Earth Alliance, that started chasing raiders across the border and shooting down anyone who dared to object short of a Centauri warbase with the related fleet, and at one point destroyed one of said bases with an unexpected volley of nukes for not giving up the raiders they had chased there. As the Centauri couldn't actually afford a war with Earth when the League of Non-Aligned Worlds was ready to pounce on them, Earth got away with it and the Centauri Houses were forced to stop using privateers.
      • The Deneth are former Centauri subjects who managed to defeat the local garrison and prevent the Centauri from reconquering them by blowing up the jumpgate connecting the core of Centauri space to their world... But as destroying jump gates is considered a serious crime by interstellar law they found themselves without any trading partner, forcing them to turn to piracy.
  • Blake's 7.
  • In the Tokusatsu series Chousei Kantai Sazer-X, Space Pirates play a very big role as the villains. In 2005 a bunch of them attacks and take over Earth. In the year 2500 their descendants have established an empire throughout a large part of the galaxy.
  • Doctor Who:
    • The first kind of space pirates appear in the serial "The Space Pirates".
    • The Captain of "The Pirate Planet". Cybernetic eye and robot parrot (the Polyphase Aviatron). Slightly subverts the second type, as it turns out that he's deliberately trying to invoke Beware the Silly Ones. He's an unusual type as he has an entire Hollow World that Mass Teleports around other planets to loot them. He also turns out to unwillingly be The Dragon, and is using the remains from the looting in a long-term plan to eliminate his (almost hidden) boss.
    • "The Horns of Nimon" sees the Doctor and Romana accused of being this.
    • The privateer in "Warriors Gate" is a slaver ship, kidnapping members of a time-sensitive species. In a subversion, except for The Captain the crew lack the expected Large Ham of this trope, being presented as apathetic Punch-Clock Villains.
    • Kari and Olvir in "Terminus", who board what is seriously the wrong vessel to attack.
    • Captain Wrack of the Eternals in "Enlightenment" is a bored alien god impersonating a Type Two space pirate.
    • The ending of "The Curse of the Black Spot" has a crew of regular 17th century pirates who end up taking over an abandoned alien spaceship. We are never told if they remain pirates or use their new ship for legitimate purposes.
    • The mass-murdering and implied rape-loving Solomon in "Dinosaurs on a Spaceship", who murders all the Silurians on board a ship so he can take their cargo of the last dinosaurs. He is such a monster that the Doctor deliberately forces him into a small spaceship that will be used as a remote-controlled target for missiles.
  • Double the Fist presents to us the man who discovered Australia, Captain James Cook, as an egotistical Space Pirate who barely flinches at the sight of the ballistic Fist Team.
  • The Expanse features references to space piracy being a problem for cargo haulers, particularly of ice, which is important as a water source for the asteroid settlements. In the vast reaches of the asteroid belt the problem is so pervasive that captains tend to ignore distress calls, because of the high likelihood of it being a trap set by pirates.
  • Farscape had the Zenetan pirates, as well as the Sheyangs. The first were humanoids with well-armed, sleek little ships and an energy-draining capture net called the Flax. The Sheyangs were fireball-breathing frog-like creatures with lots of plasma cannons.
  • Firefly:
    • The Reavers whose typical method of raiding involves raping victims to death, eating their flesh, and sewing their skins to their clothing. The luckier ones get it in that order. Reavers are just Always Chaotic Evil Usual Adversaries with space ships.
    • The crew of Serenity herself are referred to as pirates on occasion. And for good reason, as they commit several acts which can definitely be defined as piracy during the course of the series.
    • There are regular pirates as well, though they generally just let you come to them (with some prodding from/of an accomplice).
    • "Our Mrs. Reynolds" has a couple of non-traditional space pirates as the Monster of the Week.
  • Intergalactic: Echo is a self-described one, who's also called this by other people (an Informed Attribute as we never actually see him engage in any piracy).
  • Lost in Space had two episodes with space pirates: "The Sky Pirate" and "Treasures of the Lost Planet".
  • The Muppet Show. Parodied in "Pigs in Space" when John Cleese boards the Swinetrek as a Type 2 pirate. The Captain is not impressed.
    Captain Hogthrob: This is ridiculous, this is a space ship. This is the Swinetrek, bound for the other side of the universe. You're supposed to be on an ocean someplace!
  • The Outer Limits (1995): In "Manifest Destiny", Captain Sam Abbott suspects that the UFS Rhesos was attacked by space pirates who murdered the crew.
  • Popular preschool kids show Space Pirates. They run a pirate radio station from a space-travelling galleon. The captain and crew also wear pirate costumes. "Naa Nana Na Na! SPACE PIRATES! Naa Nana Nana Na! SPACE PIRATES!"
  • Star Trek:
    • The Nausicaans. From their few on-screen appearances, it seems their entire culture revolves around space piracy.
    • Star Trek: The Next Generation:
      • The Acamarian Gatherers from "The Vengeance Factor" qualify for this trope, being rootless spacefarers surviving on what they can find or steal.
      • In "Gambit", Picard and Riker go undercover to infiltrate a pirate/mercenary crew. Supposedly, this episode wouldn't have been made while Gene Roddenberry was still alive, as he had always vetoed the "space pirates" idea.
    • The Maquis in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine commit piracy in the course of their terrorist activities; though they mostly keep to smuggling and gunrunning they have hijacked ships more than once. The main target was their Cardassian opposite numbers, who did the same things.
    • The Orions are sometimes referred to as pirates, though they straddle the line between actual Space Pirates and The Syndicate. Of course, since they are a fairly wide-spread race with no central government that may just be different groups.
    • Star Trek: Voyager has these appear as a Monster of the Week in several episodes, but one reoccurring villain is the Hierarchy, the most bureaucratic bunch of space pirates you'll ever meet. Unfortunately, they have superior technology to Voyager, so the conflict always involves our heroes having to outsmart them.
    • The Enterprise itself turns to piracy late in the Star Trek: Enterprise Xindi arc. After the Enterprise' warp drive is disabled by the Xindi, Archer attacks an innocent freighter to take a needed part. He certainly wouldn't have done it if Earth's very survival hadn't been on the line, and greatly regrets it (even beaming over some supplies to the other ship to make up for it). To the inevitable What the Hell, Hero? moment, all he can say is...
    • Early encounters with the Ferengi involve them acting like pirates, even trying to capture the Enterprise on more than one occasion.
    • The Klingons, in a deconstruction of their 'hat' of being a Proud Warrior Race, attack and loot undefended colonies which they then claim as great victories.
  • Super Sentai and Power Rangers:
    • Power Rangers Turbo: Space Pirate Queen Divatox and her crew are a band of space pirates who roam the universe in a submarine-shaped ship (making them a cross between this trope and Submarine Pirates), and her main motive for being evil is greed. Their Carranger counterparts, the Bowzock, had nothing to do with piracy, however.
    • The Barban, the main villain group of Seijuu Sentai Gingaman are these. The leader and the Mooks showed up in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy as "Captain Mutiny" and "Swabbies", but only for an arc instead of being the main villains (The rest were given no connection to Mutiny's crew).
    • The heroes of Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger, the titular Gokaiger, absolutely run with this. Their suits are designed to look like jackets and their helmets have the traditional pirate hat built into them (except the Sixth Ranger, whose has a bandana instead). Their main weapons are cutlasses and flintlocks (and a trident for Silver), they have a robot parrot, and Red's Humongous Mecha is a giant galleon which serves as their living quarters and the core of their Combining Mecha. Even their team logo is designed to look like a fancy skull and crossbones.
      • This all gets an amusing lampshade in the episode where the Gokaigers have to find the Gingamen. Upon hearing that their enemies were space pirates, Gokai Green decides to bring some doughnuts as a peace offering, and at the end of the episode Ginga Red says the idea of heroic space pirates is still kinda weird for him, but he can see that the Gokaigers are good people.
      • Sadly, the pirate theme was ditched when the show got adapted for the second season of Power Rangers Megaforce, despite the obviously pirate-themed costumes, weapons and mecha.
    • Twokaizer and his family from Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger are an inter-dimensional variant. Originally coming from an Alternate Universe world of pirates, they established themselves as the first World Plunderersnote  after obtaining inter-dimensional travel technology, and basing their home in a crocodile-themed Giant Mecha spaceship. It's also worth noting that due to having encountered the Gokaigers themselves in one of their inter-dimensional travels, the family pirated their suit design to make the Twokaizer suit out of admiration.
  • Ultraman Z have the Alien Barossa. They are notorious for looting countless items from other aliens across the universe and use them as their own, that even includes a King Joe that the first of its kind in the series hijacked from an Alien Pedan. Additionally, what makes them so terrifying is that they are also capable of mind-controlling living beings like puppets to make them do the talking.

  • Heavy Metal band Arcturus used to dress as pirates onstage while singing about astronomy and space travel.
  • The song "Space Pirates" by Alice Cooper. Yes, he does say "Arr!" a lot.
  • A song from Leslie Fish's retro sci-fi album Carmen Miranda's Ghost, titled "New Sins for Old", is about an aged one of these who is becoming bored with their life of Rape, Pillage, and Burn, wanting to retire and start a new life as a farmer with a wife and children.
  • The Lord Weird Slough Feg have several songs and an entire album based on Traveller. I'm a space pirate, you know my name.
  • The schtick of The Mechanisms is that they're all Space Pirates made into cyborgs by Dr. Carmilla.
  • The indie band The Senate created the world's first "Space Shanty" which is sung in character as, if not space pirates, space sailors in general.
  • Tom Smith's concept album The Last Hero on Earth brings us the pirate ninjas from Dino Island. They stole their schtick pretty much in its entirety; what do you expect from pirates?
  • The final verse of Jimmy Webb's Highwayman is about the Highwayman's final reincarnation as one of these.

    Professional Wrestling 
  • Giii the Space Pirate and his first mate, Sekhmet, in Kaiju Big Battel. They work for whoever pays well enough but came to Earth to steal... something.

  • Destroy the Godmodder: a fine tradition. One of the first events involved a portal summoning large numbers of these.
    • And one of the first really big player summons was a massive space ship, then they died and came back as ghost pirates...

    Tabletop Games 
  • Piracy is alive and well in the BattleTech universe due to the relative ease of capturing most recharging JumpShips, though actual independent pirate and bandit groups are seen mostly in the Periphery beyond the reach of either the Clans or the Great Houses. They don't so much attack civilian shipping as they raid poorly defended worlds directly, though. A number of particularly large pirate bands have banded up and attempted to go 'legitimate' and set themselves up as an actual nation, such as the Oberon Confederation or Circinus Federation.
    • Suzie Morgraine-Ryan and her band of Periphery pirates display all the traits of the second option, as a deliberate affectation. Ryan herself dresses in Caribbean-style pirate garb, uses archaic words like "thou" and "thee," and even wears an eyepatch.
  • The Galactic Marauders from the Champions sourcebook Alien Enemies.
  • GURPS: Pyramid magazine vol 3 #110 had an article entitled "Space Pirates" looking at the issues ("it is impossible to hide in space if the authorities have reason and means to track a ship and a rough idea of where it is") and possible solutions (the futuristic equivalent of letters of marque, having a legitimate space-going enterprise with the feel of piracy, etc.) and a worked example of an Asteroid Mining setting, in which the planetary governments tried to discredit the miners by portraying those who chose to live outside their jurisdiction as "pirates", and in a spectacular Insult Backfire, the miners replied "If we’re pirates, then get me a parrot and hoist the Jolly Roger. Arr, me and my hearties are off to plunder some buried treasure!"
  • Mutant Chronicles has the occasional human pirates operating throughout the solar system but they are rare compared the Dark Legion raiders who are usually only interested in killing everyone in a ship/settlement or dragging them off to be turned into Dark Legion creatures. The Imperial corporation's Conquistadors also engage in a fair amount of piracy.
  • Mutants & Masterminds has Captain Kraken, a space pirate who crashes on Earth. Thanks to his translation matrix latching onto Earth pirate culture, he speaks and dresses like a stereotypical pirate.
  • Red Venus: Its an open secret that the United States and Soviet Union use the threat of piracy as an excuse to arm their rocketships as they expand into the solar system. But the technology is so new and expensive, that the existence of space pirates is almost impossible.
  • Rocket Age has the Cicilian Brotherhood, a band of pirates founded by the self proclaimed pirate king Arthur Roster, operate from a secret base on Phobos. There are also pirates in the asteroid belt loosely united under an Accord, gearing up for a civil war due to 5OX buying out some crews as privateers.
  • SPANC Space Pirate Amazon Ninja Catgirls features space pirate Catgirls who take part in nefarious capers to win the most loot. Some of the capers are just there for cuteness, others are space-opera specific, like the Stuck Airlock.
  • Spelljammer setting for Dungeons & Dragons has the Pirates of Gith, an entire race of Space Pirates, a third offshoot of the Githyanki/Githzerainote . Additionally, the game also has plain ol' human Space Pirates who act pretty much identically to regular stereotypical pirates. Furthermore, the entire point of the setting is flying around in wooden sailing ships in space, and in the introduction to the setting the author mentions that they designed the setting's rules with the thought of a pirate standing on the deck of his ship—in space—as a guiding image.
  • Starfleet Battles has the Orion Pirates, a whole race (in a game where 'race' means a playable faction) of space pirates, of the first type (although the picture in the write-up shows a humanoid with a patch-like prosthetic eye, so some apparently affect elements of the second type). They also do mercenary work (particularly when prolonged war has stretched normal militaries thin, and convoys tend to be better protected) and have even been known to run cargo for actually legitimate businesses and governments on occasion.
  • Justified in Stars Without Number: due to the relatively small capacity of civilian vessels and the loss of the jumpgate network in the Scream, most interstellar trade relies on small quantities of highly valuable resources. Combine this with the installation of a gun taking up valuable space and power on a civilian free trader, and the fragility of ships in a setting without widely available shields, and you have an environment where hanging around in the outer system waiting for a trader to turn up and then holding them hostage is actually viable. Of course, if the free trader did install a gun, it's going to be quite expensive for everyone concerned.
  • Piracy is part of the Traveller universe, and pirates vary widely. The most notable variety are the Vargr corsairs which have considerable force behind them and are considered a respectable profession by other Vargr who are willing to shelter them. This makes them kind of like Barbary Pirates in space.
    • The above is a general description of piracy in Traveller, but the full version is that the degree in which piracy is a viable career and is even plausible varies to a great extent depending on the traveller version, and, of course, the GM. many Classic Traveller versions take the logical route, saying that because of the ability of System Defense boats (ships) to cover most of the immediate area around a Civilized planet, and the fact that a ship just has to get only a little distance away (relative to the scale of space) from a gravity well to be able to jump (and jumps are usually not able to be reliably traced, and impossible to intercept), pirates either must work very quickly and be lucky to find a ship in a position to be attacked, or they must attack ships shortly after leaving the dock of a smaller, outskirt planet(oid), which usually yields low value loot. This makes pirating very hard to do. Raiding a poorly defended planet is a lot more viable. Other versions usually introduce things that make pirates a lot more powerful, such as reducing system defense boat presence or the creation of trade lanes or the like. Even in CT though, already rich pirates have a better chance of establishing a sustainable operation, since they can afford high technology that makes their job easier, like EM jammers or jump drive disruptors.
  • Plenty of examples from Warhammer 40,000.
    • Type one space pirates include Eldar Corsairs who raid the lesser races' shipping and settlements to survive, Dark Eldar who raid for captives and playthings (or more specifically, souls), Chaos warbands including some traitorous Space Marines such as the Red Corsairs, and even perfectly average human pirates, mainly around some of the more unexplored and backwater sectors.
    • As if regular orks weren't crazy enough, Ork Freebooter bands are type two space pirates, and like hats and bandanas and fly the Jolly Ork. Examples include flash git Kaptin Badrukk, the richest ork in the galaxy with a coat of gold armor forged from the false teef of other kaptins he's defeated, while the Dawn of War II's Retribution expansion gives us Kaptin Bludflagg, who cuts through scores of Imperials, Chaos cultists and aliens, culminating in a battle with a daemon prince and an inquisitor on the same day, all so he can claim said inquisitor's nice hat (because she'd refused to give it to him as payment to kill the daemon prince in the first place). And in the end he even gets out of it with an even better ship than before.
    • In Graham McNeill's Ultramarines novel Nightbringer, a Dark Eldar pirate is raiding the vessel carrying the Space Marines. Similarly the 2018 novel Lukas the Trickster has a Dark Eldar pirate lord named Duke Sliscus, who lives in self-imposed exile and behaves like a particularly Ax-Crazy Type 2 version of the trope.
    • The 40k spin-off RPG Rogue Trader has space pirates (human or otherwise) as one of the most common enemies, and the rules let you go pirate if you wish. The Rogue Traders themselves are privateers able and expected to launch full-scale planetary invasions. One of the supplements to the gameline, Hostile Acquisitions, explicitly gives the players the option to become a Reaver or a Swashbuckler archetype.
    • Many Chaos worshippers go pirate as well, defaulting to looting when not conducting various massacres. One Warband, the Red Corsairs, are essentially a federation of many pirate domains ruled by Might Makes Right and have the second strongest navy on the side of Chaos, only surpassed by the Black Fleet of the Black Legion.

  • Big Barda is re-imagined as a space pirate in the Ame-Comi Girls line of PVC statues from DC Direct.
  • Cannonball of the Transformers: Cybertron toyline is an actual space pirate, complete with skeleton paint apps and a black swath of paint over half of the top of his face in mimicry of an eyepatch. Alas, he was not to appear in the series.

    Video Games 
  • Assault on Dark Athena: What the Athena and her crew has become under Revas' command. The former captain built the ship to formally operate within the law as a mercenary vessel that would capture criminals and function as a military force for hire. After deposing him, Revas orders every ship in sight seized, colonies raided, and their inhabitants gathered up to be sold as slaves or used as Human Resources.
  • The Babylon Project expands on the raiders of Babylon 5, allowing you to play a campaign where you're warring against them, or play a campaign where you're one of them.
  • The Rogues faction from Battleborn are these being made up of criminals and various other outsiders who prey on others in the Solus system. Among them, the de facto leader of this otherwise disjointed confederation of individuals, Reyna, best exemplifies the trope. She even has her own Cool Starship called the Fortune's Favor, a massive capital ship which serves as both Reyna's home and the head of the Rogue fleet when it needs one.
  • The first Borderlands 2 DLC, "Captain Scarlett and her Pirate's Booty", deals with "Sand Pirates" who are more or less a Type 2. You ally with the titular Captain Scarlett to find the lost treasure of Captain Blade, guarded by a beast known as The Leviathan.
  • Brigador's Spacers are one part ruthless pirates and one part hyperelite hedonists - they raid planet colonies to fund their astronomically (sometimes literally) expensive lifestyles, make room so they can acclimate to planetside gravity (and thus not die or suffer debilitating diseases from spending too long in space), and carry out a genocidal grudge on planetside humans, who they consider no better than animals there for amusement via torture, and find it insulting that the Spacers share ancestry with the 'soil vermin'.
  • In Brood Star, the player can randomly run into a pair of "raiders" who will offer to sell them an expensive module. If the player refuses to buy the module, or can't afford it, the raiders will take offense and attack, fighting to the death.
  • Celestus has some of the second type, rum and Ahoy! included. They do steal your resources, though.
  • Deiland: Captain Goliath is a Lighter and Softer version. He talks a lot about being a space pirate, but outside of a few easy fights he mostly trades with you. On one occasion he says that he stole a sheep from a man on another planet, but you make him give it back. One mission requires you to sell him a lot of wood so that he can build a boat to try out ocean piracy.
  • In Destiny, the Fallen (or Eliksni to use their name) are effectively an entire species of these, driven to a state of perpetual war and struggle for survival after their society was destroyed by the Darkness and now are fighting over the scraps of useful technology left in the ruins of humanity's previous Golden Age. In this case, the Fallen's perpetual piracy is as much cultural as it is necessity, since their entire society has evolved into a ruthless struggle to take and steal whatever they can and they have a hard time breaking out of such a brutal, generations-long mindset. It doesn't help that their ruthless violence and struggle to survive has led to a near-permanent state of warfare with everyone else, and even if they wanted to stop, a Vicious Cycle of hatred and revenge has made it almost impossible for there to be peace. Even Fallen like the Spider, who are willing to put aside the old hatreds and work with humans are still gleeful pirates, thieves, and outlaws... they just happen to be doing it to the enemies of humanity.
    • Destiny 2's Season of Plunder event sees the player get in on the action, combining resources with the Spider and the allied Eliksni House of Light to engage in a campaign of counter-piracy against the Fallen House of Salvation from your very own space pirate ship. Season-specific missions include boarding enemy pirate ships, snatching up buried treasure before the House of Salvation can get to it, and crushing pirate hideouts.
  • Distant Worlds: They form an integral part of the gameplay for any empire, to the point pirate factions are entirely playable, even if they work in a fundamentally different manner. They can make their fortunes raiding your facilities and planets, smuggling goods for you extracted from remote planets, arranging a Protection Racket for each empire, trading valuable info, tech and coordinates for money and taking mercenary missions. They can also plop down their own lairs and hideouts on others' planets, to a point that an unsupervised pirate faction can grow to become an N.G.O. Superpower complete with an actual empire's colonization capacity and growth.
  • Elite, one of the earliest space trading games, featured pirates who would attack you between hyperspace jump-points and your destination. Or you could become a pirate yourself. In Elite Dangerous, carrying cargo will cause pirates to chase you down in supercruise, and attract pirates that hang out in Navigational beacons and resource extraction zones. Of note is that they'll go for anything in your cargo, leading to the infamous quote when carrying 30 metric tons of human biowaste:
    Pirate #40325: "I knew I'd find you eventually, all that tasty cargo!"
  • Pirates in Endless Space can seriously hamper your expansion. Their ship spawn in systems out of sensor range and are damn difficult to destroy in early stages. Luckily, you can disable them.
  • Escape Velocity and its sequels has a lot of pirates. EV has straight up pirates, EVO has the Renegades (double plural — there are several pirate groupings called Renegades, some of which aren't even aware of the others' existence), Nova has pirates, marauders (weak pirates with a tendency to just try to blow up their targets hated by everyone, including other pirates), the Guild (a more organized group with a semi-legal veneer), the Association (technically; they are the Pirates mentioned below as being one of the major mission strings, only despite the name of the string in the code and the player getting the rank of "Pirate Guild-Master" they aren't so much pirates as semi-legal free traders that Pay Evil unto Evil with actual pirates and smuggle stuff because The Federation's laws are blatantly Mega-Corp-slanted) and Houseless (Auroran Ronin pirates). It's also notable that you can be a pirate in any of the EV games. EVN even made it one of the possible primary mission strings (kinda). You could also attack, disable, board, steal from, and even hijack (basically everything the pirates themselves do) the pirate's own ships without getting a bad rep for it. They had some serious cash, too. Nova's more advanced mechanics make the game piracy a bit more believable: the player's ship can actually be disabled, unlike in the other games, and pirates can and will board ships they disable to steal money or cargo.
  • Space piracy is a viable, if risky, career choice for EVE Online players.
    • Or that's what the creators want you to believe. In reality, most "pirates" describe piracy as rather unprofitable as the occasional loss of an expensively fitted ship is not made up by the equipment dropped by the low-level players that actually fall for pirates. These "pirates" go on to explain that they do it for the lulz and not for the money. The closest thing to Moneymaking via violence in EVE may be the Psycho for Hire "mercenary corporations" who demand money up front. This sort of behaviour is the expected default in EVE Online.
    • The primary reason for this is the practical impossibility of capturing ships in the game. The pirates are pretty much limited to blowing their prey up and then scavenging the debris for anything of value. Most of the valuable cargo is destroyed in the process. The only reason piracy is even viable in the game is because you have no fuel, maintenance or living costs so your only expense is cheap ammo.
      • While low- or nullsec piracy is rarely if ever worth it due to not many people carrying large amounts of expensive cargo (or if they do, they're usually smart enough to take precautions to avoid hostiles), highsec suicide ganking is an actually profitable form of "piracy". Suicide gankers typically hang out in systems leading to major trade hubs that see large amounts of industrial ships and freighters pass through them, scan passing ships for valuable cargo and attack them. Since this is in high security space, they will have their ships attacked and destroyed by the NPC police forces, but if they have enough dps they will kill their target first. As long as the average value of loot and salvage is higher than the cost of the ganking ships, you make profit.
    • Hilariously enough, players seem to have no problem roleplaying themselves as either of the two varieties.
    • Demanding pay-outs to not blow up the valuable cargo ship is viable though, although if you wait very long doing this the reinforcements can show up...
      • Not to mention that many players will not pay pirates under any circumstances for fear that they will be blown up anyway.
    • Highsec Pirates also refer to people who habitually wardec industrial corps in cheap frigates and disrupt their industry until they are paid to knock it off. In theory this can be highly profitable, but in practice all the money you make from the ransoms is often suddenly undone by the odd Industrial PvP hybrid corp kicking your ass in a war you paid to start.
  • Reaching Andromeda in Evolve Idle unlocks multiple star systems, all of which are dealing with pirate activity. This activity will negatively impact your resource income in those systems, but can be mitigated by building various ships and stationing them in the various systems. There's even an achievement for eliminating all pirate activity.
  • Pirates in FTL: Faster Than Light fly hijacked ships painted with purple stripes and a Jolly Roger best described as an "octopus skull". Sometimes, they'll carry slaves; damaging the pirates can lead to them offering to free a slave to get you to leave them alone. Some other pirates will bribe you with goods to get you to avoid attacking them, although you can attack them and get a better offer in response, or kill them outright and steal their goods. Additionally, there are sectors that are controlled by pirates, and thus have a high pirate encounter rate compared to other sectors. The player can also engage in piracy of their own. For example, you can steal supplies from civilians, attack mercenaries who offer their services or even ships who made the sin of insulting you. Of course these actions could be seen as necessary to save the federation.
  • Flinthook is a proud celebration of Type 2 in every form, as a Roguelike.
  • Freelancer has tons. The biggest examples are the Corsairs and Outcasts who patrol all over Sirius to engage in ship raiding and smuggling of illegal items, while smaller examples include groups confined to a specific house (for instance, Liberty Rogues). Legitimate travelers, including merchants, use "Trade Lanes" to get from station to station quickly, which can be disrupted mid-route so the pirates can set up an ambush.
  • Showed up just once in the FreeSpace series. However, every user-made campaign now has hordes of utterly suicidal space pirates who will just keep coming despite the fact that you've already killed the dozens which came before, and the cargo you're protecting probably wouldn't tally up to the cost of replacing their really expensive destroyed fighters. Also, those space fighters they were flying? Better quality than a full-fledged rebellion could afford to procure.
    • Lampshaded in Derelict. The Tau Ceti pirates are able to field a Deimos-class corvette (this would be the equivalent of Somali pirates having a US Navy Destroyer) and Mackie immediately exclaims, "Where are they getting this equipment?" It turns out the well-equipped pirates are actually mercenaries funded by the Morgan Mining Company to stir up trouble in Tau Ceti. When the Shivans start killing everyone, the actual local pirates, who have been almost entirely inactive in the wake of the mercenaries stirring things up, are recruited by the GTVA to help with the manpower shortage. The alternative makes them more than happy to go along with it.
  • Halo:
    • The Kig-Yarnote  have a notorious reputation for being inclined towards piracy, whether as sanctioned Covenant privateers or independent brigands; it has even been noted that being a successful pirate is the go-to dream career for most Kig-Yar children. Part of the novel Halo: Contact Harvest takes place aboard a Kig-Yar "missionary ship", which really is just a glorified pirate vessel. In fact, the Kig-Yar are almost literally Thieving Magpies, being semi-avian creatures who hoard anything of value into a treasure hoard.
    • As we see with some Insurrectionist elements, humans and other species aren't immune to this either.
    • The Banished started out as this in their early years, but as their numbers grew they developed into something like The Horde instead.
  • The Turanic Raiders of Homeworld. Also, while they are the only pirate race, both the Kushani and Taiidani sides use pirate-like ways, namely, hijacking. In the first series, the peaceful-sounding "Salvage Corvette" is often used for hijacking ships by making them incapable of resisting, towing them back to base, and let the landing party do the job. Thanks to the brokenness of this system, in Homeworld 2, the salvage corvettes are replaced by Marine Frigates (Hiigaran race), and the Infiltrator Frigate (Vaygr side). This time, they either latch onto said hapless ship (Hiigaran's preferred method), or launch boarding pods (Vaygr's way of saying badass), in the middle of battle. Both frigates are lightly armored and lightly armed, but very invaluable in the heat of battle. Their tendency to get targeted first could also be useful as bait, as a couple of these frigates will send any AI player to engage them even if that means turning their backs to the Wave-Motion Gun wielding enemies nearby.
  • Imperium Nova has a mechanic for houses to fund piracy around one or more planets, it is frequently described as being "broken".
  • Independence War 2: Edge of Chaos puts you in the role of an up-and-coming space pirate following in his grandmother's footsteps, partly as a means of building up the resources to get revenge on the Loan Shark / Corrupt Corporate Executive that killed your father.
  • Infinite Space:
    • Bands of space pirates are the primary antagonists in the early chapters, and provide fodder for Random Encounters throughout the game.
    • Several independent shipowners, most notably Celina and Valantin, make their living through piracy. Valantin, however, is in an entirely different league from other pirates, being the most famous and feared Zero-G Dog in the known universe.
    • Yuri himself turns pirate at one point after escaping from a Penal Colony in the Large Magellanic Cloud.
  • Jet Force Gemini: According to the manual, Juno and Vela's parents ran afoul of space pirates and were killed, which led to the twins yearning to become members of a Jet Force Team.
  • Chapter 8 in Kid Icarus: Uprising has Pit boarding the ship of Space Pirates, who look like one eyed glowing wires covered with metallic exoskeletons, to retrieve 3 Sacred Treasures, which the Pirates discovered in one of the many constellations they compress for safe keeping. For a bunch of pirates stealing constellations, you might think they would be more important to the plot, but this is the only chapter they appear in. And while the crew happens to be more robust than the common Underworld Army grunts, they are far from the toughest enemies in the game.
  • Otter pirates are recurring mooks in Magical Starsign, whom the space police say do not fall under their jurisdiction. Given that, under the direction of Biek Fowler, the police is in cahoots with the pirates, it makes sense...
  • You'll be fighting some variation of this trope and/or private military companies (who are basically space pirates in all but name, crossed with drug cartels) whenever you aren't following the plot in Mass Effect. Notably, however, Mass Effect's Space Pirates mostly don't seem to attack ships (and various militaries have a hard time hitting their ships en masse, too) — they attack sparely-defended colonies, then run away before the military can respond, generally taking their loot in the form of enslaved citizens.
  • Master of Orion 2 has pirate activity as a random event — it interrupts freight traffic in some system and goes away if enough of military presence is brought to the place. Also, explorers discovering a new system sometimes stumble on Pirate Booty.
  • Metroid:
    • The main antagonists are called Space Pirates, but are actually an organized alien army rather than small bands of individuals out for plunder. Their motives are invariably portrayed as sinister, but it's always implied that they have some larger goal at work, even if the precise details are unclear. It mostly comes down to "breed Metroids," "mine Phazon," etc. so that they can be used for galactic conquest. Although their marauding activities are an important part of the series's backstory — Samus's parents were killed in a Pirate raid when she was a young girl, and the events of the original game were kicked off by the Pirates raiding a Federation ship that had Metroids on it — they are only rarely seen performing any piracy on-screen.
    • In Super Metroid they even get to do some actual piracy: at the beginning of the game, Samus investigates the ransacked Ceres Space Station and confronts Ridley just before he makes off with the Metroid hatchling, although they spend the rest of the game firmly entrenched on Zebes. Super Metroid is also notably the first Metroid game to portray rank-and-file Pirates (namely Zebesians and Ki-hunters) onscreen, as opposed to just the Pirate leaders Kraid, Ridley, and Mother Brain.
    • And in Metroid Prime 3: Corruption, Space Pirates are seen literally using Boarding Pods to crash into and raid a fleet of capital ships on their way to take a Federation base on the planet the fleet is protecting. Besides the whole Take Over The Universe thing, this is played surprisingly close to the modern Real Life version.
    • One of the preview videos for Corruption titled "The Fate of the Valhalla" shows a Federation recon drone surveying the remains of the carrier Valhalla, which was attacked and boarded by a powerful Pirate task force in order to steal its onboard Aurora Unit.
  • Turn up as a random event in the classic economic-simulation M.U.L.E.; they swoop in and steal minerals from all four players.
  • No Man's Sky has space pirates and gives you the option of shooting and destroying them (and earning Units for doing so) or joining them (and gaining potential allies for doing so).
  • Most of the enemies in Planet 404 are these.
  • The card game Plants vs. Zombies: Heroes has an expansion pack called "Galactic Gardens," which introduced several space-themed pirates zombies to the game, including a pirate zombie actually called "Space Pirate" (he has a Swiss army knife for a hand and a robotic monkey).
  • Ratchet & Clank Future: Tools of Destruction has robot space pirates of the second type. Quest For Booty has undead robot space pirates! And zombie ninja pandas are briefly referred to in Tools of Destruction, presumably to complete the Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot requirement.
  • Rave Heart: The Star Raiders are a criminal organization that operates all over the galaxy of Xerxes. Additionally, their leader Sharky and several of their higher ranking members wear pirate captain hats.
  • The main antagonists of Rayman 2: The Great Escape — they invaded Rayman's homeworld, enslaved everyone (Rayman included), scattered the world's Lums everywhere, and are all around not very nice. They're also robots.
  • Rebel Galaxy has multiple factions of pirates that go by such colorful names as the Red Devil Cartel and the Doublejack Thugs. They will sometimes blockade stations, and Random Encounters include rescuing trade freighters from them. Unusually, it's also possible to improve your reputation with pirate factions to gain access to their stations and buy equipment and ships from them.
  • The Nautilus Pirates of Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, who decide the best way to handle mankind's desperate colonization of an alien world is by taking over the seas and raiding the other factions.
  • In the 'Seasons' expansion pack for The Sims 2, space pirates are the highest position on the 'Adventurer' career track. And yes, they wear pirate hats.
  • The Space Pirates in 4X Real-Time Strategy game Sins of a Solar Empire will periodically send out attacks against the players. They'll attack whichever player has the currently highest bounty on their head (which would make them more like privateers, but really, the line between them is blurred quite a bit in real life). They can, however, be disabled. The pirates are a combination of the two types. Their actions indicate that they are the former type, but their ships indicate the latter Please note the Spikes of Villainy and holographic Jolly Rogers.
    • The Rebellion Expansion Pack allows you to take control of enemy ships, including that of pirates. Their voice acting is that of a very stereotypical and Over the Top pirate speech.
    • In the Diplomacy Expansion Pack, you can offer missions to pirates outside of their normal "raiding schedule".
    • There is a bit of a bug in the game. At the start of a raid, the pirates pick a colony belonging to a player with the highest bounty. If said colony is captured by another player while they're flying to it, they'll still attack it.
    • The pirate ships are actually modified TEC frigates and cruisers (lacking special abilities and shields, but with the ability to steal money from their victims), which makes sense, given that the TEC, story-wise, is the largest and most diverse faction and the story has the war taking place entirely in their space. Luckily, they can't field capital ships.
    • In Rebellion the TEC rebels can forge an alliance with them and the other independents, making them immune to raids and able to recruit mercenary pirate fleets.
  • Sonic Chronicles: The Dark Brotherhood includes a sidequest involving Space Pirates, with Rouge mocking the guy for his traditional piratey speech.
    Pirate: Aye. A speech impediment it be.
  • A little know (and probably for the best) FMV Light Gun game called... Space Pirates.
  • Space Pirates and Zombies is a game where YOU are the space pirates. Oh, and there are zombies.
  • Spaceship Warlock includes the crew of the titular warship. Initially the game plays them up as simple loot-hungry pirates, but Captain Hammer later explains that their true mission is to find planet Terra and fight back against the Kroll Empire that moved it from orbit, using the loot they found to help Terra recover.
  • The Palm OS game Space Trader has these in droves. The player can even become one, if they want, but it comes with some side effects (like losing 10% of your profits when you can no longer sell your goods in person).
  • Spore. Alert: Hostile UFOs are attacking planet Nortaxesir! Alert: Pirates are stealing your spice on planet Nortaxesir! And on planet Oremastiz! Planet Quaralax too! And guess what? Your allies with a much vaster empire than you need your help killing a half-dozen animals that are carrying a deadly disease!
    • Thankfully, two words can solve any planet's pirating woes: Uber Turret
  • In Starcrawlers, the pirates are a hilarious take on the second type, complete with stereotypical pirate accents and jargon. However, for all their amusing dialogue, they're surprisingly dangerous and aggressive, and getting on their bad side means you will always have to risk encounters with pirate gangs hunting for your head afterward, as there's no way to improve your relations with them after hitting their ships and bases.
  • Star Ruler 1 has these. They pop up from nowhere and raid your poorly defended systems, blockading them in process, preventing materials from reaching your colonies. The sheer fustercluck of running end-game empires of hundreds of solar systems means that players generally disable pirate attacks because they are a pain in the buttocks. Star Ruler 2 has the less common but significantly more powerful Dread Pirate, a huge ship which marauds between planets in solar systems, looting and attacking civilian ships, occasionally dipping out of the system to dump their loot in a plunder station.
  • Star Trek: Starfleet Command features occasional random encounters with the Orion Pirates, complete with awesome pirate-y theme. Pirate encounters vary wildly in difficulty, but unlike every other faction you can sometimes convince them to back off if they take lose.
  • In Star Wars flight sims like X-Wing and TIE Fighter, space pirates show up in some missions to give the player a change of pace from blowing up the opposing faction's spaceships, or as dubious allies of the Rebels. As a bonus, some Azzameen family missions in X-Wing Alliance involve using a spaceship to steal others' property, which in one case leads a disapproving NPC to declare "We don't abide pirates" just before the player's ship is attacked by local security forces.
  • The entire premise of SteamWorld Heist, as its main gameplay is about the boarding and the pilfering. Your first enemy is a gang of pirates that will attract the army if left unchecked.
  • In Stellaris, soon after the player founds their first off-world colony, space pirates spawn on the fringe of their domain to launch raids that destroy space stations. The chance of additional pirate outposts popping up increases based on how many unclaimed systems are beyond an empire's borders, which is meant to punish players who expand too far or leave systems unclaimed. The good news is that they'll spawn around rival empires as well, aren't terribly strong, and turning the tables and raiding their hideouts nets a respectable sum of minerals.
    • The Leviathan DLC adds Privateers, who are actually The Remnant of a fallen Precursor civilization and a much more serious threat - their "Old Guard" fleet includes a titan - but at least they won't leave the systems they're camping.
    • The Apocalypse expansion adds Marauders, factions of Space People that won't expand beyond their three-system domains, but will regularly hit up other empires for tribute, can be bribed to Rape, Pillage, and Burn an empire's rival, and later will offer their services as Private Military Contractors. Their raiding fleets will be more than a match for any early-game armada, but by the midgame they become a nuisance at best... unless a Great Khan emerges to unify the Marauder clans into The Horde, which will proceed to expand aggressively in all directions, attacking any neighbor that doesn't surrender and become a satrapy. Depending on how successful this Marauder Horde is, it may develop into a functioning federation (just as the Khan envisioned), a number of squabbling successor states, an ordinary empire, or the Marauders may revert to their old ways and become simple raiders once more.
      • Apocalypse also makes Space Pirates playable with the "Barbaric Despoilers" civic, granting them a special casus belli they can use to plunder hostile nations. They also have access to a bombardment type that allows them to kidnap other empires' pops. With Federations adding Origins to the game, combining this civic with the "Void Dweller" origin allows the player to all but completely emulate the Marauders themselves.
    • With the introduction of trade routes in the MegaCorp expansion, these become vulnerable to piracy, which is represented by a reduction of trade value in systems along the route. Piracy can be reduced or eliminated by building a starbase in a vulnerable system or having a fleet regularly patrol the systems along the trade route. If piracy levels are allowed to rise high enough in a system, actual pirate ships will spawn there and will need to be defeated.
  • SunDog: Frozen Legacy includes pirates who will actually attempt to convince you to jettison cargo before attacking, and since you can sometimes catch a cargo container when you destroy one of them, presumably they can do the same if they destroy you.
  • Cosette and her gang of mecha-piloting space pirates in Sunrider.
  • Space pirates show up in Sword of the Stars, where they are the bane of your merchant fleets. Oddly enough, these pirates will use ships and technologies belonging to a random faction used in the current game — often factions you have yet to encounter — and will show up in situations that make no sense at all, like the nodespace-only using humans attacking your 'regular' FTL tarka or morrigi fleets, or having your hiver fleets (which use a planet-to-planet Portal Network) attacked in orbit of your own planet.
    • Random nothing — those are other players. They look like random encounter ships because (according to the fluff) raiding parties fly without colors to avoid diplomatic fallout (you can even harass AI allies and they won't figure it out, even if you're the only faction of a race in play). It also states that Humans and Zuul use regular relativity engines when trading and raiding as trade posts in a sector are guaranteed to be connected by node lines (and in the case of Zuul, a dedicated node ripper would be prohibitively expensive).
      • In addition the Zuul are more adept at capturing others ships than any other race, and they can raid for slaves from enemy colonies. It says something about their culture that the Zuul word for "pirate" is "Zuul".
    • The manual also takes pains to explain the logistics of space piracy: first, trade is conducted within one of a regular grid of sectors, so raiders know roughly where to look. And only a part of the attacking fleet will ever participate in a raid, as they spread out to catch something and only some can arrive in time; on the other hand, the entire defense fleet will naturally be present. Also, the Hivers cannot raid since they lack any FTL and will never catch anything, but their traders can only be intercept in orbit as they use hyperspace gates to get instantly from colony to colony.
    • The sequel properly sets them up as their own side de facto. Sometimes there may be explicit pirate bases you can wipe out to curtail their activities.
  • Tachyon: The Fringe has many pirate groups, most of them located in the lawless Fringe (which makes up everything outside of Sol). The most famous of these are the Blood Clan pirates, led by Redship Rory, famous for painting their ships with the blood of their enemies. The Scavs are pirates but tend to be friendly with the Bora, as they hate MegaCorps. The Void Runners are more mercenaries than pirates and frequently work for GalSpan, although they don't shy away from piracy. The Demon Pirates are pirates In Name Only, as they are crazed religious fanatics living in the strange fog of the Twilight region, killing any passerby.
  • The villains of Top Hunter: Roddy & Cathy are a legion of space buccaneers who calls themselves the Klaptons, with their leader, Captain Klapton, dressed like a stereotypical pirate during his boss fight. Your goal is to travel from planet to planet to hunt down their lieutenants, one at a time, to collect the bounty on them.
  • Vega Strike has pirates as a faction. They use outdated ships and are supported mainly by displaced would-be colonists. No big plunder — their cargo is more or less the same as on equal civilian ships, and vessels like Plowshare carry things like "water, butane, pron". Player Character may do the same, but it's not worth trying, since this causes bad relations with the attacked ship's faction and its friends, expanding through fights with them until shot at sight by almost everyone.
  • VGA Planets is a 4X space-empire game with a Privateers faction who are a loose Expy of the Orions of Star Trek; their special power is the ability to drain enemy spaceships of their fuel and then take them over via locking on a Tractor Beam.
  • In Void Bastards, space pirates are very dangerous enemies that can be encountered later on in the game attempting to scavenge the various derelict ships that you might be on. While you can potentially avoid an encounter by shooting their shuttles down with a torpedo, if not then be prepared to deal with some pissed-off Scottish women in power armor.
  • Karlina and Jayson in WarpForce, who freeze a planet in order to store more water as ice and sell it for profit, killing most of the animals designed for warm-climate while doing so. They speak in pirate accents.
  • Wing Commander:
    • In Wing Commander: Privateer and Privateer 2: The Darkening, space pirates serve as mooks in the games. The former even has a mission series operating from a pirate base, as a drug smuggler. Although mostly just the "murderous fighter pilots" variety, some of the headshots on the communication screen show the pirates with what look like high tech eye patches, though they could be cybernetic eyes they certainly fit with the theme of the Recycled In Space variant of space pirate.
    • In Wing Commander IV: The Price of Freedom, the first mission set is dedicated to taking out a pirate group that's causing trouble in the area. They are, per the novelization, specifically there to cause trouble as part of Tolwyn's plan.
  • One of the villains in The Wonderful 101 is Prince Vorkken — leader of the Guyzoch Space Pirate band. They live on a body with a highly elliptical orbit, a "comet" with roughly the same chemical makeup as Earth. They deliberately target the defenses of settlements they pass by before moving onto more usual pirate activities.
  • The pirate clans in the X-Universe have gotten to the point (as of Terran Conflict) where they've become N.G.O. Superpowers, with capital ships and space stations constructed out of kitbashed derelicts, while using Ace Custom fighters with sweet flaming Nose Art. Visually, the Pirates are fully a Type 2; docking at a Pirate station has the announcer greet you with "Ahoy matey", and they are often depicted wearing a Badass Bandolier, eye patches, and crude cybernetics. Rather than trying to exterminate them (they respawn at their home base), advanced players generally work to befriend them by selling them spaceweed and space fuel. Ditto the Yaki, who are space pirates for all intents and purposes, though they use a motif of yakuza IN SPACE!. Pirates return in X: Rebirth, but most of the Type 2 traits are either absent or toned down; most of the pirate clans are rogue fanatics (religious, sovereign citizens, etc).
  • In Zero Wing, the villains are a band of space pirates; at least, this is All There in the Manual.

    Web Animation 
  • Bee and Puppycat: The space outlaw who fell in love with a princess from Puppycat's story.
  • Red vs. Blue: The Chorus Trilogy: These guys work for Locus and Felix, they act as their personal Mooks, and have access to high tech gear that outclasses everyone else on the planet. Though their status as pirates seems to be an Informed Attribute, as they function just as a generic group of mercenaries.

  • In Absurd Notions, in a roleplaying game being played by the characters, space pirates turn up whose mannerisms correspond to exaggerated mannerisms of software "pirates". Namely, a ship preparing to attack opens communication with "j0, SUXX0RZ!! xDR3Dx3DDx 0WNZ U!!! 5UR3ND0R N0W!! 4LL j00R W4R3Z R B3L0N9 2 US L0L!!1!!!". Lampshaded by Asimov, Isaac's character, who responds with "I think I miss the days when pirates said 'Arrr'."
  • Buck Godot: Zap Gun for Hire has "the Pistol Packin' Polaris Packrat"; also, one cyborg ex-asteroid pirate turned Space Marine sergeant, who became rather unpopular for the time (brief) he lived after this discovery. Also, that guy on the banner who boasted before Buck — but he was bad.
  • King Hippo relates a story to Captain SNES: The Game Masta about the time he raided the space pirates who built Mother Brain... the Captain N: The Game Master version. They came complete with Space Booty and Space-Yarrs.
  • Cassiopeia Quinn is one.
  • In Crimson Dark, Vaegyr Ward hates being called a pirate. As he points out, he has letters of marque, so he's a Privateer. Also, pirates tend to be meaner than him.
  • Orcelot Rex in the Toonami webcomic Endgame.
  • In Far from Home, they capture the heroes of the Show Within a Show.
  • In Freefall, an aspiration.
  • The Inexplicable Adventures of Bob! has the Pirates of Ipecac, who resemble giant lobsters.
  • Deconstructed in this Irregular Webcomic! strip.
  • I Was Kidnapped by Lesbian Pirates from Outer Space!!! features a girl who was... well, just that. Come to think of it, so does Vandread, although it was three guys in this case.
  • In Metroid: Third Derivative set after the events of Metroid Prime 2: Echoes, the Space Pirates have the same functions as from the Metroid series. They are led by both Ridley and Mother Brain. The Space Pirates look to utilize Phazon for their operations on Planet Nemesis.
  • Quentyn Quinn, Space Ranger has his first encounter with pirates whose careers go messily wrong. And philosophizes about it here.
  • In the Runners 'verse we've met two groups of those so far; Harmon's regular pirates out for loot and the bloodthirsty Kagaan-Vas.
  • Space pirates appeared in one Schlock Mercenary in a print-exclusive tale providing some Backstory for Sgt. Schlock, and again in the online comic itself. The comic even hung a lampshade on the economic and physical problems inherent in this type of venture. Of course, they turned out not to be pirates, but guerillas fighting the current government.
    • In the first case piracy was enabled by a Portal Network, in the second by a 200-AU interdiction of the new "Teraport" drive. The crew initially told their clients in the second case that they needed a logistical overhaul instead of mercenaries before being informed they were after a specific guy.
  • Sluggy Freelance:
    • In "Oceans Unmoving", there's the equivalent of Space Pirates in Timeless Space, flying around on old Teknokon ships, kidnapping people to store in their holds to maintain their time aura so it doesn't run out. Turns out they choose to act like pirates and use such an antisocial means of getting people to join with them because the usual way to end up in Timeless Space is via failed experimental time travel, so the pirates tend to be former nerds.
    • Bun-bun, who also acted as a Space Pirate captain in Timeless Space, later takes over a spaceship in normal space and forces the crew of former Evil Minions to act as his Space Pirate crew. Only since this is the normal universe, they don't really have anyone to rob out in space.
  • Kyzok and his crew in Episode One of Space Kid.
  • Type 1 space pirates are said to have occurred in S.S.D.D., and is why there was an ancient CORE station orbiting Uranus at the start of the SSDF arc. But once the mineral resources of the outer system dried up piracy ceased to become profitable.
  • Starslip parodies the second form of this trope with Infra-Redbeard and his crew. They fly around in an open-decked ship with solar sails, fight with Atom Cutlasses, and otherwise fill every pirate cliche while just happening to be in space.
    • Cutter Edgewise himself was a former Pirate Science Officer. He still retains the cutlass and eyepatch, and gets a prosthetic leg in a later arc.
  • One story arc in Zap! involves pirates that appear to be a mix of this and Sky Pirate kidnapping two main characters.
  • Zeera The Space Pirate is Exactly What It Says on the Tin. Except for the fact she never quite gets around to committing any acts of piracy.

    Web Originals 
  • The primary cast of Caelum Lex are space pirates, smuggling, stealing and raiding from their rusty beat-up spaceship.
  • Skipjack has a strange example in that the pirates are both of the space and maritime kind- in the Alternate History of the story, submarines were repurposed as spacecraft to go to Mars due to it having been terraformed into an ocean world, and they return to their old naval function when on the planet.
  • Pirates show up fairly often in the Chakona Space stories, some of them are just run of the mil pirates out for loot, others are slavers from the Non-Aligned Worlds where slavery of morphs is still allowed.
  • The main characters of The Endless Night are Space Pirates, and the podcast mainly focuses on their exploits as they raid and pillage across the galaxy.
  • Space piracy has been TRIED in The Journal Entries (more than once, and even on-screen), but between any random merchant ship possibly having just about any damn kind of weaponry (including one with a combat android that boarded an attacking vessel and sabotaged its' reactors to explode), the way various space navies tend to go looking for any space pirates (mostly because they're bored and curb stomping pirates is fun), and how much it COSTS to go searching for merchants to try to plunder in the first place, they tend to die without successors.
  • They've become quite the problem in Nexus Gate since space travel became a reality.
  • The browser game Star Pirates is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, from digging through orbital debris to attacking other players and everything between.
  • Starwalker: Starwalker is attacked by pirates. This is one of the key events in the Stable Time Loop.

    Web Video 
  • Mighty Moshin Emo Rangers, a fan parody of Power Rangers and emo culture, has an episode where the Emo Rangers battle the Rave Pirates from outer space, who have come to infect earth teenagers with their "New Rave"

    Western Animation 
  • One episode of My Life as a Teenage Robot saw Earth invaded by a group of space pirates, operating a spaceship that looked like an old galleon, equipped with lasers that look ike old-timey cannons. The pirates themselves dressed like traditional pirates from the 18th century.
  • Ōban Star-Racers has Lord Furter, a comical example most notable for his incompetence and non-threatening appearance, even though both he and his crew seem to think he's the most bad-ass thing ever. He's also self-aware. "I'm boarding your ship! That's what pirates do, we board ships!"
  • Rolie Polie Olie has Gloomius Maximus, a Space Pirate determined the stop everyone from having fun, at least until his Heel–Face Turn.
  • StarCom: The U.S. Space Force: One episode features bandits using stolen Shadow Force technology to raid a farming town on Mars.
  • Star Trek: The Animated Series had an episode titled "The Pirates of Orion," complete with pirate spaceship, as a possible forerunner to the Orion Syndicate in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • Star Wars: The Clone Wars offers a more traditional version with the Weequay pirates led by Hondo Ohnaka (complete with a monkey-lizard standing in for a parrot and an affinity for the cutlass), who is as likeable as he is cunning. He managed to take Count Dooku, Anakin Skywalker, and Obi-Wan Kenobi all hostage, while still being friendly towards them. Even more alarming, the trio weren't and still aren't completely sure how he did it! If that's not enough, he was able to briefly duel Anakin with an electrostaff, on a moving tank pilot, no less. In later appearances, he's something of a Friendly Enemy to Obi-Wan. As Obi-Wan pointed out to him, he held both Jedi and Sith hostage, and Jedi don't hold grudges, while Sith very much do.
  • Star Wars Resistance: Kragan Gorr and his gang, who have been attacking the Colossus regularly because the First Order hired them. Their plan is to pressure the platform's owner, Captain Doza, into inviting the First Order on board as security, allowing them to take over and use it as a staging area.
  • Steven Universe: "Lars of the Stars" becomes the captain of the Sun Incinerator, with the Off-Colors as his crew. They are space pirates, stealing ships and supplies from the Gem Empire as they travel through the universe on their way to Earth.
  • Captain Kaliko and her oil-rig raiders in the Totally Doctor Who animation "The Infinite Quest". Baltazar in the same story fits the trope to some extent, even having a robot parrot. In some respects he seems an Expy of the Captain from "The Pirate Planet" (see above), with his first scene having him try to turn Earth into diamonds, but is more villainous.
  • Voltron: Legendary Defender: In "Space Mall", Coran makes the paladins dress up as these when going to the space mall, thinking it'll help them blend in. Since he hasn't been to the mall in 10,000 years, it just ends up making them stand out and causes the security guard to think they're real space pirates. Hilarity Ensues.

    Real Life 
  • The Closest Thing We Got in real life is the unauthorized use of communication satellites. Some of them are simple radio repeaters without complicated authentication mechanisms. One of those incidents happened in 2007 when Tamil rebels pirated an Intelsat satellite to transmit their radio and TV propaganda broadcasts. Or, in other words: Space Pirate Radio. One that actually hijacks vessels.
  • In May 2019, US Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) claimed that the threat of space pirates justifies the formation of a space-bound branch of the US military. After much ridicule on social media (complete with billionaire tech mogul Elon Musk claiming to side with the space pirates), Cruz clarified that he was actually talking about the Chinese government (basically the same thing, right?)
  • August 2019 saw the first report of an actual crime in space, albeit not a violent one. Astronaut Anne McClain was accused by her wife Summer Worden of illegally accessing the latter's financial information using a computer on board the International Space Station. Incidentally, this also makes McClain the first openly lesbian astronaut (though Sally Ride was also LGBT+ and Wendy Lawrence too is a lesbian, they were not open about it while serving). In fact, Worden's accusation outed her. McClain was cleared, Worden charged with false statements.


Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Space Pirate


Captain Slag

The scourge of Polaris, the grog-drinking captain of large crew of space pirates and a thorn in Ratchet and Clank's side in Tools of Destruction.

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