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Series / Our Flag Means Death

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Piracy isn’t for everyone.

"Right! This is it! Places, everyone! Look scary!"
Captain Stede Bonnet

Our Flag Means Death is a 2022 period romantic comedy series created by David Jenkins (People of Earth) and executive produced by Taika Waititi. It premiered on HBO Max on 3rd March 2022.

Based loosely on true events, the series follows one Stede Bonnet (played by Rhys Darby), a pampered aristocrat who, following a mid-life crisis, abandons his fortune and sets out to become a “gentleman pirate." Stede's newest venture has some...less than stellar results, as he struggles to adjust to the gritty, dangerous life of a pirate captain. Along with his colorful crew, Stede travels the sea in search of pirate fame, which eventually leads to a fateful encounter with the infamous pirate Blackbeard (Waititi).

Joining Darby and Waititi are Kristian Nairn, Rory Kinnear, Joel Fry, Vico Ortiz, Con O'Neill, Nathan Foad, Matthew Maher, Ewen Bremner, Samba Schutte, Samson Kayo, Nat Faxon, and guest appearances by Will Arnett, Fred Armisen, and Leslie Jones.

On June 1, 2022, the show was renewed for a second season which premiered on October 5, 2023.

On January 9, 2024, it was announced by David Jenkins on Instagram that the show had been canceled after two seasons, despite its success and critical acclaim.


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  • 419 Scam: In Episode 5, Oluwande and Frenchie con many aristocrats with this kind of scheme, with Oluwande posing as an Egyptian prince who promises fabulous returns to investors in his project to recover riches locked away in a pyramid. Bonus points for managing this scam centuries before the internet. Oluwande and Frenchie, in turn, invest their earnings with the aristocrats' former servants, who discuss how to improve the scam - including claiming to be a Nigerian, not an Egyptian, prince.
  • Accidental Murder: Bonnet strikes Badminton from behind, only intending to stun him — but he topples forward on to his own sword. This ends up working in Bonnet's favor, as he wins some much-needed pirate cred with the crew by passing the murder off as intentional.
  • Actually, I Am Him: Stede initially thinks Ed, the nice guy he meets after getting stabbed, is one of Blackbeard's crew. Blackbeard introduces himself as "Ed", and when Stede asks if he works for Blackbeard, he says he does, though he'd never thought of it that way before.
  • Allegiance Affirmation: While the whole crew is clearly enjoying themselves when Calico Jack comes on board in Episode 8, Jack killing Karl the seagull immediately turns them against him. When Stede kicks him off the ship and Jack angrily asks if anyone's going to stay with "the fop" over him, the entire crew ends up doing so.
  • Almost Kiss:
    • Ed and Stede share a moment on the deck of the Revenge in Episode 5.
    • Jim and Olu lean in for a kiss on the grounds of Jim's old home in Episode 7, right before Stede barges in on them.
  • Anachronism Stew: Deliberately and flagrantly, according to Rule of Funny.
  • Analogy Backfire: At Stede and Mary's wedding, the priest says that they should be lighthouses, guiding each other through stormy seas. When he hears it, Blackbeard immediately lampshades that lighthouses are literally there to be avoided, so one's ship doesn't break up on the rocks. This turns out to be the correct interpretation of the metaphor, as Stede and Mary both realize that they're happier and more fulfilled apart than together.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: Seeing how damaged Ed has become, Izzy grudgingly admits that their relationship is and has been toxic for decades, but that he "has love" for Edward. Ed responds with mild disgust.
  • Artistic License – Geography: The ocean is a big place, but the characters always seem to be able to find each other anywhere in the entire Caribbean, even if they hadn't agreed on a meeting spot beforehand. Especially so in Episode 10, when Blackbeard finds his way back to the Revenge, and Stede sets out from Barbados in a dinghy and manages to find his marooned crew before they resort to extreme measures.
  • Artistic License – History: The show plays extremely fast and loose with 18th century nautical history, but hey, it is a comedy. The depictions of the Royal Navy in particular draw on the French Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, 80-100 years after Blackbeard's heyday.
  • Artistic License – Medicine: Lucius injures his finger and develops a potentially deadly infection that requires it to be amputated. Meanwhile, other characters get stabbed in the abdomen (sometimes multiple times over the course of the first season) and suffer no long-term ill effects as long as they ensure that they aren't hit "in the important bits". Lampshaded slightly by Edward's comment about them not knowing what the liver does.
  • Artistic License – Ships: Audible fog signals are supposed to be 4-6 seconds long, but as this is 1717 and before formalised Rules of the Road (or low visibility sound signals even), eh, it's excusable. Also, an unamplified human voice doesn't travel very far over the water, so it would be doubtful the Spanish even heard Wee John impersonating one.
  • Asshole Victim:
  • Beef Bandage: After a half-conscious Ed headbutts Stede in the face, we later see Stede holding a raw steak to his cheek. This doubles as a Prochronic Product, as the reason for the cliché of holding a cut of meat to a bruise is that it's frozen, and refrigerators did not exist in the 18th century, much less on a pirate ship.
  • Belated Love Epiphany: In Episode 10, Mary describing her love for her new beau makes Stede realize that he has all the same feelings for Ed, who he just left in order to try to make things work with his family. Zig-Zagged in that Stede had already kissed Ed by that point, so he knew their relationship was romantic, but wasn't sure if it was really love until talking to Mary.
  • Benevolent Boss: Bonnet attempts to be this to his crew (keyword, attempts), paying them fair wages, setting up recreational activities, and even installing a library, amongst other things. The crew members are initially unappreciative, as they just don't understand why someone would do this on a pirate ship. Over the course of the series they come around to his management style and become increasingly loyal to him.
  • Beta Couple: Lucius and Pete have a Friends with Benefits scenario that develops into a full relationship, in contrast to Stede and Blackbeard's slow-burn romance. Jim and Oluwande's relationship also contrasts with the Official Couple.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: Roach, reluctantly impressed by his captain's twin feats of killing Badminton and holding off his warship, says this about Stede at the end of the first episode. One of the hostages describes Bonnet as having the eyes of a madman.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: Jim and Oluwande have one. Stede and Ed also get a climactic kiss, but it's downplayed as gentle fumbling and tenderness rather than drama and passion because it's also the first truly romantic kiss either of them has ever had.
  • Bilingual Bonus: The French is legit, even to the point of evading subtitles. When Blackbeard demands to know where the loot is on the French ship, the subtitles for the Frenchman only say "speaking French", when he's saying in French that it's down below. The Spanish spoken by Jim, Jim's Nana, and occasionally Oluwande, also has good grammar and pronunciation.
  • Blackmail Backfire: In Episode 5, Izzy attempts to force Lucius to do chores (swabbing the deck, scraping barnacles) by threatening to reveal that he's slept with both Black Pete and Fang. Not only was his "sketching" already public knowledge without provoking any jealousy from the crew, but his fling with Fang has given Lucius retaliatory blackmail material on Izzy.
  • Booze Flamethrower: Used in Episode 4, when Ed and Stede try to imitate a lighthouse to ward off a Spanish ship.
  • Break the Haughty: Stede does this to an entire room of aristocrats in Episode 5 using nothing but a few pointed questions.
  • Break-Up Bonfire: Played With. When Ed adopts the Kraken persona to (avoid) deal(ing) with Stede abandoning him, he gets rid of almost everything from Stede's cabin. Since a giant bonfire on a wooden ship is too deranged even for the Kraken, the objects are thrown overboard instead.
  • Brief Accent Imitation: Oluwande and Frenchie in Episode 5, as they invent the Nigerian Prince con to use against the aristocrats. Frenchie introduces Oluwande as "an Egyptian prince descended from the Pharaohs", and Oluwande adopts an African accent for the rest of their time on the boat.
  • Brother–Sister Incest: The main aristocratic couple's dirty secret at the dinner party Stede and Ed crash. The husband, Gabriel, attempts to defend it, but the wife, Antoinette, breaks down and admits that even she finds their attraction to each other "fucking disgusting".
  • Camp Gay: Lucius mentions that he's managed to hide the fact that he doesn't like girls from his mother his entire life, and his demeanor is generally on the feminine side. By Episode 9, it's apparent that Stede is this trope as well.
  • Cast Full of Gay: All of the major romances on the show are queer, and Vico Ortiz (Jim) has said on their Instagram that pretty much the entire cast is "somewhere along the LGBTQ spectrum".note 
    • Karl the seagull is said to be in a loving relationship with his wife Olivia, but that’s according to Cloud Cuckoolander Buttons, so who knows. Being straight is, apparently, for the birds. (Plus, of course, being in an m/f relationship doesn’t necessarily mean someone’s straight.)
  • Chekhov's Skill: In Episode 6, Blackbeard teaches Stede how to get run through by a sword without any lasting damage. This is how Stede ends up defeating Izzy Hands in their duel at the end of the episode, by taking a hit in front of the mast, destroying Izzy's sword without sustaining permanent damage.
  • Clothing Switch: In Episode 4, when Blackbeard and Stede switch clothes so they can "switch lives", after both express their dissatisfaction with their current circumstances. Blackbeard actually keeps Stede's tie and wears it with his leather outfit for the rest of the show.
  • Color Motifs: In the family portrait, Mary and the children wear earthy shades of yellow, while Stede is in bright blue. Not only does this signify Stede's alienation from his family (as the odd-man-out in terms of color), but hints at their fates: Mary and the kids are at home on the land (earth yellow), but Stede will only find his home on the sea (blue).
  • Coming-Out Story: Notably Averted despite featuring a Cast Full of Gay and several characters whose understanding of their identities evolves over the course of the story:
    • Stede starts the show with a wife and two children note  and ultimately falls in love for the first time with Ed, who is implied to be his Closet Key. However, Stede's exact understanding of and relationship to his sexual orientation is never communicated to the audience, and his character arc is about becoming more confident, brave, and accountable in ways that have little to do with his sexuality.
    • Jim's coming-out as nonbinary is handled in an offhand way, where they simply express discomfort at being perceived as a woman and tell the crew to keep calling them Jim. Their actual storyline is about seeking revenge for their family's murder, which has nothing to do with their gender identity.
    • In general, the characters have a very nonchalant attitude towards sexuality and gender, and so there's never a need for characters to formally come out to one another.
  • Cosmic Motifs: All three of the canon couples have some sort of Sun/Moon motif:
    • Stede is the sun: sociable, optimistic and dressing in bright colours. At the end of the series, he's confidently rowing into the sun. Edward is the moon: more isolated, moodier/more changeable than his partner and dressing in black. At the end of the series, he's crying alone in a darkened room.
    • Lucius (whose name links him to the daylight) is a popular and charismatic member of The Revenge; Black Pete (whose nickname links him to the night) is far less well regarded and sometimes left out of discussions.
    • Jim is the harsher side of the sun: hot-tempered, relentless and fierce. Oluwande is the gentler side of the moon: thoughtful, emotionally intelligent and basically kind.
  • Creator Cameo: Series creator and showrunner David Jenkins appears as one of the members of the Royal Navy in the first episode.
  • Culture Clash: This forms the main conflict between Bonnet and his crew. Bonnet is a pampered, well-off aristocrat who values kindness and non-violence. His crew on the other hand, being pirates, see his values as weaknesses and actively desire to do criminal activity and cause violence. Eventually, the crew learns to be open with their emotions as Stede requests, and Stede learns to be a bit less squeamish about violence.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Ed murdered his abusive father, and Jim's father was murdered by a bandit for seemingly no reason.
  • Death Montage: When Hornigold antagonizes him during their innkeeper roleplay, Ed is so enraged that he breaks the man's neck with his bare hands. He walks away...only to see Hornigold calmly sit up and adjust his neck. Thus begins a cartoonish sequence of an increasingly confused and furious Ed murdering Hornigold (stabbing, shooting, strangling, and finally smashing his head with a crate). The failed attempts make Ed realize that neither the island nor Hornigold are real.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: Nigel's crew and the French aristocrats are shown with period-appropriate bigotry. By contrast, the pirates have a mixed race (and eventually mixed sexuality) crew.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Izzy dies in Ed's arms after being shot in the final episode.
  • Disappeared Dad: Stede is this to his own children, Alma and Louis, having run away in the middle of the night for a life of piracy.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Zig-Zagged. Blackbeard teaches Stede how to get stabbed safely, and the dialogue about Stede "running him through with his sword" and the noises they both make as they try to free the blade sound quite suggestive. While the two of them don't notice what they sound like, an eavesdropping Izzy does, and his disgust coupled with the fact that Stede and Blackbeard are in the process of falling in love with each other suggests that the two were subconsciously making the interaction sexual.
  • Doomed New Clothes: Stede dresses himself and Lucius up in all-white suits for their first outing in the Republic of Pirates. Lucius almost immediately gets thrown up on and has to take his coat off; Stede keeps his on until he goes to parlay with the Spanish and gets stabbed in the stomach, at which point the white fabric gets visibly bloodstained.
    • In Episode 5 of Season Two, Stede takes a fancy red suit off a Spanish ship, but the crew is convinced that the suit is cursed and attempt to destroy it. He finally relents and passes the suit on to the crew of the next ship they capture.
  • Drag Queen: To celebrate the (entirely fictional) "pirate holiday" of Calypso's birthday, the crew throws a party that includes decorations, refreshments, and Wee John in the starring role of the sea goddess Calypso. Non-binary pirate Jim joins in the fun with a drawn-on mustache. Unexpectedly, Izzy gets in on the act as well and entertains the crew with a moving performance of "La Vie en Rose."
  • Drone of Dread: Blackbeard at the start is usually represented musically by a particularly sinister horn-like sound. It notably makes a reappearance in the score when Ed reverts back into his Blackbeard/Kraken persona after Izzy angrily calls him out on his moping.
  • Easily Forgiven: It becomes a bit of a Running Gag how quickly Stede brushes off people who attack or try to kill him. While it's Played for Laughs, it also says something rather tragic about Stede's self-esteem that he seems to think attempting to murder him is a perfectly reasonable thing to do...
    • The crew is ready for mutiny after about five minutes of Stede's leadership. Rather than punish them, he tries harder to meet their expectations and becomes such a Father to His Men that they'll risk their own necks for him come Episode 9.
    • Ed/Blackbeard confesses to having a plan to kill Stede after befriending him. In most stories, this would lead to a friendship crisis of the Was It All a Lie? variety, but such is Stede's belief in Ed's inherent goodness (or, more cynically, his epic skills of denial), he suggests pretending it didn't happen.
    • Mary attempts to murder Stede in his sleep by skewering him through the ear. Stede is mildly indignant at worst, and in fact, the whole debacle leads to a touching heart-to-heart where the reluctant spouses actually communicate properly for once. Stede still accepts his role as "the bad guy" in their relationship when he conspires to fake his death, and no word on how Mary intended to explain their father's corpse to the kids.
  • Economy Cast: The real Stede Bonnet had a crew of seventy men on the Revenge, and Blackbeard had over three hundred on Queen Anne's Revenge. To keep the cast list manageable, the series' Revenge is crewed by only ten people and Blackbeard only has three lackeys and a handful of extras.
  • Embarrassing Nickname: Stede used to be called "Baby Bonnet" by his bullies, a name that he is not fond of.
  • Everyone Can See It: Both Stede and Ed's BeleagueredAssistants comment on how much they like each other.
    • In Episode 6, Izzy addresses Stede:
    Izzy. It's my job to make sure that Edward is content. And he adores you. Why I'll never know, but he does.
    • In Episode 7, Lucius addresses Edward:
    Lucius: That bizarre little man over there likes you very much, and you like him, and if you can't get over yourself enough to realize that, then you're going to end up another leather-clad, middle-aged sad sack dying alone in a puddle of his own piss.
  • Exceptionally Tolerant: While it's not Politically Correct History as racism and homophobia are clearly shown outside of pirate life, within it no one seems to hold any particular contempt towards queer relationships or other races. As Calico Jack puts it, "Anything goes at sea.".
  • The Exile: After losing a duel with Stede, Izzy Hands is put out in a lifeboat and sent on his way. Nobody is terribly sad to see him go, not even Blackbeard.
  • Face Death with Dignity: In Episode 9, when Stede is sentenced by Badminton to death by firing squad, he tells a frantic Blackbeard that he is willing to face the consequences. Subverted a few seconds later; when he's actually in front of the firing squad, he's completely terrified and cries for help.
  • Falling-in-Love Montage: At the start of Episode 6, between Stede and Blackbeard. There's another in Episode 10, as Stede realizes that he's been in love with Blackbeard the whole time. Episode 3 of Season Two provides a third montage when Ed is comatose from a major head injury and flashes back to his time with Stede.
  • Family of Choice: At the end of Episode 1, Stede repeats to himself that his family is on the Revenge now, having left his wife and children behind. Episode 10 ends with Stede finding his marooned crew, just before they were about to turn on each other.
  • Fantasy Sequence: Several in Season Two.
    • Season Two opens with a bearded and ruggedly attired Stede killing a snarling, unrepentant Izzy in a sunset duel by the ocean, then running to a magically appearing Ed, who instantly forgives him and parrots endearments. Cut to a lone Stede's wistful (and clean-shaven) face.
    • In the third episode of Season Two, after suffering a severe head injury and imagining that he's drowning, Ed envisions Stede as a golden-tailed merman swimming up and saving him. This scene is interspersed with cuts of the real Stede frantically calling his name and imploring him to live.
  • Fictional Holiday: In Season Two, the crew celebrates Calypso's birthday, a day supposedly sacred to all pirates. It's really just an excuse to throw an elaborate party, and they all know it.
  • Fingore: After his splinter gets terribly infected, a mad-from-fever Lucius cuts his finger off to keep anyone else from getting it.
  • Fireworks of Love: When Ed and Stede have sex for the first time in Season Two, the scene cuts from passionate kissing to fireworks over the Revenge, and even literal cannonfire.
  • Fish out of Water:
    • Despite giving up his old posh life for a career in piracy, Stede cannot get out of his aristocratic mindset.
    • Blackbeard at the fancy dinner. At first, he enjoys being more popular than Stede's alter ego, but he soon begins to loathe the French high society snobs, actually flat-out asking at one point if they know who he is, and informs them he could kill them all. Ironically, he's rescued by Stede's skill at playing the high society passive-aggression game.
  • Foil: Izzy and Lucius each serve as Beleaguered Assistant to their respective pirate captains, Ed and Stede, shaping their legacies and helping to form their impulsive whims into concrete action. However, Lucius is a Sarcastic Devotee with a grounding influence on Stede, giving him relationship advice while maintaining a healthy skepticism towards his harebrained schemes. Lucius has open and affectionate friendships and dalliances with the rest of his crew, especially Black Pete, and maintains their respect despite being useless at actual piracy. Izzy, on the other hand, is an expert sailor and fencer but also a Toxic Friend Influence who encourages all of Ed's darkest impulses regardless of the harm they inflict, even to the extent of putting Blackbeard-the-persona ahead of Ed-the-person. His repressed, fetishistic devotion leads him to enforce his authority through fear and abuse. Even Ivan and Fang, Izzy's personal lackeys, are happy to ditch him at the first opportunity.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • Episode 4 shows the officiant at Stede and Mary's wedding telling them they are to be each others' metaphorical lighthouses guiding one another through life, and Mary gives Stede a painting of a lighthouse as an anniversary gift. Later in the episode, Blackbeard remarks that people always forget that you're supposed to avoid lighthouses, as getting too close to one means you'll break apart on the rocks. The season ends with Blackbeard, utterly broken after getting close to Stede and being abandoned by him, sobbing as he stares at the lighthouse painting.
    • Also in Episode 4, Stede mentions in reaction to his Arranged Marriage that he had always wanted to marry for love, to which his father replies that "peasants marry for love". In Episode 10, Stede has faked his death and left his entire estate and inherited wealth to Mary and Doug to return to Blackbeard.
  • Formal Full Array of Cutlery: When the crew raids a French ship in Episode 5, Stede teaches Ed the intricacies of fine dining. They find an invitation to a fancy dinner party, and Ed gets humiliated by the aristocrats when he uses the wrong spoon for shrimp.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: Frenchie and Oluwande give receipts to the aristocrats they scam in Episode 5. Pausing at the right time reveals that the "receipts" are just drawings of cats, since both Frenchie and Oluwande are illiterate.
    • In Season Two, the lengthy list of crimes on Blackbeard's Wanted poster includes "Unlicensed Midwifery," "Plagiarism," "Tax Evasion," and "Communism," among others.
  • Freudian Couch:
    • Minus the couch. Stede lays on the ground with a tribal elder sitting beside him in Episode 2, talking about his guilty conscience.
    • Almost Blackbeard venting to Stede in Episode 4. Almost, only because it's Blackbeard.
  • Freudian Excuse: Blackbeard's dirt-poor childhood and abusive father are a sympathetic foundation for his ruthless deeds. Ed invented the Kraken to externalize the guilt of murdering his father, and Blackbeard to distance himself from the brutality of fighting to survive. Those alter-egos had grown to eclipse Ed as a person until Stede helped him reconnect with his humanity.
  • Friendly Enemy: Although they are mortal enemies, Jim and Spanish Jackie stop trying to kill each other and have a drink together. It is Jackie who convinces Jim to stop pursuing revenge and return to the ship...and Oluwande.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: Black Pete, with his implausible stories of previously sailing with Blackbeard, is a constant source of irritation to everyone around him.
  • Friendly Pirate: Well, Stede and his crew want to be dangerous pirates, but this is hampered by Stede's upper-class breeding, self-professed positive management style, and distaste for any of the more unsavory piratical activities.
  • Genre Savvy: Lucius is the only character who seems to realize that the overarching plot is a Rom Com, frequently acting as the matchmaker or heartbreak counselor to Ed and Stede.
    • Death By Genre Savvy: Unfortunately, this means Blackbeard has to get rid of him when he adopts the Kraken persona, as Lucius was the one person who could have potentially talked him out of it.
  • Gilligan Cut: At the beginning of Episode 5, Stede's crew is about to witness and observe how Blackbeard operates during a raid on a merchant ship. Stede says that he hopes it doesn't too violent, right before we cut to a scene of absolute havoc on board.
  • Good Is Not Soft: Stede, despite being A Father to His Men and all-around Benevolent Boss, has a ruthless streak to him. He effortlessly humiliates the aristocracy in Episode 5, kicks Calico Jack off his ship when his frat-bro behavior gets too much, and in Episode 10 slams Doug into a table at knifepoint when he startles him.
  • Go Through Me: As Stede faces down the firing squad in Episode 9, Ed desperately puts himself between Stede and the soldiers.
  • Hair of Gold, Heart of Gold: Stede Bonnet is blond, and genuinely tries to be a good and kind captain to his crew.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Stede's crew, although reluctant to go along with his ideas, end up showing a surprising amount of theatrical and artistic talent — from designing their own pirate flags to acting out the fuckery in Episode 6, to the talent show in Episode 10.
    • Blackbeard is a severely emotionally damaged man who hasn't personally killed anyone since his abusive father. Either he orders a flunky to do it or he finds a way to distance himself from the act psychologically. For example, he had a ship burned down with the crew still aboard but technically the fire killed them, not Blackbeard...
    • Stede, despite being the perfect upper-class gentleman, has a hidden ruthless passive-aggressive streak that comes out when he needs to humiliate some aristocrats for embarrassing Blackbeard.
  • Historical Domain Character: Stars fictionalized versions of fabled pirates Stede Bonnet and Blackbeard. Also featured are Calico Jack and Israel Hands (called "Izzy" in the show).
  • Historical Hero Upgrade: The real Stede Bonnet actually did have rowdy crewmen flogged as punishment, and seemed to be far less averse to violence than his fictional counterpart. Plus, he owned a plantation with slaves.
  • Historical In-Joke: Izzy finds the Revenge beached and wonders "what kind of fuckin' moron runs a ship aground". Blackbeard infamously ran the Queen Anne's Revenge aground, and Israel Hands ran a second ship aground trying to get the first ship out.
  • Historical Villain Upgrade: Little is known about Israel Hands aside from the fact he was Blackbeard's right-hand man, but the show goes out of its way to make him an authoritarian, conceited, homophobic, and cruel man. Blackbeard himself is also portrayed as significantly more Ax-Crazy than he's recorded as being (despite an otherwise sympathetic portrayal).
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: In Episode 6, Stede is ready to cancel the fuckery when the rehearsals do not go well. As Izzy's plan for Blackbeard to kill Stede hinges on him dying "doing something he loves," Izzy comes to Stede's cabin and convinces him to go on because "[Ed] adores you" and they both want to see him happy. The pep talk leads to the fuckery continuing, which triggers Ed into a panic attack that causes him to confess the whole plot to Stede, which would not have happened if the fuckery had been canceled as Stede suggested.
    • On a larger scale, the only reason Blackbeard even knew about Stede at all is because Izzy, of his own volition, tried (unsuccessfully) to steal the hostages from him. Had Izzy minded his own business, everything else in the series would not have happened.
  • Hollywood Natives: Averted with a vengeance in Episode 2, where the native tribe who capture Stede, Pete and their naval hostages turn out to be reasonable people acting on an entirely justified suspicion of white people landing on their island, after how many times they've been backstabbed and nearly wiped out by said colonizers. (They're also quite annoyed at the automatic assumption that they killed and ate one of their captives.) Stede and Pete concede that they've got a point almost immediately, despite the fact that they still would very much prefer to not die, and when the tribe realize that "you only pose a danger to yourselves because you're mediocre pirates", they let Stede and Pete go free and are willing to help the crew dislodge the ship to get them off the island as soon as possible. The tribe in question is also a reasonably accurate depiction of an Arawak community, not the imaginary, stereotypical "island natives" usually associated with the trope.
  • I Am Not Pretty: Played with; Lucius cheerfully (and smugly) admits that he thinks his own looks are "so-so", but he's decided to act like he's cute anyway to boost his confidence. It seems to be working, as he's literally charmed the pants off multiple crewmates.
  • "I Can't Look!" Gesture:
    • In Episode 6, as Izzy is about to deal the finishing blow, Ed turns away from the fight, unable to look.
    • When Stede is facing down the Royal Navy firing squad in Episode 9, most of his crew off to the side cover their eyes and ears.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: How Chauncey Badminton dies. After kidnapping Stede from the privateer academy in the middle of the night, he rambles drunkenly, then stumbles towards Stede before tripping on a branch in the woods and shooting himself in the eye.
  • I Will Find You: At the end of the season, Stede realises that he has no longer has any place in his own house with his wife and children — so he fakes his death and sets off in a dinghy to reunite with Ed.
  • If It's You, It's Okay: Lucius, a gay man, has a moment like this after Jim (a nonbinary person whom Lucius still thinks is a woman at the moment) gives him a big kiss of gratitude for bringing back their family's knife.
    "Okay...would it be crazy if I was suddenly like...into Jim?
  • Impossibly Delicious Food: The noodle soup that the crew eats while staying on the Chinese junk, the Red Flag. Roach in particular raves about the complex yet delicate balance of flavors.
  • In Love with the Mark: At the end of Episode 4, Blackbeard confides in Izzy his plan to kill Stede, mutilate his face, and steal his identity, so he could retire from his life at sea. By the start of Episode 6, however, his crew confronts him for still not having put that plan into action and accuses him of having grown too fond of Stede to actually commit to it. They're right — by the end of the episode, he tearfully confesses the plan to Stede and tells him he's unable to go through with it.
  • Interplay of Sex and Violence: In Season 2, Stede and Ed have sex for the first time in the aftermath of Stede's first deliberate kill.
  • In with the In Crowd: In Episode 5, Ed manages to charm and amuse most of the aristocrats at the party with a rowdy sense of humour and Brutal Honesty. It doesn't last, however, and Stede warns him that they're fickle people — which he finds out the hard way when he uses the wrong utensils at dinner and they begin to mock him for it.
  • Jolly Roger: Parodied. Stede has his crew sew potential flags for the ship to use. Among the many silly and absurd designs is one with a cat on it.
    Frenchie: Actually, everyone knows cats are very evil because they steal children's breath.
  • Leatherman: Several of Blackbeard's nameless background crew members are dressed like this. Blackbeard himself also fits, as he dresses entirely in black leather and falls in love with Stede.
  • Leave Behind a Pistol: After cutting off enough toes to give Izzy gangrene that forces him to amputate his leg and shooting him, a suicidal Ed tries to goad Izzy into killing him. When Izzy refuses, Ed leaves his pistol behind and walks out of the room.
  • Love at First Sight: Heavily implied to be the case with Blackbeard, for Stede.
    • The argument could also be made that, given Blackbeard's fascination with Stede before they even met, even going so far as to follow the Revenge out of Nassau and watch over his bedside, it was a case of Love Before First Sight on Ed's side as well.
  • Love Theme: Erik Satie's "Gnossienne No. 5" serves as one for Stede and Ed, specifically in scenes where Ed allows himself to be vulnerable in front of Stede, such as when he shows Stede the red silk given to him by his mother or when he confesses that he killed his father.
  • Lured into a Trap: Calico Jack manages to manipulate Stede into steering the Revenge into Blind Man's Cove, a death trap with no escape, for the Royal Navy.
  • Makes Us Even: Spanish Jackie to Jim in Episode 8. Jackie put a bounty on Jim's head after they killed one of her husbands, she then sold Jim out to the Spanish and left them and their crew for dead, so she figures all debts are more or less settled. Instead of fighting to the death, they drink.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Zig-Zagged with Stede and Ed. While on the surface it seems like Stede is the Camp Gay to Ed's Manly Gay, Ed's tough image is mostly fake, and in reality, he shares several of Stede's "effeminate" interests. Meanwhile, Stede's apparent campiness is partly due to his aristocratic upbringing; for example, dressing fashionably was considered an important part of masculinity for upper-class men in the 18th century. As the show goes on and Stede becomes a more competent pirate, he sheds some of his fancy trappings. Moreover, the show makes it clear that there's no "right" way of being a man and Stede isn't less masculine just because he doesn't conform to one particular definition of masculinity.
  • Maurice Chevalier Accent:
    • Invoked in Episode 2, when Black Pete tells an extravagant story of how he used to work with Blackbeard. The sailors he makes up are stereotypically French, right down to the striped shirts and baguettes.
    • Zig-Zagged in Episode 5 when they actually raid a French vessel and the accents are more realistic. However, the French aristocrats whose party they attend later in the same episode have even more cartoonish accents than Black Pete's imaginary Frenchmen.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: Buttons is implied at several points to have magical powers, including communicating with seagulls and placing hexes on people, but it's also entirely possible that he simply appears to be magic through a combination of luck, seafaring experience, and being absolutely cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.
  • Message in a Bottle: Separated from Ed in Season Two, a lovesick yet hopeful Stede writes him a letter assuring him of his love and promising to find him, and throws the bottle containing it into the ocean. Ed later mentions that it's extremely unlikely it would make it, and Stede admits that it was "more of a symbolic gesture" than anything. Then in the finale, Ed finds it washed up on the same shore Stede threw it from.
  • The Missus and the Ex:
    • Blackbeard's old friend Calico Jack shows up in "We Gull Way Back", and Stede spends most of the episode jealous and extremely disgruntled.
    • Stede ends up in the opposite situation with Mary, when he goes home in Episode 10. With her husband presumed dead, Mary had fallen in love with her art teacher, Doug. Though he struggles with being replaced, especially in his children's lives, Stede admits in the end that Doug is a great guy and Mary deserves to be happy with him.
  • Mistaken Nationality: In Season Two, Spanish Jackie calls her newest husband "sexy Dutchman." It's The Swede.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • Especially in "Wherever You Go, There You Are" when we watch the ridiculously absurd lengths Stede goes through to fake his death while Blackbeard coldly throws Lucius overboard, cuts off Izzy's toe and forces him to eat it, and holds Jim and Frenchie against their will.
    • Things also turn sour real quick when Calico Jack accidentally kills Karl the Seagull.
  • The Mutiny: It wouldn't be a pirate show without them!
    • In the pilot, most of Bonnet's crew see him as little more than a liability at sea, and briefly plot to get rid of him. Bonnet finds out, manages to bluff killing Nigel and taking hostages, then reads their bedtime story with the voices...and they decide that mutiny can wait for another day.
    • In Episode 9 of Season 1, after Izzy takes over the ship in Blackbeard's absence, the crew deeply resents his captaincy, and once again plot a mutiny. This time, they very nearly succeed and are just about to throw Izzy overboard to drown before Blackbeard shows up and has them let him go.
    • In "Red Flags", the Revenge crew finally have enough of Blackbeard's insanity and mutiny. This creates problems in the next episode, as Zheng Yi Sao has a policy of killing any mutineers.

  • Naïve Newcomer: Bonnet is determined to be a kinder, gentler breed of pirate, despite knowing nothing of piracy and being surrounded by more aggressive competition.
  • Never Learned to Read: This being the 1700s, with education only available to the upper classes, most of the crew are illiterate, save for Stede, Jim, and Lucius. Jim was raised in a religious order, one of the few places where reading would routinely be taught, to facilitate Bible study.
    • When Lucius goes missing after Jim kidnaps him for discovering their secret, Stede drafts Frenchie into being his scribe. This doesn't go well, because Frenchie doesn't know how to write and can only make crude scribbles interpreting Stede's words.
    • In Episode 9, Blackbeard has to sign a legal document, and while Stede puts down an elegant signature, Blackbeard can only write an X. This is a case of Artistic License – History, as the real Blackbeard almost certainly could read and write. Debunked in Season Two when Ed finds Stede's message in a bottle and easily reads it on his own, so it's possible that he simply chose to sign an X in protest.
    • In Episode 2 of Season Two, Oluwande gets in hot water when he incorrectly files paperwork for Captain Zheng Yi Sao, and apologizes with the explanation that he can't read. Because she likes him and finds him attractive, she easily forgives his mistake. (And as the papers were written in Chinese, it's unclear why she expected he could do the task anyway.)
  • Never Trust a Trailer: In the trailer for season 2, Blackbeard states his plans for the new day as "No more booze, no more drugs, and most importantly, no more Stede." The actual line is "No more Izzy", as Blackbeard had just shot him and ordered him killed.
  • New Friend Envy: The basic plot of Episode 8, with Stede pitted against Calico Jack for Ed's (and the crew's) attention. While it's a case of old friend envy with Ed, as they have a history with each other, Stede is also clearly envious of Jack's popularity with the crew.
  • Nice Guy:
    • Stede is a genuinely affable and likable guy who hates violence and killing and basically tries to run his ship like a well-funded community center. Unfortunately, he is surrounded by pirates who are convinced he's going to get them all killed with his naïveté. Fortunately, he manages to Take a Level in Badass and convince them that they can still survive as a kinder, gentler breed of pirates.
    • Oluwande is one of the few pirates on the Revenge to be this from the start.
  • Nice to the Waiter: In Episode 5, Frenchie and Oluwande's plan to con the rich aristocrats comes together when they strike up an alliance with Abshir, one of the mistreated servants onboard the ship. He also spills their dirty secrets to Stede, helping him humiliate all of the aristocrats who humiliated Ed.
  • Nobility Marries Money: Stede's arranged marriage is based on his father's statement that " peasants marry for love. Mary has acreage."
  • No Party Like a Donner Party: Narrowly avoided in the finale. After Blackbeard maroons half the crew on an island that can barely fit seven people and lacks food sources, the Swede starts to look like the easiest target as food to the marooned. They try to chase him down and only stop when they notice the arrival of Stede.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: During pre-production, Taika Waititi wasn't confident he'd be able to sustain a passable Bristol accent to match the historical Blackbeard's origins note . The showrunners decided instead to invoke Rule of Funny, having almost all of the actors speak with their natural accents regardless of whether it would make sense for their characters. Standout examples include the natives on the island in Episode 2 speaking with American accents, Englishmen Stede and Ed sounding like New Zealanders, and various members of the English landed gentry speaking with American or Australian accents. The show is set sixty years before any English-speaking colonizers arrived in Australia or New Zealand.
    • Subverted with Spanish Jackie, who speaks with an American accent rather than a Spanish one. It's revealed towards the end of the first season that she's not actually Spanish and doesn't know why people call her that.
    • And inverted with the English Rory Kinnear exaggerating his own RP accent as the Badminton twins (especially Nigel, who at times sounds almost like Homer Simpson doing a fancy-lad voice).
  • Not So Above It All: Izzy Hands's general furious disgust at finding himself in a Rom Com instead of a serious pirate drama ends up making him do some extremely comedic things, though they tend to still be much darker than the rest of the cast's actions. Like practically having a fit of glee when Ed adopts an even more violent persona than Blackbeard, "The Kraken", and makes Izzy eat his own toe.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Calico Jack's frat-bro antics with Blackbeard seems like general drunken assholery, until it's revealed that his behavior was calculated — he was sent by Izzy Hands to deliberately lure the Revenge into a death trap and get Ed off the ship before the Royal Navy attack.
  • Odd Friendship: Stede and Blackbeard strike one up, to the disapproval of Izzy Hands. Then it ends up more than a friendship.
  • Once More, with Clarity: As Mary describes what being in love feels like, Stede flashes back to various scenes of him bonding with Ed, now understanding that he was falling in love in those moments.
  • One-Steve Limit: Averted. Stede's estranged wife Mary appears in the first season, and in the second season Ed and Stede run into retired ex-pirate Mary Read, now co-owner of an antiques shop with her partner, Anne Bonney.
    • The first season ends with Stede using Mary's friend Evelyn's pet leopard, Ned, as part of an elaborate plot to fake his own death. In Season Two, the sadistic pirate Ned Low ambushes the Revenge and tortures the crew.
  • Only Friend: Stede and Blackbeard, to each other.
  • Only Sane Man:
    • Israel Hands, in contrast to Blackbeard's Bunny-Ears Lawyer schtick, is ruthless and pragmatic to a fault but grows more and more exasperated at his boss's antics. However, it can be argued that he takes it to the point of merely being a different kind of insanity, in contrast to...
    • Oluwande, who is this on the Revenge, being the only person who can offer reason and judgement — so much so that in Episode 9, after Stede is sent to privateering academy and the crew decide to mutiny against Izzy, he is chosen to be captain of the Revenge.
  • Our Mermaids Are Different: Mermaids are referenced several times in the first season: Jim angrily insists that they are not a fucking mermaid, and a drunken Ed muses that being "massaged to death by mermaids" would be a cool way to go. Most prominently, in Season Two, a badly wounded Ed hovers on the brink of death and hallucinates Stede as a golden-tailed merman holding a trident and radiating love, saving him from drowning. This image of Stede is what brings him back to life.
  • Period Piece, Modern Language: The show is a historical comedy set during The Golden Age of Piracy. While you have the occasional period-appropriate character and line of dialogue, most of the crew speak like 21st-century millennials with wildly anachronistic turns of phrase, and Spanish Jackie speaks like a Sassy Black Woman.
    Oluwande: What does a viceroy do?
    Frenchie: Whatever the fuck he wants, babe.
  • Prongs of Poseidon: Ed's vision of Stede as a merman carries a trident.
  • Rag Tag Bunch Of Misfits: The crew of the Revenge are this from the start. Blackbeard's scary crew of elite and fearsome pirates basically shrug and allow themselves to be folded into this category after Blackbeard and Stede join forces (all except Izzy, who's bound so tightly with tension and anger that he approaches the state of rigor mortis — which might make him count anyway, depending on how you look at it).
  • Real Men Get Shot: In-universe, kindly aristocrat Stede's ability to take a sword to the gut (twice!) is proof to his crew that maybe he's not as soft as he seems.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic:
    • In the first episode, Stede is horrified to learn that "raids almost always end in bloodshed". In reality, most merchants learned that pirates would largely just let them go if they hove to and surrendered their valuables and sundries. They only resorted to violence if the crew didn't heave to (though some pirates made exceptions for hated foes, like one who killed everyone from Barbados after they put a bounty on him). Also, pirate crews numbered in the dozens and merchants maybe 6-12, so resistance would have been useless in any case. Only military vessels could stand against them.
    • In episode four, Blackbeard mocks the drawing of himself in Stede's book, complaining that they drew him with nine pistols. At the time, pistols were single-shot front loaders, and pirates, soldiers, anyone who had to fight routinely went into battle with multiple pistols if they could afford them, including Blackbeard.
  • Rescue Romance: Stede and Blackbeard first meet when Blackbeard's crew rescues Stede and the rest of the Revenge from the Spanish Navy.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: Zheng Yi Sao has a policy of killing any mutineers, even those that mutinied against someone else, because they're a Wild Card she doesn't want on the ship. She nearly kills the Revenge crew for their mutiny against Blackbeard.
  • Running Gag: Someone finding the flag Frenchie made in Episode 1 and expressing bewilderment as to why there's a cat on it.
  • Scenery Censor: Played with when Lucius sketches Fang — his sketchbook covers up the actual nudity, then the camera angle changes and we see a lovingly detailed sketch of Fang's penis.
    • Played straight with Buttons' moon-bathing.
  • Second-Act Breakup: During Episode 8, Blackbeard leaves with Calico Jack when he believes that Stede won't like him for who he really is. They both mope around for a bit, Lucius dumps Blackbeard's stuff in a box and drops it off with him, and eventually, Blackbeard comes back just in time to save the Revenge from being blasted apart by the Royal Navy.
  • Schoolyard Bully All Grown Up: Downplayed with Nigel Badminton, who used to bully Bonnet when they were kids. When the two meet again in the pilot, while Badminton is generally more mature and affable than he was as a child, he shows no regret for his childhood bullying and still acts disdainfully towards Bonnet.
  • Self-Surgery: In Episode 1, Roach mentions he has sewn his arm back together.
  • Shipper on Deck: Lucius, in an unusually stern way, for Stede and Blackbeard — less squee, more "so buck up and DO something about it".
  • Shoot the Hostage: Done by Spanish Jackie to her husband Geraldo when Jim tries to hold him hostage for information on the Siete Gallos.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Blackbeard's outfit, including a one-armed leather jacket with a pauldron on the right shoulder and a knee brace, is almost identical to the one worn by the titular character in Mad Max, including a Main Force Patrol badge in some scenes.
    • The card introducing the first episode is almost identical to the opening card in the first episode of Black Sails — though of course, it's less a serious introduction and more a signpost pointing to shenanigans ahead. And in Episode 10, Ed's transformation into his new, worse-than-Blackbeard persona of "The Kraken" is underscored by Leonard Cohen's "Avalanche", a song that was also used (in a cover by Nick Cave) to punctuate an episode of Black Sails where Flint has a similar breakdown.
    • Nigel Badminton is a dead ringer for Lucky Jack Aubrey, especially the Russell Crowe version. note  His twin brother Chauncey has a wine stain-shaped birthmark on his head similar to Mikhail Gorbachev.
    • The fourth episode of season 2 is titled "Fun and Games" which is also the name of the first act of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and the scenes with Anne Bonney and Mary Read are very reminiscent of the casual yet awkwardly playful hatred that George and Martha share with one another, with the bewildered and uncomfortable Ed and Stede being the stand-ins for Nick and Honey. Additionally, the ending of this story involves Anne burning their house to the ground much in the same way that George symbolically does to Martha by "killing" their "son".
    • The same episode has Ed quoting Music/Whitesnake
    • Zheng's crews hauling ships through the jungle references Werner Herzog's Fitzcarraldo.
    • Auntie's description on the Revenge of how Blackbeard was nearly beaten to death by his crew references Aragorn in the Two Towers describing the hobbits' escape to Fangorn
  • Something Else Also Rises: Ed and Stede's sex scene in "Calypso's Birthday" is punctuated by fireworks going off (for the party, obviously).
  • Soup Is Medicine: When a wounded Ed washes up on his former captain Hornigold's island, he is fed soup to help him recuperate. Subverted in that Neither the island nor Hornigold are real; they're constructs of Ed's mind brought on by severe head trauma.
  • Standard Snippet: Episode 2 ends with Verdi's "Dies Irae" being used to underscore Blackbeard's terrifying reputation.
  • Stealth Pun: Perhaps unintentional, but the actor who plays Frenchie has the last name Fry. Making him a "Frenchy Fry".
  • Sweet Polly Oliver: Played with. Jim seems to be a case of this, but as it turns out, they're nonbinary.
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: Almost a necessity when your protagonists are 18th-century career criminals.
    • Stede isn't really violent at all until cornered (at least at first), but he did run out on his wife and children without so much as a goodbye — and without considering how being the family of a pirate might affect them emotionally and socially. The audience cheers him on because he's just so lovable...and, since divorce is nearly impossible, genuinely seems to have very few options between "live out his days in respectable misery" and "run for it". The one thing the audience are likely to be slower to forgive him for is having a breakdown after being kidnapped, and subsequently leaving Ed at the dock.
    • Ed is the supreme example of this. To the audience, he's the absolutely charming and utterly smitten captain who saves Stede from his own incompetence, finds real joy in hanging out on The Revenge, and clearly has a list of woobie-worthy issues we want to see him overcome. But despite the revelation that his kill count is a lot lower than you'd expect, he's still violent, unpredictable, and sometimes callous towards his own subordinates, with hints that he was significantly worse pre-Stede. Yet by the end of the show, he's viewed through the filter of tragedy and heartbreak rather than villainy, despite four maroonings, two kidnappings, a shove overboard and a first mate missing a toe.
  • Talk to the Fist: As Stede is facing down the firing squad, Ed punches Izzy square in the face for selling them out to the Royal Navy.
  • Tap on the Head: Discussed in the pilot. As he prepares for his first real raiding party, Stede is squeamish about killing anyone and wants to know how to "stun" someone instead. Oluwande says that using the hilt of a knife is traditional, but any heavy object at the base of the skull will do. At the climax of the episode, Stede thumps Nigel with a heavy brass whale paperweight, and it does the trick... but also causes the unconscious Nigel to pitch face-first onto his own sword and accidentally kill himself.
    Stede: (in shock) I used the "stun" move!
    Lucius: (quietly horrified) ...yeah, no, he looks pretty stunned.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: After a full season of falling in love with Stede and deciding to give up being Blackbeard for good, Ed decides to fully embrace being "The Kraken" after he believes that Stede has abandoned him.
  • This Is No Time for Knitting: In the first half of Episode 4, Blackbeard ponders the shapes of clouds and plays dress-up in Stede's clothes. The latter half of the episode reveals the clouds were important because they foretold extremely thick fog, and he dressed in Stede's clothes to prepare to steal his identity.
  • There's No Kill like Overkill: Stede's fake death involves getting mauled by a leopard, then being hit by a carriage, and then having a piano dropped on him. And Mary tells the crowd afterwards that Stede was secretly terminally ill.
  • Third-Person Person: Spanish Jackie, but she certainly has the presence and personality to pull it off.
  • Too Much Information: Hornigold asks Ed to weigh the pros and cons of living versus dying, and to list three reasons to live. Ed's reasons are warmth, good food...and sex "with orgasms. Not just intercourse. Gotta finish with the good stuff."
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Izzy Hands is the driving force behind many of the show's conflicts after Blackbeard comes aboard, interfering in Stede and Blackbeard's growing friendship and romance. Izzy uses Calico Jack as poison-by-proxy in Episode 8.
  • Trauma Button: In Episode 6, Ed is triggered by the crew pretending to be the Kraken because it reminds him of murdering his abusive father and has a panic attack. He ends up holing up in Stede's bathtub under one of Stede's bathrobes.
  • Treasure Map: Parodied in Episode 7, when Stede spends a lot of money on a treasure map sold by a random woman and insists on taking Blackbeard on an adventure in an attempt to keep his attention and keep him around. Blackbeard and Lucius come along, complain the whole time, and it ends predictably anticlimactically when the treasure map is accidentally burned. However, when Blackbeard starts to play along, they do end up finding a substitute for the treasure in a petrified orange buried under Jim's family's tree.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm:
    • After Ed and Stede leave the Revenge for the privateer academy in Episode 9, Izzy makes himself captain and rules with an iron fist. Doesn't really last long, as The Mutiny happens in the same episode.
    • Then, in Episode 10, after Edward comes back, has a breakdown, and fully reverts to the Kraken persona, he throws Lucius overboard, kidnaps Jim and Frenchie, and maroons the rest of the crew.
  • Unbroken Vigil: Edward does this for Stede in Episode 4. Notable because they haven't even properly met yet.
  • Undying Loyalty: Izzy Hands, to Blackbeard — for better or for worse. To Blackbeard — not Ed.
  • Uptight Loves Wild:
    • Stede is an aristocrat who ran away from his Arranged Marriage, is a stickler for politeness and social rules, and falls for the adventurous and hot-headed legendary Blackbeard.
    • Oluwande, the ship's level-headed Only Sane Man, is deeply interested in Jim, a dagger-wielding, knife-throwing, revenge-driven assassin raised by nuns.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The show is loosely inspired by the life of the real Stede Bonnet.
  • Violent Glaswegian: Mr. Buttons, though rather more subdued than the standard mad Scotsman, usually suggests more violent courses of action.
  • Wham Episode: The first season's last two episodes drastically change up the series's previous episodic-structured comedy.
    • In Episode 9, "Act of Grace": The Revenge gets captured, and Ed and Stede sign away their lives of piracy to serve King George as privateers. While at the privateer academy, Ed and Stede finally kiss, and they make plans to elope, but Stede is confronted by Chauncey Badminton and instead goes home to his wife and children, leaving Ed to escape alone.
    • In Episode 10, "Wherever You Go, There You Are: Stede reconciles with his wife and children, but realises his family no longer needs him around, and ends up giving away all of his wealth and faking his death. Meanwhile, a heartbroken Ed reverts back to his Blackbeard persona, throws Lucius overboard, dumps all of Stede's old belongings, kidnaps Jim and Frenchie, and maroons the rest of Stede's crew.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Lucius gives one to Blackbeard in Episode 7 when Blackbeard is less than amused by Stede's "treasure-hunting" trip.
    I said don't be a DICK, okay, cause he's put together this whole outing for you. Look, you're very cool, and you wear leather, so you maybe you won't understand this, but everyone is worried all of the time about whether or not they're interesting or adventurous enough for you. And that bizarre little man over there likes you very much, and you like him.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Israel "Izzy" Hands, Blackbeard's ruthless right-hand man, is essentially a straightforward bloodthirsty pirate from a more serious and gritty universe (à la Black Sails) stuck in a dramedy, and thus is permanently bewildered and enraged at the goofy shenanigans of the world around him. Played with in that the strain seems to actually be driving him insane and ends up causing him to act in ways that can be viewed as just as comedic.
  • You Are in Command Now: After Ed shoots Izzy for mentioning Stede's name, he immediately promotes a reluctant and terrified Frenchie to First Mate. Later, at the very end of Season 2, Stede peacefully transfers captaincy of the Revenge to Frenchie so that he and Ed can become innkeepers.
  • You Are Worth Hell: In order to save Stede's life, Ed gives up the name, reputation, and life he forged as Blackbeard to become a privateer and serve King George. When Stede asks him how he's adjusted so well to this new life, he confesses that as long as he's with Stede, he'll be happy.
  • You Killed My Father: Jim's motivation for killing one of Spanish Jackie's husbands prior to the start of the show.
  • Younger Than They Look: Dawson Casting of the historical characters aside, Jim is surprised to learn that Spanish Jackie, played by 54-year-old Leslie Jones, is only 25.