Follow TV Tropes


Western Animation / Captain Pugwash

Go To

Captain Pugwash is a Pirate who first appeared in a comic strip and series of children's books by John Ryan. However, the character is best known for appearing in three separate series on The BBC.

The first series was a black and white series that ran intermittently from 1957 to 1966, with 58 five-minute-long episodes made. The second series was a colour series in 1974-75, with 30 episodes. These series used a real-time technique of animation in which cardboard cutouts of the characters were laid on painted backgrounds and moved with levers. The third series—The Adventures of Captain Pugwash—was made in 1997 and was a traditional animated series.

A live-action film adaptation starring Nick Frost and Jason Flemying was announced in 2017 but got stuck in Development Hell and never eventuated.


  • Accordion to Most Sailors: Tom is an expert concertina player, and part of his repertoire is "The Trumpet Hornpipe" (a.k.a. the Captain Pugwash theme).
  • Adapted Out: Barnabas does not appear in the 1997 cartoon, and has been replaced with Canon Foreigner Jonah.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Tom the Cabin-Boy is portrayed with an English Home Counties accent in the first two television adaptations, and with an Irish accent in the 1997 series.
  • Artistic Licence – Ships: Pugwash runs his entire pirate ship—which appears to be a three-masted galleon—with a crew consisting of himself, the mate, two sailors and the cabin boy.
  • The Cabin Boy: Tom the Cabin Boy is the Only Sane Man and Hypercompetent Sidekick on a crew of otherwise hopeless pirates.
  • Caught in a Snare: In "Island of the Dodos", Pugwash and the rest of the crew (except Tom) are caught in their own dodo trap.
  • Diegetic Soundtrack Usage: Tom is an expert concertina player, and part of his repertoire is "The Trumpet Hornpipe" (a.k.a. the Captain Pugwash theme).
  • Dressed to Plunder: Captain Pugwash sports a bicorn hat with a skull-and-crossbones on the front; a mustache; a naval jacket; a flouncy shirt; and cavalier boots. His Arch-Enemy Cut-Throat Jake has a badass bandana; an Eyepatch of Power; a Seadog Beard; a waist sash; and buccaneer boots.
  • The Drunken Sailor: Although never shown drunk, Swine—one of Cut-Throat Jake's pirates—almost always has a mug of grog in his hand.
  • The Eeyore: Jonah, whose Catchphrase is "No good will come of this, mark my words!" Although with this crew it's not like he's wrong very often.
  • Eyepatch of Power: Cut-Throat Jake sports an eyepatch and a Seadog Beard.
  • Forgot to Mind Their Head: Jonah is the tallest of the Black Pig's crew and often hits his head on the ceiling of the ship's lower deck.
  • Grapes of Luxury: After being shipwrecked, Pugwash staggers across the desert but considers himself fortunate to come across a palace where the unseen ruler has the requisite slaves fanning him with long feathered fans...which then part to reveal Pugwash's Arch-Enemy, Cut-Throat Jake.
  • Here There Be Dragons: The map in the opening credits of some episodes includes an area marked, "Here be sea monsters".
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Tom the Cabin Boy is the most intelligent and resourceful member of the crew, the only one who can cook and the only one who can actually sail a ship. Tom's ability to think up schemes is the only reason Pugwash has any success as a pirate at all.
  • Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Captain Pugwash is a rare case of an Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain Protagonist. He's just so bad at being a pirate that it's easy to forget that pirates weren't usually the Loveable Rogue type in reality.
  • Kangaroo Court: "Gentlemen of the jury, you have heard the case against this notorious pirate, this vile criminal whose very existence is a threat to the safety of respectable, law-abiding citizens such as yourselves. How say you then: is the prisoner guilty, or by some improbable chance not guilty?"
  • Not Now, Kiddo: In "Island of the Dodos", Pugwash keeps shushing Tom as he is attempting to tell him something. It is only after Pugwash and the rest of the crew are caught in their own dodo trap does Tom get to tell them that trap wouldn't have worked anyway, because dodos can't fly.
  • Not So Extinct: In "Island of the Dodo", the crew of the Black Pig discover an island in the Indian Ocean where dodo birds still exist and are thriving. Captain Pugwash plans to capture them all and sell them to make a fortune. Tom, realising this really will make the dodo extinct, gets the crew Unsuspectingly Soused and tricks them into thinking the island and the dodos were All Just a Dream.
  • Oddly Small Organisation: Pugwash runs his entire pirate ship—which appears to be a three-masted galleon—with a crew consisting of himself, the mate, two sailors and the cabin boy. And, at times, the cabin boy has sailed the ship single-handed. The pirate crew of his Arch-Enemy Cut-Throat Jake does not appear to be any larger.
  • Parrot Exposition: Stinka is a Mexican who works for Cut-Throat Jake who speaks little English. He repeats everything that Jake says, annoying him greatly.
  • Pirate: Captain Pugwash must be the least threatening and most ineffective pirate to ever sail the seven seas. Cut-Throat Jake is a more menacing figure, although still very G-rated.
  • Pirate Girl: The pirate queen Maggie Lafayette appeared in the second series when she hijacked the captain's ship to escape from the authorities.
  • Plucky Middie: Tom the Cabin Boy is the only member of the crew who actually does anything.
  • Real After All: Captain Pugwash once came up with the brilliant idea of using a fake sea serpent to scare the crews of other ships into running for the lifeboats so that he and his crew could rob them blind. (The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything, the crew of the Black Pig most assuredly were not!) Just after the grand scheme had gone hilariously pear-shaped in a way that Tom the cabin-boy couldn't get his boss out of, a real sea monster showed up and succeeded where the fake had failed.
  • Seadog Beard: Cut-Throat Jake sports an enormous black beard and an Eyepatch of Power.
  • Stop Motion: The characters were made from cutouts, but articulated so they could be moved in live-action.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Cut-Throat Jake, who is a far more ruthless and successful pirate than Pugwash, speaks with a stereotypical West Country accent, and sports an eye patch and enormous black beard.
  • Unsuspectingly Soused: In "Island of the Dodos", Tom feeds the crew of the Black Pig doughnuts soaked in rum causing them to fall into a deep sleep so he can sail the ship away and convince them that the dodos were just a dream.