- Accidental Innuendo: When Philip insists that Syrena needs air, Jack states that he supports the missionary position.
- Alternative Character Interpretation: Are the mermaids really vicious predators (since it's implied they can reproduce with humans), or do they despise humans because the former keep kidnapping mermaids, torturing them for their tears then leaving them to die?
- Big-Lipped Alligator Moment: The few moments Jack spends stealing Judi Dench's earring.
- Complete Monster: Captain Edward Teach, the infamous Blackbeard, prides himself on being one of the most feared men on the high seas. Blackbeard abuses and murders members of his own crew on the basis of "if I don't kill a man every now and then, they forget who I am". He incinerates his ship's cook to demonstrate this and resurrecting some of his own slain crew members as mindlessly obedient zombies. On his quest to the Fountain of Youth to avert his prophesied death at the hands of a one-legged man, Blackbeard puts a mermaid named Syrena through hideous treatment for the purpose of gaining her tear, first showing her the remains of her own fellow mermaids and then ordering Phillip, the single man who displays compassion to her, killed in front of her. Blackbeard claims to love his daughter, but undersells even this through a risky game of Russian Roulette with his own daughter's life and ultimately trying to sacrifice her life for his own at the Fountain of Youth. Blackbeard admits he feels closest to God in moments of pain and anguish and calmly tortured and murdered anyone who dared to stand against him.
- Contested Sequel: It's either an improvement over Dead Man's Chest and At World's End for featuring a plot that's easier to follow, or a downright Franchise Zombie where the writers are struggling to find new ideas. The fact that the movie switched from High Fantasy back to the Low Fantasy style of the first movie, did not seem to have an effect on lots of people.
- Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: It's rather telling when Barbossa is the most sympathetic character around.
- Evil Is Sexy: The mermaids, if you see them as evil.
- Genius Bonus: When Barbossa tells Jack Sparrow the story about how he lost his leg, he paraphrases the poem ''Invictus'' by the Victorian poet William Ernest Henley ("I am the master of my fate ... I am the captain of my ship"). Henley had lost a leg to a tuberculosis infection at age 16. Furthermore, Henley was a major inspiration for the original one-legged pirate, Long John Silver, in his friend Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island.
- Harsher in Hindsight: Or Hilarious in Hindsight, depending on how you view it. Óscar Jaenada, who played the Spaniard in this film, was condemned in 2018 for faking a boat captain's license of all things. Naturally, Spanish fans couldn't resist the temptation to make some jokes about piracy.
- Inferred Holocaust:
- From Barbossa's account of the Pearl's capture, the audience can assume that Jack, Barbossa, Gibbs, and Jack the Monkey are the only survivors left of the Pearl's crew. Granted, Jack the Monkey is alive aboard the bottled Pearl, but he's immortal anyway. We also see Cotton's Parrot, which might mean that the rest of the crew is still alive on it. Or that the parrot survived on its own. On the other hand, upon close inspection of that scene, one bottled ship is seen firing its cannons. (Possibly at the glass to escape?) It stands to reason, that if one crew is still alive, another could be as well.
- The sequel establishes that Marty is alive as he shows up as part of Jack's new crew; Murtogg and Mullroy also show up as part of Barbossas' pirate fleet, serving aboard his ship as his main lackeys.
- Moral Event Horizon: Blackbeard crosses this when he has Syrena tied up half in the water for a slow, painful death to extract a tear from her. Phillip, who before stated that everyone had some good in them, admits he was wrong and there is no chance of redemption for Blackbeard.
- One-Scene Wonder:
- Richard Griffiths as King George II who spends the entirety of his only appearance devouring the scenery as an Upper-Class Twit.
- Dame Judi Dench as the noblewoman whose earring Jack steals, then asks Jack "is that all?"
- Óscar Jaenada as the Spaniard is a downplayed example. He's important to the plot, and has a couple of brief appearances, but his only substantial scene is the climax - where he completely steals the show.
- The mermaids aside from Syrena are this crossed with Creepy Awesome.
- Replacement Scrappy: Angelica for Elizabeth in some circles. Philip the priest and Syrena the mermaid are also seen by some as replacements for Will and Elizabeth.
- Retroactive Recognition:
- Romantic Plot Tumor: Philip and Syrena. That whole interspecies romance thing doesn't fit at all with the main plot except for the three seconds or so that Blackbeard exploits it.
- The Scrappy: Philip the clergyman. Many people thought he was an out-of-place character (missionary on a pirate ship) and that his subplot was pointless. Some even see him and his mermaid girlfriend as replacements for Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann, the straight man and straight woman to Jack Sparrow's fall guy in the previous films.
- Surprisingly Improved Sequel: The Nostalgia Critic considers the movie to be this to At World's End. Basically, this movie was everything the first two sequels was not, and people who hated or loved the first sequels love or hate this one respectively for that exact reason.
- They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Sao Feng's map being destroyed when the purpose of its introduction in the previous film seemed to be to create a cool visual plot device that could be employed in future films.
YMMV / Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides