10 Famous Fictional Captains Of The Maritime World

The maritime world has some of the most famous captains, some of whom, like Christopher Colombus, discovered the Americas and others, like Blackbeard, who are counted among the most renowned pirate captains of all time.

These historical figures have inspired popular culture and the creation of fictional maritime characters like the famous Captain Jack Sparrow and Captain Haddock, who have enchanted everyone with their humour and wit.

Discussed in this article are ten famous fictional maritime captains.

1. Captain Jack Sparrow

Captain Jack Sparrow is the heart of The Pirates of the Caribbean movie series. Played by the fine actor Johny Depp, Sparrow is portrayed as a pirate lord. He is ruthless sometimes but usually uses wit and negotiation rather than violence to solve his problems and flee from his enemies.

He is the main protagonist, and although the movie series has many great actors, Jack Sparrow has managed to become everyone’s favourite captain.

He tried to get back his ship, named Black Pearl, from Hector Barbossa, the 1st mate who mutinied. After this, he tried to settle the blood debt to Davy Jones while tackling the East India Trading Company. He goes on many adventures throughout the movie series and uses ingenious ways to solve his problems.

Some of his iconic dialogues include:

“The Only Rules That Matter Are These: What A Man Can Do And What A Man Can’t Do.”

“I’m Dishonest, And A Dishonest Man You Can Always Trust To Be Dishonest.”

“This Is The Day You Will Always Remember As The Day You Almost Caught Captain Jack Sparrow.”

2. Captain Isaac Biddlecomb

The fictional character of skipper Issac Biddlecomb features in a series of five gripping novels written by American author James Nelson. Skipper Biddlecomb’s heroics in the American Revolutionary War as a buccaneer-turned-war hero made him an instant hit with readers and enthusiasts from far-flung places across the world.

He is a naval captain who became victorious in his naval operations, which led to fame within the American Navy.

3. Captain Haddock

If you read the comic Adventures of Tintin, you would remember Captain Archibald Haddock, Tintin’s friend and confidant in times of need. He is shown as a Merchant Navy Captain who insults a lot without using a single swear word; he is quite creative.

His most famous line is “Billions of bilious barbecued blue blistering barnacles!”

A few others are “Cachinnating cockatoo!”, “Dunderheaded coconuts!”, “Fancy-dress Fascist!”, “Young monkey”.

Though shown as a weak man addicted to alcohol, his character evolves in the series, and he gradually becomes more responsible and heroic. He even decides to give his life to save a friend.

He was a freighter commander who retired in the later comic series. His character is opposite that of Tintin. He has humanity but can be quite sarcastic, unlike Tintin’s overpolite nature and heroism.

4. Captain Elias Hoseason

Elias Hoseason is the captain of the ship Covenant in R.L. Stevenson’s fabled novel Kidnapped.

Underlining the personality of double standard and deceit, Hoseason’s character outlining adds a bold and distinct flavour to the novel’s plot. He thinks of himself as a Man of God; however, he is a hypocrite and greedy for money.

The series has some fantastic lines, such as –

“And presently [Hoseason] came marching back towards the house, with no mark of a sailor’s clumsiness, but carrying his fine, tall figure with a manly bearing…”

“Ye would make a fool’s bargain,” said [Alan to Captain Hoseason]. “My chief, let me tell you, sir, is forfeited, like every honest man in Scotland.”

5. Captain Ahab

Ahab is a fictitious character penned by American author Herman Melville in his famous book Moby-Dick. He is portrayed as a fanatic captain of the whaling vessel Pequod, who gets one of his legs bitten by a white whale.

After the incident, he gets a leg of whalebone and vows to take revenge on the whale, forcing his crew to join him in this mission.

He is quite intense and obsessed with vengeance on the whale. Ultimately, his stupidity and fanaticism kill him, and the whale also sinks the ship.

His character has been popularised in cartoons, plays and even movies. It has even inspired other writers, like J.M Barrie, who created Captain Hook, who is obsessed with a crocodile.

His most famous line has to be this-

“That inscrutable thing is chiefly what I hate, and be the white whale agent, or be the white whale principal, I will wreak that hate upon him. Talk not to me of blasphemy, man; I’d strike the sun if it insulted me. For could the sun do that, then I could do the other since there is ever a sort of fair play herein, jealousy presiding over all creations.”

6. Captain Nemo

Captain Nemo is an Indian skipper who finds his rightful place in both Jules Verne’s all-time literary classics, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea and the Mysterious Island.

He was a mysterious character, later revealed to be the son of an Indian King. He explored ocean depths in his submarine, Nautilus. He hated imperialism and wanted vengeance.

Nemo is a character who has undergone immense personal hardships, and to overcome them, he has re-modelled himself into an antihero.

Some of his famous quotes include:

“Sir,” replied the commander, “I am nothing to you but Captain Nemo; and you and your companions are nothing to me but the passengers of the Nautilus.”

“We may brave human laws, but we cannot resist natural ones.”

7. Captain Davy Jones

The portrayal of Captain Davy Jones in the Pirates of the Caribbean series is another marvellous interpretation of a well-known maritime mythical legend.

As showcased in the movies, Captain Jones lends credence to the terminology ‘Davy Jones’ Locker’ whilst piloting the fabled ‘Flying Dutchman’ in an almost invincible manner.

Davy Jones’ characterisation is that of a troubled man who loses his purpose of being commissioned as a skipper to trawl the oceans, both known and unknown, transporting the dead to their ultimate deliverance. This is one of the most famous captains of the fictional maritime movies.

His iconic dialogues include:

“Life is cruel. Why should the afterlife be any different!”

“Now, let’s see how you fare against the Flying Dutchman and her vile captain, Davy Jones!”

8. Captain Barbossa

Skipper Sparrow’s antithesis of sorts, Captain Barbossa, is the first mate who mutinied against Jack Sparrow and captured Sparrow’s Ship, the Black Pearl.

Barbossa is a complex character whose intentions can never be understood but one who’s always in competition to achieve and one-up Jack Sparrow. Barbossa is portrayed by British actor Geoffrey Rush in the movie series.

Some of Barbossa’s popular dialogues are :

“I’m curious; after you kill me, what is it you plan on doing next?”

“So tell me, what’s become of my ship?”

9. Captain Alexander Smollett

Another of R.L. Stevenson’s fictional gems appearing in the novel Treasure Island, Captain Smollett is detailed as a maritime captain par excellence.

His only drawback, as defined by the author, is that of undue suspicion, which, though, seems utterly justified as one turns the pages of the fast-paced literary marvel.

He is quite a savvy, strict and principled man. He keeps an eye on the crew members hired by suspicious Trelawney. He is also a professional and takes his work very seriously, displaying great tact as a negotiator. He is way too competent and reliable and helps the protagonists deal with the pirates.

His iconic lines are:

“We must go on because we can’t turn back.”

“Sir, with no intention to take offence, I deny your right to put words into my mouth.”

10. Captain Pugwash

In the world of comic strips, the name of the famous Captain Pugwash echoes like no other.

Sequenced by cartoonist John Ryan in the early 1950s, Pugwash skippered the vessel ‘Black Pig’ and was portrayed as a bumbling yet affable character.

The likeable captain boasts of being the bravest sailor but is quite timid, stupid and cowardly. He often gets into trouble due to his greed but manages to solve his problems with the help of Tom the Cabin Boy or his good luck. Though a pirate, he is seldom seen committing piracy acts.

The comic’s success led to its conversion into a TV animation series, which was equally well-received.

Some famous lines from the series are-

“Doddering dolphins, Master Mate,” he cried. ‘Pirates should be desperadoes, not do-gooders! Take this notice and nail it to the main mast immediately! Things are going to be very different aboard this ship from now on!”

“A mutiny on board the Black Pig! Captain Pugwash is cast ashore, and his crew take over the ship.”

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About Author

Zahra is an alumna of Miranda House, University of Delhi. She is an avid writer, possessing immaculate research and editing skills. Author of several academic papers, she has also worked as a freelance writer, producing many technical, creative and marketing pieces. A true aesthete at heart, she loves books a little more than anything else.

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