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Not even being dead can stop the most fearsome pirates.

"Little does she realize pirates always have ghosts...!"
Jason Fox, FoxTrot

Sometimes the most scurvy and fearsome of Pirates, even after being sent to Davy Jones' locker, just don't stay in their watery graves. Instead, they continue to terrorize the seas as fearsome undead scourges, complete with a Ghost Ship crewed by the damned. Despite the name, the Ghost Pirate trope includes all forms of undead pirates, including zombie or skeletal variants.

Occasionally, their sojourn as the living dead is due to a terrible curse that keeps them sailing (which may or may not involve voodoo). Other times, they're just too badass to stay in hell.

Legends of ghost ships and ghost pirates alike may derive from the tale of the Flying Dutchman, a phantom ship reportedly doomed to sail the oceans for eternity.

Of course, not all Ghost Ships have ghost pirates. This is a common form of Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot.

Examples of Ghost Pirate include:

Anime & Manga

  • Brook from One Piece. Surprisingly for this trope, he's a good guy!
    • One Piece also has Gecko Moria's crew, of which only four members are alive, the rest being zombies.
    • Subverted with Vander Decken, who sails on the infamous underwater ship Flying Dutchman like his real-life counterpart and is believed to be a ghost pirate on a cursed ship, but actually is just a regular fishman pirate. Not that it makes him more of a nice guy.
  • The pirates from Berserk.

Comic Books

  • At least two ghost pirates have appeared in The DCU, both of them historical characters that used to have their own series. The Black Pirate appeared as a ghost in Starman and Captain Fear in the Dr. Thirteen mini-series.
    • Bizarrely, Captain Fear might be able to die again, implying that there are tiers for this sort of thing.
  • Tales of the Black Freighter, the Show Within a Show from Watchmen.
  • In one Hellboy story, the titular character fights an undead Blackbeard.
  • Man-Thing features a shipful of these laboring under an ancient curse.

Fan Works

  • Dungeon Keeper Ami features a sizeable undead fleet in the opening stages of the battle of Dreadfog Island. Flying undead galleons and frigats pitted against airships. And then a giant flying Octopus, but that's another Trope entirely...


  • Pirates of the Caribbean is full of these, particularly in the first film.
  • The Disney movie Blackbeard's Ghost. Exactly What It Says on the Tin.
  • DVD menus of the original version of The Fog make it seem that the film's ghosts were pirates (as the menus show a hook handed one) but they are actually a leper colony who drowned with their ship.
  • The horror film CrossBones had a zombified pirate killing contestants of a reality TV show.
  • A demonic pirate unleashed from a chest is the antagonist of Jolly Roger: Massacre at Cutter's Cove.
  • One of the partiers in Death on Demand is dressed as a ghost viking.
  • Curse of Pirate Death has a ghost pirate offing students and other random people who discover his treasure.
  • There's the 1987 film Berserker, for an undead viking.
  • Los Dark, the villain of the Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger movie.

Newspaper Comics

  • Jason's attempt to invoke this trope in FoxTrot provides the page quote.

Tabletop Games

  • The Black Freighter of 7th Sea draws its undead crew from those who died at sea.
  • The Pirates of the Cursed Seas set has an entire faction devoted to these.
  • The standalone Games Workshop game Dreadfleet has one of these- Vanghiest, captain of the Shadewraith.


Video Games

  • The recurring antagonist of the Monkey Island series, the undead pirate LeChuck, is one of these. At least it explains why he keeps coming back in each game.
    • He's even a different type in each: Ghost Pirate, Zombie Pirate, Demon Pirate...
    • Late in Tales of Monkey Island, Guybrush becomes a ghost pirate himself after being slain by LeChuck, but later finds a way to repossess his own body, and he's returned to normal at the end of the final chapter.
  • Cervantes from the Soul Calibur series is a zombie/ghost pirate thanks to the power of the evil sword Soul Edge.
  • Played with in Ratchet and Clank 3 with the space pirate ghosts.
    • And a swarm of actual robot pirate ghosts proves to be the Big Bad of Quest For Booty.
  • Cortez the Pirate King from Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door is a large collection of bones and commands a crew of Ghost Lights.
  • Chrono Cross has the player's party board a Ghost Ship full of pirates. They're actually just putting on an act, and aren't ghosts at all. Later, though, the ship is attacked by a real ghost ship.
  • One of Vyse's specials from Skies of Arcadia involves summoning a pirate ghost to up the party's defense.
    • Not to mention one of the discoveries that can be found in the game is a ghost ship.
  • There's more than one quest chain in World of Warcraft involving undead pirates.
  • In one point in Arcanum, you need to get a ship. There are three ways to do this, and one is by laying your hands on a ghost ship belonging to a cursed undead pirate.
  • The Wario Land series has about one per game, with one unnamed boss in the third game, Captain Coin in the fourth game and the boss Captain Skull in Wario World being ghost pirates. Or pirate ghosts. Or both.
  • There are skeleton pirates in Final Fantasy V's Derelict Graveyard dungeon.
  • There are a couple levels in the first world of Drawn to Life: The Next Chapter which involve ghost pirates, though they're only Baki which can float and cannot be punched. The boss of the world, however, is just a normal, old pirate captain... until one hit kills him and he turns into a giant ghost pirate.
  • The antagonists of Sonic Rush Series Adventure are called the "Ghost Pirates", though they're actually not ghosts at all... more like robots. Fitting, seeing as Eggman and Eggman Nega built 'em.
  • Fable II one of the side quests in Bloodstone involves you fighting a fearsome pirate ghost in order to take control of his fully automated ship to reach his treasure.
  • Ghost Pirates of Vooju Island has a main cast of not one, but two ghost pirates, and a ghost witch-doctor.
  • Dubloon features both friendly ghost pirates and unfriendly zombie-pirates.
  • The second Ben Jordan game has a Ghost Ship which is still haunted by its captain, determined to protect his treasure.
  • Vega Strike flavour text on Neural Computer (cargo) says that one of their functions is maintaining a viable imitation while the pilot's brain is blacked out in a maneuver... which, since the computer doesn't always die with the pilot, "explain the reports of zombie mercenaries".
  • The skeleton pirates in The Legend of Zelda Oracle Games.
  • Spinal of Killer Instinct fame is a skeletal example. His stage's background might apply as well: it's a galley full of skeleton rowers.
  • The "Ghost Ship" level of the original Medievil had you fighting your way through skeleton pirates to take over their ship. In the Updated Rerelease for PSP, the level is preceded with a harbour filled with acrobatic skeleton pirates.
  • Defense of the Ancients successor, League of Legends, got an explicit ghost skin for the pirate champion Gangplank.
  • The Bonus Boss Deadbeard from Golden Sun.
  • The Bermuda Triangle level in Impossamole has swarms of invincible pirate ghosts.
  • In Mystery Case Files: 13th Skull, the Player Character is summoned to the Louisiana bayou by a woman whose husband has gone missing. Their young daughter maintains that a ghost pirate was responsible for his abduction.


Western Animation


 Hank: Hey, it's that ghost pirate who isn't a ghost! ... Or a pirate even, really.

  • Cyberchase had the ghost of the pirate Ivanka in two or three episodes
  • Danny Phantom has Youngblood and his crew.
  • Played with in "The Darkest Fathoms", the first episode of The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest. There's a pirate and his crew who dress like their counterparts from the age of sails, but it's also heavily implied that the ghost pirates they pretend to be are real as well.
  • A group of ghost pirates appeared in one episode of Pirates of Dark Water. They tried to capture Ioz and turn him into one of them. Since the only thing that could harm a ghost was another ghost, Ren had to have Tula use her powers to separate his spirit from his body so he could go fight the ghost pirates and save Ioz.
  • The Real Ghostbusters had to deal with a crew of these who invaded New York to retrieve their buried treasure after it was uncovered and put on display in a local museum.
  • An episode of The Fairly Odd Parents had Timmy wish up a ghost pirate to tell scary stories. The ghost decided to tell the story of when he and his undead horde laid waste to Dimmsdale.