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Diabolical Masterminds have the Right-Hand-Cat. Pirate Captains have the Pirate Parrot. Expect these colorful feathered companions to be chatty and demand crackers. Pirate Parrots usually ride on the shoulder of their pirate owner.

The parrot may or may not:

  • Be named "Polly".
  • Ask for crackers, "Polly wants a cracker, Polly wants a cracker".
  • Say something about "pieces of eight" (which is a coin).

In Real Life, it is not known if many pirates actually kept parrots for pets. Parrots are high-maintenance animals that serve no benefit on a ship (unlike, for example, cats, which keep the vermin population down). However, there are records of the occasional (non-pirate) Caribbean sailor keeping parrots and even monkeys as pets, so it's not too unlikely. The whole concept of a pirate and his parrot companion likely started with Treasure Island. And parrots in Real Life do naturally prefer to stand on a person's shoulder.

Expect some amount of Misplaced Wildlife. Cockatoos, for example, come from Australia and Indonesia, and would be far less likely on the shoulder of a Caribbean pirate than a macaw or Amazon of Central and South America. Then again, most animated parrots are some strange conglomeration of psittacine characteristics rather than realistic; macaw-shaped and colored, Amazon-sized, with a cockatoo crest.

Related tropes are Parrot Pet Position and Feather Boa Constrictor.

For capuchin monkeys, see Everything's Better with Monkeys.

Examples of Pirate Parrot include:

Anime & Manga

  • On Cowboy Bebop, Vicious has an exotic bird perched on his right shoulder most of the time. This only heightens his mystique (and overall evil aura). It's a cormorant (a kind of sea bird that has acidic droppings and a nasty temper). This, combined with the fact that he blows it up in one of the final episodes, probably does say something about Vicious. It's inspired by Harlock's bird, noted below.
    • Truth in Television: Cormorants are trainable to a certain extent, and some fishermen in Asia use them as pretty much an aquatic equivalent of hunting hawks. Having one would probably be more useful to a pirate than a parrot.
  • In the Pokémon Ranger and The Temple of The Sea movie, the pirate villain "The Phantom" had a Chatot (parrot Pokémon) on his shoulder.
  • Amazingly, One Piece has, up to yet, averted this, despite being all about pirates. And considering the series' track record. If one ever showed up, it will be the single most awesome parrot ever seen. The closest to this tope thus far is Doma's, one of Whitebeard's New World allies, trained gun-using Monkey.
  • The manga Crossbone Gundam gives The Captain a robot parrot as part of their fully embracing the "pirate" part of Space Pirate. Said parrot spouts random lines that reference older Gundam works, leading to the theory that it was made from Amuro Ray's Team Pet and Gundam Series Mascot Haro.
  • Captain Harlock, as a proud Space Pirate, owns not a parrot but a strange alien bird — with black feathers, a long beak and a thread-thin neck — that pretty much cover the same role, up to mimicking human speech and sometimes riding on his shoulder.

Comic Books

  • In Lullaby, Jim Hawkins gained a parrot (with an absurdly large beak) sometime before his captain booted him from the ship. Despite the captain's offer of any crew he wanted, Jim said all the crew he needed was the parrot (and his Empathic Weapon), who, admittedly, is generally on the same wavelength as he is. It also had a pegleg, believe it or not. And it tends to talk in terms of sailing, at one point warning Jim of danger by saying "Enemy ship to stern!" Finally, it wears carries Jim's tiny flag on its back, and its name is Crew.
  • In Y the Last Man, buxom captain Kilina prefers a female capuchin monkey to a parrot, because birds are too cliché.
  • Batman foe Cap'n Fear had a robotic parrot that randomly recorded and repeated phrases spoken near it.
  • Though not a pirate himself, The DCU's marauding desperado El Papagayo ("The Parrot") was so named for his choice of pet.
  • In The Skull of Agarash, a graphic novel set in the Lone Wolf world, Captain Khadro, pirate ruler of the Lakuri Isles, has a small winged reptile looking like a tiny dragon as Pirate Parrot. It is in fact a Liganim, the shapeshifting familiar of a Nadziran, the Black Wizard currently possessing Khadro.
  • Parodied in a José Carioca cover, where José has gone to a costume party dressed as a pirate, but since he is a parrot, he has a small human pirate on his shoulder instead.
  • Deadpool forced Bob to wear a parrot costume and squawk like a parrot during their short stint as pirates.
  • Ruthless modern pirate Mojo in the story "How Daphne lost her Mojo (and got it back!)" in the graphic novel Sex Ed 101 by Enrique Villagran, has a parrot who comments on the action.
  • Matilda in Randomveus has a large pet parrot — that somehow has a mustache.

Films — Animation

  • Iago from Disney's Aladdin is worth mentioning, even though he's not affiliated with a Pirate... Then in Aladdin and the King of Thieves he goes off with Cassim, Aladdin's long-lost father and former leader of a band of thieves who would occasionally use ships.
  • In Treasure Planet, Long John Silver's pet was a small shapeshifting creature called Morph, who could mimic people in more ways than one.
  • Taken to a ridiculous degree in the direct-to-video movie Tom and Jerry: Shiver Me Whiskers, where each of the three pirate captains have a parrot that matches their color scheme. The red and blue pirate captains talk only in growls, which their parrots then translate. It's the opposite with the purple pirate, who can speak perfect English, but can't translate his parrot's growling.
  • In Tom and Jerry: The Movie there's Captain Kiddie's parrot Squawk, though Kiddie isn't a pirate and Squawk is just a handpuppet (albeit a seemingly sentient one).
  • The villains of Rio, though technically not pirates, actually both own a sulphur-crested cockatoo named Nigel.
  • The Captain in Raggedy Ann and Andy A Musical Adventure has a pet parrot.

Films — Live-Action

  • The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy:
    • A mute pirate named Cotton owns a parrot who does the talking for him. It mostly says "parrot" stuff like "Ready the sails!" — "We figure that means 'yes'." The parrot's repetition leads to a hilarious scene in the second movie:

 Parrot: Don't eat me! Don't eat me!

Will: I'm not going to eat you...


(cue cannibals)

    • Captain Barbossa himself has a pet monkey.
  • In Revenge of The Pink Panther, Inspector Clouseau appears disguised as a sailor, with an inflatable parrot on his shoulder.
  • The following exchange occurs in Down Periscope, during the "walk the plank" sequence, which has a large percentage of the Stingray's crew playing pirate:

 Buckman: Nitro, isn't that one of my chickens? (indicating very dead plucked chicken tied to Nitro's shoulder)

Nitro Mike: No, it's a, uh, parrot, uhh, from the Caribbean.

Buckman: Well don't let it fly away, that's supper.

Nitro Mike: Arr.

  • Captain Hook and his crew of pirates finally get one in the 2003 film Peter Pan. (This trope had been averted in previous adaptations.)


  • In book 4 of the Grail Quest series, Voyage of Terror, while lost in Mythological Ancient Greece, you can meet with Long John Silver — or at least a pirate pretending to be him. He naturally has a parrot on his shoulder. However, if you decide to fight him, you'll find out that the parrot is a rare breed that's indeed one of the thoughest monsters of the book.


  • This probably started (as most pirate-related tropes are) with Long John Silver, from Treasure Island, who has a parrot named Captain Flint. Which makes this Older Than Radio. Also, Captain Flint's most common phrase is "Pieces of eight! Pieces of eight!".
  • The Spellsinger novels have talking animals. In Day of the Dissonance there's a pirate who is a parrot.
  • Parodied in the Discworld novel Going Postal with the Reacher Gilt's pirate costume ("That was a Look, wasn't it?") including a parrot (well, a cockatoo) that says "twelve and a half percent" (i.e. 1/8).
  • The pirate Littlejohn in James Thurber's The Wonderful O has a parrot that annoys the book's Big Bad (by using words containing the letter "O"); notable for repeatedly being on the receiving end of the memorable threat, "I'll squck its thrug till all it can whubble is geep!"
  • Although the Free Traders of Andre Norton's Solar Queen series are not pirates — more of unorthodox merchants, still their captain owns a small alien animal which looks like half-parrot-half-toad. That in addition to more conventional ship-cat.
  • Comic inversion: In the sequence that gave stand-up comedian Mike Hardin's book The Fourteen and a Half Pound Budgie its title, Hardin describes a parakeet that he's supposed to pet-sit as being "so nasty it had a pirate on its shoulder."
  • Invoked in one of Timothy Zahn's stories, but not with an animal: Marines in Powered Armor wore shoulder-mounted weapons, apparently slaved to aim wherever the wearer's eyes focused, known as "parrot guns".
  • Though pirates are not featured anywhere in the stories, Harold of Bunnicula reads about pirates and wonders whether a "parrot" is an umbrella or a female pirate. Chester puts him straight.
  • In Swallows and Amazons, Nancy and Peggy's uncle, "Captain Flint", owns a parrot. Nancy and Peggy have often tried to teach it to say "Pieces of eight", and are disappointed that all it will say is "Pretty Polly".

Live-Action TV

  • In the Doctor Who serial "The Pirate Planet" (written by Douglas Adams), the space pirate captain has robot parrot with a blaster in its beak (the Polyphase Aviatron). It is destroyed off-screen by K-9 (who then returns with the bird in its "mouth". Good dog!) According to Douglas Adams, he submitted that script to the Doctor Who production office, and it was rejected. He later wrote in the robot parrot and re-submitted it, and it was accepted.
  • Monty Python's Flying Circus has sketches with pirates and parrots on their shoulders:
    • A soccer game where one team was made up of Long John Silver impersonators. See it on YouTube here, starting around 1:50.
    • An interviewer slowly turns into a Long John Silver impersonator, complete with quotes. On YouTube here.
    • The "Confuse a Cat" sketch.
  • The Young Ones episode "Flood" had a cutaway scene with a literal pirate DJ (Robbie Coltrane) whose parrot kept making sarcastic remarks. The problem was, he couldn't see where the remarks were coming from because he wore an eyepatch — and he was a cyclops. When his bosun attempts to rightly blame the parrot for an insult, he denies owning one: "I hate the creatures! Horrible, small, furry things, hopping around, breeding and eating carrots!"
  • The Blackadder episode "Potato" guest-stars Tom Baker as Captain Rum. He's not a pirate, but he has a dead parrot lying on his shoulder.
  • Navi the robotic parrot in Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger. Also the one responsible for leading the team towards the Greatest Treasure in the Universe through vague clues that only come about after she hits her head on the ceiling.

Puppet Shows


 Gonzo: I thought pirates had talking parrots as pets.

Long John Silver: Talking... parrots?

Polly: What an imagination. First pirates, now talking parrots, what's next — a singing, dancing mouse with his own amusement park?

    • The game of the film features a parrot called Stevenson (as in Robert Louis) as the Exposition Fairy.


  • The Pittsburgh Pirates American baseball team have the Pirate Parrot for a mascot.

Tabletop Games

  • In the Paranoia adventure "Vapors Don't Shoot Back", the Big Bad pirate-wannabee Black-U-Brd has a parrot robot on his shoulder that repeats old pirate movie dialogue.
  • Shadowrun supplement California Free State. Captain Monday of Moro Bay not only dresses like a pirate but has a parrot on one shoulder. A decker posts a message that it isn't a parrot but a miniaturized eyekiller, an Awakened (magical) creature that can fire lightning bolts.
  • The Asteroid 1618 supplement for the Encounter Critical game. Space pirates can buy space parrots at a pet store on the asteroid. The parrot costs 75 gold credits if it already knows pirate lingo, or only 25 gold credits if it needs to be taught.

Video Games

  • In Jak & Daxter: The Lost Frontier, we have sky pirates. Some of the ones in Far Drop City come with actual parrots.
  • Parrots are seen throughout the Monkey Island series.
    • Monkey Island mocks this one (then it again, it mocks every Pirate trope possible), in the first game: Meathook keeps a classic parrot locked up because it's "scary". In Escape from Monkey Island, when asked what he wanted in a pirate Caricature, Guybrush can choose to say he wants a parrot when he adds the following:

 Guybrush: Nothing says "I'm a mighty pirate" like animal abuse.

    • And then there is the half-magic parrot made of pyrite in Tales of Monkey Island. But what kind of idiot would actually carry that thing around?

 "*Squawk* It's me, Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate!"

  • In Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves, the major pirates are both parrots, in reference to this trope.
  • Sid Meiers Pirates: If the barkeep doesn't have anything useful to say, he'll usually ask the main character "Where's your parrot?" This can get stupidly hilarious when you've actually modded parrots into the game.
  • World of Warcraft
    • Pirate enemies in will occasionally have parrot pets with them. It's also possible for players to purchase a parrot pet in the pirates-filled town of Booty Bay.
    • If you gain reputation with the Bloodsail Buccaneers faction, you can eventually get a captain's hat that summons a pet parrot.
  • Kingdom of Loathing
    • You're actually required to have a parrot (or at least the item "stuffed shoulder parrot") as part of a pirate disguise.
    • There's also an Exotic Parrot familiar. If you try to name it "Polly", the game automatically renames your Parrot "Unoriginality".
  • In World Heroes, Captain Kidd has a bird that perches on his shoulder in his animations, that is apparently supposed to be a hawk or condor or something, but is basically a more badass version of a parrot.
  • In Skies of Arcadia, Gilder has a parrot that helps him get out of jail. His name is Willy.
  • The smuggler in both Ratchet & Clank Future games is accompanied by a parrot-like alien. Ironically, there are actual pirates in the games, none of whom have parrots.
  • In RuneScape, a quest involving pirates allows you to get an "Ex-Ex-Parrot" as a pet.
  • Raz, a minor character from Final Fantasy XII, can always be seen with a small parrot over his head.
  • Parrots naturally show up in Puzzle Pirates, although they are fairly rare.
  • You can find a parrot in Dubloon in Atlan Island dungeon. Her function is to activate switches and collect keys found behind a wall or locked doors.
  • Chousokabe Motochika from Sengoku Basara owns a large yellow parrot that wears a bandanna over its head. It can apparently speak, though the only words it's been heard saying are "Motochika" and "treasure".
  • In Legend of the Crystal Skull, Iggy's pirate costume consists of a strap-on cutlass, a tricorn hat with a skull-and-crossbones emblem, and a lace ruff with a blue-and-yellow plastic parrot mounted over one shoulder. Iggy, by the way, is an iguana.
  • Your explorer can find a rather foul-mouthed one in The Wager.
  • In The Sims Medieval expansion "Pirates and Nobles," most NPC pirates have parrots, and Hero Sims can get them whether they're members of a pirate crew or not.

Web Comics

  • Parodied in Freefall; after Sam suggests that he and his crew become space pirates, Helix adopts an emu and names it "Polly", suggesting that it would be more threatening than a parrot.

 Sam: I know I'd be respectful of a pirate with an emu on his shoulder.


Web Original

  • The Onion has this article on the proper care and feeding of Pirate Parrots, by a "Captain Crimson Bannister". Extra points for being written completely in pirate-speak.

Western Animation


 Sokka: You guys are pirates!

Pirate: We prefer to think of ourselves as "high-risk traders".

  • The Simpsons
    • "The Mansion Family" has Homer borrowing a cruise ship from Mr. Burns, which is boarded by pirates. Their captain has an absurdly large number of parrots perched on him, and Homer's attempt to fight him merely knocks the parrots off his body one by one.
    • And of course, Pirate Captains use to write their treasure maps on crackers and give them to their parrots for safe keepin'. That's why there is treasure everywhere... well, according to Bart anyway.
  • An alien Space Pirate from Futurama has three parrots — on three of his four shoulders.
  • In Transformers, Laserbeak, a robot condor, perches on the shoulder of whomever happens to be the Decepticon leader at the time. Usually, this means he occupies Megatron's shoulder, but he moves to Shockwave or Galvatron... but never Starscream: proof that all his treachery means nothing toward becoming leader. Step 1: Get the bird. Everything else falls into place.
  • Shipwreck from G.I. Joe is a good guy, a dedicated sailor, and Loveable Rogue, with a talking parrot named Polly who never seems to shut up. In a bit of a subversion.
  • The Pirates of Dark Water
    • Niddler, a parrot-monkey thing is one of the main characters. He's kind of The Scrappy, but whatever.
    • Also, one of the villains keeps a little parrot-like beast on his shoulder. In turn with the depiction of Merians using animals as devices, it is a living dictaphone, known as a "memorrot". What it knows becomes a plot point.
  • On SpongeBob SquarePants, Patchy the Pirate has a parrot named Potty who he doesn't get along with at all.
  • Young Blood in his pirate appearance in Danny Phantom has a skeletal one. Spent most of the time correcting pirate lingo and acting cynical. Later on, when he'd adopted a cowboy motif instead, it turned into a skeletal horse — apparently it's a shapeshifter that assumes the form of whatever animal it finds most appropriate for whatever identity its master has assumed. But it's a Servile Snarker in any form.
  • Parodied in an episode in Johnny Bravo, in which a captain had a different bird on his shoulder everytime he was on camera (including a bucket of fried chicken at one point).
  • In the 1947 Warner Bros. cartoon Buccaneer Bunny, "Sea-Goin' Sam" (a pirate version of Yosemite Sam) has a parrot that follows Bugs Bunny around pointing out his hiding places. Bugs asks the parrot "Polly want a cracker?", and when the parrot agrees, gives him a lit firecracker. Bye bye Polly!
  • Family Guy, episode "Long John Peter". Peter steals a parrot and starts carrying it around with him. He starts dressing as a pirate, recruits three other pirates and starts terrorizing the town. His parrot is severely injured during the fighting and later dies at the veterinarian's office.
  • The Fairly Odd Parents, "Odd-Pirates". Timmy, Poof, Wanda, and Cosmo encounter a pirate named Dirtybeard who is actually friendly but whose parrot is evil.
  • Camp Lazlo: Lazlo and his friends create a doll from canned meat, which gains sentience and attacks the campers in revenge by transforming into various shapes — one of them being a pirate with a meat parrot on his shoulder.
  • Casper's Scare School: During Casper's trip to Scare School, he meets a blind pirate and his seeing eye parrot who sail a flying ship to pick up students.
  • The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjack: In "Ben-Boozled", the captain masquerading as a parrot (in paper-thin disquise) becomes the pet of another pirate who thinks he is the most beautiful bird he's ever seen.
  • Captain Walker D. Plank from James Bond Jr. He fits the traditional pirate stereotype to the extent that even his parrot has an eyepatch and a wooden leg.
  • The Doctor Who Animated Adaptation serial The Infinite Quest features Baltazhar, who supposedly is some kind of a intergalactic overlord, terror of the spaceways, but is dressed in a red and white stripey shirt, with a futuristic Hook Hand. He's got two Pirate Parrots, but both of them the size of a car. Needless to say they don't actually sit on his shoulder.
  • Star Wars the Clone Wars features Hondo Ohnaka, usually with a Kowakian Monkey Lizard on his shoulders. In the Star Wars universe, monkey lizards are bird-like mischief makers who are actually smarter than they look, hence one of them managing to swipe Count Dooku's lightsaber and another one able to fumble through the operation of a tank.
  • On Jimmy Two-Shoes, an episode has a pirate with a raven on his shoulder.
  • Jake and the Never Land Pirates: The good pirates have the talkative parrot Skully on their team.
  • In the Rocko's Modern Life episode, Mr. Bighead starts sleepwalking, dreaming that he's a pirate. He sees Rocko's house as an enemy ship, and Spunky as a parrot, which he steals in order to extort a treasure map from Rocko.