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Captain Barbossa Didn’t Deserve His POTC Redemption (But That’s Okay)


Captain Barbossa died to save his daughter in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, but it might not have been enough to redeem his past misdeed. The pirate anti-hero flip-flopped sides several times throughout the movie, and Jack Sparrow could never entirely trust him. He was guilty of murder, betrayal, kidnapping, and several other atrocities, and no amount of good deeds could change this. Still, it did nothing to lower his likability, and his sacrificial end in Pirates of the Caribbean was all the more impactful as a result.


When Captain Hector Barbossa was first introduced in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, he was the central antagonist and a purely evil character. He and his undead crew on the Black Pearl were wonderfully spooky, and his eventual death was tragic but entirely deserved. Overall, Barbossa was precisely the kind of villain that everyone loved. This made his return to Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest all the more exciting. From there on out, he existed in a moral gray area, much like many Pirates characters. However, his evil deeds far outweighed the good.

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Captain Barbossa Was A Truly Cutthroat Pirate In POTC

Pirates of the caribbean Barbossa return

Before the events of the first Pirates of the Caribbean, Hector Barbossa was Jack Sparrow’s first mate on the Black Pearl. When Jack wanted to pass up on chasing down cursed gold, he led the crew in a mutiny. This involved leaving his captain and best friend on an island to die—and that was only the beginning of Barbossa’s terrible acts. From there, he kidnapped Elizabeth Swan intending to slit her throat, manipulated the pirate lords of the Brethren Court to bring back the goddess Calypso, and betrayed everyone he knew a hundred times over. In other words, Barbossa was the perfect example of a cutthroat pirate.

Most pirates in Pirates of the Caribbean were either secretly moral and kind or downright silly. Many of the crew members were bumbling, uncouth, and comically clumsy, serving as a sort of caricature of how popular culture often thinks of swashbucklers in some aspects. This was not the case for Barbossa. Instead, he was the image of what the glamorized version of a pirate is to audiences; witty, charismatic, conniving, vicious, and powerful. Barbossa was exactly the kind of character audiences would hope to see in a pirate movie. Therefore, it didn’t matter that he was evil—audiences were still excited to see him regardless.

Pirates Of The Caribbean Didn’t Need To Redeem Barbossa (But It Still Worked)

The Brethren Court gathers in Pirates of the Caribbean At World's End

Barbossa’s role in Pirates of the Caribbean as a cutthroat but lovable pirate meant there was never any need to redeem him. Due to his charisma and flare, his evil actions were seen as engaging and exciting rather than solely detestable. Moreover, Barbossa never apologized for what he did wrong. When he came back to life, there was never a moment that he expressed shame for having kidnapped Elizabeth. He was pure chaotic evil and never thought to pretend to be anything else. This meant that audiences had no expectation or need for a Pirates of the Caribbean redemption arc for the character.

Ultimately, Barbossa’s decision to give up his own life so his daughter could live was the single selfless thing that the character did throughout the whole Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Even then, he made no apology for who he had been. The action wasn’t an attempt at redemption, it was just what he wanted to do, and this made the moment a great end for his overall arc. Barbossa’s death was a continuation of his character’s chaotic and unpredictable nature, so while it did nothing to absolve him of his past crimes, it created a touching conclusion.

RELATED: Every Pirates Of The Caribbean Movie In Chronological Order

Jack Sparrow & Captain Barbossa’s Morality Was Different In POTC

Jack Sparrow and Barbossa having a heart-to-heat in Pirates Of The Caribbean At World's End

Of course, there was another pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean that was morally chaotic, and that was Captain Jack Sparrow. Like Barbossa, Elizabeth and Will never quite knew whose side Jack was on at any given moment, and his every action seemed to be ruled by his own will for self-preservation and gain. However, when it came down to it, Jack Sparrow (despite his crimes) was an extremely moral character. He pretended to be a pirate of the same caliber as Barbossa, but it simply wasn’t true. He couldn’t stomach innocent people being hurt and would always end up doing the right thing when it came down to it.

So, while Jack and Barbossa are often considered two peas in a pod, they are very different regarding their moral alignment. This namely comes through in the fact that Jack was far more capable of feeling guilt and shame. Therefore, he was able to gain redemption for his more selfish choices by using Will’s hand to kill Davy Jones and save his life. Barbossa could have only done such an action in Pirates of the Caribbean for his own gain—and he wouldn’t have been caught apologizing for it.

MORE: Bruckheimer’s Pirates of the Caribbean 6 Claims Make Depp Return Unlikely


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