As the title implies, in Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest, are pirates working on Davy Jones's ship dead, partially dead or not dead at all?

They can breathe underwater unlike other pirates. They can also step on the land unlike Davy Jones who can only step on land once in ten years. They can also do many things like alive pirates.

So what exactly are they?

  • What do you mean by "They can also do all things like alive pirates"? They specifically can't do many things, including any sort of sensation like quenching thirst or sating hunger or sexual urges. They can eat and drink but they are always hungry.
    – Catija
    Sep 18, 2016 at 18:43
  • Also, which film are you talking about, specifically? You have the generic tag for the series and you mention Davy Jones... but he's in the second and third films. If you're talking about the first film, that has nothing to do with Davy Jones.
    – Catija
    Sep 18, 2016 at 19:24
  • @Catija Ok I forgot to add that. Now done.
    – A J
    Sep 19, 2016 at 1:21
  • @Catija Seeing that it's about the general characters, who make an appearance in more than on film (and don't change their nature from one film to the next), I'm not sure specific movie tags are really that necessary.
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Sep 19, 2016 at 9:14

2 Answers 2


The Flying Dutchman (Davy's ship, in the movie) is a "real" ghost ship in historical myth. The crew of the Flying Dutchman are ghosts of men who died at sea, generally after having committed terrible crimes, and they are condemned to serve as part of the ship's crew until their sentence is complete.

The only major change Disney made was to insert the character of Davy Jones as the captain of the Flying Dutchman, and all the in-movie mythology that was associated with him, including the bit about him only setting foot on land once every ten years, which apparently doesn't apply to everyone on the ship. The term "Davy Jones's locker" is another real nautical superstition, although the origins of the name "Davy Jones" are not clearly known, so this character as presented in the movie is mostly made up by the writers.

Barbossa's crew in the original movie, by comparison, were subjected to a curse that made them undead, but they never properly "died" beforehand. Everything supernatural about them was directly related to the cursed gold, and ended when the curse was lifted and they returned to being mortal men, as we see in the movie.

So, they were both undead in their own way, but they were different kinds of undead. Also worth noting, since the crew of the Flying Dutchman are properly dead, the only place they can go if/when they are released from service is onward to the afterlife (whatever that may be.)


Unlike the pirates on Barbossa's ship, The Black Pearl, the pirates aboard Davy Jones' The Flying Dutchman are cursed (or in better terms, bound in service, as it's not technically a curse like the Aztec Gold Curse), rather than undead. They can die, and we see many examples of them dying throughout the second and third movie - although they seem resistant to many attacks that would incapacitate or kill a regular person.

When a sailor dies at sea, Davy Jones will visit them and ask them:

Do you fear death? Do you fear that dark abyss? All your deeds laid bare. All your sins punished. I can offer you... an escape-uh. [...]
Life is cruel. Why should the afterlife be any different? I offer you a choice. Join my crew, and postpone the judgment. One hundred years before the mast. Will ye serve?

If the sailor agrees, Davy Jones will offer them a chance - to sail the seas for a fixed number of years (one hundred years) in return to their sworn allegiance to the Dutchman and its master.

A sailor must be dead or dying to receive this offer - they cannot be alive, as evidenced by Davy Jones' accusation of Will Turner:

DAVY JONES You are neither dead nor dying. What is your purpose here?

At the end of this service, they will pass onto 'the afterlife', and face judgement for their sins (perhaps at the hand of God) or more than likely - if they've gambled with their years of service aboard the ship - they will continue serving indefinitely.

It's worth noting that the concept of 'eternity' exists as well, as Bootstrap Bill Turner wagers an eternity of service in a game of dice against Davy Jones.

DAVY JONES [...] Bootstrap Bill, you're a liar and you will spend an eternity on this ship!

  • 1
    You say they're cursed rather than undead, so you don't think they're dead. Yet in the next paragraph you point out that they have to be dying or dead to join. So are they dead or not?
    – Napoleon Wilson
    Sep 19, 2016 at 9:18
  • 1
    But still it does not clarify whether they are dead or not.
    – A J
    Sep 19, 2016 at 10:00
  • They are undead, but a different kind of undead from Barbossa's crew. The Flying Dutchman is a famous ghost ship in historical myth, whose crew are all ghosts of men who committed terrible crimes and subsequently died at sea. The only major change Disney made was inserting the (entirely made-up) character of Davy Jones as captain. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flying_Dutchman
    – Steve-O
    Nov 19, 2016 at 22:58
  • @Steve-O You can add your findings as an answer.
    – A J
    Nov 20, 2016 at 5:24

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