In the movie Pirates of The Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Captain Salazar said in a scene to the son of Captain Turner that "Dead Man Tell No Tales".

Captain Salazar: [to the only survivor of a ship he attacked] Jack Sparrow... [holds up a wanted poster of Jack Sparrow]

Captain Salazar: Do you know this pirate?

Henry: Only by name.

Captain Salazar: Find Jack Sparrow for me and relay a message, from Captain Salazar: Tell him death will come straight for him. Will you say that to him, please?

Henry: Yes.

Captain Salazar: I wish I could do it, but dead men tell no tales.

But when he met Captain Barbaroussa he told him the tale about how he became a dead man.

4 Answers 4


From the Pirates of the Caribbean wikia:

"Dead men tell no tales" was a common pirate phrase, meaning once someone is dead, they can no longer communicate, hence killing someone is the best way to keep him/her quiet. A standard pirate excuse for leaving no survivors.

From Terry Rossio, the screenwriter:

It might've been cool to have Davy Jones say 'Dead men tell no tales' at that moment, but that's something that did not occur at the moment. 'Course, in our film, dead men do tell tales, but, still, would've been a nice ride tribute.

Refer this


The way I understood it, it wasn't meant to be taken literally, as in he can't tell a tale (say the words), but that he can't tell him himself, because he is dead. True he's still alive in a way, but (because of this death) he's trapped and can't go after Jack yet.

Later, when Jack gave up the compass, and Salazar was set free, he can go after Jack and others and tell them in person whatever he wants.


It's more a play on a common phrase.

More often, when the phrase is used it's in the context of criminals turning on their own partners or subordinates, mostly to eliminate anyone who might, potentially, be able to incriminate them. They can't ever turn on the criminal or testify to the authorities because..... dead men tell no tales.

In a more pirate context, if pirates commit a raid, sink ships and steal cargo and money, the navies of affected nations are going to try to hunt them down. Unless, of course, they have no idea who did it, when it happened, and where they might have been heading. So, "take no prisoners," which really means kill everyone, is because "dead men tell no tales."

So, that's kind of the original context. As used in the movie and the quote, it's a humorous, different take on phrase.


It was meant to be understood literally with no hidden meaning to it. It simply means that if a person is dead, he won't be able to tell any stories or tales. This is the only explanation without some hidden meaning.

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