Pirates Of The Caribbean: How The Swashbuckling Series Owes Its Existence To One Popular Game Franchise!

Hello all you landlubbers, swashbucklers and slimy sea dogs! If you’re wondering why I’m talking like this, don’t worry, pirate talk isn’t suddenly coming back in style. No, instead, I’m talking like a regular sea-savvy “Pyrate” because it happens to be the 10th anniversary of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest!

That’s right; everyone’s favorite swashbuckling sequel turns 10 today, and everyone is celebrating in their own special way. Whether it be watching the movie or bingeing the whole series in your quarters, or pillaging and singing sea shanties with your maties (look, it’s an article about a pirate movie, there’s going to be a lot of this), the anniversary of Dead Man’s Chest is surely something to get excited about!

Say what you will about the last two films, there’s no denying that the PotC franchise has a special charm to it; a charm that makes it beloved by many. Could you imagine a world without the wacky adventures of Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann? Certainly not!

Thankfully, the collective minds of Jerry Bruckheimer, Gore Verbinski, and Ted Elliot came together to bring the famous Disney Land ride to the big screen. But what if I told you that the PotC movies are based on more than just a ride, and that someone else is responsible for the beloved franchise? Well, not really “someone”, more like some widely-known point-n-click adventure game franchise.

Monkey Island

That’s right, I’m talking about Monkey Island, the story-driven, point-n-click pirate saga from LucasArts! Starring the unfortunately named Guybrush Threepwood, Monkey Island follows Guybrush as he goes on several adventures across the Caribbean. While on these adventures, he encounters dangerous environments, deadly enemies, and useful allies.

The Monkey Island series is known for its player-friendly difficulty and its fourth-wall breaking style of humor. But most importantly, it’s known for centering around pirates and pirate folklore. You know what else is known for centering around pirates and their folklore?

That’s right, Pirates of the Caribbean! I mean, it has the word “pirate” right there in the name, after all. But so what if they both feature plots centered around pirate mythology? Tons of movies, games, and TV shows are about the fun (but in reality actually very dark and depressing) period of time when pirates ruled the seven seas!

But Monkey Island and Pirates of the Caribbean share a whole lot more than just pirate stories. In fact, Pirates of the Caribbean borrows quite a bit from the Monkey Island series. Like what?

The Curious Case Of Monkey Island And Pirates Of The Caribbean!

The cheery-faced ghost pirate above is Captain Le Chuck, Guybrush Threepwood’s rival and the main antagonist of the Monkey Island games. He’s a powerful and deadly adversary, fueled by his own desires of power and greed.

If Le Chuck sounds a bit familiar to you, but you haven’t played the Monkey Island series before, then you may be mistaking him for a similar undead pirate captain with desires of power and treasure.

Captain Barbossa, the antagonist of the first PotC (and side protagonist for subsequent films) shares a lot with Le Chuck. Both are obviously on the hunt for gold (or “pirate booty” if you will), and both are associated with curses and dark magic. The only real difference between them is that Le Chuck doesn’t have an undead monkey as a right-hand man, because in a game literally called Monkey Island, that’d be just a bit too on the nose.

It isn’t just Barbossa that has some characteristics in common with a Monkey Island character. Will Turner and his romantic interest of PotC are strikingly similar to Guybrush Threepwood and his love interest, Elaine Marley. Will and Guybrush are both characters who against all odds become great pirates, and Elizabeth and Elain both come from royal backgrounds. The two couples even look and dress alike!

Characters aside, Dead Man’s Chest is actually the most similar to the Monkey Island series. It’s practically one big reference to it! For example, in Dead Man’s Chest, there’s a pirate town made from recycled pirate ships. There’s a similar pirate ship town in Monkey Island 2: Le Chuck’s Revenge.

There are other similarities, such as both protagonists using a coffin as a boat at some point in their adventures—Jack Sparrow in Dead Man’s Chest, and Guybrush Threepwood in Monkey Island 2.

Then there’s the fact that both franchises feature a creepy voodoo lady in the middle of a swamp who has made some questionable dating choices:

How Did This Happen?

These are just a few of the similarities Dead Man’s Chest has with the Monkey Island series; the second film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise references the game series more than any other movie in the franchise.

But are these really just references and easter eggs, or did Pirates of the Caribbean actually borrow its story from the Monkey Island franchise? Well, in a way, it’s a bit of both.

The Pirates franchise has enough story elements of its own to differentiate itself from the Monkey Island franchise but those similarities the two have are likely very intentional. See, back in 1999, Steven Spielberg was supposed to produce an animated film adaption of the third Monkey Island game, The Curse of the Monkey Island.

It’s unknown what the movie was about (though it was reportedly an original story), or how far along it was into development, but Curse of Monkey Island never saw the light of day.

Production was shut down, and the team all went on to work on different projects. One of those team members was the writer, Ted Elliot. Name sound familiar? That’s because Elliot would go on to write the story for all 4 existing Pirates of the Caribbean films—being hired to write the screenplay for the first Pirates movie, Curse of the Black Pearl, just three years after the Monkey Island film was being worked on!

I know Jack!

It’s never actually been confirmed, but judging by the many similarities the franchises have, and the fact that they share a writer, it’s safe to say that a lot of what was going to go into the Monkey Island film went in to the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise.

As such, this is truly a case of losing to gain, as we may have the lost the chance to see what a Monkey Island movie would have been like, but we got one of the best pirate film franchises out there in return! , watch Dead Man’s Chest (and the others while you’re at it) and relive the swashbuckling adventures!

Thanks For Reading! How Are You Celebrating Dead Man’s Chest’s 10th Anniversary?



Writer, movie lover, third thing. email me at [email protected]! Follow me @AdoGon16