James Norrington

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James Norrington
Pirates of the Caribbean character
300px-Admiral James Norrington-1-.png
First appearanceThe Curse of the Black Pearl
Last appearanceAt World’s End
Portrayed byJack Davenport
OccupationAdmiral of the East India Trading Company War Fleet
Commodore in the Royal Navy
Captain in the Royal Navy
Lieutenant in the Royal Navy
Appearance(s)The Curse of the Black Pearl
Dead Man's Chest
At World's End

Admiral James Norrington, CB is a fictional character in Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean film series. He is played by English actor Jack Davenport.

Character history[edit]

According to the writers' audio commentary from the Curse of the Black Pearl DVD, Norrington was originally written as an evil character intended to join forces with Hector Barbossa, but the idea was later used in Dead Man's Chest, where he betrays his comrades and sides with Lord Cutler Beckett.

In an interview, producer Jerry Bruckheimer stated that Norrington was originally stated to only appear in the first film, but partially due to the positive audience reaction towards the character, and his respect for Davenport, he made him a prominent character in the sequel. Davenport's casting came in part from his father, Nigel, being a major character in the 1960s pirate film A High Wind in Jamaica, which both Bruckheimer and director Gore Verbinski enjoyed.

In Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End, Norrington has a smaller role despite setting the film's plot in motion. Early scripts and a deleted scene had him stopping Governor Swann from stabbing the heart of Davy Jones[1] and also had him forming a friendship with Davy Jones.

In At World's End Norrington is killed by Bootstrap Bill Turner when caught rescuing Elizabeth and the other crew members of the Empress.


The Essential Guide to Pirates of the Caribbean states that Norrington is feared among pirates for his naval skills and swordsmanship. According to the audio commentary from the first Pirates of the Caribbean DVD featuring the scriptwriters, Norrington's sword fight skills are equaled only by Hector Barbossa and surpassed only by Will Turner. At the first film's climax, Norrington personally fights Koehler, a senior member of Barbossa's pirate crew, killing him just after the curse is lifted.


Norrington is highly skilled in both swordsmanship and firearms, his sword, a smallsword with gold filigree in the handle, is a symbolic plot device recurring throughout the first three films that ties Norrington, Sparrow, Turner, and Elizabeth to one another. According to screenplay writer Terry Rossio,[2] it has "a bit of destiny about it"; the sword was forged by Will Turner, who delivers it to Governor Weatherby Swann in the opening scene of The Curse of the Black Pearl for presentation to Norrington at his promotion to Commodore. At the film's conclusion, Norrington uses the sword to express his feelings regarding Elizabeth and Will, despite his being in love with Elizabeth, he remarks to Will, "This is a beautiful sword. I expect the man who made it to show the same care and devotion in every aspect of his life."

In Dead Man's Chest, Norrington has resigned his commission in disgrace after losing HMS Dauntless in a hurricane near Tripoli while pursuing Captain Jack Sparrow; the sword now rests in Norrington's old office in Port Royal, as if awaiting its former owner's return. It becomes a haunting symbol of Norrington's once-brilliant career before falling to piracy. Norrington is last seen making his way back to Port Royal, hoping to reclaim his former life.

Finally, in At World's End, Lord Cutler Beckett reunites the newly-promoted Admiral Norrington with an 'old friend' when he presents him with his sword, but Beckett fails to anticipate the weapon's powerful emotional effect on Norrington—a painful reminder of the honourable man he once was and its strong ties to Elizabeth Swann and, by extension, Will Turner and Jack Sparrow. Norrington's sword ultimately becomes the instrument for his redemption, using it to free Elizabeth and her crew from the Flying Dutchman. Tragically, he is mortally wounded by the deranged "Bootstrap" Bill Turner during the escape. Davy Jones offers to save his life in exchange for servitude aboard the Flying Dutchman, but Norrington defiantly spears Jones' shoulder with the sword; the immortal Jones merely extracts the weapon and claims it as a prize, exclaiming, "Nice sword!" The sword eventually returns to Will Turner, bringing its ownership full-circle.

Fictional biography[edit]

Early life and The Navy[edit]

James Norrington appears in the book, Jack Sparrow: 10 - Sins of the Father; when he is about five or six years old, he trails after his father, Admiral Lawrence Norrington, who commands a Royal Navy ship. When young James falls overboard, the pirate, Captain Teague, (Jack Sparrow's father) jumps in and saves him. Admiral Norrington admonishes James for being indebted to a pirate, saying he would rather his son had drowned.

The Curse of the Black Pearl[edit]

Norrington is first seen as a Lieutenant aboard HMS Dauntless when it transports Governor Weatherby Swann and his young daughter, Elizabeth, to Port Royal, he is present when Will Turner is rescued from a shipwreck. During the voyage, Norrington expresses his negative views about piracy to a young Elizabeth, which causes her to steal a pirate medallion from Will in order to protect him.

Eight years later, Captain Norrington is about to be promoted to the rank of Commodore. Among those gathered for the ceremony is Elizabeth Swann, now a beautiful young woman with whom Norrington has fallen in love. While the newly-promoted Commodore proposes to Elizabeth Swann atop the fortress, she faints and topples over the wall into the harbor below. Captain Jack Sparrow rescues her. Norrington arrests Sparrow for piracy, despite his heroic deed.

When pirates attack Port Royal and kidnap Elizabeth, Norrington pursues the pirates' ship, the Black Pearl. Turner, now a blacksmith's apprentice who secretly loves Elizabeth, initiates his own plan to save Elizabeth and frees Jack Sparrow. Together they commandeer HMS Interceptor, stranding Norrington aboard the disabled Dauntless. Watching as Sparrow and Turner make off with the Interceptor, Norrington grudgingly acknowledges Sparrow's unexpected cleverness and competency.

Norrington pursues Sparrow and Turner with three objectives: reclaim the Interceptor, capture Jack Sparrow, and rescue Elizabeth. Barbossa sinks the Interceptor and maroons Sparrow and Elizabeth. Norrington spots Elizabeth's distress signal and rescues them. Norrington arrests Jack and ignores Elizabeth's plea to rescue Will, believing he has turned pirate, he only relents after Elizabeth accepts his previous marriage proposal. He asks for Jack's assistance to locate Isla de Muerta but on the condition that Jack remains quiet for the rest of the voyage.

Norrington and his crew arrive at Isla de Muerta. Norrington distrusts Sparrow and his plan to ambush the pirates; as Norrington waits in his longboat, he is unaware that the undead pirates have crossed underneath his vessel and have attacked the Dauntless. Hearing a distress call, he orders his men back to the ship, where they battle the immortal pirates; as Will breaks the curse, rendering the pirates mortal, Norrington and his men defeat them.

The Commodore imprisons the surrendered pirates and returns to Port Royal. Despite thanking him for the victory against Barbossa, Norrington agrees to obey the law and hang Jack for piracy. Will and Elizabeth free Sparrow from the gallows, but they are quickly caught. Governor Swann pardons Will, while Sparrow escapes. Norrington graciously accepts Elizabeth's wish to marry Will, and postpones pursuing Sparrow for one day.

Dead Man's Chest[edit]

While pursuing Jack Sparrow, Norrington's ship, HMS Dauntless was lost in a hurricane off Tripoli. Disgraced, Norrington resigned his post and disappeared. Norrington's whereabouts are still unknown when Lord Cutler Beckett arrives in Port Royal with an arrest warrant for Norrington's part in Jack Sparrow's escape. Beckett also arrests Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann.

Drinking heavily and clad in his filthy, tattered uniform, Norrington appears in Tortuga, he applies for a position aboard Jack Sparrow's ship, the Black Pearl. He is obsessed with reclaiming his honor, and seeks revenge against those he believes responsible for his downfall, notably Sparrow and Will Turner.

Aboard the Pearl, Norrington is skeptical that the Chest of Davy Jones is genuine, but is interested in a set of Letters of Marque that employ the holder as a Privateer for the British Crown; the Letters of Marque, if validated by Lord Beckett, also grant the owner a full pardon. Norrington also observes a budding relationship between Sparrow and Elizabeth; when Elizabeth hears that Will Turner is being held captive on the Flying Dutchman, Norrington suggests that Sparrow is somehow involved, though she disbelieves him.

At Isla Cruces, Norrington, Jack, and Elizabeth go ashore to search for Davy Jones's chest. After finding it, Norrington realizes Jack was telling the truth. Will Turner's sudden arrival results in a three-way sword fight between, Norrington, Sparrow, and Turner to claim the chest: Jack wants to free himself from his blood debt with Jones, Will wants to liberate his father from Jones's crew, and Norrington wants to regain his career by presenting the chest to Lord Beckett. Matters are further complicated by the Flying Dutchman's crew arriving on the scene, forcing Norrington, Sparrow and Turner to work together with the crew to hold off the crew. During the melee, Norrington escapes with the chest, heart, and Letters of Marque.

Norrington is found by EITC ships and taken to Port Royal, he bargains with Beckett: the heart of Davy Jones and control of the seas in exchange for Beckett's signature on the Letters of Marque. Beckett agrees and not only pardons Norrington, but promotes Norrington to Admiral in the East India Trading Company.

At World's End[edit]

Norrington has now truly regained his career by serving Beckett, who has promoted him to Admiral for the East India Trading Company's fleet, and presents Norrington with his old Royal Navy sword.[1]

Lord Beckett is furious that Davy Jones destroys pirate ships without leaving any survivors to interrogate. Beckett places Norrington in command of the Flying Dutchman (Jones' ship), and posts Marines to guard the Dead Man's Chest that Beckett had placed on board to remind Jones who controls him.

After the Empress attacks HMS Endeavour, Beckett orders the Flying Dutchman to pursue it. Norrington leads the boarding party, and is reunited with Elizabeth Swann, who is now captain of the Empress. Though Norrington is ecstatic to find her alive, Elizabeth is hostile, accusing Norrington of serving her father's murderers. Norrington denies any knowledge of or involvement in Governor Swann's death, though Elizabeth is hardly appeased; she also admonishes him for switching sides and serving Beckett; the prisoners are taken to the brig, but Norrington offers Elizabeth his quarters, which she refuses, preferring to be with her crew.

Norrington releases Elizabeth and her crew from the brig, declaring that he is "choosing a side." As the Empress' crew clamber across the tow rope to their own ship, Elizabeth still refuses to forgive Norrington. He again states he took no part in her father's death, though laments his other misdeeds. Elizabeth, relenting, urges him to join her and forgives him but before he can answer, Bootstrap Bill Turner, deranged from Jones' cruel imprisonment, sounds an alarm.

Norrington claims he will follow Elizabeth across the tow rope, but she knows he is lying. With a farewell kiss, Norrington says that though their lives have been intertwined, their destinies are separate. Elizabeth escapes as Norrington releases the Empress before being mortally wounded by Bootstrap. Arriving on the scene, Davy Jones asks Norrington if he fears death. Norrington stabs Jones before dying proving his redemption. Jones, unharmed, removes the blade.


Action Figures[edit]

N.E.C.A. made James Norrington into an action figure in Series Three of the Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest series. He is portrayed as about to shoot Jack Sparrow, and his figure includes a pistol, a hat, as well as a sword, though he is not wearing his wig. Zizzle made two 3.75 inch Norringon action figures, one from Dead Man's Chest wearing his old worn Commodore uniform,[3] and another from At World's End with his Admiral's uniform along with a Hat and a pistol.[4][5] Both figures are scarce, with the Admiral Norrington figure seldom being found, making it the 2nd rarest Zizzle 3.75 inch Pirates of The Caribbean figure.

In 2013, a French toy company called Papo made a figure called "Royal Navy Captain" for their toy line. Though not called "James Norrington", it closely resembles Lieutenant Norrington and Commodore Norrington from Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl; the toy was only released in the UK.


Playsets for At World's End depicting the Singapore Escape scene show Admiral Norrington fighting Sao Feng and stealing the map to Davy Jones' locker; the description says that during the opening sequence in Singapore, the East India Trading Company shows up, and a battle erupts on the docks with a lot of fireworks. The playset merchandise was released in 2007.

Other media[edit]

  • Although he does not make a physical appearance, he is briefly mentioned in Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts II. When Sora inspects the cannons at the fort in Port Royal, the message says "To be used in case of pirate attack - Commodore Norrington."


  1. ^ a b "Trilogy Deleted Scenes - POTC 4 Transcript". Potc4.weebly.com. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
  2. ^ "Wordplay Forums". Retrieved 2007-05-31.
  3. ^ "Photo Archive". Cool Toy Review. Archived from the original on 2013-06-19. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
  4. ^ "Photo Archive". Cool Toy Review. Archived from the original on 2013-06-19. Retrieved 2012-11-04.
  5. ^ Maureen. "Pillage and Plunder: March 2007". Pillage-and-plunder.blogspot.com. Archived from the original on 2012-04-25. Retrieved 2012-11-04.

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