|Ship(s) captained or crewed|
|Behind the scenes|
- "Only the British Empire will hold the power of the sea."
- ―Scarfield as he spots the Black Pearl
John Scarfield was a British Royal Navy officer around the early 1750s. Holding the rank of lieutenant, he served as the second-in-command of the island of Saint Martin behind Mayor Dix. Mean spirited, condescending, quick to scapegoat others for his faults and a loyal servant of King George II of Great Britain, he was driven mad by his lust for vengeance against the notorious pirate Captain Jack Sparrow, the supposed "witch" Carina Smyth and the perceived traitor Henry Turner.
Following the escape of the trio, Scarfield led his crew while commanding the Essex on the quest for the legendary Trident of Poseidon with the intent of securing the control of the Seven Seas for the British Empire as well as recovering his good reputation. During the quest, Scarfield managed to capture Sparrow's crew, although they later escaped from his clutches. When he deduced where Sparrow and his party were planning to go in order to find the Trident, Scarfield decided to chase them and steal the Trident, but his plans were thwarted by the unexpected appearance of the Silent Mary, which was captained by the ghostly Capitán Armando Salazar, who crushed Scarfield and his crew to death via destroying the Essex in a matter of seconds.
- "The Navy sent me here to kill witches."
- ―John Scarfield to Young soldier
Not much is known about John Scarfield's early life, but it's known that at some point, he became a Lieutenant of the British Royal Navy due his work. He desired to have his own fleet and fight in the wars of West Africa, but he was denied and instead he was assigned to secure the island of Saint Martin. Although he was also assigned as the commanding officer of the warship Essex, the denial of his superiors was probably the reason why he acquired a fierce temper.
Quest for the Trident of Poseidon
- "Well, look at this. If I kill the coward, the witch hangs. Two for the price of one."
- ―John Scarfield
The "witch" Carina Smyth and the Captain Jack Sparrow were both captured at Saint Martin, and Scarfield demanded that they both be executed simultaneously so as to not ruin his reputation. After Henry Turner washed up on his shores, he coldly brushed him off as a deserter while sentencing the boy to be hanged as well. However, Turner managed to escape trouble twice, first by Smyth giving him the key to his release and again by enlisting Jack's old crew while acting as the distraction during their sentencing and thus enabling said rogue's escape once again, who knocked out Scarfield with a block of wood before he could do any harm to Carina and Turner.
- "Those pirates are going for the Trident."
- ―John Scarfield
Scarfield was now in pursuit, assembling a crew and doing everything in his power to find the three miscreants that ruined his public image. He, along with some of his officers, sought out the sea-witch Shansa, coercing her for information about the star chart Carina made in her cell. But the seamstress willingly showed Scarfield the route to the Trident of Poseidon, where Henry, Carina, and Jack were headed, in spite of his threat upon her life.
After hours of searching, Scarfield's ship, the Essex, would encounter the Dying Gull captained by; unbeknownst to him at the time, Mr. Gibbs, who just narrowly escaped a beating from the naval officer's men by making Scrum captain of the ship in his stead. Scarfield, ever the mean spirited type, ordered one of the burlier soldiers to pummel Gibbs' scapegoat until they confess as to where Sparrow and company were heading. Some time after Gibbs and the other brigands escaped from his ship, Scarfield sailed along until discovering the newly resurrected Black Pearl. Having deduced their motives, the officer ordered his crew to prepare an assault. After Henry Turner spotted his ship on the starboard side, Hector Barbossa ordered the men of the Pearl to stand their ground and fight until the end. Scarfield stood aboard the Essex looking at the pirate ship through his spyglass and waiting to signal his men for cannon fire. When all had seemed well, Scarfield heard a menacing sound creeping up behind him.
As he slowly turned around, he noticed a peculiar large object moving upward in a chilling way: the Silent Mary. The Silent Mary opened its sides like a cage and came crashing down on top of Scarfield and his crew, igniting the powder magazine and causing the Essex to go up into flames and sink to the depths of the ocean, therefore ending the tyrannical lieutenant's reign of terror.
Personality and traits
Lieutenant John Scarfield was known to be baleful and cruel, not only to his enemies, but to his own men as well, as seen by his threatening to hang one of his own officers in Carina Smyth's place if she wasn't found. His personal lust for reputation and vengeance ultimately ended in his quick demise at the hands of Capitán Armando Salazar. In fact, Scarfield's only interest in his life was personal representation, which is the reason for his obsession with the escapes of Jack Sparrow and Smyth, since said escapes ruined his social standing in the first place.
Scarfield was also largely hypocritical in his beliefs as evident while in taking glee in tormenting an innocent woman on the grounds of witchcraft, he was willing to deal with an actual witch in pursuit of his goals. After the fact of dismissing ramblings about tridents and vengeful ghosts from the same person labeled a deserter whom said lieutenant sentenced to hang. Scarfield also shows signs of incompetence given his tendency to re-assign blame, write off others at a glance and need to gloat over pleasant situations that are distracting him from what's in front of his face.
Behind the scenes
- John Scarfield was played by David Wenham in Dead Men Tell No Tales. The character was credited only as Scarfield in the film but the full name was revealed in the film's novelization and the prequel novel The Brightest Star in the North: The Adventures of Carina Smyth.
- Although Scarfield is knocked down by Jack Sparrow with a piece of wood in the film, he is knocked down by Sparrow with the guillotine's blade in the film's novelization and the comic book adaptation.
- In Jeff Nathanson's 2013 early draft of the Dead Men Tell No Tales script Scarfield was a Royal Navy admiral stationed in Port Royal. After capturing the witch Melia he and his crew would follow the Queen Anne's Revenge into the Devil's Triangle where both the pirates and the Navy crew would be attacked by the ghostly crew of the Silent Mary led by Captain John Brand. Though some of the pirates would escape to the nearby Coffin Island, Brand and his ghosts would possess the bodies of the captured British mariners, with Brand using Scarfield's body to leave the borders of the Triangle. Even though Scarfield's body was wounded during a clash with the pirates, Brand eventually took the Trident of Poseidon, returning to the Silent Mary and abandoning Scarfield's body, leaving the wounded admiral to die on deck.
- In the film, Lieutenant Scarfield commands the warship Essex. In real-world history, however, the biggest ships the Royal Navy lieutenants could command were smaller vessels like sloops and brigs. A lieutenant could command a warship like the Essex only if the ship's captain was absent, indisposed or had been killed in action.
- In Terry Rossio's original script for Dead Men Tell No Tales, the main British officer in the film was an admiral called John Benbow. Sent to the Caribbean to fight in the Seven Years' War, Benbow would offer a free pardon for all pirates who surrender to the British authorities and agree to serve in the Royal Navy for one year or fight on behalf of the British in one battle under his command.
- It's possible that Lieutenant John Scarfield was named after the main villain of Howard Pyle's short story Captain Scarfield in which the titular character lives a double life as an honest merchant captain Eleazer Cooper and the infamous pirate John "Jack" Scarfield.
- The Brightest Star in the North: The Adventures of Carina Smyth (First appearance)
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
Notes and references
- Estimation based on David Wenham's age during the filming of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, and the fact that DMTNT takes place in the 1751.
- As evidenced by Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: Movie Graphic Novel, the events of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales are set in 1751.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Novelization, p87.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales Novelization, p43.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales
- Dead Men Tell No Tales script by Jeff Nathanson, second draft, 5/6/2013
- Pirates of the Caribbean DEAD MEN TELL NO TALES Screenplay by Terry Rossio