- "Ye come seekin' adventure and salty ol' pirates, eh? Sure ye come to the proper place. But keep a weather eye open, mates, and hold on tight, with both hands if you please...there be squalls ahead, and Davy Jones waiting for them what don't obey."
- ―Talking Skull
The talking skull is a character who appeared in the original Disneyland attraction Pirates of the Caribbean. The skull appeared in several forms in Pirates of the Caribbean media, from either the famous design of a "skull and crossbones", often seen in a Jolly Roger; or a floating skull.
Portrayal and appearances
After its appearance in the original Disneyland ride, the talking skull would be adapted in various Pirates media, including, but not limited to, promotions for the films series, related toylines, as well as making an appearance in The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow attraction.
Walt Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean
- "Psst! Avast there! It be too late to alter course, mateys...and there be plundering pirates lurking in every cove, waitin' to board. Sit closer together, and keep your ruddy hands inboard. That be the best way to repel boarders. And mark well me words, mateys...dead men tell no tales!"
- ―Talking Skull
The talking skull's first appearance was in the Pirates of the Caribbean in Disneyland. After their boat turns a final corner of the Blue Bayou in the brick channel, guests find a mysterious voice from a living Jolly Roger. Mounted on the bricks above the boat's path, the talking skull with crossed swords (voiced by Disney legend X Atencio, who was also responsible for writing the entire show script) narrates the introduction to the dead men's grotto while asking guests to take heed of his warnings that dead men tell no tales.
Because of the success of the attraction, other versions of the Pirates ride were made to other Disney Parks all over the world. However, when the ride at Walt Disney World was refurbished for the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest in 2006, some sweeping changes were made to the classic attraction. One was the removal of the talking skull, much to the dismay of many fans. The Florida version of the skull would make a return in 2017 as part of a new on-ride photograph. This skull would be voiced by James Arnold Taylor.
As guests ride past the wrecked ship and its skeletal helmsman, the skull appears off to the side of the boat and makes a passing remark before a flash of lightning appears, masking the on-ride photograph. Afterwards, guests then plunge down a waterfall in the dark while the skull can be heard cackling maliciously.
The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow
- "Ahoy there, Captain Jack!"
"Ahoy back, strange, inexplicably talking skull in the sky."
"Your new recruits have served you well. Prove themselves in battle, they did."
"You have trained them well, my floating, curiously luminous friend."
- ―Talking Skull and Captain Jack Sparrow
Several years after the changed to the Pirates ride in Walt Disney World, the talking skull returned with a larger role in the 2012 attraction The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow (now voiced by James Arnold Taylor). As from the original ride, the skull first appeared in a plaque mounted with two crossed swords, introducing the attraction with the skull's now-famous words, "Dead men tell no tales," and subsequently narrating the whole experience by asking guests if they have what it takes to be part of Captain Jack Sparrow's ruddy crew.
After guests walk through the door that the skull is mounted atop of, entering the main attraction, the disembodied pirate skull appears, now floating in the sky, narrating the adventurous moments that unfold, each representing memorable parts of the Pirates of the Caribbean movie series. When a skeleton army suddenly appeared, the skull in the sky asked guests to unlock a chest with great power and do away with the skeletons by reciting, "Send those bones to Davy Jones." The skull then guides guests through attacks from Jones' ship, the Flying Dutchman, as well as the Kraken and mermaids. Finally, to finish of Davy Jones, the skull calls for Captain Jack Sparrow himself to come up from the ship's cabin and appear on deck, whether he was with a redheaded wench or stumbling on rum bottles on deck. Standing on the ship's bow, Jack took the lead in defeating Jones and the Flying Dutchman.
From there forward, Captain Jack and the floating skull share a rapport, in which Jack makes guests take the pirate's oath and sings A Pirate's Life for Me, while Jack drinks a bottle of rum. After Jack disappears, the skull warns guests to mark what Jack had said as well as to remember the day they sailed with Captain Jack Sparrow.
The talking skull makes a brief appearance at the end of the Pirates of the Caribbean part of Fantasmic!. As the Black Pearl/Columbia sails away a projection of Jack Sparrow says to the audience "This is the day you will always remember as the day you almost caught Captain...", the skull interrupts him and screams "JAAACK!", with Sparrow finishing the line "Sparrow!"
Because the films were based on the original ride, they needed the skull as the series' main logo. The logo would appear in posters and various promotional material. Each of the Blu-ray releases had the skulls talk in the menus, introducing viewers to contents such as the film and its special features.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl: A skull with crossed swords. This logo would also appear in Disney Parks as well as being the main logo for Pirates of the Caribbean Online.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest: A skull with crossed torches.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End: A skull with crossed bones.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides: A silver skull with crossed swords. This logo would also appear on the cover of the Pirates of the Caribbean novel The Price of Freedom. The skull would also talk in a trailer for the Disney Second Screen feature, but not talk on the app itself, however.
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales: A metallic, gold and black-colored skull with golden crossed bones.
Behind the scenes
- In the original Disneyland Pirates of the Caribbean attraction, the skull was voiced by Disney Legend and Imagineer X Atencio, who was also responsible for writing the entire show script. For The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow, the skull was voiced by James Arnold Taylor.
- In the script for Battle for the Sunken Treasure the skull is named Captain X as a tribute to X Atencio.
- The classic Jolly Roger was likely an influence for the talking skull.
- The Talking Skull's voice can be heard in the haunted caverns of the Sea of the Damned in the non-canon video game Sea of Thieves. A character called Cursed Captain plays a role similar to that of the Talking Skull.
- Pirates of the Caribbean (ride)
- The Legend of Captain Jack Sparrow
- Pirates of the Caribbean: Battle for the Sunken Treasure