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Jack Davenport as Commodore James Norrington in the Pirates of the Caribbean film series.

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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

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 Cutler Beckett (although he later regrets this action).

In an interview, producer Jerry Bruckheimer stated that Norrington was originally slated 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.


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


Norrington is highly skilled in both swordmanship and firearms. His sword, a smallsword with gold filigree in the handle, is a symbolic plot device recurring throughout the films that ties the characters to one another. According to screenplay writer Terry Rossio[1], 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 as a means 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 the Dauntless in a hurricane near Tripoli while pursuing Captain Jack Sparrow. The sword is resting in Norrington's old office in Port Royal, as if awaiting its former owner's return. It becomes a haunting symbol of Norrington's brilliant career before he fell 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 honorable 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 when he frees Elizabeth and her crew from the Flying Dutchman. Tragically, he is mortally stabbed by the deranged "Bootstrap" Bill Turner during the escape. In defiance of Davy Jones' offer of servitude aboard the Flying Dutchman, the dying Norrington spears Jones' shoulder with the sword. The immortal Jones merely extracts the weapon and claims it as a prize, exclaiming, "Nice sword!" In the final battle, Jones reclaims the sword from a marine (by stabbing him) who happened upon it, just before Jack knocks the blade from Jones' hand - only for Jones to recover it again and fatally stab Will, ironically, the very man who forged it. After Will is resurrected, he regains the sword - bringing its ownership full circle.

Fictional biography

Early life

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. Norrington is later seen as a Lieutenant aboard HMS Dauntless when it transports Port Royal's new Governor Weatherby Swann and his young daughter, Elizabeth, to the Caribbean. During the voyage, Norrington expresses his views about pirates to a young Elizabeth, commenting that they deserve a "short drop and a sudden stop," a metaphor for hanging.

Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

Main article: Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl

In the Navy

James Norrington was a kind and noble man, though he often appeared to be stoic and slightly snobbish. To his friends and colleagues, however, he showed great respect and grace, especially to Elizabeth Swann, with whom he had fallen in love. He was completely devoted to the Royal Navy, and would often forsake his own personal needs for the greater good. He harbored an intense dislike of pirates and their kind, and saw himself as something of a purveyor of justice to pirates in the Caribbean.

Norrington served in the Royal Navy as a lieutenant, and was stationed aboard HMS Dauntless as it made the crossing from England, carrying Governor Weatherby Swann and his daughter, Elizabeth, to Port Royal. Upon sighting a wrecked merchant vessel in the water, Norrington ordered his men to search the wreckage. He was so preoccupied with this that he did not notice the Black Pearl slipping away from the scene.

The Kidnapping of Elizabeth Swann

The ship would once more play a part in Norrington's life some eight years later. By this time, Norrington had become Captain of the HMS Interceptor and due to his service, was set to achieve the rank of Commodore. The ceremony was held at Fort Charles in Port Royal, drawing a large crowd. Among those gathered was Elizabeth Swann, whom Norrington had first met on the crossing from England, and had developed a friendship with over the past eight years. However, Norrington was also in love with Elizabeth, and, since he believed a wife was the only thing missing in his life, wished for her hand in marriage.

The newly-promoted Commodore attempted to propose to Elizabeth atop the fortress, following the ceremony. However, Elizabeth, apparently overcome by the proposal—though actually having fainted due to the constricting corset she had been forced into—toppled over the side of the fortress and into the sea far below. Shocked, Norrington gathered his men and raced down to the harbor, where he found Elizabeth in the arms of a man in the distinctive garb of a pirate. Elizabeth's rescuer turned out to be Captain Jack Sparrow, whom Norrington took into custody, set for hanging despite his recent good deed. However, Sparrow managed to briefly escape Norrington's clutches until he was subdued in a blacksmith's shop in the town.

Commodore Norrington had Sparrow imprisoned, but it was not the end of his troubles with pirates. That night, Port Royal was attacked by the Black Pearl, and though Norrington's men fought valiantly, the town was overwhelmed, and Elizabeth was captured. The next day, Norrington and his men attempted to formulate a plan to locate the Pearl, but were unsuccessful. The situation escalated further when Will Turner freed Jack Sparrow from the dungeons and helped him commandeer the HMS Interceptor to track down the Black Pearl. Norrington was forced to watch the pirates sail away with the ship, grudgingly admitting Jack's unexpected competency.

Pirate chase

Norrington was not about to give in, however. He had the Dauntless—whose rudder chain had been disabled by Sparrow during his escape—repaired, and set sail, now with three objectives; to reclaim the Interceptor, to capture Jack Sparrow and to rescue Elizabeth. Although the Interceptor was ultimately destroyed by Captain Hector Barbossa's crew, Norrington was able to achieve two of his goals when his men sighted a distress signal on a desert island. It transpired that both Elizabeth and Jack had been marooned on the island by Barbossa, while the Black Pearl set out for Isla de Muerta with Will Turner.

Norrington had Jack placed under arrest, though despite Elizabeth's protests, refused to launch a rescue of Will, since it had not been his intention to follow the Pearl at all, other than if in doing so it would have ensured Elizabeth's safety. However, Elizabeth asked that Norrington change his mind for her, as a wedding gift. Norrington was stunned and delighted that Elizabeth had accepted his proposal, and agreed to her plea, even going so far as to ask for Jack's assistance in locating Isla de Muerta.

Battle on the Dauntless

Upon arrival at Isla de Muerta, however, Norrington was less than happy about the situation, especially since Jack Sparrow appeared to be controlling proceedings. Although Norrington agreed to wait outside the mouth of the pirate cave in order to ambush Barbossa's men as they emerged, the Commodore actually had no intention of following Sparrow's directives. Instead, he rowed out with a selection of his men to the island, leaving Lieutenant Gillette in command of the Dauntless. Because of this, Norrington remained unaware that the pirates were actually infiltrating the flagship and killing his crew. It was only when one of his crewmen managed to ring the ship's bell that Norrington realized what had happened.

He ordered his men to row back to the Dauntless, where they engaged the pirates in battle. Norrington himself dueled Koehler in single combat, proving to be a match for the immortal pirate. The situation seemed hopeless until Will Turner managed to reverse the curse from within the island, thus making the pirates mortal once more. Norrington killed Koehler, and, from looking the reactions of Koehler and the other pirates, realized the curse had been lifted. As he captured Twigg, Norrington proclaimed the Dauntless was theirs once more, and cries of jubilation rang out on its decks as the surviving pirates surrendered.

Return to Port Royal The Commodore ordered a return to Port Royal, where the pirates would be imprisoned. Jack Sparrow was likewise captured, and sentenced for execution. Norrington himself presided over the execution ceremony at Fort Charles, and was ready to order his marines into position when Will Turner attempted his rescue of Sparrow. However, Elizabeth pretended to faint during the chaos, drawing Norrington's attention and allowing Sparrow to escape from the gallows.

The Commodore finally caught up with him and Turner out on the battlements, where he was shocked by Elizabeth's decision to stand with Will, in protection of Jack against Norrington. James asked Elizabeth if this was truly her heart's desire, which she affirmed. Norrington accepted this with surprisingly good grace, though was at a loss as to what course of action to take when Sparrow escaped into the open waters. He wished Elizabeth and Will good luck, and even decided to postpone pursuit of Jack for at least another day. With that, he left the scene, his stunned men following on.

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Main article: Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Norrington, as seen in Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest.

Regaining his life

While pursuing Jack Sparrow, Norrington's ship was believed to have been destroyed by a hurricane off Tripoli. Disgraced, Norrington resigned his post and disappeared. This was good luck on Norrington's part, because no one knew where he was when Lord Cutler Beckett appeared with a warrant for his arrest for his part in Jack Sparrow's escape. During this time Norrington became a changed man, he started drinking heavily, and was found still wearing his Commodore uniform, albeit now rags, in Tortuga, where he applied for a position on the Black Pearl, to become a pirate himself. He became largely concerned with regaining his honor in any way possible, however, and about getting revenge on the people that he believed ruined his life.

During his time on the Pearl Norrington did not believe Jack was telling the truth about the Chest of Davy Jones, until he actually saw the Chest and heard the heart beating within it. He seemed to have found out or guessed how Will Turner ended up on the Flying Dutchman, and also noticed the growing relationship between Jack and Elizabeth.

Duel on Isla Cruces

When the Black Pearl arrived at Isla Cruces, Norrington was one of the crew chosen to accompany Jack Sparrow to shore. After a series of events including Will Turner's reappearance, Norrington became embroiled in a complicated three way sword fight with Jack Sparrow and the aforementioned Will Turner. This was further complicated by the arrival of the Flying Dutchman. Shortly afterwards, Norrington found the letters of marque and Davy Jones' heart in the boat where they had been left by Sparrow. He escaped with the empty chest, feigning a diversion so that the crew of the Black Pearl could escape. When Davy Jones' crew caught up to him, he tossed them the empty chest and fled.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End

Main article: Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End
Admiral Norrington

Admiral James Norrington, as seen in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.

Choosing a Side

After being found adrift at sea, Norrington presented the heart of Davy Jones, along with the Letters of Marque to Lord Cutler Beckett. He regained his "life", through service to Beckett. It was a decision he would later come to regret. Beckett promoted him to the rank of admiral for the East India Company's fleet. Now under the employ of East India Trading Company, Norrington was given back his sword, and with it he helped command Beckett's armada.

After Lord Beckett had become frustrated with Davy Jones for killing all his prey and leaving no survivors for interrogation, he placed Admiral Norrington in command of the Flying Dutchman in order to ensure that Jones did as commanded. He also decided to have Jones' heart placed onboard the Flying Dutchman to further ensure Jones's compliance. Norrington's marines kept a constant vigil over the heart.

Attack on the Empress

After the Empress attacked the HMS Endeavour and fled, Beckett ordered the Flying Dutchman to pursue. Norrington led the boarding party, and was reunited with Elizabeth onboard. Just then he was happy to see Elizabeth alive, as was Elizabeth, until she recalled that Norrington was now allied with her adversaries. She angrily accused him of choosing the side that murdered her father. Norrington was shocked to hear of this, and was also shocked that Elizabeth had become a pirate captain. Norrington then ordered the prisoners put into the brig and offered Elizabeth his quarters, but Elizabeth declined, choosing instead to be with her crew, and as far from Norrington as possible. Norrington pleaded with Elizabeth to understand that he did not know what atrocities Lord Beckett had ordered to be carried out, but Elizabeth would hear none of it.


While Elizabeth and her crew were in the brig aboard the Flying Dutchman, James Norrington released them, stating that he's chosen their side, allowing them to make their escape. Upon reaching the rope connecting the Empress to the Dutchman, James and Elizabeth help the crew of the Empress escape the Dutchman. However, Elizabeth was still angry with Norrington. James insisted that he had no part in her father's death, stating that he lamented his other misdeeds. Finally seeing the truth, Elizabeth requested that he go with her. But before he could answer, Bootstrap Bill Turner appeared from the top deck and went on his way down.

Norrington pulled out his sword and told Elizabeth to go and reluctantly said that he would follow her, Elizabeth knew that he was lying. He told Elizabeth that even though their paths have crossed, they wouldn't truly be together. After James kissed Elizabeth, Norrington was caught by Bootstrap Bill Turner, who alerted Davy Jones and his crew of a prisoner escape. Seeing that Elizabeth was going towards him, James fired his pistol at the restraints connecting the two ships. Elizabeth managed to escape, but Norrington was fatally wounded by Turner.

Upon arriving at the scene, Davy Jones asked James Norrington if he feared death. With his last breathe, Norrington speared Jones with his sword before passing away. Jones took that action as a "no" and, admiring his sword, Jones kept Norrington's blade for himself. It is unknown what happened with Norrington's body or where Norrington ended up after death.


Action Figure

N.E.C.A. is making 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 has made two Norringon action figures, one from the second film wearing his "renegade" garb and another from the third film in his Admiral's uniform.


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 is due for release June first.

Other media

  • 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." Whether or not he will appear in a future installment is currently unknown.


External links

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