Davy Jones and his crew

The "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise is known for its large cast of colorful characters, including the heroic Will Turner, his formidable wife, Elizabeth Swann, the hilariously superstitious Mr. Gibbs, and of course the franchise’s main character, Captain Jack Sparrow, one of the most famous pirates in pop culture today. As well-known as the protagonists of "Pirates of the Caribbean" are, perhaps just as recognizable are the many villains who populate the "Pirates" franchise and oppose the free-spirited adventurers at the heart of the series. These include memorable villains like the literally heartless fish-human hybrid Davy Jones, the scheming tradesman Cutler Beckett, and the mutinous captain of the Black Pearl, Hector Barbossa.

As popular as some of these villains have become among "Pirates" fans, though, there’s no denying that some antagonists in the series are decidedly more devious than others. Here are all of the villains in every "Pirates of the Caribbean" movie so far, ranked from least to most evil.

12. The Spaniard

The Spaniard firing gun

The infamous pirate Blackbeard takes center stage in "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides," but more dedicated fans of the series might recall another antagonist searching for the Fountain of Youth in the form of the mysterious, nameless Spaniard.

Dispatched by King Ferdinand VI of Spain to find the Fountain before the British or any other opposing world power can do so first, the Spaniard leads an expeditionary force across the Atlantic to Florida to locate the Fountain, putting him at odds with Barbossa’s privateer crew and Blackbeard’s band of pirates. In a surprising twist, when the Spaniard finds the Fountain, rather than claiming it for Spain as everyone had assumed, he ends up dismantling it on orders from the King, saying, "Only God can grant eternal life. Not this pagan water."

A religious zealot and Ferdinand’s right-hand man, the Spaniard is one of the few villains in "Pirates of the Caribbean" with non-selfish intentions, wholeheartedly believing his mission and cause to be both righteous and divine. He could have easily claimed the Fountain for himself, but instead destroys it before it can end up in the wrong hands, blurring the line between antagonist and protagonist.

11. James Norrington

James Norrington in the brig

James Norrington is a character who switches between hero and villain several times over the course of the first three "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies. Originally introduced as a love interest for Elizabeth, a romantic rival to Will, and a sworn enemy to pirates everywhere, Norrington is a strict, effective commodore in the Royal Navy. Though an adversary to Jack Sparrow, he temporarily allies with the pirate in locating the Isla de Muerta and saving Will Turner from execution. By the end of the first movie, Norrington and Sparrow are slightly more amiable enemies, with Norrington giving Sparrow "one day’s head start."

In the next film, however, Norrington has lost his position as commodore and joins Sparrow’s crew in tracking down Davy Jones’ heart, though he ultimately steals it and uses it as a bargaining chip to return to the Navy. Despite appearing as an ally with Lord Beckett in the third movie, Norrington eventually realizes the error of his ways, sacrificing himself to save Elizabeth and her crew.

Like the Spaniard, Norrington is a difficult character to label as strictly a hero or villain. Though his intentions are almost always honorable, his loyalty to the Crown naturally puts him at odds against rule-breakers like Sparrow, Will, and even Elizabeth. Regardless, Norrington is far from an evil man. He’s just someone who didn’t realize the world is less clearly divided between good and evil than he presumed, and that moral pirates and amoral British officials can exist simultaneously.

10. Pintel and Ragetti

Pintel and Ragetti holding swords

Pintel and Ragetti are the stereotypical comedic duo of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, more akin to Abbott and Costello or Stan and Ollie than they are to cold-blooded villains like Davy Jones or Blackbeard. Originally crewmen aboard the Black Pearl under Jack Sparrow, they take part in the mutiny that deposes Sparrow, ushering in Barbossa as the new captain. Afterwards, Pintel and Ragetti — like every remaining member of the Pearl’s crew — fall victim to the cursed treasure of Cortés, turning them into skeletal immortals perpetually on the brink of death from starvation and dehydration.

Throughout the first movie in the franchise, "The Curse of the Black Pearl," Pintel and Raghetti appear as supporting antagonists, assisting Barbossa in trying to hunt down Will, Elizabeth, and Sparrow in order to lift the curse and return to their normal selves. While they are basically lackeys and rarely taken seriously by their fellow crewmen, Pintel and Ragetti are still shown to be vicious and remorseless murderers when the situation calls for it, delighting in the possibility of fighting with British, shooting Jack, or seeing Will killed at the Isla de Muerta.

Like many characters on this list, Pintel and Ragetti eventually join up with Sparrow aboard the Black Pearl, appearing in "Dead Man’s Chest" and "At World’s End" as supporting protagonists. That said, they do engage in the occasional treachery, such as stealing the heart of Davy Jones from Sparrow, Will, and Norrington to sell it for themselves.

9. Angelica Teach

Angelica traveling through rainforest

It can be debated whether Angelica Teach is a villain, hero, or something in between. As we see from her appearance in "On Stranger Tides," she’s someone whose loyalties are torn between her devotion to her father, Blackbeard, and her romantic feelings for Jack, her former lover. Because her loyalty to her father ultimately prevails over her love for Jack — who she swears vengeance against at the end of the film — it seems more fitting to describe her as a villain than as a protagonist.

Angelica isn’t a complete monster like her father. In many ways, she’s the female equivalent of Jack, displaying a free-spirited, devil-may-care attitude and roguish personality, concerned mostly with her own agendas and self-interests. Only when Jack directly opposes Blackbeard does Angelica’s more ruthless, vindictive side come out, leading to her eventual antagonistic role.

Even when at her worst, though, Angelica’s main character flaws are rooted in her love for her family. Her dedication to finding the Fountain of Youth is the result of her effort to save Blackbeard, giving him enough time to redeem his soul so he might be saved from eternal damnation. In spite of these noble intentions, however, she puts her trust in the wrong people, not recognizing that her father is incapable of redemption. This mistake costs Blackbeard his life and nearly kills Angelica herself, illustrating that sometimes the road to hell really is paved with good intentions, and that the ends don’t always justify the means.

8. The Kraken

Jack fights the Kraken

Despite its limited screen time, the Kraken made a big impression on audience members when "Dead Man’s Chest" first came out in 2007. The gargantuan sea creature of Greek mythology appears in the film as the personal pet of Davy Jones — a monster that does his bidding, effortlessly consuming entire ships in an effort to slake its insatiable and carnivorous hunger.

As dangerous and infamous as the Kraken is within the world of "Pirates of the Caribbean," like any loyal animal, its actions are dependent on its owner, and thus its status as a villain is more an extension of Jones’ own notoriety. In fact, the Kraken is so loyal and trusting of its master, it deliberately beaches itself after being ordered to do so by Jones (acting on his own instructions from Beckett). Of course, as dedicated as it is to following Jones’ commands, the Kraken itself is an incredibly dangerous creature, killing scores of sailors and dragging both Jack Sparrow and the Black Pearl into the depths of the sea.

Beckett ordering the Kraken’s death speaks volumes about how much of a loose cannon the monster could be if left alive and roaming the ocean. Even with how many people the Kraken consumed over the course of "Dead Man’s Chest," though, it doesn’t seem fair to call it an outright evil character, even if it frequently acts on the orders of its far more sinister master.

7. Hector Barbossa

Barbossa and Jack the Monkey

Though Hector Barbossa eventually becomes one of the most beloved characters in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, most fans will first recall how downright despicable he was in "Curse of the Black Pearl." Barbossa was the first mate aboard the Black Pearl and a trusted confidante of the ship’s original captain, Jack Sparrow. When Jack told Barbossa the location of the fabled Cortés treasure, Barbossa lead a mutiny that deposed his captain, marooning Jack on a deserted island and installing himself as the new commander of the Pearl.

Ironically, this act of treachery ended up saving Jack from the curse that plagues Barbossa and his mutinous crew. Desperately trying to reverse the curse, the Black Peal sails all over the world recollecting the treasure, a quest that eventually leads the pirates to encounter Elizabeth, Will, and their former captain. While they eventually return to their normal mortal state, Barbossa is shot by Jack moments after the curse has been lifted, succumbing to the wound in seconds.

Barbossa’s relationship with Jack is one of the cornerstones of "Pirates of the Caribbean," transitioning back and forth between trusted crew mates, fierce adversaries, hyper-competitive rivals, and unwilling allies. As pivotal an ally as he becomes in later "Pirates of the Caribbean" movies, though, his appearance in "Curse of the Black Pearl" is clearly a villainous one, with Barbossa willing to go to any lengths, no matter how drastic, to lift his curse.

6. Lieutenant John Scarfield

Scarfield frowning

Most "Pirates" fans are more likely to remember Armando Salazar, the main villain of "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales," than they are its secondary antagonist, Lieutenant John Scarfield. That doesn’t mean Scarfield isn’t every bit as cold-hearted and cruel as his ghostly counterpart, though. A low-ranking officer in the Royal Navy, Scarfield is a bully who hides behind his rank and delights in the power his status grants him, frequently using it to his own sadistic advantage and ordering the executions of Sparrow, Carina Smythe, and a newly-arrived Henry Turner.

When the trio escape in the nick of time, Scarfield leads a British naval force after them, using every nefarious tactic at his disposal to find the convicts (even ordering one of his men to beat the pirate Scrum until he reveals the escapees’ location). Though he comes close to ordering the destruction of the Black Pearl via a barrage from his own ship, the HMS Essex, Scarfield meets his end at the hands of Salazar, who crushes the Essex by having his own vessel fall on top of it.

Scarfield’s role in "Dead Men Tell No Tales" is a minor one, as he’s defeated relatively easily by the far stronger, more sinister villain. Regardless, his pomposity and desire to elevate himself to fame and prestige within the Royal Navy makes him a character you can’t help but hate — someone who uses the powers granted to his post for his own selfish purposes.

5. Ian Mercer

Mercer standing

Similar to Scarfield, Ian Mercer isn’t exactly the most well-known villain in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" universe. However, as viewers see from his many dishonorable actions, the sadistic Mercer is every bit as dastardly and cruel as his masters within the East India Trading Company.

The right-hand man of Cutler Beckett, Mercer acts as a clerk and office assistant to Beckett when he seizes control of Port Royal. Unofficially, Mercer is also a deadly assassin and spy for Beckett, killing anyone his employer orders him to and pursuing many of the pirate protagonists around the Caribbean. In "At World’s End," Mercer is also shown acting as a military leader in the East India Trading Company, leading the raids on Sao Feng’s bathhouse in Singapore and co-captaining the Flying Dutchman with Davy Jones in the film’s climactic final battle.

A dedicated employee of the East India Trading Company, Mercer clearly delights in his duties, carrying out his orders with a twisted, sardonic satisfaction. The muscle behind Beckett’s brains, he is every bit as evil as his employer, killing pirates and innocent civilians indiscriminately without a second thought so long as it furthers the company’s goals.

4. Armando Salazar

Salazar and his ghostly crew

It’s fair to say that Capitán Armando Salazar is the best thing about the critically-panned fifth installment in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, "Dead Men Tell No Tales." Played by Academy Award-winning actor Javier Bardem, Salazar is introduced to the franchise as a decorated officer of the Spanish Royal Navy, tasked with hunting down and exterminating every pirate he gets his hands on in the Caribbean.

Salazar soon gains notoriety for his effectiveness in killing the Caribbean’s buccaneers, earning him the nickname "El Matador Del Mar" ("The Butcher of the Sea"). In the end, Salazar is bested by a young Jack Sparrow, who outmaneuvers the Spanish captain in the Bermuda Triangle, dooming Salazar to an otherworldly fate that turns himself and his crew into ghosts unable to leave the Triangle.

Salazar longs for revenge against the man responsible for his spectral state, haunting the Caribbean and attacking any ship who ventures into the Triangle, killing everyone aboard except for a sole survivor to spread his legend. Far from simply relegating himself to personal vengeance alone, Salazar plainly states his intention to rid the world of pirates once and for all. A ghost who knows how to hold a grudge, Salazar’s bitterness over his predicament makes him an incredibly dangerous enemy, and with his newfound supernatural abilities, he became a notoriously cruel legend on the high seas, justly earning his nefarious nickname.

3. Lord Cutler Beckett

Cutler Beckett smirking

The unscrupulous chairman of the East India Trading Company, Lord Cutler Beckett is a career bureaucrat whose single concern is ridding the world of pirates and taking control over the high seas. Motivated solely by his greed and political aspirations, Beckett uses every means he can to carry out his agenda, including a royal decree from the British monarchy to take control of Port Royal and the covert assassination of any potential enemies, pirates or otherwise (including Governor Weatherby Swann, Elizabeth’s father).

Evil in every sense of the word, Beckett’s only loyalty is to the East India Trading Company, justifying every one of his horrific actions in the name of profit. As we learn from a deleted scene in "At World’s End," Beckett doesn’t appear to hold any moral standings on the business ventures he’s involved in, labeling Jack a pirate for liberating slaves Beckett had tasked him with delivering (Beckett even refers to the slaves as "cargo" rather than as human beings).

An opportunist who isn’t afraid to commit barbaric acts of violence — such as hanging dozens of pirates and pirate supporters (men, women, and children included) to ensure the Brethren Court call a meeting at Shipwreck Cove — Beckett is arguably more soulless even than Davy Jones himself. Jones is at least depicted as having a tragic past that explains his malevolent present self, whereas Beckett is introduced as someone whose unfeeling nature makes him a shrewd, pragmatic crusader for law and order in the Caribbean.

2. Blackbeard

Blackbeard pointing cutlass

The only villain in "Pirates of the Caribbean" based on a real historical figure, Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard, was one of the most infamous buccaneers active during the Golden Age of Piracy, eventually beheaded by British sailors off the coast of North Carolina in 1718. In "Pirates of the Caribbean" continuity, Teach somehow survived this decapitation, taking to the seas once again and searching for the Fountain of Youth to make himself immortal.

Ian McShane’s cinematic depiction of Blackbeard is even more evil (and supernatural) than his historical counterpart. Blackbeard practices voodoo and uses dark magic to control the winds and manipulate inanimate objects. A merciless killer, he resurrects his victims into mindless zombies, adding them to his undead crew. He regularly kills and tortures his captives, decorates his ship with their skeletons, and imprisons entire ships and crews in a collection of small glass bottles.

Arguably Blackbeard’s most heinous act, however, is his manipulation of his daughter. Blackbeard uses Angelica’s sincere love and loyalty to his advantage, convincing her to help him find the Fountain so he can redeem his soul. Unfortunately, it’s all a ruse, and redemption is the furthest thing from Blackbeard’s mind. He ultimately betrays Angelica, balking at the chance to save his mortally wounded daughter and claiming a chalice from the Fountain for himself. It’s one of the most disgusting acts we’ve seen a character commit in "Pirates of the Caribbean," perfectly illustrating how vile the "On Stranger Tides" version of Blackbeard really is.

1. Davy Jones

Davy Jones shouting

A sympathetic but ruthless villain, Davy Jones is one of the most complex figures in "Pirates of the Caribbean." Jones was a human in love with the goddess Calypso, tasked with ferrying souls lost at sea to the afterlife. When Calypso abandoned him, the devastated Jones conspired to trap her as a mortal before cutting out his own heart (rendering himself emotionless), then began recruiting those same lost souls to his crew.

The closest thing "Pirates of the Caribbean" has to the Devil, Jones sails around the globe making Faustian bargains with anyone who’s either died or is dying at sea, requiring them to serve years (sometimes centuries) aboard his ship, the Flying Dutchman, before they’re allowed peace. Heartless in more ways than one, Jones prides himself on his cruelty, mocking others for their emotions, which he sees as weakness.

Jones does display emotion occasionally, shedding a tear in private when Beckett brings his heart aboard the Dutchman and telling Calypso "my heart will always belong to you." But despite these momentary lapses in character, his hardened exterior is on display throughout "Dead Man’s Chest" and "At World’s End." He’s shown attacking and killing dozens upon dozens of sailors — pirate and non-pirate alike — and ordering his Kraken to hunt down and consume entire ships, mercilessly slaughtering any survivors. Jones may have been a good man once, but he is very much beyond saving, making him the most heinous and evil character in all of "Pirates of the Caribbean."