Can the pirates cursed by the Aztec gold feel pain?

In this video, the creator claims that they cannot feel pain, : POC Genius

The video mostly references combat scenes where the "bad guys" scream in pain.

Barbossa claims to Elizabeth that "he feel's nothing" but I thought that was more of a reference to feeling nothing pleasurable (food, comfort, women).

Yet, the pirates feel the urge for sex, hunger and thirst.

Also "Bootstrap" Bill Turner claims that he felt the pain of the waves crushing him and the constant "drowning" and burn for air before Davey Jones "rescued" him.

"They strapped me to a cannon, I ended up on the bottom of the ocean, the weight of the water crushing down on me. Unable to move...unable to die, Jack. And I thought that even the tiniest hope of escaping this fate...I would take it. I would trade anything for it."

―Bootstrap Bill Turner to Jack Sparrow

  • 1
    So the creator of the series say's they can't feel pain and you still think there's a chance they might because...? Jun 9, 2017 at 20:20
  • 2
    "I feel nothing. Not the wind on my face, nor the spray of the sea..." <- Not exactly "pleasurable", so Barbossa seems to imply that they feel nothing physical at all (but they can certainly still have urges). Also, I can't find the full script, but I don't see anywhere that Bootstrap himself claims to feel being crushed/drowning.
    – Mwr247
    Jun 9, 2017 at 20:22
  • @DCOPTimDowd, I took that as the creator of the video not the series
    – fez
    Jun 9, 2017 at 20:35
  • The linked video is almost an hour long. Could you perchance add a timecode to the link to put us at the part of the video which is relevant to this question?
    – Steve-O
    Jun 9, 2017 at 22:56
  • @DCOPTimDowd I meant the creator of the video. As in a content creator.
    – Josafoot
    Jun 10, 2017 at 0:25

4 Answers 4


Pain isn't actually mentioned by Bootstrap, as per the quote. But lack of human contact, long term, is psychologically bad for the human mind, and sensory deprivation is actually a way to break someone.

As to the sword screams--I would sometimes put that down to moonlight, or lack of. Notice that they seem fleshed and that flesh is an actual barrier until moonlight shines on them, and then it's not. This isn't consistant but I have noticed that to that whether they scream depends on their level of badassery. (Barbossa doesn't bother mostly, but other pirates do).

Nerve endings might not reach all the way to the surface of their skin in their current state. Neither does their digestive system work any more. The "corpsifaction" happens instantly (rather than rotting them away as though dead over time. Strangely, they do seem able to grip weapons and their fine dexterity, as evidenced by Jack running the coin between his..er..finger bones, means that on a practical level, they have to feel something, though it may be modified by magic.

So the pain may be momentary, a whisper of what it would have been to start with (and the whisper of being run through with a sword or hit upside the head would be dramatic indeed) and they cannot die from the wound, and likely revert to their original state within seconds. We know that this is true because Jack and Barbossa get run through in the first movie when they are in "zombie" state. Jack, after getting run though can likely at least feel when the repair is over--which is why, when he shoots Barbossa and the coin falls, Jack doesn't think he himself going to die, because he's just learned what the timing/window is before the reversion. It's not simply that the bullet is still in him--Barbossa BLEEDS, which means the flesh hasn't reverted. It is a little less than 30 seconds from when Jack shoots Barbossa, to when the curse is lifted. Here's the You Tube Vid for reference on the timing of that.

So my theory, based on what I have seen on screen is that they have to have some feeling, just to manipulate objects, and as reflex, but anything focused on pleasure fades, and pain is momentary--and in case of injury they revert to the exact state they were at the moment of the curse in less than a minute, barring limbs automatically reattaching.


Bootstrap bill probably was referring to a psychosomatic feeling not actual pain for one that kind of thing would probably drive a man completely psychotic in short order

Also a curse that denies all sensation would make more sense the brain can rewire itself or be wired to begin with to interpret sensations that most would describe as pain as pleasurable sensations

Short answer any physical pain is denied them but psychological pain is not, as to the sword scream most likely just an ingrained reaction, you get stabbed you scream cause you expect the pain to start any second. Notice they go on fighting after getting stabbed sometimes with a sword still through them.


During the final fight between jack and Barbosa Will and Elizabeth impaled 3 pirates. The pirates screamed in pain. Also when the two idiot pirates first met Elizabeth she Poured hot coal on their heads and they said it was burning Meaning they felt the burning pain. The cursed crew clearly felt pain but where unable to die from it.


Let me preface by saying that I love Curse of the Black Pearl more than probably any other movie. I've also seen it way more times than I can count. And I think the movie is basically flawless with the exception of this detail.

There are a number of times where we see contradictory responses of the cursed pirates to pain. In the beginning of the movie, a pirate takes a tomahawk in the back and cries out in pain; Ragetti gets hot coals dumped on him and exclaims "It's hot!" Later in the movie, Will impales a pirate with a massive pole and he cries out in pain as well. In contrast, Barbossa gets impaled twice and shot and hardly reacts. Pintel gets shot and is unphased. Barbossa, for his part, explains that "I feel nothing. Not the wind on my face, nor the spray of the sea, nor the warmth of a woman's flesh." So what gives?

There are basically four options: 1) The pirates can feel pain but not pleasure. 2) The pirates are faking it for some reason. 3) The pirates don't feel anything, but there is some explanation as to why they appear to feel pain. Or 4) This is just a bona fide plot hole.

It is much more coherent with the nature of the curse that the pirates don't feel pain. The condition of the cursed pirates is a kind of sterilized existence - they are alive insofar as they are sentient, but cannot experience any of the sensations that make life worth living (even though they still have the desire). This includes pain - if they could feel pain, they could at least feel something. They inhabit this subhuman existence: "We are not among the living and so we cannot die, but neither are we dead." I would liken it to anesthetics used by doctors - I went into my dentist to get a tooth pulled, and they gave me laughing gas to numb my mouth. I could still feel that tugging, but it wasn't pain. I think it is a similar experience for other surgeries where they need you awake. That is how the pirates exist - they feel something, but not in the sense of being truly alive (and this is true for every sensation, not just pain).

So why do the pirates appear to experience pain? I can give a plausible explanation. It is a kind of instinctual reaction - for example, when you get burned or drop something on your foot and cry out before the pain even hits you, because you are expecting the pain. The pirates have that expectation of pain, which is why they cry out, but they never actually feel it. Barbossa may just be so used to it that it doesn't phase him, and Pintel was not really expecting that pain since Barbossa's gunshot was so out of the blue.

However, if you asked me: Do I really believe the screenwriters thought this deep into the metaphysics of a magic pirate curse? The answer is no. Which doesn't necessarily mean there is no plausible explanation (see above), but I think the pirates' pain was just a simple detail that was overlooked, either for the sake of plot or out of carelessness. In the invasion of Port Royal, Will tomahawks a pirate who then comes back. This plants the seeds of suspicion in the audience: didn't Will already kill this guy? What's going on? But if the pirate simply takes a tomahawk in the back with no reaction, that gives away the game. Same with the hot coals on Ragetti's head: he returns to pursuing Elizabeth moments later, which will raise some red flags for the audience because any normal person would be incapacitated (although he still shows pain). The pirate screaming after being impaled by Will does not advance the plot - this is just pure carelessness. Jack's expression after being stabbed is more shocked than anything else so I think this is negligible.

It is frustrating because they absolutely could have made the movie without this contradiction at all. When the pirate tells Will "say goodbye!" and then gets obliterated by the falling sign, that could have been the pirate that reappeared to Will; the seeds of suspicion are planted in the audience, without giving away the game. The other times in the movie where cursed pirates apparently experience pain are negligible for the plot and could have been eliminated entirely. But this movie is wonderful for so many other reasons, and I can suspend disbelief over this one quandary to enjoy everything else about it.

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