The Pirates of the Caribbean movie timeline isn't complicated, but it is quite extensive. Beginning with Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003, Disney managed to not only successfully adapt one of its oldest and most beloved theme park rides into a movie, but they had created a franchise out of it that would enliven summers at the movies for years to come.
The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise not only revived Johnny Depp's career by giving him a new character - rakish pirate Jack Sparrow - to channel, but it helped truly launch the careers of actors Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley. Admittedly, Bloom had made his official big-screen debut in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and stayed with the franchise through 2003, but Pirates of the Caribbean arguably helped turn Bloom into a bonafide box office star. Meanwhile, Knightley had minor movie roles in the past and would appear in a key role in the ensemble rom-com Love Actually the same year as The Curse of the Black Pearl, but again, Pirates of the Caribbean is the franchise that launched Knightley into the stratosphere.
It's easy to see how films devoted to the various adventures of pirates and their foes would prove fertile narrative ground upon which to build a franchise. With every Pirates of the Caribbean film, the fictional pirating world it established grew and grew, introducing new villains and heroes, and providing connections to the original films. Now, with five Pirates of the Caribbean movies under its belt, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise has not only delivered tons of story to chew on, but there's so much that it warrants compiling a complete timeline to see just how all of the events line up. It may feel like each Pirates of the Caribbean film covers a lot of ground, but it may be a surprise to see just how close together many of the events from different films are.
The Curse of the Black Pearl Timeline
The Pirates of the Caribbean franchise begins with the raucous pirate romp that is Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Introducing audiences to the core cast who would appear in future films - Johnny Depp, Orlando Bloom, Keira Knightley, Geoffrey Rush, and Jack Davenport - while bringing to life the Disney theme park ride upon which it's based, the story follows wily pirate Jack Sparrow as he teams with the good-hearted blacksmith Will Turner to save the apple of Will's eye, Elizabeth Swann, who has been kidnapped by an old foe of Jack's.
- 1720: Will Turner is picked up by Weatherby Swann after the ship Will was sailing on with his mother is destroyed by The Black Pearl. Will managed to steal a piece of The Black Pearl's gold, which Elizabeth takes and keeps for herself.
- On the same day in 1728: Jack Sparrow arrives in Port Royal. James Norrington is promoted to Commodore. Jack's arrival sets of alarm bells and he hides from Port Royal soldiers in Will Turner's blacksmith quarters. Jack is eventually arrested and thrown into jail. That night, Hector Barbossa and the undead crew of The Black Pearl attack Port Royal in search of the missing gold they frittered away. They kidnap Elizabeth Swann, who has the necessary piece of gold. Will demands Jack help him save Elizabeth since has knowledge of Barbossa and The Black Pearl.
- The next day: Will and Jack successfully commandeer the Earl King and pursue The Black Pearl. They ambush Barbossa and the Black Pearl crew at Isla de Muerta just before Barbossa can reverse the curse. Will successfully lifts the curse, allowing Jack to kill Barbossa and Norrington and his men (who were pursuing Will and Jack) to arrest the Black Pearl crew.
Dead Man's Chest Timeline
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is the second film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise and the film that begins to really tease out just how in-depth and widespread the pirating world is while weaving real-life pirate lore, like the story of Davy Jones, into its plot. Depp, Boom, Knightley, Davenport, Rush, and many of the Pirates of the Caribbean supporting cast return for the high-seas adventure, which sees Will and Elizabeth's marriage interrupted by the machinations of East India Trading Company's Lord Cutler Beckett. Will and Elizabeth are split up, with Elizabeth joining forces with Jack and Will unwittingly getting caught up with Davy Jones.
- 1729: Will and Elizabeth's marriage is prevented from going through after they are promptly arrested by Lord Cutler Beckett of the East India Trading Company.
- Will is recruited by Beckett to find Jack's compass so Beckett may use it to lead him to the heart of Davy Jones, which will give him enough control to eradicate pirates for good and allow the East India Trading Company to establish dominance across the world. Will is later pressganged into The Flying Dutchman's crew where he meets Davy Jones.
- Elizabeth escapes prison and joins forces with Jack and the rest of The Black Pearl's crew, imploring Jack to help her find Will. The crew also visit Tia Dalma (later revealed to be Davy Jones' one true love, Calypso), who tells them about the curse of Davy Jones, who is bound to captain The Flying Dutchman for all eternity.
- Elizabeth and Jack use his compass to point them in the direction of the Dead Man's chest containing Davy Jones' heart. This reunites them with Will but forces them to fight Davy Jones.
- Norrington, who was brought aboard The Black Pearl in Tortuga when Elizabeth joined up with Jack, manages to steal Davy Jones' heart and return it to Beckett, putting Davy at Beckett's mercy.
At World's End Timeline
The original Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy comes to an end with Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End. In the final film, Jack, Will, Elizabeth, Barbossa, and the rest of the pirating world must join forces and fight Beckett, who sees to end the maritime rule of pirates and make the East India Trading Company the true power of the seven seas. Fates are decided, lives are lost, and yet somehow, Jack manages to make it out alive and ready to take on another adventure (more on that below).
- 2 Months After Dead Man's Chest Events: The East India Company calls a state of emergency and begins executing anyone accused of piracy or associating with pirates.
- At the same time, Elizabeth and Will are brought aboard the Black Pearl, now under Barbossa's command, and the crew makes its way to sail to World's End and straight through to Davy Jones' Locker. This is all in an effort to retrieve Jack.
- After getting Jack, the crew sails for Fort Charles, where Barbossa has called for the Fourth Brethren Court to convene. Elizabeth is elected Pirate King, allowing her to lead all international pirate crews into battle against Lord Cutler Beckett and the East India Trading Company.
- As the two opposing sides meet in the middle of the ocean, Calypso is released from her human form, causing a maelstrom. During the maritime battle between the East India Trading Company and the pirates, Will and Elizabeth are married by Barbossa, Will kills Davy Jones and replaces him as captain of The Flying Dutchman, and Beckett is killed aboard his ship, Endeavour.
- After the battle, Barbossa resumes command of The Black Pearl and Jack steals the navigational charts and sets a course for the Fountain of Youth.
- August 1739: Elizabeth and Henry wait for Will to return to shore for one day, believing his duty to The Flying Dutchman has been served and he can stay with them permanently. Will tells them that won't happen and returns to his ship and his crew.
On Stranger Tides Timeline
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides was the first film to break away from the original story set down by the trilogy, allowing for new faces to brought in while further expanding the fictional pirating world established in the previous films. Depp and Rush were the only returning cast members with Penelope Cruz, Ian McShane, Sam Claflin, and Agnes Berges-Frisbey joining the crew. On Stranger Tides follows Jack and Barbossa as they come together to find the Fountain of Youth in an attempt to trade their discovery for The Black Pearl, which has been captured by the notorious pirate Blackbeard.
- 1746: Blackbeard's ship, The Queen Anne's Revenge, attacks The Black Pearl, miniaturizing it and putting it into a bottle.
- 1750: Jack is forced to board The Queen Anne's Revenge with Angelica and lead Blackbeard to the Fountain of Youth. At the same time, Hector Barbossa is leading a crew under King George II to the Fountain of Youth as well.
- Also 1750: The Fountain of Youth is destroyed by The Spaniard's crew, who were commissioned to find the Fountain of Youth by King Ferdinand of Spain.
Dead Men Tell No Tales Timeline
The last of the Pirates of the Caribbean films (for now) was 2017's Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. Depp reprised his role as Jack Sparrow and Rush returned as Barbossa for the fifth film, joining newcomers Javier Bardem, Kaya Scodelairo, and Brenton Thwaites. The film was all about Jack getting recruited by Barbossa's daughter, Carina, in the quest to locate Poseidon's Trident. Will and Elizabeth's son, Henry, joins their crew and the trio set off to find the one weapon they know will defeat Armando Salazar, the notorious pirate hunter Jack killed years ago and who seeks vengeance against his killer.
- 1730: Henry Turner is born one year after the events of At World's End.
- 1732: Carina Smyth, daughter of Hector Barbossa, is born.
- 1741: Thieves attempt to steal the Diary of Galileo Galilei, which includes the map to finding Trident's Poseidon, from Carina.
- 1742: A 12-year-old Henry attempts to drown himself in order to see his father, Will. Henry is brought aboard The Flying Dutchman and tells Will about the power of Poseidon's Trident and how it could break his curse. Will refuses and sends Henry home.
- 1746: Carina leaves the orphanage Hector placed her in as a baby and finds work as a maid.
- 1749: Carina sneaks into university disguised as a man so she can take courses on astronomy. She is discovered and ousted.
- 1750: Carina leaves England and heads for St. Martin. She intends to use the Diary of Galileo Galilei to locate the Map No One Can Read and Poseidon's Trident.
- 1751: Armando Salazar, the ghostly pirate hunter, and his crew escape the Devil's Triangle. Salazar goes after Jack, the man responsible for his death. Jack is forced to team with Carina and Henry to find Poseidon's Trident, the key to defeating Salazar.
All in all, the five movies in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise span about 31 years, from the time Will Turner is discovered by Elizabeth Swann in The Curse of the Black Pearl to when they reunite, along with their son, in Dead Men Tell No Tales. But it's possible that the series may not be done yet, as Pirates of the Caribbean 6 was teased at the end of the last installment. Whether that sequel happens or not remains to be seen.