Space pirates are a type of typical science fiction characters. They operate as pirates in outer space and travel by spaceship, as opposed to the more traditional pirates on Earth’s high seas, who travel by ship. They primarily focus on capturing cargo spaceships, looting, and occasionally stealing the entire ship itself. However, these can vary in form of dress and speech, as they might correspond to the determined author’s vision of the future, rather than being modeled after their maritime forerunners. Space pirates have been heavily featured in fiction and in this article, we are going to bring you the 15 best space pirate works, organized in three groups of five – movies, TV shows and best anime.
Best space pirate movies
1. Treasure Planet
Original Release: November 6, 2002
Running Time: 95 minutes
Jim Hawkins is a young man who has dreamed of adventure since childhood. One day, a badly injured humanoid reptile lands near his mother’s inn and hands her a funny sphere-shaped object before dying. He is soon followed by a horde of pirates, and Jim, his mother, and Dr. Doppler, an inn guest and family friend, are forced to flee. The inn is destroyed.
Jim then discovers that the sphere is actually the “Boot of a Thousand Universes” map of the most famous pirate of all time, Captain Nathaniel Flint. Doctor Doppler decides to mount an expedition to find this planet. The day of departure arrives. Jim rides as a cabin boy on Captain Amelia’s Heritage RLS; he must assist the cook, John Silver, a cyborg.
A paternal relationship will be created between these two characters, Jim Hawkins filling the emotional gap caused by the abandonment of his father. But Jim will soon realize that he is leading a mutiny to recover the treasure.
2. The Ice Pirates
Original Release: March 16, 1984
Running Time: 91 minutes
In the future, long after the great interplanetary wars, drinking water has become an extremely rare substance. Its circulation rests entirely in the hands of the sinister space templars of the planet Mithras. Nevertheless, Jason and a handful of rebel pirates managed to survive by stealing the ice carried in the Tyrants’ ships.
Jason and his pirates then attack the Meterak, in order to steal the water it contains, stored in the state of ice cubes. During one of these assaults, they kidnap Princess Karina and, in return, are quickly chased by one of the ships of Zorn, who rules over the Templars. After freeing the Princess, Zorn imprisons them with the slaves and deports them to the planet Mithras.
3. Harlock: Space Pirate
Original Release: September 7, 2013
Running Time: 111 minutes
In 2907 the universe was populated by 500 billion human beings, descendants of those who were exiled from Earth. Planet Earth, which everyone considers “home”, is now controlled by the Gaia Coalition, a decadent and corrupt supranational entity that dictatorially rules all of mankind.
The cruiser Arcadia, commanded by the mysterious Captain Harlock, has now become the last hope of freeing humanity from GAIA: the Coalition, therefore, starts the project to infiltrate the spaceship to assassinate Harlock. The one chosen to accomplish this difficult task is the young Yama, younger brother of the ruthless and ambitious commander Ezra.
During a stop on an unspecified but rock-forming planet, four men, including Yama, approach the Arcadia asking to be drafted but are informed that only one of them will be able to join the crew.
4. Space Raiders
Original Release: July 1983
Running Time: 84 minutes
A 10-year-old boy is accidentally kidnapped by a spaceship full of a crew of space pirates.
5. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Original Release: May 10, 2018
Running Time: 135 minutes
Han Solo: A Star Wars Story is a film centered around the character of Han Solo aboard the Millennium Falcon. Through a series of adventures in a dark and dangerous criminal underworld, Han Solo befriends his future co-pilot Chewbacca and meets the notorious gambler Lando Calrissian. The film is temporarily set some years before Han met Luke Skywalker and Obi-Wan Kenobi in A New Hope, as well as the events of Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.
Best space pirate TV shows
Original Release: January 2, 1978 – December 21, 1981
Set in the “Third Century of the Second Calendar”, the series follows the exploits of revolutionary Roj Blake, who leads a band of rebels in their fight against the totalitarian forces of the “Terran Federation”, which rules Earth and many others. planets through surveillance, brainwashing and the use of drugs.
2. Space Precinct
Original Release: October 3, 1994 – July 24, 1995
In the year 2040, New York police officer Patrick Brogan is transferred to the police station in Demeter City, the capital of the planet Altor. For his family, which includes his wife Sally and children Liz and Matt, it’s a major lifestyle change. Together with his partner Jack Haldane and his mostly alien colleagues from the Tarn and Creon races, he fights against organized crime.
Original Release: September 20 – December 20, 2002
When the Alliance wins the civil war for total control of the star system in which the story unfolds, Sergeant Malcolm Raynolds (Nathan Fillion), who had fought against the unification of the planets, and his comrade in arms Zoe Washburne (Gina Torres) begin a life as a trader/smuggler with the Firefly-class transport ship named Serenity (title of the pilot episode), with the aim of integrating as little as possible into the society imposed by the new rulers.
The ship’s crew consists of Malcolm Raynolds (captain) and Zoe Washburne (first mate), mechanic Kaylee Frye (Jewel Staite), a solar girl who treats the ship as if it were a person, the pilot Hoban “Wash” Washburne (Alan Tudyk), Zoe’s husband, the mercenary Jayne Cobb (Adam Baldwin), general security officer, and Inara Serra (Morena Baccarin), a chaperone (high-profile prostitute) who lives and works for rent in one of the Serenity support shuttles.
Inara’s work, in the society represented by the show, is highly respected and recalls the role of the sacred prostitutes of antiquity: there is a professional register, to which Inara is regularly registered, and this is the reason why Captain Raynolds keeps her in edge, although he himself is not quite as respectful of that job.
4. Lost in Space
Original Release: September 15, 1965 – March 6, 1968
The Robinson family and Major West were put into suspended animation for the long journey, before takeoff. When another character, Dr. Zachary Smith (Jonathan Harris), a scientist who had participated in the «Jupiter 2» project, sneaked into the ship on a sabotage mission, sent by an enemy power for which he worked in secret with his goal being “to prevent the trip from taking place”.
He quietly reprogrammed the ship’s B9 robot to destroy it shortly after they left Earth. However, he himself was trapped in the spaceship during takeoff. Once in outer space, the extra weight of Smith’s presence diverted “Jupiter 2” from its original trajectory, launching it into a meteor shower that he inevitably collided with.
The robot’s subsequent attack completed the job of setting the crew completely adrift in infinite space. The Robinson family and Major West awoke from suspended animation to find themselves Lost in Space.
5. Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger
Original Release: February 13, 2011 – February 19, 2012
At the beginning of the first episode of the series, the 34th Super Sentai Gokaiger is undermined by the space fleet and the ground army of a new enemy: the Zangyack Space Empire which, according to them, is the most dangerous enemy Earth has ever had to face. The 33 other Super Sentai who preceded them decided to come out of retirement and come to the aid of the new successors in fighting this new enemy.
Victory will be won by the combination of all the powers of the 34 Super Sentai by destroying the Zangyack fleet. This victory had dire consequences as all members of the Super Sentai had lost their powers in the final phase of the attack forever. Their powers flew out into space in the form of keys. This battle went down in the history books as the “Legendary War”.
One day, while the Gokaiger pirates are sailing through space, they see Earth; thinking that the greatest treasure of the Universe could be on this planet, they disembark there. But the reappearance of the Zangyack Empire will make them make an important decision. They will use the keys to the 34 Super Sentais they have found all over the universe to be able to fight the Zangyack Empire as they search for their treasure. Each member of the Gokaigers has a personal score to settle with the empire.
Best space pirate anime
1. Outlaw Star
Original Run: January 8, 1998 – June 25, 1998
In the future Towards Stars era, many solar systems were opened to space traffic. Among the nomadic populations, there is a small part of them who have dedicated themselves to bounty hunting, or the capture of criminals in exchange for lavish payments. Gene Starwind and little James “Jim” Hawking are two bounty hunters and are hired to protect captain Hilda, who has an android.
Melfina is the only one being able to fly a space ship called “XGP-15A II”, later nicknamed “Outlaw Star”, in which the terrible Kei Pirates are also interested. After Hilda’s death, the two space hunters and Melfina will also be joined by catgirl Aisha Clanclan and “Twilight” Suzuka, a murderous samurai.
2. Bodacious Space Pirates
Original Run: January 8, 2012 – June 30, 2012
In a future where space travel is commonplace, since the War of Independence, peace reigns in the constellation of the Whale. This small colony owes its emancipation from the Galactic Empire to a merciless struggle and its government has managed to maintain tranquility thanks to the help of space pirates.
Marika Kato is a young college student who leads an ordinary life as a member of the space sailing club and works part-time at a retro maid cafe. One day, she learns of the death of her father who turns out to be a space pirate with a letter of marque (a corsair). Marika legally becomes the captain of the ship “The bentenmaru”. Marika tries to carry out her missions as a corsair captain while continuing her studies.
3. Sol Bianca
Original Release: March 21, 1990 – May 17, 1991
Episodes: 2 (OVA)
The story takes place in an unspecified distant future. Five girls (Febu, April, Janny, June and May in order of age, at least so it seems) are in command of a special Spaceship and delight in assaulting the cargo ships of Emperor Badros who rules with an iron fist on at least two planets (Uno and Tres) in Galaxy F63. In one of their assaults they capture, despite themselves, a little talkative boy (Rim) who will persuade them to go to Tres.
Unlike the TV series, in the OVA, only at the end is it understood that the origin of civilization derives from the Earth (more precisely from the Human Genus), thanks to a “Treasure” (the Gnosis) that our heroines plunder from the ship of the Emperor. This Treasure is nothing more than a “videodisc” recorded hundreds of years earlier and sent into space by terrestrial civilization.
4. Sol Bianca: The Legacy
Original Release: September 24, 1999 – May 25, 2000
The story is set in the distant future. It has now been 400 years since the “Frontier Age” when Man enthusiastically ventured beyond the confines of the solar system to colonize the universe. Now, after this era of happiness, the memory of the Earth, the planet of origin of humanity, is now fading and entering into myth. In this context, the protagonists move, April, Jany, Jun, and Feb, a sort of “space pirates” who travel the galaxy on the futuristic spaceship “Sol Bianca”.
The story begins when during one of their countless adventures, the four girls run into Mayo, a young girl who has run away from home to find her lost parents. The crew of the “Sol Bianca” decides to help the girl and embarks on a long journey that will take the ship to Earth, to discover an incredible secret that seems to envelop the planet of origin of Man.
5. Space Pirate Captain Harlock
Original Release: March 14, 1978 – February 13, 1979
The series is set in a futuristic world, where humanity has left the desire for conquest that made it expand throughout the universe. Dedicated to leisure and various entertainments, men are not able to bear the burden of their lives, exempt from obligations. However, many people, who saw their lives wasted on an inert Earth of hopes and dreams, embarked again on ships, to cross the universe in them.
And the terrestrial government, criticizing this behavior, brands them as pirates and criminals. This is how the figure of the space pirates was born, who at the end of the third millennium, sailed through space. It all starts when a large black sphere crashes on Earth. Professor Daiba along with his son Tadashi discover that this object has been sent by the Amazons, an extraterrestrial species that plans to invade Earth.
However, no one from the government believes these facts and they take the sphere as something casual and insignificant. Even when Professor Daiba is killed, nobody does anything. This infuriates Tadashi, who sees as the only solution, to embark on the Arcadia, ask Captain Harlock for help and together fight the Amazons and thus be able to avenge his father.
But little by little, Tadashi discovers that the crew and Harlock himself have their own reasons for fighting, as does Raflesia, Queen of the Amazons. Thus, the War for Earth not only serves to protect the planet or conquer it, but to discover what is behind these events.