Oh Captain: LeChuck

Posted by CB Droege

Ship’s captains have been an important part of genre fiction for a long time. Thusly, in our first genre feature series, we’re looking at ship’s captains. Today’s captain is LeChuck of the infamous ghost ship.

In the Monkey Island franchise, LeChuck is the villain and primary protagonist. He is Guybrush Threepwood’s nemesis due to his interest in the protagonist’s girlfriend (later wife).

Much of the conflict revolves around LeChuck’s attempt to secure her as his bride, as he sees this as the final step to becoming the lord of the sea. 

His early career is bloody and brutal. Almost as soon as he steps out onto his first ship, LeChuck makes himself part of the most brutal and violent crews on the seas.

It doesn’t take him long to climb the ranks, thanks to a magical voodoo belt buckle, which allows him to charm almost any person into doing his bidding. Once he’s captaining his own ships, he develops an insatiable thirst for more voodoo power, and brings a witch doctor onto his crew of thieves and murderers in an attempt to find more.

Eventually, he becomes obsessed with finding a way to possess pure voodoo energy, rather than just relics and toys, convinced that if only his body contained enough voodoo power, he would rule all of the seas as a pirate lord.

When he learns of a portal, through which he can directly visit the crossroads - a place where the worlds of life, death, and voodoo overlap - he gives up his physical form to go there, and returns as an oddly tangible voodoo ghost pirate.

That’s when the really bad stuff starts. He gains the ability to undeadify other people, and begins assembling an army of zombie pirates with which to terrorize and conquer, based on a partly incorporeal vessel known only as the ghost ship.

When the first game opens, LeChuck is already a ghost pirate, and has a strangle-hold on most of the pirate community. He only needs that one more thing, a queen to sit by his side, and he’ll be in complete domination. He sets his sights on Elaine, and only Threepwood’s persistent rescues keep LeChuck from securing the zombie pirate bride he so desires.

The most compelling moments in LeChuck’s development as a character come during the new TellTale games, in which LeChuck is accidentally returned to human form, and the audience gets to see what he looked like (and supposedly what he acted like) when he was still human.

He becomes dashing, bold, handsome, and kind, and for the first time, Elaine goes with LeChuck willingly, thinking that he has reformed, and leaving Threepwood despondent and jealous, and he is none of those things himself. Of course, the transformation and the niceties are all a ruse, and Threepwood must defeat him yet again.

His character is interesting for its partial foil of the protagonist. Threepwood and LeChuck are very similar in some ways, like their motivations and backgrounds. Both left home to be pirates with the primary goal of becoming fearsome and respected.

While Threepwood goes about this by making up stories and rumors about himself, and boasting frequently (for example, he typically introduces himself ad "Guybrush Threepwood, Mighty Pirate"), LeChuck chooses a different route, having seemingly no conscience, he gains power through fear and violence, frequently resorting to torture to meet his ends.

The reason for these differences has not yet been explored, however. Perhaps in a future Monkey Island story, players will get to see something of LeChuck’s pre-pirate past, and understand better from whence his terrible nature comes. 

Come back tomorrow when we will feature Captain Sassinak. If there is a Ship’s captain which you would like to see featured in this series, let us know in the comments.