Why are there so many captains named "Jack"?

It occurred to me recently that there seems to be a disproportionate number of people named “Jack” who hold the rank or title of “captain”.

Captain Jack Sparrow - Pirates of the Caribbean
Captain Jack Harkness - Doctor Who / Torchwood
Captain Jack Aubrey - Master & Commander
Captain John “Calico Jack” Rackham - Black Sails / real life
Captain Jonathan “Black Jack” Randall - Outlander

and of course
Captain Jack Will Get You High Tonight - Billy Joel song
Any particular reason other than it’s sounds cooler than “Captain Steve”?

You gotta admit that “Jack” leaves you in no doubt of the character’s maniless. :cool:

Same reason Gene Roddenberry chose the name “Spock”: One syllable, ends with “-ck,” sounds strong.

Hell, even a President of the United States was known as “Jack.” Can’t imagine him being called anything else.

Maybe because Jack is a nickname for John, and John is an extremely common name. Aside from Sparrow and the reference to the Billy Joel song (which refers to Jack Daniel’s, whose founder is actually named Jasper) I’m not familiar with your other examples. Is their given name John? Also, think of all the captains who aren’t named Jack:

Capt. Steubing
Capt. Kangaroo
Capt. Kirk
Capt. Caveman
Cap’n Crunch

In the tradition of the SDMB I’m going to helpfully declare that you’re suffering from confirmation bias.

On the other hand, there was a whole slew of “Steves” in the late '60s–early '70s: Steve McGarrett, Steve Austin, and (I’m sure) others. Quoting MAD Magazine: “Let’s call the boy [in this TV show] Steve—sounds more American! Can’t afford to offend the American Legion!”

You left out the most important one: Capt. Spaulding. :smiley:

And Capt. (Merrill) Stubing.

But there’s only one of each of those. Before you can claim confirmation bias you need to find numerous examples of well-known Captain Bobs, numerous examples of well-known Captain Franks, etc., fictitious or real. And given name doesn’t enter into it. It’s what the person or character is commonly called.

Huh? :confused:

*Your sister’s gone out. She’s on a date
And you just sit at home and masturbate
Your phone is gonna ring soon but you just can’t wait
For that call

So you stand on the corner in your New English clothes
And you look so polished from your hair down to your toes
Ahh, but still your finger’s gonna pick your nose
After all

But Captain Jack will get you high tonight
And take you to your special island
Captain Jack will get you by tonight
Just a little push and you’ll be smilin’*


Of the Pacific Princess (A.K.A “Love Boat”)

Aha! :smack:

You must realize, however, that I never watched a single episode of that series. But yes, I do know it starred Gavin MacLeod, and I can even sing the theme song!*

Goes to show just how pathetic my life is. :frowning:

*But my “Huh?” was actually a reaction to the claim that Steubing was not listed, when clearly he was. Or is there something else I’m missing here? :confused:

I also knew there was a token black dude on board! :smiley:

Steve Rogers AKA “Captain America”
I think “Jack” is also a common placeholder name in British culture (Jack the Ripper, Spring Heeled Jack), and a lot of these captains are British. A “Jack Tar” was also an olde tymy slang term for a sailor in the Royal Navy.

So apparently, a name beginning with a ‘k’ or ‘s’ sound is necessary if not “Jack”?

There’s also Jack-o-lantern.

Overall, Jack is a popular name in cinema. Jack Reacher, Jack Bauer, Jack Torrance, Jack Skellington, etc. Possibly due to a positive feedback system that started with the British items above.


Besides which, the lyric "Just a little push and you’ll be smilin’ " definitely seems more appropriate for heroin than for booze.

I don’t know of any reason to associate Billy Joel’s “Captain Jack” with Jack Daniel’s whiskey, even if another explanation of the name than the one Joel himself gave were needed. Jack Daniel AFAIK was never known as “Captain Jack”, and AFAIK the whiskey’s never called that either.

It starts innocuously. You’re just trying to be friendly when he walks by, saying “hi Jack!” and all of the sudden he’s taken over your vessel.
And then what? Once he’s on the boat, it’s extremely difficult to remove him. It’s like I always say “better to have Jack on, then Jack off.”

Now I will say that pointing a cannon at him can sometimes be an effective ploy. Just cupping two balls can help Jack off.
And getting him away from the starboard side works wonders, as too much port will really speed things along. A lubricated Jack is a fast Jack. Off the side he’ll go!

A word of caution though. You don’t want Jack off near the poop deck. How can you stop that? Dunno. Tain’t easy.
But the bottom line is this: it doesn’t matter how many seamen it takes, forcing jack off can be an exhausting endeavor.

How about Captain (Archibald) Haddock of Tintin fame, Captain Steve Rogers (Captain America, as msmith noted), Captain John Paul Jones (a John but AFAICT not a Jack), and Captain Horatio Hornblower?

Confirmation bias is rife in this type of speculation but I’m not convinced the OP is on to anything.

Huh-huh! Huh-huh! You said “seamen.” Huh-huh!

That wuz cool! :smiley:

The way I heard it, “Hooray for Captain Spaulding!” was actually a tribute to a doctor who kept the Hollywood crowd supplied with drugs in the '20s and '30s! :dubious:

Aye; that’s my thought is that both “John” and “Jack” are British-ly used as Everymans, hence the term for a prostitute’s customer being “a john”, “jack-of-all-trades”, etc. And I think that happened because there were so damned many of them. I bet John accounts for a sizably large percentage of all male names to this day, in fact.