Partial credit for this litmus test goes to the intelligence briefs of Architeuthis, NenyaQuende's PPC charge list, and Winterfox's Mary Sue Litmus Test for LotR Stories.

PotC Litmus Test, Part I

Appearance and Persona of Original Female Characters

The character has a name that would cause the quirkiest of pirates to raise his eyebrows.
(Pheonix, for example, is a no-no. Even if it's spelled correctly. Likewise with Jewelannique Sparrow, Ekaterina Knightly, etc.)

2 points if this name gets no explanation
2 points if the character has a modern name
10 points if the character is named after the author, an alias, or handle that the author uses on the Internet or elsewhere.

(6 points) if the character's name coincides with, or is similar to, that of an existing canon character.
(8 points) The character's physique is described with over-frequency. (Every chapter? Every paragraph?! Just describing hairstyle/color counts.)

The original female character wears pants and a shirt/blouse. This does not apply if she is a pirate.

3 points if she is wearing anachronistic clothing (i.e. a tube top or shorts)

The character is respectable but has long, freely flowing hair. Only ladies of questionable virtue wore their hair down during the colonial period. Then again, this might be a fitting style, depending on the nature of the OC.

4 points if the character's hair shimmers

The character's eyes are described in excess.

5 points if they change color
2 points if the irises are described as emerald green. Emerald green eyes, although they sound cool, don't really exist.

The character's garb is described as tight-fitting and/or revealing.

5 points if it reveals ample bosom, sculpted legs, or shapely bottom
3 points if the woman expects Jack not to stare at her, even though he is bound to ogle the nearest lovely female, especially a half-clad one
4 points if, despite telling Jack off for gawking, the character has obviously shown up in those clothes purely to attract his attention

The character is painfully beautiful.

5 points if she is graceful
5 points if she has a beautiful singing voice
2 points if sings "A Pirate’s Life for Me."
3 points if the canon cast is "enthralled" or impressed in any way with said singing voice

The character has a cute animal friend.

8 points if it is telepathic

The character is a female pirate captain.

4 points if she falls in love with Captain Jack
3 points if she and Jack decide to live together, forgetting about the need to captain their respective ships.

The OC is related to a canon character.

2 points cumulative if related to one of the following: Will Turner, Elizabeth Swann, Cap'n Jack Sparrow, Barbossa, Norrington, Governor Swann.
3 points if Barbossa's progeny swears revenge on Jack
3 points if the character is the love child of Elizabeth and Jack

The character is a prodigy of some sort.

4 points if the character has a special power
6 points if the power is premonition or foresight

The character is superior to a canon cast at sailing.

The character carries a sword or knife.

4 points if she wields it expertly/superhumanly/on a par with Jack or Will
4 points if she beats Jack or Will in a duel

The character sleeps with Jack Sparrow, despite being underage and WAY too young for him.

The character uses "womanly charms" to get her or the canon characters out of a pinch.

The character commands respect or even deference from canonical authority figures.

The OC upstages canonical characters.

The character is a "rebellious princess" type. (e.g., can't bear dresses, blah blah and whines and moans about it. Not wanting aristocratic suitors and suchlike also counts.)

4 points if the character has a mysterious/tragic past.
2 points if angst occurs from said past.
2 points if angst causes canon characters to sympathize.
3 points if said past involves rape, attempted rape, child abuse, dead lover, or orphanage.
3 points if said past causes the character to "never love any man again."

The character is a lover of a canon character.

5 points if it is love at first sight.
4 points if the canon character in question is one of the following (points are cumulative): Will, Elizabeth, Barbossa, Norrington.
6 points if the canon character in question is Captain Jack. Poor pirate; while I'm sure he'd be delighted to have so many lovely females after him, they do so many hideous things to his character...making him settle down and forcing him to be gentlemanly...
3 more extra points if the canon character in question is already engaged, married, or have a lover. (Cumulative with the above list of canon characters.)

The character steals lines

3 points for each additional stolen line

PotC Litmus Test, Part II

Technicalities and Author Headaches

(10 points) The author take attacks directed at the pet character personally.

The story is delivered in one long paragraph, or the paragraphs break in a way that isn’t consistent with the story.

3 points if this includes dialogue

The author admits to being on a sugar high while writing the story.

5 points if the admission is actually a boast
5 points if the story was purportedly written late at night
6 points if this is plainly an excuse for his/her story being riddled with errors. In other words, don’t criticize authors because they don’t bother to check over their stories! It’s totally not their fault! *sigh* Would you like my sympathy in atoms or quarks?

The author converses with Cap’n Jack before moving on to the actual story.
4 points if Jack is out of character

6 points if the conversation occurs with imaginary personalities or non-canonical characters

Author’s notes are inserted in the text. I’ve yet to see a story where this didn’t distract the reader, yank the reader out of the mindset of the story, or kill the moment entirely.

The author is historically inaccurate. (Photographs in the 17th century, the use of “cool” in a contemporary sense, Cortez searching for the Fountain of Youth in Southern Americas, and so on.)

3 points if the author totally botches geography

The author changes the social conventions and structures of a canonical society

The author employs dei ex machina.

Will’s son is named Jack, and the author confuses the readers by failing to distinguish between Jack Turner and Jack Sparrow.

Jack does not age, despite several years having passed, and there is no explanation given.

Jack is younger than 30 (except in flashback or prequel). Twenty years old? Go back to first grade arithmetic. That would have made him ten when he was first captain of the Black Pearl.

The author uses nonexistent or faulty nautical terms or sailing maneuvers.

3 points if a ship makes a maneuver that is not physically possible

Jack has a really funky accent.

2 points if he says “ye” or “ya”
5 points if the author gives him a Scottish accent

Jack’s speech has no identifying characteristics and he uses perfect grammar.

Jack says “savvy” more than five times in a fanfic story of forty-five pages.

4 points if its usage makes no sense

PotC Litmus Test, Part III


The character first hates a canon character, and later falls in love with him/her.

The story involves gratuitous use of magical jewelry or trinkets.

Improbable romantic liaisons occur between canon characters (e.g. Elizabeth/Anamaria, Jack/Barbossa)

Canon characters react unrealistically to the OC. (If you say, “Marry me, Jack!” you are likely to cause the pirate captain to burst out laughing, and perhaps cause yourself to be the butt of a few off-color jokes. If you say, “Marry me, Will!” you are likely to get uncomfortable stammering from the blacksmith and perhaps a pole shoved through your gut courtesy of Miss Swann.)

The character joins Jack’s crew.

8 points if the character is a self-insertion job.

2 points if from the twenty-first century.
-2 points if said to be from the colonial age.
2 points if said to be from a futuristic time.
3 points if the character tries to show off her advanced technology to inhabitants of the Caribbean.

The character knows the story of POTC.

3 points if the character will try to alter the canon because she knows the story.
3 points if the character knows the story and spouts the information off like a chatterbox.

The character reforms the canon cast. (Such as convincing Barbossa to “see the error of his ways”.)

The character is immediately trusted by canon cast.

10 points if individuals of known heterosexual orientation are suddenly and unaccountably eager to engage in homosexual relations.

Will leaves Elizabeth for another character for no plausible reason.

3 points if something’s “just not right” between them, though Will has been smitten with Elizabeth for years and Elizabeth obviously returns his feelings
4 points if the character is an OFC who has been Will’s best friend from childhood
5 points if Will mysteriously acquires feelings for Jack

Any canonical romance is broken up. This includes the undying love between Jack and his ship.

30 points if Jack decides to sell his ship, unless it can no longer be seaworthy

Elizabeth is conveniently forgotten or killed off.

There is another ship named like the Black Pearl: the Black Rose, the Ruby Pearl, etc. (That’s some jewel, by the way. Any relation to a many-faceted scarlet emerald?)

4 points if the ship is captained by a female OC
4 points if it can match or outmatch the fastest ship in the Caribbean

The original character is sexually harassed or raped in order to further the plot or have a canon lust object comfort her. [Capital offense—see next subheading.]

3 points if her clothes are artfully torn off
4 points if Jack mothers her afterwards

The character is raped by ANY canon character other than Barbossa or one of his crew. [Capital offense—see next subheading.]

5 points if Jack’s character is degraded. (He’s a pirate—and a GOOD man.)
8 points if the female later falls in love with her rapist

A character is killed just for the angst.

5 points if said character death leads to slash or uncanonical romance

Teenagers are sucked into the movie.

5 points if they act intoxicated or hyper
4 points if they are generally weird, without explanation2 points if this behavior is laughed off
3 points if the canonical characters have no idea what they’re saying, but trust them immediately or like them anyway
5 points if the canonical characters DO understand what they’re saying, despite excessive use of modern slang
7 points if the canonicals lapse into modern slang themselves

The canonical(s) travel to modern times.

2 points if the explanation for this is lame or absent
3 points if the canonical(s) end up in the house of one or more young females
4 points if the girls’ parents/guardians take an extended leave from the story or disappear entirely so that the young ladies can get acquainted with their lust objects
5 points if Jack is in excessive awe of new devices or technology
4 points if Jack neglects to nick an expensive item while being shown around

The character is engaged when she encounters her lust object.

3 points if it is announced late in the story to heighten romantic suspense
4 points if the character must decide which man to marry
5 points if the canon lust object and Fiancé Man get into a fight
5 points if Fiancé Man is a. evil or b. nice, but not as hot or interesting as a pirate

The character has an abusive husband from whom she runs away.

4 points if she runs into the arms of a canon character

The character is a prostitute who agonizes over her profession and whose heart ever yearns for her one true love.

3 points if her predicament involves a belligerent and overbearing male

The character is the offspring of Jack and a prostitute who gave her child to Jack to take care of. (Really. Why would she recall Jack at all, among the hundreds of men she’s bedded, let alone recognize the child as his, find him, and trust him, a basically unknown pirate, with her newborn baby?)

Gratuitous time shifting occurs

4 points if the time shifting occurs in an inappropriate place in the story

The rape of ANY canonical character by another canonical, especially, if the act is treated flippantly or used to further the plot. [Capital offense—see next subheading.]

7 points if the culprit is any canon character other than Barbossa and his crew
8 points if the offender is Norrington
4 points if it turns into a hurt/comfort situation

PotC Litmus Test, Part IV

Capital offenses

Only one of these is needed to justify a PPCing. Sentence for the Sue or Sue-ish spirit is life in the Department of Mary Sue Experiments or death. Some of these have been mentioned before. They merit a second reading.

The character is sexually harassed or raped in order to further the plot or have a canon lust object comfort her

Prolonged death if her clothes are artfully torn off
Painful death/life in DMSE if Jack mothers her afterwards

The character is raped by ANY canon character other than Barbossa or one of his crew.

Death by keelhauling if Jack’s character is degraded. (He’s a pirate—and a GOOD man.)
Extremely painful death if the female later falls in love with her rapist

A canon character is raped by another canonical, especially if the act is treated flippantly or used to further the plot.

Creatively painful death/life in DMSE if the culprit is any canon character other than Barbossa and his crew
Excruciatingly painful death if the offender is Norrington
Rather unpleasant death if it turns into a hurt/comfort situation

Child abuse fails to be written seriously or is written as a ploy for sympathy.

Ditto regarding espousal abuse.

PotC Litmus Test, Part V


Male characters are misogynistic or chauvinistic, creating "Designated Misogynistic Bastards."

Female characters are antagonistically feminist.

Cap’n Jack is EASILY IMPRESSED by a female OC, or anyone else for that matter. Come on. He pays no attention to authority, barely flinches at an undead pirate skeleton clutched around his windpipe, and believes himself to be the most fearsome pirate in the Spanish Main. What would one (realistically) do to impress him?

Jack’s one true love is not the Pearl, nor the sea, nor freedom, but rather a female OC.

Jack is (not acts) a fool, especially around a female OC.

4 points if she bests Jack in an argument
6 points if she leaves the witty Jack lost for words

Jack turns into a complete sap or a goody-two-shoes (i.e. displaying unmitigated helpfulness, compliance, deference, or gentlemanly manner).

5 points if he confides his mushy feelings to another character
7 points if he gives up, or contemplates giving up piracy.

Jack is sentimental.

4 points if he has tears in his eyes
6 points if he sighs melodramatically
8 points if he breaks down outright
-3 points if Jack is sentimental about his ship

The OFC hits Jack, insults Jack, is sarcastic to Jack, and fails to get her comeuppance. (This is a man who carried a pistol with one shot with him for ten years so he could have proper vengeance!)

5 points if the blow lands below the belt
5 points if Jack falls for the female despite this

Jack’s pirate crew—with the exception of Gibbs—is fond of a female OC in a non-perverted way.

Elizabeth is portrayed as whiny, shallow, mean, or unfaithful.

10 points if she is portrayed as a wimp or a coward
15 points if she cheats on Will
20 points if she is referred to, in author notes or story text, as “Elizabitch”.

The author makes Will uncharacteristically feminine in order to slash him with Jack.

Will becomes a full-time pirate, regardless of the fact that he is, essentially, a heroic character who only engaged in piracy to rescue Elizabeth.

2 points if he is married to Elizabeth at the time. (Governor Swann, I’m sure, would be ecstatic to hear of his son-in-law’s new occupation.)

Norrington is portrayed as foolish, esp. if he is ignorant concerning nautical or naval matters. (While he sometimes underestimates people because of their position in society, he is NOT stupid.)

Norrington is corrupt or uses unlawful methods to harm Jack and Will. (He’s a paragon of correctness, for goodness’ sake! His by-the-book behavior is what puts him at odds with other characters in the story.)

Norrington is depicted as vengeful and/or brokenhearted.

3 points if this leads to slash
4 points if this leads to suicide

PotC Litmus Test, Part VI

Trite Storylines and Redundancies

Worth 4 points each. I debated whether to put these in, because I’ve seen stories done well that have some of these characteristics. I ultimately decided, however, that originality is part of good writing, and even a well-written story falls flat if there’s nothing new in it.

The story is a YouJack fic. (This does not apply to MrsPitt, who is believed to be the first YouJack author.)

2 points each time the author shifts from present to past tense or from second to third person without warning

Elizabeth is kidnapped.

Barbossa returns from the dead.

2 points if the curse didn’t really end
2 points if the curse takes on really wacky characteristics in order to make the plot work

The fic is an alternative island beach fic featuring a Jack/Elizabeth romance. (How many of these have been written again?)

The offspring of Will/Elizabeth and Jack/random wench meet.

3 points if they fall in love
4 points if, as older teenagers or adults, they go on an adventure with a miraculously youthful pirate captain and blacksmith. (Jack, for example, would be at least fifty. But, like, yuck, who wants him to be that old?)
5 points if Governor Swann shows no objection to the match

A canon character is described as having chocolate brown eyes. You may think that your lust object is edible, but the description’s been done before. (8 points, and 10 if it applies to Jack)

The story has a chapter title called, “So it begins.” I’ve seen at least ten of these in the PotC fandom. Théoden’s line at Helm’s Deep was executed flawlessly, but it sounds downright melodramatic in a chapter title.

The female OC slaps Jack.

2 points if he says that he didn’t deserve it.

A female character must sleep in the same bed as Jack for a night.

2 points if she “accidentally” rolls onto him during her slumber
3 points if she resists his advances, only to give in at a later point in the story