About a decade prior to the beginning of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, Jack Sparrow was searching for the legendary Chest of Cortez containing a cache of cursed Aztec gold . After sharing the bearings to the chest's location, First Mate Hector Barbossa and the crew mutinied and marooned him on an island with only a pistol containing a single shot (allowing the option of suicide over starvation ). After three days, Sparrow bartered passage off the island with rum runners . Seeking revenge, Sparrow kept the pistol to kill his former first mate.
Approximately ten years later, Sparrow arrives in Port Royal to steal a ship. He is arrested for piracy after saving Elizabeth Swann , the governor's daughter, from drowning. That night, the Black Pearl attacks Port Royal, seeking the last Aztec gold medallion that will break a curse that has left them as immortal skeletons. Elizabeth, who possesses the coin they are searching for, is kidnapped. The next morning, Will Turner, a blacksmith apprentice whom Jack fought in an escape attempt, seeks Sparrow's help to rescue Elizabeth, whom he secretly loves. Jack agrees only when he realizes Will is the crucial element needed to break the curse and that he can use him to get back the Black Pearl. Will frees Jack from jail, and the two hijack the HMS Interceptor.
After recruiting a crew in Tortuga with help from Jack's old friend, Gibbs , they head to Isla de Muerta where Jack knows the pirates will go to break the curse. Once there, Sparrow and Will infiltrate the cave where a ritual is underway with Elizabeth, whose blood Barbossa believes will break the curse. Will, suspecting Sparrow intends to betray him, knocks him unconscious. He rescues Elizabeth, and the two escape to the Interceptor, but the Black Pearl pursues them. After a fierce battle, the Interceptor is sunk, and the crew is captured. After learning it is Will who can break the curse, Barbossa maroons Sparrow and Swann. To Jack's horror, Elizabeth burns an abandoned rum stockpile as a signal fire that is spotted by Commodore Norrington. To save Will, Elizabeth accepts Norrington's previous marriage proposal as a way to persuade him to attack Isla de Muerta.
Sparrow saunters into the cave and interrupts Will's sacrifice. He informs the stunned Barbossa that the navy is waiting outside to ambush them and proposes an alliance. When Barbossa agrees and sends the crew to fight the navy, Sparrow attacks him. Barbossa impales Jack with his sword, believing he is mortally wounded. But when Jack stumbles backwards into the moonlight, he is revealed to be an immortal skeleton—having sneaked a coin from the chest to curse himself. Sparrow and Turner lift the curse just before Sparrow fatally shoots Barbossa with the shot he has carried for ten years. Barbossa falls to the ground dead and the remaining now-mortal pirates are defeated. Sparrow is arrested and returned to Port Royal for execution, but with help from Will and Elizabeth, he escapes by accidentally falling off the rampart and into the bay. The Black Pearl is waiting, and Sparrow is captain once again. Will and Elizabeth declare their love for another, and Norrington graciously concedes her hand.