Jack Sparrow initially rounded up what would become the cursed crew to serve aboard the Black Pearl. A number of crew members joined at Tortuga, where Jack arrived with the intention to find the treasure of Isla de Muerta. Hector Barbossa was Jack's First Mate at this point, and had designs on captaincy himself. With the crew assembled, the quest began, but three days into the voyage, Barbossa coerced Jack into giving up the coordinates to the island. With the information, Barbossa led a mutiny against Jack, which the crew unanimously backed—although Bill Turner would later voice his regret over this action—and marooned the former captain on Rumrunner's Isle.
With Jack removed and believed dead, Barbossa took command of the Black Pearl and the quest itself, pressing on to Isla de Muerta.
The crew located Isla de Muerta and plundered its treasure, taking and eventually ridding themselves of all 882 pieces of gold from the Chest of Cortés by spending them on food, drink and pleasurable company. It was only at this point that the crew began to realize they had been cursed: no ammount of food, drink or pleasurable company would satisfy, and slowly their bodies began to rot, turning skeletal under the moonlight. The crew were doomed to reside as members of the undead for their transgression.
The now-cursed crew attempted to reclaim all 882 pieces of gold, in order to pay back the Aztec gods and lift their curse. Bill Turner did not join this desperate search, instead saying they deserved to be cursed for their actions, and sent his piece of gold to his son, William Turner, in England. In response, Barbossa had Bill tied to a cannon by his bootstraps, and thrown overboard. Undead, "Bootstrap" Bill was unable to die, and forced to endure the crushing depths of the ocean floor. He ultimately struck a bargain with Davy Jones to spare his life, but was forced to serve aboard the Flying Dutchman. Not until after "Bootstrap" had been thrown overboard did the cursed crew learned of an additional requirement to lift the curse: all crew members who stole from the Chest but a single coin had to pay the Aztec gods in blood, which now seemed impossible with "Bootstrap" lost to them. However, a chance of salvation lay in Bill's son, who had both his coin and Turner blood in his veins.
Over the next decade, the cursed crew hunted down 881 pieces of gold, raiding settlements and believed to leave no survivors. Stories and legends arose about the crew of the Black Pearl, with Barbossa himself characterized as a man so evil that Hell itself spat him back out. Even members of the Navy were not above superstition; Joshamee Gibbs was particuarly mindful of drawing the attention of the "cursed pirates" during the HMS Dauntless's crossing from England to Port Royal. It was during this voyage that the Black Pearl destroyed the merchant vessel carrying young Will Turner, who had set out to find his father. Drawn by Will's gold medallion, the crew left a burning wreck in their wake, though were unable to recover the gold because Will, along with his piece of gold, had drifted towards the Dauntless. Young Elizabeth Swann took the gold medallion, which he wore around his neck, away from him, believing that if it were discovered he would be treated as a pirate—and be killed!
End of the curse
Eight years later, the crew had collected all but Will's coin at Isla de Muerta, and were closing in on its location in Port Royal. The Black Pearl laid siege to the town, and Pintel and Ragetti kidnapped Elizabeth, who still had Will's gold medallion, and brought her aboard. There, Barbossa took possession of the medallion, believing Elizabeth's lie about being of the Turner bloodline; and the crew set sail for Isla de Muerta. Their captain performed the ritual to lift the curse, which failed. Elizabeth revealed her true name, and managed to escape with Will and a coin. Jack Sparrow made his reappearance, and informed Barbossa of the whereabouts of Will Turner.
The crew gave chase, attacking the commandeered HMS Interceptor and taking her crew hostage. Will confronted Barbossa, but was out-maneuvered by the captain, and was captured. In a cruel twist, Barbossa marooned Jack and Elizabeth on Rumrunner's Isle, and made for Isla de Muerta once more. However, his plans fell apart when Jack and Elizabeth were rescued by the Dauntless, which then followed the Black Pearl to the island. Jack tricked Barbossa into sending his men out to battle the marines, and engaged his mutinous First Mate in single combat within the treasure cave, having himself taken a coin from the chest.
As the crew infiltrated the Dauntless, Elizabeth made for the island, and aided Will in defeating Jacoby, Clubba and Monk. Jack and Barbossa, both undead, fought to a standstill, but Jack had a plan. He threw his coin, smeared with his blood, to Will, who dropped his own coin into the chest, lifting the curse at the most opportune moment: Barbossa was caught off-guard and shot in the heart by Jack, while the crew, now mortal, found themselves surrounded by navy marines, and were forced to surrender. The surviving crew members were taken back to Fort Charles to be executed.
Due to their immortality and the prior fighting experience of most of the crew members, the crew was a deadly threat, they won all the battles in which they participated until the final one at Isla de Muerta, when the curse was removed and they surrendered to the superior forces of the Royal Navy.
Behind the scenes
- There were much more crewmembers apart of the credited ones, their overall number is unknown but can be estimated with approximately 100.
- The skeletal crewmembers were created by Industrial Light and Magic
- Therefore all scenes involving the skeletal crew were filmed twice: one time with the actors and the second time without them.
- Some members of the cursed crew including their leader Barbossa are pictured on the cover of WAS IST WAS band 71: Piraten.