Captain William Bligh is the main antagonist of the 1935 film Mutiny on the Bounty, the character was largely based of the infamous British Royal Navy officer of the same name.


If any officer or other person in the fleet shall disobey any lawful command of any of his superior officers, every such person being convicted of such offence shall suffer death that shall be inflicted on him by the sentence of a court-martial.

Captain Bligh threatens the crew (particularly Fletcher Christian) with his authority.

Bligh is a sadistic, disciplinarian who takes joy in forcing his crew through unnecessary punishment for the slightest offence.


Bligh is then challenged by his second in command, Fletcher Christian who has finally had enough of Bligh's tyranny after witnessing him give the orders to whip the ship's beloved surgeon Mr. Bacchus, Bacchus already ill, dies and Christian and his friends begin to talk of mutiny, they then force Bligh and his loyal shipmates to abort the ship which leads to the infamous Mutiny.

After being stranded at sea for several months, Bligh returns and boards the Pandora in search of Christian and his fellow mutineers, Bligh is unsuccessful at finding Christian but captures many of his associates and brings them to justice.

Several of the mutineers are acquitted, after the trial the Judge refuses to shake Bligh's hand as he feels Bligh is in the wrong.


  • Bligh was portrayed by the legendary actor, Charles Laughton (1899-1962), who was also known for playing another classic villain, Dr. Moreau.
  • Although the real life Bligh was known for his tyranny, in the film Bligh forces the crew through such punishments as keelhauling which were abolished by his time. In reality, Bligh was not present at the trial of the mutineers but was in the film.
  • Laughton's performance as Bligh ranks #19 on AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains.