James Norrington is a high-ranking soldier and an anti-hero in the first three movies in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. He is the rival and temporary ally of Captain Jack Sparrow and Will Turner and friend and former love interest of Elizabeth Swann.
He serves as the secondary antagonist of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl, the anti-heroic tritagonist of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest, and a major character in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End.
In the first film, Norrington first serves as a lieutenant in Royal Navy, carrying Governor Weatherby Swann and his young daughter Elizabeth to England. He is presented when Will Turner is saved. James wants to marry Elizabeth. He is put in charge when Elizabeth is captured.
Later he joins Jack in a battle against Hector Barbossa and his crew. He is almost killed in battle but later is saved when the curse is lifted. When Jack escapes execution again James let him go. In the second movie, Norrington is kicked out of his work for his failure to capture Jack and he is found dirty and poor. He joined Jack and is officially a pirate. Although he still hates him. Norrington came up with a plan. Later he betrays Jack and Will and stole the heart of Davy Jones and gave it to Beckett. James got the position of admiral for it.
In the third film, Norrington is at his work, but he hates working under Beckett's rule. He proves himself a hero and changes sides again. He helped Elizabeth and the crew escape, only to be killed by Bootstrap Bill Turner. James meets his death with honor. When Davy Jones came to him and asked if he fears death, James with the last powers stabbed his sword into Jones in an attempt to kill him, then eventually died.
Personality and traits
Commodore Norrington is bound by the law. As are we all.
~ Weatherby Swann to Elizabeth Swann in Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl.
James Norrington was a loyal officer in service to the British Empire. He enjoyed power but he never abused it like Cutler Beckett, taking pride in his service to others before himself. Loyal service to His Majesty King George II of England had brought James Norrington respect and status. When he captained the Interceptor, Norrington had chased and captured some of the Caribbean's most fearsome pirates. Norrington was devoted in equal measure to eradicating piracy and to the lovely Elizabeth Swann, daughter of Governor Weatherby Swann. He was dedicated to the laws against piracy and attempted to have all pirates executed, so much as to show off the bodies of the executed pirates near the docks, hoping that this grisly spectacle will encourage passing sailors to obey the law. To maintain an air of authority, an officer in the English Navy could not afford to show any emotion in front of his crew; Norrington himself had spent so many years masking his feelings that even in his personal affairs he is distant, including his feelings for Elizabeth Swann.
As a newly minted commodore, Norrington exercised restraint in his proposal to Elizabeth who greatly underestimated his love for her. Later, when Elizabeth stood by Will Turner in protecting Jack Sparrow, a pirate captured twice by his men, Norrington knew that he could never win Elizabeth's heart. Accepting defeat nobly, he parted with the civil warning to Will, "This is a beautiful sword, I would expect the man who made it to show the same care and devotion in every aspect of his life." making it clear he expected Will to treat Elizabeth with the utmost respect. It also showed that despite the sword widely having been believed to be crafted by John Brown, Norrington at least deduced the truth and acknowledged it and Will's talent.
After Jack escaped from Port Royal, recapturing him became a mission that took over Norrington. He chased the pirate all over the world until he made the fatal mistake of sailing through a hurricane. He resigned from the Navy for his foolishness and became a penniless drunk. Norrington became bitter and hated Jack Sparrow for ruining his life. Though he agreed to join Jack's crew he later attempted to kill him in a three-way duel with Sparrow and Will Turner over Davy Jones' heart. After Sparrow pointed out that Turner had been partially responsible for his disgrace, Norrington forgot about him and turned on Turner instead.
When he gave the heart to Cutler Beckett, Beckett gave him a position as Admiral of the East India Trading Company's Armada. However, Norrington came to regret his decision to join the EITC upon learning of Governor Swann's death in the hands of Beckett. Eventually, he gave up everything, including his life, to help Elizabeth escape from the Flying Dutchman. Just before dying, he stabbed Davy Jones through the shoulder with his sword to show Jones that he wasn't afraid of death.