The wedding of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann is crashed by Lord Cutler Beckett of the East India Trading Company, who has arrest warrants for the couple along with Commodore James Norrington, for allowing Captain Jack Sparrow to escape custody. Norrington resigned after his crew died in a typhoon. Elizabeth is imprisoned, but Beckett promises to free her if Will tracks down Jack and brings him his magic compass which points to whatever the holder wants most. Shortly after, Governor Swann tries to escape Port Royal with Elizabeth but is captured. Elizabeth negotiates with Beckett to let her escape to find the compass herself.
Sailing to Port Royal, Governor Weatherby Swann, his daughter Elizabeth, and Lieutenant James Norrington encounter a burning shipwreck and recover a young boy Will Turner. Elizabeth hides a golden medallion owned by Will, and sees a ghost ship vanishing into the fog. Eight years on, Norrington is promoted to the rank of Commodore and proposes to Elizabeth, but her tight corset causes her to faint and fall into the sea. She is rescued by Captain Jack Sparrow, who Norrington identifies as a pirate who intends on commandeering a ship. Jack attempts to escape but runs into Will, now a blacksmith and a talented swordsman. They engage in a sword fight but Jack is captured by Norrington’s men and imprisoned.
Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage) is an American historian, amateur cryptologist, and the youngest descendant of a long line of treasure hunters. While his father Patrick Henry Gates (Jon Voight) discourages him from following in the family line, Ben is driven on by a story told by his grandfather, John Adams Gates (Christopher Plummer). According to John, a clue - the phrase "The secret lies with Charlotte" - was entrusted to the family by Charles Carroll of Carrollton in 1832, and would lead to the fabled "national treasure", a wealth of artifacts dating from Ancient Egypt and secretly hidden by the Founding Fathers and the Freemasons during the American Revolutionary War.
Set in the future, the film's prologue depicts Jim Hawkins as a five-year-old (voiced by Austin Majors) reading a storybook in bed. Jim is enchanted by stories of the legendary pirate Captain Flint and his ability to appear from nowhere, raid passing ships, and disappear in order to hide the loot on the mysterious "Treasure Planet". Twelve years later, Jim (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) has grown into an aloof and alienated teenager. He is shown begrudgingly helping his mother Sarah (Laurie Metcalf) run an inn and deriving amusement from "solar surfing" (a hybrid of skysurfing and windsurfing atop a board attached to a solar sail-powered rocket), a pastime that frequently gets him in trouble.
In Spain 1519, two con artists, Tulio (Kevin Kline) and Miguel (Kenneth Branagh), win a map to the legendary City of Gold, El Dorado, in a rigged gambling match. After their con is discovered, the two evade capture while being chased by a bull and hide in barrels, which are shortly loaded onto one of the ships to be led by Hernán Cortés (Jim Cummings) to the New World. During the trip, they are caught as stowaways and imprisoned, but manage to break free and take a rowboat with the help of Cortés' horse, Altivo (Frank Welker).
Jim Hawkins is a young orphan who lives in the Admiral Benbow in England with his friends Gonzo and Rizzo. Jim listens to the tales of Billy Bones, who tells of his former captain, Captain Flint, who buried his treasure trove on a remote island and executed all of his crew so only he would own the island’s map. One night, one of Bones’ fellow crewmates Blind Pew arrives, giving Bones the black spot. Bones dies of a heart attack, but gives Jim the treasure map beforehand. An army of pirates attack the inn, destroying it, but the boys escape with the map.
Scrooge McDuck travels to the Middle East to inspect a recently found treasure chest he believes conatins Collie Baba's treasure, accompanied by Huey, Dewey and Louie, Webby Vanderquack, and Launchpad McQuack. Although initially disappointed when the chest seems to contain old clothes, Scrooge is excited when an ancient treasure map is found in one of the pockets.
In the West Coast of England in 1765, a young boy called Jim Hawkins lives with his mother in a tiny country inn which they run. Captain William Bones, a sickly lodger, gives Hawkins a treasure map after being visited by two pirates, the second of whom gives the captain a note marked with the black spot. That same night Bones is found dead at the inn, and Hawkins shows Squire Trelawney the map. Trelawney recognises the map as belonging to the buccaneer Captain Flint and bankrolls a voyage to discover the pirate's lost treasure. Trelawney hires Captain Smollett and his ship, the Hispaniola, bringing along his friend Dr. Livesey as the ship's doctor and Hawkins as the cabin boy.
In 1925 in the Mexican oil-town of Tampico, Dobbs (Humphrey Bogart) and Curtin (Tim Holt), two Americans cheated out of promised wages and down on their luck, meet old prospector Howard (Walter Huston). When one of them wins a small jackpot in the lottery, they have the bankroll to finance a gold prospecting journey to the remote Sierra Madre mountains.
The Lone Prospector (played by Chaplin), a valiant weakling, seeks fame and fortune among the sturdy men who marched across Chilkoot Pass during the Klondike Gold Rush. The Lone Prospector's inoffensive patience and his ill-chosen garb make him the target for the buffoonery of his comrades and the victim of the merciless rigors of the frozen North. After he is caught in a blizzard, the icy clutches of the storm have almost claimed him when he stumbles into the cabin of Black Larsen (played by Murray), a renegade. Larsen is thrusting him out the door, back into the arms of death, when Fate, which preserves the destinies of simple children, appears in the person of Big Jim McKay (played by Swain). Jim subdues the renegade, and he and the Lone Prospector occupy the cabin while their unwilling host is thrust forth to obtain food. Starvation almost claims the two until a bear intrudes and is killed to supply their larder.
Set in the Northwestern United States in 1875, the film focuses on taciturn widower Matt Calder (Robert Mitchum), who recently has been released from prison after serving time for killing a man while defending another one. He arrives in a tent city in search of his ten-year-old son Mark (Tommy Rettig), who was left in the care of dance hall singer Kay (Marilyn Monroe) during his absence. Matt promises Mark, a virtual stranger to him, the two will enjoy a life of hunting, fishing and farming on their homestead.
Former Confederate soldier and highwayman-turned-marshal Jake Wade (Robert Taylor) breaks his former partner, Clint Hollister (Richard Widmark), out of jail in the small western town of Morganville. The men have not seen each other for over a year, since the bank robbery and murder that resulted in Jake's arrest. At that time, Clint rescued Jake and the men separated with an agreement to reunite later. Instead, Jake buried the $20,000 from the robbery in the desert and decided to go straight. Believing that he has now repaid Clint by freeing him from jail, Jake refuses to tell Clint where the money is buried and advises him to leave the territory. Disgruntled and disturbed by what he considers Jake's betrayal, Clint vows vengeance. Carefully covering his trail, Jake returns to Cold Stream, where he serves as marshal. That evening, Jake dines at the home of his fiancée Peggy (Patricia Owens), and asks if she would consider relocating after their upcoming marriage. Startled, Peggy asks for an explanation, but when Jake hesitates, then flatly refuses to explain, Peggy angrily sends him home. Returning to his office, Jake is confronted and knocked out by a stranger, Rennie (Henry Silva). Upon reviving, Jake discovers Clint and the rest of his old gang and army comrades, Ortero (Robert Middleton), Wexler (DeForest Kelley), Burke (Eddie Firestone) and newcomer, the hot-headed Rennie. When Jake expresses amazement that Clint was able to track him, Clint reveals that he set loose the horse Jake had brought for him and followed it to Cold Stream. Clint then demands that Jake take him to the buried money and when he refuses, Clint has Burke and Rennie bring in Peggy, whom they have abducted.
The film follows British Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard (Keith Andes), who sets out to earn a reward by proving that privateer Henry Morgan (Torin Thatcher) also engages in piracy. Maynard, however, winds up posing as a surgeon on a ship captained by Blackbeard (Robert Newton), who is in the middle of a conflict with Morgan. Blackbeard must deal with Morgan, Maynard, and even his own greedy crew.