25 Facts About Peter Pan You Probably Did Not Know

Posted by , Updated on January 18, 2024

Peter Pan is known by children all around the world as the forever young, boastful and careless boy who can fly, but there is more to Peter than most realize. For example, did you know that originally Peter Pan could fly without the help of fairy dust? Or how about the fact that Captain Hook was not always in the Peter Pan story. So if you’re ready to look at this childhood hero in a completely different light, here are 25 facts about Peter Pan You Probably Did Not Know.


Featured image by Ryhmäteatteri via Flickr CC2.0


Captain Hook was not always in the story. The original villain of the story was Peter Pan himself. His role was later expanded due to children’s fascination with pirates.

Captain Hook Fighting Peter pan

The actor who plays Mr. Darling traditionally plays the role of Captain Hook as well, even in the Disney movie. However, Barrie initially intended the double role to be given to Mrs. Darling and for Captain Hook to be a female role.

Mr. and Mrs. Darling

Contrary to popular belief, Neverland does not actually stop the process of aging. Peter leads a crew of boys who refuse to grow up. However, it is only Peter that manages to achieve this goal. Stated in the original novel, the boys do not stop aging altogether, but simply age slower. Eventually, they all show signs of growing up.

Fantasy World

Peter Pan is based on JM Barrie’s older brother, David, who died in an ice-skating accident the day before his fourteenth birthday. In the minds of Barrie and his mother, David was in fact, a boy “who would never grow up.”

Ice Skating

There have been a few debates about how old Peter Pan actually is. The oldest he ever appears to be is thirteen years old. However, the novel states that he still has all of his baby teeth and according to the Little White Bird, his original appearance, he is only seven days old when his adventures begin!

Cute Baby

Walt Disney played Peter Pan in a school play

Walt Disney

When most think about Peter, they see a heroic, fun loving boy. And they’re right. But did you know that your childhood hero is also a psychotic killer? His motive? It’s fun and keeps him from boredom. In Barrie’s original story, Peter is constantly looking for another victim. They mainly consist of pirates but isn’t limited to his own. When the Lost Boys showed signs any signs of growing up, Peter would... dispose of them. After all, growing up was against his rules. Sometimes, Peter even switches sides and begins fighting and slaughtering his own to keep things interesting.

Peter Pan Smiling

Captain Hook’s conflict with the crocodile was inspired by Captain Ahab and Moby Dick.

Moby Dick

Originally Peter could fly without the help of fairy dust. Unfortunately, that led children to believe that if they tried enough, they too could take to the skies. After several injury reports, JM Barrie added Fairy Dust as a necessity for flying.

Peter Pan Flying

The color that Peter is associated with is green, but Peter Pan traditionally wears a suit made of leaves, which brings out different shades of auburn, brown, tan and orange.

Fall Leaves

The first person to ever take on the role of Peter Pan was English Actress, Nina Boucicault. At age 37, she led audiences to Neverland for the first time in 1904. Since then, it has become a tradition for a female to play the part of the titular character.

Nina Boucicault

Boucicault only played the role for a year, but some actresses just can’t give it up. Cathy Rigby played the part of Peter from 1973 all the way until 2013, when she was SIXTY YEARS OLD! Talk about dedication!

Years Cathy Rigby played Peter Pan

Captain Hook is not the actual name of the story’s antagonist. Barrie writes in the book that “to reveal who he really was would even at this date set the country in a blaze.” What we do know is that he attended Eton College in England and is said to be one of the most gentlemanly pirates to ever sail the seas.

Captain Hook Black and White

Even though Hook is killed off in most adaptations of the story, Walt Disney insisted on keeping him alive in the 1953 cartoon. And no, it wasn’t because it was a kid’s movie. Actually, Disney predicted that the audience would become too attached to the character that they had re-envisioned and wouldn’t want to see him meet his end. As it later turned out, he was correct! Audiences loved and still love Disney’s Captain Hook!

Captain Hook

Robert Louis Stevenson, the author of Treasure Island, knew JM Barrie and Barrie confirmed that at one point during his adventures, the notorious Captain Hook crossed paths with the feared Long John Silver.

Long John Silver

Peter Pan appeared before his own story. The character was first seen in another one of JM Barrie’s novels, The Little White Bird. This book was written in 1902, two years before the Peter Pan stage play.

Peter Pan Drawing

Even though Peter is the most heroic character, Wendy is often seen as the story’s main protagonist. Some critics see her as a young heroine who actually saved all of the lost boys from themselves and Peter.

Wendy Darling Waving

Wendy was originally seen as a boy’s name. However, after the play’s release, the name’s popularity as a female’s name skyrocketed!

Wendy Darling

After Peter Pan, Barrie turned his attention towards more adult novels. I guess all but one, really do have to grow up!


Michael Jackson nearly played the grown up Peter Pan in Steven Spielberg’s 1991 film, Hook. Spielberg began planning the movie in the early 80s. It would have been a musical with Jackson singing the majority of songs on the soundtrack. However, with Spielberg too busy filming Indiana Jones and Jackson not completely interested in the idea of a grown up Peter Pan, the idea was scrapped and not revisited again until 1989.

Michael Jackson

Even though Michael Jackson never appeared in Hook, there are some familiar actors and actresses that can be found throughout the movie. Phil Collins makes a cameo as a police inspector, while George Lucas and Carrie Fisher appear as a couple kissing on a bridge. That pirate who gets locked in the wooden chest? That’s Glenn Close. Seriously. And the list doesn’t stop there. Hook was actually Gwyneth Paltrow’s second movie, where she appears as a teenage Wendy Darling.

Phil Collins, George Lucas,Carrie Fisher

Robin Williams was forced to shave his arms and chest before being allowed to officially take on the role of Peter Pan.

Robin Williams

Before we move on from the topic of Hook, it’s also worth mentioning that while Spielberg had a blast on set, he was pretty disappointed with how Hook turned out, and counts it as one of his not-so-impressive accomplishments. He’s hoping sit down to watch it again someday, and see it in a new light.

Steven Spielberg

There is an official sequel to Peter Pan, Peter Pan in Scarlet, although it was not written by J.M. Barrie and was published nearly a century after the original. Author Geraldine McCaughrean was authorized by Great Ormond Street Hospital to write and publish her own story that continued the story of the boy who wouldn’t grow up.

Peter Pan

Mister Smee, Captain Hook’s loyal sidekick, is one of the two pirates to survive the final battle between Peter and the pirates. According to Barrie, after the story concludes, Smee wanders the world, selling souvenirs from the Neverland and claims to anyone who will listen that he was the “only man whom James Hook feared.”