"Wild Oats" (published in 1937) is a Thimble Theatre storyline in which Popeye finally becomes fed up with his father's crooked ways and is forced to confront him after the latter steals a heavy sum of money, however, this leads to even greater chaos as a dark part of Poopdeck Pappy's history comes to light.
The story takes place shortly after the events of "A Sock for Susan's Sake", where Popeye had just returned home after giving away the reward money he received from Susan Brown to an orphan's home. Popeye then boasts about his good deed to his father Poopdeck and assures him that, even though he gave away all of his reward money, he still has 10,000 dollars stored away in his wall safe, but as Popeye goes to check his savings, he finds that they have been stolen. He then quickly suspects his father of wrongdoing after he begins acting suspiciously and tries to deny being responsible. To find out the truth, Popeye enlists the help of Eugene the Jeep, in hopes of using his clairvoyance abilities, yet the sneaky Poopdeck Pappy begins bribing Eugene with ice cream sodas while buttering up to him to make sure that the Jeep does not reveal anything to Popeye. Eventually, Eugene ends up becoming overweight, much to Popeye's disgust, and the sailor decides to send Eugene to a pig farm as punishment for his gluttony and greed. When Popeye returns home, he is greeted by a delivery man who presents Popeye with a package from the jewelry store, but before Popeye can open it, the package is snatched away by Poopdeck, who adamantly tells his son to stay out of his affairs before going into the other room.
Popeye decides to eavesdrop on Poopdeck as he hears him making a private phone call. He then finds out that Poopdeck has bought a fancy diamond ring for his new sweetheart, likely with Popeye's stolen money. A disgusted Popeye then confronts his father and demands to know if he has been sowing "wild oats" in his old age by acting recklessly with women, and Poopdeck proudly states that he has and that there is no better time to sow wild oats than when you are so old you will not live to reap what you sow, saying all this with a conniving jump in his step and a mischievous song in his heart. Poopdeck then goes to visit his sweetheart (who is revealed to only be dating him for his money) to give her the ring, but he is soon enchanted by his sweetheart's mother, who he instead offers the ring to in exchange for a date, and she greedily accepts. Poopdeck then realizes that with the ring, he can trick any girl into going out with him as long as he falsely promises to give the ring to them. So, for the rest of the night, Poopdeck pulls the same scam on six more women, only to come back home at four thirty in the morning much to Popeye's worry. However, worry soon turns to contempt upon finding out what his Pappy was up to. The next morning, Popeye calls Olive Oyl and tries to have her talk some sense into the wily Poopdeck. Instead, Olive ends up falling victim to Poopdeck's ring game and goes on a date with the old timer, much to Popeye's mounting disgust.
Returning from her exciting date, Olive shows off her new ring to Popeye, only to have it quickly taken away by the fraudulent Poopdeck Pappy, who gets into a violent scuffle with Ms. Oyl over it. The two exchange punches and kicks, but Olive is able to win out thanks to her heavy oversized feet, and declares a victory for the weaker sex as Poopdeck lays beaten - yet still refusing to give back the ring. Popeye then scolds his father for his behavior and tells him to at least settle down like a proper gentleman, but Poopdeck harshly refuses. Unable to stand his father's presence for the time being, Popeye decides to read the paper, only to see a shocking headline stating that a man resembling his father threw a woman into the river. Popeye then confronts Poopdeck once again, who has no shame in admitting that he did push a woman into a river over the simple fact that she ate onions, which he hates. A police officer then makes his way in and gets into the scuffle between father and son, but Popeye eventually lets him take Poopdeck away to pay for his crime. Eventually, though, Poopdeck manages to escape and makes his way back home to a shocked Popeye. Popeye asks his father how could he be so cruel, to which the latter responds that it is just "fun" to be so, all the while laughing as he remembers his date of the previous night screaming and splashing in the water, a statement which greatly shocks the horrified Popeye. However, Poopdeck's laughter does not last as a police officer returns to take him away. However, Poopdeck is able to outsmart the new copper by trapping him in his own handcuffs.
Realizing that Poopdeck is far trickier than he seems, the police department decide to send out the biggest and strongest cop on the force to take him in, but Poopdeck is able to scare him off by threatening to juggle some sticks of dynamite with his eyes closed. The police chief then sends out the smartest cop on the force to subdue Poopdeck, and he easily catches the old sailor, yet the cop is so weak that it seems as though Poopdeck had captured him. Poopdeck decides to further humiliate the officer by taking him to jail but, as they make their way to the police department, Pappy runs into one of his sweethearts, Sadie Goozensnobble, and the two decide to go out and have a dance while the smartest cop on the force is forced to watch while still handcuffed to Poopdeck. Eventually, the smartest cop on the force escapes his captor and joins forces with the last two cops, who all decide to ask Popeye for help in subduing his father. Popeye decides to comply for the greater good and takes his own father to jail. However, Popeye is not willing to abandon him and decides to hire a lawyer to help him out, however, the lawyer begins having doubts about whether Poopdeck is a man to be defended after hearing about his cruel antics.
The next day, Poopdeck is taken to court, where he is quick to avoid swearing on the Bible, and makes further shameful statements in court while avoiding any and all questions without shame, all the while smiling mischievously. Popeye and Olive watch on from the audience with great disgust at Poopdeck's reprehensible behavior as he nonchalantly admits to his debauchery and lewdness, all the while shamelessly flirting with the women of the jury. Poopdeck's female river victim is then brought in, but Poopdeck pleads ignorance towards any wrongdoing at every turn, in accordance with his lawyer's requests. Pappy's lawyer decides to convince the jury that Poopdeck is just a harmless old man and that he has no reason to throw a woman into a river, however, the oblivious Pappy quickly blurts out that he threw her in because she ate onions, much to the jury's shock. Pappy's lawyer then tries to cover for him by stating that he is simply a kind and harmless old man who is greatly misunderstood, but, as his compliments grow bigger, Pappy wonders out loud who his lawyer is talking about, much to the jury's further shock. Pappy's lawyer then tries to explain to his client that they can still get out of this by proving that Pappy is not guilty, by reason of extenuating circumstances. This leads the foolish Pappy to quickly stand up and loudly blurt out his lawyer's plans all the while claiming this is why he is "guiltless", further proving to the jury and his lawyer that he truly is a dangerous halfwit. Just then, the prosecution calls a surprise witness to the stand: Bill Squid, who knew Poopdeck Pappy fifty years prior. Bill then reveals the shocking truth that fifty years ago, Poopdeck Pappy was no sailor but in fact a bloodthirsty pirate, whose ship sailed under the black flag. As the court stands in shock, Pappy wants to plead guilty to the crime of throwing a woman in a river and harassing officers, as it would only earn him 10 years in jail; if his former piracy career was exposed, he would be hanged without mercy. Pappy's lawyer then tells him to keep quiet, still hoping that he could fix this, but hope is quick to dwindle when Bill reflects that Pappy made the notorious Captain Kidd look like a sissy. As Bill continues his testimony, he notes that Poopdeck has respect for nothing or no one and that he even used his own grandmother for shark bait and finally ends by begging the court for a bodyguard for protection in case Poopdeck escapes. As Bill leaves the court, Pappy calls out to his "old pal" and promises to end him in the back of the lumber yard when he gets out.
The prosecution then calls Pappy's river victim to the stand, who proceeds to tell her story in full detail, explaining that Pappy originally wanted her arrested for eating onions but decided to drown her instead, all the while laughing at her from the docks as she nervously splashed about in the water. However, what truly set her off was his yelling "SHE LANDED LIKE A TON OF BRICK", which made her want to see him hanged. To try and find some solution to this dilemma, Pappy's lawyer asks if there were any other witnesses present on the night that Poopdeck threw her in the river, which she denies as Pappy was devilishly smart when committing the deed. With this, the lawyer hopes that this would at least make Pappy's word as good as hers due to the lack of witnesses and physical evidence. So all Pappy would have to do was feign ignorance and pretend he did not remember anything, thus avoiding conviction for sure. Poopdeck then takes the stand to be questioned by the prosecutor, who asks if he threw the woman in the water, to which he responds "I don't remember", so it seems as though Poopdeck might get out of it alive. Just then, however, the clever prosecutor asks "Why did you do it?" and Pappy predictably responds with "B'CAUSE SHE BEEN EATIN' ONIONS AND I DON'T LIKE HALITOKUS!". With these words, Poopdeck has assured his losing the case while his advocate faints and the judge laughs hysterically. The latter then asks the jury to withdraw to the jury room and decide their final verdict, but surprisingly the members of the jury state that they have no need to retire as they have all agreed on the verdict quite easily: "GUILTY!" As Poopdeck and his lawyer quietly sit in contemplation to the reality of their loss, Poopdeck suddenly and loudly insults his helper and calls him a punk. The lawyer, still not wanting to lose, asks Poopdeck if he wanted to take the case to a higher court, but then quickly decides to avoid helping him any longer after hearing that Poopdeck plans to pay him using the money he had stolen from Popeye.
The judge sentences Poopdeck to six months of hard labor, choosing not to hang Poopdeck for his questionable past and lifestyle, since he is just so terrible that it is almost hilarious to have him around. Poopdeck then incongruously declares himself the victor in the face of his own lawyer. As Poopdeck is about to be taken away, he is confronted by Popeye, who is nevertheless saddened by his father's upcoming imprisonment. Just then, a pang of genuine fatherly guilt hits Poopdeck and he confesses to Popeye that he is the one who took his money and promises to make amends with his son by giving him back every bit that he has left, and by that he only means 7 dollars and 62 cents, much to Popeye's shock as Pappy walks away with a clean conscience after giving his half-hearted apology.
Some time later, Popeye is home alone looking up at the nigh sky, sadly wondering if his father is doing well. Poopdeck is then seen serving his prison time with no regrets while happily enraging his cellmates with his antics and obnoxious singing.