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The Best One Piece Main Characters Ranked

Top anime series are legendary for having runs as outsized as the characters and abilities that drive them. Even in a genre where nobody bats an eye at 200 episodes, though, "One Piece" stands alone. To start, it's still the same series; there is no "One Piece: Shippuden" spin-off or "Main Line Z." The anime now can be traced back directly to the story of a young boy who accidentally eats a devil fruit and dreams of being a pirate, over 1,000 episodes (and 20 years) ago. While there is a time skip, "One Piece" stars just one series with one driving force.

Given such a huge run, and considering that the anime (and its manga source material) is continually moving forward, shedding old characters and introducing new ones, one would be hard-pressed to list everyone in the "One Piece" world. After all, that expansive roster includes supercharged pirates, odd villagers, Fish-Men, fruit-mutated warriors, kings, princesses, and marines. There is one (mostly) constant, at least, in the exploits of the Straw Hat Pirates that are the center of this epic. While Monkey D. Luffy and his crew form the heart of the series, even among his crew there is regular shuffling and jostling for rank on the ship and for favor among the viewers. That said, we've done our best to identify and rank the greatest main characters from "One Piece."

13. Trafalgar D. Water Law

Trafalgar D. Water Law is one of the toughest pirates to have ever sailed the ocean, which says a lot considering the massive number of pirates we meet throughout the storyline of "One Piece." His nickname, "The Surgeon of Death," drives this home (though it makes sense since he's a captain and doctor of the Heart Pirates). He ate the Op-Op Fruit, which allows him to slice anything and reattach it to anything else, and even switch a person's personality from one body to another or electrocute people (like a defibrillator could).

Trafalgar looks cool, as his body is covered in tough tattoos and a style taken from a '90s grunge band. Trafalgar is also a member of the "Worst Generation," the 12 up-and-coming pirates with the highest bounties. He is also one of the Seven Warlords, a group of top captains that the World Government supports.

He earns his "One Piece" stripes, though, in allying with the Straw Hats to take on one of the Four Emperors. These are the most fierce pirate captains not associated with the World Government, a move he makes because it's the right thing to do even though it gets him ejected from the Seven Warlords. Trafalgar answers to no man and fears no one. The fact that he has a D in his name, signifying he's from the legendary D clan, cements his place on the list despite never having served as a member of the Straw Hats.

12. Shanks

There would be no Straw Hats without Shanks. Not only did Shanks inspire Luffy to become a pirate, and accidentally provide him with the Gum-Gum Fruit that makes Luffy the savage he is, he even gave Monkey D. Luffy the eponymous straw hat.

Putting that aside for a second, Shanks' constant cool is a tribute to how tough he is — take, for instance, the scene when he casually sacrifices his arm to protect Luffy. Plus, he's obviously strong given the fact that he's said to have rivaled "Hawkeye" Mihawk, whose swordsmanship is so legendary he can sink whole ships with a swipe of his blade and easily bested Roronoa Zoro with only a dagger.

Shanks isn't a consistent character, but every time he appears is important. This is seen when Ace and the story catch back up with Shanks after he becomes one of the Four Emperors, meaning he was one of the four most powerful and feared pirate captains in the world. This is despite the fact that he has only one arm and, unlike the others, is actually normal-sized.

11. Portgas D. Ace

Rest in power, Portgas D. Ace. The coolest pirate with the most legendary lineage, Ace is aptly named. To start with, he is the son of Gol D. Roger, the pirate king who hid the massive treasure, the One Piece, from which the series gets its name. Beyond that, he was raised by Monkey D. Garp, a legendary marine admiral whose lineage led to another pirate, Monkey D. Luffy. From this, Ace becomes Luffy's sworn brother. Ace also eats a Devil Fruit, which made him able to control fire, which is just an awesome ability regardless.

Ace is always funny and cool, appearing from time to time seemingly whenever he is needed, such as when he first appears to save the Straw Hats from Smoke. He is friends with Emperor Shanks and serves as a commander for the Whitebeard pirates. He is always calm, cool, and liked by basically everybody he meets, unlike his brother. Sure, sometimes he shows a haughty, dismissive nature, and he probably isn't seen as a model of political correctness, but he always means well.

Unfortunately, Ace is dead. He gives up his life to save Luffy from the Marines. However, given his huge impact on the Straw Hats and especially his younger brother, Ace lives on in "One Piece" forever.

10. Jimbei

Jimbei is an example of how folks can overcome their differences. Despite being a Fish-Man, a species that traditionally doesn't ally with humans, Jimbei is the helmsman for the Straw Hats and a truly savage fighter. Sure, he's a massive whale shark, but he's also a master of Fish-Man Karate, another nod to martial arts on the Straw Hats after Zoro's samurai sword style. He even wears a gi at times.

He was a captain of the Sun Pirates and one of the Seven Warlords but, like many on this list, he gives up his own personal glory and titles to join the inspirational Monkey D. Luffy and his ragtag crew as their helmsman. He once has a fight with Ace that lasts days and leads to them both getting locked up. During that time, they become friends, and this is the first step towards Jimbei to join the Straw Hats.

He's fierce, loyal, and working to bring together two traditional enemies. Isn't that something we all need these days?

9. Franky

Japanese media has long loved its amazing robots, and Franky is the perfect marriage of human and android that the Straw Hats need to become complete. A longtime ship worker, what does he do when his ample human muscles are destroyed in an accident? Make himself into a cyborg, of course.

Franky, like the rest of the crew, joins the Straw Hats to fulfill his dream, which is to make the greatest ship to ever sail the seas. This dream is achieved when he builds the epic Thousand Sunny. Like many of the greats, he has ties to Gol D. Rogers, as he learned shipbuilding from Gol's shipwright. He also has cybernetic forearms that Popeye would be jealous of, and, like any respectable sailor, loves to roll around in a flowered shirt and a speedo.

He's fun and cool, throwing on his shades when things get serious and eternally hungry to pursue his passion. And again, he's the only pirate on "One Piece" to rock a Hawaiian shirt like a real seagoing boss.

8. Usopp

Yes, Usopp is the weakest member of Luffy's crew, and at times he acts cowardly. However, Usopp is the most loveable scamp on a team of loveable scamps, and unlike the others, he has had to work to find his niche. That niche is long-range weaponry using devastating attacks launched from a simple slingshot.

Like Luffy, Usopp had long dreamt of being a pirate. Unlike Luffy, he never really has had the ability, and until the Straw Hats discover him, he contents himself with telling lies about his exploits. Yet the dream to sail into the Grand Line is put to the test and despite his weaknesses, he joins the voyage.

Is his real role to provide comic relief for everybody? Probably. Few can cavort in nihilistic revelry as well as Usopp. He also has a unique skill, like the rest of the crew, one that has proven invaluable, as, in a team of close-range fighters, Usopp is a sniper. Beyond that, he is an inspiration for anybody who wants to achieve greatness despite being as ordinary as they come.

Plus, his cowardice is hilarious, and his actions, despite that cowardice, are then even more impressive.

7. Nico Robin

The women are the most intelligent members of the Straw Hats, no doubt. Nico Robin, the historian on the ship, is brilliant, just like Nami. Unlike Nami, though, Robin also has some epic Devil Fruit powers that make her a lethal fighter.

Robin is pretty much the only person in the world who can read Poneglyphs, a skill forbidden by the World Government because they contain the true history of the world. She is brilliant as a historian, but if you mess with her, she can make an arm she controls pummel you, making her a truly lethal member of the team.

She first appeared as the right hand to Crocodile, who put her in charge of Baroque Works, as he sought unscrupulously to conquer Alabasta. Baroque Works is full of insane warriors, many of whom give Luffy and the crew trouble as they fight their way to the top. After being betrayed, Robin switches sides, joining Luffy's crew. She proves herself an invaluable member of the team, and even though her loyalty may lie with finding the truth, she remains committed to the Straw Hats.

Mysterious, brilliant, and beautiful, Robin is truly incomparable in the Grand Line.

6. Tony Tony Chopper

As an animal who has taken on human form and intelligence due to a Devil Fruit, Tony Tony Chopper is an outlier in "One Piece," which is saying a lot. He's also the ship's doctor, which is its own difficult task. However, when called upon to fight, Chopper can become a literal beast.

There's a Clark Kent aspect to Chopper. Day to day he's a meek, high-pitched-voiced runt with antlers protruding out of his cap. When it's time to fight, he can morph into a massive, musclebound buck ready to take down anybody who threatens his ship. Like many of the others, his lifelong aspirations (in his case, to explore the world as his adoptive father and first doctoral instructor told him to do) were only realized through contact with Luffy and his crew.

Chopper is at times a bit inept despite his prodigious strength when growing to deer form. That simplicity and inherent goodness-inspired-weakness, though, is part of what makes him so great. His reactions to the weirdness of human ocean-going life help relieve tensions during crazy moments.

5. Sanji

Sanji, Luffy, and Zoro make up the three OG heavies of the crew. You have the captain with the strong rubber fists who started it all; the man with the swords; and Sanji with the cannonball-powered kicks.

Sanji has been with the crew since East Blue days when he was a cook on a pirate restaurant boat. Monkey D. Luffy is notorious for how much he loves to eat, so a chef had been essential. Sanji's skills, however, far exceed the basics of grilling meats.

His kicks defeat people regarded as considerably stronger despite not having eaten Devil Fruit. Obviously, he's a brilliant chef to somehow keep the crew of the Straw Hats fed and happy. Yet, as Brook says at one point, he's also one of the best people on the team, who truly cares about folks and will throw himself on the line to protect those he cares about.

In fact, Sanji would be higher on this list if he didn't have one massive weakness — he loses all control any time he sees a beautiful woman. This isn't a good characteristic to have if a man wants to be a fearless pirate from the Grand Line to the New World.

4. Nami

Nami is the smartest member of the crew, and she's also the heart and soul of it. She doesn't have Luffy's Devil Fruit power or Zoro's sword skills and training, or Sanji's leg strength, but she never shies away from a fight. Also, in a world full of cutthroat, scheming pirates, the fact that she first appears as a woman who specializes in robbing pirates (including stealing the Straw Hats' ship) is nothing short of remarkable.

Like the rest, Nami has a big dream. Hers is to create a map of all the world's oceans, something that would only be possible if she could somehow get on a ship with a crew that's strong enough to get to the Grand Line and beyond. Her brilliance extends beyond maps as she's also often the chief strategist, which has to be a thankless task given their reckless and impulsive captain, but she somehow endures it, mostly with patience.

Nami is impressive for being one of the few strong women in a world dominated by freakishly tough men. However, when her intelligence and craftiness shows through, you realize how unique she is as a "One Piece" pirate regardless of anything else.

3. Brook

"That skeleton's got an afro and he's talking" is Luffy's reaction when Brook first greets them, and that description alone makes Brook one of the best characters in "One Piece." The living skeleton could easily grace a Guns N' Roses album cover. Yet he is a truly unique and powerful crew member. With an official role as the musician and entertainment on the Straw Hats, it can be argued that Brook is the artistic soul on the ship (obviously, given his nickname "Soul King" Brook). Then you see his special guitar wipe out a room full of enemies, and you realize he's so much more.

Brook is a fierce warrior and brilliant swordsman with his cane sword. It should be added that he's the only member of the crew to completely die. Brook ate the Revive-Review Fruit, which is why he's a living skeleton (his soul was revived, but it needed his body, which had decomposed by the time he found it). 

This also gives him some ability to interact with the souls of others, making him a good judge of character. Thankfully, he finds himself among a crew who, in a world of bloodthirsty and selfish pirates, are truly good souls.

2. Roronoa Zoro

Men wielding samurai swords have a special place in Japanese culture, and Roronoa Zoro's quest to be the best swordsman in the world connects with this heritage. He is a member of the Worst Generation, the 12 "Supernovas" coming up to challenge and take over the ocean hierarchy. Zoro, however, holds the distinction of being the only member without Devil Fruit powers.

His prodigious strength and lethality result from a constant commitment to training. When everybody else is relaxing after an epic fight, Zoro is doing pushups or working on his Three Sword Style. While his quest to be the best may seem like a total ego trip, Zoro has another reason for pursuing his quest. His best friend growing up, a young woman, was a better swordsman than him. However, she tragically dies, so Zoro vows to become the best sword fighter in the world in her honor.

Zoro is the first to join Luffy and is the perfect counterbalance, as he is calm when Luffy gets excited and disciplined while Luffy is impulsive. Zoro also is quick to have Luffy's back regardless of how horrible a situation Luffy and his bad choices have gotten him into. Zoro is a true samurai in a world of cartoonish madmen.

1. Monkey D. Luffy

The main character in a great anime is pretty much always the best-developed character, and "One Piece" is no exception. Sure, Luffy can be stupid and rash. Yes, he doesn't give serious problems the respect they deserve, and often his own carelessness gets him into tricky predicaments. However, his heart inspires his crew and everybody who allies with him and the Straw Hats.

Luffy may not be the smartest character on "One Piece," but he has an unwavering belief in right and wrong. Even more, he will put his life on the line for a stranger if he sees that person getting bullied. Luckily, not only does Luffy have surprising strength for his size, but he also ate the Gum-Gum Fruit as a young kid, making him a rubber man. The brilliance behind this character is that you don't immediately think about rubbery limbs as being a great power, especially when compared to the ability to become a giant dragon. Luffy's talent, however, lies in how creative he can get with the ability and the many powerful manipulations he can execute with his stretchy limbs.

Luffy's smile and positive attitude are infectious. His unceasing loyalty, his outsized dream of becoming the pirate king, and his commitment to doing the right thing in a world of endless moral ambiguity fuel the respect he gets from friends and enemies alike, along with his near-endless drive. Plus, given his familial connection to Gol D. Rogers and that he's part of the powerful D clan all come together to make Luffy the best pirate ever to sail the Grand Line and beyond.