Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece

A cavalcade of colorful characters.

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
Image Source: Toei Animation

If fans could pick only one aspect that defines One Piece, most would pick its cast of characters. Running the gamut of quirks and motivations, they fill out the sprawling world made throughout the series and keep viewers coming back again and again to see how they’ll bounce off each other. Of the hundreds of pirates, marines, and wildcards found throughout the epic franchise though, some stand out as superior, and these are our picks for the top 30 best One Piece characters.

30. Laboon

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Those who are caught up on the series shouldn’t have any qualms with Laboon kicking off this list.

For those that may have forgotten though, this whale encapsulates Eiichiro Oda’s ability to make readers and viewers care about most any part of One Piece’s World. His eventful adoption by Brook’s original crew, and their eventual parting in order to keep him safe, weave together into one of the series’ most tragic tales of loss.

Luckily, he ran into Luffy, and the two’s promise to reunite after the Straw Hats circle the globe remains a source of hope for both Laboon and the audience. Even better is the fact that Brook is still kicking, and that he’s intent on reuniting with his former comrade no matter how long it takes.

Are there more pressing storylines and character arcs that have emerged since? Perhaps. But that doesn’t change the fact that fans care deeply for Laboon, and the desire to see him get his happy ending has ensured he holds a spot among the best characters in the series.

29. Boa Hancock

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The ruthless queen and protector of Amazon Lily, Boa Hancock remains one of the more intimidating Devil Fruit users despite her somewhat brief appearances in the series.

Capable of turning any opponent who falls in love with her to stone — which includes almost anyone due to her legendary beauty — she backs up her abilities with a deep understanding of Haki and exceptional physical abilities. These skills let her go toe to toe with even the strongest characters in the series, and ensure her home island won’t come to harm so long as her and her crew are around.

This aggressively protective steak isn’t solely due to her love for her country though. When she first set out to sea as a child, her and her sisters were enslaved by the Celestial Dragons and subjected to all manner of humiliations. Her ability is even a scar of this ordeal, forced upon her by her masters to entertain them. Once they finally escaped, she became dead-set on shielding her home from these monsters and spreading fear among her people to ensure they never left.

She’s a layered and complex character, and she remains a welcome addition to any film or arc she appears in.

28. Smoker

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
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He might take a back seat to other characters as the series goes on, but Smoker serves as one of the more interesting Marine antagonists for the Straw Hats to contend with.

A ruthless Pirate hunter, Smoker will stop at nothing to capture his prey and take even one more dangerous pirate off the seas. This is made all the easier by his Moku Moku no Mi abilities, which ensure he can slip away and around his enemies in a billow of smoke. Likewise, his trademark jitte tipped with Sea Prism Stone ensures he can incapacitate even Logia users without the need for Haki.

After meeting Luffy though, his nature has seen a drastic change. Once able to see the world as black and white, he’s been forced to accept that the World Government aren’t always out to do good and pirates like the Straw Hats might not be inherently evil. This has forced him to make his own decisions about what is right and wrong resulting in a shift from him pursuing the Straw Hats to actively working with them to take down those that threaten the innocent.

His is an engaging story to watch play out, and his growth offers hope that other members of the series’ cast can one day learn how to see the true path to justice.

27. Kaido of the Beasts

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While some might think Kaido would make this list due to his power and design alone, there’s more to this towering vehicle of destruction than meets the eye.

A former member of the Rock Pirates, this warrior blessed with the powers of the Seiryu Uo Uo no Mi revels in conflict and the heat of battle. He yearns for worthy opponents, and laments the dishonorable scheming and political machinations that have surrounded him since he became a shadowy ruler of Wano. This drove him into his bouts of drinking, and kept him complacent instead of burning with desire to find the One Piece.

It’s for this reason he viewed his battle with Luffy as enjoyable. After so long without a meaningful battle, he found one in a young upstart capable of even greater heights. To come out victorious would mean he still remained the strongest, and that he could still set about claiming Roger’s Treasure when he’s ready.

His is a character arc of unfulfilled ambitions and a search for purpose in combat. Compared to other villains in the series, he’s a refreshingly complex antagonist and a worthy fit for one of the series’ late stage obstacles to the Straw Hats.

26. Brook

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
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A natural born entertainer, Brook hides an impressive amount of trauma and depth beneath his ceaseless panty and death jokes.

A pirate from before even Gol D. Roger’s days brought back to life by the Yomi Yomi no Mi, he carries the weight of his lost crew with him wherever he goes. Though they might have made peace with their deaths long ago, he has taken it upon himself to make good on their promise to the whale Laboon that they would return one day.

It was with this motivation — alongside his gratitude toward the crew for helping him escape Thriller Bark — that he joined the Straw Hats. Now, he uses his considerable musical talents to keep their morale up, striking up tunes that have made the world over sing out in joy. When the need arises, he’s also capable of devastating feats of swordsmanship and ghostly reconnaissance; both of which allow him to make sure his new friends don’t suffer the same fate as his first crew.

He’s made fans cheer and cry in equal measure, and that isn’t likely to change before the series is through.

25. Jinbe

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The helmsman of the Straw Hat crew, Jinbe remains one of its most complex members thanks to his storied history and pivotal moments with Luffy.

The former Vice Captain of Fisher Tiger’s Sun Pirates, he has ingrained his former captain and friend’s tenets of restraint and calculated resistance against injustice. In most situations, he’s able to calmly consider the most peaceful approach which will result in the most people being happy and healthy.

At the same time though, he stands up for anyone and everyone in need of defending, and isn’t afraid to fight against even the strongest in the world if it means doing what’s right and honorable. Such actions have put him at odds with the Marines, the World Government, and even the Yonko countless times, but he has remained steadfast in his beliefs all the same.

Fortunately, this caught the eye of Luffy, and the two’s shared views made him a perfect fit for the Straw Hat crew. He now acts as a moral anchor for the bunch, pointing them ever more quickly toward a fight for what’s right and securing a slot among some of the best characters the franchise has to offer.

24. Franky

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
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If anyone best exemplified Oda’s zany creativity, it would be Franky the Cyborg.

A self-modified mixture of man and machine, this genius shipwright is capable of nearly impossible feats of invention and innovation. He crafted the ship the Straw Hats sail on in the hopes of doing right by his master Tom, and has managed to create robotic contraptions that would feel more at home in a sci-fi series.

But don’t let these factors fool you. He matches his brains with bravado-fueled brawn, and can throw down with the best of them. This usually sees him confront his opponents with a manly zeal via brutal boxing, wrestling moves, and other ridiculous attacks thanks to his cybernetic weaponry.

And topping off all of this is the fact that he mixes these ludicrous character traits with even more outrageous quirks. These have included everything from a passion for perversion to being fueled by Cola, and only seem to grow in number with each passing arc.

He’s one of the series’ biggest goofballs, but still manages to be an exceptionally well-written character all the same. We love every opportunity we get to see him, and can’t wait to see how his story pans out.

23. Mr. 2 Bon Clay

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One of the Straw Hats’ first enemies-turned-friends, Bon Clay is hands-down one of the most unique characters Oda has convinced fans to care deeply for.

Initially known as Mr. 2 in Crocodile’s Baroque Works, his Mane Mane no Mi allow him to disguise himself as anyone he touches. Thanks to this, he can manipulate and deceive most people long enough to carry out ingenious plots or get close enough to them to knock them silly with his Okama Kenpo.

But with each new arc he has appeared in, he’s proven himself as less of a fiendish trickster and more of an earnest defender of the downtrodden. He’s jumped to the rescue of Luffy and the Straw Hats multiple times, and even sacrificed himself to ensure Luffy could escape Impel Down in time to try and rescue Ace.

He might not have the cleanest track record compared to other characters on this list, but that makes him all the more interesting to follow through the series. It’s anyone’s guess whether or not he’ll ever make another proper appearance, but for now he sits comfortably in the lower third of our rankings.

22. Monkey D. Garp

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
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Though most of the marines and Admirals in One Piece might be little more than Justice-crazed enforcers, the Vice Admiral Monkey D. Garp has reason to see the world in shades of Grey.

Having worked his way up through the Navy in the years before the Great Age of Piracy, he knows what dangers lurk behind adventure hungry pirates. Simultaneously though, he’s seen the humanity that remains inside of even the most notorious pirate. 

This left him to walk a fine line when it came to carrying out his Justice: He would do what he could to uphold law and order, but would also do everything in his power to protect his loved ones or anyone else who he saw as deserving of mercy and freedom.

The end result is a messy, but infinitely compelling character. Every time he appears in an arc, readers and viewers are sure to be treated to moral conflicts as he tries to balance enforcing the law with keeping Luffy, Koby, and so many other promising youths safe from the harsh injustices of the world.

And of course, it’s made all the more impressive by the fact that his strength isn’t Devil Fruit abilities or magic powers; it’s simply his pure grit and determination made manifest through decades of training.

21. Buggy the Clown

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In a series full of impressively determined characters out to achieve their dream, few could hold a candle to Buggy the Clown.

Though he has the powers of the Bara Bara no Mi, this former member of Roger’s crew isn’t a super human by any means. He was barely a big player within the East Blue, and has only managed to gain notoriety by taking advantage of several situations where the wider world might see him as impressive.

And despite all odds, it has worked wonderfully. He now stands among the Four Emperors as one of the most infamous men in the world, with a massive crew of powerful pirates willing to face down the dangers of the world for him. Granted, he still has to grovel at the feet of the Warlords who helped him reach these heights, but his fame ensures they can’t do away with him and that he’ll remain the figure head of his armada of men.

But why would he go to such lengths? Simple: Though there might be more greed mixed in with his motivations, he’s just as driven by dreams of glory as Shanks, Luffy, or any of the other great pirates of the world. He wants to make the world shift the same way his former captain did, and has done quite literally anything to make this happen.

It’s somewhat commendable, and has made him one of the most entertaining figures in the series to date. No matter how his arc ends, he’ll have gone so much farther than anyone ever expected him to go, and he earns a solid spot among the best characters in One Piece as a result.

20. Tony Tony Chopper

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
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The resident doctor of the Straw Hat crew, Chopper is caring and kindness personified.

Inspired to be a doctor by Hiriluk and Doctorine, he’s dedicated his admittedly brief life to the study of medicine and helping others. No matter where he is or what he needs to do, he always prioritizes treating the ill or injured above all else.

This remains true whether they’re an innocent bystander or a former enemy, and he’s willing to stand up to whoever or whatever compromised their health in the first place. And what’s more, he can usually win: Thanks to the Hito Hito no Mi and his medical research, he’s able to transform his body into various different forms capable of handling a variety of foes. He could be an indestructible ball of fluff; a bulky kung fu master; or a towering monster capable of crushing stone.

With that said, he’s far from the bravest member of the crew. He’s the youngest member by a solid margin, and is just as terrified of danger as the more normal members of the crew. Despite this, he still powers through for the good of others and to ensure he doesn’t let his friends down.

He’s an admirable Straw Hat crew member, and epitomizes what it means to be a doctor. Even if he hasn’t held the spotlight very often in recent arcs, he’s still one of the best characters in One Piece and a welcome member of the core cast of characters.

19. Aokiji

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Among the three most iconic Navy Admirals in the series, Aokiji remains the standout among them.

Not opposed to doing dirty deeds if it means upholding justice, he’s bloodied his hands countless times by doing away with troublesome pirates. His ice Logia powers granted to him by the Hie Hie no Mi have only made this easier, with all but the most skilled Haki users unable to lift a finger against him before they’re turned to solid ice.

But beneath this cold exterior lies someone who is desperate to push back against the cruelty of the World Government. When given the opportunity, he’s more than willing to overlook a supposed criminal so long as they agree to stop causing trouble. He’ll readily prioritize the rescue of others over a brutal hunt for the wanted, and he’s willing to face off against his comrades if they ascribe to dishonorable strategies.

It was no surprise, then, when he eventually left the Navy, and even ended up as a pirate himself. Sadly, he would go on to join Blackbeard’s crew, and has since found himself warbling once again between upholding his sense of justice and doing what he needs to do to survive.

He’s a messy One Piece character if there ever was one, but that makes him so much more entertaining to watch than so many other members of the cast. It’s anyone’s guess where he’ll end up, but we’re here for every second of his tragic tale.

18. Gol D. Roger

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
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Despite only being actively featured in a fraction of the series’ chapters and episodes, Gol D. Roger stands out handily as one of the best characters One Piece has to offer.

The former King of the Pirates, this adventure-hungry man set out on the high seas in an age when pirates were far less common; and, more importantly, far more vicious. He went toe to toe with the infamous Rock Pirates, White Beard in his prime, and so many more only to emerge victorious thanks to his exceptional strength. 

And yet, unlike all of his opponents, he never wished for an untold fortune or undisputed supremacy. All he wanted was to know what lied over the horizon, and what the world had to offer to those in it past, present, and future. This drove him to seek out Laughtale and the Poneglyphs, and upon finding them he merely laughed at what he discovered. 

His earnest desire for adventure is what drew so many people to idolize him, and has captivated viewers ever since he was first shown in the series. You’d better believe he would have ranked higher on this list if we’d gotten to see more of him throughout the series, but he still remains an unforgettable part of its world.

17. Edward “White Beard” Newgate

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The man that launched a thousand memes, Edward “Whitebeard” Newgate made a sizable impact on the series in the brief time he appeared.

Strong beyond belief and host to the reality shattering force of the Gura Gura no Mi, few could ever hope to hold a candle to him in terms of power. He fought with the likes of Gol D. Roger without batting an eye, and handily held off the other Yonko well into his later years. No one in their right mind would cross him, and even the government had to enact a full-scale war when they tried to execute a member of his crew.

And yet, despite all this, Whitebeard never set out to be the most powerful person in the world. All he really wanted was a family, and to show others wandering the seas of the world that they weren’t so alone. He strived to save those lost in loneliness, and was willing to take on the world to ensure they never felt abandoned again. Where others would scorn and mock them, he would bear the brunt of their pain and help them see a better path forward through the world.

Though this would eventually lead to his demise, he succeeded in his goals and made sure the next generation would have the courage to set out toward their own happiness. The echoes of his accomplishments still reverberate throughout the series, and aren’t likely to stop even after it has concluded.

16. Charlotte “Big Mom” Linlin

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
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One of the more persistent antagonists in the One Piece series, Big Mom more than lived up to her title as a Yonko and a contender for the most fearsome pirate in the world.

Thanks to her Soru Soru no Mi abilities, she could bring any inanimate object she wished to life as a dutiful ally. Anything and everything around her could become a weapon of terrible might, and ensured her enemies would never be safe so long as she was nearby. Even if she couldn’t use her ability, her inhuman strength and endless appetite guaranteed she could beat down or devour her foes in no time flat.

Adding to this terrifying pool of offensive options was her sizable family. Through threats and alliances, she brought any number of powerful beings into her midst and gave birth to countless children who were willing to die to protect their brood.

However, none of this was done with the sole intention of amassing a powerful army. Haunted by feelings of abandonment since her childhood, Linlin’s heart ached for acceptance and love by any means necessary. If she had to force others to do so, or even create her own family, she was willing to do so.

It’s a somewhat tragic tale, and made the ups and downs of her storylines that much more engrossing. Though she might have taken her last bow, there’s little doubt she’ll remain one of the best characters in One Piece well after it reaches its end.

15. Koby

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If one were to point to an example of what the Marines claim to be, Koby would be the ideal.

Initially a frightened young boy held captive on Alvida’s ship, he gained his freedom thanks to Luffy and pursued his dream of protecting others as a Marine. He trained ceaselessly to improve himself, and eventually managed to rise to the higher ranks of the institution through his deeds and merits.

Instead of upholding the law with a steadfast brutality though, he ascribes to a more compassionate form of lawfulness. If someone else’s well-being or life is threatened, he’ll protect them even if it costs him his rank and his life; and even if it means unleashing some otherworldly strength against his opponents.

He’s a Marine parallel to Luffy, and continues to be a fan favorite pick for one of Luffy’s eventual crew mates. Time will tell if this becomes true, or if he’ll emerge as one of the most viable obstacles to the Straw Hat crew’s continued adventures.

14. Donquixote Doflamingo

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
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If one were to ask fans to imagine the most terrifying Warlord of the Sea, chances are pretty high that they’d picture Donquixote Doflamingo.

A devious trickster who has a hand in the majority of the criminal underworld’s worst deeds, he revels in others’ pain and suffering. He’s just as likely to force someone into a soul-crushing bargain as he is to lure them into a deadly trap, and always has an ulterior motive for doing so.

Adding to his mean streak is the fact that his Ito Ito no Mi abilities are some of the more heinous ones out there. Capable of creating razor-sharp threads, he can slice his enemies to ribbons or manipulate them like puppets, quickly turning what could have been a place of peace into a blood-soaked battlefield.

There isn’t even a traumatic backstory which redeems him of these faults. While his family did suffer greatly due to their being former Celestial Dragons, he was more annoyed at the fact that they’d dare to harm him despite being below him. He wasn’t even angry when they killed his father, and used their vengeance as an excuse to do terrible things to regular people the world over.

He’s the kind of scummy villain you’re dying to see get what’s coming to him, and his eventual downfall was made all the sweeter as a result. Other characters might have had more depth, but he was undoubtably one of the best slime balls the series has ever seen.

13. Sabo

Luffy and Ace’s brother by bond, Sabo offers one of the more unexpected character arcs in One Piece and acts as a dark horse among the best characters in the series.

Initially the son of nobility, he rejected the crushing cruelty of his privilege in exchange for freedom and friends who actually cared about him. Though this nearly got him killed, he survived thanks to Monkey D. Dragon and dedicated his life to helping others find freedom from the stifling rule of the World Government.

Though this largely means him fighting back against powerful government agents and sowing discontent among different countries’ civilians, he’s not entirely driven by conflict. He’s happy to focus his efforts on getting innocent bystanders to safety, and has gained a reputation as a savior among the common people thanks to his efforts.

As is the case with so many others on this list however, his ambitions are tinged with sadness and regret. He wasn’t able to go to Ace’s rescue during the Paramount War, and feels the need to carry on his will by ensuring Luffy achieves his dream of becoming King of the Pirates. It’s because of this that he ate the new Mera Mera no Mi, and carries on the will of his fallen brother in most everything he does.

Whether or not he’ll suffer the same fate as Ace remains to be seen, but for now he remains a welcome standard bearer of the Revolutionary Army and one of the best characters in One Piece.

12. Vinsmoke Sanji

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
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The hopeless romantic and cook of the Straw Hat crew, Vinsmoke Sanji has taken one hell of a journey over the course of the series.

Once the son and test subject of a ruthless military scientist, he ran away from a cruel home life to become a chef and find the All Blue. This led to his being shipwrecked alongside the notorious pirate Red Shoes Zeff for several months, and the old man’s sacrifice of his leg to ensure their survival left him with a desire to help those at sea who cry out in hunger. He spent years honing his cooking skills, and learned how to fend off less savory pirates and sailors via carefully placed kicks.

These skills gained the attention of Luffy, and the rest is history. He’s now an integral part of the crew, and protects his crewmates with the same vigor that he shows when making five star meals for them on the daily. And, thanks to the modifications made to him by his father, he’s exceptionally strong and durable despite being a “normal” human.

As has been shown over the course of so many chapters and episodes though, he’s far from a two-dimensional powerhouse with a penchant for cooking. His growth from a surly loner of a line cook to a man who readily relies on his friends is a touching one, and speaks to how far he’s come since setting out to sea. Heck, his entire storyline with Charlotte Pudding revealed how much he’s grown in terms of his womanizing, and how he’d readily accept someone for who they are instead of how they look.

He proves himself worthy of standing among the big three of the Straw Hats, and isn’t likely to relinquish this accolade anytime soon.

11. Ace

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Even if he’s best remembered nowadays for the hole he left in Luffy’s heart at this point, Fire Fist Ace remains one of the series’ top-tier characters.

Despised as the son of Gol D. Roger, his life was filled with a longing to find those who would accept him and a purpose that could supercede his notorious parentage. He found this in Luffy, Garp, and the White Beard Pirates, and went on to make a name for himself as one of the most powerful pirates even among his prestigious crew. 

This was partially thanks to his exceptional powers granted by the Mera Mera no Mi, but the peace he found in carving out his place in the world was just as influential. He was happy to have found a purpose, and would do anything to keep his loved ones from harm.

And yet, this ended up being his downfall. His drive to protect others prevented him from seeing the value of his own life, and his sacrifice wound up wounding all of those that were forced to watch him die in order to ensure Luffy survived. 

His was a tragic story, but one which few fans could ever hope to forget. Thankfully, his spirit lives on through his brother’s and those that carry his will to this day.

10. Nefertari Vivi

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
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One of the least insidious royals the series has seen, Vivi has retained a place among the best characters in One Piece for decades now, and the reasons why are plentiful.

Host to a sense of duty to her people that would make even the most legendary king blush, she isn’t afraid to move heaven and earth to ensure their happiness. Neither a massive army of pirates nor the heinous threats of Celestial Dragons can deter her from her goals, and she’ll happily square off with anyone who gets in her way.

At the same time though, she isn’t hostile toward those who aren’t from Alabasta. So long as they strive for the well-being of others or their goals without actively harming the many, she’ll call them a friend and is more than happy to help them toward their goals. Such is why she braved countless dangers in order to protect the Straw Hats, Princess Utahime, and so many more.

Time will tell if she ever reunites the Straw Hats. But even if she doesn’t, she’ll remain a standout member of the series’ sizable cast.

9. Uta

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One Piece Film Red hit fans in their emotions like a semi truck, and Uta’s one of the biggest reasons for this.

Driven not by a desire for power but instead by an unbearable need to help the suffering fans she heard from daily, this master Diva was one of the franchise’s most empathetic villains ever. She didn’t harm anyone out of malice, and instead was desperate to make a kinder world for people to live in; one free of pirates, and of the hunger and hardship the Navy turned a blind eye to.

This was paired with long-held feelings of regret and abandonment due to mistakes from her past, which tinged her actions with a desperation to make amends for her mistakes. Such was also the reason for her eventual sacrifice to awaken everyone after her defeat, and for the disregard she had when it came to her own life.

She’s a tragic character if there ever was one, and the fact that she only appears in one film goes to show just how well-written she is. As such, the adopted daughter of Shanks handily takes a slot in the upper echelons of our best characters in One Piece rankings.

8. “Red Haired” Shanks

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
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To hammer home just how great of a character “Red Haired” Shanks is, consider this: he’s only appeared in a fraction of the series’ run, and even then he hasn’t been featured prominently every time he showed up.

Despite this, no fan can say they don’t understand why he holds such an important place among the series’ cast. In addition to saving Luffy and setting him on his eventual path to becoming King of the Pirates, he has acted as a peace keeper in both the Grand Line and the New World. The Navy and Yonko alike view him with reverence and respect, and wouldn’t bat an eye even if he told them to stop a war in its tracks.

All the while, he protects those he cares for with a ferociousness that would put even the most brutal seaman to shame. He’d face down a Sea King unarmed to protect a child, and has no qualms challenging an ancient demon if it means saving his adopted daughter.

What’s more is that we still don’t even know what his true desire is. He may have goals similar to Whitebeard and Big Mom, seeking to create a family for himself; or, he could be keeping a promise to his former captain Roger, maintaining peace throughout the seas until a rightful heir emerges. Heck, he could even just love being a pirate. We just don’t know, and aren’t likely to find out until his fated clash with the Straw Hats.

He’s THE Checkov’s Gun Oda has waved in front of fans time and time again, and we’d be remiss not to include him among the best characters the series has to offer.

7. Roronoa Zoro

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If we had to pick only one member from the Straw Hat crew that encapsulates strength and toughness, Zoro would handily take the cake.

Willing to face down any danger so that his friends won’t be harmed, he’s slashed and sliced his way through some of the most dangerous foes the world has ever known. In the process, he’s weathered blows that would leave a normal person bloodied and in pieces on the ground, all while stoically bearing the scars from them with honor.

And yet, there’s more to him than a ceaseless drive for power and unwillingness to show pain. Though he initially started studying swordplay so that he could be known as the strongest, he only continued in his pursuit so that his deceased friend would hear of his accomplishments in the afterlife. This desire was altered after spending enough time with his crewmates however, and he now also wishes to become the world’s strongest swordsman so that he can help Luffy achieve his dream.

He’s an incredibly passionate and caring person, and this makes watching his character arc play out that much more entertaining to see. Though he might be dedicated to supporting and protecting his crew, we’re just as eager to see him achieve his goals and earn the happy ending he deserves.

6. Nami

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
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A deceptively compassionate cat burglar, Nami has served as a steadfast example of the best characters in One Piece even after thousands of chapters and episodes.

Introduced as a self-motivated thief who specifically targets pirates, her betrayals and backstabs were motivated by a desire to protect those in her home village. She learned how to take advantage of others, all so that she could do right by the people who protected her from an unfortunate end and eventually chase her own dreams of being a navigator.

Though this would eventually prove too much for her to shoulder on her own, Luffy and the rest of the Straw Hats helped to show her that it is possible to trust and rely on others. She’s continued to take this lesson to heart too: Even if she finds herself in dire straits against a powerful opponent, she’ll hold her ground with the belief that her friends will be there to back her up no matter the threat. In turn, she’s ready and willing to charge into danger to protect them from harm.

What’s more is that she doesn’t have special abilities to serve as a safety net. Aside from some truly magical tools and gadgets, she’s a normal human who only has her wits to rely on in deadly dilemmas. Most every victory she earns is thanks to her quick thinking and planning instead of a last minute power-up, making them feel all the more impactful.

She’s a character we’ve been able to watch grow and succeed from the beginning, and we can’t wait to see where she’ll end up once the series is through.

5. Trafalgar D. Water Law

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Though Trafalgar D. Waters Law might have initially been loved for his design alone, his larger character arc is what really sells him as one of the best characters in One Piece to date.

Once an orphan with a terminal prognosis, he was saved by the generosity and kindness of Donquixote Corazon; both in the sense that Corazon showed him there would be people who care about him, and in the fact that the silent spy gave him the means to be cured via his being given the Ope Ope no Mi. Sadly, this came at the cost of Corazon’s life by his brother Doflamingo’s hands, and left Law desperate to avenge his found family.

Law then spent years creating his own pirate crew and preparing for a showdown with the smirking schemer. This led to his meeting Luffy and the Straw Hats, and before long they made an alliance in order to take down the Warlord of the Sea. Through this, Law gained not only closure but also new allies who he might even be able to consider friends.

He’s since used his wits and intelligence to take on other devious pirates and protect his newfound allies. His Ope Ope abilities help tremendously with this, as they allow him to incapacitate most opponents without actually harming them by disconnecting parts of their body from them temporarily. This highlights his caring nature, and shows that he shows the same kind of mercy which Corazon gave him with even those that wish him harm.

All of this makes Law that much more interesting overall. He’s grown from an edgy one-and-done cameo into a proper part of the story with depth, and fans are understandably excited anytime he returns to the spotlight.

4. Nico Robin

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
Image Source: Toei Animation

When it comes to characters that grow and change across their character arcs, few can hold a candle to Nico Robin.

Host to one of the most tragic backstories in the series, the Child of the Devil only set out to sea out of necessity when a Buster Call annihilated her home island. She then used her wits and Hana Hana no Mi to ensure her survival, manipulating pirates in order to evade capture by the government and continue her pursuit of translating every Poneglyph Stone in the world.

After joining and being rescued by the Straw hats, however, her goals became less individualistic. She began to see her crewmates as proper friends and family, and started working to ensure their safety alongside their own by acting as a voice of reason in their adventures. She even allowed her cool and collected demeanor to soften, joining them in zany plans which she never would have considered before.

To top all of this off, she’s a deceptively powerful member of her crew and is capable of dealing with even the more intimidating enemies they encounter. Most of this is thanks to the near infinite number of copies of her limbs she can create, and the creative uses she has come up with. These include stomps with giant legs which can flatten armies and a titanic, demonic copy of herself she can use to cripple more massive opponents.

She’s a versatile member of the core cast, and the fact that her character arc is so closely tied to the main plot ensures she’ll only become more interesting to watch as the series continues.

3. Marshall D. “Blackbeard” Teach

Image Source: Toei Animation

Though he might not have seemed like Luffy’s biggest adversary at first glance, Marshall D. Teach — otherwise known as Blackbeard — has quickly become the most devious villain in the series.

Initially a lower level member of Whitebeard’s crew, Teach severed ties with his former allies in order to steal the Yami Yami no Mi from them. Once he had it, he set about enacting long-held ambitions, gathering a crew of cut throat criminals and doing whatever he could to obtain power and influence. This included the capture of Ace for execution, and the murder of Whitebeard in order to steal his Devil Fruit powers.

How he did this, or even what his true goals are, remains a mystery. And yet, he’s continued to trample on any sort of order the world once held in order to become one of the most powerful pirates in history.

This has left him as the most immediate rival for Luffy to contend with in finding the One Piece, and it’s anyone’s guess who will emerge victorious. Given how well Blackbeard has been built up though, we couldn’t think of anyone better to face off against the series’ hero.

2. Usopp

Top 30 Best Characters in One Piece
Image Source: Toei Animation

We wouldn’t blame you if Usopp’s exceptionally high ranking among the best characters in One Piece caught you off guard. And yet, it’s an accolade he has more than earned over the course of the series.

Starting off as a scared young kid who tells lies to seem more impressive, this son of a pirate has grown and developed into a proper adventurer over the course of the series. He’s loved and lost, learned to fight for what he believes in, and even swallowed his pride in order to continue his path to betterment and growth.

Not only that, but he’s managed to climb to new heights of knowledge and skill without any sort of special powers. Where many of his crewmates might have Devil Fruit Powers or ungodly strengths and talents to rely on, he’s gotten by almost entirely on his wits alone. His victories were earned with careful planning, meticulous deceptions, or a determination and endurance that would put most anyone else to shame.

Seeing all of this play out, and knowing how hard it was for him to become the legendary sniper of the Straw Hat crew, makes him hands-down one of the most entertaining characters to watch. We can only hope his story will have a happy ending, and that the tales of God Usopp will one day be known throughout the world.

1. Monkey D. Luffy

Image source: Toei Animation

Who else but the future King of the Pirates could take the top spot on our list of the best characters in One Piece?

Deceptively clever and exceptionally positive so long as his friends are by his side, Luffy is an antithesis to all of the other cutthroat buccaneers in the series. He wishes only to travel and find adventure with his allies for as long as possible, and won’t turn a blind eye to others’ freedom or happiness being treaded on.

It’s for this reason he regularly comes at odds with even the strongest pirates and Navy soldiers in the world. Fortunately, he’s made the most of his Gomu Gomu no Mi abilities to fend most all of them off with ease. He’s just as likely to obliterate an opponent with a flurry of rubberized blows as he is to shrug off their punches with his elastic body, and it’s a blast to watch thanks to how brightly and cartoonishly his abilities are portrayed.

Above all else though, he represents a sort of hope in the rather bleak world of One Piece. Even if it’s the norm to treat others with cruelty and to take without any regard for what others are losing, he proves one can choose to do the right thing. He shows that one can listen to their friends and help them through tough times, or face down anyone who tries to hurt them with a beaming smile.

He’s the sun that the rest of One Piece’s world revolves around, and there’s no one more deserving of being called the best character in the series.

About the author

Keenan McCall

Keenan has been a nerd from an early age, watching anime and playing games for as long as I can remember. Since obtaining a bachelor's degree in journalism back in 2017, he has written thousands of articles covering gaming, animation, and entertainment topics galore.