The Outstanding Villains of One Piece

After watching One Piece Film: Red, and my subsequent binge of the One Piece movies and specials, I found myself dwelling on the villains of this modern epic.

Most of them are petty brutes and thugs with about as much depth as a teaspoon. Others boil down to being brutes and thugs as well, but have so much strength, charisma, and staying power that they’re practically living forces of nature. Some become reluctant allies for a time, while others are steadfast in their cruelty and their bloodthirst. Some are nefarious, and some are hilarious. Some are thoroughly evil, and some could be painted as would-be heroes, but fallen, twisted, corrupted shells of the virtues they espouse.

It’s fascinating to me how so many of these villains can shine in so many different ways, standing apart from even this immense crowd, and not only in One Piece, but in anime in general. Really, these are some amazing antagonists which Luffy and his comrades must face, though I suspect the piece de resistance has yet to be fully unveiled, in the form of Imu. I decided to give a shout out to some of these enemies who I personally find to be the most interesting, in various ways and for various reasons.

Be advised, I am obviously leaving Im off the table, as we do not yet know them, but I also haven’t seen the latest arc in Wano, so I am also shying away from the likes of Orochi and Kaido, though the internet has informed me some of their terrible cruelty. As for the rest, though the competition was fierce indeed, I narrowed the list it down to ten villains, which I now present more or less in chronological order of their appearance.


Not only is Buggy the Clown one of the first villains Luffy and his crew tangle with, he’s also the first recurring villain, really. He’s plenty nasty in his way, but he’s also so over the top, such a magnificent failure, and shows up so many times, like One Piece’s own Team Rocket, that it’s difficult to dislike him for too long. He’s just too much fun!

Particularly once he enters that alliance of convenience with Luffy to escape prison. Sure, he intended to stab Luffy in the back, but even that goes awry every time he’s about to try it. Nonetheless, he plays a pivotal role in leading a mass jailbreak from a prison that no one has ever escaped from.

Many of the escapees become his followers, and they practically worship him, while the world government believes him to be far more dangerous than he is, but also decides to make him a warlord. His skills for flashy improvisation are put to the test as he strives to stay alive in such a precarious position, and I can’t wait to see what he gets up to next, now that the warlords are officially dissolved and disavowed.


Also hailing from the beginning of the epic, Arlong is the first villain we meet who has hurt one of the Straw Hats personally, and so very deeply.

We learn, eventually, that Arlong has always had a deep and abiding hatred for humans, courtesy of how they’ve preyed on and enslaved his people and others. Driven by his hate, he tormented and killed many people, including when he took over Nami’s homeland and murdered her adopted mother right in front of her and her sister. Then, without a care for what she must have felt, he took Nami away from her home, inspired to make her an asset after seeing her raw talents in map-making. He, the monster who devastated her home and took her mother from her, raised her and expected her loyalty.

What really made it so Nami could bear all this was the promise he made, a promise that if she could acquire a given amount of money, then he would free her and not hurt her home any  more. She believed him and did all sorts of dirty deeds to get the money, but when the goal was in sight, when she was so close, he reneged. He betrayed her, had a corrupt navy officer steal her gold, and put her right back at the starting line. And laughed about it.

Over a thousand episodes after his defeat, with Arlong never once resurfacing in all that time, it remains one of the best and most powerful moments of the anime, one that set the tone for all the victories since, when Luffy beat Arlong into the ground.


One of the seven government-sanctioned warlords of the sea, Crocodile is really the first overarching villain of the story. From the moment the Straw Hats enter the Grand Line, he looms over the entirety of their journey towards Alabasta, long before they ever faced him directly.

In many ways, Crocodile represents the escalation of what the Straw Hats must face as they grow and develop throughout their long journey. He’s nastier, more cruel, cunning, and ambitious than any villain they’d faced before, and he lasted quite a bit longer as well.  He’s the head of a large organization instead of just one crew, and he aims to take over a country instead of just a village or an island. Worst of all, his plans are so clever and evil that he turns even the desire to protect one’s home and people against itself. It’s a savage piece of puppetry, pitting two sides against each other, both of them driven to become their worst and most bloodthirsty selves as they slaughtered their own countrymen. He lies and betrays and leads a nation towards its doom, and he takes great pleasure in the act.

Crocodile pushed Luffy, in particular, much worse than most ever have. Indeed, he and his cronies were the ones who left the Straw Hats collapsing in the street from exhaustion and injury, like no enemy ever had before, and very few have managed since. He hurt them and also Vivi who was close to them, required special insight to defeat with a specific weakness, brought them into contact with Robin who has become their steadfast crew member, and, to top it off, he has resurfaced a few times since his defeat, sometimes as a temporary ally, but always as someone they can’t turn their back on. He tried to kill Whitebeard, which solidified Luffy’s status as a friend of the Whitebeard pirates when he defended their leader, and returned again in the Stampede movie to try and steal the One Piece itself.

Truly, he is a standout villain.


If this nasty, vile embodiment of chaos is not either the final boss, or at least part of the final confrontation with Im, then I am going to be sorely disappointed.

Originally one of the Whitebeard pirates, Blackbeard proved to be a snake in the grass, just waiting for the opportunity to strike. He spent years perfecting his plans, scheming with nefarious, treacherous intent, and when the opportunity fell into his lap, he put his plans into motion. He betrayed those closest to him without hesitation, defeated Luffy’s brother, Ace, which resulted in his death as well as Whitebeard’s and the unleashing of war and upheaval upon the world, and that was just as he was still in his “early days,” still gathering up his own crew like Luffy was.

Indeed, Luffy and Blackbeard are technically of the same generation of pirates, but they could not be more different, and they are certainly bitter enemies. They both seek to be “King of the Pirates,” but in entirely different ways. They both surround themselves with an abnormally strong crew, but of entirely different character and loyalty. Luffy may tear down the corrupt and the cruel, but Blackbeard tears down everything and everyone to crush beneath his feet, while Luffy’s legacy is one where the people in his wake stand tall and free.

Luffy, I would say, is the figure which stands between the chaos of Blackbeard and the order of Im, and none of the three can tolerate the others’ influence.

Silver Foxy

He’s more of a frenemy than an enemy, which makes him both more lovable and more dangerous than one might expect.

Foxy and Luffy meet as their crew collide in a sportsmanlike competition. Of course Foxy and his crew cheat outrageously in all but name, but the Straw Hats hold their own anyway. In the end, the two crews part ways not as friends or enemies, but as rivals who have made each others’ lives that much more interesting. Foxy has come back a few times since, always with some underhanded, back-stabbing treachery even when he and Luffy have helped one another. They have allied when they needed to, and for just as long as they needed to, and they take turns one-upping each other as they go their separate ways.

Foxy is simply one of the more hilarious of Luffy’s foes, and yet surprisingly capable. He is able to literally slow things down with his Devil Fruit ability, and he uses it effectively. Even more, despite his underhanded methods, he is able to appeal to a man’s sense of pride and dignity as he challenges Luffy. That’s why they keep competing, and how they’re able to align against a common foe so easily.

Baron Omatsuri

Misery loves company, and no one epitomizes that more than Baron Omatsuri.

The Straw Hats are just looking for some fun and relaxation at what appears to be an island resort run by Omatsuri. They soon find that they are but the latest in a long line of crews who have been lured there by the promise of a good time, only to be fed to a monstrous plant, still alive and screaming. In exchange for this, the plant animates the corpses, or copies, of Omatsuri’s deceased crew. He was the sole survivor of a shipwreck and so he has spent a couple of decades making other captains suffer as he has, watching their crews die, while playing as if his is still alive, a bunch of puppets trapped in eternal revelry and delirium.

I would argue that Omatsuri is lesser than other villains only because of how limited his reach is – he can’t leave the island – and his darkness is second to none. He is the most base of them all, indiscriminate and all-consuming as he inflicts the agony he has suffered onto others for no better reason than to see them suffer as he has. When he and Luffy confront each other, Omatsuri dominates the fight like few ever have. Indeed, by the use of his power, cunning, and malice, he dominates against the entire Straw Hat crew as a whole, and their newest allies, for the whole of the movie, right up until the end.

He is sorrow and rage and unreasoning hatred, envy, and spite all rolled into one, come to life.

He gives me the chills like few villains anywhere ever have.

Admiral Akainu

I remember someone once said of Inspector Javert, of Les Miserables fame, that every police force has one like him: incorruptible, implacable, and merciless. That’s Akainu to a T.

Akainu could have been a hero, and some would argue that he is, as he leads the charge against all pirates in the name of justice. But he is proof of a virtue taken too far, as he not only fails to differentiate between the character of various pirates, he also cares far too little for the men under his command. He is so devoted to his ideals, that he thinks nothing of leaving injured Navy soldiers to die, so long as he can keep killing the enemy. Anyone who gets in his way, for any reason, even one as noble as stopping bloodshed and saving the lives of his own men, is just another enemy, to be killed on the spot. That much is proven when he nearly murders young Coby, perhaps the single most innocent soul in the whole world, and he would have done so if not for Shanks’ timely intervention.

He will stoop to any level, he has no love in his heart, he rose to become the supreme leader of the Navy, and Akainu is the man who has hurt Luffy worse than any other enemy, for it was by his hand that his brother, Ace, was killed.

That is one heck of an outstanding villain.

Vice-Admiral Komei

Vice-Admiral Komei is a brilliant tactician and strategist. That’s his power, being able to set things up, anticipate his opponents’ moves, and prepare for how they’ll play out. Give a man like that enough resources, and the world will be his oyster.

Not only does he fight most with his brains, rather than his brawn, but he is, in many ways, a genuine hero. He is, after all, fighting to bring outlaws to justice, and also to change the world for the better, to protect all the people whom pirates normally prey upon. He just happens to also be ruthless, merciless, and targeting the Straw Hats not because they’re supposedly evil, but because of their notoriety. He wants to set an example and send a challenge out into the world.

That is where one must call him a villain, because for all his genius and his noble intentions, he is ultimately destroying those who only want to be free from the tyranny of the World Government, and who have done a whole lot more good for the people than most of the Navy. To be a true hero, he would have to do as some others of the Navy officers have done, and differentiate between pirates who are evil and pirates who are simply unruly.

That is the particular discussion which makes him stand out most, to me.

Don Quixote Doflamingo

There are few characters I have ever encountered which I hate as much or more than this inhumane peacock.

Despite coming in as one of the later villains, really, Doflamingo also stands as something of a “first.” From here on, as things begin to wind up, the Straw Hats find themselves challenging beings of godlike power and god-sized egos. These are the real living forces of nature which they must overcome, despite how they boil down into the most petty brutes of the series. Doflamingo is the first of these that they fight against, and it is glorious as he is finally taken down.

Like Blackbeard and most of these later villains, he lurks in the background for some time before coming to center stage, but even then, his cruelty is very well established. He goes out of his way to make anything he does as maximally painful, agonizing, and traumatizing as is absolutely possible, grinning and laughing the entire time. He uses people and casts them aside without even the slightest remorse, as if they were no more than puppets. Fitting, considering his Devil Fruit ability lets him literally put strings on people, making them do all manner of awful things against their will. That is probably what offends me most deeply: he can literally take people’s freedom of choice away from them, and he gleefully uses it to cause pain.

All this, because he can’t stand the idea of any creature being his equal. Coming from a family of Celestial Dragons, he really buys into the notion that he is a god among lesser creatures. He cannot conceive of or allow anyone to stand as his equal, and how dare anyone try?


A crazy, beautiful girl, a childhood friend and beloved daughter, an innocent would-be and would-have-been hero. That’s Uta.

Uta thinks to save everyone in the world from every pain and hardship by taking their souls into a dream world, there to live together in eternal revelry. She does not realize and cannot accept the harm she is actually doing by stealing everyone from their lives. The many years she’s spent in isolation have both stunted her maturity and driven her mad with loneliness, so, not only does she think she’s helping, she also has a personal stake in her scheme. Confused, maddened, consumed by pain, unwilling and unable to listen until the very end, she drives herself towards her doom, and nearly takes the entire world with her. Even a combination of most of the world’s great powers is all but helpless to stop her song.

Uta stands out in so many ways. She is powerful in a unique way, where her beautiful songs are her weapon of choice. She’s trying to do something good, to help people, instead of trying to harm or rule them. She’s insane, rather than simply evil. It is heartbreaking, rather than exulting, to see the heroes overcoming her. And, of course, she and Luffy have loved and missed each other so much since the days when they were children.

There isn’t another villain quite like her in One Piece.

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