One Piece is one of the longest-running anime series of all time, having reached its 1,000th episode with no signs of slowing down. This big story has given us so many great characters, including pirates, marines, and side characters who've gotten caught up in the various conflicts.
Of the many great One Piece anime characters, the shining stars include the captains who lead their respective pirate crews in search of the great treasure left behind by Gol D. Roger.
And most of these captains intersect with Luffy's adventures as the Straw Hat Pirates stick their noses anywhere and everywhere.
From powerfully badass characters to those who may be weaker but more charismatic and widely loved, here are my picks for the best captains in One Piece and why they're so awesome.
14. Calico Yorki of the Rumbar Pirates
Not much is known about Captain Calico Yorki of the Rumbar Pirates—the former pirate group of Brook—but one thing's for certain: he's a man who loves music. Their ship is always filled with music, to the point that it even caught the attention of an island whale they named Laboon.
After contracting an incurable disease during one of his adventures, Yorki decided to sacrifice his position and boarded another ship (along with other infected members) to avoid ruining the rest of his uninfected crew, thus leaving Brook as the new captain upon his death.
13. Clown Buggy of the Buggy Pirates
Clown Buggy's charisma earns him a well-deserved spot on this list of best One Piece captains. Sure, he isn't that strong and his Devil Fruit ability isn't that useful, but he still managed to gather enough troops to become one of the Seven Warlords of the Sea.
With tons of Impel Down criminals under his command—who follow and praise him as their god—the Marines have a hard time facing him and his crew, even when Admirals are sent in for the job. It's just great to see him run away from danger along with his whole crew.
12. Capone Bege of the Fire Tank Pirates
A captain, a father, and a castle—that's Capone Bege of the Fire Tank Pirates. We see him care for his crew so much that he carries them inside his body and never lets anyone get left behind.
Aside from being a captain and one of the Supernovas, he's also a good husband to his wife Chiffon and a loving father to their son.
11. Trafalgar Law of the Love Pirates
Trafalgar Law, the Surgeon of Death, is the captain of the Love Pirates (who are now allied with the Straw Hat Pirates). He's a badass captain who uses the deadly Devil Fruit ability called Ope Ope no Mi.
Not just a capable fighter, he's also a caring captain who sacrificed himself for his imprisoned crew members in the Land of Wano. With this development, an intriguing revelation came to light for viewers and led to a new story that spiced up the arc. (No spoilers!)
10. Portgas D. Ace of the Spade Pirates
Portgas D. Ace (famously known as Fire Fist Ace) was the commander of the 2nd Division of the Whitebeard Pirates. But before he became a son of Whitebeard, he was once captain of his own crew: the Spade Pirates.
Ace was a brave leader for his crew as he led them to the lair of the Red Hair Pirates—led by Shanks, one of the Emperors of the Sea—just to thank him and even fight the Son of the Sea, Jinbei.
During his fight with Whitebeard, Ace bought time for his crew to escape by staying behind and fighting Whitebeard alone.
9. Boa Hancock of the Kuja Pirates
The Snake Princess Boa Hancock is the captivating empress of the Kuja Empire as well as a former Warlord of the Sea. Aside from being a matriarch, she's also the captain of the Kuja Pirates: an all-female crew that roams the seas aboard the Perfume Yuda.
She's known for her irresistible beauty as well as her Mero Mero no Mi Devil Fruit ability, which allows her to petrify anyone who falls in love with her (whether men or women).
While her Devil Fruit's passive ability is only effective against some people, she's independently strong and brutally fierce in combat. Her strikes can also petrify her targets on contact, which comes in handy against certain non-humans like the Pacifista.
8. X Drake of the Drake Pirates
Like Luffy and Trafalgar Law, X Drake was also part of the Worst Generation. He's the captain of the Drake Pirates, a pirate crew that's affiliated with Kaidou's Beast Pirates.
However, it's all just a cover for his mission as a secret agent. In reality, he's the captain of a special Marine unit called SWORD.
What makes him a great captain is his loyalty to his allies and his steadfastness in carrying out his duties. Even in the face of grave danger, he'll never sell them out.
He's also determined to accomplish his mission at all costs, to the point that he was willing to give up his position in the Marines to blend in with the pirates as an undercover agent.
7. Rocks D. Xebec of the Rock Pirates
While his character isn't fully explored and despite him only coming up as a background name, the legendary Rocks D. Xebec is a powerful and influential captain who gave the Marines a hard time during his era.
He was the one who enlisted the ferocious and powerful members that eventually became the well-known icons of the Great Pirate Era, including Whitebeard, Kaidou, and Big Mom. (All three ruled the seas as Emperors before their demise.)
He, along with his crew, were truly formidable pirates. The Marines alone couldn't put him down so Garp joined forces with Gol D. Roger's Roger Pirates to end Rock's reign during the God Valley Incident.
6. Fisher Tiger of the Sun Pirates
Fisher Tiger is the captain of the Sun Pirates, a pirate crew exclusively comprised of fellow fish-men.
Unlike Arlong of the Arlong Pirates and Hordy Jones of the New Fish-Man Pirates, Fisher Tiger doesn't view humans as an inferior species—but he still has no place for them deep in his heart.
What makes him a great captain is that he actively avoids escalating the tensions between humans and fish-men, refusing to exact revenge on those who have discriminated against and enslaved his kind. He believes that revenge is a futile, never-ending cycle.
Fortunately, his ideologies didn't die with him. Some of his members inherited his attitude and carried his ideals with them, including Jinbei, who took over the role of captain after his death.
5. Kaidou of the Beast Pirates
Kaidou is Governor-General of the Beast Pirates. He held the title of Emperor of the Sea and was known as the "strongest creature" until he was defeated by Luffy (who was in his Devil Fruit's awakened form).
What earns Kaidou a spot on this list is his honor and pride in his fight, strength, and power. He's stuck by his personal code several times throughout the series, showing that he only wants fair fights against those whom he deems to be worthy opponents.
For example, during Kaidou and Luffy's heated clash, Luffy was held back by the interfering Guernica and thus defeated. Dismayed by his unfair victory, Kaidou struck down Guernica with full force, expressing how disgusted he was by such dirty tricks.
4. Whitebeard of the Whitebeard Pirates
If Big Mom was the mother of her own fleet, Edward "Whitebeard" Newgate stood as the father of his formidable crew comprised of notable members like Marco the Phoenix and Fire Fist Ace.
During the Marineford War, he literally drew a line between the Marines and his crew, commanding his "sons" to escape the sea as his final order. We also saw him snap in anger when he saw what Akainu did to Ace, and that's still one of the best rage moments in all of One Piece.
3. Shanks of the Red Hair Pirates
Red-Haired Shanks is the captain of the Red Hair Pirates, who Luffy admired and was influenced by to become a pirate. We saw how he handled the situation in the bar (where a bandit mocked them), where he remained calm and composed instead of retaliating.
Shanks eventually lost his arm when he had to save Luffy from a sea king, and when Whitebeard asked him about it, he simply stated that he had left his arm for the next generation. How badass is that?
He also managed to stop the Marineford War and its senseless deaths, respectfully asking for the bodies of Whitebeard and Ace.
2. Monkey D. Luffy of the Straw Hat Pirates
Though a clumsy one, the captain of the Straw Hat Pirates will never leave any member of his crew behind, which we've witnessed multiple times throughout the entire series.
Monkey D. Luffy treats his crew as his nakama ("closer than family") and cares for them, even to the point of saving one who was on the brink of execution. Although he sometimes brings trouble to the crew, everyone respects his position and enjoys their adventures with him.
1. Gol D. Roger of the Roger Pirates
Gol D. Roger tops this list, not simply because he was the Pirate King but because he was truly a great captain to his crew. Every one of his members enjoyed their adventures with him, all the way to the end of the New World in Grand Line.
After years of journeying the seas, he gave himself up (only himself, not his crew) to the Marines to be executed. But right at the moment of his death, he promised his wealth of treasures to whomever could find it, thus launching today's new era of ambitious pirates.