Warning: The following article contains spoilers for One Piece.
In the world of the bestselling manga One Piece, one isn’t a stranger to wars, fights, diseases, and of course, death. In the lengthy Japanese story, characters are bound to lose their fight and have their lives cut short, even if they are never truly gone.
Although Eiichiro Oda isn’t the type of writer to shy away from life-threatening situations in which the characters are in danger, he is not one to easily send a character to their grave. Thus, any of the deaths in One Piece are certainly meant to be impactful, creating a shift in the narrative, and Ace’s death is no exception.
Luffy’s brother is introduced in the Drum Island arc, but it’s during the Impel Down arc that Ace gets proper development. Impel Down follows the story of Ace’s rescue from the underwater super-max prison that goes by the same name. Upon being captured and imprisoned, Ace’s future is uncertain. He’s placed on death row, awaiting his execution after losing his fight with Blackbeard, and no, this is not when he dies.
To show the entire world the consequences of going against the Marines and becoming a world-renowned pirate, the execution of Portgas D. Ace is being streamed all across the seven seas. Ace is not just any rookie pirate. Prior to his execution, it’s revealed that he is the biological son of Gol D. Roger, Luffy’s (adoptive) older brother, the Marine Vice-Admiral Garp’s (adoptive) grandson, Whitebeard’s Second Division Commander, and, to top it all off, Whitebeard’s adoptive son. Considering all these factors, the World Government wants to make an example out of Ace and show what it means to defy the highest powers in command and be a pirate.
This is the largest and biggest war experienced in One Piece. It is the first time a fight takes place on such a large scale, with the addition of huge powerhouses in its midst. With the introduction (or re-introduction) of characters such as Doflamingo, Shanks, and the Marine Admirals, what truly sets the tone for this arc is Ace’s farewell in episode 483, alongside Whitebeard’s own demise Their death is absolutely essential to define the end of an era, the start of the New World and the Straw Hat’s new beginning. This shift in the narrative makes it so the main characters of the story, the Straw Hat Crew, aim to become better fighters and improve themselves just so their captain, Luffy, won’t need to lose anyone else and suffer in such a crude way.
So, if you are looking to watch Ace’s passing, episode 483 is the episode to go. And, in the words of Dr. Hiriluk, “A man dies when he is forgotten”, Ace will surely remain a greatly loved character in every One Piece fan’s heart.
As per usual Oda fashion, no character is ever truly gone, and One Piece viewers are still getting to know Ace’s journey on a weekly basis every Saturday at 7:00pm PDT on Crunchyroll.