The 16 best ‘One Piece’ episodes of all time

One Piece still

One Piece is a staple for any anime and manga fan. It has been immensely popular throughout Asia, further extending to the West steadily through the years, for good reason — this story is known for its incredible worldbuilding, the bizarre yet coherent power scales, and most of all Eiichiro Oda’s fantastic and nuanced writing.

Using the conventional Shounen formula and tropes, One Piece takes pride in its unique essence, rich storytelling, and above all, in its outstanding and unmatched unpredictability. Whenever the readers, or viewers of the anime, expect something to happen, Oda will most certainly bring in elements that will move and surprise even the oldest One Piece fans, oftentimes bringing them to tears laughing or crying. This multidimensionality and complexity are what truly make One Piece one of the most iconic fictional stories of all time. Due to its long history (the first volume came out in 1999), this intricacy and brilliant storytelling are noticeable from the earliest of episodes. If the quality is so high for the entirety of it’s history, it’s a wonder which One Piece episodes are the best of all.

Episode 37: “Luffy Stands Up! End of a Broken Promise!”

Screengrab via YouTube

Every single episode of the Arlong Pirates and the Straw Hat’s fight is bound to be absolutely iconic. It is the first time the crew fights such a powerful antagonist, and the fans finally get a glimpse of this crew’s paradoxically selfless character, clashing with their sometimes selfish motives. Episode 37 is especially intense for a number of reasons: Nami bravely challenges Arlong by cutting up her own arm tattoo, Luffy gives Nami his own prized straw hat, and of course, Luffy’s first interaction with his opponent, Arlong. 

Episode 126: “I Will Surpass You! Rain Falls on Arabasta!”

Screengrab via YouTube

In episode 126 is not only the demise of Arabasta’s antagonist, Crocodile, but also the first rain fall in 20 years in this drought-stricken country in East Blue. From start to finish, this episode will leave viewers at the edge of their seat, not only from Luffy and Crocodile’s fight, but Vivi’s cry of desperation, after having lost all hope of ever getting her country back.

Episode 151: “The 100,000,000 Man! The World’s Highest Authority and the Pirate Blackbeard”

Screengrab via YouTube

Episode 151 contains quite a few memorable scenes for any One Piece fan. Upon their last encounter in Mock Town, Bellamy challenges Luffy once again, doubting his ability to throw a punch. Much to everyone’s satisfaction, Luffy finally lands a defeating punch on Bellamy, knocking him down right away. Not long after, the audience reunites with a somewhat familiar figure who was once introduced as an incentive for the Straw Hats to never give up their dreams. This character appears for the first time as the threatening and infamous Blackbeard.

Episode 278: “Say You Want to Live! We Are Friends!!” 

After surrendering to the world Government, Robin is sentenced to death. While rescuing the archeologist of the Straw Hats, the audience enjoys one of the most iconic One Piece episodes: Sogeking shooting down the World Government flag at Luffy’s orders, thus declaring war on the World Government. At this act of pure loyalty from her captain, Robin breaks down, bursting into tears despite everyone around her watching intently, and cries aloud one of the most heartbreaking One Piece quotes: “I want to live!”

Episode 312: “Thank You, Merry! The Sea of Separation in the Snow”

Screengrab via YouTube

During their fight with CP9, the Straw Hats went on one last adventure with their beloved ship, Going Merry. The crew finally gives their farewell to Merry in episode 312, while giving her a Viking funeral, apologizing for being inexperienced sailors who would have otherwise helped Merry last a little longer. At this point, none of the Straw Hats can hold back tears. Nevertheless, they hear Merry (or Klabautermann) thanking the crew for taking her on this adventure.

Episode 377: “My Crewmate’s Pain is My Pain, Zoro Fights Prepared to Die”

Screengrab Via Youtube

During episode 377, we see the selfless, sacrificial nature of Zoro, who more than once has put his life on the line. This time, the swordsman of the Straw Hats chose to take in all of the pain and wounds that his captain, Luffy, has accumulated during his battle with Moria. With the help of Kuma and the paw-paw fruit, Zoro requests to take his captain’s pain, and go into Luffy’s bubble of pain. When discovered in a pool of his own blood by Sanji and questioned about what had happened, in Zoro’s characteristicaly unwavering loyalty, simply answers “nothing happened.”

Episode 380: “Binks’ Sake – The Song that Connects the Past and Present”

During the Thriller Bark arc, the figure who would become the musician of the Straw Hats, Brook, is introduced. As the story unravels, the tragic past of the 88-year-old skeleton is finally revealed. Previously a member of the Rumbar Pirates, Brook and his crew were attacked by enemies who had tainted their weapons with poison. Thanks to eating the Yomi Yomi no Mi, Brook was in no imminent danger of death. However, his crewmates weren’t as fortunate. In the flashback in episode 380, Brook says goodbye to his crew one by one as they play the iconic pirate song “Bink’s Sake.”

Episode 396: “The Exploding Fist! Destroy the Auction”

Screengrab via YouTube

During episode 396, Luffy throws a punch at Saint Charlos, a celestial dragon whose aim was to buy Camie, their mermaid friend, at an auction, and who was trying to shoot Hatchan, a fishman who had also been fighting along with the crew. In this episode, there are also several appearances of some very important future characters, including Eustass Kidd, and Trafalgar Law.

Episode 405: “Disappearing Crew – The Final Day of the Straw Hat Crew”

Screengrab via YouTube

Defeating the Straw Hats immediately, Kuma touches the crew one by one, sending them off to far away places, causing immense distress and exasperation for the members left who have no chance of escaping. The Straw Hat captain is feeling especially helpless, after failing to help his friends and crew escape this unknown ability of Kuma’s, thus making up for an episode that is filled with anguish, but which will ultimately prove to be a necessary measure from Kuma’s perspective. 

Episode 483: “Looking for the Answer Fire Fist Ace Dies on the Battlefield”

Screengrab via YouTube

Marineford to this day is the arc that has caused the biggest shift in the One Piece narrative, and it all begins at and is due to this and subsequent episodes. Every One Piece fan will remember this episode for one simple, yet stirring reason: it’s the episode where Firefist Ace dies. Upon witnessing Akainu’s attack on Luffy, Ace places himself in front of his brother, saving him, but losing his own life as a consequence. From this moment on, every pirate on the battlefield puts their efforts into saving Luffy on Ace’s behalf and to fulfill his aim of always putting his little brother first.

Episode 485: “Settling the Score Whitebeard vs. The Blackbeard Pirates”

In episode 485, Whitebeard goes completely berserk and fights with his son, Blackbeard. Aiming to avenge Ace, Whitebeard battles with Tatch. However, he cannot defeat his estranged family member. Nonetheless, the captain of the Whitebeard Pirates still manages to land a violent punch on Blackbeard, but is subsequently furiously attacked by his opponents. Already in a weakened state, Whitebeard cannot handle any more attacks on his body and ultimately dies, while standing upright of all things, thus signaling the end of the old era and opening the door for the new age pirates to arise.

Episode 733: “Attack on a Celestial Luffy’s King Kong Gun of Anger”

Screengrab via YouTube

Finally returning to the battle with Doflamingo after having to take a break from using up all of his Haki in Gear 4, Luffy is back in action. Using his string, Doflamingo gets ahold of Luffy and attempts to control him, but the captain of the Straw Hats swiftly shifts into Gear 4 mode, breaking through Doflamingo’s barrier and defeating the Shichibukai after an arduous battle, ultimately freeing Dressrosa from the hands of a heartless and powerful leader. 

Episode 808: “A Heartbreaking Duel Luffy vs. Sanji – Part 2″

One Piece Episode 808

Upon being captured by the Big Mom Pirates and reuniting with his family, Germa 66, Sanji decides to stay away from the Straw Hats to ensure their safety by submitting to an arranged marriage. Nonetheless, the crew still attempts to rescue Sanji. However, the cook of the Straw Hats is insisting on not being rescued and, in a one-sided fight, kicks Luffy continuously to make his point, thus defying his captain in one of the gravest attitudes a crew member could have towards their leader.

Episode 871: “Finally, It’s Over The Climax of the Intense Fight Against Katakuri”

Screengrab via YouTube

Promising to meet at 1am, the Straw Hats are each dealing with their own battles. Sanji is saying farewell to his arranged fiancé, Pudding, while the Straw Hats and Bege’s crewd are fighting with Smoothie and her fleet. While all of this is happening, Luffy is still fighting with his strongest opponent to date: Katakuri. Finally mastering observation Haki, and being able to see into the future, the captain of the Straw Hats finally manages to free Katakuri from his brotherly duties, defeating him, and promising to take down the emperor, Big Mom.

Episode 968: “The Pirate King is Born Arriving at the Last Island!”

As part of the Oden flashbacks, this episode shows the audience the exact moment Roger Pirates reach the last island on the map, therefore becoming the first pirate crew to reach the long-awaited one piece. In Oden’s journal, the shogun of Wano recollects that once Roger, now the King of Pirates, finally saw the one piece, the captain’s involuntary reaction was to simply laugh. 

Episode 1015: “Straw Hat Luffy The Man Who Will Become the Pirate King”

Screengrab via YouTube

Episode 1015 is filled with absolutely essential scenes for the development of One Piece. Yamato recalls her moments with Ace with fondness. Including when he gushes about his little brother and his dream. Upon listening to Luffy’s dream, Yamato is immediately reminded of Roger’s own wish that she read in Oden’s journal. Furthermore, Luffy takes Kaido and Big Mom head-on, while avenging the Red Scabbards, using Ryou (or Haki), knocking down Kaido, openly claiming he is the man who will become the King of Pirates. 

Considering One Piece’s stellar history and lengthy catalog, one ought to find gem after gem in every single arc, especially considering Oda’s brilliant writing and storytelling. Albeit, select episodes are stellar and have become staples in fans’ hearts. Though difficult to narrow down, this compilation is the absolute best of One Piece episodes for both long-time fans and new viewers alike.