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The 20 best ‘One Piece’ episodes of all time

So many episodes, so little time.

Image via Crunchyroll

The following article contains spoilers for the One Piece anime.

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One Piece is one of those once-in-a-lifetime stories that come to completely change the world of anime and manga. It has been immensely popular throughout Asia for decades, 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, 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.

Over time, it’s become almost impossible to choose the best episodes among peak fiction, but we tried to take on that (nearly) impossible task, so here are the best episodes of One Piece.

Episode 706 – “Advance, Law! The Kindhearted Man’s Final Fight!”

Corazon and Law in One Piece episode 706
via Toei Animation

Dressrosa was one of the most strenuous arcs to watch in One Piece, let’s be honest. It had an amazing story but suffered from terrible pacing. Despite the unfortunate timing, Dressrosa still includes some heartbreakingly beautiful episodes, namely episode 706. Capable of bringing a grown man to tears, this episode depicts Corazón’s ultimate sacrifice to save Law and ensure his safety. It concludes a character arc in the most heartbreaking way possible, as he is killed by his own brother. Nevertheless, it perfectly embodies what One Piece is all about — sacrifice, loyalty, and friendship.

Episode 767 – “A Volatile Situation! The Dog and the Cat and the Samurai!”

The minks in the Zou arc, episode 767 of One Piece
via Toei Animation

While I could go on a rampage to talk about how each individual character — secondary or otherwise — is absolutely indispensable to the story, the best way to demonstrate it is by watching episode 767. At this point in the story, we’re entering Zou, an island inhabited by Minks — anthropomorphic animals. Initially, we don’t necessarily realize the reasoning for the continuous feud between the Dog and the Cat, but ultimately, we realize that they still fight alongside each other for one very specific reason: To keep Raizo safe and sound as they await a savior to save Wano. Absolute chills.

Episode 86 – “Hiriluk’s Cherry Blossoms and the Will That Gets Carried On!”

Dr.Hiruluk's speech before dying in One Piece
via Toei Animation

I realize now that many entries on this list are downright world-shattering — I can’t help it; One Piece has lots of sad moments. For this reason, of course, we couldn’t skip over episode 86 — Dr. Hiriluk’s death. There are many reasons why this is one of One Piece‘s best episodes; however, we have to stress that Dr. Hiriluk’s death plays a significant role in making this particular episode absolutely perfect. After all, lives were changed with the quote: “When do you think people die? When they are shot through the heart by the bullet of a pistol? No… It’s when they are forgotten!” That is all.

Episode 192 – “Miracle On Skypiea! The Love Song Heard in the Clouds!”

There were a few battles that stuck with us pre-time skip, but Enel’s just hits differently. Despite this episode being from Skypiea — arguably one of One Piece‘s most dragged-out arcs — episode 192 marks a shift for the Straw Hats. Not only do they defeat their biggest opponent to date, but we also witness Luffy’s genius in battle as he uses his own body as the natural conductor for Enel’s electricity. It’s a fantastic battle and a perfect episode.

Episode 1017 – “Barrage of Powerful Techniques! The Fierce Attacks of the Worst Generation!”

Worst Generation Wano One Piece
Image via Crunchyroll

From the moment Wano started, a reunion of the Worst Generation’s strongest pirates was imminent. Finally, in episode 1017, it delivered – and oh boy, did it deliver. In this episode, the fight between the two (former) Emperors of the Sea Kaido and Big Mom unfolds, against Luffy, Kid, Law, and Zoro. In this moment, we see brilliant animation of their fight and the moments that became infamously known as “Roofpiece.”

The audience also sees the Worst Generation in action since their first meeting in Sabaody, now much stronger and more powerful than they previously were. Zoro is capable of even injuring Kaido using Enma, one of the only two swords known to have injured the seemingly impenetrable emperor. Overall, this episode is a masterpiece of action and adrenaline from start to finish.

Episode 236 – “Luffy vs. Usopp! Collision of Two Men’s Pride!”

Usopp One Piece Water 7
Image via Crunchyroll

The episodes where we see the Straw Hats fighting are some of the most heartbreaking moments in the series. At the same time, they create some of the most anxiety and tension-inducing times in the show, which completely enthrall everyone watching and wishing to see how it all unfolds. Episode 236 is the first moment we see one of the Straw Hats actually opposing Luffy — his captain — succumbing to his own insecurities.

This episode is steeped in tension and uncertainty, and it’s one of those moments that can bring any fan to tears. Usopp’s vulnerability and fear are juxtaposed with the portrayal of two best friends diametrically opposed, illuminated under an ominous blue light. Luffy’s unwavering determination not to lose — coupled with his grief over the potential loss of his best friend — created some of the best fights in One Piece. Truly good stuff.

Episode 1062: “The Three-Sword Style of the Supreme King! Zoro vs. King”

One Piece Zoro VS King
Image via Crunchyroll

Right before we saw Luffy’s awakening in Gear Five, episode 1062 was arguably the best-animated episode of all time. It is no wonder that it is also one of the highest-rated One Piece episodes of all time. This episode sees Zoro and King’s fight finally breaking out, and ending just as quickly as it started.

The animation brilliantly encompasses Zoro’s strength and exactly how powerful he’s become, as well as his becoming one of the few One Piece characters who can employ the Supreme King Haki – which he used against King. This episode also introduces Zoro’s strongest attack to date, becoming known as the King of Hell with his new move the Three-Sword Serpent: 103 Mercies Dragon Damnation.

Episode 1071 – “Luffy’s Peak – Attained!” Gear Five

Considered by many to be the best row of episodes of One Piece of all time, the three consecutive episodes — 1070, 1071, and 1072 — contain some of the most highly anticipated moments in the series. With manga fans already brimming with excitement due to their knowledge of the story’s progression, anime fans were finally granted the opportunity to witness the long-awaited introduction of Gear 5, along with the new design of Luffy’s awakened fruit.

These episodes also unveil some of the most significant mysteries in the series, including the revelation of Luffy’s true devil fruit — the Human-Human Fruit Model: Nika — and its connection to Joyboy. Moreover, these episodes highlight how the fruit serves as a link that intertwines the names Nika, Joyboy, and Luffy.

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

Screengrab via YouTube

Every single episode depicting the fight between the Arlong Pirates and the Straw Hat crew is bound to be absolutely iconic. It marks the crew’s first confrontation with such a powerful antagonist, offering fans a glimpse into the paradoxically selfless nature of the crew members as they clash with their occasional selfish motives.

Episode 37 stands out for its exceptional intensity, driven by several key factors: Nami’s courageous challenge to Arlong, symbolized by her act of cutting her own arm tattoo; Luffy’s heartfelt gesture of entrusting Nami with his prized straw hat; and, of course, Luffy’s initial face-off with the arc’s antagonist Arlong.

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

Screengrab via YouTube

In episode 126, we witness not only the downfall of Arabasta’s antagonist, Crocodile, but also the first rainfall in 20 years in this drought-stricken country in East Blue. From start to finish, this episode will leave viewers on the edge of their seats, engrossed not only because of Luffy and Crocodile’s intense battle, but also by Vivi’s cry of desperation after losing all hope of reclaiming her country.

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.

In general, this episode is one of the first instances where we see the magnificent world built in One Piece. It sets the stage for characters like the five elders, Blackbeard, Bellamy, Shanks, Mihawk, Doflamingo, Kuma, Whitebeard, and Sengoku, which all become vital parts of the series in the future.

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

After surrendering to the World Government, Robin is sentenced to death. During the Straw Hats’ mission to rescue their archaeologist, the audience witnesses one of the most iconic moments in One Piece: Sogeking shoots down the World Government flag under Luffy’s orders, effectively declaring war on the World Government. This act of unwavering loyalty from her captain brings Robin to her breaking point. Overwhelmed by emotions, she breaks down in tears, even as those around her watch intently. In a moment that pierces the heart, Robin cries out one of the most heart-rending quotes in One Piece: “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”

Zoro One Piece
Image via Crunchyroll

In episode 377, we witness the selfless and sacrificial nature of Zoro, a trait he has demonstrated multiple times by putting his life on the line. On this occasion, the Straw Hats’ swordsman chooses to absorb all the pain and injuries his captain, Luffy, has endured during his battle with Moria. With the assistance of Kuma and the paw-paw fruit, Zoro requests to bear his captain’s suffering and enter Luffy’s “bubble of pain.” When discovered lying in a pool of his own blood by Sanji and questioned about the ordeal, Zoro, in his characteristically unwavering loyalty, simply responds, “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,” and becomes one of the most tragic backstories in the show.

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

Celestial Dragon Saint Carlos One Piece
Image via Crunchyroll

The Sabaody arc is filled with high-scoring episodes and of course, an array of moments that just stick in our minds. In this case, episode 396 is one of the many episodes that we just can’t seem to shake. In it, Luffy throws a punch at Saint Charlos, a celestial dragon whose aim was to buy Camie at an auction, and who was trying to shoot Hatchan – a Fishman who had also been fighting along with the crew.

This absolutely brilliant episode shows Luffy’s unwavering loyalty toward those he calls his “friends,”alongside his lack of fear regarding the most powerful beings in their world. Aside from this specific moment and all the showcasing of slavery in this fictional world, we also meet the people who would become known as “The Worst Generation”: Eustass Kidd, Bege Capone, Jewelry Bonney, 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 faraway 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, 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 fulfilling his aim of always putting his little brother first.

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

Whitebeard standing up after dying in One Piece
via Toei Animation

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
Screengrab via YouTube

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 insists 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, becoming one of the most heartbreaking moments in all of One Piece.

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

Katakuri One Piece
Screengrab via YouTube

Episode 871 is one for the books. We see a plethora of anxiety-inducing moments right before the crew promises to meet at a designated time. The Straw Hats are each dealing with their own battles. Sanji is saying farewell to his arranged fiancé, Pudding, while the remaining cre members alongside Bege’s crew 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 of 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. This very episode made Katakuri one of the best antagonists in the entire show.

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. Iconic.

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.