The record-breaking manga One Piece follows the story of Monkey D. Luffy, a young man who sets sail dreaming of living the greatest adventure ever. But this series doesn’t run only on youngsters fighting to surpass the established top dogs. There are also old legends from the past: the guys that ruled the seas before the Great Piracy Era even started.
Strong pirates clashed between themselves and against the Marines sent by the World Government to stop them, resulting in feuds that people hailed as legends. Some of these fighters became famous worldwide while others were erased from history, but one thing accommodates all of them: the incredible power they showed.
Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers from the One Piece manga up to Chapter 1054 and reflects the writer's personal views.
Roger, Whitebeard, and the other strongest characters from the old generation in One Piece, ranked
10) Scopper Gaban
Not much is known about Scopper Gaban's character, except for his status as the third strongest member of the Roger Pirates. This notion is based on the widely shared opinion that the Straw Hats are a parallel of the Roger Pirates. While Roger and Rayleigh are seen as the Old Era counterparts for Luffy and Zoro, it's highly reasonable that Gaban is Sanji's homologous.
The connection between Sanji and Scopper seems to be further enforced by the latter's name, which is based on a callback to the slang term used for police officers. This could give Gaban a clear reference to the tokusatsu series policeman, Space Sheriff Gaban, a character who wields a suit that, coincidentally, resembles a lot with the Raid Suits used by Sanji and his Vinsmoke brothers.
9) Oden Kozuki
The leader of the Red Scabbards, a group of samurai, Oden was a powerful swordsman and Haki master who wielded two blades: Enma and Ame No Habakiri. He was an influential pirate who sailed with two of the greatest crews ever: the Whitebeard Pirates and the Roger Pirates. Oden was so strong that even individuals such as Roger, Whitebeard, and Kaido deeply respected him.
Oden's best achievement is fighting on equal grounds against Kaido, the Yonko known as the strongest creature in the world. The samurai was besting him, but because of an unfair distraction, he ended up losing. Kaido was so impressed by his power that even today, he considers Oden to be of the same kind as Shanks, Xebec, Roger, and Whitebeard.
8) Charlotte "Big Mom" Linlin
More commonly known as "Big Mom," Charlotte Linlin is the captain of the Big Mom Pirates and the ruler of Totto Land. She was also one of the Yonko, the four great pirates who led the New World.
Many years ago, she was one of the core members of the Rocks Pirates, along with Xebec, Whitebeard, Shiki, and Kaido. Linlin formed an alliance with Kaido, but the Straw Hats and their allies defeated the two Yonkos.
Because of her strength, tough body, and the abilities of her Soul Soul Fruit, Big Mom has been considered a freak of nature ever since she was just a child. Two of the strongest rookies, Trafalgar Law and Eustass Kidd, needed a numerical advantage to fight her. Even then, she survived all their attacks and was defeated only because of some bombs dropping on her at the right time.
Shiki is a living legend, an infamous pirate who wished to conquer the world. He started as part of the Rocks Pirates and then became the captain of his own crew, the Golden Lion Pirates. Shiki's ambition was so high that he challenged Roger in the Battle of Edd War. But luck was not on his side: he and his fleet were completely wiped out by a sudden storm.
After Roger's death, an enraged Shiki attacked Marineford, where he was defeated and subdued by Garp and Sengoku. He didn't stand a chance against the combined might of the two Marine legends, but the battle between them was fierce enough to destroy half of Marineford. Once defeated, Shiki was imprisoned in Impel Down. He eventually managed to escape, becoming the first prisoner to achieve this feat.
Sengoku is a former admiral and fleet admiral who currently works for the Marines as a General Inspector. He is one of the greatest legends of the Old Era of One Piece: even Roger held him in very high regard, thinking of him as a worthy opponent. Fighting alongside Garp, Sengoku managed to hand an overwhelming defeat to "Golden Lion" Shiki, one of the most dangerous pirates that ever lived.
One of the very few Conqueror Haki users, Sengoku owns the powers of a Mythological Zoan fruit, which allows him to transform into a giant Buddha-like figure and generate powerful shockwaves. In the Marineford Arc, Sengoku organized and led the Marines during the entire battle: he proved to be a tactical genius, showcasing his skills and his experience as a military strategist.
5) Silvers Rayleigh
Very few characters can compete with Silvers Rayleigh, the former right-hand man of the Pirate King. Known and feared all over the world as the Dark King, he was the first mate and vice-captain of the Roger Pirates; more than a simple underling, he was Roger's partner. Garp, one of the most influential figures in the Old Era, called Rayleigh a legend comparable to Whitebeard.
After Roger's death, Rayleigh retired from piracy. Even after inactivity and old age weakened him, he was still strong enough to fight on par with Admiral Kizaru, who was unable to get past him. This could suggest that Rayleigh, in his prime, would be stronger than the Admirals. That's not surprising, given his status as a powerful swordsman and Haki master, who can even use the rare Conqueror Haki.
4) Monkey D. Garp
Monkey D. Garp is one of the most notorious characters in the One Piece world, being the grandfather of the main character, the father of the infamous leader of the Revolutionary Army, Monkey D. Dragon, and the adoptive grandfather of Portgas D. Ace. Garp's immense strength allowed him to fight on equal grounds with Roger, the King of Pirates.
Another of Garp's most impressive feats was the victory against the fearsome Rocks D. Xebec, a tremendous enemy that forced him and Roger to combine their efforts; this achievement earned Garp an everlasting reputation as the Marine Hero. Even as an old man, many years past his prime, he could quickly overpower a pirate as strong as Marco, Whitebeard's right-hand man, with just a basic punch.
3) Edward "Whitebeard" Newgate
Edward Newgate, feared and respected all over the world as "Whitebeard" in his young days, was one of the main members of the Rocks Pirates; later, he became the captain of the Whitebeard Pirates. His immense power granted him the title of the world's strongest man and allowed him to fight on par with Gol D. Roger, the man who would later become the King of Pirates.
After Roger's death, Whitebeard became one of the Yonko. Unluckily for him, old age and a terrible sickness weakened him to the point where he couldn't use his Conqueror Haki anymore. But he was still so strong that his Gura Gura powers threatened the world: he nearly destroyed Marineford with his earthquakes. He died heroically after fighting the Admirals and Blackbeard head-on.
2) Gol D. Roger
Gol D. Roger was the first and only one, alongside his crew, to reach Laugh Tale and find the One Piece. His achievements earned him the title of King of Pirates and inspired the Great Piracy Era, making him a legendary figure. Roger was immensely strong, thanks to his all-powerful Haki: only a few selected individuals could stand against him.
Only Monkey D. Garp, the Marine hero, and Edward Newgate, the world's strongest man, could fight at his level. But even Roger needed to join his strength with Garp's to defeat a common enemy: the dangerous Rocks D. Xebec. Roger died undefeated: after ending his journey and finding the One Piece, knowing that his sickness meant unavoidable death, he let the Marines capture him.
1) Rocks D. Xebec
One of the most mysterious characters in the One Piece series, Rocks D. Xebec was Roger's mightiest opponent. He led the Rocks Pirates, an infamous group that included Whitebeard, Kaido, and Big Mom, the three future Yonko. The World Government feared Xebec so much that, after his defeat, they erased every trace of his life from history.
To bring an end to Xebec's era, the joined efforts from Roger, the King of Pirates, and Garp, the strongest Marine, were needed. While the precise extent of his powers is unknown, the fact that no one could match him individually makes his strength undisputable. Even decades after being part of his crew, Kaido still remembers and respects Xebec's strength.
One of the main recurring topics in the One Piece fandom is how the currently active pirates and Marines measure up to past legends. Being able to count on powerful individuals such as Akainu, Kizaru, Fujitora, and Ryokugyu, the Marines certainly don't lack strength.
There are also countless strong rising pirates: among them, the ones that stand out the most are Blackbeard, Luffy, Zoro, Kidd, and Law. Will they be able to reach and surpass what their predecessors achieved? Only time, and Oda, will tell.
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