With One Piece being as narrative-driven a series as it is, there are many theories on so many different aspects of the story. Many of these focus on the big questions, such as who Joyboy was, what Luffy’s Awakening will be, and other interesting, engaging topics.
Some, however, prefer to focus on the more mundane aspects of the One Piece world. One such theory deals with the identity of Luffy’s mom, which some believe to be none other than the ex-Warlord, Crocodile.
Read on as this article breaks down the often dubbed “Croco-Mom” theory of One Piece.
‘One Piece’s’ Croco-Mom theory may seem ridiculous but is surprisingly sensible
Establishing Crocodile as a woman
Obviously, the primary problem with this theory is that Crocodile appears as a man throughout One Piece. In no way, shape, or form is he drawn during story events with anything close to feminine features.
However, in 2009, when the Impel Down arc was releasing weekly in the One Piece manga, he made his debut for the arc. He meets Luffy and Emporio Ivankov (Iva) when the latter reveals that he’s known Crocodile since he was a rookie pirate.
This line, along with another which will be discussed, formed the basis of the Croco-Mom theory. The theory would first appear online in 2011, but the original post, which many supporters of the theory reference, has since been deleted. At the time of writing, a copy of the original post could not be found.
Regarding the dialogue line, Ivankov also says something particularly interesting to Crocodile. He threatens to reveal a secret of the former Warlord, teasing him with the name Croco-boy as these talks progress.
Iva also says he can “just reveal [Crocodile’s] past here” if he gets out of line.
Crocodile’s official Vivre Card also confirmed that he was given something by Iva, likely a key part of this secret. Coincidentally, around the same time their shared past is revealed, Iva debuted his gender-switching hormone powers through his Devil Fruit.
With this, the stars began to align. Crocodile used to be a woman but was given the male hormones from Iva’s fruit and thus became a man. The proximity of their relationship being revealed and the debut of the gender-switching hormones further implies a connection.
Furthermore, Iva consistently calls him Croco-Boy the entire time during Marineford and Impel Down. It almost seems like he does so in a mocking, knowing way, especially given Crocodile’s initial reactions to the nickname.
It almost seems like author Eiichiro Oda wants readers to pay attention to Crocodile’s seen gender instead of whatever’s behind the curtain of his past.
Romancing SaGa 2 inspiration
However, this is still somewhat speculative evidence. Oda could’ve just wanted to establish a relationship of power between the two to reign Crocodile’s previous mean streak in. When looking at Oda’s inspiration for the initial group of Warlords, however, the theory slowly but surely becomes more concrete.
Oda has said his inspiration for the group came from a group of seven characters from the popular JRPG, Romancing SaGa 2. Each of the original seven Warlords links up to a character from the game, thematically speaking.
For example, in Romancing SaGa 2, there’s a character called Rocbouquet. She is a fierce warrior who lives in a jungle, ruling over the local men captivated by her beauty. This character, obviously, inspired Boa Hancock, who rules over the jungle island Amazon Lily and captivates men with her beauty.
Bokhohn, meanwhile, is a demon puppeteer who rules over his own realm with his own slaves. He also has a special technique that allows him to take over other party members, essentially against their will. If this sounds familiar, it should, as Bokhohn was the inspiration for the “Heavenly Demon” Donquixote Doflamingo.
Wagnas, meanwhile, is someone who enslaved and took over an entire country, all in the pursuit of an Ancient Weapon that could control the world. Clearly, he is meant to serve as the inspiration for Crocodile, whose goals in Alabasta are the same. However, Wagnas is a male, yet everything about him looks feminine.
Considering how detail-oriented Oda is with One Piece and his inspirations, it seems unlikely that this part of Wagnas’ character was simply left out from Crocodile’s design. He certainly appears to be a man based on all of his appearances throughout the series.
Yet, there are still some convincing arguments for the theory which can be made.
‘One Piece’ Croco-Mom theory: Further story and art analysis
One major argument against the Croco-Mom theory is that Oda has already given viewers a glimpse into the Warlords’ pasts. Specifically, he drew a fan-requested collage of the Warlords as they appeared as children. Obviously, this would be well before One Piece starts its story.
Croco-Mom debunkers will often argue that Crocodile is drawn as a boy here, plain as day. However, there are no clearly defined masculine or feminine features in his sketch. Furthermore, he looks the most similar to Boa Hancock within the group, who is right next to him and is, in fact, a woman.
Going off of this, Oda gives fans one quick glimpse into Crocodile’s past during the One Piece story. When a replay of Roger’s execution is shown, fans see him watching the ceremony from the streets of Loguetown.
Interestingly enough, he is the only character shown here from the backside as opposed to the front, both in the anime and manga.
The fur coat, cigar, and slick-backed purple hair all indicate that this is Crocodile. However, if this is the case, why not show his reaction to the greatest pirate of all time dying?
Every other character seen here has their faces and expressions shown, but not him, an interesting and perplexing choice if genuinely insignificant.
Oda has also drawn gender-bent versions of the Warlords, with each Warlord having their actual gender and the opposite one shown side by side. Crocodile’s look almost the same in terms of hair and head shape, which is essentially what all viewers have to go on for the execution scene.
Interestingly enough, the sketch also shows the male Crocodile letting the cigar hang off the left side of his mouth. Meanwhile, the female side shows the cigar hanging off the right side, as seen in Roger’s execution scene.
While this could be a coincidence, it could also be an incredibly tiny bread crumb on Oda’s foreshadowing trail.
Continuing off of this point, Oda will often hide or foreshadow secrets or future One Piece story details within the cover page stories and artworks. One such cover page prominently features Crocodile, that being the Chapter 938 cover page.
938’s official title is “A Woman’s Secret,” something that seems too heavy-handed to be a joke.
When analyzing his role in the One Piece story at large, his identity is, oddly enough, very and frequently connected to gender. His organization, Baroque Works, functions in a gendered manner, pairing one man and one woman together as partners. Every codename also starts with Mr. or Mrs. for every agent, including himself.
He’s also referred to throughout the story as Desert King Sir Crocodile, a somewhat superfluous title with King already being a gendered term.
As aforementioned, Iva also almost exclusively calls him Croco-Boy. His subordinate, Bon Clay, further emphasizes how interesting his relation to gender is as a character.
Bon Clay is both Mr. 2 and Mrs. Bon Clay, which, in Japanese, both represent national festivals, as is the running theme of Baroque Works code names. He’s also the first of the discriminated Okama seen in the series, working for a very masculine man in a very gendered organization.
He also plays both gendered roles at his level in the organization and has the Devil Fruit ability to change faces between those of different men and women. Clearly, there’s a somewhat overwhelming amount of physical and symbolic evidence that points to Crocodile’s true gender being a woman.
Jumping the shark to Croco-Mom
However, Crocodile being a woman and him being Luffy’s mom are two very, very different claims. Yet a thread can be traced throughout One Piece, providing substantial evidence to the theory proving true. One part of that thread is his connection to the Okama kingdom.
The Okama kingdom is home to the Okamas of the One Piece world, such as Bon Clay. Many of these Okamas are also involved in the Revolutionary Army, which Dragon leads. Furthermore, the Okama Kingdom has been seen being used as a meeting place and headquarters for Dragon and the Revolutionary Army at large.
Bon Clay worked for Crocodile at one point, which is one connection to the island. His established past with Iva acts as a second connection, giving him two means of familiarity with the island and the Revolutionary Army.
There are, however, some counterpoints that can be made to his being Luffy’s mom.
One major criticism is that Crocodile tries to kill Luffy during Alabasta. If he were aware of their relationship, it wouldn’t make sense for him to try to kill his own son not once but twice. If he were Luffy’s mom, surely he would’ve recognized his own son’s name and face.
Yet this isn’t necessarily true. For one, it’s possible Crocodile hasn’t seen him since he was born and left him in Dragon and/or Garp’s care instead. As for the name, the Marineford arc establishes that Luffy, Garp, and Dragon’s last name and family tree are a well-kept secret in the One Piece world.
Even Ivankov, a self-proclaimed high general of the Revolutionary Army and close associate of Dragon, didn’t recognize his last name. Even the Admirals themselves weren’t aware of this connection, with Sengoku apparently the only Marine aware of Luffy and Garp’s heritage, as well as Dragon’s.
Finally, a main counter is that the two should have similarities if they’re related, which they certainly do. Both inspire undying loyalty in their crews and, more specifically, their first mates, seen with Daz Bones for Crocodile and Zoro for Luffy.
It’s also said Crocodile also once had his dreams crushed by Whitebeard, essentially making him a version of Luffy who gave up on his dreams. This is further emphasized by the parent-like lectures he gives Luffy, telling him to give up on his dreams since the pirate world is cruel.
There are also two separate mafia specials where Luffy has a striking resemblance to Crocodile.Yet, all of this can be somewhat subjective in how it’s viewed. Much of the evidence presented so far relies on literary elements that only the author can know.
So, what hard proof is there, truly, that indicates Crocodile being Luffy’s mom?
‘One Piece’s’ Croco-Mom theory: Hard proof and conclusion
After Luffy’s parentage is revealed at Marineford, Crocodile’s behavior and actions become incredibly out of character. It’s also worth noting he isn’t given a reaction shot to the news of Dragon being Luffy’s father, similar to his lack of response shot at Roger’s execution.
The first out-of-character action he commits is stopping Ace’s execution when it serves him nearly no benefit. The excuse he gives here further emphasizes how fishy this is, being that he didn’t want to see Sengoku taste victory.
This is an incredibly unconvincing excuse, and arguments against its suspiciousness cite Luffy inspiring Crocodile at Marineford. However, Luffy doesn’t do anything at Marineford that he didn’t do during Impel Down or Alabasta. It’s also unlikely that Crocodile has an off-screen change of heart for essentially no reason, which plain and simply isn’t very Oda-like.
Shortly after, he and Daz Bones fend off Mihawk to allow Luffy to pass unharmed. Incredibly questionable is his ordering his only remaining loyal man to help fight the strongest swordsman in the world, all to protect the rookie who ruined their goals and dreams. While it makes sense not to make a move on killing Luffy with all the friends he has around, Crocodile’s certainly under no obligation to help him.
Mihawk even questions Crocodile’s motivations here, which the latter cites as simply being “not in the best mood” at that time. Yet what does he have to be in a bad mood about? He just escaped prison with his one loyal man and is set to escape back into the Grand Line after the war. The answer is he has just found out he attempted to kill his own child not once but twice.
Finally, he stands up to Akainu, arguably the strongest soldier in the entire Marineford war, just to buy Luffy and Jinbe time to escape. Not only does he buy them time, but he even helps them, using a Sables to carry them to a waiting Trafalgar Law, who can provide medical attention. This is an incredibly telling moment considering the stakes involved on Crocodile’s part.
He’s also been characterized previously as being more than happy with leaving the weak or useless behind, in a battle or otherwise. Oda could’ve had many other characters, such as Marco, help Luffy and Jinbe get to safety, but he instead chose Crocodile.
Shortly after this, the manga also shows him standing next to the Whitebeard captains and pirates, who’re essentially his sworn enemies. Yet, why would he spend the entire war protecting Luffy, even saving him in the end, as well as making a final stand with the Whitebeard pirates for him?
A mother’s love trumps all, even if your kid did send you to an underwater prison and lose you your job.
After the release of Netflix's One Piece Live Action, this theory has been all but confirmed. During Roger's Execution scene, a lady was seen in the same shot as Shanks, who resembles a female Crocodile. Luffy's actor Iñaki Godoy has also revealed in an interview that Crocodile is present in the Execution scene and has been shown in the series. All this further points to Crocodile having been a woman at some point.