One Piece: What happened to Smoker?

Smoker is a Marine officer and an old acquaintance of the Strawhats (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)
Smoker is a Marine officer and an old acquaintance of the Strawhats (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)

One of the distinctive features of One Piece is the masterful reintroduction of characters who were introduced and developed in the first half of the series. For example, this happened very recently with Crocodile, who, after about 500 chapters since his last appearance in the Marineford Arc, returned to the spotlight due to his involvement with Cross Guild, a powerful organization.

Among the characters introduced in the pre-time skip arcs who then reappeared in the second half of the series is Smoker, a Marine officer who currently holds the rank of vice-admiral. While back in the day, Smoker appeared to be a very threatening opponent for the Strawhats, after his reintroduction in One Piece's post-time skip arcs, he was quite disappointing. Follow this article to learn more.

Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers from the One Piece manga up to Chapter 1061 and reflects the opinions of the writer.


Since One Piece's second half started, Smoker has stopped being a credible threat

Who is Smoker?

Smoker possesses the powers of a Logia-class Devil Fruit, the Smoke-Smoke (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)
Smoker possesses the powers of a Logia-class Devil Fruit, the Smoke-Smoke (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)

"White Hunter" Smoker is a seasoned Marine officer who follows his personal code of justice. He trusts and protects his subordinate, Tashigi, who is always dutifully at his side, believing in the same ideals of justice. The Strawhats first met Smoker in Logue Town, one of the last East Blue places before entering the Grand Line. At the time, he was ranked a captain.

Smoker possesses the powers of a rare Logia-class Devil Fruit, the Smoke-Smoke, which allows him to create and freely control smoke. He can fully transform his body into that substance, enhancing his mobility or using it to bind or damage his opponent. Smoker is also very proficient in wielding a jitte that is tipped with Seastone, a material that immediately weakens Devil Fruit users upon contact.

After the time-skip and his promotion to the rank of vice-admiral, Smoker learned how to use Haki. He is especially proficient in using Armament Haki, as evidenced by his ability to make his punches powerful enough to damage Vergo's tough body.

Smoker was born on the Grand Line, but was in Logue Town on the day Gol D. Roger, the man who found the One Piece, was executed. He personally witnessed Roger's final smile and still remembers it to this day. At one point, he joined the Marines, and met Hina, who became his friend. She supported him on numerous occasions when he was on the verge of being discharged from the Marines due to his disobedience.

Among Luffy's many opponents in the East Blue Saga, Smoker is the only one who was able to defeat him. He quickly subdued Luffy and was on the verge of arresting him, had it not been for Luffy's father, Monkey D. Dragon, who interfered and saved his son from getting captured.

After that occurrence, Smoker and Luffy became rivals. They did, however, develop a strong sense of mutual respect that would last throughout the series. Smoker pursued the Strawhats in Alabasta, and was officially declared as the one who had defeated Crocodile, suppressing the truth that the latter had, in fact, been defeated by a pirate, in order to save face for the World Government.

Smoker angrily refused the promotion he received for that accomplishment, which he knew he didn't achieve. He only accepted it later, knowing that a higher rank would give him the freedom to pursue the Strawhat Pirates. Smoker met and defeated Luffy again in the Marineford Arc, but was still unable to capture him, this time due to Boa Hancock's intervention.

During the time skip, Smoker was promoted to the position of vice-admiral and assigned to the G-5 base in the New World. He met the Strawhats again during the Punk Hazard Arc, where he allied with them and the Worst Generation Supernova and former Warlord Trafalgar Law. Following the final events of the arc, Smoker was attacked by an enraged Doflamingo, but former Admiral Aokiji stepped in and saved him.

After exposing that Vice Admiral Vergo, his former commander in the G-5 base, was a double-dealer who was actually working for Doflamingo, Smoker became the new leader of the base. Together with Tashigi, the other subordinates, and the children they saved in Punk Hazard, Smoker set sail for Dr. Vegapunk's place.

Instead of following the orders of his superiors, Smoker believes in his own perception of justice, which allows him to be flexible depending on the circumstances. A testament to this is that whenever Smoker meets the Strawhat Pirates, if they have a greater common enemy, he lets them run free, if not even outright joins forces with them, for the sake of saving innocents.

However, as a Marine, Smoker warns the Strawhats that he will arrest them at any other time, according to his duties. He is ruthless against pirates and believes in global justice for the innocent. Smoker also strongly despises the Seven Warlords, believing them to be nothing more than pirates, despite their status as employees of the World Government.


During the pre-time skip arcs, Smoker had Luffy on the ropes

In the first half of the story, Smoker frequently beat Luffy, but also started to respect him, seeing him more as an individual than a pirate (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
In the first half of the story, Smoker frequently beat Luffy, but also started to respect him, seeing him more as an individual than a pirate (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

Smoker appeared to be a formidable opponent back then. Luffy was never able to match him, not even after unlocking Gear Two and Gear Three, his main power-ups during the first half of the series. One Piece fans also appreciated the bond of mutual respect that had developed between the two.

Many fans started to think that the connection between Luffy and Smoker was analogous to the one between the Pirate King, Gol D. Roger, and the Marine Hero, Monkey D. Garp. The latter's immense strength allowed him to fight on equal grounds with Roger, cornering him many times. Despite being enemies on the battlefield, they started respecting each other, just like Luffy and Smoker.

At one point, Roger and Garp fought on the same side, joining their efforts to defeat a tremendous enemy, Rocks D. Xebec. Sometimes Luffy and Smoker allied against a common enemy too. With all these clear similarities, the parallel between the two pirate-Marine duos was taken for granted, leading One Piece fans to have extremely high expectations for Smoker. Unfortunately, he failed to meet them.


In the New World, Smoker has been collecting losses one after another

Since the resume of the One Piece series after the time skip, Smoker didn't seem as threatening as before (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)
Since the resume of the One Piece series after the time skip, Smoker didn't seem as threatening as before (Image via Toei Animation, One Piece)

Due to his prominent role, One Piece fans started considering Smoker as "the new Garp". The idea was that he would have been to Luffy what Garp was to Roger. However, when the series resumed after the time skip, Smoker lost all his threatening aura and his credibility. During the Punk Hazard Arc, he lost several major battles one after another within a short time span, taking beating after beating.

He initially lost against Trafalgar Law, without being able to push the Supernovas member and former Warlord to give his maximum effort. Smoker later fought against Vergo. While Smoker initially dominated the fight, he was defeated after changing his fighting style to a less favorable one in order to recover Law's heart and repay his debt of honor with the pirate.

The outcome of the battle against Vergo was ambiguous. But, we can conclude by saying that Smoker did not succeed. To make things worse, after retrieving his heart and therefore his full power, Trafalgar Law was later able to overwhelmingly defeat Vergo, belittling Smoker even more. Nonetheless, the Marine officer's unlucky streak was not over yet.

At the end of the arc, Smoker confronted Doflamingo, who easily beat him and was about to kill him, had it not been for former Admiral Aokiji suddenly appearing and making him give up his intent. Smoker's credibility among One Piece fans was eroded by one loss after another. From a threatening opponent to the main character, everybody considered him a punching bag.

Smoker's only satisfying display of power in the second half of the series was during the movie One Piece: Stampede. However, fans often question if anime movies are a reliable source compared to the manga. Judging from his performance in the chapters of Punk Hazard Arc, it can be said that Smoker's post-time skip streak is completely disappointing, destroying his credibility as "the new Garp".

The last time Smoker appeared, his feats depicted him as someone who was not even at Commander-level. As a result, there's no way he could stand up as a convincing opponent for Luffy, Zoro, Law, Kid, and the other rising rookie pirates, who not only reached that level but also surpassed it significantly.


Final thoughts

Smoker is a little gruff, but has a strong sense of justice (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)
Smoker is a little gruff, but has a strong sense of justice (Image via Eiichiro Oda/Shueisha, One Piece)

According to the leaks, One Piece chapter 1061 shifted the focus to Egghead, the island of Dr. Vegapunk, the greatest scientist at the World Government's disposal. After the events of the Punk Hazard Arc, Smoker and Tashigi headed there. It is certain that the latter was seen at the G-14 Marine base on a nearby island. With Tashigi being there, it is most likely that Smoker will be around as well.

Having come to know this, many One Piece fans speculated that Smoker went to meet Vegapunk. Realizing that he couldn't keep up anymore with Luffy and the others, especially after getting to know their exploits in the Wano Arc, he may have asked the scientist for assistance in becoming stronger, and he may have received some sort of enhancement from them, such as a cybernetic upgrade or the artificial awakening of his Devil Fruit.

While that might not be enough to compete with world-renowned powers such as the awakening of the Nika-Nika Fruit or the unlocking of Advanced Conqueror Haki, in any case, it would be great to see Smoker return to being a prominent fighter. He knows that he can't administer justice if he lacks power, so he would probably be ready to swallow his pride and let Vegapunk's science help him achieve the needed strength.

However, at the moment, this is nothing more than a conjecture that the next One Piece chapters will confirm or disprove. Fans would undoubtedly enjoy seeing Smoker fight Luffy as a peer or team up with him again. With Smoker having repeatedly expressed his discontent with the World Government, he might not fight on their side in the future final war and instead join the Strawhats and their allies.