One Piece is one of the longest-running series in the world. It features an intertwined plot, which has captured the interest of fans for decades. With the manga now entering its endgame, the time for all the subplots to be developed has finally come.
Readers can't wait to see the Straw Hat Pirates realize their dreams and reveal the secrets of the One Piece world. Supernovas, Emperors, Marines, and members of the World Government are ready to partake in the greatest battle of all time.
Regardless of what happens, the final act of Eiichiro Oda's story will be unforgettable. Fans are trying their hardest to predict how the author plans to finish his masterpiece.
Keep reading to check out the main theories about how the series will end.
Disclaimer: This article contains major spoilers from the One Piece manga up to chapter 1081 and reflects the writer's personal views.
The final saga of One Piece will be a combination of epic fights and intriguing lore
One Piece can't end without revealing some major secrets
Among One Piece's most celebrated aspects is its incredible world-building. Eiichiro Oda's storytelling involves an enormous amount of lore, which leaves many unanswered questions and narratives to be developed.
The entire series is based on the search for the One Piece treasure. The first and only one to find it was Gol D. Roger, who, along with his crew, explored and conquered the entire Grand Line. This unique accomplishment granted him the title of "Pirate King."
Before his death, Roger declared that he had left the treasure in a certain place. This claim prompted the start of the Great Piracy Era, with innumerable pirates setting sail with the aim of obtaining it. So far, readers are yet to know what the treasure truly consists of.
The One Piece seems to include the sum of the items that Joy Boy left centuries ago. Moreover, it directly ties to the truth about some of the world's greatest mysteries, including the Void Century, the Will of D., and the Ancient Weapons.
Instead of revealing everything to the Straw Hats, Roger's right-hand man, Rayleigh, encouraged them to have their own adventure so that they might come to a different conclusion than the one the Roger Pirates had.
Like the natural-born Conqueror's Haki, the Will of D. is a very rare trait that only a few people bear from their birth. To this day, it is still unknown why some people have the initial "D." in their names.
The Ancient Weapons, i.e., Pluton, Poseidon, and Uranus, are items capable of immeasurable destruction. The World Government fears that knowledge of such weapons could result in a global war but simultaneously tries to gain possession of them.
The World Government doesn't want the One Piece to be found. They even eradicate the people of Ohara for their knowledge of the Poneglyphs, which could lead to the location of the treasure and the reveal of the secrets of the Void Century.
The World Government indeed fears anyone learning the history of the Void Century. One of the Ohara archeologists, Professor Clover, was killed just before he could reveal the name of the Great Kingdom, the only realm that opposed the alliance of the Twenty Kingdoms that now form the World Government.
The study of the Void Century, the period during which the aforementioned events happened, was strictly forbidden by the World Government. All mentions of the Great Kingdom, including its name and history, have been erased.
With all these mysteries being masterfully intertwined, they won't be revealed until the very end, finally allowing readers to fully understand the lore of the series.
Characters who are guaranteed protagonists of the final saga
Monkey D. Luffy seeks freedom above everything, which means that he will eventually overtake the World Government. He is fiercely determined to find the One Piece. However, the Straw Hat has declared that his real ambition goes even beyond becoming the Pirate King.
Luffy's true dream may somehow be connected to him having eaten the Nika-Nika Fruit, which caused him to become the physical reincarnation of Joy Boy, a legendary figure known as "The Warrior of Liberation."
Shanks is the man who inspired Luffy to become a pirate. He entrusted Luffy with the straw hat that he previously received from Roger and asked him to give it back only after becoming a great pirate. The moment seems to have come now.
Since the beginning of the series, Roronoa Zoro has always been at Luffy's side as his loyal right-hand man. To honor a promise made to his childhood friend Kuina, he aims to become the World's Strongest Swordsman.
Zoro is continuously improving to realize this dream, which involves him fighting the all-powerful Dracule Mihawk, a man who is as strong if not stronger than Shanks. This incredible battle will likely be one of the main events of One Piece's final saga.
Concerning the other members of the Straw Hat Pirates, most of their dreams should be solved by circumnavigating the world. This may be the case with Nami’s map, Robin finding the true history, Franky building a ship that sails all the seas, and Brook meeting Laboon once again.
The same goes for Usopp, who will slowly turn himself into a brave warrior of the sea, for Sanji, whose All Blue will either be found in Laugh Tale or become a reality after the destruction of the Red Line, and for Chopper, who will become the best medician in the world.
The leader of the oppressive World Government is Im (or Imu), a cryptic figure whose direct orders are executed by the Five Elders. They are the highest-ranked Celestial Dragons, the descendants of the Twenty Kings who established what is now known as the World Government.
The Five Elders act as the greatest authority, while Im's existence is kept a secret from the public. They obey Im's orders regarding whichever "light" needs to be permanently erased from history.
Through unknown means, Im can completely destroy entire islands within seconds. Fans can only speculate about the true identity of Im, as well as how this individual managed to become the supreme leader of the World Government.
These secrets will be disclosed in the final saga, where Im and the Five Elders will be involved as key figures. Among the other main antagonists is certainly Marshall D. Teach, the founder and captain of the Blackbeard Pirates, as well as the only known person in the story to wield two Devil Fruits.
As the leader of the Revolutionary Army, the only military force that actively seeks to overthrow the World Government, Dragon is a key figure in the series. Being the son of "Marine Hero" Garp and the father of Luffy, as well as a friend of Dr Vegapunk, Dragon is bound to play a major role.
Dragon is waiting for the proper moment to make his move. He could possibly find an ally in Luffy. Dragon's right-hand man is Sabo, who is Luffy's adoptive brother. Sabo was involved during the destruction of the Lulusia Kingdom at the hands of Im, and he has yet to reappear since.
Fleet Admiral Akainu is the current leader of the Marines. In the final act of the series, he will certainly take personal action to carry high the pride of the Navy. Akainu killed Ace, Luffy's beloved adoptive brother, which means that the latter may confront him.
Like Luffy and Zoro, Eustass Kid and Trafalgar Law are two of the major members of the Worst Generation Supernovas. Kid and Law tried to compete with Luffy for the One Piece, but the former was easily defeated by Shanks, who beat him with a single blow, destroying all his ambitions.
Much more cautious than his fellow Supernova, Law is a cautious man who aims to discover the true meaning of the Will of D. However, he was recently attacked by Blackbeard, which means that he is likely going to suffer the same miserable fate as Kid.
The Cross Guild, an organization co-founded by Mihawk and Crocodile, who put Buggy as the figurehead leader as the former didn't want to become an Emperor, is implied to play a significant role, opposing the Navy and the World Government.
Given his ties to Crocodile, Doflamingo may become a new member of the Cross Guild. The former ruler of Dressrosa is implied to know the secrets of Im and the Five Elders. The Cross Guild indeed seems to be a Yonko crew composed of former members of the Seven Warlords.
Straw Hat Pirates vs Blackbeard Pirates
The Blackbeard Pirates are clearly depicted as the antagonist crew to the Straw Hat Pirates. Fans have formulated several theories in regard to future issues where Teach and his men will be involved, especially when it comes to the final saga.
Teach's true intentions aren't entirely clear. He is certainly a greedy man who aims to become the Pirate King and will go to any length to satisfy his lust for power.
Teach is the nemesis of Luffy and the sworn enemy of the latter's mentor, "Red Hair" Shanks. At one point, Teach and Shanks fought. The former left the latter with a noticeable scar on his left eye.
Shanks considered Teach to be the greatest threat to the world and warned Whitebeard about him. When Shanks challenged him head-on in Marineford, Teach renounced. Still, a clash between Red Hair Pirates and Blackbeard Pirates will probably happen sooner or later.
For evident narrative reasons, the battle is bound to end with Shanks losing to Teach, possibly due to the latter fighting dirty and using some trickery. This will uphold the Blackbeard Pirates as the fated opponents of the Straw Hats in the race for the One Piece.
Oda will certainly use this clash to settle once and for all what a pirate should be. It may be somewhat of an analogy to the final battle between Naruto and Sasuke at the end of the Fourth Ninja War.
It will also be interesting to learn what happens when former Marine Admiral Aokiji, who has apparently joined the Blackbeard Pirates, reveals his true allegiance. It doesn't seem feasible for a man like Aokiji to truly join such a wicked bunch.
When he met Smoker in Punk Hazard, Aokiji declared that he was still the same person that he had always been. Thus, it's highly likely that he is infiltrating the Blackbeard Pirates on behalf of the Marines, possibly working as a member of SWORD.
The war against the World Government
Whitebeard knew the truth behind the Void Century and the Will of D., as Roger told him before he died. Before succumbing to his injuries in the Paramount War, Whitebeard declared that there will be a man who will find the truth and carry the burden of history.
He further stated that the World Government lives in fear of the day when that happens and that a great war will be fought as a result of the rise of this man. This individual is most likely Luffy, who was recently revealed to be the second coming of Joy Boy.
This implies that Im is going to be the final enemy of the series as the person behind the events of the Void Century. Most fans believe that the Five Elders, Im's direct subordinates, have been alive since the Void Century. It's also speculated that they are immortal.
Whether or not the Five Elders are strong fighters is yet to be revealed, but given that their bodies are muscular and scarred, Oda may be hinting at them having at least some battle experience. One of the Elders wields a sword that seems to be the Shodai Kitetsu, one of the Supreme Grade blades.
Admittedly, the Five Elders don't seem to be the average old men. One of them, Saint Jaygarcia Saturn, is heading to Egghead alongside Kizaru. This unexpected twist may allow fans to finally grasp what the Five Elders can really do.
Some fans speculated that Saturn's name implies that his colleagues are named after Jupiter, Mars, Venus, and Mercury. While this is merely a theory, it ties well with the idea of the Five Elders being mighty warriors.
Going by this assumption, fans theorized that they will partake in the final war, fighting against the five strongest Supernovas, i.e., Luffy, Zoro, Law, Kid, and Killer, the rising pirates who confronted Kaido and Big Mom on Onigashima’s Rooftop.
However, Kid and Killer were slaughtered by Shanks. While they likely are still alive, it doesn't seem feasible for them to make a comeback with a major active role. It will also be interesting to see which side the Marines will take.
Among the most prominent Marine officers, some fully agree with the World Government, while others despise its goals and methods. Regardless of who will fight whom, a fierce battle between Luffy's allies and the World Government is guaranteed to happen.
How long will One Piece last before it ends?
In 2019, One Piece author Eiichiro Oda declared that he would have needed five more years to end the story. As of 2023, however, it really doesn't seem possible for Oda to wrap up the series satisfactorily in two or three years.
Considering an average of thirty chapters per year, One Piece should have more or less one hundred chapters before its end. Unless Oda decides to suddenly rush everything, this is impossible. There is too much narrative potential for the story to meet its conclusion before at least two hundred chapters.
This means that One Piece won't end before the next six or seven years. In a message during the recent Jump Festa 2023, the author reassured fans that the series is still many years ahead before its conclusion, which seems to corroborate the aforementioned estimate.
As stated in chapter 1078, the consequences of the incident on Egghead will shake the entire world, marking a milestone for the final saga of One Piece. Thus, the story is about to reach its climax.
After decades of entertaining serialization, fans have immense expectations for the conclusion of One Piece. Hopefully, Oda will be able to properly fulfill the narrative potential that he crafted. After all these years, he can't afford to disappoint fans.
The reveal of the Void Century, the Great Kingdom, and the rest of the lore, as well as the main fights and development, including the major characters, aren't things that can merely be explained in text. Fans need to see them with their own eyes. After years of building up, a rushed ending would be unforgettable.
Poll : Will Luffy fight Im (Imu) during the final battle?