[Analysis] One Piece And Character Deaths – How It Is Handled

  • One Piece chapter 145 - Dr. Hiluluk's final speech
  • One Piece chapter 145 - Dr. Hiluluk's final speech p2

When it comes to One Piece, beyond the elaborately crafted world, multitude of memorable characters, its ability to move ones heart and the romance for adventure, there is the manner in how present time character deaths are handled. Oda rarely kills off present time named characters preferring instead to incapacitate characters through defeats or injuries. There are a few exceptions but when you look closely at those character deaths and the circumstances surrounding their ends, an overriding theme emerges. The words Dr. Hiriluk stated before his death echoes quite prominently with all the deaths in One Piece:

When do you think a person dies? When his heart is pierced by a bullet? No… When he is inflicted with an incurable disease? No… When he drinks soup made from a poisonous mushroom? No! A man dies when he is forgotten!

Inherited Will expressed by Dr. Hiriluk

Flashback characters are more at risk with death exercising it’s claim more openly but with important characters killed in flashbacks, their will is inherited to be carried forward. The peculiarity in Oda’s writing style reveals itself when it comes to focusing on present time named characters who had substantial focus during their arcs and subjecting the characters to fatal situations. Ever since Oda realised how influential his manga is, he became more arbitrary in how he deals with present time named character deaths. Through the interpretation of logic, the situations certain characters are subject to should have an obvious end but time and time again, logic has been dissolved in favour of the desires held by Oda. With his handling of death to named present time characters, Oda has established that before he is willing to completely end a character’s life, their death must be able to significantly move the story forward and their will is able to be inherited by another character or characters still existing within the One Piece world. That way, even though the character has died, their role in the story is not over with their will being inherited and still influencing the world of One Piece. The prime examples of this are Whitebeard and Ace where the ripples of their deaths are still impacting the story and characters of One Piece.

With the New World representing the most dangerous sea in the One Piece world, it is expected that one would anticipate the stakes to be heightened when it comes to death. But contrary to that expectation, Oda has been handling death in the same style as he has been before, that is, being very cognizant in who he ultimately kills off. Oda understands that his work is intended primarily to be read by young boys and given how influential One Piece has become, he is very aware of the emotions his readers hold and attach towards the characters he creates. For that reason, Oda is very particular in how he handles the death of named present time characters.

Let us go through the sagas of One Piece and have a look at how Oda handled the present time characters whom were fatally wounded and those that ended up dying.

East Blue Saga: Number of present time character deaths: 1

During the East Blue saga beyond Higuma who appeared in the first chapter when Luffy met Shanks, no other present time named character introduced during the saga has been confirmed to have died. I am including Higuma as a present time named character because the One Piece story did begin during that time and then jumped ten years forward to focus on Luffy leaving Foosha Village to form his own Pirate crew and find the treasure One Piece. There were several present time characters whose fates were left suspect in their respective arcs such as the Nyanban brothers (Sham and Buchi) and Gin but they have been confirmed to be alive.

Alabasta Saga: Number of present time character deaths: 5

There were five characters who died during the Alabasta saga:

  • the Alabasta Tsumegeri Guards: Arrow, Barrel, Brahm and Hyota; and
  • Mr 11

The Tsumegeri Guards drank the Hero Water to gain superhuman strength to take on Crocodile but unfortunately they all died as a result of stressing their bodies beyond the limits. The Tsumegeri weren’t significantly relevant characters during the arc and only served to convey the viciousness of Crocodile. As for Mr 11, he was caught by the Marines and killed off screen by the Billions of Baroque Works. Both the Tsumegeri Guards and Mr 11 were exposition characters to highlight Baroque Works. The Alabasta Arc is also infamous for the Pell incident where everything set-up for his character depicted his death with his sacrifice to save the Alabasta Kingdom and Vivi but alas the bomb that would have taken out the kingdom failed to kill Pell and only moderately injured him. This situation may be the most prominent one when it comes to Oda’s lack of desire to kill off present time named characters but Oda has done it before with Igaram during the Whiskey Peak Arc and with Dorry during the Little Garden Arc. There are also the Lapahn that were overpowered by Wapol during the Drum Island Arc and shown alive at the end of it. And yeah for what it is worth, Oda did have the Island Eater killed at the end of the Little Garden arc (though it is technically not a “character”).

Skypiea Saga: Number of present time character deaths: 2

Turning to the Skypiea Saga now, there were two present time characters who were killed during the saga:

  • “Executioner” Roshio; and
  • Unnamed character on Upper Yard (named Zabo in the anime)

Executioner” Roshio was introduced during the Jaya Arc when Bellamy was introduced. Roshio got on the wrong side of Bellamy and was subsequently stabbed, doused in alcohol, set on fire, kicked out the window from the fourth story and later killed off by Bellamy’s spring ability off screen. Roshio like the Tsumegeri Guards weren’t significant characters to the respective arcs they were involved in and were primarily introduced to build up other characters, in this case Bellamy and his eventual one punch trashing at the fist of Luffy. The second character that was killed was during the Skypiea Arc when Enel showcased his “divine punishment” abilities. In the manga, the character was unnamed although in the anime he was called Zabo. Initially, Oda also portrayed Pagaya as having been killed by Enel but later in the arc Pagaya was miraculously shown to be alive and well. Add to that Gedatsu falling from the Sky Island and surviving the landing. Oda also conveyed Bellamy being killed by Sarquiss who was manipulated by Doflamingo and right until the Dressrosa Arc it was believed that Bellamy had been killed (over 400 chapters later). Bellamy’s case evidences how Oda likes to leave character deaths vague with the possibility of potentially revisiting them in the future even if hundreds of chapters later.

Water 7 Saga: Number of present time character deaths: 1

One “character” died during the Water 7 saga:

  • Going Merry

Technically not a person but a character nonetheless that the readers have come to form an emotional connection with. The death of the Going Merry helped to set-up Franky joining the crew and making way for the Thousand Sunny to be introduced which has now inherited the will of the Going Merry. Franky has also gone on to create the Mini Merry II to honour the original ship and to keep its memory alive.

A few characters were presumed to be dead until showing up later in the arc/story such as the Franky Family, Galley-La and the Giants Oimo and Kashi who were all blown off Enies Lobby when the Marines attacked. They all showed up later alive and revealed that Paulie saved them all with his ropes. The fates of the CP9 and Spandam were also left up in the air with the readers presuming them to be dead until they appeared in the CP9’s Independent Report cover page story.

Thriller Bark Saga: Number of present time character deaths: 0

The Thriller Bark saga recorded no present time named character deaths unless you count the zombies whom are already dead like Ryuuma’s corpse.

Summit War Saga: Number of present time character deaths: 2

Two significantly important characters died during the Marineford Arc:

  • Portgas D. Ace; and
  • Edward Newgate aka “Whitebeard”
  • One Piece chapter 573 - Ace sacrifices himself to save Luffy

As was revealed during the execution, Ace was intimately linked to the overarching story of One Piece with Roger being his father. Ace dying provided Luffy with a reason to take time to train before entering the New World in order to ensure that what happened with Ace where he was too weak to protect what he cherished does not happen again. As for Ace’s will, it was inherited by Luffy and Sabo. Sabo represents the older brother Ace was and also ended up consuming the Mera Mera no Mi to further symbolise the inheritance of Ace’s will by Sabo. Ace’s death allowed for Sabo’s entrance to become more meaningful and relevant. Additionally, Ace is part of the reason why Jinbe has become so connected with Luffy. Ace and his actions in the past continue to reverberate throughout the story of One Piece with them becoming relevant to the story unraveling inside Wano Kuni (as of chapter 985).

As for Whitebeard, he rejuvenated the passion driving pirates by confirming the existence of One Piece. It inspired a new generation of Pirates. Whitebeard’s death ended an era and set the scene for a new era to begin, an era defined by the members of the Worst Generation. In addition, Whitebeard dying allowed for Blackbeard to attain a second Devil Fruit power enabling him to wield seismic powers on top of his darkness. Further story threads dealing with Whitebeard’s past and his legacy are continuing to develop through the story of One Piece such as his history with the Rocks Pirates and his connection with Weevil and Bakkin. Whitebeard’s will has been inherited by the remnants of the Whitebeard Pirates and likely also by Weevil who has been conditioned to believe he is Whitebeard’s son.

There were also plenty of non-named characters killed in level 6 Impel Down when Teach proposed his offer. Plus there is that Marine Sakazuki killed for fleeing the war because they did not want to die out of concern for their family. During the Summit War Saga we also had characters who were initially portrayed as having been killed/being dead but have since been confirmed to be alive such as Bentham aka. Mr. 2 Bon Kurei and that Sabaody Archipelago Auction House slave (Lacuba) whom bit his tongue off in an attempt to kill himself. Ah Lacuba, what a miraculous case. Despite being confirmed to have died after his body was checked, he appeared later celebrating with the rest of the slaves when Franky threw the keys for their chains to them. Along with that, Devil Dias from Sabaody Archipelago who escaped from the Tenryuubito was shown to be killed by Shalria after his bomb collar exploded. Shalria had shot Devil Dias but it was mentioned afterward that he had been taken to the Marines to presumably be healed and consequently arrested.

  • One Piece chapter 576 - Whitebeard is attacked by the Blackbeard Pirates

Fish-Man Island Saga: Number of present time character deaths: 0

The Fish-Man Island saga recorded no present time named character deaths. Caribou did kill an unnamed Marine in the Return to Sabaody Arc. There was also the incident with Vander Decken IX who appeared to have died after being injured by Hody and hitting his head which subsequently stopped his Devil Fruit power from affecting Noah. Vander Decken IX is alive though along with the New Fish-Man Pirates who only aged from the effects of the Energy Steroid.

Dressrosa Saga: Number of present time character deaths: 0

No character has been fully confirmed to have died during the Dressrosa Saga, although there is that Donquixote Pirate subordinate Law transferred places with when Doflamingo expressed his anger on “Law”. Not sure if he did die though. We do have the unconfirmed cases of Vergo and Monet that was “portrayed” as a “death” but given Oda’s writing style before these cases and since these cases, the likely scenario is Oda did not kill off Vergo and Monet (I have already made a post in the past about Monet not being dead – here). Rock and Scotch were also left on Punk Hazard and they would also still be alive. Dragon Number Thirteen and Smiley did die but they were created by scientist as experiments.

Oda has not changed his writing style toward present time deaths upon beginning the New World. The Shinokuni gas Caesar developed was initially expressed to be poisonous and fatal but at the end of the Punk Hazard Arc, Oda revealed that there is a weakness. If the victims of the Shinokuni gas were broken free from their petrification shells within half a day of being subject to the poison gas to avoid the poison from fully spreading, the victim could be saved. None of the G-5 Marines or prisoners affected by the gas died. Additionally, Law helped the kids and removed the poison from their bodies. The kids were then taken to Vegapunk to be fully cured.

When you look at the Dressrosa Arc which featured one of the most brutal, bloodthirsty and sadistic antagonist in the One Piece story, one would expect a few casualties but none of the present time characters were killed during the Dressrosa Arc. In order to avoid characters from dying both named and unnamed, Oda introduced Mansherry and her Chiyu Chiyu no Mi which allowed her to heal any wound or injury. As a result, even with Doflamingo’s birdcage and his intention to kill everyone, no one in Dressrosa died. Also, there was Diamante who hit his head and began bleeding from it after his defeat from Kyros. He is still alive.

Further evidence indicating that Oda has not killed Vergo and Monet is how he portrays Law in the Wano Kuni Arc:

One Piece chapter 918 - Law VS Hawkins

Oda does not want to associate Law with the concept of murder which is why he has not had Law kill any characters yet. Given how Law was directly involved in Vergo’s situation at the end of the Punk Hazard and indirectly involved with Monet’s scenario when he handed her heart back Caesar, if both of those characters were killed, Law would have been responsible to an extent for both of their deaths. Add this to Oda’s writing style and those are the reasons why I don’t believe Vergo and Monet are dead. Law aka. “Surgeon of Death” will continue to be a character that does not kill.

Yonko Saga (ongoing): Number of present time character deaths (as at chapter 985): 2

The Yonko Saga is still ongoing with the Wano Kuni Arc in progress but so far we have had 2 confirmed character deaths.

  • Jigra; and
  • Shimotsuki Yasuie

I am aware that Pedro should be on that list but until we get confirmation that Pedro’s will has been inherited by Carrot and/or Pekoms, he has yet to be fully embraced by the arms of death. Yes he was central to the bomb explosion. Yes he has a gravestone. Yes the story heavily implied he died. But Pell also had all those things going for him and Oda revealed him alive once the arc was dealt with. Oda could very well do the same to Pedro once the war against the Beast Pirates is over. Pedro did also get a chapter titled after him when he sacrificed himself but since the Whole Cake Island Arc, there has been minimal focus given to the inheritance of his will. If Pedro’s will is inherited that is a sure sign that Oda intends for Pedro to stay dead.

With the Zou Arc, the Mink Tribe were on the brink of death after Jack and the Beast Pirates released the poisonous gas, Koro (developed by Caesar) and tortured them but once the Straw Hat Pirates arrived with Caesar, the gas was neutralized (by Caesar) and the injured Mink healed by Chopper and Co. None of the Mink Tribe perished. Even Pekoms who was shot by Bege on Zou and again on Whole Cake Island survived. Pekoms did enter his Sulong form on Whole Cake Island and was subsequently overwhelmed by the Big Mom Pirates, but he is likely still alive given there was no indication expressed by the Big Mom Pirates that they intended to kill Pekoms. The Big Mom Pirates only sought to blind Pekoms to neutralize his Sulong form. The fates of Ginrummy and Sheepshead who last appeared during the Zou Arc when Zunesha attacked Jack’s fleet are unknown at this point in time but they are both likely still alive.

Aside from Jigra, who was an exposition character for Katakuri’s introduction, no other present time named character within the Whole Cake Island Arc was confirmed to be killed. Not even Moscato who was portrayed as having been killed when he was attacked by Big Mom when she went on a Hunger Rampage. Moscato shows up later in the arc alive on the Queen Mama Chanter. Given that, Charlotte Opera is likely also still alive as he too had his life span drained from him by Big Mom. There is Kingbaum who was killed but he was a homie manifested by Linlin.

Bobbin is an interesting case. He was attacked by Vito and shot. Vito had told Bege that he got rid of Bobbin but the last we saw of Bobbin was him staggering through Sweet City while bleeding and eventually collapsing. When Vito shot Bobbin he was not fully dead. In all likelihood, Bobbin survived. If Bobbin had died, the Big Mom Pirates would have mentioned it during the Wano Kuni Arc as a reason for going after the Straw Hat Pirates and crushing them. The next character left in an unknown state was Du Feld. Du Feld tried to steal the Tamatebako but was shot by Stussy with her Tobu Shigan. I don’t see any purpose Du Feld’s death would have in moving the story forward which in turn leads me to believe that he is still alive. There was also the incident with Pound and how his actions against Oven appeared to have led to his execution but as illustrated through the “Gang” Bege’s Oh My Family cover story, Pound is still alive and has reunited with his daughters. As for the characters that stayed behind to allow for the Straw Hat Pirates to escape Totto Land, they are all very much likely all still alive. Jinbe being present at Wano Kuni indicates that the Sun Pirates survived. And as Sanji stayed back to save his family (and asking for his crew members help), Oda would not go against that conviction and proceed to undo the efforts Sanji made to ensure his family survived. The Germa 66 survived Totto Land and will have relevance going forward.

  • One Piece chapter 942 - Yasuie shot by Orochi

Turning to the Wano Kuni Arc; Shimotsuki Yasuie, a character connected to the Akazaya Nine through their past with Oden and to the Straw Hat Pirates through their encounter of him, had a role to play through his death. Yasuie’s final speech united the Wano Kuni rebels against Orochi and Kaido and inspired those listening that change is possible. Yasuie’s death helped expose the inability of Orochi and his cowardice. The manner in how Orochi reacted conveyed to the people how fearful Orochi was of his reality and how unfit he is as their Shogun. Yasuie’s role within the Wano Kuni Arc was memorable and the purpose his death served was substantial. Yasuie helped to throw confusion on Orochi’s schemes when Orochi received information from Kanjuro. His death was meaningful and as such is permanent. As for Yasuie’s will, it has been inherited by the Akazaya Nine, the people of Kuri and even by Toko once she comes to terms with her father’s life having ended. Kaido and his Beast Pirates will be defeated and the Wano Kuni borders will be opened. All that Yasuie fought for will be achieved.

I have not included Absalom in the list of dead characters because I not so sure he is dead. The manner in how Oda has portrayed his apparent “death” is curiously suspicious. Why would Oda tease us with his death and not show us his body? If Oda wanted to, he could have had the Blackbeard Pirates exhibit Absalom’s corpse to Moria. The fact that Oda chose to keep Absalom’s body hidden is very conspicuous. It has been expressed throughout the series that in order to attain a Devil Fruit power which was already in the possession of another person, one would have to kill the user of that Devil Fruit. But when you think about it, so to was the fact that a person can only consume one Devil Fruit ability but Teach changed all that. What happens if Teach has discovered or developed a way in which to strip a person of their Devil Fruit ability without killing them? The Yami Yami no Mi can already nullify the ability users power, what happens if Teach developed his abilities further and is now able to suck the Devil Fruit power out of the individual? If Linlin’s Devil Fruit is able to suck the life out of someone while keeping them alive, why wouldn’t there be a fruit that is able to suck the power out of someone and also keep them alive? Until we see a corpse, I am of the mindset that Absalom is still alive. Absalom’s life could also be what Teach leverages against Moria to force him to work with him. Or zombie Absalom. It could happen O.o.

As of chapter 985, no other deaths have been confirmed in the Wano Kuni Arc. Orochi’s head was seemingly decapitated in the latest chapter but he is very much likely still alive in some way, shape or form. Orochi’s Yamato no Orochi Mythical Zoan-type Devil Fruit will potentially be his savior (eight heads and having to behead them all). Or an equally likely scenario, Kanjuro could have created a clone of Orochi and used it to play the part of Orochi during the presentation (at that point in time Orochi was fearful for his life). Kanjuro’s clone head was decapitated before by Kin’emon so I wouldn’t be surprised if Oda did the same with Orochi’s circumstance. Orochi’s story and role is not over yet and before all that plays out, Orochi ain’t dying. There will be a payoff after all the build up Oda went out of his way to set-up. Wano Kuni itself represented through the citizens, the Kozuki, the other clans, Hiyori and even Zoro will deal with Orochi.

Having looked at the characters who Oda has had killed in the present time, they are either:

  • Unnamed characters;
  • Exposition characters that set up the threat of the antagonist;
  • Named characters whose death contributes significantly to the development of the story and whose will ends up being inherited by an existing character(s) within the story

The difference between exposition characters and the other named characters lie primarily in the importance they serve within the story of One Piece. If an exposition character were removed, they omittance would not change the story of One Piece at all.

Characters whose deaths have yet to be fully confirmed: Vergo, Monet, Sheepshead, Ginrummy, Pekoms, Bobbin, Du Feld, Charlotte Opera, Pedro, and Absalom. As much as some of those characters have been portrayed as being killed, one has to interpret their fates through the writing style of Oda. None of the characters introduced were unnamed or exposition characters. As for their deaths contributing significantly to the development of the story, the only character present in that list that could serve such a function is Pedro. If Pedro’s will is inherited by Carrot (and Pekoms) and that becomes a reason for Carrot to pursue a certain path, than Pedro’s death would have served an important purpose within the story and at the same time allow his will to continue living on through Carrot (and Pekoms). Pedro having a chapter title during his sacrifice as is the case with other important present time characters that have died (Ace, Whitebeard and Shimotsuki Yasuie) does lead me to lean slightly towards him being dead.

None of the other characters in the above list have had characters close them introduced that could end up inheriting their wills. As such, I do not believe at this point in time Vergo, Monet, Sheepshead, Ginrummy, Pekoms, Bobbin, Du Feld, Charlotte Opera and Absalom have been killed off yet. They will at some point in some form appear again in the One Piece manga.

The obvious reluctance by Oda to fully represent the moment a character kills another is incredibly telling about Oda’s intention. If a present time named character is not confirmed dead and if inherited will is not a driving force in their character, the chances of them being fully dead in One Piece are zero. With each significant character death the story has a character ready to inherit the dead characters will and carry it into the future.

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