Humor plays a vital role in the high tension world of shonen adventure, distracting us from the high steaks and grim conflict that so often drive a hero to rise up and fight, and One Piece is no exception. The series is littered with puns and gags that remind us that no matter how dark things get, it's still a whimsical and silly world. When a series runs for over 21 years, it’s natural to see some familiar jokes develop over the years with hilarious payoffs, while others stay consistent like an old friend.
Before we begin, it’s worth noting that there are simply too many puns in One Piece that would make this list, and being in Japanese, they take a lot of explanation, so I’m not factoring those in. That said, here are my picks for the funniest long-running gags in One Piece!
10. SKULL JOKE!
Brook might be dead, but he never lost his sense of humor. The Straw Hats’ musician is a walking, talking skeleton and he likes to remind everyone of that fact by telling “skull jokes.” Brook is constantly muttering one-liners like “I can’t believe my eyes… because I don’t have any!” or “this makes my skin crawl… but I don't have skin!”, much to the chagrin of his audience. Skull jokes are the One Piece equivalent of dad jokes; they’re not that funny, but you laugh anyway as all the characters in the scene roll their eyes. But where everyone else groaned, Luffy laughed, and invited Brook to join his crew. Now we get to enjoy skull jokes every day, and hey, that’s pretty humerus. SKULL JOKE!
9. Luffy Can’t Draw
When it’s time for the future pirate king to draw his jolly roger, one thing becomes abundantly clear: Luffy can’t draw to save his life. Luckily, in that instance, Usopp showed a talent for art, but ever since then, every time Luffy tries to draw something, it comes out terrible. The best example of Luffy’s lacking artistic ability can be seen when he tries to draw a mermaid for Sanji: he draws a being with a fish’s head and a woman’s legs, after first drawing a mermaid as a fish with four legs. To his credit, such a creature did make a cameo appearance on Fishman Island, but let’s just call that dumb luck.
8. Luffy and Usopp do Impressions
One of the best parts of One Piece is when the action dies down, and we get to see the crew having fun living together on the Thousand Sunny. In these moments we see a side of Luffy and Usopp that doesn’t often come to light: the two love doing impressions. While these gags are funny in their original manga incarnation, they’re made better by the voice talent of Mayumi Tanaka and Kappei Yamaguchi, who do a great job capturing the cadence of their fellow voice actors. As far back as Alabasta, Luffy and Usopp are shown imitating Sanji, Zoro, and Chopper (with a little help from Robin). Thankfully the rest of the crew takes it in stride… for the most part!
7. Girls Don’t Think Robots are Cool
Franky, the Straw Hats’ shipwright, loves showing off his inventions. Being a cyborg, he has a talent for engineering robots, tanks, and all kinds of machines that a young boy dreams about, and we see Luffy, Usopp and Chopper all go starry-eyed whenever he reveals a new creation. The girls, however, are less impressed; every time Franky invents something new, a few seconds are always spared to show that Nami and Robin just don’t care about robots. This gag happens more consistently in the new world, and culminates on Punk Hazard, when Franky breaks out Iron Pirate General Franky in front of an audience of children. As expected, all the boys love the mech suit, but the girls just couldn’t care less, and the triumphant music abruptly stops. Don’t worry Franky, we still think you’re cool!
6. Chopper is the Straw Hats’ Pet Raccoon
All the pirates in One Piece have bounties associated with them that communicate how dangerous they are. A hotshot captain like Luffy, for example, has a bounty of 1,500,000,000 berries. Nami, the Straw Hat navigator has a bounty of 66,000,000 berries, which is a bit closer to the average. However Chopper, the crew’s doctor, has a bounty of 100 berries after the timeskip. Why is his bounty so low? Well, because the government doesn’t know much about Chopper (that he’s a hyper-intelligent reindeer). They think he’s the Straw Hats’ pet raccoon. Don’t worry, though. Chopper is still all smiles! He’s working hard to raise his bounty just like everyone else.
5. “Mysterious” Occurrences
The world of One Piece is complicated. There are a lot of wacky things that, at face value, don’t make a lot of sense, but do have a consistent explanation. These explanations are provided for the viewer, but most of the time, are too wordy and dense for our protagonist, Luffy. When presented with such explanations, Luffy and several of his crew will nod thoughtfully, and conclude that the event is “mysterious” and beyond explanation, despite it having just been clearly explained. We first see this with rain powder in Alabasta, but the gag came back as recently as Fishman Island, when Nami was explaining sea currents, so Usopp, Zoro and Chopper could participate, too. How mysterious…
4. Zoro Has No Sense of Direction
Some gags are so old they’re practically built into the character: Sanji likes women, Chopper doesn’t know how to hide, Luffy likes meat, but no character gag is quite as memorable as Zoro’s terrible sense of direction. In almost every arc of One Piece, if the crew is splitting up, you can bet Zoro is getting lost. Zoro’s directional skills are so bad that he got lost on Sabaody Archipelago twice, and almost didn’t find his way back to the meeting spot after the two-year time skip.
This gag goes back to the early episodes of One Piece, but Zoro’s trademark lack of direction only really became apparent after he obtained the cursed Sandai Kitetsu sword, leading some fans to speculate that the sword’s curse increases his chances of getting lost. The gag still continues in the most recent story arcs, and you can be sure Zoro will keep getting lost for many years to come. Honestly, you’d think someone would just get a leash for the guy!
3. Luffy Doesn’t Get Anyone’s Name Right
Luffy is a very straightforward person, he knows how important names are, but he doesn’t seem to ever get anyone’s name right. Trafalgar Law? Nah, that’s Tra-guy. Princess Shirahoshi? That’s Weakhoshi. Doflamingo? You must mean Mingo. (I hate that guy!) For one reason or another, outside of his crew, Luffy rarely says anyone’s name correctly, choosing instead to either make up a nickname, or totally botch the name. It’s unclear whether Luffy does this on purpose or not, but we can tell from his demeanor that he doesn’t seem to think it’s a big deal.
Ironically, when Luffy entered the Dressrosa colosseum under the disguised name “Lucy,” he couldn’t help but correct Rebecca every time she used his fake name. I guess other’s people’s names aren’t important, but the future pirate king? That’s a name you’d better remember… even if he’s in disguise.
2. Sanji’s Wanted Poster
Spoilers ahead! Sanji’s wanted poster has probably evolved the most in terms of long-running gags, but it earns this spot because, like many of the best gags in One Piece, it’s also a plot point. When the Straw Hat crew is declared an enemy of the government, everyone gets a wanted poster with a photo for identification — everyone except Sanji, that is. Unfortunately for Sanji, the Marines couldn’t get a photo of him, so they had to settle for an unflattering artist’s rendering that only sort of looks like him.
The crew pokes fun at Sanji for a while, but nothing really comes of it until a few arcs later when they encounter Duval, the cutthroat leader of the Flying Fish Riders who, as it happens, looks exactly like Sanji’s wanted poster. The crews clash, and Sanji ends up kicking Duval so hard it completely reconstructs his face, making Duval much more handsome. For a while, that was the end of the gag until the Marines finally got a good shot of Sanji, and when they realized who he was — a missing scion of the Vinsmoke family — they changed the order from “wanted: dead or alive” to “wanted: alive.” Despite the newfound infamy, Sanji seems to prefer having a real wanted poster, so everybody wins in the end.
Hardcore One Piece fans probably saw this coming, but if you don’t follow the series, it’s likely you’ve never seen Pandaman before; he’s one of One Piece’s best kept secrets. Pandaman is a joke character who appears in every arc of the One Piece anime, and every movie. For manga readers, Pandaman appears in almost every chapter of the One Piece manga, and he’s even an easter egg in most of the video games. Pandaman changes a lot from cameo to cameo, but he’s always easily identified by his iconic panda head.
Pandaman is more than just an easter egg, though: Pandaman seems to have a story of his own! In the manga, Pandaman has been shown to be in love with a Pandawoman, he owes money to a debt collector, and he even has a rival! Mind you all of this is conveyed through cameos in the background over hundreds of chapters, but it did surface in a special episode of the anime in which Pandaman owes money to Buggy the Clown. According to a Japanese fan poll, Pandaman was ranked the 39th most popular character in One Piece. Now you know about Pandaman too, so keep an eye out for him!
It’s crazy to think that some of these gags are over 14 years old, but in a story as long as One Piece it’s only natural. Did I miss your favorite gag? Then shout it out in the comments! I don’t want to miss a single joke as we continue to make our way across the Grand Line!
— Sam Wolfe is a freelance writer and video editor who can't believe you're still not caught up on One Piece. You can find Sam's unorganized thoughts in the form of a Twitter feed here.Original Article