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Ranking the One Piece anime's arcs, from best to worst

25 years of stories and still going strong.

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After nearly 25 years, One Piece remains one of the most popular anime in the world – and for good reason. Its weekly release schedule means there is always a new episode just around the corner and nearly every story arc has had one or two iconic moments in it. That is why ranking every One Piece arc is so difficult – most of them are unbelievably good.

But it is our job to make the tough decisions, so we’ve put in our best effort to rank every One Piece arc based on their impact on the story and characters, but sometimes we’ll end up ranking an arc higher just because of how cool it is. Any ongoing arcs won’t be included in this list simply because we need to see the ending to get a full picture of where it belongs. We're also going to only consider arcs that are in the manga - no pure filler arcs to be seen here.

Every arc in One Piece, ranked

30. Syrup Village Arc

One Piece Syrup village Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

Considering how many remarkable things happen on Syrup Village – from Usopp joining the Straw Hat crew to them getting their first real ship – it is amazing how prolonged and dull this bit is. Unnecessary fights, a boring villain, and a lack of real tension make this our least favorite One Piece arc.

29. Orange Town Arc

One Piece Orange Town Aar
Image credit: Toei Animation

The pacing in the early chapters of One Piece is a real drag and it shows in Orange Town. At this point, Buggy the Clown is just a lame, one-shot villain who doesn’t really leave a lasting impression. There is a sense in Orange Town that Eiichiro Oda is still finding his footing in the plot and tone of One Piece.

28. Reverse Mountain Arc

One Piece Reverse Mountain Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

There are some great visuals in the Reverse Mountain Arc, especially in the manga, but not even a giant, emotionally traumatized whale can’t save it from being near the bottom of our One Piece arcs ranking. The reason is simple – it doesn’t matter in the end. Reverse Mountain just doesn’t have much impact on the One Piece story and can almost be skipped while you’re watching.

27. Whisky Peak Arc

One Piece Whisky Peak arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

Following straight on from Reverse Mountain, Whisky Peak set out to show that the Straw Hats weren’t always waiting for Luffy to save them. Zoro takes on a whole island of bounty hunters while Luffy and most of the crew sleep off an epic party the night before. As much as we love seeing his three-sword style in action, the whole arc serves as a somewhat clumsy introduction for Vivi and Baroque Works as a whole.

26. Romance Dawn Arc

One Piece Romance Dawn Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

Back where it all began, this is a very rough opening to One Piece, but it serves as a great introduction to Luffy. While we preferred the pacing of the Netflix adaptation as it introduced Nami earlier in the story, we still enjoy watching Luffy punch Axe-Hand Morgan into oblivion.

25. Long Ring Long Land Island Arc

One Piece Long Ring Long Land Island Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

Despite being so low on this list, we have a soft spot for Long Ring Long Land Island. The designs are all a bit goofy but this is one of those One Piece arcs that feel like anything can happen. The pacing is just a bit off until Admiral Aokiji arrives in the last episode. Ultimately, this arc is meant to bridge the gap between two better arcs on either side of it and provide some more light-hearted entertainment along the way. It does get some marks off for putting Luffy in an afro for most of the arc. What is up with that?

24. Little Garden Arc

One Piece Little Garden Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

On Little Garden, two giants have been locked in battle for centuries – so long that neither remembers why they started fighting in the first place. However, it is the fight against the Baroque Works members Mr. 3 and Miss Goldenweek that is the more important conflict here. We love the giant creatures on the island and some of the visuals of Mr. 3’s powers, but this still feels like it is setting up the meat of the Alabasta Saga too much to stand on its own.

23. Return to Sabaody Arc

One Piece Return to Sabaody Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

Shonen anime loves a time skip. Two years after being separated, the Straw Hats reunite. This arc is very much about setting up the Fish Man Island Saga and establishing that Luffy and his friends are on a new level of power than before. Not much more happens, but it is still great to see the crew back together and setting out on their mission – this time with the World Government actively pursuing them.

22. Levely Arc

One Piece Levely Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

Who doesn’t like seeing a shadowy group of figures pulling the strings behind the scenes? This is one of the later arcs of One Piece but it still managed to make our jaws drop at several moments. We see many of the major players of the world, from Shanks to Dragon to Vice Admiral Garp, take their places before the Final Saga begins with Egghead Island. It is only because there are so many great arcs in One Piece that this one didn’t rank higher on our list.

21. Fishman Island Arc

One Piece Fishman Island Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

Fishman Island is where Luffy’s past actions come back to haunt him. Hody Jones, a follower of Arlong from the East Blue Saga, is trying to do a small coup against the royal family of the Fishmen. This arc explores themes of racism and oppression and, while it isn’t always successful, shows that there is more to One Piece than typical anime tropes. Seeing the Straw Hats show off their new powers after the two-year time skip is always fun as well.

20. Baratie Arc

One Piece Baratie Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

Baratie’s main purpose is to introduce Sanji to the Straw Hats, but it does so much more than that. We get a hint at some of the dark places that Oda would take One Piece. While the fight against Don Krieg is underwhelming and tedious, Zoro’s battle against Mihawk does a great job of showing the gap in power between the crew and the most powerful players in the world.

19. Post-War Arc

One Piece Post War ARc
Image credit: Toei Animation

Really, the Post-War Arc is a big comedown after the intensity of the Marineford Arc. Both Ace and Whitebeard are dead and Luffy is as close to a broken man as we ever see him. While nothing too important happens in this arc, it ranks this highly simply because it is a great reminder that Luffy is still human.

18. Zou Arc

One Piece Zou Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

The Road Poneglyphs would become the next major objective for the Straw Hats and they are introduced in this arc. There is plenty of action along the way, with multiple factions vying for control of Zou Island, but it is the reveal that Raizo is alive that becomes the most important moment of this arc.

17. Punk Hazard Arc

One Piece Punk Hazard Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

We love the Punk Hazard Arc for how well it introduced Dressrosa, who would be such an important villain that he gets a whole saga named after him. Plus, we get to see what counts as mad science in One Piece in action as Doctor Vegapunk’s research comes to light. However, there is a bit too much setup and not enough action to launch it into the top ten One Piece arcs.

16. Thriller Bark Arc

One Piece Thriller Bark arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

Every pirate crew needs a bard to sing of their exploits and the Straw Hats have one of the best. Brook, a skeleton with a gift for music, is introduced here and Luffy has to deal with several of the most powerful pirates in existence during this arc. There is plenty of action and we love how well it all comes together.

15. Drum Island Arc

One Piece Drum Island Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

As beaten up as Luffy tends to get, it's surprising that he lasted this long without a doctor on the ship. Chopper is introduced in this arc and we even get a glimpse of Ace’s journey ahead of Luffy. Chopper’s backstory is so tragic and well done that this is a One Piece arc you’ll never want to skip.

14. Jaya Arc

One Piece Jaya Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

While this is one of the shortest arcs in the show, plenty happens. Blackbeard is introduced and immediately becomes one of the best antagonists in Luffy’s journey. While all of this arc is just setting up their later conflicts, that single interaction is good enough to justify this arc placing so high.

13. Arlong Park Arc

One Piece Arlong Park arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

This was the moment that One Piece proved it was more than just fun and adventure. The scene where Luffy puts his hat on Nami’s head and tells her that he would absolutely protect her was the moment where Oda showed that he could do emotional points just as well as humor and action.

12. Rogue Town Arc

One Piece Rogue Town Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

As the Straw Hats approached the Grand Line, Rogue Town was their final stop. So much happens in what is really an elaborate shopping trip. Zoro finds a legendary blade. Admiral Smoker is introduced and we get the return of Buggy the Clown and Alvida – this time with the power of a Devil Fruit at her disposal. But it is the appearance of Dragon, one of the most wanted men in the world, as he rescues Luffy from capture that steals the show in Rogue Town.

11. Skypiea Arc

One Piece Skypiea Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

At first glance, very little happens in the Skypiea Arc, but this slowly becomes one of the most important parts of One Piece as we get further into the story. The concept of Haki, which would eventually lead to Luffy’s Gear 5 form, is introduced. The Going Merry is severely damaged, which leads to its eventual destruction in a later arc, and we get a new classification of Devil Fruits to wrap our heads around. The Skypiea Arc changes the lore of One Piece completely.

10. Amazon Lily Arc

One Piece Amazon Lily Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

This is one of the best arcs in One Piece for one reason – Boa Hancock is incredibly cool. One of the Warlords of the Sea, she is one of the most powerful characters in the show and Luffy turning her into an ally significantly increases the strength of the Straw Hats in the long term. Luffy’s dedication to his brother is shown as he learns of Ace’s impending execution.

9. Whole Cake Arc

One Piece Whole Cake arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

Luffy’s Gear 4 powers get expanded in this arc, which focuses on Luffy trying to free Sanji from his upcoming political marriage. Big Mom is introduced as one of the Straw Hats’ greatest enemies to date. Getting more insight into Sanji’s backstory was a delight and the big fights are suitably epic, making this one of our favorite One Piece arcs so far.

8. Impel Down Arc

One Piece Impel Down Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

With Ace’s execution giving him a strict deadline, Luffy makes his way to Impel Down prison. There is a great sense of tension throughout as we hold our breath to see if Luffy makes it in time to save his brother. This arc sets up the best moments in One Piece but it still has enough going for it to stand on its own.

7. Alabasta Arc

One Piece Alabasta Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

There is plenty of tragedy in One Piece, but few characters make us cry quite like Vivi. Crocodile sends the full weight of his power against the Straw Hats, who are attempting to diffuse a deadly war. Nico Robin finally joins the crew. By the end, the makeup of the crew is forever changed and One Piece is solidified as one of the best Shonen anime of all time.

6. Sabaody Archipelago Arc

One Piece Sabaody Archipelago Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

Following the events of the Thriller Bark Saga, the world is hot on the Straw Hats’ heels. The Sabaody Archipelago Arc sets up the Summit War Saga. The most interesting thing in this arc is how unexpected its ending is – watching the Straw Hats lose makes everything that follows that much more tense.

5. Dressrosa Arc

One Piece Dressrosa arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

This arc is one of the first times that the Straw Hats burst onto the world stage. Donquixote Doflamingo is a fantastic enemy for Luffy and the Straw Hat pirates expand into the Straw Hat Grand Fleet, a group of pirates aligned with the main crew who will become far more important in later arcs. This arc is everything that made the Alabasta Arc great, but with better fights and we’re here for it.

4. Water 7 Arc

One Piece Water 7 Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

This is a lot of setup for the Enies Lobby Arc, but Water 7 is one of the most iconic arcs in One Piece because of how it builds up the World Government into a terrifying, oppressive force. Nico Robin and Usopp temporarily leave the crew, leaving Luffy to manage a headstrong group of pirates on his own. By the end, he is a significantly better leader and captain than he was before.

3. Wano Country Arc

One Piece Wano Country Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

This arc makes it this high on the list because of the appearance of Luffy’s Gear 5 form. This ability completely changes what we know about Luffy, Devil Fruit, and the world of One Piece at large. Plus, the fight between Luffy and Kaido features some of the best animation the anime has had to date. In all, this is a fantastic arc that narrowly misses out on being one of the best in the show’s history.

2. Enies Lobby Arc

One Piece Enies Lobby Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

Folks are going to argue with us for not putting this arc at the top of this list and we understand why. In the Enies Lobby Arc, Luffy makes his dramatic declaration of war on the World Government, effectively making the Straw Hats some of the most hunted individuals on the planet. But that is what happens when you threaten his friends – Luffy comes to burn down your flag.

1. Marineford Arc

One Piece Marineford Arc
Image credit: Toei Animation

Luffy’s failure to save his brother from execution is the most dramatic, emotional moment in One Piece, but it isn’t actually the most important death in this arc. Whitebeard’s death changes the political landscape of the series, making this a vital arc not just from a personal point of view but for the world at large. Marineford is the best One Piece arc because, no matter how often we watch it, we can’t stop crying.

The One Piece anime has been going for 25 years now and miraculously doesn't show any signs of stopping. Catch up on all 1000+ episodes of the anime and find out exactly why Gear 5 is such a great celebration of Luffy as a character before finding out what the English cast of One Piece thinks would make for the best birthday party for Luffy.