One Piece has delighted readers for more than 20 years now. One Piece has sold over 430 million copies worldwide and is currently the best-selling manga of all time. Its outlandish story and colorful cast of characters have no doubt contributed to this success.
As it turns out, many of those wacky characters that make us love the series aren’t just products of the author’s imagination. They’re inspired by actual pirates who once roamed the seas and terrorized civilians all around the globe.
Here are 9 One Piece characters that are based on some of the most infamous pirates to have ever lived:
1. Blackbeard (Edward Teach)
Boisterous and larger than life, the fictional Marshall D. Teach borrows his name from the legendary pirate Blackbeard. Born Edward Thatch, the real-life privateer turned pirate began his life on the sea in service of Queen Anne of England in the latter half of the 17th century.
He turned to piracy in 1713 and wreaked havoc along North America’s Atlantic coast for several years. His reign of terror came to an end in 1718 after North Carolinian settlers grew tired of his antics and brought him to justice.
Blackbeard didn’t, however, go down without a fight. Navy Lieutenant Robert Maynard and his crew stabbed him a whopping twenty times and put five bullets into his body before he finally fell in battle. The on-screen adaptation of Thatch has similar origins.
When author Oda Eiichiro first introduces readers to the character, he is a member of the judicious Whitebeard Pirates. After several arcs pass, he defects and becomes one of the series’ major antagonists.
2. Bellamy the Hyena
Bellamy the Hyena is Oda’s reimagining of English pirate Samuel “Black Sam” Bellamy. Like Edward Thatch, Samuel Bellamy worked as a sailor for an English monarch before becoming a pirate. His decision to take up piracy was brought on by his desire to amass enough wealth to marry his lover Maria Hallett.
Unfortunately for Black Sam, fate had other plans for him.
In early 1717, he captured a British slave ship known as the Whydah. He found enough precious metal and ivory aboard the ship to retire from piracy and at last marry young Maria Hallett. He started for Massachusetts, Hallet’s home, but the ship tragically sank during the return voyage. Black Sam, his crew, and the treasure went down with the Whydah.
As was the case with Samuel Bellamy, the fictional Bellamy becomes a pirate for sentimental reasons. Much like Black Sam, his sentiments are his undoing. Bellamy the Hyena tries for years to impress his idol Doflamingo but never receives the recognition he desires.
The very thing that motivates him to become a pirate ultimately destroys his dreams.
3. Alvida the Pirate
There is some debate surrounding Oda’s inspiration for Alvida, legendary female pirate Alwilda. Many historians doubt her existence and regard her story as a myth.
According to what little information is available about Alwilda, she was the daughter of a Gothic king named Synardus. To escape an arranged marriage to a prince of Denmark, Alf, she took to the sea with a crew of young women. During her travels, she stumbled upon a company of pirates that had recently lost its commander. The company was so in awe of Alwida that it elected her as its new captain.
She became a formidable pirate, so formidable that Prince Alf was sent to deal with her. While engaging her in battle, the prince boarded her ship and unmasked his dear Alwilda. She was allegedly so impressed by his valor and strength that she accepted his hand in marriage and married him on board her ship.
One Piece’s Alvida also captivates her crew early in the series after eating the Sube Sube no Mi. Unlike Alwilda, her agreeableness isn’t what endears her to the people around her. They instead rally around her because of her newfound beauty.
4. Jewelry Bonney
Jewelry Bonney is the gluttonous and ill-mannered captain of the Bonney Pirates. She takes these defining character traits from the infamous Anne Bonny.
Born in late 17th century Ireland, Anne was the love child of an attorney and a family maid. Her father eventually grew too fond of his illegitimate child to part ways with her. To conceal her identity, he dressed her in male clothing and passed her off as a relative’s son. When the locals saw through this ruse, he emigrated to South Carolina with Anne and her mother.
Anne’s mother perished sometime after they relocated. After her mother’s death, she became aggressive and unruly. She allegedly murdered a servant and nearly killed a suitor in her youth. Her father finally disavowed her after she married a poor sailor named James Bonny.
Despite her marriage to Bonny, she spent her days drinking, cavorting with local sailors, and seducing pirates. She officially became a pirate after she met John “Calico Jack” Rackham and joined his crew, leaving behind her husband. She sailed the seas with Rackham and Mary Read, another famous female pirate, for two years before authorities apprehended her in 1720.
Oda’s Bonney, like the real-life Bonny, is crude and indulgent. Whenever readers see her, she’s rudely scarfing down huge quantities of food. She is also similar to Anne in that she often conceals her identity. She does so via her Devil Fruit ability. This ability allows her to freely change her appearance by manipulating her age.
5. X Drake
Once a Marine rear admiral in the world of One Piece, X Drake is a turncoat who abandoned his position to start the Drake Pirates. His backstory likens him to English privateer Sir Francis Drake.
Sir Francis Drake served under Queen Elizabeth as a privateer during the Renaissance. He became the most revered seaman of his time after he proved himself useful to the English Crown by looting Spanish ships on his adventures and aiding in defeating the Spanish Armada.
Though he technically served the Crown, several parties at times regarded him as a pirate. Spanish sailors labeled him as such because he was notorious for plundering and destroying their ships. Queen Elizabeth also once denounced his actions as piracy after he looted a Spanish-occupied town following a truce between England and Spain.
As a turncoat, the imaginary Drake has also been on both sides of the law. Not only that, but his first name (X, pronounced “Diez”) is of Spanish origin. Perhaps this name is a subtle reference to the actual Drake’s connection to the Spaniards.
6. Capone Bege
Some of the most interesting One Piece characters take their defining traits from multiple figures. Captain of the Fire Tank Pirates and mafioso Capone Bege is one such character. He is inspired by both 20th-century American gangster Al Capone and early English privateer William le Sauvage.
Alphonse “Al” Capone was no pirate, but he had a reputation for ruthlessly eliminating his targets. He and his mob ran the Chicago underworld for nearly a decade before authorities caught up with him in the late 1920s.
William le Sauvage was a privateer who preceded Al Capone by 700 years. Hired by King Henry III of England in the 13th century, he was one of England’s earliest government-sanctioned pirates. England dispatched Sauvage and his contemporary privateers in times of war. They had permission to attack enemy ships at will while at sea under the condition that they shared their loot with the Crown.
Bege’s style and penchant for violence clearly reference Capone. The smart suits, cigars, and heavy weaponry are among the most obvious references. Bege’s history of operating as a hired hand more closely aligns with Sauvage’s work as a privateer.
7. Big Mom (Charlotte Linlin)
Often referred to as Big Mom, Charlotte Linlin is one of the strongest—if not the strongest—female One Piece characters. She’s also the only female member of the Yonko. She shares a name with two famous female pirates: Charlotte Badger and Charlotte de Berry.
Little of Badger’s history is known by historians. She was born into a poor English family in the late 18th century. In order to support her family, she stole a few valuable items from her employer as a teen. She was sentenced to seven years of penal servitude as a punishment for this crime around 1801.
Badger disappeared for five years and turned up again in 1806. By this point, she had become a wanted woman. According to the official wanted notice, she had participated in an uprising at her penal colony in Australia and fled to the sea with her infant child. Historians are still trying to piece together what happened to Charlotte Badger after she escaped.
Charlotte de Berry
The details of Charlotte de Berry’s life are even murkier. The few resources which chronicle her life suggest that many parts of her story are mythical.
Born in England in 1636, she supposedly fell for and married a sailor as a teenager. She then draped herself in men’s clothing and ran off to sea with him. After a series of unfortunate events, her husband ended up dead.
De Berry was then kidnapped, forced into a marriage with a merchant, sexually assaulted, and abused for some time.
She eventually took her revenge on the merchant and became captain of his ship. The crew took up piracy and enjoyed some success for a couple of years. De Berry found love again not too long afterward, this time with a Spanish man named Armelio.
Unfortunately, de Berry, Armelio, and the crew ended up shipwrecked and turned to cannibalism to sustain themselves. Armelio didn’t survive the ordeal. Overcome with grief, de Berry allegedly jumped into the sea to join her dead husband in the afterlife.
Big Mom admittedly doesn’t have much in common with her namesakes. At most, she’s a caricature of Badger. Badger birthed only one known child while Big Mom currently has over 80 biological children. Like de Beer, she’s had her fair share of lovers—43 husbands to be exact. This similarity, however, is probably coincidental.
8. Eustass “Captain” Kid
Eustass “Captain” Kid made a name for himself in the world of One Piece by leaving a trail of bodies behind him. Perhaps we can attribute his affinity for violence to his real counterpart William “Captain” Kidd.
William Kidd was born in Scotland in the mid-17th century. He began a career as a privateer in service of the English Crown as a young man. After taking a voyage to the Comoro Islands in 1697, Kidd decided to try his hand at piracy.
His days as a pirate were numbered. He and his crew captured an Armenian ship called the Quedagh Merchant in 1698 and soon afterward realized that authorities had branded Kidd a pirate. Then, a year or so later, he sailed to New York to plead his case. Instead of walking away a free man, he was shipped to England to stand trial.
The court found Kidd guilty of piracy and murdering one of his own crewmates. Soon after the trial concluded, authorities hanged him for his crimes. Legend has it that the executioner had to string him up three times on account of the first two ropes snapping.
Eustass Kid shares some of William Kidd’s violent tendencies. He has a nasty temper and a reputation for being especially violent towards civilians. He’s also merciless; he once crucified an opposing pirate crew for being too weak.
9. Bartholomew Kuma
The pious Bartholomew Kuma seems out of place in a fictional universe full of worldly freebooters. Bartholomew Roberts, the Welsh pirate for whom Kuma is named, was also the odd man out for some time before he rose to prominence.
Roberts initially found himself forced into piracy as a young man in 1719 after a pirate crew captured the slave ship on which he worked. A mere six weeks after he reluctantly joined the crew, the crew’s captain perished. The crew then named Roberts the new captain. Thus began Roberts’ climb to infamy.
Bartholomew Roberts Embraces Piracy
Roberts quickly established himself as a competent captain. He made a beeline for the South American coast and looted several vessels near Brazil. He then plundered ships near Barbados, Newfoundland, and the Caribbean Islands. By the end of his three-year run as a pirate, Roberts’ crew had taken an estimated 400 ships.
Roberts also proved himself to be ruthless. He went from reluctant pirate to cruel racketeer within a few short years. In January of 1722, for instance, he held a slave ship for ransom and set fire to it with the slaves on board when the ship’s captain refused to pay up.
His run came to an end about a month after this failed ransom attempt. In February of 1722, he faced off against a crew of pirate hunters at sea. One of the opposing ship’s cannons tore out Roberts’ throat early in the battle. The rest of his crew surrendered after he went down.
Bartholomew Kuma is reminiscent of the young, reluctant Roberts who wanted nothing to do with piracy. Kuma works for the World Government, but he takes issue with its code of ethics and has disobeyed direct orders on several occasions. Further still, Kuma is forever forced into piracy after he loses his free will and personality later in the series.
Did We Forget Any of Your Favorite One Piece Characters?
There are currently over 900 One Piece characters, so we’re sure we missed some of your favorite pirate-inspired characters. That said, feel free to drop a comment below to continue the short list we’ve started here.
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