Some One Piece fans might not know that real-life pirates and nautical figures inspire many of the series’ characters. The creator, Eiichiro Oda, has used accurate historical figures to inspire many characters, many of whom are based on pirates.
Eiichiro Oda’s genius in creating this series comes from how he takes inspiration from natural history to craft his pirate characters.
One Piece Characters from Real Pirates
1. Gol D. Roger Inspired by Olivier Levasseur
Gol D. Roger is the reason One Piece has its exciting story. He’s the Pirate King and challenges upcoming pirates to uncover his hidden treasure.
Roger’s character is likely inspired by a real pirate named Olivier Levasseur. This pirate also dared others to find his legendary treasure, which, interestingly, still hasn’t been found.
Another source of inspiration was Henry Every, a pirate from the 1600s. His actions earned him the nickname “King of the Pirates,” his story influenced characters like Blackbeard.
2. Roronoa Zoro Inspired by François l’Olonnais
Roronoa Zoro, a member of the Straw Hat crew, is loved by fans and stands out as one of the key figures in the series. He was the very first to team up with Luffy in the pursuit of becoming the Pirate King.
Zoro carries the ambition of becoming the world’s Strongest Swordsman. Interestingly, Zoro’s character draws inspiration from a real pirate named François l’Ollonais. Even his family name, Roronoa, has roots in how the pirate captain’s name is pronounced in Japanese.
François l’Ollonais was a renowned pirate who made his mark in the 1660s.
3. Alvida Inspired by Awilda
Alvida is the first female pirate to cross paths with the crew in One Piece. She’s also the first female character to possess Devil Fruit power.
With her Devil Fruit ability, the Sube Sube no Mi, Alvida undergoes a significant physical change where her skin becomes smooth and slippery. Interestingly, Alvida might have drawn inspiration from Awilda, a legendary figure believed to have gone from pirate to Queen of Denmark.
But, it’s worth mentioning that many historians question whether Awilda’s story is real or more of a mythical tale, making her more of a legendary figure than a proven historical one.
4. Zeff Inspired by “Red Legs” Greaves
Even though he left his pirate life behind to run the Baratie restaurant, he was once called “Red Foot” when leading the Cook Pirates. Zeff, the mentor of Sanji played a significant role in teaching him all about cooking.
It’s possible that Zeff drew inspiration from the Scottish pirate “Red Legs” Greaves, who operated in the Caribbean and West Indies in the 1670s. While Greaves had a successful pirate career, the limited historical evidence makes some question if he might be more of a legendary figure than a confirmed historical character.
5. Yorki Inspired by Calico Jack
Yorki was a well-known pirate who lived before the events of One Piece. We learn about him through Brook, a member of Yorki’s crew.
Leading the Rumbar Pirates, Yorki earned the nickname “Calico” Yorki. The “Calico” part of his name seems to nod to Calico Jack.
Calico Jack, whose real name was John Rackham, was an English pirate captain who lived in the early 18th century.
He spent much of his time in the Bahamas and around Cuba, building up his pirate wealth. Interestingly, he crossed paths with another famous pirate, Anne Bonny.
6. Jewelry Bonney Inspired by Anne Bonny
Jewelry Bonney belongs to the Worst Generation and leads the Bonney Pirates. Her extraordinary Devil Fruit power lets her alter the age of anyone she touches.
The character Bonney is inspired by a real pirate named Anne Bonny. Anne Bonny was a well-known woman pirate who lived in the 18th century. Despite being born into a noble family, she ultimately chose a pirate’s life.
7. Eustass Kid Inspired by William “Captain” Kidd
Eustass Kid is a well-known pirate in the series and a Worst Generation member, just like Bonney. He leads the Kid Pirates and is one of the most potent Supernovas. The kid’s strength is shown when he manages to harm a Sweet Commander of the Big Mom Pirates.
The name “Eustass Kid” is based on Eustace the Monk, a French pirate famous for being a hired fighter. The character’s name is inspired by William “Captain” Kidd, a Scottish pirate killed for his lawless actions.
8. Basil Hawkins Inspired by Basil Ringrose & John Hawkins
Basil Hawkins is the leader of the Hawkins Pirates and later becomes part of Kaido’s Beasts Pirates. He has the power of the Wara Wara no Mi, which lets him control hay. His unique abilities include making voodoo dolls that take on damage for him.
The name “Basil” might come from an authentic English pirate and writer, Basil Ringrose. And “Hawkins” could be linked to John Hawkins, a British naval commander from the 17th century. It’s also connected to the main character in the well-known pirate tale “Treasure Island.”
9. X Drake Based on Sir Francis Drake
X Drake is part of the Beasts Pirates and one of the Tobi Roppo, the six most vital members of the crew. He has a unique ancient mythical zoan-type Devil Fruit called the Ryu Ryu no Mi, Model: Allosaurus. He’s skilled with his Devil Fruit powers and can also use Haki.
X Drake’s inspiration might be Sir Francis Drake, a well-known English pirate, and explorer during the Elizabethan era. Now, let’s talk about Edward Newgate, better known as Whitebeard. He’s famed as the World’s Strongest Man and King of the Seas. Whitebeard was undoubtedly one of the strongest characters in the series.
He possesses the powerful Gura Gura no Mi Devil Fruit, which allows him to cause earthquakes.
The name “Edward” in “Edward Newgate” was likely taken from Edward Teach, also known as Blackbeard, a famous pirate. And his last name, “Newgate,” is connected to Newgate Prison, a historical London prison that held numerous renowned pirates during the Golden Age of Piracy.
11. Edward Teach Also inspired Blackbeard
Meet Marshall D. Teach, or Blackbeard as he’s widely known, the captain of the Blackbeard Pirates in One Piece. He’s recently become one of the Yonko, the four most powerful pirates in the world. This happened after he defeated the remaining members of the Whitebeard Pirates.
Now, here’s where it gets interesting. Marshall D. Teach was inspired by the most famous real-life pirate, who was aptly named Blackbeard. But in reality, this pirate’s true name was Edward Teach.
So, Eiichiro Oda, the creator of One Piece, took the last name of this real-life pirate, Teach, and twisted it. This led to the character we now know as Marshall D. Teach, adding a unique touch to the story.
12. Lafitte Inspired by Jean Lafitte
Let’s talk about Lafitte, a trusted guy on Blackbeard’s team. Once upon a time, he was a sheriff in a town out in the West Blue. But he ended up in jail because he was too wild and violent. Eventually, he hooked up with the Blackbeard Pirates. Right now, he’s the captain of their fifth ship.
Now, guess what? Lafitte was inspired by a natural person named Jean Lafitte. This dude started as a law-abiding citizen, working to keep things in check. But then, he got a taste for adventure and money, so he took up the pirate life. All of this happened back in the 1800s.
13. Charlotte “Big Mom” Linlin Based on Charlotte Badger & Charlotte de Berry
Let’s chat about Charlotte’s “Big Mom,” Linlin. She’s the boss lady of the Big Mom Pirates. But, before that, she was part of the tough crew known as the Rocks Pirates, one of the biggest in One Piece history.
Now, Big Mom has this extraordinary power called the Soru Soru no Mi. It lets her take other people’s souls. She’s got a big bounty, too, around 4,388,000,000 berries.
Guess what? Her name comes from two real-life pirates, Charlotte Badger, and Charlotte de Berry.
14. Silvers Rayleigh Based on Sir Walter Raleigh
Let’s talk about Silvers Rayleigh. He used to be in one of the toughest crews ever to sail the Grand Line. Even though he has no Devil Fruit powers, he’s one of the most muscular guys in the series.
As he got older, his powers became weaker, but he could still hold his own against the big shots like Marine Admirals. Guess what? Rayleigh seems to be inspired by a real-life guy named Sir Walter Rayleigh. This guy was all about getting people to use tobacco in Britain.
And here’s a fun fact: Rayleigh reminds us of John Silver from Treasure Island.
15. Cavendish Inspired by Thomas Cavendish
Let’s chat about Cavendish. When he first met the Straw Hat Pirates, he wasn’t exactly friendly, but later he switched sides and started supporting Luffy’s goals. He’s quite the personality – sometimes he’s a handsome dude, and other times he turns into this fierce guy called Hakuba. Some say he can be a bit proud and full of himself.
Interestingly, Cavendish might be based on a real-life explorer and privateer named Sir Thomas Cavendish. This Thomas Cavendish was a big deal in British history. He’s famous for being among the first to sail worldwide, making him rich.