One Piece has a long cast of characters that could rival any extended universe out there. With an adventure spanning a wide, diverse world and a publishing history lasting more than 20 years, One Piece has always kept some fresh faces on its screen. Whether it’s the series unique character designs or heartfelt backstories, fans just can’t help but fall in love with every pirate, Marine, or Revolutionary that happens to pass by the screen.
However, as big as the series is, it obviously can’t give equal screen time to each of its characters. Some are just bound to get more than others, leaving some to dry on the side and others to get overexposed. This list will be running down some of the most underused characters to sail One Piece‘s seas and a few that can afford to dock for a while.
10 Underused: Smoker
Vice Admiral “White Chase” Smoker had the fairy tail beginning that most characters can only dream for. He debuted as a stoic hero who was inspired by the King of the Pirates but still fought against pirate scum. He protected Loguetown as his own domain, developing infamy for never letting a purp get past him.
And while he certainly came off as a big deal when he first crossed paths with Monkey D. Luffy, he never really maintained that momentum throughout most of the series. While his entire character is relentlessly chasing after a criminal, he is rarely seen across the series and just randomly appears with a higher status. That’s not even mentioning his poor showing during the Punk Hazard Arc. As someone who was once positioned as Luffy’s chief rival, Smoker really needs more screen time to prove himself.
9 See Too Much: Nami
For better or worse, Nami is the poster girl for One Piece. She’s been around since the beginning and always seems to get a word in edgewise or, at least, a shot in every scene. While she is a charming character, one can’t help but feel like the series has run through all of its notes with her. She’s either being used for fan service, being mischievous, or used as a damsel in distress.
Nami is far from being a terrible character but seeing her as much as the fans have has diluted some of her charisma, especially considering that the series has a wide cast of other strong female characters who could use some of that spotlight.
8 Underused: Nico Robin
Speaking of which, Nico Robin has never been the same since the Enies Lobby Arc. While her own character hasn’t dramatically changed, she’s kind of fell a few rungs from her status prior. Nico Robin premiered as this dangerous femme fatale whose dark stare and Flower Flower Fruit came with a lethal agenda.
She had her fair share of importance and fights during the early game but now is simply relegated to the sidelines, just commenting on a scene and smiling. Robin hasn’t really had a big moment lately to really show her importance or a big fight to remind fans why she was Sir Crocodile’s confidant. Hopefully, with the current Wano Arc, Robin can find some time to shine or, in her case, stare mysteriously and menacingly.
7 See Too Much: Usopp
Usopp is an easy fan favorite whose comedy and exploits have entertained fans for years. And while he is reliable as a comic relief, one can’t help but feel that he’s been depended upon a little much. Usopp’s arcs tend to fall along the same lines: first he’s scared, then he thinks about friendship, and finally he beats up a villain. Rinse and repeat.
While each version of this has found its own flavor, Usopp’s journey hasn’t really strayed from just him getting slightly braver. Being a recurring story at his worst and a running gag at his best, Usopp can probably afford to holster his slingshot for some scenes.
6 Underused: Tashigi
Much like her partner in justice, Smoker, Tashigi is a rarely used Marine who initially came into the series with plenty of momentum. She tantalized the imaginations of the fans with her mysterious similarities to Kuina, and her strong fascination with swords.
Seeing the writing on the wall, she should’ve had plenty of interesting exchanges with Zoro if not a good few fights to really shake up the sword play of the series. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be plans to expand on her character or even touch on the fact that she looks like Zoro’s childhood friend.
5 See Too Much: Buggy The Clown
In all fairness, Buggy the Clown has been a really entertaining villain. His cowardly charisma hearkens back to the classic Team Rocket bits, he’s come up with plenty of hilarious scenes, and his sudden rise to infamy has been a captivating story. However, if there was ever going to be a recurring villain for the series, were fans really hoping that it would be Buggy the Clown?
Buggy has simply sustained himself throughout the story with pure luck and hasn’t really introduced new elements to the world to really shake things up. Compare this to the tantalizing exploits of a freed Sir Crocodile or Rob Lucci’s rise to CP0, and one has to wonder if Buggy’s screen time has been well-utilized.
4 Underused: Blackbeard
On the note of underused villains, “Blackbeard” Marshall D. Teach is unfortunately one of them. Despite being the marketed lead villain of One Piece, much of Blackbeard’s adventures and villainy have been left in the dark, leaving fans to only hype him up with pure speculation.
While this is a safe way of maintaining Blackbeard’s mystery, there’s been plenty of lost opportunities across the series to really show off his character or properly reveal his agenda. Rather than make him a mystery, the lack of appearances have simply generalized Blackbeard as a generic bad guy, and fans certainly know that Eiichiro Oda is much more capable writer than that.
3 See Too Much: Roronoa Zoro
This isn’t to say that the Pirate Hunter hasn’t been entertaining or poorly used. He is easily one of the most consistently entertaining members of the Straw Hat Pirates, and fans are always excited to know that he essentially has a guaranteed fight in every arc. However, considering that his stories typically fall along the lines of just fighting and cutting harder, he hasn’t been all that dynamic of a character.
All of Zoro’s big slashes have been plenty exciting, but the series really could use more variety in its fight scenes, especially when seeing the long line of Straw Hats who haven’t had a decent fight in a while.
2 Underused: Coby
For fans who didn’t keep up with the cover story or missed that one episode in the anime, Coby’s transformation from twitching nerd to Marine poster boy must’ve been quite a shock. This is a shame considering that Coby must have one of the most tense and challenging journeys around.
While Usopp is running away for the eighteenth time, Garp is having Coby do pushups or throwing him to the sharks to teach him to swim. This isn’t even mentioning his interesting and growing dynamic with Helmeppo. Fans can tell that Coby is becoming quite the hero, but they really should get the chance to see the process.
1 See Too Much: Monkey D. Luffy
It makes sense that Monkey D. Luffy would by far have the most screen time out of anyone else in the series. However, if the flashback arcs, cuts to the World Government, and the various non-Luffy stories have shown, there is so much more to One Piece than just the “Straw Hat” Luffy Show.
When One Piece takes the time to step away from Luffy, it’s shown potential to craft a variety of interesting stories to span from political intrigue to grand conspiracies. The story doesn’t really need Luffy’s input for most things, and he can probably take a few moments to step back and let the world breathe a little more.
One Piece has a huge roster. It makes it hard for certain characters to get attention.