A person who attacks and robs ships at sea is known as a pirate. In the case of Luffy's definition, "being free is to be a pirate". He stops pirates from robbing and attacking innocent people, more like Pirate Hunter Zoro.

Why is Luffy considered a pirate?

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    I'm not that familiar with One Piece, and therefore don't feel confident enough to make this an answer, but IIRC, the world government has a severe level of control over the seas and anyone who operates outside that control (including Luffy) is automatically labelled a "pirate", regardless of whether they actually engage in piracy.
    – F1Krazy
    Aug 22, 2022 at 13:36
  • @F1Krazy not familiar either but I looked it up and 'A pirate is, broadly speaking, any professional criminal that operates wholly or partially on the world's seas, especially people conducting robbery by ship. In most, if not all, cases they lead or belong to a group of like-minded criminals, known as a crew.' soooo your guess here is that pirate means like sea nomad or something?
    – BCLC
    Aug 22, 2022 at 20:48
  • wait. i hardly believe a 2 decades old anime doesn't have this kind question. lemme check... ah here quora.com/… and reddit.com/r/OnePiece/comments/1pvjkx/is_luffy_really_a_pirate what do you think of those?
    – BCLC
    Oct 15, 2022 at 15:40

3 Answers 3


First of all, the context is important in trying to respond to your question.

  1. Luffy declares himself as a pirate and even going as far as saying he will be the Pirate King.

  2. His extended family is closely related to piracy and other questionable lifestyles, like

    his father is a Revolutionary - opposing the World Government - and his brother was the son of the former Pirate King.

  3. On his journey, he came across representatives of the World Government (ships convoys, delegates, Admirals, etc). The first island he disembarks on is a WG military outpost where he damages the building and defeats the outpost commander - therefore receiving his first bounty from the WG and marking the start of his fame as an outlaw. He even attacks and destroys ships at sea on some occasions.

  4. As @JaysheelUtekar pointed out, sailing with a black flag will brand you as a pirate whatever your actions may be, fact stated by the WG in the beginning of the story.

On a side note, the WG considers a pirate almost everyone that is at sea and produces damages to and/or opposes the WG in any way.

  • he does not attack on other people ships ( even he got marine friends) until they attack Luffy's ship. so it seems like Luffy is a Good pirate, lol they definitely changed the meaning of pirate here. Aug 25, 2022 at 1:22
  • @SayedMohdAli IIRC Luffy and his crew did attack some ships when trying to escape after inflitrating a marine base and stuff like that, not only when provoked or being under attack themselves. Anyway, in One Piece there is a clear difference between GOOD and BAD pirates so it's no surprise Luffy falls in the first category.
    – RigaCrypto
    Aug 25, 2022 at 8:12
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    Additionally, if you look at the Early One Piece section on the wiki, you'll notice that Oda in his early version made a clear distinction between pirates who are only interested in adventures (Peace Main) vs those who are more greedy when it comes to treasure and ambition (Morganeer). Luffy supposedly hates Morganeers and only wishes to recruit Peace Mains. However, this is never mentioned in the canon One Piece, so it is just interesting trivia to add some context. Aug 26, 2022 at 0:50
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    @BCLC indeed, weird that no one asked, but the nature of the question is a bit different. "Is Luffy considered a pirate" implies the answer is about how Luffy is viewed in general terms inside his own univers. He is a real hero at heart and not a true-to-life pirate but from the point of view of a normal person in One Piece, he runs a black flag, attacks WG ships and has a high bounty, all indicating he is a pirate.
    – RigaCrypto
    Oct 17, 2022 at 6:52
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    @BCLC the questions are formulated differently. In the ones you posted, the question reflects on the viewers subjective perception of Luffy, in this one it reflects Luffy's perception from inside his universe. At least that is how I understand it.
    – RigaCrypto
    Oct 24, 2022 at 8:10

Luffy's desire to become a pirate is symbolic of his idea of "Freedom". Tales from Red Haired Shanks fuelled this idea to the point where becoming the "King of the Pirates" would allow his to achieve ultimate freedom. Although he hasn't achieved the status as king yet, he has had a taste of true freedom. After Bonney questions why Luffy has white hair in his Yonko bounty (5th Gear) his response is "Oh, That's What I Look Like When I'm Free!!".

Other pirates in One-Piece are typically aggressive and would willy-nilly murder and pillage as stereotypical pirates. Luffy's ideology however contradicts that, which does make him out to act non-pirate like but that's to do with how other pirates are contrasted.

  • That is pretty much the same thing that I said, but some might consider this answer a spoiler. Actually this has many spoilers. Many of us on here are caught up with the Manga... but many are not.
    – stinkyjak
    Dec 19, 2022 at 3:13

My interpretation of wording: Luffy wants to live free. To Luffy, the Pirate King is "Free-er than anyone," and that is what Luffy wants to be.

My Opinion: Luffy also wants to unite the world against all those that use power to oppress and control. Luffy does want to steal this power and control from the secret societies and one world government.... only to give it back to the people.

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