What Role Will Shanks Play in the Future of One Piece?

What Role Will Shanks Play in the Future of One Piece?

“Red-Haired” Shanks

As a disclaimer, I’m not caught up on the latest chapter of the One Piece manga. So, while I find it unlikely to be the case, something I theorize about in this article may already be based on outdated information.

Also, yes, this article is based on manga content so there may be some spoilers for anime watchers. With that said, today I want to both explain my theory regarding the role Shanks is going to play in the future as well as attempt to discredit some other theories I’ve seen.

I believe that Shanks is going to be killed before Luffy reaches him, or at least before we get a fight between Luffy and Shanks. It seems like a lot of people disagree with that.

"Red-Haired" Shanks from the anime series One Piece
“Red-Haired” Shanks

Before I get into why I believe this, we need to go over some of the basics of the pirate known as “Red-Haired” Shanks. Shanks is a former apprentice of the Roger Pirates and current captain of the Red Hair Pirates. He’s also one of the Four Emperors who rule over the New World.

Shanks is also potentially the strongest of the Four Emperors. And if he’s not, he’s the most influential at the very least. He was able to put a stop to the Summit War against the Marines and was able to persuade Kaido not to participate in the war somehow.

And finally, Shanks is the one who gave Luffy his straw hat. He gave Luffy the straw hat and made a promise to Luffy that the straw hat would be returned to Shanks when they met as equals on the sea.

So, naturally, it would make sense that Luffy and Shanks are eventually going to go head to head, right?

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Why Luffy’s Promise to Shanks Doesn’t Matter

One argument I’ve seen for why Luffy and Shanks have to eventually go head to head is because of their promise. Luffy’s supposed to return the straw hat to Shanks when they’re equals.

And since this is Luffy, he’ll obviously want to fight against Shanks — even if it’s just a friendly match with no real stakes. I’d like to see Luffy fight against Shanks. But I’m not convinced that we’re ever actually going to see it happen.

Why? Because Luffy’s promise to Shanks doesn’t matter. To realize this, you just have to look at what the straw hat Shanks gave to Luffy represents. That straw hat was given to Shanks by Roger and then to Luffy by Shanks. It represents passing the torch to the next generation.

Shanks giving his straw hat to Luffy from the anime series One Piece
Shanks giving his straw hat to Luffy

Roger gave Shanks the straw hat to symbolize that he was entrusting Shanks with the future. And Shanks gave Luffy the straw hat for the same reason. So it would make no sense for Luffy to give the straw hat back to Shanks once they met on the seas as equals.

Let’s say I’m wrong about Luffy and Shanks meeting up as equals and fighting. Even in that situation, Shanks wouldn’t take the straw hat back from Luffy. He never intended for that to actually happen when he gave the straw hat to Luffy.

But, then why did the two of them make that promise? Well, that promise has been one of the driving forces behind everything Luffy has done since. Shanks gave Luffy the goal of becoming his equal so that Luffy would become strong enough to fight against the evil of the world.

Shanks doesn’t need to fight Luffy. Luffy reaching the level of an Emperor of the Sea means Shanks already achieved his goal.

Shanks Will Be Killed by the Worst Generation

It makes sense for Luffy to fight and defeat the other three Emperors. Blackbeard is arguably the main villain of the series (Akainu and Im are also contenders), so Luffy is going to fight him. I don’t have any doubts there.

As for Big Mom and Kaido, I think they’re going to be defeated by Luffy by the end of the Wano Arc. Despite what Law and Kid did to Big Mom, Luffy has been Big Mom’s main rival ever since Fishman Island. Luffy explicitly stated that he was going to take down Big Mom — so he will.

And since Kaido is the oppressor of Wano, it only makes sense for Luffy to be the one to defeat him because that’s how it always works. Any time the Straw Hats arrive at an island and there’s a ruler who needs to be overthrown, Luffy is the one to do it.

Just look at Alabasta and Dressrosa as examples.

Eustass "Captain" Kid from the anime series One Piece
Eustass “Captain” Kid

However, just as Luffy has reasons for taking out those three Emperors, there are two other characters whom I’d argue have reasons for taking out Shanks. I mentioned the Worst Generation in the title of this section because I think it’s either going to be Blackbeard or Eustass Kid.

Blackbeard and Shanks have fought before, with Blackbeard wounding Shanks. And considering I can’t see Blackbeard achieving his goal with Shanks still around, it makes sense that he’d go after Shanks.

Eustass Kid already tried to take down Shanks and lost an arm in the process. He has a vendetta against Shanks now. And if we consider that Oda originally planned for Kid to be Luffy’s main rival, having Kid take out Shanks would be a great way to put them at odds after the events of Wano.


What role do you think Shanks is going to play in the future of the series? I’m thinking that the defeat of the Red Hair Pirates is going to be used to set up a fight between Luffy and either Blackbeard or Kid.

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