One Piece is a decade's worth collection of great villains. One Piece might even be the best rogues gallery in any anime. You either love to hate them, love to laugh at them, or love to cry for their backstory. Sometimes all at the same time. In any case, you will memorize how they laugh.
The criteria of this list is not just about who is the strongest, otherwise, the top spot will always go to the latest villain. But the villain's strength can count for a lot depending on the context the villain's strength is used in tandem with the story. How funny or how hateable the villain is can also go a long way.
The Celestial Dragons
One Piece has a lot of villains we love to hate, but the Celestial Dragons take the cake. There is no one more hateable than people that think anyone who is below their statues is less than human. There is no one more hateable than people that own slaves and collect them as a hobby and a sign of status. There is no one more hateable than people that can get away with anything while doing every entitled and unsympathetic act possible. And the Celestial Dragons are all of that. Arlong seems like a nice fellow compared to these guys.
Even not bowing at their presence because you are helping someone injured is a crime to them and they will kill you for it. Look at their clothes, they look like astronauts just so they will not inhale the same air as those they think are inferior.
When Luffy punched Saint Charloss right on the face, it must be the most satisfying feeling in the world. Who cares if an Admiral is coming. It was worth it.
She may have overstayed her welcome, but in the Whole Cake Island Arc, she was the balance of a mastermind supervillain and a mindless monster.
She may look like a fairytale Disney villain complete with singing inanimate objects and musical numbers, but once we get to know her, we learn that all her wholesome fantasy dreams and presence are because she is a person that never grew up. A child that can never be disciplined because of having too much power, and never had a family that loves her so will forever collect children and will always get what she wants.
Unlike other villains, she is not someone to beat, but someone to escape from. Her physical abilities and military might are so vast, when the Straw Hats were escaping from Whole Cake Island, it is like running away from both an entire country's military force and Godzilla.
Buggy the Clown
What Buggy lacks in being a serious threat for the Straw Hats, Buggy makes up for it by being the funniest villain in One Piece. His power is perfect for slapstick. He's whiny, entitled, and loud personality combined with the countless funny faces Eiichiro Oda can come up for him is endless comedy gold.
Not to mention that the running gag of countless deadly pirates thinking he is a great pirate on the level of Whitebeard never gets old. First, he is a Shichibukai. One day he will be a Yonko. Maybe even the Pirate King.
Bartholomew Kuma may be revealed as an ally, but for a long stretch before the time skip, his robotic parts functioned as a villain. And what a villain he was.
Everything about him is a mystery and intriguing - He is huge but he moves with grace and holds objects gently. He is called a tyrant, but he has a calm demeanor, always holds a bible in one hand, and is loyal to his superiors.
All that mystery and large physique make him one of, if not the most intimidating villain in One Piece history. His powers may look and feel cute, but they can make the Straw Hats life a living hell. He can defeat all of the Straw Hats plus other pirates with them with no effort.
When the Pacifista showed up in Sabaody Archipelago., it took the Straw Hat's combined strength and all they got just to defeat it, and yet that Pacifista was weaker than the original Kuma.
And then, Kuma made one of the best and most shocking moments in One Piece possible - He made the Straw Hats disappear one by one, making Luffy painfully hopeless for the first time in One Piece history.
Rob Lucci and the CP9
After Crocodile, there was always a danger that to make a villain seem formidable, all Oda has to do is make the next villain a Logia user. And for a while, that seems to be the case with both Enel and Aokiji being powerful logia users.
Then here comes CP9 and Rob Lucci who are not Logia types, yet feel just as formidable. Lucci was a breath of fresh air at the time, not only is he and his CP9 not Logias, but they are also not pirates, and unlike other villains who rely on only brute strength and devil fruit, they are martial artists. They are also the first Zoan type major villains. Everything about Lucci and the CP9 was outside the box.
Lucci himself is very different from other villains before him. Whereas other villains have ambitions, plans, and dreams, Lucci was just a blunt force. There is nothing he will not do once an order is given to him, as he interprets it as justice. He cannot be talked to, he cannot be discouraged, he cannot be tricked into an emotion that will reveal weakness, there is just the mission and nothing will stop him from finishing it.
Don Quixote Doflamingo
Before Luffy ever had to face Doflamingo he was already a great presence in the series. His unique character design, chaotic energy, philosophy, and mysterious power made us readers and anime watches want to see what will happen when Doflamingo eventually becomes Luffy's next punching bag.
When we finally arrived at that moment, he turns out to be the villain with the most depth. His philosophy and want to see the world burn are all justified by his tragic backstory.
Doflamingo just might be one of the evilest people in the One Piece world, yet every malicious act he takes can be understood with sympathy from the eyes of the viewers. Eiichiro Oda may have achieved the impossible - He made us sympathize with the devil.
Señor Pink might be one of the funniest villains in One Piece that also happens to have the most tragic villain story in One Piece. You look at that ridiculous baby wear he is sporting, and you think he is way too silly even for One Piece.
You see the groupies that are head-over-hills in love with him no matter how terrible he treats them, and you laugh out loud. You see him be honorable and protective of his allies in battle and you can kind of understand what these women see in him.
His battle with Franky is one of the best battles in the Dressrosa arc, and we further see how honorable Señor Pink is in a one-on-one duel.
Then as Franky Punches him over and over as he voluntarily doesn't move as part of their rules in battle, at the same time his tragic backstory is revealed on why he wears his ridiculous outfit, you realize, he is one of the best characters in One Piece.
There is no one more hateable than a racist, and Arlong is a racist that can crush any race he perceives as secondary. Arlong is the first truly great villain of One Piece. He is someone to hate but no one can do anything about it. The first villain with a personal attachment to a Straw Hat, and when we see the backstory of that, he becomes even more hateable.
He will kill, he will threaten, and he will do anything he wants, and he will smile and laugh, and look relaxed doing it. You look at his clothes and you know that he is on vacation.
Aside from that, he is on another level in terms of strength from other villains before him. Aside from looking more intimidating than the others, he is even a different creature, with raw strength and toughness above the others.
When Luffy was fighting him, his jaw strength, sharp teeth, and sharp nose feel like he can stab and bite a huge chunk of Luffy with the slightest wrong movement.
When we first saw Katakuri, he looks like every generic lone cool character, in a genre where they are a dime a dozen. It is like Eiichiro Oda is trying way too hard to make him look badass. But then we get to see his entire face, while also eating donuts, and it turns out his generic image is actually the point. Katakuri is trying way too hard to look cool.
The subversion is that he is too ashamed of his ridiculous facial features and eating habits that he chose to hide in an image no one will ever make fun of.
Then, as the fight with Luffy goes by, we learn how honorable he is in a fight. He learns how to not be ashamed of who he truly is, and we learn to respect him in return. Then later, it turns out all his shame for himself is a result of trying his best to protect his family. If his face will lead to harm to his family then he will cover it up.
Unlike other villains, Katakuri is not evil. The only reason Luffy and Katakuri are fighting is because Luffy is a threat to his family.
Aside from an amazing character backstory, he also has almost the same abilities as Luffy, but he is better in every way. His fight with Luffy is among the best of the series, and because The Whole Cake Island Arc was so different from the formula from other arcs before it, the outcome of their fight was unpredictable.
Crocodile revolutionized what a One Piece villain can be. Every villain that came before him were all very simplistic one-off obstacles for Luffy to defeat, even Arlong, then here comes Crocodile who feels like a looming shadow throughout multiple arcs since the Straw Hats entered the Grand Line. He has a bounty four times bigger than any of the villains before. His title as the Shichibukai was the highest position of power in the One Piece world thus far.
The stakes suddenly got exponentially larger. When the villains before were terrorizing a small town and little villages, Crocodile was terrorizing an entire country, with multiple levels of planning that seems unbeatable. There were so many attempts for the Straw Hats to stop his plans for Alabasta only to fail every time. It was going to work, only for Luffy exposed his defeated body that Crocodile's plans were stopped.
Then when Luffy finally faced him, he was literally untouchable. Beating him felt impossible, and it took Luffy trice just to finally defeat him. He was the most difficult villain for Luffy to defeat with the exception of Kaido, and just landing a single punch on him felt like a great victory.
Aside from that, he has a cool mafia pirate design and a hateable personality where he consistently laughs at the deaths of the people he causes while mocking the ideals of the heroes.
Crocodile changed the level of what kind of conflict we can expect from a One Piece villain and every villain that followed is in his shadow.
Who is your pick for the best villain?