One Piece is celebrated for its vibrance and humor, which makes the moments it gets dark all the more shocking. From physical to psychological abuse, these dark elements are not subtle and make a huge impact. With the manga around two-thirds completed and the latest arcs only increasing the darkness, it's only a question of how much more ominous One Piece can be. Here are the darkest parts of One Piece's story so far.
Kuma's Painful Cyborg Transformation
For unknown reasons, Bartholomew Kuma decides to offer himself as a human guinea pig for war experiments that slowly strip him of his core being, one modification at a time. It can be assumed he found the exchange worth sacrificing his humanity and free will, but the end results are cruel nonetheless.
Kuma becomes a mindless toy slave-for-rent for the Celestial dragons -- accumulating heedless damage and abuse. While he does not feel any pain because he is figuratively dead, it is a mockery to those who still care about him.
Labor Camps & Slave Labor at Tequila Wolf
Tequila Wolf is a layered monument symbolizing centuries of the World Government’s greed and corruption. Entire generations of enslaved people wasted their lives and dreams laboring on a Sisyphean task in the brutal conditions of a forced labor camp. Escape was futile for the longest time, and even after liberation, a chance at a happy life will be a constant struggle for the formerly enslaved.
Cipher Pol: Human Trafficking, Child Assassins & Rob Lucci
The World Government is an insidious institution, and from Mother Caramel, viewers know that they traffick orphan children to become Marine soldiers or Cipher Pol assassins. It's unknown if Lucci joined CP9 this way, but he and other CP9 agents received rigorous and inhumane physical training since childhood.
Their minds are molded to abandon mercy or morals. This is exemplified in one of Lucci’s childhood missions. When a pirate crew kidnaps 500 soldiers as hostages, Lucci slaughters everyone — pirates and hostages alike — because he believes being captured is a sign of weakness.
Nami's Enslavement to Arlong
The revelation of Nami’s backstory marks the point One Piece shows how it can handle tears and heartache. Arlong holds her village hostage and kills her adoptive mother Bell-mère in front of her eyes when she's eight. Nami agrees to join Arlong's crew in a deal equivalent to slavery to raise enough money to buy back her village.
When the money she raised is confiscated by a corrupt Marine and the villagers rise against Arlong, Nami tries to stop them in vain. Alone and desperate, she repeatedly stabs her arm until Luffy stops her, and she pleads for his help.
The Tragic Night in Dressrosa
Doflamingo’s parasite abilities control King Riku and various soldiers like stringed puppets to attack and kill innocent civilians. What’s worse is that each controlled individual is lucid, wrecking psychological torture as they lay witness to their bodies betraying them and betraying the people they swore to protect. On the same night of Doflamingo’s takeover, Kyros is struck with tragedies, one after another.
Not only does Sugar turn him into a toy soldier, but she also imparts true death on him as anyone acquainted with him forgets his existence. The true severity of this is demonstrated when he witnesses his wife’s death. As a toy, he is unable to feel her warmth, cry or grieve properly as the love of his life failed to recognize him and died in his arms.
Brook’s 50 Years of Isolation
Although Brook’s Devil Fruit has resurrection abilities, they doomed him to a life worse than death. Before being stranded at sea, Brook lost half his crew and captain due to an incurable disease and the other half when enemies attacked with poison-coated weapons. Sending off his crew the only way he can, Brook plays Binks' Sake as his comrades die one-by-one until he succumbs to the poison and dies as well.
When he revives, he returns to the ship as a skeleton and lays his crew’s remains to rest underdeck. Brook then lives in solitude for 50 years with memories of his crewmates as his only comfort or to haunt his dreams.
Gory Deaths in the Summit War Arc
This arc shifted the tone of One Piece with the deaths of Ace and Whitebeard. Whitebeard’s death has to be one of the series most gory deaths, dying standing with 267 sword-inflicted wounds, 152 gunshots, 46 cannon explosions and half his face and internal organs blazed by Akainu. If that wasn't enough tragedy, Ace sacrifices himself to protect Luffy as Akainu burns a hole in Ace’s chest.
Even with the Marines' goals accomplished, they continued to pursue a fight that needlessly sacrificed more soldiers and senseless bloodshed until Shanks put an end to it.
The Crucifixion of Nekomamushi and Inuarashi
To extrapolate information about Raizo, Jack of the Beast Pirates unleashes Caesar’s poison gas to massacre the vulnerable Mink tribe in Zou while their leaders — Nekomamushi, Inuarashi and other strong warriors — are crucified. In a hellish experience for the Zou tribe, screams of death echo throughout the country. Despite the torture, lost limbs and lost comrades, Nekomamushi and Inuarashi selflessly never reveal any information.
Wano: A Dystopian Society Masked with Flowers
The currently-ongoing Wano Arc is the darkest One Piece has ever been. With Orochi’s tyrannical rule, average citizens are either poisoned slowly by pollution or starved to death, leading to desperate measures such as mothers willing to kill their infants. In addition to these dark elements, One Piece once again shocks viewers with some grisly executions and revelations.
Cornered into starvation and destitution, the villagers of Ebisu had little choice but to consume defective SMILE fruits that robbed their ability to express any emotion other than laughter and smiles. The twisted irony is most poignant when they are compelled to laugh at Yasuie’s death in a public execution when a firing squad shoots him an inhumane number of times.
In another horrid execution, Oden's executed after being boiled alive for one hour before a gunshot to the head ends his life. With more deaths and betrayals, the Wano Arc continues to throw viewers in for a shocking loop.
The Destruction and Genocide of Felavance, Ohara & the Grey Terminal
The greatest atrocities present in the anime is genocide organized by or for the World Government. They destroyed Ohara to censor the truth about Poneglyphs. They allowed the citizens of Flevance to poison themselves as long as they gained profit from its budding amber lead industry. And the Gao Kingdom set fire to its Gray Terminal, a warren of junk and the homeless, to impress a World Noble.
No matter how innocent or harmless, the government has no qualm exterminating any inconvenience to their objectives, a truth all too relatable in real life.