One Piece, above anything else, is a Battle Shonen, a long-running Jump comic featuring some of the wildest fights ever to grace the printed page or television screen. As such, the series has seen a variety of interesting and iconic fights that more than define the genre, as the series' own flavor of pirate battles has broken the anime zeitgeist on more than one occasion. However, it's not always a victor's road for Monkey D. Luffy, with various defeats peppering the odd corners of the series.
Luffy has not only gone through brutal defeats but has also sustained brutal and life-threatening injuries because of them. Or, at least, they would be life-threatening if he weren't an anime protagonist. As is the case with its anime contemporaries, Luffy has, on more than one occasion, revived from defeats that he had no business ever surviving. As such, this list will be looking at the top 10 beatdowns that Luffy should have never survived.
10 Don Krieg
An early entry on this list, with One Piece having hosted a variety of increasingly interesting fights in its continued run, it's easy to forget early bouts from the East Blue, such as Luffy's fight with Don Krieg.
While Luffy does eventually win the fight and Don Krieg's own bounty later being revealed to be a meager 17,000,000 beli, let's not ignore the fact that, during this fight, Don Krieg dealt several lethal blows against Luffy. Whether it was with his spiked cape or spear that literally explodes upon impact, Krieg hit Luffy with a variety of attacks that really should have damaged a rubber man.
9 Sir Crocodile
While East Blue may have featured a variety of close fights for Luffy, Sir Crocodile still gets the honor of giving Luffy his first couple of defeats during Alabasta, with those defeats being kind of a doozy. Crocodile tosses Luffy around, drain water from parts of his body, and, above all else, stabs through his chest with his hook.
By all means, this should've been the end of the series, where Crocodile takes over Alabasta and Luffy dies from a massive hole in his chest. But no. Luffy drinks some water and heals up because that's how medical stuff works.
8 Rob Lucci
Water Seven and Ennies Lobby was a seminal arc for the series. It marked a pivotal point where the Straw Hats decided to step up their game and become stronger. This, however, was done with main protagonist plot armor, as, without any actual formal training, Luffy and the Straw Hats manage to defeat government super soldiers.
Luffy, in particular, uses the power of friendship to survive the building breaking, pistol strong attacks of Rob Lucci. If consistency were a thing in One Piece fights, Luffy should be full of holes with his severe organ problems.
7 Baron Omatsuri
While the One Piece movies often feature villains of similar strength to whatever level Luffy is at within the most recent arc, Baron Omatsuri makes this list for the sheer brutality of his attacks against Luffy. One Piece's sixth film is already infamous for its dark themes and horror film tropes, but the most shocking part of this movie is Luffy's actual fight against the Baron, as Luffy fights through and gets hit (several times!) by the Baron's barrage of arrows.
Fighting a marksman wouldn't make this all that bad of a fight for Luffy if it were not for the sheer fact that Luffy was literally shown covered in arrows like a pin cushion. By all means, Baron Omatsuri should've been the one film villain to have actually killed Luffy.
The entire Marineford Saga saw Luffy go through trial after trial, as he faced the big leagues of the pirating world in an effort to save his brother, Ace. Along the way, he entered the underwater fortress that is Impel Down and fought against its demon warden, Magellan. "Fought" being a very generous word, as Luffy got one really good shot in, whereas Magellan consumed Luffy's entire body in hydra made of poison.
That shot Luffy got in also didn't really do him any favors, as that also caused him to get poisoned from Magellan's body (not one of his brighter moments). The point here being that it was a classic case of deus ex machina for Luffy to find the ONE prisoner on Impel Down who could develop an antidote for him instead of doing the more likely thing in dying in a pool of poison.
This is an entry that goes really far back, all the way to Luffy's childhood years. During the budding days of his friendship with Ace and Sabo, the ASL spent their days stealing and foraging within the Goa Kingdom and its trash heap community, Grey Terminal. However, during those times, the main pirate on the scene was Captain Bluejam who sought after the ASL's collected treasure.
In an attempt to find its whereabouts, he has his henchmen Porchemy kidnap Luffy and actually beat the child to try and get a confession out of him. It's a brutal scene throughout, as Porchemy realizes that he needs to use spiked gloves to hurt Luffy, and hurt Luffy he does. As brutal as the aftermath of this scene should've been, it's still heartwarming nonetheless to see the Pirate King come out of the mess.
4 The "Golden Lion" Shiki
The last of this list's use of movie beatdowns, this one is quite a doozy. One Piece: Strong World featured the Straw Hats going up against not only one of the greatest pirate legends on the Grand Line but also an old rival of Gold Roger's, the "Golden Lion" Shiki. What ensues is a battle to save Nami, with a first attempt that serves...less than functional.
It's a brutal defeat, as Shiki takes on the Straw Hats hand to hand, later using his gravity manipulation powers to contort the earth to bind all of them in a giant, stone pillar! Pretty much think of Naruto's Gaara's sand coffin but with pure stone. Ouch.
3 Big Mom's "Enraged Army"
During the early parts of the Whole Cake Island Arc, Luffy challenges and manages to defeat Big Mom's son and one of the Sweet Commanders, Charlotte Cracker. However, if one should learn anything from Ace and Whitebeard, it's that an Emperor doesn't take too kindly to one of their own getting hurt, as Big Mom sends in the proportional response of sending an entire army to take down Luffy!
Typically, in scenes like this, the massive size of the army would be used to hype up Luffy, as he quickly does away with a would-be overwhelming force. That isn't the case here, as this army stays an overwhelming force and demolishes Luffy with their monstrous strength and teamwork. If it weren't for a promise between Big Mom and Sanji, Luffy wouldn't exactly be leaving that fight.
2 Charlotte Katakuri
On the note of Whole Cake Island, a beatdown that is a little less excusable is the one that Luffy received from Katakuri. During this fight, Katakuri not only outclasses Luffy with brute strength but also in speed, perception, and stretching power.
Using all of the above to hit Luffy with a barrage of quick blows, giant punches, and a twirling spiked club that would not only drag Luffy across every pillar of the room but also bury him into a massive hole in the ground. One of the biggest ground pounds seen in the show's history. But then the power of friendship happens, and Luffy easily gets up from being buried dozens of feet underground.
1 "King of Beasts" Kaido
Last but not least, during the series' latest arc, Wano, Luffy finally comes across a guy who wreaks of final boss aura, the "King of Beasts" Kaido. During this exchange, Luffy manages to land a pretty decent hit on Kaido, seemingly stopping the World's Strongest Creature. However, Kaido just shakes it off then one-shots Luffy. He literally just takes a club and smacks Luffy out of the air, instantly...knocking him out.
One would think that, if a pirate-like Kaido came face-to-face with someone who has been openly trying to sabotage his operations, he would go for the kill. But no. Like villains before him, he also sends Luffy to jail, so he can make friends, get stronger, and rise up against him. Jails are pretty generous in this world, are they not?