In today’s session, we are embarking on a comprehensive ranking of each and every one of Zoro’s battles. If you believe we might have overlooked any significant confrontations, don’t navigate through this like Zoro often navigates through directions – make your way down to the comments section below.
Throughout this list, our focus will be on assessing the multitude, if not all, of Roronoa Zoro’s engagements throughout the One Piece anime series.
#1: Vs. Daz Bonez
In this fight alone, Zoro goes from a great swordsman, to an amazing one! Matched against Mr. 1 in Alabasta, Zoro is the equal of the assassin/bounty hunter in strength, but is unable to win for one simple reason – he can’t cut steel. Mr. 1 can turn his whole body into metal and various blades. Over the course of the fight, Zoro is driven to the brink of death and recalls his teacher’s hints at how to cut through anything. With this revelation, Zoro puts it into practice and defeats Daz Bones in a single strike. This fight has everything we want from Zoro – a powerful opponent, personal growth, and bat-shit, brilliant moves. You da man Zoro.
#2: Vs. Kaku
When the Straw Hats attack Enies Lobby to rescue Robin, Zoro’s opponent ends up being Kaku of CP9. The square-nosed assassin is also a swordsman, but more importantly, he can turn into a giraffe. Kaku’s experimentation with his powers leads to plenty of comedic and surprisingly deadly moves. But, once Zoro breaks out his strange, multi-headed, multi-limbed Ashura ability, Kaku is left cut to ribbons. This fight is one of the most involved, hilarious and staggering in the canon, displaying just how versatile and deadly Zoro can be.
#3: Vs. Dracule Mihawk
If this were a list of the most important Zoro fights, this would easily be number one! When the strongest swordsman in the world, the Warlord Dracule Mihawk shows up in East Blue, Zoro is driven by his ambition to challenge him. Right from the start, it’s clear that Zoro is overmatched. Mihawk uses a tiny knife and is still able to see through all of Zoro’s moves. However, he becomes impressed by Zoro’s determination and uses his real sword. After dealing Zoro a massive wound to the chest, Mihawk tells his challenger to recover to surpass him, while Zoro promises Luffy to never lose again. It’s a pivotal moment for Zoro’s character and Mihawk’s skill shows us just how high he’ll have to rise.
#4: Vs. Kamazo/Killer
Zoro’s duel with Gyukimaru is interrupted when Hiyori and Toko arrive, fleeing Killer, or as he’s known in Wano, Kamazo. Zoro agrees to protect them in exchange for food and alcohol. The murderous pirate turned assassin proceeds to engage Zoro in a battle that feels straight out of an old samurai movie, albeit with a “One Piece” flavor. The slashes fly back and forth between them in some beautifully fluid animation. Some interference from Gyukimaru leads to Zoro getting stabbed, but he’s able to take Kamazo’s scythe and use it to deliver an absolutely hype finisher. The events at play in this fight are already fantastic, particularly in hindsight, knowing it’s Killer, but the execution takes it over the top!
#5: Vs. Bartholomew Kuma
The cybernetic Warlord Bartholomew Kuma is arguably one of the strongest foes the Straw Hats have ever faced. With a durable, massive body, and the ability to repel anything at high speeds, Kuma is no joke! Even so, Zoro manages to hold out for a surprising amount of time against him, despite his exhaustion. But in appealing to Kuma’s honor, Zoro is able to spare Luffy’s life, at the cost of tremendous pain for himself. The combination of Zoro defying impossible odds and what is possibly his most iconic moment ever make this fight legendary…even if…well, Zoro said it best.
#6: Vs. Shimotsuki Ryuma
When Brook is unable to defeat the zombie samurai animated by his shadow, Zoro steps in to defeat it on his behalf. Ryuma is one of the most even matches Zoro has ever had. Using powerful versions of Brook’s own moves, the zombie and Zoro practically demolish the tower room they fight in, moving on to the roof. There, Zoro delivers one final move that sets Ryuma ablaze, allowing him to also earn the legendary undead warrior’s respect, and his sword. Tightly paced and featuring some subtle foreshadowing for Wano Country, Zoro’s fight with Ryuma is fire – literally and figuratively.
#7: Vs. 100 Baroque Works Agents
When the crew shows up at Whisky Peak and are warmly greeted by its residents, it’s naturally too good to be true – the whole town are bounty hunters from Baroque Works. While most of them are lulled into sleep or drunkenness, Zoro stays awake and confronts the 100 bounty hunters. The whole sequence plays like an action movie, with Zoro defeating his many opponents in smart and creative ways, while also flexing all over them. We knew Zoro was a badass before this fight, but this one really helps cement how awesome he really is.
#8: Vs. Oars
The Straw Hats’ battle with Oars, an extremely large and demonic zombie giant imbued with Luffy’s personality, is one of their toughest fights as a crew. While everyone contributes, Zoro leads the charge in Luffy’s absence and even manages to hold out directly against Oars longer than most. The sheer number of cool moves he uses here, both team-up and solo, as well as the fact that he tests out his newest sword, Shusui, makes this a notable Zoro fight, even if he isn’t the one dominating the spotlight.
#9: Vs. Hody Jones
Most of Zoro’s opponents tend to be the second strongest members of the group, while Luffy fights the strongest. That’s what makes Zoro’s fight with Hody Jones so unexpected. Hody is the big bad of Fishman Island, an anarchist pirate and the would-be usurper of the throne. When Hody attacks the palace, Zoro not only fights against the radical Fishman, but he also does so underwater, where Hody has a natural advantage. Not only does Zoro basically take Hody down with one attack, but he does so in literally a single breath! If not for the power of steroids, Hody would’ve been defeated much sooner.
#10: Vs. Pica
Pica may have the most ridiculous voice of any “One Piece” character, but the soprano-voiced executive of the Donquixote Pirates still proves a challenge for Zoro. Able to merge with and control stone at will, Pica’s ability makes him an elusive and powerful opponent. Able to escape at a moment’s notice and form a gigantic stone colossus, Pica battles Zoro over a large section of the conflict in Dressrosa. Although Zoro gets in some good attacks and insults during the fight, the finisher is something special. Having been launched through the air to cut Pica’s huge form into pieces is pretty epic, as is cutting down Pica’s real, Haki-coated body afterwards.
#11: Vs. Basil Hawkins
Zoro’s fellow member of the Worst Generation, Basil Hawkins, attacks him and Luffy shortly after arriving in Wano Country. The magician proves able to tank Zoro’s attacks, thanks to his voodoo powers diverting the damage to his subordinates. When Luffy and Zoro are forced to retreat, Hawkins creates a huge straw creature which pursues them. Zoro fights the enormous monster from the back of a lion dog, eventually cutting it in two. While not involved enough to crack our top 10, this fight is still remarkable for the great animation and nifty abilities displayed..
#12: Vs. Ohm
One of the priests of Enel, Ohm is arguably the most dangerous. Besides being able to tame dogs of unusual size, he also wields a sword-like cloud that can shift into any shape he requires. Add in the ability to predict his opponents’ moves and it’s no wonder Zoro has trouble even landing a hit on him! Even his weakest long range slash doesn’t work. When Zoro loses sight of Ohm amidst the ruins they’re fighting in, he uses the location of Ohm’s attacks to determine his opponent’s location to slash through his attack and defeat him. Zoro proved that he’s a beast not even Ohm can tame!
#13: Vs. Monet
Opponents with Logia Devil Fruits are always tricky, and Monet is no exception. Plus she’s a harpy. To buy the others time, Zoro stays to fight the snow woman with Marine captain Tashigi. Although Tashigi does the lion’s share of the fighting, Zoro still manages to show his stuff, first by crossing swords…er, ice picks, with Monet, and then by stepping in when Tashigi proves overmatched. Zoro has rarely been so intimidating, as he terrifies Monet by showing he can injure her and then by cutting her in half! Sure, she’s not dead because of her powers, and because he held back on the Haki, but it’s still a boss move on Zoro’s part!
#14: Vs. Hatchan
Although he’s still recovering from arguably his most grievous wound, Zoro still faces off against Hatchan the octopus Fishman when the Straw Hats attack the Arlong Pirates. His opponent is a bit of an airhead, which causes some very amusing gags throughout their battle, as Zoro plays the straight man. While Hachi doesn’t put up much of a fight in and of himself, Zoro is not at his best. Still, he manages to overcome his pain and effortlessly dodge Hatchan’s blows once he borrows his buddies’ swords, and eventually sends him packing.
#15: Vs. Toyama Tsujigiro
After being framed for murder in Wano Country, Zoro is arrested and sentenced to commit seppuku. However, Toyama Tsujigiro, the magistrate overseeing the execution/suicide, seems a little too into blood and Zoro deduces that he’s the real killer, using his knife to
cut down Tsujigiro from afar. He then works his way through the magistrate’s men, retrieving his swords and blowing them all away. This fight features fantastic choreography and is a great illustration of the Wano arc’s beautiful animation style. It also acts as a wonderful reintroduction to Zoro after his long absence from the series by reminding us just how much of a badass he is!
#16: Vs. Captain T Bone
You wouldn’t think it’d be possible to have a fight in front of a speeding sea train in the middle of a storm – but you’d be wrong! When the cadaverous Marine captain T Bone blocks the crew’s way on the tracks, Zoro leaps out in front of the train to cross swords with him. Their flurry of blows is quick, but the circumstances make it a memorable exchange.
#17: Vs. the Groggy Monsters
Zoro and Sanji have a…contentious relationship…to say the least. When the two are paired together during a Davy Back Fight competition, the odds are stacked against them with three massive, cheating opponents. Their refusal to work together causes them to receive quite a beating. But after agreeing to a short truce, the duo pulls off the victory, with Zoro even using a sword technique – minus the swords.
#18: Vs. PX-4
While on Sabaody Archipelago, the Straw Hats are attacked by PX-4, a Pacifista cyborg, which they mistake for Bartholomew Kuma. While every crew member contributes during the battle, Zoro, Luffy, and Sanji are the ones who do most of the fighting. By using a combination of attacks the “Monster Trio” are able to bring down the mechanical foe, with Zoro implementing his still-mysterious Ashura ability.
#19: Vs. Luffy
Zoro and his captain usually get along fine, even if the swordsman can be frustrated by Luffy’s antics. But they’ve only come to blows once – and for a very dumb reason. A misunderstanding leads to the two of them engaging in a semi-serious duel. Seeing these two powerhouses go at it, however briefly, is a real treat.
#20: Vs. Kyoshiro/Denjiro
When Wano Country’s despicable shogun, Orochi, raises Zoro’s ire, he tries to kill the cowardly snake. Unfortunately, he’s saved by his bodyguard, Kyoshiro, who has his own plans for the shogun. Kyoshiro’s duel with Zoro doesn’t last long, and is another instance of an interrupted fight, but still displays an impressive level of skill and strength.
#21: Vs. Kuina
Perhaps Zoro’s first and most frequently fought opponent, Kuina was his childhood friend and rival. The duo fought one another 2000 times, with Zoro never once defeating her. Their final moonlight duel is especially memorable. Tragically, it was their last because Kuina died soon afterwards. While these fights don’t have the skill of Zoro’s later battles, there’s no denying how important they are to his character.
#22: Vs. Gyukimaru/Onimaru
After his sword, Shusui, is stolen, Zoro tracks the thief, Gyukimaru, to a snowy bridge. There he does battle with the hulking weapon bandit. Even when their fight is interrupted by another opponent, Gyukimaru is determined to defeat Zoro who “stole” the sword from Wano. They do get a rematch, but that too is interrupted. With fewer interruptions, this could’ve ranked so much higher.
#23: Vs. Hyouzou
Zoro’s most challenging foe during the massive battle over the fate of Fishman Island is Hyouzou, an octopus merman who wields eight swords. Even so, Hyouzou is no match for Zoro’s post-timeskip strength…or his savage one-liners! Zoro breaks the merman’s swords multiple times and proves to his foe that he’s just a big merman, or frog, in a small pond.
#24: Vs. Dragon
Upon arriving at the burning/freezing island Punk Hazard, some of the Straw Hats quickly run into a real live dragon. The fire breathing monster proves a match for both Luffy and Zoro’s strength. But thanks to some trickery and teamwork, Zoro gets launched up to the scaly beast as it falls, allowing him to decapitate it and add “dragon slayer” to his resume.
#25: Vs. Surume the Kraken
When the Straw Hats encounter a kraken on the way to Fishman Island, the many legged beast seems impervious to their attacks. However, Zoro, Luffy, and Sanji, take a bubble walk in the sea and each attack the enormous creature, illustrating how far they’ve come in 2 years. For his part, Zoro turns one of the huge octopus’ limbs into sashimi!
#26: Vs. Braham
While lost amid Upper Yard on the Sky Island of Skypeia, Zoro encounters Braham. The rebel fighter is not only mobile with his jet shoes, but can also attack from a distance with his pistols. Zoro struggles to land a hit, until he debuts a long-range move of his own with his first flying slash attack. And the rest is history.
#27: Vs. Captain Morgan
Zoro’s first encounter with his future captain sees Luffy free him from imprisonment, subsequently teaming up to take down corrupt Marine captain, Axe-Hand Morgan. While Luffy does most of the fighting, Zoro is the one to cut him down. Their battle against the
strong-jawed tyrant and his men is short and simple, but it marks the beginning of a beautiful friendship.
#28: Vs. Buggy the Clown
The ridiculous Buggy the Clown seems like a buffoon…and he is…but, he manages to be quite menacing in his first encounter with Luffy and Zoro. Zoro easily cuts the red-nosed pirate into pieces. However, that’s just an average day for Buggy, who stabs the unsuspecting Zoro in the back and reassembles himself. It’s a short fight, but Buggy is the first foe even Zoro can’t defeat…at the time.
#29: Vs. the Nyaban Brothers
Sham and Buchi are two brothers and some of the strongest members of the Black Cat Pirates. Zoro initially has trouble with them, due to being less skilled with one sword than three (it was early days for him). Once he does reclaim all three, he appears to make quick work of them. Even after Buchi gets a hypnotized second wind, Zoro still turns him into a pelt.
#30: Vs. Cabaji
The acrobatic right-hand man of Buggy the Clown, Cabaji isn’t much of a swordsman. Thanks to his various tricks, and his exploitation of Zoro’s existing injury, he still manages to last longer than you’d think. It’s not much of a fight, but Zoro does debut his signature move to finish Cabaji off and put an end to his performance.
Encompassing all the elements we crave in a Zoro encounter—formidable adversaries, character development, and jaw-droppingly ingenious maneuvers. Hats off to you, Zoro, for turning the tide with such remarkable flair. How does he manage to concoct such mind-blowing strategies?