Shanks’ Backstory – A Hat from the Past


I got recently reminded of an intriguing scene with Shanks.


This dialogue was always puzzling to me personally. It feels like one has a good grasp on what Shanks is talking about but its the ominous undertone that he is using hints to a bigger mystery. The eyes aren’t visible but there is a genuine smile on Shanks’ face. We all know about the sacrifice that Shanks made for Luffy and how important it is to the story of the One Piece world.

One can argue that this is the corner stone of Luffy’s personality and he never budges on defending his nakama even if he loses limbs. This sacrifice is important enough that Oda chose to address it within the meeting between the worlds strongest Whitebeard and Red-Hair Shanks. For the first time we finally get insight into why Shanks chose to give his arm. He bet it on the “new age” because he believes that Luffy follows the “Will of D.” and will be the one to bring it forth.


Shanks didn’t knew that it was a sure thing but he was aware that it might work. For real, is sacrificing your arm to teach a lesson sensible? Could a character that is as smart as Shanks really predict such an outcome or was he aware that the sacrifice could work? How could he knows such a thing? We are going full tin foil now!

I am going to give you now my perspective on the reason why Shanks knew that it could in fact work. Please, don’t take this in a high and mighty tone, I really would like to level with you here because I think you might enjoy how I came up with this idea. I really just want to give you a good story with in my opinion a great payoff!

I had this weird idea like 8 years ago and got recently reminded of it, this caused a chain reaction where many plot lines connected that have been a complete mystery to me. All the loose threads about Shanks that have accumulated over the years went into one clear direction. I could test my hypothesis by searching the panel that got this idea rolling and check if it is the case. The idea was that Joy Boy(we know its Joy Boy in Otohime’s tale, Joy Boy was the one who had a plan with Poseidon to migrate the Fishman with the use of Noah and he apologized because he couldn’t fulfill his promise+that Poseidon should have been let by someone in the following panel) reminded me of Shanks.

I thought why did Joy Boy remind me of Shanks? Maybe, it was because of the same dressing style? They wear both robes and his hair looks kinda similar, too. But then it hit me, was it because he only had his right arm? If it turns out that Joy Boy has a visible right arm and you couldn’t see the left it would be confirmation of this wild speculation. Then I looked…


Joy Boy’s right arm is clearly visible, a conscious choice by Oda. The left arm(right side on the panel) though is not only not visible but we can’t see any pushback that the left arm would have caused in the robe. If we compare it to the right side the left arm clearly has a curve. It budges in where the right side is completely straight after the collar. The left sleeve is also hanging out and we see no hand in it, the sleeve even levitates in the air without any resistance. Compared to the right sleeve the left is even hanging lower which means again, less resistance. This is the reason why Shanks knew that his sacrifice COULD work, because he knew of a tale, the one about the one-armed man named “Joy Boy” who gave his arm to a safe an enemy. A young boy born in one of the founding families of the world government. A Celestial Dragon…Shank’s ancestor…I know, you think I lost my marbles…I probably have, but that is beside the point! Why do I believe Shanks was a Celestial Dragon? The answer can be found within the meeting between Shanks and the Gorosei. Their are clues about Shanks’ lineage if we understand in what context the Gorosei are speaking.

I don’t have to tell you, but we have never seen an “outsider”(everyone who is not in the closest circle to the Gorosei) meeting the Gorosei face to face and especially not within Mary Geoise. He was in the chambers of authority and even though Shanks might be a famous pirate, he still is just a pirate or is he? Can a pirate really be allowed to enter this room? They are telling him because “who Shanks is” that they give him the time of the day which should be the opposite. They should be stating that because of “who you are” we will not give you the time of day, Shanks is one of the major obstacles in the world that they should want to be taken down. They want to purge all pirates unless their is something going on with Shanks’ background which explains this dialogue.

We can find more clues in the dialogue between them. “It is Reverie. Given who you are, these politics are not for you” Who are notorious for not caring about the politics of the kings? The ones who aren’t affected by the rules of men, the Celestial Dragons. “But, given who you are. We will give you the time of day.” Another hint to Shank’s lineage that they can’t refuse this meeting. If he would be “just” a Yonko they CAN refuse him and this dialogue doesn’t make too much sense. Also of the known pirates Shanks is the one who stopped the war. He cares about politics and the equilibrium of the world but they tell him that its not for him? Hell, he is there to influence politics and is talking to the highest “official” political authority and they tell him that he isn’t interested in that? Again, another hint to his Celestial Dragon heritage, this dialogue makes perfect sense if you look it from the perspective that Shanks is a Celestial Dragon.

We know the Celestial Dragons are getting told stories about the “D.’s” and therefore what has occurred during the Void Century. What if one of those tales was about how Shanks’ ancestor got saved by a certain “D.”? Joy Boy gave his arm to save Shanks’ ancestor and later on Shanks’ family was partially responsible for the fall of Joy Boy and his homeland. They feel ashamed for this act and some of Shanks family members split off and started to live among humans. We have possible clues about Shanks lineage in the same talk between him and Whitebeard.

Why would Whitebeard be reminded of the wound from “that guy” by Shanks’ face? Is it because the one who gave that wound was looking like Shanks? I know ones mind should directly jump to Roger but that is exactly how you play with double meanings and lay down hints. The statement Whitebeard makes is kind of redundant because it doesn’t add anything to the cannon of the story except to state that Roger was able to hurt Whitebeard. Which we already knew because he could fight on par with him. We heard this already probably 3 times. This line hints to another truth and is spoken in the same conversation with the bet. So who is Shanks’ father, the one who was able to hurt Whitebeard?

The leader of ROX/ROCKS that has been lost(some people have already theorized this, so I will not take credit for this idea) 40 years ago. Shanks is 39 years old and a pregnancy last 9 months, it fits perfectly. At the Edd War he was 12 years old which means he was living among pirates since a very young age if not birth. One doesn’t become simply a pirate with 12 unless someone has no other options. ROX/ROCKS leader has been lost and left Shanks to Roger, who was not just someone he knew. He was the inspiration for Roger becoming pirate, in the same way Shanks is an example for Luffy. Leading great pirates like Big Mom, Kaido and more is very difficult and we haven’t seen someone on this caliber within the series yet (Maybe that’s how he stopped Kaido? He invoked the name of his father?). Even Whitebeard didn’t lead another Yonko but the leader of ROCKS made this feat possible. As a son of a great(if not the greatest) pirate and being a celestial dragon Shanks who wants Joy Boy’s will to be inherited is in a very unique position that gives him options that others dont possess. It was his character motivation from day 1 to help Luffy to become pirate king and ultimately the fall of the World Government. As a Roger Pirate he knows the entire truth of the Void Century and his last scene might give us some insight into this motivations as well.

This look seemed always super off to me personally. Is Shanks evil? No, he can’t be. It isn’t some manipulation that Shanks does, the sacrifices he made were genuine. There is nothing in Shank’s character that hints to a evil motivation, especially not when it comes to the “D.”. Roger trusted Shanks so much that he would gave him his straw hat. He knew people and who his enemies were, the same is true for Luffy. You can’t manipulate “D.’s”, that is kind of the central point of their entire being. So why is Shanks looking like this? This look reminded me of a prior scene.

It is contempt, he hates to use his position as a Celestial Dragon and talk with the Gorosei that he personally despises. He wants them to be taken out and makes them an offer that would seem helpful to them but would hurt them in the end. An offer like “leave Luffy alone for a few months and I do something for you in exchange”. Maybe even finally going after Blackbeard as a trade off? Shanks believes Luffy can fulfill the “Will of D.” and to end the enemy of his people. Let’s close this out with an even wilder idea!

This scene…if you believe like me that Joy Boy was the one who sacrificed his arm for an ancestor of Shanks this scene has a completely new meaning. Is this a ritual? Remember, Joy Boy and his people wore straw hats.

What if this ritual was the started with Joyboy when he gave the straw hat to Shanks’ ancestor? It was the first time the “Will of D.” was inherited by someone else. What if this is the ritual that has to occur in order to let someone find Raftel? Please, hear me out! Only someone who has the hat can find Raftel, we know the Ancient Kingdom had advanced technology and even where able to create things that can’t be replicated 1000 years later. But I think the truth lies elsewhere, there are two likely possibilities that explain this mystery. The first is that the straw hat is similar to a Vivre Card(the method might originate from the Ancient Kingdom and thats why it’s super rare and can only be found in the New World) and because something is mixed within the straw hat it finds back to Raftel. The other possibility is that the straw hat is made of one of the “big trees” which resides in Raftel. We know of a certain material that the straw hat might be even made off. After all, the straw hat doesn’t deteriorate too much after tens of years.

Franky tells us that there are more trees like Treasure Tree “Adam”, even if it isn’t directly “Adam” it might be one of the other trees like it. Both trees (Eve, Knowledge) of the known locations had a poneglyph with them. I am throwing just some ideas around but the general idea that Raftel had one of those trees and it has the ability to guide you back to it makes sense. That’s why it gives you the ability to hear the “Voice of All Creation”, because it makes you communicate unconsciously with the tree for years until your ability awakens. You begin to understand the call of nature after a certain amount of time is passing.

But back to Roger and the passing of the straw hat. Let’s not forget that since the Void Century ended nobody was able to find Raftel until Roger came along. What did he wore when we we saw him at his youngest?

That is why Roger didn’t need the Poneglyphs to find Raftel! We never got confirmation that he used the Road Poneglyphs but we know that he had this ability. It even seems unreasonable that he found all Road Ponegylphs because if he did Inuarashi would have told us about the last one. Inuarashi had no clue where one Poneglyph is which implies that Roger didn’t know as well, they weren’t after them and never bothered to find out. I suggest there are two ways to find Raftel, one is with the straw hat and one is with the Road Poneglyphs. Luffy has no time developing this ability because he is fighting constantly since he acquired it. On the other hand Roger had tens more years to get to a point where he can communicate with even objects(Poneglyph). Luffy is going the “quicker”(its way more risky to fight for all Road Pongelyphs but quicker, Roger needed easily 15 years to find Raftel were Luffy will only take 3 years) path by obtaining the Road Poneglyphs.

Let’s wrap this up with the passing of the ability for the first time since the Void Century occurred. Shanks’ father(he is an ancestor of the one person who inherited the straw hat from Joy Boy for the first time. It might have been even the first time where an outside of the “D.” obtained a straw hat), the leader of ROCKS was one of the greatest pirates of his time and even able to damage Whitebeard. Someone who is strong enough to lead Big Mom and Kaido(two Yonkos) which nobody else is able, too(they didn’t even join Whitebeard). (Maybe Shanks will be the one to revive ROCKS Makes sense) If he is also an ancestor of the Celestial Dragon family that got saved by Joy Boy he might have know about this ritual through tales and gave Roger the straw hat to give him the ability to find Raftel. It was a family relic that survived(maybe in a cold storage room in Mary Geoise until the family split up from the celestial dragons? We know Doflamingo’s huge influence with his former position and that the world government keeps tabs with you and if you are useful they do otherwise impossible things for you a la CP0 in Dressrosa) and is supposed to go to a “D.”. Roger was the first person since the void century who found Raftel and it was also the first time time the ritual was accomplished.

That’s the reason Roger gave Shanks early on the straw hat and took care of him at his young age.

So that Shanks can find another “D.” and fulfill the ritual another time. If Shank’s father went missing before Shanks was born Roger might have taken care of his son (That might have inspired Roger to do the same with Ace). There is a reason why it was crucial to introduce ROCKS this late into the series, it has something to do with the deepest lore of One Piece. This hat belongs to Shank’s family and it was gifted to them by Joy Boy, I am guessing that if someone who owns(gifted by the owner) the straw hat gives it to someone else or a “D.” in particular you get the ability to hear the “voice of all creation” with which you can find Raftel/use One Piece.

That is also the reason why Shanks was not in the New World but was in East Blue. He was in search for the successor of the straw hat who he could gift it to. The search focused on the East Blue because thats where the former successor came from and that’s why Shanks gathered his crew in the East Blue(a scene which was added on purpose, I already wondered why Oda made it important that Shanks gathered his crew in the East Blue with the Yasopp flashback) to begin with. Later on he found a boy who inherited the “will of D.”. and by sacrificing his arm to Luffy he returned the favor to Luffy’s ancestor Joy Boy. It was an attempt to write the wrong his family committed to the “D.”. That’s why Shanks was smiling, he was glad to make this bet for the “new age”.

Thanks for reading.

*Theory by Donal D. Trump

Gol D. Roger’s ship can be found in the Sea Forest

Florian Triangle