One of the defining traits of Monkey D Luffy, the main protagonist of the One Piece manga and anime series, is his refusal to kill. Over the course of the series, Luffy has, consciously or unconsciously, abstained from killing his foes.
Despite facing numerous enemies throughout his journey to becoming the Pirate King, Luffy has always chosen to spare his opponents’ lives, even those who have caused great harm. This decision has often baffled both his allies and enemies alike (even me and perhaps you as well), leading many to wonder why Luffy doesn’t kill.
In this blog post, we will answer the question : Why Luffy doesn’t kill ? In exploring the reasons behind his behavior and try to identify the philosophy that guides his actions.
Allow me, as a person who has been following the series and scaling the characters since 2008, to be your guide as we seek our answer.
The foundation of Luffy’s moral code
Perhaps the simple guiding force behind Luffy’s decision to not kill is the fact that he has a strong moral compass.
Luffy’s moral code is based on his relationship with his mentors, Nakama and many other characters. Unlike some other pirates we see in the One Piece world, Luffy has always known the difference between good and evil and has always been bothered by cruelty and injustice.
Perhaps it is Luffy’s base nature and the morality of his character that does not let him be cruel or kill.
I also think that the answer to Luffy’s aversion to killing his opponent is derived from his own understanding of life, which is rooted deeply in his moral code.
The importance of Nakama
There is also the idea that Luffy values human connections too deeply. Most of the time, Luffy fights not on his own behalf but for the sake of his crew mates and allies. Luffy’s anger comes from the importance he places upon his Nakama.
As such, I believe he did not kill people like Kuro, Arlong, Wapol, Crocodile, Lucci, Moria, and so many others, because he did not believe it was his place to kill them.
He was fighting them on behalf of his allies, his friend, and his crewmates. I think Luffy’s simplistic moral compass tells him that if he fights for someone else, he has no right to kill his foes as that choice lies with his Nakama; they should get to choose if the enemy gets to live or die.
That is the significance of Luffy’s Nakama in the formation of his moral code.
The influence of Shanks and Gol. D. Roger
Another theory behind Luffy’s rejection of killing could be the influence of Red-haired Shanks and, indirectly, Gol. D. Roger on his personality.
Now, you may ask, how can Shanks have influenced Luffy to not kill if the Red-haired pirates killed the mountain bandits before him? To which I say Shanks was a simple, calm, and collected person.
From him, Luffy learned that, in a fight, winning matters, not killing your enemy.
Luffy goes into fights with a different mentality, one I will talk about in more detail later, but this mentality lets him defeat his opponent, break their will and then let them suffer, without killing them, much like what Shanks did to Kidd.
This mentality was inherited by Luffy, from Roger, through Shanks.
Luffy’s respect for life
Luffy has seen his fair share of death and loss. Growing up at the Gray Terminal, he saw how little the lives of people there were worth.
Thus, I believe Luffy has respect for life as a concept. Luffy believes that regardless of how horrible a human may be, they should live and face the consequences of their actions.
That is why I think he chose to spare Crocodile, Doflamingo, and many others. Luffy also respects strong foes and their right to live, leading to him sparing Katakuri out of respect.
Luffy’s alternative approach to defeating enemies
As Oda has already mentioned, Luffy believes in the power of dreams and hopes.
Luffy seeks to break his enemies’ dreams and ambitions when he goes into battle. For Luffy, the only way to win is to defeat his enemies on an ideological level.
For him, every battle is a battle of wills. With that mindset, killing accomplishes nothing. Luffy wants his foes to know he won. He can’t have that if they are dead.
Luffy’s strength to protect rather than destroy
As mentioned before, Luffy fights for others, and the primary cause behind his actions is to protect the weak.
Luffy is a guardian, a defender. He is a Joyboy meant to bring smiles to people’s faces. He was never meant to be a killer.
Luffy chooses to protect others, and his benevolent nature forbids him from taking anyone’s life.
A chance to change his enemies’ minds
Building on the argument from the previous idea, I believe Luffy, as a protector, feels the need to protect everyone, even his foes.
Luffy lets his enemies live as a way of giving them a second chance. Deep down, Luffy is a good person, and he sees similar goodness in others, as horrible as they may be.
To read more about it, check our article » Is luffy a good guy ? «
This concept of changing his enemies, or them finding redemption, is another possible reason for Luffy’s abstinence from killing.
The message behind Luffy’s refusal to kill
One Piece, as a series, has a deep-rooted ideology at its core.
One of growth and change. I consider Luffy’s refusal to kill as an analogy for the ideas of forgiveness, growth, and compassion.
In simple terms, Luffy does not kill because he is the bigger person.
Compassion and forgiveness in One Piece
Forgiveness and compassion have always been deep-rooted themes in one Piece.
We see them again and again as Nami chooses to forgive Hanchi and Queen Otohime chooses to forgive the celestial dragon who attacked her.
These small acts of kindness and forgiveness make a difference to the overall story and move the plot along.
Redemption and second chances
I have always noticed a pattern of redemption for many characters in One Piece, one derived from second chances and forgiveness.
Tobi chose to forgive Helmeppo, and thus they both grew as people.
Redemption is a central concept to many stories in One Piece, and perhaps Luffy lets his foes live as a way to let them evolve, to give them a chance at redemption.
The significance of Luffy’s moral code in One Piece
Luffy is the captain of the Strawhats. It is his morality that shapes the collective morality of the crew.
Thus if he chooses to not kill, the crew will also abide by that rule.
More than that, being the protagonist, Luffy is responsible for making the reader and watchers relate to the series.
So he cannot kill because if he does so, he would no longer remain the lovable idiot that One piece fans adore.
There can be many reasons why Luffy does not kill, from his moral code to his philosophy of dreams, and perhaps even Oda can tell the real reason.
He is a shonen hero, pure and kind.
I believe Luffy does not kill simply because he is the good guy. Oda has to set him apart from the rest. On top of that, death has a meaning and some significance in One Piece; Oda does not simply kill characters; each death is moving and emotional.
So, I believe Luffy does not kill because he is the protagonist. He is pure and good; Oda wishes to make him exemplary.