Netflix's live-action adaptation of One Piece has arrived – and, surprisingly, it's actually good.
After the world's best streaming service's take on Cowboy Bebop was critically panned in late 2021, we didn't expect much from Netflix's adaptation of Eiichiro Oda's beloved manga series. One Piece was previously turned into one of the best anime shows of all-time, but the jury was out on whether its live-action version could succeed.
Well, fans and critics alike believe Netflix's One Piece has done just that. With 83% critical and 95% audience scores on Rotten Tomatoes, the pirate-based TV show's first season has more than earned its share of buried treasure.
That said, there are pirate-centric TV series that we think are better than One Piece. Below, we've picked out five – there weren't many, trust us – brilliant swashbuckling adventures available on Netflix, Disney Plus, Max, and other big streaming platforms. So, get ready to set sail for numerous seafaring spectacles on the high seas.
One Piece anime
Where to stream it: Netflix (US and Australia), Crunchyroll (UK)
Okay, some of you might think we're cheating here. However, there are few pirate TV shows better than the One Piece anime series, which began airing all the way back in 1999.
Since then, the Toei-led animated take on Oda's beloved manga has racked up an almighty 1,073 episodes across 20 seasons, as well as 15 feature-length films. Its longevity speaks to how well this adaptation has been developed, too. One Piece's anime series not only perfectly captures what makes Oda's long-running manga so iconic, but brilliantly builds on its rich world, characters, themes, action, humor, and drama. It's just a delight to see Luffy and company brought to life in animated fashion and you simply can't beat the original.
Our Flag Means Death
Where to stream it: Max (US), Sky/BBC iPlayer (UK), Binge (Australia)
Arguably the second-best pirate-focused series of all-time, this subversively clever and humorous show dominated the streaming high seas upon release in early 2022.
And with good reason. Our Flag Means Death , which is loosely based on Stede Bonnet's pirate career, is both a wonderful homage to buccaneering sea-based TV shows of old and a modernist take on the pirate story formula. It strikes a pleasing equilibrium between novel storytelling, historic events, comedy, action, and heart. Most surprising of all, though, is the Taiki Waititi-developed series' unexpected voyage into same-sex romance-charged waters, which makes Our Flag Means Death thematically distinct from what's come before.
One of the best Max shows that's worth its weight in gold. And, with its second season set to raise its anchor on October 5, now's the perfect time to embark on one of the best nautical adventures in recent memory.
Where to stream it: Hulu (US), Disney Plus (UK and Australia)
We bet you didn't expect to see this Nathan Fillion-fronted TV show on this list. But hey, who said we weren't allowed to include a series centered on space pirates?
A space western drama series that deserved more than a single outing, Firefly is a must-watch show for TV fans everywhere. Set aboard the Serenity space vessel in the year 2517, its detailed fantasy-fuelled universe, compelling characters and dynamics, deadpan and offbeat humor, and suspense-filled action blend together to deliver a thoroughly entertaining sci-fi series.
There's a reason Firefly has earned a place on our best Disney Plus shows list, and it's not because we're feeling generous. It genuinely is a terrific TV show that deserved more than a solitary movie sequel before, comics and books aside, its live-action franchise was consigned to history.
It might seem odd to include a show about pirates from Starz, as the cable TV network owned by Lionsgate isn't as popular as rivals such Netflix, but it would be a shame to miss out on Black Sails. The period adventure series, which acts as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's 1883 novel Treasure Island, tells the tale of Captain Flint, who was revered as one of the most feared and brilliant of the so-called golden age pirates.
A show that ran for four seasons between 2014 and 2017, Black Sails wasn't the most appealing from a character development perspective. But it more than makes up for that undercooked aspect with its visuals, ambitious storytelling, and no-holds-barred (and somewhat over-the-top) action.
The last of those shouldn't come as a shock when you consider Michael Bay is one of its executive producers. With 81% and 83% critics and viewers ratings on Rotten Tomatoes, too, Black Sails hits the spot.
The Lost Pirate Kingdom
Where to stream it: Netflix
The final entry on this list is a docuseries, rather than a traditional fiction-based offering, but it's nonetheless an enthralling watch.
The Last Pirate Kingdom charts the rise and fall of the eponymous 18th century pirate republic, which was based in the Bahamas and saw the likes of Blackbeard, Charles Vane, Calico Jack, and Anne Bonny pass through its ports and shipping lanes. It begins in 1715, shortly after the War of the Spanish Succession, before travelling through the next three years before – spoilers – the British armada put a stop to the Nassau-based Republic of Pirates once and for all.
It only comprises six episodes, which run for 40 minutes apiece, but this historical drama is among the best Netflix documentaries around. Don't take our word for it, mind you – its perfect 100% certified fresh critical rating on Rotten Tomatoes serves as proof of how good it is. Well, as long as you disregard its harsher audience score, anyway.