The Jolly Roger, also known as a Pirate Flag (海賊旗 Kaizoku-ki?) is a flag that bears the symbol of a pirate crew. Flying it signifies that a person, group, or location is affiliated with or controlled by the pirate crew whom the flag belongs to.
Design and Significance
The Jolly Roger is often a black flag with a standard skull and crossbones, though the details of the design vary between different crews.
There are many different Jolly Roger flags which are flown by their respective pirate crews. The designs of the Jolly Roger usually reflects the interest or appearance of the pirate crews captain. Examples include the Whitebeard Pirates Jolly Roger having a white mustache like Whitebeard himself, or the Straw Hat Pirates Jolly Roger wearing Luffy's straw hat. In some cases, a Jolly Roger is designed to send a message, such as the Krieg Pirates Jolly Roger displaying a pair of hourglasses so as to let people know that their time has run out.
A Jolly Roger allows one to determine if someone is a pirate and which crew they belong to. Many pirates choose to bear their crew's flag somewhere on their person, such as on their clothing or as a tattoo. Certain individuals, groups, and even nations who understand the ideals of the Jolly Roger, or have turned against ideas of the World Government, also raise the skull and crossbones; an example of this is the former Drum Kingdom, later renamed the Sakura Kingdom, who flew Dr. Hiriluk’s Jolly Roger as their national flag after the fall of Wapol.
Ideals of the Flag
All those that sail under a Jolly Roger are supposed to show respect for their chosen flag and honor it always as it represents the crew itself. Once the flag is gone, the crew can no longer sail under it and therefore everything linked with the flag is gone. Luffy uses this in making his choice in the Davy Back Fight and takes the Jolly Roger belonging to Foxy instead of a member of the crew, thus preventing anyone from ever sailing under it again. He then gives them a new one that he drew (badly) himself.
Different crews react differently to these ideals. For example, Wapol did not see what was so important about the pirate flag in comparison to Luffy. Donquixote Doflamingo does not like the idea of anyone tarnishing his flag's name and punished Bellamy for losing under it.
Aside from the ideals of respect for the flag, some pirates also add details to their Jolly Roger to signify a certain meaning, such as the Krieg Pirates having hourglasses next to the skull to signal to their enemies that their time is up, or the Sun Pirates having a sun symbol to cover up the Hoof of the Flying Dragon that many members once bore.
Following the introduction of Donquixote Doflamingo, a different type of Jolly Roger has appeared. Rather than the traditional skull and crossbones, the flag is a smiley of a grinning person. The significance of this type of Jolly Roger has yet to be revealed. In some cases, such as Doflamingo's flag and the Human Auctioning House, the smiley has a line painted over it.
While some of the smiling Jolly Rogers are connected to Doflamingo, another smiley has been seen on Whitebeard's life support equipment. Ace also wore two smileys on his hat, one sad and the other happy. The Kid Pirates' secondary Jolly Roger is a smiley style with a stitched-up mouth. The Heart Pirates also have a smiley style Jolly Roger, only this one has 6 branches extending outwards in all directions.
Personal Jolly Rogers
A few characters sport their own personal Jolly Roger. The reasons for that differ, as do the sources of the flags. While some are exclusively shown in the SBS (members of the Straw Hat Pirates), others appear in the series without further information (like Perona's) or are part of a "what if" scenario (Igaram's nightmare picturing Nefertari Vivi as a pirate).
Straw Hat Pirates