Red-Haired Shanks is the one who inspired Luffy to go on his journey and is the captain of the Red-Haired Pirates. He is one of the 4 Emperor Pirates in the second half of the Grand Line.
Shanks always wears a long black cape over his shoulders and until he met Luffy, wore a straw hat that he had worn for many years beforehand. He always wears trousers that are cut below the knee as well as a pair of sandals. The most striking thing about Shanks is the colour of his red hair, of which his nick-name 'Red Haired Shanks' comes from. He also has three scars across his left eye, which were revealled to have been given to him by Blackbeard, as well as having a missing left arm.
He also speaks with a cockney accent in the English anime dub.
- Japanese Name: 赤髪のシャンクス
- Romanized Name: Akagami no Shankusu
- English Name: Red-Haired Shanks
- Nicknames: "Red-hair"
- Age: 37
- Origins: West Blue
- Affiliations: Red-Haired Pirates, Yonkou
- Japanese VA: Shūichi Ikeda
- English VA: Tom Souhrada
- First Appearence: Manga Chapter #1, Anime Episode #4
- Last Appearence: Manga Chapter #433, Anime Episode #151 (however he has appeared in Flashbacks since).
- Fighting Style: Swordsman (Sabre)
- Rivals: Buggy the Clown, Dracule 'Hawk Eyes' Mihawk (ceased his rivalry when Shanks lost an arm) and Blackbeard. Also other Yonkou members including Whitebeard.
- Bounty: Unknown
Shanks one of the most laid back characters in the world of One Piece preferring to take his time as he and his crew travels around the world rather than rushing from one place to another. He also enjoys parties and having fun but at the same time is also serious when he has to be. Shanks isn't cruel like many other pirate captains nor does he rule over his crew with fear to gain respect. His friendly nature means he won't purposely seek to harm others, and he is able to make serious characters like Mihawk join in with his fun.
Shanks doesn't seem to mind what happens to himself. He'll take others throwing food and drink or spitting on him without even fighting back, laughing with his crew at his own misfortunes. Even losing an arm did not bother him much. .
Luffy looks up to Shanks as his role model, childhood hero and the man he wants to eventually surpass. At first, Shanks never took Luffy seriously as he was just a boy so mocked his dreams to become a pirate. Later after Luffy stood up to the bandits and then as they were leaving declared he would be better than him, Shanks begins to treat him seriously. In the manga Ben Beckman tells Shanks that Luffy is going to be big. Shanks confirms this by saying that Luffy reminds him of himself when he was Luffy's age. Just as Luffy is currently looking for Shanks, Shanks eagerly awaits the day he meets up with Luffy.
So far, outside of the World Government, the only one who appears to oppose Shanks is Buggy the Clown. Ironically, in their youth Buggy accused Shanks of being too naive and innocent to ever make it as a pirate and yet presently Shanks is a great pirate while Buggy and his crew are still quite weak in comparison.
Shanks and his crew are almost always seen partying and drinking alcoholic beverages whenever they make an appearance, as the captain's favourite pastimes are attending and hosting parties and banquets. He also is against the idea of needless bloodshed, even if honour is involved and so far seems to only step up for a fight when a friend is in endanger
According to Oda, Shanks is the one character that resembles himself the most out of all the One Piece characters, because of his fun-loving partying nature. 
Abilities and Powers
Little is known about what Shanks is able to do. According to Buggy as a young man, he is a strong figther and had it not been for his ideals he would had wanted him on his crew. What is also known is that as a member of the 4 Emperor Pirates in the second half of the Grand Line, his power is equal to that of Whitebeard.
Shanks must also have some kind of spirit energy inside of him. When Shanks went to save Luffy from the Sea King, he only stared at the face of the Sea King and scared it away. Also, when he arrived at Whitebeard's ship, his energy was so strong that he made Whitebeard's subordinates fall unconcious.
Shanks is a Swordsman and therefore uses swords to fight with as a primary weapon. He has yet to be seen using any other type of weapon in the series. It is said that Shanks' sword fighting skills were once a match for the world's strongest swordsman, Mihawk. It also is said that the two men would often spar with each other. When Shanks lost his left arm which was also his good arm, Mihawk stopped seeking him out for duels.
The type of sword Shanks uses is called a Sabre. As a young boy, he would use a sabre that was short with a straight blade. The sabre he wields now is much larger version.
While Shanks was introduced during Chapter 1 of the manga and episode 4 of the anime, his story actually begins much earlier. In his past, he was a pirate in training aboard a ship alongside another would-be pirate, Buggy the Clown. They were members of Gold Roger's crew and took part in many things such as fighting with Whitebeard. The two spent most of their time together arguing over meaningless things, such as which pole was colder, the North or the South. Their constant bickering was met with annoyance by the rest of the crew. 
They would remain forever at odds with each other after they raided a ship where they found a treasure map and a Devil Fruit. After hearing about how much he could sell them for, Buggy switched the fruit with a fake and ate the fake in front of the entire crew. Due to this action, he could successfully sell the real fruit without anyone noticing, but when Buggy retreated to a lifeboat with the fruit and the treasure map, Shanks surprised him twice--the first time causing Buggy to hide the fruit in his mouth, and the other causing him to swallow it. The location of the treasure was close by, so in desperation, Buggy jumped into the sea to get it, only to start drowning. He was rescued by Shanks, but since then Buggy blamed him for ruining his plot to become rich.
Shanks and Buggy were last seen together at Logue Town on the day of Roger's death. Shanks imeditately began his quest to form his own crew by offering a place to Buggy. However Buggy replied no and the two seperated, they have not seen each other since, however Shanks has heard rumours Buggy is still a pirate somewhere.
- Note: Shanks was 15 at the time of Roger's death.
At some point in his life (date unknown), he met Blackbeard who was then a member of Whitebeard's crew. What happened is unknown, however Blackbeard left Shanks with a 3 scars across his left eye. Shanks also fought often with Mihawk and their battles were said to echoe through the whole of the Grand Line.
Years later, after becoming the captain of his own pirate ship, Shanks arrived on an island where he met a strange young boy named Monkey D. Luffy. Intrigued by the boy and enjoying the atmosphere of Luffy's village, he decided to make the island his crew's base for a short period of time. 
Luffy quickly grew attached to the crew, so much so that he wished to join their ranks and become a pirate as well. Shanks refused to allow the boy into his crew on the basis that he was too young. One day, a group of bandits, led by Higuma the Bear, came into a bar where they were drinking and started harrassing Shanks when they found out that he and his crew drank all of the sake, but he refused to fight back, and after they left the entire crew broke out laughing, to Luffy's anger.
After Luffy stood up to Higuma the Bear for insulting his role-model, Luffy got caught up in a hostage situation and his captives were defeated by the Red-Haired Pirates, who considered a friend to be something worth fighting over, but the bandit leader Higuma had fled out to sea with Luffy, only for the two to be attacked by a Sea King. Higuma was eaten, but Shanks mangaged to save Luffy. However the incident cost Shanks his left arm. Shortly after, Shanks set sail along with his crew, but before leaving, he and Luffy promised each other that one day Luffy would surpass Shanks and become the Pirate King and then Shanks left Luffy his straw hat as a parting gift, telling him to return it once he surpassed him.
After leaving Luffy's home town, we next see Shanks and his crew 10 years later after the main storyline begins. They are seen relaxing on an island after drinking heavily. Then much to the terror of a few of Shanks' weaker crew members, Dracule "Hawkeye" Mihawk pays Shanks a visit, bringing news that delights the red-haired pirate: Luffy has gained a bounty. 
Currently, Shanks and his crew are sailing the Grand Line, but while they are aware of Luffy's rise to fame, they have not yet encountered the younger pirate or his crew. Shanks also for some reason has an interest in Portgas D. Ace and Blackbeard, and has sent a messenger to deliver a note to Whitebeard concerning this matter. Shanks is now on his way to visit Whitebeard in person. 
Although Shanks spent quite some time in Luffy and Ace's hometown, there is no evidence of any relationship between Shanks and Ace yet. However, Shanks does know Ace's captain, Whitebeard, so they could know each other. What exactly he wants to discuss with Whitebeard on Ace and Blackbeard remains a mystery.
The World Government fears that Whitebeard and he are forming an alliance with each other, though whether or not they will try to prevent Shanks meeting Whitebeard is another question yet to be answered. Shanks has already declared that he is prepared to defend himself and his crew if they get in his way. The World Government may be just observing his actions for now, but they have considered drastic measures such as elimination if he causes trouble. 
After the two Yonkou meet, Shanks and Whitebeard discuss the past. Whitebeard talks about how far Shanks has come since he was on Roger's crew as a mere cabin boy. Shanks reveals he was at Roger's death, that rumours say Buggy is still around as a pirate. Shanks tried to convince Whitebeard that allowing Blackbeard and Ace to meet is a bad idea. He reminds him that it was Blackbeard who scared his left eye and that Blackbeard is a serious threat to Whitebeard's rule on the seas. After Whitebeard holds his grounds on the issue at hand, the talks between the two break down, leaving Shanks' crew wondering whether it was the start of a war or not.
- Vs Whitebeard's crew (as a apprentice pirate, none have yet to be shown)
- Vs Mihawk (none of his matches have ever been seen)
- Vs Blackbeard (details unknown, yet left shanks with his scar)
- Vs Whitebeard (not really a fight, just a break down in talks between him and Whitebeard).
- In one of the SBS sections of One Piece, in reference to Shanks and Buggy's 'which is colder' question, a fan asked Oda who got it right. He went onto explain the Arctic was just a mass of ice and that the Antarctic was a continent, made of land. Since land is colder then the sea (and the Arctic is frozen sea whereas the Antarctic is frozen land), Shanks was correct and the South Pole is colder, however it is not the coldest place in the world. 
- Even though he has travelled the world, Shanks believes the best sake can be found in his hometown in the West Blue. He also refers to Alcohol to Whitebeard as "Healing Water".
Early One Piece
Shanks was first featured in the first pilot of One Piece Romance Dawn V.1 in the Shonen Jump specials showcasting upcoming artists, about a year and a half before One Piece began. Much of his storyline remained the same with the major difference being that Higuma the Bear was absent from the story in this version. Another minor difference was that his arm was bitten off by a shark instead of a Sea King.
In the second pilot Romance Dawn V.2 of One Piece (featured in Weekly Shonen Jump magazine itself), Luffy got both his hat and the Devil fruit he ate from his grandfather, not Shanks. According to Oda the reason for not featuring Shanks was that he wanted Shanks to be kept a secret until One Piece was serialized so he would have a greater impact.
- SBS questions: One Piece Manga - Vol. 4 - Chapter 27, Fan question: What are the ages of Luffy, Zoro, Nami, and Shanks?
- SBS questions: One Piece Manga - Vol.24 - Chapter 221, Fan question: Who is most like you Oda?
- One Piece - Episode 08 and One Piece manga - Vol.3 - Chapter 19. Shanks and Buggy's history
- One Piece - Episode 04 and One Piece manga - Vol.1 - Chapter 1. Shanks and Luffy's history
- One Piece - Episode 45 and One Piece manga - Vol.11 - Chapter 96, Mihawk brings news to Shanks
- One Piece - Episode 151 and One Piece manga - Vol.25 - Chapter 234, Shanks contacts Whitebeard,
- One Piece - Episode 151 and One Piece manga - Vol.25 - Chapter 233, The world Government's fear of Shanks,
- One Piece manga - Chapter 432, Shanks and the 4 Emperors
- SBS questions: One Piece Manga - Vol.18 - Chapter 158, Fan question: who got the arguments between the poles correct?