It goes without saying that the Strawhats are all extremely unique (that’s what makes them interesting to read about). Luffy’s crew is already as eclectic as his cooking ingredients.
While watching an interesting video by SilvackTheorist a while back, I started to notice what seems to be a pattern in those that denied the invitation to sail with the future Pirate King. Deliberate design details from the “Not-Strawhats” seem to suggest upcoming crewmates in advance!
The “man in the box” doesn’t yield as many clues as most of the following examples; however, he is the first to represent this pattern. The only thing that saved Luffy from ending his adventure before it truly began was his devil-fruit ability. Gaimon greeted them with a bullet. As a result, he revealed himself first as a sniper and later as a coward.
Fast-forward to the next major segment of the East Blue arc, and Usopp is added to the crew. The need for a sniper was established before he was even identified as the fit for that role. As a bonus, he was also a coward (as the foreshadowing promised)!
Only brief mention is required here. Zeff cuts Luffy off mid-invitation, so I will only mention him for those who need to complete the set. Needless to say, Sanji matches the kicking, blond-hair master chef to a tee!
When the Strawhats first encounter the former doctor of the Oro Jackson, they comically mistake him for a flower. He quietly observes them and sits in his chair to read. Luffy quickly tries to recruit him as their doctor without even knowing about his legendary past.
After adding Chopper to their number, you might think that this was the encounter that predicted the doctor joining the Strawhats; however, Nico Robin is better foreshadowed by Crocus’s chance. While possessing the ability of the flower flower fruit (hana hana no mi), she also has some of those bonus quirks to match: quiet observation and the tendency to sit and read.
One important point is added with this example. Failed recruits don’t always foreshadow the Strawhat that will immediately follow. As mentioned before, Tony Tony Chopper actually precedes Robin’s recruitment.
With one more example, we can truly claim that the pattern has been established! It was easy to predict that the next Strawhat would have to be a doctor, since they would have lost Nami without crucial medical attention. Nonetheless, how could this wild witch-doctor that denied Luffy’s recruitment successfully represent the mild Doctor Chopper?
As Chopper’s second mentor, Kureha is an exceptional doctor (although she is actually called a witch by the townspeople). She is first seen with a cherry blossom print on her shirt. To fulfill the prediction, Chopper was added to the Strawhats soon thereafter (completing the position of doctor). He had a history of being called a monster by the townspeople and proudly flew Dr. Hiluluk’s cherry blossom jolly roger.
Vivi & Carue:
(Do they count?) Many already consider Vivi and Carue unofficial members of the Strawhats; however, they definitely chose to allow that opportunity to pass. In this theory, this is the largest gap for which I don’t offer a plug. If you can find any characters that match but haven’t been heralded by another character, please share your ideas in the discussion tab.
Iceberg & Tyrannosaurus:
Just as the doctor’s recruitment was obvious, so was that of the shipwright. The question becomes, “How can we predict WHICH shipwright on an island full of them?” Luffy deliberately pursued Iceberg since he was known as the best on Water 7. This blue-haired and sensitive (mouse loving) shipwright bears the burden of the knowledge of the secret Pluton blueprints.
At the time, “Who will join?” was almost as widely discussed as it has been lately. However, using this pattern could have made it almost too easy to predict with all of the traits they share! Blue-haired, sensitive, and the shipwright to inherit the blueprints for Pluton, Franky became the most openly foreshadowed to join if you use this pattern. If anything, Tyrannosaurus probably played the part of a red herring to mislead those who caught on to the trend. This would have potentially promoted the other powerful shipwright who cared for his ever-present pet pigeon, but Rob Luccy turned out to be the character foil instead (leaving us with Franky)!
Unigaro (#42) & MocDonald (#115):
Luffy… How can we even use these obvious jokes? We have two of the Thriller Bark zombies seen merely drinking as the Strawhats roll by. But wait! Let’s compare some of their traits to the soon-to-join Soul King. Undead? Check! Horny? Check (thanks to Unigaro the unicorn)! Afro-topped? Check (if you look atop MocDonald the geezer tree)! Brook was even first seen drinking as the Strawhats drifted by in the fog!
At this point, we’ve exhausted all current examples of potential members that have positive connections with Strawhats who stayed soon after. We’ve probably also exhausted most of our readers, but this is where it gets more interesting! Luffy laid claim to three more characters, but no more have joined. Are there any whisperings of similarly foreshadowed Strawhats?
Leggy (Kinemon’s Legs):
First seen sticking to everything and talking from his rear-end, Leggy was an obvious recruit for the future Pirate King. Unfortunately, he was part of a larger Samurai organization… namely, Kinemon.
Luffy was crestfallen when he had to give up Leggy (Ashimaru) to Kinemon. Fortunately, the Wano arc has been promised to begin at some point during 2017. There have also been rumors of plot leaks that include the addition of a Kunoichi (female ninja associated with the samurai of Wano) with the ability to stick to anything using the power of a devil fruit. If we meet a character who talks out of her rear-end (figuratively of course since this phrase has two meanings), then we should really begin to pay attention to that possibility!
Unnamed Jaguar Centaur:
The joke is obvious, and the other Strawhats have begun to beg that Luffy stop inviting “strange animals into the crew.” At this point, a sentry from Brownbeard’s crew stumbles across team Luffy and is twice asked to join before the chance passes. His main defining characteristics are that he is half jaguar, half man (per One Piece Wiki) and has a seemingly stern personality.
I’m having a really hard time identifying a potential match for this one! Pedro Although the Strawhats definitely need someone to fill the position of “lookout” (see the justification in my Speculation titled “Oda’s Path in the Snow”), there doesn’t seem to be any hope of finding a jaguar-man Pedro who likes to play sentry Pedro and possesses a stern disposition Pedro.
Update: As of Chapter 902, the character suggested here seems to be out. Nonetheless, this half ANIMAL man could still foreshadow a reasonable minkman to play the same roll.
Trafalgar D. Water Law:
The most recent “one that got away” is a fan favorite, but the point of this thread was to present the pattern I believe has been firmly established by Oda. Remember when fishing for clues, neither their job nor order in which they join is a guarantee. With that, I’ll leave you with your own speculations about whether this has any bearing on the Strawhats’ future.
Maybe we can use this theory to fill in the last four “teeth” on Luffy’s flag! (Top row = East Blue recruits; middle row = Grand Line’s Paradise recruits; lower row = Grand Line’s New World recruits)
If you are willing, please let me know if I overlooked anyone Luffy attempted to recruit, check out SilvackTheorist on YouTube (well worth it), and add to this project’s discoveries in the “Discussion” tab.