A Wanted Poster is a poster that is used to announce to the public at larges that some individual is wanted by a government or law enforcement.
When someone has committed a crime and a man hunt occurs. Often times a Wanted Poster is produced. In the past, before cameras, a sketch of the wanted person was put on the wanted poster. This way anyone who saw the target would be able to identify and alert the proper authorities.
Also included in the print of a wanted poster is the Bounty, or the price that is to be paid for the kill or capture of the target. The bounty is included as enticement for people to report what they see. It can also be used as leverage against the person who is wanted. A high bounty could make them overly cautious about who they see and connect with. Fearing that greed may cause someone to turn them in. A person who has to move on their own through public areas and without resources for food or money could be forced out of hiding more easily then one who has accomplices.
Wanted: Dead or Alive?
The most common phrase that you will see on a wanted poster is the term "Dead or Alive". These are part of the terms of capture. This lets the reader know that the powers that want this target do not care if the person pictured is wanted were to be captured or killed.
Sometimes there are further conditions that states that there would be a reduced payout in the listed bounty if the target were to be killed. This was frequently added to deter overly aggressive vigilantes or bounty hunters from wantonly killing targets.
The Wanted Poster has appeared in many different series throughout the years. More common in series that deal with law enforcement, bounty hunting, or criminals.
In One Piece the Wanted Poster is used to display a pirate's Bounty, the sign of a pirates threat level. They assist in pirate identification.
The can also speak to the power level in the One Piece series. Different anime series have different means to judge strength of fighters. More notably, the Dragon Ball Zseries had "power levels". In One piece the size of a pirates bounty can be misleading and frequently far out of date.
The powers that set the bounty are the World Government. This often corrupt government entity can only go by the damage a pirate has publicly shown. If the government or no one under their employ was to witness the power of some pirate. The bounty would have no increase.
It's a reactionary gauge of power and strength. Rather then a real time measure. This can work to the downfall of other pirates who use the wanted poster as a judge of their peers.