Naruto is a long-running anime series with an astoundingly long list of characters. Here’s a spoiler-free look at the most important characters in the Naruto series.
Almost every arc of Naruto starts with a number of new characters joining the cast. That’s not unusual for lengthy shonen series, but when a series goes on for 15 years, it adds up. That’s not even touching upon the dozens or even hundreds of short-lived characters from filler episodes of the anime.
As such, it’s worth taking a look at the most important characters in Naruto. Here’s who they are and how they relate to each other, all presented without any major spoilers.
Most important characters in Naruto
Though things can get heavy in Naruto sometimes, very few characters actually die over the course of the series. And unlike series such as Baki that leave characters behind after their stories runs their course, pretty much every major character in Naruto sticks around to some degree. Because of that, the characters introduced early on ultimately wind up as the most important throughout the duration of Naruto.
The titular character of the Naruto series is also likely its strongest. The series starts with its namesake as a troublemaker orphan, acting out to get attention. As time goes on Naruto gains greater insight into the events surrounding his parents’ deaths and how that impacts his abilities as a ninja. Though he is seemingly talentless at the start of the series, he becomes almost godly by its final battles.
Sasuke is a teammate, rival, and foil to Naruto. While both Naruto and Sasuke are orphans, Sasuke is a prodigious talent and has actual genetic abilities that inherently make him a skilled ninja. His relationship with Naruto and the circumstances surrounding his parents’ deaths are two of the biggest plotlines in the series.
Sakura initially serves as a romantic interest for Naruto, but this dynamic is primarily used to reinforce Naruto’s rivalry with Sasuke. Sakura becomes a deeper character in her own right as the series progresses and she receives more narrative attention, but isn’t necessarily prioritized in the overall plot of Naruto.
Kakashi leads Team 7, which includes Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke. He wears many different hats for the series’ characters, serving as a commanding officer, teacher, father figure, and more. His relationships are informed by his own dark history that is revealed throughout the series.
The Hokage is the leader of the Konoha Village, where the cast of Naruto lives. Both primary and secondary characters express their desire to take the mantel, including Naruto. At the start of the series the Hokage is Hiruzen Sarutobi, an aged ninja and the third person to serve in the position. It’s later revealed that his retirement was cut short following the death of the fourth Hokage.
Orochimaru serves as the primary antagonist for a significant portion of the Naruto series. He is originally a Konoha ninja, but time has seen him become a sort of mad scientist and pariah. That doesn’t stop Orochimaru from manipulating world events to his favor, aligning himself against the series’ protagonists.
Itachi Uhciha is the estranged brother of Sasuke and is believed to have been at the center of a genocidal attack on the Uchiha clan. He is regarded as a villain to be killed on sight through much of the world. That’s easier said than done however, as Itachi is one of the most fearsome fighters in the series. Sasuke’s goal throughout the series is to exact revenge on their brother.