13 Naruto main characters, ranked from worst to best

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Naruto has a varied range of main characters, which has led to wide-ranging opinions over which ones are best, and which are the worst.

Naruto is one of the biggest anime franchises ever, and has spanned decades with its story. We’ve met heroes and villains, friends and foes, and a lot of fan fave characters.

Naturally, everyone has their opinion on which main characters are the best and which ones are the worst. It’s quite impossible to rank them, and yet we’ve attempted it anyway.

Below are a number of main Naruto characters, ranked from the worst to the best. This ranking may be on their fighting ability, how funny they are, their impact in the series, or just how well-liked they are by general audiences. So without further ado, let’s get ranking.

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13. Sakura

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Sakura gets a lot of flack from fans. This may be due to the general sexism that female characters tend to face in male-centric shows, but in Sakura’s case it is also a product of her having bad writing, as the show leans far too hard on her tsundere tendencies. Unfortunately, this causes people to overlook the parts of her that are generally great.

As the only girl in Team 7, Sakura had a lot to prove, but she came into her own in the original series, and later became one of the best medical-ninja in the world. And the fact that she has an ordinary upbringing and lineage as opposed to many of the other characters makes her progress in power much more admirable.

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12. Itachi Uchiha

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Itachi Uchiha being ranked low is mainly due to how he was framed as being so unlikeable at the beginning. He spoke to his brother in such an awfully dismissive way, and even murders his own clan. But when the truth is revealed, Itachi becomes a much more poignant character.

He is the embodiment of an anti-hero, sacrificing everything that would make a person likeable in order to do what he thought was the right thing. And we do later get to see how much he actually cares about his little brother, which makes him a much better character overall.

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11. Naruto

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Being the title character, it’s hard not to imagine Naruto being one of the best characters. And he is, but when compared to other main characters, he can sometimes come off as a little bratty and annoying. It’s all part of his charm and he’s given a good backstory for it, but this abrasiveness can still rub some viewers the wrong way.

But Naruto still has some great qualities, including his passion, loyalty to his friends, and dedication to becoming a Hokage and protecting his village despite being constantly overlooked and shunned by those around him.

10. Hinata

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One of Hinata’s main qualities, which is her shyness, seems to be a reason that people either see her as a great character or as a bad one. While her personality can seem a little too meek at times – and it being combined with her devotion to Naruto she can be seen as a female stereotype – but others find her quiet persona endearing, and it makes it all the more inspiring when she overcomes her lack of self-confidence and expresses herself. And who doesn’t love her lion fists?

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She does have great chemistry with Naruto, and even saves him from time to time, which makes her a great love interest character.

9. Orochimaru

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While we’re meant to hate the villains, often they’re some of the best characters. This includes Orochimaru, who keeps attempting to destroy his hometown of Konoha, and is much more than your average cartoon villain. He manages to effect the characters and the plot of the show greatly, even pushing Sasuke into morally gray territory.

While he gets pushed into the background more as the series goes on, fans haven’t forgotten about him, and he still remains the longest-running – and one of the best – villains that the franchise has ever had.

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8. Sasuke Uchiha

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Sasuke lands around the middle of our list, as people either seem to love him or hate him. But there’s no denying how iconic a character he is, to the point where even people who haven’t seen the anime know about him. Albeit, mostly due to memes.

Sasuke is admirable for his determination and passion, which rivals that of frenemy Naruto, but his blunt persona can also turn a lot of people off. But with his dips into the morally questionable, he is definitely one of the more interesting main characters to watch.

7. Tsunade

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In such a male-centric anime, it can be hard for the female characters to stand out. But Tsunade definitely manages to do just that; in fact she was arguably the character that brought the show into a more equally gendered perspective.

Tsunade is a gambling, drinking, face-punching, no-nonsense woman, who also manages to be a majorly powerful Hokage. She is also an awesome mentor figure for Sakura, which is a great subversion of the typical male-male mentorship relationships you usually see in Shonen anime.

6. Jiraiya

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Though Jiraiya initially seems like an uncaring mentor, it becomes clear that this is just an act. The character is now known for his wisdom, playful antics, caring attitude, and somewhat dodgy morals.

Jiraiya often acted as Naruto’s guardian and mentor, and became a guiding light and motivating influence in the young hero’s life. Ultimately, he became one of the saddest deaths of the entire Naruto franchise, after his fight with, and subsequent demise to, the hands of Pain.

5. Shikamaru Nara

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Shikamaru is both an admirable and relatable character. His love of procrastination and wasting his potential has become an endearing trait of his, but he also happens to be incredibly intelligent, which is shown throughout the series.

Something that really makes Shikamaru one of the best characters is that he never hesitated to be on Naruto’s side. Despite the rest of the village shunning the young protagonist, Shikamaru was never ashamed to be associated with him, making him both stubborn and kind, which is what fans love about him.

4. Pain

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Pain is the most compelling of all the franchise’s villains. His backstory of being orphaned is poignant, and his confronting arc with Jiraiya, and later Naruto, includes some of the best episodes in the entire series.

Pain is an interesting villain as he isn’t just plainly evil, and often the fights he has with Naruto involve the latter trying to reason with him. Pain even eventually sees the light and restores most of the people and places he’s damaged, giving his life to the pursuit of peace, which makes him a very well developed character.

3. Gaara

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Gaara is a subversion of Naruto, which makes him an incredible foil character. Like Naruto, he had a demon sealed inside him, and was an incredibly lonely boy that was shunned by his village. Unlike Naruto, he didn’t receive any love or friendship later on in life, so he exists to prove how vital those things are in the context of the show.

But Gaara is also a character that grows and changes as the series goes along, which makes him fascinating to watch. After being beaten by Naruto in a fight, Gaara began focusing on becoming a better person, and protecting others, eventually becoming a hero in his own right.

2. Rock Lee

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Rock Lee has always been a beloved character, simply for how much of an underdog he is. Despite having no distinct Kekkei Genkai or prowess over genjutsu and ninjutsu like the other characters do, Rock Lee is able to hold his own through the teachings of Might Guy and a talent for taijutsu.

Rock Lee has always been portrayed as a hard working individual, who manages to get back on his feet every time he gets knocked down, such as when he loses to Gaara during the Chunin exams. He’s arguably the most admirable person in the whole franchise.

1. Kakashi Hatake

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While fans may disagree on liking some characters, no one can deny how great a presence Kakashi is. His aura of mystique that gives way to a cheerful persona is what makes this character so delightful, and he is an amazing educator throughout the series. Despite having a troubled past and having lost everyone important to him, Kakashi never lets that weigh on his teaching.

He manages to be incredibly talented and intelligent without coming across as arrogant, which arguably makes him even cooler. He is genuinely proud of those he teaches, and he isn’t afraid to show it, making him a very loveable, and very much the best, character in Naruto.

Naruto is currently available to stream on Crunchyroll.