In seven hundred chapters of manga and an even greater number of anime episodes, Naruto established itself as one of Japan’s biggest exports in the genre, with the enthusiastic ninja’s tale gathering immense popularity both in its homeland and across the globe. Naruto’s story has now concluded and a follow-up anime and manga series focusing on his son Boruto is currently in production, as is a live-action Hollywood adaptation. With Naruto’s own chapter now closed, it’s perhaps time to examine the moments in the series that had the most emotional impact on viewers and made fans fall in love with Masashi Kishimoto’s fictional world and characters in the first place.
These are the scenes that stuck with the audience long after the credits rolled and although there are, predictably, many deaths on this list (spoilers ahoy if you’re not caught up!) also included are scenes that are inspiring and uplifting. Indeed, moments of both joy and sorrow will be covered in the list, with entries drawn from the original Naruto series, as well as its successor Naruto Shippuuden. Sequences from movies and the Boruto series will be excluded as those could warrant whole new lists entirely.
Get your forehead protectors on and a pack of tissues at the ready as we chronicle the 16 Most Emotional Moments in Naruto!
16. Zabuza and Haku Depart Side-By-Side
Former swordsman of the Mist Village Zabuza and his androgynous apprentice Haku were Naruto’s first proper villains, but the duo weren’t especially evil. Rather, they were simply mercenaries hired on the opposite side of Naruto’s Team 7 and despite being an odd couple, they had a highly endearing relationship.
Their bond was put on full display when Kakashi sought to deliver a fatal blow to Zabuza, only for Haku to act as a human shield. Initially, the swordsman didn’t seem fazed by his partner’s death but after Naruto employed his legendary Talk No Jutsu, Zabuza began to reveal his true feelings towards the young ninja before going on one last desperate vengeance spree against his former employer.
15. Obito Witnesses Rin’s Death
Something terrible must have happened to Obito to turn him from an optimistic boy who helped old ladies cross the street to one of the world’s foremost war criminals with gallons of blood on his hands. As usual, a love interest is to blame.
Obito had an ongoing attraction to his teammate Rin, often becoming jealous of their cooler teammate Kakashi in the process. Sadly, tragedy befell the trio when Obito was crushed under a rock when a mission turned awry. Presumed dead by the rest of the world, Obito spends a significant amount of time recovering in the custody of Madara Uchiha but after discovering his old friends Rin and Kakashi are in trouble, Obito rushes to help, only to discover Kakashi’s bloody hand piercing Rin’s chest.
The scene is emotional in itself but when it’s later revealed that Rin intentionally impaled herself on Kakashi’s arm after being turned into a Jinchuriki, the moment becomes even more heart-breaking.
14. Iruka’s Opening Episode Speech
The first moment of emotional significance in the Naruto franchise arrived in the opening episode and helped draw viewers in by promising depth in addition to the exciting ninja action and flashy moves.
Having learned that the Nine-Tailed Fox trapped inside Naruto killed Iruka’s parents, the audience perhaps wouldn’t expect the academy teacher to be particularly fond of the young ninja. However, when faced against his rogue colleague Mizuki, Iruka reveals the respect and admiration he truly feels for Naruto, with the youngster secretly listening in from the shadows, crying at his teacher’s heartfelt words.
13. Naruto Is Celebrated After Defeating Pain
The fight between Naruto and Pain in the wake of Konoha’s destruction is an epic by any standards and the conclusion was suitably emotional.
In the original Naruto series, the young protagonist was still very much an outsider, shunned by his most of his village due to either his troublesome attitude or status as a Jinchuriki. In Naruto Shippuuden, this coldness began to thaw somewhat as Naruto continued to work hard at becoming a ninja and building bonds with others.
The story thread came to an uplifting and joyful conclusion when Naruto saved the villagers from evil villain Pain and the amassed population gathered around to cheer his name and hoist him upon their shoulders. The scene was long-awaited vindication of the suffering Naruto experienced during his childhood and proved to be a huge milestone on the character’s journey.
12. Gaara Mauls Rock Lee
The Chuunin Exam battle between master of Taijutsu Rock Lee and the Sand Village’s genius beast Gaara perfectly demonstrated Naruto’s ongoing theme of hard work versus natural talent. Determined to prove himself after a history of hardship, Lee went all-out against the Jinchuriki but came up short regardless.
Lee’s loss was certainly sad but the real emotion came when Gaara decided to push the boundaries of brutality, viciously mauling his opponent’s arm and leg. The assault would’ve gone even further had it not been for Lee’s mentor/best friend/surrogate father Guy, who makes a heartfelt speech about his precious student while heroically saving his life.
If that wasn’t emotive enough, Lee is later informed that his injuries will prevent him from ever being a ninja again and for a person who trained harder than anyone else in the show, that’s a devastating blow. Happily, he makes a full recovery thanks to the medical skills of Tsunade.
11. Asuma’s Death
Asuma Sarutobi may have only been a supporting character in the Naruto franchise but his death had ramifications that rippled throughout the entire series. The relaxed Jonin team leader was battling Akatsuki member Hidan and fell victim to the villain’s strange ritual-based techniques. Luckily, he manages to squeeze in one last cigarette and an emotional speech before departing.
Asuma’s death had a huge effect on Konoha Eleven member Shikarmaru who had previously been one of the most laid back and unaffected characters in the series. Suddenly, Shikamaru feels a sense of responsibility and for the remainder of the story can be seen taking care of Asuma’s widow and young child.
10. Itachi Slaughters His Parents
When viewers first witnessed the scene in which Itachi murders every member of the Uchiha clan not named Sasuke, ‘emotional’ perhaps wasn’t the first thing they felt. It was dramatic, brutal and maybe even scary, but not overly emotive in the usual sense.
It was only when the full context of these events was finally revealed that the impact of this scene truly hit the fandom. It transpired that Itachi had been forced to slaughter his own clan in order to avoid a full-scale civil war and to protect the life of his beloved brother.
Performing the crime took a huge toll on Itachi and the image of him standing over his parents with a blade, crying his eyes out while his mother and father patiently await their demise is as haunting as anything else in the series.
9. Naruto Finally Meets His Parents
This entry melds two moments into one entry as both are very much worthy of inclusion but for exactly the same reasons. As an orphan from the very first day of his life, Naruto wouldn’t have expected to ever see his parents. However, thanks to the power of anime logic, he was actually able to encounter both in two highly emotional scenes.
Upon meeting his father for the first time, Naruto initially unleashes over a decade of pent-up rage towards his old man but this quickly fades into father and son love. The scene where Naruto meets his mother is arguably even more emotional, with the protagonist quickly breaking into tears.
Fittingly, both parents managed to help Naruto deal with the Nine Tailed Fox that they were responsible for sealing within him and although the meetings were brief, they packed a heavy emotional punch.
8. Gaara’s Sad Back Story
Gaara originally appeared as a villain in the early days of Naruto; the titular hero managed to coax Gaara over to the good guys’ side after a huge showdown. Subsequently, Gaara needed a strong backstory to explain to viewers why he was originally so dastardly and to help them understand why he’d now aligned himself with Naruto.
The resulting flashbacks did just that and much more with a deeply upsetting story that both explained Gaara’s hate and anger and endeared him to fans for the remainder of the series.
After Gaara was born prematurely, his mother tragically passed away. Since his Kazekage father was only interested in using the child as a Jinchuriki weapon, it was left to Gaara’s kind-hearted uncle, Yashamaru, to bring up the youngster and attempt to impart his mother’s kindness and love onto him.
Sadly, Gaara’s father coerced Yashamaru into attempting an assassination on the boy in an attempt to strip him of all love. Although he survived, Gaara was mentally scarred by the events and began his descent into evil.
7. Sealing The Nine Tails
It was a long time before fans got to witness what truly happened the day Naruto was born and due to the flashback’s intensity and sombre tone, many probably wished it had remained a mystery.
This set of episodes covered the events that led to the death of Naruto’s parents and the sealing of the Nine Tailed Fox inside of him and although there are many great fist-in-the-air moments such as the fight between Minato and Tobi, the couple’s final scene is nothing short of tragic.
With both Kushina and Minato acting as human shields for their son, they regretfully seal the rampaging beast into the newborn child, knowing full well that they won’t be around to help him cope with such a burden. However, it’s Kushina’s speech that triggers the deepest emotions, as she attempts to fit a lifetime of motherly parenting into just a few short moments.
6. Minato’s Final Farewell
The battle against final villain Kaguya was emotional enough but Naruto Shippuuden had a tear-jerking ace up its sleeve to really ramp up the drama in the final stages. Thanks to the Edo Tensei reanimation technique, Naruto had been given a chance to fight alongside his father, Minato. Inevitably, the time arrived for that Jutsu to end and for Minato to return to the afterlife and the exchange between father and son in these final moments is nothing short of heart-breaking.
From Naruto mirroring his mother’s famous speech to Minato wishing his son a happy birthday, the scene is dripping with emotion and, fittingly, is the series’ final absolutely soul-crushing moment. The fact that viewers were fully aware this scene was coming doesn’t soften the blow one bit.
5. Hinata Confesses Her Love
When it came down to who Naruto should be paired with at the end of the series, fans were firmly divided between Sakura – Naruto’s crush since the start – or Hinata, the shy girl who had always secretly admired him from a distance. Being as timid as she was, Hinata never mustered the courage to tell Naruto her feelings but this all changed during his fight against Pain.
With Naruto being soundly and brutally beaten, a hopelessly outmatched Hinata made a brave stand, declaring her love for Naruto as she attempted to protect him. The revelation clearly shocks Naruto and frustratingly, the whole situation is largely ignored in the battle’s aftermath.
Happily, the couple would eventually get together in the Naruto: The Last movie and went on to have two children. Although her husband is constantly busy with his duties as Hokage, Hinata remains as faithful and supportive of Naruto as she was that day against Pain.
4. Neji’s Death
Out of all the supporting Konoha Eleven characters, Neji arguably developed most significantly over the source of the Naruto series, transforming from an angry and arrogant child to a noble young man who respected the power of his cousin Hinata after almost killing the girl during the Chuunin Exam arc.
Facing the might of both Obito and Madara – as well as the Ten Tails they were controlling – Naruto briefly collapses from exhaustion just as the Juubi unleashes a wave of sharp projectiles. Naturally, Hinata steps in to protect him from harm with her own body but both she and Naruto are saved by Neji, who makes the ultimate sacrifice to protect the budding couple.
3. Naruto Vs. Sasuke Part 2
The final, climactic battle between eternal rivals Naruto and Sasuke was never going to be short of drama or anticipation and fans will have their own opinions on whether the clash lived up to expectations.
It’s difficult to deny, however, that the fight packed a huge emotional impact. Showcasing everything from classic Taijutsu and basic ninja tool skills to grandiose chakra-munching techniques, the episodes were a fitting send-off for the long running series. The ending was also predictably intense, with the two fighters ripping each other’s arms off in one huge final attack and Sasuke ultimately accepting defeat because only Naruto had the will left to continue the fight.
Perhaps the real tear-jerker here though is the gradual realization that this was it. The final fight. After years spent alongside these characters and this fictional world, Masashi Kishimoto’s ninja tale was finally coming to a close.
2. Itachi’s Death(s)
Not many characters could get away with dying once in a highly emotional scene and then coming back to do it all over again with an even more intense send-off. Then again, Itachi Uchiha is not most characters.
After an epic fight with his brother Sasuke, Itachi succumbs to the effects of a terminal illness and finally, his intimidating facade drops. In his last living moments, Itachi apologizes to his brother, gives him one last smile and a playful poke before dropping to the ground, leaving his younger sibling reeling in shock.
Later in the series, Itachi is one of the many characters revived by the Edo Tensei, although he manages to sever the technique’s ties and remain independent. He teams up with Sasuke to take out Kabuto and immediately after the battle, begins his return to the afterlife. Somehow, his final speech here is even more affecting and touching than it was during his actual death with Itachi reminding his brother how much he’ll always love him.
1. Jiraiya’s Death
Naruto didn’t often kill main characters but when it did, the impact was keenly felt. Despite being a massive pervert, Naruto’s Godfather and mentor Jiraiya was a popular figure with fans and was central to the overall narrative thanks to his ongoing search for a child of prophecy that would bring peace to the ninja world.
Unfortunately, one of Jiraiya’s former students would herald the Toad Sage’s own downfall when Nagato – under the evil influence of Tobi – morphed into the villainous Pain. Determined to clean up his own mess, Jiraiya confronted his former pupil but was overpowered by the power of the Rinnegan and in an intensely emotional scene, died alone in the rain.
The physical beating is brutal enough but the combination of Jiraiya’s final words and a series of poignant flashback scenes that see Jiriaya identify Naruto as his true legacy really opened up fans’ tear ducts.
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