While the main characters from the hit anime series Naruto may now be grown-up with their own kids who feature in the sequel series Boruto, fans of the original show will never forget its action-packed scenes and engaging story-arcs. Plus, the interpersonal drama between the characters often created several love triangles.
Now at its core, a love triangle involves three or more people with at least two people sharing a romantic connection. Though in the case of Naruto, a lot of its love triangles tended to be one-sided often leading to comedic and even tragic events. As Naruto is not a rom-com, some of these 10 love triangles are based on fan speculation.
10 Nagato, Konan, and Yahiko
Consisting of several criminals from different ninja villages, the Akatsuki is considered to be one of the more notorious groups in the Naruto universe. However, this group came about due to a series of tragedies beginning with three orphans named Nagato, Konan, and Yahiko.
Though it’s unclear whether any of them were romantically connected or not, some fans on Reddit have theorized there might have been something between Konan and Yahiko at least. But even if there was, it never fully blossomed due to Yahiko’s tragic death and Nagato using his corpse to assume the role of Pain.
9 Madara, Hashirama, and Mito
Rivalries play a big role in Naruto’s storylines, and nowhere is this more clear than in the rivalry between the two men who founded Konoha Village. Meeting during a tumultuous time when ninja clans fought each other for dominance, Madara Uchiha and Hashirama Senju were both enemies and like-minded friends who fought for peace.
So into this equation came Mito Uzumaki, a relative of Naruto’s who married Hashirama and became the first host (aka Jinchūriki) of the Nine-Tailed Fox demon. While there is no evidence of romantic interest between Mito and Madara, that hasn’t stopped fans from theorizing such a connection.
8 Ino, Shikamaru, and Temari
One of the most common tropes in anime is when two people who don’t like each other secretly have romantic feelings. So, in regard to Team 10’s Ino Yamanaka and Shikamaru Nara, who didn’t seem romantically interested in one another, it was certainly a possible direction for their relationship to go in.
In the end, though, Shikamaru ended up with another girl who initially didn’t like him named Temari. From the Sand and Konoha Village respectively, Temari and Shikamaru’s relationship became symbolic of the peace their villages would share following the tragedy at the end of the Chūnin Exams story-arc where Konoha’s leader the Third Hokage died.
7 Jiraiya, Tsunade, and Dan
Along with Orochimaru, Jiraiya and Tsunade were considered to be Konoha’s greatest ninjas during the Second Shinobi War before Orochimaru’s betrayal. Now even though Jiraiya’s a notorious flirt, he shows great respect for Tsunade which might imply stronger romantic feelings toward her.
Whether Tsunade reciprocated these feelings or not is unclear especially in the wake of the tragedies that befell those closest to her. Namely, the deaths of her brother Nawaki and lover Dan, which almost made her strike a deal with Orochimaru to bring them back. Additionally, Jiraiya’s death took away the possibility of a relationship between him and Tsunade.
6 Karin, Sakura, and Sasuke
During the middle portion of Naruto: Shippuden, which was the second half of the original series, Sasuke Uchiha was branded a criminal by the Konoha village for not only siding with Orochimaru but also the Akatsuki organization. Yet despite this, Sasuke’s former teammate Sakura Haruno retained her romantic feelings for him.
Around the same time, Sasuke had gained several followers, including Karin. One of Orochimaru’s wards, Karin was secretly in love with Sasuke after he spared her during the Chūnin Exams. However, Sasuke rewarded Karin’s devotion by nearly killing her during a hostage situation. Ironically, though, Karin was saved by Sakura and would later help deliver Sakura’s daughter Sarada prior to the events of Boruto.
5 Obito, Rin, and Kakashi
For most of Naruto’s runtime, Team 7’s mentor Kakashi Hatake remained an attractive enigma given how little we knew about him. Then later in the series, we learned about his former teammates Obito Uchiha and Rin Nohara.
Much like Team 7, there was a one-sided love triangle going on between all three of them. While Obito had romantic feelings for Rin, she was more interested in Kakashi. This came to an end following the apparent death of Obito (though he actually survived) and Rin sacrificing herself by Kakashi’s own hand.
4 Naruto, Rock Lee, and Sakura
As funny as it is seeing a guy chase after a girl who has no romantic interest in him whatsoever, it’s even funnier when there are two guys involved. This was briefly the case for Naruto Uzumaki and Rock Lee, who both had feelings for Sakura, despite the fact that she wasn't interested in either of them.
Though this love triangle started in the Chūnin Exams, it never really manifested afterward. With that said, both boys still retained their romantic interest in Sakura until their adult lives when they married other girls.
3 Ino, Sakura, and Sasuke
When it comes to Shōnen anime series, they tend to be aimed at young boys. So more often than not, we tend to get love triangles where two girls are in love with the same boy.
This was certainly the case for Sakura and Ino, who started off as friends when they were children but then became bitter rivals over their affection for Sasuke (despite becoming friends again later). Eventually, Ino found a new attraction in the form of Sai, who took Sasuke’s place in Team 7 during Naruto: Shippuden, and eventually married him.
2 Hinata, Naruto, and Sakura
In addition to male-centered love triangles, Shōnen anime tended to have ones where a shy girl secretly likes a boy who isn’t aware of her affection and is busy trying to flirt with another girl that doesn’t care about him whatsoever. We see this trope played out perfectly with Hinata Hyūga in her secret affection for Naruto while he was trying to impress Sakura who kept rejecting his advances.
This all changed in Naruto: Shippuden when Hinata confessed her love for Naruto during his fight with Pain, leading Naruto to show more consideration for Hinata in the future. Then Naruto married Hinata some years later and they had two children, which included the title hero of Boruto.
1 Naruto, Sakura, and Sasuke
Among the many things that made Naruto appealing as an anime series, we were invested in the dynamic between the members of Team 7 which included the title hero his rival Sasuke and main love-interest Sakura. Yet, this was a classic one-sided love triangle. Naruto liked Sakura but she was in love with Sasuke, who at the time seemed indifferent to her.
Their relationships were tested countless times throughout the show and its sequel Naruto: Shippuden, with Sasuke’s betrayal and Naruto’s promise to bring him back for Sakura leading to several major confrontations. In the end, they overcame these obstacles with their bonds renewed as comrades and, in the case of Sakura and Sasuke, strengthened as lovers.