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10 Couples That Hurt Naruto (And 15 That Saved It)

The Naruto franchise always focused on young ninja attempting to achieve their dreams. Rarely do these dreams involve romance. Instead, characters focus on becoming the leaders, or Kage of their nations, or learning new skills to become more formidable warriors. That doesn’t, however, mean that the franchise is completely devoid of romance.

Manga creator, and executive producer of the anime series and several movies, Masashi Kishimoto, has been up front about not enjoying writing romance. As a result, many of the pairings in his franchise don’t necessarily last. Instead, many of them involve one-sided feelings and at least one of the people involved undergoing extensive character development that pushes their story arc forward.

Despite so many crushes and pairings that don’t really go anywhere, there are quite a few couples that have a large influence on the story. In some cases, a pairing resulted in one character becoming a better person or better developed in the eyes of the audience. In other cases, two characters pairing up was the result of a long story arc coming to an end.

Other pairings were more of a hindrance to the franchise. In those cases, the pairings didn’t actually add to the story, but instead, got in the way. They might have occurred in a corner of the franchise that wasn’t as accessible to fans, or they may have been portrayed in a way that did nothing for the characters at all.

Either way, we’ve examined the romantic pairings involved in the series to bring you the 10 Couples That Hurt Naruto (And 15 That Saved It).

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Jiraiya And Tsunade Never Pursued Their Feelings In Naruto Shippuden
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25 Saved: Tsunade And Jiraiya

Jiraiya And Tsunade Never Pursued Their Feelings In Naruto Shippuden

As two of the Legendary Sannin, Tsunade and Jiraiya knew one another as children and grew into formidable shinobi. When Jiraiya became Naruto’s mentor, he also went on a search for Lady Tsunade, formally inviting her to become the Fifth Hokage. Separately, these two are kind of a mess. Tsunade has an addiction to gambling and Jiraiya’s never met a pretty girl he didn’t pursue.

Underneath their bickering over those subjects, they shared a deep affection.

It was this affection that showed a softer side to them. While Jiraiya always had feelings for Tsunade, she never let him share them. Due to the Akatsuki, they never got a chance to pursue a formal relationship.  

24 Saved: Naruto And Hinata

Hinata and Naruto Head Into A Fight

Despite the series not being a romance, if ever there was a central couple of the Naruto saga, the title character and Hinata Hyuga would be it. Naruto didn’t initially show a special interest in Hinata, but she always admired him from afar. In fact, she admired him so much that talking to him made her faint. That could have led to a dangerous road, but instead, Hinata grew from the experiences.

The two grew to share mutual respect, both making one another better shinobi during their team-ups. They also saved the world together, got married, and had two great kids, never losing faith in one another.

23 Hurt: Sasuke And Karin

Like many of the relationships in the Naruto canon, the feelings between Sasuke and Karin appeared to be pretty one-sided. Just like Sakura before her, Karin was obsessed with Sasuke. Karin was one of Orochimaru’s followers when Sasuke joined his ranks. She eventually became Sasuke’s right-hand, staying with him after he defeated Orochimaru. Karin even allowed Sasuke access to her healing abilities (by biting her), something she didn’t like to allow other people access to.

Much of their relationship was built on Sasuke using her as a means to an end, and Karin following along with hopes of being noticed.

It was the kind of relationship that set a bad example for fans.

22 Saved: Minato And Kushina

Kushina and Minato in Naruto

Due to the nature of the story, we don’t get to see a ton of the relationship between Minato and Kushina. With them gone in the present day, much of what fans know of them is down to flashbacks. What we do know is that their connection was born of extreme circumstances. Kushina only realized how much Minato cared for her after he saved her from a kidnapping. Their connection saved the series beyond their falling in love, though.

Without Kushina and Minato falling in love and marrying, Naruto wouldn’t even exist - or at least there would be no backstory on how he became the person with the nine-tails sealed inside of him.

21 Hurt: Kakashi And Kahyo

Some potential pairings dominate the manga, while others only show up for fans who read supplemental material. Kakashi and Kahyo are one of the latter. The two, like many pairs in the Naruto universe, exist in hints rather than in practice. They meet in the “light novel” Kakashi Hiden, which explores a very short snippet of Kakashi’s life that involves Kahyo taking a ship hostage in a misguided attempt at vengeance.

It’s Kakashi who makes sure that Kahyo doesn’t get punished by execution. He also finds himself teased about the possible relationship.

This would all be great if it actually occurred in the main continuity and all Naruto fans had the opportunity to read it.

20 Saved: Yahiko And Konan

Yahiko and Konan in Naruto Shippuden

As two members of a trio of orphans trained by Jiraiya, Yahiko and Konan eventually became founding members of the Akatsuki that plagued Naruto’s generation. A pair of villains wouldn’t seem like a great romantic pairing to root for, but Yahiko and Konan weren’t your usual villains.

The two actually became villains when they were striving for peace. They wanted to stop the wars and violence that plagued the shinobi nations. Unfortunately, they used war and violence to try to achieve their goals. The relationship between the two of them served to humanize them and make the reader more understanding of everything they sought out to do.

19 Hurt: Itachi And Izumi

Izumi and Itachi in a Naruto Shippuden Flashback

Itachi Uchiha wasn’t known for his way with the ladies. One brief line from Tobi to Sasuke reveals that one of Itachi’s targets during the Uchiha clan massacre was a “lover,” but they’re not named until much later. Izumi’s identity was first revealed in the trio of light novels that make up Itachi Shinden before parts of her story were adapted for the anime.

As a member of the Uchiha clan, she was one of the first who Itachi targeted when he eliminated everyone.

He showed her mercy, trapping her in a dream state so she wouldn’t know her own fate, but it only served to confuse the audience more when his true intentions were later revealed.

18 Saved: Obito And Rin

Rin and Obito in a Naruto Flashback

Though we never saw Kakashi’s former teammate become a couple, we do know that Obito had strong feelings for Rin. In fact, Obito’s feelings for Rin informed his entire character arc in the franchise. Obito thought that he gave Kakashi his eye while breathing his last breath. Miraculously, Obito was saved.

Unfortunately, his miracle was short lived as he later witnessed Kakashi fail to save Rin as well. It was that failure that sent Obito on his path to becoming Tobi and a member of the Akatsuki. It was also, however, the connection that he, Kakashi, and Rin shared as teammates that allowed him to reform and help Kakashi later.

17 Hurt: Kizashi And Mebuki Haruno

Kizashi And Mebuki Haruno Did Not Play A Large Role In Naruto

If the names Kizashi and Mebuki aren’t familiar to you, their surname Haruno might be. The couple happen to be Sakura’s parents. It would be nice to say that they helped to save the franchise by providing it with the likes of Sakura, an important main character who lands right in the middle of Sasuke and Naruto’s friendship.

The problem is that Sakura’s parents are largely absent from her story.

In fact, they’re only seen in the anime in conjunction with promotion for the Road to Ninja movie. Otherwise, they add absolutely nothing to Sakura’s development as a character.

16 Saved: Kiba And Tamaki

Kiba Meets Tamaki Before Naruto And Hinatas Wedding

Kiba was always a wild child in the franchise. You never knew what he was going to say or do. We also never saw him in any romantic relationships. Tamaki was introduced late in the franchise. Since Tamaki is a cat person, fans might not have thought they would get along since Kiba is a dog person.

In fact, when she was first introduced, she didn’t interact with Kiba. It wasn’t until Kiba attended Naruto’s wedding that fans saw them interact, and realized that Kiba was interested in her. While the two aren’t members of the older generation who have children in the spin-off, seeing Kiba outside of his usual confrontational demeanor served to make him more three dimensional.

15 Hurt: Fugaku And Mikoto Uchiha

Fugaku And Mikoto Uchiha Allowed Itachi To Destroy Their Clan In Naruto

Parents to Itachi and Sasuke, Fugaku and Mikoto Uchiha didn’t get a lot of story time. What we do know about them is that Fugaku often praised Itachi as his favorite.

When Itachi decided to eliminate his clan, the duo sat together, still supporting him, and didn’t fight back.

When your son decides to get rid of you to gain more power, shouldn’t that be the moment you decide he’s not your favorite child? Another point against this particular couple? Flashbacks revealed Mikoto and Kushina Uzumaki shared a friendship before Naruto's birth. Her family, like all of the village, still shunned Kushina’s child after the nine-tails destroyed part of Konoha.

14 Saved: Tsunade and Dan

Tsunade and Dan in Naruto

Though this couple didn’t have a chance to find happiness, Tsunade and Dan’s connection made waves as soon as Lady Tsunade was introduced. As a Legendary Sannin, Tsunade left her village behind, traveling the countryside and getting herself further into debt thanks to a gambling problem. She hardly seemed like a great candidate for Fifth Hokage.

Jiraiya and Naruto tracked her down to offer the position, and that’s when we were treated to the reason for her avoidance of anything related to home: her relationship with Dan, who had wanted to be Hokage, ended in a tragic loss. The storyline gave fans an insight into her character, and made her becoming Hokage even more inspiring.

13 Saved: Rin And Kakashi

Rin Had A Crush On Her Teammate Kakashi in Naruto Shippuden

Teammates as children, Rin and Kakashi had a tight bond. The romantic angle of their relationship, however, was very one-sided. Rin was the one who had feelings for Kakashi, while as far as fans know, he only considered her a teammate. It still hurt him deeply when she chose to step into the path of his strike to end her life and protect the village from the three-tails inside of her.

Rin wanted the danger of the three-tails to end by the hand of the person she loved.

The action left Kakashi with a lot of guilt that influenced how he taught Sakura, Sasuke, and Naruto in Team 7 in the future.

12 Hurt: Hayate And Yugao

Yugao and Hayate In Naruto Shippuden

Hayate and Yugao are relatively minor characters in the grand scheme of the Naruto franchise. In fact, some fans might not even realize that they know who the characters are. The series introduced Hayate as a proctor during Naruto’s chunin exams, but he lost his life when spying on Kabuto. His girlfriend Yugao was revealed much later during filler storylines, so manga purists might not even recognize her in the anime.

The relationship between the two was fleshed out when Yugao was forced to fight a reanimated Hayate during the Fourth Shinobi World War. It would have been very tragic if everyone remembered who they were.

11 Saved: Amaru And Shinno

Amaru Had A Crush On Her Sensei In Naruto the Movie Bonds

Not very many of the Naruto movies feature romantic storylines. Naruto the Movie: Bonds did feature a medical apprentice named Amaru with a crush on her sensei Shinno. Amaru had a deep respect for Shinno because he saved her life and agreed to train her.

That respect progressed into a crush, but was turned on its head when she realized he wasn’t actually a good guy. He actually wanted to gather dark chakra to make himself more powerful.

It’s tough to find out your hero is the exact opposite of what you thought, but that twist powered the movie to its climax and gave Amaru some much needed character development.

10 Saved: Lee And Sakura

Lee Always Had A Crush On Sakura in Naruto

The crush Rock Lee had on Sakura was much like the one Hinata had on Naruto as a child. Lee greatly admired Sakura and was always willing to help her on a mission. Sakura was usually too busy worrying about Sasuke to notice Lee. Rather than treating him badly, she continued to be polite and friendly with him. She made it clear that their friendship was important to her, even if she didn’t return his feelings.

Likewise, Lee never attempted to get in the way of Sakura pursuing a relationship with Sasuke despite his feelings for her. They might have produced one of the healthiest crushes in the franchise.

9 Hurt: Hinata And Toneri

Toneri And Hinata In The Last Naruto The Movie

The Last: Naruto the Movie made a lot of fans who had watched Hinata become very happy. Hinata got a lot of the spotlight, as she worked to save her little sister and her relationship with Naruto blossomed. Before that relationship could bloom, however, she agreed to marry Toneri.

Toneri is the person who abducted her sister, so for any fan watching the movie, they new that the agreement was a desperate act.

The problem was that no one actually believed that Hinata wanted to marry Toneri except for Naruto, who suddenly became the most gullible character in the franchise. It was an unnecessary way to move the plot of the movie along.

8 Saved: Hashirama And Mito

Mito Uzumaki Married Hashirama Senju and became a jinchuuriki

As the first leader of the Leaf Village, Hashirama is incredibly important to the Naruto mythology. There’s a lot of talk of his special jutsu and how much good he did for his people. Often forgotten is his wife.

From the Land of Whirlpools, at some point in the franchise history, Mito married the First Hokage. She also happened to belong to a very important clan that would eventually vanish - the Uzumakis. Mito didn’t become a housewife to a powerful leader either. She was by his side in battle and eventually became the first jinchuuriki of the nine-tailed fox. Without Mito and Hashirama, there would be no story for Naruto.

7 Hurt: Sakura And Naruto

A huge will-they-or-won’t-they relationship for franchise fans was Sakura and Naruto. Naruto’s crush on Sakura was a major plot point for episodes of the anime, but definitely didn’t do the show any favors.

Naruto used his crush as an excuse to follow Sakura, get in between her and Sasuke, and rush headlong to her defense in battle.

While Sakura made it clear she didn’t return his feelings, she still dragged him along on “dates” multiple times, manipulating Naruto to her advantage. Further complicating this “relationship” was the fact that Sakura seemed sure that Naruto never had real feelings for her in The Last: Naruto The Movie, citing his crush as a form of competition with Sasuke.

6 Saved: Sai And Ino

Sai and Ino Attend Naruto and Hinatas Wedding

One of the oddest couples in the series is Sai and Ino. Some might see Sai as Ino’s consolation prize since she spent her childhood with a crush on Sasuke, and Sai was his Team 7 “replacement.” The truth is that these two characters actually make one another better.

Ino, despite being empathetic and intelligent, was also incredibly shallow. She was more worried about her appearance than physical training. Sai, despite being an incredibly capable shinobi, had no people skills. The two had a lot to learn. Over time, they valued one another as more than just a pretty face or a good battle partner, providing plenty of growth for the duo.

5 Hurt: Sakura And Sasuke

They might be a fan-favorite couple, but Sakura and Sasuke have one of the most troubling relationships of the entire saga. Sakura spent nearly all of her formative years pining after Sasuke, wanting to be stronger so she could fight alongside him, and excusing a lot of his bad behavior. For his part, Sasuke spent a lot of his formative years ignoring Sakura and trying to make himself more powerful.

The only time he showed concern for her was when she was the weak link in the chunin exams.

Sasuke also tried to mortally wound Sakura in battle several times, something she forgives a little too easily when she winds up marrying him.

4 Saved: Kakashi And Hanare

Kakashi And Hanare Revealed In A Filler Anime Arc For Naruto

Despite being a couple that only appears in a filler episode, Kakashi’s relationship with a woman named Hanare makes quite an impression. Filler episodes are created specifically for the anime to fill in gaps. They occur while the animators wait for the manga story to catch up. Hanare being captured and interrogated in Konoha was one of them.

The anime revealed that Kakashi actually saved her life when they were younger. After being interrogated, and supposedly erasing all of her own memories of the village, Hanare escapes. Despite catching up with her, Kakashi allows her to leave. It gives fans a bit more insight into Kakashi’s character, much like his relationship with Rin did.  

3 Hurt: Choji And Karui

Choji and Karui in Boruto

Separately, Choji and Karui are great characters. Together, they’re a bit of a conundrum. Why? The two never interacted in the Naruto series that fans saw. Perhaps some of their potential story was cut for time? Even without any interactions, the two wound up married and with a daughter in the future.

They’ve created a confusing storyline for fans of the original series.

Let’s hope Choji and Karui get some flashbacks in the Boruto sequel series so we can all find out just what drew them to one another. Fans would love to know.

2 Saved: Shikamaru And Temari

Shikamaru And Temari Worked Together In Naruto Shippuden

If ever there were two characters that benefitted by falling for one another, it’s Shikamaru and Temari. These two repeatedly denied falling for one another despite constantly saving each other when they appeared in the storyline. Their interactions provided a breath of fresh air in a story constantly concerned with Naruto getting Sasuke back.

Temari began her journey as a shinobi who was more of a threat than an ally. She was overconfident and sassy, but brought down a peg or two when bested by Shikamaru during the chunin exams. Shikamaru was as lazy as possible despite being an actual genius. He also thought all women were too much trouble until Temari saved his life.

1 Saved: Asuma And Kurenai

Kurenai And Asuma Were Teased About Their Relationship In Naruto Shippuden

Asuma was always the sensei who seemed just a little too cool. As smart as student Shikamaru, there was no reason to believe he didn’t find women as “troublesome” as Shikamaru did. Kurenai was apparently the exception. Throughout the anime, Asuma and Kurenai frequently appeared together in groups of shinobi. That was as much of a hint as fans got until Team 10 started teasing Asuma about his secret relationship with Team 8’s sensei.

Their relationship ended in tragedy when Asuma sacrificed himself to save his students, but the duo did have a daughter. 

Their relationship was the first hint fans got at how important continuing the story for the next generation was.

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Do you agree with our picks for best and worst Naruto couples? Did you think we were way off the mark? Let us know in the comments!

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