Naruto was a series about ninjas performing stealthy missions that devolved into Dragon Ball Z power level battles. The early fights of the series were smartly written, with characters winning battles thanks to their quick wits and teamwork.
The ninjas of the Naruto world were originally focused on being stealthy, with gathering information taking precedence over combat.
As time went on, the Naruto fights were won by who had the better bloodline/built-in magical abilities than by the resourcefulness of the combatants. As such, a lot of characters abilities were redefined by this change in direction. The previously smart and stealthy ninjas were now outclassed by whoever could throw the biggest Kamehameha.
As Naruto was a battle manga, it made sense for characters to face each other out in the open, as a series that only contained stealthy assassinations would get boring quickly.
There are some Naruto characters who could have been a lot more effective if they had actually acted like ninjas and others who were only given a pass due to the needs of the plot.
We are here today to look at the Naruto characters whose abilities are stronger or weaker than how they were portrayed in the manga or anime series.
From the ninja whose animal senses should have made him unstoppable to the beloved hand-to-hand fighter who quickly ran out of upgrades, here are the 8 Naruto Characters Who Are Weaker Than You Thought (And 8 Who Are Even Stronger)!
16 Stronger: Kiba
The shinobi of the world of Naruto are trained to be able to move silently and stay out of sight of their enemies. This takes years of brutal training to accomplish.
How many years of training would it take for you to stop your body from smelling?
Kiba Inuzuka (and the other members of the Inuzuka clan) possess the ability to empower their noses with chakra so that their sense of smell surpasses that of even animals.
This would make it practically impossible to sneak up on them, as you can't prevent your body from having a scent in the same way that you can hide/keep quiet.
The Inuzuka clan members should be the undisputed best ninjas in a world full of missions based around stealth and pursuit, yet they are often sidelined by the fact that the series started being about direct combat.
15 Weaker: Hidan
The combined might of Akatsuki was so strong that they might have been able to take down an entire ninja village on their own. Pain almost accomplished this with Konoha on his own and he probably would have succeeded with the other members of Akatsuki at his side.
The odd man out in Akatsuki was Hidan. He was by far the weakest member of the group and really shouldn't have been allowed to join.
Hidan was carried through all of his fights by Kakuzu, who was far more powerful than he was. Hidan's abilities were focused on taking out one person at a time, which involves acquiring some of their blood, drawing a circle on the floor and harming himself.
All it would have taken to defeat him was two ninjas, as the other one could just push him out of the circle (like Shikamaru did). If Kakuzu wasn't watching Hidan's back, then Asuma's group would have wiped the floor with him.
14 Stronger: Sai
Sai was given a big introduction during the Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission arc, with the promise that he was going to be a major character in the story. He never really followed through on this promise, as Sai proceeded to do nothing of importance for the remainder of the story.
The abandonment of Sai might have had something to do with abilities, which had far more power and utility than we ever saw used in the series.
Sai possessed the ability to animate his drawings so that they could come alive and attack his foes. His ink monsters possess the traits of whatever he draws, such as bird drawings being able to fly.
He can also attach exploding tags to his drawings, which means that he can create his own force of exploding soldiers that can attack from any angle, without any risk to his own safety.
13 Weaker: Kimimaro
Orochimaru's interest in Sasuke was partly prompted by Kimimaro falling ill. Orochimaru had every intention of making Kimimaro his next host, which Kimimaro was willing to become, but his condition meant that the plan to entice Sasuke to the dark side had to be fast-tracked.
It's no wonder that Kimimaro became so ill, as his bloodline ability must have resulted in countless self-inflicted injuries.
Kimimaro's ability to grow his bones out of his body and use them would have resulted in countless infections, due to how he was exposing the interior of his body to the elements.
This is to say nothing of his own internal organs, which would have been constantly cut and put under pressure from the excess of bones that were erupting from Kimimaro's skin. It's a shock that he even lived to reach his teenage years.
12 Stronger: Deidara
Deidara was a ninja whose powers were held back by his obnoxious personality.
Deidara's abilities were like a far more effective version of Sai's ink drawings.
He had the ability to create huge golems that could fly or swim, which could also explode. Deidara possessed the ability to create lots of these golems at the same time, which meant that he was a one-man carpet bombing campaign.
The reason Deidara fared so poorly in battle was due to his insistence on fighting his opponent head-on and revealing his identity and location. He would have been far more effective if he had used some stealth, yet he constantly insisted on bragging and being a show-off, which is what led to his defeat in battle.
Deidara's final attack was so impressive that Masashi Kishimoto had to use out some A-grade pulls to save Sasuke from it.
11 Weaker: Kankuro
Kankuro was chosen to be one of the Kazekage's bodyguards. This goes to show that nepotism is alive and well in the world of Naruto, as Kankuro and his puppets are hardly what you consider to be suitable bodyguards.
The puppet techniques used by Kankuro rely on the user to hide so that they can control their puppet from a distance and use its range of built-in tricks to damage the enemy.
Unlike some of the other characters on this list (like Sai and Deidara), Kankuro needs to remain close to his puppets in order for them to work. He is almost defenseless on his own.
The introduction of sensor-type ninjas in the second half of Naruto means that Kankuro's entire fighting-style would be easy to overcome. Sasori (the creator of the puppet techniques) was able to overcome this by creating a small army of puppets to protect him, but he also lost to Sakura...
10 Stronger: Tayuya
Tayuya was one of Orochimaru's most prized soldiers. He probably should have saved her for missions where her amazing abilities could be more useful, instead of one where she was at the most risk.
Tayuya's abilities were based around using a flute. She possessed the ability to transmit genjutsu through her music, which meant that she could paralyze her foes with sound alone.
If Tayuya was performing a stealth-based mission, then her long-range genjutu would be amazing for totally disabling a group of enemies in a single move.
As it stands, Tayuya was forced to run around carrying a giant basket through enemy territory. She didn't use her most powerful ability until it was far too late.
Tayuya could have taken out most of Shikamaru's squad when they started pursuing her, but the Sound Four preferred the "Boss Rush Mode" tactic and all of them ended up dead as a result.
9 Weaker: Jugo
Jugo was the fourth and final member of Sasuke's team that he personally chose from Orochimaru's prisoners/subordinates to join him on his mission to take down Itachi. He was presented as a psychopath who had to be cowed by Sasuke in order to keep him in line.
The fans expected big things from Jugo, considering all of the trouble that Sasuke went through to get him.
Jugo turned out to be a huge letdown, as he spent the entire story jobbing out to better characters.
Jugo's transformation abilities were hamstrung by his seeming lack of training. He never actually belonged to any of the hidden villages and was never given combat training.
This meant that other characters could easily overwhelm him using skill, as his strength and speed were useless because he never utilized them properly.
8 Stronger: Kidomaru
Kidomaru may have been one of the strongest ninjas in the world of Naruto. He was only defeated because he was put up against one of the few people in the world who could counter his abilities.
Kiodmaru was a spider-themed ninja. This meant that he had an extra pair of arms and could emit webs from his body. These webs were practically impossible to cut with regular tools.
His ability to fire a giant web was what allowed the Sound Four to escape from Konoha, as it was able to stop the pursuing force of Anbu. This ability alone makes him one of the best ninjas in the world for setting ambushes and only the swiftest people would be able to escape from a web attack that would make them almost totally defenseless.
The only reason Kidomaru lost was that he went up against Neji Hyuga. The Hyuga clan's Gentle Fist ability allowed them to emit chakra from their fingers, which allowed them to cut through Kidomaru's webs.
7 Weaker: Tenten
Poor Tenten. She was created just to be the girl member of Team Guy and rarely received any attention or characterization that didn't involve her teammates.
Tenten's abilities were based on weapon mastery. Her accuracy with thrown weapons was said to be perfect and she possessed an unparalleled arsenal of arms, which she hid within containment scrolls.
Having perfect accuracy doesn't mean much in a setting where a) everyone has perfect accuracy and b) everyone moves at super speed. Ranged weapons are rarely effective in Naruto, even though they are used all of the time.
Tenten's massive arsenal of weapons is also unimpressive, as any ninja can carry their own personal loadout in a few scrolls.
Luckily for Tenten, she was given much more of a chance to shine in Rock Lee's Springtime Of Youth.
6 Stronger: Torune Aburame
Torune Aburame's abilities were recognized within the world of Naruto, as Danzo chose him to be one of his personal bodyguards during the journey to the Kage summit. The anime would make Torune practically unstoppable in combat.
The members of the Aburame clan possess the ability to control insects using their chakra. Torune's insects were on a whole other level, as they were nano-sized. This meant that he could infect someone with an incurable disease with a touch.
He was only defeated due to the fact that his final opponent could become intangible.
The Naruto Shippuden anime made Torune even more powerful, as he could create a cloud of his insects, which meant instant death for anyone who entered it. This raises the question of why he never tried to use this ability on Tobi?
5 Weaker: Yoroi Akado
Yoroi was one of the members of Kabuto's team during the Chunin Exam arc. Kabuto's teammates had also defected to Orochimaru and they were positioned to help/hinder Sasuke during the Chunin exam.
Yoroi's ability to drain chakra with a touch was used during his battle with Sasuke and almost forced him to rely on his cursed seal.
The problem with Yoroi's life-draining ability is the speed at which it works. There are far more effective ways of killing or disabling your opponent, using either combat techniques or tools, which work a lot quicker than Yoroi's abilities.
His ability to drain chakra would have been far more impressive if it was used to support costly abilities (such as the summoning technique), but he never uses it for anything more than its original purpose.
4 Stronger: Dosu Kinuta
Dosu Kinuta was the leader of the team of Hidden Sound ninjas that entered the Chunin exam under Orochimaru's orders. They were secretly being used to test Sasuke's abilities and force him to use the curse seal out of desperation.
Dosu was the only member of his team to make it to the finals of the exam, but his life was ended by Gaara before it took place.
His abilities were enhanced by a large gauntlet that he wore over his right forearm. This gauntlet allowed him to transmit sounds that could harm the inner-ear of his opponents and totally screw up their balance.
This attack would be incredibly powerful, had he used it more often.
It seemed like Dosu was having second thoughts about working for Orochimaru. Instead of defecting, saving his teammates, or abandoning his post, though, he decided to attack Gaara head-on and was slaughtered as a result.
3 Weaker: Misumi Tsurugi
Misumi was a member of Kabuto's team during the Chunin Exam arc. Misumi had also defected to Orochimaru and was part of the original mission to test Sasuke's abilities.
He was never given a chance to do much, as he was defeated by Kankuro during the tournament held after the Forest of Death event.
Misumi was surgically altered so that he could dislocate his joints at will, which allowed him to squeeze into tight places and gather information.
This ability seems totally redundant, as even someone like Naruto could transform into a small animal (like he does during his fight against Kiba) and could hide in even smaller spaces than Misumi could.
Misumi's ability to twist around his opponent's body was hardly an impressive combat technique, considering the feats that other ninjas could perform in the world of Naruto.
2 Stronger: Pain
Pain was easily one of the most powerful characters in Naruto. His range of abilities, coupled with the fact that he could control multiple bodies to act in his stead, made him practically unstoppable in combat. It took the combined might of Konoha just to keep up with the power of the Rinnegan.
One of Pain's techniques was so unbelievably broken that Masashi Kishimoto never used it again after its introduction, as Pain would have dominated all of his opponents if he had used it more often.
The Shapeshifting Technique allowed Pain to create powerful clones of the members of Akatsuki, which possessed their unique weapons and bloodline abilities.
Akatsuki never had to engage anyone in battle, as Pain could have sent 80% chakra clones of Itachi and Kisame to do every mission without risking the lives of anyone on the team.
1 Weaker: Rock Lee
Rock Lee was one of the best characters in Naruto and his fight with Gaara might be the high point of the entire series. With that being said, there is no doubt that Masashi Kishimoto lost interest in the character and hung him out to dry.
The speed and strength that Rock Lee exhibited when he dropped the weights during the Gaara fight soon became standard among all of the characters in the series.
Sasuke even caught up to him after only a brief period of training. Lee's skill with taijutsu was slowly overshadowed by all of the new abilities that appeared in the series, which meant that his doctrine about hard work became meaningless in the face of bloodline abilities that could rewrite reality.
Rock Lee received no new upgrades in terms of his abilities in the second half of Naruto and his role in the story was diminished, so that Might Guy could take his place.
This was a shame, as there was a lot of potential to tell great stories with Lee, but he was pretty much left behind by the main plot of Naruto.
What do you think? Are there any other Naruto characters who are stronger (or weaker) than we thought? Sound off in the comment section!