When the Naruto franchise introduced Jiraiya, Orochimaru, and Tsunade at different points, fans were not aware that the trio used to be a team. It took a while before anyone described the history of the Legendary Sannin. The term means “three ninjas” and is a nod to their prowess on the battlefield. Of course, by the time the trio are main characters in the Naruto franchise, they’re no longer a team. In fact, they aren’t even allies since Orochimaru is an enemy of his former home, Konohagakure, for much of the series.
The events of Naruto take place nearly 50 years after Tsunade, Orochimaru, and Jiraiya first teamed up as children, leaving a very long timeline of events that Naruto Uzumaki doesn’t even know about. Since the franchise typically tells its story from his point of view, there are quite a few things about the trio’s history that fans might have missed. Fans frequently view Orochimaru as the villain, but there are times when he saved people’s lives before he turned to his darker pursuits, Tsunade might have grown up to help save the village, but she spent a lot of time lost in her own past, and Jiraiya, for all his faults, had the opportunity to become Konohagakure’s leader, but turned it down.
We’ve got all of the details in the 30 Weird Things The Legendary Sannin Did Before Naruto.
30 They Graduated The Ninja Academy Very Early
The Ninja Academy acts as the training ground for future Shinobi. Before a Shinobi reaches Genin status, where they work in teams of three with an experienced leader, they must learn the basics and graduate from the Academy.
Unlike traditional elementary school, kids can advance through the program as quickly as they complete the work. In Naruto’s generation, nearly all of his friends graduated the Academy at the age of 12. Itachi Uchiha and Kakashi Hatake, who are considered prodigies, graduated at seven and five years old, respectively, while Tsunade, Jiraiya, and Orochimaru all graduated at just six years old before they were placed on the same team.
29 Jiraiya Invented The Transparent Escape Technique
Jiraiya is known for certain proclivities in the Naruto franchise and one of them is spying. However, he is a successful spy because of a specific technique he created.
When he was just a child, he already loved spying on females and created the Transparent Escape Technique to make sure he didn’t get caught. The new Jutsu actually allowed him to either become invisible or blend in with his surroundings. Of course, though Jiraiya talks about it, we never actually see it in action. He was convincing enough as a kid, though, that when he told Hiruzen Sarutobi about it, his sensei wanted to accompany him and see if it worked.
28 Orochimaru Set Up A Hidden Network
As Orochimaru broke more and more away from his home village, he began experimenting on Shinobi test subjects more often as well. He had to do that quietly though, so he built up his own network of hideouts.
Throughout the Land of Fire, Orochimaru hid laboratories and underground tunnels. Sometimes, they were behind large sections of mountainside, while other times, they were beneath islands. The intention was always the same: to keep the Konohagakure villagers from catching wind of what he was up to. For a long time, he succeeded, but eventually, his experiments went too far and Konoha Shinobi were sent to track down his numerous hideouts over the years, but they never found all of them.
27 Tsunade Defeated Jiraiya Decisively
Though Tsunade and Jiraiya knew one another since they were just six years old, Tsunade wasn’t exempt from Jiraiya’s spying. As the trio of Shinobi matured, Tsunade actually became a frequent target of Jiraiya’s attempts to spy. She didn’t often catch him, but when she did, he got a taste of her legendary temper.
On one such occasion, she gave him the strike of his life. She caused several injuries, landing him in the hospital, but the hostilities didn’t put a damper on their friendship. They maintained a training relationship and Jiraiya was even the Shinobi entrusted to bring her back when she was offered the Hokage position.
26 The Third Hokage Trained The Sannin
When Shinobi graduate the Academy and are assigned a three-man team, they also gain a sensei. That sensei leads them on Genin missions, sometimes, even leading them once they’ve advanced to Chunin as well.
Tsunade, Orochimaru, and Jiraiya had one powerful sensei in the form of the Third Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi, who taught them what it meant to be a Shinobi and saw the potential for greatness in them. He also saw the potential for darkness in Orochimaru. It’s worth noting that at least some of their training had to occur while he was Hokage, since he was in that position during the Second Shinobi World War. This caused the group to make their first true stand as adults.
25 Orochimaru Experimented With The First Hokage’s DNA
One of the most powerful Shinobi in the Naruto franchise history is Hashirama Senju. He became the First Hokage of Konoha and he was the only person (before the Boruto series) who naturally had Wood Release Chakra.
Orochimaru, naturally, wanted to replicate the abilities that made Hashirama unique. He used some of the First Hokage’s DNA to begin experimenting on children, taking 60 from the village. The only one to survive Orochimaru’s tests, and end up able to use Wood Release to boot, was the Shinobi who became known as Yamato.
24 They Survived A Battle With Hanzo
The Legendary Sannin would never have become legendary if they hadn’t battled Hanzo. Tsunade, Orochimaru, and Jiraiya had already gone their separate ways when the Second Shinobi World War concluded, but the trio reunited to team up against Konoha’s enemies. When they joined other teams of ninjas in a battle against Hanzo, they were the only team to survive.
It was Hanzo himself who termed them Legendary Sannin for going up against him. Funnily enough, the battle that earned them their name was also the last time the three teamed up together. The next time they were in the same battle was against each other when Jiraiya tracked down Tsunade to ask her to become Hokage.
23 Tsunade Spent Decades Storing Chakra
Following the events of the Second Shinobi World War, Tsunade began making preparations to increase her own strength and she did it with the Strength of a Hundred Seal.
The seal, which fans recognize as the diamond in the middle of her forehead, requires her to maintain very precise chakra control. Everyday, she had to divert some of her own chakra to the seal, gradually increasing how much chakra was stored there. Once the seal was released, it multiplied her strength level by an enormous amount, but she waited decades before unleashing the full power.
22 Orochimaru Set The Eight-Tailed Beast On A Rampage
In addition to his love for power and his desire to become the “ultimate being,” Orochimaru had a fascination with tailed beasts, just like the Akatsuki. During the years before Naruto’s story began, he learned the location of the eight-tailed beast and set about gaining access. In order to do that, he had to infiltrate another Shinobi settlement.
He pretended to be a Shinobi native to Kumogakure in order to get into the city. There, he enacted a scheme pretending to be Blue B’s doctor, getting him to take pills that activated a Genjutsu and set the Jinchuriki’s tailed beast on a rampage. For his trouble, Orochimaru got the beast’s horn and the DNA it contained.
21 Tsunade Began Konoha’s Medical Ninja System
There were medical-nin in Konoha long before Tsunade began her training in the field. It was Tsunade, however, that launched the movement for better medical training and placement of Shinobi.
When she was young, Tsunade began her training in the field, but realized how many ninja teams didn’t have a medical-nin amongst their trios. It meant that medical ninjas were spread thin on battlefields with many Shinobi left with the consequences. Tsunade planted the seed for more medical training to begin and she set Konoha on the path to require medical training for one member of every team. It wouldn’t fully be enacted until she became Hokage years later, but she set the standard decades earlier.
20 The Sannin Made Summoning Contracts With Different Animals
Hiruzen Sarutobi taught the Sannin about summoning techniques when they were on his squad. He also taught them all to summon with their left hands. Interestingly, when it came to actually making contracts, they all went their separate ways.
Orochimaru actually came across the cave of the White Snake on his own, learning about the process and increasing his own fondness for snakes. Jiraiya attempted to summon a toad without a contract and wound up transported to their mountain where he negotiated with them. Likewise, Tsunade visited the Shikkotsu Forest and formed a contract with Katsuyu. Each of their preferred summoning animals provides a nod to The Tale of Jiraiya The Gallant.
19 Jiraiya Learned Of The Child Of Prophecy
While Jiraiya learned to work with toads, he also learned of a prophecy involving himself.
The Great Toad Sage saw something in Jiraiya and he believed that Jiraiya would travel the world. On his travels, the Sage also believed he’d meet someone very special, termed the Child of Prophecy, and train him. After learning from Jiraiya, the Child of Prophecy would either grow up to save the world or disrupt it, however, this would all depend on what Jiraiya would teach. Over the years, Jiraiya taught many children, but fans still debate which one was actually the Child of Prophecy.
18 Orochimaru Experimented On Anko
When Orochimaru grew up, like many of the other Jonin ranked Shinobi, he taught the younger generation. The anime series revealed one of his pupils was Anko. Anko grew up to become a great Shinobi and a Chunin exam proctor. Before that, she was experimented on and influenced by Orochimaru.
When she was his student, Orochimaru developed his cursed seals and he also began experimenting with aquatic life (both of these experiments were hidden in a lab under a beach). When Anko refused to use the cursed seal Orochimaru placed on her, he had no further use for his pupil, so, he wiped her memory of the laboratory and events, letting her return to the Leaf Village.
17 Jiraiya Trained A Trio Of Strays
After fighting in the Second Shinobi World War, Jiraiya, Tsunade, and Orochimaru came across a trio of strays. While Orochimaru wanted to eliminate them, Jiraiya decided to stay behind and train them while the other two went back to Konoha.
The strays, children from Amegakure, picked up on Jiraiya’s teachings quickly. They even created a system to alert one another of intruders in their makeshift home. When Jiraiya believed Konan, Yahiko, and Nagato had learned enough to be self-sufficient, he returned to Konoha and the trio would go on to form the first incarnation of the Akatsuki.
16 Tsunade Left The Shinobi Life Behind
Like her colleagues, Tsunade decided to go her own way after the Second Shinobi World War. After losing both her little brother and the love of her life, she became disillusioned with the Shinobi way. Eventually, she left the village behind as well.
When Tsunade left the village to travel the world, she gave up much of her Shinobi training. She kept funneling chakra into the seal on her forehead, but she didn’t continue practicing medical ninjutsu. Instead, Tsunade indulged in her favorite pastime: testing her luck. Like her grandfather before her, she loved a good wager. Unlike her grandfather though, she had the worst luck, losing more often than she won.
15 Orochimaru Left Konoha
While Jiraiya traveled to spy for Konoha and write his novels, and Tsunade traveled to quash the pain of her loss, Orochimaru left Konoha behind for another reason: he left the village completely after getting caught performing experiments.
He had already performed experiments on his own students and took children from the village, but the longer he experimented, the less he tried to hide his research into becoming the ultimate Shinobi. When Orochimaru was caught, he was confronted by the Third Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi, who couldn’t bring himself to end his former student’s life, so Jiraiya was left to pursue him instead.
14 Tsunade Earned Lady Chiyo’s Ire
Tsunade didn’t only make a name for herself as one-third of the Legendary Sannin, she was also known as Konoha’s Slug Princess and was something of Lady Chiyo’s archenemy. In the animated series, Sakura teamed up with Lady Chiyo of Sunagakure to treat a poisoned Kankuro and Lady Chiyo recognized that Sakura’s methods were those of her old enemy, Tsunade.
When Lady Tsunade was younger, Konoha and Suna were on opposite sides of war. Tsunade made a habit of learning how to detect and combat any kind of poison, since Lady Chiyo’s specialty was poisoning people. Tsunade might not have known she earned Lady Chiyo’s ire at the time, but Lady Chiyo didn’t forget her.
13 Jiraiya Lived Among Toads
Jiraiya didn’t just learn how to summon toads. He also spent time living among them.
When he first attempted to summon a toad without a contract, the toads brought him to their home to see what was going on. Jiraiya ended up staying at Mount Myoboku and lived with them for a while. There, he trained with them, learning new cooperative ninjutsu techniques and befriending several toads he would be able to call upon in the future. It was also there that he learned about the Child of Prophecy.
12 Orochimaru Joined The Akatsuki
Some time after leaving Konohagakure behind, Orochimaru thought he found a group of like-minded people who were interested in perfecting Jutsu and creating the perfect Shinobi.
Made up of several missing (and powerful) ninjas from across the Land of Fire, the group’s biggest goal was to put an end to war. Of course, their methods of doing that led to more conflict. The Akatsuki paired Orochimaru with Sasori, who's known for his puppets, on missions. The two were actually highly successful in their endeavors, but over time, Orochimaru’s self-interests meant he left the group behind.
11 Tsunade Developed Haemophobia
Not much scared Tsunade as a developing Shinobi. She was as tough, if not tougher, than her teammates. It seems surprising then that she developed a phobia of blood.
After losing her little brother, Tsunade also lost the love of her life in battle. Dan was gravely injured, and though medical-nin were requested, they didn’t get to him in time and Tsunade was unable to stop the bleeding alone. Following that difficult experience, the sight of blood would leave her immobilized, something Orochimaru would later use to his advantage in battle.
10 Orochimaru Developed A Way To Transfer Himself Into A New Body
All of Orochimaru’s questionable experimentation did help him in the end as he found a way to make himself live forever.
Dubbing the Living Corpse Reincarnation process, Orochimaru can transfer his essence into a new body. He then uses a facial replacement Jutsu used by spies to allow his new vessel to look familiar to his followers. Sometimes, the vessels are volunteers, while other times, he searches out powerful Shinobi that he thinks will serve him well. Each one only lasts about three years before the host body starts to reject him and he has to find a new one.
9 Orochimaru Tried To Make Itachi Uchiha His New Vassal
While he belonged to the Akatsuki, Orochimaru found a familiar face joining their ranks. Much to his surprise, fellow Konoha ninja Itachi Uchiha decided to become a member.
Fascinated by the Uchiha clan’s inherited ability, Orochimaru wanted a Sharingan for himself. That’s one of the reasons he believed Itachi would make for a great vassal. Unfortunately, Itachi wasn’t about to volunteer for that dubious honor. Instead, when Orochimaru tried to get Itachi to cooperate by force, the Uchiha fought back.
8 Jiraiya Hid His Spying With Research
During the Naruto Shippuden years, the title character often found himself annoyed with Jiraiya, who liked to spend a lot of time “researching” for his next book. Jiraiya often spent his time researching by spying on young women, which Naruto found reprehensible.
In his younger years though, Jiraiya pulled double duty. He used traveling for his research as a cover for what he was really doing: tracking the movements of the mysterious Akatsuki. He didn’t learn much about the members of the hidden group, but his attempted tracking of them was enough to intimidate the members.
7 Tsunade Trained Dan’s Niece
Despite Tsunade giving up many of her Shinobi ways and indulging in her love of cards and dice, she still did a little training.
After losing Dan, Tsunade didn’t lose touch with his family. Instead, she trained Dan’s young niece in medical ninjutsu, making her into a formidable Shinobi. That training allowed Dan’s niece to accompany Tsunade on her travels. That’s right, the niece of Tsunade’s lost love happened to be Shizune. Shizune became Tsunade’s right hand and she accompanied Tsunade for years, helping her outrun many of her debts. Eventually, Shizune also became the assistant to Lady Tsunade’s Fifth Hokage.
6 Orochimaru Rescued Kabuto
Though we often think of Orochimaru influencing his followers, it’s also true that he saved some of them. They followed him more out of gratitude than they did admiration. One of those was Kabuto.
Kabuto’s guardian, like Orochimaru, belonged to the Konoha spy group Root. Root’s leader, Danzo, planned for Kabuto and his guardian to eliminate one another while on separate missions in Iwagakure. Fortunately for Kabuto, Orochimaru filled him in on the plan just after the woman who raised him attacked him, and Kabuto agreed to become Orochimaru’s assistant instead of returning to the organization that wanted him gone.
5 Jiraiya Learned The Rasengan
Long before Jiraiya became Naruto’s sensei, he taught another spiky-haired blonde Shinobi: Naruto's father, Minato.
Though Minato learned much from Jiraiya, he also developed his own Jutsu known as the Rasengan. The Rasengan involved creating a rotating ball of chakra from one’s own reserves to use against an opponent: a very difficult Jutsu for anyone to master. In this case, the teacher became the student as Jiraiya learned the technique from Minato, who taught the technique to Naruto’s son years down the line.
4 Orochimaru Eliminated The Iburi Clan
Seeing their inherited Jutsu as more of a burden than a gift, the Iburi Clan spent their time separate from the hustle and bustle of villages. During this time, Orochimaru came around and influenced them into helping him. The Iburi Clan could turn themselves into smoke, but the Jutsu was so unstable that they might not have been able to reform once they did it. So, Orochimaru offered to help them stabilize it in exchange for experimenting in their homes.
Of course, after already being welcomed, Orochimaru found himself in a tight spot with a serious wound. He took out as many Clan members as he could, intending to use the DNA of the lone survivor to augment his own abilities.
3 Tsunade Inherited The First Hokage’s Necklace
Rumor has it that Tsunade owned a cursed necklace when she became the Fifth Hokage. That necklace actually had quite a bit of family history.
She gave the necklace to both her little brother and Dan as a symbol of luck and protection before big missions, but both men had lost their lives. Before that though, the necklace didn’t appear to be cursed at all. It had actually belonged to Tsunade’s grandfather, who happened to be First Hokage Hashirama Senju. When he lost his life, he left the necklace to his granddaughter as a memento. He probably never thought his necklace would gain a reputation for being cursed!
2 Jiraiya Turned Down The Hokage Position
Several powerful Shinobi landed the position of Hokage throughout the Naruto franchise. Jiraiya never did, but as it turned out, he didn’t think he deserved the job.
When the Third Hokage stepped down, he wanted Jiraiya to succeed him in the role, however, Jiraiya refused, thinking he wasn’t a good enough person to lead the village, so the elders chose his student, Minato, instead. When Minato lost his life while sealing the nine-tailed fox inside Naruto, the Third Hokage wanted Jiraiya to take up the position, but again, Jiraiya refused which resulted in the Third Hokage taking on the role for the second time.
1 The Trio Chose To Separate
The three-man team put together after Academy graduation doesn’t have to stay together if they don’t want to. Once they’ve reached a level, like Chunin, where they can be placed on different teams for missions, they're able to go their separate ways.
There was so much fighting among Tsunade, Orochimaru, and Jiraiya that they did just that. The trio stopped training together and didn’t take missions as a team long before they earned their Legendary Sannin title in the Second Shinobi World War. Despite their great teamwork on the field, Tsunade referred to their arguments as ending in “three-way deadlocks,” so it was probably for the best.
Did you learn something new about the Legendary Sannin’s deeds in the Naruto timeline? Or were you already an expert and we missed something important? Let us know in the comments.