Naruto may impress with its elaborate jutsus and exciting arcs, but the moments that have marked fans’ memories the most are the tragic deaths of beloved characters.
Few characters left us in the classic phase of the anime, but each loss had a profound impact in molding our young genins into adults who would face the deepest horrors of war. Take a look back at the Naruto anime’s saddest deaths in chronological order.
When we first met Kakashi Hatake, he showed the impacts of having lost his friends to war. After watching him being consumed by these memories over hundreds of episodes, it is heartbreaking to watch tragedy strike firsthand: especially the death of Rin Nohara.
The kunoichi asked Kakashi himself to take her life. After being kidnapped, the Three-tailed Beast Isobu was sealed inside her. It was a trap to destroy Konoha, and Rin did not want to be the trigger of a tragedy. With no way out, she died at her friend’s hands, unaware that Obito watched in shock.
Naruto’s Parents – Minato and Kushina
Rin’s death leads Obito into a regrettable cycle of grief that takes many victims: the saddest are Naruto’s parents. The first scene of the anime briefly recounts how they died, but Naruto only finds out the full truth after he’s grown up – in a complicated fight in Naruto Shippuden.
In this touching reunion, Kushina Uzumaki tells how long she waited for Naruto’s birth and how much he meant not only to her but also to Minato, the Fourth Hokage. The couple chooses to die, above all, to protect their son from a direct attack by Kurama. The only solution was to seal the creature in Naruto’s womb but not before a touching farewell that made many grown men cry.
Haku and Zabuza Momochi
Haku and Zabuza Momochi are the first opponents of Team 7, hired to assassinate the Great Naruto Bridge builder. Even though the Demon of the Hidden Mist was responsible for real atrocities, Haku saw only his qualities and died to protect him in one of the most touching moments of the anime.
Zabuza himself, who until then had seemed like a heartless monster, was moved and decided to do the right thing for once in his life – to avenge his pupil even if it meant his death. As a final request, Zabuza was buried next to Haku, showing that everyone has the potential to redeem themselves.
The Third Hokage, Hiruzen Sarutobi
The Third Hokage was a sweet older man who watched over everything in the Leaf Village to make sure everyone was okay. Most of all, he was the one who indirectly took care of Naruto during his lonely childhood as an orphan, always covering up the mischief of an emotionally wounded boy.
This is why his death, after a long battle against one of his pupils, was so painful. After all that Hiruzen did for Konoha, to see him face his former masters and Orochimaru was heartbreaking. He fought for his people to the end, and everyone in the village felt his death.
We hadn’t followed Asuma‘s life all that much until Naruto Shippuden, but when we finally become attached to the charismatic teacher, his life is unceremoniously taken by members of Akatsuki.
He had a very close relationship with his students – Ino, Chouji, and Shikamaru – and his farewell brought a mixture of grief and revenge to everyone around him. Especially for Shikamaru, who knew of his romance with Kurenai and the child they were both expecting. It was a turning point that made the hunt for Akatsuki even more personal.
Akatsuki’s next victim destroyed all Naruto fans’ emotions – I’m talking about the wise pervert Jiraya. The ninja always tried to keep his personal life hidden, but gradually we find out how much he cared for his godson, Naruto, and a trio of ninjas he met in the Rain Village.
The old sannin carried a sense of guilt as if he had failed the Rain ninjas, and the final conflict against Pain brought out all his remorse. After the news of his death, Naruto went through depressing mourning along with a legion of fans.
Itachi was responsible for the genocide of the Uchiha clan but never dared to hurt his brother. However, by hiding the truth from Sasuke, Sasuke grew up harboring a deep hatred that would result in his brother’s death. Itachi died peacefully, in yet another attempt to protect Sasuke, but his secret was soon exposed.
His actions were purely motivated to prevent a civil war. All he wanted was to protect the Leaf Village, and the Hokage used his loyalty to end his own family. And in the end, he died smiling at his brother, confident that he had completed his goal—a noble fate for a very tormented soul.
Nagato needed to die – after destroying Konoha, the temporary death of much-loved characters, and the ultimate murder of Jiraya. But Konan? That was too much.
After her friend’s sacrifice, Konan decided to abandon the path of hatred to defend Nagato’s legacy. She didn’t want to see her friend being used to cause wars once again, but Tobi had other plans. He tracked down the kunoichi and, after a less than fair fight, murdered Konan on a mere whim. It was sad to watch someone die with such loyalty for the ones he loved.
In the beginning, Neji was a bitter child who would kill his own cousin to show his power. Many years later, he died defending exactly Hinata from an abrupt end.
Neji’s conflict was always with his destiny, and he died on his own terms, protecting the future of his clan. One of the Leaf Village’s most skilled ninjas was one of the most painful losses of the Fourth Great Ninja War.
Shikaku Nara and Inoichi Yamanaka
At the height of the Ninja War, Madara realized that the key to defeating the Ninja Alliance was to nip it in the bud – to blow up the command base that coordinated all the attacks. Shikaku Nara and Inoichi Yamanaka, two of the smartest ninjas in the Leaf Village, knew they were about to die but chose to sacrifice themselves for their children’s future.
In their final moments, instead of running away, they designed for all the Alliance ninja a definitive strategy to put an end to the Ten-Tailed Beast. Their children, Ino and Shikamaru, heard their last words as the base was blown up. But there is no time for grief in a war. They held back their tears to make Shikaku and Inoichi’s sacrifice worthwhile.
Obito‘s story begins and ends in a tragic death. He was the first ninja to die under Kakashi’s command – entirely crushed by a rock while trying to save his friends. But in reality, he survived and saw the world collapse around him.
Years later, all the pain consumed him, and he decided to create a world of illusion so that no one would have to suffer again. His past resembles Naruto’s trajectory, but the pain guided him down a devastating path. Only when facing Naruto, he understands all the evil he has caused. He dies with dignity, trying to put an end to Kaguya‘s plans.