Top 10 best Naruto anime side characters ranked: Is Shikamaru Nara the best?

Shikamaru Nara from the Naruto series. Current aide to the 7th Hokage and Husband of Temari
Shikamaru Nara from the Naruto series is the Current assistant of the 7th Hokage and Husband of Temari. Pic credit: Studio Pierrot

Here is our ranked list of the top 10 best Naruto side characters. They range from villains to your most beloved characters.

The original Naruto series concluded with a happy and touching finish. Of course, with Boruto Naruto Next Generations, the entire Naruto series is far from over. However, the original Naruto era has come to a close, and it’s a good moment to remember our favorite Naruto side characters.

The Naruto anime features many interesting side characters. Naruto was known for its exciting combat, inspiring protagonists, and fascinating side characters. Nonetheless, some of the supporting characters outperformed others. Fans have begun to look back at the various characters who popularized Naruto’s legacy series Boruto as it changes the franchise’s whole landscape and essence.

Naruto boasts some of the best anime side characters, ranging from comedic heroes to tragic adversaries. Fans praised various supporting characters for their complexities, such as Naruto: Shippuden’s Pain/Nagato, the leader of the Akatsuki. Others, such as Jiraiya and Rock Lee, were well-liked for their comedic value or quirkiness. Here are our top 10 best naruto side characters.

10. Momochi Zabuza

Zabuza lay beside a dead Haku before his death
Zabuza lay beside a dead Haku before his death. Pic credit: Studio Pierrot

Zabuza Momochi, a rebel ninja from the Hidden Mist and one of its Seven Ninja Swordsmen, was the first villain Naruto Uzumaki and his allies confronted. He and Haku opened the pilot with a spectacular and heartbreaking storyline that nailed the show’s premise.

Zabuza and Haku are two of the most emotionally charged and moving antagonists in the Naruto Universe. Their terrible narrative and fate link them together: it is the story of a demon who recovered his humanity thanks to his “useful tool,” Haku. Furthermore, their combat with youthful Team 7 and Kakashi is among the best in Naruto.

Zabuza was an excellent choice for the series’ initial villain. Their redemption narrative was remarkable, and their terrible deaths remained with fans for years. The moment Zabuza avenged Haku’s death by fighting Gato’s troops on his own confirmed him as one of the best side characters.

9. Hinata Hyuga

Hinata Hyuga hanging out with naruto
Hinata Hyuga is hanging out with Naruto after the war. Pic credit: Studio Perriot

If we consider conventional Japanese societal standards, Hinata would be the best girl/woman/wife (it’s also conceivable that Kishimoto purposefully made her that way). Hinata had little influence on the other Naruto characters. The only perception of her was her “fascination” with Naruto and her introverted attribute. Nevertheless, as we explored Hyuga Clan’s story, we began to see her character from different viewpoints.

Hinata’s development is similar to Naruto’s in specific ways. Despite their disparate origins, they have a familiar tale of striving to become stronger and a better person for their friends and family. Hinata is Naruto’s admirer; Naruto taught her tenacity, and she progressively grew more potent and more self-sufficient.

She was propelled into the spotlight when she stood up to Pain to save Naruto. She was on the verge of death, but Fans could not underestimate her bravery.

Hinata didn’t appear to be planned to become the central character she is now initially. Now we can claim she is one of the Top 10 best Naruto side characters and Naruto’s wife!

8. Tsunade Senju

Tsunade during the war with her full healing powers activated. Arguably one of the Top 10 best Naruto side characters.
Tsunade, with her full power, activated against Madara. Pic credit: Studio pierrot.

Tsunade captivated viewers from the minute she debuted in the anime, and they wished to see more of her. Fans fell in love with many characters, with Tsunade being one of the most popular. She possesses unrivaled healing abilities and is said to be the strongest female ninja or Kunoichi. Tsunade had a gambling and drinking habit, but she was a formidable opponent.

She rose to the rank of Fifth Hokage and headed the village through an apocalyptic struggle. She was the world’s best medical ninja and one of its most potent fighters.

Furthermore, with the assistance of Katsuyu, she was able to communicate with and protect her comrades remotely. Her healing abilities helped her friends survive a lot of horrific battles. She could safeguard many individuals by healing and recharging their chakra. It had been great assistance, and Naruto would have been a darker anime series without her.

7. Nagato / Pain

Nagato is the shadow leader of the Akatsuki in the form of his dead best friend. One of the top 10 best Naruto side characters
Pain the leader of the Akatsuki. Pain is Nagato in the form of Yahiko, his dead best friend. Pic credit: Studio Pierrot

Naruto had both wonderful and terrifying villains. Pain (Nagato) was a famous foe due to his immense power and deep motivations. Although an adversary, Pain was both a hero and a villain in many respects.

Pain aspired to bring about peace through agony and suffering in the ninja world. In Naruto Shippuden, Nagato begins to refer to himself as Pain as he descends deeper into insanity and comes to realize what his intentions are. He adopts the name Pain since it reflects his worldview.

He believes that society would become more amicable and less volatile by predicting disasters. In his opinion, the only way to create a harmonious world is via Pain. By inflicting agony on others, he pushes them to confront and comprehend the misery that humanity inflicts on one another daily.

Akatsuki’s journey came full circle with the help of Pain. In his childhood, he trained under Jiraiya, but the peaceful ideology Jiraiya gave him got tainted by years of death, battle, and grief. Only Naruto’s unwavering optimism and purity could stop him. Pain was a memorable side character because he’s one of Naruto’s most excellent foils.

6. Iruka Sensei

Iruka sensei, Naruto's mentor from childhood. One of the top 10 best Naruto side characters.
Iruka sensei, Naruto’s mentor and teacher from childhood. Pic credit: Studio Pierrot

Iruka Umino, Naruto Uzumaki’s first mentor, is a protective and kind-hearted shinobi who plays an essential role in the tale despite having limited screen time.

Iruka Umino is Naruto’s first mentor figure who deserves more recognition — and, frankly, screen time — than he gets. He’s the first adult to notice Naruto after discovering how awful his past and condition are, and he takes him out for ramen, scolds him when required, and is even willing to risk his own life to protect him.

When Naruto was born, Iruka Umino’s parents got killed by the Nine-Tailed Fox. Knowing Naruto possessed the Fox should have made Iruka despise the boy, just as the others of the Hidden Leaf villagers did. On the other hand, Iruka embraced the “Will of Fire” and believed in Naruto. He would become a father figure to the orphan who housed the killer of his parents. 

Iruka’s eagerness to defend and mentor the neglected protagonist proved that he was one of Naruto’s most innocent and honorable side characters.

5. Jiraiya

Jiraiya in his Sage mode during his fight with pain
Jiraiya is in his Sage mode during his fight with Pain. Pic credit: Studio Pierrot

One of the Legendary Sanin, Jiraiya, is a shinobi of two parts. One half is a wise man seeking peace and harmony in a world of violence and hatred, who produces novels depicting such bloodshed and seeks out the prophecy student meant to bring peace to the shinobi world.

What about the other half? That is the darker, more brutal aspect of a Hokage-level shinobi tearing and destroying his way throughout a battlefield as an invincible brute force weapon. Jiraiya is a character with great wisdom and unending mercilessness, summoning monstrous toads and performing Jutsus only the most talented shinobi in Naruto’s history could use.

While Jiraiya had flaws, he was one of the series’ most popular side characters. Jiraiya taught Naruto a lot, as the Toad Sage instilled a commitment to peace and a reverence for life. Naruto’s orphaned father, the Legendary Sannin, became another father figure to him.

Although Jiraiya was a pervert with numerous vices, this meant offering comic relief. Some fans thought the jokes fell flat, but Jiraiya’s general love for Naruto, complicated past, and unwavering goal for tranquility made him one of the top 10 best Naruto side characters.

4. Rock lee

Rock Lee facing off against Kimimaro. One of the top 10 best Naruto side characters
Rock Lee facing off against Kimimaro so Naruto can go rescue Sasuke. Pic credit: Studio Pierrot

Rock Lee was another inspiring character who worked hard to overcome his incapacity to shape chakra. He developed into one of Naruto’s most powerful taijutsu users, even holding his own against the Jinchuriki, Gaara. Fans were captivated by Rock Lee’s flashes of humor, tremendous diligence, and unwavering optimism.

Rock Lee, a member of Team Guy alongside Neji Hyuga and Tenten, is a year older than Naruto and his Academy classmates. As a result, Lee and his teammates had far more field experience than the rest of the Konoha 11, and they never passed up an opportunity to teach their teammates a thing or two. Rock Lee, for example, was always willing to share his training program. Perhaps it’s his contagious zeal that piques the interest of so many fans.

Rock Lee may not be everyone’s favorite, but he has a significant following. Though the Naruto franchise is primarily about the path of the main protagonist, Rock Lee got adequate screen time. Rock Lee was even the inspiration for his spinoff series, Spring Time Of Youth.

Rock Lee has some of the best Sakuga moments (moments where the animation’s quality improves so drastically that it is impossible not to notice.) in the original Naruto series, as shown in his clashes with Gaara and Kimimaro. He also had a heartfelt and beautiful backstory, earning him one of the great side characters and a fan favorite. He was also one of the few comic-relief providers who did not rely on cheap laughs via sexual innuendos.

3. Gaara

Gaara the 5th Kazekage. One of the Top 10 best Naruto side characters
Gaara of the Sand, the 5th Kazekage. Pic credit: Studio Perriot

Gaara of the Sand, commonly known as the 5th Kazekage, is a well-known character and one of Naruto’s closest friends. He initially appeared as an opponent in the Chunin Exam Arc, and he was a complete nutcase. He was incredibly unstable and could quickly go insane.

Many Naruto fans saw Gaara’s transformation from evil to hero inspiring. He, like Naruto, was a Jinchuriki who was shunned by his village. However, the Hidden Sand was more brutal, as his father, the Kazekage, demanded his assassination. He, as a person, was disturbed by this, and he evolved into the monster his father had made.

Gaara frequently returned as Naruto’s supporter and most excellent companion after the Chunin Exam Arc. Gaara gained favor by rescuing Rock Lee (who he had earlier attempted to kill) and assisting the Hidden Leaf in battle.

His rehabilitation and devotion to the heroes earned him the title of a fan-favorite side character. During the 4th Shinobi World War, he rose through the ranks to become the 5th Kazekage and Regimental Commander of the Allied Shinobi Forces.

2. Itachi Uchiha

Itachi Uchiha bleeding from his eye.  One of the top 10 best Naruto side characters
Itachi Uchiha is bleeding from his eye during his fight with Sasuke. Pic credit: Studio Perriot

Itachi Uchiha began as a villain, slaughtering the whole Uchiha clan (save Sasuke). However, Sasuke and the audience discover that he only did this to safeguard the Hidden Leaf village and that the Hokage was involved in the plan.

Itachi is one of those fantastic and mysterious characters who split audiences. He is the Uchiha clan’s pride and joy, a great talent, and an all-around genius. At the age of seven, Itachi graduated from his Academy and mastered the Sharingan (a rare optical ability of the Uchihas) at eight. His feats make him one of the top 10 best Naruto side characters.

He passed the Chunin exams (an exam to become a true ninja) at the age of ten, became an Anbu captain (specialized assassination squad) at thirteen, and murdered his entire clan, sparing only his own younger brother, Sasuke, years later.

1. Shikamaru Nara

Shikamaru Nara from the Naruto series. Current assistant to the 7th Hokage and Husband of Temari
Shikamaru Nara from the Naruto series. Current assistant to the 7th Hokage and Husband of Temari

When we think of Shikamaru, the first thing that comes to mind is his famous quote: “very problematic.” Let’s be honest: this guy was exceedingly lazy, or so he hoped about his life. Initially introduced as Naruto’s friend who preferred to laze around, he has since become one of Naruto’s busiest characters (somewhat ironic for him, isn’t it?). 

Shikamaru is a prodigy with an IQ of more than 200. As a result, his most significant strength is his thinking abilities rather than his Shadow techniques. His intelligence and strategy have aided him and his companion on several occasions. Typically, it assisted him in his lone combat against Hidan.

Shikamaru’s altercations were entertaining, from his peculiar bout with Temari during the Chunin Exams to his emotional arguments with the Akatsuki’s Hidan. His ability to lead his allies and win with logic made him one of the top 10 best Naruto side characters.

Some Naruto side characters are likable because they are easy to remember. Some Naruto side characters are so powerful or use dialogue that you remember for the rest of your life or slide down to the point of indifference.

Nonetheless, a clear statement suggests that some characters stand out more than others. It might be due to their attractiveness or intelligence, but it’s primarily because of their talents in an anime like this.

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