Naruto, being one of the Big Three in the shounen genre, is one of the most beloved and highly-rated animes of all time. It is a long-running series, boasting over 720 episodes.
The beauty of such a long-running series lies in its world-building. Within the universe exists a wide range of characters with varying personalities and conflicting ideologies. As such, all protagonists are faced with equally interesting foes and opponents.
Many of these characters are unforgettable, making it easy for fans to get attached. Consequently, due to the constant fighting between the righteous and the wrongdoers, death is always lingering around the corner.
The death of a beloved character can be incredibly saddening, but only a few deaths have the power to create a lasting impact.
Therefore, this article will list the 15 most heart-wrenching character deaths in Naruto, from sad to saddest. Read out list of the Saddest Naruto Deaths below:
Table of Contents
- 15. Sasori of the Red Sand
- 14. Yahiko
- 13. Shisui Uchiha
- 12. Rin Nohara
- 11. Nagato Uzumaki
- 10. Hiruzen Sarutobi
- 9. Zabuza Momochi and Haku
- 8. Utakata
- 7. Obito Uchiha
- 5. Asuma Sarutobi
- 4. Minato Namikaze and Kushina Uzumaki
- 3. Neji Hyuga
- 2. Itachi Uchiha
- 1. Jiraiya
15. Sasori of the Red Sand
We start this list with Sasori of the Red Sand.
A major villain in the Naruto world, his usage of puppets was greatly feared throughout the Third Shinobi World War as he turned the sand red with blood, earning him his nickname. He may have been a terrifying opponent, but Sasori was still the first of the Akatsuki to fall in battle.
Sasori’s defeat came at the hands of his grandmother, Chiyo, who taught him everything he knew. In an attempt to handle his loneliness during childhood, Sasori made two puppets that resembled his parents – which Chiyo manipulated into weapons, killing Sasori. Despite being capable of dodging the final blow, Sasori decided that this was the best possible way to die: in his parents’ arms.
Yahiko founded and led the Akatsuki, deeply believing in his comrades and the gang’s original mission. He was also invested in maintaining peace in Amegakure, seeking to improve the conditions of the country. He was so supportive and loyal to his clansmen that he was willing to sacrifice himself to save them.
Orphaned during childhood, Jiraiya took in a young Yahiko and trained him in basic ninjutsu. Passionate about his hometown and his comrades, he worked to become strong enough to protect everyone he loved. His death was incredibly sad as he died an honorable and selfless death.
Hanzo, together with Danzo Shimura, set out to vanquish the Akatsukis’ three leading ninjas. The two launched a plot to trap Nagato in an impossible position: either Konan would be murdered or Yahiko. The choice was Nagato’s. To spare him from having to decide, Yahiko speared himself on Nagato’s kunai. His dying words were to urge Nagato to continue to seek peace.
13. Shisui Uchiha
A shinobi from the Konohagakure’s Uchiha clan, Shisui was considered one of its most powerful members, particularly by Danzo.
Shisui, who had awakened the Mangekyo Sharingan – a rare feat – also possessed the ability to use Kotoamatsukami, the strongest genjutsu after Infinite Tsukuyomi.
Danzo sought to take his eyes. When the two came face-to-face, a foundation member poisoned Shisui to restrict his movements and give Danzo the opening to steal an eye. Soon after, Shisui gave his second eye to Itachi and committed suicide.
This event proved a catalyst for Itachi to activate his Mangekyō Sharingan. None know of his honorable sacrifice and no one even commemorated his death. This, and the fact that some even hate Shisui for being an Uchiha, make his death even sadder.
12. Rin Nohara
A chūnin of Konohagakure and a member of Team Minato, Rin Nohara was forced to become the jinchūriki of the Three Tails Isobu by Kirigakure. This was part of his plot to ruin her village, but her pure heart would eventually thwart it.
During the Third Shinobi World War, Rin was kidnapped and interrogated using genjutsu as to Konoha’s war efforts. Rin’s stubbornness, however, kept her from relinquishing any information.
Fearful that the Third Tail might take over, she asked Kakashi to kill her, which he obviously refused to do. As a last measure, she committed suicide by intercepting Kakashi’s Chidori, which was meant for a Cloud Ninja. She died with her heart impaled, unbeknownst that her love, Obito, was watching the two from afar. In her last moments, she used every bit of strength left to whisper Kakashi’s name one last time, leaving both him and Obito heartbroken.
In the afterlife, Rin would spend her time always watching over Obito and Kakashi.
11. Nagato Uzumaki
Like the aforementioned Yahiko, Nagato was a war orphan who dreamt to bring peace to the war-torn world of shinobi. After Yahiko’s death – which he witnessed firsthand – he adopted the alias of Pain and led a new Ataksuki together with Konan toward that same goal of peace.
Nagato ultimately dies willingly on his own. After killing the sixth Pain, Naruto confronts Nagato, who tries to kill our boy. But by working his Talk-No-Jutsu magic, Naruto makes him realize the true path that Jiraiya sensei wanted them to follow: to create a world where shinobi can live together in peace. Nagato realizes that his way will not bring true peace and he entrusts Naruto with that responsibility instead.
Later, he uses his ability of the Naraka path to bring Kakashi and the rest back to life. However, usage of that ability ages a person quickly, so he dies having drained his body of chakra. It didn’t help that he was built like a stick to begin with.
Seeing an initially good man suffer makes his death heartbreaking.
10. Hiruzen Sarutobi
Hiruzen was the Third Hokage, originally from Konohagakure’s Sarutobi clan. He was part of Team Tobirama alongside Homura Mitokado and Koharu Utatane under the leadership of the Second Hokage. Hiruzen was a natural prodigy as a ninja, being considered a “God of Shinobi.” His talents were apparent at a young age, earning the special attention of the First Hokage and the envy of Shimura Danzo.
Following his adventurous life, he was regarded as the strongest Hokage in Konoha’s history and the most powerful of the Five Kage.
Hiruzen died in the battle between Konoha and Suna forces during the Chunin exam finals. He was pitted against the likes of Orochimaru, the mastermind behind the whole attack. Their fight took place inside a barrier created specifically to cut Hiruzen off from any outside help.
As the battle raged, Orochimaru summoned the First and Second Hokage using Edo Tensei, turning the tides of war in his favor.
Finding it difficult to hold off against three legendary shinobis, Hiruzen realized the only way to finish the battle was to seal off his opponents. So he summoned the Grim Reaper’s soul, the same technique used by Minato to seal the Nine Tails inside Naruto. The repercussion for using this forbidden Jutsu is heavy: The user ultimately has to sacrifice himself.
While he managed to seal some of Orochimaru’s abilities, watching him die at the hands of the one he loved as a son makes for a gut-punch death scene.
9. Zabuza Momochi and Haku
Zabuza and Haku had a master-student relationship that was revealed to akin to a familial bond. Zabuza was a jōnin-level rogue ninja and a former rebel who wanted to overthrow the brutal government in the Hidden Mist. But having failed to do so, he went missing of his own accord.
During his time outside the mist, he found a boy named Haku, who harbored a powerful Jutsu. Zabuza wanted to use this power all for himself, so he took Haku in and cared for him. Haku finally got what he wanted: someone he could love.
During Zabuza’s second fight with Kakashi in Season 1 Episode 18, Haku sacrificed himself by acting as a human shield against Kakashi’s lightning cutter. In his last moments, Zabuza realized how deeply he cared for Haku. After being convinced by Naruto Uzumaki, he sacrifices his life to kill Gatō. He dies wishing he could join Haku in the afterlife.
In preparation for the Fourth Shinobi World War, Haku was reincarnated by Kabuto Yakushi to fight against the Allied Shinobi Forces.
Utakata, jinchuriki of the Six Tails, was a shinobi of the Mist – and a very talented one at that.
He took his last breath in episode 324 of the series, having been bested by the likes of Nagato.
His death isn’t depicted in the screen time of the anime or manga, but his capture by the Akatsuki and his tailed beast’s extraction make for one sorrowful moment.
He loved a woman named Hotaru, whom he saved from bandits and took a liking to. Over time, the two formed a strong bond. Unfortunately, fate had other plans.
As he was about to pass away, Utakata utilized his bubble technique in the hopes that Hotaru would discover the bubble and understand what had happened to him. Many people continue to ponder whether Hotaru even realizes that Utakata is no longer alive, which only adds to the sorrow.
7. Obito Uchiha
Obito Uchiha was a member of Konohagakure‘s Uchiha clan. During one of the routine missions, his group’s opponents turned out to be more than they were capable of handling. Seeing a boulder headed straight for Kakashi, Obito was quick to react and pushed him out of the way, taking the massive stone upon himself and believed to be dead.
With the right side of his body crushed and no way to free himself, Obito accepted his fate and made a final offering: to give Kakashi his left Sharingan as an apology for not getting him a present for his birthday.
In truth, Obito was saved from death and trained by Madara, but the events of the war left Obito disillusioned with reality, and he inherited Madara’s plan to create an ideal world. Resurfacing under the names of Tobi and Madara Uchiha himself, Obito subtly took control of the Akatsuki, using them as a means to advance his machinations. Ultimately, he went public and started the Fourth Shinobi World War.
Toward the war’s conclusion, Obito had a change of heart and, as atonement, sacrificed his life to save the same world he sought to replace.
Konan was an exceptional kunoichi from Amegakure and a founding member of the original Akatsuki. After Yahiko’s death, she was partnered with Nagato, who had since taken control of the Akatsuki. She was the only member to call Nagato by his actual name.
After Nagato’s death, Konan defected from Akatsuki and became the de facto village head of Amegakure. Like her late partner, she was a stern, even-tempered woman. In childhood, she was the most cheerful of the three – Yahiko had an intense attitude and Nagato was sensitive – but as she got older, she became more and more serious due to trauma. She never spoke during the Akatsuki meetings.
She later died at the hands of Obito Uchiha, leaving fans disheartened by such an unfair demise. She could have been a beloved character if given fair screen time.
5. Asuma Sarutobi
Asuma Sarutobi’s death was one of the most unexpected in the series. Asuma was deployed on a mission to capture a pair of Akatsuki members, together with Shikamaru, Hagane, and Kamizuki. As the group came into direct contact with Hidan and his fellows, Asuma decided to take the curse user head-on.
Although with a shinobi as smart as Shikamaru backing him up, Hidan still proved too powerful and managed to pierce Asuma’s heart. As he lay in Shikamaru’s arms, his last words to his students made the death even sadder.
Additionally, he leaves behind a pregnant Kurenai. Asuma breathes his last breath without ever getting to meet his child.
4. Minato Namikaze and Kushina Uzumaki
Minato and Kushina’s deaths are almost too painful to watch.
Best known for being Naruto’s parents, Minato and Kushina were a major part of the Naruto series despite not having much screen time. Even though the two parents died before the actual Naruto timeline, their death scene comes in around episode 249.
Obito had extracted the Nine Tails from within Kushina and attempted to destroy Konoha. Minato, being the Fourth Hokage, had no choice but to seal it inside the only vessel at hand: an infant Naruto.
With heavy hearts, Minato and Kushina sacrificed themselves by getting pierced by the beast’s claw. At the same time, Minato used the reaper death deal to trap Nine Tails inside Naruto.
The two parents were shown talking to their little boy about the life to come and what he’d have to face moving forward. A truly devastating end.
3. Neji Hyuga
Neji was a shinobi of Konohagakure’s Hyūga clan. Though a prodigy even by the Hyūga’s standards, Neji was but a member of the clan’s branch house; meaning no matter how skilled he became, he would always be in service to the Hyūga’s main house; a fact that convinced him his fate was predetermined and unjust.
Neji was a skilled and powerful warrior. But no matter how strong he became, he was a member of the branch house of the Konohagakure‘s Hyūga clan – so he would always have to serve the main house. This seemingly predetermined fate filled Neji with resentment.
Naruto Uzumaki helped him realize he could make his own fate. And as a member of Team Guy, he sought the strength necessary to create the future he wanted for his family and friends. In the end, he sacrifices his life to protect the same person who taught him about the freedom of choice: Naruto.
Neji Hyuga died during the Fourth Great Ninja War in episode 364 of Naruto Shippuden. He protected Naruto and Hinata from enemy attacks by acting as a human shield and succumbed to his injuries like the hero that he was.
2. Itachi Uchiha
Itachi is the older brother of Sasuke Uchiha and was held responsible for killing the entire Uchiha clan in a single night, only sparing his younger sibling. He was an Anbu Captain and a prodigy from the famed clan. During his first appearances, Itachi seems to be working as a terrorist for the Akatsuki organization and serves as Sasuke’s greatest enemy.
Over the years, whenever the two met, he would taunt Sasuke’s weakness and encourage him to become strong enough to kill him.
But none knew the tragic reasons for which he did what he did. None knew of the coup d’etat underway between the Uchiha and the hidden leaf – and that he had to sacrifice the Uchiha clan to prevent a great war from brewing.
Itachi never wanted Sasuke to learn the truth surrounding the Uchihas’ demise, and if he did, Itachi hoped the memory of a hateful brother would cause Sasuke to not believe it.
He dies twice in the show: first at the hands of his brother and then a second time following his reanimation by Kabuto. It is during the second death that he finally opens up to Sasuke, admitting what he did and even sharing a heartfelt moment with his brother.
He apologizes to Sasuke for failing in his responsibilities as an older brother, wondering if being honest with Sasuke from the beginning might have prevented Uchiha’s demise.
A famed ninja with stupendous skills, Jiraiya was also known for his perverse behavior toward women. Despite this, he was a loyal friend who sought knowledge to improve the well-being of their world at large – which he later passed on to his godson, Naruto.
Jiraiya had a good sense of humor, able to poke fun at himself and always up for lighthearted conversation.
Jiraiya took his last breath in episode 133, following his battle with the Akatsuki leader Nagato. The latter unleashed his Six Paths of Pain, which proved too much even for an accomplished ninja like Jiraiya to overcome. During the battle, Nagato’s attacks severed Jiraiya’s arm and crushed his throat before impaling him in the back multiple times with a volley of black chakra rods.
Seeing the great Toad Sage breathe his last was indeed a saddening moment. Witnessing his body slowly fade in that drowning water made for one tear-jerking moment.
No matter if you love or hate Naruto, you have to agree that it is one of the most popular animes ever. As such, the characters have a strong impact on viewers and make moments like the aforementioned ones extremely sad and disheartening.
This concludes our picks of the 15 most saddening Naruto deaths. What do you think about our list? What are your saddest deaths within the Naruto series?