Naruto has had many great arcs in its 15-year span. We have to thank Masashi Kishimoto for making us fall in love with this amazing story. It has almost everything. A variety of great characters, great fight scenes, a great plot, and more.
Each arc plays an important part in this wonderfully crafted story from Masashi Kishimoto.
Every arc in Naruto and Naruto Shippuden enhances the story in their way. Which is why it is extremely tough to rank these arcs appropriately. It feels like you can replace all of the Naruto arcs with one another, and still have a great list.
Certain factors present a role in the criteria we use to rank all the Naruto arcs. For example, iconic moments, character development, and fight scenes.
You will find a total of 18 arcs, only including the Naruto and Naruto Shippuden arcs.
The Naruto filler arcs and non-canon arcs are excluded from this list.
What is your favorite Naruto arc that you’ve watched, and why?
18. Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission [Naruto Shippuden]
Starting with the Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission at #18. Even though this arc ranks in last place, the events that took place are worth mentioning. For instance, Naruto‘s rage against Orochimaru causes him to go berserk, and turn into a four-tailed fox state.
The Naruto vs Orochimaru fight is surely one of the highlights of this arc. The second highlight during this arc happens when Naruto meets Sasuke again after the time skip. The story of Naruto Shippuden comes after the 2,5-year time skip in Naruto.
Danzō works his way behind the scenes
During the Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission, Danzō works behind the scenes to create more conflict. Danzō gives Sai multiple secret missions to complete. One of them was meeting with Orochimaru to discuss a second attack on Konoha. In addition to that, Danzō also orders Sai to kill Sasuke as he was considered a threat to Konoha.
Forgettable moments during this Naruto Shippuden Arc
Despite all the events during this Naruto arc, the Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission still didn’t deliver quite enough to put it above the other arcs. Some moments were quite insignificant, the start of Shippuden started differently than Naruto fans had hoped for.
Most of the events during this arc were just a setup for Naruto and Sasuke to meet again. But on the other hand, this didn’t impact the story in any big way. Although the reunion of Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura was something nice to experience after all those years.
17. Itachi Pursuit Mission [Naruto Shippuden]
The Itachi Pursuit Mission is another Naruto Shippuden arc with great anime moments. You get to see the progress of Sasuke’s training, as he takes on formidable opponents.
For instance, the Sasuke vs Orochimaru fight, and the Sasuke vs Deidara fight. These two fights are surely one of the best moments during this storyline, getting Naruto fans on the edge of their seat to witness these compelling battles.
The Itachi Pursuit Mission arc in Naruto Shippuden also focuses a lot on Sasuke. His group Hebi/Taka consists of Sasuke, Jugo, Suigetsu, and Karin.
The biggest shocking moment during this Naruto Shippuden arc is the death of Orochimaru. Further, we see Itachi planting a crow with Shisui’s Sharingan inside Naruto. And lastly, the death of Deidara, and the creation of Hebi/Taka.
Great Naruto villains have gone too soon
During the Itachi Pursuit Mission arc, certain moments with Naruto villains like Orochimaru and Deidara were a bit ” underwhelming”. The first fight happens between Sasuke and Orochimaru, which results in Sasuke being the victor of their battle.
The issue with this Naruto arc is that many moments feel a bit less exciting than expected. For example, Orochimaru’s death. As Orochimaru is one of the main Naruto villains of the story, he was eliminated in a very disappointing way.
Orochimaru was nearly a perfect villain, not necessarily because he was the most powerful. But Orochimaru was unpredictable, scary, devious, and always poses a threat. Everything immediately becomes more interesting when he appears.
The Akatsuki become the new villains
However, the main focus is on the Akatsuki now being the main antagonists of the ongoing story. Unfortunately, the Akatsuki lost an important member of the group after the Deidara vs Sasuke fight. The outcome of their battle is something Naruto fans still speculate about.
The elimination of the Akatsuki happens before the Fourth Shinobi World War. It would’ve been a sight to see during the war if the whole Akatsuki group was alive. You can only imagine the epic fights, moments, and extra tension during the 4th Shinobi World War.
16. Fourth Shinobi World War: Confrontation [Naruto Shippuden]
This Naruto Shippuden arc has all the right elements to create an experience that is phenomenal and epic. The shinobi world is at war and you finally see all the reanimated shinobi in action. Secondly, we’re all waiting for Naruto to enter the battlefield so we get to witness the upcoming exciting events.
Unfortunately, most of the fights in this Naruto arc are forgettable and rushed and it lacks suspense as a whole. For example. you get to see so many amazing Naruto characters back in action like Nagato, Itachi, Gaara, and the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist.
However, it feels as if these amazing moments are just something that needs to happen as quickly as possible for the storyline. When you have so many amazing characters fight and interact with one another, you expect a lot from it.
Missed opportunities during this Naruto Shippuden arc
The war becomes a lot more interesting due to the reanimation of popular Naruto characters such as Zabuza and the Third Raikage. The reanimations present a perfect opportunity to show the deep-rooted hatred between shinobi from other Hidden Villages. This hatred that exists between shinobi is due to decades of war and conflict.
The reason why Madara and Obito start the war in the first place. A small incident between fellow shinobi could deal a huge blow to the Allied Shinobi Forces.
Maybe mistrust, or one crazy ninja taking revenge on a shinobi of another village for something that happened years ago. None of this happens though, and everything works out perfectly for the 5 nations.
These reanimated shinobi make a big impact on certain individuals. For example. Shikamaru meets Asuma, Kakashi meets Zabuza and Haku, and so on. Two very interesting moments occur when the previous Kage gets reincarnated. Secondly, Itachi frees himself from the Edo Tensei seal and takes on Nagato with Naruto and Killer B.
15. Search for Tsunade [Naruto]
The Naruto arcs proceed to emphasize the danger of their villain in Orochimaru. A powerful villain is needed for any story to be suspenseful, and at this point, the main villain in Orochimaru was drastically weakened. Orochimaru lost his ability to perform jutsu and was in constant pain after his battle with the Third Hokage Hiruzen Sarutobi.
This is why we are introduced to a new antagonist in this arc: the Akatsuki. Naruto arcs are necessary for anyone to have a better understanding of the upcoming events in Naruto Shippuden.
Sasuke is still no match for Itachi
The appearance of Kisame and Itachi in Konoha transitions the story and prepares us for the events of Naruto Shippuden. It makes us realize there are more dangerous people than Orochimaru in the Naruto universe.
You also realize how big the gap between Sasuke and Itachi still is, and why the decision to leave Konoha would make sense in Sasuke’s eyes. During the brief battle between Sasuke and Itachi, Itachi shows Sasuke that he is still far too weak for him.
In hindsight, Itachi coming back to Konoha is a lot more impactful than we initially thought, as he was not only warning Danzō but also revealing Akatsuki’s plans to the village.
The Battle of the Sannin was interesting
The Battle of the Sannin was good, but not great. All 3 of Orochimaru, Tsunade, and Jiraya were badly injured and none of them was able to go all out.
Naruto fans did see an exciting moment with one of Naruto’s best Rasengan moments when he finishes off Kabuto. Tsunade became the Fifth Hokage of Konoha shortly after this fight.
Tsunade becoming the Fifth Hokage is something that needs to happen for the Hidden Leaf Village. Overall, this was a good Naruto arc, but just not enough to put it higher on the list.
To clarify, the tension during this Naruto arc was not on a high scale all the time. But on the other hand, the arc still provides several entertaining moments that some Naruto fans still remember to this day.
14. Kazekage Rescue Mission [Naruto Shippuden]
This Naruto arc is a reason that many Naruto haters who dislike Sakura become Naruto fans. Many Sakura haters have to admit that her fight with Sasori was something amazing to watch, even though she received the help of Chiyo. But it isn’t only just the Sakura vs Sasori fight that makes this a good Naruto Shippuden arc.
This arc delivers many fights between Konoha and the Akatsuki. For instance, Naruto and Kakashi vs. Deidara and Chiyo and Sakura vs. Sasori. When two formidable foes clash in an anime, then you have to be excited about what the outcome will be
The story introduces you to more members of the Akatsuki and you get to understand how dangerous they are.
But we also know that this is only the beginning of more interesting events.
Waste of a great Akatsuki character
The Sasuke vs Sasori fight did not disappoint at all, as this fight is one of the best moments of the Kazekage Rescue Mission arc!
However, it is still a disappointing sight to see when Sasori, a very popular Akatsuki member loses his life so early in the story. Admittedly, the outcome of this fight fits perfectly with how Sasori wants things to end.
However, great villains make the story more interesting, and Sasori possesses the right elements to be a great villain. His intelligence, power, demeanor, and capability to be evil is necessary for being an excellent villain.
Not only that, but Sasori’s personality keeps you more curious about his actions.
13. Kaguya Otsutsuki Strikes [Naruto Shippuden]
This arc has a bittersweet taste to it. Kaguya Otsutsuki appears after the defeat of Madara, and she immediately showcases the incredible power she possesses. Team 7 and Obito have a really hard time fighting against this god, it seems almost impossible to defeat a creature like Kaguya!
For example, Kaguya Otsutsuki possesses the abilities to create force fields, cast Infinite Tsukiyomi, interstellar travel, and much more! Kaguya Otsutsuki also possesses The Three Great Dojutsus of the eyes.
The sad part about this Naruto Shippuden arc is that Madaras’s role as a villain comes to an end with the revival of Kaguya Otsutsuki. Some naruto fans would like to see the downfall of Madara in this arc in a different way.
For instance, if the combined forces of Team 7, Kakashi, and Obito were the reason for Madara‘s defeat, then some Naruto fans would be more satisfied.
The epic final battle between Naruto and Sasuke
The biggest highlight of this Naruto arc was arguably the best fight of the entire Naruto series: the final battle between Naruto and Sasuke. The fight in this arc saves the series’ ending in such a phenomenal way. This Naruto fight had you hooked from beginning to end.
In addition, the final battle between Naruo and Sasuke displays their perfect way to settle the years of conflict between the two. The final battle between Naruto and Sasuke has so much history and emotional buildup to it.
Naruto unintentionally increases the hatred Sasuke has towards him, which resulted in Sasuke having more motivation to kill Naruto than ever.
And on the other hand, the reason that Naruto is so deeply motivated about bringing Sasuke back to the Hidden Leaf Village is that Naruto can relate to Sasuke like no other.
Naruto and Sasuke go through similar types of loneliness, and they both know what it’s like to lose someone you deeply love and care about. These two Naruto characters share a brother-type bond, they truly care about each other.
12. Five Kage Summit [Naruto Shippuden]
This arc is of the most underrated Naruto Shippuden arcs of the series. So many conflicts happen during the Five Kage Summit in a short period. Secondly, the pacing of this arc isn’t rushed at all so you experience all the moments even better. The tension in the world gets even bigger and bigger during this moment in time.
You experience many fights with different Naruto characters that get you thrilled about the upcoming events. Many moments during Naruto Shippuden cause you to keep wanting to experience more. And this arc in Naruto Shippuden intensifies this feeling.
Tensions rising between the Five Kage, Taka, and others
The Hidden Villages conflicted after Sasuke attacks Killer B, and Danzō’s use of Kotoamatsukami during the Five Kage Summit creates even more tension. Secondly, there’s the attack of Taka on the Five Kage, and Tobi/Obito declaring war on the world.
There is also a fight happening between Kisame and Killer B, and a battle between Sasuke and Danzō. In short, you’re going to remain on the edge of your seat when watching all this action.
All these events showcase Kage’s abilities and personalities in a way that flows naturally within the story.
The story didn’t ‘pause’ to introduce all these new characters. The outcome of Kisame vs Killer B and Sasuke vs Danzō fights is an event that Naruto fans still speculate about.
11. Konoha Crush [Naruto]
Konoha lose their Hokage
Naruto arcs each have their amazing moments, fights, and story, but some have more impact than others. This Naruto arc highlights one of the most memorable fights between non-main characters: Hiruzen (the Third Hokage) vs Orochimaru.
To clarify, this particular moment in Naruto shows a fight with a lot of tension, and the Konoha Crush arc also provides more memorable moments. Secondly, the battle between Orochimaru and Hiruzen shows lots of drama and action.
This battle portrays the bond between a former student and their former sensei.
This Naruto arc shows that even powerful characters can lose their lives and that safety for everyone is not guaranteed. The Konoha Crush arc displays the reality that there are formidable foes who can defeat the powerful shinobi of Konoha.
Another underrated Naruto fight takes place between Naruto and Gaara.
This fight aids in Gaara‘s character development from a feared shinobi into a ‘good guy’. This fight eventually enables Gaara to become the Kazekage in the future.
10. Land of Waves [Naruto]
Land of Waves is the very first arc of the Naruto series. This Naruto arc introduces you to their characters and the world of Naruto.
You also learn about the dangers of life as a shinobi, and that the world is filled with people who are willing to do evil. Secondly, after Team 7 introduce themselves and their motivations, they encounter the main antagonists of the arc: Zabuza and Haku.
These characters are perfect examples of what villains are in Naruto. Naruto villains are very dangerous but rarely pure evil, they’re rather a victim of their circumstances. A victim of a cursed shinobi world. This results in shinobi taking extreme measures to accomplish their goal.
Zabuza and Haku are the beginning of a long story
Naruto arcs each have their events and iconic moments that are a perfect set-up for the rest of the series. The Land of Waves arc does just that, which is why many Naruto fans still regard it as one of the best parts of the story. For example, the family-like relationship of Team 7 and the brotherhood between Naruto and Sasuke are directly caused by this mission.
This arc beautifully portrays how some Naruto antagonists view the shinobi world, and how they deal with it. Zabuza and Haku share different motivations for their actions, but they respect and care about each other deeply.
For example. Zabuza believes that shinobi are used as pawns for their countries and villages, while shinobi are equal to any other human being.
Secondly, Haku shows he isn’t an evil person at heart when he expresses his disinterest in harming other people. This is part of the reason why the Land of Waves arc will always be one of the most important Naruto arcs of the story.
9. Akatsuki Suppression Mission [Naruto Shippuden]
The Akatsuki Suppression Mission is a beautifully written arc with epic fight scenes and great drama. Secondly, two amazing villains in Hidan and Kakuzu enhance each other’s presence when together.
These Akatsuki members face the Hidden Leaf Team 10 which consists of Asuma, Ino, Chōji, and Shikamaru. Team Kakashi later joins this battle and they help Team 10 with their fight against Kakuzu and Hidan.
This arc is filled with many surprising moments, as we see only the second death of a formidable Konoha character on-screen. Naruto arcs each have their excellence, but this arc also hits hard emotionally.
The death of Asuma makes you tear up from grief instantly, truly one of the saddest moments in Naruto Shippuden. The fight of no-Shika-Cho against the Akatsuki has so much more meaning to it after this moment.
Great Naruto Shippuden fight scene between Konoha and the Akatsuki
The fight between Team 10, Kakuzu, and Hidan happens very fluidly, with an excellent combination of taijutsu, ninjutsu, and strategy. Shikamaru’s revenge on Hidan remains one of the most bad-ass moments of the whole Naruto series. Naruto uses his new move in his fight against Kakuzu: the Rasenshuriken.
However, one thing you can argue about is how the death of Kakuzu happened. But story-wise it fits may be better to have either Ino-Shika-Cho or Kakashi finish off Kakuzu instead of Naruto.
8. Fourth Shinobi World War: Countdown [Naruto Shippuden]
An underrated masterpiece of Naruto Shippuden
Most of the events of this Naruto Shippuden arc are slightly forgotten by most fans. But when you think back to them you realize how good of an arc this was. Two amazing, underrated fights happened in this arc. Guy vs Kisame and Obito vs Konan. The best part about these fights is that these characters have a history with each other.
So this gives the fight a new dimension that other fights don’t have. We also know all these Naruto characters well, so much to the point that we don’t want them to die despite them being villains.
The countdown presents many amazing moments in Naruto Shippuden
The war gets closer and closer, Naruto is busy controlling his Nine-Tails chakra while Kabuto reveals his army of Edo Tensei zombies. Team 7 Reunites again and Naruto and Sasuke exchange words and fists.
Meanwhile, Kabuto makes his return and allies with Tobi. A very emotional moment happens when Naruto meets his mother Kushina for the first time.
To clarify, this moment happens when Naruto fights against the Nine-Tails. Some final preparations are placed by Kabuto to find the tailed beasts, as he sends Deidara out to search. In conclusion, a lot is happening and the upcoming war is becoming more surreal now.
7. Birth of the Ten-Tails’ Jinchuriki [Naruto Shippuden]
Some of the most iconic moments in Naruto Shippuden history
A large part of the most memorable moments of the final part of the series took place in this arc. Kurama in Susanoo armor. Madara gets revived, Madara nearly kills Sasuke and Naruto, and Madara becomes a Jinchūriki. Secondly, Guy vs Madara, Sasuke, and Naruto gets new powers from the Sage of Six Paths. There are simply too many iconic moments in this Naruto arc for it not to be high on the list.
The one thing you can argue about is that there are too many things going on without a clear direction.
This arc could have been better-paced. But there are just too many things that Kishimoto wants to show us and they all have to fit in this part of the story.
6. Fourth Shinobi World War: Climax [Naruto Shippuden]
Madara appears for the first time
Madara’s epic entrance to the battlefield alone earns this arc a spot in the top 10. You hear all types of stories and myths about him for the entirety of the series. Above all, mentioning his name still struck fear in every ninja even decades after his ‘death’.
The moment he entered the battlefield is when you understood why.
The difference between him and every other ninja was so large that it seems impossible to beat him, and perhaps it was impossible.
The reveal of the man behind the mask
Another iconic moment in this arc is the reveal of the man behind the mask, and one of the best fights of the series in Obito vs Kakashi. We also see Itachi appear on screen again, battling both Nagato and Kabuto as the only person who broke free of Edo Tensei.
The other shinobi to do that is Madara. Itachi expresses his real feelings towards Sasuke when he breaks free of the Edo Tensei.
The only ‘negative’ part about this Naruto Shippuden arc is that there are several slow-paced moments in between these iconic moments.
5. Sasuke Recovery Mission [Naruto]
A classic Naruto arc you appreciate deeply
The Sasuke Recovery Mission arc will always be a classic for many different reasons. The previous Naruto arcs before this moment help you better understand the events. We see Sasuke slowly slipping into darkness as Naruto is desperately trying to pull him back.
We see the Will of Fire manifesting in Shikamaru, Kiba, Neji, and Chōji. More importantly, they are willing to give their lives to bring back a comrade.
Each fight in this arc is as iconic as they come and is still the reason these characters are so beloved by Naruto fans. However, these characters do not get as much screen time later in the series.
This Naruto arc also highlights the depth of Sasuke’s hatred and desire to avenge his massacred clan. It’s the theme of the entire show, love turns into hate, and this hatred can be stronger than the bond with your loved ones.
4. Tales of Jiraiya the Gallant [ Naruto Shippuden]
The perfect character arc in Naruto Shippuden
This is a rather short arc, and it doesn’t focus on as many characters as other arcs on this list. However, it is still a perfect arc to tell the story of the man who died a gallant.
Everything about Jiraiya’s character comes back in this arc. We didn’t just see his backstory, we saw how it still influences every decision he makes today.
The previous Naruto arcs didn’t emphasize the bond between Jiraiya and Naruto. But, we see why it was so important to him to take Naruto under his wing. Everything he has ever told Naruto becomes so much more meaningful after seeing this arc.
Sometimes life doesn’t forgive you for your mistakes, as was the case with Jiraiya.
One of his mistakes comes back to haunt him during this arc. It was both beautiful and heartbreaking to see Jiraiya being confronted by his past and ultimately being killed by his former student.
What we did learn though, is that no matter how many mistakes we make, we can still choose to never give up and have a positive impact on the world. Which is what Jiraiya did. His final student turned out to be the true Child of Prophecy.
3. Fated Battle Between Brothers [Naruto Shippuden]
The hero who sacrificed it all
Itachi has always been mysterious and intriguing to the audience, especially up until this point. But he was also extremely menacing and interesting. It felt like we hadn’t even seen half of Itachi’s abilities, and yet characters like Kakashi and Orochimaru were already defeated.
All while not knowing anything about Itachi’s motivations and interests.
What could lead a character who seems so calm and kind to do such a horrific act, and how could Sasuke possibly beat him? These questions create a different type of suspense, all while Sasuke’s life is in danger.
The relationship between Sasuke and Itachi is one of the best in the series for certain, and it beautifully concluded this arc.
How could a big brother do this? Will Sasuke finally get his revenge? Will he come back to Konoha? In the end, we learn the truth, and the dark side of Konoha was revealed.
2. Chunin Exams [Naruto]
Out of all the Naruto arcs, the Chunin Exams is the first arc where we see characters like Naruto, Sasuke, Gaara, and Neji. Lee and Sakura fight one another. Shinobi like Gaara and Neji are willing to kill their opponent if necessary.
The Chunin Exams consist of shinobi from various villages who participate without their sensei. A tournament is a great way to create hype and make epic fights possible with different characters.
These shinobi enter an environment where their sensei couldn’t save them if necessary. Some of the most epic Naruto fights ever happen during the Chunin Exams arc. Rock lee vs Gaara is still one of the most epic moments in Naruto history.
But it isn’t quite as safe as you might think, because Orochimaru also partakes in the tournament.
Above all, you see in this arc why Orochimaru is still one of the most intimidating Naruto villains of the story.
Iconic Naruto fight scenes
The Chunin Exams Arc also has some of the best fights of the entire series in Neji vs Naruto, Sasuke vs Gaara, and our personal favorite Rock Lee vs Gaara.
Even with all the epic fights happening after this arc, the fights in this arc remain one of the most memorable in Naruto. We will always remember every detail of these fights, no matter how long ago they happened.
Orochimaru being an iconic villain
Another underrated part that differentiates this arc from other Naruto arcs is Orochimaru taking more interest in Sasuke. Orochimaru’s presence in this part of the story created so much stress for the viewer.
And him setting his eyes on one of our favorite characters in Sasuke created a lot of suspense. Not only because of Orochimaru but also because we know and see that Sasuke had a dark side to him.
1. Pain’s Assault [Naruto Shippuden]
The perfect villain for Naruto
The story could end with the Pain’s Assault arc and it could be a good and satisfying ending. Pain was the ultimate villain. Powerful, had a strong resolve, and challenged Naruto in a way he was never before. Not just physically, but mentally as well.
Because what does true peace mean, and can we ever achieve it? Naruto had to challenge his naive way of thinking if he wants to bring peace to the shinobi world.
No one in Konoha was safe, no one really stood a chance, and there was no one to save the village anymore. It was time for Naruto to stand up, to avenge his sensei, his teacher, and his friends. It was time for him to finally be acknowledged by his village.