Naruto is considered one of the most popular anime and manga series in the world. We all have a special memory attached to the series. Released in the year 2002, the anime series continued till 2017 and became the most popular in the world.
The series is versatile, to say the least, with its variety of characters, clans of shinobi, plots twists, backstories, tragedies, and so on. The concept of heroes and villains in the series was way different than others. Even though there were characters who always made the wrong decisions, their ultimate goal was never truly evil.
In a world led by war and hatred, there were several people who were hanging in the balance of good and evil. The concept of anti-heroes is nothing new in anime, and Naruto is no exception. They are the characters we can't help but love even if they lack the conventional heroic attributes.
What makes those characters special are the redeeming qualities that make the viewers root for them, despite having many flaws. Sure, we love watching characters like Luffy and Goku who always remind us to be positive. But its characters like Vegeta and Light Yagami add real thrill to the series. Here, we will discuss the 5 most tragic anti-heroes in the Naruto franchise.
Zabuza was the first antagonist in the naruto series. He was a rogue ninja from the Hidden Mist Village and one of the seven ninja swordsmen. Being raised as an assassin, he was forced to witness the brutalities of the world from an early age. Zabuza grew up in an academy like a normal shinobi surrounded by normal people.
However, there was a twisted rule in the academy before graduation. The students had o involuntarily engage themselves in a battle of death with each other. Zabuza ultimately came out at the top but betrayed the village soon after. He took in the orphan boy named Haku and used him for his benefit.
After Haku's death, he realized just how much he cared for the boy. He charged towards the angry mob of villagers who disrespected Haku's body. Zabuza willingly challenged them knowing that he won't be able to make it out of there alive since he wished to go to the same place Haku went.
2. Kurama (Nine-Tailed Beast)
Born from a fraction of the powers of the legendary ten-tailed beast, Kurama lived for over a millennium. His entire life, the only human who had ever shown kindness to him was the Sage of the Six Paths.
After the latter's death, Kurama's life simply fell apart. Humans viewed him as a monster and then a weapon. Chained, manipulated, forced, and used, Kurama was made to do all kinds of terrible things for the sake of others. He was then blamed and hated for those acts.
Kurama was viewed as a major villain for the most part of the series. It wasn't until the Fourth Great Shinobi War started that the truth of Kurama's life was brought to light. His sufferings led him to resent humans so much, that he became the "embodiment of hatred". Fortunately, Naruto saved him from his despair and the two ended being friends fighting side by side like partners.
3. Sasuke Uchiha
The supposedly sole survivor of the Uchiha clan didn't have it easy either. Sasuke is one character in the entire series that makes the fans feel conflicted. They can't help but admire him for his strength despite the misfortunes he faced. However, they also feel a bit of resentment towards him for all the stupid things he did.
Nonetheless, Sasuke is one of the coolest characters in the series, with powers second only to Naruto. First, he wanted to kill his older brother and take revenge for the massacre of his clan. However, after Itachi's death, he found out the truth about him and swore to destroy the village to take revenge for his brother's sufferings.
After the entire series of being obsessed with revenge, he finally came to his senses during his final battle with Naruto. After that, he vowed to atone for his sins by protecting the village from the shadows like Itachi.
4. Itachi Uchiha
Clan Killer Itachi or the village's betrayer, Itachi went by many such horrible names. Itachi lived half of his life as a prodigy in the village and the rest half as a traitor. He was the youngest Anbu captain in the history of Konoha. Being the eldest son of the Uchiha clan chief, Itachi had more responsibilities and burdens than he could carry.
Like Kurama, he was also introduced as a villain and highly misunderstood by others until the truth came out. The plan of rebellion by the Uchihas was a matter of great concern by the village elders. As the Third Hokage stood by from the sidelines, Danzo came up with his own way to protect the village.
He forced Itachi to massacre his entire clan in exchange for saving Sasuke's life. Faced with such a threat, Itachi did as told and fled the village. He soon joined the Akatsuki and acted as a spy for Konoha.
5. Nagato Uzumaki
Everyone deals with pain differently. Some face pain with a smile on their faces and fight against it. While others come to embody it as if it's the driving force of their lives. Nagato fell into the second category, so much so that he started going by the alias "Pain".
Even though he was a directed descendant of the Uzumaki clan, his parents weren't Shinobi. However, his family was still caught up in the war between Shinobi villages, ultimately leading to the death of his parents. He grew up under the guidance of Jiraya along with his two friends Yahiko and Konan, who were also war orphans.
After Jiraya left, the three friends formed a group called Akatsuki, led by Yahiko. They envisioned a peaceful Hidden Rain Village and formed allies until Yahiko was forced to take his own life. After that, Nagato was manipulated by Obito under the guise of Madara until Akatsuki became a terrorist organization as we know it.
Even though Nagato committed all sorts of crimes, his intentions were noble. Also, as Pain, he did everything he could to help the Rain Village's poor conditions. Nagato repented his mistakes after his talk with Naruto and revived the people he killed in Konoha with Rinne Rebirth Jutsu and sacrificed his life.