10 Naruto characters who were mistreated by Masashi Kishimoto

These characters deserved a lot better (Image via Sportskeeda)
These characters deserved a lot better (Image via Sportskeeda)

Masashi Kishimoto did a magnificent job creating a world as vast and unique as Naruto’s. To fill that incredible world, he also created a plethora of amazing characters who are adored by millions of fans around the world. While he did a great job with the development of a large portion of the cast, there are many characters who never received the respect they deserved.

Some characters were completely forgotten and left to rot on the sidelines. Others were doomed by their personalities or for plot convenience. Whatever the reason may be for the disrespect they received, there is no denying that they still deserved better than what they got. This list will talk about ten Naruto characters that Kishimoto failed.

Disclaimer: This article reflects the author’s opinion.

Sai and 9 other Naruto characters who deserved better treatment from Kishimoto

1) Tenten

Tenten was only recognized inside Madara's dream world (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Tenten was only recognized inside Madara's dream world (Image via Studio Pierrot)

Out of all the Naruto characters in existence, no one is as underused and wasted as Tenten. Unlike her teammates, who were accomplished and powerful ninjas from the get-go, Tenten was always considered the weakest of the bunch. Most of the time, she was treated like a failure, someone who could not achieve anything beyond the use of Ninja Tools.

She was irrelevant to the plot, even in moments when the rest of her team got the chance to shine. Adding to the minimal screen time she had on the show, there is no denying that Tenten could have been treated so much better.

2) Ino Yamanaka

Ino, as seen in the show (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Ino, as seen in the show (Image via Studio Pierrot)

Masashi Kishimoto has been criticized plenty of times for the way he writes female characters. Most of the women in Naruto are either meant to be forgotten or used as a means to hype other characters. Sadly, Ino falls into the latter category, as her whole character's development revolves around finding someone to have a crush on.

At first, she was as obsessed with Sasuke as most other girls on the show, which made her put a lot more effort into her appearance than into her training. Later in life, after getting over her crush on Sasuke, she became enamored with Sai, whom she had met moments before developing her crush. Ino could have been so much more, as her family techniques are among the most intriguing in the series.

3) Sai

Sai should have been more than a discount Sasuke (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Sai should have been more than a discount Sasuke (Image via Studio Pierrot)

The time skip that occurred in Naruto brought with it a bunch of changes to the status quo of the series. Naruto was more experienced and less reckless, Sakura was far stronger, and even new members were added to Team 7. One of these members was Sai, whose whole identity revolved around being Sasuke’s replacement.

Sai and Sasuke look almost identical. Their personalities are also similar. However, eventually, Sai got his chance to prove that he was not like Sasuke. He was far more loyal, cared deeply about Naruto, and was an all-around pleasant person to be around.

Despite this, he was once again forgotten after Sasuke returned to Konoha and was relegated to a former member of Team 7.

4) Tsunade Senju

Tsunade as seen in the show (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Tsunade as seen in the show (Image via Studio Pierrot)

Tsunade is one of the three legendary Sanin respected and feared in all the Elemental Nations in Naruto. Despite belonging to this fabled team, Tsunade never became as relevant to the plot as the rest of her team. Jiraiya got his chance to shine at various times in the series, and the same goes for Orochimaru, who would never stay down for long.

On the other hand, Tsunade was almost always defeated when she faced an opponent. Not only that, after returning to Konoha, she was mostly shown filling out paperwork, which meant fans rarely ever saw her outside her office.

5) Kurenai Yuhi

Mastering Genjutsu is one of the hardest tasks any Shinobi in Naruto could achieve. To do this, the ninja in question needs to have great Chakra control, as well as a sharp mind that could overpower the opponent’s. One of the few people to ever obtain the ability to use Genjutsu was the famed Kurenai Yuhi.

No one in Konoha could ever dream of surpassing her skills. However, Kurenai barely ever used her powers and was defeated every time she did. In the end, Kishimoto decided to give her a daughter, completely taking her out of the story.

6) Neji Hyuga

Neji moments before his death (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Neji moments before his death (Image via Studio Pierrot)

Having a character die to motivate your protagonist is a trope that has been used for centuries. Seeing a friend lose their life can help the hero understand he needs to keep fighting and get stronger in order to prevent more deaths. Neji Hyuga, one of the most talented Shinobi in Konoha, was killed to motivate Naruto during the Fourth Shinobi War.

Neji’s death was not only avoidable but also completely unnecessary. Naruto was already standing on a battlefield riddled with dead allies. That would have been enough to give him the determination he needed to defeat Madara. Instead, Neji was used as a plot device to make Naruto more powerful, which was a complete waste of potential.

7) Karin

Karin was fundamentally Sakura’s replacement on Sasuke’s side of the story. Since she first appeared in the series, she has been completely taken with Sasuke, to the point of almost worshiping the Uchiha. No matter what he would do to her, Karin would stay loyal to him.

Her entire character revolved around the black-haired man, even after being rescued by Konoha’s ninjas. This was extremely disappointing since she could have been an intriguing character to explore further, being one of the last Uzumakis alive.

Instead, she was used as Sasuke's hype-woman once more, only to be left forgotten with the rest of Naruto’s side characters.

8) Shizune

Shizune as seen in the show (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Shizune as seen in the show (Image via Studio Pierrot)

If Tsunade’s treatment in Naruto was bad, her eternal assistant, Shizune, had it worse. Supposedly, Shizune had been trained by Tsunade since she was a teenager because she was destined to become her successor. Despite this, she ended up being nothing more than Tsunade’s babysitter. When Tsunade became Hokage, she became her right hand, which mainly meant telling her about her paperwork.

Tsunade ended up training Sakura instead and influenced her so she could be her successor, completely forgetting about Shizune. In half the time, Sakura became a better successor to Tsunade than Shizune had ever been, even after training with Tsunade for most of her life.

9) Anko Mitarashi

Orochimaru caused the suffering of hundreds of people throughout his quest to obtain power. One of the first individuals affected by the snake Sanin’s actions was his former student, Anko Mitarashi. Anko was determined to get her revenge on Orochimaru one day for using her and cursing her existence.

Later in the series, it seemed like Anko’s quest for revenge was over, as Orochimaru had been killed by Sasuke. Tragically for her, not only did she never get the chance to exact her revenge, she also aided in Orochimaru’s resurrection.

It is hard to see such a powerful woman being used once more by the person who caused her so much pain.

10) Sakura Haruno

Sakura as seen in the show (Image via Studio Pierrot)
Sakura as seen in the show (Image via Studio Pierrot)

Due to her constant appearance on screen, Sakura grew to be not only one of the most underrated Kunoichi but also one of the most hated. Kishimoto created Sakura’s character with the purpose of making her a Sasuke fangirl, something that she was never able to grow out of.

Even after Sasuke tried to kill her and the people she cared the most about, Sakura was still head-over-heels for the boy. This drastically dropped her popularity. Furthermore, she would often neglect everything else for Sasuke’s sake. Sakura could have been a much better character if she had forgotten about her crush at some point in the series.

Final thoughts

Naruto will always be the home of some of the most beloved anime characters in existence. People like Naruto himself, Sasuke, Jiraiya, Itachi, and many others will always be remembered fondly by fans.

Sadly, the development these characters got to see on the show took away the chance for many others to shine. These individuals truly deserved more than they got. Fortunately, these disrespected characters will always have fans to support them.