Shikamaru is considered to be one of the smartest battle tacticians in the Naruto series. He was personally called by Tsunade on occasions that endangered the village. That being said, he hasn’t been in many battles on his own since he works best when he’s in a team.
His fighting style is such that he requires distractions for him to use his shadow possession effectively. But, given enough time for preparation, he is capable of fighting in 1v1 situations.
Note: this list reflects the opinions of the writer and is in no particular order. The list deals with characters and their abilities showcased in Naruto and Naruto Shippuden only.
5 Characters in the Naruto universe that Shikamaru can beat
Shikamaru and Ino have been on several missions in Naruto. Therefore, Shikamaru knows every single move in her arsenal and if given the time to prepare, he could definitely devise strategies to counter some of her strongest jutsus.
Shikamaru will do everything he can to avoid Ino’s Mind Body Switch technique. The match will be decided the moment Shikamaru uses his Shadow Possession jutsu.
Choji isn’t the smartest fighter in the Naruto series. That being said, his raw strength is far superior compared to Shikamaru. Choji’s fighting style puts him at a disadvantage since he makes himself bigger in size.
Since that’s the case, the size of the shadow too increases allowing Shikamaru to use his clan’s Shadow Imitation Jutsu.
Kiba’s gung ho fighting style could prove to be a bit of a problem against someone like Shikamaru. Shikamaru has enough endurance to tank some of Kiba’s attacks. Meanwhile, he would be able to devise a strategy that would allow him to use Shadow Possession Jutsu.
Shikamaru’s ability to think during pinch situations is unmatched and would be able to restrain Kiba without a problem.
He was a former instructor in Konohagakure who used Naruto to steal a forbidden scroll. Shikamaru is someone who is far smarter and stronger compared to this character. With adequate time for preparation he could take him on and beat him easily.
This villain lost to Genin Naruto who is far weaker compared to Shikamaru, towards the end of Shippuden.
5) Iruka Sensei
Shikamaru is way smarter than Iruka. Comparing their ability to think during battles, Shikamaru’s strategies will be far superior. Both Shikamaru and Iruka aren’t the best when it comes to taking one-on-one fights but Shikamaru’s Shadow Possession Jutsu will play an important role in this match up.
If Iruka is unable to avoid his shadow possession, there is no way he can counter and win against Shikamaru.
5 Characters that will be able to overpower Shikamaru
Given Shikamaru’s fighting style, he is someone that strategizes every move before executing it. He is clearly the smarter one in this fight.
However, Naruto's exceptionally large chakra reserves allow him to perform some of the most advanced and destructive ninjutsus that Shikamaru cannot handle. Even if things go sideways for the Nine Tailed Jinchuriki, he can switch to Sage Mode and beat Shikamaru in an instant.
There are a lot of variables to factor in when comparing two characters for a fight. Shikamaru’s jutsu depends on the existence of nearby objects and light sources such that he can see the shadow of his enemies. Only then will his Shadow Possession work.
Otherwise, he doesn’t stand a chance against the likes of Sasuke who is smart, extremely fast and is someone who wields the Sharingan. Given Sasuke’s knowledge of some impressive jutsus like Chidori and his powerful Doujutsu, he could easily beat Shikamaru.
3) Might Guy
Given Shikamaru’s fighting style in the Naruto series, he would struggle a lot against someone like Might Guy. Shikamaru is someone who relies on ranged attacks. Might Guy is someone who is more than capable of keeping a close range while fighting Shikamaru since he is a Taijutsu specialist.
Might Guy can easily beat Shikamaru, and even if the battle extends for a longer period of time, Might Guy can finish the battle in an instant by opening a few inner gates.
4) Itachi Uchiha
Itachi Uchiha might not be as smart as Shikamaru, but he is not far behind when it comes to battle intelligence. His Genjutsu is extremely potent and the Sharingan can be quite troublesome.
This is a character who had the wisdom of a Kage at the age of seven. His fire release can cause massive damage and things would get quite complicated for Shikamaru if he fell for Itachi’s Tsukuyomi.
5) Madara Uchiha
Madara Uchiha in Naruto is a cut above the rest. His physical abilities, knowledge of jutsu, chakra reserve and overall combat abilities are far superior to Shikamaru.
While Shikamaru is extremely smart, he would have to use every ounce of his resources in keeping up with Madara. Even that would be futile, such is the difference in skill levels.