One of the most popular shonen anime of all time, Naruto, has shown its viewers an amazing display of the connection between a student and their master. Right from the beginning of the series, the characters in Naruto rightly show how the students of today carry forward the will and power of their masters.
A student surpassing their master’s abilities is quite a feat and in fact, necessary for the progress of many characters in the series.
In this respect, Naruto has rightly become a fan favorite, since the story does not focus on the journey of the main protagonist alone. Every character, no matter how small, has their own journey, and the anime does great in telling each of their story and struggles.
Every shinobi in the universe has gone through rigorous training in their bid to achieve strength and level up. In this article, we will look at five students in the Naruto anime who have managed to surpass their masters, along with five others who never could.
Disclaimer: Sportskeeda does not claim ownership of any of the media used in this article, and the rankings and characters reflect the subjective views of the writer.
5 students in Naruto who were able to surpass their masters
Gaara is one of the strongest shinobi from the hidden village of the Land of Wind. Despite losing the one-tailed Shukaku sealed inside him, he has displayed amazing feats of power throughout the series.
It is not surprising that the boy who managed to become the Kazekage when he was just a teenager easily managed to surpass his master, Baki.
While not much of Baki's strength and abilities have been on display in Naruto, he is definitely strong enough to have trained the team of Gaara, Temari and Kankuro. He was also responsible for keeping Gaara in check during his childhood days when the latter did not have control over his tailed-beast, and was the one who put an end to the life of Hayate Gekko.
Despite his reputation for being a lazy slacker, Shikamaru Nara is undoubtedly one of the smartest shinobis the fans get to see in the anime. Not only does he possess an extremely high intellect, through his Shadow Imitation technique, Nara can fuse his own shadow with his opponent and make them mimic anything he does.
Shikamaru's master Asuma regarded him as a prodigy right from the beginning of the series. Without a doubt, if not for his master, Shikamaru would not have realized his true potential. However, since Asuma's powers focus hugely on close range hand-to-hand combat, Shikamaru's strength easily surpasses that of his master.
His fight against Hidan, the Akatsuki member who killed Asuma, still remains one of the best fights in Naruto: Shippuden.
Nagato, popularly known as Pain, was the leader of the Akatsuki group and a major antagonist in Naruto. Coming from the hidden Village of the Rain, he spent the majority of his childhood training directly under one of the three legendary sanins, Jiraiya.
He was also a member of the Uzumaki clan and was deemed a worthy candidate by Madara Uchiha to receive his Rinnegan
Nagato's power levels easily make him far stronger than his mentor. He was the strongest shinobi in the anime while he was alive, and his feats as 'Pain' easily show why.
The shinobi was not only responsible for killing Jiraiya, but he managed to destroy the entire Konoha village in mere seconds using his Rinnegan abilities. Even when he was reanimated by Kabuto during the Fourth Great Ninja War, he proved to be stronger than both Kyubi Chakra mode Naruto and Killer B.
2) Naruto Uzumaki
Naruto has received training from some of the greatest masters in the anime. Starting with Kakashi Hatake, the main protagonist of the series got to train under the legendary Sanin, Jiraiya, as well. If that was not enough, Naruto further received a lot of guidance from characters like Yamato, Killer B, and the toad sage, Fukasaku.
Without his mentors, Naruto would not have been able to exert control over Kyuubi, and most of his signature powers like Rasengan, Kyuubi Chakra mode, and Sage Mode come from his dedicated training under them.
He has undoubtedly managed to surpass every one of his masters through his dedicated training and his undying motivation to become the Hokage.
1) Sasuke Uchiha
The last survivor of the Uchiha clan, Sasuke, tops the list of students who were able to surpass their masters in Naruto. This is mainly because unlike Naruto, Sasuke exercised his mastery over the skills he was taught under Kakashi and another legendary Sanin, Orochimaru.
During his childhood, he also received guidance from his brother Itachi. Later on, he trained himself under extreme conditions and also developed his proficiency by using the various skills of the Sharingan, and its later evolved forms, all by himself. The child prodigy definitely managed to outdo all expectations and proved to be the only match for Naruto in the entire series.
5 characters who failed in surpassing their masters
5) Rock Lee
Rock Lee was undoubtedly the student holding the greatest potential in his team of surpassing his mentor, Might Guy. Both Lee and Guy are superb users of Taijutsu, capable of going head-to-head against just about anyone.
While both of them have access to the same powers of opening the Eight Gates of Chakra, Lee's mentor was revealed to be the best Taijutsu user in the entire Naruto series. Even Madara Uchiha acknowledged Guy as the strongest shinobi he has fought.
Since it was never revealed if Lee could access the Eighth Inner Gate of Death, Guy remains far stronger than his student.
Orochimaru was one of the Three Legendary Sanins and the primary antagonist before Naruto: Shippuden. During the Konoha Crush arc, Orochimaru fought his teacher, the Third Hokage- Hiruzen Sarutobi. While the former was able to kill his master, Orochimaru's strengths are not on par with his master, who is regarded as the God of Shinobi.
In order to put an end to Hiruzen, Orochimaru had to reanimate both the First and Second Hokage, and he still ended up getting both of his arms sealed by Hiruzen's Reaper Death Seal. If the Third Hokage was still in his prime, he would have definitely managed to put an end to Orochimaru for good, which the Sanin admitted himself.
Konan was one of three orphans, alongside Nagato, who received her training from Jiraiya. Despite being one of the core members of Akatsuki and displaying great skills in her fight against her master, Jiraiya is far stronger than Konan.
This was a fight that did happen in Naruto: Shippuden, and there is a high chance that Jiraiya did not put an end to Konan's life only because of his emotions towards his students.
Kabuto received his knowledge and developed his powers under his master, Orochimaru. Towards the end of the anime, Kabuto became far stronger than how he started off in the series. He even perfected Orochimaru's Imperfect Sage mode and went head-to-head against Itachi and Sasuke.
Most of his abilities come from various experimentations and injections of the DNA of his master into himself. However, Orochimaru has insanely fast regenerative powers and great taijutsu skills, which is why he is regarded as one of the three Legendary Sanins. The master's knowledge and strength still remain far above Kabuto in many ways.
Obito Uchiha was another survivor of the Uchiha clan who was trained by Madara and Zetsu after his apparent death during the Third Great Ninja War. Not only has he exerted control over most of the Tailed Beasts, his ability to use the Mangekyou Sharingan easily puts him on the list of strongest Uchihas.
Despite being able to wield Rinnegan and having access to the cells of Hashirama just like his mentor, Obito still does not come close to the powers of Madara Uchiha. Worst of all, he was torn to shreds, realizing he was nothing more than an instrument in helping Madara achieve his own personal goals.