One of the most enjoyable aspects of author and illustrator Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto series is its plethora of villains no matter which section of the story is analyzed. The villain characters are incredibly well-written, especially those who serve as a foil to the series’ titular protagonist.
Conversely, there exist those villains who are forgettable for one reason or another. Whether it’s a matter of them never truly clicking with the Naruto fanbase or being given a chance as a legitimate villain too late, there are some villains who failed to make their mark.
On that note, here are 5 Naruto villains that became anime legends, and 5 more no one remembers.
Pain and 4 other Naruto villains who became anime legends
Thanks to being the series’ introductory villain while also being a great character, Zabuza is one of the most fondly remembered Naruto villains of all time. He’s indeed in great company, along with the likes of Madara, Pain, and other household-name antagonists from the series.
One key factor in attaining this memorability and notoriety was his relationship with comrade Haku, which instantly drew viewers in and endeared them to his character. While a similar effect occurred with audiences’ love for Haku, Zabu no doubt received a majority of the love from fans.
That being said, Haku was far from being disliked by the Naruto audience, with many fans citing him as one of their favorite early series characters. The relationship between Zabuza and Haku may have been one of a tool and its user on the surface, but it was clear that deep down, both cared for each other.
This is especially evident in their final moments after being defeated by Team 7, where Zabuza actually grabs Haku’s hand and expresses happiness and gratitude for having known him. It’s an incredibly touching moment which helps cement them as one of the most legendary Naruto villains of all time.
Without a doubt the most universally recognizable and legendary villain from the Naruto series is Pain. Many fans of the series cite his arcs as some of the best overall in the series, which is certainly a respectable claim. His role in forcing Naruto to transform, which subsequently introduced Minato Namikaze, further cemented him in the minds of fans.
His backstory as Nagato, one of the founders of the original Akatsuki group, only further endeared fans to him, especially once viewing him as an alternate version of Naruto. It’s an incredibly emotional section of the story, which culminates beautifully in a final confrontation that cemented Pain as a legend in the anime community.
Shikamaru Nara’s quest for revenge against Hidan was a high point for many in the Naruto series, cementing Hidan as a legendary villain. The zealot of Jashin was already affixed squarely in fans’ minds upon his initial introduction, but the continuation of his fight against Shikamaru further exacerbated just how much fans liked him.
His unique powers, almost insane personality, and general love of violence naturally drew viewers in, with some even finding themselves rooting for him at one point.
The conclusion of Naruto and his skirmish was the final nail in the coffin which made him one of the series’ most legendary villains.
5) Madara Uchiha
Finally, the real, true Madara Uchiha is no doubt one of the most legendary Naruto villains in the anime community. His appearance in the final stages of the Fourth Shinobi World War marked a turning point for Akatsuki’s forces, as well as a reinvesting of fan interest in the arc.
Fans had long heard of how powerful this god among shinobi was, and his appearance certainly delivered in that regard. He absolutely overwhelmed all the Allied Forces present at the battlefield he first appeared on before easily disposing of the Five Kage. Such an intense debut was only further elevated by later actions, cementing him as an anime legend.
Kabuto Yakushi and 4 other Naruto villains no one remembers
Despite, or perhaps even due to, sharing the stage with Hidan, Kakuzu never felt as memorable of a villain as his partner. His obsession with money was good for an introduction to the character, but he was not expanded upon as Kakuzu the character or person in any other significant way.
Furthermore, while his powers were much flashier than Hidan’s, this wasn’t enough to win fans over to his side and cement him as a legend, within the series’ community or otherwise. It’s truly a shame, but there simply wasn’t enough done with his character to elevate him in the eyes of Naruto fans like Hidan had been.
While Obito Uchiha, the man behind the mask, is memorable as a villain, his Tobi persona was somewhat forgettable to most fans. As soon as he was revealed to be Obito, no one called him Tobi anymore, and his actions during his time as that persona were very rarely discussed with only a few exceptions.
More significantly, almost no fans point to his time as Tobi as their favorite Obito moments, even if the Madara persona stretch of the story does have some fan-favourite scenes. Without a doubt, the Tobi persona is one of the most forgettable villains in the series.
3) Kabuto Yakushi
Despite playing a major role in Naruto’s Fourth Shinobi World War, his behind-the-scenes tactics led to many fans almost forget how big of a player he was in the conflict. Even if this was widely remembered and recognized, Kabuto's contributions to the war effort are like a flash in the pan relative to the war’s overall stages and progression.
Furthermore, he didn’t really have any big villain moments prior to this, making a few cameos but always as a servant of Orochimaru rather than his own villain with his own motivations.
This coupling of the two resulted in Kabuto’s big debut. However, his redemption was more memorable than his villainous actions.
4) Team Dosu
Officially called Team Dosu, fans likely remember them as the Sound Village ninja team during the Chunin Exams arc. Their contributions to the arc are incredibly minimal, with most of their fights and actions being forgettable due to only Dosu himself winning his match.
However, even this was short-lived due to Dosu’s nearly immediate death at Gaara’s hands later that night. Most fans likely don’t even realize that the trio had a formal team name, with many referring to them simply as the Sound Village ninja, further cementing how forgettable the group was.
Finally, the series’ first antagonist overall is also undoubtedly one of its most forgettable in the eyes of fans. Mizuki is the purple-haired ninja who appears after Naruto fails his entrance exam, convincing the young shinobi to steal a scroll containing a Forbidden Jutsu.
His plan is shortly foiled by Iruka and Naruto thereafter, where he’s canonically never seen again in the series. He’s possibly the series’ only one-and-done villain, emphasizing just how forgettable he is and how insignificant his time in the series was.
This article was modified on Friday, June 30, at 11:30 pm.