Ever since its release, Naruto has become one of the most popular shonen anime, providing fans with some of the best characters they have ever seen. Mangaka Masashi Kishimoto not only focuses on the main protagonist but also his adjoining companions who have their own struggles in life. And surprisingly, Sasuke, the last survivor of the Uchiha clan, shows way more character development than most individuals in the series.
One of the strongest aspects of Naruto is that it not only shows an inspiring journey of the orphan kid into becoming the Hokage but also vividly paints every character’s story and struggles. Not many anime have been successful in this attempt. But the mangaka does a fantastic job of providing intricate insight into why they turned out the way they were. This includes every protagonist as well as the antagonists of Naruto.
And while fans adore characters like Kakashi, Jiraiya, Nagato, Itachi, and others, the one character who shows an insane amount of development throughout Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden is Sasuke Uchiha. Let’s dive into the details and see why.
Sasuke always has a goal throughout Naruto
The kid who swore vengeance
From the onset of the anime, Sasuke has been shown to be a ninja prodigy with a clear goal in mind - avenging his clan’s death by killing his brother, Itachi Uchiha. This motivates him to train hard every day as he quickly becomes one of the strongest shinobis in Konoha by the end of Naruto: Shippuden.
Unlike the main protagonist, who spent his whole childhood alone, Sasuke started off as a jolly kid surrounded by the love of his family. The Uchiha genocide, which occured when he was only seven years old, changed Sasuke’s life and perspective completely. It revealed to him the gruesome horrors of the Shinobi world and developed him into the cold character we see later in the anime.
Since Sasuke developed a tendency to grow detached and act indifferent towards his friends and allies, some fans particularly didn't like Sasuke's ’lone-wolf’ attitude. But this later changed with his physical and emotional growth, where he started to show more maturity in his decisions.
The path of becoming a rogue ninja
Fans believe that Sasuke’s decision to join Orochimaru, who had already attempted to destroy Konoha several times, was due to his pursuit of seeking power. While this is true, there was another hidden detail in his motives.
This is correlated to his lack of attachment with others around him. During the Chunin exam arc, Sasuke had already mastered the Chidori and the full potential of the two-tomoe Sharingan. But events like fighting Gaara, watching Naruto grow, and being completely overpowered by his brother, Itachi, made him realize that his growth rate would be too slow if he remained in Konoha. Too become a powerful ninja, he had to let go of his emotional ties.
When Itachi massacred the entire Uchiha clan, one of the last things he said to Sasuke was that he must kill his best friend to attain the Mangekyou Sharingan. Although this often goes overlooked, Sasuke probably never developed any real bond with his peers to not succumb to Itachi’s way of gaining power. Instead, he left the village and trained under the antagonist, Orochimaru, to become a rogue ninja.
Sasuke created Taka in memory of Team 7
When Sasuke comes to know that the Sanin was going to kill him to attain his body, he kills Orochimaru to create his own team of shinobis known as Taka. The members included Karin, Jugo, and Suigetsu. These members almost appear to be mirror those from Team 7, with Jugo taking Naruto’s place, Karin replacing Sakura, and Suigetsu playing a role similar to Kakashi by regulating these members.
Although Suigetsu’s personality and powers are in no way comparable to Kakashi's, the former wielding Zabuza’s sword does relay the message that Sasuke always kept the past alive in his heart. This further proves that he never really managed to grow apart from his previous teammates completely.
Apart from this, Sasuke knew that he alone wouldn’t be able to accomplish his goals ultimately and would, therefore, require the strength of others who would benefit him.
Becoming the destroyer of Konoha
After learning the truth about Itachi, Sasuke joined the Akatsuki and became hell-bent on exacting revenge from Konoha. Along with Obito and team Taka, he infiltrated the Five Kage summit and managed to kill Danzo, the man who orchestrated the Uchiha genocide.
By this time, Sasuke was shown to be almost heartless. But this is a fact that is observed without reason. He is the same kid who lost his entire clan, never made any true friends, and killed Itachi only to realize that his brother was always looking out for him. Perhaps it becomes easy to assume that there is simply no other character in Naruto who matches up to the level of suffering Sasuke went through.
In fact, killing Danzo was a commendable feat since the man never had any good intentions for Konoha anyway. But it was extreme for him to almost kill Karin and hit Sakura with Chidori. While there has been no attempt at defending his vengeful actions, it becomes easier to understand where he is coming from.
Joining the Fourth Shinobi War as a hero
Ironically, Sasuke became almost blind after his fight with Danzo. This allowed him to implant his brother’s eyes, after which he was finally able to awaken the Eternal Mangekyou Sharingan. It was at this time that Sasuke’s character finally started taking shape.
His entire journey finally adds meaning when he comes to learn of the past of the Uchiha clan from the reanimated First Hokage, Hashirama Senju. Sasuke then decided to join the fight in the Fourth Shinobi War to fight against Madara Uchiha and Obito.
The war is also crucial since he was revealed him to be the reincarnation of Indra. He further awakened his Rinne-Sharingan and, together with his Team 7 allies, managed to end the war by sealing away Kaguya, the last antagonist of Naruto: Shippuden.
Final Battle against Naruto
Sasuke was always bad at communication. Many fans didn’t quite like it when the Uchiha decided to go against Naruto in one final battle. But this final between him and the main protagonist was the most symbolic segment of the series.
The exchange of bouts between them was more than just a fight. Sasuke and Naruto effectively communicated through this fight, revisiting their old memories from when they fought as kids and telling each other about the journey the two had embarked upon.
While the jinchuriki of the nine-tails became a hero and gained countless friends, Sasuke really didn’t have anyone. One became the light, the other turned to shadow. But when their battle finally ended, Naruto managed to bring Sasuke into the side of the light.
Sasuke’s character development is always at par with Naruto's because, unlike him, the former grew up without relying on anybody, yet he became one of the strongest shinobi. The latter did not even develop much ambition-wise as he always had a clear goal - achieving the mantle of the Hokage and fighting for the sake of peace. In the end, Sasuke didn’t just become strong in his strengths but also in his attitude and personality, which is almost incomparable to how he initially started off in Naruto.