Naruto Arcs Ranked
The entire series of Naruto is one of the few anime which has above 700 episodes. Naruto’s overall run has been over 2 decades and being such a long series both Naruto and Naruto Shippuden have several amazing and thrilling arcs. All arcs being so different and unique are good and amazing in their own way. The Naruto community being so huge has people discussing and debating about their favorite arcs and moments from Naruto. Every individual has their own liking and disliking and based on their personal preferences everyone has their own list of best arcs and episodes.
This article will rank all the arcs from Naruto and Naruto Shippuden based on public liking and popularity. As explained above everyone has their own ranking so some might not agree with this ranking but the important point is that this ranking usually sits well among the majority of the fandom. Every ranking will also be explained for justification.
A few important points to remember
The war arc is too long with many sub arcs at separate points. It becomes too complex to rank all the sub arcs that exist. So, the War Arc includes the entirety of the war including the Ten-Tails arc, Kaguya arc, and Naruto vs Sasuke (Climax Arc), etc.
Before I start the ranking, I want to make it clear that every arc in Naruto is important to the plot and it is ranked anywhere on the list does not override the significance of any arc.
Also, this article does not cover filler arcs or episodes, only canon arcs are covered.
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Let’s get started.
15. Kazekage Rescue Mission
Unfortunately, out of all the arcs, this ranks the last. This arc is not so popular among the fandom. Many consider this slow-paced, dragged out and this arc also includes a couple of filler episodes. Many people hate the fact that a well-written and fan-favorite villain such as Sasori was killed in the very first arc. Although Sasori vs Lady Chiyo and Sakura was an amazing fight, people just didn’t like how the fight ended. Sasori could’ve been developed into a greater character if he wasn’t killed few episodes after only showing up.
Having said all of this, I personally don’t consider any arc in Naruto to be bad. This was the first arc of Shippuden and it was paced accordingly. We do see good fights against Itachi and Kisame but overall, this arc lacks a few factors and thus, is ranked last.
14. Itachi Pursuit Mission
This arc is not so long and has a very good fight. Most of the arc includes the leaf shinobi searching for Itachi to inevitably find Sasuke. Sasuke on the other hand is also trying to find Itachi and ends up meeting Deidara. They fight and the arc comes to an end when Itachi calls Sasuke for a showdown. This arc does not involve Itachi vs Sasuke as it is covered under a different mini-arc.
There isn’t much going on in this arc apart from a reveal such as Kabuto shows up in front of Naruto showing him transforming into a Sage. Then there is a good fight against Sasuke and Deidara which is very well executed and is intricate in little details. However, there’s been a constant debate in the community about Sasuke escaping Deidara’s final attack many viewing it as a plot armor for Sasuke as it didn’t make any sense for Sasuke to escape using a reverse Summoning. Moreover, people didn’t like Deidara being disrespectfully killed as he was quite a popular character. Sasuke fans support his escape whereas others don’t. The debate is still on and overall, I wouldn’t rank this arc any higher.
13. Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission
This arc is a good one, most people enjoyed it for most of it. This arc gives us an amazing fight between 4 Tails Naruto vs Orochimaru. It was a bombarding fight where we see for the first time the monstrous strength Naruto’s nine tails form possesses.
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However, this arc is very long where the pace of this arc is fluctuating. We have introduced 2 new characters Sai and Yamato. The plot slows down a bit to give them some space. Then near the fight, the plot seems to be perfectly paced and slows down again when they’re trying to find Sasuke’s room. Revealing Sasuke and team Kakashi trying to find Sasuke gets overhyped and takes too long to finish. Then comes another scene which has the fandom divided. Sasuke raises his hand gesturing that he’s about to nuke this place using Kirin which doesn’t make sense to many that for Kirin you need dark cloudy weather and it was sunny weather in that scene. Naruto and Sasuke fans still fight over what exactly was going on. Overall, this arc has 1 good fight, and the rest of the time is building up the plot.
12. Sasuke Recovery Mission (Part 1)
This might be a controversial ranking as this arc is really amazing. But the sheer length of this arc makes it very long. This arc has a total of 30-35 episodes including fillers. Although, this has great fights and character development to most P1 characters.
Everyone gets his own enemy and all the characters fight bravely against them. This arc is one of the most important arcs for the development of the plot but then again it slows down in many places. The highlight of this arc is obviously Naruto vs Sasuke which is arguably the best fight in P1.
Some people rank this arc very high in their top 5 and some rank it very low. In the end, you can rank this arc anywhere you want.
11. Akatsuki Suppression Mission
This arc suddenly focuses on the side characters which are always nice to see. This is one of the times some serious character death started happening. This arc although has some slow plot points ranks above the rest is because of the two unique and grotesque antagonists.
We meet Hidan and Kakuzu who are one of my favorite pairs of antagonists. Both have a very mysterious ability and it grabs the viewers’ attention immediately. Hidan has a very dark and satanic ability and Kakuzu has 5 hearts. This is masterful writing right here and they are very well-written villains. It is this arc where Naruto was ordered to be not telecasted in kids channel due to the dark plot and too much violence.
This arc also involves Naruto’s Rasenshuriken training and the wonderful fight they have with Kakuzu and Hidan. This arc is widely considered as the arc which gave a turning point to the plot where things became really serious.
10. Fourth Shinobi World War: Countdown
The fourth Shinobi war countdown contains every episode that happens after the Five Kage Summit and before the start of the war. This is a very long arc that also includes a 20 long filler arc which takes place when we see Naruto traveling to the turtle island. The filler arc was a huge drag because many people had to wait and sit through a 20-episode long filler.
However, the reason I would rank it above other arcs is mainly that this arc has major plot points covered. Moreover, this arc gives a turning point to Naruto’s character. We see Naruto fighting against Kurama, meeting his mother for the first time and we also see the Minato and Kushina’s sacrifice to save Naruto. One of the best fights in this arc is Minato vs Obito which was very well written and executed. Naruto becomes more mature and powerful and this arc would’ve been higher if not for the filler arc.
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9. Search for Tsunade
This is probably the most important arc in Part 1 considering that we are introduced to Tsunade who becomes the Fifth Hokage and stays as the Hokage for the rest of the series. She is not only a competent leader who helped the village at a time of crisis but also a prominent personality in Naruto’s life who always supported and believed in him to become Hokage one day.
We also see all the Legendary Sanin in a fight together in their famous Three-way deadlock where they call their respective summoners. The arc is well-paced where we see Naruto trying to master Rasengan through strenuous training. There’s also a good build-up of Naruto and Tsunade’s relationship which stays till the very end of the series. Overall, a great arc and very interesting to watch.
8. Tale of Jiraiya the Gallant
A quick arc is probably the most emotionally painful arc to watch. Jiraiya infiltrates the rain village knowing that the leader of the Akatsuki is living over there. Fully aware that this mission is a suicide mission Jiraiya selflessly takes on this mission as he is determined to find out the leader of the Akatrsuki’s true identity and probably find out a way to kill him and also understand their purpose for capturing the Tailed Beasts.
This mini-arc takes around 4-5 episodes which are very fast-paced and very thrilling and intriguing to watch. Kishimoto successfully maintains the suspense as to what is the secret of Pain and him having a Rinnegan. The fight is a masterpiece where we also see Jiraiya using Sage Mode for the first time and Pian using all the Rinnegan abilities. Jiraiya gets killed in one of the best emotional scenes of the series and a scene leaving 90% of the fandom in tears.
7. Fated Battle Between Brothers
Another mini-arc takes place exactly after the Itachi pursuit mission. Itachi calls Sasuke to the Uchiha hideout to finally settle things between them. Here come the most-awaited and one of the best-choreographed fights of the series. A lot of people consider this as the best fight of the series. We were teased by this fight from part 1 and when the real fight happened, it totally lived up to the expectations and the hype from the fans. The arc shows all the abilities of both Itachi and Sasuke in a very fierce battle.
The fight ends with Itachi succumbing to his illness and dying in front of his brother. The climax of this particular arc is when Obito tells Sasuke about Itachi’s past and gives the big twist that Itachi always loved him. This twist had the fandom go crazy and it also resulted in most of them becoming hard-core Itachi fans. Finally, the arc ends with Sasuke awakening his Mangekyou Sharingan and declaring to destroy the leaf.
6. Konoha Crush
A turning point in the storyline of Naruto where it was a series about Genins passing exams and becoming shinobi, all the young students get a glimpse of war when their village is under attack. Orochimaru one of the Legendary Sanin and a former member of the Akatsuki tries to destroy the village. Every single member of the village who is competent enough to defend the leaf must participate including the genins. The Hokage gets trapped and has to fight Orochimaru one on one whilst he reanimates the previous Hokage. Whereas, Naruto has to fight the 1 tail Jinchuriki Gaara in his tailed beast form.
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Brilliant fight sequences where we also see Gamabunta making an appearance helping Naruto. The wonderfully crafted fight between Hiruzen and Orochimaru and all the supporting characters doing their job to maintain peace in the village. The arc ends with Hiruzen sacrificing his life to save the village and disables Orochimaru of his arms. The arc ends with a good message of self-sacrifice and the plot of Naruto takes a turn where the Leaf village needs a new Hokage while the Akatsuki infiltrates the leaf to capture Naruto.
5. War Arc
The war arc has many sub arcs such as The Birth of Ten Tails arc, Kaguya arc, War arc Climax, etc. It takes the majority of the end of Shippuden. Instead of ranking them separately, I’ve merged all the events of the war arc into one.
The war arc is heavily divided in the fandom as many fans hate the war arc, where other fans really love it. War arc has many controversies. Narratively, people did not like how the war arc was written. It was also pretty confusing for people to keep track of the quickly changing antagonists. The whole Naruto and Sasuke dying and Hagoromo appearing giving the Six Paths’ powers was very complex for a lot of people. The biggest letdown of the arc which left the entire fandom angry was Madara’s defeat at the hands of Black Zetsu and the appearance of Kaguya.
However, despite all the controversies and negativity around the war arc, it also has some of the best moments. Some of the main events are Naruto befriending Kurama, team 7 fighting together, all the Hokage’s being reanimated, Obito and Madara becoming Ten-Tails, Might Guy opening his 8th Gate, Naruto and Sasuke getting Six Path chakra, and finally one of the best fights in anime history Naruto vs Sasuke. The war arc despite a few letdowns is amazing.
4. The Land of Waves (Part 1)
Some people might find this ranking extremely strange and controversial. But I want to stress really hard how important this arc was for the audience. This was the first arc of the series and if I’m being honest then if Naruto is one of the best anime to date, it is because of this arc.
We have heard this many times that first impressions have a huge impact on everyone. Anyone starting any new series always needs to get into the story in the first few episodes. Especially if the series is 720 episodes long.
This arc succeeds in grabbing the attention of the audience with characters such as Zabuza and Haku. We are also introduced to the world of Naruto for the first time and how ninjas work. We are also introduced to the Sharingan and its copying abilities. We also see Naruto in his nine-tail cloak form which gets the viewers’ attention immediately. Overall, this arc shows everything a first-time Naruto watcher should be aware of and also gives an emotional climax to the arc showing the way ninjas live like tools and the value of self-sacrifice. Naruto wouldn’t be this successful without this arc.
3. Five Kage Summit
This arc has everything an audience could’ve hoped for after the Pain arc. Until the Pain arc, it was more focused on the leaf village and the supporting characters. But now the plot takes a big turn. This is when we are introduced to the bigger world of Naruto when we see characters and the Kages from other villages. The plot seems bigger and it isn’t just about Naruto and Sasuke.
All the Kages are unique with amazing powers and they meet for the Five Kage summit which has an extraordinary build-up. The arc isn’t too long or short the length is perfect and the pacing couldn’t have been better. Things are very complicated even for Naruto as Sasuke has now joined the Akatsuki. Sasuke later attacks the summit taking on all the Kages one at a time. Later, he fights Danzo in a tremendous battle where we are also introduced to the Izanagi.
The main twist is that Obito shows up at the summit announcing that he is Madara Uchiha and declares war on all of the shinobi world. This was one hell of an arc and peak writing.
2. The Chūnin Exams
This is the favorite arc for many people from the community. People claim that they have watched the Chunin exams more than 50 times and it still doesn’t feel boring. Any Naruto fan must know that Chunin exams were when Naruto became our favorite anime and we dedicated ourselves to following it forever.
Chunin exams have many great moments that stay in the viewer’s memory forever. Many people prefer these subtle episodes comparing to the bombarding high voltage arc which happens in Shippuden. Chunin exams are about bui; ding the character’s plot and show us this world of Naruto. Kishimoto nailed it and some of the moments of Chunin exams are some of the best moments in the entire series.
Fights such as Rock Lee vs Gaara, Naruto vs Neji, Orochimaru vs Sasuke, Sasuke vs Gaara, and the perfect build-up to the next arc the Konoha Crush was perfectly executed. Chunin exams arc will always be special for the fandom.
1. Pain’s Assault Arc
This arc is the most highly rated in the series. I don’t feel the need to explain too much about this ranking. Some call this arc the end of a part of Shippuden. Naruto saves the village, saves everyone, and finally becomes the hero he always wanted to be. Some say that Shippuden was absolute peak until the Pain arc and the plot goes down a bit after that.
This arc had everything done perfectly. Pain is still considered one of the best antagonists in the series. He had the unique Rinnegan powers which were astonishing. He was shown as that time’s strongest character with beautiful and terrifying abilities. When Pain uses Almighty Push and nukes the Leaf Village it was noted as one of the most hyped moments of the series that people still cherish.
Then comes the best entry of the series in the form of Sage Naruto when the village needs him the most. Naruto shows his Sage Mode ability which is so creative and intricate. Then we also see Naruto losing control and taking the form of the Nine-Tails when Minato shows up and saves his. Then a great philosophical talk between Naruto and Nagato leads to wrapping up the arc with Naruto saving the village and leaving us audience in tears feeling proud of our hero who has grown so much since part 1. This was the perfect arc with so many different levels of emotions with a proper balance between them and giving us an exhilarating battle.
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