Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto series has had some of the most incredible villains in fiction during its serialization and it goes without saying that the way Kishimoto handles his villains is unique, to say the least.
Almost every villain in Naruto is a product of their circumstances which makes for great writing. However, Kishimoto ended up turning way too many of his villains good. It goes without saying that while the change of heart worked for some, it only made other characters worse.
Orochimaru was possibly the most intimidating villain in Naruto in the first part of the series. Not only was he responsible for making Sasuke leave the village but he also attacked Konohagakure and killed Hiruzen Sarutobi. He also killed Rasa, the Fourth Kazekage. Before he attempted to destroy Konoha in the Konoha Crush arc, he actually tried to do the same on several other occasions.
Orochimaru was quite an incredible villain and for him, redemption never really made any sense. Yet, in the Fourth Great Ninja War, he was somehow redeemed and he ended up giving up on his dream as well. Orochimaru’s potential as a villain was completely wasted.
6 Kabuto Yakushi
Kabuto Yakushi was once the right-hand man of Orochimaru, however, after Sasuke killed him Kabuto took it upon himself to get stronger. By attaining great strength, he managed to become one of the main villains in the story.
Kabuto was hugely responsible for the Fourth Great Ninja War which saw tens of thousands of shinobi lose their lives. In the end, however, he was redeemed quite strangely by Kishimoto. Kabuto ended up saving Sasuke’s life but should never have turned good, to begin with.
5 Nagato Uzumaki
Nagato Uzumaki, or Pain, was one of the best villains in the Naruto series. Pain was a result of the wars that the villages had waged against each other over the years, leading to the destruction of Amegakure as well. It goes without saying that he was incredibly well-written and probably goes down as the best villain the series produced.
However, Pain had a change of heart in the end as well. By talking to Naruto, Pain simply decided to put his faith in him and gave up on everything without second thoughts. Having come as far as he did, it didn’t feel natural for him to believe in Naruto, especially when Naruto wasn’t even able to answer his question about how he would bring about peace.
Konan was the partner of Nagato Uzumaki and the two attacked Konohagakure together. Just like Pain, she was born in the misery of Amegakure and rose to great heights with the Akatsuki. After Yahiko’s death, Konan became Nagato’s strength and helped him on every opportunity she could get.
Sadly, just like Nagato, she eventually put her trust in Naruto Uzumaki. Had Nagato not turned good, Konan wouldn’t have either, and, together, the two would’ve remained a much better villainous duo.
3 Team Taka
Team Taka was Sasuke Uchiha’s team which he led after the death of Orochimaru. Although Sasuke’s redemption was necessary for the plot to move forward, Team Taka’s redemption certainly wasn’t. The group would’ve made great villains had they gone their own way and started life without Sasuke doing what they do best.
Instead, they were turned into good characters and they ended up helping Orochimaru in his day-to-day life, just as they did in the past. Their story came in a full circle and didn’t make much sense as the final character arc did nothing for any of them.
2 Obito Uchiha
Obito Uchiha is, perhaps, the biggest villain in the world of Naruto. Obito became a villain after witnessing the death of Rin at the hands of Kakashi. Convinced that the world of dreams was the way to go forward, Obito did everything in his power to help Madara achieve his goal. He attacked his village, led to the deaths of both Minato and Kushina, almost killed their newborn baby, among many other evil things.
Obito played a part in the Uchiha clan massacre and also had a hand in the Blood Mist era of Kirigakure. He started the Fourth Great Ninja War and killed countless people. Clearly, Obito had come too far for a redemption of sorts, yet Naruto forgave him, and he ended up joining their side, which simply didn’t make much sense.
1 Itachi Uchiha
Itachi was introduced in the story as a villain who murdered his entire clan in a single night just to test his powers. He was Sasuke’s goal and quite easily carried the potential to become one of the best villains in the entire series. In a shocking turn of events, Itachi was eventually revealed to have been good all along.
While his story was certainly written well enough, Itachi would’ve arguably made a much better villain had he stayed true to his initial character. Once again, Kishimoto’s habit to rewrite every villain as a good character saw Itachi become a good guy and even a savior in the Fourth Great Ninja War, which is quite bemusing given that he massacred countless innocent men, women, and even children doing what he did in a single night.
MORE: Naruto: Things Itachi Uchiha Did Wrong