The now-classic, long-running manga and anime series Naruto is an international hit, to the point where every character in the show’s enormous cast has their fans. Some of the show’s biggest villains are not only some of the show’s most interesting and powerful characters but potentially the hardest to love.
While some former villains, like Gaara and Itachi, have been fully redeemed in the eyes of fans by a better understanding of their backstories, others remain more or less bad to the bone. The best villains in Naruto often have lofty ideals that they wish to enact by any means necessary, whether they involve great violence or violation of the very laws of nature.
Updated on December 2nd, 2021 by Chloe Gronow: With over 600 episodes across both Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden, the world of Naruto sports an impressive cast of villains. While the Akatsuki alone make for a great ensemble of antagonists for the series, there are plenty more formidable villains where that came from. Shinobi from rival villages, ambitious personalities, and mastermind schemers all top this list of the most evil villains Naruto has ever encountered.
Known as an outwardly kind person to most Leaf Village residents, Mizuki was an envious man forced to hold his true emotions in check. Desperate to outrank Iruka and earn a promotion, Mizuki proved he was even willing to murder one of his squadmates to ensure their mission would not be delayed.
As the series’ first real villain, Mizuki is far from a heavy hitter, but he still proved to be a significant challenge for Naruto to overcome at a young age. Had Naruto not caught on to Mizuki’s plan and secured the Shadow Clone Jutsu for himself, it’s scary to think about how far Mizuki could have gone under Orochimaru’s guidance.
While Deidara is not the type of person to contrive grand plots or devious schemes, it would be hard to argue that he’s anything shy of evil. His pursuit of artistic perfection has destroyed many lives, as Deidara employed himself as a bomber all around the world to make ends meet.
Perhaps the only thing that stifled Deidara’s murderous rage was his rivalry with fellow Akatsuki member Itachi. After failing to defeat the elder Uchiha brother in combat, Deidara became intent on devising a way to counter the Sharingan. Had his attention been pointed elsewhere, it’s very likely Deidara would have taken many more lives before meeting his own demise.
The story of Nagato, Yahiko, and Konan’s friendship through the horrors of war is one of the most tragic in the series. Taking on the name Pain, Nagato formed the second Akatsuki with Konan after Yahiko’s death, seeking to bring about world peace by wielding fear.
Although Nagato was eventually reformed and convinced to return to his original, pacifistic ideals, he is still one of the most ruthless characters in the series. He attempted to kill Hinata and did kill many, including Jiraiya and several innocents who are associated with Hanzō, a ninja responsible for Yahiko’s death, as a part of his personal and ideological quests for peace.
The resident puppet master of the Akatsuki, word of Sasori’s accolades spread far and wide and made him a prime target for the crime syndicate. “Sasori of the Red Sand” became a feared name in Sunagakure and beyond, as he perfected the deadly capabilities of his puppets in the Third Shinobi War.
Later, Sasori would even successfully assassinate The Third Kazekage, the most powerful ninja in the history of the Hidden Sand Village. Sasori’s pursuit of everlasting life inspired him to commit terrible acts such as turning his defeated enemies into human puppets. Hidden inside his favorite puppet, few friends ever saw Sasori’s real face and even fewer of his victims.
The hot-headed Akatsuki member who collects human hearts, Kakuzu is notable for his near-immortality and his partnership with the also-immortal Hidan. Notably, Kakuzu killed several of his partners before being paired with Hidan, mostly as a precaution to avoid more death.
Although he was a big part of Akatsuki’s attempt to find all of the tailed beasts, Kakuzu was often motivated by rage and money more than anything, collecting bounties on his many missions with Hidan. Although he was eventually defeated by Naruto, Kakuzu’s cockiness and anger to the bitter end leave him with no redemption, reversing a trope many other Naruto villains follow.
A more recent addition to the Akatsuki’s roster during Naruto‘s run, Hidan was an arrogant and obnoxious ninja who was immortal and able to battle his opponents by using himself as a human voodoo doll. His partnership with Kakuzu is volatile, but they make good partners anyway due to their immortality.
Hidan’s signature jutsu allows him to sadistically inflict pain on his opponents, but he is also very cocky in battle, to the point where he makes rash decisions. He has been shown to love violence, killing Asuma with glee and delighting over the possibility of killing Shikamaru, who ultimately does Hidan in.
After Pain attacked Konohagakure and left Tsunade in a coma, Danzō Shimura was named the temporary leader and candidate to be the Sixth Hokage. Although this ostensibly places him on the heroes’ side, Danzō is more villain than hero, as evidenced by his selfishness and immorality.
Even before becoming a Hokage candidate, Danzō showed his true colors by sending Sai undercover to attempt to assassinate Sasuke. He preached loyalty to one’s village over all else in order to enact his goal of world peace, but he himself was afraid to die, only finally facing death heroically against Sasuke and Obito at the Five Kage Summit.
It should come as no surprise that someone with a nickname such as “Monster of the Hidden Mist” would be capable of atrocious acts of violence. Before ever joining the Akatsuki, Kisame proved he could do just that when he elected to murder the Cypher Division — Kirigakure’s top intelligence team — instead of allowing their secrets to potentially leak.
Kisame would later be involved in several political assassinations and even a plot to overthrow the government, so his reputation as a criminal with a pension for bloodlust was well-known. This made him an ideal candidate to join the Akatsuki, where he’d go on to cause significant trouble for Naruto and his Leaf Village friends in the future.
Kabuto was a minor antagonist in Part I who became major in Part II before being redeemed, meaning that his impact on the series is far-reaching and constant. At first, Kabuto was a spy working for Orochimaru, but he eventually staked out on his own and used his medical prowess to imbue himself with DNA from Orochimaru, the Sound Four, and Sasuke’s allies in Taka.
In this way, Kabuto saw himself as being “perfect,” a god complex that underlined his conniving plans to accumulate power and influence, culminating in him reincarnating Madara Uchiha and several other notable ninjas to fight alongside himself and Akatsuki leader Obito Uchiha. Although his ambitions have been reined in since then, this arrogance brought the world much pain.
As the series’ first real serious threat and primary antagonist, Zabuza Mimochi is about as bad as they come. Zabuza is a character that has endured the years and remained a fan favorite after all this time due both to his sadistic nature, but also the tender spot he holds in his heart for his partner-in-crime, Haku.
Similar to Kisame, Zabuza holds the threatening title of “Demon of the Hidden Mist”, as well as one of Kirigakure’s famed swords. In an effort to join the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist, over 100 fellow Academy students fell to Zabuza in combat. Zabuza was a ruthless force of nature and would have likely caused much more pain and suffering had Team 7 not been there to stop him for good.
One of the legendary Sannin and the main antagonist of Part I, Orochimaru was a former Akatsuki member whose presence loomed large over the series. Marked by his desire for immortality, Orochimaru was unique in that he saw potential in Sasuke and actively disliked Akatsuki, whereas many other villains were allied with the organization.
Despite his redemption arc and subsequent appearances in Boruto, Orochimaru is plenty diabolical throughout the series, performing unethical experiments on others in Konohagakure and killing many without remorse on his quest for power and immortality. He had very little respect for human life and its fragility, and it showed in his evil schemes.
The secret leader of the Akatsuki, lurking in the shadows and even pretending to be Madara Uchiha before finally revealing himself, Obito was something of a tragic character. Although he sacrificed his life in order to save the world, his actions did put the world in danger in the first place.
From his youthful rivalry with Kakashi, Obito always seemed to crave power, and he later adopted his mentor Madara’s idealistic view of world peace by means of mental imprisonment. In order to accomplish this plan, Obito killed many and also worked many Machiavellian schemes to avoid being seen as the true puppet master of the Akatsuki organization.
Madara Uchiha was one of the founders of Konoha and perhaps the most famous member of the Uchiha clan, known for his plan to use the Infinite Tsukuyomi technique to imprison the human race and create world peace. He saved Obito’s life and entrusted him with this plan, but he also manipulated him into becoming evil by orchestrating the death of his friend Rin.
As a brilliant strategist and a bloodthirsty fighter, Madara’s influence reaches over many characters in the series, even though he died before the series began. He attempted to use Obito and Black Zetsu to achieve his plans after death and was even able to continue his conniving ways later when he was resurrected by Kabuto.
The Akatsuki member known as Zetsu was a mystery for much of Naruto‘s run before it was revealed that he was really made up of two beings: White Zetsu and Black Zetsu, the latter of which was an agent of Kaguya Ōtsutsuki. Black Zetsu’s manipulations of Madara and many other characters led to Kaguya’s resurrection and the near end of the world.
Mostly, Black Zetsu worked by manipulating others into killing and accumulating power so that it could get what it wanted, although it also killed others when necessary, as when it possessed Obito in order to kill the resurrected Madara. Black Zetsu had a hatred for most of humanity that it inherited from Kaguya, as well, making it an unfeeling strategist with no mercy.
The final antagonist of the Naruto franchise was not revealed until very late in the anime and manga runs, but her influence over the series was undeniable. Kaguya Ōtsutsuki was sealed in the Moon but was unleashed as a part of Black Zetsu’s plan when the Infinite Tsukuyomi was reflected off of the Moon in order to create world peace.
Above all, Kaguya craved power and, much like the series’ other villains, believed that she and she alone could bring peace to the world by dominating all other life. Because of her ancient nature, Kaguya is very powerful, too, able to enact her wicked plots with little resistance, establishing her as the most evil villain in Naruto history.
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