Naruto is an iconic anime that popularized the anime industry in the entire world.
It was one of the few first anime to break out and reach the western audience.
Many weebs that are so fond of anime started watching anime with this masterpiece by Kishimoto.
For me, Naruto was the second ever anime I watched after Dragon Ball Z and I was a fan right from the beginning.
Naruto is one of the best shounen and without a doubt has been an inspiration for all shounen mangakas.
So here we are trying to rank the best arcs from the anime.
Naruto Shippuden has about 14-16 arcs depending on who you ask and what you consider as arcs.
For the purpose of uniformity, we are considering the entire 4th Shinobi War as one arc up until the point when Ten-Tails was reborn and of course, we are going to ignore all the fillers and filler arcs.
Let us start from the bottom here and make our way up to the best Naruto Shippuden Arcs.
- 14. Shikamaru Shinden
- 13. Sasuke Shinden
- 12. Konoha Hiden
- 11. Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission
- 10. Kazekage Rescue Mission
- 9. Hidan and Kakuzu
- 8. Five Kage Summit
- 7. The Tale of Jiraiya the Gallant
- 6. The Pursuit of Itachi Uchiha
- 5. Fated Battle Between Brothers
- 4. The Fourth Shinobi World War
- 3. Ten-Tails is born
- 2. Kaguya Otsutsuki Strikes
- 1. Pain
14. Shikamaru Shinden
One of the wholesome arcs after the Fourth Ninja War, Shikamaru Shinden: A Cloud Dancing in Forlorn Falling Petals is based on a novel written by Takashi Yano and illustrated by Kishimoto.
The story is about the mission assigned to Shikamaru and his two Anbu comrades Honoki and Ro. The mission is simple, “Capture or Assassinate Gengo”.
Shikamaru and his team travel to the Land of Silence and after a bunch of action and a complicated storyline, they manage to capture Gengo props to Shikamaru’s intelligent plans.
After the action we see Shikamaru ask out Temari on a date and even Sai asks Ino out on a date! Very wholesome end to the arc.
13. Sasuke Shinden
Sasuke Shinden is another post-Shinobi World War Arc about Sasuke and his story.
In this arc we see Sasuke recollecting his past life about the darkness that drove him to leave the village and pursue power to exact revenge on Itachi who killed the Uchiha clan.
In this arc we see Sasuke assuming the role of the protector of Konoha but from afar, kind of like Madara when he and Hashirama founded the village.
We see him become the “Shadow Hokage” protecting the village and supporting it from the outside world.
It is the beginning of his redemption.
12. Konoha Hiden
The most wholesome arc in all of Shippuden, Konoha Hiden: A Perfect Day for Wedding begins with Kakashi receiving a wedding invitation for Hinata and Naruto’s wedding.
Fearing that the Leaf Ninja might miss the wedding as they might be on an important mission now that all of them have been promoted to big roles.
Anticipating this problem, Kakashi assigns all the wedding attendees a mission, “Bring a Gift”! We get a look into everyone’s life and see them ponder over what would be the perfect gift for the couple.
Rock Lee thinks they would enjoy dumbells, Yamato decides to make their furniture using his Wood Release, Ino and Sakura fight over a picture frame that both think is perfect for the couple.
11. Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission
While fighting Sasori Sakura learns about the meeting he had arranged with Orochimaru at a location known as Tenchi Bridge. Upon sharing this information with Tsunade and asking her permission to form a team and retrieve Sasuke.
Naruto, Sakura, and their newly appointed team member Sai along with Yamato, who replaced Kakashi as the new leader of Team 7, head on towards the location as the date of the meeting approaches.
The plan is to basically impersonate Sasori and get valuable information out of Orochimaru before he either figures out the trap or escapes, leading them to his hideout.
Although things go as they had planned but not for long before the unexpected happens.
In the midst of a heated battle between Orochimaru and Naruto in his four-tailed state which resulted in a draw when Orochimaru managed to throw him towards the bridge again, we saw Sai tell his real mission to Orochimaru as Danzo’s messenger.
Yamato is able to track Sai who leaves with Orochimaru and Kabuto to their lair. Upon entering the hideout they split up and look for Sasuke.
The Sasuke they meet is arrogant, corrupted, and is not willing to reason with words. Realizing that Sasuke is too powerful for them to capture, their only option is to retreat.
10. Kazekage Rescue Mission
The very first arc of Shippuden begins as Naruto returns to Konoha after two and a half years of training and traveling alongside Jiraiya.
In a planned attack on Sunagakure by two Akatsuki members Sasori and Deidara the Kazekage, Gaara is taken captive and taken to a hideout where the Akatsuki plans to extract the One Tails from his body.
When this news is delivered to Konoha, Team 7 is assembled and assigned a mission to rescue the Kazekage. They are dispatched to Sunagakure to start collecting clues and assist Suna Ninjas.
We see something special from Kakashi in this arc. Also, we get to know more about Akatsuki’s intentions and their plans.
The arc is action-packed to the fullest with individual fights of all Team Guy members who have to fight a perfect reflection of themselves, a side-effect of releasing the seal on the entrance of the hideout.
Chiyo and Sakura fight together to take down Sasori in the hideout and outside the hideout Naruto and Kakashi trail a fleeing Deidara who still possesses the Kazekage’s body.
After the battles, Kazekage was declared dead by Sakura. Grandma Chiyo steps in to use Reincarnation on Gaara but lacks the mana needed.
Naruto lends her his mana and she performs the revival on Gaara at the cost of her own life force.
Team 7 and Team Guy later mourn her death at Sunagakure.
9. Hidan and Kakuzu
The arc begins with Tsunade announcing platoons formed to track down members of the Akatsuki and deal with them by either capturing them or killing them on sight.
Shikamaru and Asuma are on the same team with two Konoha Jounin to search for Hidan and Kakuzu also known as the Zombie Combo.
Team Asuma finds Hidan sitting outside a bounty station and plans an attack that fatally wounds him but unfortunately they wound the guy who cannot die.
Whilst fighting off the two members Asuma is wounded and is on the brink of death when Choji and Ino come to their rescue but help is too late and Asuma dies.
Team 10 swear to avenge his death and they manage to find a perfect opportunity as Kakashi also joins them in their pursuit of vengeance. This time Shikamaru has a plan and it works flawlessly.
Shikamaru has always impressed the fans with his intelligence but he takes it to the next level, planning a million steps into the future and taking care of both the members killing Kakuzu and trapping Hidan forever.
8. Five Kage Summit
The Kages know that a storm is approaching and to prepare to fight the Akatsuki a summit is arranged. The summit is crashed by the Akatsuki and Tobi declares the Fourth Great Ninja War.
Tobi later finds Naruto, sleeping at an inn and tells him the story of Itachi and that Sasuke has a hatred for the village because of how they burdened his brother.
Later Naruto meets Sakura who acts as if she has given up on Sasuke and confesses fake feelings for Naruto. Naruto sees right through her act and asks her to stop faking it.
This arc also has an amazing fight between Danzo and Sasuke. Through this fight, we learn more about the Sharingan and its two forbidden techniques, Izanagi and Izanami.
7. The Tale of Jiraiya the Gallant
While Naruto trains trying to perfect the Sage Mode Transformation on Mt. Myoboku, Jiraiya travels to Amegakure planning on infiltrating the village in order to find out the true identity of Pain.
Jiraiya is detected by Pain who orders Konan to find the intruder. Jiraiya fights all six paths of Pain, all on his own. He is put to test and is out of all his trump cards.
Jiraiya knowing that his death awaits him plans on investigating even more rather than retreating which costs him his life.
With his dying breath, he summons all his willpower and writes a secret encoded message on Fuksaku’s back. The message when decoded will read, “The real one is not amongst them”.
Without this information, Konoha would’ve had zero chance of beating Pain when he invaded the village.
6. The Pursuit of Itachi Uchiha
After two and a half years of training with Orochimaru, Sasuke now stronger than ever can kill Orochimaru at will and so he does.
Sasuke thinks he has acquired enough power to defeat Itachi and so he starts assembling a group of people that he had kept an eye on while training with Orochimaru.
He assembles, “Hebi” a four-man team with him as the leader alongside Suigetsu, Karin, and Jugo.
He assembles this team so that they can stop anyone from trying to interrupt his fight with Itachi. Meanwhile, Konoha assembles their own team to find either Sasuke or Itachi, in order to bring Sasuke back to the village.
In the search of Itachi, Sasuke is attacked by Deidara and Tobi and a fight ensues between Deidara and Sasuke.
Sasuke is almost killed by Deidara’s Self Destruction attack but manages to escape sacrificing Manda’s life in the process.
We also see Itachi send out a clone to meet Naruto and talk to him about Sasuke and the village.
5. Fated Battle Between Brothers
Sasuke finds a clone of his brother who arranges a meeting for the two in the Uchiha hideout.
We witness a fierce battle between two of the best Uchiha’s ever to live. Itachi overpowers Sasuke with his Mangekyo and tells him it was a mistake to fight without his own Mangekyo.
At this point in his life, Itachi had used his Mangekyo so many times that it had to have been almost blinded by now.
Basically, a blind Itachi defeated Sasuke with ease and it would’ve been even easier if he wasn’t waiting for Orochimaru to pop out.
After Itachi falls to the ground succumbing to his chronic illness, Tobi takes a wounded Sasuke to a safe place where he tells the truth about Itachi and why he decided to kill all his clansmen.
4. The Fourth Shinobi World War
The Allied Shinobi forces are divided into divisions led by powerful ninjas and great leaders. Kakashi is in charge of the third division and Shikamaru is in charge of the fourth.
Kabuto approaches Tobi, looking for some kind of alliance which he forces on Tobi when he shows something that the masked man cannot refuse.
A battle ensues on all ends and all the divisions have to fend off for themselves. Kakashi and Might Guy on the third division encounter a bunch of re-incarnated ninjas.
The fourth division, under the leadership of Shikamaru, fends off formidable foes like the Third Raikage, a ninja so strong that only his attacks can cause him to die.
Madara, when reincarnated shifts the entire momentum of the battle. After decimating the fourth division he moves on to find Tobi but is intercepted by all the five Kages.
Madara being his cocky self makes 25 clones and makes them all use Susanno as the Kage struggle to fight his clones.
Madara is literally unbeatable and just rampages through everything and everyone.
3. Ten-Tails is born
After Ten-Tails is resurrected Obito and Madara attach themselves to the beast trying to control it and use it to kill the remaining Allied Shinobi Forces.
Naruto and everyone manages to separate them from the beast and then try to recapture it only for Obito to seal the Ten-Tails inside him becoming the Ten-Tails jinchuriki.
Obito is soon defeated releasing all the tailed beast back into the world. Seeing this as a second opportunity, A blind, reincarnated and mortal Madara challenges all the nine tailed-beasts to a fight all at once.
I mean what can be more badass than Madara fighting nine tailed-beasts all at once.
By acquiring one of his Rinnegan from Obito he manages to capture all the tailed beasts in the Gedo Statue and becomes the Ten-Tails jinchuriki.
I bet Madara could’ve taken on the entire Shinobi Forces by himself and still win using just his clones. The man is an absolute menace on the battlefield.
2. Kaguya Otsutsuki Strikes
After becoming the Ten-Tails jinchuriki he casts the Infinite Tsukuyomi on the entire world and everyone except, Sakura, Kakashi, Naruto, and Sasuke is entrapped in the genjutsu.
To his surprise, Madara is stabbed from behind by Black Zetsu who Madara thought was his will’s incarnation but in fact, it was Kaguya’s will and she takes over Madara’s body and is completely revived.
Naruto and Sasuke fight her and with Sakura, Obito, and Kakashi helping them Kaguya is sealed away using Chibaku Tensei.
The Sage of Six Paths summons Naruto, Sasuke, Kakashi, and Madara back from Kaguya’s dimensions.
Madara finally dies after the Ten-Tails getting extracted from his body and with his dying breath he reassures his friendship with Hashirama and accepts his ill fate.
I can see fans arguing that the final arcs of the anime are better but in my opinion Pain’s invasion of Konoha is hands down the best arc in the anime.
We have a villain with a motive, goal, power to achieve that goal, and an ideology that rivals that of the protagonist. What more could we have asked from Kishimoto?
Nagato just wants the world to feel the same pain he felt when that night he saw his parent die at the hands of two ninjas trying to rob houses during a war, the same pain he felt when his best friend died at his own hands when the leader of a bigger country decided it could do whatever they want to with smaller villages.
Amegakure was destroyed over and over again as Nagato could do nothing but watch but now it was his turn to deliver the blows and he did.
It took him 10 seconds to decimate Konoha to nothing but rubble as the Leaf Ninja could do nothing but watch.
Nagato only chose to let go of his ideology when he remembered his master’s words about the Child of the Prophecy.
Nagato entrusted his mission of bringing peace to this world to Naruto and re-incarnated all the dead leaf ninjas back to life.
Do you agree with our curated list?