Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto started off as an incredible manga with some of the best side characters to brighten the world of ninja up. Although Naruto Uzumaki was the protagonist of the story, the likes of Sasuke, Sakura, Neji, among many others, added to the depth of the story and represented various struggles, making the story worthwhile.
Unfortunately, as the Naruto series went on, the story focused much more on Naruto Uzumaki and Sasuke Uchiha, casting aside the other characters. Consequently, the popularity of many adored side characters decreased considerably due to serving less purpose in the story.
10 Neji’s Involvement In The Main Plot Was Limited
Neji was introduced in Naruto as a genius ninja destined for greatness. In the Chunin Exams, Neji was one of the favorites up until his defeat at the hands of Naruto Uzumaki. Moving forward, the fans expected a lot from his character. However, in Naruto Shippuden, the story didn’t focus on his struggles at all. He was eventually killed off in the Fourth Great Ninja War, and his incredible potential as a shinobi remained untapped forever, leading to a sharp decline in his popularity.
9 Rock Lee’s Hard Work Faded Into The Background
Unlike Neji, Rock Lee was not born a genius, so he had to work as hard as he possibly could to become a respected ninja. Under the guidance of Might Guy, Lee trained in taijutsu to attain power comparable to Neji, and he even gave Gaara a hard time once. As expected, he immediately became a fan favorite, but much like Neji, Lee was hardly focused on in the latter half of the series. Consequently, his popularity suffered quite a bit.
8 Sasuke Uchiha Took The Wrong Path On Several Occasions
Sasuke Uchiha was introduced to the fans as a kid driven by revenge, and his journey eventually led him out of Konohagakure. Although he remained very likable up to Itachi’s death, his sudden villainous side that was revealed to the fans wasn’t to everyone’s liking. Sasuke continued to commit crimes and kill people all around him until Naruto Uzumaki put an end to it all toward the end of the Fourth Great Ninja War. His popularity was bound to take a hit by the end of the series.
7 Anko Was Cast Aside For The Entirety Of The Story
Anko was introduced during the Chunin Exams arc as a menacing kunoichi of Konohagakure. Being a student of the legendary Orochimaru, she held quite a lot of potential and was extremely popular in the early days of the story.
Sadly, Anko became an unimportant character as the story progressed further. She wasn’t even involved in the Fourth Great Ninja War, which just goes to show how she was simply overshadowed by more prominent characters.
6 Shizune Never Lived Up To Her Potential As A Ninja
Shizune is a jonin of Konohagakure who was introduced along with Tsunade when Jiraiya sought her out to become the Fifth Hokage of the village. She was revealed to be incredibly skilled in the usage of medical ninjutsu, and her mastery over using various poisons was fearsome, to say the least. As with several other characters, lack of character exposition in the latter parts of the story affected her popularity, and by the end, Shizune barely even appeared in the story.
5 Tenten Remains To Be One Of The Least Used Characters In The Story
Tenten was a teammate of Neji Hyuga and Rock Lee, and just like them, she was quite a skilled ninja. She was shown to have great proficiency in the ways of bukijutsu, as seen during her fight against Temari in the Chunin Exams. Furthermore, Tenten idolized Tsunade Senju, and fans expected her to work with her idol to become more relevant in the future. But unfortunately, that never happened. To date, she remains to be one of Kishimoto’s least used characters.
4 Kiba Was Never Taken Seriously In Naruto Shippuden
A member of Team 8, Kiba was revealed to be quite a skilled fighter during the Chunin Exams arc when he fought Naruto Uzumaki and gave him a rough time.
Kiba became extremely popular after his fight against Sakon and Ukon, and he headed into the timeskip as one of the favorites among the Konoha 11. Sadly, he was hardly ever used in serious combat in Naruto Shippuden, and his character was reduced to a mere gag during the war, much to the dismay of all the fans.
3 Shino Had A Lot Of Potential That Was Never Shown
Shino was one of the strongest members of Konoha 11, and although very reserved, he always stepped up when it truly mattered, as seen when he fought against Kankuro during Konoha Crush. His incredibly unique fighting style made him an instant fan favorite, but the story never gave him the attention he deserved. Shino remained an underdeveloped character by the end of the series, which no doubt affected his popularity.
2 Kurenai Yuhi Failed To Show Why She Was A Jonin
Kurenai was the leader of Team 8 and one of the youngest jonin of her time. Whereas the likes of Kakashi, Guy, and even Asuma received quite a lot of attention in the story and got to display their leadership skills, Kurenai never got the chance to engage in serious combat. After becoming pregnant, Kurenai never played any significant role in the story. Fans expected to see more of her following the death of Asuma Sarutobi, but sadly, she was perhaps shown even less.
1 Orochimaru Lost His Importance As Major Villain
During the first part of Naruto, Orochimaru was, perhaps, the biggest and the most interesting villain in the story. Unfortunately for him, the evergrowing focus on the Uchiha Clan meant that he lost his role to the likes of Madara. What’s more, Orochimaru was nowhere near as menacing as he was during the first half of the story, which drastically changed the fans’ opinion of him. In the Fourth Great Ninja War, he became an ally and took away all the potential he had to further himself as an incredible villain.