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Wasted Potential: 15 Naruto Characters Who Could Have Been Much More

September 23, 2020 4.8k votes 615 voters 29.8k views15 items

One of the biggest problems with Naruto is how many side characters there are who don't get the attention they deserve. 

There are so many Naruto characters with wasted potential that this list can't possibly cover them all - but these fifteen characters had serious unmet potential. Some are powerful ninja who could have and should have appeared in more important fights, while others are characters who could have added a lot to the plot if the story had slowed down to fully explore what they had to argue. 

While some might argue that Naruto didn't have time to fully develop these characters, it totally did. This is a series with hundreds of filler episodes focused on characters that would never reappear or be relevant to the overall story. That space could have easily been given to preexisting characters to develop them further. 

Which of these characters do you think deserved the spotlight?

  • Other than his brother Sasuke, Shisui Uchiha was the person Itachi cared for the most. Both of them so desperately desired peace that they were willing to go against their own clan and make huge personal sacrifices to achieve it. In Shisui's case, that sacrifice is his life. 

    It's not that that backstory needs to be changed - it's perfectly reasonable for some characters to exist firmly in the past - but it would have been nice to see him developed further in flashbacks. How did his opinions differ from Itachi's, if at all? What did they bond over besides their mutual trauma? Did he ever actually meet Kagami Uchiha, whose Will of Fire he supposedly inherited? Why was Danzo able to manipulate him into giving up his plans to stop the coup d'etat. What regrets did he have before he ended everything? 

    Also, the guy is strong. He has a unique ability called the Body Flicker technique that was worthy of some serious attention - but his real power was Kotoamatsukami, one of the strongest genjutsu in Naruto history outside of Infinite Tsukuyomi. He was both feared and revered for his raw strength. It's unfair that we hardly get to see that strength in action. 

    Could have done more?
  • Yamato is the sole survivor of an Orochimaru experiment that cost 59 children their lives and left him with the ability to use Wood Release. Later, he becomes a Root operative who goes out of his way to defy Danzo, and starts working directly with both Itachi and Kakashi, ultimately becoming a respected member of ANBU. Later, he becomes the temporary leader of Team 7 while Kakashi is recovering from an injury.

    Despite his history of accomplishments and his ability to use an inconceivably rare technique, Yamato doesn't get many opportunities to show off his skills. He appears in few major battles, and his compelling backstory is only gently touched upon. It feels like they spend more time on his ability to make scary faces than on actually giving him meaningful character development or showing his valuable kekkai genkai in action.

    Could have done more?
  • Neji passing away during the Fourth Shinobi War was one of the most unfair things that happened in the whole series. War means serious loss, so it makes sense that somebody had to go - but did it really have to be Neji? 

    He was supposed to be one of the greatest shinobi of his generation. He could use the Byakugan to its fullest extent - seriously, the dude could see 800 meters ahead of him at his peak. He could also learn techniques that were forbidden to him through observation alone. Though he did participate in some important battles, he was typically shunted to the side. For that matter, why wasn't the Byakugan itself developed further? The Sharingan gets multiple upgrades, but the Byakugan doesn't see any real development until the main series is over. If it were further developed in Neji's timeline, he could have been a powerful rival for Sasuke. 

    It's not just Neji's powers that could have been written better - it's his whole arc. When he chose to sacrifice himself for Hinata, he was replicating his father's choice to do the same for Hiashi. Watching a man who had been mistreated all his life voluntarily give his life for the benefit of his oppressors was devastating. Having Neji do exactly the same thing wasn't fair to his character, and it didn't do the arc justice. Not that we want Hinata to lose her life, but it would have been so much more meaningful if she sacrificed herself for him instead - reversing their family's gruesome history and setting them on a more equitable path towards the future. 

    Could have done more?
  • 4

    Sakumo Hatake

    It's not that we need Sakumo to have survived - his passing was actually an integral part of Kakashi's background. But considering how many flashbacks there are in Naruto, the narrative could definitely have spent a bit more time on him.

    Known as Konoha's White Fang for his proficiency with the White Light Chakra Sabre, Sakumo was one of the most fearsome ninja in Konoha. Actually seeing him throw down in a fight would have been thrilling. 

    Also, Sakumo could have added more to the story. His career fell apart because he chose to prioritize saving his teammates over succeeding at a mission, and he ended up taking his life. Expanding on this story could have offered real insight into the priorities of the village.

    It also could have been cool to see a direct comparison to Kakuzu, who was also harshly punished by his village for failing a mission. 

    Could have done more?