If there’s one thing fans want from the best episodes of Naruto Shippuden, it’s an epic fight sequence and emotional payoff. Following the original Naruto series, Naruto Shippuden brought audiences tales of a ninja community on the brink of war. The anime spent a decade releasing new episodes, and teenagers with advanced fighting abilities were the saviors in the series based on Masashi Kishimoto’s manga. During that decade, more than 500 episodes of television were produced.
A large chunk of the original stories in the Naruto series involved young students learning the skills they would need to be successful shinobi, including the endlessly quotable Naruto Uzumaki, but NarutoShippuden is where the stakes are raised. Most episodes involve life-or-death fights, and those stakes, not knowing if a beloved character would make it out alive, are part of what keeps the audience invested in the story. In addition to this, characters learn more, grow more, and have much more intricate fights in Naruto Shippuden. The best episodes of the series truly reflect the emotional growth of the main characters as well as showcase some of the coolest fighting in the franchise.
25 Episode 26 – “10 Vs 100”
Part of the “Kazekage Rescue Mission” arc, this top episode was the first Naruto episode where Naruto’s teammate, Sakura Haruno, truly got the chance to shine and show how much progress she made during the time jump between series. Sakura is often lamented by fans as needing to be saved so much as a teenager, and being too obsessed with Sasuke Uchiha to be of real use. Here, Sakura was separated from her usual teammates and working with Lady Chiyo against a puppet master who was practically impossible to stop. The writing in the episode is full of near misses and almost happy conclusions before pulling the rug out from under the audience. It’s a perfect showcase for Sakura.
24 Episode 424 – “To Rise Up”
This Naruto Shippuden episode is loved because there’s a lot of action going on all at once. The villain Madara Uchiha and Naruto are in the middle of a big fight, but the spotlight isn’t all on Naruto, but also on his teammates. Sakura spends time with Obito Uchiha, discussing plans with him. Sasuke works with the reanimated Tobirama Senju in order to get to Naruto and help him in the fight. Despite the members of Team 7 having been disconnected for so long, their teamwork was still somehow intact and working across distances.
23 Episode 141 – “Truth”
“Truth” is one of the episodes responsible for making the audience see Itachi as a hero. In it, Sasuke gets the full story of just why Itachi massacred the entire Uchiha clan in Konohagakure but spares Sasuke’s life. The story reveals Itachi as a spy for his family within Konoha’s Anbu, but as loyal to the village despite his own family’s desire for power.
Not only does Itachi take out his entire family to stop them from inciting a war in the shinobi world, but he also brokers a deal with Madara to spare Konoha from his wrath, for the time being, and one with the Third Hokage to keep his little brother safe. Itachi isn’t just an impressive ninja, but a master negotiator and something of an anti-hero.
22 Episode 366 – “The All Knowing”
On the one hand, this episode is a placeholder. Not much happened in it, despite it being in the middle of Madara and Naruto’s battle for the fate of the world. But this is because the episode is more about Sasuke getting answers than anything else. The seemingly irredeemable villain Orochimaru lets Sasuke ask questions of the reanimated Hokage, and while it allows fans to spend more time with characters that didn’t have a lot of screen time, like Minato Uchiha and the Senju brothers, it also teases what’s to come. This episode also acts as a pretty great cliffhanger instead of one of the usual episodes that focus heavily on battle.
21 Episode 165 – “Nine-Tails Captured”
When Pain came to Konoha, it created a memorable arc. Not only did the series seemingly lose Kakashi, but Naruto appeared to be bested by a dangerous enemy. In this episode, Pain and Naruto come to something of a standstill as the former explains his motivations. While most of the episode in the long-running Naruto arc focuses on the talk between Naruto and Pain, other characters aren’t completely abandoned. Shikamaru Nara and Inoichi Yamanaka have the B plot of the episode as they track down the real Pain while his Six Paths are otherwise occupied. Despite the episodes that feature mostly slow speeches, this one keeps the audience on the edge of their seat.
20 Episode 175 – “Hero Of The Hidden Leaf”
Because Naruto spent the bulk of his childhood being ostracized by his village and constantly having to prove himself as more than the nine-tailed fox inside of him, this episode could have acted as his happy ending. It lands among the best Naruto Shippuden episodes solely because Naruto is finally seen by the village the way he always wished: respected and as a hero. Naruto isn’t just welcomed back to the village after he defeats Pain, he’s carried around and cheered. It’s a turning point for the way he was treated by others in the franchise.
19 Episode 164 – “Danger! Sage Mode Limit Reached”
Fans of Naruto fight sequences were in for a treat with the arc surrounding Pain. This episode is one of the best of Naruto Shippuden since it isn’t just Naruto throwing whatever he has at an enemy or talking him to death, he actually gets to strategize a little. The episode is also a peek into how Naruto’s mind works as he battles Pain and realizes just which of the Paths of Pain he needs to take out first. Even though he couldn’t sustain Sage Mode throughout the episode, fans can’t completely count him out.
18 Episode 372 – “Something To Fill The Hole”
In this episode, Sasuke returns to Konoha to fight for the village, joining forces with Sakura and Naruto against Naruto’s most powerful monster, the Ten-Tails. But Team 7 isn’t the only team to get the spotlight. The Naruto Shippuden war episodes actually do a great job of showcasing the talents of Naruto’s other former classmates, as well. Leading the fight are Shikamaru and Ino Yamanaka, who use their shadow and mind abilities to help protect the village. The reanimated Hokage also comes in to join the fight, bringing together most of the components the audience love about the war episodes.
17 Episode 364 – “The Ties That Bind”
This particular episode is an emotional one for Naruto fans. It features the deaths of three characters that they’ve gotten to know as the Fourth Shinobi World War raged on. In it, Shikaku Nara and Inoichi are unable to thwart an incoming attack, leaving the two of them to mentally reach out, using Inoichi’s power, to their children to say goodbye. It’s a blow for fans who have already watched Team 10 members Ino and Shikamaru lose their beloved teacher. Likewise, fan-favorite, Neji Hyuga, blocks Hinata Hyuga while she shields Naruto from an attack, protecting them, so they can keep fighting, and there isn’t a dry eye in the audience.
16 Episode 339 – “I Will Love You Always”
This episode goes a long way toward making Itachi a fan favorite. Sasuke, after all, ends up defecting from Konoha and wanting revenge against the village he thinks betrayed his brother. This episode reveals the truth to Sasuke, however, that Itachi was protecting the village and his little brother all along. Itachi saying goodbye to his brother is heartbreaking for Sasuke, but it provides a big leap forward in the story for the audience and allows Itachi’s character arc in Naruto to be better understood. Knowing the truth allows Sasuke to move on.
15 Episode 138 – “The End”
Though the title of this episode is “The End,” it doesn’t come at the end of Naruto Shippuden. Instead, it comes at the end of a chapter in Sasuke’s life. This is the final episode of Sasuke’s fight with his brother, Itachi. Sasuke vows for years to make the person who tore his family apart pay for what they did. Given the chance, he uses every power in his arsenal to take on his brother. “The End” sees the two brothers nearly evenly matched, with Sasuke only winning the fight when Itachi’s chakra is depleted. This episode was a long time coming and a huge moment of catharsis for Naruto fans.
14 Episode 167 – “Planetary Devastation”
The episode “Planetary Devastation” has another name and is also called “Chibaku Tensei,” a reference to one of the most powerful shinobi techniques in Naruto, used only by those who have the Rinnegan. The episode leads with Naruto being angry at what he thinks is Hinata’s death by Pain. So angry, he allows the spirit of the Nine-Tails to take over and takes on Pain alone.
As the massive fight progresses, Naruto grew more and more tails until he gives over to the fox completely. Little does he know, though, that Hinata is still alive and in the midst of the battle itself. Pain is forced to use a massive sphere, through Chibaku Tensei, to contain Naruto, but as the episode comes to a close, it isn’t enough. It’s a great use of a cliffhanger to keep the audience coming back for more.
13 Episode 345 – “I’m In Hell”
If fans wanted a little backstory on the masked Obito Uchiha, this episode delivers in spades. While they knew he sacrificed himself and gave Kakashi his eye as a kid, they didn’t know what happened after that to turn him into Tobi. This episode helps fill in the blanks by giving fans a look at his recovery process with Madara Uchiha and allowing them to understand just what he went through. It also reveals that he witnessed Rin’s death at Kakashi’s hand out of context, not knowing that Rin chose that path, breaking his heart. It’s a great chapter of backstory.
12 Episode 478 – “The Unison Sign”
Considering how important the bond between Naruto and Sasuke is to the entire franchise, this episode has to be one of the best Naruto Shippuden episodes. It’s a trip down memory lane for the two characters, but it’s also a massive battle – and some philosophical discussion. While Naruto and Sasuke battle to be the strongest shinobi, they also take time to wonder just why their treatment by the village is so different, and what friendship really means to them. In the end, Naruto manages to convince Sasuke to help him help, even if Sasuke isn’t sure the world wants his help.
11 Episode 168 – “The Fourth Hokage”
This Naruto episode provides a massive download of information for fans – all while the Nine-Tails continue to battle Pain. In Naruto’s mind, he met the part of the Fourth Hokage’s mind left behind for the Nine-Tails’ seal. Naruto not only discovers that the Fourth Hokage is his father, but that the previous attack by the Nine-Tails on Konohagakure was manipulated by a member of the Akatsuki. With so many pieces in place, Naruto takes back his own body as the Fourth Hokage’s chakra vanishes. The episode ends with Naruto understanding how to find the real Pain, bringing the battle closer to its end.
10 Episode 421 – “The Sage Of The Six Paths”
Naruto and Sasuke get the chance to talk to a legend in this Naruto Shippuden episode. While unconscious, the two speak with Hagoromo Otsutsuki. The ancient shinobi gives the former teammates-turned-enemies-turned-allies some context for the conflict they are embroiled in and reveals to the two that his own mother – Kaguya – used her shinobi abilities to rule and it’s her visual power that Madara wants.
Hagoromo wanted Naruto and Sasuke to stop him, but that isn’t all he reveals. It turns out, Naruto and Sasuke have the reincarnated chakra of his own two sons. To help them reach the full potential of this inherited chakra and defeat Madara, Hagoromo shares his own power with them. This power allows Naruto to stop Madara from killing Might Guy at the end of the episode, changing the course of the battle. Fans might be divided on the reincarnated chakra idea, but the episode providing a reason for the connection between the two characters explains a lot.
9 Episode 248- “The Fourth Hokage’s Death Match”
Flashback episodes became a big part of the Naruto franchise as it continued. Some of them clarified story ideas, while others were filler episodes meant to flesh out little-known characters. One of the best Naruto Shippuden episodes gives fans a look at just what happened the night Naruto was born. Focused on Fourth Hokage Minato Namikaze’s point of view during the night, the episode shows him getting Naruto to safety just after his birth and then battling a mysterious masked stranger. The audience knows that the masked stranger was Tobi, but Minato didn’t, adding to the tension of the episode as he fights to save the village from someone who could control the nine-tailed fox.
8 Episode 474 – “Congratulations”
This particular episode gives the heroes their happy ending. In it, Kakashi, Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura team up in Kaguya’s dimension to stop her. The spirits of all the Kage who helped them in battle were able to return to the afterlife, their jobs done. Of course, this episode only focuses on Kakashi’s Team Seven. Before Minato left them, Naruto gets the chance to give his father several messages for his mother. All around, it’s a fairy tale ending to a major battle. It isn’t, however, the end of Naruto Shippuden, and there are definitely episodes that are even better.
7 Episode 476 – “The Final Battle”
Following the events of the Fourth Shinobi World War, the series didn’t just come to an abrupt end. Instead, Naruto Shippuden continues to follow the title character into “The Final Battle” and beyond. Though the war was the culmination of large plot threads in the series, this particular arc is the culmination of Naruto’s personal journey.
Naruto spent his formative years thinking of teammate Sasuke Uchiha as a friend and constantly competing with him, though the latter didn’t realize it until much later. Here, the two finally get to see what they are made of as they engage in a battle against one another instead of a common enemy. It is the fight that fans have been waiting years for and it doesn’t even end in this episode.
6 Episode 322 – “Uchiha Madara”
Being dead doesn’t stop Madara Uchiha from being stronger than nearly everyone else in the series. This episode allows fans to see just what he can do. Right in the middle of the Fourth Shinobi World War, a reanimated Madara Uchiha takes on the Fourth Division himself, and it cements Madara as one of the most powerful Naruto characters. Naruto doesn’t have enough chakra left at this point in the fight to use the nine-tailed fox to fight him, so this means dozens of other shinobi go up against Madara instead – and lose. The fighting is intense and impressive to watch.