The Big Picture

  • The Uchiha clan, known for their powerful Sharingan abilities, has a tragic and bloody history that includes a massacre by one of their own members.
  • Sasuke Uchiha, one of the main characters of Naruto and Naruto Shippuden, seeks revenge on his brother and becomes a powerful ninja in his quest for power.
  • Itachi Uchiha, Sasuke’s older brother, sacrifices his own reputation and life to protect the Hidden Leaf Village and his younger brother.

The world of Naruto is overflowing with an impressively wide array fearsome foes. From kaiju-sized Tailed Beasts capable of leveling mountains to dangerous shinobi versed in the art of murder and espionage, living a peaceful life in this world necessitated the strength to protect one’s self. When it comes to matters of power, few families in the ninja world could compare to the Uchiha clan. The Uchiha are one of the most prominent shinobi families not just in the Village Hidden in the Leaves, but around the entire ninja world. They earned famed and notoriety for their incredible battle prowess, notably because of their Sharingan, a special eye accessible only to the Uchiha that is capable of empowering the user with special techniques and abilities. However, despite their storied history and connection to the Hidden Leaf Village, the Uchiha are also one of the most tragic groups in the shinobi world. After generations of universal respect and acclaim, there are only a few Uchiha remaining by the time the series starts. But even with their diminished numbers, the living Uchiha are nonetheless some of the most impactful and iconic characters from the entire Naruto series.

The Uchiha Have a Bloody History in ‘Naruto’

Image via Crunchyroll

The history of the Uchiha traces back to the very beginning of shinobi and ninjutsu, the special techniques used by ninja. They were descended from the legendary Sage of Six Paths, a mythical figure who was fabled to have ushered in the creation of shinobi as we know it. The Uchiha followed the lineage of Indra, the older son of the Six Paths Sage, who bestowed his descendants with his special eyes, the Sharingan, and his capacity for feeling deep, powerful emotions that teetered on the line between love and hatred. Generations after the Sage of Six Paths’ life, the world had descended into a time known as the Warring States Period, where ninja clans were in constant conflict with one another in a perpetual power struggle over territory and protection. Among these feuding clans, the Uchiha emerged as one of the most formidable. They found themselves in always fighting with the Senju Clan, another impressive family that proved capable of matching the combat skills of the Uchiha.

Eventually, peace would be reached when the leaders of the two rival clans at the time, Madara Uchiha and Hashirama Senju, agreed to unify and founded the Village Hidden in the Leaves. This was the first shinobi hidden village ever created and would set a precedent for others around the world. However, the decades of tension between the two powerful clans continued to permeate even in peacetime. Madara, spurned by the choice for Hashirama to be the leader of the village, known as the Hokage, and suspicious that the Uchiha would never be truly accepted, defected from the village and fought against his former friend.

In a way, Madara’s fears came to fruition as successive generations saw the Uchiha more and more isolated from the rest of the village. The clan were assigned to serve as the village’s police force, further separating them from the rest of the village people. When the Nine-Tailed Fox, the most powerful Tailed Beast (also known as Jinchuriki), attacked the Hidden Leaf, the rest of the village suspected the Uchiha were behind the assault. Tensions rose within the isolated clan, almost coming to a head with a coup on the village — until their tragic downfall. Itachi Uchiha, one of the most talented members of the family, incited the Uchiha Incident and murdered most of his family, leaving himself and his younger brother, Sasuke, as the remaining members of their legendary clan.

Sasuke Uchiha

Sasuke Uchiha
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One of the main characters of the series, Sasuke Uchiha is introduced as a prodigious talent at the ninja academy. As the lone survivor of his clan’s massacre, Sasuke was steeled by his painful past and motivated to gain power at all costs in order to exact revenge on his older brother, Itachi. However, despite his cold exterior, Sasuke bonded with his peers on Team 7, Naruto Uzumaki and Sakura Haruno. The three young shinobi, under the tutelage of one of the Leaf’s finest, Kakashi Hatake, grew immensely in their skills. His rivalry and friendship with Naruto saw the two butt heads frequently, but resulted in incredible leaps in their growth and development. However, Sasuke proved unable to avoid darkness and temptation, as he later defected from the Hidden Leaf in order to acquire more power to defeat his brother. The end of Naruto saw him in a climatic battle against his best friend, but ultimately saw him leave with Orochimaru, another defected Leaf ninja, to become more powerful by any means necessary.

Sasuke continues to be a motivating force for Naruto throughout Naruto Shippuden, which picks up 2 years after Sasuke’s defection. From his extensive training and tutelage under Orochimaru, Sasuke is able to achieve the strength he desired in order to combat his brother. The duel between Sasuke and Itachi was the culmination of Sasuke’s life work as he is finally able to best his brother. However, the rewards of that victory are not as it seemed, as Sasuke learned the bittersweet truth of his brother’s actions, later leading him to ally with the collective shinobi forces in the Fourth Great Shinobi War. Reunited with Team 7, he is able to help bring an end to the war and finally accepts redemption from Naruto.

Years after the Fourth Shinobi World War, Sasuke continues to protect the Hidden Leaf as one of Naruto’s closest and powerful friends. He married his other teammate, Sakura, and the two would go on to have a child together named Sarada, helping to start the renaissance of his clan.

Itachi Uchiha

Itachi Uchiha from Naruto, preparing for fight
Image via Crunchyroll

The older brother of Sasuke, Itachi Uchiha was one of the most prodigious talents ever produced by the Uchiha clan. From a young age, he was noted by his teachers to have wisdom beyond his years and a degree of skill that put him on par with the most elite ninja. His talents were recognized by his assignment to the ANBU, a clandestine group of shinobi that effectively served as the village’s secret black ops squads. Itachi’s loyalty and desire to protect the Hidden Leaf forced him into a tenuous position when he discovered that the Uchiha were planning a coup. Undeterred by his mission to protect the village, Itachi struck a deal that spared his brother from being killed, but still meant that he had to massacre the rest of his clan.

After wiping out the majority of his family, Itachi joined the Akatsuki, a mercenary organization that were secretly hunting the Tailed Beasts. Despite officially defecting from his village, Itachi’s presence on the Akatsuki actually worked to safeguard his home from unnecessary attacks. Paired with Kisame, a bloodthirsty and viciously skilled swordsman from another village, Itachi attempted to kidnap Naruto for his Tailed Beast — though the two were foiled by Jiraiya, one of the Leaf’s most powerful ninja.

Unfortunately, despite Itachi’s unmatched talents, he was hindered for years by a terminal disease that weakened his own constitution. After years of training, Sasuke is eventually able to defeat his older brother, fulfilling both his and Itachi’s desires. However, before Itachi finally falls to his illness, he is unable to hide his affection for his younger brother. Despite never being publicly hailed as a hero, Itachi died having lived a life of duty, striving to protect his village and his younger brother.

Madara Uchiha

Madara Uchiha in Naruto Shippuden
Image via Crunchyroll

Even generations after his death, the name Madara Uchiha imposes simultaneous awe and fear to those who hear it. The former clan leader’s formidable power and impact on the ninja world reverberates decades after his passing, only strengthening his legend. Madara grew up in the Warring States Period, the dangerous time before the founding of ninja villages when clans consistently fought one another, to bloody consequences. As a young boy, he struck up an unlikely friendship with Hashirama Senju, a member of a rival clan. The two were both disillusioned by the senseless violence that saw them lose many family members. When the two became the leaders of their respective families, Hashirama approached Madara with a proposition to unify. Madara initially declined, but after losing to his rival in battle and seeing his commitment to peace, the Uchiha leader acquiesced. Madara later defected from the village, unhappy with being overlooked for the position of Hokage, and was presumed dead after his earth-shaking battle with Hashirama.

However, Madara survived using some of the most secretive techniques of the Uchiha clan. He developed a plan that involved reflecting the Sharingan on the moon in order to trap the world in an illusion, bringing peace albeit at the cost of free will. In the shadows, Madara’s orchestrations led to many of the events that occurred in the series, such as the Akatsuki’s hunt for Tailed Beasts and the start of the Fourth Great Shinobi War.

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Obito Uchiha

Obito Uchiha as Madara Uchiha in Naruto
Image via Crunchyroll

Though his name was not quite as legendary as others from his clan, Obito Uchiha was nonetheless one of the most significant and influential members of the historic family. Obito was teammates with Kakashi, under the tutelage of Minato Namikaze, who would become the Fourth Hokage, and was Naruto’s father. During the Third Great Shinobi War, half of Obito’s body was crushed in a cave-in during a battle. On the brink of death, Obito gave his Sharingan eye to Kakashi as a farewell gift, which the latter would use to widespread acclaim and success. In reality, Obito survived the cave-in and was rescued by the elderly Madara Uchiha. He would play an important role in the latter’s plan for world peace, joining the Akatsuki as Tobi, a masked ninja who sometimes adopted the name Madara Uchiha in order to incite fear. Obito would eventually declare war on the rest of the shinobi world, starting the Fourth Great Shinobi War.

Though there are few Uchiha left, their impact on the ninja world is one of the most immense. From the founding of the Hidden Leaf Village to its continued protection in the decades after constant wars, the Uchiha are truly a clan to be respected and admired. For fans of the series, a 20th Anniversary Special of Naruto is just on the horizon.

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