The Naruto series is one of the most well-known franchises worldwide. The series follows a young ninja named Naruto Uzumaki, who strives to become the Hokage of his village, the Hidden Leaf. Although he has the Nine-Tailed Fox sealed inside him and is shunned because of it, he works hard to become strong.

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Together with the sequel series Naruto Shippuden, the anime ran for 15 years from October 3, 2002, to March 23, 2017. Like many anime series, Naruto is broken up into distinct arcs. While some of these are core to the main storyline of Naruto and his friends, others serve as filler and aren't tied to the contents of the manga.

Updated April 3rd, 2023 by Declan Lowthian: We've totally revamped this list with new info about all the arcs that made Naruto and Naruto Shippuden the juggernauts of shonen anime that they are today.

1 Prologue — Land Of Waves

Naruto Episodes 1 - 19

Naruto facing off against Haku in the wave ark

Naruto's Prologue - Land of Waves arc covered the first 19 episodes of the show. Team 7's first serious mission led them to encounter Zabuza and Haku—the most well-liked villains in the series.

This arc shows Team 7 beginning to understand how serious being a ninja can be, as well as learning that not every ninja fits a clear-cut definition of "evil" and "good." Character growth begins immediately as Zabuza realizes what is truly important to him in the end.

2 Chunin Exams

Naruto Episodes 20 - 67

Naruto and the rest of team 7 during the Chunin Exams arc

The Chunin Exams Arc was one of the longest of the original Naruto anime. The Chunin exams had the ninjas handle some of the toughest tests thrown their way yet.

From figuring out how to truly work together to participating in near-death battles in the Forest of Death, nearly all of Naruto's characters proved their strength in this arc. The Chunin Exams Arc marked the first appearance of Orochimaru, fully displayed all of the Kohona 11, and introduced important Naruto characters like Gaara, Temari, and Kankuro.

3 Konoha Crush

Naruto Episodes 68 - 80

Naruto Two ninjas in wooden boxes

Before the Chunin exams could get into their final stages, Orochimaru attacked the Hidden Leaf. The Konoha Crush Arc saw Hiruzen, the Third Hokage, and his pupil battle to the death.

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Although Hiruzen's death was ultimately in vain, the impact it left on the characters—and especially Naruto—could be felt throughout the village. The events of the Konoha Crush Arc helped kick off the following arc, and indeed the entire rest of the Naruto anime.

4 Search For Tsunade

Naruto Episodes 81 - 100

Asuna and Kurenai facing off against two Akatsuki ninjas.

After the Third Hokage's death, the search for a new Hokage to fill the previous one's shoes began. This also marked the first appearance of the Akatsuki and revealed that Sasuke's brother Itachi Uchiha was a member.

In the Search for Tsunade Arc, Naruto sets out on a journey with Jiraiya. He trains to master the Rasengan for the first time, setting up an important facet of his character moving forward.

5 Land Of Tea Escort Mission

Nartuo Episodes 102 - 106

Naruto being grouchy in the Land of Tea Escort mission

The Land of Tea Escort Mission Arc is a filler arc, so it follows Team 7 on a mission that wasn't covered in the manga. The plot was simple—to help a genin from the Hidden Leaf, Idate Morino, win a race.

The attack by Orochimaru on the Hidden Leaf left behind a shortage of jonin. Team 7 was the only option left to aid the Wasabi family on an escort mission.

6 Sasuke Recovery Mission

Naruto Episodes 107 - 135

Sasuke departing in Naruto

After Sasuke received his curse mark from Orochimaru during the Chunin exams and was called weak by Itachi during the Search For Tsunade, he wanted more power. Sasuke decided to leave the village to pursue his drive, leading the Hidden Leaf's Konoha 11 to search for him.

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The Konoha 11 were determined to stop Sasuke from joining Orochimaru, no matter what. Naruto and Sasuke had their first fight at the Valley of the End in this story arc, and it was the last canonical arc in the original Naruto series before filler took over.

7 Land Of Rice Fields Investigation Mission

Naruto Episodes 136 - 141

Jiraiya, Naruto, and Sakura on the road

After Sasuke departed and defected to Orochimaru's side, only Naruto and Sakura were left of Team 7. During this arc, Jiraiya took a larger role in the series than he had previously.

Naruto and Sakura join Jiraiya went on a mission to investigate Orochimaru's whereabouts, hoping to get more information on Sasuke. This journey takes them to the Land of Rice Fields, where they discover Sasuke is safe, but only for the time being.

8 Mizuki Tracking Mission

Naruto Episodes 142 - 147

Mizuki from Naruto

Mizuki was the original antagonist responsible for Naruto learning about the sacred ninja scroll that had the Shadow Clone Jutsu written inside of it.

In this story arc, Nartuto goes after Mizuki after learning he has escaped from prison. Though he is too powerful to take on alone, Naruto and Iruka work together to finally recapture Mizuki.

9 Bikochu Search Mission

Naruto Episodes 148 - 151

Naruto and Team 8 in the forest

This arc sees Naruto gaining some new allies. Instead of teaming up with Sakura or the remainder of Team 7, Naruto instead joins Team 8 so he can help search for the rare bikochu beetle. This insect was used by the Aburame clan to find anything that was lost.

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Naruto planned to use the forehead protector Sasuke left behind to search for Sasuke by his scent. The arc was well-received for its comedic undertones and the appearance of four rarely appearing characters; Shino Aburame, Hinata Hyuga, Kiba Inazuka, and Akamaru.

10 Kurosuki Family Removal Mission

Naruto Episodes 152 - 157

Naruto and Team 8 surrounding a person in a body bag

Another filler arc, the Kurosuki Family Removal Mission Arc featured Team Guy and plenty of supernatural happenings. Although all Naruto wishes to do is train, Jiraiya is nowhere to be found.

As he has nothing else to do, Naruto decides to join Team Guy in their mission of dealing with the Kurosaki family. Naruto believed the leader of the family, Raiga Kurosuki, might be able to help him learn Sasuke's whereabouts.

11 Gosunkugi Capture Mission

Naruto Episodes 159 - 160

Gosuguki from Naruto

In this arc, Naruto once again heads out together with Team 8. This time, they help a bounty hunter and bladesmith named Sazanami—formerly known as Tokichi—clear his name.

While they are out searching for the famous bandit Gosunkugi, Team 8 comes across Sazanami instead and vows to help prove him innocent. Though Team 8 doesn't manage to catch the bandit in the end, this arc is an important learning moment for them all.

12 Cursed Warrior Extermination Mission

Naruto Episodes 162 - 167

A cursed warrior with its eyeball falling out in Naruto

This arc sees Naruto once again join an excursion of ninjas. This time the team is composed of Tenten and Rock Lee, who are both determined to investigate rumors of a ghost in the Land of Birds.

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The Land of Birds is a small country in the Naruto universe between the Land of Wind and the Land of Earth. Through some clever tactics and determination, the ninjas are able to save the Land of Birds and defeat the "ghosts" once and for all.

13 Kaima Capture Mission

Naruto Episodes 169 - 173

Naruto and team 8 on a boat

The Kaima Capture Mission Arc continues the theme of Naruto joining up with disparate teams of other ninjas. This time, Naruto bands together with Anko Mitarashi, Ino Yamanaka, and Shino Aburame.

Anko is on the lookout for information about her former teacher. Naruto decides to join her so he can try and get any information about Sasuke's whereabouts.

14 Buried Gold Excavation Mission

Naruto Episodes 175 - 176

two ninjas from Naruto

Naruto is paired up with Kiba and Hinata so he can somehow help them improve Team 8's teamwork. In truth, this is because they all have low success rates with their missions—excluding Shino—and Tsunade has noticed this.

Kiba rarely listens, Naruto runs headfirst into issues, and Hinata avoids confrontation, wasting her capabilities. Tsunade then gives them an ultimatum: either improve their teamwork or be sent back to the Academy to redo their ninja training.

15 Star Guard Mission

Naruto Episodes 178 - 183

Natsuhi from Naruto holding out a shuriken

The Star Guard Mission Arc is perhaps the most well-known Naruto filler arc—and for a good reason. The story follows Naruto and Team Guy as they head to Hoshigakure to help the villagers protect their sacred star, but that's just the beginning.

The characters Sumaru and Natsuhi in particular became fan-favorite filler characters. The lullaby "Natsuhiboshi" still resonates with Naruto fans around the world.

16 Peddlers Escort Mission

Naruto Episodes 187 - 191

Naruto on the peddlar's escort mission

This filler arc follows Naruto as he goes on a mission with Hinata Hyuga and Chojo Akimichi. The group sets out to protect peddlers traveling from the Land of Vegetables.

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The peddlers are accosted by a trio of brothers called the Janin. These bandits can use special jutsu, but use it for evil instead of good.

17 Third Great Beast Arc

Naruto Episodes 195 - 196

Might guy fighting Rock Lee in Naruto

Might Guy and Rock Lee take center stage in this filler arc. Naruto helps Might Guy as he is wrapped up in a plot for revenge. The plot is led by Yagura, a genin from the Hidden Leaf Village.

Might Guy, Rock Lee, and Naruto must fight off Yagura and his brothers' special Puppet Technique. In doing so, they learn the reason behind the brothers' desire for revenge.

18 Konoha Plans Recapture Mission

Naruto Episodes 197 - 201

A group of Naruto ninjas in a field

This arc focuses on the Konoha 11 joining together to help protect the village once again. This time, Naruto and the Konoha 11 work together to stop a ninja from the Kagero Village from destroying their home.

This arc includes as much action as it does investigation. The group must thwart a sabotage attempt and find all the planted explosives before it's too late.

19 Yakumo Kurama Rescue Mission

Naruto Episodes 203 - 207

A building being struck by lightning in Naruto

This arc features a greater focus on Team 8's leader Kurenai Yuhi. The arc also centers around Yakumo Kurama is the last remaining member of the Kurama clan.

This clan is skilled with genjutsu and has valuable kekkei genkai users. Yakumo is in danger, and Naruto joins Kurenai in helping rescue her from her attackers.

20 Gantetsu Escort Mission

Naruto Episodes 209 - 212

A gang of thugs in Naruto

In this arc, Naruto teams up with both Sakura and Lee to help aid in transferring a criminal to prison. Said criminal is a part of the Shinobazu and is extremely dangerous, leading to various difficulties with their mission.

While this arc features a lot of classic combat and action, it also sees the group making some tough choices. Several of the "villains" of the arc are allowed to escape by the end.