The titular protagonist of Naruto is considered one of the most classic anime heroes of all time. Although original in many ways, what makes him most effective are the many similarities he shares with the series' roster of villains. From the Land Of Waves through the Fourth Shinobi War, Naruto is able to win the hearts of his adversaries based on what they have in common.
Naruto's pacificism illustrates how a non-violent solution is always possible based on finding common ground with one's worst enemies. Naruto surpasses many of his peers in other anime for his ability to capitalize on these similarities when turning foes into friends.
Update on June 21st, 2023 by Louis Kemner: It's easy for a shonen anime series to depict the heroes and villains clashing over their ideologies and arguing with one another, but it takes some clever and deep writing to give these opposing sides some common ground. That's what author Masashi Kishimoto did for his hit series Naruto, giving the protagonist some personal similarities with his villains. These similarities proved that everyone in Naruto is a real human being with real desires and fears, even if they're on opposing sides, and that made it easier for Naruto's talk jutsu to work. Now, let's review a few more parallels between Naruto Uzumaki and his enemies.
Training with Jiraiya
Nagato's greatest similarity with Naruto is that they both learned under Master Jiraiya. Since the beginning, the Toad Sage knew that his student could either bring about great prosperity or ruin. What he failed to consider was that ultimately, both possibilities could be true at once.
It's fortunate that the characters could bond over a master since it made Nagato more willing to restore Konoha after he was defeated. With the last of his strength, he heeded Naruto's message and resolved much of the harm caused by the Leaf's invasion.
Being an ostracized jinchuriki
Before Gaara became a great hero, he was a dreadful villain. During the Chunin Exams, he used Shukaku and his mother's blessed sand in order to wreak havoc against the contestants and murder everyone he could. Given that Naruto and Gaara were both Jinchuriki, they were able to understand one another better than anyone else could.
Naruto demonstrated that just because one had a monster inside them didn't mean they needed to become evil themselves. Such a lesson changed Gaara's life for the better and later helped to rehabilitate him.
Grew up as orphans
Kabuto and Naruto share a surprising number of similarities. Both were orphaned as children, which made them feel the burning sting of loneliness before being taken in by adoptive figures. The only major difference in their childhoods is that Kabuto accidentally killed his orphan mother whereas Naruto never meaningfully harmed Iruka.
Curiously, they are also the series' most prolific masters of Sage jutsu. Naruto uses the Toad Sage power imparted to him by Master Jiraiya, whereas Kabuto's Snake Sage abilities transformed his body and made it much more serpentine. Kabuto aspires to steal and perfect others' jutsu, whereas Naruto invents his own.
Dreamed of becoming Hokage
Danzo was often considered to be one of the series' few irredeemable villains. However, he and Naruto shared a dream to become the next Hokage. Their only major difference was that Danzo had seniority and did not shy away from using underhanded tactics toward this end. He even proved willing to destroy Konoha so long as he could lead its smoldering rubble.
The two are also related through Hashirama. Danzo uses Hashirama cells in order to stabilize his Izanagi arm, whereas Naruto is his direct reincarnation. Like Kabuto, Danzo attempts to impersonate the power Naruto naturally wields.
Loyalty to friends
Haku and Naruto share a sense of loyalty toward their comrades. Just as Zabuza did not always treat his subordinate fairly yet received unconditional protection, Sasuke enjoyed similar benefits throughout the majority of the series.
Furthering the commonalities between the two characters, Haku and Zabuza died in a pose much resembling the final shot of the Valley Of The End rematch. The only difference was that Naruto and Sasuke had both become so powerful, they didn't end up using fatal measures before respecting one another as equals.
10 Obito Uchiha
Power of friendship, dreaming of being Hokage
Obito and Naruto had the most commonalities in youth. Outspoken dreamers willing to do anything for comrades, Kakashi couldn't help but notice their similarities. During the Fourth Shinobi War, he even told Obito that there was a person who carried on his will and mission despite his loss of hope.
At first, Obito proved reluctant to abide Kakashi's sentiments since he'd already convinced himself that the Infinite Tsukuyomi was the only path forward. However, given that Obito both betrayed Madara and sacrificed himself to save the heroes from Kaguya, he clearly had a profound change of heart.
Coming from an extinct clan
Kimimaro and Naruto had an abundance of similarities both in personality and the way they conduct themselves on the battlefield. Whether hailing from a largely extinct clan or exerting themselves past their limits for the sake of colleagues, both have proven wholeheartedly committed to being honorable shinobi.
Additionally, the characters' innate lineage made them unusually powerful. Kimimaro's Kekkei Genkai allowed him to protrude bone spikes as hard as steel, whereas Naruto's Uzumaki healing factor was a major asset when recovering from treacherous attacks. The latter proved so intriguing to Orochimaru that it was the sole reason for Karin's position in his ranks.
Loving Hinata Hyuga
Naruto's love for Hinata was one of the highlights of Shippuden and conveyed how much he grew in his adult years. Unfortunately, Toneri expressed an equal amount of infatuation to such an extent he even abducted her. Given his place on the moon, Toneri suffered from immense loneliness.
Naruto understood him better than most due to the persecution faced in his own childhood, which compelled him to save Toneri rather than let him be consumed by his own power. Luckily, Toneri agreed not to trouble the happy couple again.
Using strange/forbidden jutsu
Orochimaru may have the least in common with Naruto, but what they share is difficult to ignore. Both harness forbidden powers that Konoha is rightly afraid of when conducting themselves against lethal opponents. For Naruto, that meant calling upon Kurama's ancient power even when he could not entirely control it.
Orochimaru's forbidden jutsu were far more extensive, but the edo tensei was his weapon of choice. It allowed him to resurrect dead shinobi to fight as his enslaved thralls so long as he had human sacrifices to summon them with. Orochimaru used this ability when overpowering Hiruzen Sarutobi in his attack on Konoha.
6 Sasuke Uchiha
Losing their parents
Sasuke and Naruto were direct parallels of each other on opposite ends of the moral spectrum. The death of their parents was supposed to be a great bond, yet Sasuke didn't see it that way.
During the first battle in the Valley Of the End, he refused to accept that Naruto understood his pain since he "never had parents in the first place." It took time and the truth behind the Uchiha massacre for Sasuke's perspective to mature so that they could finally become a cohesive team unit once again.
Expressing themselves with ninjutsu
Some Naruto shinobi view ninjutsu as tools of warfare, while other ninjas, good and evil alike, like to express themselves with the jutsu they learn or invent. Naruto, for example, invented the R-rated sexy jutsu as a prank, and he also enjoyed innovating new Rasengan variants.
Similarly, the explosive expert Deidara insists that art is an explosion, and that's how he sees the world—and himself. These two characters prove that ninjutsu can be a passion project, and not just a way to win on the battlefield.
4 Madara Uchiha
Seeking world peace
Even if Madara Uchiha stands as one of the strongest and most feared Naruto villains of all, his goals are remarkably noble, if not his methods. Madara lived in the chaotic, brutal era before the hidden villages, and he was determined to end the bloodshed.
Now Madara is back, and he will do anything, even cast powerful genjutsu, to force world peace and bring happiness to the world. His methods are villainous, but even Naruto Uzumami can relate to the desire to end all war and strife forever.
Seeking alternate sources of power
At a glance, Naruto Uzumaki and the mercenary Kakuzu seem worlds apart, but they do have some common ground, mostly in terms of power and jutsu. Both of them are willing and able to tap into unusual power sources that most other people wouldn't or couldn't claim for themselves.
Kakuzu used his grotesque jutsu to claim several other hearts and add more elements of chakra to his fighting style, making him several shinobi in one. Naruto, meanwhile, has his own natural chakra but is also trained to use Kurama's power and later learned to harness Sage Mode as well.
The power of faith in people
On one hand, Hanzo resorted to brutal methods that Naruto Uzumaki never would, and Hanzo was more cautious and calculating than Naruto tends to be. But they do have some common ground, including their faith in other people.
Hanzo had a philosophy of faith, believing that if people have faith in him and each other, then the Land of Rain would survive, and so would Hanzo's will. Naruto is even more positive about this, having absolute faith in his friends, such as the Konoha 11, and they return the feeling in full.
1 Itachi Uchiha
Loving the Hidden Leaf Village
For a time, Naruto Uzumaki was absolutely terrified of the talented Itachi Uchiha, who hunted him down and nearly captured him for the Akatsuki cause. Naruto and a proxy Itachi also faced off in Naruto Shippuden, though it was Sasuke who finished off this secretly heroic villain.
Naruto didn't know it at the time, but the seemingly cold and pitiless Itachi was an anti-villain who dearly loved the Hidden Leaf Village more than anything, just like Naruto himself. Both characters see the Leaf Village as their irreplaceable home, and they both went to great lengths to protect it—but in drastically different ways.