Did the Naruto and Sakura Ship Ever Really Stand a Chance?

Looking back at the whole of Naruto can make it tricky to determine just who was supposed to end up with whom. Many fans are dissatisfied with the fact that Naruto Uzumaki married Hinata Hyūga while Sakura Haruno married Sasuke Uchiha. There are those who believe that Naruto's relationship with Sakura was built up much better than the one with Hinata.

Unfortunately, no one can reach a consensus as to how these characters' romantic lives should have turned out. Part of that may have to do with all of the contradictory evidence throughout the series that seems to suggest that Naruto could have ended up with either Sakura or Hinata. A proper assessment of Naruto and Sakura's potential for a lasting relationship would have to take all of these potential clues into account.

naruto the last

One person on Quora put forth that Naruto was always going to end up with Hinata. They referenced a passing line of dialogue from The Last: Naruto the Movie as proof: According to Sakura, Naruto only ever went after her as part of his rivalry with Sasuke. If this is the case, then Naruto would have broken up with Sakura as soon as he beat Sasuke to her heart. In this same vein, Naruto would always have been meant to end up with Hinata.

The Naruto-Hinata relationship itself has had a large amount of setup. Nearly every scene with Hinata in the series involves her showing her feelings for Naruto in one form or another. This dates all the way back to when she was introduced at the start of the Chūnin Exams.

Of course, for every fan who claims that Naruto and Hinata had the better setup, there's someone who will say that honor goes to Naruto and Sakura. Sure enough, there are those in the comment section of the Quora page saying that the line about Naruto never truly loving Sakura shouldn't be taken at face value as it's not in the original manga. Since the line came from an epilogue movie, it's been called a non-canon retcon designed to support Naruto's fate to end up with Hinata, the whole point of the film.

Others go on to point out how Naruto still tried his luck with Sakura even after Sasuke left the village. If hitting on her were actually part of his rivalry, then he would have had no reason to keep it up once the object of his rivalry was out of the picture. However, Sasuke was gone for almost all of Shippuden and yet Naruto still consistently tried to get Sakura to go on a date with him.

The real issue that was taken with the movie's retcon, however, is how much it downplays Naruto's apparent genuine interest in Sakura. Even Sai, who is infamous for his lack of emotional intelligence, managed to pick up on Naruto's feelings and addressed both him and Sakura about the subject. Whether Naruto was meant to end up with Sakura or Hinata, saying he never actually had romantic feelings for the former doesn't seem quite right.

Some would argue that Naruto's "love" for Sakura was just a simple boyhood crush. This is a fair assessment as it acknowledges Naruto's potential to fall in love with other women without denying his apparent feelings for Sakura. As far as theories for Naruto's romantic interest go, this is a good middle-ground solution.

The question of whether Naruto stood a chance with Sakura has all sorts of answers. There's plenty of evidence within the canon series to suggest that Naruto could have been paired off with either Sakura or Hinata. If, however, the theory is true that Naruto was only crushing on Sakura and not completely in love with her, that wouldn't be so bad either. Fans are invited to acknowledge fan theories, accept the series' explanations or draw their own conclusions.

My hero Academia art created by Kohei Horikoshi for New Year's Day 2022
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