The Naruto universe is full of complex and unexpected romantic relationships, but no couple had to overcome more throughout the series than Sasuke and Sakura. Despite becoming enemies and being separated for several years, the teammates eventually reunited to pick up where they once left off. Here's how Sasuke and Sakura's love blossomed and why they were always meant to be part of the endgame.
While Sakura's childhood crush on Sasuke was immediately revealed in the series, the quiet and aloof Sasuke seemed to ignore her obvious feelings for him. When Sasuke called Sakura annoying right after they get assigned to the same team, many fans believed that was the end of any possible romance between the young shinobi. However, Sasuke gradually and subtly warmed up to the kunoichi when they finally started working together on Team 7.
During their first-ever mission in the Land of Waves, Sasuke was impressed by Sakura's superior chakra control and jumped in front of her to protect her from their enemies. When Sasuke later appeared to be dead after saving Naruto from Haku, Sakura held him, crying hysterically over his lifeless body until he woke up.
Sasuke's protectiveness over Sakura became overly apparent during the Chunin Exams when they encountered Orochimaru for the first time while Naruto wasn't around. Despite being frozen and overcome by fear, Sasuke finally summoned the courage to move when he looked over at the terrified Sakura, which caused him to activate his Sharingan and pick her up to carry her to safety. After Sasuke and Naruto were both rendered unconscious in the Forest of Death, Sakura's love and courage led her to fight a team of Sound shinobi three-on-one to protect her teammates. She was brutally beaten by the shinobi after cutting off her own hair, causing Sasuke to finally wake up and sinisterly ask who hurt her.
In this pivotal scene for Sasuke and Sakura's relationship, Sasuke activated his curse mark for the first time in order to avenge Sakura. With overwhelming rage and dark energy, Sasuke didn't hesitate to break the arms of the shinobi who attacked her. Fearing Sasuke's cruel and unusual behavior, Sakura hugged him and begged him to stop attacking the other shinobi, successfully calming him down as his curse mark disappeared and he collapsed in her arms. His concern for her wellbeing was later emphasized again after she was attacked by Gaara, when Sasuke told Naruto that Sakura's safety should be their main priority and that he was willing to die to stop Gaara as long as Naruto promised to take her away from danger.
Despite growing to care deeply for one another, Sasuke's blind thirst for revenge and power ultimately led him to abandon the Hidden Leaf Village. Being in tune with her beloved teammate's feelings, Sakura could sense that something wasn't right the night Sasuke decided to leave, and she ran after him. She begged him to stay and even told Sasuke she loved him, but her tears weren't enough to sway his resolve. When Sakura offered to go with him and help him find his brother, Sasuke called her annoying again and thanked her for everything before knocking her out and placing her gently on a bench. While many fans took this as a final rejection of Sakura's feelings, Sasuke appreciated her love but didn't want her to become a rogue shinobi like him or drag her into his dark world.
While the pair spent many years apart and Sasuke was branded a traitor and enemy to the Hidden Leaf, Sakura's feelings for Sasuke never wavered. She continued to search for him in hopes of bringing him home and defended him whenever someone spoke ill of him. Her love for her childhood crush continued all the way up to the Fourth Great Ninja War, when a shinobi hit on her but she admitted she already had someone else in mind. When Team 7 reunited to save the world from Madara's Infinite Tsukuyomi, Sakura helped Sasuke return to their dimension, and he caught her when she started to faint. After the conflict was resolved, Sakura healed Sasuke and he finally apologized to her for everything he put her through.
After spending years apart, Sasuke and Sakura's turbulent relationship finally came together before he embarked on his solo mission to atone for his sins. Sakura offered to go with him before he surprised her with his signature forehead poke -- his ultimate gesture of love that was once reserved only for Itachi. Sasuke thanked her and implies that she could accompany him next time, finally solidifying their romantic relationship once and for all while proving that the popular couple was always meant to be the endgame.