Naruto: 10 Most Important Plot-Heavy Episodes That Can’t Be Skipped

Naruto is one of the most prominent anime series in the last few decades, spanning over 220 episodes in its original run and 500 in the sequel, for a total of over 720 episodes. Safe to say, there's a lot of Naruto to watch. Despite a good deal of it being filler content, there are still hundreds of good Naruto episodes to watch in the series.

To many, this can seem daunting, and maybe it's best to get to the most important episodes of the first series first. Thankfully, the first part of Naruto is fairly short without too much filer until the end of the mainline story at around episode 142. Besides the dozen or so filler episodes, the rest of it is canon material.

10 Episode Three: Sasuke and Sakura: Friends or Foes?

Naruto EP3

The introduction of Team 7 is one of the most important and significant moments in all of Naruto, and episode three is a must-watch because of it. In this episode, viewers are introduced to most of the Konoha 11 teams as well as some of the more mainstay characters they'll get to know throughout the series. However, the most important of that bunch are Sakura and Sasuke, Naruto's soon-to-be closest friends. Viewers are also properly introduced to Kakashi and other main supporting cast members as the journey properly begins.

9 Episode 23: Genin Takedown! All Nine Rookies Face Off!

Naruto EP23

The Chuunin Exams is one of the best arcs in Naruto. The arc itself is probably one of the most important in the series from a few perspectives, mostly for characters like Gaara, Lee, Sasuke, and Naruto.

Episode 23 covers a few important details, effectively explaining what the Chuunin exams are and their real purpose. It also introduces the Sound Shinobi and gives viewers some insight on Kabuto. It's a fairly informative episode and important for character interactions between the Konoha 11 as well as giving proper introductions to all of the Leaf's rookies.

8 Episode 30: The Sharingan Revived: Dragon-Flame Jutsu!

Naruto EP30

As the Chuunin Exams push on, Sasuke is attacked by Shiore, a fellow Leaf Shinobi, but is soon to be revealed as someone else entirely. Shiore is revealed to be none other than the great Sanin known as Orochimaru. This episode is important because it's the introduction and reveal of Orochimaru to the audience, the beginning of Sasuke's curse mark journey, and the proper kick-off of the main conflict in the Chuunin exams. There are not a lot of complicated plot points, but from a contextual standpoint, this episode matters a great deal to the overall story of the first half of Naruto.

7 Episode 69: Village in Distress: A New A-Ranked Mission!

Naruto EP69

Orochimaru finally bursts into action in episode 69 and attacks the 3rd Hokage, all the while Gaara loses control of his Tailed Beast and goes on a rampage. The climax of the Chuunin Exams arc, a lot of great moments, and interactions finally reach their breaking point here. Sasuke goes off to finally face Gaara, Orochimaru finally attacks, and the Chuunin exams erupt into chaos as the Leaf is attacked. This episode is one that shouldn't be skipped. This arc is essential to more build-up that will occur in the series.

6 Episode 80: The Third Hokage, Forever...

Naruto EP80

The end of the Chuunin Exam arc concludes with the death of the 3rd Hokage. It's uncertain how great a Hokage the 3rd was, but his impact on the Leaf village was clearly more than what the audience saw. The 3rd Hokage, like others, was a symbol of power and authority that wasn't rivaled.

This leads to a ripple effect of events that follow the death of the Hokage. The Leaf is crippled, a new Hokage must be found, and the search for the 5th Hokage begins.

5 Episode 82: Eye to Eye: Sharingan vs. Sharingan!

Naruto EP82

Episode 82 is one of the most pivotal Naruto episodes. In this episode, the audience is vaguely introduced to the Akatsuki (who they'll see throughout the first half of Naruto Shippuden), the Akatsuki's plan, and glimpses into the incident that led to Sasuke's entire past. There's a lot of plot to consume, and while there's more ahead, this episode is the first major step into what Naruto will shape up to be from this point onwards. Some would even call this episode the true beginning of the series, as everything from Orochimaru's attack, Naruto's birth, and Sasuke's motivations all come into one big bundle.

4 Episode 85: Hate Among the Uchihas: The Last of the Clan!

Naruto EP85

The search for Tsunade is the search for the 5th Hokage. In this episode, the encounter with the Akatsuki ends, but a lot of information is given. If someone did skip to this episode, they'd get a grasp as to how much Sasuke hates Itachi, which is Sasuke's entire motivation all the way back from episode three. But also, there's some information on Lee post-Chuunin Exams and how the goal to save Lee ties into getting the next Hokage candidate into the Leaf. In this episode, the audience is given a proper introduction to Tsunade as tensions rise drastically within the Leaf Village.

3 Episode 109: An Invitation from the Sound (Oto's Invitation)

Naruto EP109

The final major canon-arc of the anime is the Sasuke Retrieval arc, and episode 106 is the beginning of it all. Sasuke encounters the Sound Ninja of Orochimaru's camp and they approach Sasuke for Orochimaru's sake as Orochimaru wants Sasuke's body. Orochimaru offers Sasuke power, and after recent events with Itachi and Naruto, he accepts.

Sasuke leaves the village after a brief talk with Sakura, who he knocks out before leaving. The encounter with Sakura does lead to the rest of the village discovering Sasuke's plan and urging Naruto to go get Sasuke. The importance of this episode will carry over into Naruto Shippuden and is one that shouldn't be skipped before moving on to the next series.

2 Episode 131: The Secrets of the Mangekyo Sharingan!

Naruto EP131

In this episode, Sasuke's backstory is revealed once more to the audience. It's a more detailed account as the fight between Naruto and Sasuke continues. The plot is most developed for Sasuke, but Sasuke's motivations and reasons are important to the overall plot of Naruto and Naruto Shippuden as his struggle is part of Naruto's motive overall. The Uchiha massacre is a massively impactful event that needs to be understood from Sasuke's perspective entirely. After all, the Uchiha massacre is one of the more integral plot lines in the series.

1 Episode 135: The Promise That Could Not Be Kept

Naruto EP135

This would be the last episode anyone would have to watch of the original Naruto run. Naruto is brought back to the village, the other Genin are brought back to the Leaf village, and the mission to get Sasuke fails entirely. Naruto makes his promise to Sakura to bring Sasuke back, Sasuke ends up at Orochimaru's base, and the Akatsuki begin to execute their plan to get Naruto's Nine-Tails in three years. This episode is the end of a long prologue into Naruto Shippuden and shouldn't be skipped by anyone interested in the Sasuke Retrieval arc and Naruto as a whole until Shippuden.

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