Naruto: 5 Ninja Perfect to Replace Naruto as Hokage

WARNING: The following contains spoilers for Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Chapter #54, “Bro,” by Masashi Kishimoto, Mikio Ikemoto, Mari Morimoto and Snir Aharon, now available in English from Viz Media.

In the Boruto manga, it seems that Naruto may be on his last legs. Following the battle with Isshiki, his Baryon Mode has drained his chakra dry, something which Kurama warned about, and it looks like he'll die. This has already led to speculation that Sasuke might take over as Hokage of Konoha, becoming the first Uchiha to do so and accomplishing the dream Madara and Hashirama Senju had centuries earlier.

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However, there are some familiar faces in the old guard that could become the leader of the Hidden Leaf if Sasuke passes on the opportunity to look after the village from an administrative role.

5. Orochimaru

Orochimaru readying his sword

While a seemingly unconventional pick, it's worth remembering that Orochimaru was a member of the Three Legendary Sannin. Jiraiya died but he was someone people said should be leader, although he never liked official roles. Tsunade took over after the Third Hokage, Hiruzen, fell in battle as well, so the Sannin as a whole do have an idea of leadership, as they were official protectors for a while.

Ironically, Orochimaru was the one who killed Hiruzen, but he redeemed himself in the Kaguya war, helping Naruto and Sasuke in the fight against the Rabbit Princess. But understanding what Konoha needs now would be a big step in return to the light, as he could honor Jiraiya and his former mentor in Hiruzen as Hokage.

He's already shown affection for Mitsuki and the next generation, and while he's still secretive about his experiments, the fact he's driven by science would be a massive boon for Konoha's push towards science and technology-based shinobi work. With his decades of experience and study, Orochimaru could be a great leader to help the village evolve and progress on this front. It would also allow the likes of Shikamaru and Sasuke to keep a closer eye on him, as they can't fully monitor him as is.

4. Ino Yamanaka

Ino was an integral soldier during the Kaguya war, picking up the slack after the sensory unit died at the hands of the Ten Tails. Since then, she and Shikamaru have worked to honor the legacy of those that died in the attack. Now, Shikamaru has become Naruto's advisor, while Ino heads up Konoha's sensory network and runs a flower shop. It's a less action-packed role than what she once had, but being away from recent mini-wars is something that actually makes Ino a compassionate leader.

For example, in a recent arc, Ino didn't force her son, Inojin, to follow the family's path as a sensory ninja, believing he needs to find his footing on his own. Someone like Ino could therefore add a lot of nuance and empathy to a role that's usually more business-like in looking after the Will of Fire.

Ino cuts a very inspirational and rational figure, plus she'd have Sakura and Hinata to lean on. Her willingness to wait and listen to those around her would create bring a more nurturing, motherly approach to the office, making her more approachable than Hokage tend to be. Younger shinobi especially respect Ino and her maturity, even when she was a teen, and her stabilizing presence could be just what Konoha needs after Naruto's gone.

3. Iruka Umino

Iruka's dedicated his life to Konoha's Will of Fire and bringing up the next generation of shinobi, but he also knows a lot about Konoha politics and the other villages, as well. He helped raise Naruto, too, and is on the level of Kakashi and Jiraiya in his life, maybe even higher. In that sense, he's Boruto's godfather of sorts, and appointing him could give Iruka the props the Naruto series didn't fully provide.

Iruka is a smart, tactical and kind veteran that's spent much of his life in close proximity to the Hokage, namely Hiruzen and Naruto. In taking the role, he'd definitely want to honor the sacrifice of his "son," as he was always scared when Naruto ran off into battle. If not for Kakashi, Iruka likely would have succeeded Tsunade as Hokage, although he has admittedly actively tried to stay out the limelight.

However, the village needs experience and stability, and when Minato died and Konoha went back to Hiruzen, it proved they were open to bringing back older heads to add just that. He would also work pretty well with Boruto and Team 7, as he's looked out for them as if they were his own, as well.

2. Shikamaru Nara

Shikamaru Naru

Shikamaru changed drastically when his dad died alongside Ino's in the war, moving from someone who was always lazy when it came to helping out to becoming Naruto's right-hand man on the job. He realized he couldn't let his potential go to waste and, after so many years alongside the current Hokage, he is well positioned to move from deputy to acting.

Shikamaru has also tried to avoid the big spotlight, but Konoha would need someone like him for a seamless transition. He knows the lay of the land well, many villages appreciate his style and genius, and as he's married to Temari of the Hidden Sand, giving him an extra diplomatic badge.

Having Shikamaru go from ducking responsibility to having the ultimate responsibility would bring his character full circle, possibliy encouraging Shikadai to aim higher, as his son's also showing immense prowess as one of Boruto's main supporters. Shikamaru's family has also had some of the village's most loyal soldiers and this could be the crowning jewel on their dynasty.

1. Sakura Uchiha

Sakura Waving At Sarada

Sakura may be a surprise choice, but she's earned it and perfect for the role. Becoming Hokage would complete her journey as Tsunade's apprentice and she'd have her, as well as former mentor, Kakashi, to lean on. Sakura is also an underrated military strategist, helping out immensely in the final fight against Kaguya, so apart from her motherly touch, Sakura has an eye for war and future threats.

That said, a medical ninja leading the village also ties into the vision of science with Katasuke's team for the future. Everyone in the villages knows and loves her, as they're all aware her history runs deep when it comes to saving other villages. Sasuke as the Ranger would also work in her favor, as the closeness of them being husband and wife would inspire and motivate them a bit more, not to mention it'd push Sarada in her quest to become Hokage.

More than anything, Sakura would want to honor Naruto's legacy. While she too is currently removed from the action, she's stepped up in the past when called upon and knows how Naruto thinks, which would provide a nice safety net for Konoha as they'd get a replacement that would feel like a very organic successor to the Uzumaki legend.

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