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The Tragic Death Of Naruto's Neji Hyūga Explained

Neji Hyūga is a complicated character in the "Naruto" mythos. Following his death in "Shippuden," he went down in the history books as a legendary shinobi whose efforts and sacrifice played a massive role in the Allied Shinobi Forces' victory in the Fourth Great Ninja War, even if some "Naruto" fans didn't enjoy his fate. Although Neji's death was pivotal, his journey to war hero status had its ups and downs.

Neji had a rough childhood. Born into the Hyūga Clan with natural shinobi talent, the family marked him with their customary seal that destined him to serve the clan's leading family. Neji was a victim of abuse from his uncle, Hiashi, who raised him after his father sacrificed himself for the village. As a child, he didn't fully understand his father's sacrifice and formed a grudge against the main Hyūga house, who he believed killed his father.

As he grew up, Neji took the necessary steps to become a shinobi, passing the Genin Exam and joining Team Guy. During the Chūnin exams, Neji flies under the radar until the one-on-one fights. He's paired up with his cousin, Hinata Hyūga, whom he nearly kills and then is beaten by Naruto Uzumaki. After the Chūnin exams, Neji joins the team sent to recover Sasuke, who defected from the village. Following the conclusion of "Naruto" and the beginning of "Naruto Shippuden," Neji takes a back seat to more important characters. He helps in rescuing Gaara after the Akatsuki kidnaps him, but we don't see much of him again until the Fourth Great Ninja War. It's then that Neji, taking after his father, sacrifices himself for the greater good.

Neji sacrificed himself so that Naruto could live

Neji Hyūga's most significant character moment comes when he sacrifices himself to save Naruto and Hinata.

When Naruto joins the Fourth Great Ninja War to fight the Ten-Tails, the rest of the Allied Shinobi Forces assist him, including the Hyūgas. Neji, Hinata, and her father Hiashi use their Byakugan to block any attack the Ten-Tails launches. The monster overpowers them, causing Neji and Hiashi to leave Hinata and protect the rest of the Allied Forces. The Ten-Tails doesn't hesitate and launches another attack aimed at Naruto, which Hinata plans to block by sacrificing herself. To her surprise, Neji swoops in and lets his body take the hit directly, mortally wounding him.

Neji sacrificed himself because he recognized what Naruto meant to the shinobi world and the war effort. He understood that no one else could end the conflict and bring forth peace, so he was prepared to do whatever was necessary to keep Naruto alive. Before he dies, Neji entrusts Naruto with protecting Hinata. His death completes his character arc, and by the end, he finally understands what his father went through.