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Naruto Only Ever Took One Life In The Whole Franchise

Shonen protagonists don't have the habit of killing their opponents. Some do more than others but, as a general rule, they often find ways of defeating their enemies without dealing a fatal blow. On the other hand, Seinen main characters, due to the age range that they appeal to, are much more likely to kill at the end of a battle. That does not mean Shonen protagonists never kill, they simply do not tend to because mercy is a far more potent attitude to adopt and it passes along a message that change and redemption, not death, should be the end goal.

As one of the most recognizable characters within the anime genre, Naruto Uzumaki abides by this unspoken rule. So much so that fans often joke about the blond ninja's special ability of "Talk no Jutsu" or, in other words, the art of changing villains' perspectives and intentions with the power of words. "When in the hands of Naruto, it's easily the most powerful Jutsu in the series." Wrote a fan. The first instance wherein we see it in action was right before the Chūnin Exams Arc, when Naruto moved Zabuza Momochi to tears, an otherwise ruthless killer for hire.

For someone who was in constant mortal peril from the time he was barely a teenager, engaging in multiple fights seemingly to the death, Naruto's kill count is surprisingly low. His opponents may die, and they often do, but it's not as a direct result of something the protagonist has done. 

That said, there's was one instance where, depending on who's asked, Naruto did kill someone.

Naruto's kill is debatable

So, when has Naruto killed someone? The moment in question is often overlooked, but it took place during the first arc of the "Shippuden" series — the Kazekage Rescue Arc. While facing a fake Itachi Uchiha, Naruto uses a giant Rasengan to defeat him. As a result, Sand shinobi Yūra, whose body was being used by Pain's Shapeshifting Technique, is killed. 

Despite things initially looking pretty clear, fans have not reached a consensus. Some believe that, due to the nature of the Shapeshifting Technique, Yūra was as good as dead even before Naruto touched him. "The Itachi clone he killed is debated in the community," wrote a Redditor, "due to knowing that Pain basically creates puppets."

"Not directly, no. His victories have led to a few peoples' deaths (Nagato, Kakuzu, etc.) but he hasn't outright killed anyone," wrote another fan, this time going further by referring to Naruto's personality and the thematic nature of the series. "He aims to end the cycle of hatred and death that's been going on for so long, and if he were to kill someone outright, then it would only continue that cycle, which would be going against everything Naruto stands for." Indeed, it is perhaps this merciful attitude that sets Naruto apart and establishes him as the fascinating Shonen protagonist fans feel compelled to root for. 

At any rate, while Naruto's action may have led to someone's death, it seems fans are split over whether it should count against the protagonist.