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The Correct Order In Which To Watch The Naruto Franchise

"Naruto" is one of the most popular anime franchises of all time. Seriously — it even has its own theme park. The beloved anime is based on Masashi Kishimoto's manga, which is one of the most popular of all time. With 220 episodes in the first "Naruto" series, another 500 episodes in "Naruto: Shippuden," nearly 200 episodes (and counting) in "Boruto," and multiple movies, there's a lot to watch. Some fans stress the division between which episodes are canon (meaning they're based on the manga) and which are "filler," but even the filler episodes are fun to watch, and often add something to the saga's backstory.

Where's a prospective "Naruto" fan supposed to begin? With this list, of course! We're here to explain the correct order in which to watch the sprawling, multi-series-spanning "Naruto" franchise. Before we begin, take note: None of the movies are canon except "The Last" and "Boruto" (though the latter is somewhat debatable). Still, their lovely animation and stirring storylines make them indelible additions. We're also not going to cover the chibi-style "Rock Lee & His Ninja Pals," nor will we look at storylines from the video games.

Naruto Episodes 1-101

"Naruto" opens with mischievous Naruto Uzumaki defacing a Mount Rushmore-esque cliff portraying the Hidden Leaf Village's elders. He's a goofy troublemaker, friendless, and pathetically unskilled. Unsurprisingly, he's mocked by his classmates, especially Sakura Haruno, who's in love with the ultra-cool Sasuke Uchiha. But soon enough, things turn around for Naruto. He becomes a shinobi, gets on a team with Sakura and Sasuke taught by the inimitable Kakashi, rescues Sasuke from a seemingly undefeatable foe, destroys all expectations in the Chunin Exams, defeats a tailed beast, and takes on a legendary ninja as his sensei. Plus, he learns the Rasengan, one of his most powerful moves.

Naruto the Movie: Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow

Since Team Seven is still together in the first "Naruto" movie, "Ninja Clash in the Land of Snow," it must take place before Sasuke leaves in Episode 108. It must also occur before the mission that begins in Episode 102, which results in Sasuke's injury. Furthermore, Naruto has the Rasengan, so it has to take place after Episode 96. As Sakura is in Episode 99 and all three are together in Hidden Leaf Village in Episode 101, this would be the perfect place for them to go on their snow mission. 

With all that in mind, this movie is a whole lot of fun. It introduces some cool Hidden Leaf Village ponchos, features killer snow-strewn battles, unveils some of Kakashi's best jutsu, and culminates in Naruto's multi-colored Rasengan.

Naruto Episodes 102-160

This run of "Naruto" episodes contains one of the most compelling arcs in the series. Naruto and his fellow genin (junior ninjas) set off to bring Sasuke back, led by the recently promoted Shikamaru. Each young shinobi fights high above his level in this storyline, which also introduces cooperation with their new allies, the Three Sand Siblings. Furthermore, the arc ends in Naruto's first great showdown with Sasuke. 

In the "Naruto" manga, this arc is what ends young Naruto's story. Most of what follows in the anime is considered filler. You could skip the next 60 episodes if you're only looking for canon, but we advise otherwise — why give up on what ends up being a whole lot of fun?

Naruto the Movie: Legend of the Stone of Gelel

This is a movie with many unique attributes. For one thing, it brings together Naruto, Sakura, Shikamaru, and Kankuro as a group. For another, it includes battleships sporting big guns and heavily-armored soldiers, neither of which appear in the series proper. 

While there are no signposts in the filler episodes that might help identify where the "Naruto" movies fit after Sasuke's departure, there are some  fan theories as to their order. One holds that "Stone of Gelel" takes place after Episode 147: The movie originally premiered at the same time as the "Mizuki Strikes Back" arc, which ends at 147. Supporting this is the fact that Naruto and Shikamaru work together during the "Mizuki Strikes Back" arc — it makes sense, then, that they continue that cooperation in this film.

However, some fan resources list "Stone of Gelel" as occurring after Episode 160. Ultimately, it's up to you.

Naruto Episodes 161-196

This stretch of "Naruto" contains more fun filler episodes, though none feature any developments vital to the central story. Some viewers suggest powering through the series by skipping Episodes 143 through 219. But if you do so, you'll miss episodes that showcase characters' deepening bonds and growing skills. Plus, you'll miss the introduction of cool new abilities. One of the most impressive belongs to a girl who can affect reality through art — she makes a lightning bolt strike the Hokage's office by painting a depiction of the act in question. If the whole point of watching "Naruto" is to be entertained, this run delivers. 

Naruto the Movie: Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom

The final movie of the original "Naruto" series, "Crescent Moon Kingdom" is most notable for replacing Sasuke with Rock Lee and for showing off the team's new warm-weather outfits. "Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom" is placed after Episode 196 because it was released around the same time as that episode. Plus, scenes from the movie made it into the opening of Episodes 197 through 199. But again, both "Naruto" movies, "Guardians of the Crescent Moon Kingdom" and "Legend of the Stone of Gelel," could theoretically be thrown anywhere, as long as they end up among the many filler episodes that finish the series. Another option would be to watch the episodes, then watch the movies.

Naruto Episodes 197-220

"Naruto" ends with yet more filler episodes. In general, these episodes are usually either a flashback to backstory with mostly inconsequential details, a mission with people from different teams thrown together to hone their skills (and often look for Sasuke), a display of strengthening alliances with entities such as Hidden Sand Village, or an exploration of a "What if?" scenario. Episode 220, in which Naruto leaves with Jiraiya, is tied to the same event in the comics, however, and is therefore definitely canon. If you're looking to speed through the series, you can jump to Episode 220, in which Naruto leaves Hidden Leaf Village to travel and train with the legendary Sannin, Jiraiya

Naruto: Shippuden Episodes 1-32

"Naruto: Shippuden" opens from the point of view of an unseen person, running down mysterious corridors. We've jumped almost three years into the future, from the end of the first series. It's a bit confusing, but from the moment "Hero's Come Back!!" by Japanese hip-hop group Nobodyknows starts to play over the series' first opening sequence, it's impossible not to get excited. The series opens with a bang, as the Akatsuki attack Hidden Sand Village, capturing Gaara, decimating the Sand forces, and almost killing Kankuro. Naruto is more mature, Sakura is exponentially stronger, and all their young friends have aged up into formidable shinobi. Plus, Naruto has upgraded his blue and orange outfit to a sleek black and orange look.

Naruto Shippuden the Movie

Unfortunately, the "Naruto: Shippuden" movies can be even tougher to fit into the right order than the original "Naruto" flicks. Not only are there simply more episodes and arcs to sort through, some of these movies have serious inconsistencies with the canon story. That said, this one is relatively easy to fit. 

"Naruto Shippuden the Movie" premiered during the "Kazekage Rescue" arc, which ends at Episode 32. Also, Sai and Yamato don't appear in the movie, but Sai officially joins the crew in Episode 33. In this movie, we see a team made up of Naruto, Sakura, Rock Lee, and Neji Hyuga, Neji being the only person from their class who's reached the elite status of jonin. Like many other "Naruto" movies, grand salvation occurs in this one thanks to a special version of Naruto's Rasengan.

Naruto: Shippuden Episodes 33-70

In these episodes, Team Seven is reformed with Sai, an untrustworthy but powerful ninja from the mysterious Foundation, who becomes Sasuke's permanent replacement. "Captain Yamato," a former Anbu black ops ninja, is brought in to head the team in place of an injured Kakashi. In this run, we see more of the Akatsuki's plans, more about Danzo's techniques, and even a reunion between Naruto and the now frighteningly powerful Sasuke — the scene depicted in the opening to this new series.

Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Bonds

The most notable elements of "Naruto Shippuden the Movie: Bonds" are its airships, a very advanced technology, and a Zero-Tails — neither of which are ever mentioned before or after this movie. Episodes 70 through 73 feature scenes from the movie in the opening, which helps determine the movie's location in the timeline. Though, since 70 and 71 are non-canon, you can watch this after either of those, before you return to canon storylines at 72. What happens in this flick? Well, Orochimaru is sick and Sasuke is still doing his bidding, which brings him together with Naruto as they take on a man who may have a technique that could help the ailing Orochimaru. This limits the film to happening before Episode 114, when Sasuke and Orochimaru's relationship comes to a head.

Naruto: Shippuden Episodes 70-120

A lot happens in this stretch of episodes. Here, we witness the death of a major sensei, the rise of the new Ino-Shika-Cho team, and Naruto inventing a new super-powerful jutsu based on the Rasengan. Though the second half of this run, from Episode 91 to Episode 112, is considered quasi-canon, it does contain a tailed beast which makes some impact on the storyline. Therefore, you might as well watch this stretch of storytelling.

Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Will of Fire

"Will of Fire" is one of the few movies with references to things from the series, which make it clear that it has to take place after the "Kakashi Chronicles" episodes, which end with Episode 120. Also, Naruto, Sai, and Sakura break village rules and follow Kakashi, an act of disobedience Sai would only have been able to commit after some time spent with Team Seven. 

In "Will of Fire", shinobi boasting Kekke Genkai abilities have been stolen from everywhere but Hidden Leaf Village, casting suspicion upon the villagers. When Kakashi is compelled to leave the village through a mysterious curse implanted in him, Tsunade allows him to go, as an act of self-sacrifice. But, as previously mentioned, Team Seven follows, joined by other teams in support.

Naruto: Shippuden Episodes 121-154

There is a huge death in this run, one that hits Naruto especially hard. The Akatsuki also seriously up their activity, and Jiraiya is haunted by a student from his past. In an especially important flashback, Jiraiya even offers the viewers a major revelation as to Naruto's parentage. Sasuke finally gets the revenge that has motivated him for most of his life ... and realizes he knew nothing. In the aftermath, he joins the seriously-dwindled Akatsuki. This stretch of episodes contains an arc some fans call filler, which actually ends up having a big role in later episodes. Bottom line: These episodes are impactful and important.

Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Lost Tower

"Naruto Shippuden the Movie: The Lost Tower" has to occur within a very small window of canon. It happens after the death of a major character, but before that person's killer launches a tragic attack. Naruto discovers this heavy death in Episode 152, helps the village deal with the investigation in Episode 153 and Episode 154, and is transported to a far-off land for secluded training in Episode 155. So, this movie has to happen between 154 and 155. 

"The Lost Tower" features an interesting Naruto/Yamato time-travel element, in which our hero comes face-to-face with the ninja the audience now understands to be his father. Moreover, the action scenes and animation are amazing.

Naruto: Shippuden Episodes 155-196

A powerful Akastuki member rains devastation on Hidden Leaf Village while Naruto is off training. When Naruto returns, we see the troublemaker whom everybody once despised finally realize his dream of gaining the admiration, respect, and love of Hidden Leaf Village. We also learn about the power of a new ocular jutsu known as the Rinnegan, a Kekke Genkai ability a few steps up from the Byakugan and Sharingan. Meanwhile, the Akatsuki lose the man we'd long believed to be their leader. As it turns out, the once-foolish Tobi is actually much more astute than we'd ever imagined.

Naruto the Movie: Blood Prison

Of all the movies in the series, this is the toughest to place. In part, that's due to inconsistencies. The Raikage still has both arms, yet Naruto knows Killer Bee, neither of which occur at the same time in the series. Those inconsistencies aside, the fact that Naruto has mastered Sage Mode and knows who his father is places this movie after Pain's attack on Hidden Leaf Village. Plus, it has to happen before the "Five Kage Summit" arc, which starts at Episode 197. So, we're putting "Blood Prison" after Episode 196, with the caveat that this movie is so non-canon it might be impossible to truly pinpoint. 

"Blood Prison" is also unique in that Naruto isn't joined by any of his Hidden Leaf Village friends for the majority of the film. As a result, he has to make new allies within the prison where he's wrongly incarcerated.

Naruto: Shippuden Episodes 197-251 and Episode 311

In Episodes 197 through 251, we see the Five Kage unite to fight a known threat and endure the death of a (shady) major Hidden Leaf player. We're also treated to a whole lot of filler episodes featuring the villagers rebuilding Hidden Leaf Village, while flashing back to various fun but ultimately unimportant backstories. If one were to get really technical with watching order, they should jump ahead to Episode 311 before moving on to the next movie, and then move on to episode 252. This is because Episode 311 is a special episode made to coincide with "Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie." They both take place before the Fourth Shinobi War, and involve an experiment with the jutsu upon which Tobi bases the pivotal Infinite Tsukuyomi.

Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie

Though "Road to Ninja: Naruto the Movie" is technically non-canon, it has some relevancy, as it's a depiction of what Tobi's genjutsu world would really look like. 

In "Road to Ninja," Naruto and Sakura are transferred to Tobi's Infinite Tsukuyomi world, where Naruto's parents are still alive and Sakura's parents died defending the village. Naruto already met his mom before this in Episode 246, so his ability to identify her in the movie locates it after the end of that arc in Episode 251. Episode 252 begins the run-up to the Shinobi War, with Tobi too busy trying to attain Nagato's Rinnegan to cast the Infinite Tsukuyomi. So, this movie has to happen between Episodes 251 and 252.

Naruto: Shippuden Episodes 252-493

This massive run of 240 episodes is impossible to properly describe in a term paper, much less a slide. Here we encounter the Fourth Great Shinobi War, Naruto and Sasuke's final battle, and Naruto's ascendancy to a status unimaginable to anybody who knew the boy growing up.  Suffice it to say, a lot of incredible things happen to every man, woman, and beast in the "Naruto" world. These episodes feature amazing battle after amazing battle, creating an absolutely jaw-dropping storyline that goes toe-to-toe with the greatest anime sagas around. Though again, Episode 311 should be watched after 251, not in its series order.

The Last: Naruto the Movie

"The Last: Naruto the Movie" is the only canon "Naruto" movie. It sets in motion so much that impacts the lives of these characters (and even the characters of "Boruto") that it is absolutely required watching. This movie takes place after the Great Shinobi War and Naruto's showdown with Sasuke, but before the final arc that takes place from Episode 494 through Episode 500. This movie also jumps forward a couple years, bringing Naruto into young manhood (evidenced by his short, well-kept hair). So, between Episodes 493 and 494 it is.

Naruto: Shippuden episodes 494-500

This run of episodes closes out "Shippuden." Our heroes are now living a couple years after the events of the Great Shinobi War, and there are a whole lot of good feelings going around. It's been a long journey — 720 episodes and 10 movies long, to be precise — and the troubled, no-good boy ninja with a demon inside him has become the greatest shinobi in the land. These episodes enjoy that fact for all it's worth, so sit back, relax, and let "Naruto" treat you to its very happy ending.

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Episodes 1-51

Naruto's story doesn't end there — he and his wife Hinata have a son named Boruto. As with the original series, "Boruto: Naruto Next Generations" is based on a manga created by Masashi Kishimoto, which follows a new boy ninja growing up in the shadow of his father's greatness. Episodes 1 through 49 chronicle Boruto's life as he makes his way in the academy, and his early days on Team Konohamaru. Though Naruto was a horrible student and a social pariah in his early days, Boruto's journey is very different from his father's.

Boruto: Naruto the Movie

In this movie, Boruto has graduated from the academy and joined Team Konohamaru with Sarada and Mitsuki. The story told here is also explored in the series, so if you prefer, you can watch Episodes 50 through 65 and check out the movie after, or skip the movie entirely. The movie was actually released before the series, and is an adaptation of the "Boruto" manga, making it canon. Take note: There are some details of the story that differ between movie to series.

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Episodes 52-199

The adventure continues. Boruto's path to becoming a great shinobi is certainly different from his father's, but taking it in is just as fun and memorable. The show is still running, and, given the length of the previous series, that might remain the case for a very long time. For however long this saga remains ongoing, devoted fans will flock to it, eager to enjoy the adventures of these powerful fighters.