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The 'Never Pause Naruto' Gag Explained

Since 2002, "Naruto" has been one of the most popular anime franchises on television. The original series, as well as its sequel, "Naruto: Shippuden," follows ninjas-in-training from their home in Hidden Leaf Village through hundreds of episodes of missions, battles, and the growing pains of adolescence as they uphold peace and build their strength, skill, and ninja powers. Based on the manga of the same name by Masashi Kishimoto, "Naruto" is a notoriously long-running anime with a fanbase that spans generations. But, of course, with any tried and true fandom comes the inevitable inside jokes that only those familiar with the series tend to understand.

Whether you remember or not, you've likely seen someone "Naruto running" in public for a laugh (via ABC Action News) or heard a person calling a friend "Sasuke" as a term of endearment. These are just a small portion of jokes used to poke fun at the show's overall storyline and tropes, along with the movements of the characters in it. One infamous internet joke comes in the form of a warning that should only be defied at your own risk — the cautionary rule that advises people to never pause "Naruto."

Here's why you shouldn't pause Naruto

The artistic style of "Naruto" is pretty familiar to those who watch a fair amount of anime. Nothing seems too out of the ordinary from the start — until you have to inevitably step away from the screen for a moment and don't want to miss something important. That's when you would likely make the ultimate decision to hit the pause button. This might be something you end up regretting as you may be frightened at what you see next. What will appear on your screen the moment you hit that pause button is no doubt one of the most terrifying hilarities you'll lay your eyes on. It seems you actually cannot pause "Naruto," at least not without whatever character you paused the episode on freezing in mid-action on your device in the most unbelievably inhuman and laughably horrifying way.

You can hit play and pause again in an attempt to rid yourself of the unsettling image on your TV but to no avail. Once you hit that pause button again, another image of a somehow distorted character will be looking right back at you from inside your screen. It doesn't seem to matter what episode you're enjoying at the time. There isn't any scene without the haunting imagery waiting to appear in that fateful moment when you need to hit pause. 

You wont be the first to be scared after pausing the show

While this may come as unsettling news, fear not, for you are not alone. The "Never Pause 'Naruto'" gag is a favorite running joke for fans of the show, and there's no shortage of examples and discussions in all corners of the internet. One Reddit post made by u/TMs_Matrix features one of the most haunting images of a paused "Naruto: Shippuden" episode. In the comments, u/saltierthancats admitted that it took them about a day before they "realized that this wasn't a fake fan made episode," while u/Moonzy007 was one of many users who described the paused scene as being painful to look at — quite fitting because the image featured Nagato, a character who goes by the alias of Pain.

The chaos doesn't stop there either. This YouTube compilation posted by Touch God Sensei is filled with nothing nightmare-inducing images from the "Naruto" franchise captured by those brave or naive enough to pause the anime. If you've ever seen someone online say "Never pause Naruto" and didn't know why, now you do. Just be glad that you didn't learn about it by mistake on a day you may have otherwise enjoyed. Pause if you dare.