Masashi Kishimoto's world-famous Naruto series boasted an extensive cast of characters, but there seems to be an almost universal consensus that Sakura Haruno is the weakest -- if not the worst -- of them all.

Despite having a track record more impressive than another kunoichi -- and truly most of the male shinobi too -- Sakura can’t seem to catch a break. Here’s how she got the “useless” reputation from fans, and how Sakura quietly redeemed herself in Naruto: Shippuden.


Naruto Fans Hate Sakura Haruno, Why that?

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The problem with Sakura starts right at her introduction. While Naruto and Sasuke were each chasing goals that seemed significant to the story’s progression, Sakura’s entire character was infatuation with Sasuke and constantly pointing out Naruto’s inferiority at the smallest provocation. She seemed almost added to Team 7 as an afterthought, serving only to highlight Naruto and Sasuke’s exceptionalism even among their genin peers.

Sakura performed adequately as a plot device in that respect, but her animosity toward Naruto affected her popularity immensely. Since viewers were inclined to empathize with Naruto given his destitution at the beginning of the story, seeing Sakura continue to kick him while he was down alienated fans from her early on. It didn’t help her case that Naruto was a far more competent shinobi than she was, while Sakura only seemed to delight in Sasuke’s achievements without attempting to attain any of her own.


Kakashi teach to jujutsu for Sakura, Perfect combination?

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Unlike Naruto and Sasuke, Sakura had no ninja heritage or innate talents that would increase her combat potential. The jutsu that Naruto and Sasuke used so casually -- variations of the Fireball and Shadow Clone jutsu -- were in fact some of the most complicated a ninja could learn. Sasuke’s mastery over Fire Style was a skill that traditionally marked a fully fledged Uchiha, while Naruto’s Shadow Clone jutsu was a forbidden technique invented by the Second Hokage. Only Naruto could spam it in that way, given his unusually high level of chakra reserves. In fact, it was more extraordinary that these two were that skilled for their age than it was for Sakura to be an average genin.

The duo’s high chakra reserves also influenced the kind of skill-set that would be available to them. They could afford to learn high-level chakra demanding jutsu without the danger of death that Sakura would risk if her own chakra plummeted too low. This was especially ironic, since Sakura had far better control over her internal chakra network than either of her teammates. Kakashi made the best of her limited skill set by teaching and encouraging her to fully master the basics of chakra control, while steering her toward an affinity for genjutsu -- which later blossomed into complete immunity toward that ninja art.

Sakura’s talents as a shinobi in Naruto were better expressed off the battlefield. What she lacked in physical strength, she more than made up for with her genius-level intellect. During the first stage of the Chunin Exams, Sakura easily answered problems that were intentionally meant to be impossible for genin to work out. Even though she was expected to cheat, Sakura didn’t have to and became the target of her classmates’ machinations, who trusted in her ability to overcome the test they had been given.


How Did Sakura Regain Herself Image In Naruto Shippuden

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Sakura’s arc toward the end of the original Naruto saw her adopt a mellower attitude with the titular protagonist, and undergo some self-reflection regarding how her weakness constantly held her teammates back. As an act of providence, the Fifth Hokage, Tsunade Senju, was world-renowned in the field of medical ninjutsu. When Sakura noticed how easily Tsunade was able to heal Sasuke from Itachi’s Tsukuyomi, she realized this was a skill her competencies were suited for. No longer would she be a mere spectator as her combat-oriented teammates fought to protect. If she could heal them, Sakura would finally be able to shake that useless label.

After three years under Tsunade’s tutelage, Sakura was unrecognizable. Her confidence had skyrocketed along with the skills she’d acquired, and even Tsunade held much stock in her abilities. At 16, she was already an aide to the Hokage, and proficient enough in medical ninjutsu that Tsunade judged her to be a worthy ambassador to the Village in the Sand during a time when tensions between the two villages were at an all-time high. When faced with an unknown toxin, Sakura was able to synthesize an antidote after careful examination and save the life of Kankuro, when no other physician in the Sand could.

As impressive as the antidote was, it was the lesser of Sakura’s achievements during the "Kazekage Rescue Mission" arc. She was suddenly wielding strength even Naruto and Kakashi were wary of. This explosive power -- and the antidote she’d prepared beforehand -- were invaluable during her and Granny Chiyo’s brawl with Sasori of the Red Sand, a full-fledged Akatsuki member. Sakura adhered completely to the medical ninja standard of avoiding injury at all costs, sustaining only light grazes even as she faced an ever-increasing swarm of puppets controlled by Sasori.


Sakura's Role in the Fourth Great Ninja War

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Sakura wasn't an active combatant for most of the Fourth Great Ninja War, yet she managed to stand out even in her mainly support role. She was stationed as medical support for the close quaters battle division, quickly becoming a target for the infiltrating White Zetsu once they realized the worth her medical ninjutsu had to the ninjas' war effort. When in danger, Sakura was able to distinguish the invader from her actual teammates based on the vaguest of tells and defended herself, defeating the White Zetsu in one fell swoop.

Sakura was never more impressive than when all the Shinobi Alliance divisions gathered to wage war on the Ten Tails. She succeeded in summoning Lady Katsuyu, the personal summoning animal of Tsunade, and used the slug to ensure there was near-constant healing available to the warring shinobi. This was no mean feat; not only is Katsuyu’s power and healing effectiveness directly tied to her caster’s abilities, but summoning her also causes a certain level of blowback. When Tsunade healed the Leaf Villagers with Katsuyu during Pain’s assault, it took enough out of her that she was in a coma for weeks. Yet Sakura was able to keep fighting up until the very end of the war, brawling against Kaguya Otsutsuki herself.


The manifestation of Sakura’s Hundred Healings Mark should have quelled any lingering sentiment that she was still the shallow, weak girl who used to bully Naruto, and yet it persisted. This was a jutsu that had only been mastered by the Fifth Hokage before her, and made Sakura positively immortal during a fight. It involved a three-year procedure where Sakura continuously pooled chakra to a single location on her forehead; this required an almost divine level of chakra control, since she had to remain focused on maintaining a constant output while performing all duties expected of a shinobi in the Leaf Village.

The Hundred Healings Mark gives a direct buff to Sakura’s already incredible strength, but also allows her to heal any injuries she is unlikely to sustain anyway without any conscious effort. Unlike Tsunade, Sakura had no need to constantly keep up a youthful look, and so her power was not divided between maintaining her appearance and its original strengthening ability. Before the war’s end, Sakura had already achieved strength that exceeded the Fifth Hokage. The only way to downplay this was to compare it to the godly status Naruto and Sasuke had achieved at that same point in time.