One of Naruto Shippuden's enduring critiques remains the sequel shonen series' relegation of many of the Konoha 11. The other Genin from Naruto played important roles during the "Chunin Exam" arc, which made fans hyper-aware of their limited appearances once the original series ended. However, even though the Naruto story was always primarily focused on the titular character and his relationship with deuteragonist Sasuke Uchiha, their comrades' absences from Shippuden has been a bit exaggerated over the years.

Naruto and Sasuke were always the stars from the series' beginning. It was their adventures that served as fuel to move the plot forward and the ninja world was explored systematically through the experiences they shared. When it was time for them to progress as ninja, they attempted the Chunin Exam and were introduced to several more ninja, hailing from both within the Leaf Village and without. Most of the Leaf Genin were friendly, but given the exams' competitive nature, they were rivals to the heroes.

The Konoha 11 in Naruto

Naruto: Shippuden Abandoned The Konoha 11 - And the Series Was Better For It_0

These supporting characters were mainly introduced to populate the Chunin Exams, enriching the story in the process. Many of the Chunin Exams' highlights didn't include a member of Team 7 at all; Gaara's fight against Rock Lee remains one of the most iconic in the Naruto franchise while Shikamaru quickly became a fan favorite for how cunningly he outsmarted his opponents.

Fans learned many other facets of the ninja world and diverse application of jutsu through these characters. At the time, these new Genin were the most appropriate group to measure Naruto and Sasuke against. They were the closest in station to the heroes, and having graduated from the Ninja Academy at roughly the same period as Team 7 had the same amount of experience. The way the other Konoha Genin faced the challenges of the Chunin Exam provided a benchmark to gauge both Naruto and Sasuke's strength.

Shippuden saw the story focus almost exclusively on Naruto and Sasuke. After three years of undergoing various training regimens, both their power levels consistently remain higher than the rest of the Konoha Genin -- and the new challenges they face reflect that. Suddenly, they were up against Tailed Beasts and their Jinchuriki, rogue Jonin from other villages and undead legends from the grave, all with unique and even more complicated signature jutsus. Some of those may have seemed a bit far-fetched for chakra had they not been hinted at, or outright introduced in the original series.

Why Naruto Shippuden Was Right to Show Less of the Konoha 11

Naruto: Shippuden Abandoned The Konoha 11 - And the Series Was Better For It_1

Forcing Naruto and Sasuke to remain attached to the Konoha 11 would've been far worse for their popularity than ignoring the latter ever did. Shino, Hinata and co. would have simply not been able to keep up. Best case scenario, fans might've questioned how they kept surviving against superior new opponents. Worst case, they may have become as universally reviled and ridiculed as Sakura Haruno; despite being an exemplary medical ninja, she is unfairly viewed as one of the weakest characters because of her proximity to Naruto and Sasuke.

Also, it is important to note that the Konoha 11's absence from Shippuden has become more exaggerated as the years go by. Shikamaru and the rest of Team 10 receive an arc almost entirely dedicated to grieving their teacher's death. The Konoha 11 all participate in the Fourth Great Ninja War as well, delivering some of the series' best choreographed and emotionally satisfying fights in the process. In fact, the scarcity of their appearances makes them all the more significant.