The Naruto anime tallied up to 720 episodes, including both the original series and the Shipudden series. That is a massive achievement for the studios, and the endeavor ended up taking 15 years to complete, all the while staying pretty up to date with the manga. However, with that many episodes and a tight schedule meant a crazy amount of filler was involved.
About 40 percent of the entire series was filler, and some of it was actually pretty decent. Not only did they have excellent writing and animation, but some filler arcs also added to the story with meaningful contributions. And then some filler arcs gave us ninja ostriches.
10. Can’t Miss: Kakashi: Shadow Of The ANBU Black Ops
It’s almost a shame that this has to technically be called filler as it’s so good. An all ANBU Black Ops arc following Kakashi’s past in the organization is everything a fan could ask for. It is filled to the brim with lore, backstory, and most importantly, Kakashi.
The story also delves into the background of other side characters. Fans get more Itachi scenes before he defected from the village, and even some Yamato origin is thrown in there for flavor. This arc showed how good the anime’s writers could be when it came to creating original Naruto stories.
9. Skip: Paradise Life On A Boat
This arc is a series of single-episode stories following Yamato, Guy, and Naruto as they journey to the Land of Lightning to train with Killer Bee. It’s an easy choice to miss as all of the episodes are pretty inconsequential and are mostly just light-hearted romps.
If someone is in the mood for some funny stories though then there are a few gems hidden in this arc. There is one story about Naruto’s shadow clones going on strike. Another good episode consists of the original Ino-Shika-Cho group in their heyday.
8. Can’t Miss: The New Chunin Exam Arc
This arc takes place right after Sasuke’s defection from the Leaf and Naruto’s departure. It’s the story of the second Chunin Exams, and if viewers ever wondered how the side characters became Chunin then they have found their answer.
This arc gets points for having decent writing and doing what fillers should do: It fills the gaps. It’s interesting to see how the second Chunin Exams go and to see how the Akatsuki play into the story. The biggest drawback (and the reason why a lot of people skip this arc) is that it is placed right in the middle of the War Arc, severely halting the pacing of the main story.
7. Skip: Three-Tails Appearance
This is one of two arcs that delves into the capture of one of the tailed beasts by the Akatsuki. This is the one to skip. Making up 16 episodes, the story follows Orochimaru, Deidara, Tobi, and a few of the Hidden Leaf 11 as they track down the Three Tailed Beast, Isobu.
The Manga goes into this story, but only slightly. The anime really draws the story out, and there isn’t much else to it. The only redeeming part is that Naruto uses an awesome ninjutsu that is never seen again. Save the trouble and just watch a clip of the “Wind Release: Toad Oil Flame Bullet” ninjutsu. Skip the rest of the arc.
6. Can’t Miss: Six-Tails Unleashed
This is the better of the two tailed-beast filler arcs for many reasons, but chiefly because it does everything the three-tail arc did but better. It’s a story about a master and their student, which is fitting seeing how this story comes right at the death of Jiraiya.
Though the story is a bit of a sidetrack to the main plot, it still justifies itself with amazing writing and animation. It’s also very tight and moves quickly as it only contains eight episodes. Compare this to the three-tail arc and it’s an obvious choice on which one to watch.
5. Skip: The Infinite Tsukuyomi Stories
This arc gives the show the ultimate examples of stories that just do not matter. This arc was comprised of a smattering of random side characters living out their perfect reality in the Infinite Tsukuyomi. That means that everything that happens in these stories does not matter at all to the main plot.
These alternate reality/what-if-scenarios would have been cool if they weren’t right in the middle of the finale of the show. Fans had been watching this anime for 15 years and all of a sudden, in the middle of the end battle, the show dropped a Tenten story on them. That’s malicious.
4. Can’t Miss: The Power Arc
If anybody watches the whole of the Naruto anime, they should do themselves a favor and not skip this filler arc. Commemorating 500 episodes of the anime, the six-episode power arc follows a fully formed Team Kakashi as they investigate the recent attacks on a village by Kabuto.
It would be cruel to spoil the plot of this love letter to the series, but it should be mentioned there is a nine-tails hydra battle that is pretty epic. This arc is the best of what the anime producers could do to commemorate their love and appreciation for the story they got to help shape.
3. Skip: The Whole Second Half Of The Orginal Series
This isn’t so much an arc as it is a collection of about 17 smaller arcs that make up 2 years of pointless Naruto episodes. The manga of the original Naruto series ended with the Sasuke Retrieval Arc. The two years that followed in the original cartoon were all headache-inducing filler.
This period in the show is more akin to classic Saturday morning cartoons than it was to a typical Shonen anime. With villains of the week, very small stakes, and a plethora of kiddie comedy, the last 140 episodes of the series are a pointless diversion from starting the next series of the show.
2. Can’t Miss: 12 Guardian Ninja Arc
The 12 Guardian Ninja are the bodyguard shinobi of the feudal lord of the Land of Fire. Asuma Sarutobi was once a member of that elite group, and this story deals with troubles in a fire temple led by another member of the Guardian 12.
This arc has many contributions to the main series, particularly for the plot point it was in at the time. It expands on Naruto’s training in the wind style and explores his struggle with his nine-tails transformation. It also delves into Asuma’s story. His death hits that much harder after spending this arc exploring his past.
1. Skip: Locus Of Konoha
Another series of one-off stories, this arc is a good example of bad filler. It’s mostly a series of flashbacks to the original series’ days. As if 140 episodes from the original series weren’t bad enough, here they are again bloating Shippuden.
Weirdly enough, this filler arc has a lot of kisses in it. Sasuke and Naruto end up accidentally kissing again in a fairly funny episode. Even Kakashi has an over the mask kiss with a childhood friend of his. There is also another decent episode hidden in this arc about a cooking shinobi recalling a tale about Naruto.