Naruto: Why Are Naruto And Sasuke Still Genin?

The question of why two of history’s strongest shinobi never rose in rank beyond the level of genin, is one that has plagued fans for a while.


  • Naruto and Sasuke, despite being some of the strongest ninjas in history, remained genin due to a lack of participation in Chunin Exams.
  • Their roles as saviors of the Fourth Shinobi World War overshadowed the need for official promotions, reflecting their focus on duty over ranks.
  • The deeper meaning behind their genin status suggests that titles hold little value to those whose strength and purpose are unwavering.

One of the most perplexing aspects of the New Era of Masashi Kishimoto’s Naruto, as seen in its sequel series Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, lies in the ranks of two of history’s strongest shinobi: Naruto Uzumaki and Sasuke Uchiha. Despite having saved the world and emerged as heroes of the Fourth Shinobi World War, Naruto and Sasuke remained genin well into adulthood, without ever advancing in rank after their efforts in the greatest conflict of their time.

As the main duo of rivals of the original series, whose relationship and divergent journeys constituted the spiritual core of the series, Naruto and Sasuke are among the strongest characters in Naruto and its sequel, which makes their ranks all the more confusing. Even though none of their allies and comrades would ever question their strength, the fact that neither of them ever chose to participate in any Chunin Exams is even more bewildering. That being said, there are a few obvious reasons behind this turn of events, which convey a deeper meaning concerning the Naruto franchise’s themes.

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Naruto: How Much Has Naruto Changed Since Season 1?

Maturing from a rebellious prankster to a hero who saved the shinobi world, Naruto’s journey during the series is as remarkable as it is inspiring.

The Two Strongest Ninja In History


Having fought and prevailed against the combined likes of Pain (Nagato), Danzo Shimura, Obito Uchiha, Madara Uchiha, and Kaguya Otsutsuki, Naruto and Sasuke are far above the level of an average Kage. In fact, Naruto is actually the Seventh Hokage by the start of Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, whereas Sasuke has been referred to as a Supporting Kage who is the only one capable of challenging his old rival.

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When the pair first participated in the Chunin Exams during Part I of Naruto, the Finals were interrupted by the Konoha Crush, where Orochimaru and the Hidden Sand attacked the Hidden Leaf Village. As a result, none of the contenders that year — save for Shikamaru Nara — were promoted beyond the rank of genin. Subsequently, Sasuke’s defection from Konoha and endeavors as a rogue ninja blew the prospect of his promotion out the window, and the same could be said of Naruto’s travels with Jiraiya during the time skip.

By the time Part II began, virtually every member of the Konoha 11 had been promoted to the rank of chunin, with only Naruto remaining a genin as he was not present in the village when the Chunin Exams were held again. Additionally, Neji Hyuga had attained the rank of jonin by that point, highlighting how far his peers had risen during the time skip. Naturally, given the events that transpired during the rest of the series, there was no real opportunity for Naruto or Sasuke to take the necessary exams to advance their ranks, but this does not explain why they never did so after the end of the Fourth Shinobi World War.

Unraveling The Hierarchy Of Shinobi Ranks

Shinobi Ranks Naruto

Shinobi who graduate from a village’s Academy are tentatively awarded the rank of genin, pending approval by the Jonin Commander of the squad they are assigned to after completing their studies. After administering a second test to ascertain their abilities, the Jonin Commander is the one who officially promotes the graduates to the rank of genin, which also confirms their place in their squad.

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Genin can then participate in a series of bi-annually held tests, known as the Chunin Exams, where they are evaluated on a number of parameters and promoted based on the opinions of observing ninja and the daimyo in attendance. Next, they can progress one step further to the level of jonin, by either participating in the Jonin Exam — as per the anime — or after being recommended by enough Jonin in the village and receiving the approval of their respective Kage.

Potential Explanations For Naruto And Sasuke’s Status


Considering the long and arduous processes involved in attaining higher ranks, along with the immense responsibilities that both Naruto and Sasuke undertook after the end of the war, the prospect of them still being genin becomes a bit easier to digest. On one hand, Sasuke continued to travel after the war to investigate external threats to the village, like the Otsutsuki clan, and groups of rogue ninja, which might have made it difficult for him to advance in rank.

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Naruto: How Much Has Sasuke Changed Since Season 1?

From his days with Team 7 to his fall into darkness and eventual redemption, Sasuke’s character has evolved greatly throughout the series.

It is not hard to imagine that he may not have been present during subsequent editions of the Chunin Exams, which partly explains his status. There is also the lingering notion of Sasuke having been a rogue ninja and an international criminal during most of Part II, which could have stood in the way of his promotion. Since he is now acknowledged as an ally of Konoha and one of the strongest ninja in the world, Sasuke himself may not have held any desire for promotion, seeing it as a formality that he had no interest in.

For Naruto, his role in protecting the village would have made it difficult for him to spare time to participate in the Chunin Exams. As the strongest shinobi in Konoha by a considerable margin, and the entire world, by extension, Naruto is a critical linchpin in maintaining the delicate peace between the Five Great Shinobi Countries, and his workload must have been equally intense even before he rose to the rank of Hokage. While there was much speculation that he became a jonin during the interval between the end of Part II and the New Era, Episode 48 of the Boruto: Naruto Next Generations anime explicitly confirmed that he remained a genin, and this has been corroborated by series creator Masashi Kishimoto as well.

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Decoding The Meaning Behind This Anomaly

Naruto and Boruto

In an earlier interview, Kishimoto’s reason for never promoting Naruto was that the idea of him becoming Hokage directly from the rank of genin, was amusing and perfectly in character for him. After reading between the lines, there is also a deeper meaning to be gleaned from this occurrence. Essentially, the concept of titles or ranks holds little value to those whose strength is unquestionable, where their sole focus is their duty.

Although Naruto still aspired to reach the position of Hokage, this dream was motivated by his desire for acknowledgment, which was later enhanced by his need to protect the bonds he had built with the rest of the village. In short, Naruto and Sasuke are still genin because they have no use for ranks or titles unless they are a means to an end, which is an intriguing statement about the entire shinobi organization system in Naruto as a whole.

Naruto is available to stream on Crunchyroll.



Release Date

October 2, 2002




Masashi Kishimoto

Number of Episodes


Streaming Service(s)

, Hulu
, Netflix

Watch on Amazon

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