In Naruto, the Hokage stands out as the Leaf Village’s leader and its strongest protector. Over the generations, seven different people have worn the red hat, with each one of them considered to be among the greatest ninja the village has ever produced. However, despite their incredible power, they’re also collectively a bunch of screw-ups.
When a Hokage makes a mistake, it tends to have nationwide — if not global — consequences. As the most powerful of the Five Great Nations, what happens in the Leaf Village tends to affect everyone else. Given that reality, had the various Hokage been a bit smarter, many lives could’ve been saved.
7 Kakashi Hatake, 6th Hokage
Kakashi Hatake’s life has been defined by his failures. The failure to save Obitio, killing Rin, and Sasuke’s defection are all matters that have weighed fairly heavily on the 6th Hokage’s shoulders. He seems to have learned from these failures, as he doesn’t really make any serious mistakes during his tenure as Hokage.
Kakashi’s administration is largely peaceful, overseeing a time of growth and prosperity. The only real failure of this part of his career is his inability to hold Sasuke accountable for trying to take over the world. This incident really shows his reliance on Naruto to actually protect the village, but it doesn’t really have any long-term consequences.
6 Minato Namikaze, 4th Hokage
Minato Namikaze’s time as Hokage was the shortest rule of any individual to actually formally assume the position. However, it would be extremely consequential, as the events of the Nine Tails’ attack would set up much of the series.
Minato did save the village from the tailed beast that night, but only after failing to prevent Obito from unleashing it and abducting his son. This failure would result in Minato’s own death, along with many others and the further ostracization of the Uchiha Clan. It would take years for the village to recover from this catastrophe.
5 Tobirama Senju, 2nd Hokage
Tobirama Senju inherited the mantle of Hokage from his brother, Hashirama, who had created the village system in an effort to bring peace among the Land of Fire’s strongest clans. While conflict never fully disappeared under Hashirama’s watch, the small degree of peace he created fully shattered under Tobirama, who failed to prevent the outbreak of the First Great Ninja War.
Tobirama had attempted to forge peaceful relationships with the other villages. Still, those attempts proved futile when he was defeated by Ginkaku and Kinkau at a summit with the second Raikage. Tobirama would survive but would eventually be killed in the very war that he couldn’t prevent.
4 Tsunade Senju, 5th Hokage
Like Kakashi, Tsunade Senju would find herself increasingly reliant on Naruto to protect the Leaf. During Pain’s assault, Tsunade manages to save many lives through her healing abilities, but she is unable to stop the Akatsuki Leader’s rampage, resulting in the near-complete destruction of the village.
Pain ends up bringing everyone he kills back to life, undoing most of the damage he causes. Still, Tsunade’s inability to stop this threat herself left her people reliant on the mercy of a terrorist to avoid permanent ruin. If Pain hadn’t experienced remorse, Tsunade may very well have been the last Hokage.
3 Naruto, 7th Hokage
Unlike his predecessors, Naruto’s greatest mistake has not yet occurred. Fans don’t know how the Hidden Leaf will be destroyed in the future, but Naruto’s inevitable failure hangs over the audience and the series.
What viewers do know is that Kawaki, a boy Naruto brought into the village and practically adopted, will play a key role in this devastation. This crisis threatens not just the continued survival of the village but the existence of all shinobi in general. The blond may be the strongest Hokage, but it seems that he will inevitably be forced to leave the heroics to his son, Boruto.
2 Hiruzen, 3rd Hokage
Hiruzen Sarutobi held the title of Hokage longer than anyone else, in the process leading the village through two Great Ninja Wars and an invasion by one of his former students. Despite his role and mistakes in each of these catastrophes, his failure to make peace with the Uchiha Clan left the deepest scar on the village.
The resulting Uchiha Massacre would be one of the key events in the build-up to the Fourth Great Ninja War, as it would be the driving factor in Sasuke’s defection. Furthermore, the extermination of its most powerful clan would permanently weaken the village.
1 Hashirama, 1st Hokage
Hashirama came very close to achieving his dream of peace when he and his long-time friend and adversary, Madara, founded the village. Sadly, Hashirama failed to stop Madara from losing faith in the village, leading to the latter becoming the worst traitor in the village’s history.
The two inevitably came to blows, and while Hashirama won the battle, Madara survived. The Uchiha would use the cells he stole from Hashirama in that very battle to help enact a plan that would nearly doom all of humanity to be little more than fertilizer for the Divine Tree.
Next: All 10 Rinnegan Users In Naruto, Ranked
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