Why Did Itachi Uchiha Kill His Entire Clan in Naruto?

You never have to forgive me...

by J.R. Waugh
Image: Pierrot

Itachi Uchiha was one of the most mysterious presences throughout Naruto and continuing into Naruto Shippuden. He is at first only alluded to, a looming specter over his little brother Sasuke’s past as the one who butchered the Uchiha clan. This massacre was the driving force for Sasuke’s original path of vengeance in the series. However, as the series went on, the mystery of why Itachi chose to kill the Uchiha clan deepened, provoking fan curiosity.

Was Itachi Killing the Uchiha Clan a Good or Bad Thing?

While it’s naturally an awful calamity for a character to slaughter their own family, it was done for grim, pragmatic reasons, and ultimately for the good of Konoha Village in Naruto. Itachi was trained as a spy not only by his father but as an Anbu captain answering to Danzō Shimura, making him a double agent. Itachi, while spying for each side, noted his father’s plans for a revolt in Konoha, and chose to report it, whereafter he was given a dark choice.

  • Sasuke-vs.-Itachi
  • Naruto-Itachi-Sasuke-Uchiha

Itachi was forced either to allow the coup attempt which would result in Konoha’s violent retaliation including the death of Sasuke or wipe out the clan and its dissenters himself. Itachi chose the lesser of two evils, and even though he would later encounter the masked man, revealed to be Obito Uchiha later on, this was seen only as a means to kill the Uchiha clan with ease. This truth would be tragically revealed to Sasuke much later in the story, in a touching last interaction between the two.

Why Did the Uchiha Clan Want to Revolt?

The Uchiha Clan had tensions with the village for generations since its founding and even before it, with their roots defined by the Curse of Hatred. This curse was inherited from their progenitor, Indra Ōtsutsuki. It fueled much of the clan’s malice and distrust of fellow Konoha dwellers, most famously passed onto the conflict between Madara Uchiha and Hashirama Senju. The Curse of Hatred was antithetical to Senju’s Will of Fire, with the self-centered needs of the few being counter to the needs of the many.

This conflict would result in particularly dark moments including Uchiha’s planned coup in response to suspicions that they were behind the Nine-Tailed Fox Demon’s attack on Konoha. Despite the truth being a different story, this would only fuel tensions between the village and the Uchihas. But in the climax of the series, this underlying malice was cleansed by Naruto, and Sasuke’s daughter Sarada was born without that burden on her or her family’s name, carrying the Will of Fire instead.

You can watch Naruto on Crunchyroll, or read it either on the Viz browser portal or on the Shonen Jump manga reader app.

- This article was updated on January 24th, 2023

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