In addition to being one of the most popular anime around, Naruto is also one of the longest-running, with extremely drawn-out arcs.
It’s no debate that Naruto is one of the most popular anime in recent memory. Even after the end of its sixteen-year run, it continues to remain a huge favorite among anime fans.
Aside from its popularity, Naruto is also one of the longest-running shows, spanning over 500 episodes. These are the longest arcs in Naruto, taking place in both the original anime and Shippuden.
Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission (21 Episodes)
The second arc in Shippuden, the Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission takes place from episodes 33 to 53. A new character is introduced in Sai, who becomes a member of Team 7. Led by Kakashi, Team 7 goes on a mission to the Tenchi Bridge to locate Sasuke and bring him back to the Leaf Village.
This arc marks the return of Sasuke and Orochimaru, the former of whom has a memorable reunion with Naruto at the Tenchi Bridge. Orochimaru angrily provokes Naruto into entering the four-tails form, which is another memorable moment during the arc in itself.
Past Arc: The Locus Of Konoha (21 Episodes)
One of two arcs on this list to be mainly filler, Locus of Konoha covers episodes 176 through 196 of Shippuden. It’s mostly a flashback arc, showing flashback moments of several characters in the anime. Save for the first episode, all of the episodes focus on how much Naruto has grown.
Even though the Locus of Konoha is a filler arc, it manages to accomplish telling the different perspective of the character that has an episode focused around them. Not only that but a few memorable moments are shown, such as Iruki recalling his first meeting with Naruto.
Pain’s Assault (22 Episodes)
For many Naruto fans, Pain’s Assault is seen as the highest peak of the series. This arc sees Akatsuki leader Pain leading an attack on Konohagakure, in his effort to find Naruto and track down the Nine-Tailed Beast. It spans from episode 152 to 169, and from 172 to 175 in the Shippuden anime.
This arc is notable in that it showcases Naruto’s tremendous growth as a character. Motivated by Jiriya’s sacrifice, Naruto trains himself and manages to save his village from destruction at the last second. It also helped that Pain proved to be a fantastic villain during the arc, having a very unique philosophy that separated him from other Naruto villains.
Fourth Shinobi World War: Countdown (22 Episodes)
Right before the Fourth Shinobi World War begins, both factions make their preparations for the conflict. A lot of build-up for the war takes place, what with Tobi forming an army of troops with help from a returning Kabuto and Tsunade making war preparations with Konoha’s war council. Many notable events occur, such as a Team 7 reunion, Naruto fighting Dark Naruto, and Naruto finally meeting his mother.
The first arc centered around the Fourth Shinobi World War, the countdown arc spans from episodes 215 to 222, and later picks up from episodes 243 to 256 in Shippuden.
Three-Tails Appearance (24 Episodes)
Another filler arc in Narutos’ Shippuden, the Three-Tails Appearance sees the Akatsuki, Konoha, and Team Guren attempt to capture the Three-Tails, Isobu. It lasts from episodes 89 to 112 in the anime.
The arc features plenty of action from the Akatsuki, as Tobi and Deidara do battle against a powerful monster in the lake. It’s also notable for being the only appearance of Team Guren, whose leader, Guren, is a fan favorite. Guren, an Ororchimaru subordinate who has the ability to crystalize just about anything, has a bit of a redemption arc over the course of the Three-Tails ordeal.
Sasuke Recovery Mission (29 Episodes)
Also known as Sasuke Uchiha Recovery, the Sasuke Recovery Mission arc takes place in the original anime, from episodes 107 to 135. As expected from the name, this arc is focused on Sasuke, who wishes to quench his thirst for power after Itachi declared him weak.
Following an appeal from Orochimaru, Sasuke chooses to leave the Leaf Village and join the Sound Four. The Konoha 11 embark on a search to stop Sasuke from defecting to Orochimaru, and it eventually leads to an epic clash between Naruto and Sasuke at the Valley of the End.
Kazekage Rescue Mission (32 Episodes)
The first arc to kick off Shippuden lasts from the first episode to episode 32. The Kazekage Rescue Mission involves Akatsuki members Deidara and Sasori capturing the new Kazekage, Gaara. Their goal? To extract the One-Tails sealed within Gaara, Shukaku.
Naruto, returning to Konoha after training with Jiraya for two years, travels with Team Kakashi to Sunakagure to rescue his friend from the Akatsuki’s clutches. The Akatsuki gradually makes their presence known, becoming a force to be reckoned with throughout most of Shippuden.
Fourth Shinobi World War: Climax (41 Episodes)
The Fourth Shinobi World War: Climax is the last arc about the worldwide shinobi conflict. It covers episodes 322 to 348 of Shippuden, as well as episodes 362 to 378. As the Allied Shinobi Forces continue their fight against Tobi and Kabuto, a new threat emerges and kicks this arc into full gear.
That new threat is none other than Madara, a resurrected nin who becomes one of the biggest antagonists in Naruto. The five kage work together to defeat Madara, while Naruto and the other shinobi take on Obito Uchiha.
Chunin Exams (48 Episodes)
What shonen anime would be complete without a tournament arc? Spanning from episodes 20 through 67 of the original anime, the Chunin Exams sees Team 7 enter the exams on their quest to be promoted to chunin. The jonin not only participates in a tournament but also have to survive in the Forest of Death.
Many important characters make their debut in this arc, such as Team Guy and the sand trio. It also featured the debut of Orochimaru, who would become one of the most important villains in the original anime, as well as Shippuden.
Fourth Shinobi World War: Confrontation (53 Episodes)
Fourth Shinobi World War: Confrontation is the biggest arc in the Naruto series, with a few filler episodes in-between. The war begins, with the world’s shinobi and Black Zetzu’s reincarnated army doing battle against each other. Several reincarnated nin make an appearance, such as Zabuza, Asuma, and Itachi to name a few.
Due to the presence of filler episodes, this arc has plenty of intermission taking place in-between. It firsts lasts from episodes 261 to 270 in Shippuden, and then from 272 to 289. After the Power arc, the Confrontation arc continues from episodes 296 to 310, and then from episodes 312 to 321.