Gaara is probably one of the most popular characters in the Naruto series. Stoic, yet compassionate. Softly spoken, yet incredibly powerful. A tragic figure with an awful past and upbringing yet is not defined by that terrible history as he leads his village into a brighter future.
Plus, has a distinct and almost exclusive power that few others in the Naruto world have: the ability to control and manipulate sand to create huge constructs.
Who couldn’t love this guy?
It’s for so many of these reasons and more that Gaara has become one of the most beloved, especially amongst the cast of characters that remain a part of the story to the end of the initial run of the series.
His design both reflects and contrasts against Naruto’s, as does his character arc, going from a vile villain who enjoyed nothing more than causing death and pain in others, to being a hero and recognized leader of Sunagakure, the village in the sand.
Fans treasure the growth and progress that this character has gone through. And would be heartbroken if some awful incident were to happen to him.
This is precisely the reason that Masashi Kishimoto, the series creator, might find a reason to put him through the wringer.
Secondary characters are always a popular choice for authors to test to bring some emotional weight to a story, and Gaara is no exception. Death is never far away in the world of Naruto, especially for a character with circumstances like Gaara’s (a topic we will discuss shortly).
So many fans wonder about Gaara’s fate throughout the series. Does this treasured character meet his end at some point in this long-running and expansive story?
Well, to borrow from a popular meme: Yes, but actually, no.
… It gets complicated.
Let us take you to the story of Gaara and his many brushes with death.
History Of Gaara
Before we go into the details of Gaara’s not-death, we should probably go a little over his backstory, and what factors caused him to die in the first place.
What’s most interesting about Gaara’s path and his character arc in the Naruto series, is where he starts his journey in the story of Naruto and where he ends up by the end of Shippuden.
Gaara got dealt a bad hand when he was born. The son of the Fourth Kazekage and his mother Karura, who actually died whilst Gaara was still in her womb.
What’s more, one of the village elders, Lady Chiyo (who will come back into Gaara’s life at a later point), also sealed one of the great Tailed Beasts into him as a newborn, the mad one-tailed tanuki, Shukaku.
Okay, so that’s a pretty rough deal to have when you are less than an hour old. Still, it’s nothing that a little love and family support can’t fix, right?
Well, Gaara didn’t exactly get any of that.
Being a Jinchuriki of a tailed beast meant that Gaara was ostracized by both adults and children of his age, despite Gaara’s best efforts to be kind and make friends with them.
The only people who didn’t outwardly ignore or show disdain for him were his father, who planned to use Gaara as a weapon for the betterment of the village (which is hardly better), his two older siblings, who were terrified of the powerful bloodthirsty creature that was sealed in him, and his uncle, Rashamura, who would go on to assassinate him at the behest of the Sand Village’s upper council, who considered Gaara a failure of an experiment.
Needless to say, Gaara had an incredibly troubled childhood.
Coupled with the fact that the insane creature within him gave him repeated night terror as a child that caused him to develop insomnia, as well as the general weakening of his mental health and psyche because of this and his treatment by those around him, Gaara would eventually cut off all emotional connections he had to others, caring only for himself, and killing those he deemed opponents, and sometimes even his allies, around him, in order to justify his own existence, as violence against his own existence was all he had ever known.
That changed when he would battle against Naruto, who would show him that his existence could be more than just suffering. It can be acknowledging the ties that you and other people have with each other, and fighting to preserve that.
Now, this is a pretty big simplification of a massive part of the Naruto manga (seriously, go read the Invasion of Konoha arc from Part 1, it’s great), but the impact of this interaction and clash with the protagonist of the series would have cannot be overstated.
It would go on to define how Gaara would interact with other people going forward, how he would heal his relationship with his older brother and sister, Kankuro and Temari, and how he would go out of his way to protect others from harm.
A change that would go on to define how he died.
Gaara, The Fifth Kazekage
By the time that Part 2 of the Naruto manga begins (or Naruto Shippuden for you anime fans), Gaara had won enough loyalty and respect from his village to be considered worthy of the title Kazekage, the leader of his village, succeeding his now-deceased father as the fifth Kazekage, at the incredibly young age of just 15.
Whilst it technically might not be the youngest Kage to take office in the history of Naruto (the Fourth Mizukage may have been younger when he become the leader of the Hidden Mist village, but it is unclear), he’s certainly second.
This caused many people to doubt whether or not Gaara was too young for the role, something that Gaara would make efforts to prove wrong throughout the whole of Naruto Shippuden.
Gaara would become devoted to his fellow villagers and would do anything to protect them from coming into harm’s way if he has a means of doing so.
Something that the Akatsuki would take full advantage of when they came to extract Shukaku from this young man.
During his fight with Deidara, Gaara would use his powers to stop the village from being destroyed by the rogue ninja’s C3 explosive technique, only for his sand to become infested with some of the explosive specialist’s exploding clay, knocking him unconscious, and losing him the fight.
The Death Of Gaara And His Resurrection
Gaara would later be taken to the Akatsuki’s hidden layer, where they successfully extracted the Tailed Beast from within him.
Outside a few very notable exceptions, extracting a Tailed Beast from a host will also kill the Jinchuriki that houses them as well.
Gaara is one of these victims and would die as Shukaku, who had brought so much pain and torment to his life but had also been his longest companion, was taken from him.
So, that’s it, right? Gaara dies in the Naruto series, and that’s the end of it.
Except, in this case, death is not the end for Gaara.
Remember Lady Chiyo? The old councilwoman who had sealed the Tailed Beast in him, to make him a weapon for the village? She had accompanied the rescue team who would attempt to save Gaara before he died from the Tailed Beast extraction process.
Whilst they had failed to save him in time, Lady Chiyo, who had done immoral acts in the name of her village’s security, who did not have faith that Gaara and his coming generation could protect the village and its people, would give her life to resurrect the young Kage, putting her faith that the young ninja of the future would succeed where she had failed.
Gaara’s Role In The Five Kage Summit And The Fourth Shinobi World War
Gaara is present for many events leading up to and during the Fourth Shinobi World War. He would be there at the Five Kage Summit, in order to discuss how to deal with the international threat of the Akatsuki, which he had personal, grim experience with.
he would also become the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Shinobi Forces during the short, but violent conflict, where his Naruto-Esque boldness and faith in others would inspire the troops he was leading, and stop widespread mutiny and infighting from occurring.
He would go on to fight his reanimated father, drawing a close to that traumatic chapter of his life, as well as join the other living Kage in their fight against the reanimated Madara Uchiha, The fact that Gaara was able to survive this fight, as well as continue fighting against him and Obito, when many of the other Kage had been incapacitated, speaks to his skills as a fighter and as a ninja.
Gaara’s Status Currently
As of the most recent episodes and chapters of the Boruto manga and anime, Gaara is still alive and well, and is actually one of the most experienced Kage that is still in office, despite only being in his early 30s.
So, there you have it! Gaara did technically die during the events of Naruto Shippuden, but was resurrected, and has continued to be a valuable ally to Naruto Uzumaki well into adulthood.
Not bad for such a rough start.