In most anime there is a lot of ‘filler’; these are often arcs that have been added after the fact by the TV writers in order to get more out of the series and explore pilot lines that may not have been covered fully in the manga.
This happens a lot in Naruto, in both Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden. Around 40% of the whole series is non-canon filler arc.
Canon simply refers to the show’s original plot line from the manga, and ‘filler’ refers to the added arcs. In Naruto some of these arcs can be particularly compelling, especially the ones that delve into characters in fun ways.
On the other hand, some can be quite random and boring depending on what you want from the show.
Sometimes what writers do is mix canon with filler in one episode which can make things confusing, but there is always someone who has read the manga who will be able to clarify what is and isn’t canonical information.
In any case, being able to navigate between filler and canon arcs will be able to help you cater your watching experience to your preferences.
This can be super helpful in most anime, but especially in Naruto, as sometimes you just want to see the canon, and sometimes you want the specific filler arc where certain characters or techniques may be used.
Either way, we’re going to give you the blueprints so that you can tailor your own watching experience for both Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden. Read on to learn more.
Here’s a quick list of all the canon episodes and all the filler episodes for reference:
Pure Manga Canon Episodes: 1-6, 8, 10-13, 17, 22, 25, 31-36, 42, 48, 50-51, 61-62, 64-65, 67-68, 73, 75-82, 84-96, 107-111, 115-125, 128-129, 132-135
Mixed Canon and Filler Episodes: 7, 9, 14-16, 18-21, 23-24, 27-30, 37-41, 43-47, 49, 52-60, 63, 66, 69-72, 74, 83, 98, 100, 112-114, 126-127, 130-131, 141-142, 220
Filler Episodes: 26, 97, 101-106, 136-140, 143-219
Pure Manga Canon Episodes: 20-23, 26-27, 29-44, 46-48, 51-53, 55, 72-88, 113-114, 116-126, 129-143, 152-169, 172-175, 197-212, 214-222, 243-253, 255-256, 261-270, 272-278, 282-283, 296-302, 321-323, 325-326, 329, 332-337, 339-345, 363-375, 378-384, 387, 391-393, 414, 418, 420-421, 424-425, 459, 463, 470, 473-477, 484-500
Mixed Canon And Filler Episodes: 1-19, 24-25, 45, 49-50, 54, 56, 71, 89-90, 112, 115, 127-128, 213, 254, 324, 327-328, 330-331, 338, 346, 362, 385-386, 415, 419, 426, 451-458, 460-462, 469, 471-472, 478-479
Filler Episodes: 57-70, 91-111, 144-151, 170-171, 176-196, 223-242, 257-260, 271, 279-281, 284-295, 303-320, 347-361, 376-377, 388-390, 394-413, 416-417, 422-423, 427-450, 464-468, 480-483
Kakashi ‘Shadow Of The Anbu Black Ops’ Arc (Naruto: Shippuden 349-361)
If you like Kakashi as a character, then this is a seriously fun arc to watch. The whole arc is like one of the Hiden novels, following the young Kakashi through his Anbu career as one of the youngest jonin in the village.
There are some familiar faces in this such as Minato Namikaze, Itachi Uchiha, and we even see Kakashi protecting an unborn Naruto in his mother’s womb!
If you are into Kakashi Hatake, there is no better filler to watch. This provides a lot of backstory to the series more widely but also to Kakashi’s character specifically.
Kishimoto often mentions Kakashi as one of his favored characters, he once remarked that if he had to make a series focussing on any other character then he would choose Kakashi, and this is as close we get to this in the form of an anime.
Gotta See! Gotta Know! Kakashi-Sensei’s True Face! (Naruto 101)
If you love Kakashi but want some lighter content, this arc shows the happy-go-lucky side of Naruto in optimal fashion. This arc is classic Naruto Part I childish deviance from Team Kakashi.
It’s one of the few arcs where we see Sasuke, perhaps still caught in his youthful naivety, actually indulging one of Naruto’s doe-eyed plans. The arc is just pure good vibes and classic Naruto silliness.
Kakashi plays the awkward but cool target that shows some of his good natured side and the small bits of fun we get out of Kakashi’s often serious demeanor.
The ‘Power’ Arc (Naruto Shippuden: 290-295)
To celebrate 500 episodes of Naruto the team at Naruto chose to write this filler arc for the fans. Happening right before the outbreak of Fourth Shinobi World War, you would think fans would be itching to get to the action, but this arc is worth watching to cool off before the war really kicks off.
Without delving into the fun plot too much, the arc helps form Kabuto as the villain of the war which is worth seeing before the war breaks out in the epic fashion it does. It’s worth giving the arc a go purely for the battle between a clone of Nine Tails and Naruto.
Revenge Of The Shadow Clones (Naruto: Shippuden 230)
For the sillier filler arcs, this one is actually quite clever and enlightening.
This is a Naruto focused arc, most fans will realise that Naruto’s clones have their own sort of manifestation of Naruto’s personality, and in this arc they unionize against the titular character to remind Naruto they have their own free will.
The outcome is a funny and light hearted arc that delves into the psyche of the potential Hokage.
The ending is particularly interesting and a little left of field for the writers, presenting the clones as more powerful than we may think. While also foreshadowing the dreams of the final season.
The Infinite Tsukuyomi Dream Arcs (Naruto: Shippuden 427-450)
This is perhaps the most debated filler arc, some fans think this is really worth watching, some find it really annoying and silly.
Although, this is definitely some of the most complex and ‘deep’ writing in the series, in Tsunade’s dream, for instance, we go into another frame narrative where she is reading one of Jiraiya’s book, while in her Tsukuyomi dream – this is it’s own little Naruto Inception moment.
Moreover watching Tenten run around knowing she is in the dream is particularly haunting but also interesting.
The arcs do occur right as Madara casts Infinite Tsuykuyomi so we imagine fans watching in real time were particularly itching to see what happens, but also without knowing the ending of the plot the dreams help create some doubt that Naruto can stop Madara.
If watching in real time this will have created some serious suspense and questions about how the series would have ended.
We hope this guide has given you a few ideas on how to tailor your Naruto watching experience.
These were some of our favorite arcs, some funny and silly, some serious and dark, this is the tightrope that the Naruto writers walk perfectly throughout the series so it’s worthwhile indulging both the ridiculous and the abstract plot lines.
Moreover, you can tailor your experience to characters, there’s a few characters such as Kakashi who get their own arc which delves into their back story a lot more, these are great for the characters you enjoy.
Fans will always debate about whether filler arcs should be watched or totally skipped over, just remember that those who were watching the show in real time as it came out week by week had to watch each and every episode in order to get closure to each plot line.
We can only imagine how arduous that must have been, but now you can tailor your watching experience how you want. Happy watching!