Naruto is a popular Japanese manga and anime series written and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. Itachi, a fan favourite character in the popular series, was a powerful member of the Uchiha clan. Itachi was considered to be the best during his time from an early age. For Itachi, becoming the best Shinobi of all time was on the cards from day one, but after experiencing war and loss as a young ninja, he has a change of heart. He becomes a pacifist and embarks on a mission to end all conflict in the world. Many are taken aback when Itachi massacres his entire clan, except for his younger brother Sasuke.
Why did Itachi kill his clan? After the mass killing of the Uchiha clan, Itachi tells his brother that he only did it to test his abilities. However, Itachi was acting on orders from Danzo Shimura and members of the council for the sake of peace in Konoha. It turns out that the Uchiha clan was planning to overthrow the Konoha leadership.
Naruto fans were livid with Itachi for wiping out the Uchiha clan. The actions of the peace-loving character took many by surprise. And the explanation he gives to his younger brother Sasuke for betraying his clan, heartless. But as the Naruto story progresses, fans continue to learn more about the circumstances of the massacre of Uchiha clan. The writers of the popular anime and manga series reveal that Itachi’s motivations were far from what Sasuke believed. Itachi was, in fact, on a mission forced on him by Danzo Shimura and the village elders in Konoha. Read on to find out how it all went down.
Why Did Itachi Kill His Clan?
When it was revealed that the Uchiha clan –under the leadership of Fugaku Uchiha –were planning to overthrow the leadership of Konohagakure and take over, Danzo Shimura and other members of the village council deemed it necessary for the Uchiha clan to be brought down. Itachi negotiated a deal with the Hidden Leaf village elders to spare his brother, who he was very fond of. After killing everyone in the Uchiha clan, except for his brother, Itachi tells his little brother Sasuke that he did it to test his abilities. Itachi’s slaughter of the Uchiha clan sparks outrage among the popular anime and manga fans and leaves his brother yearning for revenge.
A Little Background
There have always been tensions between the Uchiha clan and the Senju clan, going all the way back to the early days of Konoha. It all started with the ancient feud between the sons of the Sage of Six Paths, Asura and Indra. The descendants of Asura, who’d later become the Senju clan, prospered as in the leadership of the Hidden Leaf village. Descending from Indra, the Uchiha clan were always treated with suspicion and were side-lined. The reincarnations of Asura and Indra throughout the history of Konohagakure kept the animosity between the two sides alive.
The Nine-Tailed Demon Fox Attack
Things got even worse for the Uchiha clan after the nine-tailed demon fox attack of the Hidden Leaf village. The Konoha leadership suspected them even more and went as far as thinking they were responsible for the attack; of course, unaware that it was Tobi that was behind it. The Uchiha found themselves more excluded than ever before, through no fault of their own. The nine-tailed demon fox attack bolstered Konoha village’s fear and suspicion of the Uchiha clan that even the village elders became wary. The Uchiha clan were treated with suspicion and monitored even more closely after the attack.
The isolation and mistrust from other members of the village sparked feelings of ill will among the Uchiha clan. The anger would eventually rekindle the hatred members of the Uchiha clan harboured for the Senju’s controlled leadership in Konoha. The Uchihas main grievance was that their clan was forced to live in the outskirts of the village, isolated. Tobirama Senju, the Second Hokage, was one of the people responsible for the exclusion of the Uchiha clan. Furious, the Uchiha clan, under the leadership of Fugaku Uchiha, set a plan in motion to overthrow the Senju-influenced leadership of the village.
In an elaborate plan to take over leadership of the village, the Uchiha clan started to plant spies in the village’s command structure. Itachi was placed in Konoha’s ANBU black ops, under the command of Danzo Shimura, a renowned anti-Uchiha proponent. Itachi didn’t like it, and neither did he agree with his clan’s plan to overthrow the leadership of Konoha. Here feared that the coup would escalate to another Shinobi war. To avoid a war, Itachi became a double agent, feeding the Hokage information about Uchiha’s plans. He thought that he would be able to help the cause for peace by being a double agent, but that was never the case.
The Search for a Peaceful Resolution
Itachi was desperate to avoid a war between the Uchiha clan and the Konoha military. With the help of his close friend, Shisui, Itachi made several attempts to manufacture peace but to no avail. Shisui, initially placed the ANBU by the Uchiha clan to keep an eye on Itachi, was also not in favour of the coup. He even tried to use the Kotoamatsukami to compel the Uchiha clan to abandon their plans to overthrow the Konoha leadership. However, Danzo stole Shisui’s right eye before he could use it to stop the coup. The frustration drove Shisui to commit suicide and prevent Danzo from taking his other eye.
Shisui’s death left Itachi conflicted. He no longer knew who to trust. After finding his best friend’s body, he was of the opinion that he was murdered by the Uchiha clan, who then staged his death as a suicide. Itachi was now convinced that the only way the coup could be stopped was with bloodshed. He publicly criticized the clan’s treasonous activities and exhibited hostility to individual members of his clan. This allowed Danzo to manipulate Itachi into killing everyone in the Uchiha clan. For the fringe leader of the ANBU, the goal was to put an end to the Uchiha clan once and for all.
According to Danzo, there were two possible outcomes vis-à-vis what would happen to the Uchiha clan. The Konoha leadership could sit back and let the Uchiha clan go ahead with their coup, culminating in the execution of all the clan members. Alternatively, Itachi could kill all the members of his clan before they went ahead with the coup and save the life of his younger brother Sasuke. Left with two difficult choices, the young warrior cut a deal to execute his clan and protect his younger brother. Itachi hoped to prevent an all-out war.
With the help of Tobi, Itachi massacred his entire clan in a single night. Tobi took care of the clan’s military branch, which allowed Itachi to deal with the civilian part of the Uchiha clan without much resistance. Knowing his father (Fugaku) to be a formidable opponent, Itachi approached the family home with great caution. However, he was surprised to find both his mother and father were prepared to die rather than fight their own son and didn’t put up any resistance. They understood his position against the coup. Itachi executed his parents just before Sasuke got home from school.
The Consequences of Itachi’s Betrayal
Itachi could not live with himself for betraying and executing the members of his clan and believed he deserved punishment even though he knew he had to do it to prevent a war. He felt that his younger brother, Sasuke, was the only person who deserved to pass judgement on him. Therefore, instead of telling him the truth, Itachi lies to his brother and tells him that he killed all the members of the Uchiha clan to test his ability. He attacks him and torments him with visions of the clan’s massacre using Tsukuyomi and this sets him on a course for vengeance.
Angry, and rightly so, Sasuke sets out to be the best Shinobi Konoha has ever seen. He wants to be strong enough to seek revenge for his family against Itachi, which is what his older brother wanted all along. In his quest to become stronger than his older brother and avenge the death of his clan, Sasuke leaves the village. Naruto, in turn, embarks on his own journey to become just as powerful so he can bring Sasuke back to Konoha. The two go on to become the most powerful Shinobi the village has ever seen. After several attempts, Sasuke ultimately kills his brother and learns the truth about his motivations for wiping out the Uchiha clan.
About the author: Marta Kovachek is the author of this article. She graduated from the University of Chicago with a master’s degree in Economics. Marta enjoys writing about the current economic situation and loves helping our readers to find their next "destination". From places to live to complex social and economic topics, we always enjoy Marta's work. Please contact us in case of any questions.