If a story is only as good as its villains, then it makes sense that the terrific Naruto series has so many great antagonists. While a good number of baddies come and go, one of the most enduring villainous groups in the franchise is the mysterious Akatsuki organization. Formed of ninja who abandoned their homelands, the motivations of this group changes as the story progresses, but they are almost always working counter to the goals of Naruto’s heroes.
Like just about every other entity in Naruto, the Akatsuki have a sorted and complex history. It wasn’t always an evil organization, but it’s understandable how it grew to hold extremely questionable morals. Formally a means to stop warring nations from decimating smaller communities, it became an antagonist force after its leader grew to believe that the only way to stop this destruction is by ruling over humanity with overwhelming power. Of course, numerous other antagonists have manipulated the Akatsuki for their own benefits as well.
Even with its relatively small numbers, the Akatsuki is one of the strongest groups in all of Naruto. Its members can take on even the most elite ninja and even subdue the incredibly powerful Tailed Beasts. However, not every member of the Akatsuki is as powerful as the others, with the earlier generation being significantly weaker than later members. Although, with some of the members of the team being nigh indestructible demigods, this power gap isn’t all that surprising.
As the single anime-only member of the second generation of Akatsuki, Jūzō Biwa has some impressive abilities while not quite matching up to any of his canonical peers. He utilizes water techniques to surprise foes and then strikes them down with the iconic Kubikiribōchō blade.
He also possesses enough physical strength to wield the giant sword with ease and was respected enough to partner up with the incredibly strong Itachi Uchiha on a mission to take on the Fourth Mizukage. However, his skill set seems to make him little more than a discount Zabuza, and it seems like he’s quite a bit weaker than any of his contemporaries. All in all, he wasn’t much of a boost to the organization.
White Zetsu is an Akatsuki member with a unique genetic composition that grants him access to a variety of useful techniques and gives him a distinctive pale complexion with plant-like appendages. He can use every basic nature transformation to the fullest extent possible and can even use advanced Wood Release techniques.
However, he’s mostly used for reconnaissance and information gathering missions as he doesn’t have much battle power and can move through solid surfaces freely with his Mayfly technique. Although he is a difficult foe for most ninjas to take on, most of the other Akatsuki members could defeat White Zetsu with either their raw power or their own, and a more varied arsenal of bizarre techniques.
Kie was a member of the original Akatsuki, back when it was a guerilla organization trying to keep larger nations from destroying the Hidden Rain Village. However, he isn’t particularly powerful and it’s unknown what kind of abilities he possesses.
Like many of the other members of the first Akatsuki generation, Madara Uchiha defeated him so that he could manipulate Nagato into collecting the Tailed Beasts with a stronger version of the organization. There is a chance that Kie could deserve a high place on this list, but considering what little screen time he had and how little he impacted the story, it’s more than likely that he was an average to below average ninja.
Daibutsu is another member of the first generation of Akatsuki and actually survived Madara Uchiha’s attack on the organization. He tried to defeat Tobi and Zetsu before they had a chance to manipulate Nagato into using the organization for their own benefit but to no avail.
He uses his impressive size and strength to wield giant, blunt weapons in the battle to weaken and tire opponents so he can detain them in his Water Prison Jutsu. However, even if he was one of the stronger members of the original Akatsuki, he’s simply no match for most of the other ninja on this list and couldn’t stand a chance against them with his more basic techniques and limited ninja abilities
Obito Uchiha, or Tobi when he was hiding his identity from the other members of the Akatsuki organization, possesses the Sharingan, the Rinnegan, and the power of the Ten-Tails. This gives him a myriad of abilities including intangibility, mastery over the six elements of chakra, access to all of Nagato’s abilities, and the ability to destroy nearly anything with the Truth-Seeking Balls technique.
While he only possesses this form for a short time, it takes the entirety of the Allied Shinobi Forces to stop him in this state. He was nearly invincible and if not for the efforts of a thousands-strong army and the scheming of Madara, he would have been unstoppable.
Madara Uchiha, the man who laid the groundwork for the Akatsuki and manipulated the organization from behind the curtain, grew to possess all of Obito’s powers, but to a much higher degree. He could combine the Sharingan and Rinnegan to form the Rinne Sharingan and was actually able to defeat the entire Allied Shinobi Forces, as well as stave off the efforts of Naruto and Sasuke working together to defeat him.
His only mistake was allowing Black Zetsu to influence his decisions, as his all-powerful form allowed the goddess Kaguya to possess and remodel his body in her image. Madara is undoubtedly the strongest member of the Akatsuki and perhaps the most powerful character in the series in a one on one fight.
Kyusuke is one of the strongest members of the original Akatsuki, as he possesses incredible speed, can utilize sword techniques to overwhelm opponents, and can use higher level nature transformation techniques to surprise and petrify unsuspecting foes.
Though he is unnamed and unexplored in the original manga, in the anime Kyusuke is shown to combine fire and earth elemental transformations to utilize extremely powerful Lava Release techniques. However, he still isn’t able to compete with the likes of Tobi and is easily bested by the masked ninja. In any other circumstance Kyusuke would undoubtedly be one of the strongest ninja around, but against these super elite criminals, he is simply not able to measure up.
The original founder of the Akatsuki, Yahiko is presumably an exceptionally talented and powerful ninja. Possessing fire, water, and wind nature affinities, Yahiko learned ninjutsu from the legendary Sannin Jiraiya and is strong enough to command an entire army of ninjas against the established Hidden Rain Village authorities. To do this he would have to possess a level of power and charisma far above most ninja.
Even if he didn’t play a very active role in the events of the series, he laid a lot of the groundwork for the Akatsuki becoming a major threat. Even if his good intentions were misused, it still took an incredible amount of power build up the original Akatsuki.
Hidan isn’t so much a powerful ninja, as he is a durable one. He really only has two tricks, his exceptional immortality and a technique that turns him into a voodoo doll that harms anyone who attacks him so long as he’s within a special symbol.
This makes the cultist ninja a challenging opponent to defeat, but rather easy to incapacitate if an enemy knows about his two abilities. In fact, Shikamaru Nara is able to defeat Hidan rather easily by preventing him from drawing his damage transfer symbol and breaking up his limbs so he cannot attack. Sure, it might be difficult to defeat Hidan without proper research, but even a little bit of planning is enough to best this immortal ninja.
Sasori is the greatest puppet master ninja in Naruto and is nearly immortal as well. He can summon an army of upwards of a hundred puppets made from humans that all retain their abilities, as well as numerous hidden weapons. Having transformed his own body into a puppet, Sasori is also immune to all manner of poisons and doesn’t take any actual damage from attacks that don’t strike his flesh core.
However, most of Sasori’s fierceness in battle comes from catching his opponents off guard with his many hidden attacks and abilities. If someone knows about his secret puppet body and puppet arsenal, he becomes much less of a threat and is easier to defeat with enough raw power or by exploiting the weaknesses of his puppets.
One of the flashiest members of the Akatsuki, Deidara is an explosives expert who specializes in widespread destruction. Combining earth and lighting elements to uses explosion techniques, Deidara uses the various mouths on his body to turn ordinary clay into moving explosives he controls with his chakra.
This makes him one of the most versatile members of the Akatsuki, and he is able to defeat anyone who doesn’t possess an absurd level of speed or defense. His only notable weaknesses are lighting attacks neutralizing his explosive clay and his own shortsightedness. He is one of the strongest ninjas in the entirety of Naruto and it took every bit of Sasuke’s cunning and skill to defeat him when they fought.
With a somewhat monstrous appearance and the strength to back it up, Kisame Hoshigaki is one of the most capable members of the Akatsuki. Already a threat with his wide assortment of water-based jutsu, Kisame’s strength is magnified further when he uses the living sword Samehada in battle.
This weapon allows Kisame to negate any chakra attack, as the blade consumes the energy for sustenance. Moreover, he can even fuse with the sword to gain an even more shark-like appearance and recover from otherwise fatal injuries. With these incredible abilities and a fierce dedication to the Akatsuki, it’s no wonder that it took an entire team of ninja’s to finally stop his villainous actions.
A founding member of the Akatsuki, the only woman in the organization’s second generation, and the advisor to the second generation’s leader, Pain, Konan is an exceptionally strong and cautious ninja. Uniquely, she can channel her chakra into paper for a variety of creative attacks, and she can even transform her body into various pieces of paper to move quickly and avoid harm.
With enough time to prepare, she’s even able to push Tobi to his very limit, by controlling enough explosive paper to attack the masked ninja nonstop for ten minutes. With the versatility, mobility, and sheer destructive power of her techniques, Konan is an incredibly powerful ninja and one of Jiraiya’s strongest pupils.
Shin Uchiha isn’t technically a member of the Akatsuki or an Uchiha for that matter, but he’s still an absolute powerhouse of an opponent. Taking on the name Uchiha after developing a fascination with the nearly extinct clan, he tries to revive the Akatsuki during Boruto: Naruto Next Generations because he believes violence will further human evolution.
He possesses numerous Sharingan eyes implanted all throughout his body and a unique trait that prevents his body from rejecting implanted organs. His Sharingan allows him to control anything he places a special seal on with telekinesis, and his clone army gives him plenty of manpower and spare body parts. It’s no surprise that it took both Sakura and Sasuke’s efforts to defeat this ninja.
Kakuzu is another near immortal and monstrous member of the Akatsuki. He possesses the ability to use each element of chakra to the fullest potential and his entire body is composed of tendrils that he can use like threads. This lets him not only control anything he inserts the threads into but also recover from fatal injuries by replacing his damaged organs with another’s instantly.
Only by damaging Kakuzu’s entire body simultaneously and destroying all of the organs he has in reserve can this ageless ninja be defeated. Considering that he has enough physical strength to take on a Tailed Beast, that’s an exceptionally tall order that only a few talented ninjas in Naruto are able to fill.
Itachi Uchiha is perhaps the most skilled ninjutsu and genjutsu user in the entirety of Naruto, and secretly spies on the Akatsuki while acting as a member of the organization. He’s a master of the Sharingan’s most advanced techniques, including the inextinguishable flames of Amaterasu, the illusions of Tsukuyomi, and the battling avatar Susanoo.
If not for his chronic illness, Itachi likely would have been the strongest living ninja during his time in the series. Few opponents can hope to match Itachi’s genius level intellect and the talent he’s refined into almost unmatched skill. Only those with even greater natural gifts or decades of training can hope to match Itachi’s devastating and multifaceted Sharingan abilities.
Black Zetsu is an odd being that is the manifestation of the god-like Kaguya Ōtsutsuki. As such, he possesses a variety of unique abilities and the cunning to execute a plant to revive his sealed mistress. He can use every element of ninjutsu, the advanced Wood release, steal chakra from others, and incorporate the unique techniques of other ninjas into his body.
Even if he prefers to work from the shadows, most of his abilities are essentially a lesser version of Kaguya’s techniques. This makes him an absolutely devastating force capable of defeating most foes in a direct flight and any opponent if he is able to surprise them. Only a handful of ninja in their best condition can best this enigmatic and evil creature.
Kabuto isn’t an official member of the Akatsuki, but he does work as a spy for them and fights to their benefit during the Fourth Shinobi World War. Using the knowledge he gained while working for Orochimaru, Kabuto became strong enough to defeat nearly any foe in a direct encounter.
He’s modified his body to be nearly impervious to injury and can passively absorb natural energy to maintain Sage Mode indefinitely. Itachi Uchiha was only able to defeat him by trapping him in a never-ending genjutsu that forced the genetically enhanced ninja to reconsider his life choices. Kabuto’s strength and combat ability are almost without rival, and only the most powerful of ninja are able to even incapacitate him for a few moments.
Orochimaru is both one of the most self-interested characters in Naruto, and one of the strongest. One of the legendary Sannin and a member of the Akatsuki when it suited his interests, Orochimaru has fought some of the strongest characters in the series and lived to learn from those battles. His body is heavily modified and he is now in the possession of countless unique abilities after absorbing other’s bodies into his own.
He possesses more knowledge of ninjutsu than any other character in the series and is implied to have more techniques in his repertoire than is humanly possible. Only someone with an inhuman level of power is able to come close to matching Orochimaru when he’s at his peak condition and motivated enough to put his all into a fight.
Blessed with the legendary Rinnegan that Madara spent decades creating, Nagato took on the name Pain when he turned the Akatsuki into a villainous organization. With the goal of ruling over mankind as a means be the focus of the world’s hatred, he used his Rinnegan to control six corpses that each had unique abilities.
On top of mastering each elemental transformation, Nagato could also destroy entire cities instantly by creating a massive force. He literally possessed the might of an entire army and was only stopped by Naruto’s use of Sage Mode and the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox’s chakra. Nagato was able to command the strongest iteration of the Akatsuki because he was strong than most of them.