Did Sasuke Kill Itachi?

Did Sasuke Kill Itachi?
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One of the most iconic battles from the whole Naruto franchise is the final clash between Sasuke and Itachi Uchiha in Naruto: Shippuden. It wasn’t just an epic fight per se, it also had enormous emotional weight, as it deepened the stories of both Sasuke and Itachi, especially the former, whose already great presentation became even better. And while it is one of the most important moments from Naruto, the fight also leaves a big question mark about whether Sasuke actually killed Itachi during the fight or not. In this article, we are going to answer that question for you.

Sasuke did not kill Itachi during their fight. Itachi actually died of the unnamed respiratory illness he had been suffering from for a while and Sasuke had nothing to do with his death. Their fight did speed up the whole process, as it weakened Itachi so much that he died immediately, whereas otherwise, he would have lived some more (but not long), but it was not Sasuke that killed Itachi.

The rest of this article is going to focus on the final clash between Itachi and Sasuke, a very emotional and important moment in the whole Naruto franchise. We are going to give you all the details of their final clash, as well as tell you whether Sasuke really did kill Itachi or not. In case you haven’t seen the show, we have to warn you that there are spoilers ahead.

How did Itachi Uchiha die in Naruto?

After defeating Orochimaru, Sasuke creates a small elite group called Team Hebi to hunt down and kill Itachi. Konohagakure found out about Sasuke’s plan, so he started sending a group consisting of Kakashi, Sakura, Sai, Yamato, Naruto, Shino Aburame, Kiba Inuzuka with his dog Akamaru, and Hinata Hyuuga to find and kill Itachi. With that, they would also find Sasuke, whom they want to bring back to Konohagakure.

Both groups have Itachi as their main target to kill him, but Akatsuki also got wind of this plan, so Pain issues orders to prevent Sasuke from getting too close to Itachi, as he was too important to Akatsuki. After a while, Itachi seeks out Naruto who, after talking about Naruto trying to protect both Konohagakure and Sasuke, gives him some strength and leaves. Later, Sasuke finds Itachi.

A fight ensues, with Itachi surprisingly dying after a hard fight just before defeating Sasuke. Tobi later tells Sasuke that Itachi intended from the start to die at Sasuke’s hands and that he had long been marked by a serious illness. In this final encounter with his younger brother, Itachi transferred all of his eye skills to Sasuke, giving him the Mangekyou Sharingan as well.

As Tobi later explains to Sasuke, Itachi was always careful to protect his younger brother; transferring all of his Dojutsu to Sasuke was an attempt to keep Tobi away from him. Tobi also explains that Itachi only became a target for Sasuke because of an order from Konohagakure. Itachi was supposed to kill all the Uchiha because at that time they were planning a revolution and wanted to conquer Konoha.

Tobi tells Sasuke that his brother was with the ANBU to brief the Uchiha clan on what the Konoha government was planning. In reality, however, the opposite was the case and Itachi told the Third Hokage all about the plans of the Uchiha clan. Tobi tells that at the age of four, Itachi had to witness a horrific fighting scene of the Third Shinobi World War and that this triggered a trauma in him that made Itachi hate war and violence and always wanted to make peace. Which is why he decided to exterminate the Uchiha clan with Tobi.

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Therefore, Itachi did everything to make Sasuke believe that the Uchiha clan was Konoha’s pride and that what he had done was done out of pure malice. He made Sasuke’s life a quest for power and revenge to make him stronger and thus protect him from the Konoha government. Sasuke is confronted with all these facts within moments, which leads to Sasuke slowly going insane and denouncing Tobi as a liar.

Tobi then throws at Sasuke the fact that Sasuke would not have stood a chance against Itachi if he really wanted to kill him. Furthermore, Tobi says that before his death and even after his death, Itachi only ever tried to protect his little brother and give him more power. Itachi also intended for Sasuke to be accepted by the village and hailed as a hero once Sasuke defeated him.

Did Sasuke kill Itachi?

This was a very important question that arose during their fight and it took some time before the debates actually settled down the fans agreed on the only possible answer to this question, which was evident from the manga but also subjected to various interpretations by the fans. But no, there is no debate here, Sasuke Uchiha did not kill Itachi Uchiha in Naruto and that is a fact. The two of them did have an epic fight and Itachi did die as a result of that fight, but it wasn’t Sasuke’s doing, despite the fact that even Sasuke thought so (as it seems) for a while and that the real reason was not completely clear until much later.

So, how exactly did Itachi die, if he wasn’t killed by Sasuke, as was assumed from their fight? Well, we have an answer to that as well. Sort of. In Naruto Chapter 401, it was officially revealed that Itachi Uchiha was suffering from a terminal illness. He would have died from it quite quickly, but it was revealed that he wanted to die from Sasuke’s hand and that he managed to sustain himself long enough through sheer willpower. Okay, his Chakra definitely helped there, since Itachi was one of the most powerful characters in the series, but it was mostly his willpower. Now that we have cleared this up, we can tell you what kind of illness he had. Or – can we?

Sadly, we cannot. Namely, even after all these years, we know absolutely nothing about the illness that Itachi Uchiha had. We don’t know what it was, how he became ill, and why it was fatal. The reason for that is, as fans keep speculating, that Kishimoto never actually wanted to explore this illness, so he just used it as a plot device for his own reasons. And he has done it more than once.

A notable example is Kimimaro, a very powerful villain who also, at some unknown point, contracted an unknown fatal illness. Treatment was suggested, but due to the unknown composition of Kimimaro’s body, no one dared to do anything so as to not make things worse; Kimimaro simply lived out the rest of his life before the illness finally killed him just as he was about to kill Gaara. As with Itachi, nothing is known about Kimimaro’s illness and it is speculated that both of these characters had the same type of illness.

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Based on the manifestation – coughing and profuse bleeding from the mouth – it is suspected that both of them had an unknown respiratory illness. Comparison-wise, Bleach‘s Jūshirō Ukitake also had a fatal lung disease since childhood and it was manifested through debilitating bouts of coughing and bleeding from the mouth. This is why Itachi’s illness being a respiratory one would make complete sense, but we don’t actually know if it is true or not. This is just speculation on our part.

As for the reasons for doing this like this, Kishimoto never revealed any but seeing that he has used this technique more than once, we assume that it was a leitmotif for him to allow overly powerful characters to be defeated. Namely, both Kimimaro and Itachi were extremely powerful and it would have been very difficult to defeat them at 100% of their powers without it being unrealistic. This is why Kishimoto, possibly, added this narrative element so that the characters could be defeated or removed from the plot, because they had to be weak(er) to transition smoothly. Self-sacrifice is a similar leitmotif used in the Naruto series.

As you can see, Itachi actually died from his illness. The unnamed respiratory illness that Kishimoto seems to use as a plot device to “remove” some characters is actually to blame, meaning that Sasuke had nothing to do with Itachi’s death. As we know quite well, Itachi would have died much earlier from the illness but was kept alive thanks to his powerful Chakra and sheer willpower, as he wanted to die while fighting Sasuke. The fight was a truly epic one and Itachi managed to achieve what he wanted. The fight ended up exhausting him so much that he could not fight the illness anymore so he succumbed to it immediately.

From that perspective yes, the fight against Sasuke did speed up the whole process, but (1) Itachi was the one who wanted the fight, (2) Itachi was dying anyway, and (3) Sasuke did nothing directly to cause his death. The fight killed him and since Itachi was the one who wanted the fight, he basically killed himself. Sasuke was just a collateral “victim” of his own guilt later on until he actually realized that he was not to blame for Itachi’s death. And that is the whole story, as confirmed in the manga and the anime.

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