Sasuke Uchiha has one of the most complete and well-drawn character arcs in Naruto. From the beginning of the series, he has established himself as a serious and thoughtful boy, seeking revenge against his brother, and his attempts to get stronger are focused on this single goal.
The careful accumulation of interactions and battles with other characters increases his frustration at his own lack of strength until he finally seeks the power of Orochimaru, who offers it to him whenever Sasuke leaves his village and finally hands over his body for Orochimaru’s use. Many characters whose influence on Sasuke eventually leads to this point, even if he is ultimately responsible for his own choices.
10 when Haku almost killed him
This is probably the first moment that shows a source of Sasuke’s feelings of inadequacy. He activates his sharingan for the first time here, and it should be a great moment where he is able to win the battle for it. Instead, he almost dies trying to save Naruto, and in his rage and pain, Naruto loses control and attacks Haku. Considering Naruto is still an unsuccessful fool in battle at this point in the series, this must be a blow to Sasuke’s ego.
10 times Naruto needed Sasuke for backup
Naruto: 5 anime characters Orochimaru could defeat (& 5 he would lose)
9 when Rock Lee bluntly defeated him during the Chunin exams
Rock Lee challenges Sasuke to a fight before entering the Chunin exams because Sasuke is the most promising ninja in his class, and because Lee is interested in Sakura and wants to fight for the right to her love, no matter how archaic. Sasuke accepts the challenge, hoping his Sharingan will make someone like Lee easy to defeat. But he doesn’t expect Lee to be much faster than Sasuke is physically capable of keeping up, regardless of whether he can see his movements coming.
8 when Naruto fights Orochimaru
When Orochimaru finds Team 7 during the Chunin exams, he will be looking for Sasuke. But Sasuke is so petrified by the great strength and size of Orochimaru and his snake jutsu that all he wants to do is run away.
This infuriates Naruto enough for him to release some of the Nine-Tails chakra, and he fights Orochimaru alone, literally putting Sasuke to shame for his own fear. Naruto punches Sasuke to make sure he knows how angry she is at him for being scared.
7 when Orochimaru puts the curse mark on Sasuke
Orochimaru is, of course, one of the biggest contributors to Sasuke’s defection, as he put the idea in Sasuke’s head in the first place. After Sasuke gives him a good fight in the Chunin exams, Orochimaru puts the mark of the curse on him, introducing him to a new level of power that he hasn’t even dreamed of yet. He does not know at this moment that that power has a price; he knows he might need it to defeat Itachi.
6 When Kabuto helps the team 7 During the Chunin exam
Kabuto works for Orochimaru from the moment viewers see him in the series, although they and Team 7 don’t know it yet. One of the smartest things he does in this regard is position the team to finish the second part of the exam to show the strength and endurance of Naruto’s chakra. Sasuke watches how stronger Naruto has gotten at this point. It makes him more determined to get stronger, and he recognizes Naruto as a potential rival, leading to his latest resentment towards him.
5 When he fights Gaara and almost defeats him …
Sasuke is destined to fight Gaara in the Chunin Exam finals, but the fight is interrupted by the infiltration of the Sand and Sound ninjas and the attack on the Hidden Leaf village. Sasuke chases after Gaara in hopes of ending their fight, but even with two attempts at the Chidori, he is unable to lock up Gaara. It’s a crushing blow for Sasuke, who has been training incredibly hard in an attempt to get stronger just for this match.
4 when Naruto defeats Gaara
After Sasuke tries and fails to take Gaara down, he insists that Naruto take Sakura and get to safety. Simultaneously, Sasuke sacrifices himself to retain Gaara, knowing that he cannot defeat him. Unfortunately for Sasuke, Naruto is pretty sure he can beat him, and he’s not going to let Sasuke be the only one defending his village and the Sakura. It’s the first toss-and-drag fight Naruto has participated in, and the first time Sasuke sees the results of Naruto’s training, which greatly exceeds his own.
3 When he tries to fight Itachi and calls him « too weak »
There are many things about Itachi’s return to Konoha that send Sasuke deep into the deep end. Of course, the first is that he is not remotely interested in Sasuke, and has actually come to kidnap Naruto, which only increases Sasuke’s resentment towards his friend.
The second is that when he actually tries to fight his brother, Sasuke is energetically defeated (leading to a popular meme image), even with the power of the Chidori. Realizing how far you have to go to catch up with your brother is a huge wake-up call.
2 When Naruto uses the Rasengan during the fight on the roof
When Sasuke challenges Naruto to their long-awaited fight on the roof of Konoha Hospital, he does so out of jealousy and frustration, determined to prove himself at least that Naruto is not stronger than him. Of course, the opposite is true, and when the Chidori and Rasengan face off, each having destroyed a water tower, it becomes clear that Naruto’s Rasengan is much more powerful as it blows the entire back of the tower away. This fuels Sasuke’s frustration with his own lack of progress.
1 when sound four attacks Sasuke
Right after this battle with Naruto, which ends without a winner except that for all intents and purposes Sasuke has lost, the Sound Four find Sasuke to take with them to Orochimaru. They fight both Sasuke and the Sound Four using their curse marks, showing how strong the Sound Four are in training with them. This encourages Sasuke to seek out Orochimaru even more now that he has a tangible example of his training, and it’s the last straw before he leaves.