Despite all its flaws, Naruto is still one of the greatest animes ever created when you look at the sheer emotional resonance of its best story arcs and how wide the epic saga sprawls.
But if you watch Naruto start-to-finish, you'll tear out your hair.
That's because Naruto is notorious for filler arcs—episodes that deviate from the main storyline and, in most cases, fail to offer any meaningful character growth or plot progression.
Naruto (Part 1) is 44% filler while Naruto Shippuden (Part 2) is 43% filler. In fact, Naruto has an insane stretch of filler material starting from episode 136 all the way to episode 220, which is when Naruto Shippuden officially begins.
Yes, Naruto is definitely worth watching, but don't waste your time with filler arcs. Here are two ways to watch the entirety of Naruto while skipping the unnecessary filler episodes.
Method 1: Ultimate Naruto Kai
"Naruto Kai is a fan project dedicated to removing filler, padding and any other executive-minded nonsense that made [Naruto] the mess that it is."
There have been several attempts at a "Naruto Kai" before, but this one by Kloggmankey on Reddit is the absolute best one.
Ultimate Naruto Kai is a fan-made re-edit of all of the canonical Naruto episodes, presented as 72 episodes that each correspond to the amount of content covered by the 72 manga volumes.
Each of these Ultimate Naruto Kai episodes is about 60 to 90 minutes long. That means Ultimate Naruto Kai is essentially 72 full-length movies that each have a satisfying beginning, middle, and end—all meaningful story, no filler content.
Each episode is a separate download hosted on Mega. This is truly the best way to watch Naruto.
Keep in mind that there are some minor inconsistencies across the 72 episodes: most of them come with hard-coded English subs but every once in a while you'll need to load the external soft subs that come with the respective episode.
Note: Because Ultimate Naruto Kai is a fan-made re-edit that's distributed without consent from the original producers, this is technically piracy.
If you want to take the moral high road, read on to Method 2 which is completely legal and legit.
Method 2: Naruto Filler List
Sites like Anime Filler List maintain full databases of every major anime out there (or close to it), tracking each episode of an anime series and marking whether it's Canon, Mostly Canon, Mostly Filler, or Filler.
This is a really useful way to blast through filler-heavy anime series, not just Naruto but also ones like Bleach, One Piece, Rurouni Kenshin, and Dragon Ball Z. Anime Filler List even lets you filter each anime series to Canon-only episodes.
Now, what's the best way to actually watch Naruto?
As of 2023, Crunchyroll is my preferred way to watch anime now. In years past, I bounced between Netflix, Hulu, and Funimation for my anime fix, but now that I have Crunchyroll, I haven't needed anything else for a while now.
Fortunately, Crunchyroll has all 220 episodes of Naruto and all 500 episodes of Naruto Shippuden, so you can go ahead and skip all the filler episodes to your heart's content without missing the meat.
Crunchyroll also has Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, so if you blast through Naruto and Naruto Shippuden and find yourself itching for more, you can slip right into that one without delay.
Crunchyroll starts at $7.99/mo for ad-free anime (click here for a 14-day free trial) and it has the largest authorized library of anime on the web, with many available in both subbed and dubbed versions.
If you don't like Crunchyroll for whatever reason but you still want to be completely legit, a Hulu subscription is the best way to watch both Naruto and Naruto Shippuden in their entirety.
Hulu has all 220 episodes of Naruto and 500 episodes of Naruto Shippuden, both subbed and dubbed versions.
Hulu starts at $7.99/mo (with ads) or $14.99/mo (without ads), but you can click here for a 30-day free trial. If you think you can binge the whole series in a few weeks, you won't have to pay anything!
If you already have a Netflix account, the good news is that all episodes of Naruto are available on the platform (as of this writing). The bad news is that Naruto Shippuden is NOT available.
So if you just want to see if Naruto is for you, this is a great way to wet your toes. If you get through it and decide you want to continue, you can grab a Crunchyroll or Hulu plan then.
If you can't pay anything at all but you still want to see if you'll enjoy Naruto, you can watch Naruto for free on Tubi.
The downside to Tubi is that it doesn't have all the episodes of Naruto. As of this writing, only the first four seasons (out of nine seasons) are available, and they're only available in subbed format (not dubbed).
Plus, Tubi has advertisements. If you have the patience to sit through several 30-second ads every episode, it's not a bad option. But you'll need to find another option once you reach Naruto Shippuden.
Otherwise (Not Recommended)
If you're crafty enough, you might even be able to find some morally-gray sites that stream commercial-free episodes of Naruto and Naruto Shippuden for free using nothing more than a clever Google search.
I won't be linking to them—for reasons—and I personally wouldn't use those sites due to malware risks, but just know that they are out there in case you really need them.