For anyone unfamiliar with Naruto and bumps into Iruka, he seems nothing more than a cheerful academy instructor and passionate about teaching the next generation. Iruka cares deeply about his students, as well as the work he does. He is also incredibly impulsive and selfless, having inherited the teachings of the Third Hokage’s Will of Fire and follows them wholeheartedly.
However, as usual in the series, nothing is quite what it seems. Characters like Iruka are not spared from this fate, and there are actually many incredibly tragic details of his past, his relationships, and his character that are not visible on the surface.
10 He was a helpless boy who couldn’t help fight the Nine Tails
Twelve years before the start of the series, Iruka goes through the horrible tragedy of losing his mother and father at the same time. The two are called to the front to help protect against the Nine-Tailed Fox, and Iruka is actually present on the battlefield at first, wanting to protect his mother.
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He is forcibly dragged away by an unknown shinobi, and his parents ultimately succumb to the jinchuriki’s force. And while there is nothing Iruka could have done at his age, there is no doubt that he blames himself for not being there to help them.
9 Mizuki is not actually Iruka’s close friend and she just pretends she likes him.
After the loss of Iruka’s parents, there are two figures in his life who help him not to succumb to his anguish and sadness. The first is the Third Hokage, and the second is his friend Mizuki. However, Mizuki reveals his true colors during the first episode, when he manipulates and subsequently attempts to kill not only Naruto, but also his childhood friend, Iruka.
In the anime, it is especially noted that Mizuki never really liked Iruka. Instead, he pretended to like him to win the favor of the Third Hokage, as he was incredibly jealous of all the attention Iruka received from the Third.
8 Show the same student who harbors the monster that killed their parents
While the mentor-student relationship that forms between Iruka and Naruto is comforting, it also has a tragic aspect that is easy to forget over time. Although it was not Naruto who directly killed Iruka’s parents, the jinchuriki sealed within him was responsible, and the series clearly shows that Iruka has mixed feelings from the start.
Iruka even goes as far as asking the Third Hokage if Naruto can be taught by someone else. Although Kakashi manages to dissuade him from doing so, at first he clearly feels very uncomfortable being around Naruto, and that could not bring back fond memories.
7 Has in common Naruto’s lonely past of making jokes to get attention
Naruto is not the only character who, as a child, goes around the village playing pranks and vandalism whenever possible to get some kind of attention from someone. In fact, he has this in common with Iruka, which is why he can relate so closely to Naruto and understand why he acts like this.
The only difference is that Iruka lashes out at the academy, while Naruto rips apart the village. Although he does not do it in the same way, part of the same place of loneliness and desperation for recognition.
6 His actions and intentions do not always coincide, having to be both loving and severe
Iruka’s caring nature often clashes with his intense desire to see his students reach their full potential. The latter causes him to berate them quite harshly at times, as he has been seen both calling Naruto an idiot and originally denying him a headband and the chance to graduate.
However, he is only tough because he wants his students to succeed and he only denied Naruto so that he could try harder and earn it. Sadly, this means that Iruka ends up being viewed unfairly by others, as it was Naruto’s frustration at Iruka’s response that led him to listen to Mizuki about the scroll.
5 He is invited to Naruto’s wedding but never finds his own love
It’s true that Iruka has the ability to attend Naruto’s wedding – as his requested father figure, no less – and it’s an incredibly emotional moment for the academy instructor.
Although this is a huge milestone for Iruka, it can be difficult to see others around him marry and start a family when he doesn’t have the same. In fact, almost all of the main characters in Naruto they have some kind of romantic relationship, but that is not the case with Iruka.
4 Your sacrificial nature can easily be your downfall
Iruka takes the Third Hokage’s teachings on the Will of Fire very seriously, demonstrating how dedicated he is to his village and those he teaches. However, on the other hand, it means that you are much more likely to end up sacrificing yourself for someone else, and you have almost done so before.
In the first episode, he almost gave his life protecting Naruto from Mizuki and later protecting him again from Pain. Many other characters in the series close to Iruka have done the same for him. This includes the Third Hokage, as well as his parents, and they all greatly inspire him.
3 He is always expected to encourage and help others, even when he is suffering himself
Iruka is seen as an immense source of comfort who is always there to lean on and offer advice when the going gets tough. While this seems comforting, for the person in that position, it can be incredibly difficult to maintain that image when they are dealing with things themselves.
Iruka is always seen doing this with Naruto whenever the two interact, even after Jiraiya’s death, but he is not the only one. After the Third’s passing, Iruka doesn’t even have time to cry before having to comfort Konohamaru as well, and no one is shown checking his condition.
2 he doesn’t have the strength to stop Naruto when necessary
Iruka regards Naruto as a younger brother and cares greatly for his safety. However, sadly, he does not possess the strength to stop Naruto from making reckless decisions when it is really important.
The best example of this is during the Fourth Shinobi World War. When Naruto becomes suspicious, Iruka tries to leave the island where he was destined to try to keep Naruto safe. Iruka tries to capture Naruto not once, but twice, and Naruto easily breaks free both times.
1 He has to spend less time with Naruto as he continues to grow
Watching Naruto go from being a troubled student at the academy to a respected Hokage has to be comforting for Iruka. But at the same time, there is an undercurrent of bitterness that even Iruka himself comments on.
Iruka is left with no one, other than Naruto, as a familiar figure after the passing of the Third. Once Naruto gets married, his own family with Hinata becomes his top priority. Iruka points out that they will hardly ever be able to go out to eat ramen together because of this and seems sad to declare it.