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It feels like the common thread is "I'm a major bad guy in Naruto, I lose/die, then I have a change of heart and want to help Naruto once bigger baddy shows up". When does a bad guy remain a bad guy? (e.g. - Zabuza, Gaara, Itachi, Nagato, Orochimaru, Kabuto, Sasuke, Obito, and the demon fox who was supposed to be the incarnation of the world's Malice/Hatred).

Even Madara seems poised now for a return as a good guy since there's a bigger threat and he originally had good intentions when he was a kid.

Is there a reason for this? Why aren't the bad guys more angry that they lost, and join up with new bad guy? Seems like they give up really easily and have no commitment to their goals.

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    I think it's more of a plot/moral story. Bad guys are just misguided good guys. And Naruto has the power to show them the right path. Naruto didn't invent this concept. – Madara Uchiha Aug 11 '14 at 21:13
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    If someone dies they can't really have a change of heart now can they? – Memor-X Aug 11 '14 at 22:12
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    bad guys are just good guys whose story has not been told – Darjeeling Aug 12 '14 at 0:31
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    Or maybe there are no such things as good guys or bad guys as the world (the real world and the Naruto Universe either) isn't just black and white. I won't consider Orochimaru good just because he supports Sasuke, and I won't consider Madara bad just because he fought some guys who were generally accepted as good. – ytg Aug 12 '14 at 4:30
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    Orochimaru turned good when? He is just helped his test subject because his other(kabuto) made him shocked.Itachi was never bad, Gaara was always like a troubled teen not evil from start. Nagato wants piece, his methods are wrong like tobi and mandara but he want ultimate good. – Ankit Sharma Jan 16 '15 at 7:22
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Maybe because there actually isn't any "bad guy" in this world from the start. Somebody becomes bad because of certain incidents happened to them in the past. Nobody is evil at the time when they are just born in this world.

If you cut the fillers and the battles in the Naruto or Naruto Shippuden, you will see the story of this anime actually is very deep, closely related to our everyday life. It always tries to unify people in some way.

You will surely remember how Nagato ended the chain of hatred, or how Zabuza kept his faith on Naruto. You will see there is no actual "villain" in Naruto. Every "villain" character (Madara, Sasuke, Obito, ...) has a good reason to behave like how they do. When someone tries to do things the way they want, but couldn't make it, they try to help those who have the same goal like him/her. That's how they become good.

It's actually like how Sossli1 says in one of his videos on YouTube

"Those in need of a shoulder to cry on seek those who experienced it".

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    Not sure about your source of the last sentence. – nhahtdh Aug 12 '14 at 19:35
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    It's not that this video tells anything related to this question, but the quote i written is taken from here. here's the video- youtube.com/watch?v=w_7YB9PsP_4 – Sayans25 Aug 13 '14 at 16:25
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    totally agree except that danzo was major evil duck – libathos Aug 30 '18 at 12:24
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Based on what Sakata Gintoki said in Gintama anime, it is the pattern of Shonen Jump manga. See Fairy Tail and Bleach. In Fairy Tail, Gajeel was an enemy, alongside Juvia, but now, they are one of the main members. Same thing in Bleach. Ishida Uryuu was an enemy in the beginning, but then he turned into friend, although now he is posing as an enemy again. But that pretty much is like Vegeta in Dragon Ball, though.

  • While this is true they usually limit it to a few characters who are supposed to be antiheroes/rivals anyways. In Naruto I would say the equivalent to this would be Neji or Sai. – Quikstryke Aug 14 '14 at 18:06
  • This. Ever since the original Dragon Ball in the 80s (and maybe even earlier), Shounen Jump manga have been like this. In Dragon Ball, Oolong (the pig man), Tenshinhan, Chao-Tzu, Piccolo, Vegeta, Android 18 (Krillen's wife), and probably many others I'm forgetting are former villains or rivals of Goku. – Torisuda Aug 16 '14 at 21:57
  • @Torisuda With Goku, turning enemies/rivals into friends is sort of his main power. – RichF Dec 6 '16 at 3:02
  • @RichF Didn't Kakashi say that this was Naruto's main power too. IIRC it was his conversation with Chiyo and then later Shikaku with Inoichi. – Arcane Dec 6 '16 at 4:27
  • Now I'm curious on which episode Gintoki said this in the anime... – Aki Tanaka Jul 20 at 19:29
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"You either die a hero, or you live long enough to become the villain."

-- Harvey Dent, The Dark Knight

The characters that you describe started out as heroes, then turned to villainy, and then were set straight by Naruto. KnowYourMeme does a good job of explaining the background and has links for more reading.

The jist of the phenomenon is that heroes usually become such when they die (posthumously), while the same disregard for the norm will eventually lead someone against normalcy, thus becoming a villain.

This picture uses the quote and Naruto characters to take it full circle:

enter image description here

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It seems to be due to the inherent nature of each being to think and decide the way he wishes to pursue, more like when you are born you are in an equilibrium and when faced by circumstances and the emotional atmosphere around you, you learn from it and draw towards to one of the positive or negative sides.

As we saw in DBZ, Vegeta came to destroy earth and was really persistent but then with the change of a heart decided to safeguard it and called it his home.

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