Orochimaru (大蛇丸, Orochimaru) is one of Konohagakure’s legendary Sannin. With a life-ambition to learn all of the world’s secrets, Orochimaru seeks immortality so that he might live all of the lives necessary to accomplish his task.
After being caught red-handed performing unethical experiments on his fellow citizens for the sake of this immortality, Orochimaru defected from Konoha rather than be persecuted for his ambitions, and for many years sought the village’s destruction in order to take revenge and demonstrate what he had learned.
After several apparent deaths in the pursuit of his goals, Orochimaru realises his approach is flawed through Kabuto Yakushi, his former associate, and begins monitoring the choices and actions of his former apprentice, Sasuke Uchiha.
Orochimaru was an orphan who became a pupil of Hiruzen Sarutobi alongside Jiraiya and Tsunade. Compared to the more laid back Jiraiya, Orochimaru stood out as a genius – his talents, insight, and determination were considered by Hiruzen to be that of a prodigy seen only once in a generation.
According to Tsunade, Orochimaru had a twisted personality even as a child. His sadistic attitude was presumably due to the death of his parents.
At some point after losing them, Orochimaru found a white snake near his parents’ grave, with Hiruzen’s explanation of it representing fortune and rebirth inspiring Orochimaru to study kinjutsu and obtain knowledge of all techniques. Jiraiya theorised that Orochimaru went down this path in an attempt to forget his painful memories.
During the Second Shinobi World War, Orochimaru joined Jiraiya and Tsunade in fighting Hanzō, who gave them the title of Konoha’s “Three Legendary Shinobi” (伝説の三忍, Densetsu no Sannin) as a reward for surviving their battle with him, while the rest of their group were easily slaughtered in the process.
On their way back to Konoha, they encountered three Amegakure orphans, with Orochimaru proposing a mercy killing before Jiraiya chose to train them instead.
In the anime, Orochimaru orchestrated the last known rampage of the Eight Tails in Kumogakure by infiltrating the village while disguised as a Kumo nin and posing as Blue B’s doctor in order to trick him into taking special genjutsu inducing pills, allowing him to extract the tailed beast. After its rampage, Orochimaru obtained the severed horn of the Eight-Tails and harvested Blue B’s DNA from it.
Orochimaru would go on to fight in the Third Shinobi World War, with his performance in the war being so great that he was considered as a candidate for Fourth Hokage alongside fellow war hero Minato Namikaze.
Some time after Team Hiruzen was disbanded, Orochimaru became an Anbu member and joined Root to work directly under Danzō Shimura, while also becoming a mentor to Anko Mitarashi.
It was during that time that Orochimaru met Kabuto Yakushi while accompanying Danzō in forcing the boy’s guardian, Nonō, into a mission.
While Orochimaru’s ambitions did include becoming the Fourth Hokage, he intended to use the title for his own agenda. Though Hiruzen knew the potential evil his former pupil had in him, he hoped to stir Orochimaru from the path before slowly realising that he was beyond anyone’s help.
When Hiruzen finally named Minato his successor, Orochimaru saw no more reason to remain in Konoha and began to be less discreet with his actions. This led to his experimentation on Hashirama Senju’s DNA with sixty children he kidnapped to recreate the First’s Wood Release, having help from Danzō.
Believing it to be a failure, Orochimaru was unaware that one child had survived his Wood Release experiment. He later refined the process enough to inject Hashirama’s cells into the Sharingan-infused right arm of Shin Uchiha, which he transplanted to Danzō.
Orochimaru performed various experiments on his prisoners, some being fellow Konoha shinobi he kidnapped. He used them as human guinea pigs to develop techniques that would grant him immortality, the end result being Living Corpse Reincarnation.
Some time later, Orochimaru was at the outskirts of Kirigakure as he found Kimimaro, the sole survivor of the Kaguya clan. Soon after, thanks in part to Kimimaro, Orochimaru’s research on the source of Jūgo’s powers led him to find the Ryūchi Cave and master senjutsu.
Unable to enter Sage Mode because of the fragility of his host body, Orochimaru instead developed an alternate method of harnessing his senjutsu chakra through cursed seals, which he tested on Anko and several others before eventually using the finalised versions on Kimimaro and the Sound Four.
In the anime, Orochimaru found the Iburi clan living underground near Konoha. Taking an interest in their ability to become smoke, Orochimaru took advantage of the clan’s fear of their imperfect and potentially fatal transformation by partially stabilising it with his cursed seals.
Telling them that he needed more research to perfect the process, the clan willingly gave Orochimaru test subjects. In the anime, Orochimaru witnessed Itachi Uchiha performing a training run normally meant for older and more experienced users due to the danger of it.
After the young Uchiha flawlessly completed it, Orochimaru instantly became amazed and excited at Itachi’s advanced growth rate. In the anime, he also allied himself with Amachi out of interest for creating a shinobi capable of underwater combat, kidnapping Land of the Sea villagers for their experiments, while introducing Anko to the project.
Sometime after, Orochimaru lost interest in the project, and ordered Amachi to cancel it, while also seeing Anko as a lost cause for her refusal to use the cursed seal, and wiped her memories as she left him.
Orochimaru was later sent on a mission by Danzō to Iwagakure to ensure that both Kabuto and Nonō, the former having joined Root as a spy, killed each other as they had become major liabilities.
Orochimaru instead brought Kabuto to his hideout, which would become part of his personal hidden village, Otogakure, and revealed Root’s intent for Kabuto’s life and the role he was to play in it.
Though Orochimaru revealed that he was also sent to kill the one who survived this ordeal, he told Kabuto that he saw a bit of himself in the boy and decided killing him would be a waste of great talent. Therefore, Orochimaru offered Kabuto a position as his right hand man and spy with the promise of an identity.
As his test subjects began to die off, Orochimaru was caught red-handed by Hiruzen. Though he knew it was his duty, Hiruzen lacked the will to kill his student, allowing him to escape. In the anime, during his escape, Orochimaru was found by Kakashi Hatake.
Despite the young prodigy’s best efforts, Orochimaru swiftly defeated him. Letting his guard down at the approach of a snake, Orochimaru was greatly injured by an explosive tag concealed in the snake’s mouth. Cursing Hiruzen for ruining his plans, though greatly injured, Orochimaru quickly regained his composure.
He then resumed his retreat from the country, leaving a terrified Kakashi frozen in place from his malicious glare alone. Seriously wounded, Orochimaru visited the cave where the Iburi clan lived and killed them all, trying to restore his power.
Upon the arrival of the youngest member, Yukimi, Orochimaru pursued her while being chased by Kakashi Hatake and Kinoe.
Eventually, he managed to take a sample of Yukimi’s blood, intending to inject it into himself to temporarily gain her ability and slip across the border, but he was attacked before he could do so and quickly escaped. Orochimaru managed to destroy most of his research facilities and booby trap the rest.
Orochimaru ultimately escaped Konoha, leaving his emotionally broken mentor, with Jiraiya’s plea for him to reconsider falling on deaf ears. Orochimaru soon became affiliated with and joined the elite criminal organisation Akatsuki.
Orochimaru was then partnered with Sasori, with whom he did much good for the organisation. He later watched in amazement when Itachi Uchiha joined the organisation.
Later, when Orochimaru saw his opportunity to steal his body to gain possession of the Sharingan, Itachi used his Sharingan to stop him from doing so, while also cutting Orochimaru’s left hand off to prevent him from breaking the genjutsu he was under, which lead to him leaving Akatsuki to acquire a new body.
For Orochimaru’s defection, Sasori developed a grudge against him and used Kabuto, whom Orochimaru had sent to serve as his spy within Akatsuki, to counter spy as his sleeper agent. However, Orochimaru discovered and undid the technique Sasori had used on him.
In the anime, when tipped off by Kabuto that Sasori was on his trail, Orochimaru chose to use this as an opportunity to test his development of the Second Hokage’s Summoning: Impure World Reincarnation.
Against Sasori’s Third Kazekage puppet, Orochimaru summoned the actual Third Kazekage through his technique. While proving his reincarnated ninja being stronger than the human puppet, the technique ultimately proved incomplete as the Third Kazekage was able to regain control and break the summoning contract.
Orochimaru had also been on a life-long search for the Sword of Totsuka, an ethereal sword, but was unaware that it was in the possession of Itachi’s Susanoo. In the anime, Orochimaru witnessed Mizuki killing a comrade during a mission.
Under the pretence as a gift for Mizuki’s bold actions, Orochimaru granted him a specialised cursed seal. In truth however, it was an incomplete experimental tool that would destroy whoever used it, to which Orochimaru was merely curious as to how the effects would happen on Mizuki.
Orochimaru possesses a complex personality; however, more often than not, he was described as “twisted” by a large number of people, including Tsunade. Jiraiya speculated that the death of his parents while he was young, along with his horror for Tsunade losing Nawaki and later shedding tears when she lost Dan, implies that Orochimaru grew to disdain the fragility of human life and how it affected those still living, which led him to desire immortality.
To that end, the primary purpose of Orochimaru’s human experimentation is to test what modifications the human body can endure and harness a subject’s unique abilities for himself.
Once accomplishing this goal, Orochimaru had hoped to be worthy of the title of “ultimate being”, unable to die and able to achieve his secondary goal to learn every ninja technique in the world, which would normally take many lifetimes to obtain.
According to Sasuke, becoming cruel with any good he had as a member of Team Hiruzen long gone, Orochimaru’s agenda made him develop a god complex and highly value himself while delighting in striking terror in his first impressions.
Though causing conflict to ease his boredom, Orochimaru seems to have no interest in wars started by others. He is also somewhat of a perfectionist, always striving to make his various projects succeed, and likewise looks down on those who are sloppy and/or reckless in their own projects.
His charisma also attracts a number of followers, many of which he would not hesitate to send on potential suicide missions if for his own personal benefit, expressing some remorse if they’re unable to properly complete a task, and having no sentimental attachments to any of them despite their value to his goals. Despite this, Orochimaru has genuine interest in the development of his underlings and experiments.
Taking Sasuke as an apprentice, and seeing him as a prodigy like himself, Orochimaru intended to take the youth’s body to obtain the Sharingan to reach another step in his goal of immortality and learning every technique in the world. This goal has developed to the point of obsession.
However, despite knowing that Sasuke was willing to do anything for revenge, including sacrificing his own body, Orochimaru did anticipate treachery from his disciple and showed only a small level of surprise when it actually occurred.
What truly surprised Orochimaru was Sasuke’s decision to follow his own path and his eventual decision to defend the village he initially swore to destroy, one that Orochimaru openly approved of and was curious to see what would be the end result of.
He also had an initial disdain toward Naruto Uzumaki, believing him to be a poor excuse for a ninja until he defeated Kabuto with the Rasengan.
Despite attempting to kill Naruto at the time after coming to the realisation that he would become a threat to him in the future, Orochimaru became interested in Naruto’s development, provoking Naruto during their battle to draw out his full abilities at the time.
During the war seeing Naruto’s indomitable willpower and his memories with Jiraiya caused Orochimaru to begin to respect him. Though coming to hate his home village, orchestrating a few attempts to destroy it, Orochimaru despised his former Akatsuki colleagues more.
Throughout Part II, if Orochimaru was not busy with Sasuke’s development, he would try to cripple Akatsuki’s operations, as seen in the “Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission” arc and “Three-Tails’ Appearance” arc.
He expresses delight over the death of Sasori and later convinced Sasuke against killing Team Kakashi so they would thin out Akatsuki’s membership.
An aspect of Orochimaru’s personality is also his greatest weakness: his arrogance. He truly believed he was immortal at times, attacking recklessly against powerful opponents such as his former teacher and Itachi Uchiha.
Both times, he was left crippled in some way since he either wanted to make his opponent suffer, like against Hiruzen, or because he was too uninformed to face his opponent, like against Itachi.
Despite his distinct lack of morals, Orochimaru seems to be well versed in psychological warfare and displays insightful wisdom when disparaging Tobirama for the actions resulting from his policies. He is also amusingly afraid of insects and bugs as seen during Naruto and Hinata’s wedding.
After being revived by Sasuke, his personality changed a bit. While he’s still as self-serving as ever, he also realised that copying someone completely was a mistake from his observation of Kabuto and displayed interest in Sasuke’s “different path”.
Wanting to see Sasuke’s path, he chose to fight alongside the Uchiha instead of ignoring Madara’s war like he planned, and even made it a priority to heal Tsunade and the other Kage after their defeat before hurrying to the battlefield.
Orochimaru also seems to genuinely care about Sasuke’s wellbeing, as he originally thought it was best to take his time figuring out how to battle Tobi but quickly decided against taking his time when Karin sensed Sasuke was on the verge of death.
Orochimaru has also shown signs of regret, seemingly saddened by his childhood friend Jiraiya’s death. In the anime, he was one of people who congratulated Naruto and Hinata on their wedding.
Years later, while still as driven as ever to uncover the greatest secrets of life, he apparently now does so in a relatively more humane manner, including reforming his personal shinobi village.
Also, while his relationship with the rest of the world is still dubious at best, he has at least developed a relatively trusting relationship between the higher ups of Konohagakure, and was likewise able to have a “casual” parent-teacher conference about Mitsuki.
He is willingly aiding Konoha in research on pressing matters and likewise feels responsible enough to make amends for past mistakes. He apparently is on amicable terms with Konoha by sending his son, Mitsuki, to the village.
In the anime, he also feels indebted to Naruto as the Hokage for watching over Mitsuki. Orochimaru’s experiences also resulted in him wishing Mitsuki to make his own decisions, admitting that he has high hopes for the boy’s natural growth, though he at times used manipulation and deception to put him in a situation where important decisions must be made.
He also shows some interest in the respective children of Naruto and Sasuke, particularly intrigued by Boruto sharing the same unwavering spirit and loyalty as his father. Ultimately, his changes have made even the White Snake Sage view Orochimaru as going “soft”.
Orochimaru’s most conspicuous characteristic is his snake-like appearance: he has very pale skin, golden eyes with slitted pupils, purple markings around his eyes and fang like teeth. He also has pronounced cheekbones and straight waist-length black hair with some locks covering and framing his face or to his shoulders.
The various bodies he takes over have each been modified to resemble his original form, except for the height differences. In Naruto Gaiden, Orochimaru’s facial features soften and somewhat androgynous with his eye markings becoming black.
He also wears his hair in a ponytail, allowing two locks to frame the sides of his face. In the manga, his skin-tone becomes noticeably fairer in complexion.
Orochimaru usually wears plain grey garbs with a black polo and pants underneath, a thick purple rope belt tied in a large knot behind his back, blue tomoe shaped earrings, and shinobi sandals with bandages around his calves.
He is seen wearing a kimono with different colours on several occasions, shown usually in flashbacks or inside his hideouts. During his time with Akatsuki, he wore the standard red and black Akatsuki robes with a slate blue ring, which bears the kanji for “sky” or “void” (空, kū), on his left pinky finger.
After countless experiments with his body, his true form became a giant white snake made up of many smaller snakes, with longer, spikier hair, a scaled face with snake like teeth and a long tongue, black eye markings, and a pointed chin. Years later, he wears a white robe tied at his waist by a dark coloured sash and a purple rope, blue pants and shirt.
Orochimaru Abilities list
Orochimaru using his most powerful technique, the Eight Branches Technique.
Orochimaru is an exceptional shinobi, recognised as one of the strongest to ever exist. One of the only people who could compete against Hanzō in his prime, he became a Sannin.
At the same time, amongst his team, Orochimaru stood out the most in sheer aptitude as a natural prodigy and the best of his generation, earning praise from even Hashirama Senju.
Easily Kage-calibre, Orochimaru was once a candidate to be Fourth Hokage. His power is feared throughout the world, such that Akatsuki, which he was once a member, saw him as a threat. Following the Konoha invasion, while failing, Orochimaru’s actions left the village crippled for years and the Third Hokage dead.
Even crippled and gradually weakening, Orochimaru remained extremely formidable, able to compete against either of his fellow Sannin and even toy with a Version 2 jinchūriki respectively. In the anime, he easily overwhelmed an Inner of Kara, despite their monstrous might and Shinobi-Ware modifications.
Chakra and Physical Prowess
Orochimaru has large reserves of strong chakra, powerful enough to stir up winds and crack stone. Likewise, the intensity of his killing intent can reduce most foes petrified in fear. He can absorb chakra through physical contact, which also grants him their skills and knowledge.
His chakra control is very advanced, excelling in various chakra applications. Even with his hands sealed, leaving him unable to perform handsigns, he can use various powerful techniques with ease. Orochimaru is very adept in taijutsu, able to overwhelm Sasuke in Part I despite his Sharingan-enhanced clarity.
He is very strong, able to knock down a tree with a single kick, and temporarily stunned a Four Tailed Naruto with his punch. He is also blazingly fast, able to move with such sudden change in direction to leave his opponent’s disoriented.
In his quest for immortality and the perfect body, Orochimaru gained numerous modifications over the years. He can heal from most damage in short periods of time. For more grievous injuries, like bisection, he can reconnect himself or regurgitate a new, fully-healed body.
Orochimaru’s body is also able to stretch and manipulate its form for greater manoeuvrability. His resilience is high enough so that he can endure being stabbed by the giant Sword of Totsuka and shrug the damage off, and even resist multiple solidly-landed enhanced punches from the already super strong Tsunade essentially unharmed.
Orochimaru’s modifications have resulted in his true form becoming a giant white snake and a body composed of many smaller snakes that can attack. Its blood is poisonous, evaporating in the air to paralyse all who inhales it.
This form is used for the Living Corpse Reincarnation, letting him transfer his soul and physical essence into a new body by swallowing that person whole, thereby gaining control of all the new body’s abilities while retaining his previous abilities and extending his lifespan.
This can only be used once every three years. The souls of the bodies he has taken remain in Orochimaru’s subconscious and he can modify his body as he sees fit.
After Orochimaru physically died, as Kabuto heavily modified his body with various genetic sources, including Orochimaru himself, Sasuke used some of Kabuto’s flesh as a basis to reconstitute Orochimaru.
This gave Orochimaru the added benefit of heightened chakra reserves and access to the various techniques and unique abilities Kabuto acquired.
This included the Sound Five and Taka’s respective skills Sakon and Ukon’s Kekkei Genkai, Jūgo’s Clan’s Kekkei Genkai, Kimimaro’s Shikotsumyaku, a variation of Suigetsu Hōzuki’s Hydrification Technique, as well Karin’s Uzumaki life force and healing powers.
He also later gained the abilities of a White Zetsu clone, which was modified with Hashirama’s DNA, after taking over its body in a slightly different snake form; this included accelerated healing, perfect shapeshifting into others, and no need of nourishment. Some point after the Fourth Shinobi World War, Orochimaru’s body became able to instantly regenerate his lost anatomy unfazed.
Orochimaru’s depth of knowledge and skill in ninjutsu is greater than any other shinobi in history, leading to him wielding a vast and unmatched arsenal of styles and techniques.
His proficiency with the Transformation Technique allows him to stay undetected for long periods, his fūinjutsu skill includes the ability to use the Five Elements Seal to seal off a person’s chakra, he can summon Rashōmon gates to protect himself from enemy attacks; he can hide within surfaces to avoid damage, or use juinjutsu to temporarily paralyse targets.
The anime shows Orochimaru’s advanced prowess in clone techniques, medical ninjutsu, space time ninjutsu, and barrier ninjutsu.
Orochimaru is masterful in wielding the legendary Sword of Kusanagi, able to compete against his former teacher while wielding his mighty bo-staff. The blade is able to extend great distances, cut through almost anything, and even be remotely controlled.
He normally keeps the blade within a snake’s mouth inside his own throat and retrieves it by having it turn into a snake after use.
Orochimaru can use all five basic nature transformations, along with Yin and Yang Release. With Wind Release, he can create a powerful gust of wind and with Earth Release can travel underground. In the anime, he can create mud-based clones.
With Fire Release he can easily unleash powerful fire streams. After taking over the body of a White Zetsu clone, modified with Hashirama’s DNA, Orochimaru gained access to the latter’s Wood Release — a simultaneous mixture of earth and water.
Orochimaru has an affinity for snakes, using the unique arm tattoo to quickly summon them for assistance, his largest and strongest being Manda. He can eject snakes from his sleeves or mouth to strike with; the snakes can sprout blades from their own mouths for deadlier effect.
He can even turn his lower body into a snake’s tail, increasing his speed and mobility in battle. Orochimaru’s ultimate snake-related technique is the Eight Branches Technique, where he transforms into an eight-headed, eight-tailed giant serpent with size superior to that of Manda.
Orochimaru can perform the Summoning: Impure World Reincarnation, having further refined the kinjutsu developed by Tobirama Senju. Upon reviving the dead, he can implant them with special tags that erase their personalities and/or free will, granting him complete control over their actions.
Originally, despite improving this technique’s quality compared to its creator, Orochimaru’s reincarnated soldiers were still considerably diminished in overall capacities compared to when alive.
During the Fourth Shinobi World War, after Orochimaru’s own capacities and knowledge of the technique were further augmented from Kabuto’s essence, his prowess was also increased, as he revived all four previous Hokage with nearly their full power and could use Hashirama’s cells to strengthen his control.
During his research of Jūgo’s clan, Orochimaru eventually tracked down the power source at the Ryūchi Cave and senjutsu. Although his host body was not strong enough to enter Sage Mode, Orochimaru developed another use for senjutsu chakra: his cursed seals.
These seals contain some of Orochimaru’s senjutsu chakra mixed with the enzyme produced by Jūgo, triggering a change similar to Sage Transformation, but with different side effects.
These cursed seals also enhance the power of one’s techniques, and serve as an extension of and anchor to Orochimaru’s consciousness, allowing him to observe events through anyone branded by the seal.
He can even be revived any number of times from a cursed seal by using the Evil Releasing Method, provided there is a proper DNA source as a basis. He also created the Mind Awakening Pill to help speed up the cursed seal’s progression.
Orochimaru has acquired a vast amount of information of the shinobi world from his time with organisations such as Root and Akatsuki, having set up a network of fully supplied hideouts throughout various countries.
He has great charisma in manipulating people into becoming his pawns, providing insight into their past and promising them power in order to gain their loyalty. In battle, he can deduce the workings of an enemy’s fighting style and respond accordingly.
Wanting to decipher all of the world’s secrets, Orochimaru conducted extensive research and numerous experiments on himself and the DNA of other individuals to comprehend, attain, or reproduce their abilities.
Research of abilities such as Hashirama Senju’s Wood Release and Jūgo’s Sage Transformation have allowed him to recreate those same abilities, or at least produce techniques based off of them, into other people. From experimentation on Shin Uchiha, Orochimaru has become more knowledgeable of human genetics, facilitating his overall research.
In the anime, he could build a sophisticated robot with advanced weaponry, create genjutsu pills that can subdue a jinchūriki and their tailed beast simultaneously, and even cultivate cells of the latter to create pseudo-jinchūriki.