How did Neji die in ‘Naruto Shippuden?’

Across its 500 episodes, many beloved characters in Naruto Shippuden died trying to protect Naruto, but Neji’s death was the last one from Naruto’s group. The tragedy happened in episode 364 of the series during the “Fourth Shinobi World War: Climax” arc. Here’s how it happened.

The resurrection of Madara Uchiha started the Fourth Shinobi World War against the Allied Shinobi Forces, led by Gaara. At a certain point in the long battle, the Ten Tail beast is revived and Obito and Madara take control over it by attaching themselves to it.

As Madara and Obito control the Ten Tails, the Allied Forces fight to immobilize the gigantic beast, but suddenly it launches several explosive beams big enough to destroy a whole village. That’s when the intelligence team, along with Shikamaru’s and Ino’s fathers, gets blasted by the monster.

They come up with a last plan to stop Madara and Obito before dying, however, and Naruto is essential for it to work. Obito launches a powerful attack towards the Allied Forces, throwing several deadly spikes and the Hyuga clan ⏤ Neji, Hinata, and her father ⏤ focus on protecting Naruto.

Naruto manages to activate Sage Mode once more, but the battle has been going for a while and he barely has any energy to keep fighting. After using a few Rasen Shuriken to stop the majority of the spikes, he doesn’t have the strength to even stand.

Everything happens in a matter of seconds. The Ten Tail makes a focused attack on Naruto while he’s still recovering and Hinata stands in front of him to protect her beloved Naruto, ready to give up on her life. But at the last moment, Neji activates his Byakugan and his body falls to the ground, pierced by spikes.

Drawing his last breaths, Neji points out to Naruto that Hinata is willing to die for him so he has more than his life in his hand. Neji’s life was one of them. Naruto questions in tears why he sacrificed himself for him, and Neji answered with his last words: “Because you called me a genius.”

This references when Neji and Naruto fought for the first time during the final stage of the Chunin exam when Neji still viewed Naruto as a failure but Naruto won, proving him wrong. Naruto said to him after the battle was over that Neji could change the Hyuga clan since he wasn’t a failure like him, he was a genius.

Obito uses Neji’s death to taunt Naruto to stop fighting and join him, but Hinata stands by Naruto’s side and reminds him that he’s not alone in the war. As Naruto and Hinata hold hands, his chakra covers Hinata’s body and he transforms into Yang Kurama Mode ready to fight again.