Here’s what would have happened if Itachi was never sick:
If Itachi was never sick, he probably could have prevented the Akatsuki from fulfilling their plans, and he might have completely averted the 4th Great Ninja War.
Naruto and Sasuke probably would not have developed nearly as much.
Itachi’s health could have completely changed the Naruto storyline.
So if you want to learn all about how things would have turned out if Itachi never got sick, then this article is for you.
Let’s jump right into it!
Who Is Itachi?
This conversation has an obvious starting point.
Who is Itachi?
He’s a significant character in the Naruto series.
He is the older brother of Sasuke (one of the leading characters in the series), and he’s one of the most accomplished ninjas in the world.
Itachi is a character who is always manipulating things behind the scenes, and his decisions heavily influence the total story.
Speaking of which, this discussion is definitely going to involve some major spoilers.
I’m going to discuss this from the perspective of the Naruto manga.
But, since the anime is based on the manga, there will be anime spoilers in here too.
If you’re not caught up on Naruto and want to avoid spoilers, then you might want to come back to this later.
With that covered, let’s discuss a few important facts about Itachi.
First, he’s a member of the Uchiha clan and one of the most accomplished members in the clan’s history.
He’s also the person who wiped out the clan.
It turned out that he did that to stop a coup against the Leaf Village, but regardless, Itachi’s prowess as a ninja gave him the ability to influence the world around him at a global scale.
Itachi joined the Akatsuki, an organization of extremely powerful ninja villains (there will be more about this later).
Ultimately, Itachi developed a terminal illness, and he died fighting a battle against Sasuke.
If we want to think about how the world of Naruto might have been different without this illness, there will be a lot to explore.
When Did Itachi Get Sick?
The first thing we need to discuss is Itachi’s illness.
The thing is, we don’t actually know about the illness until very late into Itachi’s life.
It’s hinted that he might be sick soon after the time skip in the series (Naruto goes off for two years to train, and the manga resumes with his return).
We don’t really know for sure until after Itachi dies.
That’s when the illness is explained, and a lot of things are left in the dark.
What we can reasonably infer is that Itachi was aware of his illness when he encountered Naruto shortly after the time skip.
This takes place a short while before Itachi and Sasuke eventually fight, so it doesn’t mean that Itachi was sick for a very long time, but it does show that Itachi changed some of his plans because of the illness.
It’s actually possible that Itachi knew he had a terminal illness well before that point, and it’s reasonable to think that Itachi’s long-term plans were rooted in the knowledge that he wouldn’t be around to protect Sasuke forever.
I’ll delve into this more later, but first, let’s summarize the timing.
Itachi definitely knew he was dying before he fought Sasuke.
How long he knew before that point isn’t really clear, but it’s my opinion that Itachi was aware of his inevitable demise even before the time skip.
What Was Itachi’s Illness?
We also need to talk about the illness itself.
It is never named, and Naruto is a fictional universe, so we don’t have to put a real-world diagnosis on the situation.
Here’s what we do know.
First, it’s a terminal illness.
Itachi was barely still alive when he fought Sasuke, and Itachi probably hastened their confrontation because of his illness.
We also know that the illness impacted Itachi’s stamina.
It seemed to harm his ability to breathe.
It might have also impacted his heart, and in the later stages, it caused him to cough up blood.
It was a rough illness, and it clearly progressed over time.
Most importantly, Itachi knew the illness was terminal, so he had to plan around it (whenever he found out about it).
What Would Have Happened if Itachi Wasn’t Sick? (5 Scenarios)
A healthy Itachi changes everything.
He was such a powerful ninja that he could exert his will on the most powerful players in the world, and he wasn’t shy about doing it.
The only thing that really held him back was knowing that he had a terminal illness.
So, all of his plans revolved around protecting the people he cared about after his death.
Without impending death, Itachi probably would have made some very different plans.
#1 A Different Akatsuki
The biggest change to the story would have involved the Akatsuki, so here’s a quick recap for those who don’t know.
The Akatsuki was an organization made up of the most wanted villains in the world.
They had plans to capture the powers of the tailed beasts (super strong, immortal monsters in the Naruto universe) and use that power to take over the world.
In the series before the time skip, they weren’t major players in the plot.
Supposedly, they were gathering members and funds before they could make more significant moves in their grand plans.
Itachi joined the Akatsuki after he left his village, but what we later found out is that Itachi was actually a good guy the whole time.
He joined the organization to keep tabs on them and potentially take them down.
At some point along the way, Itachi got sick, and he probably realized he wouldn’t be able to defeat the whole organization alone.
But, if he didn’t get sick, it’s very likely that he would have brought down the entire organization by himself.
Through flashbacks and other events, we see Itachi completely overwhelm and overpower several different members of the organization.
We also see Itachi effortlessly dispatch a reanimated Nagato (the leader and most powerful member of the organization).
So, without the illness, it’s reasonable to believe that Itachi could have stopped the organization in its tracks.
This leads to some major changes in the Naruto plot.
#2 No Great Ninja War
It is actually the Akatsuki that starts the 4th Great Ninja War.
This war is basically the climax of the Naruto series.
All of the great nations band together to stop the remaining members of the Akatsuki from completing their plans for world domination.
We also learn that Madara has secretly been pulling the strings of the organization the whole time.
He’s a very old ninja who was manipulating people to set up a return to power, and ultimately, his plan worked (although he was then quickly defeated).
The thing is, a healthy Itachi would have stopped the Akatsuki before their plan came to fruition.
Because of this, Madara very likely would not have been able to return to power.
Fans of the series might debate who would win in a fight between the two characters, but before the Akatsuki grants Madara new power, he’s a withered old man.
There’s no question that Itachi could have found and defeated him.
So, if Itachi was never sick, that war probably would never have happened, and that also comes with major changes to the story.
#3 Itachi and Sasuke
This is the hardest thing to explain.
Itachi murdered his whole clan to prevent a coup, but he spared Sasuke’s life.
That means that Itachi murdered Sasuke’s whole family.
As you might imagine, this did not make Sasuke happy, and he devoted his life to becoming strong enough to eventually kill his brother.
It’s his primary motivation, and if Itachi was never sick, at least this much wouldn’t change.
But, there’s a point where I think the story would diverge, and it’s based on a bit of speculation.
Itachi clearly plans to have Sasuke kill him at some point.
Itachi antagonizes Sasuke to drive the kid brother to try ever harder to become a strong ninja, and there’s a reason for this.
As members of the Uchiha clan, they both have access to special powers known as the Sharingan.
Here’s the thing.
The Sharingan gets stronger when members of the Uchiha clan endure extreme emotional distress.
As Itachi puts it, you can access great powers by killing your closest friend.
That’s not a literal requirement, but it shows just how extreme the emotional distress has to be to unlock some of these powers.
Itachi’s plan is to have Sasuke kill him in order to unlock those powers.
More than that, Itachi knows that once he is gone, his eyes can be transplanted to Sasuke to grant him even greater ninja powers.
This plan is based on two points.
First, Itachi wants to protect his little brother, but he knows that he’s dying.
So, he comes up with this plan so that Sasuke will hate him enough to take his eyes, and in this way, Itachi will be able to continue to protect Sasuke after his demise.
If Itachi never gets sick, this plan isn’t necessary.
Itachi can simply protect his brother from the shadows.
He’s arguably the most powerful ninja in the world.
It should not be a problem.
Because of that, Itachi might not work so hard to antagonize Sasuke.
It’s even conceivable that Itachi would eventually explain everything to Sasuke.
Even if they never reconcile, Itachi would probably avoid fighting his brother if he wasn’t sick.
#4 Sasuke’s Development
Sasuke eventually becomes one of the two strongest ninjas of all time (the other being Naruto).
Together, Naruto and Sasuke save their whole world multiple times.
It’s pretty epic.
But, if Itachi never got sick and didn’t have a showdown battle with Sasuke, then Sasuke’s development would have been severely hampered.
Sasuke trained mercilessly to become strong enough to kill his brother, but the results of that training just weren’t enough.
When the two fought, a healthy Itachi would have easily won the battle.
It’s arguable that even dying from illness, Itachi let Sasuke win.
If Itachi is no longer planning to give his life to protect his brother, then that confrontation doesn’t happen, and here’s the most important part.
Sasuke fully believed that he killed his brother in battle.
Shortly after, Itachi’s true history is revealed.
Sasuke, realizing that he killed a brother who actually loved him the whole time, experiences enough emotional turmoil to unlock the next level of his Sharingan.
It’s a huge powerup.
He then agrees to take Itachi’s eyes—another major powerup.
Without these two things, Sasuke would never have reached the levels we actually see in the manga.
On top of that, if Madara is never able to start the 4th Great Ninja War, Sasuke won’t be pushed nearly as hard.
He’ll never need all of that power, and his whole life’s trajectory changes.
It’s hard to say exactly where things end, but without Itachi’s illness, Sasuke never becomes the ninja we eventually see.
#5 Naruto’s Development
There’s also the issue of Naruto’s development.
He isn’t driven by any hatred of Itachi, but Itachi’s decisions still heavily influence the course of Naruto’s life.
As part of their plan, the Akatsuki want to take the nine-tailed fox out of Naruto.
Doing so would kill him, so he trains extremely hard to prevent that from happening.
He has multiple fights with the Akatsuki, and through those fights, he rapidly grows in strength.
If Itachi wasn’t sick, none of this might have happened.
Itachi would have been able to take down the whole organization, so Naruto might never have grown through these trials.
We know this because the Akatsuki doesn’t directly attack the Leaf Village until after Itachi’s death.
It’s not a coincidence.
Itachi was working behind the scenes to protect his home, and he clearly succeeded right up until he died.
Even if Naruto’s trials still happened (maybe Itachi couldn’t bring the organization down fast enough to protect Naruto), the 4th Great Ninja War is still averted.
That’s where Naruto saw his most substantial growth.
Without the war to push him, he may have never fully mastered the power of the nine-tailed fox.
The entire outlook is different, and it’s all because Itachi really did hold that much influence over the world around him.