Sasuke as Child vs. Itachi & Madara: Why Weaker?

Here’s why Sasuke as a child was weak compared to Itachi and Madara:

Sasuke is weaker as a kid because his environment doesn’t require him to be as strong as Madara.

Simultaneously, Sasuke is less talented than Itachi on purpose.

Itachi and Madara are supposed to represent the pinnacles of talent and solo strength; Sasuke overcomes them by demonstrating more important attributes.

So if you want to learn all about why Sasuke as a child was not as strong as Itachi and Madara, then you’re in the right place.

Let’s jump right into it!

Sasuke as Child vs. Itachi & Madara: Why Weaker? (All Info)

Who Is Sasuke?

If we’re going to compare Sasuke to other characters in the series, we should probably do a little background work with each. 

In order to do that, I’m going to have to explain plot points that come up in Naruto.

So, consider this your spoiler warning.

I’ll be basing all of these facts on the Naruto manga, but since the Naruto anime series (and Shippuden) were both based on the manga, manga spoilers are also anime spoilers.

With that said, let’s talk about Sasuke.

He’s one of the main characters in the whole story.

If Naruto is the lead, Sasuke is barely the secondary lead.

He gets almost as much time and attention as Naruto, and Sasuke’s decision really drives the plot of the whole story.

Sasuke is a ninja from the Leaf Village.

When he was very young, his entire clan, including his parents, was massacred.

Sasuke was the last left, and in the face of that tragedy, he vowed to avenge his clan and then restore it.

Sasuke is the most talented ninja of his age.

He’s constantly ahead of the others, and he grows rapidly throughout the series.

Despite that, he’s not a record breaker at a young age, and a lot of his growth comes from power-ups that he didn’t earn.

I’ll get into this more later, but a good example is his eyes.

Sasuke’s clan is known to have special eye-based powers, and Sasuke ultimately inherits those powers from his brother, rather than acquiring them on his own.

Who Is Itachi?

Itachi is another significant character in the Naruto storyline, but he’s definitely not one of the main characters.

He is Sasuke’s older brother, and he’s also the person who slaughters their clan.

After slaughtering the clan, Itachi becomes a wanted ninja and goes into exile.

He works alongside the most dangerous outlaw ninja group in the world, the Akatsuki.

Before all of that happened, Itachi was a once-in-a-generation prodigy.

He got the second-highest score in the history of the ninja academy (second only to the 4th Hokage).

He was the youngest ninja to ever become a member of the Leaf Village’s black ops (called ANBU).

As a child, he regularly overpowered full-grown ninjas with ease.

While he was still fairly young at the end of the Third Great Ninja War, the young Itachi acquitted himself well on the battlefield.

After Itachi goes rogue and leaves the Leaf Village, he establishes himself as one of the strongest ninjas in the whole world.

He’s truly impressive.

We also eventually learn that he never betrayed the Leaf Village.

Instead, he slaughtered his own clan because they were planning a coup.

After stopping the coup, he inserted himself into the Akatsuki in order to keep an eye on them and limit their ability to wreak havoc on the world.

As an adult, Itachi is so strong that the only thing that holds him back is a terminal illness.

Without that illness, it’s speculated that he could have prevented the Fourth Great Ninja War altogether.

Who Is Madara?

Madara is a predecessor to both Itachi and Sasuke.

Roughly five generations older than the two, he was one of the two founding members of the Leaf Village.

In order to establish the first ninja village, Madara had to demonstrate that he was far above the average ninja.

As a matter of fact, he was easily considered one of the two strongest ninjas in the world in his time (the other being Hashirama who went on to become the First Hokage).

Legends of Madara’s abilities were so great that by the time of Sasuke and Itachi, people assumed that Madara’s feats were exaggerated to make for better stories.

Well, Madara comes back in the Fourth Great Ninja War, and he demonstrates that the old stories were not exaggerated at all.

When he returns, he is clearly the strongest ninja in the world, and only through teamwork are Sasuke and Naruto (with the help of Kakashi and Sakura) able to take him down.

Clearly, Madara is one of the strongest ninjas to ever live.

Why Is Sasuke So Much Weaker as a Kid? (4 Reasons)

That’s enough background information to move forward.

Considering these three characters are so important, and considering that Sasuke ultimately takes down both Itachi and Madara, why is he so much weaker as a kid?

It mostly comes down to the narrative.

Each of these characters represents different ideas, and Madara and Itachi are more talented and capable than Sasuke on purpose.

Sasuke’s journey is one to overcome great odds, something that makes less sense for characters with the raw natural talents of Itachi and Madara.

#1 Madara’s Strengths

Madara’s story is incredibly different from those of Sasuke and Itachi.

Madara grew up in a time before hidden ninja villages.

It was a time of constant war and battle.

Even at a young age, ninjas had to learn to kill or be killed.

Because of that brutal environment, ninjas who made it to adulthood were already exceptional as children.

The environment weeded out the weak, so to speak.

So, the fact that Madara made it to adulthood was already proof that he was a gifted kid.

But, that’s not all.

Madara was abnormally talented even for his age.

He proved that he could overwhelm most ninjas before he was a full-fledged adult.

He awakened his eye powers early, and he had the mentality to use his strengths very well.

Basically, Madara was abnormally strong as a kid because he was naturally talented and because he grew up in a brutal environment that forced him to learn and grow fast.

Born at another age, Madara might not have been so impressive.

#2 Itachi’s Strengths

Itachi’s impressive accomplishments as a young ninja are deliberately different from the other two.

Itachi established himself as an abnormal talent from the very beginning.

Breaking records and consistently achieving feats at ages younger than anyone else ever had, Itachi was designed as a character who embodied natural talent.

One of the main themes in Naruto is comparing natural talents to hard work and drive.

Itachi is set up to be the most talented character in the world (the only comparable talents being deceased by the time the story gets going).

Things always come quickly and easily to him on purpose, and this is to push the narrative as much as for any other reason.

In order for a character to overcome Itachi’s abilities, they have to effectively prove that there are things that matter more than talent.

Sasuke eventually does this, and it’s an essential part of the story and its themes. 

Itachi is supposed to be the very most talented specifically for this aspect of the overall story.

#3 Sasuke’s Talents

Meanwhile, we have Sasuke.

Now, he’s definitely more talented than most ninjas his age.

That is clearly established early in the story.

But, Sasuke is also driven, and it’s clear that his drive is as responsible for his accomplishments as his talent.

Sasuke is deliberately depicted as less talented than Itachi and Madara.

Despite knowing he has less talent, he ultimately commits to overcoming each of them.

When Itachi murders the clan, Sasuke vows to get revenge.

He knows that he’s no match for his brother, so only an incredible, inexhaustible drive will enable him to achieve that feat.

Later, Sasuke decides to bring down Madara.

Once again, he knows that his talents alone won’t be enough, and at this point, he learns to accept help in order to overcome obstacles.

It’s the other main theme in Naruto—trusting in your comrades. 

So, with some talent but a lot more drive and the ability to work with others, Sasuke brings down his brother and ancestor who are both clearly more talented than he is.

#4 Sasuke’s Fate

There’s also an issue of fate.

As the Naruto story progresses, fate becomes a larger and larger part of the narrative. 

Sasuke is less talented than Itachi or Madara, but he ultimately brings both of them down because of his fate.

His drive and teamwork also matter, but there’s an element of fate that can’t be overlooked.

With his talent and drive alone, Sasuke hits a wall.

He is clearly not as strong as Itachi when they have their final confrontation.

Sasuke comes out ahead in that battle because of fate (and also because Itachi let him win, but that’s part of Sasuke’s fate).

From there, Sasuke’s greatest power-ups come from external resources rather than his own hard work and accomplishments.

He transplants Itachie’s eyes into himself, giving him Itachi’s greatest power.

Essentially, Itachi’s talent becomes part of Sasuke’s strength, and that’s because Sasuke is fated to do things that Itachi wasn’t.

A similar thing happens with Madara.

Sasuke ultimately inherits the Rinnegan (another special eye power).

Sasuke doesn’t earn the power, instead, it is handed to him, and because of that, Sasuke is able to match Madara’s greatest strength.

Sasuke overcomes Madara and even greater foes because it is his fate.

The talents of Madara and Itachi were never supposed to be enough, and Sasuke’s journey helps to highlight that.