Why Did Shikamaru Start Smoking in Naruto? Explained

Naruto, a global phenomenon and beloved manga/anime series, is known for its rich character development, and one such character who has consistently captured the attention of fans is Shikamaru Nara. However, a transformation in his character arc that frequently stirs debates within the fandom is Shikamaru’s sudden adoption of the smoking habit. Have you ever wondered why this laid-back, strategic genius decided to pick up a cigarette? This article dives into the rationale behind this intriguing character choice.

Shikamaru is a character who is often seen as lazy, yet incredibly intelligent. His seemingly nonchalant demeanor can sometimes mask the depth and complexity of his character. However, when he started smoking, it signaled a distinct turning point in his storyline. Let’s delve deeper into this development to understand what it truly represents.

Disclaimer: This article contains spoilers from the Naruto manga.

Shikamaru Nara
hikamaru Nara (Image Via Studio Pierrot)

​The Symbolism of Shikamaru’s Smoking In Naruto

Firstly, it is essential to understand that Shikamaru’s smoking isn’t promoted as a healthy habit or lifestyle choice. Instead, it holds symbolic value, reflecting a significant shift in his character arc. The habit was introduced after the death of his sensei, Asuma Sarutobi, who himself was an infamous smoker in the series.

Shikamaru picking up Asuma’s smoking habit is symbolic of his acceptance of the responsibilities and burdens he inherits from his late mentor. It is a metaphorical representation of Shikamaru stepping into Asuma’s shoes, carrying forward his legacy and wisdom. Shikamaru starting to smoke can be seen as an homage to Asuma, whose influence has profoundly shaped him.

The moment Shikamaru lights Asuma’s last cigarette is a powerful scene that signifies his transformation from a carefree teenager to a serious shinobi ready to shoulder responsibilities. His smoking habit becomes an emblem of his coming of age, embodying the pain, maturity, and understanding that comes with it.

An Expression of Grief and a Journey of Growth

However, Shikamaru’s smoking isn’t just an act of remembrance or symbolic acceptance of duty. It’s also a poignant expression of his grief and loss. The sense of sorrow that enveloped him post-Asuma’s demise is a critical factor in his development and his decision to smoke.

The grief-stricken Shikamaru, in his own taciturn way, uses smoking as an outlet for his emotions, reflecting the profound impact of Asuma’s death on him. It’s a silent yet tangible reminder of his loss and the pain that came with it. Yet, it’s through this pain that Shikamaru’s character grows and evolves, becoming a more mature, responsible, and powerful shinobi.

It’s noteworthy that Naruto, like many other anime, often uses such poignant symbols to illustrate character development, feelings, and relationships. Shikamaru’s smoking is an excellent example of this narrative tool, telling a tale of mourning, growth, and duty through a single action.



In conclusion, the answer to why Shikamaru started smoking in Naruto lies in the complex interplay of symbolism, character development, and narrative choices. It’s not merely an act but a significant emblem of his journey, showing how he grapples with grief, matures through his experiences, and steps up to take on new responsibilities.

Shikamaru’s smoking, thus, is an integral part of his character arc, marking a turning point in his narrative. As fans, we see through this development, a side of Shikamaru that is far more profound and thoughtful than his laid-back exterior might suggest. It reinforces that in the world of Naruto, just like in real life, actions often carry meanings far beyond their surface value, and it’s in their unraveling that we truly understand the characters we grow to love.

Understanding why Shikamaru started smoking gives us an insightful peek into his character, showcasing the depths that Naruto’s storytelling can reach. So, the next time you see Shikamaru lighting up a cigarette, remember that it’s more than just a stick of tobacco; it’s a beacon of his journey and a testament to his growth.


Does Shikamaru smoke in Naruto Shippuden?

Yes, Shikamaru smokes in Naruto Shippuden, but only in the manga version. He started smoking after witnessing the death of his mentor, Asuma Sarutobi, who was killed by Hidan of the Akatsuki. 

What episode does Shikamaru smoke in Naruto Shippuden?

Shikamaru does not smoke in any episode of the anime, as it was censored for being inappropriate for younger audiences. However, in the manga, he was seen smoking from chapters 328 to 342.

Does Shikamaru smoke in Boruto?

Yes, Shikamaru smokes in Boruto, but only in the anime version. He is shown smoking in episode 65, when he talks to Naruto about the threat of the Ōtsutsuki clan. 

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