Born into the Sarutobi clan to Sasuke, Hiruzen was a prodigy
who truly stood
out in talent. He and
his former team-
mates, Homura Mitokado and Koharu Utatane, were students of Tobirama Senju, the Second Hokage. He had somewhat of a rivalry with Danzō Shimura ever since they were children, but Hiruzen always
managed to pass milestones before Danzō. During the First Shinobi World War , Team Tobirama along with Danzō, Kagami Uchiha and Torifu Akimichi were pursued by enemy Kumogakure ninja. Knowing that one of them would need to distract their pursuers in order for the rest to
escape, a task that would result in their death,
Hiruzen volunteered. Tobirama however, chose
to be the decoy instead, but before leaving he
appointed Hiruzen as the Third Hokage.
Later in his life, Hiruzen became the teacher of Jiraiya, Orochimaru, and Tsunade, who would go on to become known as the Sannin. In time, he married Biwako and became the father of two children, Asuma Sarutobi and one who has yet to be seen in the series. This unnamed child would
later give Hiruzen a grandson: Konohamaru Sarutobi.
While Orochimaru was his student, Hiruzen came
to appreciate Orochimaru's natural talent, and
often told Jiraiya to be more like him. He also
came to recognize an inner malice and a lust for
power within Orochimaru, and tried to steer his
student away from these personality traits. After serving as Hokage for many years, Hiruzen
started looking for a successor to the title. While
he hoped to be able to give the position to
Orochimaru, it became apparent that Orochimaru
was only interested in the role of Hokage for the
power it offered. His first choice was Jiraiya, but due to Jiraiya's journeys, Hiruzen instead passed
on the role of Hokage to one of Jiraiya's pupils: Minato Namikaze.
Knowing fully well the dangers Minato's wife Kushina Uzumaki (then the jinchūriki of the Nine- Tailed Demon Fox) would face in childbirth (as the seal holding the tailed beast is prone to weakening at this point in time), he sent his wife
Biwako and a few ANBU for security to let her
give birth outside the village. Nonetheless, the
rogue Madara Uchiha would track them to release the Nine-Tails and order it to attack
Konohagakure, while Minato faced Madara,
Hiruzen lead Konoha to combat the Nine-Tailed Demon Fox. He would then arrive to the scene when Minato decided to seal the Nine-Tails in Naruto, forcing Hiruzen to resume the role of Hokage. He saw to it that the orphaned Naruto
would be safe by keeping the identity of his father a secret.
After reacquiring his title, Hiruzen began
investigating a number of disappearances within
Konoha. Upon reaching the source of the
abductions, he found Orochimaru to be the one
responsible. Having used those that he
kidnapped as test subjects in his quest to gain immortality, Orochimaru allowed his former
master a chance to kill him. Ultimately, Hiruzen
was unable to bring himself to kill his former student, allowing Orochimaru to escape.
Hiruzen was one of four Konoha elders involved
in the massacre of the Uchiha clan. He tried to find a peaceful alternative, but negotiations fell
through and, against his wishes, Itachi Uchiha was ordered to wipe out the Uchiha. Itachi
proved unable to kill his brother, Sasuke Uchiha, so Hiruzen promised Itachi to keep Sasuke safe.
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