Orochimaru is an antagonist from the Naruto anime and manga before he got reformed.
Orochimaru wants to be the most powerful shinobi who ever lived, and figures he can accomplish this by mastering every jutsu ever devised. However, a single human lifespan is far too short to learn every jutsu, so he also needs immortality as part of the bargain. To that end, Orochimaru has experimented with various scientific and magical methods of extending his own lifespan, but until he finds a perfect method, he opts to go with the riskier and less reliable Grand Theft Me method of immortality, switching his body for a younger one every few years. His desire to gain the body of an Uchiha (whose unique Sharingan would allow him to master jutsu much more quickly) is the driving force behind most of the events of the first series.
In the AWA fics, Orochimaru is a student at the AWA Academy.
Orochimaru's most striking characteristic is his snake-like appearance: he has very pale skin, golden eyes with slitted pupils, purple markings around his eyes and fang-like teeth. He also has pronounced cheekbones and straight waist-length black hair with some locks covering and framing his face or to his shoulders. The various bodies he takes over have each been modified to resemble his original form, except for the height differences. In Naruto Gaiden, Orochimaru's facial features soften and somewhat androgynous with his eye markings becoming black. He also wears his hair in a ponytail, allowing two locks to frame the sides of his face. In the manga, his skin-tone becomes noticeably fairer in complexion.
Orochimaru usually wears plain grey garbs with a black polo and pants underneath, a thick purple rope belt tied in a large knot behind his back, blue tomoe-shaped earrings, and shinobi sandals with bandages around his calves. He is seen wearing a kimono with different colours on several occasions, shown usually in flashbacks or inside his hideouts.
Orochimaru possesses a complex personality; however, more often than not, he was described as "twisted" by a large number of people, including Tsunade. Jiraiya speculated that the death of his parents while he was young, along with his horror for Tsunade losing Nawaki and later shedding tears when she lost Dan, implies that Orochimaru grew to disdain the fragility of human life and how it affected those still living, which led him to desire immortality. To that end, the primary purpose of Orochimaru's human experimentation is to test what modifications the human body can endure and harness a subject's unique abilities for himself. Once accomplishing this goal, Orochimaru had hoped to be worthy of the title of "ultimate being", unable to die and able to achieve his secondary goal to learn every ninja technique in the world, which would normally take many lifetimes to obtain.
According to Sasuke, becoming cruel with any good he had as a member of Team Hiruzen gone, Orochimaru's agenda made him develop a god complex and valued himself while delighting in striking terror in his first impressions. Though causing conflict to ease his boredom, Orochimaru seems to have no interest in wars started by others. His charisma also attracts a number of followers, many of which he would not hesitate to send on potential suicide missions if for his own personal benefit, expressing some remorse if they're unable to properly complete a task, having no sentimental attachments to any of them despite their values. Despite this, Orochimaru has genuine interest in the development of his underlings and experiments.
Taking Sasuke as an apprentice, seeing him as a prodigy like himself, Orochimaru intended to take the youth's body to obtain the Sharingan to reach another step in his goal of immortality and learning every technique in the world. This goal has developed to the point of obsession. However, despite knowing that Sasuke was willing to do anything for revenge, including sacrificing his own body, Orochimaru did anticipate treachery from his disciple and showed only a small level of surprise when it actually occurred. What truly surprised Orochimaru was Sasuke's decision to follow his own path and ultimately choosing to defend the village he initially swore to destroy, one that Orochimaru openly approved and was curious to see what would be the end result of this decision.
He also had an initial disdain toward Naruto Uzumaki, believing him to be a poor excuse for a ninja until he defeated Kabuto with the Rasengan. Despite attempting to kill Naruto at the time after coming to the realisation that he would become a threat to him in the future, Orochimaru became interested in Naruto's development, provoking Naruto during their battle to see his full abilities at the time. During the war Naruto managed to gain some of Orochimaru's respect for not giving into despair. Though coming to hate his home village, orchestrating a few attempts to destroy it, Orochimaru despised his former Akatsuki colleagues more. Throughout Part II, if Orochimaru was not busy with Sasuke's development, he would try to cripple Akatsuki's operations, as seen in the "Tenchi Bridge Reconnaissance Mission" arc and "Three-Tails' Appearance" arc. He expresses delight over the death of Sasori and later convinced Sasuke against killing Team Kakashi so they would thin out Akatsuki's membership.
An aspect of Orochimaru's personality is also his greatest weakness: his arrogance. He truly believed he was immortal at times, attacking recklessly against powerful opponents such as his former teacher and Itachi Uchiha. Both times, he was left crippled in some way since he either wanted to make his opponent suffer, like against Hiruzen, or because he was too uninformed to face his opponent, like against Itachi. Despite his distinct lack of morals, Orochimaru seems to be well-versed in psychological warfare and displays insightful wisdom when disparaging Tobirama for the actions resulting from his policies. He is also amusingly afraid of insects and bugs as seen during Naruto and Hinata's wedding.
After being revived by Sasuke, his personality changed a bit. While he still wished that he could gain Sasuke's body, he also realised that copying someone completely was a mistake from his observation of Kabuto and displayed interest in Sasuke's "different path". Wanting to see Sasuke's path, he chose to fight alongside the Uchiha instead of ignoring Madara's war like he planned, and even made it a priority to heal Tsunade and the other Kage after their defeat before hurrying to the battlefield. Orochimaru also seem to genuinely care about Sasuke's well being, as he originally thought it was best to take his time figuring out how to battle Tobi but quickly decided against taking his time when Karin sensed Sasuke was on the verge of death. Orochimaru has also shown signs of regret, seemingly saddened by his childhood friend Jiraiya's death. In the anime, he was one of people who congratulated Naruto and Hinata on their wedding. Years later, he appears to be on amicable terms with Konoha by sending his son, Mitsuki, to the village. In the anime, he also feels indebted to Naruto as the Hokage for watching over Mitsuki. While his relationship with the rest of the world is still dubious at best, he has at least developed a relatively trusting relationship between the higher-ups of Konohagakure, willing aiding them in research on pressing matters and likewise feels responsible enough to make amends for past mistakes.
Like other students of the Third Hokage, Orochimaru is an exceptionally talented shinobi, recognised as a natural prodigy; Hashirama Senju, a God of Shinobi, praises Orochimaru's skills. It wasn't until the Second Shinobi World War that their skills became widely known, dubbed by Hanzō as the Sannin, the strongest of their generation. Orochimaru's power was known and feared throughout the ninja world, such that Akatsuki, of which he was once a member, viewed him as a threat that needed to be eliminated. Shortly before the Konoha Crush, Hiruzen believed that no one in Konoha, himself included, could defeat Orochimaru. Although his invasion fails, it is indeed through Orochimaru's actions that the Third Hokage dies among many others and Konoha's military force is temporarily crippled. Although Sasuke defeats Orochimaru in Part II, he admits that his victory was attributed partially to the Sannin's weakening body.
Orochimaru has reserves of chakra large enough to summon Manda and powerful enough to uproar dense surges of wind and crack stone. He can also absorb chakra through physical contact. Orochimaru rarely relies on taijutsu in battle, though the anime shows he is very strong, enough to knock down a tree with a single kick while under great physical pain. He is also fast enough to land a punch on a four-tailed Naruto that temporarily stunned him.
Orochimaru's depth of knowledge of ninjutsu is greater than any other shinobi, leading to him utilising a vast arsenal of ninjutsu styles. He is proficient enough with the Transformation Technique to stay undetected for long periods of time; his skill in fūinjutsu allows him to use the Five Elements Seal to seal off a person's chakra; he can summon a single Rashōmon gate or more to protect himself from enemy attacks; he can hide hide within surfaces to avoid damage, or use cursed seals to temporarily paralyse an opponent. The anime shows Orochimaru using other techniques, such as the Shuriken Shadow Clone Technique, chakra scalpels, as well as space–time ninjutsu.
Orochimaru wields the legendary Sword of Kusanagi, showing enough proficiency to fight evenly with his former master Hiruzen. The blade is able to extend great distances, cut through almost anything, and even be remotely controlled. He normally keeps the blade within a snake's mouth inside his own throat and retrieves it by having it turning into a snake after use.
Orochimaru can use all five basic nature transformations, along with Yin and Yang Release. His elemental displays are brief in the manga, using only Wind Release to create a powerful gust of windand Earth Release to travel underground. In the anime, he can create mud-based clones. After taking over the body of a White Zetsu clone, Orochimaru gained access to the latter's Wood Release — a simultaneous mixture of earth and water.
During his research of Jūgo's clan, Orochimaru eventually tracked down the power source at the Ryūchi Cave and senjutsu. Although he lacked the body and chakra reserves strong enough to learn Sage Mode, Orochimaru developed another use for senjutsu chakra: the cursed seals. These seals contained some of Orochimaru's senjutsu chakra mixed with the enzyme produced by Jūgo, triggering a change similar to Sage Transformation, but with different side effects. These cursed seals can be used to enhance the power of one's techniques, and serve as anchors to Orochimaru's consciousness, allowing him to observe events through anyone branded by the seal. He can even be revived any number of times through the Evil Releasing Method, provided there are enough cursed seals and DNA.
- The name "Orochi" literally means "great snake" while "maru" is a common suffix in male names.
- It is possible that Orochimaru has a last name, since both of his parent's names are written with two words. However, reading them is impossible due to the kanji's bad quality.
- The symbolism of Orochimaru's snake affiliation can be also tied to how many cultures, Eastern and Western, perceived snakes as symbols of immortality and rebirth via the shedding of their skin.
- Orochimaru shares his blood type with his former teammates, Jiraiya and Tsunade.
- Orochimaru's hobby is creating techniques.
- Orochimaru wishes to fight those with techniques that can be used in the future.
- Orochimaru's favourite food are eggs, while his least favourites are anything cold.
- During his time as a Konoha-nin, Orochimaru has completed 1,468 official missions in total: 16 D-rank, 332 C-rank, 521 B-rank, 491 A-rank, 108 S-rank.
- In the AWA fics, Orochimaru's lines so far is 'fascinating' much to the ire of his comrades.