Naruto, even with its gaping flaws and shonen cliches, will forever and always hold a special place in my heart. There's so much love to that annoying, adorable little bastard (and a fair amount of the other characters too).
The plotline is woven in a way that makes you want to know what happens next with an absolute passion. Also, when looking closer, the characters are more complex than we realize and have the potential to be even better. And the newly discovered plot is amazing at surprising me.
Naruto has some of the most endearing characters to be ever run across, so much so that one will continue to look forward to its weekly updates, regardless of quality.
Not to mention some of the most distinctive-yet-cohesive character designs ever. You can instantly tell a Naruto character from any other kind of character and yet each one of the Loads and Loads of Characters looks distinct.
While the portrayal of women in Naruto is far from ideal, there's an appreciation of the varied body types (and personalities) of the female characters, and the fact that Kishimoto is more prone to sexualizing the males than the females (even if the males in question are in female form at the time).
Even though Kishimoto has the subtlety of a sledgehammer when it comes to hinting at future plot twists (I'm calling it now—Kakashi is totally not dead), one would absolutely adore the way the world is set up. It's a crying shame the most interesting character don't get any development, though... I'm looking at you, Shino.
It's true that the series is intensely flawed, and frankly, hoping it ends soon before it decays any further. But its premise, its fantastic, detailed universe, and its interesting characters gave it the potential to be the greatest series of all time (and indeed, if every arc was as good as the Zabuza arc, it would be).
Naruto is one of the most popular anime/manga series to hate on right now, but one couldn't care less. Even after the general interest in anime and manga has significantly died down, it has never lost enthusiasm for Naruto. Never before have one could ever encounter such a lovable main character. From the overall story to the fight scenes to the side characters, everything is just excellent. The love for this series is going on strong, and now that the story is reaching its climax, it won't fail to disappoint. Even if it doesn't end the way one would hope it does, it could never bring one to dislike it, let alone hate it.
Though he may not be nearly as fond of the series as he once was, there's no one denying that the first 16 volumes of Naruto are still some of the best quality Shonen comics to be ever seen. Naruto is what introduced many to manga/anime more than anything else and they still love many of the characters and themes presented in the early volumes. Truly it could've been the stuff of legends just like One Piece and FMA if Kishimoto remembered there were other characters and villages in his story. But alas. Definitely check out the Zabuza and Chunin Exams arcs.
This show holds the title for some people as favorite anime of all time. It basically introduced some to anime in the first place. Some would even remember being very stereotyped against it before they got into it. Remember seeing commercials for it and thinking "WTF is this? People breathing fire? Why are there a dozen Naruto's? Why is that guy with the mask (Kakashi) walking on that tree? Stupid..." Then actually seing it and was immediately hooked. This show has the best plot development and character development ever seen in an anime. Characters are not static, and there's the fact that the villains progress with the heroes, and it's not just the villain of the week. Don't know about the excessive Deus ex Machina thats been going on lately, but one would still think that Kishi knows what he's doing. Not to mention that he doesn't go overboard on buffing everyone out like Bleach or Dragon Ball Z or basically any anime out there. But most of all, this series has spawned perhaps the most epic fictional character in all of history....ITACHI.
Naruto is hilarious, not just because of funny moments, but the ever-so-controversial Kishimoto exploits those who take a Shonen too seriously while we sit back and enjoy the complex story and awesome action and unique twists per chapter, that is, if you actually pay attention. So while people fight over a manga, I'll let Kishimoto justify his controversies with post-revelation justification, something he is very good at doing in my opinion. This show's biggest flaws is it's masses of fanboys who act like this show's super-realistic, but other than that, go check it out! It has the most solid story of any manga ever seen and one will never die without seeing it through too the end.
100% with the above troper who said that never before has there been such a lovable main character. Naruto has a way with perfectly crafting scenes that evoke such intense emotion that no other show I've watched period has achieved, in my opinion. It was a sobbing mess for literally the entirety of the Confronting the Jinchuriki arc, and even just thinking about the scene in which Naruto meets a certain someone brought tears for weeks afterward. And whenever Naruto flashes that adorable smile with his eyes closed my heart just melts. One will desperately want to know how it ends, but I know I will also be very sad once it does.
Naruto is the reason to go into anime and manga in the first place. The Shonen-appropriate dark themes such as abandonment, loneliness/isolation, and simply being a crazy freak of nature (Orochimaru, for example) can click and lead to pursue horror and seinen titles like Berserk and Gantz. My tastes have matured beyond the typical "friendship always wins!" shonen that Naruto could be interpreted as, but that doesn't stop that from loving it. Love it for its flaws, its characters, the sheer possibilities that could happen in the universe. It isn't a coincidence that FF.net has thousands upon thousands of works for Naruto, not to mention the crossovers.
The new series Boruto is for me an exemple on how you make a sequel. Fun characters, good graphics, interesting interactions and a lot of new characters to give a bresh of fresh air to the series. That and seeing the old characters we love as parents is priceless.