Perhaps the figure whose very name is affiliated with the word "Ninja", Sarutobi Sasuke was a character featured in children's tales beginning in the early 1900s. The name Sasuke has become a stock name for ninjas in the same way that Jeeves is a stock name for butlers.
He is generally believed to be a fictional creation of the Meiji Restoration based on the historical ninja Kozuki Sasuke, though some argue for his actual existence. He is commonly listed as one of the Sanada Ten Braves, a legendary group of ten ninja that supposedly assisted Sanada Nobushige (more widely known as Sanada Yukimura) at the battles of Osaka Castle during the Sengoku Period, and he is one of the best known amongst the Ten Braves. Since then, he has been featured in many anime and manga series, and various fictional ninja have been named after him.
Sarutobi means "jumping monkey" — Sasuke is frequently portrayed as being very quick and agile, especially in the trees, and in some versions of his story is described as having been raised by wild monkeys.
Anime and Manga
- As expected in a Ninja series, Naruto features his legacy in both Sasuke Uchiha and the entire Sarutobi clan (most notably the Third Hokage and his son and grandson).
- It's later revealed that, in-universe, Sasuke Uchiha was named after the Third's father, who was indeed named Sasuke Sarutobi.
- Samurai Deeper Kyo, which features historical characters like Oda Nobunaga, Tokugawa Ieyasu, and Sanada Yukimura, has him as a secondary character.
- Ranma ½: The Kuno family's ninja is also named Sasuke, but he's hilariously useless.
- In Ninja Nonsense, all of the ninjas are named Sasuke.
- The main protagonist of the manga Behind Master is Sarutobi Sasuke.
- Was the protagonist of the anime Manga Sarutobi Sasuke, later edited into a feature-length, English-language movie called Ninja The Wonder Boy.
- Part of the ensemble cast of Brave10 where he is depicted as The Beastmaster, with his usual leadership position going to Saizo Kirigakure instead.
- The hero of the early Toei Animation film Shonen Sarutobi Sasuke (released in the US by MGM as Magic Boy)
- A 60s' anime called simply Sasuke has as main character a young ninja with the same name.
- Sasuke Delta Gundam from SD Gundam World Heroes is based off of him. Interestingly, in this series he's the retainer of Nobunaga Gundam Epyon, whereas Oda Nobunaga is a person who's never been affiliated with Sarutobi Sasuke before this.
- Ninja Red, Sasuke, from Ninja Sentai Kakuranger is a descendant of his. (Sarutobi himself shows up early on, and is noticeably underwhelmed by his descendant.)
- The stunt show Ninja Warrior is known as Sasuke in Japan.
- Kamen Rider Saber alludes to him with the ninja-themed Kamen Rider Kenzan's primary Transformation Trinket; the Sarutobi Ninjaden Wonder Ridebook.
- He makes an appearance in the Sasuke Samurai series of cards in Yu-Gi-Oh!, which are themselves based on Goemon below.
- Sarutobi Sasuke is a playable character from the Sengoku Basara series, where he's a talented and reliable but rather snarky individual who serves Sanada Yukimura.
- One character in the Ganbare Goemon series is named Sasuke, a kunai-throwing clockwork ninja.
- Final Fantasy has a number of weapons named after him.
- Suikoden II has a ninja boy named Sasuke as one of its many party members.
- Puzzle & Dragons features Sasuke among a pantheon of famous ninja, under the name (in his ultimate evolution), "Gusting Prodigy, Sasuke". He is the wood-element ninja, presumably reflecting his common association with monkeys and trees, with the Attacker and Devil types. As with the others, his active ability changes orbs of the opposing colour (water in his case) to his own.
- Sasuke makes his debut in Samurai Warriors a la Spinoff Spirit of Sanada as a young Ninja that uses twin arm blades. However, he doesn't bear his surname Sarutobi: he's simply called Sasuke as Spirit of Sanada treats his origins as an apprentice of Hattori Hanzo before serving Yukimura.
- At the end of the Downloadable Content for Nioh called "Dragon of the North", the Big Bad escapes to align with Yukimura; Sasuke is seen as The Cameo. In the next DLC "Defiant Honor", Sasuke participates in the Siege of Osaka protecting Yukimura, using Dual Tonfas fitted with explosive launchers.
- In Ikemen Sengoku, Sasuke Sarutobi is actually a modern-day astrophysics student who got sent back in time to Sengoku-era Japan and learned how to become a ninja under Kenshin Uesugi's tutelage. His last name actually isn't Sarutobi, but he adopted it so that he could slip into the role of the famed ninja and avoid majorly disrupting the timeline.