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 rogueMadara 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.
Due to the long life he had lived, Hiruzen served as a source of wisdom for much of the series, passing on the things he had learned to the next generation. As Hokage, he had also acquired a habit of attempting to end things peacefully, and did what he could to avoid bloodshed amongst his allies and his enemies. At the series' start, Hiruzen was one of the few people who saw Naruto as more than the container of the Nine-Tails, and, as such, became someone that Naruto truly admired, even thinking of Hiruzen as a grandfather-figure.
According to Kakashi Hatake, Hiruzen loved his students deeply, including Orochimaru, no matter how far he had fallen. This was proven when he could not bring himself to kill his prized student ten years before his (Hiruzen's) death, despite Orochimaru being discovered to be conducting highly illegal experiments that resulted in the death of many innocent, and that letting him live would lead to more tragedies. When Hiruzen died, he hoped that he and Orochimaru would one day reunite in the afterlife, as master and student.
Despite his standing as Hokage, he seemed to have had some sense of lecherousness in him, as he spent much of his free time talking to young girls. When Jiraiya was still his student, he offered to help Jiraiya test the technique that would allow the user to spy on naked women unnoticed. Even Jiraiya, in this instance, noted his sensei's perverted qualities. He also fell victim to Naruto's Sexy Technique on more than one occasion, fainting after he saw it. He also made it a hobby to talk with young girls.
Hiruzen is one of two known Kage to always wear the official Kage uniform, the other being the Fourth Raikage. Since his time training Jiraiya, Tsunade, and Orochimaru, he has had a small goatee and short spiked hair, both being dark brown. He also has three lines running vertically under each eye, though when he was younger he only had one under each eye. Although an old man, age has not taken much of a toll on his appearance, as it has on his skills, as it would only appear to have given him some grey hair, several wrinkles, and very few liver-spots. With age it would seem that he has also taken on smoking a pipe. When in combat he wears a black jumpsuit with grey shoulder armour, a gauntlet on his right arm, a Leaf forehead protector bandanna with long straps and a ninja helmet which he wears under it. The kanji for "Third Hokage" is inscribed on the back of this outfit, although at the time of the Nine-Tails' attack when he retired the post, it merely had the kanji for "fire" (火, hi). He also has two shuriken holsters strapped to either side of his back.
Hiruzen was one of the most powerful shinobi in history. In fact, he was so powerful that he was admired as theGod of Shinobi (忍の神, Shinobi no Kami) in his prime. According to Iruka, he was said to be the strongest Hokage that Konoha ever had as well as the strongest of all the five Kage during his era. Enma commented on his battle with Orochimaru, saying that it was "miserable" compared to his prime, even though he had clearly been able to hold his own against Orochimaru and two former Hokage without losing his composure. Even in his old age, his chakra was noted for being very strong, causing a dense effect on the atmosphere when released;furthermore, he was known for have immense reserves of chakra in his youth. He was also the longest living and longest reigning Hokage.
Hiruzen was called The Professor (プロフェッサー, Purofessā), due to his mastery of all forms of shinobi combat, and his vast knowledge of jutsu, purportedly knowing all the techniques within Konoha. The first technique he was seen using was the Telescope Technique, which allowed him to observe others through his crystal ball over long distances. With Roof Tile Shuriken, he could launch nearby tiles at an opponent with varying intensities, and by throwing a single shuriken at an opponent, he could replicate it to surround the opponent through Shuriken Shadow Clone Technique.
Orochimaru showed some surprise that he didn't use more of the Shadow Clone Technique during their battle. An ANBU agent watching the battle scene from nearby mentioned that Hiruzen's chakra levels had dropped to a point where he couldn't use it as much. While this might contradict the large amount of techniques he used in his battle with Orochimaru, it could also show his great chakra control, needing only the minimum amount of chakra to use each technique.
Despite being a man of very accumulated age, he still was able to display considerable striking power, such as in the fight with Orochimaru, using the Enma Pole to smash through even Hashirama's Wood Release successfully and besting even Orochimaru, who was armed with the Kusanagi.
As a member of the Hyūga clan, Neji possesses the Byakugan, a dōjutsukekkei genkai which grants him x-ray vision, nearly 360° vision, and the ability to see chakra networks. The Byakugan has a small blind spot at the upper thoracic vertebrae, a weakness of which Neji is actually aware of and takes extra precaution in concealing it from opponents. While the Byakugan naturally has only a 50 meter field of vision, Neji is able to increase its range several times by the start of Part II, to at least 800 meters. He is also noted to have a particularly strong Byakugan relative to other members of the Hyūga clan .
In Part II, Hinata improved her taijutsu skills immensely and displays now a large variety of her clan's techniques. In the anime's Three-Tails Arc, Hinata performed the Eight Trigrams Thirty-Two Palms, a minor version of the Eight Trigrams Sixty-Four Palms, which she claims to had been working on during the time-skip, showing that her Byakugan can even see the tenketsu now. Hinata has also continued to develop her natural flexibility. This was shown while she was battling Nurari in the anime when she was able to dodge most of his attacks, despite the enemy's elastic body. When later fighting Pain in the anime, her attacks were strong enough to snap Pain's Chakra Disruption Blades that were restraining Naruto. In that circumstance she also displays the Gentle Step Twin Lion Fists technique, which much wasn't seen of in the manga but in the anime, she was able to strike Pain with it. She can also collaborate with Neji, using Eight Trigrams Empty Wall Palm, which is a variation of the Eight Trigrams Empty Palm.[8As a member of the Hyūga clan, Hinata specialises in close-range, taijutsu combat. Her fighting style is the signature style of her clan, the Gentle Fist, which takes advantage of the Byakugan's ability to see opponent's chakra pathway system. It also allows her to cause severe internal trauma with minimal external force as it relies on surgical injection of chakra into an opponent's chakra network to cause damage. However, when Hinata is first introduced, she is considered weak by Hiashi Hyūga's standards, being neither as strong nor as fast as Neji or her sister.
Hiruzen also had a personal summon: Enma, the Monkey King. Enma couldturn into a diamond-hard staff, which could alter its length and width at will, or a cage to protect the summoner. The staff was Hiruzen's weapon of choice, and he showed great proficiency in wielding it.