|More about Zuko|
|Zuko's main article|
|Book One: Water (83 AG - 100 AG) |
Book Two: Earth (Spring 100 AG)
Book Three: Fire (Summer 100 AG)
|Zuko in the films |
Zuko in the games
Zuko in The Last Airbender video game
Zuko in the pilot episode
Zuko returned home to the Fire Nation after the Fire Nation's spectacular victory at Ba Sing Se. Despite winning his father's praise, however, Zuko found no consolation at this prospect. After a great deal of emotional turbulence, Zuko finally abandoned the Fire Nation and joined the Avatar's quest to defeat the Fire Lord.
After this, Zuko was surprisingly reluctant to return to the Fire Nation as a hero. However, after informing his sister of his intention to remain in Ba Sing Se, the princess pulled out a trump card in the form of an old friend—Mai, who had shared a mutual crush with Zuko as a child. After foiling Azula's dinner date set up, Zuko accompanied the governor's daughter on a stroll throughout the city, where —after an incident involving Jin, octofish, and a fountain— the two ended up kissing and reminiscing. The following day, as he saw Mai off during the boardings, Zuko severely contemplated returning home with her, watched on by Azula. The princess turned her attention to Iroh being led aboard a Fire Nation ship in chains and wondered aloud if he will even survive the trip. As she bid her brother farewell, Zuko suddenly made the resolve to come with them back to the Fire Nation. Azula slyly told her brother to do whatever he wanted, as it is his decision.
Several weeks later, though, as the ship approached Fire Nation waters, Zuko expressed his fear at how much everything had changed, and how much he himself had changed. Despite reassurances from Mai and deafening cheers from the citizens of the Fire Nation, Zuko was still uncertain as to how his father would receive him, and even doubtful as to whether or not the Avatar was truly dead, a feeling he consequentially expressed to his sister. When he finally returned to his father's throne room, however, his father welcomed him back with pride and recognition, claiming that Zuko had fully redeemed himself by slaying the Avatar. Zuko managed to contain his surprise at this, knowing fully well that it had been Azula who had delivered the blow, not him.
Although the false claim finally gave him the redemption he had so longed for, Zuko confronted his sister that night about why she had given him the credit. Azula claimed that she saw how worried Zuko was about not having the Avatar, she decided to give him the credit for his demise out of a generous gesture to repay his part in the takeover of Ba Sing Se. Zuko refused to believe her explanation, accusing her of retaining an ulterior motive. Azula nonchalantly pointed out how letting him have all the glory over slaying the Avatar could do little to benefit her, but went on to insidiously acknowledge the fact that should it be discovered that the Avatar was alive, all that glory would swiftly turn into shame and foolishness. She assured Zuko that he had nothing to worry about, as he had already said himself, there was no way the Avatar could have survived. With that, the princess bid her brother goodnight, who left deeply incensed. Even with his redemption, he was still being manipulated.
Zuko had been secretly seeing his imprisoned uncle, telling the guard to say nothing. However, Iroh would have none of him and refused to listen to Zuko's claims he could have returned a hero. He promptly called Iroh a crazy old man. While on a picnic with Mai, they were interrupted by Azula who cautioned Zuko not to be discovered visiting Iroh, as it would be seen as if he was conspiring with him. After delivering a box of chicken to his uncle, Zuko said to his uncle that he had everything he had ever wanted, but was tortured knowing that the Avatar was still alive; Iroh refused to advise his nephew. Zuko later met with a person who had a tattoo of a third eye who he hired and instructed to kill the Avatar.
Zuko, Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee went on vacation to Ember Island at Lo and Li's beach house, due to the fact Fire Lord Ozai was holding a restricted meeting with his confidants. At the beach, Zuko made several unsuccessful attempts to impress Mai with pretty shells and ice cream; the former failed to appeal to her, and the latter fell on Mai's leg in the unlucky fashion Zuko was famous for. Later, the group was invited to a party at Chan's house.
During the party, after fetching Mai some food, Zuko found Ruon-Jian talking to Mai. Zuko lost his temper and violently threw Ruon-Jian into a large pot across the room. Disgusted, Mai angrily told Zuko that his temper was out of control; he took his anger out on her, saying that she did not feel anything and was a "big blah". Hurt and confused by this accusation, Mai told Zuko that their relationship was over. Chan returned and ejected Zuko from the party.
Zuko headed off and went to his family's abandoned vacation house where he reminisced about memories of himself as a child with Ursa, Ozai, and Iroh. He spotted a stone imprinted with his own baby hand print, only for his eyes to be drawn to an old family portrait hanging on the wall. Azula found Zuko, and they all went down to the beach again. Zuko tried to reconcile with Mai, but she was still cold toward him.
When words started to fly, Zuko pushed into a rant about his own life, where he admitted that he was angry but unsure why. The girls all pressured him into giving an answer, and he finally screamed that he was angry at himself because he did not know the difference between right and wrong anymore. Finally understanding what bothers Zuko so much, Mai returned to his side and said that there was one thing she cared about and kissed him once again.
Later that weekend, the couple went on a date to the Ember Island Arcade. After winning a stuffed tiger monkey toy that Mai did not really want, Zuko got dragged into a game of "Street Bender" with Azula. Initially Azula, having been defeating children at the game for several days, managed to dominate her brother, but when Zuko started to get the hang of it, Azula used her firebending to secretly enhance her figure's attacks. In a fit of rage, Zuko attempted the same trick, but ended up destroying the machine. Afterward, Ty Lee remarked that they should make a rule about letting Zuko play.
Zuko awoke and found a message telling him that he needed to learn the story of his great grandfather's demise, it would help reveal his own destiny. He quizzed Azula but she said that Sozin died in his sleep. Zuko puzzled over the message until he finally threw it over his lamp revealing a secret message written on the other side, telling him that the Fire Sages kept the Secret History in the Dragonbone Catacombs. He found the place by secretly following one of the Fire Sages. After entering he discovered the Final Testament of Fire Lord Sozin.
Zuko read up on the past friendship of Avatar Roku and Fire Lord Sozin. At the end Sozin said he kept searching for the new Avatar. Zuko confronted Iroh in prison, outraged, and accusing Iroh of sending him messages telling him that the scroll told him little more than what he already knew. Zuko said he had learned nothing more of Sozin's death. Iroh calmly stated that he was referring to his mother's grandfather, Avatar Roku. Zuko fell to his knees, more confused than ever. Iroh told Zuko good and evil were always fighting inside Zuko for it was his nature. Iroh said that the bright side was that Zuko alone could restore honor to the Fire Nation and bring about peace. Iroh subsequently handed Zuko a lost royal artifact meant to be worn by the crown prince that was worn by both of his great-grandfathers and told him he could either restore balance to the world or destroy it.
Zuko eventually recovered from the initial shock of his family revelation, and in the following weeks was thoroughly enjoying life as an honored prince. He had servants attending to his every need and the population adored him, and had romantic evenings with Mai. A few days before the Day of Black Sun, he visited Mai's house, which was right across from the Royal Palace. The two were happier than ever as Mai was now much more open with her emotions. When Zuko asked if Mai could have anything she wanted in the world at that moment what it would be, he discovered her love for fruit tarts and with his servants was able to answer to such desires.
Suddenly, Mai mentioned that Azula got invited to a war meeting with their father and apparently Zuko did not get invited. He talked to Azula who assured him that he was not told about the war meeting because he was already expected to be there. However, the fact that he, the Crown Prince was not informed as opposed to the princess insulted him, so he refused to go. When he sulked about it, Mai suggested he order some servants around or enjoy a fruit tart, but Zuko was not in the mood.
However, the next morning, Zuko went to the war meeting as Ozai refused to start without him, setting his mind at ease. During the meeting, Shinu relayed that, despite the fall of Ba Sing Se, there were still ongoing rebellions that prevented a total victory in the Earth Kingdom. Since he had traveled through the nation during his exile, Ozai asked Zuko's opinion on the matter. The prince stated that the people of the Earth Kingdom were proud and strong and that they could endure anything as long as they had hope, which led to Ozai agreeing with Azula's decision to burn the Earth Kingdom to the ground. Although horrified by the suggestion, Zuko did not speak out.
After the meeting, Zuko told Mai that his father had let him sit at his right side, much to her delight. However, he also confided in her that although he had acted like the son his father had always wanted, he was not himself, making realize that he was not to be that person and that the war must come to an end.
Before the battle on the Day of Black Sun, he gazed at a drawing of him and Mai, saying "I'm sorry." During the eclipse, he entered his father's chamber with his dual broadswords. He confessed to his father that Azula was the one who dealt the killing blow to the Avatar, giving him the credit with the premonition that Aang managed to survive. Zuko confirmed that his sister had been right, since Aang was leading the invasion and on his way to Ozai. Infuriated, Ozai ordered his son to leave, but Zuko refused and held him back from a physical threat with his swords. Standing up to his father, Zuko noted that Ozai had never been there for him during his childhood and called him out on his cruel action of challenging his thirteen-year-old son to an Agni Kai, permanently scarring him just for speaking out of turn during a war meeting. He also stated that, having had a first-hand look at the destruction the Fire Nation had caused to the world, the Fire Nation had lied to its citizens about spreading its greatness and prosperity via warfare, for they had only scarred the world, and the other nations feared and loathed them for it. In order to remedy this, Zuko concluded that an era of "love and kindness" was long overdue. He then noted that he was leaving to free his uncle and beg for his forgiveness, realizing Iroh had been an actual father to him. As a final declaration, he announced his intention to ally with the Avatar to defeat Ozai. Ozai baited him to finish him off, since he was powerless without his firebending and Zuko, while also lacking his firebending, was holding broadswords, but Zuko refused to act, noting that it was the Avatar's destiny to defeat him, not his. As he was about to leave the bunker, his father asked if he wanted to learn about his mother's fate.
Lured by these words, Zuko turned to stay. Ozai explained that after requesting that Iroh's birthright be revoked and placed upon his head, Azulon refused and told him he was to kill Zuko to suffer the same pain as Iroh. Ozai revealed he had every intention to do so, but that his wife concocted a plan in which Zuko would live and Ozai would become Fire Lord. Her actions resulted in Azulon's death and her banishment. This left Zuko hopefully asking that she was still alive. Ozai stated it was possible before declaring his realization that banishment was a punishment far too merciful for treason, intending to not make the same mistake with Zuko. Just as the eclipse ended, Ozai leaped from his seat and fired a lightning bolt at his son. Zuko caught the attack and redirected the charge at a much-surprised Ozai. The impact slammed Ozai into the back wall, and gave Zuko the time to escape. From there, he hastily headed to the prison, finding most of the guards unconscious or otherwise incapacitated. He found Iroh's cell busted open with the warden next to it and demanded to know what had happened to his uncle. The warden revealed that Iroh was like a "one-man army" and had broken himself out. With his uncle already freed, Zuko followed Team Avatar in a hot air balloon, intending to join them and defeat the Fire Lord.
Joining Team Avatar
Zuko arrived at the Western Air Temple before Aang and his friends. He ran away to hide when the gang arrived on Appa. Later at his camp in the woods, he tried to practice a speech on how to persuade Team Avatar that he now was good and wanted to join their group; he did this in front of a badgerfrog with little success. Finally, Zuko returned to the temple and appeared before Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph. Upon his arrival, Appa licked him in gratitude for his assistance in Ba Sing Se, which surprised Aang. Zuko tried his speech, and offered to teach Aang firebending, but the group was unwilling to let him due to their mistrust of him, especially Katara. Zuko began apologizing for the bad things he did to them, but accidentally let slip the fact that he sent Combustion Man after them. Enraged, the gang demanded that Zuko leave them now. Zuko instead offered to be accepted as their prisoner, but Katara waterbent at him and ordered him to leave. Zuko returned to his camp and berated himself for how bad his attempt at joining their group was, including voicing his regret for not having blamed Azula for hiring Combustion Man, as that would have been a believable statement.
Later that night, Toph, having sensed that Zuko had been sincere, went to visit him. She made a noise that startled Zuko, causing him to act on instinct and firebend at the intruder, not knowing it was Toph. He burned her feet by accident, and when he tried to apologize and help her, Toph, earthbent at him in panicked self-defense and retreated back to the temple. Thinking his act disillusioned her belief in his sincerity, Zuko collapsed to the ground and shouted in frustration: "Why am I so bad at being good?!"
The next day, Combustion Man had tracked down Team Avatar to the temple. Zuko attacked Combustion Man with a flying kick, causing his attack to miss Aang and his friends. Zuko ordered him to stop hunting the Avatar, even offering to increase his pay, but Combustion Man ignored him and continued to attack the team. Zuko attempted to stop him with a fire punch but was stopped when the assassin grabbed his shirt. The banished prince kicked him and was able to free himself. When he caused Combustion Man to misfire again, Combustion Man retaliated by shooting a blast at Zuko, who managed to shield himself with a fire wall. The force of the blast pushed him off the edge, though he was able to catch a vine at the last moment. This proved to be his salvation when Combustion Man died in a massive explosion moments later after his combustionbending backfired due to having been struck in his third eye.
Zuko appeared to Team Avatar once more and apologized to them again, saying that he had been through a lot the past few years. He apologized to Toph for burning her, remarking that he had to be in better control of his bending, and that fire could be a dangerous thing if not controlled. Aang told Zuko that he thought Zuko was meant to be his teacher because he understood what Aang went through when he first tried to firebend and burned Katara by accident. Zuko asked one more time to join the group. Aang accepted and asked his friends if he could be allowed to join them. Toph agreed, saying jokingly that it would give her time to get back at Zuko for burning her. Sokka agreed, knowing that Aang knew what he was doing. Lastly, Katara reluctantly allowed him to join. Zuko happily promised that he would not let them down. As soon as this happened, the rest of the gang turned around and headed into the temple.
After Sokka showed Zuko to his room in the temple, he began to unpack his things, pulling out a picture of his uncle and fondly remembering that he told him he would one day find his own destiny.. Katara appeared in his doorway. Just as Zuko began to show delight at her letting him join the team, she informed Zuko that even though the others accepted him, she still did not trust him and warned him.
- "You might have everyone else here buying your ... 'transformation', but you and I both know you've struggled with doing the right thing in the past. So let me tell you something right now. You make one step backward, one slip-up, give me one reason to think you might hurt Aang, and you won't have to worry about your destiny any more, because I'll make sure your destiny ends, right then and there — permanently."
- ―Katara warning Zuko.
She promptly left Zuko to ponder her words.
After joining the group, Zuko began to teach Aang firebending. After Aang showed him that he could not create fire, Zuko attempted to demonstrate, but was only able to produce weak and faint fire blasts. He theorized that he no longer had the anger he had to fuel his bending anymore because he switched sides.
After Zuko informed the rest of the group about his loss of firebending, Sokka and Katara poked fun at him, the former by referring to firebending as "jerkbending" and the latter by calling it ironic since it "would have been nice for [them] if [Zuko] lost [his] firebending a long time ago," but Toph had another idea. She suggested that Zuko and Aang learn from the original source of firebending. Zuko felt he was out of luck because firebending originated from the dragons, who were believed to be extinct. However, he recalled that there were old ruins of the ancient Sun Warrior civilization located near to the Western Air Temple, and that they might learn something there.
After arriving at the ruins, Aang was almost caught in a booby trap. Zuko avoided it, saying that places with booby traps always have something worth protecting. While exploring, Zuko revealed that his great-grandfather Sozin began a tradition that if anyone hunted a dragon and killed it, their firebending would become legendary, and be granted the title of "Dragon". This action lead the Fire Nation to exterminate the dragons. Zuko's uncle conquered the last dragon, giving him the name "The Dragon of the West", as well as his ability to breathe fire as he demonstrated to Azula. Sozin also started the belief that firebending originated from anger and rage and could only be used for destruction.
Aang and Zuko later found their way into a room with a circular alignment of statues, that were labeled as the Dancing Dragon, which was an ancient firebending form. After the both of them perform the form, a glowing jewel appeared in the center of the room. Zuko took it, despite Aang's advice, accidentally triggering another trap. They were both found by members of the Sun Warrior tribe a while later.
The chief told them that if they wish to master firebending, they must meet the tribe's masters. They were both given a fireball to carry up a mountain where the masters were to prove their worth and commitment to firebending. Shortly after arriving at the mountain top, they were confronted by the masters, which turned out to be a red dragon and a blue dragon. The dragons circled around a shocked Zuko and Aang. Aang and Zuko performed the Dancing Dragon, which mimicked the dragon's movements. The masters deemed them worthy, and demonstrated their bending by creating a rainbow colored column of fire.
Zuko and Aang were still shocked that there were dragons left. Zuko thought that Iroh had spoken the truth when he found and killed the last dragon, but the Sun Chief informed him otherwise. Zuko's uncle Iroh found his way to the dragons, and was deemed worthy and taught the original source of firebending as well. Zuko realized that firebending was not just hate and destruction, but beauty and life as well, and why he lost his ability to firebend. Hunting the Avatar was his drive for so long, so when he joined him, his drive vanished and he lost his touch with his inner fire. His new drive was to help the Avatar defeat the Fire Lord and restore balance to the world. Zuko was able to perform strong fire blasts again, and Aang was able to create fire too.
After returning to the group, Aang and Zuko performed the firebending form they learned. Sokka poked fun at them saying that they could dance to defeat the Fire Lord. A frustrated Zuko argued with him, but when he told the group the form was called the Dancing Dragon, he was left embarrassed as the group laughed at him.
Into the Boiling Rock
During the team's dinner, Zuko was serving everyone tea. While doing so, he attempted to tell a tea joke Uncle Iroh said at an earlier point but spoiled it when he could only remember the punchline, saying that it would have sounded funnier had it been his uncle who said it.
While still serving tea, Zuko was pulled to the side and asked in which prison Fire Nation criminals were placed, as he wanted to know what fate had befallen his father, Hakoda. Zuko initially refused, fearing that knowing the truth would do more harm than he, he eventually relented when Sokka was insistent on knowing, despite warning him that it would be a bad idea. He told him that Hakoda would likely have been taken to the Boiling Rock, an inescapable prison located on a volcano island with a boiling lake surrounding it. Although Sokka denied to have any intentions of acting on the information, Zuko remained suspicious of Sokka's goals.
Unbeknownst to the others, Zuko took up post on Appa's saddle and was thus able to catch Sokka in the middle of the night, who had intended to sneak out. When Sokka declared he needed to go rescue his father, feeling responsible for his imprisonment as the invasion had been his idea, and mentioned that it was his burden to get his honor back, Zuko, knowing what it was like to want one's honor back, decided to go along, suggesting they took his less conspicuous Fire Nation war balloon. Zuko fabricated a note for the rest of the gang that they had left for a few days to get some fish, reminding Aang to do some fire fists and hotsquats for firebending practice, much to the Avatar's dismay.
Zuko and Sokka spent most of their journey to the Boiling Rock in awkward silence. Eventually, Sokka broke the silence by stating that a friend of his designed the war balloons. Zuko replied that his father was good at war, to which Sokka replied that it "seemed to run in the family." Zuko claimed that not all of his family was like that, referring about his uncle, whom he was still downcast over betraying. Sokka tried stating that his uncle would be proud that he left his home to help them and that it was hard, but Zuko claimed it was not that hard, since the only one he left behind that he cared about was his girlfriend, Mai. Zuko said that he did not want to get her involved since he was now a traitor. This prompted Sokka to relate to him as he shared that his first girlfriend "turned into the moon", to which Zuko showed some sympathy.
Zuko and Sokka made it to the prison at night. They saw a significant amount of steam emitting from the volcano. Because of the steam, the balloon air was no longer hot in relation to the outside air, which caused it to fall and crash, meaning there was no way off of the prison. Zuko told Sokka that he "hope[d Sokka] knew what he was doing", as there was no turning back.
The next morning, the duo donned Fire Nation guard uniforms. As they entered the prison yard, an altercation was ongoing. Chit Sang, a firebending prisoner, "broke" the rule of "not bowing down to a prison guard." After Chit Sang defied his rule, the guard made a fire whip and used it against Chit Sang. However, the latter parried this with his firebending, which was prohibited in the prison. As a result, Chit Sang was sentenced to a cooler, where the firebenders would freeze until they could not firebend for a while.
Meanwhile, Zuko, at lunch break for the guards, asked some guards whether or not the Boiling Rock also held war prisoners. Zuko and Sokka met up later on and the firebender told the warrior that Water Tribe prisoners were not located in this prison, much to Sokka's sorrow. Sokka believed he failed, yet again, but Zuko tried to cheer him up with one of Iroh's wise sayings, which he messed up anyway. Sokka cheered up, not by Zuko's attempt, but at the sight of his girlfriend, Suki, who was returning to her prison cell.
Sokka went inside her cell to talk to her while Zuko stood guard. While Sokka and Suki reunited, a guard came by to check on Suki. Zuko tried to keep her out, at first with an excuse, followed by physical force. When Sokka came out, back in his guard disguise, he helped the guard arrest Zuko, but whispered to him that he would figure something out. Zuko allowed himself to get captured, and he was taken to a prison cell. While Zuko was in his cell, he was confronted by the warden, who shocked Zuko by showing that he knew the prince, claiming that Zuko "broke [his] niece's heart", referring to Mai.
Soon, Zuko and Suki were up to mopping duty and Suki recognized Zuko from when he attacked her village. Sokka gathered the both of them for a plan which Chit Sang overheard, and he demanded to be involved. They planned to use a cooler to ride their way out like a boat, as the cooler was perfect for keeping heat out. Zuko volunteered by pretending to fight with Chit Sang with firebending. After that, he was sent to a cooler cell and, having used his fire breath to keep warm, was successful in unscrewing the cooler free. However, guards passed by and the two hid and overheard information that new arrivals would be coming the next day, including war prisoners, giving Sokka hope that he would see his father, Hakoda.
That night, Zuko and Sokka brought the loose cooler cell to where Chit Sang, Suki, and Chit Sang's friend and girlfriend were waiting. Sokka, knowing about the new arrivals of new prisoners tomorrow, stayed at the prison to break his father out. Suki and Zuko agreed to stay, while Chit Sang left. By dawn, Chit Sang and his friends were steaming up in the cooler and Chit Sang broke off a piece of metal to use as an oar to make the cooler go faster. He was scalded by the boiling water and yelled out in pain, alerting the Fire Nation guards of their escape attempt and they were caught. Meanwhile, Sokka, Suki, and Zuko hid while watching the prisoners come out of the lift used to transport prisoners. After a few came out, Sokka lost hope of seeing his father, until the last person was called out: Hakoda.
After the father-son reunion, Sokka made his way to Zuko's prison cell and tried to share an escape plan that he and Hakoda made, but was interrupted by two Fire Nation guards. Sokka feigned brutalizing Zuko as he filled in with where to meet. Zuko was taken into another cell, where he was confronted by Mai. Mai began to berate Zuko for leaving a letter and making her think that he had abandoned her, claiming that he could have least "looked [her] in the eye when [he] ripped out [her] heart". Zuko explained that he was doing this for the Fire Nation, but Mai did not seem to understand how his betrayal would help the nation.
Later, Sokka, with the help of Chit Sang, started a riot and, in the confusion, the warden sent a guard to keep Mai safe. Zuko used this opportunity to overpower the guard, locking him and Mai in the cell for her safety. After Zuko showed up to join his friends, Suki captured the warden and the group made their way to the gondola.
The groups made it and Zuko broke the lever to make it unstoppable. However, they soon discovered a problem: They were being followed by Azula and Ty Lee, though Zuko and Suki had been waiting for a rematch with the two, respectively. Sokka, Suki, and Zuko climbed to the roof of the gondola and battled Ty Lee and Azula. Suki battled evenly with Ty Lee and Sokka and Zuko matched Azula fairly. The warden broke free of his binding and orders the guards to cut the line, even though that meant he and the others would not survive. The guards proceed on doing so. Azula and Ty Lee made it onto another gondola, but the group was trapped. Just as the guards were about to finish cutting the line, they were stopped by Mai. Mai started to pin the guards with her daggers, much to everyone's confusion. A guard asked her what she was doing, to which she replied, "Saving the jerk who dumped me." She freed the line and the gondola used by the group started moving again. The group made it out, while leaving the warden behind, and the group left. Although Suki wondered how they were going to leave, Zuko realized that Azula must have come to the Boiling Rock somehow and spotted her airship, using it to escape from the island.
As Zuko and the others got back to the Western Air Temple, Katara asked Sokka and Zuko what happened to Zuko's small war balloon. Zuko merely answered, "It kinda got destroyed." After the rest of the gang asked if they acquired some meat; Sokka answered that he did and it was the best meat of all, which was the meat of friendship and fatherhood. Hakoda, Suki, and Chit Sang presented themselves. Katara embraced her father and asked what was going on. Sokka told her that they went to a Fire Nation prison, and he was dragged into the family reunion. Zuko watched this with a genuine smile on his face, happy to see a father who loved his children unconditionally.
Searching for the Southern Raiders
In the beginning, the group was sleeping soundly on the ground some time after Zuko and Sokka returned to the Western Air Temple. Suddenly, bombs started shooting from a fleet of Fire Nation airships there. Aang airbent the large doors closed to protect the group. Zuko pushed Katara out of the way when the ceiling almost fell on her. Katara in anger asked him what he was doing. Zuko told her that he was keeping rocks from crushing her, but Katara just shoved him off and said that she was not crushed and he could get off of her now. Zuko replied "I'll take that as a thank you", and got up. During the group's escape, Zuko acted as a distraction to buy them some time, having a premonition that Azula was involved. When he confronted his sister, he asked why she was there. Her response was she was "about to celebrate becoming an only child", intending to kill him. Zuko fought Azula atop one of the airships, and was saved from certain death when the rest of the team flew under him on Appa and caught him after he and Azula blasted each other off. Watching his sister falling, Zuko was concerned that he might have killed his sister. His worry was completely absolved when Azula propelled herself to the face of the cliffside and anchored her position with her hairpin.
After that morning, they settled down and Aang remarked that camping was just like old times. Zuko made a joke that if he wanted it to feel like old times, he could chase Aang around and try to capture him. Everyone laughed except Katara, who was still holding a grudge against Zuko. Sokka made a toast to Zuko, but Zuko modestly said he did not deserve it. Katara coldly agreed with him and stormed off. Zuko followed her, finding out why Katara had been acting so bitter toward him, and that everyone seemed to trust him now. She yelled at him, reminding him that she was the first person to trust him in Ba Sing Se, and he betrayed her trust. This prompted Zuko to ask what he could do to make it up to her and she said, "Maybe you can reconquer Ba Sing Se in the name of the Earth King! Or, I know, you can bring my mother back!" She left him there, thinking about what she said. After inadvertently thwarting a tryst between Sokka and Suki, he asked Sokka about the death of their mother, since he thought that was why Katara was holding in a grudge on him. He learned that the leader of the Southern Raiders, a fleet of Fire Nation warships, was responsible. He offered Katara his assistance in finding him, and she accepted. When Aang told Katara to let go of her anger, and that revenge was not the right path to go with, he was criticized by Zuko.
Zuko informed Katara that they would have to sneak into Fire Navy communications tower as their chances of catching the Southern Raiders would be impossible otherwise. They soon discovered the raiders were in Whaletail Island, which led them to quickly escape on Appa. During their journey, Katara told Zuko the story of what happened to her mother from her point of view: when the Southern Raiders came, Katara went to her family's house to find her mother. There, she saw the leader of the Southern Raiders with her mother and looked into his eyes. Katara was scared, but her mother told her not to worry, and to find her father. She ran outside as fast as she could and, when she told Hakoda about this, the two started running toward their igloo. However, when they got there, it was too late. Zuko told Katara that her mother was a brave woman, which she claimed to know while touching her necklace.
The two then arrived at Whitetail Island and boarded the Southern Raiders' ship. They started running toward the command center, where they predicted the leader was, knocking down every soldier in their way. Zuko and Katara arrived and confronted the leader, who was baffled and confused on what they were accusing him of, saying he did not know what they were talking about. Zuko promptly witnessed Katara's power when she bloodbent the leader, which he never knew she could do. The leader, helpless and afraid, kept telling them he did not know anything about the Southern Water Tribe raids. Katara looked into the man's eyes and let him go, realizing he was not who they were looking for. Zuko interrogated the man to learn where the veteran leader, Yon Rha, was and they both headed off.
Zuko and Katara eventually found the man responsible of killing Kya. At first, the man did not remember the event, but it all came back to him eventually as he recalled the little Water Tribe girl and her mother. Katara told the man that her mother lied to protect the last waterbender: her. When she finally had her chance to get revenge once and for all, she could not bring herself to kill him.
After the group joined Katara on Ember Island, Katara told Zuko that she had forgiven him, and hugged him warmly. He subsequently asked Aang what he would do when he faced Ozai, since he believed killing someone was never the answer.
The Ember Island Players
While stationed at Ember Island, the group attended a play which showed their adventures. The plot was twisted and made to demoralize the group. Zuko had quite possibly the most negative response to the play as it took "all the mistakes of [his] life and [shoved] them in [his] face". The most emotional part to him was the scene where he betrayed Iroh, which he was still ashamed of as he now saw that Iroh was more of a father to him than Ozai ever was. Toph later told him about her long conversation with Iroh she once had and how he would constantly talk about Zuko. This knowledge gave Zuko hope that Iroh still loved him. At the end of the play, Azula's actress killed him with fire, at which the audience cheered while Zuko was taken aback. When Team Avatar left, Zuko said to the others that the play "wasn't good", which was met with agreement.
Three days before the arrival of Sozin's Comet, Zuko was fiercely training Aang in firebending, pushing him to improve quickly and urging him to be more aggressive. However, Aang soon lost focus and joined the group in a beach party. Angered by the lack of willingness to train, Zuko attacked Aang, hoping to coax him into a serious sparring session as preparation for his battle with Ozai. Zuko chased him all over the yard and into the house, firebending at him the entire time. Finally, Aang airbent at Zuko, blasting him out of the house.
The rest of the group demanded to know what was wrong with Zuko, and the latter told them they should not be having beach parties when the comet was only three days away. Aang and the others awkwardly told him that they had planned to wait until after the comet came to fight the Fire Lord, as the war had been lost after the capture of Ba Sing Se and that Aang needed more practice. Much to the horror of the group, Zuko told them of his father's plan and concluded that if Aang did not defeat Ozai before the comet came, there would not be a world to save anymore. He taught Aang one final technique before he could face the Fire Lord: lightning redirection.
The following morning, the group woke up to find Aang and Momo missing. They decided to split up, with Toph eagerly going with Zuko, as she wanted her own "life-changing field trip" with him. Toph spent the entire trip telling Zuko her problems with her parents but was disappointed when Zuko had difficulty maintaining sympathy with her, mostly due to the graveness of the situation. After an extensive search of the island revealed nothing, the gang turned to Zuko to find him, as he was the one with the most experience tracking the Avatar.
Zuko flew them to the Earth Kingdom to a seedy tavern, where they found June. He urged her to track down Aang, as the fate of the world depended on it. However, the shirshu was unable to find Aang's scent. The group was initially horrified, believing that Aang was dead, but June stated that her shirshu would be able to find him if he was dead, clarifying that he just disappeared. Although the group was initially distraught, Zuko thought that there was one other person who may be able to defeat Ozai. He asked June to find Iroh, and provided a smell sample: his uncle's sweaty sandal, which he had kept. June's shirshu tracked the scent all the way to the Outer Wall of Ba Sing Se. After arriving at the wall, June wished them luck and left. At that night, the group was approached by four members of the Order of the White Lotus: Pakku, Bumi, Jeong Jeong, and Piandao. They guided the group to a camp, and explained that they had planned to liberate Ba Sing Se from the Fire Nation. They led Zuko to his uncle's tent.
Believing that his uncle hated him, Zuko was afraid to enter, but after some reassurances from Katara he went in to find his uncle asleep. When Iroh woke up, Zuko tearfully told him how sorry he was and begged for his forgiveness. Iroh embraced him, and said that he was never angry, only sad because he feared Zuko had lost his way. He told Zuko how proud he was that he found it again, and found his way to him.
The following morning, Zuko tried to convince Iroh to fight Ozai, believing he was the only one who could defeat him apart from Aang. Iroh refused saying that even if he defeated Ozai, and he was not sure that he could, history would see it as more senseless violence, and that Aang had to defeat him to bring the war to a peaceful end. When Zuko asked if he would take the throne and become Fire Lord after the war, Iroh said that the Fire Nation must have a new, young leader of unquestionable honor: Zuko. While Zuko at first questions whether he had unquestionable honor after he made so many mistakes, Iroh told him that it was how he had struggled to redeem himself that truly made him worthy. He told Zuko to return to the Fire Nation and fight against Azula for its fate.
Zuko journeyed with Katara and Appa to the Fire Nation Capital to take the throne from his sister. They arrived during Azula's coronation. She challenged Zuko to an Agni Kai for the right to become Fire Lord. He accepted the challenge despite Katara's warnings, noticing something was wrong with Azula. Empowered by Sozin's Comet, Zuko and Azula battled in a dazzling display of firebending which destroyed much of the Capital. Due to Azula's crumbling mental state, Zuko, after a long standstill, was eventually able to gain the upper hand, forcing her to use jets of fire to remain able to attack him while he easily deflected each and every single one of her attack, and overpower and knock her down with a spinning fire kick. Zuko then taunted Azula of her not using lightning out of fear he would redirect it.
Goaded, Azula prepared to use lightning on Zuko until she noticed Katara in the distance. Azula shot lightning toward Katara but Zuko jumped in its way to protect her at the last second. He managed to redirect the brunt of the lightning, but he failed to direct it around his heart and fell to the ground, badly injured. Katara attempted to heal him, but Azula attacked and drove her back between the pillars as Zuko watched helplessly as Katara struggled against Azula's empowered blue firebending, trying in vain to provide any assistance as he remained immobile. Fortunately, Katara was able to lure Azula into a mass of water and arm herself with chains and use them to defeat her, freezing the water into solid ice before chaining her to the grate, allowing her to rush back to Zuko and heal him, for which he thanked her for, but Katara said she was the one who should be thanking him. They both got up and saw Azula now breathing fire as she cried uncontrollably. Realizing the extent of Azula's madness, Zuko, along with Katara, witnessed the mental breakdown of the sister who was once so much better than him with pity and sadness.
After his battle with Azula, Zuko renewed his relationship with Mai, who had been released from prison by her uncle. During his subsequent coronation as Fire Lord in the presence of a large delegation of each nation and the Avatar, he promised that he and Aang would help rebuild the world together and that he would redeem the Fire Nation for their atrocities.
Shortly after this, he visited his father in prison. While Ozai sarcastically told him he felt lucky to be visited by the new Fire Lord, Zuko told him he was lucky the Avatar spared his life. He also told him that maybe time in prison would set Ozai on the right path, just as his banishment set him on the right path. When Ozai asked him why he was there, Zuko demanded to know where Ursa was. Ozai only mocked Zuko, asking him to get some tea so they could talk just like Iroh would talk to Zuko. Zuko began to leave in frustration, but Ozai snidely warned him about the pressures of the throne and how they can change a person. Ozai guaranteed Zuko that one day he would return to the cell and ask for advice.
Not long after his coronation, Zuko traveled to Ba Sing Se both to participate in celebrations and plan ahead. He met with Earth King Kuei and the rest of Team Avatar at Kuei's palace, where the group first conceived of the Harmony Restoration Movement. At the time, Zuko firmly supported the full removal of the Fire Nation colonies from the western shores of the Earth Kingdom. The final scene showed the entire group, composed of Aang, Sokka, Katara, Toph, Suki, Zuko, Mai, and Iroh in the Jasmine Dragon tea shop. Zuko served tea to the group while his uncle played the tsungi horn, and criticized Sokka's painting of the group, saying his hair was too spiky, making him look like a boar-q-pine. He laughed at Toph's joke about the painting looking perfect to her. Later, during a group ride on Appa, Zuko made Aang promise that if Zuko were ever to start acting like his father, Aang would end his life. Aang reluctantly agreed to the request.