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This article is about Zuko's uncle in the animated series. For other similar uses, see Iroh (disambiguation).

Iroh was a retired Fire Nation general, a former Crown Prince of the nation, a Grand Lotus of the Order of the White Lotus,[1] a firebending master, and a wise mentor to his nephew Zuko.[8] He was the elder son of Fire Lord Azulon and Ilah and the older brother of Ozai.[11] Iroh's well-known ability to breathe fire and his claims of "slaying" the last dragon earned him the honorary title "The Dragon of the West".[12][13]

Unlike many other individuals from the Fire Nation, particularly those within his own family, Iroh was a wise, easy-going, and spiritual man. He appreciated and admired the balance of the four elements, and even incorporated aspects of the other elements into his own firebending techniques.[14] Iroh aided Avatar Aang and his companions on several occasions, and was consequently branded as a traitor.[15] An extremely perceptive person, he journeyed to the Spirit World in search of his deceased son Lu Ten.[15][16][17] His knowledge and respect for the four elements allowed him to provide advice to others; he assisted many close associates and friends.[2][12][14][18]

After the traumatic death of his son, Iroh saw Zuko as his own son rather than his nephew,[19] and encouraged him to choose his own destiny, rather than a fate members of the royal family expected of him. Upon Zuko's coronation as Fire Lord after Ozai's defeat and the conflict's conclusion, he reopened the Jasmine Dragon tea shop, and served tea for the rest of his retirement.[20] When he deemed his business in the mortal world finished, Iroh chose to leave his body behind and travel to the Spirit World, where he continued serving tea to various spirits.[21]

Quick Answers

What is the significance of Iroh's title as a Grand Lotus of the Order of the White Lotus? toggle section
Iroh's title as a Grand Lotus in the Order of the White Lotus signifies his high-ranking position within this secret society. The Order, which transcends the boundaries of the four nations in the Avatar world, is composed of the wisest scholars and masters of various arts. As a Grand Lotus, Iroh has the power to call together the Order, suggesting a level of authority and respect. The Order's purpose includes protecting and training the Avatar, sharing knowledge and philosophy, and guarding the world's most dangerous criminals. Iroh's role as Grand Lotus underscores his wisdom, leadership, and commitment to maintaining balance and peace in the world.
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How did Iroh earn his the title "The Dragon of the West"? toggle section
Iroh earned his title 'The Dragon of the West' after he falsely claimed to have fought and killed the last surviving dragon. This claim, along with his fire-breathing prowess, solidified his reputation and earned him his title.
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What is the relationship between Iroh and his nephew Zuko? toggle section
Iroh and his nephew Zuko shared a deep and complex relationship in the Avatar series. Iroh always cared for Zuko, even considering him as his own son after the death of his son Lu Ten. Throughout Zuko's banishment, Iroh was a constant mentor and source of guidance, offering advice and support in every way he could. However, their relationship was tested when Zuko betrayed Iroh and sided with Azula. Despite this, Iroh never lost faith in Zuko. He eventually broke his silence and revealed to Zuko that Avatar Roku was his maternal great-grandfather, suggesting that Zuko could redeem their family by helping to restore balance in the world. Even after Iroh's passing, Zuko continued to show admiration for his uncle, and their bond remained strong.
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What was Iroh's interest in tea? toggle section
Iroh had a great love for tea, and often offered it to people to help soothe their troubles. During his time as a refugee in Ba Sing Se, Iroh opened a prosperous tea shop named the Jasmine Dragon, which he later returned to after Zuko's coronation as Fire Lord. After leaving his body behind and travelling to the Spirit World, he continued to serve tea to the various spirits that lived there.
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What were some of the key moments in Iroh's military career? toggle section
Though a decorated and generally successful commander, the biggest moment in Iroh's military career was his failed Siege of Ba Sing Se. After laying siege to the great city for six hundred days, Iroh managed to breach the Outer Wall, the first to ever achieve such a feat. However, before Iroh could breach the Inner Wall, his son, Lu Ten, was killed on the front lines. Iroh lost his fighting spirit and abandoned the siege, which ultimately came to be seen as a failure and terrible dishonor for the once decorated general.
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Early life and career[]

Iroh and young Lu Ten

Iroh often enjoyed a playful moment with his son, Lu Ten.

Born around 45 AG,[6][7] Iroh was the oldest son of Azulon and Ilah, and grandson of Fire Lord Sozin. He was formerly the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation, and destined to become the new Fire Lord.[11] The relationship between Iroh and his younger brother Ozai became already strained when they were young. The two often competed with one another, and fought over the pettiest matters like a game of Pai Sho. Iroh would later regret that he had not done enough during this time to better understand and guide his brother. Instead, he distanced himself from Ozai, believing that the latter's aggressive temperament and ambition hinted at a deeper evil. Nevertheless, there was a period in their lives when Iroh admired his younger brother's ruthlessness, namely when they were in school and Ozai proved very successful. As he grew older, however, Iroh realized that "we would all get burned" due to his brother's ambition and lack of empathy.[22] Iroh later judged that his childhood had been a difficult experience.[23] Iroh eventually had one son, Lu Ten, with whom he was very close and loved very much.[17]

At some point, Iroh left his birthplace, seeking insight from other benders as he yearned for enlightenment. While traveling the world, the firebender studied how waterbenders deal with the flow of energy, which led to the creation of the lightning redirection technique.[14] During his journeys as a young man, Iroh also visited the Sun Warriors, where he stood before the original firebenders: a pair of dragons, Ran and Shaw.[24] He managed to prove himself worthy, and they revealed to him the true secrets of firebending, without recourse to hatred and aggression.[13] They taught him the importance of balance in all things,[25] influencing his later decision to move away from his father's aggressive and imperialist mindset.[25][26] In addition, the Sun Warriors showed him new breathing techniques, which allowed one to breath fire with exceptional mastery.[25] Iroh would later falsely claim that he had fought and killed the last surviving dragon in order to preserve what was left of the species and to ensure that the Sun Warriors remained undisturbed.[13] Because of this claim and his ability to breathe fire, Iroh earned the title "The Dragon of the West".[25]

General Iroh planning

While serving as general in the Hundred Year War, Iroh fully embraced his role as future leader of the Fire Nation.

As the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation, Iroh was essentially "forced" by public expectations to join the military.[27] Like his father before him, Iroh became a renowned Fire Nation general during the Hundred Year War,[28] serving for decades.[6] He enjoyed serving as a military commander and fully embraced his role as heir to the Fire Lord, later musing that his blood "boiled with desire" for power at the time.[28] His views at the time partially stemmed from a desire to honor his father Azulon and grandfather Sozin, both of which had fully committed themselves to the war.[29] Whenever he returned to the homeland from the frontlines, Iroh spent time with his family, most importantly Lu Ten.[14] Over time, Iroh also grew close to his nephew Zuko, teaching him Pai Sho tricks, taking him to festivals,[30] and sneaking with him into the palace's kitchen to steal snacks.[31] Eventually, Lu Ten also enlisted in the military, and came to serve under Iroh's command. Despite this, they remained jovial and informal in each other's presence even when on duty.[17] Overall, his military service had a major physical and psychological impact on Iroh, aging him beyond his years.[6]

Iroh was generally successful as commander[32] and was decorated numerous times.[24] Acting on a vision he had witnessed in his youth which told him he would capture the Earth Kingdom capital of Ba Sing Se,[1] Iroh started a siege of the great city in 94 AG. The campaign lasted for six hundred days, and Iroh eventually breached the Outer Wall – a feat that had never been equaled before.[3] However, before he could breach the Inner Wall, his son Lu Ten was killed on the front lines, and in his grief, Iroh lost most of his fighting spirit and abandoned the siege.[11] The Siege of Ba Sing Se came to be seen as a terrible dishonor and failure for Iroh.[19][33]

As Iroh was returning home from the siege, his father, Fire Lord Azulon, died under mysterious circumstances. Although Iroh was the Crown Prince, his younger brother Ozai was named Fire Lord, apparently at the dying request of Azulon himself.[11] Having lost his desire for power after the death of Lu Ten, Iroh did not fight for his right to the throne, and Ozai took power without incident.[32] Regardless, Iroh initially felt that not becoming the Fire Lord was a "tremendous failure".[28]

Young Iroh and Zuko

Even before losing his son Lu Ten, Iroh was close to his nephew Zuko.

Distraught by the death of his son and father,[28] Iroh thought it was necessary that he temporarily retract from his usual work as a general to recuperate. He did not immediately return to the Fire Nation and instead went on a journey throughout the world, which included a spiritual adventure. It was even rumored that he went to the Spirit World in search of Lu Ten.[16] Despite never finding his son, Iroh's travels greatly enhanced his understanding of the world and of himself.[17] These experiences had a profound impact on Iroh, as he eventually changed his perspective on the world and his life. In the past, Iroh had focused on his work in the military and preparing to become a Fire Lord, but after Lu Ten's death, he realized these were not the most important aspects of his life. The aging general wanted to relax and appreciate life more, an attitude that led to his retirement and engendered a deeper relationship between him and Zuko. Iroh felt empathy for the young prince, who had been injured and shamefully banished by his father, and wished to help him with his struggles, coming to view him like his own son.[17][32]

As time went on, Iroh increasingly believed that his fall from power had been a "gift", and that not becoming the Fire Lord was exactly what he needed.[28] He also began to reject the legacies of Azulon and Sozin, instead striving to change the course of the Fire Nation Royal Family away from the quest for absolute power.[29] During his travels, he also became a member of the Order of the White Lotus.[24] Although Iroh mostly retired from politics and the military, he was still well respected in the Fire Nation and well-liked by soldiers because of his personality.[19][34]

Zuko's banishment[]

Agni Kai audience

Iroh observed in horror the Agni Kai between Zuko and Ozai.

Around 97 AG, an indulgent Iroh allowed his beloved nephew to observe a meeting of Fire Lord Ozai's war council under the promise that he would not speak. However, Zuko did speak up, and even though Iroh silently agreed with him, the Fire Lord demanded that Zuko participate in an Agni Kai for his insubordination. Iroh witnessed how Zuko refused to duel his father, though averted his gaze when Ozai proceeded to burn Zuko's face, scarring him.[35] Iroh subsequently accompanied Zuko on his quest to find the Avatar, and it was through Iroh's influence that Zuko was able to procure a ship and a crew.[35]

Zuko and Iroh at the Western Air Temple

Iroh was saddened as he recognized Zuko's deep bitterness over his banishment.

The pair spent nearly three years at sea, searching in vain for any sign of the centenarian airbender the Fire Sages had described, traveling to several locations including the Western Air Temple. From the beginning of their quest, Iroh attempted to help his nephew as best he could, greatly caring for Zuko's well-being and health. However, the banished prince often misinterpreted Iroh's advice, like taking "some time to heal and rest" at the Western Air Temple, as laziness, and they restlessly continued the search.[36] Consequently, Iroh was resigned to the futility of their mission and whittled away his days with games. He would continue to assist Zuko mostly by offering advice through proverbs and teaching him firebending, strategy, and leadership skills. Zuko was an impatient student, who was anxious to learn combat quickly, and had little time for the life lessons Iroh wanted to impart on him, though Iroh persisted.[8]

Winter 99 AG[]

Finding and chasing the Avatar[]

Zuko and Iroh attack

Iroh assisted Zuko in attacking Aang.

Eventually, a day came when a strange beacon lit the skies off the coast of the South Pole. When Zuko investigated, he discovered that the Avatar had reappeared at last.[8] Improbably, the long-sought old man was actually Aang, a twelve-year-old boy recently woken from a hundred years of suspended animation. Thrown off-guard, Zuko underestimated the boy, who managed to escape their grasp. When Aang escaped, Zuko and Iroh attacked his bison with a combined fire-blast. Aang redirected the attack into an Iceberg, causing Zuko's ship to be buried in ice.[37] From that point on, Zuko engaged in hot pursuit, tracking the Avatar and his friends across the globe, while Iroh mostly stayed in the background, instructing Zuko in firebending and offering advice.[37][33]

Soon after their first encounter with the Avatar, Zuko's ship began to break down due to the damage it had received when Aang had escaped.[38][39] This forced Zuko to make landfall at a small South Sea island in the hope of finding someone to help with the repairs. The prince decided to go alone to seek aid, ordering the remaining crew to guard their vessel. Iroh cautioned his nephew against this plan, warning that the island could be dangerous, but Zuko ignored him. After the prince had gone off, however, Iroh and a few other crewmen followed him anyway. Just as they had feared, they found Zuko beset by pirates. Together, Iroh, Zuko, and the other soldiers defeated the criminals and took their resources to repair the ship. On their way back, however, the group realized that more pirates had arrived and attempted to capture their ship. Iroh was chided by Zuko for leaving the vessel under-protected, though they were eventually able to restart the steamship's engine and overcome all of the corsairs.[39]

Iroh, Zuko, and Zhao

Iroh and Zuko were welcomed to Ketu Harbor by Commander Zhao, much to the prince's displeasure.

Soon after, Iroh and his comrades docked at the Fire Nation base of Ketu Harbor to finally repair their ship. The Fire Nation Prince urged his uncle not to reveal their encounter with the Avatar. When the local commander, Zhao, invited Zuko and Iroh for a drink, the young men thus attempted to reject the offer. Iroh scolded his nephew, telling him that he owed Zhao a certain measure of respect and accepted the invite on behalf of his nephew. At Zhao's tent, the meeting quickly turned sour before a soldier came in and declared that one of Zuko's crew had revealed how they had discovered Aang. As Zhao and Zuko heatedly discussed the issue and insulted each other, Iroh remained calm and politely asked for more tea. Ultimately, the dispute resulted in Zuko challenging Zhao to an Agni Kai; appalled, Iroh asked his nephew whether he had forgotten how poorly his last duel with a master had gone. Unable to defuse the situation, Iroh gave his nephew advice during the Agni Kai. The prince ended up winning, only for Zhao to attempt another attack. Iroh promptly intervened, declaring the commander's behavior "disgraceful" and proudly stating that "even in exile, my nephew is more honorable than you." The two then left Ketu Harbor with their ship.[40]

Zuko's crew chased after Team Avatar throughout the South Sea and around the Southern Archipelago, but eventually lost track of their target. Iroh reluctantly informed the prince of this, trying to calm him down as the young man reacted poorly to the news. Later, however, they heard of rumours according to which Aang had stopped at Kyoshi Island.[41] Once their ship had arrived at the island, Iroh cautioned his nephew that its inhabitants had remained neutral in the Hundred Year War, meaning that they had no idea about the locals' defenses. Brushing these warnings aside, Zuko launched a raid which went rather poorly.[42]

Capture and rescue[]

Iroh captured

Iroh was ambushed and detained by earthbending soldiers.

During their pursuit of the Avatar, Zuko and Iroh stopped at a location along the coast of the Earth Kingdom for a short landfall. As Iroh bathed in a natural spring, heating it himself, Zuko came to demand that he return to the ship, but Iroh argued that he preferred to continue relaxing. Zuko relented and allowed Iroh to stay for a half hour, which Iroh happily took advantage of. He relaxed to the point where he fell asleep.[33]

Iroh woke up to the sound of a meadow vole chirping around the spring. He was quite pleased with his nap, until he felt rumbling under the spring. Land slid up to bind him, and Iroh was captured by a team of earthbenders. The earthbender captain, who had fought at Ba Sing Se before, recognized Iroh as the former general who had led the siege, and he and his men decided to take Iroh to Ba Sing Se in chains for trial and punishment. At one point of the way, however, Iroh feigned sleepiness and fell off his ostrich horse. When the soldiers picked him up, he slyly left behind a sandal to mark his passage for his prospective rescuers.[33]

Zuko saves Iroh

Zuko interfered with an attempt to permanently handicap Iroh.

The next morning, Iroh incidentally saw the spirit of Fang flying overhead, startling him. He later claimed that his handcuffs were too loose and making him uncomfortable, asking if they would be tightened, to which the captain agreed. When a soldier went to tighten the cuff, Iroh breathed fire, heating it up to scalding temperatures and thus burning the soldier's hand. He jumped off the ostrich horse, fired a fire-blast, which confused the animals, and rolled himself off the cliff. The captain and two other soldiers went after him, and captured him at the bottom.[33]

The captain decided that Iroh was too dangerous to take to Ba Sing Se as he was, and he and his men took their prisoner to a quarry, laid his hands out on a stone slab, and prepared to crush them. At that moment, Zuko, who had been tracking Iroh, partly by picking up the sandal Iroh dropped, came in to rescue his uncle. He broke his chains, and the two of them fought and defeated the earthbenders.[33]

Continued chase for the Avatar[]

Iroh suspicious

Iroh realized Zhao's intentions after he let them pass through the Fire Navy blockade.

After their encounter with the Earth Kingdom soldiers, Zuko continued the chase for the Avatar. Having learned that Team Avatar had visited Senlin Village, Zuko and Iroh followed them there and thus learnt that Aang planned to sneak into the Crescent Island Fire Temple. After returning to their ship, the prince determined to catch him there, much to Iroh's horror. He reminded his nephew that such an action would violate the terms of his banishment and thus could have horrible consequences if Zuko were caught by Fire Nation troops. The prince brushed the warnings aside and ordered his cruiser to cross the Mo Ce Sea, where they discovered Appa. As Zuko tried to stop the Avatar, they approached a Fire Navy blockade. Iroh again urged his nephew to halt to no avail, but to their surprise the blockade's commander, Zhao, let them pass. Iroh concluded that Zhao evidently wanted to also catch the Avatar, and believed that Zuko's ship would lead him to his prize. Agreeing, the prince consequently left his cruiser on a small boat, ordering Iroh to set the cruiser on a false course and mislead Zhao.[43] Having failed to capture Aang, Zuko later returned to his ship.[44]

Not long after, Iroh discovered that he had seemingly lost his Pai Sho lotus tile, and promptly ordered the cruiser to set course for the nearest merchant port to acquire a replacement. Despite Zuko's fury at this seemingly useless detour, Iroh insisted. After arriving at the seedy merchants pier, the older man could not find any shop with lotus tiles, though he bought a tsungi horn. Eventually, the two entered the pirate ship boutique where Zuko discovered a trail to the Avatar. Allied with the local pirates, Zuko subsequently managed to capture Team Avatar at a river further inland, only for him to clash with the criminals over the terms of their deal. When Team Avatar sneaked away amid the fighting and stole the pirate ship, Iroh pointed this out to Zuko and the pirate captain. The corsairs proceeded to steal the prince's boat (a smaller riverine vessel), causing Iroh and his nephew to give chase. The incident ended with both vessels destroyed and Team Avatar escaping, though Iroh happily informed Zuko that he had rediscovered his lotus tile in his sleeve.[44]

Jee and Zuko

Iroh attempted to mediate between Zuko and Lieutenant Jee.

Days later, Iroh noticed changes in the weather, predicting that they were heading into a terrible storm. He advised his nephew to change course to safeguard the crew, only for Zuko to claim that the safety of the crew was unimportant when the Avatar is at stake. Just as Iroh had foreseen, the ship indeed ran into an approaching storm, causing Lieutenant Jee to question the prince's leadership. A furious dispute erupted which Iroh defused by offering to make some food, though his nephew was angry that he had intervened in the matter. Later, Iroh overheard several crewmen including Jee rant about Zuko's leadership. To explain to them why Zuko was behaving the way he was, Iroh proceeded to tell them the circumstances of his nephew's banishment, greatly improving their opinion on the prince. Eventually, the ship was caught in the terrible storm, causing damage to the vessel. While Iroh redirect lightning striking the cruiser, Zuko and Jee together rescued a crewman. Afterward, the crew spotted Appa deeper in the storm, but Zuko finally decided to not to give chase, and ordered his ship to set course for safer waters instead. Iroh was proud of his nephew's decision, and then advised the safest way out of the tempest.[35]

A few days later, Zuko's ship was halted by a Fire Navy cruiser. At the time, Iroh was in the middle of a game of Pai Sho with another crew member. When the other ship's messenger boarded their vessel and declared that Zhao had been appointed admiral and designated as the one responsible for hunting the Avatar, Iroh half-seriously congratulated Zhao to his promotion. Much to Zuko's horror, the messenger also declared that their ship was not allowed the leave the area. The prince subsequently shut himself in his quarters in frustration, causing Iroh to seek him out and attempt to lift his nephew's spirits.[45]

Zuko, Iroh, and June

Iroh accompanied his nephew and June on their chase to the abbey.

Despite growing resistance due to Zhao's involvement, Zuko and Iroh continued to hunt the Avatar. One day, their operations were rudely interrupted by June the bounty-hunter who had followed a stowaway onto their ship. Using her shirshu, Nyla, June impressed Zuko, Iroh, and the crew by seeking out and quickly capturing their unbidden guest. Realizing the bounty hunter's potential usefulness, the prince and his uncle followed her to a nearby settlement and hired her to find Aang. The three subsequently trailed the Avatar to Makapu Village, where the local fortuneteller complimented Iroh's looks, and then the abbey. From there, they proceeded into the local woods and were able to capture Katara and Sokka, though Aang was missing. The shirshu ultimately led the group back to the abbey, where they were confronted by the Avatar. In the following battle, Iroh mainly concerned himself with caring for the health of his nephew and June instead of fighting. When Zuko, the bounty hunter, and Nyla ended up paralyzed, Iroh laid down with them and cradled June despite being completely fine, much to the bounty hunter's anger.[46]

Siege of the North[]

Zhao and Iroh

Iroh debated with Zhao over his lack of respect for the spirits of their world.

When Zhao, recently promoted to admiral, was gathering forces for his Siege of the North, he conscripted Zuko's crew, and offered Iroh a position as an adviser general. Iroh turned him down, but Zhao insisted the position was still offered anyway. Later, after Zhao attempted to kill Zuko, Iroh took the position so that he could help Zuko stow away on Zhao's ship. Zhao offered false comfort to Iroh for Zuko's "death", and the two of them toasted victory.[47] After the admiral began his attack on the Northern Water Tribe, Iroh advised him to withdraw his forces at sundown, as waterbenders drew their powers from the moon, and it was nearly full that night. Zhao agreed, although he stated that he was working on a solution to take care of "the moon problem".[19]

That night, Zuko was planning to leave and sneak into Agna Qel'a to capture Aang. Iroh met him there, and gave him advice, but Zuko shrugged him off. Iroh told Zuko that he only nagged him because he had thought of Zuko as being like his own son, ever since Lu Ten died. Zuko said he knew, promised to return to Iroh after he captured the Avatar, and left.[19]

Iroh fights

Iroh easily besting the firebenders within the Spirit Oasis.

The next morning, Zhao resumed his attack. When Iroh reminded him that they had a time limit, Zhao stated that he simply intended to destroy the moon. He told Iroh about a library he found in the desert, and how he found the mortal identities of the Moon and Ocean Spirits. Although Iroh warned him not to trifle with the spirits, Zhao intended to go to the Spirit Oasis and kill Tui.[15]

When Zhao finally captured the Moon Spirit, Aang and his friends tried to convince him to let it go, and that killing the moon would destroy the whole world. Iroh agreed, and, despite Zhao calling him a traitor, warned Zhao not to harm the spirit, threatening ten-fold retribution. At first, Zhao let the spirit go but scorched the spirit anyway, prompting Iroh to attack him and his men with a brief but aggressive display of firebending. The soldiers were quickly defeated, but Zhao managed to escape during the confusion. While everyone was despairing for the world, Iroh realized that Yue contained some of the life of the Moon Spirit, and that she could give it back. Yue did so, and saved the moon by taking its place. Afterward, Iroh slipped away, and left the Northern Water Tribe with Zuko[15] on a piece of driftwood.[5]

Spring 100 AG[]


Iroh and Zuko cut top-knots

Iroh and Zuko cut their top-knots to symbolize their new identity as fugitives.

Though they were forced to spend three weeks on the driftwood, crossing the Northern Sea with almost no food and water, Iroh and Zuko ultimately reached the northern Earth Kingdom coast. From there, they moved to a Fire Nation village resort where Iroh was able to relax despite his nephew's urgings to quickly continue the chase for the Avatar. Before long, however, Azula arrived and claimed that Ozai had forgiven Zuko, much to Iroh's disbelief. The former general's misgivings were confirmed when they learned that Azula actually intended to capture them and return them home in chains,[5] as they were considered traitors due to their actions at the North Pole.[15] After escaping from Azula's nearly successful plot, Iroh and Zuko cut their top-knots both to symbolize their new life as fugitives unable to return home, and also to disguise themselves.[5] Soon after, the two came across a boy who was being forcibly conscripted by Earth Kingdom soldiers. They intervened, only to realize that the boy was one of the soldiers' son, and had only resisted conscription because he wanted to join an Earth Kingdom guerrilla group instead of the regular army.[48]

The two later took refuge in a river village[49] and other Earth Kingdom towns and caves, acting as homeless beggars. While Iroh was able to adjust to a life of simplicity, humility, and poverty, Zuko was not, and Iroh soon suspected that Zuko had been obtaining items for their day-to-day life by theft. The older man attempted to persuade his nephew that those who maintain hope in the face of adversity are the ones with true strength. However, Zuko thought otherwise, and the two separated.[50] The two were soon reunited, as Iroh covertly followed Zuko in case he needed assistance. When Zuko got in over his head in a three-way battle with Aang and Azula, Iroh intervened, as did Aang's companions. The six of them confronted Azula together, but she managed to wound Iroh with a blue fire blast to the chest, and she escaped.[18]

Iroh generates lightning

Iroh demonstrated lightning generation to Zuko.

After recovering from his injury, Iroh decided to teach Zuko the advanced firebending techniques he would need to defeat Azula. He first tried to teach Zuko how to create lightning, but his nephew's emotional turmoil prevented him from making progress with the difficult technique. Instead, Iroh taught Zuko a technique of his own creation—to absorb and redirect lightning, which he developed after studying waterbenders. Zuko soon demanded that Iroh attack him with lightning so that he can redirect it, but Iroh refused to perform such a dangerous test.[14]

Unbeknownst to his nephew, Iroh was operating as the Grand Lotus of the Order of the White Lotus, a secret society.[1] The Order of the White Lotus, which transcended the boundaries of the four nations, had members spread far and wide across the world — even in desolate remote villages of the Earth Kingdom. Iroh and Zuko sought their aid in avoiding the bounty hunters Master Yu and Xin Fu, who temporarily decided to seek the two fugitives from the firebending nation rather than pursue the Avatar and Toph. The Order managed, on short notice, to produce fake passports and other paperwork to smuggle Iroh and Zuko into Ba Sing Se.[51]

Life in Ba Sing Se[]

Iroh and Zuko in tea shop

Zuko and Iroh at the grand opening of the Jasmine Dragon.

With the Order of the White Lotus' help, Iroh and Zuko were able to make their way to Ba Sing Se as refugees.[52] Once inside,[3] Iroh got them jobs at a tea shop.[10] While on a day off, Iroh spent the day shopping in the city. During his travels, Iroh displayed his skill as a teacher as he granted wisdom and help to all those he encountered during his day of shopping. He later held a small memorial service for Lu Ten, marking his late son's birthday, and tearfully said he wished he could have helped Lu Ten and that he would 'see [him] again'.[2]

After weeks in Ba Sing Se, Iroh was given the chance to run his own tea shop, but Zuko had other plans.[10] When Zuko attempted to capture Appa, Iroh confronted Zuko and told him rather bluntly to stop trying to live the life people said he had to live. Iroh convinced Zuko to give up his alias as the Blue Spirit[53] and cared for Zuko when he became ill as a result of his actions under Lake Laogai, which were in complete conflict with Zuko's image of himself. Through the ordeal, Iroh reassured Zuko that when he came out of his illness, he would be the "beautiful prince" he was always meant to be, and remained confident that Zuko will be the one person to redeem the wrongdoings of the Fire Nation.[54]

Iroh's fire breath

Iroh revealed to the Dai Li and Azula how he earned the title of "The Dragon of the West".

When Azula offered Zuko a chance to reclaim his honor by helping take over the Earth Kingdom capital, he agreed. Iroh was last seen defending the lifeless body of the Avatar and Katara, giving them time to escape before he peacefully allowed himself to be captured. Iroh made eye contact with Zuko before turning away, expressing shame at his nephew's decision.[12] After his capture, Iroh was initially placed in a metal cell in Ba Sing Se, staying calm and silent the entire time.[34] He was eventually transported back to the Fire Nation in chains, and put into a cell in the Capital City Prison.[55]

Summer 100 AG[]


Iroh imprisoned

Iroh incarcerated.

Zuko would secretly visit Iroh, imprisoned in the Capital City Prison. He once brought his uncle a dish of cold Komodo chicken, which Iroh barely ate as his heart was broken.[31] After threatening the guard to keep silent about the visit, Zuko attempted to talk to his uncle, only to have Iroh turn away from him and say nothing. Zuko later brought food to Iroh and asked for his help. Iroh continued to remain silent, causing Zuko to become angry and storm out of the room. A single tear rolled down Iroh's face.[55]

Well-trained Iroh

Iroh refurbished his body in preparation for the series of events to follow.

While in prison, Warden Poon sometimes delivered Iroh his food. Poon mocked a markedly disheveled Iroh as he scrambled for the gruel, even scooping what had fallen onto the ground into his mouth. As soon as Poon was gone, he became more collected, wiped the sweaty hair out of his face and calmly finished his meal in peace, only eating out of the bowl. Iroh was shown again, calmly lying on the ground deep in thought. Suddenly his eyes widen and he began aggressively doing bent-knee sit ups. Later, Iroh was still mocked and ridiculed by Poon, while still feigning insanity. At the prison, Iroh continued to train in Poon's absence, having upgraded to the straight-legged inverted sit-ups. He kept up the facade of loneliness and desperation in front of Poon. Iroh was seen to be training whenever not under watch, being able to perform difficult exercises including but not limited to inverted crunches, inverted push-ups, and one handed pull ups. Still keeping his jailer unaware, Iroh had managed to recondition his body back to its original, intimidating form, and even managed to lose his pronounced belly, which he slyly hid by stuffing spare clothing under his robes.[56]

Iroh holding out the headpiece

Iroh gave Zuko the ancient Crown Prince headpiece to emphasize his story's meaning.

Iroh somehow managed to get a message to Zuko, urging him to educate himself on his great-grandfather. Zuko later angrily went to the Fire Nation jail tower and, bursting into his cell, accused Iroh of having sent him the message. He angrily demanded the point, as the testament did not even reveal anything about Sozin's death. Iroh admitted to having sent the message and explained that the message Zuko needed to discover about his great-grandfather's death did not refer to his paternal great-grandfather, Sozin, but his maternal great-grandfather, Avatar Roku. He proceeded, producing the lost Crown Prince headpiece, once worn by both his great-grandfathers, and gave it to a stunned Zuko. Iroh explained to the prince that, as he had both Roku and Sozin's blood in his veins, he alone had the ability to redeem their family by choosing which of their paths to follow. He had the royal headpiece stashed behind one of the cell's bricks.[57]

Escape and reconciliation[]

Iroh was treated well by Ming during his stay in prison; at the day of his escape, she had snuck him some jade tea for breakfast and an extra bowl of rice for lunch, upon which he thanked her and told her to take the rest of the day off. Initially confused as to what he meant, Iroh reiterated to her that it would be best for her not to be around in the next few hours.[58] Later that day, Iroh broke himself out of prison during the eclipse and single-handedly defeated Poon and the other guards; the dazed warden would later tell Zuko that Iroh had been like a "one-man army".[59] Iroh managed to leave the Fire Nation and enter the Earth Kingdom after his escape.[1]

Iroh forgives Zuko

Iroh was brought to tears upon being reunited with Zuko.

Zuko was deeply troubled by his betrayal toward his uncle afterward, and his feelings about this were shown when both he and his uncle were depicted on stage in the play The Boy in the Iceberg.[60] When Aang disappeared before the arrival of Sozin's Comet, Zuko attempted to track Aang down by hiring June the bounty hunter.[61] When June was unable to find Aang, Zuko had her track down his uncle, knowing that he was the only other possible person who could defeat the Fire Lord. He used Iroh's stinky sandal, which he apparently kept, as a scent for June's shirshu to track down the source. Zuko discovered that Iroh was in Ba Sing Se with the Order of the White Lotus, where he intended on leading the Order into battle with the Fire Nation occupational forces and reclaim the city in the name of the Earth Kingdom. Zuko tearfully confronted Iroh in his tent, stating that he was ashamed of what he did in Ba Sing Se and was willing to do anything to gain his uncle's forgiveness. Before Zuko could even finish his sentence, Iroh grabbed him and embraced him, stating that he was never angry with Zuko, just sad that he lost his way. Iroh told Zuko he was happy he found him and happy that he found his way again.[1]


While going over the battle plans, Iroh was asked by Zuko to take on Ozai in the Avatar's absence, but Iroh refused, noting that he was unsure if he could defeat him, and even if he could, history would see it as a brother killing another for power.

Liberation of Ba Sing Se

The Grand Lotus led the White Lotuses to the liberation of Ba Sing Se.

When Zuko asked Iroh if he would become the new Fire Lord afterward, Iroh said he was no longer suitable for the position. He proclaimed that Zuko must be the new Fire Lord, for he had the ideas and the honor to restore the Fire Nation's own honor. He told Zuko he must return to the Fire Nation, but warned him that Azula would be waiting. He told his nephew that he would not be able to fight Azula alone, and Zuko subsequently asked Katara for her help in "putting Azula in her place".[1]

Iroh's assault on Ba Sing Se[62] eventually succeeded, and the vision of his youth[1] was proven true, as he "recaptured" the city in the name of the Earth Kingdom. After Zuko's coronation, Iroh reopened his tea shop, the Jasmine Dragon, where the gang celebrated their triumph. He was happy to serve tea with Zuko again.[20] He intended to spend his retirement serving tea and playing Pai Sho "every day".[1]

100 - 102 AG[]

Developing tea with tapioca[]

Iroh serving tapioca

Iroh served tea with tapioca to Aang and Zuko in the Jasmine Dragon.

Just as he had hoped, Iroh spent his days after the end of the Hundred Year War running the Jasmine Dragon and perspicaciously playing Pai Sho. When Zuko felt conflicted he would talk to a picture of Iroh, expressing his desire that Iroh were with him, though he never followed through. Zuko knew that a quiet life was all Iroh ever wanted and therefore, knowing that there was no better way to repay his former mentor for all he had done, left Iroh in peace. For almost a year, Iroh was oblivious to the events that transpired at Yu Dao. Later, when Zuko fainted after the conflict of the Harmony Restoration Movement, Aang took him to the Jasmine Dragon, and Iroh cared for Zuko while he recovered. When Zuko finally awoke, Iroh alerted Aang, who was meditating on top of the building. Iroh thanked Aang for bringing Zuko to him, and pointed out that even though Zuko was Fire Lord now, he was still a stubborn boy and should not forget that he still had a place here. When Aang and Zuko talked, Iroh came by to serve them his newest beverage, which consisted of balls of tapioca that were cooked until soft, before being placed in tea. Iroh claimed that his invention was a revolution in tea. Despite this, Zuko and Aang both disliked the drink, causing Iroh to sadly remark that he was "a man ahead of [his] time".[63]

Acting as Interim Fire Lord and Zuko's representative[]

Sometime later, Iroh returned to the Fire Nation Royal Palace to act as the interim Fire Lord while Zuko would be out searching for his mother. As Zuko explained the goal of his quest to his friends, Iroh expressed his hopes that his nephew would find "who and what" he was searching for. Iroh also reasoned with Aang, who was reluctant to let Azula come with them unbound, stating that just as Zuko yearned for peace and hoped to find it by finding his mother, the same could perhaps be said for his sister.

National Tea Appreciation Day

Iroh having the idea for a "National Tea Appreciation Day".

As soon as Team Avatar departed the next day, Iroh wondered why he ever dreamed about living in the "dreary" Fire Nation palace. When Suki asked whether or not there was something she could do for him to make him feel more at home, Iroh stated that the problem was that the Fire Nation had too many weapons and not enough tea. He subsequently performed his first action as interim Fire Lord by announcing a "National Tea Appreciation Day", and replaced the spear of a nearby guard with a cup of tea, encouraging him to drink it.[64] Even though Iroh appreciated being Fire Lord more than he thought he would, it also made him miss his tea shop in Ba Sing Se.[65]

When Zuko was returning from his quest several weeks later, he received a tip that the New Ozai Society was plotting against him and sent a message for the Kyoshi Warriors to rendezvous with his ship. Upon hearing that Zuko required a decoy, Iroh quickly volunteered. Arriving via submarine, Iroh was the first one to pop out before embracing his nephew. Noticing Ursa, he expressed his gratitude at seeing her once more and his regret at how she suffered at the hands of his family. Ursa then embraced him, saying he had nothing to be sorry for and that his presence in the family always gave her hope.

When Suki revealed to Zuko Iroh's consent to be his decoy, his nephew was concerned since they did not look alike. Iroh assured him that the crowd would only see his hand from the carriage and demonstrated how he could wave with angst. Iroh then exchanged places with Zuko and Ursa's family.

Iroh and Kyoshi Warriors

Alongside the Kyoshi Warriors, Iroh helped to fend off the New Ozai Society's attack on Zuko's caravan.

Upon arrival at the capitol harbor, as Iroh put on his performance, he explained to a puzzled guard next to him that he needed to feel genuine angst for his act. As Iroh's caravan made their way along the main road to the capitol, as expected, they were attacked by the New Ozai Society. Iroh was ready to leap into action, but Mai, Ty Lee, and their Kyoshi Warrior detachment had already subdued their attackers. Mai noted that her father sent only six soldiers to attack Iroh, before everyone noticed a distress flare sent by Suki and they realized they had been fooled. Iroh joined the others in racing to Zuko's location via hot air balloon and was delighted to finally see some action.

Following the New Ozai Society's defeat, Iroh accompanied his family back to the Royal Palace. When Zuko concerned over Ursa's apprehension at re-entering the palace, Iroh assured him that she just needs time. Iroh then noticed that something else was bothering Zuko. The Fire Lord confessed that the New Ozai Society was becoming a significant threat, so he requested his uncle to attend the Yu Dao inauguration ceremony in his place while he remained to deal with the insurrectionists. Iroh was more than happy to do so, having planned to make the suggestion himself, and commended Zuko's growing wisdom.[66]

Iroh traveled to Yu Dao for the presentation of its new coalition government, where he ran into Team Avatar and the Air Acolytes. Following the banquet, in which he held the center seat, Iroh returned to Ba Sing Se to manage his tea shop.[65]

Iroh would later allow Aang and the Air Acolytes to meditate in his tea shop. After a meditation session, just as Aang, Katara and Sokka were prepared to set off for the South Pole, a messenger hawk arrived with a message from Zuko requesting Aang's aid. Iroh bid his friends farewell as Aang and Appa headed to the Fire Nation, while Katara and Sokka left for the Southern Water Tribe.[67]

Iroh advises Ursa

Iroh advised Ursa on how to deal with the fear for her children's safety after Kiyi's kidnapping.

Iroh later traveled to the Fire Nation via airship to reinstitute "National Tea Appreciation Day", though he confessed to the crew that Zuko did not know he created the holiday. However, when he arrived at the Royal Palace, he found it empty, save Ursa, who was cradling her daughter Kiyi's doll. He sat beside his ex-sister-in-law in silence. Eventually, Ursa confessed her concerns that Kiyi will never accept her change in face, though Iroh encouraged her not to lose hope. She then asked if he ever got over the death of his son. Iroh confessed that he never had, stating that parents cannot protect their children forever, and the best they can do is teach them to face fear with unclouded eyes.

Iroh later accompanied Ursa to Ozai's prison, where she stood up to her ex-husband.[68]

Later life[]

Iroh and Li-Mei

Iroh and Li-Mei introduce themselves.

Iroh returned to the Jasmine Dragon, where he welcomed several spirits to the shop as customers, keeping them hidden from the rest of the staff and his customers. Iroh began to receive a new regular customer called Li-Mei, who was very fond of the tea and the store, and both held strong affections for one another. Although Iroh told himself that he was happy being alone in his later years, the spirits began playing tricks on him so that he would ask Li-Mei on a date to a restaurant in the city, and she happily accepted.[69]

Iroh was still Grand Lotus when his fellow member Xai Bau and a faction naming themselves the Red Lotus defected from the Order. While Iroh partially respected their goals to reconnect the Spirit World and physical world, he looked down upon the group's aversion to any sort of government and believed it was contradictory to the tenets that brought the Order together. While he hoped that the Red Lotus and the White Lotus would be able to reconcile, this was not achieved in his life. He also hoped to transform the White Lotus into something bigger, such as an army that kept the good of the people, the Avatar, and the world at heart.[70]

Iroh kept strong relationships with his own family and those of Team Avatar.[71] Aang would come to tell Iroh that he considered him the uncle he always wanted, and he would often visit Aang, Katara, and their children Bumi, Kya, and Tenzin.[72][73]

Life in the Spirit World[]

Sometime after 131 AG, feeling that he had done all he could in the material world, Iroh chose to ascend to the Spirit World, leaving his mortal body behind and letting his soul make a new home there, where he made friends with many spirits, and also constructed a new tea shop.[73]

Spirit Iroh

Now living in the Spirit World, the late Iroh finds Avatar Korra.

In 171 AG, Iroh came across Avatar Korra, who had reverted to her four-year-old self, and a baby dragon bird spirit, while walking through a dark forest. Noting that they appeared lost, he offered to help them. Since he had been good friends with Avatar Aang, he was instantly recognized by Korra, and he subsequently guided the young Avatar out of the forest to a brighter part of the Spirit World. He expressed his pleasure over her visit, and noted that she was just in time to join the wedding celebrations of May-Jim. He offered Korra tea and cake, and when she recognized Wan's teapot as her own, Iroh explained how when she was Avatar Wan, she had used it to carry Raava before they permanently bonded, adding that tea poured out of the cup still retained a hint of light. Later, he explained to Korra about the legend and finesses of Pai Sho while he played with a radish lotus spirit who seemed to struggle.

Noticing that Korra seemed depressed, Iroh asked what was wrong, to which the young Avatar said that she came there with her friend, but had become separated from her, leaving her by herself. Iroh tried to tell her that she was not alone, but a distraught Korra erupted in a tantrum, saying she wanted to go home and did not like the Spirit World, causing the skies to darken and the spirits to grow restless. Iroh urged Korra to stop, explaining to her that her emotions became reality in the Spirit World, especially for the Avatar, and that she needed to stay positive. He wiped her tears away with a small cloth, and the Avatar apologized, causing the spirits and the sky to both stabilize. The elderly man added that if she sought the light, she would find it, but looking for the dark would mean that it is all she would ever see. Korra tried to apply what she had just learned to find Jinora, but Iroh stated that finding the young airbender would not be that easy. When Korra asked for advice, he imparted the wisdom that sometimes the best way to help oneself is to help others, recommending she took the dragon bird spirit home, pointed Korra toward its home atop Hai-Riyo Peak.

Iroh and Korra

Iroh reassures Korra that she has peace and light inside of her and as such has the ability to change her surroundings for the better.

Iroh accompanied Korra for a while, but when the scared girl asked him if he would accompany her, Iroh squatted down and gently told her that she needed to make the trip on her own. He explained that the darkness on the peak was caused by the darkness and anger brought by the people who had been frequenting the Spirit World lately, but since Korra had light and peace within her, he pointed out that she could change the world around her. To prove his point, Iroh asked her if she still thought the dragon bird was scary like she had upon their first encounter, and after she replied that it was not, he noted that many things that seemed threatening in the dark would prove to be welcoming by shedding light on it. After embracing the young Avatar, Iroh told her that it was nice meeting her, and invited her to come visit him again, whether it was in her present life or her next incarnation.[21]

During Harmonic Convergence, Iroh tracked down Aang's children, Bumi, Kya, and Tenzin, after being informed by a Knowledge Seeker of their presence in the Spirit World. He offered to guide them out of the forest, though was declined, as Tenzin wanted to find his daughter, not a way out. Iroh expressed his sympathies for their loss, though urged them nonetheless to leave, as darkness threatened to take over the Spirit World since Vaatu had escaped. Understanding that Tenzin would not leave without Jinora, he cryptically said they had to be careful to not travel too deep into the Spirit World, lest they reached a place where only the lost could find them. Iroh and the Knowledge Seeker subsequently vanished, leaving his old friends to ponder his message, which Tenzin correctly deduced to be the Fog of Lost Souls.[73]

Korra and Iroh at Xai Bau's Grove

Learning Korra desired to talk to Aang, Iroh gave her the advice to talk to Zuko, as he had been Aang's lifelong, best friend.

Sometime later, while searching for a new teapot to add to his collection, Iroh ended up at Xai Bau's Grove, where he found Korra, telling the Avatar that it was common in the Spirit World to find something or someone one did not know they were looking for. Noticing she looked troubled, he invited her to sit down and talk it over with him. He tried to ease her mind by pointing out that just because she was the Avatar, it did not have to mean that she needed to have all the answers. When she told him she wished she could talk to Aang, Iroh revealed that, despite their rough start, Zuko and Aang grew to be lifelong, best friends, prompting Korra to go back to the physical world to talk to his Zuko.[74] At some point after first meeting him, Korra would take dictation for Iroh in order for him to send a letter back to Zuko.[75] Iroh and Zuko later reunited for the first time since Iroh passed over to the Spirit World.[76]


An extremely spicy variant of sizzle-crisps, developed after the Hundred Year War, was named "Dragon's Breath" in homage to Iroh.[77]


General Iroh and Lu Ten

Even during his military career, Iroh maintained an easygoing side, especially when interacting with his son Lu Ten.

Born into a militaristic family that placed power and success above all else, Iroh initially developed a fierce and determined personality.[32] Though never cruel, he adhered to his family's lust for power[32][28] and pursued his goals with some level of ruthlessness.[32] He enjoyed being a renowned Fire Nation General and reveling in his status as the Crown Prince, eager for the power of the Fire Lord,[28] as evidenced by his admission in the letter he wrote to Zuko, Azula, and Ursa after he had broken through the walls of Ba Sing Se, that he hoped they could see the city if he did not "burn it to the ground first".[11] Nevertheless, Iroh also always had an easygoing, empathic, and cosmopolitan side.[14][31][24] Even as military commander, he never liked hurting people, seeing violence merely as a means to an end.[32] He was disturbed by his younger brother's brutality and coldness,[22] while maintaining a warm relationship with his son, nephew, and sister-in-law.[32][66] Despite his difficult youth,[23] Iroh also felt affection for his father Azulon.[28]

He lost his desire for power, however, after the death of his son Lu Ten and his father Azulon shortly thereafter, being so distraught and grief-striken that he even withdrew from what seemed like a near victory over Ba Sing Se.[28][24] The deaths of Lu Ten and Azulon and losing his claim on the throne of Fire Lord filled Iroh with a deep sense of sadness and failure, though his journey across the world by the side of his nephew Zuko healed and transformed him into a kind and wiser man, changing his perspective of the world completely from when he was the Crown Prince and a general.[52][17] In retirement, he stated that "there is nothing wrong with a life of peace and prosperity".[53]

Iroh's lotus tile

A good natured man, Iroh usually had an optimistic demeanor.

By his elder years, Iroh was easygoing, open-minded, wise, comforting, generous, advising, kind, and humorous. Thus, he treated his self-imposed exile during Zuko's search for the Avatar as though it were an extended vacation. Something of an epicurean in his old age, he did not devote his full energies to the pursuit of the Avatar, clashing with the dedication of his nephew.[9] However, beneath his easygoing attitude lays a wise man experienced in the ways of the world, a seasoned and wily strategist, and an incredibly strong and powerful firebending master.[53] His changed perception of the world was also reflected by the fact that he rarely held grudges and did not seem to care much about his own welfare, which was made evident when a man attempted to mug him in Ba Sing Se; he did not fight back but instead helped and gave advice to the mugger.[2]

Although he appeared hedonistic, Iroh's life philosophies were about living life to the fullest and choosing your own destiny. He was a firm believer that everyone had the power to create their own destiny.[53] He appeared laid-back because he understood that there were things in life he could not control, but he also believed that a person is fully responsible for the parts they can. From Zuko's point of view, Iroh seemed lazy,[55] but from an objective point of view, it could be seen that he understood that Zuko was misguided. Throughout the last year of the Hundred Year War, Iroh constantly asked Zuko what it was that he wanted in life, asking him if capturing Aang was the destiny that he chose, or a path that others told him he needed to follow.[53] Iroh was a father figure to Zuko.

Iroh was particularly fond of tea, the strategy game Pai Sho, and music. He founded a music night for the ship's crew,[44] among whom he was popular, involving singing[47] and the playing of instruments.[45] He displayed skill at playing the tsungi horn and liuqin, as well as singing lullabies to pacify a crying child.[2] He had shown himself to be an amateur botanist with knowledge of a wide variety of plants and their effects on the human body, though misinterpretation of some plant characteristics led him to accidentally poisoning himself.[78] Ginseng,[40] followed by jasmine, are pronounced to be his favorite teas. After so many years of war, for Iroh, spending his days "soothing others with [their] tea" became a mental, physical, and spiritual balm. It brought him great joy to see his tea bring travelers from all over the four nations together.[79]

Iroh bathing

By his later years, Iroh found joy in the simplicities of life.

Probably as definitive of Iroh's character as his love for tea was his sage advice and wisdom. Iroh was known by his niece and nephew for his sometimes cryptic proverbs and lengthy anecdotes. Iroh constantly guided Zuko during his exile and critical, character-shaping decisions. He had also advised Aang[12] and Toph[18] to great effect.

Closely related to this wisdom was Iroh's affinity for spirituality. He constantly advocated maintaining the balance between elements, as demonstrated when he implemented waterbending techniques to divert lightning.[14] Iroh was the only character besides Aang who was able to see the spirit of Roku's dragon.[33] During the Siege of the North, Zhao also mentioned a rumor that Iroh had traveled to the Spirit World. Later in the battle, Iroh threatened Zhao for capturing the Moon Spirit and disturbing the balance of world, breaking his typical easy going manner.[15]


In extreme situations, Iroh adopted a much more serious and determined disposition.

Though an honorable man, he was not above a spot of pilfering as he once pocketed perfumes from an abbey.[46] He also demonstrated respect and appreciation for all cultures. This partially stemmed from his trip into the Spirit World, which left him with a certain spiritual awareness.

Despite his age, Iroh could be quite the ladies' man when the need arose, often flirting with various women on his travels. Many of these were older women but some have been much younger, such as the bounty hunter June.[46] He was also addressed as "handsome" on multiple occasions.[80]



Iroh's power

Iroh's enhanced firebending during Sozin's Comet.

Iroh was one of the most powerful firebenders of his time, to the point where he was considered the only person other than the Avatar who could defeat Ozai;[1] Iroh himself, however, doubted his ability to defeat his younger brother. Iroh, like Jeong Jeong, knew its destructive and alluring power which could cause an amateur firebender to lose control. Instead of anger, Iroh based his bending style on the original firebending wisdom of the dragons and teachings of the Sun Warriors from whom he learned and whose secrets he kept. This philosophy emphasized the beauty and life-giving qualities of fire; thus, Iroh firebent without resorting to anger, hate, or lust, unlike his brother, niece and most other firebenders of his time. At the same time, he was able to show truly destructive power when provoked, able to blast through the inner wall of Ba Sing Se with a large and highly charged fire blast.

Iroh was highly knowledgeable and well-versed in most styles of firebending and their respective techniques. He was also a very capable teacher of the art, having personally trained his nephew, Zuko, in the majority of his high proficiency in firebending. He also stood as one of the select few firebenders of his time who possessed the ability to generate lightning.[14] This technique required perfect calmness of mind, but unlike his brother Ozai and niece Azula, Iroh derived this from inner peace instead of amorality.

Iroh redirects lightning

Iroh redirecting lightning from a storm.

Like his brother, he could easily perform it quickly and even during intense battle. Iroh's prowess for firebending also extended to creating his own original techniques. One of the techniques he invented was the absorption and redirection of lightning. Iroh invented this by observing the fluidity of waterbending moves and their ability to effectively redirect chi.[14] He used this move on multiple occasions, to redirect natural[35] as well as man-made lightning (the latter he even channeled before it was fully unleashed).[5]

While not exclusive to him, Iroh's signature technique was his fire-breath, a feat he could perform with especially potent power that earned him the nickname "The Dragon of the West".[12][81] He was able to maintain this technique in a sweeping manner against the Dai Li to give himself and Zuko enough time to escape from their clutches.[12]

Iroh had a tendency to not involve himself in battle,[44] but when he did partake, he displayed great skill, speed, agility, and ferocity. Even in his old age and while out of shape, he overwhelmed a group of four firebending guards accompanying Admiral Zhao within seconds, causing Zhao to retreat in fear,[15] and defeated multiple trained earthbenders in combat, using the chains that had previously subdued him.[33] He was also able to overpower, with notable ease, a full squad of Imperial Firebenders accompanying Azula as well as the prodigious princess herself.[5]

His firebending skill may have developed even further after getting back in shape in prison.[56] He managed to break himself out of the jail, leaving only an enormous hole in the bars of his cell, and various scorch-marks on the walls. A shell-shocked Warden Poon described Iroh as being like a "one-man army".[59] During the coming of Sozin's Comet, Iroh displayed the true extent of his firebending prowess: he created a ring of fire around him and several other members of the Order of the White Lotus, expanding it and shrinking it with every breath, in and out. After a few breaths, he focused the ring around him into a ball, from which he launched a fire blast that breached the Inner Wall of Ba Sing Se itself.[62]

Other skills[]

Tsungi horn

Iroh was a talented tsungi hornist.

Iroh was a gifted strategist and tactician, having once been the Fire Nation's top general and next in line to become Fire Lord.[56] His craftiness was best showcased by his skill at Pai Sho.[44] His army won many battles in the Earth Kingdom and managed to break through the Outer Wall of Ba Sing Se.[11][3] There were many who still referred to him as "General" Iroh, despite the fact that he had been retired for years, though Zhao did so in a partially sarcastic manner.

Iroh was a lover of music; he was a good singer, as well as a gifted pipa and tsungi horn player. He had knowledge of other cultures, and history. He was also something of an amateur botanist,[2] probably due to his love of tea, although this skill was not enough to save him getting poisoned, when he confused a rare tea plant with a poisonous one.[78] Because of his love of tea, Iroh was also an excellent tea maker, increasing business in the tea shop he and Zuko worked[10] in and was eventually awarded one of his own.[53] With his adept entrepreneurial skills, Iroh had managed to invent a new variety of tea, mixing tea with milk and tapioca pearls.[63]

Iroh makes tea for spirits

Iroh commicated to spirits in later life.

Iroh became very spiritual after the passing of his son. He was able to see the spirit of Aang riding Roku's dragon when no one else could.[33] He was also able to immediately discern that Princess Yue had been given life by the Moon Spirit.[15] He continued to communicate with spirits later in life. His knowledge of the spirits and their world is immense, as he was later in life able to consciously depart his soul to the Spirit World, where he was welcomed.[21]

Iroh also demonstrated an impressive physical strength and skill in close combat without the usage of firebending. While imprisoned after the fall of Ba Sing Se, he spent most of his time performing intensive calisthenic routines without the guards' knowledge. In a few weeks, his previously overweight physique had completely changed to a slim yet impressively muscular one.[56] On the Day of Black Sun, while the scorch marks on the prison walls indicated part of his escape occurred before the eclipse began, he still escaped during the eclipse, when firebending was not possible.[59] This implied that Iroh had some knowledge of hand-to-hand combat to accomplish this feat. Interestingly, Iroh had planned to escape on the Day of Black Sun beforehand, implying he knew not only of this firebending weakness but also knew when an eclipse was going to occur, despite none of this information being public knowledge.


Main article: Iroh's relationships


Main article: Fire Nation Royal Family

Ta Min
Lu Ten


Avatar: The Last Airbender

Book One: Water (水)

Book Two: Earth (土)

Book Three: Fire (火)

Avatar comics

Book Two: Earth (土)
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Other comics

Graphic novels

Avatar books

The Legend of Korra

Book Two: Spirits (神靈)

Book Three: Change (易)

Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game

Avatar games

Voice actor[]

Iroh was voiced by the late Japanese-American actor Mako Iwamatsu, who passed away on July 21, 2006, due to esophageal cancer. The episode "The Tales of Ba Sing Se", which aired on September 29 of that year, contained a segment titled "The Tale of Iroh" that ended with a dedication to Mako. The segment featured Iroh mourning the death of his son, Lu Ten.[2]

The role of Iroh was recast with Greg Baldwin, Mako's understudy and a long-time student of his voice. He performed a few one-off lines that Mako was unable to complete in Book Two and went on to do all of Iroh's voice work in Book Three and The Legend of Korra. Baldwin's vocal timbre is lighter than Mako's, but he replicated Mako's unique accent, pronunciation, syllable stressing, and gravelly undertones in his performance rather than using a different style.

Mako from The Legend of Korra was named after Iroh's first voice actor as a tribute.


  • In the first episode, Iroh told an impatient Zuko that firebending came from the breath.[8] This corresponded with his title "The Dragon of the West", as dragons breathe fire. Iroh demonstrated the importance of breathing in "Sozin's Comet, Part 3: Into the Inferno", where he utilized the power of Sozin's Comet to create a blazing circle of fire around himself and the other prominent members of the Order of the White Lotus, accomplishing this only by breathing in and out.
  • Iroh gained the title "The Dragon of the West" for two reasons: one, due to his ability to use the "Breath of Fire" technique effortlessly, and two, from him having supposedly slain the last two dragons, Ran and Shaw.
  • In the Filipino, Finnish, Hungarian, Dutch, Russian, Hindi, and Turkish dubs of the series, it is Iroh instead of Avatar Roku who says the words, "Previously on Avatar".
  • Iroh could fall asleep anywhere and anytime.[83]
  • Iroh developed lightning redirection by studying waterbending.
    • Iroh used his own redirection technique twice during the series: once when a bolt of lightning almost struck the hull of Zuko's ship,[35] and again when he grabbed Azula's hand to redirect the lightning with which she intended to strike Zuko.[5] Iroh acted like a router both times; he simultaneously took the bolt in and shot it out away from both vessels.
    • He is the only known individual to have successfully redirected naturally occurring lightning. Though successful, the act had several side effects that were never seen again from successful redirection; Iroh's clothes and face were singed and his hair stuck straight up.
  • Aspects of Iroh's life and personality bear a striking resemblance to Royal Uncle Cao, one of the Eight Immortals in Chinese mythology.
  • Iroh is one of a few known individuals who can both generate and redirect lightning, the others being Mako, Azula, and Lightning Bolt Zolt, before he had his bending removed.
    • Additionally, he is the only person shown to do so in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • For the entire first book, Iroh addressed Zuko as "Prince Zuko" every time he said his name. However, in the following seasons, he usually just called him Zuko or nephew, likely due to the fact that Zuko was renounced as Prince of the Fire Nation at the start of the second season. He used the title on a few occasions afterward, usually for emphasis.
  • It was mentioned by Zhao that Iroh once traveled into the Spirit World and he has been shown capable of seeing spirits outside of the realm.[19] Iroh was able to see Aang and Fang as they flew over him while none of the earthbenders beside him did.[33] He was also shown to have great respect for the spirits. He warned Zhao not to go through with his plan to kill the Moon Spirit stating, "The spirits are not to be trifled with."[19] He later fought Zhao's guards when Zhao killed the Moon Spirit.[15]
  • Most of Iroh's past is shrouded in mystery. Usually, when information was revealed about Iroh's past, it raised more questions than answers.[84] Lu Ten's death had a large effect on Iroh, and was hinted to have been the cause of his later change in perspective.
  • The creators initially intended to air an episode detailing Iroh's past, although the idea was later dropped.[85]
  • Iroh was the first general in history to attack and successfully break through the Outer Wall of Ba Sing Se after an almost six hundred day siege. Following the death of his son, Iroh chose to withdraw, although he attributed this decision to the fact that he and his men were exhausted. Despite this accomplishment, his siege was looked upon as a failure, and used by those around him as a means of insult.
    • In The Last Airbender, Iroh's military conquest was briefly mentioned, but was changed to have lasted a hundred days instead of six hundred.
  • Iroh usually spoke in proverbs which, in the first and second seasons, annoyed Zuko. However, in the third book, Zuko was shown to have regretted not listening to them and consistently referred to them after joining Team Avatar.
  • The only known times when Iroh had ever been in the palace at the same time as his brother was during Zuko's Agni Kai against Ozai, and during the argument in the war room which caused the duel.
    • Additionally, his appearance before Team Avatar left with Azula to search for Ursa was his first known visit to the palace since his nephew's banishment.
  • Iroh was extremely passionate about tea, and was offended when Zuko said that all tea is simply "hot leaf juice".[10] He is labeled as a "tea snob", albeit a "polite tea snob".[86]
  • Iroh's appearance had a striking similarity to the character Bak Mei from the film Clan of the White Lotus. This is interesting as Iroh is also a Grand Master of the Order of the White Lotus in the series.
  • Iroh attacked Aang only once in the series, when he and Zuko threw a fireball at Aang, Katara, and Sokka, who were flying away on Appa in "The Avatar Returns".[37]
  • Nickelodeon's official picture of Iroh on their website originally used his portrayal from The Boy in the Iceberg play rather than himself, though this was later corrected.
  • Iroh was originally intended to be just a strict teacher to Zuko with a gruff personality; however, his character eventually changed to become his uncle and with a softer side as seen in the series.[87]
  • Despite his mastery of the skill, Iroh was never shown to apply lightning generation in combat. He was only seen using the technique twice throughout the series: first as a demonstration,[14] and later to break down a wall while trying to escape the Dai Li.[12]
  • In Iroh's first appearance, he is seen playing a game similar to solitaire. The piece in his hand has the air symbol (coinciding with Aang's awakening). He places that tile over a fire one. To the right is a water tile with an earth tile on top, completing the cycle of the Avatar.
  • Despite his name being mentioned as early as "The Southern Air Temple", Iroh was always credited as simply "Uncle" during Avatar: The Last Airbender.
    • However, in The Legend of Korra, he was credited as "Uncle Iroh" in all appearances.
  • Iroh invented a tea consisting of milk and cooked balls of tapioca, similar to the modern day Boba tea.
  • Iroh is the first character who was voiced by two voice actors in Avatar: The Last Airbender, followed by The Duke.
  • After being appointed representative by his nephew, Iroh became the second known temporary ruler of the Fire Nation who was not Fire Lord; the first one was Azula as Princess Regent.
  • Iroh's great-grandnephew shares a name with him, and they both have been the general of an army.[88]
  • Iroh is one of a few known individuals to transcend into the Spirit World following death, the others being the Kemurikage[67] and the Painted Lady.[89]
  • A number of aspects of Iroh's character were inspired by writer Aaron Ehasz's now-deceased stepfather.[90]
  • Iroh is played by Paul Sun-Hyung Lee in Netflix's live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender.[91]
Preceded by
Heir to the Fire Lord
c. 45 - 95 AG
Succeeded by


  1. Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko stated in an interview that Iroh was "around ten years older" than Ozai.[6] According to sketchbook notes of The Search (Omnibus edition), Ozai was born around 55 AG and in his 40s by Avatar: The Last Airbender.[7] Based on this information, Iroh was born around 45 AG and in his 50s by Avatar: The Last Airbender.


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  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Estoesta, Joann, Wahlander, Lisa, Huebner, Andrew, Scheppke, Gary, MacMullan, Lauren, Mattila, Katie, Ridge, Justin, Volpe, Giancarlo (writers) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (September 29, 2006). "The Tales of Ba Sing Se". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 15. Nickelodeon.
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See also[]