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This article is about the character. For other similar uses, see Zuko (disambiguation).

Zuko is a firebending master, born as a prince in the Fire Nation Royal Family, who reigned as Fire Lord from 100 AG until his abdication in 167 AG. Originally the primary enemy of Team Avatar, Zuko devoted three years to trying to capture the long-lost Avatar to end his banishment and regain his honor as Crown Prince of the Fire Nation. He is recognizable by the distinctive burn scar on the left side of his face from his eyebrow to his cheek, which was given to him by his father, Fire Lord Ozai, shortly before his banishment as a result of an incident in which he unintentionally disrespected his father by speaking out of turn and refusing to duel him.[11]

With support from his paternal uncle, General Iroh, and after much internal struggle and turmoil, Zuko rejected Ozai and his model of the Fire Nation. He instead joined the Avatar's group to become Aang's lifelong friend and firebending mentor[12] and was determined to end the war and restore both his and the Fire Nation's honor.[13] While Aang defeated Ozai, Zuko, with the help of Katara, defeated his younger sister, Princess Azula, and took his place as Fire Lord, declaring the end of the Hundred Year War and the start of an era of love and peace.[9]

At the beginning of his reign, Zuko had to overcome great difficulties and solve several crises, especially those caused by the Harmony Restoration Movement[14] and the New Ozai Society.[15] Nevertheless, he succeeded in maintaining peace and eventually became one of the founders of the United Republic of Nations.[16] Zuko stepped down from his position as Fire Lord in 167 AG and became an ambassador of peace, relinquishing the throne to his daughter, Izumi.[7][17]


Early life

Born in 83 AG, Zuko was the firstborn child of Prince Ozai and Princess Ursa. From a young age, he was disdained by his father, an animosity that began shortly after the prince's birth. As the infant seemed to lack the "spark in [his] eyes" that is typical for most firebenders, the royal family was unsure if Zuko was a bender at all. Ozai, viewing a nonbender as firstborn as "shame", planned to cast his son over the palace walls. Only when Ursa and the Fire Sages intervened did the Fire Prince give his newborn son a chance.[18] Later on, it turned out that Zuko was a firebender, and peace returned to the young family.

Even as a three-year-old child, Zuko already displayed a strong sense of morality, as he wanted to save both the eagle hawk and the turtle crab.

Zuko's family made frequent vacations to Ember Island in the following years, and Zuko would later consider this time the only one when his family was "actually happy".[19] When he was three, Zuko saw an eagle hawk attacking a turtle crab while playing at the beach. The little prince immediately rushed to rescue the crab, feeling the urge to help the weak. However, when he had the animal safely in his arms, Zuko realized that the hawk would die of hunger without its prey. Unsure which side he should take, the prince was eventually surprised by a wave and carried out into the ocean. Zuko almost drowned before he was saved by his father. The little prince spent the remainder of the day in the care of his mother, recovering from the experience while vomiting sea-water.[20] Zuko and his family also often watched the play Love amongst the Dragons at the Ember Island Theater. Afterward, the prince and Azula usually reenacted the final duel of the play at the beach. To his frustration, Zuko normally had to take the role of the Dark Water Spirit, the evil antagonist. Nevertheless, Zuko happily recalled these memories many years later.[18]

In his early youth, he was schooled by Piandao in the art of fighting with dual broadswords.[21]

However, as they got older, Zuko and Azula eventually grew apart, and he became the object of his sister Azula's manipulation, ridicule, and deception. Their mother, however, loved both but favored him over his sister,[11] especially when Azula let her brother feel her increasing animosity, as apparent when Ursa, Zuko, and Azula would walk in the royal garden around 94 AG. Zuko happily talked with his mother until the prince saw his sister burning a flower in the garden. He promptly told on her to their mother, as he thought that Azula's action was wrong. When Ursa scolded the princess due to this, Azula burned Zuko's bottom in retaliation. After sending Azula to her room, Zuko was consoled by his mother. Zuko tearfully lamented that he did not understand why Azula had "to be so mean", as he had just done what he thought was the right thing to do.[18]

Zuko was completely devastated upon hearing his father say that he was "lucky to be born".

A few months later, Zuko and his family were eating together at the palace dining hall, when Azula soon began to brag about opposing their firebending teacher, Kunyo, calling his techniques "the dumb way" to firebend. After hearing this, Ozai agreed with Azula that the teacher seemed to be incapable and declared to send him to the colonies as punishment. When the princess expressed her satisfaction at his dismissal, Zuko objected, stating that Kunyo was not "a dummy" and merely believed that good firebending began with proper forms. However, he was promptly silenced by his father, who was outraged by his son's behavior and scolded Zuko for daring to lecture his sister on firebending. When his father angrily asked Zuko how many more firebending forms his sister had already mastered than him, the intimidated prince meekly answered that his sister had mastered fourteen more forms. Ozai continued to recount how he would have almost discarded Zuko because he thought that he was a nonbender when the prince was born. Finally, Ozai told Zuko that Azula had been born lucky, while he had been lucky to be born, leaving his son completely devastated.[18]

Ursa's disappearance

When Zuko was eleven years old, his cousin, Lu Ten, was killed in battle. General Iroh, devastated by the loss of his only child, abandoned his 600-day siege of the Earth Kingdom capital city, Ba Sing Se. During an audience with Fire Lord Azulon, Ozai showed off Azula's prodigious firebending skill and knowledge of military strategy, both exceeding Zuko's. Azulon, however, was unimpressed by these exercises, and he demanded Ursa and her children leave and that Ozai be frank about his reasons for wanting the audience. Azula and Zuko eavesdropped on their conversation as Ozai voiced his desire to be made heir in Iroh's place, justifying this course of action by pointing out that Iroh's overwhelming grief and subsequent erratic behavior made the date of his return from war uncertain, and that he now had no remaining heirs to carry on his line. Azulon, however, was outraged and declared angrily that Iroh had suffered enough, but Ozai's suffering had just begun.[11]

Ursa visited Zuko before her mysterious disappearance.

Frightened, Zuko ran away while Azula stayed to watch. Later, he was in his room trying to sleep when Azula came in and mockingly told him that Azulon's punishment for Ozai is that Ozai must kill Zuko, as he wanted him to know what it felt like to lose a first-born child. Ursa, hearing the commotion, came in and took Azula away, declaring it was time that they talked. Zuko, left behind, chanted quietly to himself, "Azula always lies." Later, he was awakened again, but this time by his mother. She told her sleepy son that everything she had done, she had done to protect him, and instructed him not to forget who he was no matter how much things may change. The next morning, he immediately remembered what transpired the night before and ran frantically through the halls, searching for his mother. He found Azula, who blithely told him that Azulon died the previous night and their mother was missing. As she played with his pearl dagger (a gift from his Uncle Iroh), she mocked him and noted their mother was not there to make her give it back. Eventually, he found Ozai in the gardens of the palace and demanded to know where his mother was. Ozai did not answer, and he hung his head in sorrow. At Azulon's funeral, the Fire Sage conducting the ceremony named Ozai the new Fire Lord upon Azulon's apparent dying request.[11]


Zuko pleaded to his father for forgiveness.

Two years later, Iroh allowed a persistent, thirteen-year-old Zuko into a war council with Ozai and some of his generals. The young prince was instructed by his uncle not to speak during the meeting; however, when one general outlined a plan to sacrifice an entire division of new recruits in a diversionary maneuver, Zuko fiercely spoke out against the general's suggestion, seeing it as a betrayal of the recruits' patriotism. The insubordinate outburst was seen as a grave insult, and Ozai demanded the prince participate in an Agni Kai. He agreed, unaware that it was his father and not the general whom he had insulted. Zuko was confident in his firebending abilities to face the insulted general but was surprised to discover his father was his opponent. He immediately became penitent and fell to his knees, refusing to fight, and tearfully begged for his father's forgiveness. Ozai declared his refusal a sign of cowardice and another display of disrespect, affirming that "[he] will learn respect, and suffering will be [his] teacher."[22]

Ozai burned Zuko by permanently scarring the left side of his face, stripped him of his birthright, and exiled him from his beloved homeland, declaring that he could return only after having found and captured the Avatar, who had disappeared nearly one hundred years prior. It was a fool's errand by all accounts, but one to which Zuko clung desperately as his only hope of regaining his honor and everything he had lost.[22]

Zuko and his uncle visited the Western Air Temple in search of the Avatar.

Zuko spent the next two years at sea,[23] fruitlessly and desperately searching for the Avatar. He searched the four air temples, beginning with the Western Air Temple, and scoured the world, searching even the most remote locations for his prize.[12] Iroh accompanied Zuko during his exile, and the pair spent more than two years at sea with a small ship and crew. They were not royal guards or special forces and may well have been banished themselves or were foolishly intent on serving under the popular General Iroh. They were often unhappy under Zuko but obeyed his orders.[22] Iroh often considered the search an extended vacation.

Winter 99 AG

Main article: History of Zuko (83 AG - 100 AG)

Zuko interrogated the Southern Water Tribe village citizens, looking for the Avatar.

While traversing the Southern Water Tribe, Zuko and his crew saw a flare of an old Fire Nation cruiser, which itself had been shipwrecked a long time ago, light up the sky and after seeing the Avatar flee toward a nearby village, Zuko ordered his crew to pursuit. Zuko's ship quickly arrived at the Water Tribe village. The exiled prince descended, accompanied by a small number of soldiers. Sokka charged at him; however, possessing more fighting experience, Zuko required only his bare hands to counter Sokka's primitive weaponry and swiftly dealt with him. After being initially struck by the Avatar who came at him riding a Penguin, a short brawl between the two ensued, but Aang ultimately surrendered in order to protect the villagers. On Zuko's ship, the Avatar was locked in the brig before eventually escaping with the help of Sokka and Katara, much to Zuko's dismay and anger. Soon afterward, Zuko docked at a Fire Nation controlled harbor off the coast of the southwest Earth Kingdom, his ship needing substantial repairs after his encounter with Aang. Zuko wanted the repairs done quickly so they would not lose the Avatar's trail and warned Iroh not to mention the Avatar during their stay so no other firebender would start looking for him. The commander of the harbor, Zhao, quickly found out the truth, and in a fit of rage, Zuko challenged him to an Agni Kai, which he eventually won thanks to the firebending advice from his uncle. Thus began the bitter rivalry between Zuko and Commander Zhao.

During the course of several weeks, Zuko pursued the Avatar and his friends through several parts of the either occupied or war-torn Earth Kingdom, finding and almost capturing him on Kyoshi Island. Later, Zuko saved his Uncle Iroh from earthbending soldiers, who had locked him up and were planning to transport him to Ba Sing Se to stand trial for his actions in the Siege of Ba Sing Se. During his pursuit of the Avatar, Zuko and the rest of his crew ventured into Fire Nation waters and tried to capture the Avatar in the Fire Temple of the Fire Sages on Crescent Island, a mission in which Zuko just barely evaded capture by commander Zhao and sent back home as a traitor. Later, Zuko tried to capture the Avatar utilizing the help of pirates, a move that eventually failed. During the search for the Avatar, Zuko initially had terrible relations with the rest of his crew, a relationship that would eventually mend itself, when Zuko displayed a show of comradery and respect by saving the helmsman of his ship from falling to his death during a dangerous lightning storm. In a risky move, Zuko donned the persona of the Blue Spirit and infiltrated the Pohuai Stronghold in order to save the Avatar from the clutches of Zhao. This was in no way a mercy mission but a wish to prevent his bitter rival from gaining favor with his father. Zuko tried again to capture the Avatar, this time utilizing the help of June and her Shirshu Nyla, a plan which ultimately failed. Zhao eventually found out that Zuko was behind the rescue of the Avatar and exacted his revenge by blowing up Zuko's ship while it had been docked in a harbor. The explosion destroyed the ship, wounded Zuko, and left him presumed dead. When Zuko reunited with Iroh, he stowed away aboard Zhao's ship while his uncle, in an act of grief, accepted the offer to be Zhao's adviser.

Zuko defeated Zhao.

During the Siege of the North, Zuko managed to sneak off Zhao's ship and eventually made his way into the innermost part of the city, where he kidnapped Aang, who had crossed into the Spirit World. After trudging through a raging blizzard, Zuko found a cave and took shelter. Soon after, Aang's spirit returned to his body. After the Avatar woke up, the airbender tried to escape but failed due to his restraints. Zuko then taunted the Avatar, however, Katara, Sokka, and Yue, who had been following them through the snowstorm, arrived down on Appa. Katara defeated Zuko, and they prepared to leave with Aang. The young Avatar saved Zuko's life for a second time, insisting that Zuko must be brought along instead of being left unconscious in the snow, where he would surely die. Upon returning to the Northern Water Tribe's city, Zuko eventually managed to escape and attacked Zhao for trying to kill him. After the battle had been won by the Northern Water Tribe with the help of the ocean spirit La acting through Aang, Zuko and Iroh escaped the North Pole and traveled on a driftwood raft for three weeks until they reached land.

Spring 100 AG

Main article: History of Zuko (Spring 100 AG)

Zuko revealed himself as a firebender to a crowd of Earth Kingdom villagers.

For their actions in the Siege of the North, both Iroh and Zuko were branded as traitors by Fire Lord Ozai, who sent his daughter Azula to track the fugitives and bring them to justice. After being adrift for weeks, Zuko and Iroh reached a Village resort, where they received an unexpected guest - Azula, who greeted them and informed them that their banishment was at an end and that they could - finally - return home. Zuko believed his sister and was ecstatic at the prospect of going home. Iroh, however, remained skeptical, as he had never known Ozai to forgive anyone. The next morning, the duo nearly boarded Azula's royal sloop when Azula's ship captain referred to them as prisoners, thus revealing the plan and enabling them to escape after a brief showdown. Zuko and Iroh, now fugitives, sliced off their topknots with Zuko's dagger from the surrendered General of Ba Sing Se. This action symbolized their alienation from the Fire Nation. In the next few days of living as fugitives, they struggled to live off the land, even stooping so low as to start panhandling for money. Zuko and Iroh started to drift apart until Zuko, frustrated with his Uncle's laid-back attitude, eventually said that they no longer had anything to gain by traveling together and parted ways with Iroh. Zuko wandered through the Earth Kingdom, passing through forbidding and uninhabited areas. Despite his worsening hunger and lack of supplies, he decided not to rob a young couple when he noticed that the woman was pregnant. While riding and slipping in and out of consciousness, Zuko saw visions of who appeared to be his mother, Ursa. On the brink of utter starvation and dehydration, Zuko made his way into a quiet Earth Kingdom town, where he befriended a young boy named Lee, without revealing his true identity. When Gow, a ruthless Earth Kingdom mercenary, and his men bullied Lee's family, Zuko defended the family that had taken him in. During the battle, Zuko became overpowered and resorted to his firebending, revealing his identity. Shocked and horrified, the citizens of the town quickly turned on Zuko, and even Lee refused to thank him for his actions. The ostracized prince then mounted his ostrich horse and left the town.

During the final showdown in the Crystal Catacombs, Zuko ultimately chose to ally himself with Azula and fought against Aang and Katara.

Zuko secretly followed his sister Azula, while she had been tracking the Avatar with the tank train, and eventually revealed himself in a deserted town where she and Aang were about to face off. The face-off soon escalated into a full-blown brawl, with Team Avatar, Iroh, and Zuko acting, albeit unwillingly, against Azula. All six cornered Azula, who feigned surrender, only to attack and badly wound Iroh with her lightning generation in a moment of distraction. Zuko, Aang, Katara, and Toph each launched an elemental attack, but Azula disappeared, utilizing a clever firebending move, whilst Zuko ran to his wounded uncle. When Aang and his companions approached, he angrily demanded that they leave, spraying fire at them. Zuko tended for his uncle's wounds, and Iroh slowly began to teach him how to redirect lightning attacks in the future. When Iroh praised him, Zuko eagerly asked to try it out with real lightning, but Iroh refused, not risking the chance of him killing his nephew. Zuko, seeing a thunderstorm in the distance, told his uncle he would find his own lightning. He climbed up a mountain in the middle of the storm, intent on accomplishing the task. He raged at the storm and the world, lamenting how it had never held back before in hurting him. No lightning came close enough, and, finally exhausted and emotionally spent, he broke down bitterly in tears, screaming into the sky. Zuko and Iroh eventually arrived at the walled city of Ba Sing Se, meeting Jet in the process, who saw through their ruse and identified them as firebenders. Iroh and Zuko found employment at a tea shop in the outer ring of the city, where Jet accused them of being firebenders and attacked Zuko before being arrested by the Dai Li. Zuko reluctantly adapted to his new life, even going on an awkward date with Jin, until he learned of Aang's presence in Ba Sing Se and attempted to steal Appa from captivity by Long Feng. However, Iroh convinced Zuko to abandon his quest and let Appa go, a move that was so against his nature that Zuko actually developed a fever and hallucinations—all signs of his metamorphosis. During his fever dreams, Zuko saw his inner struggle personified, as well as visions of his mother, of two dragons, of himself as Aang, and of his palace and armies crumbling. Zuko was captured and placed in the Crystal Catacombs following Azula's coup, where he encountered Katara. Although Zuko and Katara shared a brief moment of compassion, Azula convinced Zuko to betray his uncle and the Avatar in a desperate attempt to regain his honor. Zuko ultimately chose to ally himself with Azula and fought against Aang and Katara. In the resulting fight, Aang was killed, and Iroh was arrested. While Azula subsequently expressed confidence and reassured Zuko that he had restored his own honor, the prince, however, still appeared conflicted and partly regretful about his decision.

Summer 100 AG

Main article: History of Zuko (Summer 100 AG)

Zuko absorbed Ozai's lightning in order to redirect it.

Returning to his country a hero, Zuko learned that Azula lied and told Fire Lord Ozai that he himself killed the Avatar. Zuko suspected that Aang survived and, fearing his father's wrath, hired an assassin to ensure Aang's death to cover up Azula's lie. Back in the Fire Nation, Zuko's only real friend proved to be his girlfriend Mai, with whom he went on a vacation onto Ember Island, together with his sister and Ty Lee. The trip, however, proved to be an emotional journey for all, albeit not only unpleasant but also enriching. Iroh, while imprisoned, managed to lead Zuko to learn that his maternal great-grandfather was Avatar Roku, Aang's previous incarnation, which partly explained Zuko's inner struggle. Prior to the Day of Black Sun, Zuko inadvertently catalyzed his father's plan to destroy the Earth Kingdom with Sozin's Comet when he mentioned the resolve of the people of the Earth Kingdom. Zuko became ever more guilt-ridden over his betrayal of Iroh and contributing to a possible second genocide, leading him to confront Ozai during the eclipse. Zuko openly berated his father and stated his intention to help Aang, using his uncle's teachings to redirect his father's lightning. Zuko left the Fire Nation and attempted to join the Team Avatar, but was largely rejected by Aang and his allies, with only Appa and Toph trusting the prince, until he proved himself to them by defeating the assassin he had hired. However, Katara still remained bitter and apprehensive after his previous betrayal in the Crystal Catacombs, stating that she would kill Zuko with no second thought if he tried to hurt Aang again.

Zuko and Iroh reunited at the Order of the White Lotus camp.

After helping Sokka free Suki and Hakoda from the Boiling Rock prison, Zuko amended with Katara by locating her mother's killer, Yon Rha. It was after this manhunt when Katara finally accepted Zuko as an ally and as a friend. In the days before Sozin's Comet, Zuko and the rest of Team Avatar visited Ember Island, where they saw a play performed by the Ember Island Players, which left them uneasy, as it showed Aang's downfall and Ozai's victory in the War. When Aang disappeared shortly before Sozin's Comet, Zuko led the effort to track down the Avatar, which eventually reunited him with Iroh. Zuko tearfully apologized to his uncle, who easily forgave him, stating that he was never angry with Zuko, only sad because he had thought he had lost his way. Later, Iroh suggested that Zuko become the next Fire Lord, citing Zuko's "unquestionable honor". Arriving at the Fire Nation capital with Katara, Zuko dueled Azula for the throne in a Comet-Enhanced Agni Kai. When Azula faced defeat, she forced Zuko to place himself in the path of a lightning bolt aimed at Katara, which left him wounded and immobile. Katara eventually defeated Azula due to the latter's declining mental stability and healed Zuko. After Aang won the duel with Ozai and ended the War, Zuko was inaugurated as the new Fire Lord, promising world order and harmony with the aid of the Avatar.

Reign as Fire Lord (100 AG - 167 AG)

Harmony Restoration Movement

Zuko asked Aang to make the promise to end his life if he became like Ozai.

After the Hundred Year War, Zuko was crowned Fire Lord and subsequently aided the Harmony Restoration Movement in order to move the colonials back to the Fire Nation. During the Earth King's official announcement of the plan to the people of Ba Sing Se, Zuko and his friends took a ride on Appa to watch the celebratory fireworks. While on the sky bison, the concerned Fire Lord asked the Avatar to make a promise: If Aang saw that Zuko was becoming like Ozai, as the Avatar, Aang would end Zuko's life. Initially disbelieving, Aang sought advice from Katara, who nodded in approval, and in seeing this, he hesitantly accepted.[14]

Furthermore, Zuko began to actively change the Fire Nation government; he removed most of Ozai's loyalists from their offices, making only a few exceptions, including Ukano. Because of this and his policy of reconciliation, some in the Fire Nation and the colonies developed a deep hatred for him. Underground rebel organizations were formed in attempts to restore Ozai back to power, and several attempts on his life took place, though ultimately, all these attempts failed.[14][24]

Fire Lord Zuko attacked Mayor Morishita after the latter called him a coward.

A year later, following five attempts on the Fire Lord's life, Kori, daughter of Morishita, Mayor of Yu Dao, broke into the Royal Palace to assassinate Zuko. Although she overcame the bodyguards, she was not able to defeat Zuko, who took her as a prisoner and learned the truth behind the attack. The Fire Lord traveled to her home colony to speak with the mayor; however, when Zuko explained that the movement was to bring peace to the world, Morishita reacted poorly and began arguing, using Ozai as an example of a Fire Lord who would not betray his people, causing Zuko to remember a visit he made to his father in prison. Ozai had warned him that he was going to return, as the young man would need help being the ruler of a nation that he could not handle on his own. The Fire Lord threatened Mayor Morishita, claiming that he was not like his father, and the mayor agreed: He was not like his father, who had many faults but was never a coward or a traitor. At this, Zuko ordered the mayor seized, but the guards were attacked by an earthbender, Mrs. Morishita, who asked the Fire Lord to forgive her husband for his statements. Zuko, surprised to see that she was an earthbender, as was her daughter, learned that the people had already been established in the city strongly enough to even form families between people from different nations. It was for this reason that Zuko allowed the Fire Nation colonials to remain in the city and announced his rejection of the Harmony Restoration Movement.[14]

Zuko subdued Katara in order to protect his soldiers from her fury.

After Team Avatar heard about Zuko's withdrawal of support for the Harmony Restoration Movement, they traveled to Yu Dao, where Zuko was staying. Aang and Katara flew over the city's walls to meet the Fire Lord; however, some Fire Nation guards informed them that no one could enter without the Fire Lord's permission, not even the Avatar, to which Aang claimed that he just wanted to talk to him. The guards responded by attacking Aang and Katara with firebending. After the pair defeated all the guards, Katara was grabbed by Zuko, who admonished her for attacking his people. Aang, angry at Zuko's action, warned him to let her go, but he insisted that she first had to agree to stop attacking; Aang separated Zuko and Katara with airbending, prompting Zuko to retaliate and Aang to enter the Avatar State. Katara, telling him that he would not be able to control himself in an altered emotional state, managed to calm him down. The Fire Lord agreed to talk and gave the couple a tour of Yu Dao, pointing out how heavily integrated the lives of the citizens were in the colony. At this, Katara proposed a conversation with Kuei concerning the matter, to which the Avatar and Fire Lord both agreed.

Zuko asked his father for advice regarding the Harmony Restoration Movement.

Returning to the Capital City, Zuko met Mai, who tried to console him after noticing his tiredness and lack of sleep, and asked him to talk to her if he had problems, to which Zuko agreed and said it would not happen again. Mai informed him that she had brought the Kyoshi Warriors for better protection of the palace. That night, Zuko woke up in the middle of the night, convinced that he heard something. Going outside to investigate, he was informed by Suki and Ty Lee that it had been quiet all night. Confused, he went for a drink of water, hoping that the walk would do him some good, though he ended up preparing tea to take to his father in prison. There, he knelt before him and asked him for advice.[14]

Zuko kept struggling to find the right path and to overcome his insomnia. Turning to Ozai for guidance, he was told that no matter what he chose to do, it would always be the right thing, for he was the Fire Lord and therefore whatever he said goes. Zuko refused to believe that, stating there was a greater good beyond his own decisions. Enraged over Zuko's beliefs, Ozai demanded him to leave his presence, as Zuko was still weak because of that.

Mai broke up with Zuko shortly after becoming aware of his meetings with Ozai.

While Zuko was pondering over what to do, Mai confronted him about his secret meetings with Ozai and blamed him for not confiding in her. He apologized to her and admitted that he loved her, but she retorted that it became apparent that he loved his secrets more than her and thus ended their relationship. Suki arrived immediately after Mai's departure, bowing before the Fire Lord while apologizing to him as she felt responsible for their breakup. She told him that she was the one who had informed Mai about his nightly talks in hopes of helping Zuko, as she and the Kyoshi Warriors were worried about him. However, when General Mak arrived to inform Zuko that Earth King Kuei was preparing to invade Yu Dao, Zuko pushed his relationship troubles aside and deployed his fleet to defend the colony from the Earth Kingdom Army.[20]

Zuko witnessed Aang enter the Avatar State in the dream the two of them shared.

While asleep in the ship, Zuko and Aang shared a dream in which the spirits of Ozai and Roku stood behind them as he tried to explain to Aang his conflicting feelings about the Harmony Restoration Movement: the need to protect his people against his initial promise to see the Harmony Restoration Movement through. Ozai's voice echoed in his mind, telling him that the Fire Lord's will determined what was right. Convinced that he would never find the right path on his own, he offered himself freely to Aang. As the Avatar entered the Avatar State in order to fulfill his promise to Zuko, the Fire Lord noticed his mournful mother standing behind the spirit of Roku and asked her not to cry. Meanwhile, Aang unleashed an elemental attack on him, but before he could fulfill his promise to kill Zuko, both teenagers woke up in shock.

Zuko talked to a picture of Iroh after becoming conflicted about his actions.

Conflicted about his actions, Zuko sought advice by talking to a painting of his uncle, Iroh. His monologue was interrupted when a soldier alerted him that the fleet had arrived on Earth Kingdom shores, prompting Zuko to dress for battle and leave to lead his army.

The Fire Nation forces reached the gates of Yu Dao at the moment the Earth Kingdom forces were given the command to start the assault. Right before the battle ensued, Toph disabled all of the Fire Nation tanks by metalbending all their screws out. While the Fire Nation troops were in disarray, confused about what happened, General How ordered his Earth Kingdom troops to enter Yu Dao and arrest the colonials, a move Zuko countered by commanding his ground troops to defend the people of the Fire Nation in the colony, causing both armies to clash.

When How and his men were about to assault Kori, Sokka, and Sneers, Zuko came to their rescue and began to duel with the general. However, they were soon interrupted by Aang, who had entered the Avatar State. Convinced that Aang was going to fulfill his promise, Zuko pleaded with Aang to reconsider but immediately reconciled with the thought that his own demise was for the best. Zuko removed his helmet and watched as Aang displayed a strong feat of earthbending to create a chasm between Yu Dao and the fighting armies. However, as he was standing too close to the rim of the newly created abyss, the stone crumbled underneath Zuko's feet, and he plummeted down. In the nick of time, he was saved from death by Aang, and upon hearing the Avatar's reasoning with Earth King Kuei, he realized his own actions had been right, and he collapsed.

Iroh hosted both Zuko and Aang at the Jasmine Dragon after the end of the battle for Yu Dao.

Zuko awoke four days later at Iroh's Jasmine Dragon, where his uncle chided him for not visiting him any sooner. Aang joined Zuko at his table, and together they discussed the future of Yu Dao, acknowledging that it could no longer be a Fire Nation colony or an Earth Kingdom town. They both also touched upon the dream they shared, causing Zuko to relieve Aang of his promise, as he realized that he could not put that burden on the Avatar's shoulders. He mentioned the sight of his mother in the dream and his desire to find her, believing that it would solve his problems by connecting himself to a part of his heritage that was not murky and confusing for him. However, every search attempt to find his mother up to that moment had turned out empty-handed. Zuko realized that he needed more information about what happened the day Ursa left, though he knew Ozai would never help him. Determined to find his mother, he turned to the only person who he believed could help him coax the needed information out of Ozai: Azula.[25]

Searching for Ursa

Despite the appeasements of his friends, Zuko still wondered what his ruined family meant for his nation.

Sometime after the battle for Yu Dao, Zuko attended a meeting together with his friends and several government officials at the home of the governor of Yu Dao to discuss the future of the city. A professor gave a lecture on ancient Earth Kingdom philosophies regarding the four nations, though it was of little interest to him, as he slowly zoned out as the man droned on. However, he snapped back to attention when the professor mentioned the word "family". Not having caught the entire statement, he requested the man to repeat what he had said, and he listened attentively to how there is a comparison to be made between how one treats one's family and how one rules. He pondered over the words, and when Aang asked if everything was all right, he wondered what the banishment of his mother for years, along with his own actions of putting his father in jail and his sister in an institution meant for his nation.

Inspired by the professor's words, Zuko returned home and placed his father and sister in adjoining cells in order to facilitate conversation between the two in hopes of gaining information about Ursa's whereabouts. When he was told by Suki that Ozai and Azula had not said a word to each other, he entered the room to bring tea in an attempt to ease the tension. However, Azula perceived his attempt at friendliness as a way to mock the fact that she was restrained and subsequently knocked him over by grabbing the tray out of his hand with her teeth, much to Ozai's amusement. Zuko tried to prevent Ty Lee from chi blocking Azula, though he acted too late. He called the two Kyoshi Warriors back and gently positioned a now paralyzed Azula back into her chair. He explained to her that he just wanted to bring them a little dignity by giving them some tea. His sister sent him off, however, saying that the only way he could really bring them dignity was to let them have a conversation in private.

Azula burnt Ursa's letters, much to Zuko's shock and horror.

After half an hour, Zuko returned to collect Azula in order to wheel her to her old room in the palace, where she would be staying from that point on. Suki and Ty Lee accompanied him, though he sent them off in order to have a private conversation with his sister. Once alone, he asked what she and their father talked about, though Azula dodged the question and asked in return whether or not he had ever experienced the sensation of being chi blocked. When Zuko said he had not, she proceeded to meticulously describe the feeling, mentioning that one becomes extremely flexible right before regaining their full control. To prove her words, she twisted her arm out of her straitjacket and fired a lightning bolt at her brother. Zuko commanded her to stop, aiming a fire blast at her as she ran away, which ended up freeing her completely. Zuko was forced on the defense as Azula threw a blue fire blast at him though saw how she made her way into an adjoining building. Zuko followed his sister into one of Ozai's secret chambers that was hidden by a firebending-triggered door. There, while rummaging through a chest, she was rampaging about their father overcoming control to tell her the truth. Zuko demanded Azula hand him the letters Ursa had written that she had found; however, Azula burned them all in front of him – save one, though Zuko did not know that. In order to receive the information, Zuko complied with Azula's request to allow her to accompany him unbound and with dignity on his quest to find their mother.

Zuko called on his friends to accompany them as well, though when they came to the palace and noticed Azula there, he had to explain to them how things had gone down and how she was going to accompany them to Hira'a, eventually winning his reluctant friends over for the idea.

Right before their departure the next day, Zuko put Katara's concerns about Azula's presence at ease by saying that his sister should be guarded at all times. A first scuffle immediately followed when Azula zapped Sokka with her lightning, prompting the others to intervene. Zuko threatened her with his firebending, reminding her of the deal they struck.

Zuko held Azula back from continuing her attack, snapping her out of a psychotic episode.

Nearing nightfall, Zuko forcefully had to hold Azula back once again, snapping her out of a psychotic episode. Upon nearing Hira'a, he commented that they should make camp as he did not want to enter Hira'a like a gang of bandits in the middle of the night. Zuko became distracted when Aang made a gruesome face, commenting that it was due to the presence of a spirit. However, when Zuko looked down, he could not see the wolf spirit to whom Aang was referring. Azula had used the commotion to stand on the rim of Appa's saddle and jump off. Much to Zuko's shock, since they were too high up for her to survive the fall. Due to Aang's intervention, Azula made it down safely and made a break for it, with Zuko on her trail.

He found her muttering to herself by a river, asking to whom she was talking. He reluctantly prepared to defend himself, however, when Azula made it clear that she no longer needed him, assuming a battle position. Their fight was cut short, though, due to Katara's intervention. At that moment, the wolf spirit of before appeared by the river as well, and Zuko noticed that the markings on its chest were the same as the gruesome face Aang was making. When the spirit became hostile and snapped at Aang, Zuko launched a fire attack at the creature though was taken aback when it swallowed his fire and burped. After a brief scuffle with Appa, the spirit threw up a swarm of moth wasps that attacked the team. Azula asked Zuko to free her as she could help, which he dismissed stating that they did not need any help. However, when she pointed out that she could not possibly make things worse for them and stated that if he could not even trust his own family, then there was no one left for him to be trusted, he melted her icy restraints, freeing her so she could save them.

Zuko read a letter from his mother directed to Ikem, whom she said to be Zuko's father.

At nightfall, the team had set up camp, and Zuko was sitting around the campfire together with Sokka, while Azula slept uneasily away from the group, Aang meditated, and Katara slept next to Appa with Momo. Answering Sokka's question, Zuko told him that he let Azula sleep with her hands unbound, as he was giving her a chance since she did save them all from the moth wasps. He also expressed his confidence that everything would turn out okay since Katara and Aang had agreed to guard her in shifts. When he asked why Sokka was still up, the Water Tribe warrior comically mentioned that he had bladder issues since he drank too much water to get rid of the moth wasps' taste, which was more than he needed to know. Zuko was surprised by Sokka's actions as the warrior commented about the cold weather and subsequently covered Katara with a blanket, leaving the Fire Lord wondering why he still cared so much about Katara after she had thrown so many snowballs in his face. Upon receiving the simple answer that Sokka did not mind getting the short end of the deal with his sister, Zuko was inspired to treat his own sister better and covered her with a warm blanket as well. However, as he went to return to his seat, he noticed a letter sticking out of her boot. He cautiously reached for it, being careful not to wake her, and read it, his shock growing with every word, as it was a letter written by his mother to Ikem, alluding that he might be his son as opposed to Ozai's.[26]

Zuko admitted to Aang that he actually felt hopeful about the possibility of not being Ozai's son by blood.

The next morning, Zuko discussed the letter's content with Aang privately near a cliff. While Aang was visibly shocked to learn of his friend's apparently illegitimate lineage, Zuko confessed that he felt hopeful and relieved over the supposed truth of not being Ozai's son by blood. He believed that his alleged illegitimacy led Ozai to banish and mistreat him as a young child.

When Aang questioned Zuko as to why Ozai did not just eliminate him immediately once he learned Zuko was not really his son, Zuko recounted how Ozai was going to kill him after being ordered by Fire Lord Azulon to do so as punishment for asking for Iroh's birthright of succession, though was somehow stopped by Ursa. Aang tried to dissuade Zuko from thinking and being relieved of his alleged illegitimate lineage, understanding the ramifications to Zuko's hold of the throne should the contents of the letter be revealed. Their discussion was interrupted by a psychotic Azula, who demanded to know where her letter was.

Zuko held Azula over a cliff, wondering why their relationship had to be one of constant battle.

Zuko and Aang engaged Azula in a vicious firefight, but the Avatar became concerned over Katara and Sokka's well-being, so Zuko told him to go and check on them. He continued to hold Azula off, while the princess screamed at him to tell their mother that she was destined to become Fire Lord. Zuko attempted to break Azula's footing and gain the upper hand in their battle, but he was caught off-guard as his sister dodged his attack and hit him in the chest, thus knocking him off-balance. Azula received the opening she needed and snatched the letter from the pocket of Zuko's tunic. As she was about to give the final blow, Zuko grabbed his sister by her ankle while she was still airborne and flung her to the ground. He proceeded to dangle her over the cliff, asking why they always had to be fighting. He was answered with Azula's mutterings about their mother inducing Zuko to throw her over the cliff when Azula realized that her brother did not burn the letter despite having it all night. Zuko stares at her sadly before letting her go, leading Azula to wonder if her brother actually wanted her to have the letter. Zuko replied that they should continue the search for their mother.

The siblings came to an understanding and went back to camp, where the others had just put out the fire made by Azula. They boarded Appa and flew toward Hira'a. When they got there, Zuko suggested that they don disguises, and thus they were able to enter the town unnoticed, where they witnessed the final scene of Love amongst the Dragons. Zuko fondly reminded Azula of the times they would reenact the same part after watching the Ember Island Players, though Zuko wondered why he always had to play the part of the Dark Water Spirit.

After the play ended, they asked around about Ursa. The director of the acting company, Noren, invited them to his home to talk about Ursa privately, and Zuko gave thanks to him. At Noren's house, Kiyi, the director's daughter, asked Zuko and Azula if they would like to see her doll, to which he happily accepted, and he later chastised Azula for frightening the girl by threatening to cut off Kiyi's doll's head. Soon enough, they learned that Ursa was taken from town many years prior for official business, and Ikem, her broken-hearted boyfriend, left to Forgetful Valley to forget his past life.

Aang talked to Zuko about the importance of the letter regarding Zuko's possible heritage.

Later on, Team Avatar bowed to the family in appreciation for their help, and they left. While walking back, Aang apologized to a quiet Zuko for reacting the way he did before and suggested that they burn the letter, forgetting about finding Ikem, to which the young Fire Lord confessed that he did not have the letter anymore; he had let Azula keep it, and said that they should focus on the task at hand, and later take care of what he should do and be. Upon hearing this, Aang told Zuko to listen to him and began explaining that when people come to the Fire Lord's throne, they did not bow down to him, but to the peaceful new era he represented, and therefore, no matter who his real father was, he should remain on the throne. Sokka interrupted their conversation to ask how much longer they would go on with the mission, as tensions between Katara and Azula were continuing to rise. Zuko declared that after going to Forgetful Valley, the search would come to an end.

Shortly after, the group arrived at Forgetful Valley, and Zuko halted Azula from burning everything around her to create a distinct path. After some more bickering, the group arrived at a pond of clear and quiet water. Zuko commented on how calm everything was, like a perfect pane of glass, and Aang told everyone that it was a spiritual place that needed to be respected. Zuko was forced to calm tensions once again after Azula saw her mother's reflection in the pond and subsequently disturbed its peacefulness by shooting lightning in it. Before the conflict could be settled, the group was attacked by vines and other plant life. After Aang freed Zuko from being pinned to a tree, Katara ended the fight, deducing that they were facing other waterbenders.

Zuko placed himself in the path of Azula's lightning to save Rafa and Misu.

Rafa and Misu revealed themselves, and the two siblings set up a small camp together with Team Avatar to talk things out. As Misu told their life's story, how she had devoted her life to take care of her brother and how she would do anything to help her brother, Zuko and Azula looked away from each other. Aang wanted to help the siblings by going into the Spirit World, though that was not to Azula's liking, and she started to walk away. Zuko attempted to halt her, stating that Aang was the Avatar and a good friend and that since Aang was all about helping people, Zuko believed that was what they should do as well. Azula responded by pointing out that she now understood that Zuko preferred to travel the world helping poor people as opposed to becoming Fire Lord. Zuko tried to answer and deny what his sister had said, but Azula entered into another of her episodes, claiming that her mother had sent the Water Tribe siblings to slow them down. When she angrily ran back, preparing to shoot a lightning bolt at Rafa and Misu, Zuko ran to their aid and put himself in between them and his sister's attack.[18]

Having redirected his sister's attack, Zuko called on Katara and Sokka to take her down, but Aang had them stop after he was able to bring the Mother of Faces to the surface. She was willing to grant, however, only one request, and Zuko decided to give up his chance to learn his mother's fate from the ancient spirit so Misu could ask for a new face for her brother. Before she could finish, Azula interrupted, demanding information on Ursa. The spirit revealed that Ursa had a new identity as Noriko. Azula took off to confront her mother while Sokka and Zuko decided to give chase, taking a shortcut.

After being convinced by Noren to do so, Zuko revealed to Noriko that he is her son.

Upon arriving at Noren's house and seeing that Azula had not yet arrived, Zuko joined the family for dinner at the insistence of Kiyi and Noren. Focusing on Noriko, he asked if she was happy, and after she responded that she was, the Fire Lord got ready to leave, though Noren stopped him. The actor convinced his guest to reveal who he was, which he did directly to Noriko. Noren explained that he recognized Zuko from his scar and apologized for not telling him the truth about Ursa. After reminding Ursa about her past and alteration of both face and memory, Noren revealed to Zuko his true identity of Ikem. The firebender declared that Hira'a was where he belonged, with his "mother, sister, and father". Noren was dumbstruck at the declaration, saying it was not possible. Before the conversation could continue, Azula burst through the roof, set on killing her mother. Zuko fought against his sister, trying to stop her, only for her to pin Ursa to the wall. Zuko separated his sister from their mother, and they fought a moment longer. Azula wondered why Zuko continued to fight, knowing he wanted to be free of the burdens of the throne, and why he had not thrown both her and the letter off the cliff the other day. Zuko answered that the throne was his destiny and that although his relationship with her was messy, she was still his sister. At this, Azula blasted an opening through a house wall and ran toward Forgetful Valley. Zuko tried to tell her to come back so he could help her, but she ran off and left the letter behind.

Zuko listened as Ursa began to recount the story of her life.

At that time, the Mother of Faces appeared, asking if Ursa wanted to regain her former life. Zuko tried to tell his mother that she did not have to, reminding her of the life she had made. Despite this, Ursa accepted the spirit's offer. The next day, Zuko and Ursa talked about their past, the latter apologizing for not loving them enough and for forgetting about him. Zuko insisted she did not have to, saying he had a life to be proud of, regardless. He handed Ursa the letter showing Noren as his father, to which she replied that what she wrote on it was not true. Zuko was upset to learn that Ozai was indeed his father but still felt like things were what they were meant to be. The Fire Lord said he wished to know everything about his mother's past, and Ursa told him she would start from the beginning.[27]

Zuko later delegated his Fire Lord duties to his uncle once more, sending him to Yu Dao to attend the announcement of the city's new coalition government while he supported Ursa and her family as they came to visit the Capital City for the first time since her banishment.[28]

Return to the Fire Nation Capital

Iroh and Earth Kingdom children.png Admit mistakes when they occur and seek to restore honor.

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Before escorting Ursa, Noren, and Kiyi back to the Fire Nation Capital for the first time since Ursa's banishment, Zuko spent weeks searching the Forgetful Valley in hopes of tracking down his sister, though to no avail. While they were eventually underway to the capital, Zuko assured his mother that everything would be fine. However, he grew slightly embarrassed when she remarked that he always had that "sparky look in his eyes" whenever he was excited and waved it off, noting he was Fire Lord now. When Ursa grew distraught over Kiyi rejecting her, Zuko tried to comfort her, noting that everything was going to be all right, though he failed to truly get through to his mother.

Zuko reassured Ursa that he would protect her and her family.

Sometime later, Zuko noticed that Aang, Katara, and Sokka were preparing Appa to take off. Inquiring about their intentions, he was told that being back to the city would bring back many memories, which they needed to figure out as a family and bond over it. He agreed with the notion and thanked his friends for their help.

As they take off, Zuko noticed his mother stood by herself, tearful. Asking if she was all right, he was brushed off by a generic "fine". As she asked him if the others just left, Zuko apologized for not having come to get her to say goodbye, as he had not known she was still on deck. Noticing his mother's sad attitude, he inquires once again as to what is going on, though she merely brushed him off by saying she needed fresh air. Not letting it go, Zuko assured her that Kiyi would come around and figure out that Ursa is still the same inside despite having a different face. As Ursa admitted that she had actually been thinking about Azula, wondering if she was "safe, warm, and happy", Zuko said he searched the Forgetful Valley for weeks and came up empty-handed, which meant to him that Azula did not want to be found. He assured Ursa that Azula was safe, as she was a survivor though confessed to not knowing what "happy" would mean for his sister. As he took his mother's hand, Zuko was startled by its coldness and promptly moved to take her below deck. However, they were intercepted by a messenger hawk from the Kyoshi Warriors, warning that the New Ozai Society was plotting to ambush him along the main road to the capital. When asked if something was wrong, Zuko noted that it was nothing he could not handle and vowed to do anything in his power to keep everyone, especially Kiyi, safe.

Zuko subsequently sent the messenger hawk back to Suki, detailing his plan to have a decoy go along the main road while he and Ursa's family take the hidden route, and had his ship divert course away from Harbor City. By the next morning, Ursa inquired why they missed Harbor City before a submarine emerged from underwater. Iroh was the first to pop out of the hatch and happily embraced his nephew before reuniting with Ursa. When Suki told Zuko that Iroh volunteered to be his decoy, the Fire Lord became concerned as they did not look alike, but his uncle assured him that the crowd would only see his hand waving from the carriage. Zuko and Ursa's family took the submarine to the hidden route.

Zuko's caravan was ambushed by the New Ozai Society.

As Zuko's caravan made their way through the forest, they were ambushed by the New Ozai Society, who used dynamite to collapse a series of trees to trap them. Their leader demanded that Zuko relinquish the throne in exchange for his family's lives. Zuko refused to surrender his birthright to cowards too afraid to show their faces and attacked with firebending. During the fighting, Suki launched a flare signaling their location before Zuko and the Kyoshi Warriors were all subdued with bolas. The New Ozai Society prepared to punish Zuko for his defiance by burning the carriage containing his family, only for one of them, Kei Lo, to refuse to go along with such extreme measures and free Zuko. When Zuko asked why he was helping him, Kei Lo revealed that he was a friend of Mai, just as she, Ty Lee, Iroh, and the other Kyoshi Warriors arrive via airship. Mai quickly accused Kei Lo of deceit, to which Zuko vouched for him after he pleaded he was fed false information. A spear soon penetrated the carriage, causing Zuko to panic and check on them. He faced against three firebenders and, after deflecting their attack, demanded that the New Ozai Society surrender or face his wrath, causing them to either surrender or flee.

Zuko asked if Ursa was alright as she returned to the Fire Nation Royal Palace for the first time since her exile.

Upon arriving at the palace, Zuko thanked the Kyoshi Warriors for their aid before asking Suki where Mai was. Upon confirming that she knew where Mai was currently living, Zuko obtained her promise that he could visit his ex-girlfriend anytime he asks. Subsequently, as Kiyi dragged Noren to tour the palace, she surprised her brother and mother by calling Zuko "Zuzu", which Zuko remarked sounded better coming from her than Azula. He offered to show Ursa to her old room, but she insisted on staying in the guest room. Zuko then turned to Iroh to thank him for his help before wondering whether his mother would be alright, to which his uncle answered would take time. Iroh then observed how troubled Zuko was, to which the Fire Lord confessed that with the New Ozai Society becoming a significant threat, he asked his uncle to take his place at the Yu Dao inauguration ceremony.

A month later, Zuko heard that Mai's brother, Tom-Tom, had been kidnapped and went to Mura's flower shop immediately. Overhearing Mai describe the kidnappers as Kemurikage, mythical spirits that kidnap children, Zuko decided to summon the Avatar.[29] Upon Aang's arrival, Zuko, Mai, Kei Lo, and Constable Sung brought him up to speed, before Ukano, Mai's father, barged into the meeting. Ukano insisted that Zuko enforced a curfew and assembled a task force to deal with the dark spirits to prove the Fire Nation's strength, but Zuko chose to defer to Aang's counsel to find out what happened to Tom-Tom. As he was being escorted out by Sung, Ukano declared Zuko an imposter to the throne, to which the Fire Lord recognized his voice and asked Mai if her father was involved in the New Ozai Society's plot against him, which she denied.

To find out more about the Kemurikage, Zuko took Aang, Mai, and Kei Lo to the High Temple, where Mai told Kei Lo of a previous date she had with Zuko over his ancestors' burial sites. They met with Great Sage Shyu, who opened the entrance to the Dragonbone Catacombs. Passing by the tombs of past Fire Lords and a mural of the Sun Warriors, they found a metal door blocking the rest of the passage; Zuko explained that Sozin walled off this section to make it seem like Fire Nation history began with him. He and Aang then tried firebending on the four dragon statues, assuming they worked like the lock on Crescent Island. After twenty unsuccessful tries, Kei Lo stepped in, revealing that the locks were in the noses, not the mouths, and used Mai's knives to unlock them. They proceeded down the passage, eventually reaching a painting of the first Fire Lord and the Kemurikage. Mai then found a nearby scroll detailing the legend of the Kemurikage. When the tale mentioned the reprehensible actions taken by the warlord Toz, Aang wondered where his past life was during that time, to which Zuko suggested that the Avatar may not have existed back then. Once the tale had concluded, a wisp of smoke emerged from the painting of the Kemurikage. Despite Zuko's reservations, Aang began following the wisp. When it entered another dragon statue, Kei Lo opened it, and the Avatar ventured down the passage, leaving Zuko alone with Mai, which led to an awkward conversation on their failed relationship.

Shyu tried to convince Zuko to join his meditation classes by recounting one of his grandfather's remarks.

Aang and Kei Lo later returned from the crypt, and as the group flew back to the capital on Appa, they revealed that they met with a Kemurikage, who claimed the spirits, until this present moment, had not returned to the human world, leading Mai to suspect Tom-Tom's abductors were imposters. They soon happen upon Ukano and Sung, who had formed a volunteer militia, the Safe Nation Society, in response to more dark spirit abductions of young children in the city, including the constables' own son. Though Zuko promised to find Sung's son, he is forced to suspend him for undermining his authority before ordering Ukano to disband the Safe Nation Society or be imprisoned, which Aang felt was too severe. Though Zuko defended he had no choice, a female citizen approached him and respectfully informed him the Safe Nation Society has just saved her daughter, which is more than what Zuko has done.

Zuko then returned to the palace and passed by Ursa's family's room, where Kiyi called out to him, begging to be torn from Ursa's cold grasp, which he obliged, moving her to a separate room. He then stood on a balcony and conversed with Suki over how much Tom-Tom had been through whether he would be the same. Suddenly, he spotted smoke coming to Kiyi's room. Joined by Aang and Ty Lee, they spotted three figures resembling Kemurikage in the midst of kidnapping Kiyi. Aang firebent at one of them and received a kick in the stomach, confirming they were indeed human. Zuko managed to down one of the false Kemurikage and demanded to know where her friends were taking his sister. His opponent responded by shooting lightning, causing Zuko to realize it was Azula. Zuko redirected her lightning, only for Azula to redirect it back at him before vanishing.

The next morning, General Mak reported that a total of thirteen children were abducted by the false Kemurikage, prompting most of the populace to flee the capital. Mai then arrived and offered sympathy in the form of a hug. Once she was told that Azula was involved, Mai confessed that her father was the leader of the New Ozai Society and that he may have known of the false Kemurikage, especially Azula's involvement. Zuko then ordered Mak to lock down the city and search every home for Ukano and members of the Safe Nation Society, which Aang protested, insisting he could speak with Ukano. Though Zuko expressed his appreciation for his wisdom and friends, he felt that Aang's approach had failed and had Suki and Ty Lee escort him out.

Mak carried out Zuko's orders, leading to a confrontation with the Safe Nation Society, who incited a riot, leading to their capture, though Ukano slipped away. Zuko held Mai's hand as he assured her that they would find her father, but she broke his hold when she spotted Kei Lo being brought in alongside the Safe Nation Society. Kei Lo insisted he had been arrested by mistake, though Zuko accused him of being a double agent, only ordering his release when Mai accused him of being ridiculous, with Kei Lo telling Zuko to accept that Mai had moved on. They were joined by Aang, Suki, and Ty Lee, who insisted on showing Zuko something, but the Fire Lord chose to defer to Mak's advice to prepare for another riot, forcing the Avatar to carry him on an air scooter back to the palace.

Upon arriving at the spot where Azula and her cohorts disappeared, Aang showed Zuko a secret passage Ty Lee unlocked. While the Kyoshi Warriors hung back, Zuko and the others followed the passage and found themselves in the Garden of Tranquil Souls, where Azula and her henchwomen attack them. During the fighting, Zuko spotted Azula and chased her into a crypt beneath a lion turtle statue, which she revealed was the grave of the first Fire Lord's most trusted advisor, where they continued their fight. When Azula had Zuko at her mercy, he told his sister that even with his death, the throne would never be hers. To his surprise, Azula stated she had accepted that she could never be Fire Lord and that her true destiny was to mold Zuko into a ruthless and fearmongering Fire Lord. Zuko then heard Kiyi's voice calling for him, causing him to gloat that Azula had failed, as his friends had rescued the missing children. However, Azula begged to differ, reminding Zuko of how ruthless he was in the past twenty-four hours. Though Zuko refused to believe, Azula advised that she accept what she made of him and vanished. Zuko then exited the crypt and happily embraced Kiyi.

The next day, Zuko gathered the populace at the palace to apologize for his poor conduct during the crisis and vowed to be a better Fire Lord worthy of their trust.[30]

Southern Reconstruction Project

Fire Lord Zuko and Earth King Kuei came to the Southern Water Tribe to discuss the Southern Reconstruction Project.

Chief Hakoda invited Zuko and Earth King Kuei to a conference to discuss the Southern Reconstruction Project that would advance the development of the Southern Water Tribe. Both foreign leaders were met by crowds of protesters when they arrived in the South Pole by airship, as nationalist sentiment had grown in the South following Gilak's revelation that the Northern Water Tribe planned to control the South's oil. Sokka walked out to meet the leaders, assuring them that the protesters would come to understand their plan once they saw it in action, and encouraged them to keep walking.

Hakoda explained his plan to modernize the South and building relationships between all nations to the other world leaders and asked Kuei and Zuko for funding due to the South's suffering economy. Zuko was quick to offer support, although the Earth King was hesitant because of the Earth Kingdom's own needs, and stated that he might fund development once the tribe became more civilized, to which Katara took offense. As Kuei attempted to apologize, a guard alerted the conference that Gilak had escaped prison, and the Southern nationalists burst in and began fighting Team Avatar. Zuko began to fight the soldiers with firebending, and though Team Avatar was able to thwart the attempted kidnapping of Hakoda, Kuei was taken by Gilak's soldiers.

Team Avatar received a message from Gilak, offering terms to exchange Hakoda for Kuei. After reading it, Sokka mentioned the exchange was to take place at the Bridge of No Return, a place where the village used to deal with their criminals. Katara explained further that if anyone in the village ever did anything unforgivable, they would be forced to walk across the bridge and never return. Sokka added that the terrain there was the most dangerous in all of the South Pole and how nothing could stay alive there long. Sokka elaborated on the plan Gilak proposed: While Team Avatar and Gilak's army would remain on either side of the bridge, Thod and his two disciples would cross over to chi block all Team Avatar's benders, and as soon as Hakoda would start to walk across, Gilak would send over Earth King Kuei. Zuko, remarking he knew how villains thought from his past experience, was sure that Gilak would cheat and cut the rope bridge, so Sokka came up with a plan in case that would happen.

When they got to The Bridge of No Return, nobody was present yet. Katara lamented the lackluster and tumultuous trip back home, but Sokka wondered what the Southern Water Tribe was even like before the war, concluding the idealistic vision Katara had of it never existed. Gilak arrived on the other side with the Earth King. As planned, Thod and his disciples came over and chi blocked Aang, Katara, Toph, Zuko, and Sokka. Right after that, Hakoda started walking over to the other side of the bridge, and at the same time, Gilak sent over the Earth King. As soon as they got to the middle of the bridge, Gilak took out his sword and was about to cut the bridge, but Malina stopped him from behind, followed closely by The Dark One, Penga, and Ho Tun. The group took out Gilak's guards while Aang, Katara, Toph, Zuko, and Sokka suddenly jumped up and took out Thod and his disciples. Thod asked Sokka how he did it, Sokka replied delightedly, showing and telling Thod the chain mail armor he and Team Beifong had designed. Aang managed to save both Hakoda and Malina, but Gilak fell to his death in the ravine.

After the ordeal, Kanna, Pakku, Hakoda, Malina, Kuei, and Bosco gathered around Kanna and Pakku's igloo. Aang, Katara, Toph, and Zuko were in the kitchen cooking and later joined everyone for a meal from their respective cultures, Zuko having cooked extra-spicy fire noodles from the Fire Nation.[31]

Later reign

Aang and Zuko attended an event in Republic City's early days.

Zuko's commitment to allow the older Fire Nation colonies to remain in the Earth Kingdom and regulate the balance of power between them, rather than to forcefully remove them, eventually led to the creation of the United Republic of Nations with Republic City as its capital.[32] Zuko subsequently aided Aang in making the United Republic a prosperous and safe country, which included combating the surging activities of bending criminals in Republic City.[33]

At some point in his life, he married and had a daughter named Izumi. In 134 AG, he also became a grandfather to Iroh, who grew up to serve as a general of the first division of the United Forces.[34] Zuko and Aang remained lifelong best friends, with Aang regularly turning to Zuko for advice.[35] Zuko, in turn, would always trust the Avatar's instinct.[36] According to his grandson, Zuko also remained a good friend and an important ally of the Southern Water Tribe.[37] At some point in his life, Zuko also adopted and trained a dragon, whom he named Druk.

In 158 AG, Zuko joined forces with Southern chief Sokka, Tenzin, and Tonraq to deal with Zaheer, Ghazan, Ming-Hua, and P'Li, four criminals who desired to kidnap the new Avatar, Korra. The group was able to defeat the four and send them to specially-constructed White Lotus prisons, which would serve to neutralize their bending abilities.[38] Zuko collaborated with Northern chief Unalaq and ordered the construction of a top-secret prison in the western tundra of the North Pole, specially designed to hold the firebender P'Li.[39]

Zuko continued to remain in power until he abdicated the throne of the Fire Nation in 167 AG to his daughter, Izumi, at which point he chose to leave the Fire Nation Capital in favor of living on Ember Island.[40] He retained his formal title of "Lord" and became an ambassador for world balance, albeit in an unofficial capacity, all the while making sure the new Avatar's safety was not compromised.[7]

171 AG

Lord Zuko, alarmed about the escapes of Zaheer, Ghazan, and Ming-Hua, traveled north to warn Chiefs Desna and Eska of an imminent attack on P'Li's prison.

Two weeks after Harmonic Convergence, Zuko learned of the escape of the criminals Zaheer, Ming-Hua, and Ghazan from their custody under White Lotus sentries and was particularly disturbed to hear that Zaheer had become an airbender.[41] After sending a notice to Lin Beifong of their escape, he traveled to the Northern Water Tribe, where he and Chief Tonraq met with Desna and Eska, the new Northern chiefs. Zuko told them that they needed to check up on P'Li's prison in the western tundra. While riding the elevator to the bowels of the prison, Zuko explained that P'Li possessed the ability to create explosions with her mind and casually remarked that ironically he once sent an assassin with similar abilities to kill the Avatar, but that it did not work. Eska shared with Zuko her own experience trying to assassinate the Avatar after the latter spoiled her wedding.[39]

Zuko soon scouted the area around the prison atop his dragon, Druk, and only found what he thought to be a snowstorm. When he pointed this out to Tonraq, however, the Southern chief recognized it as Zaheer's doing. The two groups clashed, with Zuko finding himself matched against Ghazan. The old firebender was able to dodge his opponent's attacks for a short while but was ultimately knocked down by a large fragment of rock. Zuko was only left to watch as the fugitives made a successful escape with P'Li in tow.[38]

Sometime later, Zuko flew toward the Misty Palms Oasis on Druk with Tonraq in tow after the latter received word from Lin to meet her there. They awaited Korra's return in a local cantina, where he was pleased to make his reacquaintance with the Avatar. He learned that Zaheer and his friends were called the Red Lotus and that their murder of Earth Queen Hou-Ting was only the beginning of their actions.[42]

Upon Mako and Bolin's return to the Misty Palms Oasis, Zuko came out of the cantina, where he was greeted by a starstruck Bolin, who could barely form a coherent sentence. As Mako excused his brother and bowed respectfully, stating they were honored to meet him, Zuko returned the gesture.

Zuko was glad to serve as Korra's advisor, just as he had done years prior for Aang.

Zuko followed Team Avatar toward Zaofu to use the Metal Clan's radio transmitter to reach the Northern Air Temple to warn Tenzin of the Red Lotus' approach. However, as the others prepared to head toward the temple, he prepared Druk to head back home toward the Fire Nation to protect Izumi in case Zaheer would target her next. Before he could leave, he was approached by Korra, who asked him for advice as Aang's best friend on what Aang would have done if Zaheer had given him a choice between giving himself up or letting a nation be attacked. Zuko answered that it had been Aang's dream to rebuild the Air Nation, though that he also knew that in times of turmoil, the world needed the Avatar the most. Zuko grew surprised when Korra thanked him for his advice, saying that Iroh had been right to go talk to him, as he had been unaware that she had met his late uncle. Before he could ask any more about Iroh, they were interrupted by Mako, who alerted them that they had finally been able to contact the Northern Air Temple, prompting Zuko and Korra to follow him toward Zaofu's communication's room.[35]

As the team departed for the temple, Zuko went home to his daughter, though two weeks later, he journeyed to Republic City, where he bowed respectfully to a recovering Korra. As she left, Zuko voiced his concern, along with President Raiko, about the lack of information concerning the Red Lotus and their true numbers. He subsequently went inside the temple, where he attended Jinora's anointment as an airbending master now that she had received her tattoos.[43]

Later, Zuko reunited with Iroh for the first time since his uncle passed over to the Spirit World.[44]

174 AG

After Kuvira had nearly stabilized the entire Earth Kingdom, Zuko traveled to Republic City with his daughter to attend Prince Wu's coronation as the nation's Earth King. However, after Kuvira was bestowed the Kyoshi Medal of Freedom for her service, Zuko bore witness to her declaration of usurping power in the Earth Kingdom, renaming it the "Earth Empire".[45]


A statue of Zuko was erected in Central City Station.

Well-respected as one of Republic City's founders, a statue was erected in Zuko's honor at the center of the plaza outside Central City Station in Republic City to commemorate his many accomplishments.[7] However, his and Avatar Aang's creation of the United Republic of Nations earned the animosity of Earth Queen Hou-Ting and Kuvira, who both considered the state to be on illegally occupied territory.[39][46]


"I've struggled for so long to do what's right; to even know what's right. [...] But asking you to end me if I went bad; that was like asking you to figure out right and wrong for me. [...] I understand now. The struggle isn't something a Fire Lord can escape."
―Zuko to Aang.[25]

During his exile, Zuko was a bitter, impatient, and complex young man, akin to a tragic villain. More than anything, he wanted his place as heir to the Fire Nation throne and his father's love.[47] Zuko had convinced himself to belief that capturing the Avatar would make these wishes come true, making him one of Aang's most determined enemies.

As an adolescent, Zuko demonstrated empathy for others despite his pompous attitude.

Zuko believed one becomes strong by struggling and fighting for what they want. However, he expressed contradicting mindsets; he did not want good luck because he felt he could control his fate, but also believed he was marked unlucky and that the world was against him.[48] His reaction to the perception of the world always set against him is iron-willed defiance and inflexible determination. He was clever yet hot-headed, often letting his temper get the best of him. He seemed averse to the thought of harming others without any motive or benefit, having consented to Aang's request to spare the Southern Water Tribe in exchange for himself as his prisoner, and left the village unharmed.[49] He rarely thinks his situations through, causing him to get in trouble; he captured Aang at the North Pole but chose to make his getaway through the perilous tundra,[48] and he casually took the Sunstone off its pedestal in the Sun Warriors' temple only to fall into a trap.[8] Said traits were criticized by his uncle,[50][51] urging Zuko to try to control himself and think things through more often, which he managed to do over time.[52]

Zuko had other contradictory traits, beliefs, and behaviors. He was domineering and controlling, a result of his upbringing as Fire Nation royalty, and disdained to work with people he believed were inferior; yet he adamantly refused to view people as expendable. He believed it was wrong to sacrifice able-bodied and willing troops as a diversionary tactic. During his banishment, he displayed zeal in pursuing the Avatar, using whatever means he thought necessary. Although he had said capturing the Avatar was a greater concern to him than the safety of his crew or himself, he showed compassion to those close to him, as evidenced when he chose to rescue Iroh when he was captured[53] rather than pursue Aang and by risking his own life to save a member of his crew during a fierce storm. When the crew spotted Aang, he ordered the ship and crew to safety instead of chasing the Avatar.[22] Even after all the hardship he suffered at the hands of his sister, Azula, he was still willing to vouch for her, giving her several chances for them to work together in order to find their mother. He even went as far as to show brotherly affection for her, inspired by Sokka's actions toward Katara.[26] He was liable to commit brash actions against his sister, however, despite his best efforts to stop fighting her, even going as far as almost throwing her off a cliff.[18]

Zuko was able to show mercy, even to his enemies. When fighting an Agni Kai with Zhao, he decided to spare him unscathed, though Zhao had expressed every intention to hurt Zuko.[23] Even after Zhao had arranged for Zuko to be murdered, Zuko offered his hand in an attempt to save Zhao's life when the Ocean Spirit was about to drown him.[48]

Zuko experienced substantial turmoil due to the events in his life.

The prospect of returning home and earning forgiveness was Zuko's sole motivation. After losing his first chance at the Northern Water Tribe, he was filled with abject despair. He found himself in the direst situation possible—being hunted by his younger sister, the ruthless and relentless Azula,[54] while attempting to survive[55] as a penniless fugitive in the Earth Kingdom.[56] Apart from his ever-supportive uncle, Zuko had nothing. At first, he lashed out and turned to robbery,[57] even stealing from those who were kind to him.[55] After some time, however, partially in thanks to a talk from Iroh, he gained a more reasonable outlook. Theft was still necessary from time to time, but he refused to steal from needy people or people who showed him kindness. He defended an Earth Kingdom village against a group of thugs who terrorized its people.[11] He became more patient, kind, precise, and calculating; said traits necessary to evade Azula's pursuit while staying incognito from local authorities. He set Aang's pet bison and primary mode of transportation, Appa, free from Dai Li captivity at Iroh's suggestion.[50]

These traits became dominant after Zuko's fever dreams and hallucinations,[58] as he displayed an optimistic attitude toward life and the world.[59] However, Azula successfully manipulated his desire for love and approval from his father, convincing him to betray Iroh and become her ally.[1] He continued to insist that he had truly changed but felt conflicted about his choices afterward, uncomfortable with his betrayal of Iroh, a father figure to him.

Upon realizing that Avatar Roku was his maternal great-grandfather, Zuko became increasingly insecure about his destiny.

After his return to the Fire Nation, Zuko thought he had everything he ever wanted: a position of honor, respect, and his father's love. However, he still felt angry and confused. His triumph was nothing like he imagined it would be. His temper went out of control; he became suspicious of Mai and got into fights with several people. Later, he stated he was angry with himself, saying he did not know right from wrong.[60] He received a letter telling him his great-grandfather's death would reveal his destiny. He found Sozin's last testament and learned of his history with Avatar Roku. Assuming the letter was sent by his uncle, he visited him in prison, demanding to know the message's meaning. Iroh explained Avatar Roku was his mother's grandfather, and Zuko's inner conflict was part of the legacy of his forefathers' conflict. Iroh presented him with the Crown Prince headpiece, an ancient royal artifact, traditionally worn by the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation and given to Roku by Sozin in their youth.[61]

Zuko became upset when he was not informed of a war meeting to which his sister was invited and showed happiness when a servant later came and asked him to head to the war room, as Ozai would not start the meeting without him. He told Mai he found himself unhappy, even when his father treated him as the perfect son. He said that he had been the perfect prince during the meeting, the son his father had always wanted, but he had not been himself.[62]

During the events of Day of Black Sun, Zuko realized it was his duty as the heir to the Fire Nation throne to restore peace to the world by joining the Avatar and fighting his father's (and forefathers') tyrannical regime. His zeal and resolve resurfaced in an entirely different direction. He resolved to confront his father and his many evils. He revealed in a discourse his banishment made him a firsthand witness to the misery and pain the Fire Nation has inflicted on the World. He discovered sharing the Fire Nation's greatness had nothing to do with the war – only fired by a ruthless desire for power. He swore to his father he will do everything in his power to see his defeat. He attempted to free Iroh from prison, but when he escaped by himself, Zuko followed Aang and the others as they fled to the Western Air Temple.[47]

Zuko was finally at peace upon joining Team Avatar.

While at the Western Air Temple, Zuko became regretful about his former disrespect and ruthlessness. He confronted Team Avatar and apologized for his wrongdoings. When his request to join them was rejected, he humbled himself and offered himself up as a prisoner—a stark contrast to the proud attitude he bore before. Zuko also revealed his calculating abilities and problem-solving skills while accompanying Aang to the Sun Warrior ruins, for example by using his sword to reflect sunlight to hit the temple's sunstone, allowing them to enter the structure.

Zuko's attempt to defend Aang from Combustion Man signified his genuine loyalty to the team. He realized his father could never restore his honor, and he had to restore it himself. He was happy when the Avatar finally accepted him as his firebending teacher and group member.[12] Though he still had some issues to work through, he was far more composed and receptive. Since coming to terms with his own true feelings, he was more laid-back and empathetic though remained strict and uptight when training Aang. After joining the group, he smiled more than usual, even when jokes were made at his expense,[8] and he seemed very happy as Fire Lord during a break in his uncle's tea shop.[9] Nonetheless, he was one of the more serious members of the group; whenever a situation got worse, such as when Sozin's Comet was near and when Aang went missing, Zuko did not put up with any antics or mistakes.

During his first year as Fire Lord, Zuko became aggressive and conflicted due to night-terrors, chronic insomnia, and paranoia.

At the start of his reign as Fire Lord, Zuko was assertive in having the Fire Nation pay for its crimes and having its colonies disbanded. However, after viewing the situation at Yu Dao and how the lives of Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom citizens had deeply intertwined themselves, Zuko became conflicted about his duties, and after being called a coward by Mayor Morishita, he sided with his people, devoting himself to protecting them and their way of life, withdrawing his support of the Harmony Restoration Movement and even fighting his friends, Katara and Aang, because of this.

During this time, Zuko developed night-terrors, chronic insomnia, and a somewhat paranoid attitude. This would have increased further when he discovered that (at least some of) the assassins attempting to take his life were his own unhappy people, as he cared so much for his country. Zuko eventually became so desperate and conflicted over the duties and pressures of being Fire Lord that he turned to his imprisoned father Ozai for advice on how to deal with the pressures of the title.[14] Despite this, he continued to deny Ozai's claims that a Fire Lord's decisions were right by default. However, when being informed of the Earth Kingdom's impending attack, he begrudgingly admitted to himself that his father was right and prepared himself to go to war again.[20]

Eventually, Zuko came to realize that his emotional instability over his position as Fire Lord was not caused by the pressures of being a ruler or by the choices he made for Yu Dao, but due to his fear of ultimately becoming the same tyrant as his father was. However, he eventually came to terms with the fact that there was a side to himself and his personality that he could not understand.[25]

After an Earth Kingdom professor pointed out the similarities between governing a nation and taking care of a family, Zuko began doubting his own qualities as a leader again as his family was completely broken and a large part was due to his actions. However, he did show remorse and the will to fix past mistakes by trying to mend the rifts between his family. He freed Azula from the mental institution and asked for her help in his search for their mother, even allowing her to travel unbound and with dignity. After a conversation with Sokka about siblings, the latter noted how, despite their bickering, he and Katara were family, and as an older brother, he would always look after her. Inspired by those words, Zuko, who never truly attempted to connect with his younger sister, Azula, tried to do the same.[26]

During the search for his mother, and upon finding out that Ozai may not be his legitimate father, he realized that he might not be the true heir to the throne. Despite knowing that he must stay Fire Lord, Zuko felt the most hopeful and relieved in the group upon hearing the news. He believed that he could start anew and "gallivant" around the world helping people, as Azula remarked, much to Aang's dissatisfaction; he believed that Zuko must stay as the leader of his nation to continue ushering a new era of love and peace.

When their search brought Zuko in contact with a young child, Kiyi, he displayed the characteristics of a good father, reflecting the parenting style of his mother and Uncle Iroh, by displaying an inquisitive and doting attitude toward the girl. When she showed him her doll, he kindly played along and chastised Azula for her violent commentary, exhibiting a protective side. He also seemed quite at ease around the child, showing genuine friendship and politeness during their interactions, seemingly truly enjoying the girl's company.[18] His caring feelings toward Kiyi only strengthened after he discovered she was his half-sister, and he disregarded any royal formalities with her.[29]

In his old age, Zuko displayed a more calm and wise demeanor,[39] as well as a strong sense of protecting his family and the Avatar.[35] He also retained a certain penchant for being the source of awkward moments when conversing with others, as evidenced by reactions to his revelation to Chiefs Tonraq, Desna, and Eska that he had once hired a combustionbending assassin to kill Aang when en route to P'Li's prison cell.



Zuko developed a new foundation of firebending after visiting the Sun Warriors.

While growing up in the Fire Nation, Zuko showed no extraordinary skill in firebending. In his teen years, however, his ability began to develop significantly under his Uncle Iroh's tutelage, most noticeably during the last year of the Hundred Year War. He became able to fight on par with much more experienced firebenders, showing himself to be a late bloomer. Having continuously refined his skills, he has reached the point of becoming a firebending master, but despite his skill and fast development as a firebender, he has noted on more than one occasion that he is not as skilled or as powerful as his younger sister, Azula.

As a child, Zuko could only create small bursts of flame and was by no means focused or controlled in his bending,[11] but by the time he was thirteen, he was confident enough in his abilities to readily accept a challenge of Agni Kai against General Bujing.[22]

Around the time of Aang's discovery at the South Pole, Zuko was still learning the basics from Iroh yet was skilled enough to momentarily knock Aang off his ship, but he was defeated when Aang went into the Avatar State.[63] He utilized what he had been taught to defeat Zhao, an older and more experienced master firebender.[23] Throughout his pursuit of Aang, he demonstrated his skill often; he defeated multiple foes on two occasions.[53][64] Later, his skill grew. He fared well in a duel against Aang, delivering multiple fire blasts for a sustained period without tiring, but was defeated when he was paralyzed by June's confused shirshu.[65] He created a shield of fire to protect himself from a massive explosion on his ship.[66] During the Siege of the North, he fought Katara while the moon was nearly full. He held his own against her while she was strengthened by the moon but needed the power of the sun to gain the upper hand and defeat her with one fire blast.[67] He also landed a decisive victory in a rematch against Zhao.[48]

After the Siege of the North, Zuko's firebending became more advanced and powerful. At first, he was unable to land any blows against Azula and was defeated rather easily.[54] He fought somewhat better during the Confrontation at Tu Zin; in a three-way battle with Azula and Aang, he traded several fire blasts with his sister and kept the Avatar on the defensive.[68] As his travels in the Earth Kingdom continued, however, he learned more advanced firebending techniques from Iroh, such as lightning redirection, becoming more efficient and refined.[69] During a battle with the Rough Rhinos, he sent a small bolt of fire through Vachir's bow, breaking the string.[70] He demonstrated the ability to fire multiple small blasts through two fingers rather than his whole fist.[3] During the battle in the Crystal Catacombs, he demonstrated how far his prowess had grown. His fire blasts were more powerful, and he charged his attacks before releasing them, creating enormous blasts of fire. He also demonstrated the ability to create two fire-whips. He battled evenly with Aang, even though he had skillfully used airbending and earthbending. After switching opponents with Azula, he battled evenly with Katara, a waterbending master who had the upper hand against Azula.[1]

Zuko was able to absorb lightning from Ozai in order to redirect it.

Little was seen of Zuko's firebending after he returned to the Fire Nation; however, he was confident enough in his abilities that he offered to teach Aang. He utilized a wall of flame to stop an attack from Combustion Man and was capable of dodging many of the rocks Toph hurled at him.[12] Later, he temporarily lost his firebending from a subsequent lack of rage, the former source of his power. In order to reconnect with the original source of firebending, he and Aang traveled to the ancient city of the Sun Warriors together. There, Zuko learned "The Dancing Dragon", an ancient firebending form that he performed alongside Aang. Learning this form appeared to have influenced his style of firebending to be more fluid, creating a more dancelike form as opposed to the rigid, militaristic forms commonly used by Fire Nation soldiers. He was also challenged by the Tribesmen to carry a piece of the Eternal Flame all the way up to the cave of the masters. Zuko and Aang performed their newly learned technique in unison with the dragons, who engulfed them in a spiral of multi-colored flames. After viewing this, Zuko found a new source of power in reverence for fire's power as a source of life and energy: "the sun inside you".[8] His stylistic differences and skill are demonstrated at the Boiling Rock, where he briefly battled against Azula alongside Sokka. During the fight, he deflected many of Azula's fire blasts with only his arms or his own fire and traded fireballs with her.[71] When he faced Azula again, Zuko was able to duel her to a standstill, firing several large and powerful fire blasts and deflecting many of her attacks.[72] Later, he attacked Aang with powerful fire blasts to make him fight back. When he chased him into Ozai's old family vacation home, Zuko created several lashes of fire to envelop his surroundings and augmented them to the shape of the hallway Aang was running through.[73] Furthermore, he used his firebending in conjunction with his broadswords,[11] demonstrated an ability to form fire daggers,[54] and limited use of breath of fire.[67][74]

During his training with Iroh, Zuko attempted to learn how to create lightning. His inner turmoil, however, rendered him unable to achieve the required peace of mind, and his attempts to produce lightning would only explode in his face. Instead, Iroh taught him how to absorb and redirect lightning.[69] He later employed this technique against his father[47] and Azula to protect Katara.[52] In the latter engagement, Zuko redirected the blast in an improper stance, as he had jumped into the lightning's path, and thus failed to redirect it properly, resulting in serious injury. Though he seems to have overcome his inner turmoil, he does not create lightning for the remainder of the series.

Zuko displayed the extent of his bending skills with the arrival of Sozin's Comet.

With the power of Sozin's Comet, Zuko's firebending was enhanced. In his Agni Kai with Azula during this time, he was able to match her powerful sheets of blue flame and even steadily gain the upper hand, not showing any visible strain in exchanging and blocking Azula's attacks while she was pushed toward exhaustion and increasing mental instability. He displayed several incredibly powerful techniques: blocking an enormous stream of fire with a short fire-blast, spreading to take the shape of a wall and split the stream, unleashing an enormous charged-blast, which Azula was unable to block, forcing her to dodge, propelling himself into the air, charging his fire and sending down a fire attack as he came. His final attack was a fire tornado he created with his feet while spinning, knocking Azula off her feet.[52]

After the War and assuming the mantle of Fire Lord, Zuko's firebending remained as sharp as before and under strict control, despite the mental and emotional turmoils he was struggling with due to his new position. He evaded several attempts on his life, particularly the attempt of Kori Morishita, an earthbender and skilled weapons user, whom he disabled in a matter of minutes. During the battle for Yu Dao, Zuko's skills were again on display as he managed to single-handedly overwhelm a large number of Earth Kingdom soldiers with minimal effort and stand on equal footing against General How.[25] The flames he produced were also hot enough to instantly melt metal chains.[26]

Zuko handled Azula quite well during their fights throughout the search for their mother, blocking her fire blasts and defending his friends simultaneously, especially during her psychotic episodes.[18] This demonstrated how far Zuko's abilities had progressed, matching his sister for raw power despite not being able to generate lightning or blue fire. However, during the Kemurikage incident, when Azula had recovery from her mental breakdown, Zuko was unable to match her skill and was ultimately defeated.

During an ambush by the New Ozai Society, Zuko demonstrated the ability to generate a fire vortex featuring green and purple flames, marking the first known instance that a human had created dragon fire.[29] In his first visit to the Southern Water Tribe as Fire Lord, Zuko also demonstrated the ability to propel himself through the air with firebending for short periods of time, similar to Azula.[31]

At the age of 88, Zuko still proved to be a capable fighter, although less agile, enough so to face Ghazan, a powerful earthbender, for a reasonable period of time before getting overpowered.[38]


Zuko is a highly proficient swordsman.

Aside from his bending, Zuko also developed masterful skill in swordsmanship, and he specialized in dual wielding swordplay, using a set of dao blades, skills he gained after being trained by the swordmaster Piandao.[21] He would use these skills as his primary tactics whenever he was in his Blue Spirit disguise,[57][75] unable to firebend, or when he needed to fight but also needed to conceal his firebending.[11] He was able to defeat multiple foes using only his swords, including experienced firebending soldiers.[75] He also dueled evenly with Jet and his dual hook swords until the fight was broken up by the Dai Li.[76] Zuko was able to defeat several Earth Kingdom soldiers with minimal effort by employing his swordsmanship skills in combination with unarmed combat and, in the same confrontation, demonstrated the ability to combine his sword skills with his firebending, allowing him to deliver more powerful and destructive attacks.[11] His skill was such that his father, Fire Lord Ozai, opted not to face him during an eclipse when neither of them could firebend.[47] He also defeated Sokka, a very proficient swordsman in his own right and a fellow student of Piandao, with ease in multiple sparring matches.

He also had some experience with knives, being able to pierce a small object, like a horn, from a distance.[75]

Other skills

Disguised as the "Blue Spirit", Zuko made apparent the scope of his abilities without having to rely solely on his bending.

In addition to his firebending and swordsmanship skills, Zuko is highly skilled in unarmed combat, able to break apart oncoming spears with his hands and legs,[49] and disarm, subdue, or defeat opponents. Zuko was able to defeat several armed Earth Kingdom soldiers in rapid succession. Zuko is very physically capable, able to almost nonchalantly send a person flying with a single hand and smash through iron shackles with a single kick. He is also quite fast and agile, able to perform great acrobatic feats, such as running across walls,[8] doing mid-air twirls, scaling vertical faces with great efficiency and climbing speed, and jumping large distances to avoid enemy attacks with noticeable agility and free-running skills.[12]

Zuko is stealthy and skilled in the art of infiltration, able to sneak into heavily defended fortresses and conceal himself effectively for long periods of time.[67][72][75] His skills served him well while he was disguised as the Blue Spirit. Zuko is also a skilled tracker; he was able to track the airborne Avatar all across the world, something that his friends later acknowledged in their search for a missing Aang.

While not as naturally adept at strategy and academics as his sister, Zuko is quite intelligent. Throughout his travels, he proved himself to be a skilled strategist, able to exploit any situation to his advantage. For example, Zuko used his ship's damages as a smokescreen to conceal his movements from Zhao.[4] He is also able to form alliances with people with special skills, such as June,[65] and use them to his advantage.[77] As he matured, Zuko developed greater strategic skills and foresight, planning ahead to avoid landing himself in compromising predicaments. When he and Aang needed to enter a specific room in the Sun Warrior ruins, Zuko was able to outsmart the celestial calendar by using his dual dao swords to reflect the sun's rays on the sunstone at the correct angle, activating the mechanism to open the doors.[8] He also displayed good military, organizational, and leadership skills when he became Fire Lord, which he demonstrated when he re-organized the Fire Nation Army into a more compact and effective force and later commanded it in the battle for Yu Dao. His time being a "bad guy", as he put it, also gave him insight into certain situations. In the South Pole, Earth King Kuei was used as leverage by Gilak to capture Hakoda. Upon hearing the demands, Zuko correctly deduced that the man did not intend to keep either party alive and was able to warn his friends against complying.[31]

As a leader, Zuko has also displayed charisma and good public speaking. His speech to redeem the name of the Fire Nation at his coronation was warmly embraced, not only by his own people but by people of the other nations as well.[9] Despite a very tumultuous start, Zuko eventually came to be regarded as an excellent, benevolent Fire Lord, with his actions in helping create Republic City being recognized for many years.


Main article: Zuko's relationships


Main article: Fire Nation Royal Family
Sozin's father
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)

Book Three: Fire (火)

Other comics

Graphic novels

The Legend of Korra

Book Three: Change (易)

Book Four: Balance (平衡)


Zuko was played by Dev Patel in The Last Airbender.

  • At Emerald City ComiCon 2017, Gene Luen Yang implied that Zuko and Mai rekindled their relationship three years after their break-up in The Promise Part Three.,[79] though it was never confirmed to have actually happened.
  • Zuko's hair is black in all of his appearances in Book One: Water, differing from the dark brown used throughout the rest of the franchise.
  • Zuko's first major act as Fire Lord was to send out search parties for his mother.[25]
  • Zuko is the first character to have an entire episode, "Zuko Alone", completely to himself with no other main characters appearing except in flashbacks, the second being Korra in the Book Four episode "Korra Alone".
  • Zuko's name was listed on a Fire Nation wanted poster as 祖寇, which translates as "ancestors robber".[70] Later, in "The Tales of Ba Sing Se", his name was written as 蘇科 on his segment's title card, which is the phonetic transcription based on the official guide for foreign names, and which can also be translated as "awaken rank". In The Search Part One, however, when Ursa writes a letter to Ikem, she writes Zuko's name as 豎髙 meaning "vertical high" with the second character being a variant of "".[61]
    • The name Zuko is phonetically similar to suko, a Cebuano word meaning "angry". This derivation corresponds to Zuko's ill-tempered personality portrayed in all three books.[80]
  • According to Iroh, Zuko is a bad tea maker, though he seemed to have gotten better by the time of "The Boiling Rock, Part 1", as he was seen serving tea to the members of Team Avatar, and they drank it without any apparent disgust.
  • Zuko successfully used his uncle's lightning redirection technique twice, against his father and his sister.[47]
  • Zuko had above-average abilities that helped him survive certain situations. In "The Waterbending Master" with Avatar Extras bonus commentary, when the pirates infiltrated Zuko's ship, one of the commentary bubbles said that Zuko had above average hearing abilities, waking up when he heard one of the pirates opening a rusty door. In "The Siege of the North, Part 1" with Avatar Extras bonus commentary, when swimming through the underwater tunnels, one of the commentary bubbles said that Zuko could hold his breath for an unusually long amount of time. In addition, it is stated by Uncle Iroh in "The Avatar State" that they had survived for three weeks without food or water.
  • In the pilot episode, it is shown that Zuko was originally supposed to have a pet hawk, but it did not make it into the show. A pet hawk did make it into the show as Hawky, Sokka's pet, though it only appeared for one episode.[81]
  • Zuko took part in all three Agni Kais shown in the series: the first between him and Ozai,[23] the second between him and Zhao,[22] and the third between him and Azula.[52]
  • According to the Avatar Extras bonus in "The Cave of Two Lovers", Zuko's story throughout the series is similar to that of the Buddha.
  • Zuko is the only person from the Fire Nation known to use dao swords to firebend.[11]
  • According to the Avatar Extras for "The Waterbending Master", Zuko was gifted in playing the tsungi horn, in contrast to Aang, who was terrible at it.[82]
  • Zuko was shown to cry five times, in "The Storm", "Zuko Alone", "Bitter Work", "The Day of Black Sun, Part Two: The Eclipse", and finally, in "Sozin's Comet: Part 2, The Old Masters".
  • Zuko was the first of only two characters to bleed in the series. He bled for the first time in "The Avatar State" when Azula scratched his forehead with her nails. The second character to bleed was Appa in "Appa's Lost Days".
  • According to the Avatar Extras for "The Avatar Returns", Zuko was supposed to be Katara's love interest, though Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko have both stated that they never intended to make that relationship happen.
  • Throughout Book Two: Earth, Zuko visibly started losing muscle, as he was forced to live off the land of the Earth Kingdom as a refugee. This changed in Book Three: Fire, when he was reaffirmed as a prince; as seen in "The Beach" and "The Ember Island Players", his body was much fitter than it was in Book Two.
  • Taking the throne at the age of sixteen years, Zuko is the youngest known Fire Lord.
    • Additionally, he is the second youngest known person to become the ruler of a state, the first being Earth King Kuei.
  • Zuko is the first of two known rulers in the Avatar franchise to willingly abdicate his throne, the other being Earth King Wu.
    • He is also the second known Fire Lord, after his father, not to have died prior to their successor taking the throne.
  • Zuko's voice actor, Dante Basco, also voiced General Iroh, Zuko's grandson.
  • Zuko is the second of three characters to have joined a Team Avatar and to have a father who is antagonistic toward them and their allies. The other two are Toph Beifong and Asami Sato.
  • There are many parallels between Zuko and Asami Sato.
    • Both were born to upper-class families and lived under the influence of their ambitious fathers.
    • Both characters eventually spoke out against their fathers after realizing that they had little regard for righteousness and could no longer feel actual affection toward anyone.
    • Their reactions to this acknowledgment were also similar, as both Zuko and Asami had to make a choice between joining the Avatar to stop their fathers or serving their fathers, and both characters made the former choice, turning against their parents with quick lightning-based attacks.
    • Lastly, both characters were temporarily reduced to greater poverty and isolation as a result of following their beliefs.
    • Both Ozai and Hiroshi were ultimately imprisoned for their actions.
  • Although the Blue Spirit was Zuko's disguise, the character was depicted as a different person altogether in the play The Boy in the Iceberg and the non-canon short "School Time Shipping".
  • The Blue Spirit mask used by Zuko was among the collection of masks from the play Love amongst the Dragons that Ursa kept hidden in her quarters behind a painting of her and Ozai.[26]
  • Zuko has a close relationship with his grandson, General Iroh.[10]
  • In his old age, Zuko holds the title of "Lord".[10]
  • Zuko is the first character in the entire Avatar universe known to have been scarred by a close relative, the second being Lin Beifong in The Legend of Korra. However, he was scarred deliberately, whereas Lin accidentally.
  • Zuko is the last surviving male member of the original Team Avatar.
  • Despite the extent of the burn scar inflicted by his father, Zuko retained full functionality in his left tear duct.
  • In July 2020, the game SMITE launched a battle pass that featured two skins with which the player could alter the appearance of the Japanese storm god Susano to look like Zuko in Book Three or his appearance as the Blue Spirit.[83][84]
Preceded by
Heir to the Fire Lord
95 AG – 97 AG
Succeeded by

Preceded by
Heir to the Fire Lord
Spring 100 AG – Summer 100 AG
Succeeded by

Preceded by
Fire Lord
100 AG – 167 AG
Succeeded by

Preceded by
Jeong Jeong
Avatar's firebending master
100 AG
Succeeded by
Unknown teacher


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