The story of Zuko from the Avatar franchise.
- 1 TV Show Synopsis
- 1.1 Early life
- 1.2 Banishment
- 1.3 Season 1
- 1.3.1 Finding the Avatar
- 1.3.2 Face of the enemy
- 1.3.3 A bitter rivalry
- 1.3.4 Following the trail
- 1.3.5 Rescuing Uncle Iroh
- 1.3.6 The Solstice: A Dangerous Move
- 1.3.7 Pirates and a waterbending scroll
- 1.3.8 In the storm
- 1.3.9 The Blue Spirit
- 1.3.10 The bounty hunter
- 1.3.11 Siege of the North
- 1.4 Season 2
- 1.5 Season 3
- 1.5.1 Returning home
- 1.5.2 Family History
- 1.5.3 Redemption
- 1.5.4 Joining Team Avatar
- 1.5.5 Remastering firebending
- 1.5.6 Into the Boiling Rock
- 1.5.7 Searching for the Southern Raiders
- 1.5.8 The Ember Island Players
- 1.5.9 Sozin's Comet
- 1.5.10 Coronation
- 2 Other Media
TV Show Synopsis
Zuko was the only son of Firelord Ozai, although he was never treated like much of a son in comparison to his sister, Azula, who was spoiled and pampered because of her natural talents in firebending and acrobatics. From the beginning, Ozai seemed to favor Azula over Zuko, though it is believed that Zuko does have some happy memories of his family, as he stated that Ember Island was "The last place we were happy, where we were a real family".
Zuko's mother, likewise, seemed to favor Zuko over Azula, claiming that something is "wrong with her". This caused Azula the same stress (If not more), than that Zuko had been suffering in terms of being loved by their parents. When Zuko's father, Ozai, had made a critical remark about his older brother, Iroh, over his dead son, Azulon, Zuko's grandfather, punished Ozai by making him suffer the same fate, by killing Zuko. Zuko's mother stood up for Zuko and decided to take his place. Zuko's mother had apparently either got banished, killed, or escaped. Zuko, who was not aware of the cause of the expected execution, was brought on by Azula to believe that it was his fault.
When Zuko was old enough, his father invited him to take part of his military operations. However, Ozai became infuriated when Zuko protested an operation that would've claimed the lives of Fire Nation soldiers. Ozai challenged his son to Agni Kai, a special Fire Nation duel, and severely burned Zuko's left eye. Ozai then banished him from the Fire Nation, and charged him with capturing the Avatar, who had never been spotted in over one-hundred years (Apparently doing this simply to get rid of Zuko by putting him on an "impossible mission", as stated by Zhao). Zuko also has an alter-ego known as the Blue Spirit.
Finding the Avatar
Two and a half years after his banishment, Zuko's travels led him to the South Pole. One day, he witnessed a column of bright light from his warship, and eagerly told his skeptical uncle Iroh that the light must have signalled the Avatar's presence; he was, in fact, correct, as Aang had just been freed from the iceberg. The banished prince ordered the course be set for the source of the light, determined to capture the Avatar.
As the evening wore on, Iroh advised Zuko to rest and reminded him that his quest was futile, as the prince's father, grandfather, and great-grandfather had all attempted it and failed. Zuko tersely commented that they had not found the Avatar because their honor was not at stake, as opposed to him.
The next day, Iroh taught firebending basics to Zuko, drilling the prince and his infantry sparring partners in a sequence Zuko could not quite complete correctly. After Iroh lectured on the importance of strength as an extension of breath and not brute force for firebending, an impatient Zuko tried to browbeat Iroh into teaching him a more advanced set. Zuko reasoned that it would take more than basics to defeat the Avatar, who had a century to master all the elements. Iroh grudgingly acquiesced, but first took a moment to finish his roast duck.
Later, Zuko saw a signal flare from an old Fire Nation wreck, accidentally triggered by the Avatar. As Katara and Avatar Aang escaped the shipwreck, Zuko saw them heading toward the village through a telescope. Zuko told his crew to wake his uncle as he had finally found the Avatar and his hiding place.
Face of the enemy
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 was almost dismissive of his presence.
Zuko demanded the location of the Avatar, expecting to find an old man somewhere in the village. He grabbed Kanna threateningly, and Sokka attacked him again. The two fought briefly, with Zuko once again using only his bare hands to render Sokka's attacks useless. Sokka managed a lucky hit when his boomerang struck the back of Zuko's helmet, angering the prince who threatened to use firebending on the villagers.
Suddenly, Avatar Aang arrived, riding on an otter-penguin, and knocked Zuko off his feet. Zuko was shocked to discover that the Avatar was merely a twelve-year-old boy, rather than the ancient master he was expecting. As he voiced this revelation, the Water Tribe villagers expressed their own surprise. Zuko quickly regained his focus, and wasted no time in launching a series of fire blasts at Aang. Aang was able to defend himself with airbending, but soon decided to stop the battle when he realized that Zuko's attacks would inevitably strike the children he had befriended. Aang surrendered, and Zuko's soldiers took him aboard as a prisoner before setting off for the Fire Nation.
On Zuko's ship, the guards escorted Aang to the prison hold, while Prince Zuko entrusted his uncle with taking the boy's glider to his personal quarters. Iroh, true to his nature, immediately passed the job on to the nearest guard. While being taken to the prison hold, Aang, with his hands tied, used his airbending to attempt an escape. One of the guards sounded the alarm.
Aang ran through the ship's many hallways, looking through several rooms before discovering Zuko's personal quarters. He ran in to claim his staff, just as a waiting Zuko slammed the door shut to prevent his escape. Zuko launched a number of attacks in hopes of incapacitating Aang, but the airbender easily avoided them and launched a short series of powerful gusts that slammed Zuko against the room's walls and ceiling, briefly stunning him.
Aang headed outside, and prepared to make his escape on his glider. However, just as he took off, Zuko leapt after him and grabbed his ankle. Not able to compensate for the extra weight or break free of Zuko's grip, Aang was unable to remain aloft, and the two crashed clumsily onto the deck. They prepared to face off a third time, but were distracted by the sudden appearance of Appa, carrying Sokka and Katara to Aang's rescue. Aang was unable to regain his focus as Zuko quickly launched a series of fire blasts that pressed him to the edge of the deck and knocked his staff away. Another two blasts followed, and Aang, while apparently unharmed by the flames, fell overboard into the frigid sea below.
Aang began sinking and he appeared momentarily unconscious. However, his eyes soon opened and he entered the Avatar State. He began to waterbend the sea around him, pushing himself into the air on a whirling column of water. Zuko, Katara, and Sokka were shocked at this immense display of bending power, and Aang deposited himself on the deck of the ship before bending his liquid platform into a spinning wall of water that sent Zuko and all his guards on deck flying, Zuko himself going overboard. Appa landed on the deck, while Aang, apparently dazed after the massive display of power, collapsed. Katara and Sokka rushed to his aid, assuring he was all right before preparing to leave.
Sokka went to retrieve Aang's staff, only to find Zuko climbing back onto the deck. At a great advantage due to Zuko's position, Sokka quickly struck the prince in the forehead a number of times, sending him overboard again. Zuko was able to cling to an anchor's chain approximately halfway down the ship's hull. Some of the soldiers recovered and began to approach Katara and the still-exhausted Aang.
Katara was able to freeze the guards in place to stop their approach. All three took off on Appa just as Iroh arrived on the scene. Iroh helped Zuko on-board again, and the two launched a combined fire blast in an attempt to shoot down the escaping sky bison. Aang recovered from his dazed state just in time to turn this attack against the firebenders, using a blast of wind to redirect the fireball into one of the immense walls of ice on either side of the ship. The resulting avalanche buried the front half of Zuko's ship in ice and snow, stopping it cold. Appa flew into the distance, his passengers laughing happily.
Zuko, furious that the Avatar had escaped his grasp, instructed his crew to dig the ship out and pursue the Avatar and his friends as soon as possible. He vowed never to underestimate Aang again.
A bitter rivalry
Soon afterward, Zuko docked at a Fire Nation controlled harbor off the coast of the southwest Earth Kingdom, his ship needing substantial repairs from 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 firebenders would start looking for him. Zhao walked up to Iroh and Zuko, welcoming them to his harbor, and informing them of his promotion from captain to commander. Seeing how damaged their ship was, Zhao inquired how it happened. Zuko made up a story about crashing into an Earth Kingdom ship. Curious, Zhao invited the pair of them for a drink, of which Zuko attempted to get out, but Iroh spoke for both of them and accepted the invitation, with Zuko being unwilling to join.
Commander Zhao explained the Fire Nation's planned victory to Zuko and Iroh over tea in his tent, with Zuko voicing his doubts that the plan will work. Zhao inquired about Zuko's search for the Avatar, and Zuko replied he had been unsuccessful, to Zhao commented that he did not expect anything different. The commander then tried to force Zuko to reveal the truth, and Zuko, angered, got up to leave, but Commander Zhao's guards stopped him. One of his soldiers walked in and reported that he interrogated Zuko's crew and found out that Zuko had the Avatar but let him escape. Zuko had no choice but to tell Zhao the truth.
Commander Zhao was appalled that a twelve year old boy bested Zuko and his crew. Zuko passionately stated that he was going to continue his hunt and would not underestimate the Avatar again. When Zhao replied that he would be taking over the hunt for the Avatar, Zuko leaped for Zhao in a rage but was held back by the guards. Zhao ordered for Zuko and Iroh to be kept in his tent and left. In anger, Zuko kicked a table, spilling Iroh's tea and causing him to ask for more.
Commander Zhao and his search party were almost ready to set sail on their search for the Avatar, and his would release Zuko and Iroh when his ship was "out at sea". Zuko stated forcefully that he was going to capture the Avatar before Zhao, who laughed at the thought of Zuko defeating him, who had "hundreds of warships under his command". Zhao then demeaned Zuko by telling him that his father would let him come home without the Avatar if the Fire Lord really loved him. Zhao stated that all Fire Lord Ozai saw in his son was failure. Angered by this statement, Zuko challenged Zhao out of pure rage and disgust to an Agni Kai at sunset. After Zhao left the tent, Iroh reminded Zuko about how his last duel with a firebending master turned out to which Zuko replied that he would never forget.
At sunset, Commander Zhao and Prince Zuko prepare to duel, the two combatants on either side of the courtyard. Iroh counseled Zuko to remember his basics, as they were his greatest assets, but the prince did not appear to heed his uncle's wisdom, instead simply stating that he would not lose and assumed his stance. Zhao claimed that the duel would end swiftly and also assumed his stance. The two opponents stared deeply and fiercely into each other's eyes, as the gong sounded and the match commenced.
Zhao seemed more than a match for Zuko, effortlessly avoiding and nullifying all of Zuko's fire blasts. As Zuko caught his breath, Iroh continued to advise him to remember his basics. Zhao then proceeded to throw his own volley of fire blasts. Zuko was able to block each, but was slowly forced back with every parry. For the final blast, Zhao used both fists, forming a blast that connected and knocked Zuko to the ground. Pressing the attack, Zhao leaped into the air, covering the distance between him and Zuko, and prepared a finishing fire blast aimed directly for Zuko's face.
An instant before contact, Zuko rolled out of the way, rose with a kicking flourish, and knocked Zhao out of his stance. With new found vigor, Zuko released a series of low attacks that caused Zhao to retreat, finishing him with a jet of fire from a full body kick. Zhao expected Zuko to strike him once more, to mark his victory, but Zuko released a fire blast past Zhao's face instead, remarking that he "won't hold back" the next time Zhao "came in his way".
As Zuko turned to walk away, Zhao, enraged by his defeat, sent a jet of fire at Zuko's back, which Iroh swiftly stopped with his bare hand. After throwing Zhao to the ground, Iroh stopped an outraged Zuko from retaliating against Zhao, then lectured Zhao about how dishonorably he had acted, stating that his nephew was more honorable "even in exile", but was still polite enough to thank Zhao for the tea. After leaving the arena, Zuko asked Iroh if he really meant what he said back there, to which Iroh responded, "Of course. I told you ginseng tea is my favorite." As the two walked back toward the ship, the faintest of smiles crossed Prince Zuko's lips.
Zhao became Zuko's bitter rival in his quest to capture Aang until the former's death at the hands of La.
Following the trail
Zuko's ship, now repaired at Zhao's harbor, was adrift at sea. Zuko was meditating when Iroh came in with information regarding the Avatar, and begged his nephew not to become angry, with Zuko replying that he could control his temper. Iroh stated that he did not have any information about the Avatar's current location, which caused Zuko became furious. Iroh then explained that there had been multiple sightings of Aang but that he was impossible to track, showing his nephew detailed map of where he had been located. Zuko quickly took the cartography and declared that "he [was] a master of evasive maneuvering."
Meanwhile, Team Avatar arrived on Kyoshi Island, an isolated community that had escaped the war. News traveled quickly from person to person of the Avatar's arrival, and finally reached Zuko and Iroh. Zuko jumped up in surprise and readied to depart to Kyoshi Island, but not before quickly snatching his lunch away from Iroh, claiming that "[he] was going to save it for later."
As the ship came to land, Zuko led his troops on komodo rhinos, and entered the town as they searched for the Avatar. The Kyoshi Warriors made a good demonstration of their abilities and skills in battle, taking out many firebenders although outnumbered. However, Zuko managed to best three Kyoshi Warriors at once, including their leader, Suki and once again Sokka, who was recently trained by Suki. After dispatching his opponents, Zuko yelled out for the Avatar.
After Zuko saw Aang, they engaged in a short battle, in which Aang defeated Zuko by slamming him into a house with an air blast. The Avatar escaped and left on his flying bison.
As the town was set on fire, Zuko and his men prepared to pursue him again. The Avatar suddenly leaped down from the bison back into Kyoshi's waters. A short time later, the unagi, a giant water spouting eel, burst out of the water with Aang clinging onto its whiskers. With some struggle, he managed to gain footing on the giant eel's head and directed it toward the burning village. The unagi then spewed a blast of water, extinguishing the fires. Aang leaped into the air, was caught up by Appa, and flew away along with Katara and Sokka. The downpour drenched Zuko and left his troops demoralized and humiliated, but Zuko would continue his pursuit.
Sometime later, Zuko arrived on a Fire Nation prison rig in the aftermath of a breakout of its earthbending prisoners. He found a Water Tribe necklace among the wreckage and deduced that it belonged to Katara, the Water Tribe companion of the Avatar.
Rescuing Uncle Iroh
Sometime later, when the Avatar was dealing with Hei Bai, a forest spirit tormenting Senlin Village, Iroh was relaxing in a heated pool of water that he turned into his own personal jacuzzi made from firebending. Zuko was becoming very impatient and demanded that his uncle get ready to leave right away. Iroh agreed, but upon seeing he was not wearing anything, Zuko covered his eyes and decided to give his uncle a few more minutes to get ready. He gave a warning that if Iroh was not ready within a half hour, Zuko would leave without him, but Iroh, not heeding his nephew's warning, slumped back into the pool and fell asleep.
Zuko came later with two soldiers, only to find what one of the soldiers deduced was a landslide. Zuko then noticed that the rocks were moved up-hill, and realized that his uncle was captured by earthbenders. Zuko immediately pursued them riding his komodo rhino.
The next morning following his search, Zuko found a sandal left by Iroh. He figured out that it was Iroh's sandal due to its horrible smell. While following the earthbender's trail, Zuko spotted the Avatar's bison. He turned to follow it, but hesitated and was faced with the choice to follow the Avatar or rescue his uncle, and chose the latter.
Later, just as the Earth Kingdom soldiers were about to crush Iroh's hands as punishment for an escape attempt, Zuko appeared and kicked the rock that was about to be dropped on Iroh's hands aside. He then lifted his leg and with one swift movement broke the chains that were binding Iroh in half, to which Iroh complimented him. Zuko smiled and replied that Iroh had "taught him well". Despite being outnumbered, they showed their opponents that they were clearly outmatched, and defeated the earthbenders with little difficulty. After the fight, Zuko asked Iroh to "put on some clothes".
The Solstice: A Dangerous Move
At Senlin Village, just before daybreak of the winter solstice, Prince Zuko knocked on a villager's house. When the man came out, Zuko pushed him back and demanded to know where the Avatar went. Zuko found out that after the Avatar convinced Hei Bai to leave the village in peace, he and his friends were on their way to Avatar Roku's temple in the Fire Nation. After daybreak, Zuko began trailing Team Avatar, who was flying on Appa, across the ocean.
On Zuko's boat, Iroh scolded his nephew, reminding him that he was banished from the Fire Nation, and that if he entered their waters he would be arrested. Zuko replied that since he was chasing the Avatar, his father would understand, to which his uncle stated that Ozai was not an understanding person. When Zuko managed to find Aang and his friends, he began firing his catapult toward Aang. Aang was able to help Appa barely dodge the shot. After missing him, Zuko ordered for the catapult to be reloaded when he saw a blockade of Fire Nation ships in a distance. Iroh told Zuko that since he was still in Earth Kingdom waters and that if he turned back now he would not be arrested. However, Zuko refused to turn away and ordered the ship continue forward.
Commander Zhao, the man in control of the blockade, ordered his ships to open fire on the Avatar. One of his men told Zhao that there was a Fire Nation ship out in the water. After Zhao saw it was Zuko's, he claimed it belonged to a traitor and re-ordered the attack on the Avatar, not caring if the shots hit his ship. As a horde of shots from dozens of ships were fired toward Appa, the Avatar managed to dodge most of the first barrage. One of the shots hit Zuko's ship in the back causing the ship to smoke heavily. One of his men explained that the engines were damaged and that they needed to stop for repairs, but Zuko would not hear it and told them to continue.
When Aang made it through a barrage of attacks from the blockade, a frustrated Zhao knew he had to follow him but he did not know where he was going. He then saw Zuko's ship approaching and instead of arresting him, Zhao allowed him to pass through the blockade untouched so he could follow Zuko to the Avatar.
Zuko was confused as to why Zhao let him pass, but Iroh explained that it was most likely because he wanted to use Zuko to find the Avatar. Hearing his uncle's theory Zuko was at a loss for what to do. Zuko came up with an idea; since Zhao was following the smoke from his ship, Zuko could take a smaller vessel and sneak past Zhao under the smoke, while Zhao would continue following his ship.
Thinking he evaded Zhao, Zuko arrived on Crescent Island and secretly entered the Fire Temple. After tricking the Fire Sages into opening the door with their firebending, each of the four sages were grabbed by Shyu, Katara, Sokka, and Momo. Katara yelled to Aang to enter the chamber but there was no answer from him.
Zuko then appeared from behind a pillar, with Aang captured by him. Due to their surprise, Team Avatar and Shyu each in turn lost control over the sages and they were now held down by them. Zuko told the sages to close the door immediately and started to force Aang away from it, down the stairs. The Avatar wriggled free from his grasp, however, and kicked him down the stairs, before racing through the door. The sages attempted to stop him but he managed to go inside before the doors closed. A bright light then came from the room and died away.
Outside the doors Zuko inquired Shyu why he helped Aang, to which the Fire Sage answered that it was once the Fire Sages' duty to help the Avatar and that it still was. This moment was interrupted by Zhao and a group of soldiers, with Zhao placing Zuko under arrest and claiming that he would simply wait for the Avatar to come out.
As Aang's Avatar Spirit activated, Zhao and his soldiers readied themselves to attack Aang the moment he stepped out of the room. Then, with another flash of light, the door opened and they attacked the figure behind the door. However, they soon noticed that it was not the young Avatar Aang but the previous Avatar, Roku, who stood before them. He sent the fire back with great force and knocked the group back. As the heat of the fire melted the chains that held Katara and the others, Zuko took this opportunity to run back to his boat.
Zuko managed to escape on his smaller ship, also looking at the Avatar as he flew away.
Pirates and a waterbending scroll
Zuko was busy sparring with Lieutenant Jee when Iroh had just diverted the ship to find a port in order to replace a white lotus tile for his Pai Sho game. Unwilling and venting with smoke through his nose, Zuko angrily allowed him. Iroh calmly expressed that "it was so good to have an understanding nephew" as the smoke engulfed the bridge.
When Zuko and Iroh arrived at a port, Iroh could not find a replacement for the white lotus tile from a single merchant in town, but he found numerous trinkets for music night on the ship in which three of their troops were carrying. Zuko was frustrated that the trip was a complete waste of time.
They then came across some pirates who had a waterbending scroll stolen from them by Katara. After discovering that they were pursuing Aang as well, Zuko joined forces with the pirates to hunt down Aang. Zuko surmised that they would be practicing waterbending by the river. They found Katara, alone, late at night practicing the water whip. Zuko captured the waterbender and tied her to a tree, attempting to interrogate her for information on the Avatar. He showed her that he had her mother's lost betrothal necklace in his possession, the last tie that she had to her mother in exchange. However, the pirates demanded the scroll, and Zuko threatened to destroy it if they did not find Aang.
The next morning, Aang and Sokka were found and captured, and they discovered Katara bound to a tree surrounded by firebenders. As Zuko and the pirates were about to make the trade of Aang exchanged with the scroll, Sokka convinced the pirates to not sell Aang by revealing to them that he was the Avatar, despite Zuko's attempts to keep it a secret from the pirates. The pirates decided that they wanted to sell Aang to the Fire Nation themselves, and the situation quickly escalated into a battle.
While Zuko and the pirates fought, Aang, Katara, and Sokka escaped. Katara and Aang used waterbending to get the pirates' boat into water, sail away, and escape. Iroh stopped Zuko and the pirates' captain, showing them that the pirates' boat was being stolen. Zuko laughed at their misfortune, until he saw the pirates who taunted him by mooning him, except for the captain, stealing his smaller ship and starting to chase the Avatar.
Both ships were lost after falling over a waterfall. Back on shore, Iroh discovered that his lost white lotus tile was stuck in his sleeve the whole time. Frustrated and angry, Zuko grabbed the tile from Iroh's hand and threw it over the waterfall in anger which struck one of the pirates on the head and bounced off.
In the storm
After this, Zuko was piloting his ship through what appeared to be a sunny, calm day, when Iroh stated that he could feel a storm coming. He advised Zuko to sail away from the storm, but Zuko refused, stating wherever the Avatar went, they would follow.
When it became clear they were sailing into a storm, Lieutenant Jee called Zuko out as the latter continued to refuse to turn around. Zuko responded by trying to instigate a duel. Before a fight could begin, however, Iroh separated the two.
As Iroh explained Zuko's past to the crew, the storm wreaked havoc on the ship. A lightning bolt almost struck it but Iroh managed to redirect it away. Zuko then noticed that the helmsman was dangling from the top of the ship. He then climbed up to the top and grabbed the helmsman's hand, successfully rescuing him. Finally, Zuko agreed to get the ship to safety, reaching the eye of the storm. During this time, he saw Aang flying up the eye, but just looked at him and let him pass.
The Blue Spirit
The new 'Admiral' Zhao
At Pohuai Stronghold, a Fire Nation fortress overlooking the Earth Kingdom's western shore, Commander Zhao requested the use of the Yuyan Archers, an elite group of Fire Nation soldiers skilled in archery, in his hunt for the Avatar. Colonel Shinu strictly denied the request, until word suddenly arrived from Fire Lord Ozai that Zhao had been promoted to the position of admiral. Now the superior officer, Zhao smugly changed his request of the Yuyan Archers' abilities into an order. Meanwhile, a figure watched the proceedings from the roof above and behind Zhao, his face hidden by a blue oni mask.
Meanwhile, on Zuko's ship, the exiled prince was discussing what actions to take in pursuing the Avatar with his crew, having lost Aang's trail due to the recent storm. However, their planning was interrupted when a large Fire Nation ship, one of the many under Zhao's command, pulled alongside. Several Fire Nation soldiers boarded, revealing a wanted poster depicting Aang, and stating that all information regarding the Avatar was to be reported directly to Admiral Zhao. Zuko angrily reported that he had no information to report, and demanded that the soldiers get off his ship and allow them to pass. He became further angered when the soldiers complied with his first demand, but stated that under Zhao's orders no ships were being allowed in or out of the area. Iroh responded to all of this in his typical laid-back fashion, instead focusing on winning a game of Pai Sho with several of the crew members.
Zuko practiced on the deck of his ship, having not given an order to his men in the hour since it was boarded. Iroh expressed concern over his nephew's behavior, and assured him that it was still possible that he could capture the Avatar before Zhao. Zuko expressed disbelief, as Zhao had far greater resources and power. He stated, despondently, that soon he would lose all that he had been fighting for in the years since his exile.
His fears were founded when the Avatar was finally captured by the Yuyan Archers, and taken back at Pohuai Stronghold as a prisoner. There he was chained and locked up in a cell, where he was mocked by Admiral Zhao.
Infiltrate and escape
However, the same masked figure from before materialized among the bushes flanking the path into the fortress. The figure, the titular Blue Spirit, sneaked into the fortress by clinging to the underside of a carriage that was brought into the fortress, before moving stealthily through it to Aang's cell.
Luckily for the Blue Spirit, Zhao was currently addressing all of the Fire Nation members in the fortress, saying that the Avatar had been captured and the Fire Nation would win the war in less than a year. This distraction allowed him to move across the fortress's inner-most wall unnoticed, before descending into a small sewage system and emerging within the fortress's main tower.
The Blue Spirit deftly defeated the guards in his way. As he moved into the cell and unsheathed his swords, Aang became terrified, believing the Blue Spirit meant harm rather than help.
However, his fears were soon dispersed as the Blue Spirit slashed through his bonds, and began to leave the room. Aang questioned the Blue Spirit's identity and intentions, but he did not answer the Avatar's question, instead silently motioning for Aang to follow him. Aang concluded that this new figure meant to help him escape, and followed him outside.
As Aang and the Blue Spirit exited the tower via the fortress's shallow sewers, Zhao strolled through its corridors while ordering a secretary to send a message to the Fire Lord recording his triumph. However, Zhao noticed the four guards that the Blue Spirit had defeated, and after finding that Aang had escaped, he sounded the alarm.
Just as the alarm sounded, Aang and the Blue Spirit were making their way up the rope that the latter used to descend the wall. The rope was cut, and the Blue Spirit and Aang were forced fight their way out of the fortress through its three sets of gates. Aang airbent a group of soldiers out of their path and managed to reach the first gate easily, but the Blue Spirit did not possess his supernatural speed, and was soon overtaken by a dozen men wielding spears, whom he began to battle.
Aang, noticing that his unexpected savior was in danger, moved to assist him, though the Blue Spirit appeared capable of easily matching his opponents. In the process, Aang yanked away one of the spears and snapped its blade off, turning it into a staff in place of his glider. Aang was able to use his airbending abilities in conjunction with the staff to move himself and the Blue Spirit to the top of the second wall, but in the process dropped the staff, leaving them with one more wall to overcome. Scores of Fire Nation soldiers ascended the wall with flexible bamboo ladders, but a quick-thinking Aang turned this against their pursuers. He turned the ladders into makeshift stilts, and, with the Blue Spirit hanging on his back, used three of the ladders to get them across to the third wall.
However, a firebending soldier burned the last ladder beneath their feet before they could reach the final wall, and Aang and the Spirit were forced to jump. Although both managed to get hand-holds on the edge of the wall, neither was able to hang on, and they fell to the ground in front of the final gate. A group of firebenders launched a combined attack on the duo, and Aang used airbending to defend them before Zhao ordered his soldiers to stand down. The admiral continued, stating that the Avatar needed to be captured alive.
Hearing this, the Blue Spirit quickly placed his swords at Aang's throat, threatening to kill him. Zhao was frustrated, but decided not to take any risks. He ordered the guards to open the gates, and the Blue Spirit, still holding his blades to Aang's neck, marched the two of them outside, never turning either of their backs to the fortress. Colonel Shinu was bewildered that Zhao was allowing the Avatar to escape, but the admiral remained calm.
At the top of the outer wall, Zhao ordered a Yuyan Archer to knock out the Blue Spirit, which he did without fail with a single arrow to his forehead. The Blue Spirit fell over instantly unconscious, his life spared due to the protection provided by his mask. Aang immediately airbent up a large dust cloud to conceal himself, while a group of Fire Nation soldiers raced from the fortress to capture them. He took off the Blue Spirit's mask to learn that his rescuer was, to his immense shock, Zuko. He turned to run and left the prince behind, but hesitated. When the dust settled, Aang and Zuko had vanished without a trace. Zhao was immensely angered, and his mood was not helped when suddenly one of Aang's frogs from before appeared alongside him, croaked, and leaped off the wall.
Later, Zuko regained consciousness to discover that morning had arrived, and he was with Aang in a wooded area. Aang spoke nostalgically of Kuzon, a Fire Nation boy he knew as one of his closest friends a century before. He laughed at the thought of how much trouble he got into with his friend. After reflecting, he asked Zuko if under different circumstances they too could have been friends like him and Kuzon. Zuko paused, then responded by launching a fire blast, which Aang easily avoided before leaping through the trees. Zuko's stern expression softened slightly, and he decided not to pursue the Avatar, at least for then.
Zuko returned to his ship. Iroh greeted him, questioning where he had been all night, but seemed not to be too worried, being more concerned with the events of "music night" from the evening before. Zuko ignored these comments, and ordered no disturbances while he tried to catch up on his sleep.
The bounty hunter
Iroh, in his continuing mission to calm Zuko's aggressive nature, was sharing a cup of tea with nephew, claiming it was good for his mental well-being. Just as Zuko was about to try a sip, there was a disturbance on the deck, and Zuko and Iroh went to check it out. There, they encountered the bounty hunter June and her shirshu invading his ship, claiming to be in pursuit of a stowaway. Just as Zuko claimed there were no stowaways on his ship, the shirshu ripped open the deck, found the stowaway among the cargo, and paralyzed him with its venomous tongue. Zuko was astounded, and he asked the bounty hunter how she was able to find the man so easily, to which she answered that her shirshu could detect a scent for miles by just smelling an object. She left the damaged ship with her prize, while Zuko and an attracted Iroh looked on.
Zuko, along with Iroh, spotting an effective new way to find the Avatar, tracked June down to a seedy tavern to enlist her help. He initially demanded she helped him to compensate for the damage to his ship but she only agreed when Iroh offered to pay her in gold. Zuko, ignoring Iroh's flirtations with June and June's cracks about "his girlfriend", showed her Katara's necklace to use to follow her scent, tracking Aang by proxy. They followed Katara's scent all the way through the ruins of Taku and Makapu Village until they found Katara and Sokka. After paralyzing them, they realized that Aang was not with them. The shirshu sought out Aang's scent from a map that he had held, and they tracked him into the abbey.
Zuko ended up in a one-on-one showdown with Aang, while June and the shirshu fought Appa. Everybody brawled, and Zuko chased Aang across the abbey, ferociously attacking him with firebending while Aang defended himself with airbending. Sokka, coming out of paralysis thanks to the nuns' remedy, devised a plan to blind the shirshu by overpowering its sense of smell with perfume. Katara waterbent the perfume onto the shirshu, and it lost control. Blinded and panicking, it paralyzed both Zuko and June. Iroh pretended to be paralyzed so he could hold June close to him, and shushed Zuko when he pointed this out.
Siege of the North
Close to the North Pole, Zuko's ship had docked in a Fire Nation bay for the night. During Iroh's music night, Zhao came on board to conscript the crew, for his attack on the Northern Water Tribe. Iroh and Zhao went to Zuko's room, to inform him. When Zuko heard of this, he tried to attack Zhao, but he was restrained by Iroh. Zhao, however was distracted by the broadswords on a mantelpiece, which he recognized as the Blue Spirit's, and casually asked Zuko if he had any skill with the swords. Zuko, knowing what Zhao is thinking, replied that the swords were only antiques used for decoration. Zhao did not respond, but lightly asked Iroh if he had heard of the Blue Spirit. When he got a negative response, he left, but not before offering a military advisory position to Iroh.
After the crew left, Zuko was bitter and resentful. He rejected Iroh's offer to go for a walk, and opted to stay in his room and sulk. Meanwhile, the pirates, whom Zuko had met before, were hired by Zhao to assassinate Zuko, and they began to plant explosives on his ship. Zuko heard them, when one of them opened a creaky door. He went to investigate, but found nothing until he saw the pirate captain's iguana parrot. The explosives went off, and destroyed Zuko's ship. Moments before the flames hit him, Zuko formed a fire shield around himself, saving his life.
When Zuko reunited with Iroh, he stowed away aboard Zhao's ship while his uncle accepted the offer to be the admiral's adviser.
Zuko stayed aboard Zhao's ship, disguising as a soldier, well into the siege. After nightfall, he commandeered a boat, and planned to sneak into the city to take Aang. Before he left, Iroh met with him, gave him advice, and told him that he had thought of him as his own son since son's death. Zuko said he knew, and promised that they would meet again, after he had captured the Avatar. Iroh wished him well, and Zuko left.
He rowed his way to the shoreline next to the city. He noticed a group of turtle seals diving into a hole, and realized that they must have a place where they came up for air. He dove in, and eventually came to a place where he was trapped under ice. He used heat, created from firebending, to melt the ice, and came up in the city. He made his way to the Spirit Oasis, where he found that Aang had crossed into the Spirit World. He interrupted them, demanding that they give Aang to him. Katara moved to defend him, as Yue ran away, and Zuko took a fighting stance.
The two began to fight. At first, they were relatively equal; but Katara, empowered by the moon, gained the upper hand and trapped Zuko in a prison of ice. However, when the sun rose, he, being powered by the sun, used a fire blast to knock Katara into a tree, knocking her out. He took Aang and, having nowhere else to go, left the city and went north, into a raging blizzard.
After trudging through the falling snow, Zuko found a cave, and took shelter. Soon after, Aang's spirit returned to his body. After the Avatar woke up, the firebender tried to escape, but failed. Zuko restrained him, but Katara, Sokka and Yue, who had been following them, come 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 escaped while Aang and his allies were distracted by Zhao's attack on the Moon Spirit, Tui.
Zuko followed an escaping Zhao, and attacked him. The Fire Nation Admiral defended himself, told Zuko that he knew Zuko was the Blue Spirit and called him a traitor. The two began fighting, and even though they were equal for a while, Zuko fared much better than he had in their first fight, and matched every one of Zhao's attacks. Eventually, he gained the upper hand and defeated him. Just as he was defeated by Zuko, the vengeful Ocean Spirit, La, attacked Zhao, attempting to drag him into the water. After a moment of internal struggle, Zuko offered Zhao his hand in aid. A prideful Zhao refused and was drowned by the Ocean Spirit.
Zuko and Iroh escaped the North Pole, and traveled on a driftwood raft for three weeks, until they reached land.
Zuko and Iroh reached a Fire Nation village resort, where Iroh received a massage, while Zuko brooded over the three-year anniversary of his banishment. He expressed his desire to fulfill his goal of capturing the Avatar and regaining his honor, the throne, and his father's respect. Iroh tried to console him, saying, "Why would he banish you if he didn't care?" but to no avail.
Upon returning to their place of stay, the two found Azula waiting for them. They exchanged cold greetings, in which Azula mocked Zuko with jibes about becoming uncivilized and called him "Zuzu". Azula informed them that Ozai had heard of plans to overthrow him, and intended to surround himself with the only people he could trust, his family. She told Zuko that their father regretted his banishment, and wished for him to come home, news that shocked Zuko. Azula left, giving him time to mull it over.
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. Zuko insisted that his father truly cared about him, but Iroh suspected that the invitation to return home was fraudulent. Zuko grew angry, calling him lazy, selfish, and jealous, and stormed off.
The next morning, Zuko proceeded to meet Azula alone when he was suddenly approached by Iroh; the retired general had ultimately chosen to accompany Zuko, although he remained somewhat suspicious. When they arrived at the harbor where Azula's ship was docked, Azula welcomed both of them warmly. Her treachery, however, was revealed when her ship's captain referred to them as "prisoners". There was momentary silence at this revelation before Iroh sprang into action and began fighting her guards. Zuko threw the captain overboard and yelled at his sister for lying to him. Azula just sneered at him, and two of her guards attacked him. He defeated them easily, and took a stance against the princess. He created two fire daggers, and attacked her, and Azula fought him off with her hand-to-hand skills, twisting his arms out of her way and using his weight to manipulate his movements. When she finally gained the high ground on a set of stairs, Azula blasted Zuko away with a fire attack. She prepared to finish him with a lightning attack, but Iroh interceded, redirecting the lightning, kicking her overboard and escaping with Zuko.
The duo ran into the forest until they came far enough away. They sat by a stream, and Zuko pulled out his dagger Iroh had given him years earlier. He cut off his top-knot as a symbol of severance from his family and the Fire Nation, and gave the dagger to his uncle, who did the same. The two ran off into the countryside as fugitives.
Iroh and Zuko struggled to live off the land. Iroh mistakenly ingested a deadly plant, and they were forced to seek aid from a young Earth Kingdom herbalist named Song. Song tried to reach out to Zuko repeatedly, but he rebuffed her. However, when she displayed her own burn scars caused by the Fire Nation, he seemed taken aback and dismayed. When she asked him if his father was involved in the Hundred Year War, he only replied, "Yes, he is." Despite Song's compassion, as Zuko and Iroh departed, Zuko stole Song's ostrich horse, ignoring Iroh's protests.
The two grew more desperate and Zuko fumed as Iroh was forced to panhandle for money. After watching Iroh being harassed by a local, Zuko once again donned the guise of the Blue Spirit and resorted to stealing from local merchants. Iroh, worried about Zuko, confronted him about his suspicious acquisitions and his honor. When he went further and pointed out that capturing the Avatar at this point would likely not improve their situation or return Zuko to his "rightful place" in the Fire Nation, Zuko pulled away from Iroh and walked off. When he returned, he declared that, after reflection, he decided 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. Eventually, he stumbled upon a small town that was regularly harassed by a troop of unscrupulous Earth Kingdom soldiers. Zuko stood up to those soldiers, impressing a young boy named Lee, who invited Zuko back to his family's farm for food and shelter. He spent the day helping with chores, and thinking of his own, far less happy childhood. Zuko acted as something of a substitute brother for Lee, whose older brother was off fighting in the war, even giving Lee a quick lesson in how to use dual broadswords when Lee's curiosity prompted him to take them. As Zuko was preparing to leave, the Earth Kingdom soldiers rode to the house and gave the news that Lee's older brother's battalion had been captured.Lee's father decided to join the army to try to get his son back. Lee asked Zuko to stay and take care of them, but Zuko declined. Before leaving, Zuko gave Lee the dagger that he received from Iroh as a boy.
After Zuko left town, Lee's mother came to him, telling him how the soldiers had come back after her husband left to harass the family and took Lee away when he threatened them with the dagger. Having no one else to turn to, she asked Zuko to save him. Zuko denounced the soldiers as common bullies and defeated most of them easily, but the ringleader was an earthbender and Zuko was unable to beat him using only his broadswords. After recalling his mother's last words to him before her disappearance, to "never forget who you are", Zuko firebent to save himself and announced his identity proudly to the town. He retrieved his dagger from the beaten ringleader and tried to give the knife to Lee, but Lee declined and claimed his hatred for Zuko due to his former alliance with the Fire Nation. Despite what he had done for them, the townspeople rejected Zuko because of his identity and he departed, alone, with his dagger.
Zuko followed the progression of a tank train belonging to Azula, who was in turn relentlessly hunting and harrying Aang and company. He eventually came across Azula in a deserted town where she and Aang were about to face off. He assumed a fighting stance and warned his sister to leave Aang's capture to him. Not willing to budge, she prepared to battle herself. The three stood off, waiting for one to make the first attack. Eventually, Azula fired at Zuko, knocking him over. When she proceeded to attack Aang, a three-way battle ensued.
Azula dominated the fight by launching many powerful attacks and keeping Aang and Zuko on the defensive. Zuko traded several fire attacks with her, and pursued her into a building, where she finally landed a knock-out blow to Zuko. After several minutes, Iroh, who had been following Zuko and watching over his nephew from afar, shook Zuko out of unconsciousness. The two of them joined Aang and his friends, who had joined him earlier. All six cornered Azula, who feigned surrender, only to attack and badly wound Iroh in a moment of distraction. Zuko, Aang, Katara, and Toph each launched an elemental attack, but Azula disappeared, utilizing a clever firebending move. Zuko ran to his wounded uncle, grief-stricken. When Aang and his companions approached, he angrily demanded that they leave. Katara offered help, but Zuko launched a fire blast at them. They ran away, leaving Zuko to tend to his uncle's injuries.
Zuko took Iroh to a small shack on the outskirts of the town to tend to his wound. He bandaged it and prepared tea. When Iroh woke up, Zuko explained what happened, and offered him the tea which Iroh did not like, but gracefully accepted. Aware that he would eventually encounter Azula again, Zuko appealed to his uncle for instruction in more advanced firebending. He anticipated an argument, predicting that his uncle would say he should try to get along with Azula. He was surprised, however, when Iroh agreed and told him Azula was "crazy and [needed] to go down". They began to resume Zuko's training.
Iroh began teaching him about the nature of lightning. He explained that lightning required calm and peace of mind, and that it was not fueled by rage or emotion. The two of them went out to the cliff side, where Iroh explained the process more fully and demonstrated lightning generation. Zuko eagerly proclaimed he was ready to try it. When he did attempt it, however, he only created an explosion that knocked him back. He persisted, but each attempt to produce lightning just exploded in his face. When he got frustrated, Iroh explained that Zuko's emotional turmoil was preventing him from feeling the calm needed to produce lightning. He told Zuko that he would be unable to produce lightning until he got over the shame that he felt.
Instead of lightning generation, Iroh offered to teach Zuko a firebending technique he himself had invented. He began the lesson by giving a lecture about each of the four nations. He told Zuko that he had to draw his knowledge and power from more than one source, and that looking to other cultures and the other elements could help him become whole. When Zuko compared this to the Avatar, Iroh told him that incorporating ideas from all four nations could empower him, like the Avatar. He told Zuko that the technique he was about to teach him was one he learned by studying the waterbenders: lightning redirection. He taught Zuko the smooth, flowing movements of waterbending, entailing absorbing and redirecting energy, necessary for the technique. Eventually, Zuko mastered it.
When Iroh praised him, Zuko eagerly asked to try it out with real lightning. Iroh was shocked, and refused, even going to the extent of calling him insane. He declared that lightning was too dangerous, and that if Zuko was lucky, he would never have to use this technique. 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 in general when no lightning came close enough until finally, exhausted and emotionally spent, he broke down bitterly in tears.
To Ba Sing Se
Zuko and Iroh traveled to a desert oasis where Iroh made contact with a secret society of which he was a member: the Order of the White Lotus. Zuko and Iroh found out that the Fire Nation had placed a large bounty on their heads when Xin Fu and Master Yu tried to claim their bounties. However, the White Lotus aided them in dodging bounty hunters and garnered documentation so that Iroh and Zuko could pass into the Earth Kingdom's capital city, Ba Sing Se.
While traveling there, they encountered Jet, also headed toward Ba Sing Se for a new life. Jet befriended Zuko before noticing Iroh employing subtle firebending to heat his tea. Furious, Jet became determined to expose them.
Zuko and Iroh settled in Ba Sing Se, although Zuko remained highly displeased, having no desire to make a life in the "prison" that was Ba Sing Se. They both took jobs in a tea house as servers, and Iroh soon took it upon himself to greatly improve the quality of the local tea, which gave him a degree of fame. Meanwhile, Jet made various surreptitious attempts to prove that Zuko and Iroh were firebenders, albeit unsuccessfully. His frustration boiling over, Jet finally walked into the tea shop and challenged them to a fight, hoping to force one of them to firebend in self-defense. Instead brandishing dual dao swords, Zuko took up Jet's challenge and the two began an extended, even battle until the Dai Li arrived on scene. Various witnesses stated that Jet's attack on the tea shop employees was completely unprovoked, leading to Jet's arrest.
Zuko remained reluctant to adapt to living in Ba Sing Se, perhaps best typified by his awkward date with Jin, a young girl who was a regular customer of the tea house where he worked and who had developed a crush on Zuko. Toward the end of their date, she lightly kissed him, a gesture he reciprocated before pulling away, claiming, "It's complicated," and leaving the scene. Upon arriving back at his apartment, Iroh inquired about his date; Zuko went straight into his room without answering, but after a few seconds, he cracked open the door and quietly remarked that "it was nice".
Crossroads of destiny
Zuko learned that Aang was in the city after seeing a flier that Aang and company had made during their search for the missing Appa. Zuko decided to hunt for Appa and use him as bait for Aang. In his Blue Spirit disguise, he forced a Dai Li agent to disclose Appa's whereabouts. He infiltrated the Dai Li's secret base beneath Lake Laogai and found Appa in his cell, but was confronted by Iroh. Iroh, in an uncharacteristically sharp manner, berated Zuko's rashness, questioning the course of action the latter planned to take once he had Appa in his possession. He attempted to persuade Zuko into giving up his search for the Avatar, the destiny imposed upon him by his father, and follow his own path. Zuko cried out in agony and indecision, but decided to free Appa. When they left Lake Laogai, he threw his Blue Spirit mask into the lake.
When Zuko and Iroh returned to their apartment, Zuko collapsed with a terrible fever. Iroh deduced that Zuko's great internal struggle over his future and his destiny had in effect carried over to his body. Iroh likened this period of time to a metamorphosis, and stated that in the end Zuko would emerge as the person he was truly meant to be. While suffering this illness, Zuko had a series of dreams and hallucinations; in one of them, he saw himself as the Fire Lord, without his scar, while a blue dragon with Azula's voice and a red dragon with Iroh's voice gave him differing advice. He also saw images of his vanished mother begging him for help. At one point, Zuko finally seemed to awaken. He got up and splashed water on his face, only to look into a mirror and see that he had Aang's bald head and airbender tattoos. Zuko quickly woke up with a cry of horror and immediately touched the scar on his face.
Upon recovering from his fever, Zuko displayed a more optimistic view of his life in Ba Sing Se. He was enthusiastic at the opening of Iroh's new tea shop, and at the invitation for the two of them to come to the Earth King's palace to serve him tea. The invitation, however, was a trap set by Azula, who had agreed with the Dai Li to perform a coup to overthrow the Earth King. Iroh managed to flee to safety, encouraging Zuko to follow him; Zuko, however, chose to confront Azula. He challenged Azula to an Agni Kai, but Azula laughed off his challenge and had the Dai Li arrest him and imprison him in a cave with Katara. There, Katara berated Zuko, who sat silently and absorbed the abuse until Katara mentioned how the Fire Nation had taken her mother away from her, something with which Zuko could sympathize and relate. This was a bonding point for the two where Katara apologized, explaining that Zuko's face had long been the face of the enemy in her mind, causing Zuko to acknowledge his scar and how it marked him. Katara offered to attempt to heal Zuko's scar and prepared to do so when Iroh and Aang arrived on scene to rescue them.
Despite having seemingly changed for the better, Zuko still held a great deal of anger toward Aang; within moments, the two old adversaries nearly came to blows, until Iroh restrained Zuko, and encouraged Aang and Katara to leave and find their friends. When Katara and Aang exited the cavern, Iroh attempted to dissuade Zuko from continuing his pursuit once again. Azula arrived, accompanied by two Dai Li agents, who incapacitated Iroh in crystal. Azula sought his assistance in capturing the Avatar, claiming that joining forces with her would earn Zuko his honor and father's praise. Iroh retorted that the redemption she offered was not for him and pleaded with Zuko to seek his own destiny. When Azula left to fight Aang and Katara, Zuko later joined the battle and ultimately teamed up with Azula in attacking Aang, doing so with manic zeal. Zuko assisted his sister directly several times, freeing her from Katara's grasp at one point. When Aang was knocked into a wall by Azula, Katara was left to battle both Zuko and Azula. Katara used water shields to deflect the blasts, but the siblings quickly overpowered her, leaving her defenseless.
At the end of the battle, following Aang's fatal injury from Azula's lightning fire, Iroh arrived on the scene and covered Katara and Aang's escape; he held off the siblings and scored off Dai Li agents until they had safely exited the cavern. Iroh subsequently let himself be captured; Azula and Zuko triumphantly returned to the Earth King's palace. Growing uncertain once more, Zuko questioned his actions and expressed regret at having betrayed Iroh. Azula turned this aside, though, telling Zuko that it was Iroh who had betrayed him. She subsequently expressed confidence that Zuko had restored his own honor. Zuko, however, still appeared conflicted about his decision.
After this, Zuko was surprisingly reluctant to return to the Fire Nation as a hero. However, after informing his sister of his intention to remain in Ba Sing Se, the princess pulled out a trump card in the form of an old friend—Mai, who had shared a mutual crush with Zuko as a child. After foiling Azula's dinner date set up, Zuko accompanied the governor's daughter on a stroll throughout the city, where —after an incident involving Jin, octofish, and a fountain— the two ended up kissing and reminiscing. The following day, as he saw Mai off during the boardings, Zuko severely contemplated returning home with her, watched on by Azula. The princess turned her attention to Iroh being led aboard a Fire Nation ship in chains and wondered aloud if he will even survive the trip. As she bid her brother farewell, Zuko suddenly made the resolve to come with them back to the Fire Nation. Azula slyly told her brother to do whatever he wanted, as it is his decision.
Several weeks later, though, as the ship approached Fire Nation waters, Zuko expressed his fear at how much everything had changed, and how much he himself had changed. Despite reassurances from Mai and deafening cheers from the citizens of the Fire Nation, Zuko was still uncertain as to how his father would receive him, and even doubtful as to whether or not the Avatar was truly dead, a feeling he consequentially expressed to his sister. When he finally returned to his father's throne room, however, his father welcomed him back with pride and recognition, claiming that Zuko had fully redeemed himself by slaying the Avatar. Zuko managed to contain his surprise at this, knowing fully well that it had been Azula who had delivered the blow, not him.
Although the false claim finally gave him the redemption he had so longed for, Zuko confronted his sister that night about why she had given him the credit. Azula claimed that she saw how worried Zuko was about not having the Avatar, she decided to give him the credit for his demise out of a generous gesture to repay his part in the takeover of Ba Sing Se. Zuko refused to believe her explanation, accusing her of retaining an ulterior motive. Azula nonchalantly pointed out how letting him have all the glory over slaying the Avatar could do little to benefit her, but went on to insidiously acknowledge the fact that should it be discovered that the Avatar was alive, all that glory would swiftly turn into shame and foolishness. She assured Zuko that he had nothing to worry about, as he had already said himself, there was no way the Avatar could have survived. With that, the princess bid her brother goodnight, who left deeply incensed. Even with his redemption, he was still being manipulated.
Zuko had been secretly seeing his imprisoned uncle, telling the guard to say nothing. However, Iroh would have none of him and refused to listen to Zuko's claims he could have returned a hero. He promptly called Iroh a crazy old man. While on a picnic with Mai, they were interrupted by Azula who cautioned Zuko not to be discovered visiting Uncle or people will think he was conspiring with him. After delivering a box of chicken to his uncle, Zuko said to his uncle that he had everything he had ever wanted, but was tortured knowing that the Avatar was still alive; Iroh refused to advise his nephew. Zuko later met with a person who had a tattoo of a third eye who he hired and instructed to kill the Avatar.
Zuko, Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee went on vacation to Ember Island at Lo and Li's beach house, due to the fact Fire Lord Ozai was holding a restricted meeting with his confidants. At the beach, Zuko made several unsuccessful attempts to impress Mai with pretty shells and ice cream; the former failed to appeal to her, and the latter fell on Mai's leg in the unlucky fashion Zuko was famous for. Later, the group was invited to a party at Chan's house.
During the party, after fetching Mai some food, Zuko found Ruon-Jian talking to Mai. Zuko lost his temper and violently threw Ruon-Jian into a large pot across the room. Disgusted, Mai angrily told Zuko that his temper was out of control; he took his anger out on her, saying that she did not feel anything and was a "big blah". Hurt and confused by this accusation, Mai told Zuko that their relationship was over. Chan returned and ejected Zuko from the party.
Zuko headed off and went to his family's abandoned vacation house where he reminisced about memories of himself as a child with his Mother, Father, and Uncle. He spotted a stone imprinted with his own baby hand print, only for his eyes to be drawn to an old family portrait hanging on the wall. Azula found Zuko and suggests joining her and her friends at the beach while commenting that the vacation house is very depressing, and they all went down to the beach again. Zuko tried to reconcile with Mai, but she was still cold toward him.
When words started to fly, Zuko pushed into a rant about his own life, where he admitted that he was angry but unsure why. The girls all pressured him into giving an answer, and he finally screamed that he was angry at himself because he did not know the difference between right and wrong anymore. Finally understanding what bothers Zuko so much, and the girls, and even Azula told of their own family problems. Mai returned to his side and said that there was one thing she cared about and kissed him once again. Azula then asks the group if they really wanted to know how make their vacation really memorable. They returned to Chan's house and crashed the party by destroying furniture, breaking vases, and burned the building.
Later that weekend, the couple went on a date to the Ember Island Arcade. After winning a stuffed tiger monkey toy that Mai did not really want, Zuko got dragged into a game of "Street Bender" with Azula. Initially Azula, having been defeating children at the game for several days, managed to dominate her brother, but when Zuko started to get the hang of it, Azula used her firebending to secretly enhance her figure's attacks. In a fit of rage, Zuko attempted the same trick, but ended up destroying the machine. Afterward, Ty Lee remarked that they should make a rule about letting Zuko play.
Zuko awoke and found a message telling him that he needed to learn the story of his great grandfather's demise, it would help reveal his own destiny. He quizzed Azula but she said that Sozin died in his sleep. Zuko puzzled over the message until he finally threw it over his lamp revealing a secret message written on the other side, telling him that the Fire Sages kept the Secret History in the Dragonbone Catacombs. He found the place by secretly following one of the Fire Sages. After entering he discovered the Final Testament of Fire Lord Sozin.
Zuko read up on the past friendship of Avatar Roku and Fire Lord Sozin. At the end Sozin said he kept searching for the new Avatar. Zuko confronted Iroh in prison, outraged, and accusing Iroh of sending him messages telling him that the scroll told him little more than what he already knew. Zuko said he had learned nothing more of Sozin's death. Iroh calmly stated that he was referring to his mother's grandfather, Avatar Roku. A shocked Zuko fell to his knees, more confused than ever. Iroh told Zuko good and evil were always fighting inside Zuko for it was his nature. Iroh said that the bright side was that Zuko alone could restore honor to the Fire Nation and bring about peace. Iroh subsequently handed Zuko a lost royal artifact meant to be worn by the crown prince that was worn by both of his great-grandfathers and told him he could choose either of their paths and restore balance to the world or destroy it.
Zuko eventually recovered from the initial shock of his family revelation, and in the following weeks was thoroughly enjoying life as an honored prince. He had servants attending to his every need and the population adored him, and had romantic evenings with Mai. A few days before the Day of Black Sun, he visited Mai's house, which was right across from the Royal Palace. The two were happier than ever as Mai was now much more open with her emotions. When Zuko asked if Mai could have anything she wanted in the world at that moment what it would be, he discovered her love for fruit tarts and with his servants was able to answer to such desires.
Suddenly, Mai mentioned that Azula got invited to a war meeting with their father and apparently Zuko did not get invited. He talked to Azula who assured him that he was not told about the war meeting because he was already expected to be there. However, the fact that he, the Crown Prince was not informed as opposed to the Crown Princess insulted him, so he refused to go. When he sulked about it, Mai suggested he order some servants around or enjoy a fruit tart, but Zuko was not in the mood.
However, the next morning, Zuko did go to the war meeting when he found out that his father refused to start with him absent, setting his mind at ease. When it ended, he told Mai that his father let him sit at his right side, much to Mai's delight. However, Zuko also confided in her that although he acted like the son his father wanted, he was not himself. This made Zuko realize that he could not be the son that his father wanted him to, and that the war must come to end.
Before the battle on the Day of Black Sun, which the solar eclipse would cause all firebenders to lose their fire power, he gazed at a drawing of him and Mai, saying "I'm sorry." During the eclipse, he entered his father's chamber with his dual dao swords. First, he told his father that "it was Azula who took down the Avatar, not me." When Zuko told him that Azula's reason for lying was that the Avatar had survived, Ozai was furious. Zuko spouted his rage at the Fire Lord, explaining his internal conflicts throughout the series. Zuko said that he was never there during his childhood and argued that his father was cruel to challenge a thirteen year old to an Agni Kai and caused permanent damage to him for only the crime of speaking out of turn at a war meeting. Having had a first hand look at the destruction the Fire Nation had caused, Zuko spoke his mind about it and said it was not the "spreading of greatness" the country had lied about to its citizens. He turned to "join the Avatar" and nearly left the bunker when his father asked, "Don't you want to know what happened to your mother?"
Lured by these words, Zuko turned to stay. Ozai explained that after requesting that Iroh's birthright be revoked and placed upon his head, Azulon told him that he would have to kill Zuko to suffer the same pain as Iroh. Ozai reveals he had every intention to do so, but that his wife stated a plan in which Zuko would live and Ozai would become Fire Lord. Her actions resulted in Azulon's death and her banishment. This left Zuko hopefully asking that she was still alive. Ozai stated it was possible, but that he had learned that banishment was far too merciful of a punishment for treason and that Zuko will receive no such mercy. Just as the eclipse ended, Ozai leaped from his seat and fired a massive lightning bolt at Zuko. He caught the blast, sliding back several feet, before redirecting the charge at a much-surprised Ozai. The impact slammed Ozai into the back wall, and gave Zuko time to escape. From there, he headed to the prison, finding most of the guards unconscious or otherwise incapacitated. Finding the warden who constantly insulted Iroh, he demanded to know what happened. The guard revealed that Iroh broke himself out, and was like a "one-man army". Zuko later followed Team Avatar in a war balloon, intent on joining them.
Joining Team Avatar
Zuko arrived at the Western Air Temple before Aang and his friends. He ran away to hide when the gang arrived on Appa. Later at his camp in the woods, he tried to practice a speech on how to persuade Team Avatar that he now was good and wanted to join their group; he did this in front of a badgerfrog with little success. Finally, Zuko returned to the temple and appeared before Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph. Upon his arrival, Appa licked him for remembering that Zuko set him free in Ba Sing Se, which surprised Aang. Zuko tried his speech, and offered to teach Aang firebending, but the group was unwilling to let him due to their mistrust of him, especially Katara. Zuko began apologizing for the bad things he did to them, but accidentally let slip the fact that he sent Combustion Man after them. Enraged, the gang demanded that Zuko leave them now. Zuko instead offered to be accepted as their prisoner, but Katara waterbent at him and ordered him to leave. Zuko returned to his camp, and berated himself for how bad his attempt at joining their group was.
Later that night, Toph, sensing that Zuko was sincere, went to visit him. She made a noise that startled Zuko, causing him to act on instinct and firebend at the intruder, not knowing it was Toph. He burned her feet by accident, and when he tried to apologize and help her, Toph, despite knowing it was an accident, earthbent at him in panicked self-defense and retreated back to the temple. Thinking his act disillusioned Toph's beliefs of Zuko being sincere, Zuko collapsed to the ground and shouted in frustration:
- "Why am I so bad at being good?!"
- ―Zuko after accidentally burning Toph.
The next day, Combustion Man had tracked down Aang and the group to the temple. Zuko attacked Combustion Man with a flying kick, causing his attack to miss Aang and his friends. Zuko ordered him to stop hunting the Avatar, but Combustion Man ignored him and continued firing blasts at the temple. Zuko attempted to stop him with a fire punch, but was stopped when the assassin grabbed his shirt. The banished prince kicked him and was able to free himself. When he caused Combustion Man to misfire again, Combustion Man retaliated by shooting a blast at Zuko, who managed to shield himself with a fire wall, but the force of the blast pushed him off the edge. The firebender managed to grab a vine at the last moment. Aang and Katara attempted to bend at Combustion Man, but he easily withstood their attacks. Sokka however, used his boomerang to hit Combustion Man in his third eye tattoo, causing his next attack to backfire and prompt an explosion that sent him falling off the cliff.
Zuko appeared to Team Avatar once more and apologized to them again, saying that he had been through a lot the past few years. He apologized to Toph for burning her, remarking that he had to be in better control of his bending, and that fire could be a dangerous thing if not controlled. Aang told Zuko that he thought Zuko was meant to be his teacher because he understood what Aang went through when he first tried to firebend and burned Katara by accident. Zuko asked one more time to join the group. Aang accepted and asked his friends if he could be allowed to join them. Toph agreed, saying jokingly that it would give her time to get back at Zuko for burning her. Sokka agreed, knowing that Aang knew what he was doing. Lastly, Katara allowed him, but only reluctantly. Zuko happily promised that he would not let them down. As soon as this happened, the rest of the gang turned around and headed into the temple.
After Sokka showed Zuko to his room in the temple, he began to unpack his things. Katara appeared in his doorway. Just as Zuko began to show delight at her letting him join the team, she informed Zuko that even though the others accepted him, she still did not trust him and warned him.
- "You might have everyone else here buying your ... 'transformation', but you and I both know you've struggled with doing the right thing in the past. So let me tell you something right now. You make one step backward, one slip-up, give me one reason to think you might hurt Aang, and you won't have to worry about your destiny any more, because I'll make sure your destiny ends, right then and there — permanently."
- ―Katara warning Zuko.
She promptly left Zuko to ponder her words.
After joining the group, Zuko began to teach Aang firebending. After Aang showed him that he could not create fire, Zuko attempted to demonstrate, but was only able to produce weak and faint fire blasts. He theorized that he no longer had the anger he had to fuel his bending anymore because he switched sides.
After Zuko informed the rest of the group about his loss of firebending, Sokka and Katara poked fun at him, the former by referring to firebending as "jerkbending" and the latter by calling it ironic since it "would have been nice for [them] if [Zuko] lost [his] firebending a long time ago," but Toph had another idea. She suggested that Zuko and Aang learn from the original source of firebending. Zuko felt he was out of luck because firebending originated from the dragons, which were extinct. He did inform them that there were old ruins of the ancient Sun Warrior civilization located near to the Western Air Temple, and that they might learn something there.
After arriving at the ruins, Aang was almost caught in a booby trap. Zuko avoided it, saying that places with booby traps always have something worth protecting. While exploring, Zuko revealed that his great-grandfather Sozin began a tradition that if anyone hunted a dragon and killed it, their firebending would become legendary, and be granted the title of "Dragon". This action lead the Fire Nation to exterminate the dragons. Zuko's uncle conquered the last dragon, possibly giving him the name "The Dragon of the West", as well as his ability to breathe fire as he demonstrated to Azula. Sozin also started the belief that firebending originated from anger and rage and could only be used for destruction.
Aang and Zuko later found their way into a room with a circular alignment of statues, that were labeled as the Dancing Dragon, which was an ancient firebending form. After the both of them perform the form, a glowing jewel appeared in the center of the room. Zuko took it, and accidentally triggered another trap. They were both found by members of the Sun Warrior tribe a while later.
The chief told them that if they wish to master firebending, they must meet the tribe's masters. They were both given a fireball to carry up a mountain where the masters were to prove their worth and commitment to firebending. Shortly after arriving at the mountain top, they were confronted by the masters, which turned out to be a red dragon and a blue dragon. The dragons circled around a shocked Zuko and Aang. Aang and Zuko performed the Dancing Dragon, which mimicked the dragon's movements. The masters deemed them worthy, and demonstrated their bending by creating a rainbow colored column of fire.
Zuko and Aang were still shocked that there were dragons left. Zuko thought that his Uncle lied when he found and killed the last dragon, but the Sun Chief informs him otherwise. Zuko's uncle Iroh found his way to the dragons, and was deemed worthy and taught the original source of firebending as well. Zuko realized that firebending was not just hate and destruction, but beauty and life as well, and why he lost his ability to firebend. Hunting the Avatar was his drive for so long, so when he joined him, his drive vanished and he lost his touch with his inner fire. His new drive was to help the Avatar defeat the Fire Lord and restore balance to the world. Zuko was able to perform strong fire blasts again, and Aang was able to create fire too.
After returning to the group, Aang and Zuko performed the firebending form they learned. Sokka poked fun at them saying that they could dance to defeat the Fire Lord. A frustrated Zuko argued with him, but when he told the group the form was called the Dancing Dragon, he was left embarrassed as the group laughed at him.
Into the Boiling Rock
During the team's dinner, Zuko was serving everyone tea. While doing so, he attempted to tell a tea joke Uncle Iroh said at an earlier point, but spoiled it when he could only remember the punchline, saying that it would have sounded funnier had it been his uncle who said it.
Meanwhile, Sokka was feeling a little disturbed. When he privately asked Zuko about what prison Fire Nation criminals would be placed in, and where his father may had been taken, he said it would only make Sokka feel worse, but he hesitantly answered that the place would be a prison out in the middle of a volcano, in the middle of the ocean, where the gang might had passed through while they were on their way to the Western Air Temple. The prison was called the Boiling Rock, the most secure prison in the Fire Nation. Zuko was suspicious on why Sokka would ask such thing, to which the latter denied of going there.
In the middle of the night, while everyone was asleep, Sokka attempted to sneak on Appa alone. As he reached the saddle, he was caught by Zuko waiting there. Sokka demanded he needed to do this; as the Invasion was his idea, and his burden to get his honor back. However Zuko, knowing what it was like to want one's honor back, decided to go along with Sokka, not with Appa, but with a war balloon Zuko used as transportation to get to the Western Air Temple. Zuko left a note, for the gang to find next morning, fabricated in writing that he and Sokka had gone fishing, and reminded Aang to do some fire fists and hotsquats for firebending practice, much to the Avatar's dismay.
Zuko and Sokka spent most of their journey to the Boiling Rock in awkward silence. Eventually, Sokka broke the silence by stating that a friend of his designed the war balloons. Zuko replied that his father was good at war, to which Sokka replied that it "seemed to run in the family." Zuko claimed that not all of his family was like that, talking about his uncle, whom he was still downcast over betraying. Sokka tried stating that his uncle would be proud that he left his home to help them and that it was hard, but Zuko claimed it was not that hard, since the only one he left behind that he cared about was his girlfriend, Mai. Zuko said that he did not want to get her involved since he was now a traitor. Recalling what happened to his first girlfriend Princess Yue, Sokka states in melancholy that she turned into a moon, with Zuko replying "That's rough, buddy."
Zuko and Sokka made it to the prison at night. They saw a significant amount of steam emitting from the volcano. Because of the steam, the balloon air was no longer hot in relation to the outside air, which caused it to fall and crash, meaning there was no way off of the prison. Zuko told Sokka that he "hope[d Sokka] knew what he was doing", saying that there was no turning back.
The next morning, the duo donned Fire Nation guard uniforms. As they entered the prison yard, an altercation was ongoing. Chit Sang, a firebending prisoner, "broke" the rule of "Not bowing down to a prison guard." After Chit Sang defied his rule, the guard made a fire whip and used it against Chit Sang. However, the latter parried this, making him break the rule that firebending was prohibited in the prison. As a result, Chit Sang was sentenced to a cooler, where the firebenders would freeze until they could not firebend for a while.
Meanwhile, Zuko, at lunch break for the guards, asked some guards whether or not the Boiling Rock also held war prisoners. Zuko and Sokka met up later on and the firebender told the warrior that Water Tribe prisoners were not located in this prison, much to Sokka's sorrow. Sokka believed he failed, yet again, but Zuko tried to cheer him up with one of Iroh's wise sayings, which he messed up anyway. Sokka cheered up, not by Zuko's attempt, but at the sight of his girlfriend, Suki, who was returning to her prison cell.
Sokka went inside her cell to talk to her while Zuko stood guard. While Sokka and Suki reunited, a guard came by to check on Suki. Zuko tried to keep her out, at first with an excuse, followed by physical force. When Sokka came out, back in his guard disguise, he helped the guard arrest Zuko, but whispered to him that he would figure something out. Zuko allowed himself to get captured, and he was taken to a prison cell. While Zuko was in his cell, he was confronted by the warden, who shocked Zuko by showing that he knew the prince, claiming that Zuko "broke [his] niece's heart", referring to Mai.
Soon, Zuko and Suki were up to mopping duty and Suki recognized Zuko from when he attacked her village. Sokka gathered the both of them for a plan which Chit Sang overheard, and he demanded to be involved. They planned to use a cooler to ride their way out like a boat, as the cooler was perfect for keeping heat out. First, someone would need to screw a cooler cell free. Zuko volunteered by pretending to fight with Chit Sang with firebending. After that, he was sent to a cooler cell and, having used his fire breath to keep warm, was successful in unscrewing the cooler free. However, guards passed by and the two hid and overheard information that new arrivals would be coming the next day, including war prisoners, giving Sokka hope that he would see his father, Hakoda.
That night, Zuko and Sokka brought the loose cooler cell to where Chit Sang, Suki, and Chit Sang's friend and girlfriend were waiting. Sokka, knowing about the new arrivals of new prisoners tomorrow, stayed at the prison to break his father out. Suki and Zuko agreed to stay, while Chit Sang left. By dawn, Chit Sang and his friends were steaming up in the cooler and Chit Sang broke off a piece of metal to use as an oar to make the cooler go faster. He was scalded by the boiling water and yelled out in pain, alerting the Fire Nation guards of their escape attempt and they were caught. Meanwhile, Sokka, Suki, and Zuko hid while watching the prisoners come out of the lift used to transport prisoners. After a few come out, Sokka lost hope of seeing his father, until one last person was called out: Hakoda.
After the father-son reunion, Sokka made his way to Zuko's prison cell and tried to share an escape plan that he and Hakoda made, but was interrupted by two Fire Nation guards. Sokka feigned brutalizing Zuko as he filled in with where to meet. Zuko was taken into another cell, where he was confronted by Mai. Mai began to berate Zuko for leaving a letter and making her think that he had abandoned her, claiming that he could have least "looked [her] in the eye when [he] ripped out [her] heart". Zuko tried to tell her that he was doing this for his Nation, but Mai did not seem to understand how betraying his Nation will help it.
Later, Sokka, with the help of Chit Sang, started a riot and, in the confusion, Zuko got away and locked Mai in the cell to keep her safe. After Zuko showed up to join his friends, Suki captured the warden and the group made their way to the gondola.
The groups made it and Zuko broke the lever to make it unstoppable. However, they soon discovered a problem: They were being followed by Azula and Ty Lee, though Zuko and Suki had been waiting for a rematch with the two, respectively. Sokka, Suki, and Zuko climbed to the roof of the gondola and battled Ty Lee and Azula. Suki battled evenly with Ty Lee and Sokka and Zuko matched Azula fairly. The warden broke free of his binding and orders the guards to cut the line, even though that meant he and the others would not survive. The guards proceed on doing so. Azula and Ty Lee made it onto another gondola, but the group was trapped. Just as the guards were about to finish cutting the line, they were stopped by Mai. Mai started to pin the guards with her daggers, much to everyone's confusion. A guard asked her what she was doing, to which she replied, "Saving the jerk who dumped me." She freed the line and the gondola used by the group started moving again. The group made it out, while leaving the warden behind, and the group left. Although Suki wondered how they were going to leave, Zuko realized that Azula must have come to the Boiling Rock somehow and spotted a Fire Nation airship. The group used the airship as a tool for escape.
As Zuko and the others got back to the Western Air Temple, Katara asked Sokka and Zuko what happened to Zuko's small war balloon. Zuko merely answered, "It kinda got destroyed." After the rest of the gang asked if they got some good meat, Sokka answered that he did and it was the best meat of all, which was the meat of friendship and fatherhood. Hakoda, Suki, and Chit Sang presented themselves, though Chit Sang said, "I'm new. What's up everybody?" Katara embraced her father and asked what was going on. Sokka told her that they went to a Fire Nation prison, and he was dragged into the family reunion. Zuko watched this with a first real smile on his face, possibly happy that he was seeing a father who actually loved his children.
Searching for the Southern Raiders
In the beginning, the group was sleeping soundly on the ground some time after Zuko and Sokka returned to the Western Air Temple. Suddenly, bombs started shooting from Azula and fleet of airships there. Aang airbent the large doors closed to protect the group. Zuko pushed Katara out of the way when the ceiling almost fell on her. Katara in anger asked him what he was doing. Zuko told her that he was keeping rocks from crushing her, but Katara just shoved him off and said that she was not crushed and he could get off of her now. Zuko replied "I'll take that as a thank you", and got up. During the group's escape, Zuko acted as a distraction to buy them some time. When he confronted Azula, he asked why she was there. Her response was she was "about to celebrate becoming an only child", meaning she intended to kill him. Zuko fought Azula atop one of the airships, and was saved from certain death when the rest of the team flew under him on Appa and caught him after he and Azula blasted each other off.
After that morning, they settled down and Aang remarked that camping was just like old times. Zuko made a joke that if he wanted it to feel like old times, he could chase Aang around and try to capture him. Everyone laughed except Katara. Sokka made a toast to Zuko, but Zuko said he did not deserve it. Katara agreed with him and stormed off. Zuko followed her, finding out why Katara had been acting so bitter toward him, and that everyone seemed to trust him now. She yelled at him and said, "Maybe you can reconquer Ba Sing Se in the name of the Earth King! Or, I know, you can bring my mother back!" She left him there, thinking about what she said. After inadvertently thwarting a tryst between Sokka and Suki, he asked Sokka about the death of their mother, since he thought that was why Katara was holding in a grudge on him. He learned that the leader of the Southern Raiders, a fleet of Fire Nation warships, was responsible. He offered Katara his assistance in finding him, and she accepted. When Aang told Katara to let go of her anger, and that revenge was not the right path to go with, he was criticized by Zuko.
They sneaked into the Fire Navy communications tower and found out where the Southern Raiders were: Whaletail Island. They quickly escaped on Appa and continue their mission to the island. Katara told Zuko the story of what happened to her mother from her point of view. When the Southern Raiders came, young Katara went to her family's house to find her mother. There she saw the leader of the Southern Raiders, looking into his eyes, with her mother. Katara was scared, but her mother told her not to worry, and to find her father. Katara run outside as fast as she could and told her father about this, and both started running toward their igloo. But when the got there, it was too late. Zuko told Katara that her mother was a brave woman. Katara touched her necklace, and said she knew.
Zuko and Katara finally got to Whaletail Island. Both started running toward the front where they predicted the leader was, knocking down every soldier in their way. They got there and Zuko and Katara spotted the leader. The leader, who was baffled and confused on what they were accusing him of, said he did not know what they were talking about. Zuko promptly witnessed Katara's power when she bloodbent the leader, which he never knew she could do. The leader, helpless and afraid, kept telling them he did not know anything about the Southern Water Tribe raids. Katara looked into the man's eyes and let him go, realizing this was not the man they were looking for. Zuko interrogated the man to say where the veteran leader was and they both headed off.
Zuko and Katara eventually found the man responsible of killing Katara's mother. At first he did not remember, but it all came back to him. He remembered the little Water Tribe girl and her mother telling her to leave. Yon Rha asked Kya who the last waterbender was. She denied at first that there were no waterbenders left, but Yon Rha knew there was one more. Kya lied and told him she was the last waterbender of the tribe and to take her prisoner. Yon Rha refused to take her prisoner and killed her.
Katara told the man that her mother lied to protect the last waterbender: her. When she finally had her chance to get revenge once and for all, she could not bring herself to kill him. After the group joined Katara on Ember Island, Katara told Zuko that she had forgiven him, and hugged him warmly. He subsequently asked Aang what he would do when he faced Ozai, since he believed killing someone was never the answer.
The Ember Island Players
While stationed at Ember Island, the group attended a play which showed their adventures. The plot was twisted and made to demonize the group while glorifying the Fire Nation. Zuko had quite possibly the most negative response to the play as it "[took] all the mistakes of [his] life and [shoved] them in [his] face". He also criticized his actor's performance, feeling that he was protrayed as being "totally stiff and humorless" (though Katara found the portrayal accurate). The most emotional part to him was the scene where he betrayed Iroh which he was still ashamed of as he now saw that Iroh was more of a father to him than Ozai ever was. Toph later told him about her long conversation with Iroh she once had and how he would constantly talk about Zuko. This knowledge gave Zuko hope that Iroh still loved him. At the end of the play, Azula's character was shown killing him, at which the audience cheered and Zuko was taken aback. When Team Avatar left, Zuko said to the others that the play "wasn't good", which was met with agreement (although Sokka considered the effects "decent").
Three days before the arrival of Sozin's Comet, Zuko was fiercely training Aang in firebending, pushing him to improve quickly and urging him to be more aggressive. However, Aang soon lost focus and joined the group in a beach party. Zuko became enraged and attacked Aang, hoping to coax him into fighting seriously as preparation for his battle with Ozai. Zuko chased Aang all over the yard and into the house, firebending at him the entire time. Finally, Aang blasted air at Zuko, blasting him out of the house.
The rest of the group demanded to know what was wrong with Zuko, and Zuko told them they should not be having beach parties when the comet was only three days away. Aang and the others awkwardly told him that they had planned to wait until after the comet came to fight the Fire Lord. The Avatar told him that he still needed more time to master firebending, and Sokka added that if Aang fought Ozai now, he would lose. Katara said that the point of defeating the Fire Lord before the Comet was to win the war, but the Fire Nation won the war when they took Ba Sing Se, and that things could not get any worse. Zuko told them about the war meeting he had before the eclipse. He revealed that Ozai planned to use the comet to wipe out the Earth Kingdom by burning it all to the ground and building a new world from its ashes, a world in which the Fire Nation will be the only nation. The group was shocked by this plan, and Zuko told Aang gravely that if he did not defeat the Fire Lord before the Comet came, there would not be a world to save anymore. He taught Aang one final technique before he could face the Fire Lord: the lightning redirection.
The following morning, the group woke up to find Aang and Momo missing. They decided to split up, with Toph eagerly going with Zuko, as she wanted her own "life-changing field trip" with him. Toph spent the entire trip telling Zuko her problems with her parents, but was disappointed when Zuko had difficulty maintaining sympathy with her, mostly due to the graveness of the situation. After an extensive search of the island revealed nothing, the gang turned to Zuko to find him, as he was the one with the most experience tracking the Avatar. Zuko flew them to the Earth Kingdom, to a seedy tavern, where they found June. He urged her to track down Aang, as the fate of the world depended on him. However, the shirshu was unable to find Aang's scent anywhere on the planet. At first, the gang despaired of ever finding Aang, until Zuko thought that there was one other person who may be able to defeat Ozai. He asked June to find Iroh, and provided a smell sample: his uncle's sweaty sandal, which he had kept. June's shirshu tracked the scent all the way to the Outer Wall of Ba Sing Se. After arriving at the wall, June wished them luck and left. At that night, the group was approached by four members of the Order of the White Lotus: Pakku, Bumi, Jeong Jeong, and Piandao. They guided the group to a camp, and explained that they had planned to liberate Ba Sing Se from the Fire Nation. They led Zuko to his uncle's tent.
Believing that his uncle hated him, Zuko was afraid to enter, but after some reassurances from Katara he went in to find his uncle asleep. When Iroh woke up, Zuko tearfully told him how sorry he was and begged for his forgiveness. Iroh embraced him, and said that he was never angry, only sad because he feared Zuko had lost his way. He told Zuko how proud he was that he found it again, and found his way to him.
The following morning, Zuko tried to convince Iroh to fight Ozai, as he was the only one who could defeat him apart from Aang. Iroh refused saying that even if he defeated Ozai, and he was not sure that he could, history would see it as more senseless violence, a brother killing a brother to gain power. Only the Avatar could honorably defeat the Fire Lord. When Zuko asked if he will take the throne and become Fire Lord after the war, Iroh refused and said that the Fire Nation must have a new, young leader of unquestionable honor: Zuko. While Zuko at first questions whether he had unquestionable honor after he made so many mistakes, Iroh told him that it was how he had struggled to redeem himself that truly made him worthy. He told Zuko to return to the Fire Nation and fight against Azula for its fate, while Sokka, Toph, and Suki deal with the Fire Nation airships, himself and the other White Lotus members to liberate Ba Sing Se, and Aang to fight Ozai.
Zuko vs. Azula
Zuko journeyed with Katara and Appa to the Fire Nation Capital to take the throne from his sister. They arrived during Azula's coronation. She challenged Zuko to an Agni Kai for the right to become Fire Lord. He accepted the challenge despite Katara's warnings, noticing something was wrong with Azula. Empowered by Sozin's Comet, Zuko and Azula battled in a dazzling display of firebending which destroyed much of the Capital. As Zuko slowly started to gain the upper hand he taunted Azula about being afraid to use lightning, for he could redirect it now.
Goaded, Azula prepared to use lightning on Zuko until she noticed Katara in the distance. Azula shot lightning toward Katara but Zuko jumped in its way to protect her at the last second. He managed to redirect the brunt of the lightning, but he failed to direct it around his heart and fell to the ground, badly injured. Katara attempted to heal him, but Azula attacked her and drove her back between the pillars. When Azula was about to kill her, Katara froze them both into a mass of water, and tied Azula to a drain. Katara promptly rushed back to Zuko and healed him. Zuko thanked Katara, but Katara said she was the one who should be thanking him. They both got up victorious and looked at Azula, who now was breathing fire as she cried uncontrollably having failed to become the Fire Lord. Realizing the extent of Azula's madness, Zuko and Katara looked upon the defeated princess; Katara with shock and sadness, and Zuko with impenitence.
After his battle with Azula and Sozin's Comet had left, Zuko renewed his relationship with Mai, who had been released from prison by her uncle, and she sternly made him promise to not ever break up with her again and ended with a smile. He was soon crowned Fire Lord. During his coronation, he promised that he and Aang will help rebuild the world together, and that he will redeem the Fire Nation for their atrocities.
Shortly after this, he visited his father, who permanently lost his ability to firebend due to Aang's energybending, in prison. While Ozai sarcastically told him he felt lucky to be visited by the new Fire Lord, Zuko told him he was lucky the Avatar spared his life. He also told him that maybe time in prison would set Ozai on the right path, just as his banishment set him on the right path. When Ozai asked him why he was there, Zuko demanded to know where Ursa was. Ozai only mocked Zuko, asking him to get some tea so they could talk just like Iroh would talk to Zuko. Zuko began to leave in frustration, but Ozai snidely warned him about the pressures of the throne and how they can change a person. Ozai guaranteed Zuko that one day he would return to the cell and ask for advice.
Not long after his coronation, Zuko traveled to Ba Sing Se both to participate in celebrations and plan ahead. He met with Earth King Kuei and the rest of Team Avatar at Kuei's palace, where the group first conceived of the Harmony Restoration Movement. At the time, Zuko firmly supported the full removal of the Fire Nation colonies from the western shores of the Earth Kingdom. The final scene showed the entire group, composed of Aang, Sokka, Katara, Toph, Suki, Zuko, Mai, and Iroh in the Jasmine Dragon tea shop. Zuko served tea to the group while his uncle played the tsungi horn, and criticized Sokka's painting of the group, saying his hair was too spiky, making him look like a boar-q-pine. He laughed at Toph's joke about the painting looking perfect to her. Later, during a group ride on Appa, Zuko made Aang promise that if Zuko were ever to start acting like his father, Aang would end his life. Aang reluctantly agreed to the request.
The Last Airbender
Zuko is the secondary antagonist of the 2010 live action film The Last Airbender. Zuko was protrayed by Dev Patel.
Not much is established with Zuko's character in the movie except that he desperately wants to capture Aang for the sake of redeeming himself and erase any memory of his banishment. Shymalan did add a little sympathy to his character, which proved that he isn't pure evil, but misunderstood and desperate to be welcomed back home.
In Smite, Zuko appears as a skin for Susano as part of the Avatar Battle Pass.