|Nicknames|| Lee (while exiled in the Earth Kingdom)
Zuzu (by Azula)
|Place Of Origin||Fire Nation|
|Affiliations|| Fire Nation
Fire Nation Royal Family Team Avatar
|Friends/Allies||Mai, Aang, Robin, Katara, Starfire, Sokka, Suki, Beast Boy, Toph, Cyborg, Raven. Iroh|
|Enemies||Ozai, Azula, Slade|
|Powers & Abilities|| Firebending
Dual dao swordsmanship expert
|First Appearance||The Arrival|
|Last Appearance|| Unknown
During his exile, Zuko was a bitter, impatient, and complex young man, akin to a tragic villain. More than anything, he wanted his place as heir to the Fire Nation throne and his father's love. Zuko believed, or forced himself to believe, that capturing the Avatar would make these wishes come true, making him one of Aang's most determined enemies. His motivation was focused on him redeeming himself which stood in contrast with other pursuers; Zhao and Azula were motivated by political ambition or cruelty.
Zuko believed one becomes strong by struggling and fighting for what they want. However, he expressed contradicting mindsets; he did not want good luck because he felt he could control his fate, but also believed he was marked unlucky and that the world was against him. His reaction to the perception of the world always set against him is an iron-willed defiance and inflexible determination. He was clever, yet hot-headed, often letting his temper get the best of him. He seemed averse to the thought of harming others without any motive or benefit, having consented to Aang's request to spare the Southern Water Tribe in exchange for himself as his prisoner, and left the village unharmed. He rarely thinks his situations through, causing him to get in trouble; he captured Aang at the North Pole, but chose to make his getaway through the perilous tundra, and he casually took the Sunstone off its pedestal in the Sun Warriors' temple only to fall into a trap. Said traits were criticized by his uncle, urging Zuko to try to control himself and think things through more often toward the end of season three.
Zuko had other contradictory traits, beliefs, and behaviors. He was domineering and controlling, a result of his upbringing as Fire Nation royalty, and disdained working with people he believed were inferior; yet he adamantly refused to view people as expendable. He believed it was wrong to sacrifice able-bodied and willing troops as a diversionary tactic. During his banishment, he displayed zeal in pursuing the Avatar, using whatever means he thought necessary. Although he had said capturing the Avatar was a greater concern to him than the safety of his crew or himself, he showed compassion to those close to him, choosing to rescue Iroh when he was captured rather than pursue Aang, and risking his own life to save a member of his crew during a fierce storm. When the crew spotted Aang, he ordered the ship and crew to safety instead of chasing the Avatar. Even after all the hardship he suffered at the hands of his sister, Azula, he was still willing to vouch for her, giving her several chances for them to work together in order to find their mother. He even went as far as to show brotherly affection for her, inspired by Sokka's actions toward Katara. He was liable to commit brash actions against his sister, however, despite his best efforts to stop fighting her, even going as far as almost throwing her off a cliff.
Zuko was able to show mercy, even to his enemies. When fighting an Agni Kai with Zhao, he decided to spare him unscathed, though Zhao had expressed every intention to hurt Zuko. Even after Zhao had arranged for Zuko to be murdered, Zuko offered his hand in order to save Zhao's life when the Ocean Spirit was about to drown him.
The prospect of returning home and earning forgiveness was Zuko's sole motivation. After losing his first chance at the Northern Water Tribe, he was filled with abject despair. He found himself in the most dire situation possible—being hunted by his younger sister, the ruthless and relentless Azula, while attempting to survive as a penniless fugitive in the Earth Kingdom. Apart from his ever-supportive uncle, Zuko had nothing. At first, he lashed out and turned to robbery, even stealing from those who were kind to him. After some time, however, partially in thanks to a talk from Iroh, he gained a more reasonable outlook. Theft was still necessary from time to time, but he refused to steal from needy people or people who showed him kindness. He defended anEarth Kingdom village against a group of thugs who terrorized its people. He became more patient, kind, precise, and calculating; said traits necessary to evade Azula's pursuit while staying incognito from local authorities. He set Aang's pet bison and primary mode of transportation, Appa, free from Dai Li captivity at Iroh's suggestion.
These traits became dominant after Zuko's fever dreams and hallucinations, as afterward he displayed an optimistic attitude toward life and the world. However, Azula successfully manipulated his desire for love and approval from his father, convincing him to betray Iroh and become her ally. He continued to insist that he had truly changed, but felt conflicted about his choices afterward, uncomfortable with his betrayal of Iroh, a father figure to him.
After his return to the Fire Nation, Zuko thought he had everything he ever wanted: a position of honor, respect, and his father's love. However, he still felt angry and confused. His triumph was nothing like he imagined it would be. His temper went out of control; he became suspicious of Mai and got into fights with several people. Later, he stated he was angry with himself, saying he did not know right from wrong. He received a letter telling him his great-grandfather's death would reveal his destiny. He found Sozin's last testament and learned of his history with Avatar Roku. Assuming the letter was sent by his uncle, he visited him in prison, demanding to know the message's meaning. Iroh explained Avatar Roku was his mother's grandfather, and Zuko's inner conflict was part of the legacy of his forefathers' conflict. Iroh presented him with the Crown Prince headpiece, an ancient royal artifact, traditionally worn by the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation and given to Roku by Sozin in their youth.
Zuko became upset when he was not informed of a war meeting his sister was invited to, and showed happiness when a servant later came and asked him to head to the war room, as Ozai would not start the meeting without him. He told Mai he found himself unhappy, even when his father treated him as the perfect son. He said during the meeting, he had acted the perfect prince, the son his father had always wanted, but he was not being himself.
During the events of Day of Black Sun, Zuko realized it was his duty as the heir to the Fire Nation throne to restore peace to the world by joining the Avatar and fighting his father's (and forefathers') tyrannical regime. His zeal and resolve resurfaced in an entirely different direction. He resolved to confront his father and his many evils. He revealed in a discourse his banishment made him a firsthand witness to the misery and pain the Fire Nation has inflicted on the World. He discovered sharing the Fire Nation's greatness had nothing to do with the war – only fired by a ruthless desire for power. He swore to his father he will do everything in his power to see his defeat. He attempted to free Iroh from prison, but when he escaped by himself, Zuko followed Aang and the others as they fled to the Western Air Temple.
While at the Western Air Temple, Zuko showed a complete change in personality. After a flashback of his banishment, he was regretful about his former disrespect and ruthlessness. For the first time, he showed a comical side to his personality while practicing a speech to a badgerfrog. After questioning what Iroh and Azula would do, he tried impersonating them. He later admitted his wrongdoings to Team Avatar and apologized for the things he did. Out of resentment, his request to join them was initially rejected; he humbled himself and offered himself up as a prisoner—a stark contrast to the proud young man shown at the beginning of the series.
Rather than trying to capture the Avatar for the Fire Nation's benefit, Zuko joined him to end their tyranny. He even defended him from the assassin he hired to kill the Avatar, signifying his genuine loyalty to the team. He realized his father could never restore his honor, and he had to restore it himself. He was happy when the Avatar finally accepted him as his firebending teacher and group member. Though he still had some issues to work through, he was far more composed and receptive. Since coming to terms with his own true feelings, he was more laid-back and empathetic, though remained strict and uptight when training Aang. After joining the group he smiled a lot more than usual, even when jokes were made at his expense, and he seemed very happy as Fire Lord during a break in his uncle's tea shop. Nonetheless, he was one of the more serious members of the group; whenever a situation got worse, such as when Sozin's Comet was near and when Aang went missing, Zuko did not put up with any antics or mistakes.
At the start of his reign as Fire Lord, Zuko was assertive of having the Fire Nation pay for its crimes and having its colonies disbanded. However, after viewing the situation at Yu Dao and how the lives of Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom citizens had deeply intertwined themselves, Zuko became conflicted about his duties, and after being called a coward by Mayor Morishita, he sided with his people, devoting himself to protecting them and their way of life, withdrawing his support of the Harmony Restoration Movement and even fighting his friends, Katara and Avatar Aang, because of this.
During this time, Zuko developed night-terrors, chronic insomnia, and a somewhat paranoid attitude. This would have increased further when he discovered that (at least some of) the assassins attempting to take his life were his own unhappy people, as he cared so much for his country. Zuko eventually became so desperate and conflicted over the duties and pressures of being Fire Lord that he turned to his imprisoned father Ozai for advice on how to deal with the pressures of the title. Despite this, he continued to deny Ozai's claims that a Fire Lord's decisions were right by default. However, when being informed of the Earth Kingdom's impending attack, he begrudgingly admitted to himself that his father was right and prepared himself to go to war again.
Eventually, Zuko came to realize that his emotional instability over his position as Fire Lord was not caused by the pressures of being a ruler or by the choices he made for Yu Dao, but due to his fear of ultimately becoming the same tyrant as his father was. However, he eventually came to terms with the fact that there was a side to himself and his personality that he could not understand.
After an Earth Kingdom professor pointed out the similarities between governing a nation and taking care of a family, Zuko began doubting his own qualities as a leader again as his family was completely broken and a large part was due to his actions. However, he did show remorse and the will to fix past mistakes by trying to mend the rifts between his family. He freed Azula from the mental institution and asked for her help in his search for their mother, even allowing her to travel unbound and with dignity. After a conversation with Sokka about siblings, the latter noted how, despite their bickering, he and Katara were family and as an older brother, he would always look after her. Inspired by those words, Zuko, who never truly attempted to connect with his younger sister, Azula, tried to do the same.
During the search for his mother, and upon finding out that Ozai may not be his legitimate father, he realized that he might not be the true heir to the throne. Despite knowing that he must stay Fire Lord, Zuko felt the most hopeful and relieved in the group upon hearing the news. He believed that he could start anew and "gallivant" around the world helping people, as Azula remarked, much to Aang's dissatisfaction; he believed that Zuko must stay as the leader of his nation to continue ushering a new era of love and peace.
When their search brought Zuko in contact with a young child, Kiyi, he displayed the characteristics of a good father, reflecting the parenting style of his mother and Uncle Iroh, by displaying an inquisitive and doting attitude toward the girl. When she showed him her doll, he kindly played along, and chastised Azula for her violent commentary, showing a protective and paternal side. He also seemed quite at ease around the child, showing genuine friendship and politeness during their interactions, seemingly truly enjoying the girl's company.
In his old age, Zuko displayed a more calm and wise demeanor, as well as a strong sense of protecting his family and the Avatar.
Powers & Abilities Edit
Firebending: While growing up in the Fire Nation, Zuko showed no extraordinary skill in firebending. In his teen years, however, his ability began to develop significantly under his Uncle Iroh's tutelage, most noticeably during the last year of the Hundred Year War. He became able to fight on par with much more experienced firebenders, showing himself to be a late bloomer. Having continuously refined his skills, he has reached the point of becoming a firebending master, but despite his skill and fast development as a firebender, he has noted on more than one occasion that he is not as skilled or as powerful as his younger sister, Azula.
Swordsmanship: Aside from his bending, Zuko also developed masterful skill in swordsmanship, and he specialized in dual wielding swordplay, using a set of dao blades, skills he gained after being trained by the sword master Piandao. He would use these skills as his primary tactics whenever he was in his Blue Spirit disguise, unable to firebend, or when he needed to fight but also needed to conceal his firebending. He was able to defeat multiple foes using only his swords, including experienced firebending soldiers. He also dueled evenly with Jet and his dual hook swords until the fight was broken up by the Dai Li. Zuko was able to defeat several Earth Kingdom soldiers with minimal effort by employing his swordsmanship skills in combination with unarmed combat and, in the same confrontation, demonstrated the ability to combine his sword skills with his firebending, allowing him to deliver more powerful and destructive attacks. His skill was such that his father, Fire Lord Ozai, opted not to face him during an eclipse, when neither of them could firebend. He also defeated Sokka, a very proficient swordsman in his own right and a fellow student of Piandao, with ease in multiple sparring matches.
He also had some experience with knives, being able to pierce a small object, like a horn, from a distance.