Characters: Avatar: The Last Airbender: The Fire Nation
These characters hail from the Fire Nation. Most of them serve as antagonists to Aang and his friends.
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Voiced by: Dante Basco
(teenager), Elijah Runcorn (child)
"I don't need luck, though. I don't want it. I've always had to struggle and fight, and that's made me strong. It's made me who I am."
Even as the prince of the Fire Nation, Zuko has always struggled in life, particularly in matching his prodigy sister Azula and getting his father's acknowledgement. This came to a head when Ozai punished him for a perceived slight by horrifically burning his face and sending him into exile, refusing to let him return until he had captured the Avatar. (This was intended as a Snipe Hunt
, since Aang had been missing for a century). Determined to prove his worth to his father, Zuko hunted Aang across the world for the first season while trying to find his own destiny.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: Turns out he's this while training Aang in firebending. He's not as brutal as Toph (at least not from what was shown), but he's still pretty tough.
- Dual Wielding: He's quite skilled with double broadswords. And there are those twin fire-knives that he tries (unsuccessfully) to battle Azula with.
- Dueling Scar: His burn scar isn't quite the iconic version, but as a facial scar received in a duel fought in a militaristic culture, it's a pretty clear reference.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Bringing back his mother was his true happy ending. Becoming Fire Lord felt like a hollow victory by comparison.
- Easily Forgiven: Averted with the Gaang, but Up to Eleven with Iroh, who will always forgive him.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: After all, she was the only person in the family other than his uncle who cared about him.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Ambitious as he is though, he spoke out against intentionally sending lines of inexperienced troops to die simply to wear down the enemy's defenses for their more experienced forces.
- He has no problem stealing to get what he wants, but he won't rob a pregnant couple. He's also shown to be genuinely protective of children.
- When his father decides to burn the Earth Kingdom to oblivion during Sozin's Comet, enough was enough; He wanted to speak out against this awful plan, but he remembered what happened the first time he did so. Sure enough, he took it a step further and performed a Heel-Face Turn the next day.
- Evil Virtues: Oh yeah, Zuko has these in spades. There's three, maybe four virtues on the list he doesn't have.
- Emo Teen: Cranked Up to Eleven in The Abridged Series, but there in the original.
- The Exile: He was banished for speaking out of turn at a war meeting and shaming himself in a duel with his father, and spends much of the first two seasons on a quest to earn his return back home. Becomes this again in the second half of Season 3.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Every time something significant happens to him, his hair seems to change.
- Facial Horror: However, that scar certainly doesn't affect him being the series' most famous Mr. Fanservice one bit.
- Fanservice Pack: His Character Development and gradual transformation into a good guy also makes him more attractive.
- Fanservice with a Smile: When he works in Iroh's tea shop.
- The Fettered: Season 1. Then it all sort of starts to crumble in Season 2. He betrays his uncle! Then he circles back around and becomes fettered again.
- Fights Like a Normal: His sword skills give him a handy means of defending himself in situations where firebending might be a bad idea. While acting as the Blue Spirit, as well as his time incognito in the Earth Kingdom, Zuko utilizes zero fire bending outside of one particularly tricky fight.
- Freudian Excuse: Getting your face scorched by your own father is bound to make anyone have issues.
- Freudian Slip: Him accidentally calling Ozai the 'Fatherlord' gives a pretty neat summary of how he sees his father, and how completely screwed-up their relationship is.
- Friend or Idol Decision: Zuko has a choice between going after the Avatar, whose capture would restore his honor, or saving his uncle Iroh who has been imprisoned by the Earth Kingdom. After much agonizing, he chooses Iroh.
- Glory Seeker: His pursuit of the elusive Avatar is motivated by his desire to earn the respect of his father.
- Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Of a sort. Zuko's bending skills never matched up to his sister Azula's when they were children. At the time, the Fire Nation's bending style was driven by uncontrolled emotion — rage and hate manifested into fire, something Azula was naturally better at. Once Zuko learned the true art of firebending from the dragons, he proved himself a match for Azula in every single subsequent clash.
- Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: His eyes indicate moral ambiguity and inner conflict right from the beginning, as one is narrower than the other.
- The Good King: He eventually becomes the Fire Lord and a much more benevolent one than his father.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: His most distinctive physical trait, although the story of how he got it makes him much more sympathetic.
- Gone Horribly Right: Zuko's entire journey started with Ozai challenging his son to a duel to teach him humility. Once Zuko learned his lesson, he turned against Ozai and began the Fire Lord's downfall.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: It's pretty easy to piss him off, even if you don't mention the things that hurt.
- Happily Adopted: As of his Heel-Face Turn by Iroh, his beloved uncle.
- The Heavy: For part of Book 1, he's the main villain but the head guy is his father. Zhao gradually takes this position over the course of the season. In Season 2, he completely gives up the position to his far more dangerous sister, Azula.
- Heel-Face Revolving Door: Famously failed to make a Heel-Face Turn in Season 2, and then finally settled on the Face side in Season 3. However, he and Aang ended up at odds with each other during "The Promise", and it got out of hand. In fact, the essence of what makes a Heel-Face Turn is arguably the core driving point of Zuko's overall character arc. To wit, he's discussed it, teased it, defied it, subverted it, and ultimately played it perfectly straight.
- Heel Realization: In Nightmares and Daydreams.
"During the meeting, I was the perfect prince. The son my father wanted. But I wasn't me."
- Hero with an F in Good: "Why am I so bad at being good!?"
- Hidden Heart of Gold: From the heroes' point of view, it's hidden until his Heel-Face Turn. Iroh and Ursa always knew it was there.
- Hoist by His Own Petard/Beat Them at Their Own Game: Has the power to inflict this on opponents using Lightning-redirecting, and the only one to use this ability in the manner this trope describes. Learned from Iroh, taught to Aang.
- Honor Before Reason: He goes to extreme lengths to 'regain his honor'.
- Hot-Blooded: No pun intended but he can be reckless and hotheaded. Iroh complains that he "never thinks things through".
- Hurting Hero: Post-Heel-Face Turn.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: When it seems he's lost to his opponent in "Zuko Alone". Then he starts Firebending. Works both ways. Unlike most benders, he is still very dangerous due to his mastery of dual-wielding dao swords and being very adept at stealth and infiltration (it's getting out undetected that he has problems with). Most other benders don't bother to learn anything besides hand-to-hand fighting that comes with learning bending.
- I Am Not My Father: In Season 3. He even says this word for word in "The Promise".
- I Am X, Son of Y: "My name is Zuko, son of Ursa and Fire Lord Ozai, Prince of the Fire Nation and heir to the throne."
- I Did What I Had to Do: Said word for word about what happened in Ba Sing Se.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: In The Search the letter from his mother implying that he is not Ozai's biological son initially comes as a relief to Zuko, who has grown weary of the burdens that come with being the Fire Lord.
- Important Haircut: When declared a traitor to the Fire Nation at the beginning of Season 2 he cuts off his topknot.
- Inadequate Inheritor: Only for being an essentially decent person and not a sadistic monster.
- Ineffectual Loner: In Book 2 when he eventually splits off from his uncle, but achieves very little during his tenure working alone.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: He does two evil deeds he does throughout the entire show despite being the first villain: burn Kyoshi island and betray his uncle to help Azula take over Ba Sing Se.
- Insult Backfire
Firelord Ozai: Your uncle has gotten to you, hasn't he?
Zuko: (beat) Yes, he has.
- In the Blood: Zuko, revealed by Iroh in Season 3, has inherited his paternal great-grandfather Sozin's "evil" and his maternal great-grandfather Roku's "good".
- In the Hood: Dons a hooded cloak when he returns to the Fire Nation, which helps hide his appearance during his private trips out.
- Irisless Eye Mask Of Mystery: Zuko's alter ego of the Blue Spirit wears a mask of the completely black variety. His mask presumably has black glass covering its eyeholes, since they appear black even when fully illuminated. This, of course, helps hide his Secret Identity, since major characters tend to be very good at seeing through disguises in this universe.
- Jerkass Façade: He's introduced as arrogant, dismissive, brusque, and rude, but not without possessing a strong code of personal honor and prioritizing the safety of his men (which, fittingly, he hides behind a veneer of indifference). This can also make him a Jerk with a Heart of Gold.
- Kick the Dog: Often when he was in danger of becoming too nice, at least until his formal Heel-Face Turn in Book 3.
- King Incognito: Season 2 where he pretended to be a non-bending wanderer.
- Knight in Sour Armor: He becomes this after his Heel-Face Turn. While he's on the side of good now, he's still as grumpy as ever and firmly believes that Aang's silly ideas about pacifism should remain in air temple preschool where they belong.
- The Lancer: When he becomes part of Team Avatar he is the grumpy Shoot the Dog advocate towards Aang's cheerful Take a Third Option.
- Le Parkour: Downplayed for Suki to get her moment in "The Boiling Rock" but otherwise played completely straight. As himself and as the Blue Spirit, Zuko has repeatedly shown incredible agility and even once chased Aang down on foot.
- Licked by the Dog: The Sky Bison in this case.
- Lightning Bruiser: It runs in the Fire Nation royal family.
- Lonely Rich Kid: He is the banished prince of the Fire Nation, but you can literally count the people who genuinely care for him on one hand (Iroh, Mai and Ursa). Eventually subverted when he makes his Heel-Face Turn, after which he becomes part of Aang's True Companions.
- Loner-Turned-Friend: To the Team Avatar. It would be accurate to say this is the first time he's had friends his own age.
- Loony Friends Improve Your Personality: For fifty-two straight episodes (out of sixty-one) of the series, Zuko is a moody jerk. Being forced into a "life-changing field-trip" with Manic Pixie Dream Boy Aang calms and brightens him enough to interact with people without shouting over the course of a single episode. A little bit of Fridge Brilliance here. Firebenders in Zuko's time were taught to fuel their bending through negative emotions. Even with not wanting to rely on hate and rage anymore, Zuko had been trained his entire life that being grouchy = better fire. So while Aang definitely had a positive influence, it might be a mix of this and the fact that Zuko suddenly didn't need to be mean to fuel his martial arts.
- Love Redeems: Averted with Mai. He leaves her before switching to the good side and the two don't reconcile their relationship until after the final battle. Instead it was familial love for Iroh, whom he acknowledges as his true father figure and role model, that redeems him. The shame he feels for betraying his uncle's trust is part of what compels him to make his Heel-Face Turn. On one hand though, he did influence Mai to follow suit and betray Azula.
- Loved I Not Honor More: Mai's pissed that he ran off in the middle of the night to "fulfill his destiny".
- Love Martyr: He's blindly devoted to his Evil Overlord father who burned his face, banished him on a wild goose chase, and sent his sister to either capture or kill him.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: He's Avatar Roku's great-grandson.
- Magic Knight: He's about equally good (as in, nigh-unequaled at sixteen) with firebending and swordsmanship, in a world where benders generally are too arrogant to bother with secondary fighting styles.
- Mad Dictators Handsome Son: More Horrifically Abused Son, as he doesn't defect for love — in fact, his Heel-Face Turn interferes with his relationship with Mai (until her Heel-Face Turn). But it still boils down to "Screw you, Dad! I'm joining the heroes!"
- Mark of Shame: That burn scar over his eye is a reminder of his banishment. Katara recognizes this in the Season 2 finale.
- Meaningful Name: It may or may not be intentional, but Zuko is an actual name in a Filipino dialect. Its meaning? "Madness" or "Angry." And he spends a lot of time angry in the show...
- Momma's Boy: Adored his mom. Asking what happened to her is his second-to-last line in the original series.
- Mood-Swinger: In the first two seasons, he can go from calm to incredibly loud and angry in an instant.
- Mr. Fanservice: The infamous shirtless Agni Kai in the third episode. Lampshaded in the beach episode with a flock of birds.
- My Country, Right or Wrong: He starts off with the literal take on this trope. Eventually he comes to embrace the "if right, to be kept right; and if wrong, to be set right" interpretation when he makes his Heel-Face Turn.
- My Greatest Failure: Originally, he believed it to be failing in his father's eyes and being banished. Eventually, he realizes that it was betraying Iroh in Ba Sing Se. With Iroh, he gets a My Greatest Second Chance .
- New Old Flame: Zuko and Mai are a textbook "skip all the boring foreplay and get right to the intensity." Contrast with the heroic Official Couple, who were in the foreplay stage for fifty episodes. In this case, we see a flashback of them as Childhood Friends before the reunion.
- Nice to the Waiter: In Book 2 and onward, he is nicer to servants, reflecting his character development. As a result, it is shown that in return, they enjoy serving him.
- Ninja: His Blue Spirit alter ego invokes traditional ninja aspects and imagery.
- No Brows: A half example, as his left eye does not have a brow due to a burn inflicted by his father Ozai.
- Noble Demon: Character Development for him in Season 1. He goes from burning down the Kyoshi Warriors' village in his pursuit of Aang to abandoning a later pursuit to keep his soldiers safe. Even right from the start, he threatens the South Pole villagers to get information on the Avatar but when Aang promises to come quietly if he leaves the Water tribe alone, Zuko agrees (and keeps his word).
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: "Zuko Alone" and "The Storm" are the most notable. For the former, he saves a town from bandits but the townspeople demand he leave immediately for being a firebender. For the latter, he saves his crew but the Avatar escapes.
- "The Storm" reveals in a flashback that a younger Zuko spoke out against sending inexperienced troops to be killed in battle to wear down Ba Sing Se's defenses... which led to getting his face horrifically burned and banished by his father.
- No Sense of Humor: He has one, he's just horrible at using it due to his social ineptitude.
- No Social Skills: He was raised in a royal court and had little experience with casual interaction.
- Not Helping Your Case: While trying to convince the Gaang that he's changed, he accidentally lets it slip that he was the one who sent the Combustion Man after them in the first place, which, only cements their decision not to let him join. He wins some good faith by helping them fight him off later on.
- Not So Different:
- With Aang as they're both boys with a troubled past and lots of pressure put on them despite coming from different sides. They're also equally kind-hearted, but highly insecure due to being burdened with a responsibility that goes against their very nature.
- Zuko and Azula both seek to get the respect of their father. It was just Zuko was more morally grounded.
- However, by "The Search", Zuko realizes that the way he treats his father and sister makes him no different from them and works to better himself in this area, particularly with Azula.
- Number Two: Once the Gaang trusts him, he becomes the one they look to when Aang's not around.
- The One Guy: When hanging out with Mai, Azula, and Ty Lee.
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Since the Avatar is his only shot at restoring his honor, he's not about to let anyone else take him in.
- Overlord Jr.: He tried to be this at first, but grew tired of pleasing his father who doesn't care about his own family.
- Overshadowed by Awesome: While he is a damn good Firebender (recall the time he beat Zhao in a duel), his main opponent is the Avatar (and the Avatar's numerous friends), and he is often compared to his sister, who is a Firebending prodigy.
- After joining the Gaang, Zuko is still the only bender on the team not considered a prodigy in his field. He later receives some training from dragons that help close the skill gap.
- Parental Neglect: From Ozai, which ends up turning to flat-out abuse.
- Perpetual Frowner: "I'm never happy."
- Playing with Fire: He is a Firebender.
- Pretty Boy: In a flashback◊ at age thirteen.
- Prince Charmless: Princely moody and grouchy.
- Protagonist Journey to Villain: Considering how Zuko was technically also protagonist, it is kinda played straight up to Book 3, Chapter 1, but inverted in the second half of Book 3, where he swings to a more anti-heroic standpoint.
- Psychosomatic Superpower Outage: After his Heel-Face Turn, Zuko loses his firebending powers for a while, since he no longer feels the anger that fueled them.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: After becoming the Fire Lord. In "The Promise" he acknowledges that he will try his hardest to be this, but cannot always guarantee he will be so.
- Redemption Demotion: Lampshaded in "The Firebending Masters" when he notices his Firebending has weakened almost to nothing.
"I bet it's because I changed sides."
- Redemption Promotion: Once he discovers the true form of fire bending, he becomes stronger than ever.
- Redemption Quest: Zuko, trying to earn his father's approval. Inverted, however, in that he's trying to prove himself evil. The second half of Season 3, however, is his true redemption quest. He goes on to save the world from his ruthless father, regain the trust of his former enemies up until he takes the throne.
Voiced by: Mako
(original), Greg Baldwin (after Mako's death)
"Sick of tea?! That's like being sick of breathing!"
Zuko's and Azula's uncle and Ozai's brother, Iroh was once the heir to the Fire Nation throne, a mighty general known as the Dragon Of the West. After the death of his beloved son Lu Ten, Iroh lost his thirst for conquest and retired. Afterwards, Iroh came to think of Zuko as his own son. When Zuko was exiled, Iroh went along with him to mentor and protect him. While he tends to act very silly most of the time, he is one of the most capable of the cast, and likely a match for Ozai himself.
- The Ace: With shades of a Broken Ace. Iroh's fire bending rivals Ozai's for strongest in the world and he possesses far more martial ability than him as well, to the point where he was seen as the clear choice for a successor by their father. However, his son's death caused him to have a breakdown and become reduced to a shell of his former self... but ultimately caused him to rethink things and become not only a better person, but arguably even stronger than he was before. He's also one of the most charismatic, personable and intelligent characters in the entire series.
- Acrofatic: During Seasons 1 and 2, he's a tubby guy who is nonetheless agile and combat capable. He successfully hits Azula with his belly by jumping at her.
- Action Dad: He was this back when he was a General and his son Lu Ten was alive.
- Actor Existence Failure: Averted in regards to the role. Mako passed away in the latter parts of Season 2 production, but luckily Greg Baldwin took up Iroh's character. Incidentally, Iroh's story in The Tales of Ba Sing Se concludes with a message "in honor of Mako" during the scene he cries before his dead son's portrait.
- Affably Evil: A mellow, easy-going, Cool Old Guy who loves tea, Pai Sho, and just relaxing. He also just happens to work for Zuko, his Troubled, but Cute Anti-Villain nephew (although Iroh is never seen doing anything particularly evil, and he never really helps Zuko make any major progress toward capturing the Avatar). Subverted like whoa when it that turns out he secretly did a Heel-Face Turn several years ago and, since then, he's never supported the Fire Nation in their quest to Take Over the World. And he's also a prominent figure of the Order of the White Lotus. Pre-Heel-Face Turn, though, he fit this trope to a T. In one flashback, he's seen writing a kind letter to his family in the Fire Nation while leading a brutal siege against Ba Sing Se (in the letter, he even casually jokes about the possibility of burning the city to the ground). Later during this siege, his son died, and this seems to have triggered his Heel-Face Turn, possibly because of the uncomfortable realization that this is the kind of emotional trauma that he's been inflicting on Earth Kingdom families for years on end.
- Always Someone Better: Part of Ozai's motivation clearly stems from a resentment towards Iroh's superiority over him in their father's eyes. In all flashbacks before Azulon's death, Iroh is leading the majority of the Fire Nation's forces to battle while Ozai simmers in rage at the palace doing nothing in particular.
- And Then What?: When Zuko attempts to steal Appa from the Dai Li and use him to bait Aang without even thinking about what to do with him afterwards, Iroh forces him to confront his Didn't Think This Through tendencies this way and demands to know what he wants to do with his life, contributing to Zuko's Heel-Face Turn.
- Anti-Villain: He has no malicious plans of any sort and is mostly concerned with helping Zuko.
- Badass: Easily one of the most badass characters in the show, by miles.
- Consider these facts: Iroh is just as powerful as Ozai, the strongest firebender in the series. He is a brilliant strategist and tactician like Azula (which Ozai is not). Finally, he has studied the philosophies and techniques of the other nations like any respectable Avatar would. With the combination of all these traits, Iroh is one of the very few characters on the show who might stand a chance of taking on a fully-powered Avatar.
- Badass Beard: That's an awesome beard indeed.
- Badass Grandpa: Still a powerful Firebender well into old age, enough so that Zuko tried to get him to challenge Ozai when Aang disappeared.
- Big Fun: Season 1 and 2. He's a jolly guy that can get along with everyone, even Toph, who is technically his enemy.
- Big Good: Grand Master in the order of the White Lotus which is dedicated to the same sort of 'global harmony' as the avatar, thus making them a concealed Big Good.
- Breakout Character: His tragic past, kindness, sheer badassness and Big Fun attitude made him one of the most well-loved characters in the show, and expanded his role from- which at one point was so different, he would have been Evil All Along- to one of the major characters in the story.
- Breath Weapon: "Did I ever tell you how I got the nickname Dragon of the West?" While he's not the only Firebender who can do this, this is his signature move.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He is one of the greatest Firebenders in the world and the leader of an organization of Badass Grandpas who have all dedicated their lives to mastering their art/fighting style. He's a goofy dirty old man who would much rather drink tea and play pai-sho.
- Cain and Abel: Abel To Ozai's Cain, though the two never fought directly. When he was given the chance, Iroh declined, as it was Aang's job.
- The Caretaker: To Zuko. All those years abroad searching for the Avatar and it was he who keep Zuko on the straight and narrow.
- Chivalrous Pervert: During the fight between Team Avatar and Zuko and June, June's animal companion, who has a tongue with neurotoxins that can paralyze anything that it licks, is "blinded" and lashes out, stunning Zuko and June. When June fell, Iroh "fell" so she was on top of him. Zuko comments that he didn't see Iroh get hit, and Iroh shushes him and goes back to enjoying his "paralysis." June was not amused.
- Cincinnatus: Of the 'does not want power' type. He'd much rather run a tea shop and let his nephew run the nation.
- Cool Old Guy: Friendly, funny, badass, and plays a mean game of pai-sho.
- Cool Uncle: To Zuko, specifically.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Despite being a laid back guy currently, remember that he earned the moniker Dragon of The West. Exemplified by the conversation between Ozai and Zuko during the Black Sun: While Ozai was derisively referring to Iroh's expertise in "tea and failure"... Iroh was busting himself out of prison by himself.
- Cultured Badass:
- Not only can he kick your ass in the battle arena, he can kick it in pai-sho and tea brewing!
- Unlike the rest of the Royal Family, he respects and has carefully studied the cultures of the other nations, even incorporating some aspects of waterbending into his fighting style. In fact we see him using wisdom drawn from all the world's cultures at some point; The aforementioned lightning redirection is from Water bending, his prison escape is done by simply waiting and picking the right moment as Earthbender King Bumi would (and did) do, and he tries to detach himself from Fire Nation politics to lead a care-free life, like the Air Nomads' desire to detach themselves from worldly concerns.
- Cynicism Catalyst: Inverted. It's implied that if his son hadn't been killed in the Battle of Ba Sing Se, Iroh would've been a different person rather than the cheery, yet tragic Cool Old Guy. Not necessarily evil, but he definitely would've been a powerful, feared Fire Lord after the victory.
"Leaves from the vine...falling so slow..."
- Death Faked for You: Protected the dragons from being exterminated by pretending to kill the last of them himself.
- Dirty Old Man: More of a chivalrous version.
- The Dragon: Implied that he was this to his father Azulon in the past. But after his son and father died, he wanted out.
- Drink Order: Tea.
- Eccentric Mentor: He's obsessed with tea, acts goofy, and is so casual you'd think he didn't know there was a war going on, yet he's the key to Zuko's character development and helps along Aang's and Toph's too. Could also be seen as a Trickster Mentor.
- Et Tu, Brute?: He really must have felt disappointed when Zuko betrays his trust to help capture Ba Sing Se for Azula and Ozai's approval.
- Fights Like a Normal: A lot of his fights don't have him firebending, and even then, he rarely utilizes his full strength (which is a lot more than you might think)
- Foreshadowing: His White Lotus tile may not seemed important when brought up during Book 1, until you later find out about the Order of the White Lotus.
- For Happiness: Everything he ever does is to make people happy. He constantly tries to keep his nephew on the right path, helps Toph along in her Character Development, and commends Aang for refusing to let go of his love for Katara to achieve mastery over the Avatar State.
- Formerly Fit: Used to be a strapping Firebender in his youth, but let himself go after his son's death. Later, he gets it all back after a stint in prison.
- Four-Star Badass: As one of the Fire Nation's most decorated generals.
- Generation Xerox: He more closely resembles his genocidal grandfather Sozin than his lanky father. There is double irony there, given that Iroh is far nicer than Sozin was, and that he was his father's favorite (rather than Ozai, who resembled Azulon the most). Mind you, it is somewhat fitting: Sozin ended up regretting his role in starting the war, just as Iroh did—the difference being that Iroh's change of heart ended up much more meaningful.
- Genre Savvy: Probably one of the smartest and wisest characters in the series.
- Heel-Face Turn: Averted, as he was always a good guy. He just stuck with the Fire Nation to protect/guide Zuko. He showed his True Colors when he learned of Zhao's plans for the moon.
Iroh: Zhao, whatever you do to that spirit, I'll unleash on you ten-fold! Let it go now!
- Though given he was the Fire Nation's greatest asset once upon a time, it can be safely assumed he had one offscreen, most likely when Lu Ten died.
- Hot Blooded Sideburns: In Season 1, he had these, but the personality was inverted; he's a mellow guy.
- Intergenerational Friendship: Develops one with Toph in "The Chase".
- Irony: Years ago, he failed to conquer Ba Sing Se for the Fire Nation, which Azula later did. In the series finale, he successfully conquers the city... so the Earth Kingdom can take it back. He even lampshades it.
- I Just Want to Be Normal: Even after kicking ass throughout the series, the man just wants his tea shop back.
- Know Your Vines: In the second season, Iroh has a run-in with some of these.
"Delicious tea?... Or deadly poison?"
- Let's Get Dangerous: Most of the time he leaves the fighting to Zuko, but occasionally he demonstrates how he earned the title "Dragon Of The West".
- Lightning Bruiser: Family trait.
- Like a Son to Me: This is how he percieves Zuko. Zuko eventually feels the same way, though at first, he felt like Iroh was just trying to replace Lu Ten.
- Morality Pet: Implied again that him and his son Lu Ten were this to his ruthless father Azulon.
- He's definitely one for Zuko.
- Mysterious Past: We just know the footnote version.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Dragon of the West.
- Noodle Incident: We never found out exactly how he managed to escape his cell on the Day of Black Sun.
- We also never find out what Zhao was alluding to when he noted Iroh's 'experience in the Spirit World'. Whatever it was, it seems to have left him with a degree of the True Sight and close connection to the Spirit World, so much so that after his death, he essentially retires to the Spirit World and serves as a guide and mentor to Korra and, briefly, Tenzin, Kya and Bumi.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Not that any of the characters ever treat him like he is, but as far as the audience is concerned for most of Season 1, he's Zuko's uncle, goofy teacher, and sidekick. In the Season 1 finale, however, we see how devious he can be when he and Zuko outplay Zhao, but it's when he learns that Zhao plans to kill the Moon that Iroh shows just what a Badass he truly is- he drops the whimsical facade and demands Zhao stops his crazy plan, and effortless curb stomps Zhao's Elite Mooks when Zhao doesn't listen.
- The Obi-Wan: He's a wise old mentor who helps Zuko when they're both in exile. Even though they're enemies, he also helps Toph and Aang through their own turmoil.
- Obfuscating Stupidity:
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Iroh's escape from the Fire Nation prison in Book 3. He pulls his Obfuscating Stupidity whenever anyone's watching, while training determinedly in private. When Zuko finally makes his last Heel-Face Turn and goes to rescue Iroh, he's long gone, having trashed everyone and everything in his path. All we find out is that he was "like a One-Man Army."
- Older Sidekick: Old enough to be Zuko's dad. Heck, he's old enough to be Zuko's grandfather, as pointed out by June.
- Old Master: Before the series has started he is already a famous firebender. Now he trains Zuko.
- One-Man Army: The prison warden calls him this when he breaks out of prison during the eclipse.
- Outliving One's Offspring: Before the start of the series, Iroh's son, Lu Ten, died in the siege for Ba Sing Se. Iroh took his death so hard that he abandoned the siege and retired from being general.
- Out of Focus: Doesn't appear as much in season 3, though not without good reason.
- Papa Wolf: When Azula tries to kill Zuko with lightning after a botched attempt to imprison them both, Iroh steps in at the last second, redirects the lightning into a nearby cliff, and then kicks her overboard.
- Parental Substitute: Though his birth father hates his guts and has actively tried to kill him, Zuko is fortunate enough to have a replacement in Iroh, who accompanied him throughout his banishment and raised him as his own son.
- Prisons Are Gymnasiums: During Iroh's time in prison, his cell did double duty as a gym. A before/after comparison appears as the image for this trope itself!
- Prophecy Twist: He once had a vision that he would conquer Ba Sing Se, and his attempt to do so cost his son's life. He is destined to conquer it, but only to save it from the Fire Nation.
- Rage Breaking Point: Normally just tries to gently discourage Zuko from his self-destructive path, but when he tries to abduct Appa, Iroh finally blows up at him.
- Red Baron: He's notoriously remembered as "The Dragon Of the West" in the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation since his 600 day siege of Ba Sing Se.
- Retired Badass: Retired pre-series, after (nearly) penetrating the impenetrable city of Ba Sing Se.
- Samurai Ponytail: The Fire Nation seems to use the hairstyle just as the trope indicates with the style being indicative of his status, even in exile. He cuts it when Zuko is betrayed by Azula at the beginning of the second season.
- Shipper on Deck: Completely supported the idea of Zuko dating the Earth Kingdom girl Jin in "Tales of Ba Sing Se".
- He believes Katara would be a good match for Zuko when his point of view is covered in the Sozin's Comet Novelization.
- Shock and Awe: One of the only three Firebenders we ever see shooting lightning. Although we don't get to see him use it in combat he is the most skilled in its use because he invented the lightning redirection technique.
- Smart People Play Chess: He's a master at pai-sho
- Spot of Tea: Asian variation. Azula calls him 'His Royal Tea Loving Kookiness'. It carries on to the sequel, The Legend of Korra, where he has become a resident of the Spirit World.
- Static Character: Justified in that he already had his development in the past. Now he helps others along in their Character Development.
- Supporting Leader: He leads the White Lotus.
- The Thirty-Six Stratagems: Plays #27 while in prison to hide his continued physical training.
- Took a Level in Badass: He was already badass enough before then, but in Sokka's Master, he trains for his great escape while imprisoned. As a result, he loses all of his fat and replaces it with pure muscle.
- Token Good Teammate: To the Fire Nation during Zuko's time as an antagonist.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Tea. When it gets spilt, he has a Lost Food Grievance.
- True Sight: Iroh was able to see Aang riding Roku's dragon in the Spirit World while he was in the Physical World.
- Underestimating Badassery: Azula particularly is unable to realise that a man who can wipe the floor with several guards in less than half a minute isn't a man to be messed with, even when he was in his prime.
- When captured by several Earth Kingdom soldiers, they take several attempts to avert this trope. They still failed to keep Iroh captive (though in fairness it was a close call).
- Warrior Therapist: Odd in that he doesn't fight at the same time. He'll sit you down and talk over your problems with tea.
- Willfully Weak: With all the times he gets into trouble and/or captured, he never really steps in or puts up a fight until it's completely necessary. It's pretty clear that he does this because 1) he's never in any real danger, 2) he wants to let the Gaang solve the problem instead, and 3) he doesn't want to hurt his antagonists, because he really, really could if he wanted to.
- Zen Survivor: In his past, he was a famed general who lost his only son in a war, and subsequently lost his will to fight. He now serves as a mentor to his nephew, Zuko.
"My own mother thought I was a monster... She was right, of course, but it still hurt."
Zuko's younger sister and princess of the Fire Nation. As a Firebending prodigy, her father Ozai favored her over Zuko, though the two had an opposite relationship to their mother Ursa. Azula uses her position and power to torment Zuko and anyone else in her way. A skilled tactician, master manipulator, and brilliant fighter, she's easily one of the Gaang's deadliest foes. She describes herself as "a people person," but she really is only skilled in manipulating people through fear. Normal interaction eludes and bewilders her more often than not.
- Ambiguous Disorder: Exhibits traits associated with anti-social, narcissistic and histrionic personality disorders without fully fitting the definition of any of the above. As of season 3 and The Search she begins to exhibit some pretty unambiguous raging paranoia though, to be point of delusions and hallucinations.
- Aloof Big Sister: Inverted. She is the younger sibling but plenty aloof.
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: She fits the trope like a glove. She is pretty, dark-haired, aloof, and imposing.
- Alpha Bitch: Very much. Her recruitment of Mai and Ty Lee is analogous to a school clique; school friends whom she promises a good time to (for Mai) and peer pressure/ threats for Ty Lee.
- Antagonistic Offspring: Azula's true motive for "helping" with the search for Ursa in "The Search" is so that she can kill her mother.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: She has this opinion of herself but her interactions with opponents are more psychological. That being said, she is still one of the most powerful and skilled fighters in the series.
- Annoying Younger Sibling: To Zuko, or as she would put it, "Zuzu".
- Ax-Crazy: Completely psychotic towards the end, but she was never really sane to begin with. Even Iroh says she's crazy and dissuades Zuko from thinking otherwise just because she is his sister.
- Badass: Competes with Toph and Iroh for the most powerful character on the show.
- Examples of her Badass qualities: she took control of Ba Sing Se (a city the Fire Nation never managed to take control of for a century) with only her two companions and was the closest one to ever kill Aang (while he was in Avatar mode no less).
- Badass Bookworm: An excellent strategist, Manipulative Bastard, and an elite Firebender child prodigy all rolled into one.
- Badass Princess: She also happens to be the princess of the Fire Nation.
- Bad Boss: One of her first moments in the series is threatening to kill the captain of her ship for refusing to sail through dangerous tides. There's the also fact that she forces Mai and Ty Lee to work for her (Which ultimately comes back to bite her when they perform a Heel-Face Turn).
- The Baroness: Ruthless, manipulative, and possessing skills that nearly equal the Big Bad's, Azula seems to be a fairly even mix between both types of Baroness, making her one of the most complicated villains ever to appear in a children's television show.
- Sexpot: She is young, attractive, and speaks fairly seductively to just about everyone. She is a subordinate to the Big Bad and never becomes a Big Bad herself, despite her aspiration to become one. She's also presented fairly sympathetically when it comes to her backstory, and Word of God has noted that she could perhaps be redeemed in the future, after she's had a chance to recover from her issues.
- Rosa Klebb: She only tries to sexually seduce a man once, and that doesn't turn out well at all; even then, it's implied that she only wanted to seduce Chan to get him to dote on her like all the other boys doted on Ty Lee. To date, she's still the one female character who has shown the least interest in the opposite sex and romance altogether; the closest person she has for a love interest is Ty Lee, and even then Azula's affection for her is pretty muddled with her manipulations to keep Ty Lee on her side. None of the heroes are attracted to her, because her insanity and ruthlessness are off-putting. And, while she is not killed, she is beaten soundly in the finale.
- Batman Gambit: An absolute master of this. Just watch her actions in Ba Sing Se for proof; she played the dai-lee like fiddles.
- Berserk Button:
- In the main series, what really sets her off is the implication that she's less than perfect. In a related note, try not to say that Zuko's better than her.
- In "The Search", her mother's very existence is her Berserk Button.
- Big Bad: Ascends to this role in "The Search".
- Bitch Alert: Her first full episode at the beginning of Book Two revels in her malicious, delicious, world-class bitchiness. Her introduction has her threaten to harm or kill the captain of her ship and her "friend" Ty Lee, all while dripping poisoned honey from her lips. One wonders if perhaps 'Azula' translates to 'Bitch Alert'...
- Bi the Way: Only one episode ever involved her trying to pick up a guy and her voice actor stated that she has a thing for Ty Lee. Many fans agree that Ty lee is the only person Azula showed even a smidge actual affection to.
- Break the Haughty: Things do not go well for her near the end of Book 3. Her friends betray her, she loses her sanity, her father's overthrown, and she's thrown into a mental facility. When she reappears in "The Search", she's a broken shell of her former self.
- Broken Ace: She's held as The Ace throughout the Fire Nation for being a Firebending prodigy and a master planner and manipulator, at the age of 14. However, she has serious issues with perfection, and a bunch of unresolved Mommy Issues. She gets even more broken in Book 3.
- Broken Bird: Her Villainous Breakdown demonstrate that she's been broken for a while but held it check until a significant enough strike; Mai and Ty Lee's betrayal.
- Broken Tears: Katara couldn't bear to watch. Zuko forced himself to watch.
- Cain and Abel: The Cain To Zuko's Abel because of her ax crazy. This is highlighted after the latter's Heel-Face Turn.
- Bound and Gagged: Not gagged, but she is literally defeated by being tied up.
- The Caligula: Fire Lord assumptive and crazily dangerous.
- Card-Carrying Villain:
"My own mother thought I was a monster... She was right, of course, but it still hurt."
- While this was played for psychosis and self loathing in the finale, when first brought up, it was in a "history will overlook that unsavory aspect of me" sense.
- The Chains of Commanding: When Ozai gives her the title of Fire Lord when he ascends to Phoenix King, Azula is initially pleased at the authority she now wields... But the burden of being leader starts eating at her sanity, resulting in her becoming more paranoid and psychotic as the days pass. By the time Zuko and Katara show up to face her in the grand finale, she's a total wreck.
- Chekhov's Gunman: In the flashback showing how Zuko got his scar, she can be seen in the crowd near Iroh and Zhao looking disturbingly pleased. Also, during Katara's opening narration, Azula is the firebender.
- The Chessmaster: At only 14 years old, she comes up with a plan that, within 48 hours, successfully conquers a city that had remained standing for a century.
- Child Prodigy/Teen Genius: A firebending master and tactical genius at age 14.
- Childhood Friends: With Mai and Ty Lee. They pulled pranks in a flashback and there's a casual line about finishing school.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Every time Azula forms an alliance with someone, she betrays them. She did this to Long Feng, then later, Team Avatar.
- Classic Villain: Representing Ambition and Pride. Just like her father.
- Combat Pragmatist: Has no qualms about blasting someone in mid-transformation sequence.
- The Comically Serious: In The Beach where she brings the same intensity to a volleyball game as combat.
- Conspiracy Theorist: In "The Search", she's only (barely) able to function after her Villainous Breakdown in the series finale by blaming everything wrong with her life on an imaginary conspiracy orchestrated by her mother Ursa. This easily goes past Insane Troll Logic as she clearly assumes that everyone is answering to Ursa.
- Consummate Liar: "I'm a four hundred foot tall purple platypus bear with pink horns and silver wings."
Okay, I admit, you're good.
- Control Freak: Ultimately, her biggest weakness is that she can't handle not being in control of everything. When there's no one around for her to control, she loses it and enters her Villainous Breakdown.
- The Corrupter: She uses her manipulation to pull Zuko away from his Heel-Face Turn despite Iroh's attempts to pull him the other way.
- Creepy Child: When she was a child, we hear of her throwing rocks at harmless turtle-ducks for the laughs, and we see her throwing fire at an apple on a friend's head, nonchalantly burning a doll from her uncle because she doesn't like him, dancing around her brother whilst gleefully chanting about her their father is going to kill him in a sing-song voice, and smirking with evil glee as said father burns her brother's face.
- Daddy's Girl: Favored by her father.
- Daddy's Little Villain: She's Ozai's daughter, almost as cruel as him and looking forward to taking his title for herself.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: One example: Immediately trading her useless Red Shirt Army for a Quirky Mini Boss Squad that achieved results. It does, however, come with a massive blind spot where Mai, Ty Lee, and her father are concerned.
- Dangerously Short Skirt: In the Beach Episode, but the only "fighting" she ever does is playing volleyball.
- Dark Action Girl: She's powerful, brutal, and vicious.
- Deadpan Snarker: It's something she's fond of doing, which may be because of just how emotionally detached she typically is. Still has this attitude in "The Search" whenever she's in a more sedated state of mind.
- Determinator: To the point that she could lightningbend, a technique that requires clarity of mind, in the middle of a mental breakdown.
- Diabolus Ex Machina: She occasionally seems to know things she should have no way of knowing.
- Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Lethally wounds Aang while he was in the Avatar State.
- The Dragon: To Ozai as his favoured child and heir.
- Dragon-in-Chief: For most of the series, she looks more threatening than her own father, though this was proven wrong in the Grand Finale.
- Dragon Ascendant: To some extent in "The Search", when her father is imprisoned and she becomes the main antagonist of the story.
- Dragon Lady: She's less ethnically offensive than many other Dragon Ladies, as everyone in the series is a fantasy Asian or Inuit, and there are plenty of other Asian-esque women and girls who aren't Dragon Ladies.
- The Dreaded: Being a Machiavellian-style tactical genius, she deliberately goes out of her way to solidify this image of herself, believing in manipulation through fear and might. For much of the series, it works spectacularly, with even her Uncle Iroh showing fear at the idea of being in her clutches, and leading to her turning an entire Government Conspiracy group against their leader through sheer intimidation and force of personality alone. Unfortunately for her, it stops working when Mai's love for Zuko, and Ty Lee's friendship with Mai, become stronger than their fear of her.
: If the Earth Kingdom finds us, they'll have us killed. Iroh
: But if the Fire Nation finds us, they'll hand us over to Azula
: Earth Kingdom it is.
- Dude, Where's My Respect?: Her Villainous Breakdown was partly brought about by Azula receiving this from her father. "You can't treat me like this. You can't treat me like Zuko!"
- Establishing Character Moment: Two of them. Firstly, a flashback in Season 1, where we see her watching Zuko getting his face burned with delight. Secondly, her first appearance in Season 2, where she commands a ship's captain to sail in faster and then, when protests how dangerous it would be in the rough weather, effectively warns him that he can either risk death by obeying or guarantee death by defying her.
- Et Tu, Brute?: She starts to lose it after Mai and Ty Lee do their Heel-Face Turn.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: She's just as much as a Well Done Daughter Girl as Zuko. She also might genuinely love Ty Lee and Mai, though her feelings are twisted due to Ozai's teachings. There's also the situation with her mother; it's possible that she seeks her love, but simply doesn't understand how Ursa can love someone like her.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Quickly recants her statement when she makes Ty Lee cry. But then, given that it's Azula, it might just be an act.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
- Can't understand why her mother (whom she believed never loved her) would love her despite her cruel personality, or why Mai would betray her for Zuko or Ty Lee to follow after Mai had been captured.
- Used rather heartbreakingly in The Search, first she can't understand why Zuko would save her if not for his own gain, then she becomes horribly confused when her mother apologizes to her for not loving her enough.
- Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Usually the jokes she makes at Zuko's expense.
- Eviler Than Thou: To Long Feng, at least in screen time and supplemental works. All in all, she seems to had been a more humane ruler, which is saying something.
- Evil Is Burning Hot: Sympathetic traits aside, she's second only to her father in terms of being the most evil villain on the show, and she's a master Firebender to boot.
- Evil Is Hammy:
- "The Southern Raiders" as well:
Zuko: What are you doing here, Azula?
Azula: Isn't it obvious?! I'm about to celebrate becoming an only child!
- The Evil Princeess: Since being given the throne by her father and losing an agni kai for the throne did not fare well for her, Azula plots to kill her mother and incriminate Zuko as illegitimate to take the throne.
- Fallen Princess: At the start of the series, a composed, competent and commanding princess. At the end of the main series, a crazy conspiracy theorist cut off from her former status and wealth.
- Faux Affably Evil: Is capable of acting quite polite, but the key word is "acting."
- Femme Fatalons: Claws for a female self admitted "monster".
- The Fighting Narcissist: One of the most dangerous firebenders alive, and she openly admits she loves being worshipped.
- Foil/Shadow Archetype: For Zuko. He was the sweet kid whose fire bending was lacking and she was the bully and fire bending prodigy. This changes in the third season, where he rejects the Fire Nation's Take Over the World policy and becomes a much more mentally-healthy individual, while she continues to embrace it and goes utterly insane.
- Foreshadowing / Chekhov's Gunman: She appeared with her face obscured by shadows in the show's opening as the representative of firebending, and first appeared in Zuko's flashback to the events that led to his exile as one of the audience members of his Agni Kai with Ozai.
- For the Evulz: She just enjoys messing with people and especially Zuko. If she can do something, she'll go the extra mile to screw with somebody while doing it.
- Fragile Speedster: Usually, she's too quick for the protagonists or anyone else but on the few occasions they manage to land a blow, she gets knocked back pretty hard.
- Freudian Excuse: A sincere belief her mother never loved her and considered her a monster, combined with a father who was a psychotic, manipulative, emotionally abusive monster who encouraged her to be a monster so she'd be more useful to him that way. In the end, she's shown to be deeply insecure about anyone loving her.
- Gamer Chick: Yes, really.
Azula: A princess has to lay a firm iron fist upon her subjects, after all.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Because she's a paranoid loon.
- Go-Getter Girl: She's characterized by her ambition. Unfortunately, when this is thwarted, there's nowhere for her to go but down...
- Grapes of Luxury: She gives this a try while in power.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: It doesn't take much to set her off.
- The Heavy: In Book 2 and most of Book 3, she drives most of the plot with her actions, though Ozai's still the Big Bad since it's his directions.
- Heel-Face Turn: She begins one at the end of "The Search" due to Zuko's brotherly love for her: giving up her goal of killing her mother or taking the throne from him and instead runs off to find a new objective in life.
- Hero Killer: She kills Aang in the Avatar State... but he gets better.
- Hot Girls Are Bitches: She's beautiful, regal, and vicious.
- Humiliation Conga: She suffers this during her Villainous Breakdown.
- I Am a Monster: She fully embraces the fact that - according to her at least - her mother believed her to be a monster. She's more affected by it than she lets on.
- I Am What I Am: The Quote at the top. In-Universe it's discussed.
- Ignored Epiphany: During "The Beach"; after realizing she can't interact with other teens in a regular setting, helping her comrades work through their various nuerotic traits, and admitting to some Mommy Issues, her final course of action is to shrug it off and give people more reason to believe the worst in her since she believes the worst to be the best. This belief comes back to bite her later on.
- Implacable Woman: Best seen in Return to Omashu and The Chase.
- Important Haircut: In the Grand Finale, after banishing every single one of her servants as the new Fire Lord, Azula tries and fails miserably to fix her hair, having apparently never done it on her own before. Not only is the resulting hairdo extremely disheveled (her ponytail's basically falling apart), but in a moment of stress-induced rage at her own incompetence, she clumsily hacks off her bangs, leaving her hair a tangled, uneven mess, much like her own sanity.
- Improbable Age: While almost all of the main characters are complete masters who are leagues better than people double their age, Azula stands out as being more talented initially than all of them, as well as being drawn as if she's 18, rather than a mere fourteen.
- Indeed, most viewers actually think that she's Zuko's older sister until informed otherwise.
- Inelegant Blubbering: A rare completely serious example during the final stages of her Villainous Breakdown; there's no other way to describe her when she's chained up in the Fire Palace courtyard after the Agni Kai.
- Inferiority Superiority Complex: She's basically a coldblooded Asuka with the Attention Whore aspects replaced with manipulation and strong-arm tactics to ascertain worship from her peers. It doesn't play out any better. Despite all of her talk about being perfect, she feels that she's Ursa's failure, even though Ursa denies it.
- Informed Attractiveness: She has been referred to as beautiful on more than one occasion.
- Ink-Suit Actor: She looks a lot like a younger Grey DeLisle, down to her hair colour and lipstick.
- I Surrender, Suckers: In "The Chase", when she is cornered by Team Avatar, Zuko and Iroh, she pretends to surrender, then sneak attacks Iroh and escapes.
- It's All About Me: Her rant to her mother in The Search Part 3 can be summed up as "My life sucks and it's all your fault and you never gave a damn about me."
- Jerkass: The biggest one in the series aside from her father (who's where she gets it from, after all.)
- Kick the Dog: Frequently and potently. Azula doesn't merely kick the dog, she punts it into orbit. She even literally kicked over some toddler's sandcastle in the Beach Episode.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Long Feng totally had it coming.
- Knight of Cerebus: Her first major appearance brought in a whole new villain competency level, as well as ensuring Book 2 exhibited the show's Darkest Hour.
- Lack of Empathy: Another thing she has in common with Ozai.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Karma served in the fact that the master manipulator who spent two seasons playing mind games ultimately suffered a mental breakdown set off by the specific reason of not being able to manipulate effectively. Azula says trust is for fools, and while it took three seasons for Zuko and Katara to trust each other, it's the trust in each other as friends that also overcame Azula. Making it even more karmarific, it counts as Hoist By Her Own Petard. If Azula hadn't set Mai and Zuko up on that date, then Zuko would have stayed in the Earth Kingdom, which would means no Firebending teacher for Aang and no Heel-Face Turn for Mai, Ty Lee, or perhaps even Zuko — no betrayal by her friends, no Sanity Slippage.
- Laughing Mad: In her final fight with Katara, she indulges in two cackling fits while charging up lightning bolts.
- Limp and Livid: During and after her Villainous Breakdown.
- Little Miss Badass: As a child, she was already beginning to master Firebending. And, believe it or not, she was fourteen throughout the series.
- Madness Makeover: As she underwent her Sanity Slippage, her appearance began to reflect it. Her hair became disshelved and uneven, and her eyes became saggy. All in all, she looked like a mess by the end.
- Makeup Is Evil: Almost always seen wearing makeup, and definitely evil. The only times the heroines wear make up is infiltrating a party and a spa day.
- Manipulative Bastard: An expert strategist and manipulator, even able to manipulate her own father until some point.
- Meaningful Name: "Azul" is Spanish for the "blue", which is the default color of her flames when firebending.
- Mommy Issues: Azula has this idea about her mother and it revolves around the word "monster".
- More Deadly Than The Male: Ozai may be the Big Bad, but Azula is the one to do all his dirty work. This is exemplified when she became the first and only villain who managed to kill Aang (though he did get better).
- Ms. Fanservice: She struts around in a Walking Swimsuit Scene during the Beach Episode.
- Narcissist: She's not unaware of her talents as a bender.
- Never My Fault: In "The Search", she regains a semblance of sanity by pinning the blame for everything falling apart in her life on her mother Ursa. She'd rather imagines a huge conspiracy orchestrated by Ursa than admit that maybe she brought some of her troubles on herself.
- Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: When she tries to act like a normal teenager she is even scarier than normal.
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: See above, though granted, the good deed had no good intentions behind it.
- No Guy Wants an Amazon: During the Beach Episode she tries acting like a normal teenager, including finding romance, but only gets as far as making out before her Evil Overlord tendencies freak the guy off.
Azula: For some reason, when I meet boys, they act as if I'm going to do something horrible to them.
Ty Lee: But you probably would do something horrible to them.
- Nominal Hero: In "The Search". The only thing "heroic" about her now is that she's on Zuko and Aang's side in something, and even then she's got her own agenda.
- No Social Skills: Word of God says that until The Beach episode, Azula seems evil, but perfect. In a social setting, away from battle, she can't function.
- Not So Different: With Zuko as both worked hard to make their way and try to gain the respect of their father. She was just more ruthless about it.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: To Long Feng. She deliberately plays the part of somewhat smart young girl who is way in over her head when she meets Long Feng and teams up with him. Once he decides to betray her, she reveals just how cunning and ruthless she really is.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: She pulls this on Long Feng, and he completely falls for it.
- Off Screen Teleportation: She seems to have this ability, using it mostly as an escape move, most obvious in "The Chase" and "The Drill".
- Omnicidal Maniac: She was the one who suggested the "burn the Earth Kingdom to the ground" thing. When Ozai tweaks The Plan to include the genocide of the people as well, she's plenty happy with it and can't wait for a daddy-daughter bonding trip doing it.
- The Perfectionist: See that little lock of hair dangling over her forehead in her character picture? "One hair out of place" while practicing Lightning bending and she gets worked up over it.
- Pet the Dog: In "The Beach", she apologizes to Ty Lee after insulting her. She also comforted Zuko when she found him at their family's old beach house. Notably, it's the only non-antagonistic scene she shares with her brother.
- The Plan: Azula is fond of using plans to achieve her ends. Many of them are based on what her mark is invested in and would reliably do.
- Pragmatic Villainy: She never kills or harms when diplomacy and sweet words are enough and plays very, very dirty.
- Prim and Proper Bun: Always wears her hair this way and secured with a Fire Nation comb. It falls out when she goes insane, with the result of her looking deranged.
- Psycho Electro: Even in the middle of her Villainous Breakdown, she can still shoot lightning.
- Psychotic Smirk: Much like her father, she never gives any genuine smile. Every time she does smile, it's one of these.
- Puppet King: She was made Fire Lord by Ozai...who immediately made the title pointless when he crowned himself Phoenix King. Azula took this very badly.
- Pyromaniac: After her Villainous Breakdown her fire is no longer the control and precise style it used to be.
- Rage Against the Reflection:
- She rages at her hallucination of her mother in a mirror as she realizes that she is completely alone and unloved, thus also clearly raging against herself.
- She continues to do this in "The Search", where she believes that Ursa's controlling everyone around her to ruin her life.
- Redemption Quest: Is potentially on this path at the end of "The Search"...it's really unclear.
- Redemption Rejection: This exchange happens between her and her mother, where she apologizes to Azula for not loving her enough. Azula hesitates for a moment, but instead, just continues to attack Zuko and states her desire to be free from the torment in her head.
- Reliable Traitor: In The Search, Zuko wanted to get information out of his father, yet Azula was the only one who could accomplish that. In exchange, Zuko had to take Azula with him on his journey, but being Genre Savvy enough to know that Azula will betray him at some point, he has Team Avatar serve as Betrayal Insurance.
- Reluctant Psycho: In "The Search", Azula's fully aware that she's lost her mind and isn't happy about it.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Like all the Fire Nation royalty, she's a One-Man Army waiting to happen. When Ozai "rewards" her with a meaningless position, it exacerbates her Sanity Slippage.
- Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: See No Social Skills. If the finale is any indication, she also can't style her hair on her own, having gotten used to servants doing it for her. It's a lot more important than it may sound.
- Sadist: While her father is simply a completely callous bastard drunk on his own power, Azula clearly enjoys hurting others and getting attention from it. She plays cruel mind games with her brother and "friends" and amuses herself by stirring up trouble or hurting people. We later find out this is her way of asserting her power and worth and finding emotional release.
- Sanity Has Advantages: In "The Search: Part 1," Azula escapes from the Gaang in Volume 1 with her typical do-daring, but, unlike her pre-breakdown self, is quickly recaptured because she stops running to argue with a hallucination. She's also defeated relatively easily (compared to the series) and quickly anytime she tries to fight Zuko or the Gaang.
- Sanity Slippage: After being betrayed by her friends and father, Azula succumbs to paranoia and psychosis.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Goes hand-in-hand with being a Dangerously Genre Savvy Manipulative Bitch, which makes her much more dangerous than Zhao. There's only one episode where we see her tracking skills, but it's clear she knows what she's doing.
- Self-Made Woman: Of a sort. She's certainly privileged and naturally talented but Azula believes in doing her own dirty work. Her greatest achievements are things she did through determination, guile and brass tacks power.
- Self-Proclaimed Liar: See Consumate Liar.
- Serious Business: Beach Volley.
- She Is the King: The title of Fire Lord is unisex.
- Shock and Awe: Introduces lightning generation, which only a few very skilled firebenders can do.
- Sixth Ranger Traitor: Ultimately betrays Team Avatar in "The Search: Part 3".
- Slasher Smile: Sported one during her final fight with Zuko.
- Slipknot Ponytail: She's the page image because it is the only result of falling off a cliff and using firebending to fly to safety.
- Smug Super: Being a firebender with The Gift and lightning bending is just one reason why she thinks she's better than everyone.
- The Social Expert: Plays everyone from her brother to foreign officials like fiddles. When intimidation and manipulation begin to fail her, it triggers her Villainous Breakdown.
- The Sociopath: Just like daddy.
- Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Sort of. She takes Admiral Zhao's place as the "evil Fire Nation officer trying to capture Aang" but she's female, smarter, and more dangerous than he is.
- Teens Are Monsters: Only 14, but one of the nastiest, most messed-up villains in the show.
- Terms of Endangerment: "Zuzu!" It could be said this one word sums up what makes Azula a Tragic Villain. It began as a genuine loving nickname from a little sister to her elder brother but by the time she shows up in the series, it's a biting insult to express that she thinks he's beneath her in all ways.
- Token Evil Teammate: To Team Avatar themselves in "The Search".
- Tragic Villain: For all her scary traits, ruthless acts and hints of psychosis, Azula is, ultimately, little more than a lost girl at heart, desperately seeking love and attention from her family and trust from her friends. Her breakdown is a result of isolation and fear. If she can't control others with fear than she fears they will turn on her.
- Troubling Unchildlike Behavior: While Ozai definitely nurtured Azula's villainous side, every flashback we see in the series indicates sociopathic traits/tendencies from an early age. We've seen her smirking with glee as her brother got his face set on fire, setting her presents on fire because she didn't want them, jeering that her uncle's "weak" for having an emotional breakdown after his only son is killed, and cheerfully taunting her brother and her mother both that her father is going to kill his son — and there's subtle hints she may have been lying about that just to drive a wedge between the family. It's so easy to see Azula engaging in stereotypical "psycho behavior", like torturing her brother's pets, it's frightening. When young!Zuko says to his mom "do you want to know how Azula feeds the turtle-ducks?" and proceeds to throw a big rock at them, it's pretty clear that animal cruelty is part of her record.
- True Companions:
- Mai and Ty Lee, the only ones she trusts due to them being the longest-lasting victims of being afraid of her, and what send her to the deep end when they betrayed her. Fear is not a good way to make friends.
- Averted in "The Search" with Team Avatar, as she does not integrate with them.
- Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In Universe and Fanon, seems to take with stride that a 14 year old girl with other two teens managed to take Ba Sing Se, a city that the greatest generals in the Fire Nation couldn't conquer (including Iroh with dozens of thousands of soldiers and 600 days) in a 100-year war, bring down a dynasty, destroy the greatest dictatorship in the Verse so far, command the absolute loyalty of the Dai Li and permanently cripple the Earth Kingdom (capturing the 5 generals), quite likely ending the war. She did this in less than a month with zero casualties while making it up as she went.
- Undying Loyalty: After all she went through with her father, and even though he's in prison, The Search indicates that she is still loyal to him.
- The Unfavorite: Word of God says she perceives herself to be this when it comes to her mother.◊
- The Vamp: She does it without realizing it. The one time she tried to seduce someone, she failed miserably.
- Villainous Breakdown: It starts when Ty Lee and Mai turn on her, and Ozai pushes her aside just like he did to Zuko. It comes full circle when she loses to Katara and Zuko; she's left chained to a grate, crying and whimpering on the ground while Katara and Zuko can only look on in pity and horror.
- Villain Decay: In "The Search" due to her deteriorated mental state.
- Villainous Friendship: With Mai and Ty Lee, until it becomes apparent that both of them were scared of Azula's wrath and pull a Heel-Face Turn.
- Wake-Up Call Boss: Although Zuko improved over the series he was not the same level of threat with a troupe of soldiers in Book 1 to Aang as Azula was alone Season 2. The Gaang's inability to adjust to this new threat level quickly enough results in her dealing them a crushing defeat at the end of the season.
- We Can Rule Together: She tried this as a pick-up line on a guy at a party. She also used this on Zuko, and was one of the few occasions where it worked.
- "Well Done, Son!" Guy: Not just to her father, but to her mother as well. She sought the approval of both parents by being cruel to others due to what Ozai taught her. While Ozai was pleased with the result, up until the point where this meant she'd lie to him, Ursa worried about her daughter's mental instability. She mistook that for Ursa's fearing her as a monster.
- Worf Had the Flu: Azula was virtually unbeatable when she was on her game. It took her brain breaking for Katara to bring her down. Her Sanity Slippage gave Zuko an advantage, which he noted before their Agni Kai began. After a certain point Katara doesn't even try to attack the crazed and comet-powered girl, instead waiting until she could disable Azula by chaining her up.
- Worthy Opponent: Subverted. Long Feng thinks they are. Azula nearly laughs at the very idea.
Long Feng: You have beaten me at my own game.
Azula: Don't flatter yourself. You were never even a player.
- Younger than She Looks: Yep. She's fourteen. The year-long timeskip happens in The Promise; then she's 15.
Daughter of very high class Fire Nation nobles, Mai was constantly forced by her parents to be quiet in order to keep up appearances. As a result, Mai finds no enjoyment in anything other than her childhood crush Zuko. As an expert with throwing blades, Mai was recruited by her old friend Azula to help her in her schemes. Although she does have a soft spot for Zuko, she's so apathetic to everything that she doesn't care about being Azula's soldier.
- Aloof Big Sister: Shows little emotion in regards to her brother, but the comics show that she cares greatly for him.
- Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: She is almost as tall as Zuko, has long black hair, and is very aloof and cold.
- Anti-Villain: Though not to the extent of Ty Lee (what with being a Jerk with a Heart of Gold instead of a straight-on Nice Girl), she is still only going up against the good guys because she works under someone who is evil.
- Archnemesis Dad: Her father turned to The Dark Side, with the ambition of overthrowing Zuko. Mild example though, because he doesn't see himself or his daughter as enemies. Mai on the other hand, happened to inflict this on him, because what he's doing isn't right.
- Badass: When you can tame the Prince of the Fire Nation and save him from Royal Guard Fire Benders with only knife-throwing skills without striking vitals flawlessly, you're this.
- Badass Normal: She throws knives at a team of benders. The fact that Azula chose her, along with Ty Lee, for her elite team instead of any other benders should also tell you something.
- Beleaguered Assistant: Inverted with Azula. She was bored out of her mind with her father and wanted Azula's excitement.
- Beta Couple: With Zuko. See his entry.
- Big Brother Instinct: The story arc of Rebound, a comic sequel to "The Promise" series, portrays this. After undergoing Character Development and her breakup with Zuko, she discovers her father gathered an Ozai-loyal faction and intends to raise Tom-Tom into loyalty to Ozai and hatred for Fire Lord Zuko. With that, Mai snatches Tom-Tom away (who ran into her arms) and brings him to a friendly aunt where she knows he'd be raised well. Did we mention her taking Tom-Tom away was all while fighting off the Ozai faction by herself with him on her back?
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: One would think that she falls under All Girls Want Bad Boys for dating Zuko. The simple truth is that she only puts up with him after he gets over his anger issues.
- Single-Target Sexuality: May have this for Zuko, as she was attracted to him even as a kid and displays little interest in other guys.
- The Snark Knight: Nearly everything she says is dry quips and sarcasm.
- Sour Outside, Sad Inside: Like Zuko, she acts cold as a result of her past.
- Spell My Name with an "S": If one didn't know how to spell her name, they would surely write it as "May", since that's exactly what it sounds like. This works in two ways, since someone familiar with Chinese pinyin pronunciation would expect her name to be spelled as "Mei".
- The Stoic: She doesn't express herself because she was raised with the idea that her expressions could somehow hurt her father's political career.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: She acts cold towards everyone, but her softer side is shown by her interactions with Zuko.
- Sweet Tooth: She loves fruit tarts with rose petals on top. It's probably used as an Unusual Euphemism to indicate that her relationship with Zuko has aspects that are not acceptable to portray on a Y/Y7-rated show.
- Tall, Dark and Snarky: A raven-haired Snark Knight. It's a trait she shares with Zuko.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Tomboy to Ty Lee's Girly Girl but it's a mild case considering both of them are martial artists and she's wearing a dress and Hime Cuit. The tiping point is that Ty Lee wears a lot of white and pink while Mai favors black and red.
- Undying Loyalty: To Zuko. Even when their relationship is on the rocks, she remains loyal. Two instances: the Boiling Rock encounter where Zuko explains his treason and desertion and inspires her to defy Azula herself, and again in the "Rebound" free comic day issue where she discovers her father wants to use her as an insider against Zuko in a bid to put Ozai back on the throne.
- The Unfavorite: It's implied that her parents treat her little brother Tom-Tom much better than her.
- Victory Is Boring: Trope Namer.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: Saving Zuko in "Boiling Rock". "Saving the jerk who dumped me." as she put it.
- Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: To Zuko. She doesn't put up with his angsting.
- When She Smiles: Just like her boyfriend, she frowns so often that she looks really cute when she smiles genuinely.
- Woman Scorned: Acted like one when Zuko dumps her via a written note before doing his Heel-Face Turn.
- Your Makeup Is Running: Has this happen at one point when she's disguised as a Kiyoshi Warrior.
- You Shall Not Pass: Covers Zuko escape from the Boling Rock. She lives through it but was imprisoned for it.
"My aura has never been pinker!"
Daughter of Fire Nation nobles, Ty Lee made an effort to distinguish herself from her six identical sisters. After joining a circus, Ty Lee was forcefully recruited by her childhood friend Azula. Although she's an expert martial artist able to stop bending by striking pressure points, she's more interested in doing handstands and being girly than doing villain work. Nonetheless, she's easily cowed by Azula, making her a loyal, if very quirky, minion.
- Affably Evil: She's quite nice and pleasant. It helps that she's an Anti-Villain.
- Anti-Magic: Knows the body well enough to strike vital "chi" spots and stop benders from bending. Very useful skill for a Badass Normal to have.
- Anti-Villain: There's nothing even remotely evil about her. She just happens to work under someone who is evil.
- Attention Whore: Most likely as a result of having six identical sisters and not having the attention she wanted as a child. This is also why she ran away to the Fire Nation circus.
- Aura Vision: Though it's really more a take-my-word-for-it thing; the viewers never get to see it. She says that Mai's is 'dingy and gray'.
- Badass: In a world full of benders, she's more than capable of holding her own.
- Badass Adorable: Her badassness shows up alongside her nature as a cute young Cloud Cuckoolander.
- Badass Normal: Benders dread fighting her because of her talent at stopping their bending ability. The fact that Azula chose her, along with Mai, for her elite team instead of any other benders should also tell you something.
- Bare Your Midriff: Pretty much every outfit she wears shows off her stomach in some way.
- Boobs of Steel: She's endowed, and one of the most feared fighters in the show, thanks to her chi-blocking abilities.
- Beware the Nice Ones: Azula learns this the hard way. The Nice Girl can still sneak attack your ass.
- Braids of Action: Wears her hair in a long braid.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Chi blocking, which allows her to take on and defeat powerful benders by the dozen. Not only that, but she's able to jump a whole lot farther and is a lot more agile than most characters in the show. Aang has the cheat card of mastering airbending, but Ty Lee only has circus training to back up her skills.
- Childhood Friends: With Azula and Mai. See their entries.
- Circus Brat: Ran away to a circus to stand out among her six identical sisters.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: "Look at that dust cloud. It's so... poofy. Poof..."
- Close Range Combatant: She's able to deftly dodge bending attacks in order to get in close with them and hit their pressure points.
- Co-Dragons: Same as Mai, to Azula.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Arguably the most badass non-bender in the series, along with Mai.
- Dangerously Short Skirt: In the Beach Episode, with the same volleyball scenario as Azula from above.
- Dark Action Girl: A lot nicer than most Dark Action Girls,. Inverted as of "The Boiling Rock" when she undergoes a Heel-Face Turn and becomes a heroic Action Girl.
- The Dark Chick: She fits this as, despite being on Azula's team, she doesn't have a malevolent bone in her body.
- Dating Catwoman: Sort of. She usually shows attraction to Sokka whenever she encounters him.
- The Ditz: Comes across as this with her bubbly personality.
- The Dreaded: For any bender who has fought her and got their powers shut off. In one episode, Katara mentioned how downright terrifying it was even recalling her first experience being chi-blocked. Apparently, her abilities are so scary that all the main characters who can bend are more concerned with distancing themselves or outright avoiding her, including Aang when he was dealing with the drill.
- Easily Forgiven: She is quickly forgiven by the Kiyoshi warriors after they bonded in prison, even though she was the one to put them in there in the first place.
- Friendly Enemy: She's quite flirtatious with Sokka.
- Genki Girl: Energetic and perky.
- Good Costume Switch: Joins the Kyoshi Warriors which means donning their uniform.
- Good Feels Good: She loved entertaining people at the circus, and then she stopped Azula before she could attack Mai.
- Heel-Face Turn: Alongside Mai, in "The Boiling Rock Part 2". which starts off Azula's Villainous Breakdown.
- Hello, Nurse!: In "The Beach" she had every guy drooling over her.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With Mai. Her friendship with Azula may have fallen apart, but she was willing to risk her life and defy Azula to save Mai.
- I Just Want to Be Special: She joined a circus to demark herself from her six identical sisters.
- Little Miss Badass: She's only 14 years old, but she's able to defeat benders with little to no effort.
- Machiavelli Was Wrong: Looks like her friendship with Mai mattered more to her than her fear of Azula did.
- Mage Killer: Her pressure points can shut down bending which makes her the ideal person to fight benders.
- Ms. Fanservice: Lampshaded in "The Beach", where some guys see her lying on the beach and picture her doing sexy poses.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Ty Lee chi-blocks Azula in "The Search" when she knocks over the tray, and Azula takes advantage of her temporary flexibility to slip out of her straitjacket and find Ozai's letters.
- Nightmare Fuel: In-universe. Her ability to strip benders of their powers, even temporarily, makes her more terrifying to Katara than the Ax-Crazy Fire Nation princess who chucks lightning bolts at you.
- Not Afraid of You Anymore: Subverted with regards to Azula in "The Search". Azula asks if Ursa was responsible for getting Ty Lee to lose her fear of Azula, but after leaving, Ty Lee says to Zuko "She's wrong, you know. I never lost my fear of her."
- Obfuscating Stupidity: The episode, The Beach, revealed that at least part of her bubbly personality is an act.
- One Woman Army: Took out an elite team of earthbenders by herself.
- The Paralyzer: She can (temporarily) disable bending ability, designating her as the anti-bender combatant.Chekhov's Gun: Considering this was well before energybending was revealed... and later anti-benders.
- Perky Female Minion: She even provides the page picture and the page quote!
- Pink Means Feminine: Pink is a prominent color in her wardrobe and she is very girly.
- Punch Clock Villain: She's only going after the Gaang because she's working with, and is terrified of, Azula. Then she ditches her.
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: The red to Mai's blue. Or, since Ty Lee describes her aura as pink, and Mai's as grey, Ty Lee is the Pink Oni to Mai's Grey.
- The Runaway: To join the circus.
- She-Fu: Justified as she was a circus performer.
- She's Got Legs: As shown in the Beach Episode.
- Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Doesn't give a damn about any of the Fire Nation beach boys drooling over her, and instead develops a crush on Sokka.
- Stalker with a Crush: A mildcase to Sokka. She's stalking the avatar on Azula's orders but she never passes up the opportunity to flirt with him.
- Stepford Smiler: At least some of her attitude is a ruse to keep Azula happy.
- Token Good Teammate: In a team where Azula is Obviously Evil and Mai is extremely apathetic, Ty Lee comes off as this in comparison.
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Girly Girl to Mai's Tomboy; PINK!
- Valley Girl: As Mai is the Avatar world's version of a Goth, the creators describe Ty Lee as this.
- Waif-Fu: Lots of flips and twists and jumping in her fighting style; she's a circus performer after all.
- Yes-Man: To Azula, if only because she's terrified of her. When she turns on Azula, Ty Lee was just as surprised as everyone else.
Fire Lord Ozai
Ruler of the Fire Nation and likely the most powerful Firebender on the planet, Ozai is the main antagonist of the series. A ruthless warlord and megalomaniac, Ozai is willing to burn the rest of the world to the ground so he can rule. He has little to no empathy for anyone, including his own children (though he's acts decent towards them if they prove themselves useful.) Aang must defeat Ozai before Ozai can harness Sozin's Comet and use it to end the war once and for all.
- Abusive Dad:
- You see that scar on Zuko's face? That's just the most visible mark.
- He's indirectly emotionally abusive of Azula as well — her perfectionism and eventual breakdown can be traced back to the knowledge that if she ever slips up, what happened to Zuko could just as easily happen to her. At most though, he trusts her.
- Above Good and Evil: He believes that right and wrong are meaningless, believing that the will of the fire lord is the be all and end all.
- Action Dad: Though he doesn't take action until the Grand Finale, he still qualifies.
- A Real Man Is a Killer: He mocks both Zuko and Aang for their unwillingness to fight and kill him, respectively, viewing their hesitation as weakness.
- Arranged Marriage: With Ursa.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He's confirmed in Avatar Extras to be the most powerful Firebender. The only benders in the world who have a chance of beating him in a straight fight are Aang and Iroh, meaning that Ozai is at worst the second most powerful bender in the world. Though that's a moot point after he loses his bending.
- Bad Boss: He is as awful to his subordinates as he is to his least favorite child, as he is one slip up away from incinerating them.
- Badass: See Authority Equals Asskicking.
- Badass Beard: Sports a goatee.
- Beard of Evil: A goatee.
- Big Bad: Even though his actions aren't directly driving the plot (that's mostly Azula's job), his influence in the story makes him the main villain for the series, and the one Aang ultimately aims to take down.
- Bigger Bad: Despite losing his firebending and being imprisoned, he still casts his dark influence in the comics that take place after the main series.
- Brought Down to Normal: Courtesy of Aang's energy bending.
- Cain and Abel: Cain To Iroh's Abel, though they never fought directly. Ozai preferred machinations when dealing with his brother.
- The Chessmaster: Like his daughter, he's a very capable strategist and manipulator. Unlike his daughter, he's usually too Drunk on the Dark Side to use it, and generally prefers to just set his problems on fire.
- Classic Villain: Representing pride and ambition.
- Control Freak: Much like his daughter. Heck, that's the reason why he banished Zuko for talking out of turn.
- Crippling Over Specialization: Ozai is blessed with incredible natural talent for fire bending, and he seems to rely almost entirely on this talent rather than learn how to fight without it. Compared to his brother and children, he has almost no technique beyond incinerating his opponents with large amounts of fire. Terrifyingly enough, this seems to be enough for him to outmatch all but Aang and Iroh.
- Despotism Justifies the Means: He wants to rule the world in his own name, not as the ruler of the Fire Nation, so he promotes his daughter to Fire Lord and declares himself the Phoenix King.
- Determinator: He refuses to give up, even still referring to himself as the "Phoenix King" after losing his powers.
- Disproportionate Retribution: A recurring theme with him. He challenged his son to an Agni Kai for the crime of speaking out of turn, and banished & burned half of said son's face off for the crime of begging for forgiveness rather than standing and fighting.
- The Dreaded: To Aang, who fears the inevitable confrontation with him throughout the series. He is so feared by everyone, that almost no person in the world has the tenacity to stand up to him or challenge him. Even Azula, who herself is feared by almost everyone else, backs down when he commands it.
- Drunk on the Dark Side: Just read his quote. He acts this way once Sozin's Comet powers him up.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: Say what you want about his morals, but the man's not sexist. He favors his (also evil) daughter over his son, has no problem with women serving in the Fire Nation military, and has no issue with making his aforementioned daughter the Fire Lord. Also, he presumably had no problem with Azula bringing Dai Lee agents to the capital as suveniors.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Fire Lord Azulon ordered him to kill his own son, which Ozai deemed unthinkable. Subverted when we learn he had planned on going through with it.
- Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Ozai fails to understand why Aang didn't kill him and instead, spared him. Same after Zuko tells him that Aang is the one who should kill Ozai, not him.
Even with all the power in the world, you are still weak.
- Evil Counterpart: He is essentially Zuko completely overcome by his feelings of inferiority towards his more talented sibling and desire to gain his father's approval, minus Zuko's naturally kindhearted nature.
- Eviler Than Thou: Whenever he shows up, there's no question as to who the real Big Bad is. Ozai is this to everyone, including Zuko.
- Evil Is Burning Hot: Comes with being an anger firebender.
- Evil Overlord: The Fire Lord.
- Evil Only Has to Win Once: As Zuko puts it, if Aang doesn't defeat him before Sozin's comet arrives, there won't be a world to save anymore.
- Evil Plan: Finish Sozin's conquest of the world.
- The Evil Prince: In flashbacks.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Courtesy of Mark Hamill.
- Expy: A composite of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. Even funnier considering he's voiced by Mark Hamill.
- The Faceless: In Seasons 1-2, there is darkness covering his face whenever he is present.
- Fate Worse Than Death: De-bended and left to rot in a cell.
- Faux Affably Evil: When he's not being abusive, he sounds civil, but in a cold and not-really-empathic way. He tells people what he thinks they want to hear, so long as what they want is to stay on his good side.
- Final Boss: He's the final enemy Aang faces, and the one he's been training the entire series to defeat.
- Freudian Excuse: It's implied he was The Unfavorite to Azulon. The Search comic series gives another possible reason why Ozai is abusive to Zuko: he wed Ursa as part of a eugenics experiment (partly explaining his complete dissociation with his family's well-being), and he thinks Zuko is the love child of Ursa and her childhood friend Ikem after reading his wife's letter to Ikem. It turns out that he knew all along that Zuko was his son and the reason he's abusive to Zuko was to punish Ursa for her lie.
- A God Am I: He doesn't outright name himself a god, but the idea that he was just a step away from world domination during the Grand Finale certainly gave him delusions.
- God Emperor: Makes a claim at this towards the end with the new position of "Phoenix King".
- Godzilla Threshold: He's the one villain Zuko doesn't recommend holding back on. Aang on the other hand, isn't wiling to take his life even if Ozai passes this threshold.
- Humiliation Conga: Brought Down to Normal, mocked by kids and teenagers, and left living on the mercy of the son he abused.
- Inferiority Superiority Complex: Heavily implied in his relationship with his brother, in his own personal search of admiration and respect and lately in his Villainous Breakdown.
- Jerkass: It took Zuko a while to realize that his father was an asshole that cared only for his personal glory.
- Kick the Dog: Ozai's abuse of Zuko takes it up to 11 during the flashback scenes of "The Search" graphic novel where a fight with Ursa ends with him promising her that since she wishes Zuko was the son of her childhood lover rather than his, then that is exactly how Ozai would treat him from that day on.
- Kill It with Fire: Aside from the obvious, his master plan is to use Sozin's Comet to greatly enhance firebending everywhere. A more literal example comes later in the series; the final battle is kicked off when he begins to personally burn down swathes of the Earth Kingdom.
- Knight of Cerebus: Again, much like his daughter, he's a dead serious and frighteningly competent villain.
- Large and in Charge: He outsizes a lot of his subordinates.
- Large Ham: In the series finale as The Phoenix King! Exemplified by his article quote above.
- Laser-Guided Karma: Zuko was banished when Ozai challenged him to a duel and the prince refused to fight. When the boy made his Heel Realization, he challenged his father instead but still refused to fight, allowing that to be Aang's destiny.
- Long-Range Fighter: Reflects his fighting style if not his fragility. Unlike his brother and children who like to mix it up in close combat and are generally almost as dangerous without bending as they are with it, Ozai prefers to stay at a distance and blast his enemies with ranged attacks. In the absence of bending he even seems to consider himself outmatched by Zuko to that point that he wouldn't bother fighting, though Zuko was armed with swords at the time.
- Manipulative Bastard: Plays on Zuko's emotions right until the boy pulls a Calling the Old Man Out. By "The Promise", he's gained a reputation for being this.
- Might Makes Right: Firmly believes that the Fire Lord's will is right by way of being the Fire Lord.
- Misery Builds Character: He believes strongly in this as way of upbringing to his children.
- Narcissist: A fairly textbook case — needs his children to be obedient and perfect (as they reflect back on him), demands and receives unconditional worship from his underlings, totally lacking in empathy because he's too wrapped up in himself, an implicit Inferiority Superiority Complex from being a "Well Done, Son!" Guy, and a propensity towards delusions of grandeur and megalomania, culminating in attempted genocide. And he never, ever accepts responsibility for anything wrong he has ever done, to the point that in the sequel comic he claims that right and wrong is up to the Fire Lord to decide.
- Near Villain Victory: He had the edge on Aang until inadvertently giving his opponent access to the Avatar state again.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
- He tried to smash Aang's earth shield only to hit the chakra that Azula had blocked, opening it, and then spends the rest of the fight fleeing in terror from the wrath of an absolutely furious Avatar Aang.
- Zuko outright states that he did this. If he never banished his son to go hunt for the Avatar, then said would never have met the Avatar, joined the Avatar and taught the Avatar firebending.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Discussed by Sokka after learning about Ozai's plan to obliterate the Earth Kingdom with the power of Sozin's comet. Sokka once believed Ozai was merely a bad guy, but later realizes that the fire lord is just pure evil.
- Offing the Offspring: Was planning on doing this to Zuko when he was about 8-10 to appease his father. Attempted to do it again when Zuko announced his intentions to join the Avatar to help him defeat him.
- Oh, Crap: The two times his lightning is redirected, once by Zuko and once by Aang, he is visibly scared. The biggest instance of this, however, is when he smashes Aang against a rock during their fight and, by doing this, inadvertently opens the chakra Azula closed with her lightning attack far earlier. He is then faced with a fully realized, and absolutely furious, Avatar State Aang. The look of terror on his face is something to behold.
- Omnicidal Maniac: His Evil Plan in the finale was to wipe out the other two nations.
- Overarching Villain: Despite Azula and Zhao being the main threats in the first two seasons, they ultimately answered to Fire Lord Ozai.
- Orcus on His Throne: Strategically justified. He's waiting for Sozin's Comet.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Planned to wipe out the Earth Kingdom singled handed with a towering wave of flames.
- Pet the Dog: Rescues a young Zuko from drowning after a tide sweeps him into the middle of the ocean. At least he initially cared for him enough not to let him die.
- Prepare to Die: A rare, terrifying example: it helps that he waited until he had a solid claim to winning.
"You're weak — just like the rest of your people! They did not deserve to exist in this world — in my world! Prepare to join them! Prepare to DIE!!!"
- Prince Charmless: For Ursa. She would have preferred to marry her childhood friend Ikem, but was forced to marry this egotistical jerk, though Zuko believes that at least some of their time together was happy.
- Psycho Electro: He's quite skilled when it comes to lightningbending none too civil.
- Psychopathic Manchild: At the end of the day he's just a man who spends most of time sitting around being worshipped and is rarely shown doing much work outside of managing the war effort, and even that is mostly his "Yes Men" telling him how wonderful his ideas are. He basically hijacks his teenage daughter's offhand suggestion to end the war with genocide just so he can revel in his power and take all credit for finishing it himself, and his relationship with his children is basically a perversion of his bad relationship with his own dad. He cannot tolerate any sort of criticism and comes across as a petulant and even lazy ruler who thinks that his job is just to receive unconditional praise.
- Psychotic Smirk: When he smiles, it's never a kind, genuine smile. It's always an evil smirk.
- Pyromaniac: It's easy to see where Azula gets it from.
- Self-Made Orphan: "The Search" reveals that, although Ursa is the one who made the poison, it was ultimately Ozai who murdered Azulon, as Ursa shortly left after giving the vial to him.
- Shock and Awe: Very good at it, too. He can generate lightning extremely quickly, whereas both Azula and Iroh, master firebenders in their own right, require at least a few seconds to "charge".
- The Social Darwinist: "You're weak, just like the rest of your people! They did not deserve to exist in this world! MY WORLD!" This is why he absolutely hates it when Zuko and later Aang have him at their mercy and won't kill him, or when Zuko won't fight an Agni Kai against him after challenging the chain of command. Everyone else should be a Social Darwinist too, damn it!
- The Sociopath: In case you're wondering where Azula got it...
- Squishy Wizard: Despite being in prime physical condition, Ozai seems to lack any real physical combat capabilities (during the eclipse Zuko was able to intimidate his disempowered father into keeping his distance simply by brandishing his swords) instead preferring to use his fire-bending to fight foes from a safe distance.
- Strong, but Unskilled: While his fire bending is easily some of the best in the world, he demonstrates no martial arts training, something that even the lowest ranking fire nation soldier displays skill at.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: He's essentially an older Zuko sans the horrific scarring and a calmer/sharper dispoistion.
- They Look Just Like Everyone Else: Though still a bully and childish, Ozai is also an outright sociopath willing to commit genocide. The fact that he can do these things while looking like a normal man, rather than the built-up monster, is rather eerie on its own.
- Ultimate Evil: He was kept from being seen for most of the series, and all we usually saw of him is a shadowy figure in his throne room. When he finally shows himself, he didn't look so intimidating. In subsequent episodes after this however, his actions very much affirm how horrifically and terrifyingly evil he is out of every villain Aang has faced.
- The Unfettered: Nothing checks his ambition.
- The Unfavourite: It's implied that Azulon favored Iroh over him similar to how he favors Azula over Zuko; the screw up and the prodigy.
- The Unreveal: Invoked. He is built up a terrifying figure of almost demonic proportions for the first two seasons, usually surrounded by shadow and fire whenever anyone is thinking of him. Then Season 3 hits and he turns out to be just a guy, albeit a dangerously arrogant one with far too much power. One could argue that this is symbolic of Aang and especially Zuko overcoming their awe and dread of him, since for all his Firebending and military might Ozai himself is just a man, and a delusional and childish man at that. Ultimately he's just a bully who needs to be stood up to and the product of a poisonous culture and legacy more than anything else.
- Ungrateful Bastard: His thanks to Ursa for allowing him to usurp Azulon as Fire Lord, while saving their son's life in the process, was to banish her for treason. Despite this it's averted as she had to agree to banishment before the whole thing happened. For Ozai, this was necessary for him to tie up loose ends.
- Unwanted Spouse: To Ursa. She didn't like the idea of marrying him and her true love was someone else.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: According to Zuko, he wasn't always a power hungry bully.
- Villainous Breakdown: Occurs during his final battle with Aang. During the opening of the battle he's smug and confident, but after Aang achieves the Avatar State, Ozai's visibly terrified. After he loses his bending, he's left a pathetic shell of his former self.
- Villains Never Lie: He's the only character who gives exposition on Ursa's fate. He's taken at his word by both Zuko and the audience, even though Ozai was blatantly trying manipulate Zuko at the time. (This may be because the story matches up with hints from Azula, who is herself a villain.)
- Villain with Good Publicity: He is very popular with his citizens, even after being deposed, as seen in "The Promise". This is thanks to him developing a cult of personality where, as shown in The Headband, Fire Nation schools routinely teach their students to adore him and even rewrite history to favor him and his predecessors.
- Virtue Is Weakness: Believes in this, which he uses to justify all of his evil acts.
- Would Hurt a Child: The scar!
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: After Ursa gives him the poison, Ursa would be the final loose end; Ozai had to banish Ursa without her taking the children.
"That's what moms are like — if you mess with their babies, they're gonna bite you back."
Even as Ozai's wife, Ursa was a caring mother to their children. (Though she had considerable problems dealing with Azula.
) She was one of the few people who consistently supported Zuko, and it came as a hard blow to him when she suddenly disappeared.
- Arranged Marriage: Revealed to be the case with her marriage to Ozai, basically because Fire Lord Azulon wanted to conduct a eugenics experiment.
- Awful Wedded Life: The comics explain that her marriage was arranged and that her married life with Ozai was NOT what she wanted at all.
- Beware the Nice Ones: One of the kindest fire nation royals. She is also responsible for Azulon's death.
- Break His Heart to Save Him: Ursa told her lover Ikem that she "joyfully accepted" Ozai's proposal to stop his attempts to resist, which would almost certainly get him killed.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Before being forced to marry Ozai, Ursa had a lover named Ikem, who was also her childhood friend.
- Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Poisoning your grandfather to keep you alive and banished as a result.
- The Exile: Banished from the Fire Nation for treason.
- Earn Your Happy Ending: Double Subverted. She thought that after finding Ikem, changing her identity and marrying him was the happy ending she wanted. When Team Avatar finds her, she came to realize that this was not what she truly wanted. Reconciling with her son, who is now Fire Lord, eased the sting. Now if only she can repeat the feat with Azula....
- Gilded Cage: After marrying Ozai, her new life was better than her backwater village due to the comforts of the Palace. However, Ursa wasn't allowed to speak to her family or mention her pre-Fire Nation princess life again after their wedding. She couldn't have certain possessions or travel where she wants without the Royal family's permission. Even the letters secretly sent back home were intercepted and confiscated.
- Good Parents: She's a very loving mother. But as "The Search" reveals, she doesn't consider herself a perfect one.
- Identical Granddaughter: She looks very similar to Roku's wife; Ta Min, who's also her grandmother.
- Irony: Her last words to Zuko are "Never forget who you are!" She then proceeds to literally and willingly forget a significant part of who she is, and who Zuko and Azula are for that matter.
- Lady Macbeth: Downplayed. Ursa came up with the idea of killing Azulon and made a bargain with Ozai to help him become Fire Lord, but she did it in order to protect Zuko.
- Mama Bear: See her character quote above.
- Master Poisoner: She knew a lot about poisons and herbs thanks to her mother. She gave Ozai an odor-less, color-less poison to kill Azulon.
- Meaningful Name: Ursa is Latin for "bear." It Gains further meaning when one stops to think of Ozai's use of the word "vicious" to describe her treason. Right after telling Zuko that disfiguring his son wasn't a big deal and right before he tries to smite the boy.
- Missing Mom: To Zuko and Azula. She disappeared during their childhood.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: To see if her letters have been intercepted, Ursa wrote a letter that states that Zuko is Ikem's son rather Ozai's, knowing that it would provoke Ozai. It backfired horribly, as Ozai's jealousy and rage over this caused him to openly treat Zuko as if he was not his own son as punishment for Ursa (though Ozai had already been treating Zuko pretty badly even before his confrontation with Ursa). This also led to Ozai favoring and corrupting Azula, and Ursa once again failed to help matters by focusing her efforts into protecting Zuko from the results of her mistake, unintentionally neglecting Azula (at least from her perspective) in the process.
- Parents as People: "The Search: Part 3" reveals her memories were wiped. Ozai forbid her from contacting them and she loved them too much to bear knowing of them but never seeing them again. Even Noriko, who is Ursa under memory loss and a new identity, admits this when she hears of what her past-self did, and when she's restored to being Ursa, she re-iterates this admittance to Zuko, outright asking herself "what kind of mother forgets her own children?"
- Rags to Royalty: She was a commoner who became a princess through an Arranged Marriage to Ozai. Downplayed in that both her maternal grandparents (and by extension, her mother) were noble-born, but chose to live as commoners.
- Silk Hiding Steel: Don't be fooled by her kindness and gentle demeanor. Hurt (or threaten to hurt) her kids, and she will hurt you.
- Star-Crossed Lovers: With Ikem. An arranged marriage kept them apart.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: They had a scene storyboarded for her return in the finale, but it got cut due to Mike and Bryan feeling such a brief scene would be unsatisfactory. This question is finally answered in "The Search".
- Yamato Nadeshiko: She is a demure and gentle mother in an Asian-ish setting who helped Ozai murder her father-in-law to save her son. "The Search" reveals that she wasn't this when she was younger. On the contrary, she was rather tomboyish.
- You Can't Go Home Again: Unfortunately, it goes both ways because she was exiled.
Prince Lu Ten
"If only I could have helped you."— Iroh
Iroh's only son, who like his father served in the Fire Nation army, and died during the siege of Ba Sing Se, prompting Iroh's withdrawal from the city, his retirement from the army, and his Heel-Face Turn
. It also provoked Ozai's grab for the throne, and everything that followed.
That's really all there is on him.
- Cheerful Child: He was one, judging by Iroh's memories of him.
- The Ghost: Never appears, save once as a child in a flashback. We do see what he looked like around the time he died, if the photo his father puts over his grave is any indication.
- Missing Mom: Manages to do her son one better. We never heard a single thing about her, not even a name or a brief mention by her husband. Not even in flashbacks.
- Modest Royalty: Isn't ever addressed as "prince", despite his father being first in line for the throne. Also served in the army, rather than staying home and directing the war from there.
- White Sheep: About the only member of the Fire Nation royal family who isn't messed up or damaged in some way, just being a loyal and dedicated officer in the military.
Commander / Admiral Zhao
Voiced by: Jason Isaacs
"I had a pupil once who had no interest in learning discipline. He was only concerned with the power of fire — how he could use it to destroy his opponents and wipe out the obstacles in his path." — Jeong Jeong
The power-hungry and glory-seeking Commander and later Admiral of the Fire Nation. With his greater resources and army, he served as Zuko's rival to capture Aang in the first season. However, he considered the capture of the Avatar to be a minor project compared to his dream of KILLING THE MOON!
"I've heard about you. They say you're good at what you do. And even better at keeping secrets. The Avatar is alive. I want you to find him. And end him." — Zuko
A mysterious assassin hired by Zuko to hunt down and kill the Avatar. Relentless in his pursuit of Aang and seemingly unstoppable, he uses a unique form of Firebending by shooting laser beams that cause Stuff Blowing Up
. Also known as Sparky Sparky Boom Man.
- Achilles' Heel: Getting hit in the tattoo on his head screws up the flow of chi which creates his explosions, causing them to blow up in his face (or worse).
- All There in the Manual: His unique form of firebending, combustion bending, isn't given a proper name until Book 3 of The Legend of Korra.
- Appropriated Appellation: Both of his names were made up by Sokka for the sake of identification. Combustion Man never hears them and it's unknown what he calls himself. Zuko apparently knows his real name, but never gets a chance to say it.
- Artificial Limbs: Word of God is that he blew off his natural limbs by accident while experimenting with his powers.
- Attack Its Weak Point: Indirectly subverted. While he is twice foiled by things hitting his tattoo, both times were completely unintentional and the gaang never figured out how to stop him. Sokka takes the credit for defeating him, with his boomerang.
- Badass: He sends the Gaang running scared in their first fight with him.
- Bald of Evil: Although he clearly shaves it to be that way.
- Beard of Evil: It's the hair he's really got.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: His real name is never revealed, and the Gaang refers to him as Sparky Sparky Boom Man, then Combustion Man.
- Fan Nickname: Sparky Sparky Boom Man, which originated in-universe.
- Fluffy the Terrible: Sokka gives him the ever-so-threatening nickname "Sparky Sparky Boom Man".
- Genius Bruiser: Nearly unstoppable in combat and has the wits to match. He's crafty enough to make sure to keep any word of Aang being alive from getting out, and when he captures Katara and Toph, he has both thrown in a wooden cell so they have nothing to bend.
- Having a Blast: His unique form of firebending allows him to create explosions from a distance.
- Hero Killer: Not the same extent as Azula but this is his profession.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Hitting the tattoo on his forehead causes his powers to go haywire and quite literally blow up in his face. When Toph did it by accident, it only caused him to misfire, but when Sokka hit him with his boomerang, it outright caused him to blow himself up.
- Implacable Man: His job is to relentlessly hunt someone down and then kill them. We can assume he has a very high rate of success if Zuko thought he could bring down the Avatar.
- Irrevocable Order: Continues trying to kill Aang even when Zuko calls the hit off and offers him double to stop. Word of God is that he realized that Ozai could pay him more than Zuko could hope to.
- Made of Explodium: The basis of his power. A beam issues forth from his Third Eye, pops like a firecracker a few times en route to its target, and then *KABOOM*
- Mysterious Mercenary Pursuer: Aside from his powers, we never learn much about him. Not even his real name, as mentioned below.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast/No Name Given: Sokka calls him "Combustion Man".
- Power Incontinence: At first. It's the reason he has a fake arm and leg.
- Professional Killer: See his quote. Good enough to go after the avatar.
- Red Right Hand: His tattoo.
- Scarily Competent Tracker: Even moreso than Zuko, and without some tracking method like June's shirshu (the interceptor buzzard was helpful though), which really is saying something.
- Shout-Out: His artificial limbs, penchant for explosions, and bizarre morality seem like a compact shout out to Kimblee.
- His tattoo is based on the third eye of Shiva which is said to incinerate everything it looks upon.
- Silent Antagonist: Says nothing aside from some grunts when he's mad.
- Something Person: As both Sparky Sparky Boom Man and Combustion Man.
- The Spook: The only things we know about him are his powers, the fact that he's a hitman who never speaks (at least onscreen), the fact that he's a Determinator, and that's it. We don't even learn his real name.
- Tattooed Crook: He fires his beams from an eye tattoo on his forehead.
- Third Eye: Though it's only a tattoo, it allows him to fire his beams.
- The Voiceless: Never seen speaking.
Fire Lord Sozin
"I've been thinking. We should share this prosperity with the rest of the world. In our hands is the most successful empire in history. It's time we expanded it."
Sozin is the man responsible for the destruction of the Air Nomads, father to Azulon, grandfather to Iroh and Ozai and great-grandfather to Zuko, Azula and Lu Ten. As Fire Lord during Roku's era, Sozin plotted to take over the world as a way of sharing the Fire Nation's prosperity with everyone. Knowing that the Avatar would oppose his plans, he used the power of a passing comet to launch a devastating first strike on the Air Nomads, wiping them out (except Aang, who he missed) and leaving him free to wage a one hundred year war. Although he is now long dead, his comet will return to allow Ozai to do the same for the rest of the world.
- Ambition Is Evil: It is when it leads you to leave your best friend to die. Not to mention that whole "take over the world" thing.
- Bait the Dog: Right before he begins his plans for conquest, he's personally helping to save his citizens from an erupting volcano.
- Beard of Evil: Much like Azulon and Ozai.
- Big Bad Friend: Towards Roku who was his best friend growing up.
- Bigger Bad: The root of the series' conflict.
- Cain and Abel: The Cain to Roku's Abel in the former friends variety.
- Creepy Monotone: Courtesy of Ron Perlman.
- Death by Irony: He started off as a nationalist that wanted to "share Fire Nation prosperity" with the world. By the end of his life, not only did he regret ever acting upon his ambitions, but he realized all too late that he couldn't do a damn thing to change it. It's a healthy dose of irony, karma and a rather tragic finish to what could've been a great leader (morally speaking).
- Et Tu, Brute?: The way he betrays Roku by leaving said former friend to die on the volcano of the latter's island. However, he feels that Roku betrayed him earlier by spurning his plan.
- Evil Former Friend: Towards Roku. He betrays his friend by leaving him to die on the volcano when he had the chance to save him.
- Evil Plan: To Take Over the World. He didn't think it was evil at first and his descendants all continue carrying out this plan. Ozai almost succeeded.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Comes with being voiced by Ron Perlman.
- Heel Face Doorslam: He realizes towards the end of his life that starting a world war and killing his best friend wasn't worth making the world better, but dies too soon afterward to make use of it.
- Heel Realisation: At the end of his life he realized he was a villain and that his plan to "share prosperity" was only leading to pain.
- Long Runner: He reigned for 78 years and he lived to be 102.
- The Napoleon: He was short compared with his old friend Roku.
- Karma Houdini: Downplayed. He doesn't physically suffer for his actions, but he ultimately comes to realize that he crossed the Moral Event Horizon by annihilating the Air Nomads, betrayed his best friend and wasted his life on a wild goose chase to find the next Avatar. At the end of his life, Sozin dies a rather somber man, unable to enjoy his success or attempt to undo the damage he's done. The world let Sozin off, but his conscience didn't.
- Playing with Fire: No surprise there.
- Posthumous Character: We learned of his backstory through a flashback-like episode, particularly by word-of-mouth from Roku and Zuko's history scrolls. Azula pitched in on the basics of Sozin's impact on the world at the beginning, too.
- Predecessor Villain: Specifically to Roku, as he became his archnemesis.
- Redemption Equals Death: Averted. He came to regret many of his decisions, but never got a chance at redemption.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something:
- Despite having had a falling out with Roku years before, he was still willing to help him save Fire Nation citizens from an erupting volcano.
- Dialogue from Aang describing the Fire Nation before the war implies that he was a competent ruler.
- Tragic Villain: Sozin wanted to simply improve the world, but realized too late that he'd soared across the moral horizon instead.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: A bit older than the usual examples, but we first see Sozin as a goofy, chubby teenager practicing firebending with Roku.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: Ends up being an defiance, as he realized his utopia wasn't worth what he'd done to try and create it.
- Was It Really Worth It?: At the end of his life, he decides that no, it really wasn't. Too bad his descendants didn't take a hint.
- We Can Rule Together: To Roku, his best friend and the Avatar. Together they would be unstoppable.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: As illustrated by his quote. Unfortunately, his descendants dropped the "well-intentioned" part altogether, until Zuko and Iroh did their Heel-Face Turn.
- White Man's Burden: Essentially what he's trying to do to the world. While his descendants weren't as interested in helping the world, they continued to preach this as propaganda.
Fire Lord Azulon
"You dare suggest I betray Iroh? My first born? Directly after the demise of his only beloved son? I think Iroh has suffered enough. But you, your punishment has scarcely begun!"
Azulon was the Fire Lord before Ozai, son of Sozin, father to Iroh and Ozai and grandfather to Zuko, Azula and Lu Ten. Famed for his military prowess and skill at firebending, he ruled the Fire Nation with an iron grip. He was a man with little warmth in him, sentencing men to death with a stunning callousness. Ozai seemed to have had as strained a relationship with him as he did with his own son, always seeking to earn his favour but always being met with scorn. After Ozai tried his patience one time too many, making an inappropriate bid for the throne, Azulon ordered Zuko's death, to teach his son a lesson in humility. He died shortly after giving that order, making way for Ozai to succeed him as Fire Lord.
- Abusive Dad: Heavily implied that he was like that with Ozai, and towards Zuko as well.
- Asshole Victim: All signs point to Azulon's lack of benevolence, political or private. Word of God and background material show him as ruling the Fire Nation with an iron fist and carrying out the war against the other nations with brutality only matched by Ozai. Of particular note is the genocide carried out against the Southern Water Tribe's Waterbenders and the raids carried out against said tribes. (These raids eventually resulted in the extermination of Southern Water Tribe waterbenders and the death of Katara's mother.) Also, he was willing to have his innocent grandson killed just to prove a point to Ozai. Other than possibly Iroh, it's unlikely anyone missed him when Ozai and Ursa killed him.
- Badass In Charge: An evil version. During his funeral, it's mentioned he lead some of the Fire Nation's conquests.
- Beard of Evil: Much like his son.
- The Coroner Doth Protest Too Much: Blows up at Ozai over a proposal to disown Iroh one night, and dies of old age after naming Ozai his heir by the next morning? How... convenient.
- Death by Irony: "The Search" revealed that Azulon's death was caused by an untraceable poison, made from the flowers he was admiring in Ursa's family greenhouse.
- Even Evil Has Standards: As his quote illustrates, he didn't appreciate Ozai's attempt to use Lu Ten's death to usurp the birthright from Iroh.
- Evil Old Folks: Definitely applies. We only know him as a grandfather.
- Long Runner: He reigned for 75 years and he lived to be 95. He was also the second-longest known reigning Fire Lord, after his father Sozin, and most of the Hundred Year War passed during his reign.
- Papa Wolf: Despite his evil heritage and seeking his grandson's death, Azulon was offended for Iroh after Ozai asked for the throne.
- Posthumous Character: He's long dead by the time the series starts.
- Predecessor Villain: Responsible for the partial genocide of the Water Tribe. Apparently his ruthlessness was only matched by his son, Ozai.
- Super Breeding Program: According to "The Search", he set up the Arranged Marriage between Ursa and Ozai as a eugenics experiment to breed a powerful firebender with blood of Avatar Roku and the Fire Nation Royal Family. Azula is the most successful product of the experiment.
- Thicker Than Water: He and Iroh, despite his failure.
- Unreliable Narrator: The only knowledge we have of him and his actions (besides Zuko's memories) comes from two in-universe sources, neither of whom is bound by Villains Never Lie.
Lo and Li
"Azula, we are concerned for you and your well-being!"
Lo and Li are a pair of elderly twins, who serve the Fire Nation Royal Family as Azula's advisors and Firebending mentors, despite not being Firebenders themselves. Every scene of theirs is with Azula.
- Badass Normal: While Lo and Li are never seen fighting, it's clear that when you consider the attitude of the Fire Nation royals, being an advisor must mean you're pretty good at what you do. Word of God also states that they were driving the machine in "The Chase", meaning they have some proficiency with machines.
- Cloud Cuckoolander: In the beach episode. They're pretty eager to hit the beach, much to Zuko's distress.
- Creepy Twins: At first. In their last few appearances, they become comic relief.
- Even Evil Has Standards: When Azula started going crazy, they did their best to stop Azula from going overboard. It made things worse.
- Evil Old Folks: Or devout patriots to an evil society.
- I Was Quite a Looker: In "The Beach", it's revealed that when they were young, they were quite beautiful. They're also the trope's image. They also still think this. Zuko disagrees.
- Large Ham: They make a bombastic proclamation when Azula and Zuko return triumphantly.
- Older and Wiser: They are advisors, after all.
- Recurring Element: At first, they seem to be Azula's answer to Zuko being with Iroh, but that doesn't come to pass.
- Single-Minded Twins: They're constantly finishing each other's sentences or speaking in unison, and their physical actions often mirror each other.
- Theme Twin Naming: Their names are the exact same, bar a single letter. It's also a Punny Name in that it plays off a Chinese phrase that means "to mutter endlessly."
- What Happened to the Mouse?: We never do find out what happens to them after one of them is to be banished. It could be assumed that they left together instead of just one, given Azula's insanity at the time. Or, they could've just stayed while they were confused.
The Rough Rhinos
Malachi Throne (Colonel Mongke)
"Colonel Mongke and the Rough Rhinos are legendary — each one is a different kind of weapon specialist. They are also a very capable singing group." — Iroh
An elite mercenary group of Fire Nation cavalry that worked for Fire Lord Ozai during the war.
- Arrows on Fire: Vachir's weapon of choice.
- Beard of Evil: Mongke has one, but Kahchi sports a truly impressive one.
- Bounty Hunter: They work on a freelance basis so they're not above going after Zuko and Iroh for the bounties on their heads.
- Former Regime Personnel: Even after the war, they are still loyal to Fire Lord Ozai despite working form the Earthen Fire Refinery. They are still angry at the Avatar for defeating Fire Lord Ozai, which put them out of a job for a while.
- Hazy Feel Turn: In the comics, where they act as security detail for the Earthen Fire Refinery.
- Horse of a Different Color: They're named after the komodo rhinos they ride into battle.
- Hidden Depths: If what Iroh says about them being a capable singing group is correct.
- Improbable Aiming Skills: A Yuyan archer named Vachir is among their number.
- Jerkass: During and after the war, Mongke is not a pleasant person to be around.
- The Leader: Colonel Mongke serves as this to the group.
- Malevolent Masked Men: Yeh-Lu, who's never seen without his mask on.
- Playing with Fire: Colonel Mongke, who's the only firebender in the group.
- Private Military Contractors: They're freelancers working for Fire Lord Ozai during the Hundred Years War, but afterwards they became security detail for the Earthen Fire Refinery.
- Throw Down the Bomblet: Yeh-Lu, the group's explosive expert.
- You Have Failed Me: A nonlethal variant. The comics reveal Vachir was fired from the Yuyan Archers by Fire Lord Ozai for failing to locate and kill Ursa's old lover, Ikem.
- You Killed My Father: Mongke is responsible for the deaths of Jet's parents, though Jet never gets to confront him about this before Jet's death.