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These characters are not on Team Avatar, but help them out in their adventures.


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    Hakoda 

Chief Hakoda

Voiced by: André Sogliuzzo

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/hakoda1.png
"I heard what you two did. I am the proudest father in the world. And your mother would be proud, too."

Father of Sokka and Katara, Hakoda is the chief of their village in the Southern Water Tribe. Shortly after his wife Kya was killed in a Fire Nation raid, Hakoda led the men of the tribes off to war. While he genuinely loved his children, he realized that this was for a greater good and left them behind. Later in the series, he was reunited with his children and led an coalition army of Water Tribe and Earth Kingdom forces into the Fire Nation capital on the Day of Black Sun. When the invasion plan failed, he led the other Gaang tagalongs onto a bus. Later on, Sokka and Zuko work to rescue him from prison.


  • Action Dad: Just like his children, he doesn't just stand idly by as the Fire Nation is attacking. He even went to fight against them long before they did.
  • Badass Beard: He has a nice one for a Water Tribe chief leading his people against the Fire Nation.
  • Badass Normal: Like his son he is a non-bender and is still chosen to lead a large group of benders to invade a national capital.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: While a brave, clever and capable leader, Sokka obviously inherited his sense of humor.
  • Daddy Had a Good Reason for Abandoning You: Though he had the grace to tell them why beforehand.
  • Disappeared Dad: It's never revealed who Hakoda's own dad (Kanna's first husband/Sokka and Katara's paternal grandfather) is.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Briefly appears in "Appa's Lost Days" before formally appearing in Season 2's Finale.
  • Good Counterpart: To Ozai, and for added flavor, Zuko himself gets to see the difference. He's a figure of authority and a father that fights a war. The difference being he is fighting to defend his family and not only does he freely tell his children he loves them but assures them that they don't have to earn his love.
  • Good Parents: Hakoda is a loving father who has positive relationships with both Sokka and Katara.
  • Happily Married: Was implied to be this with Kya.
  • The Leader: He leads the Southern Water tribe's defense against the Fire Nation, and helps lead the coalition army of Water Tribe and Earth Kingdom forces on the Day of the Black Sun.
  • Like Father, Like Son: So much that only Sokka finds his jokes funny.
  • Mixed Ancestry: Downplayed. His mother was from the Northern Water Tribe and his father was from the Southern Water Tribe.
  • Papa Wolf: It surprises nobody that Hakoda will go to great lengths to keep his children safe, even if it means surrendering himself to the Fire Nation.
  • Parents in Distress: He gets captured during the invasion, which leads to Sokka and Zuko having to rescue him from the Boiling Rock.
  • Parent Service: He's very easy on the eyes, and his outfits show off his muscular figure. He's also a father of two teenagers.
  • Put on a Bus: Twice, once pre-series and once in season three after the failed invasion.
  • Second Love: Gets one in the form of Malina in the comics.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: After the Day of Black Sun invasion fails, he holds off the Fire Nation and eventually surrenders himself so that his kids and Aang could escape.

    Bato 

Bato

Voiced by: Richard McGonagle

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/bato_smiling.png
"No, it's been separated from the pack. I understand that pain; it's how I felt when the Water Tribe warriors had to leave me behind. They were my family, and being apart from them was more painful than my wounds."

A Water Tribe warrior and Hakoda's lieutenant and best friend.


    Haru 

Haru

Voiced by: Michael Dow (original), Rodrigo Saavedra (Latin American Spanish)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/haru_9.png
"Katara inspired me and my father to take back our village."

Haru is a teenage Earthbender whom Aang, Katara and Sokka met early in their travels. He was the only active Earthbender left in his village, and that because he hid his abilities at his mother's behest. The Fire Nation occupied their village and carted off any Earthbender to prison on board an all-metal ship.

Katara convinced Haru to earthbend to save the life of an old man, which resulted in him being imprisoned. Katara faked Earthbending to get captured as well, and rescued him, inspiring Haru, his father, and all the captive Earthbenders to fight back against the Fire Nation.

Katara and Haru had a strong bond because they had each lost a parent to the Fire Nation, and the bond only grew stronger in gratitude once Katara's bravery reunited not only father and son, but freed all the captive Earthbenders.


  • Badass Mustache: After he reappears in "The Day of Black Sun".
  • Bonding over Missing Parents: With Katara.
  • Death Glare: Gives a powerful one to the warden after said warden mocks Katara about her speech.
  • Defiant Stone Throw: In "Imprisoned", to show the warden that Katara's rousing speech did work.
  • Dishing Out Dirt: Just like all Earthbenders.
  • Guest-Star Party Member: Though he doesn't end up doing anything major, he still spends some time with Team Avatar at the Western Air Temple after the invasion fails.
  • Hunk: He has a very cute face and quite the nice body build.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Downplayed. He's a Hunky teen with handsome features and long hair.
  • Meaningful Name: "'Haru'" can mean "Spring" in Japanese, which is loosely connected to his element.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: After the Fire Nation took over his village they arrested every earthbender they could find. Haru uses earthbending to help an old man escape from a collapsing mine, the old man then turns him in to the Fire Nation resulting in Haru's arrest.
  • Porn Stache: With a lampshade from Sokka.
  • Out of Focus: Which he shares with The Duke and Teo. Despite being one of the few people who made it out of the failed invasion of the Fire Nation the three never do anything of note during their time with Team Avatar. And then when Azula attacks the Western Air Temple they end up separating from the group with Hakoda and aren't seen again until the season finale after the war is over.
  • Ships That Pass in the Night: In-universe (sort of); in the "Shipping School" short, Haru is paired up with Ty Lee.
  • "Well Done, Son!" Guy: He very much looks up to his father and wants to become an earthbender like him.

    The Mechanist and Teo 

The Mechanist and Teo

Voiced by: René Auberjonois (Mechanist), Daniel Samonas (Teo)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Mechanist_avatar.png
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/Teo_avatar1.png

As a brilliant engineer and scientist, the Mechanist works to help others and his son Teo with his inventions. When his village was destroyed by a flood (during which Teo lost the use of his legs), the Mechanist moved his people into the nearby Northern Air Temple, and gave Teo a hang-gliding wheelchair based on Airbender designs. The Fire Nation eventually learned of the Mechanist and blackmailed him into creating weapons for them. After getting a guilt trip from Aang, the Mechanist turned against the Fire Nation. Now he and Teo build weapons for the resisting forces to take down their former oppressors.

While both of them appear only a handful of times, they end up having a big role in the plot. Some of their designs end up being a big factor in the Fire Nation winning the Day of Black Sun.


  • Ditzy Genius: The Mechanist.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": No one ever mentions the Mechanist's real name.
  • Fingore: Played for laughs. The Mechanist has three wooden fingers. One for each failed attempt at creating a knife sharpener.
  • Gadgeteer Genius: The Mechanist is capable of creating a number of Schizo Tech contraptions like tanks, hot air balloons, and even submarines.
  • Genius Cripple: The Machinist is a downplayed version- he has several prosthetic fingers from his failed attempts to create a finger-safe knife sharpener.
  • Graceful in Their Element: Teo in the air.
  • Handicapped Badass: Teo lost the use of his legs but is an expert on his flying wheelchair.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The war balloon the Mechanist made is a two-fold one. The Mechanist was originally forced to create it for the Fire Nation's benefit, but he eventually rebelled and used it against them, to thwart a Fire Nation raid on the Northern Air Temple. Unfortunately, when it crashed, it ended up benefiting the Fire Nation anyway: it was discovered and studied by the Fire Nation, leading them to create their own war balloons, which they used during the Day of Black Sun and when Sozin's Comet passed by during the Grand Finale.
  • Ill Boy: Teo.
  • Improbable Piloting Skills: Teo in a flying wheel chair!
  • Mad Scientist: A kinder version, though. The Machinist really is a sweet person, he just gets carried away with his tinkering (and most of the time just hurts himself).
  • Missing Mom: Teo's mother was killed in the same flood that crippled Teo.
  • No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Averted to their loss. The war balloon created by the Mechanist was salvaged by the Fire Nation, who used it as basis to make their own war balloons.
  • Out of Focus: A trope Teo shares with The Duke and Haru. Despite being one of the few people who made it out of the failed invasion of the Fire Nation the three never do anything of note during their time with Team Avatar. And then when Azula attacks the Western Air Temple they end up separating from the group with Hakoda and aren't seen again until the season finale after the war is over.
  • Unusual Eyebrows: The Mechanist. His ragged, patchy eyebrows are probably caused by his inventions blowing up in his face a lot.
  • You Shall Not Pass!: The Mechanist.
  • Younger Than They Look: Teo, being 13, is only older than Aang and Toph.

    Yue 

Princess Yue

Voiced by: Johanna Braddy (original), Ximena Marchant and Keyros Guillén (Latin American Spanish)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/kind_yue.png
''"I wish we could just be friends. But I like you too much, and it's too confusing to be around you."

Princess of the Northern Water Tribe, Yue was born a sickly baby. In an effort to cure her, her father prayed to the Moon and Ocean Spirits for her health, and the Moon Spirit obliged, giving her a part of its life. Years later, she fell in love with Sokka, but felt conflicted over it due to her Arranged Marriage with another Water tribe warrior. When Zhao killed the Moon Spirit, Yue used the life energies the Moon Spirit used to heal her to bring back the moon, losing her life in the process. She now acts as the new Moon Spirit and occasional Spirit Advisor to Aang.


  • Always with You: Her last words to Sokka are that she'll always be with him.
  • Arranged Marriage: She was arranged to be married to a Jerkass named Hahn.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: She became the new Moon Spirit after Zhao killed the previous one, sacrificing her mortal life in the process.
  • The Chief's Daughter: She's the beautiful daughter of the leader of a fantasy tribe that draws from Inuit culture, and is an off-limits love interest for Sokka (who is technically from her people, but also a Southerner).
  • Color-Coded Patrician: She wears purple, unlike the standard Water Tribe blue.
  • Cosmic Motifs: Although Waterbenders are associated with the moon in general, Yue is associated with it particularly strongly. A nonbender, she was healed by the Moon Spirit Tui as a child, and since then has had Mystical White Hair to match. Her name means "moon" in Mandarin as well. When Tui is killed, Yue becomes the new moon spirit.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday: The Moon Spirit gave some of its power to Yue to save her when she was born. On her sixteenth birthday, Zhao kills the Moon Spirit, forcing Yue to sacrifice her life to restore balance.
  • Dark-Skinned Blond: Well, Dark Skinned Mystical White Hair, but close enough.
  • Deity of Human Origin: After sacrificing her life, she essentially becomes the moon goddess.
  • Equivalent Exchange: Yue later gives the moon spirit's power back to become the moon spirit after Tui is killed.
  • The Fettered: Yue is very concerned with what she perceives is her duty.
  • First Love: She's Sokka's first love; he meets her while in his teens and loses her quickly. He continues to miss her afterwards.
  • Graceful Ladies Like Purple: The dignified princess of the Northern Water Tribe, who normally wear blue — and yet her primary outfit has a lot of purple.
  • Gratuitous Princess: She's referred to as a princess, even though her father's rank is Chief.
  • The Gwen Stacy: After her Heroic Sacrifice, she becomes this to Sokka, who continues to mourn her death.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Sacrifices her life to restore the Moon Spirit after Zhao kills it.
  • The Ingenue: Her sweet and kind disposition is her defining trait.
  • Laugh of Love: She tends to laugh when she's with Sokka (and they eventually kiss), but not with her betrothed.
  • Lunacy: The moon spirit Tui gave part of her power to heal Yue when she was going to die.
  • Making a Splash: She becomes a waterbender after she died, as shown in "The Awakening".
  • Master of the Mixed Message: Due to her attraction to Sokka warring with her arranged marriage, she tends to alternate between flirting with Sokka and running away from him, which naturally confuses the hell out of him.
  • Meaningful Name: "Yue" means "moon" in Mandarin Chinese and "tragic accident" in Japanese. It's traditionally used as a name for infants that are expected to die.
  • Mystical Waif: Appears as such to Aang after her transformation.
  • Mystical White Hair: Her hair color is a plot point. She was actually born (or rather still-born) with dark hair like everyone else in the water-tribe (and pretty much everyone in the four nations). When the moon-spirit saved her infant life, her hair turned pure white and remained that way all her life.
  • No Body Left Behind: Her body faded away after sacrificing herself.
  • Princess Classic: A princess who's beautiful, kind, dignified, and concerned with her duty.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Helps protect Aang during the Siege of the North.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Yue falls for Sokka because he is shown loving her for who she is and genuinely wanting to make her happy, in contrast to her fiance (who brags about the "perks" that come with marrying the princess, prompting Sokka to call him "a jerk with no soul").
  • Spirit Advisor: Appears alongside Roku to give Aang a boost in his confidence, reminding him how he helped restore the Moon.
    Yue: You already saved the world, and you will save the world again. But you can't give up!
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: With Sokka; they have feelings for each other, but Yue is already engaged. This is further cemented after she sacrifices herself to become the new Moon Spirit, meaning that she and Sokka can never be together.
  • Tareme Eyes: She has droopy eyes.
  • Temporary Love Interest: To Sokka; their brief romance lasts a couple episodes before her death.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Earlier, in season one, Katara is eager to learn how to fight, frustrated that only men are expected to be warriors. Yue, on the other hand, is the well-mannered and refined princess of the Northern Water Tribe.
  • Uptown Girl: A princess who falls in love with a commoner of the Southern Water Tribe. Technically Sokka has the same position as Yue, the Chief's eldest child and heir, but the Southern Tribe is so destitute that he's basically a peasant.
  • We Hardly Knew Ye: Appeared in a whooping two episodes before she died, and hasn't reappeared since then outside from visions in "The Swamp" and "The Awakening".
  • Winter Royal Lady: Princess of the Northern Water Tribe who resides at the North Pole. She's beautiful, kind, and wears a lot of furs.
  • The Woman Wearing the Queenly Mask: She's willing to do what is best for the Water Tribe, even if it means marrying a man she doesn't love or making a Heroic Sacrifice to resurrect the moon spirit.
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    Kuei 

Earth King Kuei

Voiced by: Phil LaMarr

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/earth_king_kuei.png

Earth King Kuei is the king of Ba Sing Se. He is the youngest Earth King in the city's history, and, unfortunately, has been the puppet of Long Feng and the Dai Li. But after exposing and destroying the Lake Laogai brainwashing facility, the Gaang convinces him about the war he's been kept in the dark about his whole life. He agrees to commit his city's resources. A disguised Azula overthrows him before The Plan gets off the ground. Rather than take back his city (as it turns out, he's not an earthbender himself), he and his bear Bosco decide to see the world instead.


  • Captain Oblivious: Long Feng did such a good job of fooling him that Kuei was completely oblivious to everything that was going down in his kingdom, including the war.
  • Clueless Boss: Starts off as a typical, a well meaning young man completely ignorant of the world around him and controlled by his Evil Chancellor, to the point where he's unaware that his kingdom has been engaged in, and slowly losing, a war a century.
  • Dumbass Has a Point: Kuei may be naive and sheltered, but (as even Toph acknowledges) he's understandably angry about a bunch of strange children attacking his palace, bursting into his throne room after laying waste to his guards, and then claiming they have a good reason for doing it. "And you expect me to trust you?!"
  • The Good King: He managed to become this upon returning to the throne after Ozai's defeat.
  • Homage: To (quite appropriately) Puyi, the last emperor of China, down to those round glasses.
  • Horrible Judge of Character:
    • Easily manipulated by Long Feng, but quickly ditches the treacherous adviser once the truth is made known to him.
    • Perhaps less forgivable though is promoting the incompetent General Sung to the Council of Five.
  • Innocently Insensitive: In North and South, he says that he can't promise Hakoda the support of his advisers unless he can show them that Southern Water Tribe is going to make 'concrete progress toward civilization.' When Katara indignantly calls him out on this, he digs himself deeper by clarifying that the Water Tribes have a form of civilization... though, by the end of the book, he declares that the 'warmth and care' he's been shown in the South Pole is the highest form of civilization there is. The Library Edition of the comic notes that Kuei was originally written to be more dismissive of the Southerners, but Konietzko and DiMartino believed that was out of character for him, thus the Innocently Insensitive portrayal.
  • Long Bus Trip: He goes off to travel the world after Ba Sing Se is conquered by the Fire Nation and never again reappears in the show proper. The comics establish that he eventually returns to the throne.
  • Manchild: Deliberately invoked by Long Feng, who keeps him largely ignorant of the state of affairs of his kingdom beyond the palace and seizes control of Ba Sing Se for himself.
  • Meaningful Name: "Kuei-lei" is Chinese for "puppet".
  • My God, What Have I Done?: He spends a good portion of the sequel comics trying to be a more decisive leader so as to atone for being a Puppet King. When talking with the Gaang, Kuei says his people suffered because of his ignorance and he can't let that happen again.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: He gets duped into this mindset in The Promise. When Zuko withdraws from the Harmony Restoration Movement and doubles-down on letting Fire Nation citizens who have intermarried and built a life in the Earth Kingdom remain in the older colonies, Kuei and his generals take it as an insult, and proceed to attack Yu Dao. When Aang tries to find a diplomatic solution, Kuei's retort indicates how ashamed he is of his ignorance during the war, his inability to do anything to stop it, and he insists that he's going to be a real man and do something about it now. Zuko, who was coached by Ozai to expect Kuei to respond this way, is already ready with his own army. Once he sees the actual violence that results, however, Kuei reclaims his Reasonable Authority Figure mantle, stops his army, and agrees with negotiate a third option with Zuko.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Once his eyes are opened to what's really going on in Ba Sing Se. Even before that, despite the Gaang breaking into his palace and laying waste to his guards, he does actually hear them out when he sees that they are willing to lay down their weapons and finds out Aang is the Avatar. And he does not take what they say at face value, he requires proof. Fortunately, they have some, leading to the aforementioned eye-opening.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: In The Promise, he tries to become this by leading his army into battle. Then he really becomes this when he stops hostilities between the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation to actually figure out what the best course of action should be, and not just for the Earth Kingdom.
  • Sheltered Aristocrat: He's never set foot outside of the palace in his life, and Long Feng has kept him oblivious to what's really going on in Ba Sing Se.
  • Took a Level in Badass: He immediately has Long Feng arrested and opts to take a direct approach to fighting the Fire Nation once he sees the war's effects for himself; even more so in The Promise, where he becomes a critical player in seeing that the fragile peace among the Four Nations is maintained.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Thinking Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee are the Kyoshi Warriors, he reveals that the Earth Kingdom is planning an invasion on the Fire Nation capital on the day of the solar eclipse - which, naturally, leads to the invasion's ultimate failure.
  • Walking the Earth: What he decides to do after Azula overthrows him.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: After he goes off to see the world we never see him again, though the comic Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise reveals he came back to rule the city. His daughter appears in the third season of The Legend of Korra as the hereditary ruler of the Earth Kingdom, and her great-nephew (and by extension Kuei's great-grandson) Wu is set to inherit the throne in the fourth season.
  • Younger Than They Look: 25 years of age when he meets Team Avatar, though one couldn't be faulted to think he looks and sounds older at times.

    Shyu 

Fire Sage Shyu

Voiced by: Michael Yama

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/shyu_1451.png

Fire Sage Shyu is the first person from the Fire Nation to ally with and help Avatar Aang and his friends. He assists Aang in communicating with Aang's past life, Avatar Roku, who was also from the Fire Nation and who blames himself for the Hundred Year War. Through Shyu's aid, Aang learns that he must defeat Fire Lord Ozai, before the summer, because by then a giant comet will have arrived granting enormous power to the Fire Nation's Firebending armies. The Comet is what gave Ozai's grandfather Fire Lord Sozin the power to start the war and wipe out Aang's people, the Air Nomads.


  • Martial Pacifist: Shyu can certainly handle himself, but he would rather avoid fighting unless he absolutely has too.
  • Old Retainer: Still remains a loyal retainer to the Avatar, rather than the Fire Lord. Oddly enough, he seems to be the youngest of the Sages.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: He betrays the other Sages in order to help Aang. He may be Fire Nation, but he's also a Sage destined to help the Avatar.
  • Turbulent Priest: Shyu turns against the Fire Sages and the Fire Nation, to help Avatar Aang and his friends. When questioned about why he betrayed the Fire Nation and helped the Avatar by the then Prince Zuko, Shyu simply says "It was once the sages' duty, I believe it is still our duty."
  • Warrior Monk: As a Fire Sage who knows the martial art of Firebending, Shyu and the other Fire Sages are naturally this.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Neither Shyu nor the other Fire Sages are ever seen again after the first season episode "Winter Solstice Part 2". He eventually reappears in Avatar: The Last Airbender – Smoke and Shadow.

    Iroh 

Iroh

Voiced by: Makoto Iwamatsu (original), Greg Baldwin (after Mako's death) (original); Mario Santander (Latin American Spanish)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/atla_iroh.png
"Sick of tea?! That's like being sick of breathing!"

Zuko's and Azula's uncle and Ozai's elder 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, developing a new thirst for tea. 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. And seriously, Iroh loves his tea.


  • 100% Adoration Rating: As Crown Prince of the Fire Nation and commander of the Fire Nation's armies, he was Azulon's favored son, hailed as a hero by the Fire Nation at large and highly respected by his soldiers. His abandoning of the Ba Sing Se siege and being passed over as the heir to the throne in favor of Ozai caused him to lose political clout, but he's still well-liked and respected by most of the Fire Nation, even Admiral Zhao. Even Ozai and Azula begrudgingly acknowledge some respect for Iroh.
    • He's respected, even loved by many of his so-called enemies, like Aang, Katara, and Toph, who have zero fear of him despite him being the uncle of their most persistent foe and a great Fire Nation general. He also often commands this from random strangers that he meets and helps along the way.
  • Abdicate the Throne: At the end of the series, he could technically reclaim his birthright as the Fire Lord, but passes up on that in order to retire to a tea shop and let Zuko run things.
  • The Ace: Iroh's firebending rivals Ozai's for strongest in the world, and he possesses far more martial ability, 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 break down, becoming a shadow of his former self... but this experience ultimately caused him to rethink things and become not only a better person, but even stronger than he was before by incorporating the philosophies of the other nations. He's also one of the most charismatic, personable, and intelligent characters in the entire series, and judging by his position as leader of the White Lotus (a team consisting of a lot of Old Masters), he is probably the most powerful bender besides the Avatar.
  • Acrofatic: During Seasons 1 and 2, he's a tubby guy who is nonetheless agile and combat capable. He successfully knocks out Azula by leaping at her and tackling her with his belly.
  • Action Dad: He was this back in his army days, when his son Lu Ten was alive.
  • Actor Existence Failure: Averted in regards to the role. Mako-san succumbed to esophageal cancer as production on Season 2 was winding down, 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 where 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 with 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 royally when it that turns out he did an off-screen 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.
  • All-Loving Hero: Even moreso than Aang, as he actively befriends anybody he meets, sometimes going out of his way to give them advice and an understanding ear to listen to their problems. If he does participate in violence, he shows mercy and compassion, even though he is one of the greatest benders in the entire world. The main exceptions to his love are Ozai and Azula, who are extremely toxic and dangerous, and cannot be reasoned with. Iroh's a gentle soul, but he's no fool.
  • 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.
  • Anger Born of Worry: It takes a lot to get under Iroh's skin, but he absolutely loses it when Zuko is once again planning on going on a reckless mission. This jolly old man is generally very patient, but he is extremely afraid of his nephew getting himself killed due to not thinking things through, and it manifests as one of the very few moments where he raises his voice. Iroh has already lost one son, he's not losing Zuko.
  • Anti-Villain: He has no malicious plans of any sort and is mostly concerned with helping Zuko. The only reason you can even call him a villain is by association.
  • The Atoner: Iroh was once a ruthless general in the Fire Nation Army. But the loss of his only son changed him. Now, he wishes to help bring back harmony in the world.
  • Badass Beard: A standard Fire Nation beard and easily one of the most badass characters in the show, by miles. While he hides it behind his Cool Old Guy facade, when he fights, he's devastating in combat, one of the strongest fighters in the series.
  • Badass Boast: A magnificent one to Zhao.
    Iroh: Whatever you do to that spirit, I'll unleash on you ten-fold! LET IT GO, NOW!
  • Badass Teacher: Served as Zuko's firebending instructor during his nephew's banishment.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: He is one of the nicest, most patient, most fun-loving people you could ever hope to meet, and he makes friends with total strangers at the drop of a hat, even those who are supposed to be his enemies. But if you prove yourself to be an irredeemable and immediate threat, he will take you down before you can even raise a hand to defend yourself.
  • Beware the Silly Ones: Iroh is getting on in years, out of shape, and cares more about his tea than the world-ending dangers around him. He's still a crafty and powerful firebender who can dish out attacks when needed.
  • Big Beautiful Man: Aunt Wu and the ticket woman in Ba Sing Se comment that Iroh's quite "easy on the eyes." Some audience members undoubtedly agree.
  • Big Fun: Season 1 and 2. He's a jolly guy who can get along with everyone, even Toph, who should technically be 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 collective concealed Big Good.
  • Breakout Character: His tragic past, kindness (especially in being the Morality Pet of the also extremely popular Zuko), sheer badassness and Big Fun attitude made him one of the most well-loved characters in the show, and expanded his role (which was initially so different, he would have been Evil All Along) from the tag-along to the initial main antagonist, 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.
  • Broken Ace: Iroh was one of the greatest strategists of his time. Then, his son died in the war...
  • Brought Down to Badass: Being unable to use his firebending is just a minor wrinkle to Iroh, and does not impede his One-Man Army capabilities, as his Fire Nation jailor and Earth Nation soldiers had the misfortune to find out.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Somewhat literally, given his Red Baron title. Many characters, some of whom know both who he is and the reputation that precedes him, continually dismiss him as a doddering, overweight old man who's past his prime (and, optionally, needle him for his failure to capture Ba Sing Se). Almost all of them end up having their asses handed to them because they're messing with the "Dragon of the West."
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: He is one of the greatest firebenders in the world, and the leader of an organization of Old Masters who have all dedicated their lives to mastering their art/fighting style. Simultaneously, though, he's a goofy, dirty-minded old man who would much rather drink tea and play pai-sho.
  • Cain and Abel: The Abel to Ozai's Cain, though the two never fought directly. Ozai sought the throne after the death of Iroh’s son and he sent his daughter to capture his son and his brother, viewing both of them as failures and traitors. When he was given the chance to fight Ozai in the final battle, 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.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Iroh has displayed the strength to toss boulders, while out of shape. When he got into shape, he managed to bust out of a jail cell despite being depowered at the time, and can casually flick much larger men away from him, as he did to Zhao in the third episode. However he does it, he seems to have passed it on to Zuko.
  • Chick Magnet: When necessary (and even when not), Iroh can be quite the ladykiller. He politely (though not without a slightly flirtatious tint) declines Aunt Wu's offer to tell his fortune, and he successfully sweet-talks the ticket attendant at the Ba Sing Se monorail station.
  • Chivalrous Pervert: During the fight between Team Avatar, Zuko and June, June's shirshu, 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.
    • Then again, this could have simply been him trying to break her fall.
  • Cincinnatus: Of the "does not want power" variety. He'd much rather run a tea shop and let his nephew run the nation.
  • Cool Old Guy: He's friendly, insightful, and a major badass, has a charming sense of humor, and plays a mean game of pai-sho.
  • Cool Uncle: To Zuko, specifically, who sees him as the source of all wisdom. He's a better dad to the poor kid than his actual father ever was.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Despite being a laid-back guy now, one must 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. Iroh himself implies that not only is he one of the few who could have beaten Ozai had Aang not pulled it off, he likely would beat Ozai. The only reason he chooses not to is to avoid causing another political fallout for the world by making it look like it was a jealous brother gunning for the throne.
  • Cultured Badass:
    • Not only can he kick your tuchis 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 derived from waterbending, his prison escape is done by simply waiting and picking the right moment, as earthbender King Bumi did, 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.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: With a few rare exceptions, every single fight Iroh gets involved has him dishing this out.
  • 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..."
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Iroh was once a very powerful warrior and general in the Fire Nation army, leading a siege on Ba Sing Se. Then, his son died, he went into a Heroic BSoD, and 'betrayed his nation'.
  • 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 Pervert version, but he still enjoys his "paralysis" underneath June, and he sings of the charms of young women:
    ♬ It's a long, long way to Ba Sing Se/ But the girls in the city, they look so pretty/ And they kiss so sweet, that you've really got to meet/ The girls from Ba Sing Se ♬
  • The Dragon: Implied he was the leading general to his father Azulon in the past until his son's death because he is the general in charge of the siege of Ba Sing Se.
  • The Dreaded: As a Fire Nation general, he struck terror into the hearts of his enemies for his firebending skills and tactical genius. After Lu Ten's death the Fire Nation leadership largely writes him off as a senile has-been but his reputation still precedes him. When Earth Kingdom soldiers capture him they immediately attempt to remove his hands to prevent him from firebending for how dangerous he is.
  • Dreaming of Things to Come: In the finale, Iroh mentions that when he was young, he had a vision that he would capture the city of Ba Sing Se. It was not until years later that he understood that his destiny was to take back the city from the Fire Nation.
  • Drink-Based Characterization: Tea. When it gets spilled, he has a Lost Food Grievance.
    "I know you're not supposed to cry over spilled tea, but... *sniff* it's just so sad!"
  • Eccentric Mentor: He's obsessed with tea, acts goofy, and is so casual that he might forgive you for thinking he didn't know there was a war on, but he serves as Zuko's firebending teacher and is the key to Zuko's Character Development; for that matter, he helps along Aang's and Toph's development, too. He could also be seen as a Trickster Mentor.
  • Establishing Character Moment:
    • His first scenes have him first attempting to get Zuko to stop obsessing over the Avatar and have some lunch, and then lecturing him on the importance of the fundamentals of firebending. He may look like a lazy old man, but he hides a very insightful mind.
    • A few episodes later, he casually catches a firebending kick from Zhao, and easily shoves the General across the floor with a tiny flick of his wrist. This goofy old man is clearly a superlative fighter, he just doesn't like showing off when he doesn't need to.
  • 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.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Though the Evil part of this trope has been thrown out long ago. He does care for his family even prior to his Heel–Face Turn, as shown by several flashbacks of Iroh with Lu Ten and the letter he sent to his niece, nephew, and sister-in-law (joke about burning Ba Sing Se to the ground aside). Loved ones end up being more important than evil after the loss of his son.
  • Everyone Has Standards:
    • He may be a part of the Fire Nation, but he has some morals. For example, in the finale of Season 1, he tries to protect the Moon Spirit by saying that even the Fire Nation needs the spirit. Of course, Zhao doesn't listen to him and Iroh angrily fights Zhao's soldiers.
    • Iroh loves his family greatly and wants what is best for them, but even he was aware of just how off-the-rails crazy Azula is.
    • He's always understanding and empathetic to others but on occasion he expresses disgust at how Ozai has treated Zuko.
  • Fatal Flaw: Iroh's bizarre fatal flaw is his love of tea. While normally the wisest and most sensible figure in the entire series, he makes some monumental mistakes when around the stuff. Once, when having to hide his identity as a Fire Bender, he used his bending to heat up some cold tea and nearly blew his cover. While the fandom has sometimes speculated that he did that to get Zuko away from Jet's toxic influence, an unquestionable example is when, after finding a plant whose leaves were either the world's most refreshing tea or pure poison, he ground it up and drank it due to temptation. It was poison.
    Zuko: What are you doing Firebending your tea!? For a wise old man, that was a pretty stupid move!
  • Feeling Their Age: Subverted. Age seems to have done little to diminish Iroh's firebending or his immense physical strength. That doesn't stop him from exploiting his age by pretending to be a harmless old man while on the run with Zuko, or acting like a senile madman when imprisoned by the Fire Nation to avoid suspicion when getting himself back into physical shape.
  • Fiery Stoic: He's the current page image. Where most firebenders are, well, fiery (and their bending is revealed to be fuelled by anger and aggressiveness), Iroh is relaxed and laid-back (and one of the best firebenders in the series). This is later explained as him having learned from the dragons the true nature of firebending, no longer needing to fuel it with anger and rage. When Zuko learns the same, he goes from barely able to survive Azula to comfortably beating her in an Agni Kai before she cheated.
  • 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). This comes in handy during the Day of the Black Sun, when he busts out of jail when all firebenders were depowered.
  • 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.
    • Used devastatingly in "The Tales of Ba Sing Se," where he is able to bring some happiness to everyone's lives just by doing simple gestures. Until the end, where it's revealed his greatest regret is not being able to help save his son.
  • 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, though it appears that he regained that weight sometime before he died, as his appearance in The Legend of Korra indicates.
  • Four-Star Badass: Believe it or not, he's one of the Fire Nation's most decorated generals.
  • Friend to All Children: In brief flashbacks, he is shown to have been a loving father to Lu Ten. In the series proper, he first shows signs of this when having a heart-to-heart with Toph in "The Chase." Further solidified in "The Tales of Ba Sing Se," where he gives some helpful advice to some kids playing earthbender soccer when they accidentally break a window, and sings to a crying toddler to calm him down.
    • It's easy to miss, but there's also that sweet little moment towards the end of "The Drill," where he admires Thanh and Ying's newborn daughter, Hope.
  • Frontline General: Several Fire Nation characters mention that he personally led his soldiers into battle and became widely feared by the Earth Kingdom for his fighting prowess.
  • 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. Furthermore, unlike Sozin, it didn't take Iroh until his deathbed to change his mindset and attitude, nor did it stop him from changing what he did.
  • Good All Along: He never does anything that would really hurt the heroes; the reason he stuck with the Fire Nation was to protect and guide Zuko. The first sign of Iroh's True Colors comes in the season 1 finale, when he learns of Zhao's plans for the moon, and by the end of season 2 it's become clear he'd rather side with the Avatar than with his brother. We later find out his Heel–Face Turn happened long before the events of the series, most likely when Lu Ten died.
  • Good Is Not Dumb: He's an All-Loving Hero who always makes an effort to work things out peacefully, even sharing tea with a would-be mugger in Ba Sing Se. He's still savvy enough to recognize when someone is far too dangerous (such as Ozai) or unstable (such as Azula) and needs to be dealt with using force.
  • Good Parents: While we don't see how he was with his biological son Lu Tennote  (although, given how he still grieves the latter's death years later, it's presumed he was a loving father), Iroh is very much Zuko's father in all but genes, and - despite the corruptive influences coming from Ozai and Azula - Zuko becomes a well-adjusted young man under his parenting. Iroh is everything Ozai is not: loving, supportive, and protective, all of this being completely unconditional.
  • The Hedonist: A very interesting example. Although he often appears hedonistic, Iroh's life philosophy is about living life to the fullest, appreciating the little things, and experiencing happiness whenever possible, hence his enjoyment of the finer things in life. He developed this philosophy after Lu Ten's death, which likely caused him to question his path in life and realize the pain he was inflicting on others as a war general.
  • Hero Antagonist: Accompanies Zuko in his quest to capture the Avatar, but barely does anything to help his nephew accomplish his goal and is only on his side out of concern for him.
  • Hidden Depths: Iroh just seemed like a cheery, goofy old guy there to annoy Zuko...until he's captured by Earth Kingdom troops who are amazed to have captured the famous "Dragon of the West," one of the greatest Fire Nation generals. Later reveals of his past eventually make him probably the deepest character in a show already full of them.
  • Honorary Uncle: Kiyi calls him “Uncle Iroh,” too, even though she’s not related to him by blood.
  • Hot Blooded Sideburns: In Season 1, he had these, but the personality was inverted; he's probably the biggest sweetheart in the entire franchise.
  • Humble Goal: He renounced his regal rights, and when Zuko becomes Fire Lord by the end of the series, Iroh just wants to operate a tea shop.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Even after kicking tail throughout the series, the man just wants his tea shop back.
  • Inconsistent Dub: In the Japanese dub, Books 1 and 2 translate his Red Baron, the Dragon of the West, as Nishi no ryū, only to switch to Nishi no Doragon in Book 3.
  • 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.
  • It Will Never Catch On: In The Promise, he apparently invents bubble tea, but Aang and Zuko aren't very keen on it.
    Zuko: {Ptah!} What is that trying to sneak into my mouth?!
    Aang: I've never had tea that's quite so...chewy.
    Iroh (sadly): I am a man ahead of my time...
  • Know Your Vines: In the second season, Iroh has a run-in with some of these.
    "Delectable tea?... Or deadly poison?"
  • Leitmotif: A calming pipa melody that plays when he dispenses words of wisdom. There's also a similar flute motif that plays when Zuko imitates him in "The Western Air Temple" and "The Boiling Rock, Pt. 1."
  • 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: Like the rest of his family, he has power, speed and durability in great measures.
  • Martial Pacifist: He has no love for fighting, at least not since his Heel–Face Turn. He always attempts to solve problems through words and diplomacy, and typically only uses combat as a last resort or in self-defense. Whenever he does fight, though, he will obliterate his opponent.
  • Meaningful Name: His Red Baron, "the Dragon of the West" isn't just a badass nickname. He even lampshades it as a Pre Ass Kicking One Liner before unleashing his flaming breath:
    Iroh: Did I ever tell you how I got the nickname "Dragon of the West?"
    Azula: I'm not interested in a lengthy anecdote, Uncle.
    Iroh: It's more of a demonstration, really.
  • Mellow Fellow: Iroh is a calm man who gives out advice to others while drinking soothing tea.
  • The Mentor: 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.
  • Morality Pet:
    • Implied again that he and his son Lu Ten were this to his ruthless father Azulon, both being the only two people toward whom he showed any shred of kindness.
    • He's definitely one for Zuko in a mentor capacity.
  • My Greatest Failure:
    • The failed siege of Ba Sing Se. Most of the Fire Nation think that it's because he wasn't able to breach the walls, but in actuality it was because his son Lu Ten died during it.
    • The book "Legacy of the Fire Nation" reveals he knew that Ozai, like his niece, had an ambition in him that he didn't quell in time. He laments how he wishes he could've done something different between them to avoid how Ozai turned out.
  • Mysterious Past: We just know the footnote version; born a Fire Nation Prince, served in the war, retired after a semi-successful siege of Ba Sing Se.
  • Mythical Motifs: Dragons. Refers both to his well known title, the Dragon of the West, and the fact that he protected the last of the dragons, from whom Zuko and Aang later learn the true nature of firebending.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: The Dragon of the West.
  • Near-Villain Victory: His siege of Ba Sing Se was the closest the Fire Nation got to defeating the Earth Kingdom until the main series, going so far as to break through the outer wall of the city.
  • Never Got to Say Goodbye: By the time Iroh received word of Lu Ten's injury during the Siege of Ba Sing Se, his son had already passed.
  • Nice Guy: With his charming sense of humor, his keen understanding of human nature, and his sweet, jolly personality, is it any wonder that the fandom loves the dear man so much?
  • No Badass to His Valet: No matter how brooding and angry Zuko gets, he can never defy Iroh - at most, the prince will give a lot of lip and just go along with what Iroh insists upon. Unlike many examples of this trope, however, the "valet" in question is unquestionably more powerful than Zuko is, just a lot less motivated.
  • Noodle Incident:
    • We never found out exactly how he managed to escape his cell on the Day of Black Sun.
    • We 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.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: We never get to see Iroh's actual escape from prison during the Day Of Black Sun; just his bent cell bars...and a trail of unconscious bodies. Keep in mind, he couldn't use his firebending, either; he did all of that with his bare hands! "Dragon of the West," indeed.
  • 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 that Zhao stop his crazy plan, and effortlessly curbstomps Zhao's Elite Mooks when he doesn't listen. The villain part is subverted when it turns out that Iroh's Heel–Face Turn happened well before the series, and that he's far more concerned with Zuko's well-being than actually carrying out the Fire Nation's will.
  • 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." Yikes!
  • 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 started, he was already one of the world's greatest firebenders and the most accomplished general of the past century. It's later shown that he had also absorbed the philosophies of the other nations, and is one of four people in the entire series to invent a completely new bending technique: lightning redirection (the other three are bloodbending, metalbending, and energybending). He also serves as Zuko's mentor, although he tends to hide the true extent of his knowledge from his immature nephew.
  • One-Man Army: The prison warden calls him this when he breaks out of prison during the eclipse by himself.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: The one time he raises his voice to his nephew is in "Lake Laogai," when Zuko impulsively tries to resume his plans to capture Aang by stealing Appa.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Before the start of the series, Iroh's son, Lu Ten, died in the siege of Ba Sing Se. Iroh took his death so hard that he abandoned the siege, retired from being a general, and embarked on a Redemption Quest.
  • 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 Favoritism:
    • We don't hear anything about him trying to bond with Azula compared to Zuko. Justified, though, in that Zuko really needed him more, and Azula is, in his words, "crazy, and needs to go down."
    • Iroh was also on the receiving end of this; his own father Azulon preferred him over Ozai.
  • 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, raised him as his own son and absolutely refuses to give up on him and his happiness, even after being stabbed in the back. It's not a stretch to say that Zuko is, for all intents and purposes, Iroh's son, not nephew.
  • Playing with Fire: As a firebender, natch. However, Iroh ups this to an absurd degree, as someone who not only knows the true form of firebending, but also has single-handedly invented firebending techniques that his nephew and Aang both adopt. It's all but showcased that while Aang is the Avatar and can control all four elements to a high degree, Iroh is still one of the best in the world - if not the best - in a straight firebending contest against anyone.
  • The Pollyanna: His son was killed in a battle he lost, his reputation was destroyed, he lost his rightful place on the throne and was banished from his home, his beloved nephew treats him like dirt, and yet, he not only remains patient and cheerful, but is eventually able to help his nephew solve many of his personal problems without even breaking a sweat. It's implied that the first four experiences had a huge impact on him becoming the wise, collected uncle he is when the show starts. That doesn't change the fact his cheerful demeanor helps numerous characters, his nephew especially, over the course of the show.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Not that he's ever considered a villain, but from the audience's perspective Season 1 has him supporting actual antagonist Zuko. He plays along as Zhao's adviser during his invasion of the Northern Water Tribe for the sake of helping Zuko capture Aang. He drops the act and turns on him when he discovers Zhao's plan to destroy the Moon Spirit, knowing that even the Fire Nation needs the moon. Subverted big time when it's discovered that Iroh was Good All Along and stopped supporting the Fire Nation a long time ago.
  • Prisons Are Gymnasiums: During Iroh's time in prison, his cell did double duty as a gym.
  • 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.
  • Proverbial Wisdom: Tends to overdo it sometimes, which is why Zuko has trouble understanding him.
  • Rage Breaking Point: Normally just tries to gently discourage Zuko from his self-destructive path, but when the headstrong prince tries to abduct Appa, Iroh finally throws the book at him.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He delivers an apt one to Zhao after the latter's cowardly attempt to attack Zuko from behind after an Agni Kai, calling his behavior disgraceful and telling him that Zuko has more honor than Zhao ever will.
  • Red Baron: He's notoriously remembered as "The Dragon Of the West" in the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation since his 20-month siege of Ba Sing Se.
  • Replacement Goldfish: Iroh admits that part of the reason he took it upon himself to raise Zuko is that he lost his own son, Lu Ten. Unlike most examples, though, Iroh loves and accepts Zuko for who he is, and never tries to mold him into a copy of Lu Ten.
  • Retired Badass: Retired pre-series, after (nearly) penetrating the impenetrable city of Ba Sing Se. Still a powerful Firebender well into old age, enough so that Zuko tried to get him to challenge Ozai when Aang disappeared.
  • Sad Clown: Underneath his goofy façade, he's just a father who is still grieving the loss of his son, many years after the fact. He's also done plenty of things in the past that he's not proud of.
  • 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 and Zuko cut theirs at the beginning of the second season, after Azula betrays them.
  • Self-Deprecation: Part of Iroh's charm is that he's not above poking fun at himself from time to time.
    • For example, he has been known to crack a couple of jokes about his weight. See this bit during "Bitter Work":
    "The stomach is the source of energy in your body. It is called the "Sea of Qi".... Only, in my case, it is more like a vast ocean."
    "[In the spirit world,] you won't gain any weight. [Chuckles as he pats his bulging belly] Of course, you won't lose any, either."
    • He's not exactly sensitive about his age, either, if this exchange with Toph is any indication:
    Iroh: You seem a little too young to be travelling alone.
    Toph: You seem a little too old.
    (Beat)
    Iroh: (chuckles) Perhaps I am.
  • Shipper on Deck: Often in regard to his nephew:
    • He believes Katara would be a good match for Zuko when his point of view is covered in the novelization of "Sozin's Comet."
    • Iroh is also very supportive of Zuko dating Jin during their stay in Ba Sing Se.
  • Shipper with an Agenda: Completely supported the idea of Zuko dating the Earth Kingdom girl Jin in "Tales of Ba Sing Se". Although that was mainly to get him to lighten up.
  • 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.
  • Smelly Feet Gag: Zuko uses his foul-smelling sandals to track him twice.
  • So Proud of You: When they are reunited in the Grand Finale, Iroh expresses how proud he is of Zuko for finding his way to the light.
  • Spot of Tea: East 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.
  • Stern Teacher: To Zuko, when teaching him firebending. While he is a hedonist and easygoing, he becomes more serious and demanding as teacher.
  • Stout Strength: One of the physically strongest characters in the franchise, if not the strongest, but he's rather portly until about halfway through the third season.
  • Summon Bigger Fish: Subverted. Zuko and the Gaang try to convince him to be the one to fight/kill Ozai during Sozin's comet after Aang goes missing, but he refuses; while he could maybe beat Ozai, he states that history would view it as "one brother killing another to grab power" and that only the Avatar defeating Ozai would make a lasting difference.
  • Super Strength: Displays this trope throughout the series (a trait he shares with his student Zuko). Iroh has, over the course of the show:
    • Sent Zhao skidding backwards along the ground with just a flick of his wrist. This is actually more impressive than it sounds due to their positions at the time: such a simple movement should have caused Zhao to merely put his foot down to regain his balance, if it did that much. Instead, he goes flying.
    • Used his chains to catch a boulder in midair that an earthbender was using as a projectile, then swung it back around and took out two earthbenders with it. Said boulder had to weigh more than Iroh.
    • Broke himself out of prison on the Day of Black Sun, without his firebending. The bars of his cell don't even look like he blasted them open; it looks like he grabbed hold of them and shoved through.
  • Supreme Chef: Not with food per se (although he certainly enjoys a good meal, when offered one), but he brews a mean pot of tea! His tea is so good that he was instantly promoted from a lowly tea shop waiter in the Lower Ring of Ba Sing Se to the owner of his own gourmet tea house in the luxurious Upper Ring.
  • Supporting Leader: He leads the White Lotus.
  • Tareme Eyes: He has round eyes.
  • Token Good Teammate: To the Fire Nation during Zuko's time as an antagonist, because he's the only non-evil or antagonistic Fire Nation character.
  • 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 most of his fat and replaces it with pure muscle.
  • Took a Level in Idealism: Flashbacks hint that Iroh being was just as much of a believer of the Fire Nation's ideology as his family before the death of his son caused him to rethink his beliefs.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: While Iroh was always just as affable as the present, his letter to Ursa has him casually joke about burning Ba Sing Se to the ground. He's a lot more merciful and accepting of the Earth Kingdom now.
  • Trademark Favorite Food: TEA. The man drinks it every chance he gets, critiques others' brews, becomes the best tea maker in Ba Sing Se, gets his own shop (which he retires to after the series), and at one point even fuels his Breath of Fire with (hot) tea. Toph even mentions to Aang that he's a brilliant tea-maker, as well as a great dispenser of advice.
  • True Sight: Iroh was able to see Aang riding Roku's dragon, Fang, in the Spirit World while he was in the Physical World.
  • Underestimating Badassery:
    • Azula particularly is unable to realize 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 is past 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).
  • Undying Loyalty: To Zuko. He stays with his nephew through exile, war and conflict. In Season 2, Iroh decides to go back with him to the Fire Nation despite knowing it is almost certainly a trap, but not wanting Zuko to be on his own.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Despite his wisdom, he has an unfortunate habit of causing these situations (though not through any fault of his own). In Book 2, his decision to use firebending to heat up his tea caught Jet's attention, leading the latter to fanatically stalk Iroh and Zuko throughout Ba Sing Se, thus attracting the attention of the Dai Li and Team Avatar, and eventually resulting in Jet's death by Long Feng. This even extends to his military career, where his decision to call it quits and abdicate his right to rule after his son's death allowed Ozai to rise to power and nearly complete his plans of world domination and genocide.
  • Unexplained Accent: Speaks with a Japanese accent, despite his brother, nephew, and niece having American accents. Out-of-universe, this is because his original voice actor, Makoto Iwamatsu, spoke Japanese as a first language, while the rest of his family had American-born voice actors.
  • Villainous BSoD: The death of his son during the siege of Ba Sing Se caused him an emotional breakdown that made him realize the atrocities of the Fire Nation, and eventually pull a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Warrior Therapist: Though he never talks his opponents down while fighting; he's more likely to invite you over for tea and some good life advice. If he does fight his opponents, he's already decided that they need their rump kicked, and he will deliver it in spades.
  • 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.
  • Would Hit a Girl: His own niece, even, though it's always in self-defense.
  • Zen Survivor: In the 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.


 
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Firebending Demonstration and Duel

General Iroh demonstrates firebending form for Fire Prince Zuko / a duel between Zuko and Admiral Zhao

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5 (27 votes)

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Main / PlayingWithFire

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Main / PlayingWithFire

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