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Fire Lord Ozai (敖載)

Voiced by: Mark Hamill (English), Rolando Silva, Ricardo Soto and Daniel Seisdedos (Latin American Spanish)
"I do have the power. I have all the power in the WORLD!"

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 acts decently 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.

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  • Above Good and Evil: He believes that the will of the Fire Lord is the be-all and end-all of what's right and wrong.
  • Abusive Dad:
    • Ozai not only had a favorite and an unfavorite child, but he brutally scarred the latter, Zuko, and has attempted to kill him multiple times (though as for this, only after he joined the revolution against him). Zuko found a better father figure in his uncle and mentor Iroh and eventually outgrew the need for Ozai's approval.
    • Ozai exiled and disowned Zuko when he was thirteen, for speaking out of turn in a war meeting (the kid was not supposed to be there in the first place, but the level of punishment was overkill). In addition to burning a good fourth of his face off, Ozai loudly and publicly called Zuko an embarrassing failure and a traitor without honor, for the high crimes of idealism, a degree of rudeness and reluctance to face his father in a duel. One line says all you need to know about how Ozai treated Zuko.
      "You WILL learn respect, and suffering will be your teacher."
    • Because the treatment he gets is more painful in short term, Zuko tends to envy Azula. Ironically, while we never see it, the audience can gather enough about the damage Ozai did to Azula. While superficially nicer to her, Ozai actually subjects Azula to rather cruel emotional abuse, and moreover cultivates her aggressive and ruthless tendencies in order to make her his weapon; her mother, by contrast, tried to help her be more compassionate and fit in with others. Because Azula fails to connect with her mother, this is what brings her eventual downfall. In the end, Zuko points out to Ozai that he is such a horrible father that the best thing he ever did to him was to exile him—because being treated as Azula is even worse. Further, Ozai's abuse of Zuko is also abusive to Azula by extension, in a "this is what will happen to you if you don't live up to my expectations" kind of way.
      Azula: You can't do this to me! You can't treat me like Zuko!
  • Action Dad: While he is not a good father, he's certainly a very powerful one.
  • Actor Allusion: Inverted: Ozai, who's voiced by Mark Hamill, is both the Archnemesis Dad of one of the heroes who maims his son and an Evil Overlord who can shoot lightning from his fingertips. That's right, Luke Skywalker is voicing a composite of Darth Vader and Darth Sidious.
  • Allegorical Character: He's not so much a character himself as he is a representation of the cycle of child abuse and ultra-militarism.
  • Always Second Best: To Iroh, whom he could never seem to beat. Iroh's memoirs in Legacy of the Fire Nation mention that Ozai would often flip the board and burn the pieces whenever he lost a game of Pai Sho to Iroh, heavily implying that Iroh won nearly every game. And he could never get Azulon to pass the throne to him despite showcasing his children and pointing out Iroh's flaws. Even when he becomes the most powerful firebender in the world, there are plenty of folks who believe Iroh could still beat him.
  • Ambiguous Start of Darkness: When he became evil is unclear, in part because we know so little about his personal history.
  • Ambition Is Evil: Fueled by his resentment towards Iroh, Ozai strives to be the best in school and in firebending. But his ambition made him more ruthless and sociopathic in the process, willingly to sacrifice family members to gain the throne and the world.
  • Archnemesis Dad: Not Zuko's Arch-Enemy, but he and his son have fought each other a few times. And during the eclipse, when Zuko renounces trying to be the son Ozai wants, Ozai reveals that he was willing to kill him when he was not even in his teens.
  • Armchair Military: Although Ozai is well-versed in military strategies and tactics, being highly successful in school, he has never actively partaken in a military campaign until the series finale. This is in contrast to his brother, father, and grandfather who were stated to be Frontline Generals, not to mention his son and daughter who both were active on the field and had more successful wartime accomplishments (specifically, the sacking of Ba Sing Se) than he did.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: He asks probably the cruelest one in the entire series. During the Day of Black Sun, Zuko finally tells him off for what a horrible father’s he’s been and has reached the decision to join Aang. And just as he’s about to walk out on his father forever, Ozai buys himself time in waiting for the eclipse to pass by asking Zuko the one question that he knows has haunted him for years, so that he can keep him there long enough to kill him after the eclipse ends.
    Ozai: Don’t you want to know what happened to your mother?
  • Arranged Marriage: With Ursa. Unlike the standard, it wasn't for political reasons but rather an experiment in Superpowerful Genetics.
  • 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. Aang is established to only have a chance if he masters each of the elements, and Iroh makes a point to express his doubts that he could beat Ozai. Though that's a moot point after he loses his bending.
  • Ax-Crazy: Expresses vicious, murderous glee in the process of leveling the Earth Kingdom.
  • 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. Hell, the very first time he was shown onscreen, it's implied that he supported the plan to sacrifice novice Fire Nation troops as cannon fodder.
  • Bait the Dog: He refuses to let Azula join him in the final campaign of the war but realizes that she would interpret it as a sign of being mistreated like Zuko. Not wanting to lose her loyalty, Ozai placates his daughter by naming her the new Fire Lord... and then immediately crowns himself as the Phoenix King of the world, rendering the position of Fire Lord to be worthless.
  • Beard of Evil: He sports a blade-like goatee and is the Big Bad.
  • Beauty Is Bad: Up until Zuko's homecoming, whenever Ozai appeared on-screen, his face was never completely visible, thus furthering audiences' expectations for him to look like the standard animated villain (i.e., having a somewhat more homely design than the heroes). The first full-on shot of his face (which, admittedly, is downright gorgeous) only reinforced the fact that he was absolutely the most despicable character in the entire series. (The sound of his voice doesn't exactly help, either.)
  • Big Bad: Even though his actions aren't directly driving the plot (that's mostly Azula's job), his influence in the story as the genocidal ruler of the Fire Nation and Zuko's abusive father makes him the main villain Aang ultimately aims to take down to stop the Hundred Year War.
  • Break the Haughty: His smug confidence evaporates in the final battle when Aang regains access to the Avatar State. He spends the rest of the fight getting progressively more alarmed after realizing how outmatched he is. As Avatar State Aang prepares to deliver a finishing blow he's visibly terrified.
  • Break Them by Talking: If he's not allowed to burn his enemies, then he will use words to beat them down. He often does this to his son, Zuko, verbally shutting him down with a story of how "he was lucky to be born" as punishment for daring to criticize Azula. When he loses firebending and freedom, he starts relying on this ability to gain leverage over the now-Fire Lord Zuko. In Smoke and Shadows, he gets a taste of his own medicine when Ursa visits him and spells out his pathetic, insecure ego before him.
  • Broken Pedestal: Part of Zuko's Heel–Face Turn involves him realizing that his father is nothing more than a self-serving SOB. Him up to Azulon and Sozin.
  • Brought Down to Normal: During the eclipse, in contrast to his children who are Brought Down to Badass. Done more permanently at the end of the series: courtesy of Aang's energy bending, he can no longer fire bend after "Sozin's Comet."
  • The Bully: Ozai is ultimately a bully armed with powerful firebending and the resources of a nation. He enjoys asserting domination over people he believes to be weak and portrays himself to be so powerful that even his own brother doubts he could defeat him. And like any other bully, he loses all of that smugness and flees in terror once he picks on someone more powerful than himself, which just so happens to be Avatar State Aang.
  • Cain and Abel: The Cain to Iroh's Abel, though they never fought directly. Ozai preferred machinations when dealing with his brother, such as actively trying to delegitimize Iroh's claim to the throne and take power for himself.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Played With. He makes no pretensions about himself or his motives and openly champions being as ruthless as possible as the way to go, but he also tells Zuko that Good and Evil are just points of view and seems to regard himself as Above Good and Evil and likely feels that neither of them actually exist, though this only means that he can be as gleefully sadistic as he likes — if good and evil mean nothing to him, then he is free to be as malicious as he likes, and ultimately he's just so cunning, egotistical, and pragmatic that it makes him a very three-dimensional villain in spite of this.
  • The Chessmaster: Like his daughter, he's a very capable strategist and manipulator. However, by the time he takes action in the plot, Sozin's Comet has arrived and he gets too Drunk on the Dark Side to use it.
  • Classic Villain: Representing pride and ambition.
  • Cold Ham: Ozai is rather subdued throughout most of the series, his voice rarely rising above a harsh whisper. When Sozin's Comet arrives in the series finale and supercharges his Firebending, he quickly becomes Drunk on the Dark Side and throws off all restraint.
  • The Corrupter: He molded his daughter into the psycho-crazy monster she is now. It is also implied that part of the reason he treats Zuko the way he does is to make him into someone as horrible as he is, since he only treats him right when he (was told to have) killed the Avatar and turned on Iroh. That in turn, would also spite Ursa, who wants Zuko to NOT be like him.
  • 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 an incredible natural talent for firebending, and he relies heavily on this talent rather than learn how to fight without it. Compared to his brother and children, he has 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. Ironically, this becomes his undoing once Aang takes away his firebending, leaving behind a weak man who couldn't break out of prison even if he wanted to.
  • Cruel Mercy:
    • Ozai's the kind of bastard who, unless personally disrespected, would keep a calm tone while dishing out personally crushing punishments. A notable instance is when Vachir, the Yuyan Archer he sent to assassinate Ikem, reports his failure to ever locate his target. He spares Vachir but has him dishonorably discharged from the Yuyan Archers, to Vachir's great dismay. Also, depending on how you interpret his relationship with Azula; the perceived slights and discarding of her come his coronation to Phoenix King can be retribution for her lies about the Avatar's death.
    • He is on the receiving end of this trope when Aang spares his life but takes away his firebending at the series' climax. Though Aang sees it as a means to prevent Ozai from causing harm while upholding to his ideals, Ozai sees this as the worst thing the Avatar could have done to him since he's now forced to see his hated son Zuko ascend to the throne while he is left to rot in prison, utterly weak and helpless to do anything about it.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: While he stands little chance once Aang enters the Avatar State, he lasts far longer than anyone else ever has. He even continues trying to attack Aang while fleeing for his life.
  • Despotism Justifies the Means: Ozai's ultimate goal is to be the most powerful man in the world. Whether the world is better or worse off as a result is of little concern to him.
  • Determinator: He refuses to give up, even still referring to himself as the "Phoenix King" after losing his powers.
  • Didn't See That Coming: He faces a couple in the last episode: Aang regaining control of the Avatar State and then energybending.
  • 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 and 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 few in the world have the tenacity to stand up to him or challenge him, with only Aang and Iroh being seen as able to challenge him one on one. Even Azula, who herself is feared by almost everyone else, backs down when he commands it.
  • Driven by Envy:
    • Ozai resents his brother Iroh for being Azulon's favorite despite the fact that Ozai's bloodline is supposed to strengthen the Royal Family's firebending potential for generations to come. And it doesn't take long for Ozai to make his attempt for the throne once Iroh's son died in the battle.
    • The Search reveals that Ozai's mistreatment of Zuko stems from Ursa's wish that Zuko was Ikem's son instead of his. Jealous, Ozai secretly ordered for Ikem's assassination (which failed) and decided to "honor" Ursa's wish by no longer treating Zuko as his son. This also casts a darker light on Ozai's praise for Zuko in the beginning of Book 3; he's not only proud that Zuko "killed" the Avatar but also extinguished his mother's influence in the process.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: He acts this way once Sozin's Comet powers him up. In his own words, he's been given "ALL THE POWER IN THE WORLD!" and enjoys every opportunity to kill with it.
  • Empty Shell: When Ursa meets Ozai at the end of Smoke and Shadow, she describes him as having a heart so small that there's no room into to love anyone, and saddest of all is that he can't even manage to love himself.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil:
    • Say what you want about his morals, but Ozai is not a 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 - in fact, it was his idea. The Fire Lord position was to become a ceremonial role with Ozai crowning himself king of the world, but still.
    • He also presumably had no problem with Azula bringing Dai Li agents to the capital as "souvenirs".
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Fire Lord Azulon ordered him to kill his own son, which Ozai deemed unthinkable. Zig-Zagged when we learn he had planned on going through with it; but not out of malice against Zuko but rather just because the Fire Lord's order is law and going against it is treason. At the time, the only thing going for him was just to save his own skin.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good:
    • He often scoffed at morality, thinking of it to be a sign of weakness. He also finds peace and kindness laughable concepts and despised those who followed moral principles. Being a sociopathic tyrant, these things don't register in his head.
    • Parental warmth is a completely alien concept to him. Ozai genuinely acts as though he did Zuko a favor by challenging him to single combat and badly scarring his face - when Zuko wouldn't fight back no less - as a way to teach him to know his place. When Zuko finally tells Ozai how cruel and wrong it was, Ozai simply assumes Zuko didn't learn from it.
    • Ozai fails to understand why Aang would hesitate to kill and takes every advantage of his mercy. Same after Zuko tells him that Aang is the one who should kill Ozai, not him.
      Ozai: Even with all the power in the world, you are still weak.
    • Subverted in The Promise, where Ozai has a better understanding of Earth King Kuei, without ever even meeting the man, than the members of Team Avatar do just by knowing the politics involved. note 
  • Evil Counterpart: Serves as one to Hakoda, father of Katara and Sokka. Both are the leaders of their respective countries, both are expert strategists when it comes to warfare, both can very distant with their children and they even have similar facial features. The crucial difference is that Hakoda cherishes his family despite his duties while Ozai is all too willing to throw his family away for personal power.
  • Evil Is Bigger: He's towers over almost everyone in the series, including his older brother, giving him an intimidating and imposing presence whenever he's on-screen (and that's when you don't factor in the fact his fights are always against children). And his ego is even bigger, considering he commissions himself a personal airship that dwarfs the already large Fire Nation airships.
  • Evil Is Burning Hot: Comes with being an angry firebender.
  • Evil Is Hammy: In the finale, Ozai adopts new regalia for himself and begins to yell and wave his arms in enthusiasm for the power Sozin's Comet will beget him. He is voiced by Mark Hamill, after all.
  • Evil Is Petty: Having a lot of political and firebending powers, Ozai likes to twist the knife with minor issues.
    • In flashback from The Search comic, when Azula complains that her firebending instructor Kunyo is a terrible teacher, Ozai immediately arranges Kunyo to be banished to the Fire Nation colonies in spite of Zuko's protest.
    • The sequel comics reveal that his mistreatment of Zuko is largely just his spiteful response to Ursa's claim that Zuko isn't his son. A claim that he knew was a lie.
  • Evil Overlord: The Fire Lord directs his industrial army from the opposite side of the planet, hardly leaving his throne as his dominion spreads across the world's largest continent.
  • Evil Only Has to Win Once: If Aang doesn't defeat him before Sozin's Comet arrives, there won't be a world to save anymore.
    Roku: Sozin's Comet will return by the end of this summer, and Fire Lord Ozai will use its power to finish the war once and for all. If he succeeds, even the Avatar won't be able to restore balance to the world.
  • Evil Plan: Ozai intends to finish his grandfather's legacy by using the power of Sozin's Comet to destroy the armies of the other nations and take the world for the Fire Nation.
  • The Evil Prince: In flashbacks, when he was still fire prince, instead of ''lord' he was just as vicious and manipulative. Although he was the Spare to the Throne he worked to supplant his older brother Iroh as heir. However, Iroh chooses not to challenge it even if his birthright was revoked.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: An exceptional Badass Baritone, courtesy of Mark Hamill.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Ozai's hair is best described as being long, symmetrical, combed back and even pretty looking in contrast to his older brother's more ruggish hairstyle, representing the Fire Lord's belief in perfection and superiority. Thus it is fitting that when he loses to Aang and is stripped of his firebending, his perfect hair is reduced to a disheveled mess covering his humiliating face. In prison, his hair becomes more wild and shaggy as his influence over the Fire Nation wanes over time.

  • The Faceless: In Seasons 1-2, his face was always hidden by shadow or otherwise obscured, fitting his status as The Dreaded. When he finally shows his face in the Season 3 premiere, 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.
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: After being concealed by shadow and built up as a terrifying, inhuman figure throughout the first two seasons, Ozai turns out to be rather handsome. However, his pretty face does little to hide the monster he is.
  • Fantastic Racism: Unlike his ancestors, who merely believed that the Fire Nation was culturally superior to the other nations, Ozai seems to look down on the people of other nations as an inferior subspecies. He shows open disdain to the Air Nomads when he confronts Aang and he thinks they were exterminated because they were "weak".
  • Fatal Flaw: Wrath and Pride. He thinks the world revolves around him and virtually anything that doesn't go his way should be subjected to the same solution: Kill It with Fire. Not only is it childish (in fact, it's no different from his childhood days of burning Pai Sho pieces whenever he loses to Iroh) but it is the central factor for Zuko's Heel–Face Turn in the series, with the final straw being the Final Solution against the Earth Kingdom. His insecure ego eventually leads to his god-complex megalomania at the series finale, causing him to underestimate Aang and subsequently losing his firebending in the process.
  • Fate Worse than Death: De-bended and left to rot in a cell. For a man who prides his firebending and the benefits of being Fire Lord, death is more preferable than living the rest of his days as a weak, pathetic man at the mercy of his son.
  • Faux Affably Evil: When he's not being abusive, he sounds civil, but in a cold and unempathic 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:
  • Final-Exam Boss: Ozai's comet enhanced firebending forces Aang to use all the bending elements he learned throughout the series to survive the fight. Aang also uses lightning redirection and seismic sense to stop Ozai's attacks.
  • Flat Character: Played for Drama. Ozai is a generic tyrant whose only characterization comes from the effect his actions have on other characters; the people he oppresses, the family that gets abused by his hand, and Aang, who is forced into a moral dilemma over killing him since there was no chance to make Ozai see the error of his ways.
  • Flight: A unique ability of his that he gained through firebending, a la jet propulsion.
  • Freudian Excuse: It's heavily implied he's full of self-loathing due to being The Un-Favourite to Fire Lord Azulon and Always Second Best to Iroh (especially in Pai Sho games). The Search later reveals that Ozai was also jealous that Ursa preferred his son, Zuko, to be the son of her former boyfriend than him, which is why he greatly abused his son throughout the series. None of this justifies his actions, but they show how Zuko's own self-loathing could have led him down a dark path.
  • Friendly Fire: Pun not intended, but while it's not stated much, Ozai's plan to burn down the Earth Kingdom also endangers his own people: his soldiers and the Fire Nation colonists, proving for all his posture about the Fire Nation's superiority and might, he himself doesn't care a bit about it, only seeing the Fire Nation as a stepping stone to propel himself into greatness.
  • Frontline General: The first and only time he has ever personally led an army to battle was during Sozin's Comet and his final plan to win the war was to destroy the already defeated but still stubborn Earth Kingdom from the safety of his airships.
  • "Get Back Here!" Boss: Inverted. Aang spends most of his fight with him running away from him and dodging his attacks while occasionally fighting back. When Aang gets his second wind, it flips again to playing this straight.
  • 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 willing to take his life even if Ozai passes this threshold.
  • Gone Horribly Right: According to Ozai himself, the main reason he scarred Zuko was because the boy won't fight him in an honorable duel, and thus punishing him for not respecting the traditions of the Fire Nation, as he states sometimes you have to fight your family for your beliefs. Of course, by the time he's saying this, he is in the Fire Nation prison, stripped of his bending abilities, his power and influence, because Zuko did take the lesson to heart, and specifically trained the Avatar and helped in his defeat. Zuko (alongside Katara) had also defeated Azula from seizing the Fire Nation, meaning Ozai would have still kept his bending and his throne hadn't he scarred Zuko.
  • Glory Seeker: Despite practically winning the Hundred Year War after the fall of Ba Sing Se, Ozai wants to officially end it by using Sozin's Comet to burn down the Earth Kingdom. And he refuses to share the glory with his loyal daughter, instead forcing her to stay behind at the palace to be crowned Fire Lord while he gets to personally lead the air fleet and burn down the continent as Phoenix King. When Aang appears and disables his airship, Ozai abandons his fleet in favor of killing the Avatar, seeing it as a greater path to glory than his intial plans.
  • Greater-Scope Villain:
    • In the first two seasons, he mostly serves as a distant embodiment of evil while Zuko / Zhao / Azula do the actual legwork. He takes on a more direct role in season three.
    • He again takes this role in the post-series comics. Despite losing his firebending and being imprisoned, his influence on his kids and the world at large is still very much felt.
  • Green-Eyed Monster: While Ozai doesn't have love for anyone else, he cannot stand being unloved by his family. Azulon prefers Iroh over him and Ursa prefers Ikem over him, even going as far as wishing that Zuko wasn't Ozai's son. Ironically, his children are the only ones who are devoted to him and yet he ends up driving them away because of his jealously and wrath.
  • Hate Sink: All his atrocities aside, he is characterized by being abusive towards his family. He constantly derided his son Zuko for not living up to his expectations, and ultimately became responsible for the loss of a mother figure in his life, and it hit its zenith when he burned and scarred Zuko in an Agni Kai and then banished him just for disrespecting him and speaking out because of a strategy that involved using novice troops as fodder. Ozai's cruelty is what highlights Zuko's sympathy even more, being the source of all the misery he has been through. Even his sociopathic daughter and Dragon Princess Azula looks sympathetic compared to him, especially once it's made clear toward the end of the series that he deliberately molded her into what she is today through years of psychological abuse, leaving her woefully unprepared to cope when confronted with the reality that all he instilled in her was wrong.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: Subverted both times. He is nearly killed by his own lightning after Zuko, and later Aang successfully redirects it. He only survives because Zuko intends to have the Avatar finish the job, and Aang is unwilling to redirect it back at Ozai.
  • How the Mighty Have Fallen: After Sozin's Comet leaves the atmosphere, Ozai went from the feared and powerful Phoenix King to being the butt of the jokes after losing his firebending. He is then thrown into the same prison cell where his brother used to be held, dressed in rags and completely miserable at his predicament. When Ursa returns and confronts her former husband, she realizes that without his dominating powers, Ozai is just a pathetic wretch who couldn't even love himself, let alone his family.
  • Humiliation Conga: Stripped of every bit of power, mocked by teenagers, and left living on the mercy of the son he abused. Continued in the comic series where Ursa tells him exactly what a hateful, egotistical, insecure little man he is.
  • Hypocrite: Ozai despises treason and will use it to justify banishing people he doesn't like or putting a bounty on their heads. This is despite the fact that Ozai secretly committed treason against his own father by putting poison provided by Ursa into his father's drink and seizing the throne from Iroh, the rightful heir.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: He was The Un-Favourite to his Evil Overlord and emotionally distant father, Azulon, who possibly was an abusive father with him, compared to his older brother, the talented and powerful "Dragon of the West" General Iroh. It's less clear than with Azula what Ozai felt about this relationship, but it's not difficult to see the similarities in their cases, their personalities, and their temperaments. He is so bitter about not receiving as much respect as his brother that he demands perfection from his own children and punishes perceived weakness or insubordination in his eldest son with extraordinary brutality; when he promotes himself from Fire Lord to Phoenix King and plans to exterminate the Earth Kingdom he essentially acts like a Psychopathic Manchild revelling in childish fantasies of power and greatness, but he was so obsessed with the two mostly because of his insecurities.
  • Irony:
    • Despite it being implied he was The Un-Favourite to his father Azulon, Ozai is the son who is most like his father, both being Abusive Parents and the most powerful benders in the world. And both, despite being strong leaders, don't care for the people of their nation, being more interested in taking over the world. The only thing differencing the two is that Azulon at the very least, cares for Iroh and to a lesser extent, Lu Ten, whilst any care Ozai seems to have for anybody who isn't him is completely fake.
    • Although he is the world's strongest firebender and with a disdain towards the weak, Ozai is remarkably weak in other fields of physical strength. He's never known to be a frontline general like his brother and father, and he can be forced into submission by his sword-proficient son when firebending is temporarily unavailable, while his daughter could easily fend off other benders without her firebending. Amusingly, natural selection usually weeds out the specimens unable to adapt in new situations more so than the "weak," making Ozai's permanent loss of firebending even more poetic.
  • It Only Works Once: Ozai's lightningbending is far more deadlier than Azula's, being much hotter and generated within a fraction of a second. However, he stops using it when he sees that Aang knows how to redirect it, realizing that there's a good possibility of being struck his own lightning.
  • It's All About Me: He's a total egomaniac who only cared for his own personal glory, casually casting off his entire family for more power.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Considering his blatant favoritism of Azula, one might think that he might have a case of Villainous Parental Instinct... except in the finale, he steals Azula's idea of burning the Earth Kingdom to the ground and gives her the pointless title of Fire Lord while he takes all the glory for himself as the Phoenix King. You see at that moment that Azula was just as bad of a victim of parental abuse as Zuko and Ozai never saw her as more than a tool to help him gain power.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty: After all those years of oppression, tyranny, and abuse towards his family, Aang finally gives him what was coming to him in the Grand Finale.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Let's see. Why does Zuko have that scar again?
    • There's also that moment in his final battle with Aang when he mocks him and his people, the other Airbenders, telling them that they deserved their extinction for being weak.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: He poisons Azulon in his sleep to become the new Fire Lord just before he was about carry out his order to murder his youngest son. However he only did so because Ursa offered him the throne to save their son's life not because he cared for him.
  • 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.
  • Lack of Empathy: Ozai's only goal in life is to be the most powerful man in the world, so he casually tosses aside his father, his brother, his wife, his son, and eventually his prized daughter in the pursuit of ever greater power.
    • This is even lampshaded by Iroh in the first episode of Book 2. When Azula arrives and tells Zuko that Ozai feels remorseful about banishing him, Iroh knew immediately something was up (which is proven) because he knows his brother well enough that him and regret do NOT mix.
  • Large and in Charge: He outsizes a lot of his subordinates.
  • Laser-Guided Karma:
  • Like Father, Like Son: Ozai is exactly like his father Azulon. Both of them are Abusive Parents who use their son for their own ends, both are tyrants who ruled the Fire Nation with an iron fist, and both, despite being strong leaders, cared very little for the people of their nation and were more interested in world domination.
  • 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 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 considers 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.
  • Marital Rape License: Strongly implied that since he and Ursa were in an Arranged Marriage and Ursa clearly loved and wanted to marry someone else before she was forced to marry him, the conception of their children might not be as consensual as one might think...
  • Might Makes Right: Firmly believes that the Fire Lord's will is right by way of being the Fire Lord. In general this is how he settles all moral quandaries, which he elaborates on with an anecdote from when Zuko was young. At the beach, Zuko once saved a turtle-crab from being eaten by a hawk, only to realize that the hawk would starve without food. Both animals only want to live, and Zuko was unsure which to side with... only for Ozai to tell him that whichever choice Zuko makes would be morally just. Zuko is the only one powerful enough to decide which of the animals will live, and his choice is just by virtue of him being strong enough to make it.
    "There is no right and wrong apart from what you decide. Who you choose to defend deserves to be defended simply because you chose them. When you are the Fire Lord what you choose, by definition, is right."
  • Misery Builds Character: He believes strongly in this as way of upbringing to his children. When he gave Zuko his scar, he said "suffering will be your teacher".
  • Mythical Motifs: Rare for a villainous character, and in contrast to the rest of his family (who are associated with dragons) Ozai is associated with the phoenix. In the end of the series, he steps down from being Fire Lord, and starts calling himself the "Phoenix King", declaring his attention to burn down the world so it can be "reborn" from the ashes while wearing phoenix-themed clothing, and manning an airship with a phoenix shaped bow.
  • 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.
    • This ties in with his favouritism: the reason he favours Azula is that she has the same qualities as him, such as firebending prodigy, a belief that Love Is a Weakness and political savviness, and Zuko doesn't, even though he is one of the most powerful non-bending fighter, is the Determinator, proves to be quite strategic, and would have been as capable as his sister in firebending with the right method.
    • He deliberately scars only one side of Zuko's face because one of the qualities he values is symmetry: Azula and him always maintain perfect symmetry in their appearance, which is a sign of control and superiority. He temporarily loses that symmetry when Zuko deflects the lightning back at him, his hair falling out of place for the first time. And when Aang defeats him in the final battle and takes away his firebending, Ozai's hair is completely disheveled, which becomes his permanent look as a lowly prisoner under Zuko's regime.
  • Near-Villain Victory: He had the edge on Aang until inadvertently giving his opponent access to the Avatar state again.
  • Never My Fault: When Ozai tells Zuko the truth about Fire Lord Azulon's death, he lays all responsibilities of the murder on Ursa, saying that she committed "vicious, treasonous things" that night. The Search comic reveals that Ursa only made him the untraceable poison, which he used to poison his father's drink. Given his hatred for treason, it seems to be the only way for him to rationalize his hypocrisy and illegitimacy to the throne.
  • 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, the series would have gone in a completely different direction. Specifically, said son would never have met the Avatar, joined the Avatar and taught the Avatar firebending.
  • Not-So-Harmless Villain: Discussed by Sokka after learning about what Ozai planned to use Sozin's Comet for. Team Avatar once believed Ozai was merely a bad guy, but later realized that the Fire Lord is a deranged, purely evil and unhinged brute to boot.
  • 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 Earth Kingdom, which holds at least half of the world's population.
  • Orcus on His Throne: Strategically justified. He's more interested in waiting for Sozin's Comet rather than winning small skirmishes.

  • Papa Wolf: In a Pet the Dog moment, he rescued 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.
  • Parental Favoritism: Subverted.
    • Flashbacks show that he clearly preferred his daughter Azula over his son Zuko, and in the present day that still seems to hold true (especially since unlike Zuko, Azula shares Ozai's power-hungry, sociopathic personality).
    • However, Ozai throws her aside without blinking in Sozin's Comet, revealing his true feelings about Azula; it's not he cares about her more, it's simply that her mix of prodigious firebending, strategic skill, and sadism make her a more useful tool than Zuko. If Ozai felt any genuine affection for Azula at all, it's clearly outweighed by his own lust for power.
  • Patricide: In The Search, it is revealed 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.
  • Perfectly Arranged Marriage: According to the old official site, Ursa was the perfect match for him, though they grew distant later on. Subverted in The Search, which reveals that she pretended to love Ozai because the alternative would endanger both her original fiancé and both their families.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: Planned to wipe out the Earth Kingdom singled-handed with a towering wave of flames.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • In a flashback scene of Zuko's youth in The Promise, Ozai saved Zuko from drowning.
    • Another memory scene in the episode The Storm showed young Zuko, Azula, and Ozai spending time together on a verdant pasture field and Ozai placing his hand warmly on Zuko's shoulder. Zuko later insisted with Team Avatar that not all of his family times were bad, and Ozai was hinted to have attempted to be an ideal father and husband in their earlier years.
    • When fooled into believing his son killed the Avatar, Ozai is at least consistent with his previous demands and welcomes Zuko back home. From what we are shown, he doesn't even overtly play favourites with his children again until Zuko betrays him and leaves to join the Avatar. Might not seem like much, but considering everything else he's done to his family it comes off as uncharacteristically kind.
  • The Power of Hate: He's considered to be the strongest firebender in the world despite being only taught a corrupt version of firebending for his entire life, largely due to the fact he excels in anger, rage and hatred.
  • Pragmatic Villainy: Though he admits he would have otherwise obeyed his father's order to kill Zuko, he instead went with Ursa's plan to kill Azulon, which would immediately give him the throne with only one life sacrificed, as opposed to thinning out his bloodline and risking fighting his brother over the throne when their father would finally die of old age.
  • 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 lightning bending, but reserves it for when he really wants to kill someone.
  • Psychopathic Manchild: At the end of Smoke and Shadows, Ursa concludes that this is who Ozai really is deep down. A small, insecure man trying to be big and mighty at the expense of everyone around him, including himself. Ozai's reaction to these words only validates such beliefs, as all he could come up in response is a stuttering demand for respect which quickly devolves into that of a whining child begging for attention.
  • 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 her psycho fiery side from.
  • A Real Man Is a Killer: He mocks the heroes for their unwillingness to fight and kill him, respectively, viewing their hesitation as weakness.
  • Redemption Rejection:
    • Before their fight begins, Aang offers Ozai one last chance at redemption, saying that he has the power to end this century-long war and further bloodshed by standing down. Ozai admits that Aang is right... that he has all the power in the world to do whatever he wants, forcing Aang to resolve the matter by force.
    • In the last episode of the series, Fire Lord Zuko states that Ozai could use his time in prison to become a better person, like much how Zuko did during his time in exile. The former Fire Lord responds by denying his son information regarding his mother's whereabouts out of spite.
  • Revenge Through Corruption: He always wants to raise his children in his image but when he learns that his wife Ursa wishes Zuko to be nothing like him, he goes the extra mile to spite her. He treats Zuko like an unwanted bastard child whenever he shows compassion or forgiveness and rewards Azula when she emulates her father's example. When Zuko betrayed Uncle Iroh and allegedly killed the Avatar, Ozai unconditionally rewards his son with pride and respect, seeing it as the final blow to Ursa's wish.
  • Satanic Archetype: In Season One he was always shown completely in shadow, and often surrounded by fire. And like Lucifer, he is all too willing to usurp the throne from his father. The fact that he's taller than most characters also helps.
  • Shadow Archetype:
    • He's designed to be a dark reflection of Zuko's worst traits. Both were hot-tempered and impatient in their youth, and both resented being The Un-Favourite next to their sibling. The difference is that Ozai allowed his envy to consume him while Zuko managed to risen above his flaws during his journey. According to Iroh in Legacy of the Fire Nation, there were many times he saw Ozai inside Zuko yet also many times where he saw Zuko becoming what Ozai should have been.
    • He also serves one to Azula. Like Azula, Ozai aimed for perfection with sheer ruthlessness during his school days and would use family members as pawns to gain more power. The difference is that unlike Azula, Ozai didn't have deep-seated desire to be loved.
  • Shock and Awe: Very good at it, too. He can generate lightning extremely quickly; while both Azula and Iroh, master firebenders in their own right, require at least three motions to "charge", Ozai only needs two. Also, while Azula and Iroh shoot lighting from one hand at a time, Ozai can dual-wield his lightning. His lightning is also far larger than either of theirs and pure white symbolizing that it's hotter than theirs as well.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: To his older brother, Iroh. Ozai is more Lean and Mean while Iron is the shorter Big Fun. Iroh was a Frontline General and was just as capable at unarmed fighting as he was at firebending whereas Ozai preferred to be more in the politic theater and was overly reliant on his prodigious firebending while neglecting to master regular hand-to-hand combat.
  • Sliding Scale of Parent-Shaming in Fiction: Type IV. He burned his own son's face and banished him for three years for refusing to fight him, groomed his daughter from birth to be his minion, and conceived both of them by likely raping their mother, ultimately becoming the Big Bad of the series.
  • Smug Super: After becoming the world's most powerful firebender, Ozai acts high and mighty over his enemies and subordinates, eventually developing delusions of godhood in Season 3 finale. It's only when he confronts an enraged Aang in the Avatar State does that smugness disappear and he flees like a coward.
  • 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 anyone has him at their mercy and they 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: He doesn't seem to feel anything for anybody, even himself. Not his son, Zuko, his daughter, Azula, his brother, Iroh... he doesn't even bat an eyelid when admitting he banished his own wife as punishment for the assassination of the previous Fire Lord, which she did to protect her son! Lampshaded by Ursa:
    Ursa: After all these years, I finally see you, Ozai. You're just a small, small man trying with all your might to be big. Your heart is so small, you've no room for your son, or your daughter, or your brother... or even yourself.
  • So Proud of You: The only time he ever felt proud of Zuko is when Azula falsely told him that Zuko killed Avatar Aang in cold blood. Ironically, that's also when Zuko didn't want his father's praise since he had to betray Uncle Iroh in the process.
  • Sore Loser: In his youth, he would throw temper tantrums and burn the board and pieces whenever he loses to Iroh in a game of Pai Sho. This aspect of his personality would evolve into his motif of burning everything that dares to rebel him.
  • Spare to the Throne: He points out to Azulon that his bloodline is safe and secure, and thus should be given priority to the throne over Iroh and his now-dead lineage. Azulon refuses and takes advantage of this trope to punish Ozai by having him kill one of his two children. Too bad he chooses Zuko to be the sacrificial victim.
  • Squishy Wizard: Despite being in prime physical condition, Ozai seems to lack any real physical combat abilities (during the solar eclipse he was intimidated into keeping his distance simply by the brandishing of swords), instead preferring to use his fire-bending to fight foes from a safe distance. To be fair though he seemed ready to fight Zuko before he pulled out said swords implying that he had some means of fighting. When he loses his bending, he makes up for it by being more cunning and manipulative than usual.
  • The Starscream: Back when he was Prince Ozai to then-Fire Lord Azulon. He was highly ambitious when he was young and the Fire Lord was the highest position of power he could achieve. He had two obstacles: Azulon wasn't dying any time soon and Iroh was first in line for the throne. At first, he tried to merely supplant Iroh's position and let time do the work but when Ursa discovered that Azulon ordered Zuko's execution to punish Ozai for his insolence, Ozai used her maternal instincts to help him murder his father in exchange for Zuko's life.
  • Strike Me Down with All of Your Hatred!: He certainly wants his enemies to kill him without mercy. After Zuko turns against him for good during the Day of Black Sun, Ozai taunts him to finish him off when he's defenseless. He grows furious when Zuko wouldn't even give him that pleasure. He reacts the same way when Aang refuses to kill him despite having the power to. It's also heavily implied that Zuko's refusal to fight his father was the real reason why Ozai banished him in the first place, not the war room incident that initiated the fight.
    Ozai: Really? Since you're a full-blown traitor now and you want me gone, why wait? I'm powerless. You've got your swords. Why don't you just do it now?
  • Strong Family Resemblance:
    • Once he finally see his face, he's basically an older, unscarred Zuko, reflecting how Ozai personifies the capacity for evil within Zuko.
    • He also strongly resembles his father, Azulon.
  • Tall, Dark, and Handsome: He's essentially an older Zuko sans the horrific scarring and a calmer/sharper disposition.
  • Tautological Templar: In The Promise, Ozai reveals to Zuko that the key to being a strong Fire Lord is accepting that every action the Fire Lord takes is the correct one no matter what others say. Of course Zuko calls him out for this for obvious reasons but realizes that Ozai isn't wrong about the conflicting messages Zuko's sending out to the rest of the world.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else!: Though still a bully and childish, Ozai is also an outright monster 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.
  • Thicker Than Water: Nastily subverted. He routinely invokes this with Zuko and especially Azula but as we learn more about Ozai it quickly becomes clear that he does this to emotionally manipulate his own children into doing his bidding. The only person Ozai cares about is Ozai and his family only matters to him as long as it can help him acquire power.
  • Tough Love: He never sees his abusive tactics on Zuko to be wrong, claiming that it would teach him respect and make him stronger. Zuko calls him out on it but would later remark that Ozai was right in a way... banishment helped him see the truth regarding his father and the Fire Nation's crimes against the world.
    Ozai: It was to teach you respect!
    Zuko: It was cruel, and it was wrong!
    Ozai: Then you have learned nothing!
  • Underestimating Badassery: While capturing the Avatar would officially complete his victory in the war, Ozai stubbornly believed Aang should be easy prey considering that he's just a child, so confronting him was deemed inconsequential and nothing even his own forces can't handle. When he found out about the failed conquest of the North, he couldn't understand how Zuko and his own forces were bested by a child. After he found out the Avatar was alive during the Black Sun invasion, he was in no hurry to have him captured since the invasion failed and he’s so close to winning the war anyways. When the confrontation came, Ozai assumed defeating the Avatar with the comet would be child's play (pun NOT intended), but he ended up being wrong. To be fair though he was more than a match for Aang before the latter entered the Avatar State, especially when he realized that Aang wasn't fighting to kill.
  • The Un-Favourite: It's implied that Azulon favored Iroh over him similar to how he favors Azula over Zuko; the screw up and the prodigy.
  • The Unfettered: Whereas Aang is The Fettered due to his duties as the Avatar and loyalty to his friends, Ozai values only his goal of world domination and will gladly engulf the world in flame to achieve it.
  • The Unreveal: Invoked. Ozai is built up as a terrifying figure of 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 a normal-looking man, albeit a dangerously arrogant one with far too much power. 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.
    • Twice during Ozai's fight with Aang, the Avatar shows mercy when he had a chance at a killing shot. Ozai's response both times is to attack Aang.
  • Unseen No More: He is cloaked in shadow for the first two seasons despite frequently appearing even with a speaking role. He's finally fully revealed in the Season 3 premiere.
  • Unskilled, but Strong: Ozai is the world's strongest Firebender, but unlike the rest of his family, he doesn't have any auxiliary fighting skills to complement his bending note . Instead, he just prefers to overwhelm his opponents with incredible firepower. This comes back to bite him when Aang takes his bending away, leaving him helpless.
  • Unwanted Spouse: To Ursa. She didn't like the idea of marrying him and her true love was someone else. The Search implies this to be both ways; while Ozai clearly loved lording his power over Ursa, he also seemed disinterested in the marriage.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid:
  • The Usurper: He wasn't the Crown Prince of the Fire Nation and Fire Lord Azulon despised his attempt to steal the throne from Iroh. Then, thanks to Ursa's untraceable poison, Azulon mysteriously died in his sleep and his last wish was apparently appointing Ozai to be the new Fire Lord.
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • Though his real intentions were obvious, Ozai was correct that Lu Ten's death meant the end of Iroh's bloodline and thus Ozai's bloodline would have to inherit the throne sooner or later. Additionally, Iroh's decision to end the Siege of Ba Sing Se due to the death of his son meant that the war would be prolonged much longer than anticipated. His rationale fell on deaf ears to an ill-tempered and cruel father who favored his firstborn son over his second.
    • After his defeat and imprisonment, Zuko realizes through visiting him in prison that despite his inherent Machiavellian wickedness, his father actually has some very perceptive and genuinely useful advice on how to be an effective Fire Lord. He immediately deduces how King Kuei is going to react to the Harmony Restoration Movement (regarding the former Fire Nation colonies) and why, despite never having met the Earth King, simply because he knows the political situation - and he's proven to be completely right. Most notably, he tells Zuko that the well-being of the Fire Nation's people will always rest on his shoulders so he cannot afford to be hesitant or indecisive when standing before a tough decision, as being slow to act in a crisis leaves both him and the people exposed to threats.
  • Villainous Breakdown:
    • During "Sozin's Comet Part Four: Avatar Aang", 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.
    • In the comics, he has managed to regain composure during his time in prison and becomes a cunning and dominating Manipulative Bastard to Zuko's regime. It works for most of the prison visits until Ursa arrives, who then proclaims to Ozai she is no longer afraid of him and gives a "Reason You Suck" Speech of how he is ultimately a small man who tries with all his might to act big before saying her goodbyes. Ozai's response as Ursa leaves him forever notably shows him stuttering and eventually screaming for her to come back and beg at his feet, rendering him completely powerless in both bending and words.
  • Villainous Cheekbones: Between them and the beard, it's pretty clear he's a bad guy.
  • Villainous Valour: The guy is an utter bastard and is visibly terrified when Aang achieves the Avatar State. But even then, while he's outmatched, he doesn't try to run away or to beg and even manages to dodge Aang's attacks several minutes and to get a few attacks off.
  • Villainous Widow's Peak: A more realistic, less dramatic one than most cases.
  • 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 that mercy and compassion are for the weak, which he uses to justify all of his evil acts.
  • World's Strongest Man: All but stated to be the world's strongest Firebender and one of the most powerful Benders in general. Though, as Ozai learns firsthand, even his power is outmatched next to a fully-powered Avatar.
  • Worthy Opponent: Subverted with Aang. After Aang refuses to take his life, even after spending a prolonged amount of time pummeling him in the fully unleashed Avatar State, Ozai admits that he is the most powerful person in the world with a hint of awe in his voice. He even uses his own line from the start of the fight, “all the power in the world” to describe Aang’s capabilities, clearly having developed a grudging respect. That said, he still sees Aang as weak for not killing him.
    Ozai: Even with all the power in the world, you are still weak.
  • Would Hurt a Child: When Zuko was thirteen, Ozai torched his face off for speaking out of turn. He's also made a few attempts to murder him, though he was talked out of it the first time by his wife. He doesn't care if his greatest enemy is a twelve-year-old with so much power that potentially outclasses him, he'll stop at nothing to hunt him down.
  • You Have Failed Me: He sent Azula to capture Zuko because he failed to capture the Avatar, or rather, lost to a child who defeated his forces attempting to conquer the North Pole.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: A non-lethal, but still heartbreaking example. After learning from Zuko that Azula lied about the Avatar's demise, he steals her idea of burning the entire Earth Kingdom and assigns her the now pointless Fire Lord title while he takes all the glory by himself as the Phoenix King. This triggers a saddening Villainous Breakdown in Azula.


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Iroh narrates how Zuko got his scar from his father Ozai when Zuko spoke against sacrificing soldiers and refusing to fight his father.

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