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Princess Azula

Voiced by: Grey DeLisle (original), Yannina Quiroz (Latin American Spanish)

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/azula_render_72.png
"My own mother thought I was a monster... She was right, of course, but it still hurt."
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Zuko's younger sister and princess of the Fire Nation. As a Firebending prodigy, her father Ozai favored her over Zuko, though the two had an opposite relationship to their mother Ursa. Azula uses her position and power to torment Zuko and anyone else in her way. A skilled tactician, master manipulator, and brilliant fighter, she's easily one of the Gaang's deadliest foes. She describes herself as "a people person," but she really is only skilled in manipulating people through fear. Normal interaction eludes and bewilders her more often than not.


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  • Adaptive Ability: Not to an extent that a tactic won't work twice against her, but true to her studious nature, Azula is a quick learner on the battlefield and will likely be better prepared against her foes during different situations. Two instances in the comics are in The Search when she learns how to make her body much more flexible to work around Chi Blocking and Smoke and Shadow reveals that she too has mastered the ability to redirect lightning as well.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Azula is brutal and manipulative – and is only fourteen, with a long history of parental abuse, grooming, and learned violence-for-violence type behavior. Usually she's such a competent chessmaster that you forget to feel sorry for her, and then she spends the whole series finale going steadily crazier and crazier, with her Freudian Excuse coming to the surface as she starts hallucinating her mother being near and becomes paralyzingly desperate for her father's validation. She finally snaps after she loses to Katara, and the last shot of her in the series is her screaming and sobbing uncontrollably, with Zuko and Katara themselves looking upset that nobody ever tried to help her.
  • Aloof Big Sister: Inverted Trope. She is the younger sibling but plenty aloof. As of The Search, it's played straight to Kiyi.
  • Aloof Dark-Haired Girl: Azula is pretty, dark-haired, aloof, and imposing.
  • Alpha Bitch: Her recruitment of Mai and Ty Lee is analogous to a school clique; school friends whom she promises a good time to (for Mai) and peer pressure/threats for Ty Lee. Deconstructed, as we learn of her inner insecurities which began to take their toll, and after Mai and Ty Lee betray her, she starts to gradually lose her mind.
  • Always Someone Better: She was always superior to Zuko when they were growing up, even though he was the older sibling. Her firebending was much stronger than his and unlike him she can produce lightning. In most of their fights she overpowers him and forces him to flee. This starts to become subverted near the end of the series once Zuko becomes more self assured and learns the true nature of firebending and Azula starts losing her composure and grows increasingly insane. In "The Southern Raiders", Zuko duels her evenly for several minutes and the match ends in a draw, with both parties emerging unscathed. And in the finale when they battle in an Agni Kai for the throne her breakdown gets the better of her and Zuko stays one step ahead of her the whole fight. She is forced to cheat by trying to shoot Katara with Lightning and Zuko injures himself trying to redirect it. It's played straight once more in the post-series comics during the Smoke and Shadow trilogy where once Azula has gotten over her psychological hangups, she grows much stronger by Zuko's own admission and defeats him in a dagger-to-dagger duel towards the end of the story.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Azula seems to have some kind of antisocial disorder. She is manipulative as all get out, such a Consummate Liar that Toph can't tell when she's lying, and she's charismatic and threatening enough to control a secret police force made up entirely of elite earthbenders. However, beneath her confident and capable exterior, she shows herself to be less surefooted and more emotionally needy than a down-the-line sociopath. In "The Beach," she proves to be cringe-inducingly inept when it comes to casual social interaction, and the loss of her friends and validation from her father end up contributing to her mental unraveling. Even as a child, her mother wondered just what was wrong with her because she already demonstrated what amounts to Ambiguous Innocence at best and Troubling Unchildlike Behavior at worst. According toBryke's commentary in Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle, Azula’s antisocial behavior developed from her feeling that her mother didn't love her as much as Zuko and that while she could have turned out better, her nation's Take Over the World policy only worsened her problems. Since she is under the age of 18, she most likely has Conduct Disorder, which is treatable if caught early enough. Hopefully, Azula can still have a relatively normal life after a whole lot of therapy.
  • Ambiguous Situation: As of Smoke and Shadow, her mental state is a bit unclear. Outwardly, she's a lot more stable than she has been since Ozai dismissed her, and even Zuko thinks she seems to be getting better. But even if she's given up on killing her brother, she's still dedicated to manipulating him and hasn't managed to develop a functioning moral compass.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: She enjoys annoying Zuko by calling him "Zuzu."
  • Antagonistic Offspring: Azula's true motive for "helping" with the search for Ursa in The Search is so that she can kill her mother.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Girl: Azula is conceited and believes herself to be a firebending prodigy. That being said, she is still one of the most powerful and skilled fighters in the series.
  • Ax-Crazy: Completely psychotic towards the end, but she was never really sane to begin with. Even Iroh says she's crazy and dissuades Zuko from thinking otherwise just because she is his sister. Azula's aggressiveness was evident already in her Early-Bird Cameo in "The Storm", where she is seen smiling gleefully, one fist raised in victory, as her brother's face burns. Then it's lampshaded by the episode "Zuko Alone" and some of the comics. An elementary-aged Azula is seen burning her brother, flowers, and dolls, is mentioned as hurting animals, finds hurting her friends amusing, teases her brother about their mother's disappearance and their grandfather's death, mocks their uncle for retreating once his son dies, has no sympathy for her cousin's death, seems to find the idea of Earth Kingdom soldiers "burning to a crisp in minutes" amusing, teases her brother about their father killing him, enjoys watching her brother fail and be viciously berated by their father...the list goes on.
  • Badass Bookworm: An excellent strategist, Manipulative Bastard, and an elite Firebender child prodigy all rolled into one.
  • Badass Princess: Although a villainous example of this trope.
  • Bad Boss: One of her first moments in the series is threatening to kill the captain of her ship for refusing to sail through dangerous tides. There's the also fact that she forces Mai and Ty Lee to work for her (Which ultimately comes back to bite her when they perform a Heel–Face Turn).
  • The Baroness: Ruthless, manipulative, and possessing skills that nearly equal the Big Bad's, Azula seems to be a fairly even mix between both types of Baroness, making her one of the most complicated villains ever to appear in a children's television show.
  • Batman Gambit:
    • As a strategist, this is both her greatest ploy and her greatest weakness. So long as the pieces act according to how she wants them to (through coercion or intimidation), she can topple a city in less than 48 hours. Just watch her actions in Ba Sing Se for proof; she played the Dai Li like fiddles. They could have betrayed her but by then they were too into her mind games.
    • She lethally wounded the Avatar but gave the credit to Zuko just in case Aang was Only Mostly Dead. She knew this would work because Zuko's task was doing just that and he wouldn't refuse the credit. It backfires on her when Zuko does disclaim the credit and is the one to reveal to their father that the Avatar is most likely still alive. The very next time we see Azula and Ozai together, Ozai is distancing himself from her.
    • If the pieces however, decide to uphold their personal beliefs and standards like Mai and Ty Lee did, Azula has to be ready on the fly with another plan or else she finds herself in some huge trouble.
  • Beauty, Brains, and Brawn: The Brains to Ty Lee's Beauty and Mai's Brawn, being the leader of the group, a Firebending prodigy, and an excellent tactician and strategist.
  • Beauty Is Bad: She's beautiful, regal, and vicious.
  • Beneath the Mask: Azula pretends to be cold and uncaring like her father was to mask the pain of being shunned by her mother. Come the final episode, Azula reveals herself as a very lonely child looking to be loved and and have friends she can trust. When she watches Katara revive Zuko, she once again gets to see he get the one thing she feels she never can have, and fully breaks.
  • Berserk Button:
    • In the main series, what really sets her off is the implication that she's less than perfect. In a related note, try not to say that Zuko's better than her.
    • In The Search, her mother's very existence is another one for her.
    • Tying The Search with her issues in the animated series; the concept of "monsters" will cut her to the bone. Even when she first brought it up, she despised being thought of one despite trying to play it off. Since then, she really hates to be seen as a monster. Heartbreakingly, Azula herself is the one pressing this button.
      Azula: TELL ME, MOTHER! DID YOU HAVE TO HAVE A NEW DAUGHTER WHEN THE LAST ONE TURNED OUT TO BE SUCH A MONSTER?!
  • Big Bad: In Smoke and Shadow, when she is revealed to be the mastermind behind the fake Kemurikage, the New Ozai Society, and the child kidnappings.
  • Big Bad Ensemble: Very briefly shares the role of main antagonist with Long Feng in Book Two, though she quickly overshadows him. And in any case, she's just The Heavy to Ozai.
  • Big Ego, Hidden Depths: Azula is haughty, cruel and outright violent. However, it is due of being a Child Prodigy whose early-staged sociopathy was encouraged by her abusive and manipulative father, who only thought of her as his own personal weapon. Even as a child, her mother's favoritism of Zuko and the fact she thought she was a monster (according to Azula), shows that she's a fragile and deeply insecure girl deep down, and all of her actions are due to her trying make her father proud and get the love she lacked from her mother. When he betrays her in the finale, she undergoes a saddening Villainous Breakdown.
  • Big Sister Bully: Inverted. She is the little sister who sadistically and psychologically bullies her more kindhearted big brother.
  • Bitch Alert: Her first full episode at the beginning of Book Two revels in her malicious, delicious, world-class bitchiness. Her introduction has her threaten to harm or kill the captain of her ship and her "friend" Ty Lee, all while dripping poisoned honey from her lips. One wonders if perhaps 'Azula' translates to 'Bitch Alert'...
  • Blatant Lies: During "The Headband", Azula travels up the side of a mountain to where Zuko and Mai are having a little snuggle time to tell Mai Ty Lee is having trouble untangling her braids. Yeah. Mai is aware of how blatant the lie is, given she shoots Azula a Death Glare as she's leaving, she just doesn't call it.
  • Bound and Gagged: Not gagged, but she is literally defeated by being tied up.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: Even as a child, Azula was known to be cruel, manipulative, and downright disturbing.
  • Break the Haughty: She suffers a rather magnificent (read "psychotic") break. In the finale episode, Ozai names her Fire Lord like she wanted- but then crowns himself Phoenix King, basically making her a puppet ruler. She begins losing her mind, seeing visions of her Missing Mom, chopping off hanks of her hair, banishing almost all of her servants at random, and eventually challenges Zuko to Agni Kai, a firebending duel. She loses (eventually being defeated and captured by Katara), snaps completely, and it is later revealed that she is now in an asylum.
  • Broken Ace: Though she doesn't really bother with the good publicity part of Villain with Good Publicity, she still fits. She's a beautiful, extraordinarily talented and extremely intelligent, even if she is Daddy's Little Villain, but most of her exterior aloofness and obsession with power stems from being desperate to ignore how Ax-Crazy she is thanks to her thinking/knowing that her mother didn't love her, at least not as much as she loved Zuko. She has some serious issues with perfectionism, thanks to her desperation to win her father's favor and get attention from at least one of her parents. Same inside, same overcompensation, different shell. In The Search, she starts hallucinating visions of her mother regularly, and her only goal at this point (and the reason she went along with Zuko in the first place) is to find and kill Ursa. By the end of Part 3, she might potentially be on the road to recovery. She had an easy chance to kill Ursa (who didn't know she was Ursa at the time...It Makes Sense in Context) but Zuko was able to talk her down and she left on her own accord. Now, if she finds out what Ursa actually did to lead them to that point...she might snap again, potentially justified in doing so.
  • Broken Bird: Her Villainous Breakdown demonstrates that she's been broken for a while, but tried to hold it back until a significant enough strike: Mai and Ty Lee's betrayal, compounded by her father's decision to leave her behind while he exacts her plan.
  • Broken Tears: She does this at the end of her Villainous Breakdown, spitting blue fire and thrashing around in the chains Katara put her in, before breaking down into sobbing, desperate tears. Katara and Zuko can barely watch.
  • Brought Down to Badass: Similar to her brother and uncle, bending or no-bending, she is fearsome fighter.
  • Cain and Abel: The Cain To Zuko's Abel because of her Ax-Crazy. This is highlighted after his Heel–Face Turn. On one of the occasions where she outright attempts to kill him, she shouts, "I'm about to celebrate becoming an only child!"
  • The Caligula: Already unstable following the betrayal of Mai and Ty Lee at the Boiling Rock, she falls quickly into paranoia and fits of rage after Ozai promotes her to Fire Lord, banishing servants and guardsmen from the country in droves and hallucinating about her Missing Mom, Princess Ursa. It doesn't help that Ozai made himself the Phoenix King when he crowned her, effectively making her position as Fire Lord meaningless. So while she would rule the Fire Nation, Ozai would rule the world.
  • Cerebus Retcon: In "The Beach", Azula fails in spectacular ways to socialize normally like other kids. However, the defection of Zuko and the betrayal of Mai and Ty Lee is a massive blow to her beliefs and philosophies she was trained into believing in despite the normal ways she "converses" through fear and manipulation, which begins her Sanity Slippage into a Villainous Breakdown. Suddenly, you look back at this episode and realize that her inability to socialize messed her up far heavier than implied.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In the flashback showing how Zuko got his scar, she can be seen in the crowd near Iroh and Zhao looking disturbingly pleased. Also, during Katara's opening narration, Azula is the firebender.
  • The Chessmaster: At only 14 years old, she comes up with a plan that, within 48 hours, successfully conquers a city that had remained standing for a century.
  • Child by Rape: Like Zuko, Azula is almost certainly the result of their father's Marital Rape License, due to Ozai's Domestic Abuse habits and Control Freak behavior.
  • Childhood Friends: With Mai and Ty Lee. They pulled pranks in a flashback and there's a casual line about finishing school.
  • Child Prodigy: A firebending master and tactical genius before she was a teenager. Her father brags that she is this to her grandfather. She later becomes a Teen Genius.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Every time Azula forms an alliance with someone, she betrays them. She did this to Long Feng, then later, Team Avatar.
  • Color Motifs: Blue - her uniquely-colored flames represent her prodigious power note  and her cold, calculating personality. Her name is also derived from "Azul," the Spanish word for "Blue."
  • Combat Aestheticist: To Azula, warfare is just another form of art for her to study, and perfect.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Has no qualms about blasting someone in mid-transformation sequence.
  • The Comically Serious: In The Beach where she brings the same intensity to a volleyball game as combat.
  • Compressed Hair: Looking at the picture on this page, you'd assume reasonably short hair. Once that topknot comes undone, she has hair stemming to her waist. One would think she compresses the rest in her armor, but she doesn't!
  • Conspiracy Theorist: In The Search, she's only (barely) able to function after her Villainous Breakdown in the series finale by blaming everything wrong with her life on an imaginary conspiracy orchestrated by her mother Ursa. This easily goes past Insane Troll Logic as she clearly assumes that everyone is answering to Ursa.
  • Consummate Liar: She lies to everyone about everything and is good enough to say she's "a four-hundred foot tall purple platypus bear with pink horns and silver wings" and be immune to Toph's Living Lie Detector abilities. The most spectacular is when she managed to infiltrate Ba Sing Se and conquer the city in a few days (something which the Fire Nation had been trying and failing to do for 100 years) using nothing but lies and manipulations. Unfortunately, she couldn't successfully lie to herself, which resulted in her Villainous Breakdown.
  • Control Freak: Basically, she sees the world as a game and the people around her as the pieces in it; she manipulates them and she expect them to behave accordingly. Ultimately, her biggest weakness is that she can't handle not being in control of everything. When Mai and Ty Lee, the people she thought she had the most control over, turn against her, the shell cracks off the nut, and her until then relatively subdued madness comes to the forefront and turns into full-blown paranoia, leading her to banish, well, everyone around her for imagined slights and plots against her. Finally, when there's no one around for her to control, she loses it and enters her Villainous Breakdown.
  • The Corrupter: She uses her manipulation to pull Zuko away from his Heel–Face Turn despite Iroh's attempts to pull him the other way.
  • Creepy Child: A 9-year-old Azula in a flashback episode displays these traits, doing things such as burning a doll (a gift from her uncle), mocking her uncle's sorrow about his son's death, and hoping for his death as well as her grandfather's so her father can get on the throne. Her mother speaks for everyone when she wonders "What is wrong with that child?" Creepier than all of that together is her display of love for her brother:
    Azula: (singsong voice) Dad's gonna kill you! (normal voice) Really, he is…
  • The Creon: She expresses a desire to be this to Zuko in Smoke and Shadow, leading him to where advisors to previous Fire Lords are entombed to finish their discussion and fight. She's decided that it is Zuko's destiny to be Fire Lord, and her destiny is to be his number two, and help shape him into the Fire Lord she wanted to be.
  • Crying Wolf: When she was about 8 year old, she warned Zuko that Ozai is going to kill him. Zuko refused to believe her because she "always lies", but finds out in "The Day of Black Sun, Part 2: The Eclipse" that she wasn't lying about it; Ozai was going to kill Zuko to get the throne. Later still, he finds out their mother intervened and killed her father-in-law with an undetectable poison.
  • Daddy's Girl: Favored by her father. For her abilities and talent; nothing more. When Azula realized this near the end of the series, she was devastated.
  • Daddy's Little Villain: She's Ozai's daughter, almost as cruel as him and looking forward to taking his title for herself.
  • Dangerously Short Skirt: In the Beach Episode, but the only "fighting" she ever does is playing volleyball. "WE HAVE DEFEATED YOU FOR ALL TIME!"
  • Dark Action Girl: She's a powerful, brutal, and vicious fighter.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Azula has severe Mommy Issues and was raised by her abusive father to be a Tyke-Bomb.
  • Day of the Jackboot: Attempts to invoke this in Smoke and Shadow where her actions are intended to make Zuko into the Fire Lord she always wanted to be, ruling through fear and intimidation rather than peace.
  • Dead Guy Junior: She's named after her paternal grandfather, Fire Lord Azulon.
  • Deadpan Snarker: It's something she's fond of doing, which may be because of just how emotionally detached she typically is. Still has this attitude in The Search whenever she's in a more sedated state of mind.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: Azula deconstructs The Sociopath, Faux Affably Evil, and Card-Carrying Villain. In "The Beach" where she honestly tries not to be evil, the normally super-competent Azula's utterly clueless how to act and drives away a guy she was interested in when she lapses into her normal personality. It's Played for Laughs then, but it later revealed she has serious issues with being viewed as such but embraced it because she knew of no other way to get approval. Once that stops working and alienates everyone she cares about, she's too far gone to change, gradually breaks, and end up one of the most tragic characters in the series.
  • Declaration of Personal Independence: Inverted. Tying with her narcissism is that Azula is very proud of herself and her capabilities. A part of the reason that she attaches to Ozai so much is that she wants to feel validated and appreciated for all she can do. Played Straight after the war. She made it clear to Zuko she cares very little for causes, even her own father’s.
  • Deliberately Cute Child: When she was about 8 year old, she'd put on an angelic smile, contrasting with her Troubling Unchildlike Behavior such as burning a doll her uncle sent her as a gift and cheerfully telling her brother in a sing-song voice that their father was going to kill him.
  • Determinator: While she lacks her brother's singleminded devotion to his goals, her focus and determination in combat are undeniable. Her focus is so intense that she can lightningbend, a technique that requires clarity of mind, in the middle of a mental breakdown.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: At the end of Book 2, while Aang is rising into the air in the Avatar State after finally unlocking the final chakra, she shot down Aang with a bolt of lightning straight to the back, which nearly killed him (dying in the Avatar State would break the cycle of reincarnation).
  • Didn't See That Coming: Azula "miscalculated" one thing, possibly in her life: Mai's loyalty to Zuko.
  • Didn't Think This Through: Azula, for all her intellect, never rubs two brain cells together and wonders why treading the path of the "monster" means she can't have any friends with her or that anybody would respect her for it. Unlike her brother, she never introspects on this, and it begins to create an inescapable conflict in her mind, which leads to her breakdown by series' end.
  • The Dragon: To Ozai as his favoured child and heir, not to mention that she very much takes over after Zhao is gone.
  • Dragon Ascendant: To some extent in The Search, when her father is imprisoned and she becomes the main antagonist of the story. Fully achieved in Smoke and Shadow. She’s completely struck out on her own, isn’t looking for daddy’s approval anymore and doesn’t even plan to release him from jail.
  • Dragon Lady: She's less ethnically offensive than many other Dragon Ladies, as everyone in the series is a fantasy Asian or Inuit, and there are plenty of other Asian-esque women and girls who aren't Dragon Ladies.
  • The Dreaded: Being a Machiavellian-style tactical genius, she deliberately goes out of her way to solidify this image of herself, believing in manipulation through fear and might. For much of the series, it works spectacularly, with even her Uncle Iroh showing fear at the idea of being in her clutches, and leading to her turning an entire Government Conspiracy group against their leader through sheer intimidation and force of personality alone. Unfortunately for her, it stops working when Mai's love for Zuko, and Ty Lee's friendship with Mai, become stronger than their fear of her.
    Zuko: If the Earth Kingdom discovers us, they'll have us killed.
    Iroh: But if the Fire Nation discovers us, we'll be turned over to Azula.
    [Beat]
    Zuko: Earth Kingdom it is.
  • Driven by Envy: Bryan has stated that her jealousy for Zuko, as well as her repressed emotions, drove her to become evil.
  • Dude, Where's My Respect?: Her Villainous Breakdown was partly brought about by Azula receiving this from her father. "You can't treat me like this. You can't treat me like Zuko!"
  • Early-Bird Cameo: Twice:
    • She is the firebender that appears in the opening sequence.
    • In "The Storm", during the flashback scene depicting Zuko's confrontation with his father, a young Azula stands near Iroh. Her identity isn't revealed until the season finale eight episodes later, but her sadism is already apparent as she watches her brother get abused and banished.
  • Enemy Within: Downplayed: The Search was more prominent of this trope; but the comics and later adventures involving Azula show the Gaang less at war with Azula personally (though Sokka doesn't trust her one bit) and more of dealing with whatever scheme/plan her half-insane brain came up with. To Zuko, this is his greatest opponent before he can truly reconnect with Azula. Until he can ease her pain and she can get help for her mental health issues; any attempt he makes to better their relationship will be undone by her paranoia.
  • Enfant Terrible: When she was about 8 year old, she skillfully combined an angelic smile with Troubling Unchildlike Behavior (read: smirking at her grandfather's funeral and telling her brother that their father is going to kill him, the latter of which was sadly true).
    Azula: My own mother thought I was a monster. She was right, of course, but it still hurt.
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil: During her coup of Ba Sing Se, Azula gets a chance to command the Dai Li and despite the fact that they are earthbenders, she loves their killer instinct, which she describes as "so firebender," and gladly steals control of them from Long Feng completely and retains her command over them well through Book 3.
  • Establishing Character Moment: Three of them. Firstly in the backstory sequence in "The Storm", before the audience knows her identity, when she is seen reacting with sadistic glee when her father burns her brother's face. Secondly, her first scene with dialogue, in "The Avatar State", where she threatens to invoke You Have Failed Me on her ship's captain just because he wanted to wait for favourable tides before entering harbour. Thirdly, her firebending practice scene, wherein she successfully performs lightning-bending, being one of only three people who can do so, almost perfectly, with just one hair out of place. Azula gets angry and says that "almost perfect isn't good enough!" Later, when she had her first really big failure (Mai and Ty Lee's betrayal), she totally loses it, and her Villainous Breakdown is characterized by an Important Haircut and her hair becoming messy.
  • Et Tu, Brute?: In "The Boiling Rock: Part 2", her spiral down into complete insanity starts when Mai and Ty Lee betray her. Then "Sozin's Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King" has Ozai, the last person she trusts, essentially abandoning her so he can achieve world domination alone. Her breakdown complete, she no longer cares about anyone or anything and simply does as she wishes.
  • Even Bad Women Love Their Mamas: A very twisted example of this trope. A prominent Magnificent Bastard has a Villainous Breakdown in the Grand Finale, hallucinating a vision of her Missing Mom. Mommy issues are exposed, leading to a Villainous Breakdown.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
    • She's just as much as a "Well Done, Daughter!" Girl as Zuko. She also might genuinely love Ty Lee and Mai, though her feelings are twisted due to Ozai's teachings. There's also the situation with her mother; it's possible that she seeks her love but between the constant neglect by Ursa (from her perspective, though we learn in The Search why Azula couldn't be doted on like Zuko) and the notion that Azula realizes her own cruelty streak, she simply doesn't understand how Ursa can love someone like her, or anyone for that matter. Azula has no problems when being feared, even by subordinates. But, when she feels that fear towards her turn to raw hate (doubly so by friends and family), she expresses concern that she's the problem and tries to convince herself that it's not the case. Thankfully; Zuko does state in The Search that no matter how bad and messed up their family is, he'll never turn his back on her.
    • Aaron Ehasz says that Azula truly does love Zuko, possibly more than she does anyone else in the series, save Ozai (not that we ever see it); but it's also matched with an intense jealousy of Zuko because he got their mother's attention.
    • This very trope highlights the ultimate difference between Ozai and Azula: Azula thinks she can be like her father and emulates him, his cruelty, and his philosophies...but never realizes why his ideas work for him and not her. Ozai's mentality only works because he has no friends, no love for his family at all (not even Azula) and thus, no problems eradicating people at the blink of an eye or dealing with a traitor in his ranks. Betrayal means nothing but a swift death for the traitor. Azula, on the other hand, cannot stomach betrayal at all and becomes unhinged quickly at being betrayed by anyone. In turn, this leads her to a life of paranoia, constantly thinking there's a knife to her back or an arrow aimed at her head. Azula's (admittedly twisted) love for her brother and (at the time) trust in her friends makes her a complete contradiction to what she professed she wants.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Quickly recants her statement when she makes Ty Lee cry. But then, given that it's Azula, it might just be an act.
    • While Azula is as ruthless as her father and a self-styled monster, she's never killed her subordinates in the series. In fact, even at her craziest, she simply banishes instead of killing.
    • She also doesn't kill those who she has beaten and captured, sparing the lives of the Kyoshi warriors and of Katara after Ty Lee chi-blocked her in the Earth King's palace. In addition, aside from her shooting Aang with lightning while he was entering the Avatar state, her coup in Ba Sing Se was bloodless with no military or civilian casualty.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: This is one of Azula's Fatal Flaws:
    • Being the resident "people person" and chessmaster, she finds herself completely bewildered when her sidekick, Mai, risks her life to help the Turncoat Zuko escape The Alcatraz. This moment of her inability to comprehend that love can trump self-preservation and loyalty born of intimidation has limits, flying in the face of her philosophy that "fear is the only reliable way" to control people, is actually the first step down the road towards her epic Villainous Breakdown. However, she's at least able to learn from this mistake and apply it to her strategy in the Grand Finale (while she was in the middle of said breakdown no less).
      Azula: The thing I don't understand is why. Why would you do it? You know the consequences.
      Mai: I guess you just don't know people as well as you think you do. You miscalculated. I love Zuko more than I fear you.
      Azula: No, you miscalculated! You should have feared me more!
    • In "The Beach", Mai, Ty Lee, Zuko, and Azula all take turns confessing their problems and helping each other talk through their issues. When it's over, Zuko and Mai have reconciled over an argument they had and Ty Lee feels cleansed. Azula compliments them on their great "acting", treating the entire thing like it was a show. It's obvious she's using sarcasm as a defense mechanism.
    • The comics have this continue for her. In The Search, Azula can't fathom why her mother would want her because of her long-standing cruel streak. Smoke and Shadow plays with this differently in that she thinks like she did in the old ways, that of fear and terror being the only way to rule; yet hasn't pursued revenge against the friends that betrayed her or her brother who claimed the throne (going as far to say she supports him...in her own twisted way of support).
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • There are numerous parallels between Katara and Azula: roughly the same age, they are both the daughters of leaders with leadership skills of their own, both powerful and talented prodigies with their elements, both at least occasionally overbearing control freaks and possessed of a dangerous temper when provoked. On opposite lines of the Red Oni, Blue Oni divide they may be, but taking into account their fathers' personalities/influences they are far more alike than one may think.
    • Azula also serves as an Evil Counterpart to both Zuko and Iroh. As Zuko's, she shows what he could have been if he really did have everything he thinks that he wants (plus the ruthless, strategic way she manipulates people). As Iroh's, she tries to steer Zuko down the wrong path rather than the right one. This is lampshaded in a dream sequence Zuko has, in which he is being consulted by a red dragon and a blue dragon on which path to take in life, good or evil. The red dragon, who advocates good, has Iroh's voice, while the blue, who advocates evil, has Azula's. This situation comes true in Season Two's finale, in which Zuko chooses Azula's way, only to regret it.
  • Evil Has a Bad Sense of Humor: Usually the jokes she makes at Zuko's expense.
  • Eviler Than Thou: She says as much to Long Feng. All in all, she seems to have been a more humane ruler, which is saying something.
  • Evil Is Burning Hot: Sympathetic traits aside, she's second only to her father in terms of being the most evil villain on the show, and she's a master Firebender to boot.
  • Evil Is Hammy:
  • Evil Niece: To Uncle Iroh. While he's her brother's Morality Pet, Azula dismisses his existence and sees him as a shame and failure to the Fire Nation, and is dead set on capturing him or killing him when she has the chance.
  • The Evil Princess: Since being given the throne by her father and losing an agni kai for the throne did not fare well for her, Azula plots to kill her mother and incriminate Zuko as illegitimate to take the throne.
  • Exhausted Eye Bags: In the second to last episode, when she's banishing people left and right, she's rocking a pair of these. In the comics, these appear with her wide eyes and shrunken irises to indicate the "lunatic" part of her personality is emerging.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: This happens to Azula in season 3, the haircut is self-inflicted, and it gets worse with a disheveling during her climactic battle.
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    F-K 
  • Face of an Angel, Mind of a Demon: She gets it from her father.
  • Fallen Princess: She started out as a beautiful and talented princess who drove herself to become the most perfect daughter that an Evil Overlord could wish for. She was the Alpha Bitch of a Girl Posse who basically served as her Quirky Miniboss Squad; together, they were capable of conquering an enemy city that had eluded the Fire Nation's best generals, including her own uncle, thanks to her brilliant strategic mind. Yet, she had No Social Skills, so she literally could not act normally around anyone, not even her family or her friends. In the end, even the Girl Posse did not want to be around her, and she went into a tragic and terrifying downward spiral that left her institutionalized in a mental asylum, straitjacket and all. Unlike other examples, she averts the point of the trope. She doesn't try to bond with Team Avatar and constantly seeks her own goals and ambitions and still carries herself around with a haughty attitude.
  • Fatal Flaw: Her belief that people can be controlled through fear alone proved to be a mistake, as did her trust in the few people whose approval she seemed to want. Her mother was worried about her, which she perceived as not loving her while Ty Lee and Mai only feared her, and turn on her when she threatens those they care about. Finally, her father only considered her a tool, which was the last straw in setting off her Villainous Breakdown. The weaker her sanity is, the less grasp she has on firebending basics in the interest of going for the kill. The final Agni Kai was the perfect example of this. When squaring off against Zuko, she went full out on offensive while Zuko stuck to the basics and regulated his breathing. As a consequence, Azula was near exhausted and low on power because she was gasping for Air while Zuko had plenty more to give.
    • Azula gives 100% to each and every aspect of her life. All the time. This ends up making her normal or relatively positive traits to take on a more sinister outcome. Take her Control Freak nature. While everybody likes to have some control in their lives, Azula takes it too far and ends up trying to maintain her control through controlling and manipulating others; which ends up making her hard to deal with.
  • Faux Affably Evil: She is perfectly capable of acting polite as a manipulation tactic, with the keyword being "acting", giving a far more sinister edge to almost everything she says. This actually is shown off as both an advantage and a crippling flaw, as outside of situations where she needs to play her opponents like puppets, she is utterly clueless as to how to act.
  • Femme Fatalons: She has long fingernails, though she later cuts them. She also uses the slashing motion in combat in her first episode, giving Zuko three nice straight scars.
  • Fiery Stoic: Azula, who is also a firebender, is a subversion. Unlike Zuko (who is more emotional), she initially appears calm and methodical, but later becomes more unstable and temperamental following her Sanity Slippage.
  • The Fighting Narcissist: One of the most dangerous firebenders alive, and she openly admits she loves being worshiped.
  • Foil:
    • Upon her introduction, she's one for Zuko because she embodies what he wishes he could be: a masterfully skilled Firebender who has their father's approval. Come the end of Season 3, the siblings still mirror each other, but in different ways than before. Zuko decides to let go of seeking his father's approval, rejects the Fire Nation's Take Over the World policy, and finds new friends by joining Team Avatar. As a result, he becomes a much more mentally-healthy individual and a more powerful firebender to boot. Azula, on the other hand, continues to embrace her drives, only for her posse to finally get fed up with and abandon her, while her father all but discards her in spite of her loyalty to him. As a result, she goes utterly insane, representing what Zuko would've become if he didn't have Iroh to guide or trust in him.
    • She's also one to Katara: they're both 14-year old bending prodigies who lost their mothers at a young age, but the different environments in which they were raised put them on very different paths. Their relationships with their families highlight this note , as does their final battle in the series being against each other.
  • For the Evulz: She just enjoys messing with people and especially Zuko. If she can do something, she'll go the extra mile to screw with somebody while doing it.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Choleric.
  • Fragile Speedster: She seems to fall under this as well. She's usually too quick for Team Avatar, but on the few occasions they manage to land a blow, she gets knocked back pretty hard.
  • Freudian Excuse: Dear god, Azula's upbringing could've been the centerpiece of many a behavioral psychiatrist's carriers.
    • A sincere belief her mother never loved her and considered her a monster, combined with a father who was a psychotic, manipulative, emotionally abusive monster who encouraged her to be a monster so she'd be more useful to him that way. In the end, she's shown to be deeply insecure about anyone loving her. Bryan also has stated that growing up in a royal family of a nation seeking to Take Over the World worsened her problems.
    • Her parents' abusive relationship also didn't help. As a child, Azula showed that she inherited some of Ozai's sadistic tendencies early, which made her a favorite in Ozai's eyes, whereas Ursa tried to discipline her for those same tendencies. This left her with the constant pull and push of one parent who tried to make her more sadistic and one parent who had a functioning moral compass. This more or less led to her having a desire for positive relationships while also having no idea how to accomplish that.
  • Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: In a strange variation, Azula herself appears to invoke this trope on herself, as evidenced by her page quote.
  • The Friend Nobody Likes: It becomes clear that neither Mai or Ty Lee actually like Azula all that much, but simply follow her out of fear. However, it turns out both of them have principles that outweigh their fear of Azula, causing them both to turn on her. Which for Azula... hurt her harder than she really thought it would have.
  • The Gadfly: Whenever her ploys aren't steeped in fear; she's this. Azula loves to break balls.
  • Gamer Chick: Yes, really.
    Azula: A princess has to lay a firm iron fist upon her subjects, after all.
  • The Gift: The primary reason she was favored by her father so much. Azula’s gift with firebending was evident in her earliest childhood, to the point of completing advanced forms by the time she was eight, mastering the element itself before she was a teenager, and perfecting lightning by the time she was fourteen. She also developed blue fire at some point in her childhood — marking the only other instance of colored fire in the history of firebenders, barring her older brother Zuko, who would briefly produce colorful fire in order to rescue his mother and half-sister Kiyi, and the dragons themselves.
  • God Save Us from the Queen!: Played straight during her short reign as Fire Lord. Justified by her being in the middle of a Villainous Breakdown, but it's not like she was a nice person to begin with either. She was the fourth in a Big, Screwed-Up Family, and her (male) predecessors were all evil too.
  • Go-Getter Girl: She is a good example of why this is a bad thing to be if you grow up in an environment that fosters inhumanity, cut-throat competition, and sheer unbridled ruthlessness. Not only does meeting people's expectations in this case mean being an abominable human being, but the need to throw friendship, love, and morality itself aside in the name of obedience and ambition is enough to cause mental instability at the first hint of a true setback.
  • Grapes of Luxury: During the Grand Finale, she gives this a try while initially enjoying her new power but it soon becomes apparent that she has been brought up to conquer, not to rule...
  • Green-Eyed Monster:
    • In the "Beach" episode, she admits that she's jealous of Ty Lee's ability to naturally attract guys. Considering that she has No Social Skills (or at least no POSITIVE ones), it's understandable why she has a hard time getting guys to warm up to her.
    • It's never said because she won't admit it, but Word of God said that she's also very jealous of Zuko. Makes sense when you think about it. Azula may have had her father's attention, but Zuko got what mattered in life compared to her. Zuko got their mother's love (The Search reveals exactly why she couldn't dote on Azula more though), Iroh's love (this one she doesn't care about much), Mai's love and trust, and friends that would watch his back like family would. Then; The one thing she thought she had, her father's love, was proven false when Ozai essentially kicked her back to the Fire Nation when he went on his plan. With everything she lost, the only thing she had left was her Fire Lord title, then Zuko shows up with Katara and takes that too. Azula worked hard for what she wanted, but it still didn't matter because Zuko managed to get and take everything from her.
  • Guest Fighter: She was added to Smite in 2021 as a skin for Pele.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: It doesn't take much to set her off, especially during her Villainous Breakdown.
  • Hallucinations: She hallucinates that her mother is talking to her just before the final Agni Kai. As this analysis points out, what the hallucinations tell her are inconsistent. In the series, Ursa tells Azula that she feels confused about using fear to control people (that Azula shows guilt about) and doesn't talk or mentioned anything about the throne at all. In the comics, she only tells Azula day and night that the throne is Zuko’s and she should just move on. By Smoke and Shadow, the hallucinations stopped by her accord when she adopted her new plan and focus.
  • Hard Head: Getting hit in the head by Sokka's boomerange in The Search only staggers her for a moment. She is so unaffected by it that she doesn't even glance his way after it happens.
  • Harmful to Minors: She was only eleven when she witnessed Zuko suffering torture at their father's hands.
  • Hazy Feel Turn: She lately has turned to fancy herself as a sort of adviser to Zuko; by which she means to turn Zuko into a ruler that will rule with Fear. Zuko easily brushes off her attempts. While she is still working towards negative ends, we can however see that her "rule through fear" mentality is more of years of damage and teaching through her father (which in Real Life takes YEARS of therapy to undo); and for what it's worth, Azula has regained some degree of sanity and has even begun to care for her half-sister. She's not going to be what she was when we first saw her and she's certainly not all there in the head yet, but for now she's improving herself.
  • The Heavy: In Book 2 and most of Book 3, she drives most of the plot with her actions, though Ozai's still the Big Bad since it's his directions.
  • Heel–Face Turn: She begins one at the end of The Search due to Zuko's brotherly love for her: giving up her goal of killing her mother or taking the throne from him and instead runs off to find a new objective in life...or has she?
  • Hero Killer: While he got better, Azula still killed Avatar Aang. Not leaving him for dead like Sozin did, but directly killing him. This made her, for a time, the one who completely exterminated the Air Nomads.
  • Hero with an F in Good: She is the prime antagonist of Smoke and Shadow. She orchestrates a plot to kidnap a bunch of children around the fire nation and later reveals herself to be a central figure of the New Ozai rebellion...so she can make Zuko a more decisive Fire Lord and to drain the finances of the revolution group. The fact that her plan needed massive child abduction and treason mixed with Azula's revealed motives can paint this. Ultimately a really extreme case of "Girl's heart is somewhat in the right place, but god only knows where the brain is."
  • Hidden Buxom: Displayed in the rather sharp contrast between her usual Fire Nation uniform, and her more revealing beach attire seen only in one episode.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • She's acting like an emotionless, detached villain all through the series up til the very end, then the pressure of being crowned Fire Lord gets to her. She finally shows some character depth during "The Beach" and eventually starts undergoing a Villainous Breakdown near the end when she realizes she doesn't have as much control as she thought, which was her way of covering for her emotional insecurities and previous assertion that she did want her mother's love but didn't feel she deserved it.
    • Though the martial arts should be a giveaway and it's Played for Laughs in the volleyball game; Azula's exceptionally gifted in sports as well.
    • The context of the hallucinations combined with how badly she takes betrayal such as Mai and Ty Lee's, or when she thought Zuko was angry with her at the beach could heavily imply that despite her tough exterior, Azula may be harboring some massive guilt and remorse about how she acted in the past; but her ego and pride won't allow her to ever apologize for it.
  • His Own Worst Enemy: Why can't therapy work on Azula? She truly cannot believe, understand or fathom why anybody could love her or stand her despite her cruel streak. Even when told otherwise, her psychosis will not let her believe in it or accept any help from anybody.
  • Humiliation Conga: Her mind was slowly broken over the course of a series of betrayals. First her brother, then her two closest "friends", and then finally her father's seeming ostracism. Indeed, the second betrayal was the worst, as Mai absolutely crushed her entire worldview with a single sentence: "I love Zuko more than I fear you". At last, when she had struck down her brother in a climactic duel, when she finally had the chance to punish her brother and restore some shred of order to her now chaotic world, she was defeated and humiliated. And who defeated one of the greatest Firebenders? Not a seasoned master of a bending art, who had studied for decades. Not by the Avatar himself. Not by a 12-year-old "Greatest Earthbender in the World." Not even by her own brother, whom she'd just struck down by cheating. But by a Southern Water Tribe peasant, who not a year earlier could barely bend a puddle of water. On the day of Sozin's Comet no less, when her firebending was magnified a hundred fold. In the end, she was hogtied to a grating with chains, soaking wet and left to flail around impotently.
  • Hypercompetent Sidekick: Zigzagged in regards to her and Ozai.
    • Azula is far more active than him and has more field experience as a result. She can consistently assess her own ability to handle a situation and act accordingly, whereas Ozai's overconfidence in his bending pushed him to fight the Avatar by himself and to use lightning even though he should have been able to infer Aang could redirect it, which would have gotten him killed if it wasn't for Aang's values. Azula, on the other hand, fought him with several allies and waited for an opening to try and strike him with lightning effectively killing him and the Avatar's spirit itself if Katara hadn't been able to heal him. Azula is also not entirely dependent on her Firebending to kick ass, whereas Ozai is.
    • On the other hand, Ozai's Firebending is repeatedly shown to be significantly stronger than hers (due to experience) and while Azula may be a more competent field operative, the Grand Finale shows she isn't nearly as qualified to be an Evil Overlord compared to her father.
  • I Am a Monster: During "The Beach", she wistfully admits that her own mother thought that she was a monster before quickly perking up and saying that "She was right, of course, but it still hurt." While this is at first played off as a Card-Carrying Villain-esque joke, it later turns out that Fire Lord Ozai's upbringing has basically turned her into a mental and emotional wreck of insecurities and self-loathing. Furthermore, the abuse left her broken after Zuko and Katara defeated her to the point where in The Search, she self-identifies as a monster because she falsely believes that's what her mother saw her as. Also worth noting is that unlike other examples on this page, when she identifies herself as a monster, she's gone and pressed her own Berserk Button. Nobody else in the universe thinks of her as an outright monster.
  • I Am What I Am: The Quote at the top about her acceptance that she is a "monster". In-Universe it's discussed.
  • I Control My Minions Through...: She has several:
    • She made a point that she uses fear to maintain loyalty in both her minions and her friends Mai and Ty Lee. This eventually leads to Mai abandoning her to protect Zuko out of love, and Ty Lee following suit to protect Mai. The realization that her friends didn't actually trust her and ultimately abandoned her is one of the factors that lead to her ultimate Villainous Breakdown.
    • She's the daughter of the Fire Lord (and fighting his war with his armies), who, in turn, has an Utopia Justifies the Means philosophy he may or may not really believe himself, and the Fire Nation propaganda is indoctrinated into the citizens early on.
      Azula: (to her Elite Mooks) If I sense any disloyalty, any hesitation, any weakness at all, I will snuff it out.
      Azula: (to a hallucination of her mother) Trust is for fools. Fear is the only reliable way.
      Azula: (to Mai) No, you miscalculated! You should have feared me more!
    • She explicitly points out how Birthright gives her the edge over Long Feng in her Breaking Speech to him:
      Azula: It's because they haven't made up their minds. They're waiting to see how this is going to end. I can see your whole history in your eyes. You were born with nothing. So you had to struggle, and connive, and claw your way to power, but true power, the divine right to rule, is something you're born with. The fact is they don't know which one of us is going to be sitting on that throne and which one is going to be bowing down. But I know and you know. (sits on the throne) Well?
  • Ignored Epiphany: During "The Beach", she has one just before Zuko does, where each member of the group is sharing some hidden aspect of themselves and their flaws. Hers is how she resented how their mother, Ursa, lavished attention on Zuko, and her perception that Ursa considered her a monster. After realizing she can't interact with other teens in a regular setting, her final course of action is to shrug it off with "She was right, of course, but it still hurt!" and give people more reason to believe the worst in her since she believes the worst to be the best. This epiphany came back with a vengeance in the Grand Finale, alongside a Villainous Breakdown.
  • I Just Want to Be Loved: Despite her talk, cruelty, and narcissism, Azula is ultimately a young girl who wants to be loved and trusted note . Unfortunately, since she never found those feelings with her mother while her father took a shine to her for her prodigious firebending skills, she put all her energy into earning his approval, turning herself into the exact same kind of monster that he is and leaving herself unable to relate to others except through fear and manipulation. Fittingly, what finally causes her to break down sobbing is a friendly embrace between Zuko and Katara, coupled with the realization that despite her brother being considered a disappointment throughout their lives, he has what she never has.
  • I Just Want to Have Friends: Azula doesn't really know how to make friends. The closest she has is Mai and Ty Lee, both of whom follow her out of fear and ultimately turn their backs on her. This is a massive dent in her psyche and is a serious problem to a person who literally cannot fathom any other way to socialize.
  • Implacable Woman: Princess Azula is this in her first few episodes of Book 2, establishing herself as a threat unlike any the heroes faced before. No matter what the heroes try, barely anything they do really slows her down. In "The Chase", it takes all four of them, plus her brother, Zuko, and uncle, Iroh, for her to finally Know When to Fold 'Em and retreat. Afterward, they adjust to her ability, though she remains a massive threat for the rest of the series.
  • Important Haircut: In the Grand Finale, after banishing every single one of her servants as the new Fire Lord, Azula tries and fails miserably to fix her hair, having apparently never done it on her own before. Not only is the resulting hairdo extremely disheveled (her topknot is basically falling apart), but in a moment of stress-induced rage at her own incompetence, she clumsily hacks off her bangs, leaving her hair a tangled, uneven mess, much like her own sanity.
  • Improbable Age: While all of the main characters are complete masters who are leagues better than people double their age, Azula stands out as being more talented initially than all of them, as well as being drawn as if she's 18, rather than a mere fourteen. Then again, it could be the makeup. Without makeup on, Azula does look more like her age.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: Her last appearance is this overlapping with Broken Tears. At first, there was incoherent, furious screaming, but within seconds, it devolved into sobbing.
  • Inferiority Superiority Complex: She's constantly striving to be the absolute best at what she does (especially if it means being better than Zuko) and refuses to settle for less, and uses manipulation and strong-arm tactics to ascertain worship from her peers. She also feels that she's Ursa's failure, thoroughly depends on her father's "love", and tends to put down those she secretly envies like Ty Lee. By the season finale, her friends have left her and her father has made it clear that he's only using her. It doesn't end well.
  • Informed Attractiveness: When Ty Lee calls Azula "the most beautiful, smartest, perfect girl in the world", Azula treats this as an "As You Know". Explainable in that Ty Lee has a history of Azula fangirling (as well as living in perpetual fear of Azula's wrath), and Azula herself is just a tad egotistical.
  • Ink-Suit Actor: She looks a lot like a younger Grey DeLisle, down to her hair colour and lipstick.
  • Irony: In the penultimate episode of Book 2, the Earth King recaps recent events to the 'Kyoshi Warriors' (really Azula, Mai and Ty Lee in disguise), and Azula remarks "It's terrible thing when you can't trust the people closest to you". She says this to mock the Earth King, but in another season's time, Azula herself will be given a little taste of betrayal from her closest 'friends' in "The Boiling Rock", and she does not take it well.
  • Insanity Immunity: Turns out it's pretty hard for a Living Lie Detector like Toph to pick up signs of stress from someone as nigh-sociopathic as Azula, who lies without a second thought.
  • I Surrender, Suckers: In "The Chase", when she is cornered by Team Avatar, Zuko and Iroh, she pretends to surrender, then sneak attacks Iroh and escapes.
  • It's All About Me: When things start to fall apart, she goes nuts. She does have some desire to prove herself to Ozai although Ozai couldn't care less. Though it is implied that part of the reason she goes nuts is that she realized her friends actually meant something to her and cannot deal with the realization that their betrayal indicates that she was unworthy of their trust. Her rant to her mother in The Search: Part 3 can be summed up as "My life sucks and it's all your fault and you never gave a damn about me."
  • Jerkass: The biggest one in the series aside from her father (who's where she gets it from, after all). She's an arrogant, deceitful, sadistic manipulator who will commit cruel and ruthless acts in order to satisfy her own selfish needs.
  • Kicked Upstairs: Her father rewards her for her loyal service by naming her the new Fire Lord... moments before he makes the position irrelevant by crowning himself Phoenix King. Azula knows exactly what's happening to her and doesn't take it well ("You can't treat me like Zuko!") and it's one of the contributing factors to her Villainous Breakdown.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Long Feng manipulates the Earth King, controls Ba Sing Se from the shadows, holds Appa prisoner, brainwashes and kills Jet, and then collaborates with Azula to throw a coup d'état. When Azula turns on him and crushes his spirits with "The Reason You Suck" Speech, for once audiences can support what she's doing, regardless of how Eviler Than Thou she is, just because Long Feng getting his comeuppance is a much-desired event by this point.
  • Knight of Cerebus: When she made her first proper appearance in Book 2, she brought in a level of villain competence that hadn't been seen before. Not even the Gaang was fully prepared to deal with her at that point, leading to Book 2 ending with a crushing defeat for the heroes and their Darkest Hour in the entire series.

    L-P 
  • Lack of Empathy: Subverted in "The Beach", where she apologizes to Ty Lee after insulting her. She also comforted Zuko when she found him at their family's old beach house.
  • Lady Macbeth: Her new goal in life. She realizes as of Smoke and Shadow that she's not meant for the direct role of Fire Lord, but has no qualms trying to meld Zuko into her mold and ideal of what a proper Fire Lord should be. However, it does bear note that in the same novel that she came to this idealization once the other voice in her head was silenced; so it can easily be seen as replacing one psychosis for another.
  • Lady of War: The aloof and imposing princess of the Fire Nation who uses an agile and precise style of firebending, and has the composed peace of mind to generate lightning. Inverted when she loses her sanity near the end, becoming a maniacal nut who firebends in an uncontrolled and wild manner.
  • Large Ham: Normally averted by the soft spoken Azula. However, Azula gets progressively louder and bombastic starting in the "Southern Raiders" episode. What the Gaang doesn't realize is that this is a massive tip-off that Azula's not acting like her normal self. In fact, whenever Azula starts acting like this, it's almost like a cry for help that her sanity is breaking.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: Karma served in the fact that the master manipulator who spent two seasons playing mind games ultimately suffered a mental breakdown set off by the specific reason of not being able to manipulate effectively. Azula says trust is for fools, and while it took three seasons for Zuko and Katara to trust each other, it's the trust in each other as friends that also overcame Azula. Making it even more karmarific, it counts as Hoist By Her Own Petard. If Azula hadn't set Mai and Zuko up on that date, then Zuko would have stayed in the Earth Kingdom, which would means no Firebending teacher for Aang and no Heel-Face Turn for Mai, Ty Lee, or perhaps even Zuko — no betrayal by her friends, no Sanity Slippage.
  • Laughing Mad: In her final fight with Katara, she indulges in two cackling fits while charging up lightning bolts.
  • Leitmotif: She has two.
    • Her appearances, particularly when she's about to go on the offensive, are often signaled with an eerie tritone chime.note  At a few points in the Beach Episode, it becomes a friendlier tinkling chime instead, and on rare occasion, it becomes deeper like an enormous bell for when she's really going to wreck someone's day.
    • The other is an unsettling piano motif offset by chimes and eerie vocals. It usually plays when she's fighting, but it also underscores Zuko's impression of Azula in "The Western Air Temple."
  • Limp and Livid: She goes like this during her final battle with Zuko in the advanced stages of her Villainous Breakdown. Along with her Laughing Mad persona and perfectly-working firebending, she becomes a really creepy opponent. She's actually the current trope image.
  • Little Miss Badass: As a child, she was already beginning to master Firebending. And, believe it or not, she was fourteen throughout the series.
  • Lonely at the Top: A screwed-up young teen in a Big, Screwed-Up Family, Azula exemplifies this trope. To gain the love of her father, and compensate for the lack of love from her mother, she drove herself to become the most perfect daughter that an Evil Overlord could wish for, and succeeded. However, being betrayed by the only two people she had thought she could even begin to call friends when she finally went so far down the evil brick road that even they couldn't stomach following her, eventually being stood up to by her 'weakling' brother, and worst of all, discovering that even after all she'd done her father still wouldn't hesitate to treat her, his supposed 'favorite', as an afterthought to be swept aside and dead-ended in a useless job, she began one of the most epic Villainous Breakdowns in the history of media. When last seen, she'd been defeated by her brother and one of his allies, and was left a broken and desperately frightened child, sobbing and shrieking helplessly in chains before being committed to an insane asylum.
  • Love Is a Weakness: Azula believes, courtesy of the way Fire Lord Ozai raised her, that love is for fools and sees it only as a useful tool for manipulating people, only to learn that Machiavelli Was Wrong, courtesy of Mai. This trope, combined with Azula's subsequently suppressed desire to be loved by her father, her mother, and her friends, plays a big part in her tragic Villainous Breakdown, to the point where her earlier Card-Carrying Villain tendencies are cast in a new light as declarations of self-loathing.
  • Machiavelli Was Wrong:
    • She believes "fear is the only reliable way" to control people, and it always works for her. When Zuko is escaping with a few others from the Boiling Rock, the Warden has the guards start cutting the line to drop them into the lake. There's nothing they can do, but then the recently dumped Mai knocks out the guards because she says she loves Zuko more than she fears Azula. Ty Lee then saves Mai and the furious Azula has them both thrown in prison. The inability to trust even "friends" starts her Villainous Breakdown.
      Azula: The thing I don't understand is why. Why would you do it? You know the consequences.
      Mai: I guess you just don't know people as well as you think you do. You miscalculated. I love Zuko more than I fear you.
      Azula: No, you miscalculated! You should have feared me more!
    • Azula's arc is the most logical conclusion of this trope. What happens when people fear you long enough? That fear turns into hatred. Azula never really considered that her innate desires to be loved by family and friends with her attitudes towards being feared and respected could never go hand-in-hand. Ty Lee and Mai were initially afraid of her, but Mai's love for Zuko overrode that which also caused Ty Lee to defect simply because she didn't want to be under Azula anymore. In addition, Zuko's defection and ignorance of her warnings also played into the fact that the fear of their father's retribution didn't stop him from visiting Iroh. For double the irony It's suggested that even Ozai feared her ability and thus kept her back in the Fire Nation and gave her the title in an attempt to pacify her; which meant that ironically enough, her methods of fear and manipulation alienated the one person she wanted love from!
  • Madness Makeover: During the Grand Finale, her appearance begins to reflect her Villainous Breakdown. By the end, her hair is unkempt, her eyes are lined and baggy, her posture's taken a dive, and she's alternating between Laughing Mad and sobbing.
  • Makeup Is Evil: Almost always seen wearing makeup, and definitely evil. The only times the heroines wear make up is infiltrating a party and during a spa day. There's also when she, Mai and Ty Lee infiltrate Ba Sing Se as the Kyoshi Warriors, whose face paint is part of their uniform.
  • The Man Behind the Man: She's behind Ukano's actions in Smoke and Shadow.
  • Manipulative Bastard: An expert strategist and manipulator, even able to manipulate her own father until some point.
  • Meaningful Name: "Azul" is Spanish for the "blue", which is the default color of her flames when firebending.
  • Meaningless Villain Victory: She finally gets to fulfill her dream to become Fire Lord in the series finale... only for her father to declare himself the Phoneix King, and Ruler of the Nations and get abandoned by him.
  • Mommy Issues: Azula has this idea about her mother and it revolves around the word "monster". Mike has stated that her feelings that her mother didn't love her as much as Zuko drives her crazy.
  • More Deadly Than the Male:
    • Upon her introduction, Azula quickly proves herself much more competent at tracking the Avatar than either her brother Zuko or Zhao had been throughout Season 1.
    • Additionally, while Ozai may be the Big Bad, Azula is the one to do all his dirty work. This is exemplified when she became the first and only villain who managed to kill Aang (though he recovered). And although she and Zuko are pretty much equal firebenders just before the finale (in no small part due to her Villainous Breakdown), she was his superior for the majority of the show.
  • Ms. Fanservice: She struts around in a Walking Swimsuit Scene during the Beach Episode.
  • Mythical Motifs: She is heavily associated with the blue dragon.
  • Narcissist: She's aware of her talents as a bender and likes to rub it into Zuko's face. She also practices to firebend while maintaining her good looks (to the point that a strand of hair being off-centered is not good enough for her). When Azula fights Zuko in "The Southern Raiders" and he proves to be her equal, she loses her symmetry when her hair goes down and again after Ozai abandons her to Take Over the World and her parental issues get worse, as the worldview that Ozai put in her causes her to become paranoid, where she cuts her hair haphazardly.
  • Nature Versus Nurture: Bryke's word in Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle indicates that it is nurture that has made Azula evil.
  • Never My Fault:
    • In The Search, she regains a semblance of sanity by pinning the blame for everything falling apart in her life on her mother Ursa. She'd rather imagine a huge conspiracy orchestrated by Ursa than admit that maybe she brought some of her troubles on herself, or that Katara could defeat her on her own.
    • Played for Laughs in Smoke and Shadow in which Azula coaxed Mai out of stealing some Mochi her mother explicitly forbade her from having because the Mochi was to be reserved for a special occasion. Azula then denied it by claiming that all she did was suggest taking the Mochi and that Mai went all in to get it; upon which Mai's guilt and Ty Lee's aura perception (she thinks the Mochi was cursed) led Azula to eating the whole thing by herself.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: When she tries to act like a normal teenager, she's even creepier than usual.
  • Noblewoman's Laugh: She did a very half-assed version when dealing with her one weakness - social ineptitude. She laughs just fine when she's mocking Zuko however.
  • No Guy Wants an Amazon: When Azula tries flirting with a guy at a party, they hit it off until she breaks out the flaming hands and "We Can Rule Together" speech, at which point he quickly excuses himself. Granted this is probably due to Azula's insanity, not her strength.
    Azula: When I meet boys, they act as if I'm going to do something horrible to them.
    Ty Lee: That's because you probably would do something horrible to them.
  • No Social Skills: Word of God says that until The Beach episode, Azula seems evil, but perfect. In a social setting, away from battle, she cannot function.
  • Obfuscating Stupidity: She pulls this on Long Feng. She deliberately plays the part of somewhat smart young girl who is way in over her head when she meets Long Feng and teams up with him. Once he decides to betray her, she reveals just how cunning and ruthless she really is.
  • An Offer You Can't Refuse: A non-verbal version with Ty Lee, who was perfectly happy at the circus and politely declined Azula's initial offer to hunt down Zuko and Iroh with her. So Azula attended one of her performances and proceeded to use her position as princess to make the night an utter nightmare for Ty Lee. Afterward Ty Lee notices the universe is giving strong hints that she should leave the circus, and later tells Mai that while the circus was her calling, "Azula called a little louder". You don't say.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: She seems to have this ability, using it mostly as an escape move, most obvious in "The Chase" and "The Drill".
  • Omnicidal Maniac: She was the one who suggested the "burn the Earth Kingdom to the ground" thing. When Ozai tweaks The Plan to include the genocide of the people as well, she's plenty happy with it and can't wait for a daddy-daughter bonding trip doing it.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: She never loses her cool, so seeing her shouting in anger at Mai and Ty Lee's Heel–Face Turn in "The Boiling Rock: Part 2" heralds her impending Villainous Breakdown. During the final Agni Kai of the series, Zuko meets up with her and can tell just by looking at her that she is off her game, which gives him an edge. Note her fighting style during the battle too. Normally, she regulates her breath and concentrates her firebending to two fingers to amplify the power; but during the fight she exhausts herself and performs her strikes with open palms unless she's lightning bending.
  • The Ophelia: A self-induced case. She had a mischievous streak as a child, but the feeling of her mother's ignorance turned it into outright cruelty, which Ozai manipulated and she emulated. When Mai and Ty Lee betrays her at Boiling Rock, she starts to lose control of things, which leads to paranoia. Unlike Zuko, who can adapt and change due to his banishment, Azula is just too rigid in her philosophies. Because of the growing paranoia, she steadily imagines a knife to her back like with her former two best friends and ends up having long, disheveled hair. She loses the ability to repress her insecurities about being Ursa's failure, resulting in her final defeat during the final Agni Kai. Losing everything and everyone over the course of one summer snaps the girl and she goes insane.
  • The Paranoiac: Shows this in the second to last episode. With Mai and Ty Lee's betrayal at Boiling Rock, she starts becoming mistrusting of everyone around her. First the servant girls, then the Dai Li, then the imperial guards, then her own advisors. It was a miracle she had the fire sages left to conduct the coronation.
  • Parental Betrayal: Ozai using her own idea to burn Ba Sing Se for himself, along with him reducing her position of Fire Lord as a mere tool as the Phoenix King, causes Azula's remaining sanity (after Mai and Ty Lee's betrayals) to completely shatter.
  • Patriotic Fervor: Averted. Over time, love for her own nation just deteriorated, especially after her father left her to become Fire Lord. She made it clear in Smoke and Shadow her vengeance is not out of loyalty to a flag or country. Azula has not interest in restoring her father to bring back the Fire Nation’s Glory Days or to serve the Fire Nation’s current regime.
  • The Perfectionist: She is shown to have heavy doses of this, first seen when she is practicing her lightningbending. Graceful execution, deadly precision, power, and striking speed... but a single hair out of place. Not satisfied with being "almost perfect", she's shown compulsively retrying her technique. Later down the road, it turns out that being Daddy's Little Villain doesn't save you from being used in Ozai's schemes, and her cool demeanor breaks, culminating in a colossal Villainous Breakdown.
  • The Plan: Azula is fond of using plans to achieve her ends. Many of them are based on what her mark is invested in and would reliably do.
  • Plot-Irrelevant Villain: She’s this in “The Southern Raiders”. In spite of her sudden invasion of the Western Air Temple and brief scuffle with Zuko kicking off the episode, she doesn’t appear beyond the first five minutes and has nothing to do with the episode’s primary conflict.
  • Pet the Dog:
    • In Smoke And Shadow, she stops one of her fellow Kemurikage from roughing up Kiyi.
    • In "The Beach," she also is quick to correct herself and apologize when she makes Ty Lee cry by calling her a tease, when Ty Lee is being an Innocent Fanservice Girl and nothing more. Azula even admits that she's jealous of the attention Ty Lee is getting. It's all very uncharacteristically gentle of her.
    • In the same episode, she shows surprisingly a caring side to Zuko (as when she follows him to their beach home and brings him to the beach because it's "too depressing"). It was the episode where the two acted more like brother and sister despite their fucked up Dysfunctional Family.
  • Pragmatic Villainy:
    • She never kills or harms when diplomacy and sweet words are enough.
    • In "The Boiling Rock", she orders the warden of the titular prison to stop torturing an innocent prisoner, not because she's opposed to torturing prisoners in general, but because torturing that specific one is a waste of time if he doesn't have any useful information to spill.
  • Pretty Princess Powerhouse: She is The Evil Princess of the Fire Nation and as one of the best firebenders in her time, she gives the Gaang a hard time dealing with her.
  • Prim and Proper Bun: She always has a topknot secured with a Fire Nation comb. She's the stern and perfectionist princess of the Fire Nation. It falls out when she goes insane, with the result of her looking deranged.
  • Prison Rape: Possibly? During the Day of the Black Sun, she vilely tells Sokka about how her "favorite prisoner" used to talk about how he would save her one day, only to eventually give up. However, when Suki is finally freed, she never brings it up and doesn't seem any worse for wear, suggesting Azula was just making it up to piss Sokka off.
  • Psycho Electro: Even in the middle of her Villainous Breakdown, she can still shoot lightning.
  • Psychotic Smirk: She has this down to a fine art, so much she's the current trope image! Here's a few examples: when she strikes down Iroh when he's not looking, when she gets Zuko to join her by saying it's his choice, when she attacks Aang mid-Transformation Sequence, and when she reveals the contingency plan after figuring out Aang is alive from Zuko pausing before saying there was no way he could have survived. The former trope image comes from the finale, while Azula is suffering from her Villainous Breakdown. As time goes on, it degenerates into a full-on Slasher Smile. In general, she was a child prodigy gifted in general evil, which comes with the Psychotic Smirk.
  • Psycho Supporter: The end of Smoke and Shadow has Azula being this. She wants Zuko to become a stronger Fire Lord, one that would enact cruel measures to keep the throne safe...like she would have. While Zuko is grateful and relieved that his sister is still alive with some sanity (loosely put) returned to her; the girl still has more issues than Time Magazine.
  • Puppet King:
    • In the Grand Finale, Fire Lord Ozai grants his position to his daughter, Azula, right before turning it into a puppet position by naming himself Phoenix King. This comes as a slap in the face to Azula and exacerbates a Villainous Breakdown that's been brewing for a while.
    • Smoke and Shadow reveals her new plan is to essentially make Zuko this; or so she says.
  • Purple Is Powerful: Blue, in this case, but the trope still stands. Azula's blue fire was made by the creators of the show to differentiate between Zuko's firebending and her own. It also shows off her prodigal talent and exemplifies her elitist nature. Coincidentally; Her Kemurikage outfit has some purple in it. Mai says it's not her color. Gene thought it certainly was.
  • Put on a Bus: At the end of The Search, Azula ran off into the Forgetful Valley.
  • Pyromaniac: After her Villainous Breakdown her fire is no longer the control and precise style it used to be.

    R-Y 
  • Rage Against the Reflection:
    • She rages at her hallucination of her mother in a mirror as she realizes that she is completely alone and unloved, thus also clearly raging against herself.
    • She continues to do this in The Search, where she believes that Ursa's controlling everyone around her to ruin her life.
  • Rapunzel Hair: She has long hair down to her waist when not up in a Prim and Proper Bun.
  • Redemption Quest: Is potentially on this path at the end of The Search...it's really unclear.
  • Redemption Rejection: This exchange happens between her and her mother, where she apologizes to Azula for not loving her enough. Azula hesitates for a moment, but instead, just continues to attack Zuko and states her desire to be free from the torment in her head.
  • Reluctant Psycho: In The Search, Azula's fully aware that she's lost her mind and isn't happy about it.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Like all the Fire Nation royalty, she's a One-Man Army waiting to happen, in addition to being arguably their greatest strategist. When Ozai "rewards" her with a meaningless position, it exacerbates her Sanity Slippage.
  • Running Gag: In The Search, Mother Nature just does not like this woman.
    Sokka: Nature hates you!
  • Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training: See No Social Skills. If the finale is any indication, she also can't style her hair on her own, having gotten used to servants doing it for her. It's a lot more important than it may sound.
  • Sadist: As this analysis points out, Azula in truth averts this. She seems to be one of these, as she smirks when her brother's face burned. However, it wasn't motivated by sadism, but by her emulating her father, her personal issues with her mother and brother, and a value system that the Fire Nation agreed with. She also orders the wardens to stop torturing an innocent prisoner, and left the Kyoshi Warriors unharmed, something sadists would never do.
  • Sanity Has Advantages: In The Search, Azula escapes from the Gaang in Volume 1 with her typical do-daring, but, unlike her pre-breakdown self, is quickly recaptured because she stops running to argue with a hallucination. She's also defeated relatively easily (compared to the series) and quickly anytime she tries to fight Zuko or the Gaang. When she reappears in Smoke and Shadow, Zuko observes that she's looking a lot better, corresponding to her returning as a competent threat.
  • Sanity Slippage: After being betrayed by her friends and father, Azula succumbs to paranoia and psychosis.
  • Scarily Competent Tracker: Goes hand-in-hand with being a Manipulative Bitch, which makes her much more dangerous than Zhao. There's only one episode where we see her tracking skills, but it's clear that, like her brother, she knows what she's doing.
  • Self-Deprecation: In The Search, along with subtext given by the hallucinations, Azula frequently refers to herself as a "monster" like she thinks Ursa thinks of her. It's painful to watch.
  • Self-Made Woman: Of a sort. She's certainly privileged and naturally talented but Azula believes in doing her own dirty work. Her greatest achievements are things she did through determination, guile and brass tacks power.
  • Self-Proclaimed Liar: As she says "I'm a very good liar".
  • Serious Business: Beach Volley is worthy of immense evil gloating and burning the net afterward. It's deconstructed in the same episode: she's completely incapable of interacting socially with strangers in situations where life and death aren't at stake.
  • Shadow Archetype:
    • Both her and Zuko were heirs to the throne and both had a very strict idea about the righteousness of the war the Fire Nation waged. Zuko, however was forced to change and grow and later ended up learning styles and techniques outside of firebending (such as lightning redirection from waterbenders and his own fighting style has a earthbending twist to it. Zuko suffered a lot longer and wasn't even allowed to return to his homeland but still grew and became a somewhat functional adult with a greater emphasis on the world. Meanwhile Azula lived the lap of luxury using fear and manipulation to get what she wants and kept constantly advancing through Firebending abilities, formations, techniques and martial arts to the point where her firebending is unmatched. However at series end, Azula had absolutely nobody she felt she could rely on while Zuko found new friends and family. Azula is essentially Zuko if Zuko would never open himself up to change.
    • She's also, more subtly, one for Katara. Both are the younger siblings of brothers who are two years older than them and seeking to grow into their positions of leadership, yet, both are the more prodigal of their father's children, having mastered all forms of their element. Both are the daughters of the respective leaders of their people (Katara being the Southern Chief's daughter, Azula being the Fire Lord's) and both had mothers who became absent from their lives in childhood after their mothers tried to protect their children. Both are the only two normal benders in the series to wield a power that glows white-blue. The major differences between their circumstances are that Katara's family was far less privileged due to the war and emphasized unconditional support and love in spite of their issues—whereas the royal family of the Fire Nation had all the power in the world and used their power to tear each other down. In many ways, Katara and Azula are the same basic character archetype, but Katara responded to the hardships in her life by becoming deeply empathetic and invested in those around her, while Azula became increasingly sociopathic. This difference of empathy and sociopathy is highlighted in Azula's and Katara's powers: despite giving off a similar light, where Katara heals, Azula harms. Azula nearly kills Aang with lighting, Katara brings him back to life. Katara sneaks across enemy borders and ends up donning a disguise to help the general public, Azula disguises as a Kyoshi Warrior and ends up bringing the downfall of Ba Sing Se. Azula constantly pits herself against Zuko and sabotages him when convenient; Katara shows up to the final Agni Kai as Zuko's support.
    • As of Smoke and Shadow, we see Azula's new goal is to try to get her brother to rule like she would have. While Zuko adamantly refuses to rule with fear like she did; Azula remarks that Zuko did give into fear and lost his balance. We now see Azula as what can happen to Zuko if he surrenders to fear and insecurity.
    • Factoring in Rise of Kyoshi and Shadow of Kyoshi; she's this for the entire Fire Nation. Aang refers to them as warm and friendly people with a rich history and culture. The novels refer to them as high-strung people very uptight about their honor and integrity. Azula, by contrast is a cold-hearted woman who lies, cheats, steals, wheels, and deals to the best of her ability constantly so long as it gets her ahead.
  • Shame If Something Happened: This trope is one of Azula's strongest weapons: If she knows how and who to hurt to hurt her enemy, she'll exploit it for all it's worth. This fails only against people who have principles that outweigh their fear. One example is in the tie-in comics reveal that following the Season 2 finale, Zuko was actually hesitant to return to the Fire Nation; he seemed to want to stay in Ba Sing Se. Azula then sets Zuko up on a date with Mai, hoping that his new relationship will convince him to return to the Fire Nation. When Zuko is still hesitant, Azula casually remarks that she wonders if 'poor uncle Iroh' will survive the trip home. And it's after that that Zuko agrees to return to the Fire Nation.
    • However, it's worth noting that her overreliance on this trope is one of her fatal flaws. If Azula, for some reason or other, cannot manipulate or scare the crap out of her target, she's effectively out of diplomatic options.
  • She Is the King: Just before her impending coronation, she refers to herself as "Fire Lord".
  • Shipper with an Agenda: The tie-in comics show her (and Ty Lee) trying to get Zuko and Mai together, but it's just another way for Azula to manipulate her brother.
  • Shock and Awe: Introduces lightning generation, which only a few very skilled firebenders can do.
  • Signature Move: As stated just above in Shock and Awe: Azula's known for her lightningbending just as much as her blue fire. The lightningbending deserves special mention as it's always brought up almost like a Dangerous Forbidden Technique due to how easy it is to blow yourself up with it; but easy also to electrocute oneself with it if the lightning doesn't exit the body properly; and thus a clean slate of mind is needed to be able to do it. Not only can Azula do it on the same level as Iroh at a fifth of the age, but she can also do it no matter what state of mind she's in. Even during her craziest in the final Agni Kai, she can lightningbend just like an old pro. The blue fire should also be mentioned: it's worth noting across both series, Azula has been the only person to create blue fire. Not even Avatars were known to or shown to produce it.
  • Sixth Ranger Traitor: Azula's psychosis overtook her better judgment and she does turn on Team Avatar in "The Search: Part 3", not that they were surprised.
  • Slasher Smile: Her iconic Psychotic Smirk gradually morphs into one of these as her Villainous Breakdown goes on.
  • Slipknot Ponytail:
    • She's the page image because it is the only result of falling off a cliff and using firebending to fly to safety.
    • This happens again during her final Agni Kai against Zuko, since she isn't experienced with doing up her hair herself and it was already done up rather messily. Since she'd cut off some of her hair beforehand, it doesn't look nearly as nice as before and only drives home how unhinged she's become.
  • Smug Super: Being a firebender with The Gift and lightning bending is just one reason why she thinks she's better than everyone.
  • The Smurfette Principle: She is the only known female member of the Fire Nation Royal Family by blood until her niece, Izumi, is introduced in The Legend of Korra.
  • The Social Expert: She's actually an interesting case. She can accurately predict the movements, motivations and operational methods of virtually anyone she encounters. This makes her incredibly dangerous on the field of battle or when she's attempting to manipulate someone. She can also be very charismatic at times (just look at her take down of Long Feng). But when it comes to every day, basic social interaction, she fails. Completely. Ruling through fear and/or intimidation is pretty much the only thing in her social skill set; excellent for being the dictator of an entire nation, not so much when trying to mingle with people her own age. When intimidation and manipulation begin to fail her, it triggers her Villainous Breakdown.
  • Sore Loser: To say that Azula doesn't handle defeat well would be a colossal understatement. Even the slightest setback or mistake will send her flying into a rage. She is prideful like her father and reacts very poorly when anything gets in her way. And then there's her reaction to losing the Agni Kai and her position as Fire Lord.
  • The Sociopath: She's a Manipulative Bastard, a pathological Consummate Liar ("Azula always lies..."), and a Control Freak. Subverted since not only she fails to demonstrate pathological need for stimulation and lack of impulse control, but also she reveals aspects sociopaths don't have. She has No Social Skills, harbors self-loathing out of belief that her Missing Mom considered her a monster, seeks to please her father no matter the cost, and suffers from a massive Villainous Breakdown triggered by the betrayal of her closest friends and her father. It's also confirmed by Bryke's word in Sozin's Comet: The Final Battle that she could have turned better in a healthier environment. Much like her attempts at being a Sadist, Azula is a character who, due to her upbringing, tries to be a sociopath but ultimate doesn't have it in her.
  • Split Personality: Commentary on The Search said that Azula had essentially developed this and her brain has two personalities to it: The manipulative Azula and the lunatic Azula.
  • The Strategist: She is a villainous example. At the age of 14, she is arguably the greatest strategic mind in the series. Her flawless takeover of Ba Sing Se relied on her juggling multiple different complications into supreme advantage that all ended up going her way. She also planned the defense of the Fire Nation that ended up defeating Sokka's plan (using information she gained in disguise). She's an unconventional example as she's also a brilliant fighter and one of the most physically dangerous villains in the show. Once that starts to go through Sanity Slippage, she's easier to defeat, though still extremely dangerous.
  • Stealth Pun: Her Blue fire as a member of the Kemurikage can easily be compared to 'Ghost Fire' or St.Elmo's Fire, a stereotypical flame used in fiction for lost sailors.
  • Strategy Versus Tactics: Representing a near perfect mix of the two is one of the big reasons she's so dangerous. She's willing to sacrifice battles for a greater end goal (Strategist), but also able to play a mean game of Xanatos Speed Chess decision-making when needed (Tactician). Her perfectly orchestrated, nearly single-handed coup of Ba Sing Se in the Book 2 finale showed off her skill in balancing the two out, that she puts Grand Admiral Thrawn to shame.
  • Strong Family Resemblance: Despite having a tumultuous relationship with her mother Azula's face looks like that of her mother Ursa only with a different hairstyle.
  • Supernatural Martial Arts: She's got two styles to her. Unlike traditional fire-benders, she focuses on Chaquan martial arts which incorporates elegant maneuvers and focuses more on speed and in-show, is used by her as a means to concentrate her chi into more powerful firebending strokes and strikes. However, once she's frustrated enough or loses enough focus, she'll actually revert to basic Shaolin Long Fist like traditional firebenders. A good way of incorporating her personalities into her fighting styles.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Sort of. She takes Admiral Zhao's place as the "evil Fire Nation officer trying to capture Aang" but she's female, younger, smarter, and far more dangerous than he is.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: While nobody would really forgive Azula for what she did; seeing her completely broken with the audience getting a full, examined look at what caused it all would elicit this reaction. In-Universe, Katara and Zuko felt some of this and pity.
  • Teen Genius: At the age of 14, she is arguably the greatest strategic mind in the series, at one point juggling about four different complications into a single grand plan. It ends with her brother switching back to her side, The Hero (temporarily) dead, and Ba Sing Se, a city that had withheld 100 years of siege, conquered, all starting with just her and two Badass Normal friends.
  • Teens Are Monsters: At the age of 14, she is nearly the lone exception to an otherwise subverted rule. She's the one prominent teenager in the entire show that starts and remains evil from beginning to end. However, she ends up being exposed as a very tragic, messed-up person, so not many people in-show or out of it tend to see her as a "monster" anymore.
  • Terms of Endangerment: She calls her brother "Zu-Zu". It could be said this one word sums up what makes her a Tragic Villain. It began as a genuine loving nickname from a little sister to her elder brother but by the time she shows up in the series, it's a biting insult to express that she thinks he's beneath her in all ways. While using an Embarrassing Nickname for a brother might seem fairly normal, she not only tries to kill him repeatedly, but there is a not particularly subtle vibe of Incest Subtext between them.
  • Then Let Me Be Evil: This was ultimately the trigger for most of her actions throughout the series. Since she believed that her mother rejected her as a monster and preferred her brother Zuko, she dedicated herself to becoming Daddy's Little Villain, proving to both her Mother and Zuko that she doesn't need their love, as being feared is the only thing that mattered. Ultimately, this trope is subverted, she chose evil because she felt it was the only way to receive any love and trust from a parental figure, in this case Ozai. But when Ozai decided to ultimately discard her like he did Zuko, Azula realized that nobody loved her and it caused her to break.
  • Token Evil Teammate: To Team Avatar themselves in The Search because of her instability and sabotage.
  • Took a Level in Badass: In Smoke and Shadow, she regains her sanity and her skills become much improved. She's able to run circles around Aang and the Kyoshi Warriors and her lightning blasts are much faster than before. Not even Zuko's lightning re-direction is as effective this time as Azula also learned how to redirect lightning, able to resend the shot back at Zuko. She's even able to defeat Zuko at the end in a dagger-to-dagger duel and declares how she's really the one who's won by making him a more powerful (and ruthless) Fire Lord. Of course, seeing as half her expressions still have Wide Eyes and Shrunken Irises, the improvement in her mental health state should probably be taken with a grain of salt.
  • Town Girls: The fierce and ruthless Butch to Ty Lee's Femme and Mai's Neither.
  • Tragic Villain: Azula falls hard into this trope. We start off knowing that Zuko's even more villainous sister, Azula, was their father's favorite, and that she remained in his good graces. What we learn later implies that she struggles every bit as hard as Zuko to keep his favor. Unfortunately, her teachings and beliefs are shattered when Zuko defects, as well as when Mai and Ty Lee betray her at the Boiling Rock. When she realizes that, in reality, her father cares no more about her than he did about Zuko, it ends up being the straw that broke the camel's back, and she breaks rather than bends. It turns "The Beach" into a Cerebus Retcon for her; all of her cruelty and her inability to socialize normally becomes less funny and paints the image of a woman who literally cannot fathom any way to be loved or respected for who she is. Thus, she clings to her father, right down to his ideas and philosophies, just for a chance at some affection.
  • Troubled Abuser: Dealt it out by manipulations, belittling and threats but Book 3 reveals that she was ultimately a victim of emotional abuse too. But unlike Zuko who had to come to terms with what happened to him and faced it, she never realized it simply because her life on the surface seemed much better than it really was. Defiant to the end, she refused to believe or even think about the possibility until she was repeatedly backstabbed by those close to her. But by then and with too much else going on, her mental defenses were badly lacking and she couldn't deal with it.
  • Troubling Unchildlike Behavior:
  • True Companions:
    • Mai and Ty Lee, the only ones she trusts due to them being the longest-lasting victims of being afraid of her, and what send her to the deep end when they betrayed her. Fear is not a good way to make friends. By Smoke and Shadow, they have completely disavowed and shunned her.
    • Averted in The Search with Team Avatar, as she does not integrate with them. She'd wait to either weasel her way out, or betray them when the situation calls for it, and everyone knows it.
  • Tyke-Bomb: Ozai raised her to serve as his obedient and perfect heir by molding her to his way of thinking. This is one of the most successful examples, as Ozai made sure to "coddle and praise" her rather than "abuse her and insist she is made to serve him" (that's what Zuko is for). Deconstructed, as her praise from her father meant that she never really did things for herself or had any idea on how to handle people besides intimidation and even her only friends left her because they could no longer side with her, despite fearing her. When Ozai names her Fire Lord, it is because he names himself the new title of Phoenix King since the former title has no meaning to him and thus he has no more real need for Azula. She has a lot of Mommy Issues because she was being raised to be his obedient and perfect heir and her mother was afraid of her (or rather, afraid for her,) with Ursa having no idea on what to do with her daughter. Unsurprisingly, she snapped and is reduced into a frantic and sobbing state, to where Zuko and even Katara felt genuinely sorry for her.
  • Undying Loyalty: After all she went through with her father, and even though he's in prison, The Search indicates that she is still loyal to him. Zuko uses this to his advantage. Later reveals to have been subverted. Azula makes it clear after loyalty means nothing to her, only survival considering her own father left her while he went out to finish the war. Azula never at any point intended to release him or reinstate him as Fire Lord.
  • The Un-Favourite: She perceives herself to be this to Ursa, at least in her own mind: "My own mother...thought I was a monster." She tries to laugh it off at the time, but this perception of her relationship with her mother contributes heavily to her Villainous Breakdown in the series finale.
  • Unnaturally Blue Lighting: Her fire is blue, to differ her from the other Fire Nation antagonists and to mark her as a more unstable and dangerous threat.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In Universe and Fanon, seems to take with stride that a 14 year old girl with two other teens managed to take Ba Sing Se, a city that the greatest generals in the Fire Nation couldn't conquer (including Iroh with dozens of thousands of soldiers and 600 days) in a 100-year war, bring down a dynasty, destroy the greatest dictatorship in the Verse so far, command the absolute loyalty of the Dai Li and permanently cripple the Earth Kingdom (capturing the 5 generals), quite likely ending the war. She did this in less than a month with zero casualties while making it up as she went.
  • Unstoppable Rage: During her and Zuko's Agni Kai, her Villainous Breakdown and Ax-Crazy issues finally boil over and she turns into a fire-spewing maniac for the whole of the battle.
  • Villain Decay: In The Search due to her deteriorated mental state, she is less competent and dangerous than before. Subverted in Smoke and Shadow, where she regained some sanity and Took a Level in Badass.
  • Villain Forgot to Level Grind: When she first appeared, she was an existential threat to the Gaang and Zuko couldn't even touch her (this being the same Zuko who mopped the floor with Zhao, only healthy). By the end of Book 2, Azula begins having much more trouble against Aang and Katara. By the time of Sozin's Comet, Zuko has gained a sense of enlightenment while Azula has already descended into insanity since he left. He maintains a stationary and defensive style while hers is heavily offensive and energy-intensive, and by the time their duel reaches the end, he is still fresh while she is almost exhausted without having been hit once. While it is downplayed somewhat by Zuko himself implying he would not be able to defeat her if she was in her right mind, before Book 3 he never even got close to her level. And even when she does resort to cheating to take him out, she still has to contend with Katara, who's not exerted any energy and, unlike Azula, is still in her right mind.
  • Villain Has a Point: In spite of her own mental disorder post-series finale, Azula has a point in why she wanted to kill Ursa. Ursa didn't show her as much affection as she did Zuko, resulting in Azula believing that Ursa never loved her and thought that she didn't deserve love because she's a monster. There IS a reason behind why this is the case, but it doesn't remove the fact that she still did. This is validated with the discovery that Ursa had another daughter from her second marriage, who Azula views as a replacement, and willingly forgot her two older children by having The Mother of Faces change her face.
  • Villainous Breakdown: She becomes progressively more unhinged throughout the Grand Finale, kicked off by the betrayal of her closest friends, Mai and Ty Lee. She really starts going nuts when her father dismisses her plea to accompany him on the Fire Nation's final war offensive, goes even farther when she fires her servants out of paranoia when she thinks they are plotting against her, leads to her hallucinating a conversation with her mother, and climaxes after Zuko and Katara interrupt her coronation and defeat her in an Agni Kai, leaving her chained to a gate, snarling and spitting fire and then eventually crying and whimpering on the ground like a mad woman, while Katara and Zuko can only look on in pity and horror..
  • Villainous Friendship: With Mai and Ty Lee, until it becomes apparent that both of them were scared of Azula's wrath and pull a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Villainous Princess: She is a sociopath who acts as one of the Gaang's most dangerous foes. She is very cunning and manages to outsmart the Gaang numerous times, is a Dark Action Girl who puts up quite a fight as well, and is fully supportive of her genocidal father Big Bad and the ruthless conquests that the Fire Nation is doing in general.
  • Villainous Valor: Similar to her father and brother Azula never quits or give up even when she's outnumbered, outmatched or at her lowest point, and she almost never shows fear even in situations when other would panic. At the end of "the Chase" she manages to take on almost all of team Avatar on her own as well as her uncle and manages to escape them after taking by surprise and injuring Iroh before fleeing,in "the Southern Raiders" despite falling she manages to keep a cool head before reaching a cliff with her bending and to stop her fall with a knife, and despite losing her sanity and the fight against Zuko during the last Agni Kai she refuses to give up and uses her cunning to regain the advantage and injure Zuko. Even after her Villainous Breakdown she never completely loses her determination and fighting spirit, and manages to not only escape but also get back some of her composure and cunning and grow stronger again in the comics.
  • Viler New Villain: Compared to Season 1's antagonists; unlike her brother Zuko note  and Zhao note , Azula is a cunning, ruthlessly effective Card-Carrying Villain.
  • Virtue Is Weakness: Just like her dad, she also scoffs at the idea of honor and altruism. Furthermore, she scoffs at the idea of Long Feng being a Worthy Opponent towards her.
    Long Feng: You've beaten me at my own game.
    Azula: Don't flatter yourself. You were never even a player.
  • Wake-Up Call Boss: She represents this for the series. In Book 1, both Prince Zuko and Admiral Zhao were credible threats, with Zuko improving over the course of the series and Zhao having a massive amount of resources. However, even with those, neither of them together posed anywhere near the level of threat to the heroes that Zuko's younger sister posed to them by herself in Book 2, having the perfect combination of ruthlessness, brains, intimidating charisma and firebending skill that the other two lacked, in addition to her incredible determination and will like Zuko, and vast resources like Zhao. Even more so when she had her Badass Normal friends, Mai and Ty Lee, with her. The heroes' inability to adjust to her threat level quickly enough resulted in her dealing them a crushing defeat at the end of Book 2.
  • Walking Spoiler: She's officially introduced in the Season 1 finale, becomes a regular in the following seasons, and her existence opened up a whole new chapter of Zuko's backstory in the process.
  • Warrior Princess: Like most Fire Nation Royalty we see in the series, she commands armies and is one of the most capable combatants herself.
  • We Can Rule Together: She tried this as a pick-up line on a guy at a party. She also used this on Zuko, and was one of the few occasions where it worked.
  • "Well Done, Daughter!" Girl:
    • Not just to her father, but to her mother as well. She sought the approval of both parents by being cruel to others due to what Ozai taught her. While Ozai was pleased with the result, up until the point where this meant she'd lie to him, Ursa worried about her daughter's mental instability. She mistook that for Ursa's fearing her as a monster.
    • With Ozai, the finale makes clear that Azula is just as bad if not worse than Zuko about her father's approval because unlike Zuko, she feels that she never got any from her mother. She freaks out and snaps at him when she feels he's not giving her the proper respect she deserves. Over the next several days, her Sanity Slippage is fueled partly by her belief Ozai doesn't trust her to succeed.
  • We Will Meet Again: At the end of The Search, Azula runs away into the Forgetful Valley. Sokka comments that this is not the last they'll see of her, and believes there's a chance they will run into her again. He's proven right in Smoke & Shadow.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Unlike most of the main cast, Azula never appears in either flashbacks or present-day in The Legend of Korra, leaving her final fate unknown.
  • When All You Have is a Hammer…: As The Take's essay on the fire element pointed out, to Azula, everything looks like kindling.
  • Wild Card: In later comics, Azula has almost no loyalty to anyone, not even her father, and has been acting on her own accord since. Even though she says she's on Zuko's side and embracing him as a Fire Lord in Smoke and Shadow, her words and meanings are still very shaky and vague.
  • Wise Beyond Their Years: She managed to organize a coup in a hostile city with her words alone, breaking the Evil Chancellor in the process, at the age of fourteen. From what is seen of her during flashbacks, it seems like she's actually been like this since age nine. Word of God even stated the reason she chose her "friends" was because they were people she could learn useful skills from.
  • With Friends Like These...: She does seem to on some level consider Mai and Ty Lee her friends, but all this means is that she treats them marginally better than everyone else. Mai explicitly states she fears Azula, and it's pretty strongly hinted with Ty Lee from her first appearance, where Azula makes Ty Lee's tightrope act as dangerous as possible to send the implicit message that she'd better quit the circus and join Azula's posse or else. At one point during "The Drill", Mai's comments suggest Azula has a tendency to throw lightning at them when they don't do as she demands.
  • Worf Had the Flu: In the series finale, it took her brain breaking for Katara to bring her down. Her Sanity Slippage gave Zuko an advantage, which he noted before their Agni Kai began. After a certain point Katara doesn't even try to attack the crazed and comet-powered girl, instead waiting until she could disable Azula by freezing and chaining her up.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: She is subject to a non-fatal but still exceptionally cruel one of these in the finale, by her own father no less. He rewards her for all her loyalty by naming her his successor as Fire Lord, and then immediately crowns himself Phoenix King of the entire planet, rendering her new position totally powerless.
  • Younger than She Looks: Yep. She's fourteen. The year-long timeskip happens in The Promise; then she's 15.
  • Youngest Child Wins: Deconstructed. At first, Azula is Always Someone Better for Zuko; a prodigy firebender, a military strategist, and flawless manipulator. Zuko, while no slouch, isn't as good of a firebender, and his held back too much by his own sense of honor to compete in the cutthroat realm of Fire Nation politics and warfare. Eventually, Zuko even turns against his father and country on the eve of victory to aid the enemy in the war, while Azula is actually handed her father's position as leader of the Fire Nation. ..... At which point it flips. Once Azula peaks, she finds that she's driven away her friends, that she pushed away her mother when she was young, and that her father has no real love or trust in her, leading to a mental breakdown. Meanwhile, the hardships and failures Zuko suffered as the "loser" child have turned him into a better person who's surrounded by people who love and trust him, and they help him dethrone Azula and lead the Fire Nation into an era of peace.
  • You Rebel Scum!: In the Grand Finale, she refers to Katara as "filthy peasant".


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