Prince Zuko was born into Fire Nation Royalty to Ursa and Ozai, who at the time was not the Fire Lord. Zuko growing up seemed to have a rocky relationship with his sister, Azula though the two did not have the hateful relationship of latter years. When Zuko was young, his uncle, Uncle Iroh, went off to war, where he laid siege to Ba Sing Se. Along with his Uncle went Zuko's cousin, Lu Ten.
Growing up, Zuko grew to love his mother, while only wanting respect from his father, but his father sadly only paid attention to Zuko's Prodigal Sister, Azula. Azula, who had many malicious traits boarding on psychopathy. This trait made the two at odds, but Azula's friend, Mai, was Zuko's first infatuation. Mai also returned the feeling, and constantly mocked the two on it by making them do stupid stuff.
Zuko appears to have a fond memory of an event when he was eleven, when he and his mother were feeding the turtleducks. As his mother fed the ducks passively, Zuko demonstrated how Azula fed the turtleducks, and began throwing the bread at the ducklings. In response to this, he earned a chastizing from his mother and a bite on the leg from the mother turtleduck. When Zuko complains about the bite, his mother responds that that is just what a mother does when her babies are threatened, making a playful biting sound for effect. The two of them laugh and leave the pond.
As the two are walking towards the palace which they live in, they pass Azula, Ty Lee, and Mai all playing outside. Mai looks away and blushes at Zuko, and Azula takes notice of them, Azula decides to humiliate them and asks her mother if Zuko would play with them. Despite Zuko's protest, his mother sends him over to the girls. Azula then calls over Mai and places an apple on her head. Then, telling Zuko to get the apple, she sets it on fire. Zuko over-reacted and in his attempt to put out the fire, he knocked over Mai and himself into a fountain that Mai stood in front of. Azula and Ty Lee then came over and commented on how cute the two looked together. Zuko then stormed off, and when his mother commented on him being wet, he told her that "Girls are crazy."
Later that day, the family gets a letter from Uncle Iroh, who had just taken over the outer wall of Ba Sing Se. He then sends gifts to Zuko and Azula, a knife that the general used to surrender the wall for Zuko, and a Earth Kingdom doll to Azula. While Zuko receives his gift with much happiness and immediately begins playing with it, Azula views her doll with disgust. She inquires if Uncle Iroh did not return, would Ozai become next in line for the position of Fire Lord. She immediately scolded by Zuko and Ursa, and she lets the matter drop, and instead burns her doll.
Later that year, another letter arrives from Ba Sing Se, but this one with a much different air. Zuko's cousin and Uncle Iroh's son, Lu Ten, was killed in battle at Ba Sing Se. This comes to a shock to both Ursa and Zuko, and even Azula turns her head in sorrow. Later, Azula tells Zuko that Uncle Iroh is returning defeated after breaking down over his son's death. At that moment, Ursa walked into the room and told the two siblings that their father had requested a meeting Their grandfather, Fire Lord Azulon. Azula then makes a remark about not referring to him with as much respect, since he would probably die soon.
As Zuko and his family appear before the Fire Lord, Azula demonstrated her skills to her Grandfather, and in a jealous fit, Zuko shows his skills also. to both Azulon and Ozai's annoyance, Zuko's performance is clumsy, and he ends up falling trying one of the moves. Ursa attempts to comfort her son by telling him that he has the heart of a warrior, for he never gives up in the face of a greater adversary. Ozai then requests to tell the reason for his meeting, and Zuko, Ursa, and Azula begin to leave. Before Zuko has left, though, Azula pulls him behind a curtain to eavesdrop on Ozai's conversation.
Ozai tells of how Uncle Iroh's right to the throne should be revoked and granted to him. He list his reasons as the loss of Uncle Iroh's spirit after losing his son, and that the loss of his son, who was his only son, gave no heir after Iroh's death. Azulon responds to this suggestion with rage at his younger son. Azulon tells his son that such a proposal was out of the question, and that he was a fool to say it. He then tells Ozai that he will be punished severely, and Zuko runs off to his room.
Azula comes in a short time later, saying that Ozai is going to kill him, literally. She then tells of how Azulon had told Ozai that he would feel the pain of losing a first-born son. Ursa then comes in and asks about what is going on. She takes Azula out of the room, and Zuko is left alone in his room, telling himself that "Azula always lies."
Later that night, Zuko is woken up by his mother, and she tells him that she has done everything for him, and she leaves forever. Azulon was found dead the next day, though it is unknown if Ursa killed him. At hi funeral Ozai was crowned king, the Sage telling the crowd that it was under Azulon's own wish.
At the age of 13, Zuko went to a war meeting and spoke against General's plans to sacrifice Fire Nation men. This was considered an act against the Fire Nation itself so Zuko had to duel his own father. Refusing to fight his father, he gained a burned scar on his face and exiled from the Fire Nation until he could capture the Avatar.
Hunt for the Avatar/Book 1: Water
Zuko and his Uncle Iroh spend over two years hunting the Avatar. All they have is a ship and a small crew of men. None of them are high quality soldiers at all. While searching in the south pole, the Avatar(Aang) set off a trap that shot a flare in the sky. Seeing the flare Zuko sees the Avatar and finds him staying at a Southern Water Tribe village. He is surprised to find that Aang is only a boy, and is a little bit disappointed. Aang comes with him Zuko without fighting because he didn't want the water tribe getting hurt. But when Sokka and Katara show up on Aang's pet Appa he escapes.
After this event, Zuko had to bring his ship in to a Fire Nation port for repairs. Zhoa, is head of this port and during this time discovers that the Avatar had returned. He decides that he wants to capture him for himself but before Zuko leaves, Zhoa and Zuko have a dual which Zuko wins. Since this event, Zuko and Zhoa are now rivals in capturing the Avatar.
Later, the Avatar is captured by Zhoa, because Zuko has to bring the Avatar in himself to get his honor back he gets masks and breaks into the Fire Nation base as the Blue Spirit. Aang and Zuko work together trying to escape form the base, Aang doesn't know its Zuko. After Zuko is knocked unconscious by an Arrow, Aang removed his mask to discover that it is Zuko who saved him. Aang then takes Zuko with him so that he wouldn't be discovered by Zhao. But after Zuko wakes up he attacks the Avatar who escapes to save his friends.
Continuing his journey a bounty hunter named Jun rides her Shirshu, a creature with a tongue that can paralize people for periods of time, onto his ship. The Shirshu sniffs out a stowaway on Zuko's ship that she is hunting. She tells Zuko that her Shirshu can sniff out people from miles away. Using Katara's necklace, Zuko found earlier, he uses her Shirshu to hunt down Aang. They first find Sokka and Katara but Katara had a peice of paper Aang had held on her and they were able to find Aang. Zuko battles Aang but ends up losing when Sokka tricks the Shirshu by spreading smells in the air, the Shirshu sees by smelling. Blinded the Shirshu hit Zuko and June with its tongue. Unlce Iroh pretended to be paralized as well. Aang and his friends then escaped.
Whe Zhao plans to go to battle against the Northern Water Tribe, he comes to Zuko's ship to recuirt all his men. While on Zuko's ship Zhao sees the swords that the Blue Spirit used and realized that Zuko is the Blue Spirit. To get Zuko back, Zhao hired so pirates to kill him. The pirates sunk onto Zuko's ship and blew it up, but Zuko was able to survive the explosion. Zuko then snuck onto Zhao's ship so he could go with him to capture the Avatar in the North Pole. Uncle Iroh told Zhao he would go with him to help him defeat the water tribe, but really he knew about Zuko and wanted to watch over him.
When Zhao's ship made it to the North Pole, Zuko snuck into the Water Tribe City and found the Avatar unable to defend himself cause his Spirit was in the Spirit World. After defeating Katar who was trying to protect Aang, Zuko kidnapped Aang and ran off into a blizzard. But because of the blizzard, Zuko had to hide in a cave from the storm. Before the storm stops, Aang comes back to his body and escapes when Katara and Sokka find him. Zuko's was too tired to defeat Katara for a second time. But Aang couldn't leave Zuko out in the blizzard and brought him back with them.
When Zhao attacked the moon spirit, Zuko used this chance to escape. While running from the city he ran into Zhao. Angered by Zhao's attempt to kill him the two men battle. But when the Spirit of the Ocean grabbed Zhao, Zuko attempted to save him but Zhao refused the help and drowned in the ocean. Zuko and his Uncle the escaped from the North Pole on driftwood.
Self-Discovery/Book 2: Earth
At drifting for weeks Zuko and his Uncle had finally found a chance to relax on land. But Zuko was wanting the Avatar more then ever, becuase it was the three year anniversary of when Zuko was banished by his father. But unknown to Zuko, his father has declared him and his Uncle traitors to the Fire Nation. He has also sent Zuko's sister, Azula, out to capture Zuko and Iroh. Azula's first attempt to capture them is she tells Zuko and Iroh ant Ozai has ended the exile he has on them. Zuko is almost over come by this, though his Uncle Iroh has his doubts. They agree to go with Azula but when they are about to board her ship, one of her men accidently lets the plan slip that Zuko and Iroh are actually prisonors. A battle breaks out with Zuko, battling his sister. He is defeat and is about to be finished off by a lightning attack when Iroh, redirects it and Zuko and Iroh escape. Then they both cut the thier topknots off, showing they are cutting their tie off with their family.
Having problems being fugatives, Iroh accidently ate a poisonous planet. Seaking aid form an Earth Kingdom woman named, Song, Iroh is saved. While at Song's house she tries many times to reach out to Zuko, but the closest she gets is when she shows Zuko the scar on her leg given to her by the Fire Nation. Although Song had been so kind, Zuko steals her Song’s ostrich horse.
As their sistuation gets worst, Zuko can barely watch and his uncle has to ask people for money. Not able to take it anymore, Zuko uses the Blue Spirit mask to steal from villagers. When Iroh worries about how he is getting the supplies he asks him about his honor. Iroh believes that even after capturing the Avatar now would not bring Zuko back his honor in his father's eyes. Zuko angered leaves and when he returns tells his Unle that neither of them have anything to gain from travelling together anymore. Zuko then leaves his Uncle Iroh behind.
While travelling alone, Zuko came to a Earth Kingdom town where some Earth Kingdom soldiers were bothering the town's people. Zuko stands up to the soldiers and they run off. A boy named Lee is impressed and tells Zuko that he should go to his family's farm. Zuko agrees and helps out around the farm in exchange for food and shelter. Before leaving Zuko offers Lee, the dagger his Uncle had given him. While Zuko was leaving the town, Lee's mother ran to him. She tells Zuko, how the soldiers came back and took Lee when he decided to fight them using the knife Zuko had given him. Zuko shows up and defeats the soldiers easily except for their leader who is a Earth Bender. Zuko was trying to aviod using Fire Bending so he wouldn't reveal who he was, but he couldn't defeat the Earth Bender without it. Zuko proudly tells them all who he is, but even after saving them, the town's poeple reject Zuko for how he is. Even Lee throws away the knife Zuko had given him.
Zuko tracks down his sister to a town, where she is about to battle Aang. He demands that the Avatar is his to capture and the three of them all battle each other. Zuko is hit and seems to be in trouble when Aang's friends show up as well as Iroh, who has been following Zuko without him knowing it. The six of them corner Azula, and she gives up. Right when she is about to leave she hits Iroh with a blast and leaves him badly injured. Aang and his friends offer to help, but Zuko angered and hurt demands they leave them.
After taking care of his Uncle, Zuko asks him to continue Zuko's training so he can defeat Azula. Iroh attempts to teach Zuko the lightning attack, but because of his inner battle he is unable to learn it. Instead Iroh teaches a move he made up from watching water benders. It was the move he used to redirect Azula's lightning attack. But when Iroh said it was too dangerous to try out, Zuko went to the top of a mountain during a thunderstorm and shouted at the sky and the world becuase it wouldn't strike him down. He then passed out.
Zuko and Iroh start heading to Ba Sing Se, on their way they make it to a desert oasis, where a secert group Iroh is a member of tells them the Fire Nation has a huge bounty on them. The group helps them make their way to the captail city of the Earth Kingdom, Ba Sing Se. While on the boat to Ba Sing Se, Zuko meets Jet. Together, Zuko and Jet's gang, steal food form the ship captain. After arrving, Jet offers Zuko a place in his gang, but Zuko turns him down. Jet notices Iroh use firebending to warm his tea. Zuko and Iroh find a place to live, but Zuko hates it cause he feels like a prisonor in Ba Sing Se. They both work at a tea shop, and Jet makes several attempts to prove they are firebenders. Nobody belives him, so finally he challenges Iroh and Zuko to battle, hoping that one of them would have to firebend to defend themself. Zuko accepts and uses his dual swords to battle Jet. Finally the Dai Li break up the fight and witnesses say Jet attacked Zuko and his uncle. So Jet got arrested, and Zuko was free to continue working with his uncle.
One of the teashop's regular customers, a young girl named Jin, gets a crush on Zuko and Iroh sets up a date for them. Zuko seems pretty akward throughout the whole thing but towards the end, he lights a bunch of candles by a fountain for her. She kisses him but he stops it only saying, "Its complicated." Zuko quickly returns home and Iroh asks him how it went, but Zuko slams his door behind him. He then slides it open slowly and replies, "It was nice."
Zuko soon learns that Aang and his group are in Ba Sing Se, when he sees a flier put up by them searching for Appa. Zuko gets the idea that if he can capture Appa, he can bait Aang to coming to him. Zuko once again uses the Blue Spirit and forces a Dai Li soldier into telling him where Appa is. He then sneaks into the Dai Li secret base and finds Appa. Suddenly Uncle Iroh appears and asks Zuko what he is doing. Iroh asks him if he had thought about what he is going to do with Appa once he has him. He then tells him that he needs to stop hunting the Avatar and find his own way to live his life. Confused and angered, Zuko shouts but then lets Appa go free. He the drops his Blue Spirit mask into the lake.
When Zuko and his uncle returned home, Zuko devloped a fever and fell down. Iroh told him that the battle about his future has now started effecting his body. Iroh tells him that after his fever passes, Zuko will finally be the person he was ment to be. Zuko has sevearl dreams while he is sick. One of them he is the Fire Lord and no longer has his scar. There are two dragons, one with his sister's voice and one with his uncle's and they both are giving him advice. Another one is pictures of his dead mother crying for his help. Zuko awakens and spashes some water on his face. Then he goes and looks in the mirror and see that he has Aang's head and tatoos. Zuko finally truly wakes up screaming in horror and feels that he still has his scar.
After Zuko has gone through his chage he seems to be more optimistic and enjoys life. He is also excited about Iroh opening up his own teashop and the invation they got to serve tea to the Earth King. However, the invation is a trap set up by Azula and the Dai Li to capture Iroh and Zuko and to overthrow the Earth King. Zuko and Iroh are able to fight their way free but Zuko decides to stay behind to face Azula. She laughs at him and have the Dai Li arrest him and throw him in the cave prison with Katara. Katara starts shouting at Zuko, blaming him for everything. He just sits there and takes it all in until she says that the Fire Nation took her mother away from her. Zuko tells her how the Fire Nation has taken his mother from him as well, and she says she is sorry and that for a long time he has been the face of the enemy. He touches his scar and she offers to heal his scar, but before she can Aang and Iroh show up to save them.
Zuko is about to attack Aang just due to the site of him, but his Uncle stops him and Katara and Aang leave. Iroh asks Zuko once again to give up his search for the Avatar but Azula shows up with the Dai Li and surroud Iroh in crystals. Azula asks Zuko for his help capturing the Avatar whil Iroh asks him to accept his own destiny. Azula leaves to fight Aang and Katara, but Zuko later joins her and attacks Aang. At the end of the battle, Azula strikes a deadly blow on Aang and before Katara and Aang are capture Iroh shows up to save them. Iroh fights off Zuko and Azula until Katara is able to leave with Aang, then he allows himself to be captured by the Dai Li. Later, Zuko seems unsure about his choice to capture the Avatar. He says that he has betrayed Uncle. But Azula tells him that it was Uncle who had betrayed him.
Book 3: Fire
In Book 3 Zuko regains redemption from his father, but only because Azula told him that Zuko killed the Avatar (Aang). When he asks why Azula points out how letting him have all the glory over slaying the Avatar could do very little benefit for her, but goes on to insidiously acknowledge the fact that should it be discovered that the Avatar was alive, all that glory would swiftly turn into shame and foolishness. With that he goes to see the Combustion Man telling him to kill the Avatar, believing he is still alive.
Later Zuko finds a letter telling him to learn about his great-grandfathers demise. Knowing about Sozin's demise and believing the note to be from Uncle Iroh, he goes visits him. Iroh says that he was not talking about Sozin but Roku, his mother's grandfather. Iroh believes since he has Sozin and Avatar Roku's blood running through him he is morally conflicted between sides. He believes it is Zuko's destiny to restore peace to the world. Iroh then gives Zuko Roku's crown which was given to Roku by Sozin.
During the Day of Black Sun, Zuko finally comes to realize that his true destiny is to join the Avatar and restore balance to the world. After leaving a note to Mai, Zuko confronts his father Ozai. He tells Ozai how cruel a man he was to burn and banish him, and how terrible the Fire Nation has become during the last hundred years. Zuko then announces his intention to join the Avatar and after denouncing Ozai as his father, saying that his uncle Iroh was more of a father than him, he swears to his father that he will be defeated. Before he departs, Ozai tells him the truth about his mother's fate. He reveals that she wasn't killed, but banished for treason, giving Zuko hope of seeing her again. When the eclipse ends, Ozai attacks Zuko with lightning, but he redirects it back at Ozai and leaves before he recovers.
After following the Gaang in a hot air baloon, Zuko appears to them at the Western Air Temple and offers to teach Aang firebending. Unfortunately, everyone except Toph is unwilling to trust him, forcing him to retreat back to his campsite. While he is gone however, the Combustion Man arrives at the temple and attempts to kill Aang again. Zuko tries to make him stop, but to no avail, and Sokka ends up defeating him. After earning Aang's trust and joining him, Zuko seems proud of himself, but Katara confronts him with a warning. If Zuko shows any sign of going back to his old ways, she will kill him personally.
In the latest episode of the show, it has been shown that the Gaang has excepted Zuko as a member, and he was passing tea around that he made to all of them. Sokka asks can he talk with Zuko, and Sokka asks where they might be keeping his father, Hakoda. Zuko tells him they'll most probably be keeping him captive on the Boiling Rock, and when Sokka tries to sneak out in the morning, Zuko is prepared, and tells him they shouldn't take Appa but rather his Fire Nation War Baloon. The two travel to the Boiling Rock, and adopt cover as guards. Zuko asks around to see if they're keeping any war ciminals captive, but they're not, but instead the duo find Suki. Later, Zuko stands guard as Sokka talks to Suki in her cell. When a guard tries to enter her cell, Zuko begins battling her, and when the guard sees Sokka, she tells him to arrest Zuko, which he does so they're plan can go on. Zuko is visited in his cell by the prison's warden, Mai's uncle. Later, he Firebends so he's able to get into a cooler to unbolt it, so the small gang can use it as a boat. But when Sokka here that a new shipment of criminals are arriving tomorrow, including war criminals, which could mean his father, he decides to stay as do Suki and Zuko.
Hakoda arrives, and the small gang plan another escape. This includes starting a riot, and getting onboard a gondala that carries prisoners in with a hostage so the guards won't cut the rope. Shortly before the plan is put into action, Zuko is visited by Mai, who is outraged that he left and only left her a letter. When a guard arrives, who has been assigned to protect Mai because the riot, Zuko uses this to his advantage makes the guard jump in front of Mai, and locks them both in the cell. Outside when he catches up with the others, he begins to argue with Sokka about how they'll capture the hostage they need (the Warden). Suki manages to do this, and the gang jump onboard a gondala. They are persued by Azula and Ty Lee, and Zuko battles Azula with Sokka. The Warden manages to break out of his restraints for a second and shouts to the guards to cut it, which they begin to do. Ty Lee and Azula bail, and Zuko saves Sokka in return most probably for saving his earlier. Luckily, as they're cutting the ropes, Mai shows up and beats them all up, and Zuko and the others are able to escape.
Zuko then went on an adventure with Katara to find her mother. Zuko said he knew who did the raids and that he would take her to them. Katara eventually found the man who took her mother and was close to killing him with blood bending but stopped herself. After the little journey, Katara finally was at peace with Zuko since she knew that he too lost his mother because of the war.
After they returned the Western Air Temple was attacked by Azula and Zuko decided to stay behind for a bit to fight her. Zuko fell off the war balloon and Azula thought that she had finally defeated him. But Zuko appeared to be riding on Appa as the group flew away to safety to Zuko's old vacation home.
While at the home, Sokka came across an ad for a play about the avatar.They all decide that they should see the play in order to enjoy themselves. The play, however, was not what they expected at all. First of all, Zuko's burn was on the wrong side of his face and that his character and Katara's had feelings for each other. The part that scared Zuko the most was when they portrayed Azula killing him. The Gang left the play all feeling worse about the out come that laid ahead.
The next morning Aang was missing and they searched all over the land near Zuko's house to find him. When they found no trace of him, Zuko remembered a woman who could find Aang. They go to a bar where a woman bounty hunter who has helped out Zuko before is. She searches for Aang but tells them that he is gone. Then Zuko asks her to find his Uncle Iroh and she easily does that. They enter the campof the White Lotus and the old masters tell Zuko that his uncle is sleeping in his tent. Zuko enters the tent and waits for his Uncle to wake up, when he does Zuko apologizes telling Uncle that he doesn't expect him to forgive him. Zuko is shocked when Uncle responds with a hug telling Zuko that he never really was angry with him, just dissapointed that he lost his way. During breakfast, Zuko tells Uncle that he is the only one who can defeat the Fire Lord with Aang missing. Uncle explains that he can't do that because it will be more senseless violence and the only the avatar can end the war peacefully. Uncle warns Zuko that he is the one who must stop Azula and that he'll need help. Zuko decides to take Katara with him and they leave quickly.
Zuko and Katara interrupt Azula's crowning just before she is deemed Fire Lord. Azula knows that she can't beat them both so she challenges Zuko to a duel which he accepts because he notices something is off about Azula. They duel a great battle of blue and red fire which Zuko slowly gets the upper hand on. He questions her on why she isn't fire lightning at him because she's afraid that he'll redirect it. Azula was just about to fire the lightning she conjured at Zuko when she noticed Katara standing on the sidelines. Azula instead fires at her but Zuko jumps in the way of the lightning saving Katara. Katara rushed forward to help Zuko but is cut off by Azula. Katara leads Azula on a chase that ends on a drain and a chain in Katara's hand. Just before Azula was about to strike Katara, Katara freezes the water around them. She slowly thaws out the water while chaining Azula to the drain below making her helpless. Katara then runs over to Zuko and heals the wound on his chest from the lightning.
After the Fire Lord is defeated by Aang, Zuko was crowned the new Fire Lord. He and Mai rekindle their relationship but Zuko recieves a threat from her if he ever dumps her again. Everyone is at Uncle's tea shop enjoying themselves, when Sokka announces a picture he drew of the moment. Zuko is annoyed that his hair is very spiky.
After the Hundred Year War
Zuko aided in what was known as the Harmony Restoration Movement which moved the colonials back to the Fire Nation. Zuko made a deal with Aang that if he saw Zuko was turning into Ozai, Aang would kill him. Zuko would meet with a mayor of a village. The mayor would make statements that Zuko was a coward and a traitor to his people and that his father was better than him. Zuko retaliated and attacked the mayor, ordering him to be seized. The mayor's wife stopped them with earthbending and asked for forgiveness on her husband's behalf. Zuko saw that the city was already merging of different cultures and he pulled out of the Harmony Restoration Movement. As Aang and Katara heard about this, they decided to enter Yu Dao but needed permission first which resulted in them being attacked. Zuko managed to grab a hold of Katara and Aang was angered by this told him to let her go in which he replied they must stop attacking first. Aang separated them with airbending and went into the Avatar state. Katara calmed him down and Zuko settled down and showed them the integrated community. Zuko agreed to a conversation with Kuei and when he returned home Mai mentioned he could always talk with her if he needed to since he was looking exhausted and warn down. Zuko, restless, decided to make tea and go visit his father in prison for advice.
After the Series
Alongside Avatar Aang, Zuko would establish Republic City at the site of the Fire Nation colonies. Zuko would serve as Firelord for many years but stepped down and appointed his daughter as the new Firelord. By the time of the Legend of Korra series 75 years after the arrival of Sozin's comet Zuko would be still alive traveling the world as an unofficial ambassador for peace. A statue for Zuko can be seen in Republic City's Central City Station as a testament to his accomplishments.
While initially the series' main antagonist, over time Zuko's development has shown him to be more of a bitter and complex young man than a truly evil character; he is far closer to an anti-hero than a true villain. Zuko wanted, more than anything, to have his place as heir to the Fire Nation throne and his father's love. Zuko believed, or has perhaps forced himself to believe, that capturing the Avatar will make these wishes come true, which made him one of Aang's most determined enemies.
Zuko believes that a person becomes strong by having to struggle and fight for what they want. He has said that he does not want to have good luck, because he feels he can control his own fate. He also believes that he is marked unlucky and that the world is against him. Zuko's reaction to this perception of the world always being set against him is defiance in the form of an iron will and inflexible determination. Zuko is clever yet hot-headed, often letting his temper get the best of him. He rarely thinks his situations through, causing him to get in trouble numerous times, such as when he captured Aang at the North Pole and could only walk into a blizzard afterwards, or when he took the Sun Stone off its pedestal in the Sun Warriors' temple and fell into a trap. These traits are criticized by his uncle Iroh, and he appears to be trying to get more control of himself and think things through more towards the end of season three.
Zuko has numerous contradictory traits, beliefs, and behaviors. For example, he is domineering and controlling, a result of being raised as Fire Nation royalty, and disdains working with people that he believes are inferior to him. Despite this, he adamantly refuses to view people as expendable. It was Zuko's belief that it is wrong to sacrifice able-bodied and willing troops as a diversionary tactic which led to his exile when he voiced his opinion and angered his father. During his banishment, Zuko displayed much zeal in pursuing the Avatar, using whatever means he thought necessary to gain the upper hand. Although he has said that the capture of the Avatar is a greater concern to him than the safety of his crew or even himself, he shows compassion to those close to him, choosing to rescue Iroh when he was captured, rather than pursue Aang, and also risked his own life in order to save a member of his crew during a fierce storm. Towards the end of the storm, the crew spots Aang, but rather than chase the Avatar, Zuko orders the ship and crew to safety.
Because the prospect of returning home and being forgiven was Zuko's sole motivation, he is marked by abject despair at having lost his chance early in the second book. He finds himself in perhaps the most dire situation possible--being hunted by his sister, the ruthless and relentless Azula, while attempting to survive as a penniless fugitive in the Earth Kingdom. Zuko has nothing, something he cannot seem to accept. At first, Zuko lashes out and turns to robbery, even stealing from those who have been kind to him. After some time, however, partially in thanks to a talk from Iroh, Zuko gains a more reasonable outlook. Although theft is still necessary from time to time, he refuses to steal from already needy people, or people who have shown him kindness. He also defended an Earth Kingdom village against a group of thugs who terrorized its people after having been appointed to protect them. Zuko begins becoming more patient, kind, precise, and calculating; traits necessary to evade Azula's pursuit while staying incognito from local authorities. During " Lake Laogai", he even sets Aang's pet bison and primary mode of transportation, Appa, free from Dai Li captivity at Iroh's suggestion.
These traits would become dominant after Zuko's fever dreams and hallucinations in " The Earth King", as afterwards he displayed a more optimistic attitude towards life and the world. However, Azula successfully tapped into and manipulated Zuko's desire for the love and approval of his father, and convinced him to betray Iroh and become her ally in " The Crossroads of Destiny". Although Zuko continued to insist that he had truly changed, he afterwards seems conflicted about his choices, and is uncomfortable with his betrayal of Iroh, who is a father figure to him.
After his return to the Fire Nation, Zuko thinks he has everything he ever wanted: a position of honor, respect, and his father's love. However, he still feels angry and confused. He feels that his triumph is nothing like he imagined. In The Beach, Zuko's temper goes out of control; he becomes suspicious of Mai, and gets into fights with several people. Later, he states that he is angry with himself, saying he doesn't know right from wrong. In " The Avatar and the Fire Lord", Zuko receives a letter, telling him that his great-grandfather's death would reveal his destiny. Zuko finds Sozin's last testament, and learns of his secret history with Avatar Roku. He comes to his uncle, demanding to know the meaning of the message. Iroh tells him that Avatar Roku is his mother's grandfather, and that Zuko's inner conflict is due to the good and evil natures that he inherited from Roku and Sozin respectively. Iroh then gives Zuko an ancient crown, worn only by the crowned prince of the Fire Nation.
In " Nightmares and Daydreams" he became upset when he wasn't informed of a war meeting in which his sister was invited, and shown happiness when a servant later came and asked Zuko to head to the war room, as Ozai would not start the meeting without him. Much later, he told Mai that he found himself unhappy, even when his father treated him as the perfect son. He says that during the meeting, he had acted the perfect prince, the son his father always wanted, but he was not being himself.
During the events of Day of Black Sun, Zuko comes to realize that he must restore peace to the world by joining the Avatar and fighting the tyranny of his nation. He discards his previous beliefs in the Fire Nation's greatness and swears to his father that he will be defeated. He then attempts to free his uncle from prison, but when Iroh escapes himself, Zuko follows Aang and the others as they flee to the Western Air Temple.
While at the Western Air Temple, Zuko shows a complete change in personality. After a flashback of his banishment, he is shown being regretful about his former disrespect and ruthlessness. He even, for the first time, begins to show a comical side to his personality. This is shown when he practices a speech to say to the Avatar to a frog. After questioning what Iroh and Azula would do in his situation, he tries to impersonate them. He later admits his wrongdoings to Team Avatar, and apologizes for the things he did to them.
Rather than trying to capture the Avatar for the Fire Nation's benefit, Zuko attempts to join him to end his nation's tyranny. While he used to attack Aang whenever they met, he instead defends him from the assassin that he hired to kill the Avatar. He has also come to realize that his father could never restore to him his honor, and that he has to restore it himself. Zuko is even very happy when the Avatar finally accepts him as his Firebending teacher and group member. Though Zuko still has some issues to work through, he is far more composed and receptive. Since coming to terms with his own true feelings he has become a much more laid-back and empathic person. After joining the group he smiles a lot more than usual, even when jokes are made at his expense, and during the Series Finale, he seems to be very happy as the Fire Lord as he has a break in his uncle's tea shop.
Powers and Abilities
Zuko has numerous amounts of techniques when it comes to offensive actions in his arsenal, and is basically always prepared to fight, be it with flashes of flames or his dual blades in which he has shown extreme precision with in many instances, be it with sliding stolen cups into a satchel to defeating bandits in foreign regions of the world.
Throughout the series, Zuko has shown himself to be a highly skilled Firebender, and his skill has grown as the series has progressed.
As a child he could only create small bursts of flame, but by the time he was thirteen he was confident enough in his abilities to readily accept a challenge of Agni Kai, (he refused to fight, however, when he found out his challenger was his father).
At the beginning of the series he is still learning the basics from Iroh, and is skilled enough to momentarily knock Aang off his ship, and is only defeated when Aang goes into the Avatar State. By episode 3, he utilizes what he has been taught to defeat Zhao, who is older, more experienced and a master Firebender. Throughout Book One, he demonstrates his skill many times; he defeats multiple foes both in " The Warriors of Kyoshi" and in " Winter Solstice Part 1: The Spirit World". Later on in Book One, Zuko's skill grows. During " Bato of the Water Tribe" he fares well in a duel against Aang, being able to deliver multiple fire blasts for a sustained period without tiring, and is only defeated when he is paralyzed by June's confused Shirshu. In " The Waterbending Master", he creates a shield of fire in order to protect himself from a massive explosion on his ship. During the Book One finale he fights Katara while the moon is full . Zuko not only hold his own against her, but at one point briefly gains the upper hand until the sunrise, when he easily defeats her with one fire-blast . He also lands a decisive victory in a rematch against Zhao.
During the course of Book 2, Zuko's Firebending becomes much more advanced and powerful. In " The Avatar State", he is unable to land any blows against Azula, and is defeated rather easily. He fares somewhat better during " The Chase"; in a three-way battle with Azula and Aang, he trades several fire blasts with his sister and keeps the Avatar on the defensive. As Book Two progresses, he learns more advanced Firebending techniques from Iroh. He becomes more efficient and refined as a result of this. During a battle with the Rough Rhinos, he sends a small bolt of fire through Vachir's bow, breaking the string. He also demonstrates the ability to fire multiple small blasts through two fingers, rather than his whole fist, during " Tales of Ba Sing Se". During the Season Two finale, he demonstrates how far his prowess has grown. His fire blasts have become more powerful, and he is shown charging his attacks before releasing them, creating enormous blasts of fire. He also demonstrates the ability to create two long whips of fire. He is able to battle evenly with Aang, even though Aang had been skillfully using both Airbending and Earthbending. Later, after switching opponents with Azula, he battles evenly with Katara, who had long since been declared a Master.
Little was seen of Zuko's Firebending in the first half of book 3; however, Zuko is confident enough in his abilities that he offers to teach Aang. In " The Western Air Temple" he utilizes a wall of flame to stop a combustion attack, and is capable of dodging many of Toph's rocks which she hurls at him. Later, in " The Firebending Masters", Zuko temporarily loses his ability to Firebend due to his corresponding lack of rage, which had formerly been the source of his power while he was pursuing the Avatar. However, after viewing the multi-colored flames of the two dragons, he finds a new source of power in reverence for fire's power as a source of life and energy. He also learns "The Dancing Dragon", an ancient Firebending form that he performs alongside Aang. Learning this form appears to have influenced his style of Firebending to be more fluid, creating a more dance-like form as opposed to the rigid, militaristic forms commonly used by Fire Nation soldiers. His difference in style and skill is demonstrated in the conclusion of " The Boiling Rock, Part 2", where he briefly battles against Azula alongside Sokka. During the fight, he deflects many of Azula's fire-blasts with only his arms or his own fire, and trades fire balls with her. In " The Southern Raiders", Zuko faced Azula again, and dueled her , what appeared to be evenly for several minutes. He fires several large, powerful fire blasts, and deflects many of her attacks. In " Sozin's Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King" Zuko attacked Aang with powerful fire blasts, in order to make him fight backWhen he'd chaced him ionto a house, Zuko created several lashes of fire, used them to envelop his surroundings, then augmented the fire to take the shape of the hallway Aang was running through. With the power of Sozin's comet, Zuko's Firebending was tremendously enhanced. During " Sozin's Comet, Part 3: Into The Inferno" he fought Azula one final time in an Agni Kai, unleashing extremely powerful sheets of flame. This time Zuko held the upper hand, exchanging and blocking attacks with Azula without visible strain while Azula was pushed towards exhaustion, although it is unclear how much of this was due to Azula's mental instability at the time. He displayed several incredibly powerful techniques. He was able to block an enormous stream of fire with a short fire-blast, which spread to take the shape of a wall and split apart the stream. He unleashed an enormous charged-blast, which Azula was unable to block, forcing her to dodge. He propelled himself into the air, charged his fire, then sent down a fire attack as he came down. His final attack consisted of a fire tornado that he created with his feet while spinning which knocked Azula off her feet.
In " Zuko Alone", he used his Firebending in conjunction with his broadswords. He has also demonstrated use of Fire Daggers and limited use of Breath of Fire.
During his training with Iroh he attempted to learn how to create lightning. However, because of his inner turmoil, he was unable to achieve the required peace of mind, and his attempts to produce lightning would only explode in his face. Instead, Iroh taught him how to absorb and redirect lightning. He later employed this technique against his father during Day of Black Sun and against Azula to protect Katara in Sozin's Comet, Part 3: Into The Inferno. In the latter engagement Zuko redirected the blast despite not being in the proper stance as he had jumped into the lightning's path, but failed to redirect all of the lightning. Though Zuko seems to have overcome his inner turmoil, he was not shown creating lightning for the remainder of the series.
In addition to his Firebending, Zuko is a master of his dual Dao blades, a skill he picked up during his years at sea. He would use his Dao swords whenever he was in his Blue Spirit disguise. During " The Blue Spirit", he was able to defeat multiple foes using only his swords. He also dueled evenly with Jet and his dual hook swords in " City of Walls and Secrets", until the fight was broken up by the Dai Li and Jet was arrested. During " Zuko Alone" Zuko defeated several Earth Kingdom soldiers with his Dao swords and minimum effort, only resorting to Firebending when faced with a powerful Earthbender; even then he was able to hold off the Earthbender's attacks for several moments with only his blades. His skill was such that his father, Fire Lord Ozai, opted not to face against him during an eclipse, while neither of them could Firebend.
Zuko is physically very strong, fast and agile. He is capable of great physical feats, such as running across walls, and climbing very quickly. He is apparently skilled in unarmed combat, able to break apart oncoming spears with his hands and legs, and disarm, subdue or defeat opponents. As shown in " The Blue Spirit", " The Siege of the North, Part 1", " Lake Laogai" " The Avatar and the Fire Lord" and " The Southern Raiders", Zuko is skilled at infiltration, and can sneak into heavily-defended fortresses. He is also skilled at stealth, and can conceal himself effectively for long periods of time. All of these skills would serve him while he was disguised as the Blue Spirit. Zuko was also a skilled tracker, able to track the airborne Avatar all across the world.
While not as naturally adept at strategy and academics as his sister, Zuko is quite intelligent. Throughout the series, he has demonstrated himself to be a skilled strategist, able to exploit any situation to his advantage. In " Winter Solstice Part 2: Avatar Roku", Zuko used his ship's damages as a smokescreen to conceal his movements from Zhao. He was also able to form alliances with people with special skills, such as June, and use them to his advantage. However, he had a hot-headed nature that caused him to not always think his actions through. For example, he could exploit advantages in the Northern Water Tribe, and get into the Spirit Oasis to capture Aang, but he didn't figure a way back out which caused him to almost freeze to death. Zuko began to think things out more towards the end of the series, and he started to plan things out and think ahead to solve problems more often. When he and Aang needed to get in a specific room in the Sun Warrior ruins, Zuko was able to outsmart the Celestial Calendar, as it would only allow the room to open during a solstice. This intelligence may come to serve him as he rules the Fire Nation.