If you asked the fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender who their favorite character was, a lot of them would probably say Zuko, the hot-tempered (pun intended) Fire Nation prince. And who could blame them? Zuko is a very interesting character, and he probably had one of the most amazing redemption arcs in cartoon history. He goes from being one of the main antagonists to switching sides and helping Aang and his friends save the world.
Zuko probably was my favorite character in the series. He was incredibly interesting, and you never knew what he was going to do next. There was so much turmoil going on in him that you just wanted him to find some sort of happiness.
Zuko was very complex, having many contradicting elements to his personality. He was strong, yet he showed mercy. Zuko was proud, but he could also be humble when required. He was royalty, but he had learned to survive on his own. His journey was incredibly interesting to watch as he learned more about himself, the world, and what it means to follow your destiny.
While Zuko is one of the most interesting characters in this series, he’s also a pretty intimidating character. (Well, not as intimidating as Azula, but come on, that girl is just plain terrifying.) His impressive skills and powers combined with his temper and unpredictability made him a character you really didn’t want to anger.
So here are 20 things about Zuko that make him seriously scary. Think we missed some good ones? Make sure to let us know in the comments below!
20 It’s Not Just Firebending He’s Good At
It’s no secret that Zuko is a pretty skilled firebender. He’s definitely trained enough to be skilled at it. But that’s not the only thing Zuko is actually quite good at. This boy has quite a few other talents.
First, there’s the fact that Zuko is a very competent fighter even without using his bending. He displayed this a lot when he was hiding in the Earth Kingdom. He’s a master of unarmed combat, and he’s incredibly agile. The fact that he’s skilled with his twin Dao swords is also pretty impressive. But what’s also kind of scary is how his senses are actually pretty acute. It’s canon that Zuko has impressive hearing, which is what helped him escape pirates at the beginning of the series. Even without firebending, Zuko is a force to be reckoned with.
19 No Father Of The Year Awards For This Guy
Zuko’s home life was less than ideal. Besides the fact that his father always seemed to be disappointed in him, his practically sociopathic sister didn’t really help matters. But the real kicker here is that Ozai was incredibly abusive toward Zuko. He was constantly belittling him, always favoring Azula, and always reminding him that he was lucky to be alive because he willed it.
Ozai was incredibly mean to Zuko.
And then there’s the infamous Agni Kai duel. If you could call it that. What kind of father forces his son to fight him in a duel and then burns part of his face as punishment for refusing to do so? And he then made it out to be Zuko’s fault. That is some textbook harmer logic right there. It’s no wonder Zuko was so messed up when we first meet him.
18 These Two Have Some Major Issues With Zuko
We all know that Ozai has very little love for his son, Zuko (if any at all.) He constantly saw his oldest as a source of disappointment. But did you know that he was going to end him when he was a kid?
When Zuko was 11, Ozai asked Azulon to be named the successor instead of his older brother Iroh, who was distraught after losing his own son. Azulon was angry and told Ozai that he should feel his brother’s pain in losing a son, and ordered him to eliminate Zuko. Here’s the crazy part: Ozai probably would’ve done it without much hesitation. It’s only thanks to Zuko’s mother, Ursa, that none of this actually happened. Though I don’t think Ozai would’ve had any regrets if he did destroy Zuko. That’s just messed up.
17 She Wasn’t Around For Long
While Zuko didn’t get along with his father, he was very close to his mother. It was probably thanks to her (and Uncle Iroh) that he didn’t turn out more like Azula, or Ozai for that matter. Ursa was kind, loving, and not afraid to teach Zuko what was right. But unfortunately, they didn’t have much time together.
For the longest time, Zuko thought his mother was gone.
After Azulon told Ozai to eliminate Zuko, Ursa stepped in and made a deal with Ozai. She then eliminated Azulonsubsequentlyquentally banished. But all Zuko knew was that one day, his mother was there, and then she was gone. There was no explanation. And for the longest time, Zuko thought his mother was deceased. It wasn’t until he confronted his father that he found out she’s actually alive.
16 This Sibling Relationship Is Pretty Toxic
If Ozai was abusive emotionally and physically, then Azula was pretty abusive to Zuko mentally. This little girl was always playing sinister mind games with Zuko, and she can be very persuasive. Azula has a natural talent for lying and twisting the truth.
What’s scary is that Zuko lets her manipulate him. Even though he knows she’s likely lying, or doesn’t have his best interests at heart, he will still listen to her. This was why he ultimately betrayed Aang, Katara, and his own uncle in Ba Sing Se. If Azula hadn’t come along, promising him that his honor would be restored, he probably would’ve been content to stay with Iroh in Ba Sing Se. The fact that his younger sister has such power over him is kind of scary.
15 He’s More Powerful Than You Think
If you think about it, Zuko has fought a lot of battles and has taken on some incredibly powerful people. The fact that he has a bit of a temper usually did mean that he tended to rush headlong into a fight. But he’s held his own in a lot of crazy battles.
He’s faced his own sister multiple times who is canonically a better firebender than him.
He defeated General Zhao in an Agni Kai, he’s taken on Aang and Katara multiple times, he fought Katara under a full moon, and he’s faced his own sister multiple times who is canonically a better firebender than him. He’s also fought Jet, who was no slouch at combat, and faced off against his own father. He even managed to redirect his father’s lightning attack. Say what you will about Zuko, he is a survivor and he’s pretty relentless.
14 You Really Shouldn't Be Going To This Guy For Advice
You’d think that after his visit to Ozai in prison to find out where his mother was, Zuko would want nothing more to do with the former fire lord. If I were him, I would’ve been perfectly fine never having to see that man again. But apparently Zuko did visit him again. And asked him for advice.
The pressures of Fire Lord were becoming too much for Zuko, and he was torn by indecision. Apparently, he was desperate enough to visit his father and ask him for advice. While this probably was a bad idea, I could understand why Zuko did it. He’s still just a teenager who has so much on his shoulders now. I think Zuko could likely sympathize with Ozai a bit at this point. Being Fire Lord was no simple task, and Zuko was facing a lot of difficult decisions.
13 His Alter Ego Isn’t As Concerned About Honor
While Zuko was all about honor, I guess there were a couple things that he was willing to compromise on. And that was the idea of stealing. When he and Iroh were in hiding in the Earth Kingdom, Zuko resorted to stealing food and supplies, using a mask to hide his identity. Iroh didn’t approve, and that was one of the reasons the two parted ways for a bit.
Zuko resorted to stealing food and supplies, using a mask to hide his identity.
In Zuko’s defense, it was a way to get supplies and he usually didn’t try to take from people who seemed to need it more than he did. But the fact that he did resort to stealing showed that for him, honor was a bit of a loose term sometimes. Though since he used his alter ego, perhaps he felt like it wasn’t really him. Or maybe he was just in survival mode and was doing what he felt he needed to do. It’s complicated.
12 These Two Made A Strange Pact
It’s safe to say that Zuko did not get along with his father, and likely even grew to hate him (I don’t blame him after what Ozai did to him). But Zuko was also terrified that he would eventually become like Ozai: ruthless and unforgiving.
This fear grew so much that he asked Aang to make a rather dark pact with him. He told Aang that if he sees that Zuko is becoming too much like Ozai, Aang should end him. Of course, Aang was horrified by this idea and resisted at first, but he eventually agreed and made the pact. That is a pretty crazy promise to make to a good friend, but it showed just how scared Zuko was of his father’s legacy. Underneath it all, Zuko was still very much a traumatized young man.
11 Really, Ozai? This Is Dark Even For You
We know that Ozai definitely isn’t winning any father of the year awards with the way he treated Zuko and twisted Azula. And it’s no secret that Ozai would have very little problem in ending Zuko, since he saw him as a blight on his honor. But did you know that Ozai wanted to eliminate Zuko when he was a baby?
Ozai was ready to toss his newborn son over the wall and end him.
When Zuko was born, it was uncertain if he was a firebender or not. Ozai didn’t want the shame of having a nonbender for a firstborn and was ready to toss his newborn son over the wall and end him. It was only thanks to Zuko’s mother and the fire sages that he didn’t. What’s more messed up about this is that he actually tells Zuko this when he’s older, saying that he was lucky to be born at all. Can you imagine what that must’ve done for Zuko’s psyche?
10 He's Still Breathing
Zuko is a born fighter and isn’t afraid to throw some punches. Because of that, he has found himself in quite a few life-threatening situations. Seriously, it’s kind of crazy how many times this teenager almost perished in the Avatar: The Last Airbender series alone.
There’s the Agni Kai against Zhao, who probably would’ve ended him if he lost. And the time where he was partially blown up by Zhao’s men. Then he almost froze in the North Pole. Then there was that illness that probably could’ve ended him. And let’s not forget his battle with Azula that resulted in him getting his insides fried; it was only thanks to Katara he survived that one. Not to mention the time when his father was ordered to destroy him when he was a kid. And there’s that time when Ozai shot freaking lightning at him. Seriously, it’s kind of amazing Zuko made it to adulthood.
9 No Mercy Here
Zuko’s redemption arc is probably one of the most satisfying character arc's in cartoon history. But it’s also so good because Zuko was pretty bad in the beginning. He was actually a scary threat to Aang, Katara, and her people. This is the Zuko who is still hurting from everything that’s happened to him, so he’s lashing out.
Zuko was pretty bad in the beginning.
He had no qualms about threatening to burn down Katara’s village. And he did set the Kyoshi village on fire. He’s taken Aang and Katara a couple of times. Even his fighting style can be pretty bad, full of aggressive punches and kicks. But we also saw times when Zuko did show mercy, so it did present him as a rather complex character, all twisted up inside from years of mental anguish and trauma. But that didn’t change the fact that he did some pretty awful stuff.
8 I Totally Want Fire Swords
When it comes to firebending, Zuko uses fairly basic techniques. He does have a few cool tricks up his sleeves, like redirecting lightning, and an airbending technique to keep himself warm in cold climates. But he has one particular skill that no other person in the fire nation uses. His Dao swords.
Zuko will sometimes use his twin Dao swords to firebend. We see this especially in the episode “Zuko Alone,” and it’s pretty awesome firebending. And he’s the only person in the Fire Nation to use this type of firebending. Most people just choose to firebend with their hands and feet. The fact that Zuko can extend his bending to inanimate objects is seriously impressive. This kid is a lot more talented than some people may think.
7 The History Of Bad Things Runs In His Veins
It was surprising to Zuko (and the rest of us) when he found out that he shared the lineage of the great Fire Lord Sozin, and also the previous Avatar: Avatar Roku. While Sozin is Zuko’s ancestor on his father’s side, Roku is his ancestor on his mother’s side.
Zuko shared the lineage of the great Fire Lord Sozin and of Avatar Roku.
It makes their story all the more tragic. The two were the best of friends, but as their duties took them further apart, they grew distant. And eventually, they ended up on opposite sides, as Sozin was determined to conquer the world, while Roku was against this path. In the end, Sozin ended Roku by leaving him to his demise on an erupting volcano. For both of these powerful men to be connected to Zuko shows just what kind of blood flows in this firebender’s veins.
6 Dishonor On You, Dishonor On Your Whole Family
For firebenders, the honor of the family is very important. If you are considered disgraced by your family, it’s the ultimate insult and dishonor. And Ozai was no exception to this mentality. He put a lot of stock in his kids’ ability to firebend, to fight, and to be ruthless like him. So Zuko often didn’t live up to his expectations.
But if you think about it, when Ozai banished Zuko, he basically disowned him. He told him that the only way he could get his honor back was to find the Avatar, which was deemed an impossible task since the Avatar hadn’t been seen in over a hundred years. It’s obvious that Ozai didn’t want Zuko to come back, and by sending him on this fool’s errand, he ensured that Zuko would never be able to return. Zuko was pretty much cut out of the family at that point.
5 There's A Learning Curve To Ruling A Nation
We know that by the time Avatar: The Legend of Korra came around, Zuko was known as a wise leader, who’s beloved and well respected by many people. He showed to be a capable leader who was also compassionate. You could tell that he served his time well as the Fire Lord. But it wasn’t always this way.
Zuko wasn’t very good at being Fire Lord.
At the beginning of his reign, Zuko wasn’t very good at being Fire Lord. He made quite a few mistakes and ended up putting Aang and the others into some pretty tense situations. But we can’t blame him too much; he was just a teenager, and he was put in a very difficult position where he was trying to do what was best for his nation, but for also the rest of the world. I definitely don’t envy the stress that must have caused.
4 Are You My Mummy?
In the comic series The Search, Zuko and the other members of Team Avatar join together to find Zuko’s mother. And after quite a bit of travel and hardship, they do find her, but she’s not quite the same. In fact, Ursa has forgotten all of her previous life and was living under a new name: Noriko.
Ursa went to a place called the Forgetful Valley, where people often go to forget their past lives. It’s kind of a clean slate deal. It’s only thanks to the arrival of a spirit called the Mother of Faces that Ursa is able to remember her previous life and remember Zuko. So, it all ended fairly well, but that’s a pretty dark notion. You spend all this time trying to find your mother and then when you do, she doesn’t remember you. Poor Zuko.
3 Everybody Wants To End Him
When Zuko first took over as Fire Lord, a lot of people weren’t happy about it. There was even a group that rose up in support of Ozai coming back as Fire Lord. As a result, Zuko had to deal with a lot of backlash from his people. But do you know he was almost eliminated for it?
This guy isn’t just some soft political leader; he’s a warrior through and through.
In fact, there were several attempts on his life (at least five). What’s crazy about this is even though some of the would-be life-takers got past the guards, Zuko still held his own against them, defeating them. He definitely proved that he was someone you don’t want to mess with and that he’s not that easy to destroy. This guy isn’t just some soft political leader; he’s a warrior through and through, and he’s not afraid to fight for what he believes in.
2 One Of The Only Ones
While Avatar: The Last Airbender didn’t really shy away from hard topics like demise, pain, political turmoil, and life-ending, it did shy away from showing a lot of blood. And since it was a kids’ cartoon, that makes sense. (For some reason, showing any amount of blood tends to up the ratings a lot.)
But Zuko was one of two characters to be shown bleeding in the series. His first moment happens when Azula scratches his forehead with her nails in their first encounter. The other character to bleed in the show is Appa when he’s on his own and gets injured. Considering a cartoon has to be pretty choosy about when to show blood, it’s interesting that these two characters were chosen. Appa’s would make sense since it shows what he’s gone through, but Zuko’s is a little weird. Maybe it was to show the seriousness of him and Azula fighting, and that she wasn’t playing around.
1 Don’t Make Him Angry
It’s a fact that Zuko has many issues; who wouldn’t with the upbringing he had? But I don’t think people realize just how messed up Zuko actually is. While he didn’t go insane like Azula did, Zuko still suffered from a lot of mental issues like insomnia, chronic nightmares, paranoia, and the crippling fear that he would turn out like his father.
Zuko is still a traumatized young man.
While he is trying to do what’s right for his people and also for the world, Zuko is still a traumatized young man. We know that eventually, he becomes quite wise and calm in his old age, but while he was younger, he showed to be a very angry, bitter young man. And that got him into a fair amount of trouble. It was a good thing he had Iroh, or he probably never would’ve gotten out of that vicious cycle of anger.