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    Zuko (Avatar: The Last Airbender)

    "That's rough, buddy."
    Gender: Male
    Type: Tragic Redeemed Prince
    Age: 16 (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
    17-18 (The Promise)
    18-19 (The Search)
    87-88 (Book Three: Change of The Legend of Korra)
    90-91 (Book Four: Balance)
    Species: Human
    Portrayed by: Dante Basco (in Avatar: The Last Airbender)
    Bruce Davison (in The Legend of Korra)
    Status: Alive
    Media of origin: Avatar: The Last Airbender
    The Legend of Korra

    "I used to think this scar marked me - the mark of the banished prince, cursed to chase the Avatar forever. But lately, I've realized I'm free to determine my own destiny, even if I'll never be free of my mark."

    Fire Lord Zuko (formerly known as Prince Zuko, and often just addressed as Zuko), is a character from Avatar: The Last Airbender. His role consisted of being the central antagonist in Book 1: Water, an anti-hero in Book 2: Earth, and a deuteragonist alongside Katara in Book 3: Fire. He also played a supporting role in The Legend of Korra. Zuko was the disgraced prince whose father banished him from the Fire Nation and in order to return home, he must find and capture Avatar Aang to restore his honor.

    Why He Has the Honor

    1. Outstanding Character Development, Zuko started off as an impatient troubled teenager with a short fuse, who strives to get his honor restored and to please his father and after finding Aang, he finds himself competing against Zhao to capture him. As the story goes on, he struggles to deal with his morale and inner turmoil and was able to bond with his uncle, Iroh over time, before ultimately betraying him at the end of Book 2, which he regrets afterwards. Even after returning home, Zuko feels guilty and is still having unresolved anger issues, which is actually due to his harsh past and unable to understand what is right and wrong. After going through many trials in his life and learning the suffering of other people, Zuko became much calmer, considerate, patient, and his anger eventually subsides completely in The Legend of Korra. This improved his fire bending to the point where he even matched up to Azula's level. His outward determination and inner pain make it easy for people, especially those who have had abuse and/or neglect in their past, to relate to and look up to him.
    2. Dante Basco does an amazing job voicing Zuko.
      • Dev Patel does an admittedly decent job portraying him in the live-action movie despite the poor writing, making him one of the only actors to not give terrible performances along with Shaun Toub as Iroh.
    3. His design looks really cool and handsome.
    4. His backstory is very deep and sympathetic, as he was faced with maltreatment from his father Ozai, who preferred his sister Azula over him; but his mother Ursa had always been there for him, while not giving enough attention to Azula, until she was banished. Things got worse for him when he was forced to fight his father in an Agni Kai because according to Ozai, he spoke out of turn at a war meeting. Zuko tries in vain to plead for his father's mercy, but instead got the left side of his face horribly burned beyond repair, bringing on his trademark scar he had to live with for the rest of his life and subsequently lost his honor and exiled from the Fire Nation (accompanied by Iroh) and given the task of hunting down the Avatar, which took him three straight years to find his target.
    5. Zuko had come close to redemption at The Crossroads of Destiny, but he was manipulated by Azula to take her side and fight against Katara (whom he briefly bonded with) and also betrayed Iroh, the very person who tried to help him cope with his situation. While this had major consequences, with his acts harming his relationship with his uncle and Ba Sing Se's complete fall into the hands of the Fire Nation, there is justification for it on the writers' part, as this prevented Zuko from having a rushed redemption.
    6. Speaking of redemption, Zuko's full-scale Heel-Face Turn was very realistic and well-done, given that he had been given hints of this happening as he learns that his maternal great-grandfather happened to be Avatar Roku (who was Aang's predecessor) while his paternal great-grandfather was Sozin, the two former friends that symbolized Zuko's inner moral conflict and the fact that he learned that Ozai (at Azula's suggestion) planned to have the Earth Kingdom completely burned to ashes with the power of Sozin's Comet. Zuko once believed the Fire Nation to be on the good, but the meeting involving Ozai's plans made him learn that it wasn't the case at all and that he was actually contributing to the second genocide, this time, the Earth Kingdom.
      • Furthermore, the scene where Zuko finally stands up to his father on The Day of Black Sun, which the solar eclipse negates firebending is satisfying, which goes to show that Zuko has had enough of his abuse and trying to please him, as Ozai never loved him as a son. He also learned that the only fatherly love that he ever received was from Iroh, who contributed to putting him on the right path.
    7. Even after redeeming himself, Zuko resolved to become Aang's firebending teacher and contribute to their cause, but he still had to convince Team Avatar, who did not trust him (though Toph does since she knows he is being honest), that he is a changed person and had to work hard to earn their trust, especially Katara, whom he hurt the most during the Coup of Ba Sing Se. He eventually succeeds, and he even bonded with each of them on their personal missions.
    8. His reunion and apology to his uncle was very emotional and heartwarming.
    9. Memorable one-liners such as "That's rough, buddy", and "Why am I so bad at being good?!".
    10. Seeing how far Azula's sanity has fallen, he feels sorry for her even after she put him through so much trouble as well as Team Avatar, and rather than put her in prison alongside their now powerless father, he instead brings her to a mental institution which is an appropriate course of action, and he became Fire Lord where he would lead the Fire Nation in the path of righteousness.
    11. Pay close attention to Zuko's hairstyle throughout the series. The hair serves as a symbol of his various terms of morality in the show. In season 1, Zuko's an antagonist and he has a singular ponytail to match the actions. In season 2, he cuts that ponytail off and he hair is short for the next couple episodes as we begin to see into him a bit more and he's beginning to question his alliance. Then in the final season, he's shown to have a big bun of hair bringing the point home of point of how he well-intentioned and doesn't mean any harm... plus he keeps the style even after joining Team Avatar and proved he's changed.

    Dishonorable Qualities

    1. He infamously insulted Aang In The Southern Raiders, where he said "That's cute and all, but this isn't Air Temple Preschool. It's the real world". Which not only comes across as racist, but also sad, as Aang's culture died over a century ago, because of his Great-Grandfather, making it more insulting.
      • He also got no comeuppance for this
    2. He can be a jerk towards others unnecessarily at times, especially to his uncle, Iroh.
    3. His obsession with his mission and tendency to verbally repeat his desire to capture Aang, can be a bit annoying to some. Thankfully, this antic tones down midway through Book 2.
    4. In the critically panned live-action movie, The Last Airbender, Zuko was reduced to a generic edgy teenager rather than someone who struggles with free will and the expectations of others.
    5. Depending on your view his arc can seem obnoxiously melodramatic to the point where you want him to lighten up.


    • Dante Basco reprises his role as Zuko in the infamous DEATH BATTLE webisode "Zuko VS Shoto Todoroki".


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