‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’: What Happened to Zuko’s Mom?

As one of the most popular animated television shows of all time, Avatar: The Last Airbender has also become one of the most successful. The series spawned a franchise empire that is unlike anything else, and created legions of devoted fans who binge-watch the show to this day.

Although it only ran for three seasons, it is still considered to be one of the most influential shows of all time. To this day, fans love to debate the show and the large extended world of characters and situations that it created. 

What is ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ about?

Avatar The Last Airbender
‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ | Courtesy Nickelodeon

Avatar: The Last Airbender debuted on Nickelodeon in 2005. The series tells the story of 12-year-old Aang, the last survivor of his nation and the current Avatar, an individual who can bend all four elements, fire, water, earth, and air.

It also tells the tale of Zuko, an exiled prince of the Fire Nation who attempts to restore the honor of his nation by capturing Aang. The series received widespread critical acclaim and won a multitude of awards over the years, including five Annie Awards and a Primetime Emmy Award. 

Avatar: The Last Airbender featured a wide variety of supporting characters, including Aang’s close friends, Sokka and Katara, and Zuko’s ambitious, headstrong sister Azula. Zuko himself became one of the runaway stars of the series, the character who resonated the most with viewers of all ages.

It was Zuko’s journey through young adulthood that became the focus of a variety of auxiliary materials, including comics, movies, and a prequel novel series. 

The relationship between Zuko and his mother

Zuko’s relationship with his father was one of the central storylines of Avatar: The Last Airbender. In the series beginning, it is revealed that Zuko was banished by his father, Fire Lord Ozai, after Zuko spoke out against plans that he had made in a war meeting.

Lord Ozai challenged Zuko to a duel, but the young man refused, which led Lord Ozai to send him away from the Fire Nation for good — after burning his face. Zuko would only be allowed to return if he was able to capture the Avatar.

In the mythology of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko’s mother mysteriously disappeared around the time that Lord Ozai rose to power. To the audience, she was perceived dead.

Still, it was never revealed in the animated series exactly how or why his mother vanished, and although Zuko mentally struggles with the effects of her loss, it wasn’t until much later than fans discovered what actually happened to Zuko’s mother.

In the series finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko confronts his father about mother, suggesting she may not be dead. His missing mother was referenced first in the Legend of Korra, one of Avatar’s associated television shows, and then again in the comic book series The Search Part Two. 

What really happened to Zuko’s mom?

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In The Search Part Two, Zuko, who is by that time a Fire Lord, enlists Azula to help him uncover the truth about his missing mother. They discover that Zuko’s mother, Ursa, went into hiding, after convincing Ozai not to kill Zuko, and changed her appearance permanently.

Her memories had also been erased by a spirit called the Mother of Faces. Ursa apologized to Zuko and Azula for leaving them, and after her memories are magically restored, she is able to reunite with her son.

Ursa’s reunion with Azula is considerably less happy, as is her meeting with Ozai — she witnesses the former Fire Lord in captivity, completely powerless. In the end, Zuko’s story comes full circle — even though many fans who missed out on the comics might not have been able to get the full details.