Ozai was the tyrannical ruler of the Fire Nation, the father of Prince Zuko and Princess Azula, and the main antagonist of the Avatar series. Like every Fire Lord, Ozai was a Firebending Master, and prior to the ending of the series, is believed to have been the most powerful Firebender in The World of Avatar.
Ozai is the second born son of Fire Lord Azulon and Fire Lady Ilah, after his older brother Iroh. He was the husband ofUrsa, and by her had two children, Zuko and Azula. After Iroh's only son Lu Ten died, Ozai usurped his brother's right to the throne, in a scheme which resulted in his father's death and Ursa's banishment.
Like his father and grandfather, Ozai sought to conquer the other nations and become the supreme ruler of the world. To this end he planned to utilize Sozin's Comet to burn down the Earth Kingdom, renouncing the title of Fire Lord and declaring himself the Phoenix King, ruler of the world. He was defeated by Avatar Aang, who used Energybending to remove his Firebending power forever.
Little is known of Ozai's early history. When he was a baby, a portrait was painted of him while he was playing on a beach. It is possible that he shared a rivalry with his older brother, Iroh, as the two have little love for each other. It is also possible that because Iroh was the firstborn and heir to the throne, Azulon favored Iroh and neglected Ozai. This could partly explain why Ozai favors Azula: since his father favored the firstborn, Ozai would favor his own second born. At some point, like his father and grandfather before him, Ozai attempted to find and capture the Avatar, but failed as they all did. Unlike his father, grandfather, and brother, Ozai was never a general, and so he has not known great military accomplishments aside from being leader of the Fire Nation. Ozai married Ursa, and through her, he fathered two children: Zuko and Azula.
Reign as Fire Lord (94 ASC-100 ASC)Edit
Around six years before the start of the series, Ozai's older brother Iroh began the two-year Siege of Ba Sing Se, the Earth Kingdom capital, which ended when Iroh's son, Lu Ten, died in battle. This led Ozai to request that his father, Fire Lord Azulon, change the rules so that he rather than Iroh would inherit the throne. Ozai explains that without a son the line of Fire Lords would end with Iroh, while Ozai still has two children. Azulon became furious, refusing to betray his first-born son's right to the throne. As punishment, Azulon ordered Ozai to kill his own son, Zuko, so he would understand Iroh's pain. Princess Ursa found this out through her daughter Azula, and pleaded with Ozai to spare Zuko's life. Knowing that Ozai would do anything, even kill his own son to become Fire Lord, she offered him a plan that would ensure his rise to the throne and spare the life of Zuko. The details of this plan are never revealed in full, but Ozai states that Ursa did "vicious, treasonous things that night," resulting in the death of Azulon, her banishment from the Fire Nation, Ozai's rise to power, and ultimately the prevention of Zuko's death.
Despite familial ties, Zuko bore the brunt of his father's cruelty. Two years before the series began, the then 13 year-old Zuko, his eldest and least favored, spoke out in Ozai's war room against a general's plan to sacrifice novice troops in pursuit of victory. Angered by his impudence, Ozai demanded Zuko duel in an Agni Kai, not with the general who Zuko disrespected, but with Ozai himself. Seeing the Fire Lord in the arena, Zuko fell to his knees, pleading for forgiveness and refusing to duel his own father. For this perceived cowardice and disrespect, Ozai badly burned Zuko's face, permanently scarring him. He then exiled Zuko from the Fire Nation, under orders not to return until he had done the impossible: capture the long-lost Avatar, missing for a hundred years. This was meant to be an easy way of getting rid of Zuko, as all previous Fire Lords failed to find the Avatar. With the Avatar's sudden reappearance as the twelve-year-old Airbender Aang, Ozai became more aggressive in his pursuit of victory. Distrusting his son's competence, he promoted Zuko's rival Zhao from Commander to Admiral to increase his chances of capturing the Avatar. Unfortunately, Admiral Zhao was thwarted in his mission by Ozai's brother Iroh, who turned traitor in an effort to stop Zhao from killing the Water Tribe's patron Moon Spirit. Ozai expressed distaste at what he saw as his brother's treachery and son's failure by giving his daughter, Azula, the task of capturing both Zuko and Iroh.
After the successful Coup of Ba Sing Se, Ozai had almost successfully taken control of the world. Eventually, he spoke with his son Zuko, who had regained his honor by supposedly "killing" the Avatar, and helping Azula to conquer Ba Sing Se.
In a war meeting with his generals, the day before the eclipse, Ozai learns from Zuko that even though the Earth Kingdom had been officially conquered, its citizens would not accept defeat as long as they had hope. Ozai concluded that the only way to end Earth Kingdom resistance was to use the power of Sozin's Comet to burn the entire Earth Kingdom to the ground, and completely eradicate their "hope". During the eclipse on the Day of Black Sun, Ozai evacuates the Capital City in preparation for the invasion and hides in a heavily guarded underground bunker. Zuko shows up and demands permission to speak to his father. Ozai grants his request, amused at his son's daring. Zuko reveals that Azula shot down the Avatar and that she said that he did it because the Avatar was in fact still alive. Ozai is infuriated and attempts to attack Zuko, but is stopped when Zuko pulls out his twin dao swords against his father's disabled Firebending. Zuko tells him that he is done trying to earn his love, knowing that the very man who banished him and scarred him was not worthy of his love. Ozai said that it was to teach him respect. Zuko denies this, having had to learn everything on his own, and now realizes that the Fire Nation is unfit to rule the world and needs to return to harmony with the other nations. Ozai laughs at this declaration. Zuko goes on to say that he will free Uncle Iroh from jail and help the Avatar to defeat him, moving Ozai to declare Zuko a traitor once again. Zuko refuses to fight him since fighting his father is the Avatar's destiny, not his, so Ozai distracts him by telling Zuko what really happened to his mother.
Ozai reveals to Zuko that his father, Fire Lord Azulon, did indeed order Ozai to kill him, and that he would have done it had Zuko's mother not found out and interfered. She decided to have Ozai spare Zuko's life by giving the throne over to Ozai through Azulon's downfall. However, Ursa "committed treasonous things that night" and was not killed, but banished as a result, making Zuko realize that she may still be alive. Ozai decides that "banishment is a far too merciful penalty for treason" and sensing the eclipse outside had ended, tries to kill Zuko with a powerful display of lightning generation. However, he was not aware of Zuko's capability of Lightning redirection, which Zuko used to send the bolt right back at Ozai, slamming him against the wall and leaving him to seethe in anger as Zuko fled the Fire Nation to join the Avatar.
Phoenix King (100 ASC)Edit
When Sozin's Comet arrives, Ozai crowns himself Phoenix King, the ruler of the world, and leaves Azula as his successor as Fire Lord. He then departs with his fleet of Fire Nation Airships for the Earth Kingdom to carry out his plans. When he reaches the Earth Kingdom, he begins his attack but is quickly repelled by Avatar Aang, who destroys his airship.
Battle at Wulong ForestEdit
Ozai then prepared to battle the Avatar for control of the world. Ozai declared that the universe had delivered Aang to him "as an act of providence", while his father, grandfather, and son had all failed to capture the Avatar. Aang asked Ozai to stop the war, but instead Ozai began his attack.
For much of the battle, Ozai had an advantage due to the power of Sozin's Comet enhancing his already powerful Firebending. Aang was at a great disadvantage due to his unwillingness to harm or kill the Fire Lord. Eventually Ozai overwhelmed and cornered Aang, whom he proceeded to mock for having such a peaceful nature and for being the last of his race.
Determined to finish off the Avatar, Ozai accidentally unblocked Aang's seventh and final chakra, prompting him to enter the Avatar State. While in this state, Aang easily gained the upper hand. Using a combination of all four bending arts, Aang went on the offensive. Though he tried to defend himself, Ozai quickly realized he no longer had the upper hand, and was forced into a fighting retreat. Eventually, Aang caught up with him and pinned him down before delivering the final blow. Before it could be delivered, Aang regained control and voluntarily left the Avatar State, still not willing to kill Ozai to win. Instead, Aang used an ancient type of bending power, Energybending, to strip Ozai of his Firebending forever, ending the fight peacefully. Sokka, Toph and Suki later arrived and taunted Ozai, powerless and weary from Aang's new ability, calling him the "Loser Lord", "Phoenix-King-of-Getting-His-Butt-Whooped", and "King of the... Guys... Who Don't Win?."
With the war over and Zuko crowned the new Fire Lord, Ozai is put in the Fire Nation prison near the Royal Palace where Iroh was once held. It is unknown if Ozai had a trial. Zuko later visits him, saying that the banishment his father gave him set Zuko on the right path, and that perhaps jail time will give Ozai a chance to find the right path too. Fire Lord Zuko then demands that Ozai state Ursa's whereabouts, but his answer is never revealed. Ozai is now a broken down man without his Firebending.
- "You will learn respect, and suffering will be your teacher."- Ozai to his son before scarring him for life.
Ozai is extremely cruel, easily angered, aggressive, domineering, and merciless. It is implied that Ozai's deep-seated anger stems from a failed relationship with his own father, Fire Lord Azulon, possibly because Iroh was favored over Ozai. Iroh noted several times that his brother is "not the understanding type", and that he has never known Ozai to regret, forgive or change his mind about anything. He believes in harsh and brutal discipline, and no one is safe from his anger and aggression when he is displeased, not even his own children. When his son, Zuko, was thirteen, Ozai burned his face and banished him from his country simply because Zuko spoke out of turn during a war meeting. Although Ozai seems to think of this as a lesson in respect, Zuko later condemns the action as simple cruelty. He tortures Zuko with his perceived inferiority, saying that Azula was "born lucky", while he was "lucky to be born". He only acknowledged Zuko when he helped his sister conquer Ba Sing Se, and when he "killed" the Avatar.
It must also be noted that Ozai was willing to kill his own family if they got in the way of his goals for world conquest. When ordered by his father Azulon to kill Zuko to teach him the pain of losing a son, Ozai admitted to Zuko that he would have gladly carried out the murder had Ursa not interfered. He also attempted to kill Zuko once again when the latter announced his intent to join the Avatar.
Ozai is mentally and sometimes even physically abusive to his children. While he may have tried to be a good husband and father at one point (as implied by Zuko's flashbacks to family vacations on Ember Island), his anger and lust for power degraded his relationship with his family. He believes skill and accomplishment determine worth. This allowed the naturally cunning and talented Azula to rise to the position of his favorite child. He expects nothing less than the best from her, thinking her a Firebending prodigy. This expectation put a great amount of stress over Azula, forcing her to become a perfectionist. Ultimately it was the environment in which Ozai raised Azula, without a mother-figure and where fear, power, and perfection were the only reliable truths, that set the groundwork to her total mental collapse.
Fire Lord Ozai was an extremely powerful and skilled Firebender, and possibly the most powerful in the entire series. It is believed that his older brother Iroh was the only other Firebender to rival him. However, Iroh himself showed some doubts about that claim. Ozai was able to quickly generate extremely powerful lightning without having to slowly move his arms in a circular direction (he instead moves both arms quickly in a circular direction, performing the same movements, just much faster) and sustaining it. He shot lightning out of both hands, as opposed to Azula and Iroh, who only shoot out of one hand. In the series finale, Ozai's furious prowess with Firebending is finally witnessed in full. He used the power of Sozin's Comet to enhance his already deadly bending, scorching a large segment of the Wu Long forest. He easily matched Aang before overwhelming and almost killing him. Ozai gained the upper hand because of Aang's unwillingness to fight to kill. His generation of lightning was also displayed numerous times. Not only was he capable of performing it while in midair, but his lightning was also vastly more forked than his previously seen lightning generation and much stronger. He is also able to produce and guide multiple blasts of fire simultaneously, as seen in his fight with Aang in the Avatar State.
Much like his daughter Azula, Ozai had the ability to propel himself through the air like a jet. He seemed to have had much more control over this ability than Azula did. He was capable of keeping himself in the air for longer periods of time. He could also maneuver at great speeds while keeping his hands free to launch attacks, and lash out blasts of fire with kicks while in mid-flight.
By the end of the series, Ozai is no longer a Firebender, as Aang used Energybending to remove his abilities permanently.