Avatar: The Last Airbender: Why Iroh Didn't Become Fire Lord, Explained

By Klein Felt Posted:
Uncle Iroh Avatar: The Last Airbender Fire Lord

With Avatar: The Last Airbender back in the spotlight - thanks to the recently released Netflix series - fans have begun to wonder again why the beloved Uncle Iroh did not become the series' Fire Lord. 

Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko's acclaimed Avatar universe has returned (despite the original creators not being involved in the new live-action series), as audiences are thrown into the middle of a world of warring element-controlling nations. 

While the new show has brought plenty of nostalgia for longtime fans, it also resurfaced a few head-scratching questions from the original Nickelodeon series. 

[ Avatar: Why Aang Can Now Fly In Live-Action Netflix Last Airbender Show, Explained ]

Uncle Iroh's Claim to the Fire Lord Throne Explained

Avatar The Last Airbender Uncle Iroh

Some may wonder why Uncle Iroh (played by Star Wars star Paul Sun-Hyung Lee in the Netflix series) is not sitting atop the Fire Lord throne in Avatar: The Last Airbender

Technically speaking, it is Uncle Iroh who has the best claim to the role following the death of his father, Azulon. In the animated series, Iroh is 10 years older than his younger brother Ozai (played by Daniel Dae Kim in live-action), meaning he should be next in line for the throne.

However, things do not play out that way. 

Ozai Avatar The Last Airbender

According to events described in Season 2, Episode 7 of the hit Nickelodeon series, Fire Lord Azulon's dying request was to have Ozai succeed him and not his older son, Iroh. 

It may not be that simple though, as it is heavily implied that Ozai killed his father to take the throne and ascend to lead the Fire Nation. 

While at first broken up by his brother's deception, Iroh accepts that life is much more than the title one holds, putting his focus elsewhere for fulfillment. 

Avatar The Last Airbender Iroh Comics
Dark Horse Comics

In the Dark Horse Avatar comics, there is a time in which Iroh becomes interim Fire Lord while the young Prince Zuko is off looking for his mother. 

Following the defeat of Fire Lord Ozai at the hands of the Avatar Aang to close the series, Zuko is crowned the new leader of the Fire Nation and assumes the position his father once held. 

However, with the young prince still without answers as to who his mother is, he goes looking for her, leaving Iroh in charge for several weeks. 

Zuko eventually returns to reassume his title as Fire Lord, with Iroh's reign only temporary. 

Iroh & the Fire Lord Title In Live-Action

Netflix Avatar The Last Airbender Iroh

The succession of Ozai and how he ended up Fire Lord has yet to be addressed in the live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender series, along with Iroh's feelings surrounding the title. 

However, that could all change should the series be greenlit for a second season on Netflix. 

As the story of Ozai's rise to Fire Lord status is tackled in Book Two: Earth (aka Season 2) of the animated series, one can assume it would be a plot point explored in another batch of episodes in the live-action show. 

Avatar The Last Airbender Ozai Daniel Dae Kim

Speaking with The Radio Times while promoting Season 1, Ozai and Iroh actors Daniel Dae Kim and Paul Sun-Hyung Lee addressed this potential aspect of the story moving forward. 

Kim revealed he hopes in Season 2 (which was recently renewed by Netflix), there is a scene where the two brothers "address the fact that [Ozai is] the younger brother and actually talk about the succession and how it turned out the way it did:"

"I would really love to see a scene between us where we address the fact that I am the younger brother and actually talk about the succession and how it turned out the way it did."

The Ozai actor also said he will "talk to the writers" about his plans.

The animated Avatar: The Last Airbender show is streaming now in its entirety on Paramount+, while the live-action series is available on Netflix. 

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- In This Article: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Release Date
February 22, 2024
Dallas Liu
Gordon Cormier
Ian Ousley
- About The Author: Klein Felt
Klein Felt is a Senior Editor at The Direct. Joining the website back in 2020, he helped jumpstart video game content on The Direct. Klein plays a vital role as a part of the site's content team, demonstrating expertise in all things PlayStation, Marvel, and the greater entertainment industry.