One of the bigger mysteries of Nickelodeon’s hit series Avatar: The Last Airbender is the fate of Zuko’s mother. Avatar: The Last Airbender was a very popular anime-style TV series that attracted a lot of fans. With a great story and excellent animation, Avatar: The Last Airbender captured the hearts of fans around the world, even those that are generally not considered to be anime fans. Its 61-episode three seasons aired from 2005 to 2008, and while the show was continued with The Legend of Korra, there is a whole world of stories set between the two series. Luckily for us, these stories have been published in comic book form. Avatar: The Last Airbender is the title of the comic book sequel to the original series that expands on the stories and reveals a lot of new canon information on the characters and the world of Avatar. This is where we are going to look for answers today.
Finding out that her husband had decided to murder their son, Zuko, Ursa made a deal to save her son, which resulted in her banishment from the Fire Nation Capital. Returning to her home village, she took up a new identity and started a new family, but later annulled that process. Zuko later revoked her banishment and she was able to return to the capital as his mother.
Focusing on Zuko’s mother, Ursa, we are going to explain exactly what happened to her in the world of Avatar. The main series revealed that she had made a bargain to save her son’s life, but this article is going to reveal all the necessary details, including what the bargain was, why she was banished, whether she ever saw her son again and whether she is even alive. Enjoy!
Why was Zuko’s mother, Ursa, banished?
The history of the Fire Nation is a very turbulent one, as you’d expect from a nation whose primary power source is a destructive element. But, that doesn’t really have to do much with the intrigues that led to Ursa’s banishment from the Fire Nation. The story beings long before Zuko’s birth, when Zuko’s grandfather, the Fire Lord Azulon, heard a prophecy that his lineage would retain the throne of the Fire nation if it mixed with the lineage of the Avatar Ruko.
Knowing that, he located Ursa and forced her to marry his son, Ozai, despite her being in love and betrothed to a man called Ikai. The marriage went through and Ursa soon gave birth to an infant son, Zuko. But, this is where the real intrigue begins.
Ozai hada brother called Iroh. Iroh was a Fire Nation General and was older than Ozai. During a war, Iroh’s son died and Ozai quickly demanded his father give him the right to the throne, thus skipping Iroh completely. Angered by the question, the ruthless Azulon decided to make Ozai feel the same pain that Iroh felt by forcing him to murder his own child, Zuko. Knowing what that would get him, Ozai accepted (thus winning the Father of the Year Award).
Ursa, of course, found out about this and as a caring mother, she wanted to do something to spare her child’s life. She made a deal with Ozai: she would produce a colorless, odorless poison with which Ozai could poison Azulon and claim the throne for himself. In return, Ozai would spare Zuko’s life. Being the Machiavellian schemer he is, Ozai accepted, but only under the condition that Ursa left the Fire Nation capital forever. Why? Well, he was a smart fiend – he did not want Ursa to use that same poison on him.
Heartbroken, Ursa accepted and the rest is history. Ozai really did ascend to the throne of the Fire Nation, although he later ended up imprisoned, and Ursa did really leave the capital and returned to her home village.
What happened to Zuko’s mother in Avatar?
Now, after Ursa left the capital, she returned to her home village, the same place Ozai told her she had to forget about at their wedding. The story becomes quite heartbreaking from this moment on. Upon returning, Ursa met a man called Noren. Noren was actually her former love, Iken, but Ursa did not know what immediately. Why? Well, during the years, Noren met a powerful spirit called Mother of Faces, who had the ability to completely alter a person’s appearance. Iken demanded she do it to him so he took up the identity of Noren.
When she found that out, Ursa also found the Mother of Faces and wanted to make a similar deal with her. Namely, she was a potential target of the vindictive Ozai, so a change in appearance would make her life a bit easier. But, the Mother of Faces sensed her pain, as she had access to her mind and her memories. She then offered her a deal – along with the change in appearance, she would also wipe her mind, removing all memories she had of Ozai and the dreadful events that led to her banishment. Although broken that she would also forget Zuko, Ursa accepted.
The Mother of Faces fulfilled her part of the deal and a new woman was “born” – Noriko. Noriko returned to Noren and the two lived on happily with each other. Sometime later, Noriko gave birth to Kiyi, Zuko’s half-sister, whom Zuko will later have to rescue from Azula, along with several other children.
Does Zuko ever see his mother again?
Sometime later, Zuko goes to search for his and Azula’s mother. Zuko met Noren and Noriko in the village, but he had no idea that they were actually Iken and Ursa. He heard the story about Iken and Ursa disappearing, but he did not know the truth until he himself met with the Mother of Faces, who revealed to him the truth about Noren and Noriko. Zuko decided to return to the village and confront his mother with the truth.
Noriko had, sometime before these events, begun to remember things about her past life, but most of them were too blurry for her to fully understand them. When Zuko returned and confronted Noriko with the truth, she decided to go back to the Mother of Faces and have her restore her memories, which she did, although this happened a bit later (see below). She remained Noriko in appearance, but now she remembered who she was.
Zuko was happy to be reunited with this mother and the scene was truly touching. On the other hand, Azula, who had also arrived on the scene and found out the truth, wasn’t that happy with the truth. Azula appeared in the house wanting to kill her and questioning if Kiyi was a replacement for her. Noriko’s response was that if she was indeed her mother, her only fault was not loving her enough. Zuko managed to stop his sister from killing their mother.
After Zuko defeated Azula and she ran off, the Mother of Faces appeared, asking her if she wanted to regain her former memories, to which she agreed. The next day she apologized to Zuko and told him the truth about the letter. Zuko forgave her and Ursa decided to share her past with her son.
Having found out the truth and his mother’s past, Zuko, the Fire Lord, revokes her banishment and allows his mother, with her husband, to return to the Fire Nation capital. A short time after reuniting with her son, Zuko arranged for Ursa and her family to sail back toward the Fire Nation Capital for the first time since Ozai banished her. As the mother of the new Fire Lord, Ursa received the formal title of “Lady”. When Zuko announced that they were nearing the main island, she was pleased to notice that he still had that sparkle in his eyes like when he was little whenever he got excited.
Ursa was anxious to return to the capital once again, and her fears were proven true when Kiyi was kidnapped in Azula’s plot, but Ursa was overjoyed to see her daughter safely returned thanks to Zuko and his allies. The ordeal she went through also gave her the strength she needed to face her ex-husband.
Is Ursa alive?
As the comic book reveals, Ursa is, indeed, alive. Her last major event was her visiting her ex-husband, the villainous Ozai, in prison. This happened after Zuko, Aang, Mai, and Kei Lo managed to rescue Kiyi and the other abducted children from Azula. Accompanied by Iroh, Ursa decided to go and see Ozai in prison for the first time in many years.
Ozai, remaining the fiend we all knew he was, spouted threats at her, but she was untouched by it and labeled the former Fire Lord as “a small, small man” trying to be big, a man who never had a heart for any member of his family or even himself, which was a fitting and just ending to their troublesome relationship.
She then turned and left his cell, as Ozai desperately demanded her to come back and grovel before him. Ursa then returned to bed with Noren and Kiyi, who welcomed her for the first time since getting her original face back.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!