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Azula deserves a redemption arc just as much as Zuko (and the creators thought so, too)

Redemption arcs are a curious thing: We witness someone, a villain specifically, swallow their pride and drop everything they’ve planned to move over to the protagonist’s side.

I doubt anyone could ever forget the exact moment that revealed Severus Snape’s true intentions in “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” The entire plot of one of my favorite anime movies, “Koe no Katachi,” focuses on a bully’s atonement for his actions as a child. Prince Zuko’s character development was a redemption journey on its own, but there’s another “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (“ATLA”) character that deserved one.

About a year ago, “ATLA” head writer Aaron Ehasz tweeted this thread on a scrapped redemption arc idea for the feisty Fire Princess. It seemed like a joke at first, given that he tweeted it on April Fool’s Day. 


Ehasz said the fourth season―which would have happened if it weren’t for the movie that flopped so bad that the creators wanted to pretend it didn’t exist―would have shown Azula’s side more. In the series, we barely get to see Azula’s side―only snippets of her story that we’re left to piece together to understand the complexity of her character. 


Granted that she wouldn’t suddenly get chummy with Team Avatar―of course not, this is Azula we’re talking about―she would have at least reconciled with her family and her friends, Mai and Ty Lee. We would have seen her get out of the mess she’s in with Zuko’s help, as Zuko was one of the only people who believed in her and did his best to understand her.

We would have had a deep and moving sibling arc, showing the bond between Zuko and Azula. They weren’t always enemies to begin with. They had a good childhood up until Ozai made his favoritism apparent.


Personally, I would like to see this redemption. There’s more to Azula than the sadistic antagonist who leaves a trail of her blue flames wherever she chased Zuko, Aang and the gang episode after episode.

In the finale, we see a restrained Azula basically lose it after her own brother Zuko, alongside Katara, defeated her in battle. She breaks down, her face morphing from anger to complete despair as she sobs on the floor and succumbs to her defeat. 

As a kid, it was satisfying to watch Azula suffer. As an adult, I started to see the cracks in the crown princess’s hunger for power.

Was Azula inherently evil? Not necessarily. There are many ways to interpret a character like her. It could be attributed to her upbringing, her need for control and power, or even the fact that, unlike Zuko, she didn’t have people like Iroh in her life. 

It’s also worth noting that Azula was canonically 14 in the original series, so imagine all that pain she’s been holding in up until that point. 

With Netflix developing a new live-action adaptation and the creators of “ATLA” actually on board this time, we can be sure that it’ll be more faithful to the original series. Whether or not we’ll witness a fiery redemption arc, we can only hope.

Until then, you can relieve the element-bending thrill that is “ATLA” on Netflix.

Read more: ICYMI: Prince Zuko actor Dante Basco has a book about… Prince Zuko


Still from “Avatar: The Last Airbender”


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