Avatar: What Happened to Prince Zuko’s Left Eye? How Did He Get the Scar?

Image Credit: Robert Falconer/Netflix

Netflix’s ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ follows the tumultuous journeys of its various characters, all of whom go through their own trials and tribulations that test their mettle and influence their goals. While there are all kinds of characters in the show, each with their unique personalities and challenges, Prince Zuko stands out as the character with one of the most interesting arcs in the show. He starts out as a villain, but as we delve into his backstory, it becomes clear that he is much more than just a bad guy. He is a complex character, driven by the wrong things that lead him on the right path. There are several markers of his journey, but none are as memorable as the scar on the left side of his face. How did he get it? SPOILERS AHEAD

Prince Zuko’s Scar is a Reminder of His Failure to be Ruthless

Image Credit: Robert Falconer/Netflix

Prince Zuko was born as the heir to the Fire Nation. The firstborn of Fire Lord Ozai, he knew he was bound to take the throne someday. When he became old enough to join his father on the war council, he prepared himself for the role of the prince. He decided to do his best and show his father that he is made for the role, and if there are any shortcomings, he is ready to quickly get over them so he could fit into his father’s shoes someday. However, his father sees him in a different light.

Try as he might to present himself as an entirely ruthless man, Prince Zuko has a kind heart. He thinks about others, and for his father, this is his biggest flaw. On his first day on the war council, Zuko is asked what strategy would be best for attacking a stronghold that has been out of their reach for a long time. Zuko didn’t expect to do much talking during the council meeting, so he was taken aback by the question. All the answers he gives are completely unsatisfactory to his father, who returns to his other officers for answers.

One of the officers suggests a plan that would lead to certain victory, but it would also mean sending a unit of their soldiers to certain death. The prospect of knowingly sending the soldiers to their doom doesn’t sit well with Zuko. He speaks out against it, calling it a stupid plan. He calls for compassion for their soldiers and is in disbelief that his father would allow such a thing. This discord in the council leads his father to declare that the matter will be solved by Agni Kai. Zuko expects to fight the general who came up with the plan but is shocked to discover that his father would be the opponent.

Ozai says that by protesting the war council’s plan, Zuko was protesting Ozai himself. The prince had questioned the Fire Lord’s intellect and intentions, and that’s not something he could bear, let alone from his own son. Zuko pleads with his father not to go forward with the duel, but the Fire Lord’s mind is made up. The rule of Agni Kai suggests that it will end only when one opponent has burned the other. In the duel, there comes a point when Zuko has the upper hand, and he almost burns his father. However, he hesitates, and this convinces Ozai that Zuko is weak.

To teach Zuko a lesson, especially that one should never show compassion to their enemy as it will lead to their own defeat, Ozai burns Zuko. He does it right on the prince’s face so he will never forget the lesson his father wanted to teach him and become the ruthless prince that he was expected to be if he really wanted to become Fire Lord. For Zuko, the scar is a reminder of his failure, and every time he looks at himself, he is reminded of his subsequent banishment, and it further drives him to prove himself to his father.

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