You really want to know what happened to Zuko’s mom?


The first part of The Search was released in comic book stores today and should be in wide release in the next couple of weeks. And so begins the 3-part story that answers the question fans have had for years — “What happened to Zuko’s mom?”

I can’t count the number of times I’ve been asked that by fans of the show, because it’s a lot.

While we were working on Book 1 of Korra, Bryan and I pitched a TV movie version of the search for Zuko’s mom to Nickelodeon. They weren’t interested in doing animated TV movies, and chose to pick up Book 2 of Korra instead.  (And yes, we’re still working on it.) Around the same time, Dark Horse wanted to publish ongoing stories with Aang and Zuko, so we started working with the writer Gene Yang to develop new adventures. We decided against having The Search be the first trio of graphic novels, but knew that the graphic novels were a great place to ultimately tell the story. Last year, I spoke with Gene Yang about some of the ideas we had, and he took those ideas even further, which inspired some other story developments. It was a collaborative back and forth and Gene did a terrific job with the scripts. I’m proud of the books and I think it does Zuko and Ursa’s story justice.

Bryan always tells the fans they can blame me for making them wait for an answer, so I’ll take the heat. When we wrote the finale of Avatar: The Last Airbender, we had so much to wrap up, that I thought it was more intriguing to have the fate of Zuko’s mother remain unresolved. It implied that his story wasn’t over, that the lives of these characters would continue on, even though the series had ended. Plus, I thought that the story was full of possibility and that a quick wrap-up would not be satisfying.

I didn’t know if we’d ever get the chance to tell the story, but I was okay with leaving it a question in the viewer’s mind. I thought it was kind of intriguing.

But I never anticipated how much this question would burn in people’s minds, so much so that I’m still being asked about Zuko’s mom over 4 years later. But now I have an idea why.

In The Storytelling Animal, Jonathan Gottschall writes, “The storytelling mind is allergic to uncertainty, randomness, and coincidence. It is addicted to meaning.” Leaving Zuko’s mom as an uncertainty created some anxiety in people who were looking for certainty and closure. We have a need to find meaning in our stories, and this dangling thread was like an itch that couldn’t be scratched.

So, I’m sorry you couldn’t scratch that itch for the past 4 1/2 years. Now you can. The mystery will be solved. And I assure you, at the end of part 3, there is a definite answer to “what happened to Zuko’s mom?” And that’s what makes me nervous.

Can it possibly live up to the stories all you fans have imagined over the past 5 years? I doubt it.

It’s made me think of our expectations for certain stories. Some books and movies are so hyped, so anticipated, that they never live up to the expectation. Now, I’m not saying this story is as big as Harry Potter or something, but in our small realm of the Avatar universe, it’s pretty highly anticipated.

Remember Lost? How pissed off everyone was because they wanted answers to every mystery that was raised? They left a lot of little itches to be scratched. I know I’m in the minority here, but I was pretty satisfied with the way it ultimately turned out, despite the unsolved mysteries. Honestly, I don’t really care that I never learned the truth about the three toed statue. That’s not what the show was about. What mattered was explaining what that experience meant to the characters. And that’s what I remember.

All this is to say, I hope you enjoy The Search, and that it feels good to finally scratch that itch.

And I may be opening a can of spider-worms here, but if you do read it, I’d love to hear what you think.

A few of my other blogs you might find interesting:

Legend of Korra Soundtrack: Music as Storyteller

Why the Story of Superman Still Matters

Violence and Story, Part 1 & Part 2


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203 thoughts on “You really want to know what happened to Zuko’s mom?

  1. You were curious why people still ask about Sukko’s mother. I want to know whether or not my ideas of what happened are is correct. Was she really in the mirror(think the face-eater) or was that a delusion(The Black Swan). If it was, how could she be hidden all these years without anyone knowing? I look forward to reading the series.

  2. I also had questions about Zuko’s mother. Her presence and fate is a whole other tier of stories that have already pressed on the present. Learning about her would lend clues to the restlessness of Zuko’s personality, and perhaps how it could resolve itself in maturation

  3. I really don’t care if zuko finds his mom but i can’t pass up new adventures with aang, katara, sokka, zuko, and toph

  4. zuko’s mother killed zuko’s gandfather so zuko’s father to take over and zuko wouldn’t have to die. his mother knew that she wouldn’t be able to come back but she had to do it to protect her som

  5. I think skipping forward all those year to korra was a mistake. People want to see Aangs life! It was only just beginning!! Legend of korra is tooooo modernized and it took the uniqueness out of the show. I mean come on, republic city? The Last Airbender was amazing BECAUSE it was different and not modernized. Take a vote and I can guarantee people would rather you continue the series with Aang Katara Sokka and Toph. I personally think it was the best show ever created but now it’s ruined.

    1. With all due respect to Mike & Bryan, the setting of Avatar was NOT unique. Not even close. It’s the same general idea as Lord of the Rings, Final Fantasy, Inuyasha, Dungeons & Dragons, Rurouni Kenshin, etc.

      The concept of “medieval world with some steam-era technology” is pretty played out. The concept of “fantasy 1920’s era” is much newer. The only things I can think of that fit under that are Bioshock Infinite & arguably Fullmetal Alchemist.

      The thing is, it WASN’T the beginning, it was the end. We set out to see him defeat the Fire Lord & end the war. Well, that happened. If you keep continuing with him, you run the risk of the problem that a lot of arc-based shows have: New superpowered villains just keep coming out of nowhere to give the hero problems every year or so.

      Also, I have checked the viewership ratings before. Legend of Korra has more fans than Avatar: the Last Airbender ever did, by 1 or 2 million, I think. Presumably because it has most of the avatar fans, and new fans, from the new generation and people who prefer more sci fi settings.

      Frankly, I think that the people who complain that it’s ruined are just being stubborn, & not really the fans who should be catered to. I mean, who wants to write a story for someone who is just going to complain that it’s terrible, not because of weak plot or characters or anything like that, but simply because it did not go EXACTLY the way that they preferred?

      1. I agree how stubborn people are being, Its like people are against change or something.

        They could have continued with Avatar: The Last Airbender their were a lot of stories they could have continued with and could have created awesome new story-lines (As the comics after the series have proved) But after awhile it would have gotten played out. The show was to epic to let that happen.

        But I personally thing the show was original in its own way.

    2. I agree with Amirah ,Avatar: the last airbender is the best show ever. Legends of Korra is the worst show ever .How can you put Legends of Korra as an extension of Avatar : The last airbender.

      1. Have you seen Honey Boo Boo? Or one of those soap operas that’s too poor to afford background actors, so they use cardboard cutouts of people?

    3. I quite agree with this. I loved the Last airbender because it was a story of great friendship, love and unity. The choice of characters and personalities for Aang, Sokka, Toph, Katara, Zuko and even uncle Iroh was awesome. I specially loved that Zuko realises his own destiny and joins the Avatar even to defeat his own father. Aang has to go through lots of challenges, and carry a huge burden, being upheld by his friends, until he reaches the point where he faces the fire lord, and finally brings peace.
      I honestly have loved the series, every episode of it, and I think Aang deserves more of his story to be told, more of his future adventures with his friends. Aang is the sweet fellow that we have loved throughout the series. I sincerely feel sorry that you started straightforward with Korra. Please, at least continue with Aang’s adventures as a comic after “The Search” part 3 is published. Please…

    4. Oh please! There was nothing wrong with that. It’s good that they became more modernized, it shows that time was moving FORWARDS. You can’t stay in the Stone Age forever, silly. I found it exciting and more relatable to see all those cool things, the cars, the planes! It showed how far the Avatar has gone and the only problem I have is the unfinished business with the before characters, but I guess that keeps us on our toes because maybe we’ll learn throughout the second season of The Legend of Korra.

      1. Glad someone’s with me here. The only slight problem I had with the technology was that I would have liked to see more “otherworldly” stuff. Like those caterpillar earthbending tanks or the airships. But not like the mecha tanks, which were kind of strange, & not really useful. But, for the most part, LoK used technology pretty well. I particularly like how the radio allowed Amon to torment anyone in the city at any time.

    5. Wanna take a vote?…
      The only thing I agree with is that people wanted to see Aangs life but nothing last forever nor do things stays the same, I would have loved to seen the progress after the 100 year war and thanks to the comics… I get too. (Although I would have loved to seen a made for tv movie instead)

      Everything else I disagree with. Im in my 20s and a HUGE Avatar fan! (Point being that im not some little kid who doesn’t know what hes talking about) Since the show is placed 70 years later what did you expect? Things to have stayed the same? From watching the latest season ok Korra it looks like Ba sing Se really hasnt changed but technology is always changing and so is life. I think Korra/The Avatar Universe as kept up with the times and things are a bit more modernized but its not like futurama or something. The animation looks awesome and with Republic City shows how much and how far people have come since the 100 year war.
      Also the storyline with the fire nation colonies turning it into the United Republic of Nations was really cool so people don’t have to go back in time and live divided and gives people from all nations a chance to live and work together.

      Anyways, I don’t think that the best show ever got ruined but took a show and improved it in a different light and started a whole new journey. Change is good.

  6. I read part one…and the ending shocked me so much, I am still stunned about it. I don’t want to ruin the ending of part one…but I do want to ask…did you always know the information that is presented in the end of part 1?

  7. I consider myself lucky, in that I just recently watched Avatar (finished the last episodes today, in fact!) and won’t have to wait long to get the answer to this question! I’m pretty darn curious about it, which is why I decided to Google it in the first place, but if it weren’t answered I think I could have accepted it. I’ll definitely read the book though. I thought Zuko as a character and story-arch was the most interesting part of Avatar.

  8. Omg read on if you want to spoil it all okay……….. Zuko isn’t. Ursa angle ozai son he is Ursa and ikem’s son ikem’s is Ursa first lover
    He proposed to Ursa Ursa said yes then ozai proposed and she said yes so then she married ozai u can trust me because I read the book

    1. It is only suggested that Zuko might be Ikem’s son, which is something I find hard to believe. They look nothing alike, but Zuko looks like a clone of Ozai.

      1. Not to mention the fact that Azula and Ozai talked, and it would be too convenient for them if Zuko were proven to be proven not to be of royal blood. Not to mention the fact that it would invalidate most of the developments of Zuko’s character, defined by his conflicting lineage. So I say it’s (hopefully) not as it seems.

  9. I want that nickelodeon should make continuation of avatar the last airbender.
    Like what happened after the war, how did they make pease between the nations?
    And did Aang and Katara broke up some time in a period or like that stuff that would be fun and interesting.

  10. I personally LOVED the first part of The Search. (SPOILERS AHEAD SO IF YOU HAVEN’T READ IT YET YOU MIGHT WANT TO STOP READING THIS COMMENT NOW) Even tough I was surprised by Ikem being Zuko’s real father (or at least so it seems to this point) I felt like it all came together finally (Ozai probably didn’t know about it but still somehow never felt authentic, fatherly love towards Zuko) I love that you are taking the effort to tell the audience what happened after all this years and how it is comming out with these wonderfull comics.

    If somehow, Mr. DiMartino, you read this comment, Many of us would love to see some of Suki after the ending of the Aang series, and Sokka too! We canon lovers need to know. Thank you so much for such wonderfull art.

  11. Why can’t they put an episode in legend of korra just one episode about what happened to zuko and his mom. That katara tell what happend to zuko’s mom to the grand children. just so everyone knows what happend!

  12. Howdy! This is my 1st comment here so I just wanted to give a
    quick shout out and say I genuinely enjoy reading through
    your blog posts. Can you suggest any other blogs/websites/forums that cover the same
    topics? Thanks a ton!

  13. You are actually 100% right, if you had wrapped up the story PERFECTLY in Avatar it would seem too cinched, & perfectly fake. Even though “the scratch” reeeeally was horrible hahahahah, anyways it seems more real so nice job with the series. (X

  14. I think that legend of korra escelated too quickly and you didnt see her learn the elements. Her personality is really weird too. And admit it, korra and macko will never be as good as katara and aang. Legend of korra needs more background for it to be better. I especially like when she sees aang in her visions.

  15. Please please please make this into a series I would buy it in a heartbeat I miss the original avatars kora just doesn’t have the same feeling for me I need all the answers and just more adventure I agree there are sooooo many pathways that you could take the story please bring it back

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  17. Thanks for this – these are excellent characters that we love now, and we care about what they go through! Oh and what Gottschall said too! =)

  18. Can I be honest? I loved avatar the last airbender and I’m pretty into the legend of korra too. But the only reason why I watch it is to find out what happened to the original team avatar and I’m not too concerned with the new one. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think many of the original fans feel the same way too, and that most woubelievable ore interested in an extended series of what happened after the war and in the team’s lives. Reading the comics and watching the animated version is very different. The legend of korra is great with the technology and all, but it seems to have lost that magical feel about the avatar universe. Bending doesn’t seem as amazing as it used to be, technology has actually overtaken it. And pardon me all other shippers but, I really wanted to see more kataang moments since they only got together (FINALLY) at the very end of the series. Suddenly fast forward 70 years and the characters have grandkids already. I would just really like to see the characters develop and mature, (get married idek yes please asdfghjkl ) and not suddenly see their major change.

    “You got to focus less on the ‘where’ and more on the going ”

    Don’t get me wrong, I love your work and I’m truly amazed, but this is just my honest opinion on the matter and I’m really hoping and begging you to make an aninated continuation of the original series please, cause as I staTed before, the comic and the television version is way different. It’s just not as captivating and moving and realistic(?) as a comic. I literately cry for two days when the series ends, and I’ve watched it 5 times.

    In all seriousness though , thank-you for avatar,be it the last airbender or the legend of korra :,-)

    1. my thoughts exactly please producers her comment makes a whole lot of sense and shes right you gotta focus less on the where and more on the going so please take our comments into consideration :)

      1. It really doesn’t. I like the new story, & don’t understand why everyone is so insistent on living in the past. You have reruns & comic continuations for that.

    2. Simple, good storylines never die. People always want to relive good times. Just accept the fact that everyone has they’re own preferences, and it just so happens that many are different from yours:-)

      1. I do not accept that people whine that “Korra sucks, we want to see Aang get married & stuff.” First of all, why should I respect someone’s preferences if they’re being inherently disrespectful of both the author’s new work & fans of it, like myself?

      2. actually I didn’t say that legend of korra sucked, I even said I liked it and I was into it (-: but I’m just stating facts about majority of the fanbase. plus, no one is saying that the creators’ are doing a bad job and no one is trying to criticize you, dear fan.//no offense dearie dear (-:

        well *whispers* I’m a fan too (-:

      3. No one? Are we reading different pages? Taken from various comments, we have:

        “I agree with Amirah ,Avatar: the last airbender is the best show ever. Legends of Korra is the worst show ever .How can you put Legends of Korra as an extension of Avatar : The last airbender.”

        “Legend of korra is tooooo modernized and it took the uniqueness out of the show. I mean come on, republic city? The Last Airbender was amazing BECAUSE it was different and not modernized. Take a vote and I can guarantee people would rather you continue the series with Aang Katara Sokka and Toph. I personally think it was the best show ever created but now it’s ruined.”

        “Avatar: The last airbender is fucking much better than korra…”

        And maybe I’d skimmed over some of what you said, but you’d also said:

        “But the only reason why I watch it is to find out what happened to the original team avatar and I’m not too concerned with the new one. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I think many of the original fans feel the same way too, and that most woubelievable ore interested in an extended series of what happened after the war and in the team’s live”

        So, instead of having BOTH a comic continuation AND a new series, most fans would like “Korra” to be scrapped & the comic to be animated? If that’s true, I’m very, very disappointed. And with the recent ratings scare, also legitimately concerned.

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  20. I love the avatar series. I never thought that I would cry over a tv show but when the last air ended I cried for two hours. I can’t wait to see what happens with zukos mother. My whole family watched this show and is still wondering about his mother. I would also love to know how everyone died in the legend of korra. I don’t know if it was old age or if something bad happened. Some characters in avatar seem to live long. I would also love to know about who ended up with who because in the manga(graphic novels) Mae dumped zuko. I know that you probably won’t be able to reveal all of this but if you could I would love that. Btw the last episode of season 2 of korra rocked I loved it. Honestly I’m happy korra and mako broke up I don’t think they were right for each other.

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  22. I wanna know what happened to zukos mom but I also wanna know why they couldn’t keep rthe series going with Aang and not the legand of korra till later ories

  23. Hey I’m a huge fan, u can call me mace if my name is to hard for you, thats what my friends call me. So I was thinking are you going to put the answer of what happen to zuko’s mom in the legend of korra sense you already almost did and you should make like a bonus DVD of the search like how it would be on tv in the avatar series, just a suggestion

  24. Well i’d like to say the adventure was awesome, And about zuko’s mom i’d like to say that what she did was great, She left zuko because she didn’t want to see her son dead, because zuko failed the test given by his grand father, And for an exchange she said they should banish her and spear her son. Thank you

  25. I don’t know why ut I have to know it.
    And I wish the story goes back from Korra’s story to Avatar Angs… I want to know how Ang and Katara got together and things like that .

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  28. i hate legend of korra cause korra is supposed to now wen shes an avatar wen shes 12 not 2 but i still want to now what happened to zukos mom.

    i wanna have them make a season 4 about how they find zukos mom and fight azula again. i want to ask mike and Bryan how does azula escape kataras trap.

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