Iroh was the firstborn son of Fire Lord Azulon, but when the time to choose his successor came, Iroh let his brother Ozai become Fire Lord,as he was grieving the death of his only son, Lu Ten, in the siege of Ba Sing Se. It was believed that Iroh killed off the last of their world's dragons, earning him the title "Dragon of the West", but it was later revealed that he was secretly the dragons' pupil, and thus learned from them to derive his Firebending powers from vitality rather than the conventional rage. He became a Grand-Lotus (high-ranking member) of the international secret society of philosophers, teachers, and warriors known as the Order of the White Lotus.
When the story begins in Book One, Iroh is shown accompanying the banished Prince Zuko in his search for the Avatar, a superhuman whose task to maintain world order made him a threat to the Fire Nation's campaign. Upon discovering the Avatar, Iroh accompanied Zuko. Having learnt of Zhao's plan to kill the moon spirit to cancel Waterbending, disrupting the natural order, Iroh attacks Zhao and is subsequently named a traitor.
During Book Two, he and his nephew are now fugitives from the Fire Nation. After being gravely wounded by his niece Azula and healed by his nephew, Iroh teaches Zuko a Waterbending-inspired technique of absorbing and redirecting lightning.Iroh eventually takes refuge in the Earth capital Ba Sing Se, where he and Zuko operate a tea-house. Iroh is dismayed when Azula convinces her brother to betray them and is arrested while covering Aang and Katara's escape from the conquered city.
In Book Three, held in a Fire Nation prison, Iroh fakes despair while preparing himself for the solar eclipse, during which Firebending does not work.Prior to the eclipse, Iroh reveals to Zuko that he is descended from Avatar Roku through his mother. Once the eclipse begins, Iroh easily escapes prison, described as being a one-man army even his bending.In the series finale, Iroh is revealed to have called the White Lotus to reveal themselves and liberate Ba Sing Se. Upon being reunited with Zuko, Iroh tells him to become the new Firelord. Soon after Zuko's crowning as Firelord, Iroh takes residence in a new tea shop in Ba Sing Se; the final scenes of the series take place in that tea shop.
In the comic book sequel The Promise, Iroh offers Aang and Zuko advice on the Harmony Restoration Movement. He also reveals a new culinary invention—bubble tea—which Aang and Zuko do not enjoy. Iroh muses he is a man before his time. In The Search, Iroh returns to his birthright as Firelord while Zuko and Team Avatar locate Zuko's mother Ursa. Bored with his new title, he uses his authority to declare a National Tea Appreciation Day.
Legend of Korra
In the sequel series The Legend of Korra, Iroh is revealed to have used a form of astral projection at the time of his death to become a resident of the Spirit World. In the episode "A New Spiritual Age", Iroh comes to the aid of Aang's reincarnation, Avatar Korra, who had been trapped unprepared deep in the Spirit World. He set her on the right path and welcomed her to visit him anytime, in any of her lifetimes. In "Darkness Falls", having known them in life, Iroh encounters Aang's children Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi when they enter the Spirit World and provides them with hints as to the location of the spirit of Tenzin's daughter Jinora. Korra again encounters Iroh in "The Ultimatum," when she enters the Spirit World in search of Zaheer. Korra explains to Iroh that she is confused and doesn't know how to deal with the threat Zaheer poses to both the newly reformed Air Nation and the world. Iroh suggests that Korra seek Zuko's counsel, as Aang once did.
Zuko's grandson is named Iroh and is a general of the United Forces, the armed services of the United Republic of Nations.
Easygoing, open-minded, warm, caring, generous, friendly, advising, kind, and humorous, Iroh treated his self-imposed exile during Zuko's search for the Avatar as though it were an extended vacation. Something of an epicurean in his old age, he did not devote his full energies to the pursuit of the Avatar, clashing with the dedication of his nephew. However, beneath the easygoing exterior lay a wise man experienced in the ways of the world, a seasoned and wily strategist, and an incredibly strong and powerful firebending master.
Although he appeared hedonistic, Iroh's personal philosophies were ones of living life to the fullest, and following a path of one's own choosing. He was a firm believer that everyone had the power to create one's own destiny. He appeared laid-back because he understood that there were things in life he could not control, but he also believed that a person is fully responsible for the parts they can. From Zuko's point of view, Iroh seemed lazy, but from an objective point of view, it could be seen that he understood that Zuko was misguided. Throughout the last year of the Hundred Year War, Iroh constantly asked Zuko what it was that he wanted in life, asking him if capturing Aang was the destiny that he chose, or a path that others told him he needed to follow. Iroh was a father figure to Zuko.
Iroh was particularly fond of tea, the strategy game Pai Sho, and music. He founded a music night for the ship's crew,among whom he was popular, involving singing and the playing of instruments. He later displayed skill at playing the liuqin, singing lullabies to pacify a crying child. He had shown himself to be an amateur botanist with knowledge of a wide variety of plants and their effects on the human body, though misinterpretation of some plant characteristics led him to accidentally poisoning himself. Ginseng, followed by jasmine, are pronounced to be his favorite teas.
Probably as definitive of Iroh's character as his love for tea was his sage advice and wisdom. Iroh was known by his niece and nephew for his sometimes cryptic proverbs and lengthy anecdotes. Throughout Books One and Two, Iroh constantly guided Zuko during his exile and critical, character-shaping decisions. He had also advised Aang and Toph to great effect.
Closely related to this wisdom was Iroh's affinity for spirituality. He constantly advocated maintaining the balance between elements, as demonstrated when he implemented waterbending techniques to divert lightning. Iroh was the only character besides Aang who was able to see the spirit of Roku's dragon.During the Siege of the North, Zhao also mentioned a rumor that Iroh had traveled to the Spirit World. Later in the battle, Iroh threatened Zhao for capturing the Moon Spirit and disturbing the balance of world, breaking his typical easy going manner.
Iroh had no desire for power, not protesting when his brother took his birthright title of Fire Lord. He soon retired from being a general, and stated that "there is nothing wrong with a life of peace and prosperity".
Though an honorable man, he was not above a spot of pilfering as he once pocketed perfumes from an abbey. He also demonstrated respect and appreciation for all cultures, which seemed to be a rarity among those of the Fire Nation. This partially stemmed from his trip into the Spirit World, which left him with a certain spiritual awareness.
Despite his age, Iroh could be quite the ladies' man when the need arose, often flirting with various women on his travels. Many of these were older women but some have been much younger, such as the bounty hunter June and an Earth Kingdom peasant. He was also addressed as "handsome" on multiple occasions.
It had been hinted that Iroh may have been crueler in his days as a general before the death of his son. During a flashback, Iroh was shown, just after he had broken through the walls of Ba Sing Se, writing to Zuko, Azula, and Ursa. In his letter, he said he hoped they could see the city if he did not "burn it to the ground first". However, this may have just been his way of mocking the senseless destruction carried out by the Fire Nation during the War. On the way to Ba Sing Se years later he stated he "was a different man" when he laid siege to it.
It was unclear when Iroh traveled to the Spirit World and when he met the dragons and proved worthy to learn the original form of firebending, so it is not known if these experiences reformed Iroh into the man he became or if he was always a more peaceful man than his father and brother.
Iroh was shown to rarely show grudges, and did not seem to mind if people wronged him. This was made evident when a man attempted to mug him in Ba Sing Se; he did not fight back, but instead helped and gave advice to the mugger.
Power in Firebending comes from the breath not the muscle. The breath becomes energy in the body the energy extends past your limbs and becomes fire.
- Although General Iroh of Avatar: The Last Airbender is retired, he was once the Fire Nation's most fearsome general and the only person in history to break through the wall of Ba Sing Se. By the time we meet him, he has dedicated his life to drinking tea, eating, shopping, playing pai sho, and making sure Zuko grows up right... but is still the only person besides Aang who has any chance of matching Ozai's combat prowess