Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of my favorite TV shows of all time, ranking up there with shows like Game of Thrones, Breaking Bad, and so many others. From the amazing relationships between characters to the stunning animation, there’s something for everyone to enjoy when it comes to this fantastic kids show. Truly, if you haven’t watched it, it’s time to give it a chance.
One of my favorite characters in the show is Iroh, the uncle to Prince Zuko, and someone who is full of much wisdom. I sort of think of him as the Yoda of the series - whenever you’re in need of some sort of advice, he always has the best words of wisdom. So, in honor of Iroh, I’m going to take a look at some of his best words of wisdom throughout the show.
Honorable Mention: “Sharing Tea With A Fascinating Stranger” (Season 2, Episode 8)
The only reason I put this as an honorable mention from Avatar: The Last Airbender is that it’s not really advice or wisdom - it’s just Iroh stating how he feels about sharing tea with someone. When Iroh and Toph are both out alone in the world, they stumble across each other. They share a cup of tea, and Iroh gives Toph advice on how to fit in with her new friends, otherwise known as the Avatar Gang.
When she thanks him for helping her, he says that “sharing tea with a fascinating stranger is one of life’s true delights.” It’s a sweet moment that shows how open Iroh is to everyone, regardless of whether they are the enemy or not. And, of course, he gets to share another one of his favorite things in the world - tea!
“There Is Nothing Wrong With A Life Of Peace And Prosperity” (Season 2, Episode 17)
When Iroh and Zuko were banished from the Fire Nation and hiding within the walls of Ba Sing Se in the Earth Kingdom in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Iroh was trying to make the best out of a bad situation, even inspiring Zuko to try and adapt. Zuko, still hellbent on trying to capture the Avatar, is stirring up a bit of trouble, and Iroh says that they could lose all the good things that had been happening to them since arriving in the city.
Zuko combats him, saying that good things were happening for Iroh, not him, and that he might want more in life than just a nice apartment and serving tea. Iroh responds, “There is nothing wrong with a life of peace and prosperity,” and for some reason, this quote stuck out to me.
We try so hard to make our lives as packed and meaningful as possible, but at the end of the day, a life where you simply cozy up on your couch with a cup of tea sounds pretty nice - Iroh’s completely correct about that.
“Are You So Busy Fighting You Cannot See Your Own Ship Has Set Sail?” (Season 1, Episode 9)
Okay, so maybe this wasn’t a piece of wisdom, but when you look deep within, it sort of is. When fighting with pirates against the Avatar in Season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Iroh steps between Zuko and the pirates, saying “are you so busy you cannot see your own ship has set sail?”
Zuko yells at him for bringing up another one of Iroh’s proverbs, but Iroh points out towards their ship - which had literally set sail without them. As they run away to try and get it, Iroh says that maybe it should be a proverb - and to an extent, it does mean something. You get so caught up in life trying to fight one battle, you might miss the opportunity for something greater, and it might have already sailed away.
“Look Inward, And Begin Asking Yourself The Big Questions” (Season 2, Episode 17)
I supposed Season 2, Episode 17 of Avatar: The Last Airbender had some very good Iroh moments. In this moment of wisdom, Iroh catches Zuko trying to set Appa free so that he can have some sort of advantage over the Avatar, but Iroh chastises him for his harsh thinking and brash decisions, and how he knows that Zuko is better than this.
He says to him, “Look inward, and begin asking yourself the big questions - who are you? And what do you want?” It’s a serious question to ask Zuko, of all people, who has a big moral change after this episode, but also a question for the viewers to ask themselves. You shouldn’t go along with what someone else has in store for you - you need to look inward and ask yourself what is it that you want from life.
“Destiny Is A Funny Thing.” (Season 3, Episode 11)
Season 3 of Avatar: The Last Airbender is my personal favorite, but unfortunately, Iroh and his words of wisdom were not featured as much this time around - namely because of Zuko. However, we do get this flashback of him and Zuko when the prince was first banished, and he offers this piece of wisdom to the young boy when he says his destiny is to capture the Avatar.
In full, he says: “Destiny is a funny thing. You never know how things are going to work out. But if you keep an open mind and an open heart, I promise you will find your own destiny someday.” This word of advice means even more to Zuko at the time, considering he had just stepped away from his family and finally figured out himself what his true purpose was - to aid the Avatar against his father. But for anyone else watching, it’s a good line about having faith.
Sometimes, we think that things are destined to happen for us, but Uncle Iroh is right - if we keep our minds and hearts open to new decisions and possibilities, who truly knows what our destinies might be?
“Life Happens Wherever You Are, Whether You Make It Or Not” (Season 2, Episode 14)
In Season 2, Episode 14 of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko and Uncle Iroh have just arrived in Ba Sing Se, and Iroh is excited about the possibilities of what they could do here. Zuko (being Zuko) is disgusted by his uncle, saying that he doesn’t want to make a life there.
Iroh informs him that “life happens wherever you are, whether you make it or not.” And, honestly, he’s very much right. No matter what happens to you, life still continues to move on. People get up and go to work every day, trying to live their lives, while you might be dealing with something completely different. So, you might as well try to make the best out of a bad situation, instead of bemoaning your current circumstances, because inevitably, life will continue to move forward whether you do or not.
“In The Darkest Times, Hope Is Something You Give Yourself.” (Season 2, Episode 5)
In the beginning of Season 2 of Avatar: The Last Airbender, when Zuko and Iroh are out in the wilderness trying to survive, Zuko is finding it hard to try and look at the bright side of what happened with him and his family, thinking that there is no hope. Iroh stops him, and says, “You must never give in to despair. Allow yourself to slip down that road and you surrender to your lowest instincts. In the darkest times, hope is something you give yourself. That is the meaning of inner strength.”
As a child, I hadn’t thought about this line that much, but now, it’s truly one of the best Iroh lines that has ever stuck out to me. There is always that little bit of light in the darkness, one that feels so out of reach in our worst times.
But, if we are able to reach that light, and establish that little bit of hope for better days to come, then we aren’t completely lost. It’s a quote that anyone who’s gone through a rough time can relate to, and something we all need to keep in mind for the future. I hope in the upcoming Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action show, our real-life Iroh will have advice that is just as good.
This just makes me want to re-watch Avatar: The Last Airbender again - maybe even treat myself to a whole marathon and watch Legend of Korra too. Even so, whether you’re team Fire Nation or Water Tribe, you can’t deny that Uncle Iroh is the wisest person on this show. Truly, he made some of the best Avatar: The Last Airbender episodes.
Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!
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