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- This article is about the character in The Last Airbender. For other similar uses, see Iroh (disambiguation).
|"There are reasons each of us are born ... and we have to find those reasons."|
|— Iroh to Princess Yue in The Last Airbender.|
When his nephew Zuko was banished from the Fire Nation, Iroh accompanied him on his quest to find the Avatar. Years later, while traveling on a ship near the South pole, Zuko alerted Iroh of a beam of light shooting toward the sky. While Zuko was rounding up the elderly people at a Southern Water Tribe village, one of his men found a boy with airbending tattoos. Zuko had the boy brought to his ship so Iroh could determine if he was the Avatar.
Iroh conducted a few tests on the boy, assuring him the test would be painless and once complete, he would be free to go. The test involved a candle flame that seemed to be drawn toward to him, a poured water that formed a circle on the table and a smooth rock that stood on an unstable position. However, when Zuko declared him to be his prisoner, Iroh apologetically explained that the boy would have been free to leave if he had failed the tests as all others did. Iroh added that he was honored to be in the presence of the Avatar. With skilled airbending moves, the Avatar escaped from Zuko and his men to the surface of the ship, grabbing his staff along the way. Upon noticing a sky bison landing at a distant icy cliff, he turned his staff into a glider and flew off toward the creature, propelled with airbending. Zuko watched with despair, saying that he almost had his honor back, but Iroh assured him that his destiny was tied with the Avatar.
Later, Commander Zhao spotted Zuko on his ship out in the sea and offered him lunch on his own ship. Zuko and Iroh sat with Zhao on the main table. Zhao made a toast that seemingly mocked Zuko in front of his soldiers in the mess hall. Iroh tried to keep Zuko calm but he had enough - Zuko confronted Zhao and told him once his father takes him back, Zhao will bow before him. Zuko stormed off as Iroh followed soon after. Back on Zuko's ship, he was seen observing Zuko training from the deck above, while drinking his tea.
Northern Earth Kingdom
At the Fire Nation Colony Fifteen, Zuko sat with his uncle Iroh sat in a local teahouse. Iroh pointed out that were lots of pretty girls in the town and pleaded with Zuko to settle down here and abandon the search for the Avatar. However, Zuko was determined catch the Avatar first and think about the pretty girls later. To convey his point, he asked a local boy to recount the story how Zuko was burned by his father, Fire Lord Ozai, and banished.
Zuko later went somewhere all by himself for four days. Zhao's men came by the ship to look for Zuko but Iroh told them Zuko was on vacation with a girl. Iroh was relaxing and receiving a foot message from an earth villager woman when Zuko returned and walked past him. Seemingly unaware of Zuko's misadventure at the Northern Air Temple, Iroh asked where he had been. Zuko replied "no where", and that they should keep moving as the Avatar was traveling again. Iroh told Zuko to take rest first as he looked like he had gone through a great ordeal. Zuko headed over to his bunker on his ship. Moments later, the ship exploded into a huge, orange fireball. Iroh moved into to protect the woman from the blast as he cried out to Zuko.
Siege of the North
On the upper deck of Zhao's flagship, Zhao thanked Iroh for accepting his invitation to join him on the historic event. Zhao acknowledged Iroh as a gifted military strategist, though noted his failure of at the 100-day Siege of Ba Sing Se, where Iroh's son also died. Iroh thanked Zhao for expressing his condolence for Zuko's death in that terrible "accident". Iroh went below deck and met with Zuko, who was still alive. Iroh was sure that Zhao ordered the attack on Zuko. He informed Zuko that they had arrived at the Water Tribe stronghold but was concerned that Zhao had no sacredness. Zuko was determined to continue, as he would be allowed to live in peace until he has found the Avatar. At the rear of the flagship, Iroh sent off Zuko on a small boat heading out toward the shore of the Northern Water Tribe stronghold.
Zhao and Iroh entered the Water Tribe stronghold through the breach, flanked by Fire Nation soldiers. He used the scroll from the Great Library to lead his men and Iroh to where they needed to go. They ended up at a spiritual place where Zhao introduced to Iroh the Moon and Ocean spirits, the two glowing fish swimming together in a pond. Zhao scooped the white fish into his pouch, about to kill its vulnerable form. Iroh pleaded with Zhao not to tamper with the Spirit World. At that moment, Katara, Sokka, and Yue burst into the spiritual place. Iroh warned Zhao to stop as the world would go out of balance with the Moon spirit dead. Declaring Fire Nation as gods, Zhao overcame his hesitation and stabbed the fish with his dagger. Princess Yue collapsed onto the grass, as if she was the one who was struck. The moon slowly turned red, casting a sickly crimson glow over the Northern city. The waterbenders also lost the Moon enhanced powers. In rage, Iroh created large fires from his hands out of nothing, which terrified Zhao and his men away.
With the Moon power gone, more Fire Nation soldiers were pouring into city, through three breaches now made on the fort walls. Yue and the others grieved for the loss of the Moon spirit. Iroh noticed that Yue has been anointed by the spirit, to which Yue acknowledged. Iroh pleaded to Yue to give the life given to her as a child, back to the spirit. Sokka, at the thought of losing Yue, begged her not to, but Yue was convinced that sacrificing her life to save her people was meant to be. She gave Sokka a final kiss and entered into the pond. As her life force left her to revive the Moon spirit, her white hair turned black. There was a pause in battle when the Moon reverted to its natural glow.
Zhao was on a bridge, seemingly in despair of his failure of killing the Moon, when Zuko stepped out from the mist, walking toward him. Zhao said he had him killed. Zuko prepared to duel Zhao when Iroh appeared and told him to walk away. The Fire Nation soldiers had overrun the city - there was no way Zuko could take the Avatar now. Iroh pointed out that fighting Zhao will led to him being captured instead, presumably so Zhao will have someone to blame should the siege fail and not go back empty-handed. As Zuko turned away, the enraged Zhao bent a large double-spiral fire attack to them. Iroh redirected the flames to sides, shielding him and Zuko. They left Zhao standing alone on the bridge. Iroh was last seen on the boat rowed by Zuko, as he watched Aang showed the power of water from a distance.
Iroh is a master firebender, a force to be reckoned with. His skills are emphasized when he becomes the only firebender in the film who can create his own fire from his own chi, unlike the other firebenders in the film who require a source such as a torch or lamp. He is also said to be able to "redirect fire".
Rather than a carefree and comic-relief character, Iroh's character in the movie was modeled as gentle, kind, wise, and a spiritual person. This makes him immediately likable to both Aang and Princess Yue. Though brief a scene, the Avatar test on his nephew's ship established that Aang consider Iroh as a trustworthy and a good person, and understood that Iroh regretted having to detain Aang after he passed the test, i.e. "If Iroh is a good guy, then maybe Zuko isn't so bad." In the original animated series, Aang did not had this first impression with Iroh - he only saw Zuko pass his staff to Iroh, which Iroh later passed to the nearest guard for his convenience.
Iroh still retained his role as mentor to the afflicted Zuko. While he did not engage in any combat in the movie, he demonstrated great skill in firebending and great respect for the spirits. While not necessarily a pacifist, he would defend himself and his nephew when Zhao attacked Zuko from behind, who walked away from a fight with Zhao after Iroh advised Zuko that fighting Zhao would lead Zuko being captured instead.
In the movie, Iroh is played by Iranian-American actor Shaun Toub. Toub describes his character in the first film as "loose" and "free". He compares Zuko's "obsession" to his childhood memories and how kids are always looking for their parents' approval, saying that Zuko just wants his father's. "He isn't necessarily bad, he just has a great deal of built up anger and forgets to consider others. I think people will understand that he's not bad, he's just angry and hurting because he really wants his father to love him, but his father is too busy with other things." He says that Patel is an "18 year old with all this energy", and that Patel was able to influence him into appreciating the business of film making more. While comparing the animated series to the film, he says the film is much more serious. He attributed this change to the director trying to relate to every age group, rather than just kids.
- Iroh's name in The Last Airbender is pronounced "EE-Ro" instead of "EYE-Ro" as it is pronounced in the show.
- While he was portrayed as a short, overweight, elderly man in the show, Iroh is a tall, thin, middle-aged man in the movie.
- Iroh's hairstyle resembled dreadlocks, a strike contrast to the other Fire Nation characters in the movie who have short hair. In the series, all the male Fire Nation characters wore top-knots, including Iroh.
- He is the only firebender in the film who is able to create fire from his own chi, also known as "chi fire".