I've liked Zuko since the first episode of the show, no lie. Even when he had that kinda dumb hair cut I thought he was amazing. its not just the tall, dark, and angst thing, its more than that.
I think that Zuko, more than anyone else in this show stands out as a dynamic character. He has depth, he has inner turmoil, he has a desire to prove himself, he has flaws and all the while this really strong underlining good heart which can conflict with all of the above. He is the anti hero, the salvation, the heir to the throne and all the while he is just 16.
Thats heavy stuff man.
Our experiences make us who we are, that much is known. Him, more than anyone is made of and by the bad stuff that happens to him. The bad things that happen to him, actively shape not only him, but the world as a whole. If he would have never lost his mother, the entire chain of events that ended in him being Fire Lord would not have happened. Out of his misery comes personal development, comes progress for everyone.
Talk about a lot of pretty for a kid.
I'm probably reading too much into this, but I just was thinking about the situation with Mai.
I'm so glad that Mai is gone, I've never liked her. I don't think that they will bring her back. Why would they write her off if only to have her crawling back? It's not possible.
Why take her away though?
To make Zuko suffer. The poor guy is having to deal with people trying to kill him, as well as not knowing how to be fire lord and asking his scum bag father for help. Then on TOP of that his GF leaves him when he is already feeling isolated from his friends. So he kinda snaps and Aang has to bring his back down to earth.
Mai leaving him is less about shipping and more about character development as I see it. Its just another in a long line of things that goes wrong for Zuko that leads him to grow, and changes for all.