Netflix’s Avatar live action features a compelling array of antagonists, such as Zuko (Dallas Liu), Fire Lord Ozai (Daniel Dae Kim), and Azula (Elizabeth Yu).

However, none match the sheer brutality and embody Fire Nation patriotism like Admiral Zhao.

Animation: Avatar - Aang with Momo
Credit: Funko
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As the primary antagonist of the first season, Zhao’s ruthless determination sets him apart as a formidable foe of Aang and his friends.

Here’s everything you need to know about the main antagonist of the first season and some of the actions he has done in his quest for glory and domination.

Warning: Major spoilers if you haven’t watched Netflix’s Avatar live action season 1.

A closer look at Admiral Zhao in Netflix’s Avatar live action

Ken Leung is Commander Zhao in the Avatar live action Netflix series.
Credit: Nickelodeon, Claire Price

In the live-action adaptation, Zhao is portrayed by the seasoned US actor Ken Leung, known for his roles in renowned movies and shows like Rush Hour (1998), X-Men: The Last Stand (2006), and Lost (2008).

He embodies the character of a formidable general fiercely loyal to the Fire Nation and its ruler, Fire Lord Ozai, evident when he immediately reported to the Ozai that the Avatar is still alive the moment he found out about it.

Funko POP! Animation: Avatar - Appa, Multicolor, Standard
Credit: Funko
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Zhao’s debut in Episode 2 sees him forming an unexpected alliance with Zuko and Iroh to track down the Avatar, despite their attempts to conceal their motives.

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However, Zhao harbors ulterior motives beyond capturing the Avatar, as his promotion to Admiral by Fire Lord Ozai grants him authority over Zuko’s vessel.

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In Episode 6, Zhao successfully captures Aang but is outmaneuvered when Aang escapes with the help of Zuko.

Funko Pop! Animation: Avatar: The Last Airbender - Azula
Credit: Funko
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Zhao’s ambitions reach a climax in the season finale as he orchestrates an assault on the Northern Water Tribe, and when on to kill the Moon Spirit and disrupt the world’s balance.

Cornered by Zuko and Iroh, Zhao reveals his collaboration with Fire Lord Ozai and Azula against Zuko and attempts to eliminate Zuko in a treacherous firebending assault.

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However, Iroh successfully stopped his attack and fired back at Admiral Zhao, ending his life in the process.

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