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After having been defeated and de-bended by Avatar Aang, Fire Lord Ozai was thrown in prison and his son, Prince Zuko was crowned and subsequently took his place as Fire Lord Zuko.

Surely Ozai, despite having lost his bending skills and being defeated by Aang should technically have remained Fire Lord. I am surprised the Fire Nation Governors and Generals did not intervene.

On what basis was he removed from his legal and rightful position?

  • I have no specific references to back this up, but the Fire Nation seems to largely take a "Might Makes Right" stance. Ozai has been defeated, humiliated, and is no longer a bender. He would lose pretty much immediately in a duel with Zuko if he was challenged. – phantom42 Apr 21 '14 at 12:45
  • Zuko wouldn't even need to use his bending to beat him. He could probably take him in a sword dual. Anyway, Ozai may have just accepted his fate as he had been humiliated – Reiko96 Apr 21 '14 at 13:07
  • It's also entirely possible (and even likely, based on the Fire Nation's attitudes) that the Fire Lord must be a bender. With Ozai's abilities stripped/locked and Azula imprisoned, Zuko is the rightful heir. – phantom42 Apr 21 '14 at 13:47
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    Is de-bended a word? Surely it would be "de-benderised" or unbendificated... – Valorum Apr 21 '14 at 16:13
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If we look at the transcript we can see that Ozai has stood down from the throne and decreed that his daughter will become Fire Lord. Given that he's abdicated, from a legal perspective he's no longer the Fire Lord which neatly answers the first part of your question;

Cut to the plaza, the location of the Fire Lord's coronation. The scene cuts to the front of Azula, who is kneeling down on the plaza steps. She is seen wearing Fire Lord robes with her armor underneath. Standing behind her are Fire Sages, one begins to hold the headpiece over her head.

Fire Sage : By decree of Phoenix King Ozai, I now crown you Fire Lord [Azuka]

The wider question (whether Zuko has the right to the throne) is slightly trickier.

It's pretty clear that a member of the royal family can ascend to the throne by killing or incapacitating the current Fire Lord. Iroh talks about his reluctance to challenge his brother and simply be seen as the latest in a long line of usurpers;

Iroh : Even if I did defeat Ozai, and I don't know that I could, it would be the wrong way to end the war. History would see it as just more senseless violence, a brother killing a brother to grab power. The only way for this war to end peacefully is for the Avatar to defeat the Fire Lord.

Later on, Zuko challenges Azuka to Agni Kai, a fight to the death. Given the lack of complaint from those present, it seems that from a legal perspective the winner will have the right to the throne;

The Fire Sage is just about to crown Azula the new Fire Lord, regardless of what Katara and Zuko have just said, until Azula signals with her hand for him to stop.

Azula : Wait. You want to be Fire Lord? Fine. Let's settle this. Just you and me, brother. The showdown that was always meant to be. Agni Kai!

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