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Pairing: Zuko/Katara
Alternative name(s): Zutara, Painted Blue
Gender category: Het
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
Canonical?: No
Prevalence: Popular
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Zuko/Katara, or Zutara, is a popular het pairing in the Avatar: The Last Airbender fandom. The pairing gained popularity early on, and maintained a strong following throughout the show's three season run.

Early evidence for the ship was based primarily on the ninth episode, "The Waterbending Scroll." Future episodes contained interaction between Zuko and Katara which gave their fans hope of a canonical relationship. The season two finale, "The Crossroads of Destiny," had a scene that would have fit seamlessly into many a Zutara fanfic, for instance.

The third season was especially kind of Zuko/Katara 'shippers. Midway through the season, Zuko joined the Gaang, which put him into regular, close contact with Katara. While she was initially hostile towards him, Katara and Zuko eventually established a strong working relationship, highlighted in episodes such as "The Southern Raiders."

Not all nods to Zuko/Katara fans were so kind, however. The DVD extra "School Time Shipping" teased the fans of a variety of ships, including Zuko/Katara. The season three episode "The Ember Island Players" also poked fun at Zuko/Katara fans, and was greeted with annoyance and hurt by some fans: "Way the fuck too meta. It crossed the line between teasing the fans and mocking them." [1]

Shipping wars in the Avatar fandom were fierce, and usually divided along Zuko/Katara and Aang/Katara lines. Shipping wars led to character bashing, usually of Mai and Aang, although Katara wasn't immune from fan rage.

Zutara is considered the juggernaut ship of the Avatar fandom and Zutara Week was the first fanweek to ever be created.

Themes and Trends in Zutara Fanfic

Early Zuko/Katara fanfic frequently found Katara a prisoner on Zuko's ship. Zuko was frequently written as being experienced and sexually aggressive, while later canon established him as a giant, awkward dork around women.

Season two saw a shift in Zutara fanfic. Rather than focusing on a captor/captive dynamic, fanwriters began to explore scenarios in which the characters were forced to work together as a team.

Many Zutara fans deal with the series finale—and the canonically established relationships—by setting their stories several years in the future, after Zuko and Mai, and Katara and Aang, have gone their separate ways.

A sub-genre in the Zuko/Katara fandom centers around their alter-egos: the Blue Spirit and the Painted Lady.

Notable Zuko/Katara Fanworks



Militant Zutarians

Shipping wars in the Avatar fandom were fierce, and usually divided along Zuko/Katara and Aang/Katara lines. Shipping wars led to character bashing, usually of Mai and Aang, although Katara wasn't immune from fan rage.

Zuko/Katara fans have been called the Harmonians of the Avatar fandom.[2] Some fans of the pairing placed a lot of emphasis on the probability of a canonical Zuko/Katara romance. The more vocal Zutarians gained a bad name for fans of the pairing: "If you've ever wondered why the rest of the fandom likes to mock the hell out of us? THIS IS WHY. Because collectively, we are obnoxiously immature and don't know when to accept things the way they are and shut up. Unfortunately, that gives those of us who are sane about shipping a bad name." [3][4]

Many of these fans felt betrayed by the series concluding with a definite Aang/Katara and Zuko/Mai slant.[5][6] Many Zutara fans shrugged off the series finale's ships, and continued to create Zuko/Katara fanworks much as they had before. The more militant Zutarians continued to express their bitterness and anger over the lack of canon recognition of Zuko/Katara as a ship.

Recently, TVTropes and parts of Tumblr have claimed that everyone on the show's staff shipped Zuko/Katara except Mike and Bryan, who supposedly forced their ship on everyone else. Aside from Zuko's voice actor Dante Basco admitting to having a soft spot for the pairing,[7] no proof of these claims has ever been found online.



  1. ^ Well, Tonight's Evening Of Entertainment Left Me On The Floor Screaming, "IS THERE NO GOD?" (Accessed May 26, 2009)
  2. ^ If you don't ship anything in Avatar, then GTFO! (Accessed May 26, 2009)
  3. ^ rachelthedemon in comments to Zutara - canon? (Accessed May 26, 2009).
  4. ^ I like to bend it bend it! (but not too often) (Accessed May 26, 2009)
  5. ^ Avatar Ship Wank (Accessed May 26, 2009)
  6. ^ Strap on you tinhats 'cause the creator's BETRAYED US!!1!1!!! (Accessed May 26, 2009)
  7. ^ "I fell in love with Katara".