Avatar State. AKA the "Crowning Moment of Awesome State".
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From her second ever appearance in the season two opening episode
Azula: You said the tides would not allow us to bring the ship in. Do the tides command this ship?
Captain: No, princess.
Azula: And if I were to have you thrown overboard, would the tides think twice about smashing you against the rocky shore?
Captain: No, princess.
Azula: Well then, maybe you should worry less about the tides who have already made up their mind about killing you, and worry more about me, who's still mulling it over.
Considering that we're treated to a Surrounded by Idiots moment by this very same captain, it might be reasonable to assume that Azula was lying when she claimed ignorance over the tides, especially since the ship did land completely safely, and knew then from her Captain's warning that he's really stupid. Thus making her threat both a Kick the Dog moment and a warning for him to just shut up and follow orders before he messes up... which he did in the same episode.
Single-handedly taking over Ba Sing Se in under 48 hours. Okay, she did have a couple of handmaidens for backup... powerless ones... who were a year older than her 14 at best...
If there was any doubt whatsoever about Princess Azula's Magnificent Bastard status after she demonstrated her ruthlessness and her Dangerously Genre Savvy in the second season finale, the start of the next season removed them:
Azula: You seemed so worried about how father would treat you because you hadn't captured the Avatar. I figured, if I gave you the credit [for killing him], you'd have nothing to worry about.
Zuko: But why?
Azula: Call it a generous gesture. I wanted to thank you for your help, and I was happy to share the glory.
Keep in mind that that scene opened with Zuko barging into her bedroom demanding to know, "Why'd you do it?" Her response? "You're going to have to be a little more specific." Because she's currently working on so many diabolical plots against Zuko, she can't possibly be expected to know off the top of her head which one he's referring to.
Swiftly avoiding and evading simultaneous bending attacks from Aang and Toph without even breaking a sweat during the Day of the Black Sun when she was rendered POWERLESS.
In "The Boiling Rock" when Azula started flying, using her firebending to turn herself into a small rocket.
In "The Southern Raiders" when Azula recovers from falling down a cliff by using firebending to reach a cliff and stopping with a hair pin. Leaving her hanging off the face of cliff, with her hair billowing in the wind. This also constitutes Azula's Crowning Moment Of Sexy.
"I am a 400-foot-tall purple platypus-bear with pink horns and silver wings." More specifically, Azula being able to say that without giving Toph any sign that she's lying. Even more awesome is that it's Truth in Television. Sociopaths are so accustomed to lying and faking normalcy that they can pass a polygraph - and it seems Toph uses some of the same physical cues as a lie detector does to reach her conclusions.
Azula's firebending in general. From her blue flames to the tricks and abilities she has at her possession, whether it's creating discs of fire ("Return to Omashu") or creating a flame shield around her that can BLOCK four simultaneous bending attacks all at once ("The Chase").
Princess Azula during "Crossroads of Destiny" for becoming pretty much the physical embodiment of Dangerously Genre Savvy. During the last fight. Aang realizes Katara and he can't beat Azula, Zuko and the Dai Li without some serious power. Aang goes into the Avatar State and rises into the air, encased in a pillar of light. Katara looks on with admiration and awe, the music gets upbeat and seriously epic, and it looks like we're about to see a repeat of the Book One finale...and then Azula fries him with a bolt of lightning, in the middle of the transformation sequence. While everyone else just gawked, she hit Aang with her most powerful attack, at the exact moment he was most vulnerable. It's nightmarish and shocking (even the soundtrack sounds stunned and frightened), and it's exactly what a cunning, dangerous villain should do. Bravo, Princess.
That's not even the genre savvy part, that's just her being a Combat Pragmatist. The real genre savvy comes into play after the fact, where she continues to press Zuko about the Avatar being alive even though she gave him a lethal dose of Shock and Awe.
Note that she did that by herself because she wanted to: "Wait! They're mine!" ... and you're not having any.
In one corner, we have the demonic owl who has decided to pull his library back to the spirit world with the heroes still inside. In the other corner, a blind little girl that decides the library isn't going to sink if she has anything to say about it. Thelittlegirlwins.
The number of Mooks Toph takes out in droves — whether they end up impaled to the ceiling on columns of Earth or bowled over by earthquake — when the Gaang storm the Earth King's palace.
Using her Earthbending on metal (a feat which was said multiple times over the course of the series to be entirely impossible) to escape a metal cage, using the same "impossible" skill to trap her captors in their own cage, triumphantly yelling the completely accurate statement of "I am the greatest earthbender in the world!", and then riding away on a gigantic wave of ground. That is just too kickass.
And what really hammers in the quote above is that her captors claimed "Not even the greatest earthbender in the world can bend metal."
Toph has been shown on two occasions within the series to be capable of bending with only her head/face. The first was during the episode "Tales of Ba Sing Se" when she bent her mud mask to scare the spa attendant using only her face. The second time was during the episode "The Runaway" when she used only a small movement of her head to make the "dice" she threw to go the way she wanted and thus cheat the gamblers out of their money. So in all likelihood, Toph is perfectly capable of bending with her chin, and might even be able to give Bumi a run for his money...
And according to Word of God, she did - they eventually had a match for the title of World's Best Earthbender, presumably not too far off from the series. It ended in a draw - she pulled a tie with a White Lotus Grand Master.
As said by the Trope Pantheons; Toph isn't blind, she's just unable to see anything less awesome than she is.
Zuko first won the eternal loyalty and respect of fans by defeating Zhao — a smug, experienced commander at least twice his age — in an Agni Kai and clinched it with the proceeding Sword Over Head moment. As an added bonus, it was a Shirtless Scene.
Worth noting how he does it, specifically by not doing anything flashy. A previous scene had Iroh insisting he needed to master basic forms before moving onto advanced techniques. During the Agni Kai, Zuko appears to be beaten by Zhao using exactly that simple form, only for him to get up and respond in kind. Even in his third episode this 'villain' is being shown in an intelligent and, through the Sword Over Head moment, admirable light.
Note that the lightning in question wasn't just regular lightning. It was double-strength lightning, fired at him by the most powerful firebender in the world. Zuko is BAD. ASS.
Even moreso, when he finally confronts Ozai and tells him what a terrible father he's been is a true testament to Zuko's character growth. The guy spent the first two seasons hunting the Avatar so that Ozai could restore his honor. You must admit, he has come a long long way.
The Zuko/Azula airship battle in "The Southern Raiders.
It's only a short sequence, but who could forget in "The Desert", when the Rough Rhinos ganged up on Fire Nation fugitives Zuko and Iroh, that Zuko could still chop an arrow in half IN MIDAIR and shoot a fireblast through the bow string, and that Iroh kicked aside a CANNONBALL on a chain and caused it to wrap around a rhino's leg. Did I mention that they were both weary and half-starved at the time?
After Zhao hires pirates to blow up Zuko's ship, Zuko ... shields himself from the explosion (but still gets injured); disguises himself as a soldier and hides on Zhao's ship (not just in the fleet, but on Zhao's personal ship); sneaks out when they reach the North Pole, managing to evade Fire Navy scouts and Water Tribe sentries; finds and navigates a series of underwater tunnels, then firebends underwater, at night, in the middle of the North Pole, while oxygen deprived to melt through what looks like half a foot of ice in order to get into the city; sneaks through the Northern Water Tribe without anyone spotting him; finds Aang in an out-of-the-way place in a city of probably a thousand people; fights a skilled waterbender (Katara) at night, and almost wins before she freezes him; beats her after the sun comes up and he can melt the ice; carries Aang, a good-sized twelve-year-old, up a cliff and who-knows-how-far across the Arctic tundra in a blizzard, wearing a thin ninja-parka and probably still damp; and finally delivers a heart-wrenching speech about his past, still visibly injured during all of this.
Zuko risking his own life to save one of his crew members in "The Storm"—he catches the falling helmsman by the wrist while hanging on to a (wet and probably slippery) ladder in the middle of wind, rain, and rough ocean and manages to set him down safely. It's made especially awesome because he'd been acting like a Royal Brat for that entire episode (backstory reveal notwithstanding) but proved in that one moment that yes, he really does care about other people.
Zuko is pretty awesome in "The Waterbending Scroll," the one episode past the beggining of the series where he's a legitimately threatening villain. He manipulates the pirates into helping him find Aang by threatening to burn their precious scroll and is Genre Savvy enough to see through Sokka's Talking Your Way Out ploy.
Zuko's fight with Azula in 'The Southern Raiders' - for pretty much the first time EVER he's fighting his fire-bending-prodigy-daddy's-favourite-child-magnificent-bastard sister on equal terms. Whilst on top of an moving airship, after jumping onto it from another one. Badass indeed.
Looking closer, one realizes that this is their first one-on-one since Zuko learned the original art of Firebending, that didn't rely on being fueled by rage and hatred. This can be taken as proof that Zuko was his sister's equal in terms of skill if not style, but also that he was Good All Along.
Making Zuko look like an idiot (in an otherwise completely one-sided fight) in the second episode when his boomerang came back and nailed him in the head.
In fact, that Sokka was fighting at all was a Crowning Moment Of Awesome. he is s a single non-bender standing his ground against an entire warship. And he literally stands his ground while a huge metal ship bears down on him until the ground itself moves! Sokka is badass!
...throughout the whole series. For a "comic relief," he repeatedly shows, beyond shadow of a doubt, HE. HAS. BRASS. ONES.
Knocking giant owl spirit Wan Shi Tong unconscious with a heavy blow to the head with a book.
Wan Shi Tong: (about to attack Katara) I've studied Northern Water Style, Southern Water Style, even Foggy Swamp Style!
Sokka: (falls from the ceiling and knocks him out) That's called Sokka Style! Learn it!
Not only that, but throwing Boomerang around a corner for a dead center shot based on two angles of fire that he saw. Awesomness by Analysis anyone?
Shaking down Azula for information, having her by the throat and bellowing out pure, distilled rage, "WHERE...IS...SUKI?!"
Remember when Sokka sailed over a reef, with no actual experienced sailors? Pure smarts.
It's relatively minor, but Sokka's reaction when Aang accidentally burns Katara shows how much he cares for his sister; he tackles and gives a furious lecture to the Avatar!
Minor? Sokka has already seen Aang go Avatar State, and he's completely aware of how destructive it can be. He tackled a God in Human Form knowing full well what Aang could do to him, and he's a nonbender. That was the Avatarverse equivalent of giving a lecture to Jesus after you've seen him walk on water and calm storms.
Whenever Sokka's plans work, especially when they really shouldn't. Notably:
Aang: Just like the legend says. We let love lead our way!
Sokka: Really? We let huge, ferocious beasts lead our way.
In "Return to Omashu", the Fire Nation captures the titular city with the intention of holding all its citizens hostage. Sokka invents a plague using make-up and tells everyone to act like they're deathly ill. The Fire Nation soldiers not only release all of the hostages, but help escort them out of the city out of fear of the disease.
In 'The Boiling Rock'. Most heroes only have to come up with one risky, almost-impossible plan to escape The Alcatraz. Sokka came up with two not-risky-at-all plans. One would have worked, had he been there to keep the prisoner enacting it from holding the Idiot Ball, and the other did work, despite interference from Azula
Sokka's Badassitude is summed up in this exchange:
Mai: (to a depowered Katara) "How do you expect to fight without your bending?"
Sokka: (boomerangs the knife out of her hand) "I seem to manage!"
To put it briefly, the episode 'Sokka's Master' shows that Sokka isn't capable in spite of his eccentric ways, he's that way (and so a Badass Normal) because of them. Oh, and don't forget the brilliant sword-fighting.
That entire episode was one long Moment Of Awesome for Sokka. For a guy who's constantly bragging about his skills and is the universe's designated comic relief and buttmonkey, he solemnly bows before Piandao and admits he's just a boy, and may be completely worthless as a student. Then we see him slaving to forge his own sword, something that is uniquely his, without a shred of his usual antics (usually when he's sharpening his weapons or preparing, something would go wrong and he'd be comically injured). Finally, after the long speech Piandao gave about his badassery, Sokka fully admits to being a fraud, and basically challenges his master to a one-on-one duel. For a brief moment too, it seemed like he would actually win. Against, say it with me, a White Lotus Grand Master.
Basically, at any given time Sokka is either a comic-relief goofball or arguably the single bravest character in the show. Or both.
Also in "The Painted Lady'' he stands up for his entire group against an ungrateful town whom they had saved from firebenders with Katara under the disguise of the town mythological figure.
Sokka's original CMOA came in Jet's introductory episode. After it becomes apparent that Jet is going to flood a fire nation village by blowing up a dam, it seems like the perfect setup for a Big Damn Heroes moment... that never comes. The bombs go off and the village floods. And that's when Sokka shows up and reveals that he had evacuated everybody in the village beforehand. He was able to do this because he had the vocal support of a single old man whom Sokka had stood up for earlier. In that scene he shows a great deal more maturity than Jet by protecting the villagers, even though he has just as much reason to hate the fire nation as Jet does. He also demonstrates his status as the most intelligent of the group by seeing Jet's true nature far far earlier than Aang or Katara do.
Even more so, in this move, he shows his intelligence and instincts, precisely by subverting this Big Damn Heroes moment. He knew that by confronting Jet, and his gang, he wouldn't necessarily be able to stop the plot, even if he could beat Jet in a fight, so he took the other route, and beat them not through skill or strength, but by planning and forethought.
It's not a Fire Nation village - it's a Fire Nation occupied village, populated by Earth Kingdom villagers. Basically meaning that Jet was about to kill his own people just to dispose of some Fire Nation soldiers, and Sokka stopped that dead in its tracks.
First indication we get of Iroh being a formidable firebender is probably when he so casually stops Zhao attacking Zuko from behind, Accompanied by a lecture on how, even in exile, his nephew is 'more honourable' than the 'great Commander Zhao'. Doubles as a heartwarming moment to give Zuko such vocal support. Of course he promptly ignores it when questioned soon after.
Stepping in during the North Pole invasion.
"Whatever you do to that spirit, I'll unleash on you ten-fold! Let it go now!"
Demonstrating just why he's called the "Dragon of the West" in "Crossroads of Destiny"
Iroh: Did I ever tell you how I got the nickname the "Dragon of the West?"
Azula: I'm not interested in a lengthy anecdote, Uncle.
Iroh: It's more of a demonstration, really. (takes a sip of tea, then breathes fire)
Note that he says these lines as lightly as if Azula and the Dai Li were who they were supposed to be meeting for tea. He then casually gets up and breathes fire at Azula and her guards, allowing him and Zuko to escape.
And Zuko just grins a little before this happens. He knows Iroh is about to do something awesome.
Related: When he leaves the prison and removes his fake belly revealing a flat stomach. The amount of space the fake belly took up would have been a lot of weight. How would he get the a fake belly in prison? Simple he in great shape the whole time.
Actually, he just used a folded up mat/blanket type thing to simulate his old weight. Not that this decreases his badassery at all.
As a retroactive example, think back on anytime you see Iroh in flashback, before he retired. His stomach is always obscured. After his Irohbics session, he is the Dragon of the West once more.
Convincing the guys who have captured him to tighten his handcuffs, then breathing on them with his Firebeding skill and pressing a soldier's hand down on the red-hot metal. Then he rolls down a cliff while his hands and feet are still chained together. Very badass for a guy who appeared to be just a comic relief character until then.
In their first encounter with Azula, Iroh takes on a whole royal escort single-handily (without Firebending) then curb-stompsAzula in about a second.
He broke out of the fire nation prison single-handedly at some point during the eclipse, the one witness saying he was like a One-Man Army.
During Azula's Coup, Iroh comes in and defeats the entire Dai Li army and Azula. His pose at the end is especially meaningful: it's the rest pose for Kung Fu. The Dai Li was only able to capture him because he allowed them to.
A subtle one in Lake Laogai. When the Gaang and Zuko invade the underwater base, it takes massive amounts of stealth, and even then Zuko only gets in alone because the Dai Li were busy. Iroh walks in with no discernible disguise, and completely unruffled. So either he walked past hallways of guards on high alert, or he curbstomped whoever he saw without breaking a sweat. Either way is awesome.
And then he tears Zuko a new one about destiny. Awesome.
In his feature in The Tales of Ba-Sing-Se, Iroh convinces a man not to mug him by instructing him on how to mug people more effectively. He observes the man's poor stance, points it out, and demonstrates that such an unstable stance makes him easy to knock over, before talking him into pursuing a career in the arts. He knew he had nothing to be afraid of, even with a sword to his throat.
Perhaps the most notable achievement Iroh had accomplished, and the one he is most known for, is his siege of Ba Sing Se. He's known to be the only person to have brought down the impenetrable wall of the Earth Kingdom capital, a feat which would not be replicated for many years. It is implied that he would've succeeded in conquering the capital, were if not for the untimely death of his son which forced him to abandon the siege in grief.
Surprised no one mentioned the first time Iroh is shown redirecting lightning in the episode "The Storm".
In the first season, Katara takes on the male chauvinistic Master Pakku and, while she doesn't win, gives him one hell of a fight and, from what we see of later episodes, heralds a sea change in the Northern Water Tribe regarding girls and combat Waterbending.
When he at first refuses to fight her and smugly tells her to go heal with the other women, she gives him a well-deserved slap on the back of his misogynistic head (with a water whip), provoking him enough to fight her.
"The Siege of the North" when Katara, Yue, and Sokka catch up to Zuko after he kidnapped Aang at the Spirit Spring.
Zuko: (assuming a Firebending stance) Here for a rematch?
Katara: (beginning to Waterbend) Trust me, Zuko, it's not going to be much of a match.
She then blocks a fireball that enters the screen just as she finishes her sentence while Sokka and Yue look on from Appa's saddle. She sends a shock wave of ice hurtling towards him. When it reaches Zuko, she encases him in a pillar of ice that she raises up high, then drops. Zuko falls to the ground unconscious.PWN!
When she takes on the sea serpent at The Serpent's Pass. Highlights include surfing to Aang's rescue, before creating a massive whirlpool and then slamming the serpent against the cliff. After making sure all the others were safe.
The episode "The Painted Lady" climaxed in one long Crowning Moment of Awesome for Katara, starting with the line, "No! I will never, EVER turn my back on people who need me!"
Not to mention her preformance during her attack on the fire nation thugs as they tried harassing the inoccent villagers (again).
Pretty much the entire sequence where she went after her mother's killer: "She was protecting the last waterbender...ME!", followed by her STOPPING ALL THE RAIN MIDAIR, making giant icicles and flinging them at the guy... but having enough control to stop in midair, deciding he was Not Worth Killing. Her speech and attack reduced the man to TEARS.
Special mention must be given to a minor moment in this fight. Right before Aang and Sokka show up, Katara manages to strike out at a jet of water that Hama sent directly at her. Consider how sharply this contrasts to the usually fluid movements of waterbending. This is more like something Toph would do. Katara is such a boss that she used earthbending on water! Hama's face sells it. She literally cannot believe what she's seeing.
Her fight with Azula in "The Crossroads of Destiny."
Her "talk" with Zuko at the end of "The Western Air Temple." Look at how far we've come from the beginning of the series, when Katara's waterbending skills were quite poor. Two seasons later, she's standing in front of the man who raided her village and making it clear on no uncertain terms that she will strike him down without mercy if he even thinks about hurting Aang — and she has the skills to back up that claim, too. It was awesome beyond words.
Katara: You might have everyone else here buying your "transformation", but you and I both know you've struggled with doing the right thing in the past. So let me tell you something right now. You make one step backward, one slip up, give me one reason to think you might hurt Aang and you won't have to worry about your destiny anymore. Because I'll make sure your destiny ends, right then and there. Permanently.
After being instructed in Bloodbending by Hama — who, by the way, spent more than 50 years perfecting the technique — Katara uses it on the leader of the Southern Raiders.
From that same episode, Katara hydrokinetically freezing thousands of raindrops in flight.
Showing us a glimpse of his real power by stopping an exploding volcano dead in its tracks - without entering his nearly all-powerful Avatar State. By blowing on it. Mind you, his predecessor died while attempting a similar feat (although the circumstances were quite different at that time, granted).
Aang uses the ultimate insult, thus so enraging Zhao that he incinerates his own ship!
Aang: I don't know why, but I thought you'd be better than Zuko!
The finale of season one: Aang enters the Avatar State and merges with the spiritual embodiment of the ocean. The result is an awe-inspiring, gigantic Leviathan, which proceeds to annihilate hundreds of fully armed enemy warships in the span of a few minutes. The characters only refer to 'The Avatar State' as such because they lack the Genre Savvy to call it by its true name: "Crowning Moment of Awesome State."
HE goes up to the fleet's commanding battleship, and gives the ship's command tower a Diagonal Cut! He's only attacking with water, and he cut a tower in half seamlessly!
The entirety of his escape attempt with the Blue Spirit where he uses his airbending and practically blows away all the of the prison guards that stood in their way Granted that he is the avatar which allowed him to master airbending at a very young age and would also increase his airbending powers a lot.Just goes to show you how powerful airbending can be actually be.
Also from the season one finale: It may have been a lot more low-key than most Moments of Awesome, but Aang staring down Koh the face-stealer with a completely emotionless expression throughout his tirade. Especially considering that he's a hyperactive twelve-year-old.
YMMV, but I thought that when he does get excited was pretty cool. He thinks about it, gets excited, and Koh whips around in like half a second... only to see Aang with his stoic face.
The way Aang ended the fight against Azula on top of the Drill, underscored by a rather awesome Theme Music Power-Up.
In "The Headband", Aang is undercover at a Fire Nation school and defeats the school bully in a fight in which all he does is dodge and side step the bully's attacks (well, he technically used his ''bum'' once).
Also where he performs a dance with Katara — which in turn evolves into what looks like a very skillfully played Capoeira game — that leaves his schoolmates staring in awe and Katara panting and sweating in his arms.
Fighting Combustion Man in the rock field, where he used Airbending to deflect an explosion with one hand, and then blew straight through a pillar he was sent flying into. Also later, when he covered himself in rocks and used one of the explosions to rocket away and escape.
Ozai: Do you really think you can take me down? You're not even wearing pants!
Aang: [After falling for it once before] No, Firelord Ozai. You're not wearing pants!
Ozai: [Looks down and screams, covering his shame] My royal parts are showing!
Aang channeling Roku's spirit in "Avatar Roku (Winter Solstice Pt.2)," where he turns several incoming fireballs into a swirling fire shield, then gathers it all into a massive fire wave that knocks back the mooks (and Zhao) and melts the chains binding Katara, Sokka, Zuko and the rogue fire sage, WITHOUT BURNING A SINGLE ONE OF THEM. He then melts several floors of the temple, reaching the magma chamber, and causes the whole thing to start erupting with one hand.
His fight with Ozai in the end. At this point he was just a 12 year old going up against the most powerful and ruthless warrior king in the world. And on top of that, he went in knowing he didn't have the Avatar State to help him.
Appropriately, Aang also gets the first one in the series. In Episode 8 (Winter Solstice Part 2 - Avatar Roku, the Gaang have to run a Fire Nation Naval Blockade to get to Avatar Roku's shrine. The Fire Nation are lobbing fireballs up at Appa. Aang? Jumps off of Appa's head, and spin-kicks the fireball into pieces. In Slow Motion. In mid-air. It's the first time we see anyone do any seriously impressive fighting, and it's just a harbinger of things to come.
His Establishing Character Moment as the Avatar. When Zuko knocks him into the water, he goes into the Avatar State and makes a massive waterspout, causing Zuko's, Katara's and Sokka's mouths to drop open. Then he lands, eyes and arrows still glowing, twists the water into a ring around him, and then pushes out, taking out everyone. Two episodes in, and Aang has already given the Fire Nation reason to fear him.
How could anyone forget that awesome moment in "The Earth King" where he single-handedly shattered a chunk of rock being hurled at Appa, using only the back of his hand? He wasn't even looking!
Her very first scene where she chases the Gaang, who take out all her family's guards but not her. Aang collapses a scaffolding in her path that still fails to stop her, leading to an Oh Crap moment after one of her throwing stars nearly impales him.
Her Big Damn Heroes moment in "The Boiling Rock," single-handedly dispatching an entire squad of prison guards with her arsenal of knives, thus saving the heroes and their party. "What are you doing?" "Saving the jerk who dumped me."
Combustion Man's first fight, where he relentlessly pursues the Gaang and continuously blows up whatever they throw at him, be it a huge mass of water, deluge of rock, or stone pillars.
In "The Boiling Rock", Suki vaulted off the heads of numerous participants in a Fire Nation prison riot before scaling the walls like Spiderman, using the tips of her feet to somersault up to a higher platform, taking out several Fire Nation prison guards in less than a second, baseball sliding under the last guard and blocking the warden's attack to twist him around tying and gagging him, again, in less than a second. She wasn't even out of breath.
Made that bit more amusing because once everyone else catches up, they are out of breath.
Ty Lee, during The Drill, when an Earth Kingdom general sent out an "elite platoon of Earthbenders" to stop the Fire Nation's advance on Ba Sing Se. They do indeed prove to be formidable, destroying a decent amount of tanks initially... and then Ty Lee shows up and essentially defeats them all in a matter of seconds.
Also, Ty Lee taking out Azula in Boiling Rock. Considering how terrified she was of Azula, she finally stood up to her to save Mai.
Also, in a non-combat moment of awesome, the Beach, where Zuko vents his anger out at her and mocks her for her happy attitude and calls her a 'circus freak'. She shoots back with how she joined the circus to get her own identity, before ending with how 'circus freak' is a compliment to her. Given how easy-going she is, standing up for herself like that was awesome.
Admiral Zhao, who was usually best at awesomely screwing up, in the first season finale: Hahn charges onto the deck of his ship intending to assassinate him. Without turning around, with no fuss, no warning, no acknowledgement whatsoever, Zhao casually throws him overboard, and without missing a beat, then says to Iroh, "As I was saying..."
The Warden of the Boiling Rock when he demonstrates just how dedicated he is to his job. Bonus points for having boasted about it in the first part of the episode, showing he puts his money where his mouth is.
Jet's fight with Zuko. Not only does he know full well that his opponent's a firebender, but he outright tries to goad him into using his powers, risking his own life to expose his enemy's identity.
The Yu Yan Archers in "The Blue Spirit" were pure awesome, despite not even being benders of any kind: Aang, pursued by them, jumps down a cliff to escape. After all, he's an airbender, so he can slow his fall. The Yu Yan Archers aren't - but without even a moment's hesitation they jump after him, shoot arrows with ropes tied to them at trees below them WHILE FALLING, and then use those ropes to swing down to the ground without breaking their pace. Oh, and they quickly proceed to capture the Avatar, something that even very experienced benders have great problems with.
Another awesome moment from the Archers comes later in the episode, when Zhao calls one of them in to snipe the Blue Spirit. from hundreds of feet away. Without hitting Aang. Did i mention that the Spirit was holding Aang hostage and they were literally less than a foot away from each other? And he did this in the dark.
Unfortunately, you don't get to see them again after this episode, unless you count the archer with the Rhinos who has the same facial tattoos.
Zhao: "The Yu Yan Archers' skill is legendary. They can pin a fly to a tree a hundred feet away. Without killing it. "
Avatar Kyoshi (the Avatar before the Avatar before Aang): more-or-less the only scene she gets, showing us just how powerful a fully realised Avatar is. In the space of a few seconds, she humiliates the tyrant she is fighting, splits off part of the mainland, and uses airbending to blow it out to sea, creating Kyoshi Island.
Avatar Kyoshi, people - so much of a Badass she can stand her ground even while retreating.
Master Pakku demonstrates exactly why he is called "master" on an unsuspecting group of Fire Nation soldiers in The Siege of the North. It involves a water-spout.
During Bumi's fight with Aang, Aang tricks Bumi into sending a boulder flying at himself. Bumi then turned the boulder to dirt when it came in contact. Without. Moving. An Inch. He then proceeds to hurl a huge chunk of the stadium at Aang, but Aang sends it flying back with a tornado. Bumi then splits that piece in half as it comes at him, again without moving an inch. However, Aang uses this as an opening and makes his move! But wait! We then see that Bumi used the movement of sticking up his hand to hang a rock right above them both.
Bumi is basically the walking embodiment of Crazy Awesome, and in every episode involving him, there's at least one Moment of Awesome. When Aang rescued him, he willingly sent himself back because he wanted to be there to rescue his city the moment the opportunity presents itself. And he did it using his face. On said day he earthbended his way out of his cage (again, using only his face) and proceeded to level the entire city in one candy-fueled, maniacally laughing rampage. And this guy is at least 112 years old.
After spending weeks separated from Aang, enduring horrible physical and mental stress, imprisoned in an Elaborate Underground Base for who knows how long, Appa's first act after being freed in "Lake Laogai" is to swoop down on the Mooks surrounding the heroes, scaring all of them off, then chomping down on the resident Smug Snake's leg and effortlessly tossing him into the eponymous lake. Cue Crowning Moment of Heartwarming as he is finally reunited with Aang. Go Appa! Keep in mind that said bite's mark was the Final Nail in the coffin for said Smug Snake.
The Track Team deserves a special mention. The music of this series is spectacular, especially the music for Zuko’s and Azula’s Final Battle.
How about the class of Fire Nation children covering for Aang as he escaped, by allputting on red headbands - his only distinguishing feature at that point - so he could sneak through the crowd?
The Earth King, in his titular episode: "I've been a fool." It takes a true man to admit that.
The scene where Monk Gyatso's body is discovered, along with the bodies of at least half a dozen Fire Nation soldiers. He went down fighting. Don't forget that said soldiers were operating with the power of Sozin's Comet and that of all the bending disciplines, Airbending is specifically said to have no lethal finishing strike like the other three.
Made even more awesome when you apply Fridge Logic and realize an Airbender can make a massacre by just sucking the air out of his victims' lungs: he killed so many because he stopped defending and started attacking.
If more Airbenders did that, they probably crippled the Fire Nation military for decades.
The Blue Spirit. How'd we get this far without mentioning that embodiment of awesomeness? Zuko, under the guise of the spirit, infiltrates and rescues Aang from a heavily-guarded prison fortress, filled with Firebenders and Yu Yan archers (who took out Aang himself earlier) and he does it entirely without using his powers. Also without even saying a single word. Bonus points for holding Aang hostage at the end. Followed by the reveal, which is when Zuko changed from Wangsty emo-boy to a true Bad Ass in the eyes of many viewers.
How about Piandao at the end of the episode "Sokka's Master"? Sokka is fighting for his life against a master swordsman. And Piandao? Piandao is critiquing his technique.
Tyro (Haru's dad) telling the warden from "Imprisoned" not to worry about drowning because "cowards float."
Haru's introduction in that episode is also pretty awesome. He's practicing his earthbending by throwing around giant rocks with enough strength to make the ground shake.
Not a particular character, but a favorite episode was The Firebending Masters, primarily because of the scene with the dragons. The scene where they show Aang and Zuko the true nature of firebending is just remarkable, and in most kid shows would have heavy-handed or melodramatic and insulting to kids' intelligence. They did it with very little dialogue, allowing the expressions on Zuko and Aang's faces, the imagery, and music speak volumes. Truly a remarkable scene.
Most shows would have the character witness something supposidly beautiful, and later immediately declare they now know it's true meaning. You see the two dragons dance in harmony, with Zuko and Aang mirroring their movements. Then the two dragons breath in unison creating a fantastic display. The Chief sums it up pretty clearly: firebending is not destruction, but life and creation, and you see this happen.
Many from The Day of Black Sun - but little bits like the Foggy Swamp man turning up as the 'monster' and tossing tanks around, Hakoda's single-handed, successful attack on a watch-tower (Sokka inherited more than his dad's sense of humour, clearly), the resourcefulness of the Mechanist's inventions...even when it's ultimately turned against them.
Piandao's appearance at the final episode. Unlike all of the others present, he is not a bender in any way. He literally took a sword to a gun fight (against fire-breathing tanks no less) and it's hinted he won. It makes his comments to Sokka all the more awesome.
Fire Lord Sozin, of all people, had one of these. Seeing the avatar's village besieged by a volcano, his first instinct is to rush to the area to save the people, to fight alongside his then-arch enemy Roku (the two of whom haven't so much as spoken for 20 years) without so much as batting an eyelash. It ends up making his betrayal of the Avatar all the more horrifying and heartwrenching however.
How about when the sequel series The Legend of Korra was announced? I mean its kind of minor but to see that Mike, Bryan and the team are making another series that takes place in the Avatar world is just awesome and nice to see that even though the story of the first series is over that the stories of the the world the series takes place in are far from over.
As of 2012, the show is still the only one to beat Spongebob for Favorite Cartoon at the Kids Choice Awards. I'd say that's worth a mention.
Avatar Aang Vs. Phoenix King Ozai. All it needs is some Star Warslightsaber fighting music to be perfect, especially after Aang hits his wound on a rock, unlocking the chakra and letting him go into the Avatar State, where he grabs Ozai's beard (YES THE BEARD), and gives him a Repeat Cut of him getting slammed into a pillar and proceeds to chase a Terrified Ozai through the previous battlefield he was Curb Stomping in. He then pulls off a spectacular display of Toph-O-Vision and retaliates against Ozai with his back turned. Then he "Spiritbends" Ozai and takes away his firebending! Perhaps Heart isn't so lame after all. To top it off, the last time we see Bending in the series is him pulling in the ocean to put out the fires, and bringing it back out, as the comet leaves and Momo returns. Signifying that, yes, the war is finally over.
Just the sight of Aang waiting for Ozai's genocidal air fleet. Bonus points for the music and Sokka's reaction upon spotting him. It's here you finally believe Aang can and also WILL save the world.
Azula even as she was losing, then forfeiting, her duel with Zuko. We hear Iroh's lessons about the generation of lightning requiring total calmness and dispassion/serenity in season two. So of course we see Azula, in the middle of a full-blown psychotic break, do it anyway. Crazy as she was at the time, Azula's proficiency with the technique would cause her to unconsciously focus on the task, even if her conscious mind was in turmoil.
Katara's defeat of Azula, binding her after she goes insane. Made even better by the fact that she does it without landing a single offensive blow. And FREEZING BOTH of them in ice, with Azula a millisecond away from blowing her head off! Pure pwnage by the primarily defensive Waterbending style. Bear in mind that Katara was facing, at worst, the third most powerful Firebender in the world, on a day that Firebenders' powers are vastly enhanced. And Waterbending is weaker during the day.
Toph metalbending a door into a full-body suit and using the contents of an airship's control room to take out the crew, all while dodging fireblasts and jumping around the metal cockpit like Spider-Man. The awesomeness really comes from the fact that to do what she does in that scene, she has to be metalbending with every motion. To repeat, she has to perform, with perfect dexterity, a feat that was thought to be impossible before she invented it, EVERY SECOND!Tony Stark would be proud. Oh, and she started this by knocking "Shave and a Haircut." With the last knock replaced by the crash of her blowing the door across the room.
Sokka's willingness to take on Ozai if Aang couldn't get there in time. Let's recap, shall we? He was willing to take on OZAI, the Big Bad at the height of his power, who posed a serious challenge to even the Avatar, and Sokka is a Badass Normal at best. And he was willing to fight him. Alright, he would have had backup from fellow Badass Normal Suki and Cute Bruiser Toph, but that takes some straight up testicular elephantiasis.
And how calmly he realises it. Sokka asks Iroh what he, Toph and Suki should be doing when the group split up at the camp. Iroh asks him, and he simply states they need to do what they can do, together, to tackle Ozai. Once standing on the airship he says "Fire Lord Ozai, here we come." with a wonderfully determined/fierce expression on his face.
Sokka diverting the crew of an airship to the bomb bay by telling them it was a crewmember's birthday and then ejecting them. Bonus points for it actually being one of the crew member's birthday.
Then taking out the entire armada of Fire Nation air ships. AIRSHIP SLICE!
And then saving himself and Toph from a bunch of Firebenders with one hand (the other keeping Toph from falling) and a broken leg, sacrificing Boomerang and Space Sword to do so.
Let's recap what exactly happened to Ozai's Armada, shall we? Toph LAUNCHES herself, Sokka, and Suki on board the nearest airship, where Toph proceeds to single-handedly hijack it from the super-firebenders with her new bending. Meanwhile, Aang sinks Ozai's immense flagship by taking out the propellers with boulders and blasting it with a comet-enhanced fireball. Sokka then overloads his giant airship's engines, sending it barreling towards the rest of the armada at a terrific speed. They climb out of the gondola just in time for the ship to impact not just one other ship, but annihilate HALF THE FLEET IN ONE SPECTACULAR KAMIKAZE. Their airship is broken in half, and they are separated from Suki as the bow section tears off as well, and then smashes into ANOTHER airship. Toph then metalbends the stricken airship's rudder so that it spirals and crashes itself into the other airships. A super-firebender sends them skidding off the airship and out into space, only for them to fall into the hands of MORE firebenders on the airship's platforms, who are then taken out by an injured, prone Sokka holding on to Toph for dear life. Just as more benders arrive and they accept death, an airship lunges out of nowhere and IMPALES their airship, and they fall onto it. It was hijacked by Suki- who was last seen on a fragment of a sinking airship. Offscreen, they defeat the entire super-firebender crew and use the ship to rendezvous with Aang. Ladies and gentlemen- THAT is one hell of a Crowning Moment Of Awesome.
Suki proving that, like most of the things Sokka loves, she always comes back... piloting a crashing Airship, saving Sokka and Toph, who had accepted death.
Even though we didn't see him break out of prison on-screen, Iroh tore through Ba Sing Se's wall like it was toilet paper, and ended the siege by burning the flag of the Fire Nation hanging in the palace, symbolising that the Earth Kingdom is free once again. The irony being that in his heyday when he was a famed General working for the Fire Nation, he couldn't pull it off (granted, he didn't have Sozin's Comet then and only retreated because his son died, but still). And now years later, he accomplished this in less then a day (ousting Azula's 48-hour takeover). Maybe fighting for something he really believes in helps.
Not to take away from the awesome, but that may have "only" been one of the inner walls, as Azula's coup brought down the outer walls. Then again, the Dai Li may have put the walls back up after the Fire Nation occupation began.
The Order of the White Lotus captured Ba Sing Se in less than an hour
King Bumi's Flashback to waiting for the right moment during the Day of Black Sun, when he single-handedly pwned all the Fire Nation soldiers in the city. And he was completely blase about the entire ordeal. Oh, and he breaks a half-dozen Fire Nation tanks and stacks them all on top of each other. Without even looking in their direction.
Even more badass is the fact that according to the Commentary, Bumi had NO IDEA that the Eclipse would strip Firebenders of their power at all, this also being an example of his neutral Jing strategy.
Fire Nation Soldier: Hey! What do you think you're doing?! (Tries to shoot fire, but nothing happens) Huh?
Bumi:(Looks confused for a moment before he smiles with realization) Taking back my city! You've got no more firepower, and it's payback time!
Masters Pakku and Piandao fighting against Firebenders ON ICE!!!! Piandao's performance was doubly badass, given that the Firebenders were all powered up by the Comet, while he has no powers at all.
The Comet-powered Jeong Jeong hovering in the air with firebending jet-feet while using huge waves of flame to crash about two dozen Fire Nation tanks into big functionless pileups.
Hello, Zuko's reunion with Iroh. It has to take guts to face a guy after you betray him, especially when you feel like shit about it, not to mention when you know that same guy apparently PHYSICALLY broke through the bars of his prison and took out ALL the guards in order to escape. Even if it's not a Crowning Moment of Awesome, it definitely applies as a Crowning Moment of Heartwarming.
Iroh's forgiveness of Zuko. Considering he'd been tossed in a filthy jail cell with cruel guards, due to the selfishness of someone he dearly loved, then had to work hard for weeks in order to bust himself out, the reunion scene is just all the more incredible. It's not a flying-acrobatic-combat sort of awesome, but that doesn't mean it doesn't fall under "awesome."
Oh, and let's not forget Aang TURNING INTO A MASSIVE BALL OF COSMIC ENERGY, SIMULTANEOUSLY BENDING ALL FOUR ELEMENTS AT THE SAME TIME, WHILE ATTACKING OZAI. See here◊ for details.
And those rocks floating around him? They weren't that small to begin with. Aang ripped a bunch of enormous boulders out of the ground and COMPRESSED (as in, reduced the size without losing any of the mass) them with earthbending.
Even more awesome when you realize he did the exact same with the the other elements. The five firebending jets he roared out were roughly the size of the flames being used to burn down the Earth Kingdom. And the water he bended into a ring the size of a hula-hoop was a small river's worth. And one can only imagine how much air is swirling around at high speeds, allowing you to create a freaking crater at impact.
And Aang doesn't even need all those elements to defeat Ozai. Those compressed rocks are basically BULLETS. Aang only needs earthbending (and probably airbending) to pull it off. No amount of firebending skill could stop a bullet.
Even better, watching the whole fight carefully, Aang uses everything in that wheel of death. It's not just Rule of Cool.
There should be a whole new trope for that level of awesome. Like, Crowning Moment of Epic Awesome.
After days of his friends, his mentors, and his own past lives telling him that he has to kill Ozai, Aang proceeds to ignore them all and Take a Third Option anyway, solving the conflict without breaking his own principles. The cosmic ball of elements was a Moment Of Awesome for the Avatar. The Spiritbending? That's all Aang.
The scene with the Blue Spirit was pretty epic. The action was almost shot-by-shot from the cartoon.
The part where Zuko ninjas into the Northern Water Tribe; also was pretty much the same as the cartoon.
Sokka giving a Firebender a Groin Attack from behind during the Earthbender fight. Also one of the funniest moments of the movie.
Aang bending a giant wave of water at the climax. Yeah, it wasn't Koizilla, but it was still pretty darn cool. Also, the fact that doing so meant he was finally willing to deal with his grief over losing his people and accept his destiny as the Avatar.
The fight between Aang and Zuko at the North Pole is probably the best fight scene in the whole film, aside from the Blue Spirit fight. Also, the fact that during the fight when Aang hides behind Zuko, he's actually using a martial arts move that Aang used on Zuko the first time they fought in the series.
First CMOA of the interquel. Katara takes out five of Zuko's personal guard in less than five seconds. It's like she has a waterbending Quicksilver Reflex Booster.
Now The Search has shown that while she is still suffering from delusions and hallucinations of her mother, Azula is just as clever and dangerous as ever. She breaks out of a full body straitjacket because she's discovered that in the moments before you fully recover from chi-blocking, you're more flexible than normal. As far as we know, she's only been chi-blocked twice yet she's still discovered this weakness, and she then promptly blackmails Zuko into letting her go with him to find Ursa, and manages to force the Gaang into putting up with her despite repeatedly proving how untrustworthy she is. Later, when the Gaang's being attacked by swarming moths, she fires off a ball of lightning that attracts them all away, having only had seconds to think it up. Proof that you can still be a Magnificent Bitch even while being completely insane.
In Rebound, a followup to The Promise: Finding out about Mai's and Zuko's breakup, Mai's father tries to recruit her into a faction that swears loyalty to the de-throned Ozai and hatred to Zuko. While Mai was coping with the breakup (with she voluntarily did when she discovered Zuko was having secret meetings with Ozai), she knows this is wrong and single-handedly disarms the entire faction with her brother Tom-Tom on her back.