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"We are bonded forever."
The Avatar is the most powerful being in the Avatar universe. It is the result of a permanent fusion between Wan - the first man to not only possess the power of more than one element, but the first human bender as well - and Raava, the spirit of light and peace. The Avatar is a reincarnation of Wan throughout the millennia, starting a cycle that began the moment Wan died.The Avatar is able to access the power of Raava and his or her previous incarnations in what is called the Avatar State, giving them unlimited power for as long as they are in said state. However, any given incarnation of the Avatar is not immortal, and if he or she is killed in the Avatar State, the Avatar Spirit will die and the cycle will end (though Raava herself will survive the death of the Avatar Spirit, and will eventually reform elsewhere).The Avatar's mission in life, a task set forth by Wan himself, is to maintain balance of the world, as well as between the mortal and spirit realms. This job includes bringing peace between groups in conflict, or defeating threats to world peace such as imperialist tyrants bent on conquest. The Avatar is also the spiritual leader of the world; due to being half spirit, the Avatar is most powerful in the Spirit World, as opposed to other humans who normally are powerless in comparison. The Avatar must master the four elements and attain a certain degree of balance within themselves; they are then referred to as a "fully realized Avatar".For tropes specifically relating to Korra, Aang, the Avatars who preceded them, or Wan himself, please visit the various pages in the Character pages for both Avatar: The Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra.
- The Atoner: Until perhaps the Harmonic Convergence of Korra's time, the Avatar's mission in life is partly to honor Wan's dying wish to continue making up for his grave mistake in releasing Vaatu.
- Big Good: The Avatar is to attain this goal once they have mastered all four elements and found inner peace. This usually negates an Avatar's chance to have political power, since their job is to essentially be the leader of two entire worlds.
- Bullying a Dragon: Avatar Extras dryly noted that most people who face or challenge a fully realized Avatar in combat are pretty easily embarrassed.
- Changing of the Guard: Wan through Aang represents the first full Harmonic Convergence Cycle for the Avatar or the course of about 10000 years. Korra started off as part of Wan's legacy until Raava was attacked and she permanently lost her connection to her past lives during second Convergence. This makes her the new 'first' avatar, as no one else will ever be able to directly commune with Wan-Aang.
- The Chosen One: Treated as one as far as the world is concerned, with each nation having the same, or similar methods to recognize the him or her when he/she is born, and during the War was treated as a symbol of hope to be revered or destroyed. A tribe feuding for a hundred years took Aang's bald-face lie at face value simply because he claimed to know the tribe's forefounders. Avatars are commonly involved with, connected to or directly responsible for history changing events and important individuals. On top of all that, their destiny is to battle Vaatu every ten thousand years to prevent a dark-spirit apocalypse.
- Elemental Powers: One of the main advantages of being bonded with Raava is that the Avatar can use all four of the elements, air-, water-, earth- and firebending, instead of just the one like everyone else. Even then the Avatar can mostly only use one at a time. With the Avatar State active they can use all four at the same and with a tremendous power boost.
- Fusion Dance: The Avatar came to be when Wan and Raava fused together during Harmonic Convergence.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: As seen above, the Avatar employs these when entering the Avatar State.
- God is Good: The Avatar is the closest thing to a god that the Avatar universe has, and their job is to protect the worlds and its people and spirits.
- God of Good: The Avatar is the human incarnation of Raava. She bonded herself with a human host in order to defeat her evil opposite Vaatu and later bring peace to both physical and spirit worlds.
- Heroic Second Wind: The Avatar State is often used as a last resort when the Avatar requires an extra boost of power to accomplish the task at hand.
- The Juggernaut: While not immortal, it's easy to tell that a fully realized Avatar is considered unstoppable even by the top tier of normal benders.
- Legacy Character: Via reincarnation, every avatar after Wan takes up his legacy and title.
- Messianic Archetype: Each avatar is a reincarnated man or woman who possess incredible power and connected to a spiritual plane of existence, and in every life has faced off a tyrannical or amoral enemy. Their advice is treated with near-religious worship and world leaders are willing to listen to the advice of a 10 year-old with no knowledge of war or even a complete history of the last century. The last part holds truth, as avatars have the ability to access Raava's memories to seek the wisdom they need.
- Sublty deconstructed as Aang is initially treated as the sole person capable of saving the world and his word is treated as law, while Korra is met with resistance such as the World leaders not including her in war strategies against Kuvira due to her not being fully recovered. Only when the situation became so bad that they had to defer to her wisdom.
- The Needs of the Many: This is a dilemma faced by many Avatars in their lifetimes: whether or not to choose between themselves or the fate of the many in a given context. Since the Avatar is the protector of not just the entire world, but the Spirit World as well, an Avatar is usually advised to serve the needs of the many over the needs of the few. This is the reason some Avatars more or less cast off their backgrounds and ideologies (such as Yang Chen), to better serve the worlds as a whole.
- Obstructive Code of Conduct: Though not outright stated, while it is the Avatar's duty to protect the innocent, he or she cannot interfere in the affairs of other nations, unless there is a threat to him/herself, balance in the material world, or even a threat that's on a supernatural level. However, world leaders and conquerors abusing their power on their own people tends to be a grey area below a certain threshold but so it's hard to determine that limit to their intervention. As such, this principle has been broken left and right by various Avatars.
- Physical God: Any fully-realized Avatar, but especially one in the Avatar State.
- Reincarnation: The Avatar's spirit never truly dies as it continuously reincarnates into a new body at death. However, if the Avatar is killed in the Avatar State, the Avatar would truly die.
- Super Mode: The Avatar State, which grants the current Avatar all the knowledge and skill of all of their past lives as well as a significant power boost.
- Thou Shalt Not Kill: It depends on the Avatar if this trope is invoked or not. Aang was a notable pacifist who believed all life was sacred, which he was more or less chastised for by his predecessors.
- Voice of the Legion: On many occasions when the Avatar speaks during the Avatar State, the Avatar will speak with apparently the voices of all previous Avatars at once, in a chilling, powerful drone.
The Four NationsThese are descriptions of the four cultures.
- Actual Pacifist: The Air Nomads focused on lives of peace and detachment from worldly desires through meditation. As such they abhorred violence in general and develop styles based on dodging and evading.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Air Nomads are primarily based on Shaolin and Tibetan Buddhist monks and their slaughter and near-extinction parallels that of the invasion and sinification of Tibet by the Chinese Communist Party.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Southern Water Tribe borrows from various Polynesian and Native American cultures, specifically the Inuit culture, while the architecture of the Northern Water Tribe capital also adds a heavy dose of Chinese and bits of Nordic influence.
- The Northern Tribe is more of a city, with a more structured outlook on life and has more waterbending tutors available, due to not being as involved in the war.
- The Southern Tribe is more of a hut village, has a more loose outlook on life and has lost more people to the war by the start of the series.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy
- Slobs vs. Snobs: There are elements of this existing in the series between members of the Northern and Southern Water Tribes where Northerners view the Southerners to be low-class slobs and peasants while the Southerners view the Northerners as elitist snobs and oppressive aristocrats. This boils into a civil war between the two tribes in the Legend of Korra storyline.
Northern Water Tribe
Southern Water Tribe
Foggy Swamp Tribe
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: While the political situation of the Earth Kingdom (particularly in the capital of Ba Sing Se) parallels that of the Qing Dynasty's last days, its culture draws from every Chinese dynasty; Toph's family wears Tang-era clothing, Aunt Wu's usage of oracle bones for divination comes from the Shang Dynasty, etc. It also has areas influenced by Vietnamese tribal cultures (the Foggy Swamp Tribe, despite their Mississippi Delta accent), pre-Meiji Japan (Kyoshi Island), the Gobi Desert (the Shi Wong desert), and Korea (as seen with the hanbok worn by Song in the episode "Cave of Two Lovers"), each paralleling a real-life tributary held by Imperial China. And finally, in the sequel series The Legend of Korra, we meet an Earth Kingdom villain clearly based off the Chinese communist revolutionary Chairman Mao Zedong.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Like Imperial Japan, the Fire Nation is an authoritarian volcanic archipelago state technologically superior to its neighbors, with a coal-based military-industrial complex that justifies its conquests with the premise of "sharing prosperity" and uses methods like Emperor worship (the Fire Lord in their case) and schoolbook propaganda to control its people. However, its material culture is primarily Chinese. The Fire Nation also utilizes elements of Thai architecture, most noticeably in the roofing. The geology of the Fire Nation capital was based on Iceland, which may seem a little weird until you remember that Iceland is one of the most tectonically active places on the planet.
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: The Fire Nation prides itself on its militarism and use of martial force. This dates back to their ancestors in Avatar Wan's era who often ventured out to conquer territory after harnessing firebending from Lion Turtles.