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  • Aborted Arc:
    • The season one finale features Aang traveling to the Spirit World meeting the potent character Koh the Face Stealer, who ominously says "We'll meet again," as Aang leaves. They never did, not even in the second season of The Legend of Korra which dealt with nothing but spirits. In Escape from the Spirit World, a Flash game that takes place between seasons 2 and 3, they do meet again and Koh is more than a little eager to pay Aang back for escaping the last time they met.
    • Initially there were plans to reveal that Momo, Aang's pet lemur, was actually the reincarnation of his old Airbending teacher, Monk Gyatso. This was vaguely alluded to several times throughout the series, but ended up being scrapped.
  • Absurdly Sharp Blade:
    • Sokka's sword made out of metal from space. The sharpness of the sword actually works against Sokka in the finale. When he tries to slow himself and Toph down by stabbing into the hull of an airship, it shears through the metal until they reach the bottom and keep falling.
    • Mai's throwing daggers, being capable of nailing people to solid metal just by throwing them.
    • Waterbenders can use water to cut through metal, sort of like a water jet cutter. Partially averted as it takes a very long time to do so, and it's not very efficient.
  • Abusive Parents:
    • Fire Lord Ozai. That his son Zuko's facial scar and emotional turmoil, and his daughter Azula's heartless, sadistic nature are both his doing.
      • Taken to new levels in the graphic novels detailing what happened to Ursa. Ursa lived in a small village as a theater performer and was betrothed to a fellow actor when it was decided she would be Ozai's wife. She was told she would have no contact with her former beloved or he would be killed. Secretly, Ursa was writing letters to him that she gave to a servant to deliver in secret, but the servant was taking them to Ozai. When she found out and confronted Ozai about it, he points out a part in one of her letters where she says Zuko is her former lover's son. He knows this is only wishful thinking on Ursa's part since he has her under constant watch, but he punishes her by treating Zuko as if he really was not Ozai's son.
    • Toph's parents are mostly just neglectful, sheltering and coddling their girl instead of respecting her earthbending skills, but sending bounty hunters after her when she runs off (and assuming she must have been kidnapped by the Avatar) crosses over into stupidity.
    • Mai's parents—though not as bad as Zuko's or Toph's cases, it's revealed that she couldn't do much of anything except sit still and be quiet. If she made a comment at a dinner party, she got in trouble, if she fidgeted, she got in trouble. Heck, if she hugged her dad in public, she probably got in trouble. All because her parents just wanted to get higher and higher on the social ladder...and then they pretty much put her aside when her little brother Tom-Tom was born.
    • While not as bad as the others, Ty Lee's parents are said to have been rather neglectful. As one of seven identical septuplet girls she was constantly ignored, if not mistaken for one of her sisters. This treatment eventually led her to run away from home and join the circus.
  • Action Girl:
    • Toph is a small blind girl who is introduced beating up a large earthbender named: "The Boulder", and later defeats him, and a bunch of other wrestlers, easily.
    • Katara started off as incompetent but as the series went on she graduated to Master Waterbender and full on Action Girl.
    • Suki and her Kyoshi warriors, who were inspired by...
    • Avatar Kyoshi, who created an island by splitting it off from the continent during a battle.
  • Actor Allusion:
    • The "four elements" wizard in the first episode of Book 2: Earth is based directly on Akiro, Mako's early role in the movie Conan the Barbarian.
    • In the episode "Ember Island Players," Actor Zuko is voiced by the older brother of Dante Basco, the voice of the real Zuko.
    • An inversion with Ozai: a Big Bad Evil Overlord father who maims his son and blasts lightning from his fingertips voiced by Mark Hamill. That's right, Luke Skywalker is voicing a composite of Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine.
    • Several times later in the series, Zuko has a red dragon motif.
    • Before voicing Avatar Roku, James Garrett had previously worked as an announcer for movie trailers (most famously the Harry Potter films). Rather appropriate for a character whose primary role in the story is to inform everyone of a dramatic event happening THIS SUMMER.
    • Dante Basco goes up against pirates twice in Season 1 — the first time nearly getting skewered on a sword, and the second time almost getting killed.
  • Another one for Dante. During their final battle, Zuko manages break Azula's balance and knock her off her feet with a backspin kick. Before he was an actor, Basco was a part of a breakdancing crew.
  • Adjective Animal Alehouse: Iroh's tea shop, The Jasmine Dragon.
  • Adorkable: Zuko. It's especially noticeable in the second half of the third season, but he shows signs of it before then. One of his Crowning Moments of Dork is his date with Jin in Season 2.
  • Adrenaline Makeover: Mostly for Katara.
  • Adult Fear:
    • All sorts: the danger of having your family die, the inescapable life of a refugee, inability to keep your loved ones safe....
    • ...A foreign nation invading your homeland, an oppressive government controlling every facet of society, being rejected and betrayed by your loved ones, having a budding sociopath for a child, being forced to choose between your loved ones because they have taken up opposite sides of a conflict, and losing control of yourself and causing someone else to be hurt or killed. When Avatar plays for Emotional Torque, it plays for keeps.
  • Adults Are Useless: Zigzagged. The number of times the main characters have encountered useless, ineffectual or just plain stupid adults (Lao Bei Fong, General Fong) is about equal to the number of encounters with scarily competent and powerful adults (Iroh, King Bumi). Some are marginally useful but rarely affect the plot directly (Hama, Piandao). In all, it's more like they are useless until they become an Old Master, and then they get the appropriate degree of competence. So it's more like Avatar has an Competence Zone.
  • Aerith and Bob:
    • The names for most cultures seem to be Chinese and Japanese mixed together, with a few other things thrown in (Zuko, and Iroh look like Japanese names, Zhao and Ozai are Chinese; they're all from the Fire Nation). This trope happens if you're Chinese or Japanese - names that sound normal to you mixed with names that really don't. There are also a few names that seem "normal" to Western audiences, like Lee, Mai (pronounced "May"), and Jet, although most of those could pass as Eastern names as well.
    • Some of the names that are not as clear are Toph and Azula:
      • According to the characters written in certain episodes, Toph is an alternate spelling/pronunciation for either of the Chinese names Tuòfú or Tuofu. No word on whether that was the intention from the beginning or if they were just retroactively trying to find characters that fit. The Other Wiki says that Toph's name actually means 'supported Lotus' in Mandarin.
      • Azula's name looks Japanese, except for the fact that it contains the letter 'l'. Her name was originally going to be "Zula" (to mirror Zuko), but was changed to Azula to capture the Spanish word Azul (blue) and create a Meaningful Name for the girl slinging blue fire around, albeit one which is left-field in a world that is obviously South and East Asian-themed. Alternatively, in keeping to the Japanese language, you can use the r/l switch and get yet another Meaningful Name for "blue."
      • It would seem that Azula was named after her grandfather Azulon, who is named after Azulong, or The Azure Dragon of the East, a Chinese constellation symbol.
    • Double points for Zuko, whose name is not only both a Japanese and Chinese name, but is also a Meaningful Name in both languages. In Japanese, the name 'Zuko' also means "sound of swishing swords", clearly in reference to both his swords and skilled swordsmanship. In addition, there are numerous ways to write Zuko's name in Chinese, one of which is '豎髙' (literally 'standing tall'). This can also be interpreted as 'Conceited, proud of one's self', which fits his character rather nicely for a good portion of Season 1.
      • Zuko is also fairly close to the Filipino word "Suko," which can mean "madness" or "angry" in one dialect, or "surrender" in another. While the second meaning doesn't fit him, the first meaning definitely does, especially in the first season.
    • In the episode "The Serpent's Pass" the travelers who are being escorted through the Serpent's Pass decide to name their child born just after they reach the other side Hope.
    • One of the partygoers in "The Beach" is named "Ruon-Jian." It's pronounced "Ron Jon".
    • Zuko's mom is named Ursa, which is Latin for bear.
  • An Aesop: Lots of them. Many, many episodes have morals to impart, such as "The Kyoshi Warriors" ("sexism is bad"), "The Fortuneteller" ("we make our own destiny"), and "The Deserter" ("impatience is bad"). Few of them are broken, lost, or otherwise faulty—or so Anvilicious as to feel like being on the receiving end of a sermon. Justified as it's a kids' show.
  • Affectionate Parody: The Boulder, a paper-thin parody of pro wrestlers Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson, Hulk Hogan, and Randy Savage. And he's voiced by another wrestler (and friend of The Rock) Mick Foley, who you can tell was having a grand olde time providing the voice. The creators even wanted The Rock to do the voice acting, according to Avatar Extras.
    • "The Ember Island Players" has the gang attend a play based on their adventures, with Character Exaggeration of the traits of all characters.
  • Air-Aided Acrobatics: The entire point of airbending is basically this trope.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Parodied in Season 1, Episode 5 "The King of Omashu". Aang and the gang are imprisoned in a cell and try to use the air vents to escape. Even Momo couldn't fit through one.
  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Azula is a terrible, terrible person – who is fourteen, with a long history of parental abuse, grooming, and learned violence-for-violence type behavior. Usually she's such a magnificent bitch that you forget to feel sorry for her, and then she spends the whole series finale going steadily crazier and crazier, with her Freudian Excuse coming to the surface as she starts hallucinating her mother's disapproval and becomes almost desperate for her father's validation. She finally snaps after she loses to Katara, and the last shot of her in the series is her sobbing uncontrollably, with Zuko and Katara themselves looking upset that there wasn't anything to be done to save her.
    • Fire Lord Sozin dies offscreen, but he gets a lot more sympathetic by then, realizing that he was irredeemable after he betrayed and murdered his best friend and wiped out the Air Nation, and has nothing to show for it except an empty, hollow life.
  • The Alcatraz:
    • The Fire Nation keeps captive Earthbenders on a giant steel platform way out to sea. The lack of any earth to bend keeps prisoners down, even when Katara makes a Rousing Speech, until the others grab a huge load of coal, which the Earthbenders can work with.
    • The Boiling Rock is one of the most over-the-top examples that isn't for humor: It's a maximum security prison, on a tiny island, in a lake heated to boiling by hydrothermal vents, in the caldera of a remote volcanic island, so that the only way in or out is an aerial tram to the docks. Sokka and Zuko break out Suki, Hakoda, and a random inmate named Chit Sang who overheard their escape plans ("Hey, I'm new").
  • Alice Allusion: "The Swamp." Mired helplessly in a massive swamp of illusions and secrets, separated from his friends, Aang sees a vision of Toph. She doesn't look like Alice (having black hair and a pale green dress), but the dialogue swings into an allusion with this:
    Aang: I heard laughing and I saw some girl in a fancy dress.
    Sokka: Well, there must be a tea party here and we just didn't get our invitations!
  • All Deserts Have Cacti: In the entire episode "The Desert", we only see one cactus… the one responsible for Sokka and Momo's Mushroom Samba.
  • All Monks Know Kung-Fu: Every single one of the Air Nomads knew airbending due to their culture's high level of spirituality. Also, the Fire Sages are all master firebenders.
    • Justified in-universe, since bending is a highly spiritual discipline.
  • All There in the Manual: The main purpose of the Nickelodeon site is to provide supplementary information while not using up valuable air time.
    • The Avatar comics which appeared in various Nickelodeon publications throughout the run of the series also fill in some important details, particularly the ones set between Seasons 2 and 3, which reveal what happened to Ba Sing Se after Azula conquered it, and how Zuko and Mai got together.
  • Alternate Character Interpretation: With Zuko, In-Universe. Aang, Sokka, and Katara treat him like a violent sociopath when he arrives at the Western Air Temple, because from their perspective he is. Zuko has only ever shown up to either assault them or, in the case of the Crystal Catacombs, stab them in the back after making peaceful overtures. They've never witnessed the same inner doubts and character growth that the viewers have. Only Toph has no history with Zuko, which is why she's the one willing to reach out to him first.
  • Alternate Personality Punishment: In "Avatar Day", Aang finds out too late that the titular Avatar Day is, for the local people he just stumbled upon, the day to desecrate the Avatar's image because of what the past Avatar (Kyoshi) did to their greatest king in the past. Upon finding out Aang is the current Avatar, they capture and immediately try to execute him. Played with in that all Avatars are the reincarnations of the previous one, and upon the execution, Kyoshi's soul briefly takes over Aang's body to... admit that she did kill the king, because said king was a tyrant conqueror who threatened her group. This just makes the villagers even angrier until Fire Nation thugs raid the village, forcing them to rely on Aang and friends to fend them off.
  • Always Chaotic Evil:
    • The rest of the world's general opinion of firebenders, along with Bad Powers, Bad People.
    • Occasionally subverted throughout the series as we see some of the Fire Nation are just Punch Clock Villains and behave relatively normal when away from combat, and then fully subverted as the third season goes on and we meet the citizens of the Fire Nation, and even made fun of in one of the comics, where Sokka insists they spy on a Fire Nation village, and we see the people doing completely normal, innocent activities; Aang even lampshades the subversion at the end of "The Avatar and the Fire Lord": "Everyone is capable of great good and great evil." And then there's Hama, the southern Waterbender who subverts Always Lawful Good.
      • A few scenes of "Return to Omashu" are essentially subtle Take Thats against this trope, with this being the first time we see non-combatants from the Fire Nation, including children. Such an example would be where the infant son of the governor occupying Omashu is accidentally "kidnapped" by the Gaang, where one of the side characters states that the baby will become a killer, only for an annoyed Katara to put him down.
    • One can even initially perceive the element of Fire itself as this, as most depictions earlier in the show show it as destructive and violent. Later also subverted fully in "The Firebending Masters", where Aang and Zuko find out that at its core, Fire is energy and life, and that modern Firebending is a weakened corruption of its true teachings.
  • Always Save the Girl: Aang decides saving Katara is more important than finishing opening the chakras for the Avatar state, which was something that Iroh fully agreed with.
  • Alpha Bitch: Azula. However, as the series progresses, she becomes a deconstruction, as we learn of her inner insecurities which began to take their toll, and after Mai and Ty Lee betray her, she starts to gradually lose her mind.
  • Amazon Brigade: The series has no shortage of strong, able-bodied, females. So it's hardly any surprise that there are two examples of the trope:
    • The Kyoshi Warriors is a team of Action Girls founded in honor of Avatar Kyoshi. Their group is led by Suki and is responsible for protecting the island from intruders - just as Kyoshi did, long ago.
    • Princess Azula chooses Mai and Ty Lee for her elite team. Not only are they three of the Gaang's toughest antagonists, they also managed to conquer Ba Sing Se from the inside. A feat which even Iroh's army failed to accomplish, after laying siege to the city for six hundred days!
  • Ambiguous Situation: Events surrounding Azulon's death are extremely murky. The main question is whether he was really going to have Ozai kill Zuko as a punishment for Ozai's attempt to usurp Iroh's position as heir. The only two people who know for sure are both known liars and only discuss the incident while trying to manipulate others. One popular fan theory is that Azulon intended to make Zuko Iroh's heir to remove Ozai from the succession, which does fit the very little we see of the scene in question, but is mainly rooted in a literal interpretation of Azula's version of the story which, as noted above, could be all lies in the first place. We find out in the comics that Ozai had Ursa create an untraceable poison to kill Azulon in exchange for Zuko's life but we never find out if she personally administered it.
  • Ambiguously Bi:
    • Ty Lee shows unusual interest in Azula, which goes almost to the point of obsession. On Ember Island, several boys took interest in Ty Lee on the beach, to which she was completely oblivious and preferred the company of Azula. She also had a brief interest she took in Sokka.
    • Then again, Ty Lee lives in complete and total fear of Azula so maybe her "interest" is just playing the part of a good employee to avoid getting on her bad side.
    • Additionally, Azula was originally conceived as a guy so perhaps Ty Lee was intended to be the girlfriend to the original male version of Azula, with some bits and pieces of that characterization remaining.
  • Ancient Tradition: The Order of the White Lotus.
  • And Then What?: Uncle Iroh's confrontation with Zuko over trying to kidnap Appa in Season 2, as well as Sokka's escape plans from the Boiling Rock in Season 3.
    • Iroh's example is notable in being one of two instances in the show where he visibly loses his temper.
  • And Zoidberg:
    • Sokka once in a while. "Three on Three plus Sokka".
    • An episode in Season 3 focuses on Sokka's consternation over getting saddled with this. By the episode's end, has taken a level in Badass and got a fancy sword.
    • The Avatar Extras get into it too. At the end of "The Chase", when the Gaang plus Zuko all attack Azula, it says, "This is the first time we've seen all four elements attacking at once." A beat later, it adds, "...Plus Sokka."
  • Angrish: Sokka's reaction towards Toph waking him up in "Bitter Work". After considering the sleepless marathon he had to go through in the previous episode, his frustration is well justified here. The Avatar Extras note that the writers did have actual dialog for Sokka, but the voice actor improvised the grumbled angrish instead.
  • invoked Angst Dissonance: An in-universe example; while Sokka and Zuko are heading towards the Boiling Rock and bonding, Sokka says, "My first girlfriend turned into the moon." After a pause, the only thing Zuko can say is, "That's rough, buddy." What else can he say to something like that?
  • invoked Angst? What Angst?: Aang tries to invoke this in "The Serpent's Pass", after completely freaking out in the previous episode over losing Appa. Don't worry, he snaps out of it.
  • Animation Bump: The Grand Finale has a few shots of a higher quality, though the series itself is already unusually at a higher quality than most Korean studios.
  • Animesque:
  • Anti-Villain: Zuko.
    • As well as Mai, Ty Lee, Jet (if you consider him a villain) and Iroh.
  • Angels Pose: Ozai's Angels during the play in Ember Island Players, playing on their nickname.
  • Angst Coma: In Season 2, Zuko undergoes a severe fever and enters a coma in which he has vivid dreams in which his uncle and sister appear as dragons and argue over his life choices. Iroh says that this is "not a natural illness" and the whole thing is apparently caused solely by Zuko's premature Heel–Face Turn.
  • Anxiety Dreams: An episode is devoted to these. It's mostly Played for Laughs, but at least one can reach serious Nightmare Fuel territory.
  • Apologetic Attacker: "Sorry, we just need to see the Earth King!"
    • Katara in "The Puppetmaster" when Hama manipulates Sokka and Aang into attacking her.
  • Arc Words:
    • "I must regain my honor." There are story sequences built around this phrase for Zuko, Aang, and Sokka ("The Boiling Rock")
    • "Destiny" is another major theme, seeing as the show is primarily influenced by Eastern Philosophy. It ends up applying to every single character, and together their stories send the message that while you always have a destiny, you are the only one who can choose to follow it.
    • While not exactly a major theme, the word "crazy" is used repeatedly: It's associated with Azula several times ("...crazy blue firebending", "Girls are crazy!", "She's crazy and she needs to go down.") and is also used to dismiss ideas and people as unimportant. Sokka uses it a lot during "The Fortuneteller"; during "The Beach", Toph says: "Guys, you're all gonna think I'm crazy, but it feels like there's a metal man coming." By the end, Azula becomes the sort of person who's a shorthand for "unimportant" and "easily dismissed."
    • The first season is bookended by Iroh telling Zuko "A man needs his rest."
  • Aren't You Going to Ravish Me?: A more kid-friendly variation is used in "The Waterbending Scroll". When some pirates attack the camp looking for Aang, Aang and Sokka try to fight. Aang quickly gets snared in a net, and they start to carry him off. Sokka looks all offended. "Aww, What? I'm not good enough to kidnap?" And then they turn and throw a net over him too.
  • Armor-Piercing Question:
    • "Who are you, and what do you want?" Iroh to Zuko. Vorlon and Shadow in one sentence.
    • Mai, Ty Lee and Azula want to know, "Who are you mad at?"
    • During the Day of Black Sun, when Zuko is just about to walk out on his father after finally telling him what a horrible father he is, Ozai manages to stop him in his tracks by asking the one question that he knows has haunted Zuko for most of his life: "Don't you want to know what happened to your mother?"
    • "What are you going to do when you face my father?"
  • Arranged Marriage:
    • In the final episodes of the first season, Sokka falls for Princess Yue, who is very unhappy to be headed for an arranged marriage to Hahn. She gets out of it by becoming the moon spirit and by Hahn having a played-for-laughs death (Come on, thrown off a boat into Arctic waters? Dude is dead).
    • Kanna, the future grandmother of Sokka and Katara, was once arranged to be married to Waterbending Master Pakku, who saw her as the "love of his life". She ran away from the Northern to the Southern Tribe to avoid him and the Northern Tribe's traditions, and Pakku grew incredibly bitter and misogynistic as a result. It appears to have been the traditions were the problem rather than Pakku's person, however, because months after Pakku - having had a change of heart after meeting Katara and realizing Kanna's actual reasons to leave - traveled to the Southern Tribe, he and Kanna properly got married, this time in mutual love.
    • According to the old official site, Princess Ursa was arranged to be married to Prince Ozai, who was her perfect match. Which might hint that Zuko and Mai may have been arranged for each other early on as well, although they're so genuinely in love with each other (even blushing around each other as children) that it doesn't really matter anyway.
  • Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Prince Zuko, especially in the first season; Zhao; Xin Fu, the tournament runner tracking Toph with Master Yu; and Toph herself.
    • He's not a bender, but Jet knows martial arts and could be considered one of these as well.
  • Arrow Cam: In episode 13 when the Blue Spirit is struck down by one of the Yu Yan archers.
  • Arson, Murder, and Jaywalking:
    • In the Season 2 episode "Avatar Day", the punishment wheel has punishments ranging from torture machine, boiled in oil, eaten by sharks, several other fates equally painful and fatal, to... community service.
    • Lampshaded by Katara crossing her fingers and repeating "community service". Gotta love it.
    • The Earth King's first line in his titular episode also makes good use of this trope.
    Earth King: You invade my palace, lay waste to all my guards, break down my fancy door, and you expect me to trust you?!
    Extras Popup: And he loved that fancy door!
  • Artistic License – Astronomy:
    • Sozin's "Comet" is something of a misnomer. Comets are seen for days or possibly weeks as they take their sweet time to fly around the sun, are made of much more ice and earth than fire, and rarely intersect the atmosphere and live to tell their tale again. There is a class of objects that do—Earth-grazing fireballs—but "Sozin's Earthgrazer" isn't anywhere near as poetic, and doesn't carry that ancient "comets are harbingers of doom" mystique. In addition, the distinction wasn't always as clear in our world, either, so a culture with no advanced astronomy could easily just call any flying space object comets, and the word "comet" comes from Ancient Greek, the language of a culture in which people also thought the world consisted of a total of four (guess which) elements.
    • Real total solar eclipses are not at all as rare as the show makes them out to be - they must happen at least once every 5 years, but can go centuries before recurring at the same location. Before the team could have used the planetarium to show when an eclipse would happen over the Fire Nation, they would therefore have had to program it to show the sky at that location.
      • In the days just before the eclipse, the moon is shown full or near-full several times. A solar eclipse can only happen during a new moon, when the moon is on the same side of the Earth as the sun.
    • A similar issue appears in "The Siege of the North." Despite being located at the north pole, the sun rises and sets as it would below the arctic line. As mentioned in "The Boy in the Iceberg" by Sokka, midnight sun does in fact exist in the world of the Avatar. As such, for day and night to cycle during a normal twenty four hour period in the north pole is not plausible around the solstices. That said, it was not said how long after the winter solstice it was until Aang and his friends reached the North Pole.
  • Art Major Physics:
    • Fire does not have a concussive effect unless it is part of an explosion, and even then it's the rapidly expanding gases (fire is a form of plasma) that cause the person or object to be pushed back.
    • Mai's daggers should not cause people to go flying back into walls unless she's somehow Gambit in disguise. Also note that at the speed she throws them, they should just cut right through the clothes instead of dragging people with them.
    • Though there are some uncommon aversions as well: Azula's fire is extra hot and therefore blue, and Aang makes a point to cut the surface tension of the water he falls into, also averting Soft Water.
  • Art Evolution: In a short series like this, and an animated one to boot, one normally doesn't find art evolution. However, it does occur; for instance, compare the size and shape of Katara's eyes (they shift from a noticeably Tibetan, or maybe Inuit, appearance to the more standard large anime eyes) in the first few episodes to the last few episodes, Sokka's entire facial structure and even Aang's face changes somewhat.
    • Also, in a more subtle example, as time goes on, Zuko's scar seems to become a much less dominant feature of his face, partially because he loses his Bald of Evil and lets his hair grow long enough that it covers a lot of the scar.
  • Art Shift: The flashbacks in Season 1, Episode 11, "The Great Divide". Specifically the Zhang tribe's is done in as style reminiscent of Hiroyuki Imaishi's work (e.g. Dead Leaves, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt, Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann).
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence:
    • Princess Yue dies and becomes the new Moon Spirit after Admiral Zhao kills the original in the attack on the Northern Water Tribe, leading to a hilarious Call-Back two seasons later when Sokka and Zuko discuss their romantic lives.
    Sokka: [sadly] My first girlfriend turned into the moon.
    [Beat]\\
Zuko: ...That's rough, buddy.
  • Suki appeared in the show's fourth episode as a Girl of the Week for Sokka but proved popular enough to be upgraded to full Love Interest, appearing in a few episodes of Book 2 and getting upgraded to Gaang member in the latter half of Book 3.
  • Haru originally was a minor character in Book 1. However, when the videogame came around, he became one of the playable characters. This was the only other thing he was a part of before Book 3 was released where he and his father, Tyro, returned to join the attack against the Fire Nation.
  • In a more literal case, the couple Zuko decides not to rob in "Zuko Alone" when he sees the woman is pregnant are the same couple that the Gaang helps out in "The Serpent's Pass" and then end up sitting next to Zuko on a train going into Ba Sing Se.
  • Ascended Fridge Horror: In "The Puppetmaster", Katara learns she can use her waterbending on the blood in people's bodies to control them like puppets.
  • Ascended Meme: Everything in "The Ember Island Players". Everything.
  • Asleep for Days: Aang is truly killed by Azula's lightning bolt before being revived by Katara's magic spirit water and was out so long that his hair had enough time to grow back. He definitely isn't well when he first wakes up, and only Katara's extensive healing lets him recover so quickly.
  • Asshole Victim:
    • Admiral Zhao. He is cruel and sneaky and brutally persecutes the Avatar. On his way, he will attack and burn down any village that has helped the Avatar and his friends. In the Northern Water Tribe, he wants to kill the Moon and Ocean Spirits to plunge the world into chaos. But to his bad luck, the Ocean Spirit decides to punish him. But technically, he is not killed but banished to the spirit world.
    • Hahn, the fiance of Princess Yue also qualifies for it. He wants to marry her, though he knows that she is a forced marriage to her and that she loves another boy. He does not love her, but simply wants to rise in the hierarchy, and also behaves very arrogantly. Finally, he would fight against Admiral Zhao. It is unknown whether he was actually killed, but you cannot see him after the battle.
    • All signs point to Fire Lord Azulon not being a very nice person. Word of God and background material show him as ruling the Fire Nation with an iron fist and carrying out the war against the other nations with brutality only matched by Ozai. He ordered the genocide against the Southern Water Tribe's waterbenders and the raids carried out against the tribe (these raids eventually resulted in the death of Katara's mother). He was willing to have his innocent grandson killed just to prove a point to Ozai. Other than possibly Iroh, it's unlikely anyone really missed him when Ozai and Ursa killed him.
  • Assurance Backfire: In the episode "The Cave of Two Lovers", a cave-in splits up the party in an underground tunnel, and Sokka ends up alone with a group of singing nomads. As Sokka tries to dig his way through the debris, the nomad leader comments, "Yeah, it's no use. We're separated. But at least you have us!" Sokka's response is to scream in despair and start digging more frantically.
  • Astral Projection: Aang can astral project into the spirit world (or accidentally into the material one).
  • The Atoner:
    • Zuko after his Heel–Face Turn, and before as well. Before, he's trying to atone for the event that led to his dishonor and banishment. After, he's trying to atone for betraying his uncle Iroh in his attempt to get back into his father's good books.
    • Jet in his second appearance.
    • Iroh seems to be atoning throughout the show for things he did before it even started.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: Sokka defeats Combustion Man by throwing his boomerang into the center of Combustion Man's eye tattoo. This causes it to malfunction and explode when he tries to fire his lasers again.
    • Also, the Gaang use this tactic against the drill attacking Ba Sing Se, in the episode "The Drill".
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • The show uses this with Fire Lord Ozai, King Bumi, and to a lesser extent, Azula and Zuko. The Earth King, on the other hand, couldn't fight at all and was being controlled by his Evil Chancellor since he was four (though apparently, Earth King authority used to equal asskicking). The warden of "The Boiling Rock" was a bit of a pushover as well, but at least had the attitude.
    • Nearly all of the main characters qualify. While not a really a major authority at the time of show (being gone for a century while people were suffering does not help to endear), the Avatar is considered a sort of King of World and past ones always seemed able to boss around the other rulers a lot. Sokka and Katara are more or less royalty by virtue of being children of the Southern Water Tribe Chief (even though poverty makes them little better than peasants) while Toph is a definitely noble ranked high up in the Earth Kingdom pecking order. Iroh, Pakku, Jeong-Jeong, and even Piandao are also either royalty, nobles, generals or aristocrats. Even Suki, essentially the only member of Team Avatar who can't be construed as anything other than a lowly peasant, is still the commander of her island's warriors by virtue of being an asskicker.
  • Aura Vision: Ty Lee claims she has the ability to see other people's auras. Hers is pink and Mai's is gray. No word on the other characters, though.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Fire Nation Navy used to have shoulder spikes on their uniforms, but eliminated them at some point due to the spikes constantly getting stuck into things.
  • Awesome Moment of Crowning:
    • In the Grand Finale, Azula's coronation as the new Fire Lord is interrupted by Zuko and Katara's arrival. Later, Zuko gets one, where he assures the world that the war is finally over and that he will help the four nations recover. Aang gives him a hug first.
    • Ozai had his own, way back when. It was much more full of pomp than Zuko's, the crowd was very, very big and very red, the royals attending wore white (the traditional color of mourning in China, as Azulon had just died), and because we see it through Zuko's flashback and he was kinda freaked out at the time, it looks pretty scary. Ozai even manages to top himself when he crowns himself as the "Phoenix King" and declares that he will burn down and rebuild the world in his image. Wearing highly ornate armor and with his own personal banner, everyone (except Azula) bows to their leader as triumphant music plays in the background.
  • Awesome Mccoolname: "Katara" is very similar to "Katar" which is a ritualistic dagger from India. For the sake of More Dakka, miniature guns would sometimes be added to both sides of the blade.
    • Wang Fire; what should've been a another joke for burning pee ended up absolutely adored by the fandom. Sokka playing up the role probably helped.
  • Aw, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: The couples all get their moments.
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    B 
  • Back for the Finale: June, Iroh, Pakku, Jeong Jeong, Bumi, Piandao, Mai, Ty Lee, and a number of other characters for minor appearances.
    • While not quite the Finale, Day of the Black Sun has an equally impressive list of minor characters return.
  • Backstab Backfire: Twice. The first time is in "The Southern Air Temple", while the second occurs in the finale. Neither time ends well for the one doing the backstabbing.
  • Backstabbing the Alpha Bitch: Happens to Azula during "The Boiling Rock: Part 2", when Mai and Ty Lee turn on her. As Azula thought she held total command over them, their betrayal makes her paranoid of everyone she commands, and is one of the contributions to her Villainous Breakdown.
  • Badass Adorable: Toph, Aang, Ty Lee, Suki, Appa, and Katara can kick ass or do something awesome one minute, and make you go "awww" the next.
  • Badass Family: The Fire Lord's family, and Hakoda's family.
  • Badass Minds Think Alike: Aang and the Blue Spirit worked together extremely well, considering it was the first time they fought together, they had done no planning, and that the Blue Spirit doesn't talk.
    • Which makes it all the more ironic when the Blue Spirit turns out to be Zuko.
  • Badass Normal: Sokka, Hakoda, Suki, Ty Lee, Mai, Jet and his freedom fighters, Piandao.
    • The "Sokka's Master" episode may count as a lampshade: when Sokka is dissatisfied with his being normal, the group suggests that he Take a Level in Badass.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": "The Ember Island Players". Also, when the Gaang tries to get Katara arrested for earthbending in "Imprisoned".
  • Bad-Guy Bar: Seen in "The Library" and "The Desert".
  • Bad Omen Anecdote: In the episode "The Cave of Two Lovers", the hippie nomad who tells the Gaang about the secret cave, sings to them a song about it. The song ends with "...aaaand diiiiiiiiiiie!".
  • Bad Powers, Bad People: The overall public opinion of firebenders. The truth is a bit more complicated than that, though. See the trope page for more details.
    • Sokka lampshading this: "Mind if I watch you two jerks do your jerkbending?"
  • Barefoot Sage: Guru Pathik. Taken Up to Eleven: not only is he barefoot, but he wears only a piece of cloth.
  • Bare Your Midriff: Quite a few ladies in the show. All the main female characters of the show have done it at least once, and for Ty Lee, it's part of her normal outfit. It also seems to be pretty common in the Fire Nation and seems to even be a normal part of the female soldiers' uniforms.
  • Batman Gambit: Azula has quite a few of these.
  • Battle Couple: There are a couple in the forms of Aang/Katara, and Suki/Sokka.
  • Beach Episode: Fittingly named "The Beach", although in a variant, the Beach Episode is given to the villains.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Averted. Judging by Bosco, normal bears are pretty nice. Non-normal bears (platypus-bears, spirit pandas, and a woman named Ursa) aren't.
    • Of course in Avatarverse, bears that are just bears are the exotic creature that nobody seriously believes in.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: General Fong deliberately provoking the Avatar State.
  • Bee Afraid: Vulture bees! Encounters with them do not go well.
  • Belated Love Epiphany:
    • Zuko rebels against his uncle Iroh for most of the series, but in season 3, when they're separated because Zuko betrayed him, Zuko regrets not being more grateful and loving toward him.
    • Similarly, Toph was happy to run away from her parents, but later regrets hurting them, even if they were incredibly repressive and overprotective. She has Katara write them a note apologizing.
    • A darker version of this tropes occurs with Azula, Mai and Ty Lee. Azula sees people as tools or obstacles and doesn't believe in trust or friendship. However, when her friends betray her, Azula couldn't admit to herself that she really cared about them and felt hurt by their betrayal. This really takes its toll on her already fragile psyche and helps fuel her psychological breakdown.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Aang is very attached to Appa, and Katara, and putting either in danger is a very good way to have him go Avatar-state crazy on your ass.
      "YOU MUZZLED APPA?!"
    • Sokka loses it when Azula taunts him with descriptions of his captured girlfriend. For context, he knew she was taunting everyone to get them to run out the clock and he still lost control. Granted, Azula's just that good at manipulation.
      • He ends up fighting with Hahn over Yue, who the warrior clearly doesn't appreciate.
      • When Aang accidentally burns Katara, Sokka tackles him to the ground. Nobody hurts his little sister.
    • Anything that reminds Katara of what happened to her mother is enough to send her flying out of control, to the point where she bloodbends a man whom she thought was the murderer. She eventually learns to rein in this part of herself.
      • Harming Aang is her second berserk button.
    • Iroh rarely gets truly upset throughout the entire series. However, he has a deep connection with the spirits, which is why we see him none too pleased when he realizes Zhao plans to defeat the Northern Water Tribe by killing the moon spirit.
      Iroh: [to Zhao] Whatever you do to that spirit, I'll unleash on you tenfold! Let it go NOW!
    • Jet and absolutely anything having to do with the Fire Nation. His inability to let go of his intense Fantastic Racism is what inadvertently leads to his death.
  • Berserker Tears: When Sokka discovers Azula captured Suki and the rest of the Kyoshi Warriors (including referring to Suki as "[her] favorite prisoner") during the Day of Black Sun, Sokka gets these and flips out.
  • Beta Couple: Sokka & Suki, Zuko & Mai.
  • Betrayal by Inaction:
    • In season 2, Magnificent Bastards Long Feng and Azula form an alliance to capture Aang and gain control of the Earth Kingdom, with neither of them having any intention to share the prize. But when Long Feng orders the Dai Li to take Azula into custody, they don't move a muscle, waiting to see which one of them is more worthy to have their loyalty.
    • We learn in the third season that Fire Lord Sozin and Avatar Roku were lifelong friends until they grew apart when Sozin revealed that he wanted to conquer the rest of the world in order to forcibly "share" the Fire Nation's prosperity and technological advances. After being forbidden from doing this by Roku, the two didn't talk for many years until the volcano on Roku's home island had a sudden, titanic eruption, and Sozin, who was in a nearby boat, came to help the evacuation. When Roku was poisoned and weakened by the volcanic gas, Sozin realized that if Roku died he could move ahead with his conquest plans after all, and promptly left his friend to die.
  • Beyond the Impossible: Bumi being able to bend with just his face. Later Toph creating metal bending, bonus points as she's told it's impossible several times while teaching herself to metal bend.
  • Big Bad: Fire Lord Ozai is the series' prime antagonist, but each season also has its own chief villains:
    • Season 1 - Zhao and Prince Zuko, in a Red Oni, Blue Oni Big Bad Duumvirate sense. However, Zhao is the one the heroes had to worry about if they want to score a major victory against the Fire Nation.
    • Season 2 - Another villain duo: Princess Azula for the entire season, Long Feng for a Story Arc starting late in the season and extending towards the end. Azula overshadows Long Feng without even trying.
    • Season 3 - Ozai, Azula, or both at different points.
  • Big Brother Instinct: In "The Deserter" Sokka tackles Aang to the ground and yells at him for burning Katara.
  • Big Brother Is Watching: "There is no war in Ba Sing Se."
  • Big Damn Heroes:
    • This is Appa's main role, seriously.
    • Not to mention Suki and Mai.
  • Big Eater: Even though comically exaggerated in the play, Sokka does seem to like food more than the rest of the team.
  • The Big Damn Kiss: At the ending. The first time she kisses him.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Zuko pulls off one in the finale, when Azula attempts to strike Katara with lightning. Also, Actress Aang in "The Ember Island Players".
    • Iroh gives one of these as well, though it's played more for laughs than anything the one time he does it.
    • Also Sokka in "The Cave Of Two Lovers", when he finds he's stuck in the titular caves with a bunch of hippies.
    • Also Aang in the desert when he's looking for Appa after he was stolen.
  • Big Shadow, Little Creature: Momo in his first appearance.
  • Big Storm Episode: "The Storm," of course.
  • Bits of Me Keep Passing Out: Sokka during the fight with Ty Lee; she was paralyzing his limbs one by one, yet he still tried to fight. Another similar incident happened when he was paralyzed by June's beast, and just when he started to gain some control over his hand, a pile of blocks fell on top of him.
  • Bilingual Bonus: Applies to numerous languages, with Chinese being the most prominent example. Chinese characters are used for writing, and while most of it is translating via being read aloud, translating the ones that aren't will occasionally yield useful information.
  • Bizarrchitecture: The Western Air Temple.
  • Bizarre Alien Senses: Toph's ability to "see" using earthbending. It is very unusual when you think about it since it requires forming "images" through contact with the ground. The closest equivalent in real life would be how snakes and elephants can detect low-frequency sounds through vibrations in the ground as well.
  • Black and White Morality:
    • Played straight at the extremes: Aang and company are good, Ozai and Azula are bad. Subverted with prejudice practically everywhere else, as a wide variety of sympathetic Fire Nation characters are introduced, while both the Earth Kingdom and the Water Tribe each get at least one villainous figure. One of Aang's most important lessons is that good and evil can come from anywhere, but also learns that not all of his allies share the same values or even fight the Fire Nation for the same reasons he does.
    • It gets even more grey as many of the main characters come very close to becoming what they hate a few times in the series.
    • Black and Grey Morality: Concerning the war between the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom itself, it becomes this. The Fire Nation as a whole is basically a fascist empire trying to take over the world, and among their methods of dealing with the enemy include imprisoning civilian earth benders and emotionally breaking them, and dressing up captured soldier in their own armour and sending them to the front lines without weapons to be slaughtered by their own forces. The Earth Kingdom however are mostly trying to fight them off, but their soldiers can sometimes be incredibly corrupt, their leaders are willing to do unspeakably horrible things in an attempt to find some advantage.
  • Blade Brake: Twice. Subverted in the finale. See Absurdly Sharp Blade.
  • The Blank: The victims of Koh the Face Stealer.
  • Blatant Lies: Played very straight with Azula.
    "I am a four hundred-foot tall purple Platypus Bear with pink horns and silver wings."
    • And yet, in a curious way, that particular line subverts it at the same time. Meta.
    • And with Zuko, when Zhao asks him if he's skilled with a sword.
    • Aang, of all people, uses Blatant Lies to end the conflict between the two tribes in "The Great Divide". Katara and Sokka's reactions lampshade the Out-of-Character Moment.
      Aang: You could call it luck... or you could call it lying. I made the whole thing up.
      Katara: [amused]: You did not. That is so wrong.
    • Also, when Toph's father tells two bounty hunters that Aang kidnapped his daughter when really, he knows that Toph ran away in defiance.
  • Blazing Inferno Hellfire Sauce: Fire Nation cuisine seems to be pretty spicy. Sokka finds fire flakes in particular a bit too hot for him (though he does grow to like them).
  • Blue Means Cold: Zigzagged for the waterbenders. Yes, they wear blue, and yes, they live in the cold, but the blue might just be from the water association.
  • Bluff the Eavesdropper: Azula has Mai and Ty Lee purposely reveal that they're Fire Nation in disguise... to the pair of Dai Li agents they knew were eavesdropping, overhead. She knows they'll ferry the news back to Long Feng, and that he won't be able to resist the opportunity to use it against her. So she isn't surprised when those same agents bring her to his cell, where he coerces her into helping him under threat of exposing her to the Earth King. Azula "reluctantly" agrees. It doesn't end well for Long Feng.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Invoked in "Appa's Lost Days" with Suki going up against Azula.
    • Subverted in that we eventually find out how the fight turned out.
    • A very subtle example may occur in "Lake Laogai". With Jet mortally wounded, his comrades Longshot and Smellerbee tell Aang's group to go on ahead. This is followed by a shot of Longshot nocking an arrow in anticipation of incoming enemies. The trio are never seen again, not even when nearly every living good guy teams up near the end of Book 3.
    "Y'know, it was really unclear..."
    • This one was also subverted as of the sequel comic "The Promise", where Smellerbee and Longshot make an appearance.
  • Bookends: A pillar of light shooting into the sky in the first and last episode.
    • For the war, Sozin's Comet.
    • Also, Sokka is the first and last person heard in the series ("It's not getting away from me this time" in the beginning of the first episode and Angrish at Toph insulting his drawing at the end of the last).
  • Boring, but Practical: Very commonly used throughout the show. Weapons and armor worn by the characters tend to be much closer to actual equipment used in history with very few unnecessary frills.
    • Parodied in one episode where Aang finds a large, unwieldy, stereotypical anime suit of armor that he can't move in because of the weight.
    • In the beginning, Zuko rages at Iroh over the latter's training focusing on basic firebending. Later, we see that Zuko's mastery of the most basic part of firebending, control of one's breathing, gives him a resilience to cold that other firebenders can't match.
  • Brain Bleach: Zuko alone goes through a lifetime supply of the stuff. His grey-matter must have been white by the end of the series:
    • After seeing Uncle Iroh hit on a large woman in "The Drill": "I'm gonna forget I saw that." Complete with Face Palm.
    • Very much the same reaction from Zuko when Uncle Iroh stands up from the hotspring in his birthday suit.
    • When Li and Lo try to do the same pose they did when they were young women, Zuko practically throws up. Mai is kind enough to cover Zuko's eyes when the pair later remove their robes to show off their bikinis. The audience probably did the same.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: Jet and Joo Dee. Jet falls into the Manchurian Agent and Mind-Control Eyes tropes (see their entries for more information).
  • Brainwashing for the Greater Good: Subverted in Ba Sing Se. The Dai Li's brutal suppression of any hint of the war with the Fire Nation ultimately leaves the city unable to resist when Azula and company come to conquer it.
  • Breaching the Wall: After years of sieges against the Earth Kingdom capital of Ba Sing Sae failed to breach its massive outer wall, the Fire Nation build a giant armored drill to bore through it. Fortunately, the Gaang arrived at the city right at that time and were able to disable it, but not before it went all the way through.
  • Break the Cutie: Pretty much every character ever. Katara, Sokka, Aang, Zuko, and Jet all get flashback scenes showing them as cute, chubby-cheeked little kids that have horrible things happen to them. The rest of the Freedom Fighters, Ty Lee, and Mai are implied to have gone through this - all of the Freedom Fighters are orphans who have been hurt by the war, Mai withdrew into herself as a result of her oppressive childhood, and Ty Lee snapped and ran away to the circus because she was treated like she had no personal identity. Even Azula could arguably fall under this - her deep desire for her parent's affection, likely based on her mother's unspoken preference for Zuko, is part of what makes her the monster she is during the show.
    • Don't forget Appa and Hama. Appa had an entire episode showing him being treated as a universal punching bag. It was horribly depressing.
    • At some point, the group oohs over a cute portrait of "baby Zuko." But the portrait turns out to be of his father, Ozai. It is hinted that Ozai's father Azulon was a nasty character.
  • Break the Haughty: Zuko over the course of most of the series, which leads to serious character development on his part; while Azula (who starts out even haughtier) gets it all crammed into a few episodes and doesn't take it as well.
  • Breather Episode:
    • "Nightmares and Daydreams" (with the exception of Aang's last nightmare). The previous episode, The Puppetmaster, was very intense and creepy (and featured Katara being forced to use Bloodbending), and the next episode, Day of the Black Sun, was about the invasion that Aang spends the episode so anxious about.
    • "The Ember Island Players", the well-lit last episode before the four-episode finale arc. Plus it comes immediately after "The Southern Raiders".
    • Tales of Ba Sing Se has virtually nothing relevant to the story arc happening and mostly just shows the various characters leading normal (for them) days in their lives, although Iroh's story contains one of the biggest tear-jerking moments in the series, as well as "in memorium" to his voice actor Mako, who passed away during post-production.
  • Breath Weapon: Iroh isn't called the "Dragon Of The West" for nothing. It's implied other Firebenders can also breathe fire, but no-one can quite match Iroh's massive stream of flame.
  • Brick Joke:
    • In the Book 1 episode "The Deserter", Sokka tries some Fire Flakes, which are pretty hot, but it's made much funnier when we meet Mai a season later in "Return To Omashu" and she snacks down on them like they're nothing.
      • Sokka developed a taste for them by the time "Ember Island Players" rolled around.
    • Zuko mentioning the tsungi horn in Book 1 seems like an offhanded comment at first, if you don't remember that it actually appeared in "The Waterbending Scroll"; later we see Aang playing one in "The Headband". Iroh himself plays one in the last episode (presumably it's the one they bought).
      • You can hear the "tsungi horn" - actually a duduk in Zuko's Leitmotif.
    • From that same episode, Iroh can be seen admiring a ruby-encrusted ape statue which then appears in his possession in "The Blue Spirit".
    • In the beginning of Book 3, Aang makes a picture of Fire Lord Ozai at school. In "Daydreams and Nightmares" it's put on a tree so Aang can train.
    • "Boomerang! You do always come back!"
    • To a lesser extent, Sokka's original nickname for Combustion Man kind of fits. In the first half of the episode "The Runaway", there's an apparent throwaway gag where Sokka giddily tells the group he came up with the nickname "Sparky Sparky Boom Man"; he mostly just gets ignored as Toph and Katara continue arguing. Then toward the end of the episode when Combustion Man makes a surprise attack, Aang, with a completely straight face, delivers the line "It's Sparky Sparky Boom Man!"
    • In "Daydreams and Nightmares", Aang has a reoccurring "Not Wearing Pants" Dream about fighting the Fire Lord only to discover he's not wearing pants, until he eventually gets over it, saying: "No, Fire Lord, it is you who is not wearing pants!" "My royal parts are showing!" In the finale, Aang and Ozai are both shirtless for most of the fight, so they are both only and specifically wearing pants.
    • In book one Sokka is trapped in the spirit world for a whole day and afterwards claims he really needs the bathroom, In book 3 Katara asks if they have bathrooms in the spirit world to which Sokka replies "As a matter of fact, they do not"
  • Broken Bird: Zuko and Mai.
    • Iroh also qualifies, though he hides his pain behind an upbeat, silly façade most of the time.
  • Broken Glass Penalty: In the Iroh segment of "Tales of Ba Sing Se", a few kids are playing with a ball, and a window is broken. Iroh appears and the following dialogue occurs:
    Iroh: It is usually best to admit mistakes when they occur, and to seek to restore honor.
    A large man appears inside the house
    Large man: When I'm through with you kids, the window won't be the only thing that's broken!
    Iroh: But not this time! Run!
  • Brotherhood of Funny Hats: In the comic book story "No Benders Allowed" (printed in The Lost Adventures), Sokka starts a club like this along with the Gaang's non-bender allies. They eventually let the benders into the club, provided they "pledge allegiance to my bendless brethren, and admit that no bending can equal the might of the noble boomerang".
  • Bubble Pipe: Sokka when he's doing his Sherlock Holmes impression.
  • Bullet Time: Ample examples throughout the show, with Aang having the most.
    • Prominent in Toph's first episode; time freezes many times, showing how she feels the vibrations in the ground to "see" what's going on. In that same episode, a rock flies by her face in slo-mo.
    • Also done during Pakku and Katara's fight in "The Waterbending Master."
  • Bullying a Dragon: When Aang encounters Zhao in The Deserter, the whole battle is Aang antagonizing Zhao so the latter will try to blast the former with fire. Zhao didn't realize he had been blasting his own boats until Aang pointed it out.
  • The Bus Came Back: This show is notable for bringing characters who appeared at first to be one-shot extras back for reappearances (often spoiling the surprise with a Spoiler Recap at the beginning of the episodes in which they reappear).
    • Most notably, in "Day of Black Sun", characters from "Jet", "The Northern Air Temple", "The Swamp", and "The Blind Bandit" show up… as well as Hakoda, Bato, and the warriors of the Southern Water Tribe. A number of characters in the finale, too (see Back for the Finale, above).
    • Jet, Longshot, and Smellerbee in Season 2.
    • Also, Suki at various points: "The Serpent's Pass", "Appa's Lost Days", then becoming a Guest-Star Party Member from "The Boiling Rock" until the end of the show.
    • On the villain side, the pirates from "The Waterbending Scroll" showed up again in "The Waterbending Master".
    • June the Bounty Hunter, first appearing in Season 1's "Bato of the Water Tribe", and then reappearing in Season 3's "Sozin Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King".
    • My Cabbages!
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When Katara finds the man who killed her mother. He doesn't remember at first.
    • Also Azula in "The Awakening".
    Zuko: Why'd you do it?!
    Azula: You're going to have to be a little more specific...
    • A more humorous version of this happens when Sokka and Zuko travel to the Boiling Rock and run into Suki:
      Sokka: Oh, good. You guys have met.
      Suki: Actually, we met a long time ago.
      Zuko: We did?
      Suki: Yeah. You kind of burned down my village.
      Zuko: Oh. Sorry about that. (beat) Nice to see you again?
      • This example is a bit odd in that it seems it was a bit of a Tuesday for Zuko and Sokka. While he was obviously present for the whole episode, Sokka apparently remembers Suki but not Zuko setting fire to her village. Maybe justified because Suki gave Sokka his Sacred First Kiss?
      • To be fair to Zuko, Sokka didn't recognise Suki the first time he saw her without makeup either, and he actually had a conversation with her.
  • Butt-Monkey:
    • Sokka, on several occasions, particularly during the first half of the series. Sokka actually displays considerable growth over the course of the show, something few Butt Monkeys in other shows ever get to do.
    • In line with his Break the Haughty and Broken Bird status, Zuko is quite a butt monkey in his own right. What with his upbringing from the loss of his mother, the fact his grandfather wanted to kill him as an adolescent (and the way his sister gleefully points it out to him), his relationship with his father, the constant humiliation and one-upping he got from Azula, and the lumps he takes throughout his quest to capture Aang, destiny really wanted to make sure Zuko was good and tempered when the time came to face it.
    • The Cabbage Merchant.
  • By Wall That Is Holey: the Earth Kingdom's trademark disc projectiles with square holes in them (based on Chinese coins) turn out to be rather impractical, particularly in "The Avatar State".

    C 
  • Cable-Car Action Sequence: The escape scene in "The Boiling Rock, Part 2" is an extended one of these.
  • Cadre of Foreign Bodyguards: Azula brings back Dai Li agents from the Earth Kingdom and they serve as her own personal elite squad of guards.
  • Cain and Abel: Zuko and Azula, Iroh and Ozai, Sozin and Roku.
    Zuko: What are you doing here?
    Azula: Isn't it obvious? I'm about to celebrate becoming an only child!
  • Campfire Character Exploration: Aang and Katara provide the current page image. Half of the entire episode "The Storm" was devoted to discussing Aang's backstory around the fire.
    • Zuko, Azula, Mai and Ty Lee pretty much spell out their internal conflicts around their bonfire in Ember Island.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit": "Penguins". Played for laughs and subverted with the Earth King's pet bear; the crew goes on to name various animals that could be combined, but are left perplexed as it just says 'bear'. This trope is pulled throughout the entire universe of Avatar, which lends more humor to the situation.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Katara to Hakoda, and more significantly, Zuko to Ozai.
  • Calling Your Attacks: In "The Runaway".
    Sokka: HAAA! SNEAK ATTACK! *A blindfolded Aang whomps him with an earth pillar*
    Aang: Sokka, sneak attacks don't work if you yell it out loud.
  • Call to Agriculture: Subverted. The man who killed Katara's mother has a garden and it is implied that he spends quite some time on it, but he is still the cold and heartless man he was when he was an Admiral. It's just hard to tell because Katara is being really scary, and he's already a coward anyway.
    • During Season 2 and at the end of the Grand Finale, Uncle Iroh is "Called To Tea Service".
  • Calling Your Bathroom Breaks: The children that Sokka is trying to train in the first episode, just to illustrate how young they are and how hopeless Sokka's task is.
  • Cannot Tell a Joke: Zuko, Katara and, in one blatant example, Suki.
  • Captain Obvious: After the destruction of the drill, Mai appears from a hatch in the drill's side, announcing to Azula and Ty Lee that they lost.
  • Captain Oblivious
    • The "Cave of Two Lovers" episode involves a rather spaced-out, hippie minstrel who hangs around with beautiful women. Said minstrel's name happens to be "Chong".
    • The Earth King - he didn't realize his country was at war for an entire century, though this is actually the result of Long Feng doing everything in his power to keep him in the dark in order to keep a stranglehold on Ba Sing Se.
  • Cassandra Truth:
    • Though he's only partially correct himself, Jet goes through this when trying to warn people that Zuko and Iroh are firebenders that are trying to infiltrate the city. (He's right about the firebenders part.) After spending several days trying to get proof, he loses all credibility when he decides to suddenly attack them in front of a bunch of customers to get them to firebend in defense, which leads to his capture and Brainwashing by the Dai Li.
    • In Jet's first appearance, Sokka also went through this while trying to convince Aang and Katara that Jet planned on wiping out an entire village just to take out some Fire Nation soldiers stationed there.
  • Casting Gag: The Boulder, a parody of Dwayne Johnson, ended up getting voiced by Mick Foley, who was part of an iconic tag team and rivalry with him.
  • Cat Smile: Jin, who owes a lot of her popularity to this.
  • Character Title: The title refers to Aang, our protagonist. He is both the Avatar and the last of the airbenders.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Anyone with an extended lifespan is doing so through nonbending means; for instance, the Guru and Avatar Kyoshi both lived over 150 years, even though the Guru has no bending ability. King Bumi is at least 112 years old, but he doesn't look as good as the others do.
  • Charge-into-Combat Cut: This trick is used a few times in the finale to cut between Aang's battle with Fire Lord Ozai and Zuko's battle with Azula.
  • Chase Scene: "The Waterbending Scroll". Also almost the entirety of the appropriately named episode "The Chase."
  • Character Development: This happens to all the characters, but especially Sokka, who started as a bit of a Jerkass in the opening episodes, developed into Plucky Comic Relief, and finally into a badass over the course of the adventure.
  • Character Exaggeration: "The Ember Island Players" is an in-series example where just about everyone is absorbed by some single trait, often a comparatively minor one that they may not even have anymore.
  • Character Witness: The old Fire Nation man in the episode "Jet".
    • Subverted with Haru in the episode "Imprisoned". He saves an old man with his illegal earthbending. Old man turns him in...
  • Chekhov's Gag: In the earliest episodes, Katara had a tendency to mess up her waterbending, and Sokka would get drenched. In "The Waterbending Master" Katara redirects a stream of water during a fight. Sokka gets blasted away by it, even though everyone else around him is just fine.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Enough to have its own page.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Tons of them.
    • Guru Pathik makes a short appearance in 'Appa's Lost Days' well before meeting Aang. Hakoda also appears in the same episode, but only for a few seconds.
    • Also, Azula is seen in the Storm flashback of how Zuko got his scar. May also be a minor Establishing Character Moment, given that she is smiling rather sadistically as she watches how it happens.
    • The benders seen in the opening credits are not introduced for some time, if at all:
      • the waterbender is Pakku,
      • the earthbender was the original design for Toph before the creators decided to make her a girl instead (which got reused for Avatar Roku's earthbending teacher). It is also speculated that the Earthbender is the Boulder.
      • the firebender is Azula
      • Roku also appears in the opening credits despite not being named until three episodes in, and he didn't even get any lines until four episodes after that.
    • A vision of Toph in "The Swamp".
    • Imagery of the Lion Turtle has constantly reappeared throughout the entire series, but never in a way that would make its true purpose apparent.
    • The married couple that Zuko almost attacks in Zuko Alone reappear as refuges in the Serpent's Pass.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Redirecting lightning.
      • Made even more brilliant when you watch The Storm. Iroh redirects lightning during the titular storm. In season one. Mike and Bryan are awesome.
    • Zuko using firebending to hold off hypothermia in "The Siege of the North" comes in handy when he gets locked in the cooler in "The Boiling Rock". (Which is arguably less fatal than freezing water, but still impressive.)
    • Katara's use of bloodbending in "The Southern Raiders".
    • Zuko wins the duel with Zhao in the second episode by spinning on the ground while launching fire from his feet, knocking Zhao off balance. He ends his duel with Azula in the finale with the same move, though with much more power, thanks to Sozin's Comet.
  • The Chick: Katara qualifies but also has elements of The Lancer.
  • Chick Magnet: Suki, Yue, Toph and Ty Lee have all expressed interest in Sokka at one point or another, even when one of them was engaged at the time and another was his opponent. No wonder Aang went to him when he needed romantic advice.
  • Child of Two Worlds: Zuko is the great-grandson of both the Fire Lord who began the Hundred Year War (on his father's side) and the Avatar who tried to stop it (on his mother's). His uncle Iroh believes that this makes him destined to reconcile the Fire Nation with the Avatar and, through him, the rest of the world. He does. Azula, being his sister, has the exact same ancestry, but it's never commented upon (if anything, the makes the conflict even worse.)
  • Child Prodigy
    • Aang is the youngest master airbender ever, at age twelve, and mastered all three other elements in less than a year, a feat that usually takes the avatar years to achieve.
    • Toph invented metalbending, previously thought to be impossible, and is arguably the best earthbender in the world at twelve years old.
    • Katara progressed from being a novice waterbender to the best student in the class in what was apparently a matter of weeks and was so good she was entrusted by Pakku to finish Aang's waterbending training. She picked up bloodbending, an extremely rare ability, and was able to use it at will, having never done it before, after simply having it explained to her. She also managed to heal both Aang and Zuko from what should have been fatal wounds.
    • Azula is referred to in canon as a prodigy. She is one of three characters—and by far the youngest—in the original series to be able to conjure lightning. Her fire burns so hot that it's blue, something that no other character is able to do. She's also a tactical genius such that she has hundreds of troops and expensive pieces of machinery under her command and staged a bloodless coup in the largest city in the world overnight. And she's fourteen.
  • Child Soldiers: Most of whom fit under the talented and tragic categories.
    Katara: I haven't done this since I was a kid!
    Aang: You still are a kid!
  • Chilly Reception: Prince Zuko is (understandably) shut down in his attempts to join the Avatar's party in Book 3, having been an antagonist to the group for most of their travels. Even after the others have accepted him, it takes some time for Katara, who was personally betrayed by Zuko at the end of Book 2, to stop giving him the treatment.
  • Chirping Crickets: Sometimes with a cough, but mostly with animal sounds - a duck in "The Fortuneteller", a defrosting frog in "The Blue Spirit" and a badger-toad in "The Western Air Temple", among others.
  • The Chosen One: Aang, although the reincarnation system makes it a bit muddled whether he's chosen or just following all his lives.
    • Katara was destined to be Aang's waterbending master. She always believed the Avatar would return and she released him from the iceberg. Gran Gran told her that their destinies "are now intertwined."
    • Toph was first seen as a vision and was therefore destined to be Aang's earthbending master.
    • Zuko (who, in keeping with the pattern of this series' use of this trope, is destined to be Aang's firebending master) just happened to be passing through the South Pole when Aang was discovered in the iceberg. He also found out that Avatar Roku was his great-grandfather and that his destiny was intertwined with that of the Avatar. Aang even admits this outright.
  • Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: This is a huge tendency of Azula. Long Feng was smart enough to expect this, but still failed to stop her.
  • Cincinnatus: Iroh turns down the offer of Fire Lord if his brother was defeated, since he knew Zuko would have to do it.
  • Citadel City: Ba Sing Se.
  • City of Canals: The Northern Water Tribe's capital city.
  • Cliffhanger: Zuko confronts his father and demands to know where his mother is, but if he gets an answer, it's never shown to the viewers... hmm...
  • Clifftop Caterwauling: Zuko does this after standing atop a cliff in a storm to try to personally redirect lightning.
  • Clingy Aquatic Life: In "Return to Omashu", the purple pentapus was seen in a bucket filled with water and inside a sewer when the gang used it to enter Omashu. They are known to be clingy unless they're stroked on the head, and leave behind spots which the Gaang used to fake a disease, "pentapox".
  • Clone by Conversion: It's revealed that there's an entire production line of women being brainwashed into "Joo Dee"s as guides.
  • Close-Call Haircut: Happens to Azula in the Season 2 finale, thanks to Katara's master waterbending skills.
    • In a fight between Zuko and Jet, a close miss by Zuko shaves the blade of grass sticking out of Jet's mouth.
  • Clothesline Stealing: When the Gaang settles in the Fire Nation, they have to steal Fire Nation clothes from the clothesline to blend in.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Several of them. To name a few...
    • Subverted with Iroh, who seems pretty out of it through much of season 1, but it turns out to be a case of Obfuscating Stupidity.
    • King Bumi is legitimately insane, but no less badass for it.
    • Played very, very straight with Ty Lee, a goofy Circus Brat who perpetually has her head in the clouds.
      Ty Lee: Hey, look at that dust cloud. It's so... poofy. Poof!
    • Zigzagged with Sokka. Usually he's the Only Sane Man, constantly annoyed by everyone else's weirdness, but he definitely has his moments of insanity, such as when he notices the Team Pet has gone missing and arbitrarily declares him to have been eaten despite there being no evidence to that effect, even going so far as to climb inside a sky bison's mouth to find him.
    • Quite a few one-shot characters, most notably the traveling minstrels from the episode "The Cave of Two Lovers" who manage to annoy Sokka so much that he ends the episode with a red mark on his forehead from excessive Face Palming.
  • Close-Range Combatant: Most non-bending fighters are this.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • The clothing styles of Four Nations: Denizens of the Fire Nation wear red, gold, and black; The Water Tribes wear blue and white; the Air Nomads wear yellow and orange, and members of the Earth Kingdom wear greens and browns. The Air Nomads' colour is actually known as kavi, a variation of yellow worn by priests and monks. The writers did their research.
    • Azula's blue fire, which indicates her cold, cruel detachment (It also shows her as a firebending prodigy since blue fire burns hotter) vs. Zuko's red (to indicate his heated emotional nature). Interestingly, the color combination was reversed for Aang and Ozai when they were energybending in the Finale.
    • There are exceptions to this rule, though many (but not all) are simply citizens of one nation disguising themselves as another.
      • Notable is Kyoshi Island. Despite being Earth Kingdom, many wear blue, almost like Water Tribe.
    • The characters' eye color seem to always matches up with their home nation. Justified with heredity and stuff.
      • In Book 2, Zuko and Iroh relocate to Ba Sing Se. In order to blend in they wear the customary clothing of the Earth Kingdom.
      • At the start of Book 3 the Gaang captures a Fire Nation ship and pose as Fire Nation. In the second episode, the Gaang steals Fire Nation clothing in order to blend in.
      • In the final episode the Gaang is dressed in Earth Kingdom clothing. This symbolizes the integration of the four nations.
      • Jet and his gang wear clothing not matching any of the four nations. (However, this could actually still work with this trope by going along with the fact that while they live in the Earth Kingdom, they are really more of a law unto their own, signified by their patchwork, lost boys-style clothes.)
      • Though still a shade of red, Ty Lee's pink wardrobe nonetheless stands out from the fiery colors of her Fire Nation comrades. And at the end of the series she's joined the Kyoshi Warriors and is dressed in their customary green and brown uniforms.
      • The Foggy Swamp Tribe is a tribe of water benders garbed in green and brown.
    • The color of benders' eyes correspond to the color of their element (green for earthbenders, blue for waterbenders, gold for firebenders, grey for airbenders) and to some degree, everyone's eyes tend to correspond to their nationality as well (which makes one wonder why no one suspected the blue/green/grey-eyed bunch of youngsters tramping around the Fire Nation of being the exact bunch of foreign youngsters they were expecting to try to overthrow the Fire Lord. In fact, Aang is identified as a foreigner on the first day, and they all begin to tell people they are "from the colonies.").
      • It could also be noted that, within the Fire Nation, eye colour does differ from person to person, often appearing to be coded by the characters alliance. For example, Zuko's eyes are light amber, signifying that, while he starts on the bad side, he is really good, Zhao's are dark orange, showing that he is ultimately corrupted, Azulas are so dark they are almost brown, and Iroh's are a nice pumpkiny yellow, showing his true alligence to the light.
    • There's also the Order of the White Lotus, who wear white clothing, signifying their willingness to mix philosophies and not be divided by nationality, since white is a mixture of all colors.
  • Color-Coded Patrician:
    • Princess Yue is the only one of the Water Tribes to wear purple.
    • Kanna wears purple as well. She was originally from the Northern tribe before she ran away due to her engagement, so maybe she was somebody important up there. In the present, her son is the chief, and while he and all the other men were away at war, she herself was the de facto leader of their village.
    • Katara started out wearing a blue coat just accented with purple, but even so, she and Kanna were the only women in their village to wear any kind of purple. She's the chief's daughter, much like is the case with Princess Yue. Her status as the only Waterbender the South Pole has may be part of it as well.
    • In "The Fortuneteller", Aunt Wu is the de facto ruler of her village and the only one to wear a gold robe. All other residents wear shades of green, blue, or pink.
    • Mai wears dark purple, being a Fire Nation aristocrat.
    • In "The Ember Island Players", Princess Yue wears pink instead of purple.
  • Combat Compliment: Sokka's Master.
  • Combat Hand Fan: Popularized by Avatar Kyoshi, it's the iconic weapon of the Kyoshi Warriors. In addition to being a handy melee weapon, it's very effective at boosting Airbending attacks.
  • Comet of Doom: Sozin's Comet (even if it's not REALLY a comet), although the prediction of doom is hardly mystical; its arrival increases the Firebenders' power by a hundredfold. Fire Lord Sozin, for whom the comet was named, used it to launch a first strike against the Air Nomads, which completely eradicated them. His grandson, Fire Lord Ozai, attempted something similar in the finale, this time targeting the Earth Kingdom.
  • The Comically Serious: Zuko, Mai, Sokka (when not being sarcastic), and even Azula on one occasion
  • Comically Small Bribe: Aang's attempt to buy the water scroll for 1 (or 2) copper pieces.
  • Coming-of-Age Story: Each of the main characters gets their own development arc
  • Commuting on a Bus: In the third season, this happened to Uncle Iroh... for the first few episodes, he didn't even get any speaking parts! (Word of God is that this had already been planned that way and was not because of the sudden death of his prior voice actor, Mako.) Then he had exactly four speaking appearances in the entire rest of the season.
  • Companion Cube: Sokka's Boomerang and later, Space Earth Sword. Complete with "death".
  • Company Cross References: In the first season finale, Pakku tells one of his students that in a few years, they may be able to defeat a sea sponge. The creators of the series later admitted this is a reference to SpongeBob SquarePants.
  • The Complainer Is Always Wrong: Played with Sokka. Sometimes he's the Brains of the group. Sometimed it's played straight, but in such a ridiculous manner that it's parodying this trope. He tends to be right when it matters, though.
  • Confirmation Bias: An in-universe example in the series finale. Aang contacted the spirits of the previous four Avatars in the hopes that they would tell him that his waffling on whether or not to kill Ozai was justified. Each one of them failed to give him the answer he wanted, so he moved on to the next Avatar hoping they would tell him what he wanted to hear, in Kyoshi's case even saying "I knew I shouldn't have asked Kyoshi".
  • Conflict Ball: Passed around a few times, usually involving Katara.
  • Conspicuous CG: Aang in The Winter Solstice: Part 1, when he's chasing Heibai on his glider. His creepy, expressionless face doesn't help matters.
    • Happens a few times with machines.
  • Conspicuously Light Patch: Mostly averted in this series; however, Episode 2 has a particularly obvious example where Sokka's snow watchtower collapses as Zuko's ship approaches.
  • Constantly Curious: The farmer's son in "Zuko Alone".
  • Contralto of Danger:
    • June, a bounty hunter Zuko hires to find and capture Aang, has a deeper voice than the other female characters to portray her as dangerous.
    • Avatar Kyoshi also has a deeper voice. Both she and June are voiced by Jennifer Hale.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • Many, many examples. The umbrella from "The Fortuneteller" is found in Appa's luggage by sandbenders in "Appa's Lost Days". The eye-patch wearing Fire Nation commander from "Jet" shows up again in "The Cave of Two Lovers". The tsungi horn and ruby encrusted monkey statue Iroh buys in "The Waterbending Scroll" appear several times. War Minister Qin turns up at least once a season, usually prior to or during the unveiling of a new Fire Nation war machine. Sokka's attempt to reveal himself to Suki with a kiss in "The Boiling Rock" is a callback to when she did the same to him in "The Serpent's Pass". And so on.
    • Katara mentions in "Bitter Work" that the reason Aang is having so much trouble learning Earthbending is because Earth is the natural opposite of his element (Air). Later, in "The Avatar and The Fire Lord", Roku mentions conversationally that out of all the four elements, Water (the natural opposite to his element, Fire) was the one which was hardest for him to master.
    • The married couple first appears in Zuko Alone before appearing in the Serpent's Pass.
    • Iroh's journey to the spirit world was first referenced in the Winter Solstice Part 1 when he sees Spirit Aang. It is not actually mentioned until the Siege of the North.
    • The Badger Moles make their first appearance in the Cave of Two Lovers, and are referenced even before that with a Badger Mole statue briefly seen in The Blue Spirit. Toph later mentions how she learned earthbending from the Badger Moles.
      • Additionally, the Badger Moles are seen briefly in season 2, episode 6 when Aang first decides that Toph should be his earth bending master. The moles are fixing the arena after the previous battles.
    • Characters often seen for brief moments make larger appearances in later episodes.
    • While Zuko and Iroh are hiding in Ba Sing Se, Zuko takes on the name Lee. While this is just a random name at that point, a season later we learn from Piandao that "There's a million Lees", so Zuko was essentially going by his world's version of "John Smith".
    • In The Boiling Rock, Zuko spends some time locked in a chilled prison cell, designed specifically to punish Firebenders, as part of a Batman Gambit by him and Sokka. He used the same chi technique that he learned at the end of the first season to stay warm, as demonstrated by his exhaled puff of flame when he is retrieved.
    • You'd have to be Neil deGrasse Tyson or a very detail-oriented fan to notice on your own, but constellations seen in Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Waterbending Master" match those seen on a star map in Avatar: The Last Airbender "The Desert".
  • Consummate Liar: Azula. She can even impress Living Lie Detector Toph.
  • Convection Schmonvection: Inconsistently played straight and averted.
    • A particularly egregious example can be found in "The Awakening": Aang is standing among streams of lava, some of which flows literally between his feet. He sticks his wooden glider to the ground and leaves, and the glider immediately catches a fire and burns, but somehow this terrible heat doesn't bother Aang (or the other members of his gang) at all. So convection clearly exists, but it doesn't appear to affect humans.
      • Handwaved: According to the creators, Aang can use airbending to insulate himself from convection. Which would also explain why Aang didn't need to wear warm clothing when visiting the poles while Sokka and Katara did.
  • Conveniently Interrupted Document: Zhao burned away references to The Day Of Black Sun, and indeed, any references to the Fire Nation at all in Wan Shi Ton's library (which served as the last straw for the spirit, and caused him to become hostile to humans).
  • Conveniently Timed Distraction: In season 2, "The Chase", when Team Avatar, Zuko, and Iroh has Azula surrounded, she surrenders, but when Iroh lets his guard down and turns to see his new friend, Toph, standing with Aang and the gang, Azula takes advantage of this and fires at him.
  • Cool Airship: In what doubles as one of the biggest Oh, Crap! moments of the series, in season 3 the Fire Nation revealed that it DID steal the hot air balloon technology. They have perfected War Zeppelin technology in the meantime, building up a terrifying armada of them. They aren't just heavily armed with firebenders, cannons, and bombs; they also overwhelm and annihilate the heroes' escape route and give the villains—notably Azula—go-anywhere transportation. And they are undeniably cool.
    • Their biggest flaw, though, is that they are rather slow. Appa flew away from a zeppelin attack twice; in the Day of Black Sun, Azula remarks that they are too fast, even though Appa was weighed down with armor and extra passengers at the time.
  • Cooldown Hug: Katara's answer to everything.
  • Cool Old Guy: Numerous. Most notably, Uncle Iroh and Aang's mentor, Gyatso.
  • Cool Tank: The Fire Nation makes wide use of Steam Punk tanks with Firebenders as their weapons, but the coolest are the Earth Kingdom's tanks, which are incredibly tough worm-like contraptions powered entirely by Earthbending. As such, they can scale cliffs and staircases, attack conventionally with Earthbent rocks, or Earthbend their hulls to crush enemy tanks.
  • Could Have Been Messy: Many, many cases, on both sides. Aang will not kill people. He will, however, dump an avalanche of snow on top of masses of enemy soldiers while they're walking across a sheer mountain pathway seemingly very high up, sending them hurtling off. Just so long as the aftermath is unseen we can safely assume no one got hurt. Right?
    • The one time he does kill something (and when it was totally unnecessary) its body is seen falling to the ground in the distance, darkened by the rising sun. The fleeing buzzard wasp's body was apparently split in half by his airbending, but we can't really see the details.
    • Furthermore, waterbenders often create blades or spikes out of ice that neveractually pierce or cut anybody. Everybody escapes just in time from being squished by the rocks earthbenders regularly drop on their oponents and even though most firebenders are shown as cruel, ruthless soldiers, the only serious burn in the whole series (the one that gave Zuko his scar) happens offscreen.
  • Counter Attack: This is the main method used by waterbenders for offense. Waterbending is a primarily defensive art, but one of the principles of this element is redirecting your opponent's energy and turning it against them, which allows waterbenders' defense to become their offense.
    • One of the few defensive moves in firebending works like this: lightning redirection, a technique that Iroh invented specifically by studying waterbenders. Firebenders utilize this technique by allowing the energy in their bodies to flow, causing the lightning to follow it. This allows them to guide the lightning back out in the direction of their choosing, usually back at the opponent who used it against them in the first place.
  • Covered in Mud:
    • Katara and Toph take full body mud baths in their spa day in "Tales of Ba Sing Se". Toph uses earthbending to traumatize the spa employee during her Cucumber Facial.
    • "The Runaway" Katara and Toph get into an argument that turns into something of a mudwrestling match because of their water and earthbending abilities respectively.
  • Cowboy Episode: "Zuko Alone" has a very western feel, with the classic plot of a mysterious stranger helping a town in need.
  • Crapsack World: The entire world became ravaged by war when Aang came out from his century-long hibernation in the iceberg. Entire Air Nomads had been exterminated, except for Aang who survived thanks to being frozen just before their demise. The Northern Water Tribe isolated themselves while their kins in the south have been battered into a collection of scattered villages whose water benders had been almost hunted to extinction. While the Earth Kingdom still stands, their constantly-losing lands have become ravaged and many of their citizens being enslaved by Fire Nation for menial labor. All of this tragedy stemmed from Sozin who left the previous avatar, Roku, to perish and turned his entire nation into militaristic conquerors along with erasing its more-peaceful aspects. Though by the end of the series, the entire war came to a close with Aang's erasure of the Firelord's bending ability and ascension of Zuko as the new Firelord. Though there were many post-war issues between this series and The Legend of Korra, seventy years after the series had been much better than ever.
  • Creepy Twins: Lo and Li. That is until "The Beach", when they only creep Zuko out.
  • Crippling the Competition: In the finale, Aang uses Energybending to rob Fire Lord Ozai of his ability to firebend, taking away the threat he poses to the world without breaking Aang's Thou Shalt Not Kill policy.
  • Cruel Mercy: To both Ozai and Katara's mother's killer.
  • Crystal Landscape: The catacombs beneath Ba Sing Se are littered with luminous green crystals, which come in handy for any Earthbenders nearby. The catacombs often are used to hold enemies of the Earth Kingdom, since they're deep underground and naturally well-lit.
  • The Cuckoolander Was Right:
    • In the Siege of the North Part 1, when talking about getting the Ocean and Moon Spirits' support, Aang says that, "Maybe they'll unleash a crazy amazing spirit attack on the Fire Nation." Both Yue and Katara give him weird looks. Guess what happens next episode?
    • Just before the series finale, Aang suggests, as an alternative to killing, that he simply encase Ozai's limbs in glue so he can't bend anymore. Alas, no glue is to be found, but Aang discovers a non-lethal way to stop Ozai, taking his bending and leaving him powerless.
  • Cucumber Facial: Katara and Toph's story in "Tales of Ba Sing Se" has them get one, complete with mud face mask. Toph earthbends the mud pack to look like a monster and scare one of the spa workers.
  • Culture Chop Suey: Sokka carries a boomerang, despite his water tribe culture being based off of the Inuit people.
    • The entire series is a mixture of cultures, including but not limited to Chinese, Japanese, Tibetan, and Inuit culture. The notion of the Avatar comes from India and the Hindu religion. There is also quite a bit of American influence, as the show, following the style of Japanese anime, is an American animated series.
  • Culture Clash: Zuko's sensibilities don't entirely align with Aang's even after he joins Team Avatar. For instance, in order to make up for having wronged Katara in the past, Zuko offers to help her murder an old man (who killed her mother, but still). Aang himself is subject to this as his upbringing taught him that killing was absolutely taboo, meanwhile his friends, who've all grown up in a world that's only known a century of war, have no problem with killing in battle. Even before that in "Bato of the Water Tribe" Aang is discomforted by the Water Tribe's culture of using fur for decoration and warmth among other things that are different to him.
  • Cultured Badass: Many examples, but Iroh is undoubtedly the greatest.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Avatar Aang + La wiping out Zhao's fleet at the North Pole.
    • Less Curbstompy, but still pretty much one sided, Pakku vs Katara shortly previous. Justified since he's an Old Master while she's a largely self-taught 14 year old.
    • Quite balanced, but Ozai clearly had an advantage over Aang in the last fight until he inadvertently reactivated the Avatar state, turning the tables, and Ozai actually had to start using evasive techniques, like Aang moments prior.
      • Ozai had the advantage only because he was fighting to kill Aang, and Aang didn't want to kill Ozai. The other Avatars, who control Aang while he's in the Avatar State, had no such qualms.
    • Toph versus the Boulder in the final round of Earth Rumble 6 - she quickly dispatches him in a matter of seconds. Later, Toph wipes the floor with Xin Fu, The Boulder, and all of her old adversaries from the Earth Rumble competition after they kidnap Aang and decide to sell him off to the Fire Nation, resulting in Master Yu proclaiming her "the greatest Earthbender he has ever seen." This might be because she's a total badass.
    • The entire first six minutes of "The Earth King". It's pretty much Team Avatar going up against the entire Earth Palace's Royal Guard of about 200+ soldiers, and absolutely defeating them without even slowing down.
  • Cursed with Awesome: Aang never wanted to be the Avatar, and ran away when the monks tried to separate him from Gyatso.
    • Jeong Jeong feels this way about firebending, claiming that firebenders destroy themselves trying to control themselves. He laments that he is not a waterbender instead.
  • Cut Apart:
    • In "Lake Laogai", Team Avatar opens the door to where they think Appa is, and Appa looks up at the opening door to see... Zuko. A mild lampshading follows as Zuko snarks, "Expecting someone else?"
    • Also happens in "Imprisoned": Fire Nation troops walk around menacingly as the Gaang sleeps, the troops then knock on a door... which is opened by Haru.
  • Cute Bruiser: Toph. While small and not muscular, she has a Boisterous Bruiser personality, her earthbending allows her to shatter boulders with casual ease, and she's the go-to team member for sheer brute force.

    D 
  • Daddy's Little Villain: Azula, who unlike Zuko is loved and cherished by her father, and is blindly loyal to him.
  • Dance Line: in "The Headband", Aang is trying to teach some Fire Nation kids how to relax and have fun and does this at his secret dance party.
  • Dangerous 16th Birthday:
    • The Avatars are supposed to be told about their identity on their sixteenth. Aang didn't get that luxury.
    • Sixteen is also the age in which Northern Water Tribe girls become eligible for marriage, much to poor Yue's dismay. It is unclear whether the same custom carries on to Katara's tribe. Though it seems unlikely since Kanna (Gran-Gran) ran away to the Southern Tribe specifically to avoid her arranged marriage.
  • Dark Action Girl: Azula and Mai. Ty Lee is a more downplayed example, in that she's a bad guy and an action girl, but her personality is anything but dark.
  • Dark Horse Sibling: Azula was always the favoured child compared to Zuko. Their father outright said that Azula was Born Lucky while Zuko was lucky to be born. However, in the final season, Azula's friends abandoned her, one in favour of Zuko and the other for said friend, leading to the deterioration of Azula's mental state which led to her completely losing her mind in the finale while Zuko ascends the throne to become Fire Lord.
  • Darker and Edgier: The series as a whole is much darker and more serious than one would think for a daytime Nickelodeon show. There is direct mention of people having died before the series, a handful of people who die during the series, and multiple mentions of mass genocide (strictly along racial lines)! There are also rather mature themes throughout, such as parental abuse, murder, scandals, and having one of the main protagonists nearly kill someone of their own free will.
  • Darkest Hour: "The Crossroads of Destiny" and "Day of Black Sun" featured two of the cruelest Downer Endings in the entire series.
  • The Darkness Gazes Back: An unnerving scene from "The Swamp" episode provides the page image.
  • Daydream Surprise: "Nightmares and Daydreams", in which Aang hallucinates confessing his feelings to Katara.
  • Day in the Life: "Tales of Ba Sing Se", for a different character in each section.
  • A Day in the Limelight: "Zuko Alone", "Appa's Lost Days", and "Sokka's Master" for the eponymous characters. Downplayed in "The Boiling Rock", which focused mainly on Sokka, Zuko, and a couple minor characters, with the other main characters barely appearing at all.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Several characters fit this one, including Sokka, Toph, Katara, Azula and of course Mai.
    • Even Zuko gets in on it at times:
    Zuko: Yeah, and then you can show [the Fire Lord] his baby pictures and all those happy memories will make him good again.
    Aang: Do you really think that will work?
    Zuko: No!
  • Deadly Dodging: Several examples, most featuring Aang (e.g. Aang vs Zhao in "The Deserter"), but the one taking the cake would be that scholar being attacked by the platypus-bear in the beginning of "The Fortuneteller". Aunt Wu wasn't that far off.
  • Deadly Environment Prison:
    • The Boiling Rock is a Fire Nation prison for some of their most high-value captives located in a volcanic crater filled with a boiling lake, which gives it its name. Anyone attempting to escape is boiled to death.
    • The Fire Nation's prison rig is located hundreds of miles out to sea. While that may not sounds that dangerous, it's still pretty much a death sentence for anyone trying to escape.
  • Death Faked for You:
    • In "The Firebending Masters", it's revealed that Iroh claimed to have killed the last dragon, but he instead found them and didn't tell anyone, so they could live in peace.
    • Also Aang, sort of, in the beginning of the third season. He actually does die but is healed by Katara and remains unconscious for some weeks after. The rest of the team think it's best that they don't draw attention to the fact that Aang isn't dead and eventually convince him to reluctantly go along with it.
  • Decapitation Strike: After infiltrating the Earth Kingdom capital of Ba Sing Se, Azula works with Long Feng and the corrupt Dai Li to take over the city by capturing all the high-ranking officials and generals who might be able to oppose them. The Earth King eventually escapes with the help of the Gaang but is still forced to leave his city.
  • Declaration of Personal Independence: Toph, who also happens to be a badass Earthbending genius who invented metalbending. Her father treats her like she's helpless when she's probably one of the strongest people in the world and perfectly capable of taking care of herself. When Aang and the gang show up asking her to teach him earth-bending and join him on his journey she tries to convince her father to let her, but she ends up having to run away when he refuses to believe it, even after seeing her wipe the floor with some mooks. He even sends people after her to get her back. It doesn't work. The series ends without any resolution in regards to whether they made up or not.(Although the comic book continuation known as The Rift would have them reconcile.)
  • Declarative Finger: Zuko had one when he was impersonating his Uncle giving him sage advice.
    Zuko: How am I supposed to convince these people that I'm on their side? What would Uncle do? [Impersonating his Uncle, pacing and holding up his finger] Zuko, you must look within yourself to save yourself from your other self. Only then will your true self reveal itself. [Dropping the impersonation and getting frustrated] Even when I'm talking for him I can't figure out what he means!
  • Deep South: All the swampbenders have hillbilly accents and seem adamantly opposed to wearing pants/shirts/shoes.
  • Defanged Horrors:
    • This show has many scenes and creatures that are scary even to adult viewers, but stay clear of blood or violence, or monsters jumping at you from the screen. It also portrays a century long war quite realistically and does not shy away from discussing (and within limits showing) genocide and war crimes against civilians, while still remaining safe to watch for children.
    • Prisoners never seem to be executed. It's claimed by one Earth Kingdom soldier that the Fire Nation sometimes dresses prisoners of war in Fire Army uniforms and sends them unarmed to the front lines, essentially executing them by friendly fire, but it's never made clear if this is actually true.
  • Defense Mechanism Superpower: The Avatar State is explicitly identified as a defense mechanism by Roku, though it's also possible for an experienced Avatar to enter it at will. Aang doesn't learn this over the course of the series. Well, he tried in the second season finale, but that didn't go so well.
  • Defeat Equals Friendship:
    • Iroh wipes the floor with a would-be mugger, then has a friendly chat and a Spot of Tea with him, kindly persuading him to take a new course in life.
    • Ty Lee joins the Kyoshi Warriors after the fall of Ozai.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Mai in Season 3 when Zuko is around.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: In "The Siege of the North" arc, when the moon spirit is killed, everything becomes black and white, except for Yue's eyes or when lit up by light from fire or water bending.
  • Demoted to Extra: Teo, The Duke, and Haru in late Season 3. At the end of "Day of Black Sun" they escaped on Appa with the rest of the Gaang... according to the commentary, because the writers felt that sending children to a Fire Nation prison would be too harsh. But the writers couldn't figure out anything else to do with them, despite Teo being a great glider pilot and inventor and Haru being a decent Earthbender in his own right… so they only appeared in the background, or the focus of "road trip with Zuko" episodes was set away from the Western Air Temple where they were encamped, until they could be Put on a Bus (along with the just-rescued Hakoda) in "The Southern Raiders". (In later commentary, the writers joked about wanting to do an episode entirely about their adventures exploring the Western Air Temple.)
  • Depending on the Artist: The creators point out in a DVD Commentary that different animators disagreed on, in particular, how muscular Aang and Sokka are (whether they're simply skinny and undeveloped, or wiry with significant muscle definition). This varied randomly and couldn't be explained as them getting fitter as the series progressed.
  • Depower: Fire Lord Ozai loses his powers in the finale.
  • Designated Parents: Zuko and Katara serve as the Team Dad and Team Mom respectively. They spend the series finale together and the Lost Adventures comics have them acting Like an Old Married Couple. The novelization even has Iroh thinking the two would make a good match.
  • Destroy the Abusive Home: Played with. Zuko brings things from the house to burn in the episode where he, Azula, Mai and Ty Lee go to Ember Island. The house gets destroyed properly some episodes later as he attacks Aang in the process of training him in firebending.
  • Determinator:
    • Zuko sails around the entire world looking for the Avatar even before he knows that he's actually alive.
    • Appa in his Day in the Limelight.
    • Ozai refuses to give up, even still referring to himself as the "Phoenix King" after losing his powers.
  • Deus ex Machina:
    • In Aang's fight with Ozai, when Ozai smashes Aang into a rock that hits him in the exact right spot to unblock the chakra that had been fried since Azula shot him with lightning, which allowed Aang to enter the Avatar State. Before that, Aang was losing and solidly on the defensive, but afterwards it turned into a Curb-Stomp Battle in his favor.
    • The Lion Turtle's contribution to the Grand Finale, specifically Energybending, is a case of this, considering it comes out of nowhere to hand Aang a way to reconcile two goals of his that were previously established to be mutually exclusive.
  • Desert Bandits: The Sandbenders work as thieves out in the desert. One group stole Appa and sold him to a Fire Nation circus.
  • Diagonal Cut: Many minor examples, but on a more significant note, Aang does this to a battleship.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?:
    • Zhao killing the moon spirit.
    • Azula shooting down Aang in the Avatar State.
    • Sokka, of all people, gets this moment defending the Gaang from the berserk Owl Guardian in "The Library".
    Sokka: That's called "Sokka Style." LEARN IT!
  • Die or Fly: Used twice. Toph Invokes this by rolling a boulder at Aang in an attempt to get him to learn earthbending. Aang jumps out of the way to keep from being squished. The scene is mirrored later in the episode, when he has to defeat an angry Saber-Toothed Moose Lion, and successfully gets the "stand your ground" mindset required for earthbending. Season 3 has a semi-straight example: Katara learns Bloodbending on her first attempt to stop Hama from making Sokka kill Aang.
  • Digging Yourself Deeper:
    • In The Cave of Two Lovers, Aang jokingly says that he wouldn't want to kiss Katara, trying to play it cool. When she understandably takes it pretty bad, he "clarifies" that if he had to choose between death and kissing her, he would choose the kiss.
    Aang: It was a compliment!
    Katara: Well, I don't know which I would choose!
    • While trying to join the Gaang, Zuko lets drop that he was the one who sent Combustion Man after them, which he thought they had figured out already. Oops.
    • Katara in The Runaway while defensively asking Aang if she acts motherly, demands, "Stop rubbing your eye and speak clearly when you talk!"
  • Disability Superpower:
    • Toph's enhanced senses and earthbending prowess as a result of her blindness. Played with in that her seismic sense can be learned by other, non-blind, characters, but no one displays the same mastery of it that she does.
    • Often lampshaded and parodied with lines such as "Your feet need their eyes checked", "I'll tell your feet what's going on", and "Not being able to see with your feet stinks!"
    • Also, the Mechanist's son Teo is paraplegic, but has a glider attachment to his wheelchair that lets him fly almost as well as Aang. Though unlike Toph, this flight ability is never overtly suggested to be because of his handicap. In fact, said handicap is pointed out so rarely that if you never looked at the screen while he was on it, you might not even notice.
  • Disabled Snarker: Toph. She's blind, and quite snarky.
  • Disc-One Nuke: The trope is toyed with after Aang finds out about the coming comet; he ALMOST learns fire-bending (sequence breaking the order he is supposed to learn the elements). He's actually quite powerful with just a small bit of instruction, but after he loses control and hurts Katara, both he and his teacher decide he is not ready.
  • Discontinuity Nod: In "The Ember Island Players"
    Actor!Aang: Look, it's the Great Divide — the biggest canyon in the Earth Kingdom!
    beat
    Actor!Sokka: Eh... let's keep flying.
  • Disorganized Outline Speech: Sokka's courtroom defense of Aang in "Avatar Day", and his attempt at briefing the invasion plan in "Day of Black Sun". Also Zuko's first attempt to explain himself to the Gaang in "The Western Air Temple".
  • Disproportionate Retribution: It seems to be a common response to perceived "disrespect" in Zuko's family.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: In "The Drill", Sokka leaves himself wide open to attack when Ty Lee flirts at him. Katara pulls him out before anything bad happens, though.
  • Disturbed Doves:
    • Zuko manages to summon them just by taking off his shirt. While overly dramatic theme music plays in the background. See the picture on that page.
    • When Appa and the Porcupine-Boar raise hell with their fight in "Appa's Lost Days"
    • In the beginning of "The Southern Raiders"; Disturbed Doves flying off the water fountain is what warns Aang that something is wrong, about half a second before they are bombed by Azula's Airships.
    • Most notably in the finale, in which an entire fleet of birds scatter off from just about everywhere when Ozai begins his attack. To be fair though, he was burning down their entire forest...
  • Ditch the Bodyguards: Zuko persuades Mai's escorts to bring her a "fruit tart." This turns out to be a complicated order, leaving her and Zuko with her place all to themselves.
  • Divine Right of Kings:
    • Discussed by Azula, claiming that the reason Long Feng lost to her in the bid for control of Ba Sing Se is that he lacked "the divine right to rule". An unusual example in that it's not totally clear whether either of them really believe this, or indeed whether it matters if they do; Azula's extremely high level of competence makes any "divine right" a moot point as she can win through her own skill, and she had thoroughly beaten Long Feng by this point so his apparent acceptance of what she says could just be an acknowledgment of her victory. However, there are subtle hints that, for all the string-pulling manipulations Long Feng and the Dai Li engage in under the naive and oblivious Earth King, they are not able to completely free themselves from the cultural baggage of living under a theoretically divine ruler, giving them a predisposition to submit to a royal figure, especially one as formidable as Azula.
    • It's mentioned that the Fire Nation was formerly more of a constitutional monarchy, with a group of sages retaining a large amount of political authority and acting as a check against the Fire Lord. Sozin eventually removed all of their power and made the Fire Lord position one of absolute authority. In keeping with the Fire Nation's Social Darwinist viewpoints, Divine Right is often backed by combat ability; members of the aristocracy are encouraged to duel one another, with the Royal Family being expected to be, by their nature, the best at it. We never actually find out whether this is true; while they are undeniably formidable, we never see them fight a non-royal master like Jeong Jeong to confirm whether they truly are the best.
  • Diving Save: Zuko to Katara in "The Southern Raiders"
  • Do I Really Sound Like That?: Comes with the territory in "The Ember Island Players". Katara is particularly defensive. Totally subverted with Toph, who is thrilled with her exaggerated depiction.
  • Does Not Like Shoes:
    • A Justified Trope for Toph, since she "sees" through her feet.
      • Drawn to the forefront when they steal Fire Nation clothes; she punches her feet through the shoes to remove the soles.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • In "Nightmares and Daydreams" Aang has dreams about facing off against the Fire Lord, dressed as Goku from Dragonball Z and the title character from Naruto.
    • In a broader example, the fire nation in particular evokes Japan in the years before and during World War II, and the cult of personality surrounding the Fire Lord has echoes of China under Chairman Mao.
    • The Fire Nation's school ritual for all students to recite their undying loyalty to their nation every morning before class starts, invokes the Pledge of Allegiance in the United States.
    • From "The Southern Raiders", taken out of context, when Katara and Zuko bust in and attack the new captain, Zuko's dialogue and Katara's rage make the whole scene come off as if they're accusing the guy of rape.
  • Do Not Touch the Funnel Cloud: Averted. During "The Swamp" when the tornado closes in on Appa the wind catches Sokka before they touch the funnel cloud.
  • Don't Touch It, You Idiot!: Zuko really shouldn't have picked up the giant golden egg in "The Firebending Masters". Lampshaded by Aang, who knew better.
  • Doomed Hometown: The Southern Air Temple for Aang. The Northern, Western, and Eastern ones did not fare too well either.
  • Dork Knight: Most of the young, sympathetic main characters have their moments of this. Katara's more Knightly, Sokka's more Dorky, and Aang's heavy on both. Even Zuko qualifies in the second half of season 3, post Heel–Face Turn.
  • Double Consciousness:
    • Being both the son of the Fire Lord and the destined ally of the Avatar has got to be tough.
    • Don't forget being the great-grandson of both the man who started the war and the first to speak out against it (that is, the past life of the person he worked years to capture).
  • Double-Edged Answer: Toph tries to explain how her feet got burned: she surprised and startled Zuko in the middle of the night and he reflexively flung fire at her before he realized it was one of the Gaang. He was immediately contrite and apologetic, but Toph, in pain, bailed.
    Toph: Well, he did and he didn't.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Several episodes of Season 2, most significantly the Season 2 finale.
    • Also, an in-series example: The ending of the Ember Island players' play (where the Avatar is killed, the Fire Nation wins the war and Ozai and Azula take over the world) was a downer ending for the Gaang.
  • The Dragon: Princess Azula to her father, Fire Lord Ozai.
  • Drama Bomb: The second season finale. There had been a gradual build up of conflict and drama in the episodes leading up to it, but it all came to a head in that episode with the force of a nuclear explosion.
  • Dramatic Thunder: First type in "The Storm" and second type "The Southern Raiders"
  • Dread Zeppelin: one of the war vehicles the Mechanist made for the Fire Nation was a hot air balloon. It ended up being used against the Fire Nation, but they found its wreckage and reverse-engineered it to make war zeppelins. They use them to devastating effect on the Day of Black Sun to compensate for the loss of firebending. In the series finale, Ozai takes a fleet of zeppelin and comet-boosted firebenders to start burning the Earth Kingdom to the ground.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Done in all three seasons.
  • The Drifter: "Zuko Alone", which is pretty much an homage to Shane and the Dollars Trilogy.
  • Dual Wielding: Both Zuko and Jet prefer dual wielding style. Of course they end up in a dual-wielding duel in one episode.
  • Duel to the Death: The Agni Kai among firebenders is often treated as such, though all the participants survive in the ones we see.

    E 
  • Early Installment Weirdness:
    • Without getting into the differences in characterization, the original pilot episode gives Zuko the ability to use flame jets as Reverse Gripped daggers and has Aang consciously activate the Avatar State for a quick boost despite the episode ostensibly taking place sometime during the equivalent of the beginning of the first season. Fire Nation soldiers wear Spikes of Villainy galore and Katara is also named Kya. On the other hand, pilot episodes tend to be like this, and given the differences, the canonicity of the original pilot is questionable at best. (Also, Zuko uses the reverse-gripped daggers in Book 2's "The Avatar State").
    • For a while, Appa is called a "Flying Bison" instead of the more prevalent "Sky Bison" that he became later.
    • The episode "The Southern Air Temple" shows a line of Avatars, but the ones before Avatar Roku don't match the Avatars that were later revealed to come before him. This is especially strange where the Earth Kingdom Avatar next to Roku is male, rather than the female Avatar Kyoshi, who was described in the very next episode. This got fixed in The Legend of Korra.
  • Earned Stripes: When airbenders are recognized as masters they are give blue arrow tattoos that follow chi lines from their forehead, to their hands and feet. Aang was one of the youngest to ever wear tattoos at age 12, until his grand daughter Jinora earned them at age 11 in the sequel series.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Century-long war? Check. Implacable foe, impossible odds? Check. Last, best hope for victory is twelve? Check. Multiple heroes dead already? Check. Countdown to utter, utter defeat? ..oh, guess. Sounds like the sort of situation very few people walk away from alive, right? Wrong. At the end of the Finale, all of the good guys alive at the start of the finale are still here, there are three romantic pairs among them, the war ended without either side getting reduced to paste, Ozai is sentenced to life in prison, Zuko gets to be Fire Lord, and Iroh gets his tea shop back. Aang is able to make it all happen WITHOUT sacrificing his personal or ethical values. Which doesn't come easy either; his friends, his allies and his prior incarnations - even the previous airbender incarnation that he expected to agree with him - were against him in that matter. Awesome, indeed.
  • Easily Forgiven:
    • Averted. Most of the Gaang won't forgive someone's past crimes without a decent reason.
    • Special mention goes to Katara. Betraying her in any way will set her default reaction to you to "near-homicidal rage" and it will stay that way unless serious amends are made. The girl can hold a grudge.
    • However, played straight with Iroh when the Gaang meets him in Ba Sing Se. Though Toph's testimony probably helped.
  • Eat the Dog: Sokka offers up Momo to a sea monster as a "humble and tasty" sacrifice in "The Serpent's Pass".
  • Elaborate Underground Base:
    • One situated beneath Lake Laogai, plus a war bunker under the Fire Nation capital.
    • Under Omashu there is an underground war base.
  • Elemental Absorption Although not considered an element in universe, redirecting lightning surely counts.
  • Elemental Baggage: Averted; firebenders are the only benders who can "create" their element. Benders from the other three nations require the appropriate amount of material in their immediate area to be useful, and it's even made a plot point at times when a bender (specifically earthbenders and waterbenders) are rendered powerless by being deprived of their element.
  • Elemental Nation: All of humanity is divided into three distinct cultures based on the elemental powers of the inhabitants: the Fire Nation (plus its colonies), the Earth Kingdom, and the Northern and Southern Water Tribes. The fourth, the Air Nomads, were wiped out prior to the events of the show.
  • Elemental Powers: A large percentage of the world's population has these.
  • Element Number Five:
    • Energybending. Justified, as the giant Lionturtle explains that people did it long before elemental bending and that it works off the same principles.
    • The series makes an interesting link between the ancient world and the modern one. The world of "Avatar" is part of the ancient world, so the people categorize their powers based on the classical elements of earth, wind, water, and fire. However, the true power of the bending arts acutally stems from the more modern, scientific "four states of matter."
    • Airbending is actually gasbending. Earth is solidbending. Water is liquidbending. Fire is plasmabending. This is why water can bend blood, earth can bend metals, and fire can bend lightning (an element that classically tends to be associated with wind). Energy and energybending is the 5th state of matter via E=mc^2.
  • 11th-Hour Superpower: Energybending. Fits in with the mythology the show was drawing from and was foreshadowed with Chakras, Ty Lee's chi-blocking, the pictures of lionturtles in the spirit library, etc. Also notable in that it wasn't required to win, only to allow a scenario in which Ozai could be realistically held in prison.
  • Elite Mooks: The Dai Li and Yu Yan archers.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The individual avatars, even the dead ones living in the current one's head, are humans of diverse motivation who share the desire and ability to balance the spirit world against the physical world, nature against civilization, etc. The Avatar State, on the other hand, where they're all mashed together into a single entity, doesn't really... understand either nature or the mortal concept of 'balance'. Since it is also the most powerful entity on the planet hands-down, this means the most convenient way to deal with whatever threat it was summoned to deal with is to just destroy everything in the vicinity starting with anything attacking it until its vessel runs out of power, and assume that whatever it was that was bothering the host was probably somewhere in the blast radius. Occasionally, even this gets weird, since the host's vague impressions of what is 'threatening' or 'attacking' don't necessarily mean a lot to a creature that literally cannot be harmed by anything. All of this usually happens with the Avatar state keeping the host's face largely an emotionless mask, to drive the point home, though occasionally it appears that Aaang is actually in control until something proves otherwise with an even creepier abruptness.
  • Embarrassing Old Photo: Aww, look at baby Zuko! Subverted and used for massive Mood Whiplash when the old portrait they found turned out to be of Fire Lord Ozai. That cute little baby grew up to be a monster.
  • The Empire: The Fire Nation after Sozin took power and the country industrialized, justifying it as "enlightening" other nations. Notably Sozin (at least initially) seemed sincere about it, but his son and grandson didn't seem to subscribe to the same view.
    • The comics deconstruct this trope somewhat. The Fire Nation colonials living in the Earth Kingdom are more than a little reluctant to leave the only home they ever knew, which leads to a near falling out between Aang and Zuko. Its ultimately decided that while the Fire Nation can't remain in control of these colonies (as it would still be a form of imperialism), its not fair to force the people out.
  • Enemy Mine:
    • "The Blue Spirit" saves Aang from Zhao because neither wants Zhao to take him back to the Fire Nation.
    • Same in "The Chase". Zuko and Iroh briefly team up with the Gaang to fight Azula.
  • Epic Fail: Hahn, a conceited water tribe leader, uncovers his disguise and charges at Iroh and the Fire General Zhao on their ship. What happens? Iroh and the General Zhao just step out of the way, Zhao easily flings him overboard, and Hahn falls in the water. Then Iroh and the General resume their merry war conversation as if nothing happened.
    • Very funny that he couldn't even learn his name. Calling him "Admiral Chao".
  • Equal-Opportunity Evil:
    • Played With for the Fire Nation. While they have no problem allowing women and Fire Nation citizens of varying skin colors to have positions of power or join the military, they are overtly racist toward the other nations and seem to look down on the colonies. It's also revealed that homosexuality was widely accepted before Fire Lord Sozin took over and outlawed it—though this doesn't stop Azula and Ty Lee from having a fair amount of Ho Yay.
    • Played With for the Dai Li. While there don't seem to be any female members, the agents we do see are all of varying skin colors. They also seem to respect the Kyoshi Warriors, an all-woman fighting force, and have no problem following Azula, despite the fact that she is a young, female teenager.
  • Ermine Cape Effect:
    • Bumi wears his robes all the time, unless he's showing off how great an earthbender he is.
    • For the Fire Nation, the fancy robes are often war armor, so it often makes sense to wear them a lot.
    • Also justified for Bumi, since his basic political strategy relies on convincing people he's a demented old figurehead-until suddenly it's time to show them that he's actually a demented old earthbending master, and also replace "demented" with "alarmingly savvy".
  • Escalating Brawl: Subverted. Hakoda tries to cause a prison riot by shoving the stereotypical huge tattooed guy... who responds by asking rather mildly why Hakoda did that and explaining that he's working on controlling his anger.
  • Escaped Animal Rampage: Happens to Aang in "The Tales of Ba Sing Se" when he sets free all the animals in the Ba Sing Se zoo. To be frank, the zookeeper wanted to move them to wider open spaces.
  • Eskimo Land: The Water Tribes.
  • Et Tu, Brute?:
    • In "The Crossroads Of Destiny", Uncle Iroh's betrayal by his nephew, Zuko, who sold him out to the Dai Li. For the record, Iroh is not specifically hurt by the act of betrayal − he has been going through it since he withdrew from the siege of Ba Sing Se, anyway − and is instead saddened that Zuko's conflict of conscience has to go this deep. He never wavers in his trust for Zuko, which, fortunately, does pay off.
    • In "The Avatar and the Fire Lord", though the relationship between Avatar Roku and Fire Lord Sozin became deeply strained when Roku made it clear that he would kill Sozin if he launched his planned war, they were still friends, as shown when Sozin showed up to aid Roku when his island suffered a massive volcanic eruption. The two men stood their ground and controlled the volcanoes until the villagers had escaped, at which point Sozin realized Roku was vulnerable and betrayed him, leaving him to die on the island so he could fulfill his ambitions of world conquest.
    • In "The Boiling Rock: Part 2", Azula's spiral down into complete insanity starts when Mai and Ty Lee betray her. Then "Sozin's Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King" has Ozai, the last person she trusts, essentially abandoning her so he can achieve world domination alone. Her breakdown complete, she no longer cares about anyone or anything and simply does as she wishes.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: The Fire Nation, despite being the general bad guys, are depicted as fairly normal people with families. Special mention goes to Iroh whose son was killed during the Battle of Ba Sing Se.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • In "Zuko Alone", Zuko is starving and sees a camp set up by the side of the road, with a roast on the fire. He reaches for his dagger. He then sees that the camp belongs to a young refugee couple, the wife of which is heavily pregnant. He takes his hand off his dagger and leaves.
    • In his backstory, the incident that resulted in his scar started because he objected to sacrificing a division of new recruits for tactical expediency, despite not necessarily opposing the war.
  • Exact Words: Aunt Wu's predictions come true, but not necessarily in the way they imply: for instance a man has a safe journey...because the Gaang chase off the platypus bear that was attacking him, a man finds his true love while wearing red shoes... because he's worn those shoes every day since the prediction was made, and the volcano outside the village doesn't destroy it because Aang stops it with his airbending skills
    • When Aang first meets Katara, she asks him if he knew the Avatar. His exact words? "I didn't know him. I mean, I knew people that knew him, but I didn't know him." It's pretty hard to know yourself!
  • Exposed to the Elements: Averted with Sokka and Katara, who wear heavy fur coats at both poles. Played straight with Aang, who never seems to be cold even though he always wears the same outfit (though this is Hand Waved by him knowing a special breathing technique). Averted and Justified with Zuko, who is seen using a special technique that allows him to breathe fire. He also dresses appropriately and is in very real danger of freezing to death after he gets knocked unconscious, prompting Aang to take him with them.
    • Aang's general immunity to the weather and resistance to firebending even before he learns to bend it himself is justified by basic fluid dynamics: air in itself is a thermal insulator and it doesn't conduct heat very well when still. The mechanism by which it so readily transfers heat away from a body in the cold or into the body when a flame is nearby is convection, not conduction... and the airbenders have complete control of the bulk movement of air around their bodies. Aang's most basic power allows him to be surrounded by the equivalent of fire-retardant insulating foam at will.
  • Everything Makes a Mushroom: Aang creates a mushroom cloud while airbending in The Desert.
  • Everything's Better with Penguins: Incidentally, they're also otters.
  • Everything's Better with Princesses: Subverted by Azula, who is more likely to make things much, much worse, but definitely played straight by Yue.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Let's see here...
    • The Mechanist, who is actually referred to as such by Sokka at one point.
    • The Earth King, though All There in the Manual has his name as Kuei.
    • Combustion Man, although Zuko has acknowledged this isn't really his name, and apparently knows what CM's real name is.
    • The Cabbage Merchant.
    • Most of Jet's Freedom Fighters have rather bizarre monikers which could only be nicknames (seriously, who names their kid Longshot? Or Pipsqueak?).
  • Evil Counterpart:
    • Zuko served as this to Katara in Season 1. Both lost their mothers at a young age, lost contact with their fathers for several years, and were forced to grow up very quickly as a result. Also, both have serious anger issues. Even their families are a twisted mirror of each other: a distant father, a lost mother, and a sibling who is eager to fight. Adopting each other's strengths in order to overcome their individual weaknesses helps them to grow as people.
    • Zhao was the Eviler Counterpart of Zuko in Season 1. Both favored power over control with their firebending and obsessed with gaining honor and reputation. Zhao was so obsessed though that it actually led to his Moral Event Horizon.
    • Jet, the Well-Intentioned Extremist who bore a hatred toward the Fire Nation due to his village being attacked as child, served as this toward Sokka. While they both harbored prejudice, Jet's was so extreme that he jumped off the slippery slope. Both are also Badass Normals who can keep up with skilled benders.
    • Similar in effect to Jet, Hama served as this toward Katara; harboring deep hatred towards the Fire Nation because of what they did to her in her childhood. Hama's unwillingness to let it go led to her becoming no better than the ones who persecuted her.
    • Azula became this toward Zuko in Season 3. Both suffered Parental Abandonment, although in Azula's case, it may only be from her perspective. Zuko however was able to get a Parental Substitute in Iroh while Azula was shaped by other parent, the super-evil Ozai.
    • For the ultimate example: Sokka, Katara, Hakoda and Kya versus Zuko, Azula, Ozai and Ursa. Their whole family is a counterpart: the older brother struggling to live up to his father's position, but overshadowed by the talents of his little sister, the bending prodigy; meanwhile, both siblings are still affected by the loss of their mother several years ago. Except Zuko's father is an unpleasable psychopath who exiled him, while Sokka's father is wise, kind and had to leave Sokka behind; Katara is hot-tempered but a total Team Mom, while Azula is cold-hearted and controls people with fear; and Kya sacrificed her life to protect her daughter, while Ursa murdered an old man in cold blood to protect her son (though, she also had to give up her life too, in the form of banishment, so she probably serves more as a Shadow Archetype).
  • Evil Is Burning Hot: The Fire Nation is initially played up to be this, but it's later subverted in that most of the citizens are portrayed as totally ordinary, and some become allies to Aang.
  • Evil Me Scares Me: Aang actually says, "I was scary" when reflecting on the Avatar State. A little different since the Avatar State isn't evil but rather an implacable force of nature.
  • Evil Old Folks: Fire Lords Sozin and Azulon, though the former came to regret his decisions and at least believed (or convinced himself) he was working for the good of the world. Ozai may or may not count, depending on how old he is. A few other Fire Nation villains are a respectable age too. Non-Fire Benders include Old Lady Hama, the vengeful and deranged Water Bender who abducts innocent Fire Nation civilians and locks them in an underground cave on the basis that they were born in the wrong country.
  • Evil Prince: Ozai was a classic example of this trope before he became Fire Lord. Subverted with Zuko, who ends up trying to overthrow his father not to seize power for himself, but to end the war. Azula is a complete aversion of this, because despite being evil, she remains completely loyal to her father.
  • Eviler Than Thou: Zuko was plenty threatening during the first season, but his younger sister Azula is superior in just about every way (except, you know, morals). She also manages to completely outmaneuver Long Feng in the Season 2 finale.
  • Exhausted Eye Bags: Aang, Katara, Sokka and Toph all have bags under their eyes when they go without sleep due to being chased for days by Azula and her Quirky Miniboss Squad in "The Chase". Later Aang gets this when he goes three days without sleeping due to nightmares of the coming battle in "Nightmares and Daydreams".
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: Most major characters went through hairstyle changes over the course of the show, in stark contrast to many cartoons' habit of keeping hairstyles exactly the same to make it easier to animate. There were so many hairstyle changes, in fact, that it gave rise to the fan term "hairbending".
    • Zuko's hair changed from an exotic, samurai-inspired shaved-with-a-topknot look in Season 1 to a shaggy mop by the end of Season 2 while his character becomes less and less the villain and more and more three-dimensional. Said mop was thus long enough to tie back into a dignified Fire Nation topknot just in time for Zuko's coronation.
    • Katara's hairstyles in Season 3 were more elaborate than the ones she wore in Season 1 and 2, making her appear more mature… matching the way she grew as a "team mother" over the course of the show.
    • For the first two thirds of Season 3, Aang actually had hair (having been too busy being unconscious to shave, and determining it made a good way to disguise his head tat while sneaking around in the Fire Nation afterward).

    F 
  • Face Palm: Sokka was so annoyed by the constantly singing nomads in "The Cave of Two Lovers" that at the end of the episode, this was asked of him:
    Katara: Why's your forehead all red?
  • Face Stealer: Koh is the trope namer.
  • The Faceless:
    • Fire Lord Ozai in Books 1 and 2. In the 3rd, he's revealed to be...an actually pretty good looking middle-aged guy.
    • And Toph in Aang's vision.
    • And Koh's victims, in a very literal sense.
  • Faceless Goons: The Fire Nation soldiers seen in the first season wore helmets and white skull-like masks over the front. This allows Zuko to wear one and hide incognito.
  • Failure Is the Only Option: Basically, any attempt to deal a serious blow to the Fire Nation will not succeed, at least not before Aang knows enough Firebending.
  • Fake Aristocrat: In order to meet the Earth King of Ba Sing Se, Katara and Toph disguise themselves as members of high society. Toph used to be a member of high society, of course, but Katara wasn't.
  • Fake First Kiss: Aang and Katara in "The Cave of Two Lovers", though it's ambiguous whether they actually kissed or not. Lost in the titular cave with their only source of light about to burn out, Katara suggests they invoke the story of two lovers who used to meet in the cave, trusting love to guide them... By kissing. In a G-Rated Sexy Discretion Shot, their torch goes out right as they start to embrace each other... Then, after a couple seconds in darkness, the is revealed to be littered with crystals that glow in the dark, revealing the path to the exit.
  • Fake Wizardry: We have benders, people who can manipulate one of the four classical elements (and the Avatar who can control all of them) and uses them for Combat or everyday uses. However, not all people are benders, including Sokka, the Badass Normal of the Gaang. He has used some tricks to recreate similar effects, like bombs as fake firebending or using air pressure (provided by airbending, but the witnesses didn't knew that) to make rocks float on the air and pretend it's earthbending.
  • Fan-Art: At one point, some of the directors were setting up their own active DeviantArt accounts. The staff managed to compose an impressive fan art wall. One particular fanartist came to be hired as a storyboarder for the show.
  • Fanservice:
    • In full force by Season 3, especially in the Beach Episode.
    • In a memorable moment in Season 2 there was a sick Zuko in bed sweating and shirtless begging for water, when Iroh finally gives him a taste, he then takes the container and basically pours it all over himself. Does This Remind You of Anything?
    • Any scene of Aang and Katara practicing waterbending will have Katara in a loincloth and bandage-like wrappings for her breasts and hips/thighs. Made even more fanservicey when you realize this is probably her underwear.
  • Fangirl: Zuko got a whole collection of them in the 3rd season, probably a Shout-Out to the Estrogen Brigade.
  • Fantastic Angst:
    • Aang lost everyone he'd ever known due to being cryogenically frozen, including the only mentor he ever had. As if that weren't enough, because he is the reincarnation of the avatar, it's his responsibility to keep the balance between the nations. He doesn't actually angst as much as you might expect, though.
    • Katara and Sokka both long for parental affection because a Fire Nation solider killed their mother and their father left to fight in the war when they were very young.
    • Zuko longs for the affection of a father who kicked him out of his home and expelled him from his own country, as the result of his refusal to participate in the Agni Kai.
  • Fantastic Naming Convention: The different nations typically have names that follow phoneme patterns. The Water Tribe uses hard K sounds and lots of O's and A's (Katara, Korra, Noatok, Hakoda). The Fire Nation uses Z's, O's and I's (Ozai, Zhao, Sozin, etc). The Air Nomads use mostly real life Tibetan and Chinese names or names that sound similar. The Earth Kingdom has no strict pattern.
  • Fantastic Racism: The Fire Nation is utterly convinced that they're superior to all other peoples. But, it seems mainland citizens don't give second glances at others.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Although each nation has other elements mixed in, the main parts of the cultures are derived from:
    • Air Nomads: Tibet, with elements of Shaolin Temples combined with Hindu mysticism.
    • Water Tribes: Inuit.
    • Earth Kingdom: Qing Era China, with elements of Korea.
    • Fire Nation: Imperial Japan.
    • The original fire-bending civilization, the Sun Warriors: Aztec/Mesoamerican, with a vague Southeast Asian-ness.
    • The Foggy Swamp Tribe: rural Florida.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Religion: The concept of an "Avatar" is one taken from Hinduism and Buddhism, meaning a god who has taken mortal form. However, there are many separate philosophies across the world which seem to hold elements from other Asian, Pagan and Native American belief systems. Specifically, the mythology of Aang as the Avatar is lifted directly from The Dalai Lama, down to reincarnation and being chosen at a young age by ancient toys and heirlooms from the previous Avatar's possessions.
  • Fantasy World Map: The official Avatar site at nick.com has a nice world map documenting the Gaang's travels during the series.
  • Fate Worse than Death:
    • Zuko and Iroh, while on the run as fugitives of the Fire Nation, were left with a choice: seek help in the Earth Kingdom, which mostly views all firebenders as war criminals and would likely be killed; or return to the Fire Nation, where they would be captured by Azula. Zuko quickly decides on the former.
    • Ozai's receiving Cruel Mercy can be considered one after losing his ability to firebend in the finale.
  • Field Power Effect: The moon and sun to waterbenders and firebenders respectively. Also, Sozin's Comet.
  • Fiery Stoic: Played with in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
    • The current page image for the trope is Uncle Iroh, a laidback, goofy Mentor Archetype who happens to be the Fire Lord's brother. Early in the series he's mostly played as his nephew Zuko's comic relief, though rather than a case of Obfuscating Stupidity, he really believes that one of the best lessons his nephew could learn is how to lighten up. Iroh is deeply kind, very wise, and one of the most skilled firebenders in the world — though not necessarily as powerful as his brother, as firebending in particular is generally fueled by strong emotion.
    • Many of the more prominent firebenders appear outwardly calm, but this is often a Mask of Sanity, one which Anti-Villain Zuko tries and often fails to maintain. Ozai, his daughter and dragon Azula, and Admiral Zhao all derive significant power from their reserves of Tranquil Fury, but have Hair-Trigger Tempers and eventually crumble when their various plans start to fall apart. A large part of Zuko's Character Development is about learning how to accept his anger and use it constructively, rather than being controlled by it like his father and sister.
    • Combustionbenders (who are able to focus heat into intense beams of pure destructive energy) are calm and reserved, as their specific powers require great focus. The Mysterious Mercenary Pursuer Sokka dubs "Combustion Man" is a Terminator expy who never speaks during his appearances.
  • Fighting Fingerprint:
    • This is the problem with bending powers. They can only be mastered by the people of the Elemental Nation corresponding to them, meaning that if you use for example waterbending, you're sure to be recognized to be a member of the Water Tribe. This applies especially to Aang, who (as the title of the series suggests) is the last airbender, so if he uses his powers, everyone can figure out that he's the Avatar.
    • Jet tries at one point forcing Zuko to use his firebending so the people of Earth Kingdom would realise he's a citizen of Fire Nation hiding in their country. The reason why he knew Zuko to be a firebender in the first place is because his uncle used firebending to warm up his tea.
  • The Fighting Narcissist: Azula to the nth degree.
  • Filler:
    • Relatively often, though most episodes have at least some small effect on the plot or introduce a future recurring character. And many of the filler episodes are beloved by the fanbase.
    Sokka: Come on, a day at the theater? This is the kind of wacky time-wasting nonsense I've been missing!
    • Jarringly common in Book 3. It's especially odd feeling because many filler episodes are put right in the middle of what would normally be the darkest arc of the series; or even worse, right before the finale like 'Ember Island Players'.
  • Filthy Fun: Toph likes being dirty all the time because she has trouble seeing when she is clean and is rebelling against her strict upbringing.
  • Final Death: Roku explains to Aang in "The Avatar State" that not only is the Avatar State where the Avatar is their most powerful, it's also where they're at their most vulnerable — if the Avatar is killed when in the Avatar State, the reincarnation cycle will be broken and the Avatar will disappear forever.
  • Final Solution: This happened to the Air Nomads in the backstory. A century prior to the start of the series, the Fire Nation began the War with a genocide of the Air Nomads while utilising the power of Sozin's Comet. Ironically, they missed the one person they were aiming for. The Grand Finale also revolves on preventing Ozai from staging a repeat performance with the Earth Kingdom.
  • Find the Cure!: "The Blue Spirit". Played with in that Aang finds the cure relatively quickly...it's getting it back to Katara and Sokka that's the problem.
  • Finger Poke of Doom:
    • The stronger a bender is, the more they can do with a little physical action. Toph in particular loves this.
    • Bumi can earthbend with just his face.
    • Also, in "The Beach", Zuko sends Ruan-Jian flying backward into a vase with a mere palm strike.
    • And, of course, Ty Lee's entire modus operandi is using tiny pokes and jabs to completely disable people.
  • Finger Snap Lighter: Just about every firebender can do this.
  • Fire-Forged Friends:
    • Aang and Zuko, literally.
    • And then Sokka and Zuko in "The Boiling Rock".
    • And then Zuko and Katara in "The Southern Raiders"; she comes to forgive him after he helps her find her mother's killer.
    • Momo and the three alley cats in "The Tale of Momo" from "Tales of Ba Sing Se."
  • Fire/Water Juxtaposition:
    • Not surprising, considering this show's setting and mythology is practically built entirely on the Four-Element Ensemble trope. Specifically, the first protagonists introduced in the show hail from the peaceful and simple Water Tribe, while the main antagonists are from the despotic and warlike Fire Nation.
    • The Avatars themselves often encounter this as well. Fire-native Avatars often find learning Waterbending to be the most difficult bending art to learn, and vice versa for Water-native avatars. Something similar happens between air/earth as well.
  • First Girl Wins: Three times over. All of the major characters end up getting paired with the first person who they were seen being romantically attracted to in internal chronology. (Aang/Katara, Sokka/Suki, and Zuko/Mai.)
  • Fish out of Temporal Water: Aang's entire culture is extinct, he's unaware of the war that's been going on for the past century, and his attempts to blend in in the Fire Nation are a mix of Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe and Totally Radical.
    "Flameo, hotman!"
  • Flanderization: The Ember Players' show featured heavily flanderized versions (to the point of parody) of the main characters. Played for Laughs of course.
  • Flaming Meteor: Sozin's comet is portrayed as a fiery boulder from which Firebenders could draw extreme power. The Firelord's Evil Plan is to use this power to Take Over the World when the comet returns.
  • Flashback with the Other Darrin: "The Western Air Temple"—the flashbacks with Iroh feature Greg Baldwin as his VA, when the viewers were used to hearing Mako's voice for S1!Iroh.
  • Flaunting Your Fleets: In the Season 1 finale, a pan up from Zhao's command ship to the fleet he intends to destroy the Northern Water Tribe with. Also, the airship fleet in the grand finale.
  • Flechette Storm: Mai has arrow launchers in her sleeves. She can't quite pull it off with kunai, but she usually only needs one or two of those anyway.
  • Flight of Romance: Sokka takes Yue out for a ride on Appa, resulting in an Almost Kiss.
  • Flipping Helpless: Aang tries to invoke this trope by flipping over the Fire Nation's Tundra Tanks with his airbending powers. However, this doesn't end up working like he hoped for: for the sole purpose of averting this trope, the design of the Tundra Tank includes a rotating cabin.
  • Flopsy: One of the scams pulled by Toph and Sokka in "The Runaway". Not related to the name of King Bumi's Gorilla Goat.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: King Bumi's beloved goat-gorilla, Flopsy, is a subversion - despite his fearsome appearance, he's as sweet-natured a Gentle Giant as his name suggests.
  • Flying Firepower: in the later season, high level Firebenders are suddenly able to fly with bursts of fire from their hands or feet as an extension of Explosion Propulsion.
  • Flynning: A deliberate, justified case on the part of one character. In Sokka's Master, Sokka and Piandao have a swordfight that lasts about three minutes. On the DVD Commentary, Sifu Kisu (the martial arts director) says that if this were a real swordfight, it would last under five seconds, but Piandao is just testing Sokka.
  • Foe-Tossing Charge: In the second season finale. After Aang is shot with lightning and is falling to the ground, Katara rides a gigantic wave over Zuko and the Dai Li to catch him.
  • Food and Animal Attraction: Whilst traveling with two feuding tribes across a grand canyon, everyone is told not to bring food because it will attract vicious giant insects. Both tribes sneak food hidden in their clothes, assuming that the other tribe would also do so.
  • Forceful Kiss: Aang gives two to Katara. The first one occurs in "The Day of the Black Sun", Aang steals a "Shut Up" Kiss from her before the invasion because he thinks he might not make it back (he later mistakes this kiss as something they mutually agreed to). The second occurs in "The Ember Island Players", when Aang is frustrated with Katara not wanting to be in a relationship with him and thinks that harassing her with another kiss will "change her mind". It only upsets her.
  • Foreign Ruling Class: The Fire Nation outposts/colonies on the Earth Kingdom continent see Fire Nation citizens forming the ruling class and Earth Kingdom citizens mostly working as laborers. Partially averted with the older colonies, as there have been numerous intermarriages between Fire and Earth residents (most notably, the Fire Nation mayor of Yu Dao has an Earth Kingdom wife).
  • Foreign Wrestling Heel: Parodied as part of a pro-wrestling send-up.
  • Foreshadowing: A lot of it:
    • In "The Storm" alone, we have Zuko caring about the lives of his people more than his father, Master Gyatsu messing around with Aang with a White Lotus tile, and Iroh redirecting lighting. Bear in mind this is halfway through Book 1: Water.
    • Also, that blimp that gets shot down in "The Northern Air Temple"? The Fire Nation takes its tech to build a much larger one in the finale.
    • An extremely subtle example; in "The King of Omashu", Bumi warns Aang that defeating Ozai will take extremely out-of-the-box thinking. See The Cloud Cuckoolander Was Right, above, for how thinking like a mad genius helped Aang in his adventures.
    • Another subtle one from Bumi: he chides Aang in their duel, saying "Typical airbender tactic; avoid and evade," and that Aang will have to punch back sometime. Toph ends up repeating his assessment when Aang's focus on looking for a way out or a creative solution hampers his earthbending: to really learn the essence of earthbending, Aang has to learn to face problems head-on.
    • Jeong Jeong's warning words that "without a bender, a stone doesn't throw itself, but fire spreads" is unknowingly repeated in its spirit by Zuko when he warns Aang that if he isn't careful, the fire will burn him, signalling that old men do all know each other and that Iroh and Jeong Jeong are both members of the White Lotus.
      • And before Jeong Jeong's warning, one of the earlier things we're told about firebending comes from a soldier in "Imprisoned", who talks about how fire can be hard to control. Besides being a thinly-veiled threat, it foreshadows the point made by Jeong Jeong that Aang learns firsthand.
    • Zuko's dream in "The Earth King" is this, illustrating having to make a choice between his uncle, the red dragon (good), and Azula, the blue dragon (evil) two episodes later.
    • When forced to leave the invasion force behind on the Day of Black Sun, Sokka and Katara hug their father, with Sokka commenting that they "won't be apart for too long this time". A few episodes later, Sokka and Zuko break him, as well as Suki and an additional prisoner, out of the Boiling Rock.
  • Forging Scene: Happens with Sokka's "space sword" in "Sokka's Master".
  • Forgiveness: A major theme of Zuko's story arc.
  • Forgot I Could Fly: Sokka when he's high on cactus juice.
  • Forgot the Disability: Toph's friends (especially Sokka) have a tendency to forget that she's blind, showing her written or printed documents despite her not being able to read. Her best example of Lampshade Hanging is in "The Runaway" when Katara shows her a "Wanted!" Poster of herself after Sokka has done the same thing earlier in the episode:
    Toph: I don't know! I mean seriously, what's with you people? I'm blind!
  • Forgot to Gag Him: After Jet is revealed to be a Well-Intentioned Extremist, Katara freezes him to a tree to prevent him from blowing up an Earth Kingdom town. However, she doesn't gag him. Then Jet whistles the signal to set off the explosion, and Longshot shoots.
  • The Four Loves: A driving force for multiple characters.
    • After running away from the pressure of being the Avatar, then being frozen for 100 years, Aang awakened in front of Katara. At first, he fell in Love at First Sight and all he wanted to do was play games or show off to her, all the while unaware of what he should be doing. Hanging on her every word, he gets on the right track in the Southern Air Temple. He finds friendship and camaraderie all around him, and comes to love the world selflessly. But it's always Katara he loves the most.
    • Zuko hunts the Avatar all around the world for his father's affection. When he returns to his father in Book 3, he not only regains a sense of belonging, he enters a happy relationship with Mai. But he later realizes his uncle Iroh loves him more than his father ever would. In the end, he comes to love and respect all four nations, is reunited with Iroh, keeps the Gaang as his first true friends, and gets to stay with Mai.
  • Fragile Speedster: Airbending: Its defensive abilities aren't particularly strong, but it puts more of an emphasis on mobility and speed.
  • Free-Range Children: A Deconstruction. The kids have free rein to go on adventures because, with the exception of Toph, their parents are either dead or busy fighting in the war.
  • Freudian Excuse: The trope is discussed in detail in the bonfire scene from "The Beach" as Ty Lee, Mai, Azula (sorta), and Zuko all lay out their emotional baggage that stems from their childhoods.
  • Freudian Slip: Zuko asking Iroh for help in defeating the Fatherlord.
  • Freudian Trio: In the first season. Aang is The Kirk, Sokka is The Spock, and Katara is The McCoy.
  • Fridge Brilliance: invoked An in-universe example: When Iroh is trying to teach Zuko how to create lightning, Iroh stresses that Zuko must have a calm mind.
    Zuko: "I see. That's why we're drinking tea, to calm the mind."
    Iroh: "Oh yeah, good point. (beat) I mean, yes."
  • The Friends Who Never Hang: Toph lampshades the fact she never got to go on a journey with Zuko, unlike everyone else.
  • From Bad to Worse: Where to even begin?
    • In the first episodes, the driving plot is that Aang needs to go to the North Pole to learn waterbending, so he can eventually restore peace. But a few episodes later, we learn that in a few months, the bad guys' powers will be multiplied by 100 for enough time for them to destroy all remaining opposition single-handedly.
    • Especially egregious in Season 2. Their original plans to return to Omashu so Aang can learn earthbending from Bumi are ruined when they discover that Omashu has been taken over since their last visit. At the same time, the Gaang starts getting chased by Zuko's much more competent sister, Azula, and her two friends who can throw knives and block bending. Then, Appa is stolen by sandbenders, leaving the gang temporarily stranded in the desert, and remains missing for a large number of episodes. Then when the gang finally reaches Ba Sing Se, they make enemies with the government, mainly Long Feng and the Dai Li, due to their conspiracy to repress any mention of the war, halting the Gaang's plan to get the Earth King's help with the invasion, and the Fire Nation captures the city by the end of the season, thanks in part to Zuko's betrayal of Iroh (which he immediately regrets afterward) and helping Azula.
    • Speaking of season 2's finale; when Aang gave up his love for Katara in order to save her by activating the Avatar State, his most powerful trump card. And is shot down almost immediately by Azula, nearly rendering him worse than dead. Even though he is revived and his Avatar Spirit and emotional attachment to Katara remain intact, he is still badly injured and now cut off from the Avatar State completely.
    • Then in Season 3's "Day of Black Sun", the Fire Nation successfully captures the entire invasion force.
    • Or how they introduce the Series Finale? Zuko revealing that the plan by his father upon the advent of the comet is to burn the entire Earth Kingdom to the ground, destroying all life in an attempt to claim the land as permanent Fire Nation Territory. Making the whole "Stop the Fire Lord" thing a whole lot more serious.
  • Fruit Cart:
  • Full-Boar Action: Appa's battle against the Boarquepine in "Appa's Lost Days".
  • Full-Contact Magic: Bending is something between this and Supernatural Martial Arts.
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    G 
  • Gadgeteer Genius:
    • The Mechanist from "The Northern Air Temple" and "Day of Black Sun" is a classic lift right out of the Steampunk genre, a highly eccentric genius with steam and mechanisms who reluctantly lends his talents to making weapons for the Fire Nation when they threaten his home and people.
    • Sokka also shows some signs of inventive talent while at the temple and the submarines from "Day of Black Sun" were also his idea, and his father invented the "stink and sink" mine.
  • Gaia's Vengeance:
    • Hei Bei is a localized example. After the Fire Nation burned down an entire (assumably ancient) forest, the guardian spirit flies into a rage and terrorizes the (innocent) population of the countryside until the Aang shows it the acorns that will regrow the forest in time.
    • While not exactly a Gaia example, the Ocean Spirit is one. When Zhao kills the moon, the Ocean Spirit becomes so enraged that it fuses with Aang into a monster, and after completely decimating the entire Fire Nation fleet attacking the North Pole, its last act is to hunt down Zhao and drag him under. One of the rare instances in the show, especially the first season, where death is completely implied — until The Legend Of Korra, when it turns out the Ocean Spirit didn't kill Zhao, he merely trapped him for all eternity in a Spirit World prison that drives its captives insane.
  • Game Changer: Learning about Sozin's Comet and the utter destruction the Fire Nation could use it for was a game changer in that it gave the heroes a limited time frame to accomplish the premise of the series: learn the four elements and defeat the Fire Lord.
  • Gecko Ending: An in-universe example in the Show Within a Show / Recap Episode "The Ember Island Players". In the episode the events of the series are retold, Abridged Series style, in the form of a play put on by a group of Fire Nation actors. Since this takes place before the series finale the characters don't know what the end of the story is going to be, so the playwright makes up his own climactic ending, wherein Zuko and Aang are both killed and the Big Bad wins.
  • Genius Bruiser: Combustion Man could be a bit. He is plenty strong and knew that a metal cage wouldn't hold Toph (as she is a metalbender, something unheard of before, and not universally known of her).
  • Giant Footprint Reveal: An episode ends with Momo squatting in a depression which turns out to be one of Appa's footprints on zoom out. It's only the audience getting an aha moment as Momo knew this was his friend's imprint.
  • Gilded Cage:
    • "The King of Omashu".
    Katara: This is a prison cell? But it's so nice.
    Aang: He did say it was newly refurbished.
    Sokka: Nice or not, we're still prisoners.
    • This is how Toph grew up. She lived in luxury and had the run of the whole estate. But she wasn't allowed to travel outside the estate or exercise her incredible potential at Earthbending—her parents thought this was too dangerous for their "helpless little blind girl." Nobody other than her family and her Earthbending teacher even knew that she existed, though she was able to get out enough to lead a secret double life as this universe's equivalent of a pro wrestler.
    • The Gaang's experience in Ba Sing Se. They were allowed to indulge in all the luxury they wanted, as long as they didn't try to leave, or break the rules, or evade the constant surveillance, or search for Appa, or tell anyone about Long Feng's Government Conspiracy, or mention the war with the Fire Nation, or...
  • Gilligan Cut:
    • In "Runaway", Aang solemnly gives his Avatar promise not to go scamming people again. Cut, and we see a montage of them doing exactly that.
    • In "The Cave of Two Lovers", the Gaang decline entering the cave for Appa's sake. Cut, and the Fire Nation are bombarding them in the sky. They go to the tunnel instead.
  • Girl of the Week:
    • Jin and Song for Zuko. On Ji for Aang.
    • Subverted with Meng, to whom Aang doesn't give the time of day.
    • Also, subverted with Suki, who was originally intended to be this for Sokka, but ended up returning and becoming a more important character later.
  • Girl Posse: Azula's posse are fully realized characters in their own right, and Mai and Ty Lee are not exactly enthusiastic supporters. In fact, they have largely been told by the would-be-future ruler of the world that they have no choice, Mai's boredom with life aside. Despite this, and their eventual, perhaps inevitable break with her, they are a terrifically efficient fighting force, and are wise enough to keep their ruthless leader happy, as far as she can be. To their opponents, their front must seem incredibly unified and as intimidating as any group of mindless minions, even when the target is not cornered by a locker or such.
  • Giving Up on Logic: Sokka never fully does this, but he starts off as almost a Flat-Earth Atheist who says that bending is magic and a flying bison could never exist to casually accepting all the various genuinely supernatural experiences the Gaang goes through.
  • Glass Cannon: Firebending, as it lacks effective defensive moves but hits hard to make up for it.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: Happens to Avatars in the Avatar State.
  • A God Am I: While Sozin was more or less an Evil Overlord and nobody saw enough of Azulon to know what went on with him, Ozai fits this during the finale, just by crowning himself Phoenix King before he's even won. The hammiest example of this, however, was Zhao at the North Pole:
    Zhao: I am... a legend now. The Fire Nation will for generations tell stories about the great Zhao, who darkened the moon! They will call me Zhao the Conqueror! Zhao the Moon Slayer! Zhao, the INVINCIBLE!
  • Gone Horribly Right: In the Season 2 opener, General Fong convinces Aang to attempt to use the Avatar State to take on the Fire Lord without having learned all the elements. After many failed attempts of bringing on this state however, Fong grows impatient and tricks Aang into the Avatar State by pretending to harm Katara. He gets his wish alright, and a good chunk of his fortress is destroyed in the process.
  • Good Angel, Bad Angel: Zuko's uncle and sister in the Season 2 finale; in the episode before, Zuko goes into an Angst Coma and dreams about a Red dragon that speaks with Iroh's voice and a blue dragon with Azula's. This is a neat foreshadowing of Avatar Roku and Fire Lord Sozin being his implied historical and psychological Good Angel, Bad Angel in The Avatar and the Fire Lord. Roku (Ursa's grandfather) owned a red dragon and Sozin (Ozai's grandfather) owned a blue-green one.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes:
    • Zuko's scar shows that the writers and character artists are well aware of this trope.
    • Aang's eyes are by far the widest of all the characters.
    • By Season 3, Zuko's unscarred eye become wider and less menacing.
  • Good Old Fisticuffs: Sokka has no bending abilities and had little to no formal combat training, but he can generally hold his own in a fight.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: The four civilizations that make up the world are: the Air Nomads, the Water Tribe, the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation. In this instance it is the Fire Nation that is trying to conquer the world.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars:
    • Zuko's facial burn actually covers two variations of this trope. When he is evil, it makes him look that much more menacing, but in the episodes where he is good(ish), it makes him look more noble — it is actually taken as a cue by Song and Jet that he is a fighter against the Fire Nation.
    Jet: He didn't get that scar from a waterbender.
    • Also, as Zuko's hair growing out coincides with him becoming a more heroic character, by the time he has his Heel–Face Turn it's a shaggy mop that covers the top half of his scar, hiding a good deal of the damage.
  • Good Taming, Evil Taming: Aang and his sky bison Appa share a strong bond to one another when they first met before they were trapped in the ice, using encouragement and regular feeding to be on the bison's good side. This is in contrast with the Fire Nation Circus animal tamer, who had him locked in a cage and tried using a fire-whip in hopes of breaking his spirit to perform tricks for them and their audience. After he escaped, Guru Pathik had to gradually gain the bison's trust back due to the abuse from the circus and the Shoo the Dog moment with Azula and the Kyoshi Warriors.
  • The Greatest Style: The various bending types use moves from martial arts. Earthbending is based on the real-world Hung Ga, but Toph's Earthbending is miles above anyone else's, was self-taught (or rather taught by being around giant badgermoles) , allows her to use metalbending (no one else in the series can), and is based on one called Southern Mantis style.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Fire Lord Ozai in the first two seasons, before taking a much more direct role in the third. Fire Lord Sozin, however, is this because he started the war and has been dead for most of the war's 100 years.
  • Green Aesop:
    • The Fire Nation's industrialism seems like this, but it was most clear in "The Painted Lady".
    • However, it was subverted when the Gaang first meets Teo and The Mechanist in "The Northern Air Temple".
  • Groupie Brigade: Aang acquires a groupie brigade of young girls on Kyoshi Island. Then he loses them when they get bored with his half-hearted attempts at showing off.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Averted. Benders of both genders freely mix long- and short-range attacks, as does Sokka. Mai might only do ranged attacks, but Ty Lee and Suki are strictly melee fighters.

    H 
  • Halloween Episode: "The Puppetmaster" was obviously meant to be one, although it first aired about a week after Halloween, as opposed to "The Runaway" which aired a few days after Halloween.
  • Hands-On Approach: Katara teaches Aang the Octopus form this way.
  • Handsplay In Theater: In the episode "Ember Island Players" (regular theater, here). Played straight with Sokka and Suki (his arm around her shoulders), and averted with Aang and Katara (Zuko sits between them).
  • Happily Ever After: Played straight in the show itself. The sequel comics show that the Gaang still has a lot of work to do and explores the issues that arise from the Fire Nation colonies.
  • Happy Ending: Basically the entire finale: Aang is able to depower Ozai, Zuko becomes the new Firelord, everyone survives, and Aang and Katara end up together. Iroh even gets his teahouse back.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works:
    • Subverted. It looks as though Aang learns waterbending faster than Katara (which would at least be justified by being the Avatar), but when Katara and Aang get an actual instructor instead of relying on self-teaching and the scroll, Katara masters it even faster than Aang, who spends a lot of time slacking off. Furthermore, Aang has trouble with earthbending since that is the counter to air.
    • For the brief moments we view Iroh in his prison cell, you gradually see him transform from a badass sack of lard into a even more badass chisled bodybuilder. This also parallel's Sokka's sword training.
    • Also a big source of angst for Zuko, who spends more time training than perhaps any other character, but is still overshadowed by his naturally gifted sister. This turns out to be because he doesn't naturally come by the kind of rage that Azula uses to power her firebending, and has to learn to use another source. Once he discovers the true source of firebending, he is more than a match for her in every subsequent confrontation.
  • Hazy Feel Turn: At the end of the second season and into the third, the corrupt Dai Li go from serving Long Feng to serving Azula and the Fire Nation.
  • Heavy Mithril: Parodied. When the gang is shopping for weapons, Aang puts on a massive, gaudy suit of armor. Ominous Latin Chanting and and Epic Riff are heard. He can't even move.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: The series provides two examples of this in Jet and Hama, two individuals whose hatred of the Fire Nation blinded them to the point where they could no longer distinguish between friend and foe. Hama was even worse than Jet, because he at least tried to justify it as doing the right thing by making sacrifices, and he did redeem himself in the end. Meanwhile, Hama was treated so badly that she targeted anyone within reach, mostly civilians. Both of them served as a warning to Sokka and Katara, respectively, about what they could become if they continued to hold on to their own prejudice and anger, with Katara coming especially close to crossing this line herself, most notably in "The Southern Raiders" when she actually uses bloodbending on the man she believes killed her mother.
  • Heal the Cutie: Aang went through a lot of trauma after waking up from a 100-year sleep, to find all his loved ones dead and the world locked in a horrific war, but he rarely let it show much... until he loses Appa. Come "The Serpent's Pass", he shuts down and stops responding to the concerns of his friends. However, seeing Katara help a couple deliver a baby named Hope gets him out of his funk.
    Aang: I thought I was trying to be strong. But really I was just running away from my feelings. Seeing this family together, so full of happiness and love, it's reminded me how I feel about Appa ... and how I feel about you.
  • Heart Symbol: In "The Boiling Rock". Sokka exhibits it when he realizes Suki is a prisoner there, so his mission with Zuko is not in vain, and he gets his Love Interest back.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • If you watch the first season you will not be too surprised by Zuko turning. But it is played with and at least initially subverted in several instances, the second season finale being the most infamous.
    • Mai and Ty Lee also turn later in the third season.
    • The spirit Hei Bai is one of the earliest examples, though all it took was reassurance that his forest would grow back.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Played with and then averted with Zuko, initially being rejected from joining Team Avatar until he fights alongside them in defeating Combustion Man, after which the team has a change of mind.
  • Heel Realization: Zuko spent the third season on this. But the Ember Island Play really hit him hard on how he treated the only person that really cared about him, his uncle Iroh.
  • Heh Heh, You Said "X": Aang and Sokka snicker when the professor admires the buttresses in Wan Shi Tong's library.
  • Held Gaze: The series has a few of these.
    • One with Suki and Sokka on the Serpent's Pass leading to an Almost Kiss.
    • One with Mai and Zuko in the Boiling Rock, after he's forced to lock the cell door on her, though this one is more of deep hurt.
    • Then finally the one between Aang and Katara which leads to The Big Damn Kiss and end of the series.
  • Hell Is That Noise: That bird that freaks out the Gaang in "The Swamp." Appropriately, it's called the Screeching Dodo. It's pretty harmless, though.
  • Heroic Ambidexterity: Zuko is trained to dual wield twin scimitars, and uses this skill to fight against benders when he wants to hide his identity and his knowledge of fire bending. When explaining what he was taught he says that when using two swords you have to treat them like "they're part of the same body" and move them in sync.
  • Hero with an F in Good: After his Heel–Face Turn, Zuko believes he is one. He even lampshades it with an anguished cry of "Aagh! Why am I so bad at being good?!?" after accidentally injuring Toph. He's actually not that bad at it.
  • Hero's Muse: Princess Yue takes this role after sacrificing her mortal life to become the moon spirit. In the episode "The Awakening", she provides encouragement and help to Aang at a time when he desperately needs it.
  • High Fantasy: An epic that involves the fate of the world, a young boy and his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who are Walking the Earth, politics that change the course of the world, gods (called spirits but act as deities) that interact with the protagonists and, as a refreshing twist, takes place in a mythical world inspired by Eastern culture rather than Western. It would go in Wuxia save for the fact that it holds very little in common with the genre.
  • High-Voltage Death: In the second season finale,it's subverted. Azula uses lightning bending and strikes Aang in the back as he is entering into the Avatar state, threatening to end the avatar cycle for good. It at least looks like he died until Katara revives him with water from the Spirit Oasis, subverting a permanent version of this.
  • His Own Worst Enemy:
    • Most of the issues Aang faces are him accepting his role as the Avatar.
    • Sokka provides a comic version of this. As Aunt Wu tells him in "The Fortuneteller":
    "Your future is full of struggle and anguish. Most of it, self-inflicted."
  • Hope Spot:
    • Happens in the second season finale when Aang enters the Avatar State intentionally for the very first time and looks ready to wipe the floor with everybody... only to be electrocuted by Azula before he can even finish his power-up.
    • The entire episode right before the last two episodes of the second season. Appa's back, the Earth King has sided with the Gaang, Long Feng has been arrested, and each of the characters have personal issues that are looking up. Unfortunately, Long Feng has allies and is planning in the background, Toph is captured, and Azula, along with Mai and Ty Lee, has disguised herself as a Kyoshi Warrior and is about to show how good of a Chessmaster she really is.
  • Hot Drink Cure: In Book 2, after Zuko encounters Azula, in which Iroh is hit by her lightning strike, Zuko treats his uncle's injuries, one of which is by attempting to brew some tea for him, with emphasis on "attempting".
  • How We Got Here: This occurs in "The Runaway". The episode starts with Toph being caught in a net and dragged away, and yelling at Katara for betraying her. Cut to "Three days earlier..."
  • Humanoid Abomination: The Avatar State borders on this, especially during the fight with Ozai in the finale. Since the state is basically allowing all previous avatars to act through you instead of yourself, it's much more brutal and ruthless than Aang is normally.
  • Hunting the Most Dangerous Game: This was Zuko's primary motivation to go after the Avatar and regain his lost honor. Azula attempted this on the Avatar in Season 2.
  • Hypocritical Humor: A number of times. For example, when Team Avatar are frustrated in their initial attempts to warn the Earth King about the war, they switch to searching for Appa and their government-appointed handler Joo Dee seems finally supportive but won't let them go out without her. She promises not to get in the way and immediately gets in Toph's way when she tries to leave the house. The squeaky noises used with her footsteps really sell it.

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