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This is the list of characters from the Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender. For the sequel series, please check out The Legend of Korra. For the spinoff novels starring Avatar Kyoshi, please see The Rise of Kyoshi. For the live-action film adaptation, please see The Last Airbender. For the Netflix show, see Avatar: The Last Airbender (2024).

Due to the presence of Cast Herds, this page is split accordingly.

Characters from related series:
  • Team AvatarCharacter List
  • MentorsCharacter List
  • AlliesCharacter List
  • Fire NationCharacter List
  • The Ember Island Players
  • OtherCharacter List
  • ComicsCharacter List

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     The Avatar 

The Avatar

"We are bonded forever."
"You think your power has limits. I say it's limitless."note 

The Avatar is the most powerful being in the Avatar universe. The Avatar is the only being which can master the four elements and can energybend as well. It first came to existence 10,000 years before the main story, as the result of a permanent fusion between Wan - the first man to not only possess the power of more than one element, but the first human bender as well - and Raava, the spirit of light and peace. The Avatar is a reincarnation of Wan throughout the millennia, starting a cycle that began the moment Wan died.

The Avatar is able to access the power of Raava and his or her previous incarnations in what is called the Avatar State, giving them unlimited power for as long as they are in said state. However, any given incarnation of the Avatar is not immortal, and if he or she is killed in the Avatar State, the Avatar Spirit will die and the cycle will end (though Raava herself will survive the death of the Avatar Spirit, and will eventually reform elsewhere).

The Avatar's mission in life, a task set forth by Wan himself, is to maintain balance of the world, as well as between the mortal and spirit realms. This job includes bringing peace between groups in conflict, or defeating threats to world peace such as imperialist tyrants bent on conquest. The Avatar is also the spiritual leader of the world; due to being half spirit, the Avatar is most powerful in the Spirit World, as opposed to other humans who normally are powerless in comparison. The Avatar must master the four elements and attain a certain degree of balance within themselves; they are then referred to as a "fully realized Avatar".

For tropes specifically relating to Korra, Aang, the Avatars who preceded them, or Wan himself, please visit the various pages in the Character pages for both Avatar: The Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra.

  • Always Someone Better: While it's not clear if this is definitive of the other Avatars, its certainly true with Aang and Korra that they feel they cannot live up to the legacy left behind by their predecessor.
  • Asskicking Leads to Leadership: This was the case with the Avatars prior to Aang and Korra. The Avatar is the most powerful, dangerous and venerated person on the planet, meaning that they can pretty much force their will onto any kind of diplomatic or military issue with no fear of reprisal. Kyoshi made frequent use of this trope, with her on having threatened at least two world leaders and suffering no consequences for it. Likewise, Roku destroyed Sozin's palace in a show of force and threatened to kill him if he continued his expansionist goals. However, Aang preferred to use diplomacy and non-lethal methods to defeat his foes and Korra, while much more boisterous than Aang, lives in an age where the public and ruling powers no longer tolerate such behavior and her attempts to be forceful often causes more problems than it fixes.
  • The Atoner: Until perhaps the Harmonic Convergence of Korra's time, the Avatar's mission in life is partly to honor Wan's dying wish to continue making up for his grave mistake in releasing Vaatu. In addition, each Avatar often ends up having to confront the consequences of their previous incarnations' actions (i.e. the 100-year war, the Dai Li, Yakone, etc).
  • Big Good: The Avatar is to attain this goal once they have mastered all four elements and found inner peace. This usually negates an Avatar's chance to have political power (though Roku and Kyoshi both had islands which they at least led, if not ruled), since their job is to essentially be the leader of two entire worlds.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Avatar Extras dryly noted that most people who face or challenge a fully realized Avatar in combat are pretty easily embarrassed.
  • Changing of the Guard: Wan through Aang represents the first full Harmonic Convergence Cycle for the Avatar or the course of about 10,000 years. Korra started off as part of Wan's legacy until Raava was attacked and she permanently lost her connection to her past lives during second Convergence. This makes her the new 'first' avatar, as no one else will ever be able to directly commune with Wan-Aang.
  • The Chosen One: Treated as one as far as the world is concerned, with each nation having the same, or similar methods to recognize the him or her when he/she is born, and during the War was treated as a symbol of hope to be revered or destroyed. A tribe feuding for a hundred years took Aang's bald-face lie at face value simply because he claimed to know the tribe's forefounders. Avatars are commonly involved with, connected to or directly responsible for history changing events and important individuals. On top of all that, their destiny is to battle Vaatu every ten thousand years to prevent a dark-spirit apocalypse.
  • Elemental Powers: One of the main advantages of being bonded with Raava is that the Avatar can use all four of the elements, air-, water-, earth- and firebending, instead of just the one like everyone else. Even then the Avatar can mostly only use one at a time. With the Avatar State active they can use all four at the same and with a tremendous power boost. Their ability to use multiple elements also makes it easier for the Avatar than other benders to apply bending techniques across elements, such as redirecting lightning by applying Waterbending principles to Firebending.
  • Familiar: Every Avatar had an animal companion that also acted as their spirit guide. Of the ones shown, Roku had his dragon Fang, Aang has Appa (and possibly Momo), and Korra has her polar bear dog Naga.
  • Foil: Each Avatar can be compared and contrasted to prior and future ones. Some of these aspects are a reflection of the time they were in, while others are random personality quirks.
    • They all have the same basic compassion, empathy, and devotion to order that comes from Wan and/or Rava.
    • Aang was In Touch with His Feminine Side, while Korra was a Tomboy.
    • Kyoshi didn't get involved with Earth Kingdom politics until it was knocking at her door, while Korra got directly involved in the Water Tribe civil war as it affected her and her family.
    • Wan started the cycle as a pseudo-fire bender, during a time people just started to leave the Lion Turtle cities, the modern 4 nations haven't formed yet, and the world in a Warring states-like era. Korra, by contrast ends/restarts the cycle as a water bender in a time of relative peace and cooperation, with the people from all nations working together to form a 5th nation.
    • Aang and Yangchen were both natively airbenders, but Aang often favored the teachings of the monks over the advise of the prior Avatars, living as he thought an airbender should (Actual Pacifism and all). While, Yangchen listened to the past Avatars a little too closely, becoming a Combat Pragmatist in the process, putting the needs of the world before her own spiritual and cultural duties.
    • Szeto and Roku were both Fire Nation natives, but Szeto prioritized the Fire Nation over the rest of the world, while Roku did the opposite.
    • Roku defended the status quo, while Aang embraced change.
    • Kuruk descried himself as a "go with the flow avatar", while Korra was a Hot Blooded, in-your face Avatar, who enjoyed sports.
  • Friend to All Living Things: The Avatar has a special connection to the animals of the world.
  • Fusion Dance: The Avatar came to be when Wan and Raava fused together during Harmonic Convergence.
  • Glowing Eyes of Doom: As seen above, the Avatar employs these when entering the Avatar State.
  • God Is Flawed: Perhaps the most pervasive theme in the series is that the Avatar, for all their power and wisdom, is still a human, with very human flaws, who still makes mistakes. In the Chronicles of the Avatar series, nobody epitomizes this more than Yangchen: her heightened spirituality gave her such a strong connection to her past lives that she could contact them at any time, therefore gifting her a near-limitless amount of wisdom at a young age. Her tenure as the Avatar was so successful that it was hailed as a golden age, and people continued swearing by her name for decades after her death. She achieved all this... by being a Pragmatic Hero who wasn't afraid to lie and cheat in order to achieve her goals. A lot of her drive towards being the Avatar was a combination of being resentful of being stuck in her predecessor's shadow and fear of having to live with countless regrets like all the Avatars before her. And as Yangchen herself notes, all that wisdom didn't stop her from making consistent and outright catastrophic mistakes in her handling of the spirits, all of which started a line of Disaster Dominoes that ended up killing her successor Kuruk young and traumatizing his successor Kyoshi.
  • God Is Good: The Avatar is the closest thing to a god that the Avatar universe has, and their job is to protect the worlds and its people and spirits.
  • God in Human Form: The Avatar is a reincarnation of Wan, a human who bonded his soul to the spirit of light, Raava. All Avatars can tap into her power by entering the Avatar State, which also allows them to access all the knowledge she has and all the knowledge of Wan's incarnations.
  • God of Good: The Avatar is the human incarnation of Raava, the great spirit of light and peace. She bonded herself with a human host in order to defeat her evil opposite Vaatu and later bring peace to both physical and spirit worlds. Since then, the Avatar has also maintained equilibrium between the four nations of the physical world.
  • Heroic Second Wind: The Avatar State is often used as a last resort when the Avatar requires an extra boost of power to accomplish the task at hand.
  • Hufflepuff House: The more recent Avatars get fleshed out while the ones from Wan's first reincarnation to Yangchen don't get much depth, appearances, etc. They do show up, but can be in the background, skipped over, etc.
  • Humanoid Abomination: Benevolent ones of course, but every Avatar is a being of godlike power resulting from a spiritual fusion with Raava.
  • Jack of All Stats: It's Zig-Zagged with how much the Avatar fits this versus Master of All, but as far as the two Avatars that are explored in-depth are concerned their non-native bending skills, without the Avatar state, are not as good compared to the masters they studied under. That being said, Aang and Korra were still young and learning in their respective series, with Aang in particular only having a year to get a handle on all three other elements. Avatar Roku, who had the benefit of years of proper training into adulthood, easily bested all of his teachers upon completing his training under them, and Aang in only a year manages to become reasonably skilled with all three other elements, even mastering rare skills such as the Seismic Sense and Lightning Redirection. The fact Aang's teachers were impossibly prodigious bending masters in their own right might also have played a role.
  • The Juggernaut: While not immortal, it's easy to tell that a fully realized Avatar is considered unstoppable even by the top tier of normal benders.
  • Legacy Character: Via reincarnation, every avatar after Wan takes up his legacy and title.
  • Master of All: The purpose of each Avatar's training is to turn them into one of these, mastering all four elements to an even greater degree than normal benders who have been training for decades.
  • Meal Ticket: A non-romantic version. It's not quite as prominent in The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra thanks to world having learned to at least cope without the Avatar for one hundred years, but prior to the Hundred Year War it was very blatant, as seen in Rise of Kyoshi. As the foremost authority on both political and spiritual matters, being close to the Avatar could open any number doors for a person (just look at the original Team Avatar, who each became respected masters and authority figures in their adulthood). Masters around the world compete for the chance to teach the Avatar their element, while others fight to become one of the Avatar's official companions. No matter the era, every Avatar is going to be the target of every Social Climber and Gold Digger out there, and it's usually up to the Avatar in question to figure out who is genuinely loyal to them and who is simply trying to take advantage of them.
  • Messianic Archetype: Each Avatar is a reincarnated man or woman who possess incredible power and connected to a spiritual plane of existence, and in almost every life has faced off a tyrannical or amoral enemy. Their advice is treated with near-religious worship and world leaders are willing to listen to the advice of a 12 year-old with no knowledge of war or even a complete history of the last century. The last part is Justified, however, as Avatars have the ability to access the memories of their past lives to seek the wisdom they need. Subtly deconstructed as Aang is initially treated as the sole person capable of saving the world and his word is treated as law, while Korra is met with resistance such as the world leaders not including her in war strategies against Kuvira due to her not being fully recovered. Only when the situation became so bad that they had to defer to her wisdom did they include her. This doesn't apply to everyone, however; more common citizens such as an old fisherman had no problem calling out the Avatar for seemingly abandoning the world.
  • My Greatest Failure: As Yangchen reveals, every single Avatar has a pretty similar regret; not acting when they should have, and not having enough time to make things right.
  • The Needs of the Many: This is a dilemma faced by many Avatars in their lifetimes: whether or not to choose between themselves or the fate of the many in a given context. Since the Avatar is the protector of not just the entire world, but the Spirit World as well, an Avatar is usually advised to serve the needs of the many over the needs of the few. This is the reason some Avatars more or less cast off their backgrounds and ideologies (such as Yangchen), to better serve the worlds as a whole.
  • Neglectful Precursors: See Unwitting Instigator of Doom below. It's a reminder that the Avatar, for all his or her power, is still human and will make mistakes that their successors will have to correct in their own time. Yangchen neglecting the spirits led to Kuruk having to fight off dark spirits and dying at a young age. Kuruk committing to being a lax, self-indulgent Avatar and neglecting his duties to the material world to fight off those dark spirits led to Kyoshi being forced to deal with several international crises on top of a lot of undue personal tragedy thanks to his friends, who he charged with protecting and training her. It doesn't end, and likely won't ever end as long as the Avatar Cycle is in motion.
  • Obstructive Code of Conduct: Though not outright stated, while it is the Avatar's duty to protect the innocent, he or she cannot interfere in the affairs of other nations, unless there is a threat to him/herself, balance in the material world, or even a threat that's on a supernatural level. However, world leaders and conquerors abusing their power on their own people tends to be a grey area below a certain threshold but so it's hard to determine that limit to their intervention. As such, this principle has been broken left and right by various Avatars.
  • One-Man Army: Any Avatar in the Avatar State can trap gods, crack continents, battle volcanos, and yes, defeat entire armies. On top of that, the Avatar is a one-person institution.
  • Past-Life Memories: It varies from Avatar to Avatar. Some just get vague memories or deja vu, Korra didn't get any until Aang started deliberately sending visions her way, and Yangchen was swamped by impressions from her past lives to the extent she was afraid of losing her very identity.
  • Personality Powers: Historically, each Avatar has tended to have difficulty with the element most opposite to their personality; the confrontation-averse Aang struggled with earthbending, while the confrontational Korra had the most problems with airbending.
  • Physical God: If you manage to push him or her into the Avatar State, you've lost the fight, if not your life. Even a master with the power of a hundred suns can't defeat an Avatar fully in tap with Raava's spirit. Both Aang and Korra had their enemies (Ozai and Zaheer, respectively) on the run as soon as they forced them into the Avatar State.
  • Reincarnation: The Avatar's spirit never truly dies as it continuously reincarnates into a new body at death. However, if the Avatar is killed in the Avatar State, the Avatar would truly die.
  • Reincarnation-Identifying Trait: Each nation has their respective methods of identifying the Avatar's reincarnation. The show explains that the Air Nomad method is choosing the same four toys every Air Nomad avatar previously had chosen, while The Rise of Kyoshi explains that the Earth Kingdom uses geomancy.
  • Retcon: The main series never explained what made the Avatar so special, and only alluded to the Avatar State being Aang channelling "the combined energy of all your past lives." Only a tie-in game briefly spoke of The Avatar being the spirit of the planet in a human body. Legend of Korra book 2 then spent a two-parter establishing that the Avatars (Roku, Aang, Korra herself etc.) are all the reincarnations of Avatar Wan and the Heroic Hosts for Raava, the spirit of light and peace, and when the current host dies, Raava rides their reincarnating spirit to her next host. Word of God says they worked this out during the first series, but never had a chance to reveal it.
  • The Reveal: The true identity of the Avatar Spirit is Raava, the spirit of light and peace. In ancient times, she fused her spirit with Wan, the man who became the first Avatar. All the other Avatars are the reincarnations of Wan. Their duty is to complete Wan's unfinished task to establish and maintain world peace.
  • Shrouded in Myth: Although the Avatars had access to their previous lives, the recent Avatars were completely unaware about the true identity of the Avatar Spirit and how it first originated. See The Reveal below.
  • Super Mode: The Avatar State, which grants the current Avatar all the knowledge and skill of all of their past lives as well as a significant power boost.
  • Thou Shalt Not Kill: It depends on the Avatar if this trope is invoked or not. Aang was a notable pacifist who believed all life was sacred, which he was more or less chastised for by his predecessors.
  • Undying Warrior: Downplayed, since the Avatar is more of a peacekeeper and doesn't hold direct memories of their past lives (except dim ones), but their various lifetimes have taken part in countless wars and battles, shaping world history in the process.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • A running theme in the Avatar Cycle is the latest Avatar dealing with the fallout from the actions of their previous incarnations. Korra is hit with the ramifications of Aang's use of energybending. Aang runs afoul of the Dai Li, who were originally formed by Kyoshi, plus Sozin's massacre of the Air Nomads happens because Roku stays his hand from dealing with his old friend. Kyoshi is discovered relatively late as the Avatar and has to deal with several international crises, because Kuruk was too easy going, neglected his Avatar duties and died unexpectedly in his early thirties. And then it emerges that Kuruk was in fact hunting down and eliminating dark spirits caused by Yangchen favoring the human world over the spirit world, draining his life force and leading to his death.
    • Kyoshi lampshades this in Escape from the Spirit World while explaining to Aang why she created the Dai Li: she created them as a compromise with the Forty-Sixth Earth King when he demanded she put down a peasant uprising in Ba Sing Se, dictating to him to listen to their grievances in exchange for her creating and training the Dai Li to protect the city's cultural heritage. She had no idea they would eventually grow into one of the most corrupt organizations in the Earth Kingdom, if not the world. Her story is to teach him that his decisions are always going to have some kind of impact, if not for himself, then for his successors, and there's never really going to be a 'right' decision for him to make. It might seem like the correct decision at the time, but whether it actually is can only be determined with the benefit of hindsight.
  • Visions of Another Self: While the narrative focuses on each Avatar being their own person, with enough individuality to even disagree with their past lives in certain aspects, there are some instances, however, where the current Avatar will seek or be approached by a past Avatar in times of need, such as guidance or active help if the current Avatar feels helpless; in those instances, it is common for the Avatar to present themselves as one being, with the sole goal of keeping balance to the world. Such instances were shown best when Roku and Aang interacted, in order to give some confidence to the young air bender who was afraid he would fail in mastering the elements for his task to end the Fire Nation terror, Roku reassured Aang he would succeeded, because "he" has done it many times before. With Korra it showed that even when she wasn't very in tune with her spiritual self at first, she still was subconsciously bringing Aang towards her, and a while later after Korra has gotten in touch with her spiritual self, but loses some control when entering the Spirit World by turning into a child, Korra becomes so pure that she perceived Avatar Wan's teapot as her own belonging.
  • Voice of the Legion: On many occasions when the Avatar speaks during the Avatar State, the Avatar will speak with apparently the voices of all previous Avatars at once, in a chilling, powerful drone.
  • World's Best Warrior: The Avatar is the strongest being in the world as only he/she can bend all four elements. Each Avatar is expected to undergo grueling training to master the four bending arts - though it's arguable that a real master will still have the edge in skill in their chosen element.
  • World's Strongest Man: Every Avatar is this thanks to the Avatar State, which allows each Avatar to channel the energy, skill, and knowledge of all their past lives through them alone. Even some of the most powerful non-Avatar benders in history cannot compare to the full might of an Avatar who is in the Avatar State, and with it an Avatar can counter or break just about any and every possible bending technique there is.
  • You Can't Fight Fate: Every 10,000 years, the Avatar is fated to battle Vaatu, the great spirit of darkness no matter what.

    The various team Avatars 
Common traits and roles of teams the people the Avatars surround themselves with, including the Avatar

In General

  • Battle Couple:
    • Aang and Katara, Sokka and Suki from the original series
    • Korra and Mako then Korra and Asami from the Legend of Korra
  • Classical Elements Ensemble: Each team has at least one member that are of Fire, Water, Air and Earth, except Korra's team never had a permeant Air bender.
  • Foil:
    • Katara and Korra are both water bending warriors who start with bad tempers, Katara has more chances for her anger to be justified, and Korra is more of a Blood Knight.
    • Zuko and Mako both had fire benders with family issues, but can be contrasted in a few different ways. Zuko being of royal birth, while Mako being a poor street rat. Zuko being emotional and very compassionate for others, Mako being more reserved and stoic.
    • Bolin and Toph both specialized in a form of earth bending, but different in how it comes about. Bolin discovering that he has a skill for lava bending, that existed, but was quite rare. Toph literally created the skill of metal bending.
    • Aang's team did mostly Walking the Earth and called Appa's back home. Korra's team called did a lot of travelling, but called Repulic City their Home Base.
    • Aang's team included mentors among his friends. Korra's team did not.
    • Toph and Asami both come from rich families, and had issues with their fathers. But Toph comes from Old Money, and one of the richest and oldest families in the Earth Kingdom, while Asami comes from New Money, created from Hoshi Sato's inventions selling well in Republic City and the world.
  • Sibling Team: Sokka and Katara, Mako and Bolin
  • The Team Normal:
    • Asami and Sokka, the resident non-bender for the team. They more than make up for it by being Genius Bruiser, able to fight with wits and technology.
    • Suki eventually joins Aang's team, helping balance the bender-vs-nonbender ratio there.

Animal Companion

  • Foil: Appa bends air, while Naga can't bend anything.
  • Flight: Appa flies using airbending, while Fang flew using his wings.

The Four Nations

These are descriptions of the four cultures.
    Air Nomads 

Air Nomads

Air is the element of freedom. The Air Nomads detached themselves from worldly concerns and found peace and freedom. Also, they apparently had pretty good senses of humor.

  • Actual Pacifist: The Air Nomads focused on lives of peace and detachment from worldly desires through meditation. As such, they abhorred violence in general and developed styles based on dodging and evading. If Gyatso's remains are of any indication, Killing in Self-Defense may only be done as a last resort.
  • Always Lawful Good: The Air Nomads were nearly universally friendly and heroic individuals. The only exceptions are Jesa (an Air Nomad turned daofei who by all accounts was a Lovable Rogue), Zaheer (a man who was born a non-bender and only gained airbending later in life), and Meelo (who, in fairness, is a kid).
  • Bald Mystic: The Air Nomads were a Fantasy Counterpart Culture to Tibetan Buddhist monks. They shaved all or part of their heads and were noted to be so collectively spiritual as an Elemental Nation that all their members could bend.
    • No longer the case with the successor state, the Air Nation, where only a few members are seen with shaved heads. Newly inducted masters will shave their heads temporarily when they receive their tattoos, but may grow their hair back afterward.
  • Beware the Nice Ones:
    • They were friendly, easy-going monks who would never turn away a hungry guest, had no military, and, according to Turf Wars, accepted people of all sexual orientations without judgment, but Gyatso's remains prove they took plenty of Fire Nation soldiers down with them during the genocide and Aang implied it could only be due to an ambush they went down or they'd still be around.
    • Come Korra's time, we get more airbenders that aren't all pacifists, with Zaheer using Airbending to more sinister outcomes: he uses airbending to asphyxiate the Earth Queen.
    • The Kyoshi Chronicles reveal a sinister aspect of airbending. It is indeed the least violent open spaces. In closed spaces where there's lots of hard surfaces to slam somebody into, airbending can get a lot more violent.
  • Bond Creature: The Air Bison, who they shared the temples with and looked after, and who taught the earliest airbenders how to bend in the first place. Young airbenders would chose a bison calf, who then sticks with them for life (so no swapsies).
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Air Nomads are primarily based on Shaolin and Tibetan Buddhist monks and their slaughter and near-extinction parallels that of the invasion and assimilation of Tibet (not to mention East Turkestan, populated by the largely-Muslim Uyghurs) by the Chinese Communist Party.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Sanguine. They relied on kindness, peace and each other mostly. They lacked any real goal besides meditation and teachings which incidentally was part of the reason how they got wiped out.
  • Impossible Task: While most Air Nomads were usually too polite to tell unwanted presences to go away directly, when they exiled someone it would be by assigning them a task they had no hope of ever achieving, and telling them not to come back until they were done.
  • No Blood Ties: Air Nomad children were raised communally in sex-segregated temples, apparently never caring for who their biological parents were.
  • Non-Heteronormative Society: Kya explains in The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars that same-sex relationships were considered completely ordinary among the Air Nomads.
  • Non-Indicative Name: Despite being called "nomads", they actually had permanent settlements in the form of the Air Temples, but they did genuinely spend most of their time Walking the Earth, hence why Sozin made sure to be very thorough in his genocide.
  • Personality Powers: Per Iroh: Air is the element of freedom. The Air Nomads detached themselves from worldly concerns and found peace and freedom. Also, they apparently had pretty good senses of humor!
    • Air Nomad teaching focuses on "being the leaf". To whit, when you meet resistance, move the other way, rather than facing it head on; don't force confrontation, go with the flow. Aang faces severe difficulty trying to come to terms with Earthbending precisely because of this. Toph has to tell him not to look for a different angle or a clever trick. On the negative side, it's shown that airbenders have a reputation for being evasive at best, cowardly at worst.
      Kya: See what [Tenzin] is doing, Bumi? Classic airbender technique: Cutting and running when things get tough!
    • The novel Rise of Kyoshi reveals that this spirituality is almost required for bending air. Weakening one's spirituality also weakens one's airbending, as Jesa found out later in her life.
    • The Air themed villain, Zaheer, takes freedom out of balance to its ultimate conclusion of anarchy.
  • The Purge: Fire Lord Sozin, fearing the reincarnation of Roku would oppose his ideas, decided the best solution was wipe out the Air Nomads en masse before the next Avatar could become strong enough to oppose him. By the time he struck, Aang had already gone missing, but the rest of the Air Nomads were eradicated anyway.
  • Sacred Hospitality: By reputation, Airbenders never turn away a guest, even if that guest is unwanted, or plainly taking advantage of that system of generosity.
  • Veganopia: Due to the Air Nomads’ belief that all life was sacred, meat was not part of their diet.
  • Warrior Monk: All Air Nomads were peaceful monks, but they could use their ability to control the air to dodge their enemies until they are defeated by exhaustion.

    Water Tribes 


Water is the element of change. The people of the Water Tribes are capable of adapting to many things. They have a sense of community and love that holds them together through anything.

  • Braids of Barbarism: Water Tribe warriors wear wolftails but have several braids tied off with beads framing their faces.
  • Caretaking is Feminine: Waterbending can be used for both Supernatural Martial Arts and Healing Hands. However, in the Northern Water Tribe, only men are trained as fighters while women are relegated to healing duties.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The Southern Water Tribe borrows from various South Pacific, Siberian, and Indigenous North American cultures —specifically the Inuit— while the architecture of the Northern Water Tribe capital also adds a heavy dose of Chinese and bits of Nordic influence.
  • Foil:
    • In the original series, the Northern Tribe is centered around a major city and has a more structured outlook on life, with its relative isolation from the war allowing it to maintain both its population and its traditions. In contrast, the Southern Tribe has a significantly looser and more egalitarian outlook on life, and has been reduced by the war to a handful of sparsely populated villages that have lost many of their traditions.
    • By the time of The Legend of Korra, both tribes are now centered around a large modern capital city. However, the Southern Tribe is still more spread out, as well as being more progressive and technology-minded, while the Northern Tribe is more traditional and spiritual, although they do not necessarily shun improvements to keep up with the times.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Phlegmatic. They cherished families and allies despite being the most remote nation. Though split into Southern and Northern sibling tribes, as a whole both seek a serene and fairly simple existence surviving off the land.
  • Grim Up North: Far, far up the North Pole is a harsh, unforgiving frozen wasteland that no one dares venture into. The main settlements are near the bay.
  • An Ice Person: Part of water being also involves bending ice and snow into the bargain.
  • Inconsistent Dub: The Japanese dub call them mizu no buzoku ("Water Tribe") at first, only to switch to mizu no tami ("Water People" or "Water Nation"). Both are correct translations, but the inconsistency is still there.
  • Lunacy: Waterbending's strength is connected to the moon and the tides, being strongest on the night of a full moon. According to their legends, the moon itself had invented and mastered waterbending eons before humanity existed.
  • Personality Powers: Water is the element of change. The people of the Water Tribe are capable of adapting to many things.
    • Like the water they bend, a waterbender can be calm and healing, or raging and completely merciless. Katara can provide good examples of both.
    • To go with the ice theme, pretty much every water-bending antagonist in the shows is indeed aloof and detached in some way (Amon, Eska, Desna, Unalaq).
    • Both Water Tribe antagonists in Korra sought massive, wide-reaching change: Amon through a social revolution, and Unalaq by undoing the 10,000 year standing decision by Wan to close the spirit portals and seal Vaatu, bringing spirits back into the physical world.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Much of their culture is based around warriorhood, and many of their greatest achievements are through the battles they've fought. To be a warrior is the greatest honor in the Water Tribes.
  • Slobs Versus Snobs: There are elements of this existing in the series between members of the Northern and Southern Water Tribes where Northerners view the Southerners to be low-class slobs and peasants while the Southerners view the Northerners as elitist snobs and oppressive aristocrats. This boils over into a civil war between the two tribes in The Legend of Korra.
  • Stay in the Kitchen:
    • Women in the Northern Water Tribe are expected to use their waterbending for healing purposes only, and leave the combat to men. In fact, a big plot point in the Northern Tribe episodes is to have Katara making them realize that this attitude is harmful - especially in regards to Master Pakku, possibly the most powerful Waterbender alive at the time, who gets some karmic retribution, as he realizes that his chauvinism cost him the love of his life: Kanna, Katara and Sokka's future grandmother and his Runaway Bride, who fled to the Southern Water Tribe (the opposite pole of the world) to escape the strict gender rules. Since Pakku did genuinely love Kanna, and one of the reasons he was so bitter against women was her rejection of him, this counts doubly and is vital to his Character Development and acceptance of Katara. And by the Grand Finale, Pakku gets Kanna's forgiveness and they tie the knot. By Korra's time, this sexist view has mostly diminished.
    • Averted in the Southern Water Tribe. They're somewhat more progressive in its attitudes towards women since female waterbenders are seen fighting in flashbacks. However, Sokka's demonstration of some sexist attitudes, which he doesn't really shake off until he encounters the Kyoshi warriors, suggest that they were originally similarly segregated, and the female waterbenders fought because they were in a position where everyone had to.

Northern Water Tribe

  • Achilles in His Tent: They largely stayed out of the Hundred Year war, with only two recorded incidents of conflict with the Fire Nation, and the second was when the Fire Nation came to them. The rest of the time, they were pretty content to stay behind their walls.
  • Arranged Marriage: How most marriages in the Northern Water Tribe seem to work; the guy carves a girl a betrothal necklace, at which point they are considered engaged, and if the girl doesn't want it, the only way out is to run. Betrothal necklaces can be carved for someone the carver likes, but they should probably check if the person they're giving it to wants to get married first.
    Korra: I think the guy is supposed to give the girl the necklace.
    Bolin: I guess Eska didn't get the memo!
  • Stay in the Kitchen: In the north, female waterbenders were expected to learn waterbending to heal, and that was it. Kanna, Katara's grandmother, left because of it.
  • White Man's Burden: No snow-pun intended. While not white, the Northern Water Tribe acts a lot like this in North and South. Its agents mostly treat the southerners as backwards and primitive, needing the help of the Northern tribe to get up to date, while concerns over traditional southern culture is pushed aside to make way for progress.

Southern Water Tribe

  • Back from the Brink: When seen in Avatar, between a hundred years of intermittent raiding and the warriors all going off to the war, the most we see of the Southern Water Tribe is one tiny little village. By Korra's time, the Southern Water Tribe has flourished tremendously.
  • Dwindling Party: Their waterbenders were whittled down over time by constant Fire Nation raids. They were either captured or killed, and by the time the war is finished, there is only one left: Katara.
  • The Purge: The Fire Nation spent much of the war raiding the south, abducting any waterbenders they could find. By the time Aang woke up, there were precisely two known Southern waterbenders alive in the entire world. Even worse, those same invasions have put their culture on the brink of extinction, and preserving their valued traditions has become a struggle.

Foggy Swamp Tribe

  • Beware the Silly Ones: Overall a very goofy and laughable group compared to other communities, but they also make up the entire waterbender portion of the invasion force on the Day of Black Sun. Huu's plant monster disguise alone is powerful enough to toss around Fire Nation tanks with ease.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: A lot of them tend to be a bit like this, implied to be because of the nature of the Swamp, which is a product of the spirit world and, at times, a very strange place.
  • Culture Chop Suey: They're a mix of bayou-dwelling rednecks and various hill peoples of Southeast Asia.
  • Green Thumb: Played With. They are waterbenders, but they have mastered the art of manipulating plants by bending the water in the plants.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: On account of living in a swamp, they don't wear a lot, mostly just leaf-made shorts and the occasional hat.
    Bato: I just wish they'd wear pants.
    Huu: Pants are an illusion, and so is death.

    Earth Kingdom 

Earth Kingdom

Earth is the element of substance. The people of the Earth Kingdom are diverse and strong. They are persistent and enduring.

  • The Cycle of Empires: Has fallen into the "decay" part by Korra's time. Most of the kingdoms are falling apart, with Queen Hou-Ting more concerned with gouging her already-impoverished citizens to fund frivolous vanity projects, while the rest of the world advances sociologically and technologically. It gets worse when Zaheer takes care of her, as without even a strong figurehead to rally around, the splintered continent falls into anarchy. And then Kuvira comes along...
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: While the political situation of the Earth Kingdom (particularly in the capital of Ba Sing Se) parallels that of the waning years of the Qing Dynasty, its culture draws from every Chinese dynasty; Toph's family wears Tang Dynasty clothing, Aunt Wu's usage of oracle bones for divination comes from the Shang Dynasty, etc. It also has areas influenced by Vietnamese tribal cultures (the Foggy Swamp Tribe, despite their Mississippi Delta accent), pre-Meiji Japan (Kyoshi Island), Mongolia (the Si Wong Desert, which is very much a fantasy counterpart to the Gobi), and Korea (as seen with the hanbok worn by Song in the episode "Cave of Two Lovers"), each paralleling a real-life tributary held by Imperial China. After the Earth Kingdom falls for good in Korra, the parallels extend to early 20th-century China, with warlords and bandits running loose until a revolutionary nationalist despot is finally able to reunite the country.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Melancholic. They supported hard work and manual labor along with a heavily structured society and traditions. Their belief in politics is very strong and the law is absolute to them no matter how dodgy.
  • The Empire: Nearly became one under Chin the Conqueror. Becomes one after Kuvira takes over.
  • The Federation: In the larger scope of things, the Earth Kingdom is more of a collection of states with the Monarch of Ba-Sing Se as the influential leader rather than a single authority. As a result, many states like Omashu maintained their own rulers while connecting with other states via common culture.
  • The Good Kingdom: Despite its fair share of General Rippers and Sleazy Politicians, the Earth Kingdom is generally mostly benevolent at least until Hou-Ting succeeded the throne.
  • Kangaroo Court: The Earth Kingdom lacks a centralized justice system (presumably because it's too damn big to be policed effectively), so each city and village is free to do as they want. In the episode "Avatar Day", we see this in practice, with the mayor serving as judge, jury and witness.
  • Personality Powers: Like the earth, strong, resilient and diverse. On the other hand, they can be ludicrously stubborn, confrontational, and headstrong. The more negative association is that they're kind of stupid - or at least, set in their ways, which in a world at war/one that's rapidly changing, can amount to much the same thing.
    • The Earth antagonist, Kuvira, takes stubbornness and stability out of balance to its logical conclusion of fascism.
  • Shadow Government: In Last Airbender, its capital Ba Sing Se is secretly ruled by the Evil Chancellor Long Feng who keeps the citizens ignorant of the war by threats and brainwashing, with the help of the Dai Li acting as the Secret Police.
  • Vestigial Empire:
    • The Earth Kingdom was once a mighty civilization, but even long before the Hundred-Year War, it's a shadow of its former glory, and no Earth Monarch was able to truly unify the continent since its formation. Wars became rampant and its peoples have gradually fallen into decadence. It seems only the military provided any semblance of unity during the Great War.
    • At its height, the Chin Empire ruled pretty much the entire continent, save for Ba Sing Se, and a tiny peninsula on the very south end that became Kyoshi Island when Kyoshi objected to Chin's attempts to absorb her people. With Chin's death, his empire crumbled, leaving only the citizens of Chin Village to remember his "greatness". They're still pretty sore about this three hundred years later.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: The Earth Kingdom lacked the one thing that would make them a credible threat to the Fire Nation — unity. Rebel factions and partisans were all opposed.
  • Wild West: In stark contrast to the Chinese influences across the rest of the Earth Kingdom, the heart of the continent, as seen in "Zuko Alone" and "The Chase," draws heavily upon classic Western tropes, showing small ranching communities, rocky canyons, and abandoned Ghost Towns.

    Fire Nation 

Fire Nation

Fire is the element of power. The people of the Fire Nation have desire and will and the energy and drive to achieve what they want.
For information on the Fire Nation as shown in The Last Airbender, see here.

  • Demoted to Extra: The villains of The Last Airbender, but in The Legend of Korra while representatives of their nation put in appearances, the Fire Nation as a whole stays out of the way. The physical nation has so far gone completely unseen.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Following Zuko being made Fire Lord, he worked to redeem the Fire Nation, something his successor Izumi took up.
  • Not Quite the Right Thing: Fire Lord Zoryu started work on dismantling the Fire Nation's clan systems after seeing the trouble it caused. He figured it would take generations, but it obviously succeeded... possibly too well, since his descendants Sozin, Azulon and Ozai were able to become an absolute dictator backed by a With Us or Against Us mentality.
  • Personality Powers: Firebending is driven by passion, of any kind. In Azulon and Ozai's time, this was taken solely to be anger and hate, but it can just as easily be positive emotions like love or joy. As Iroh explains, this give firebenders their drive, but consequently the negative sides can become all too apparent as well.
  • The Power of the Sun: As waterbending is tied to the Moon, firebending is tied to the sun, something the Sun Warriors figured out early on.
  • Proud Warrior Race: In Kyoshi's time, the Fire Nation were defined by a rigid code of honor that baffled or just plain irritated the other nations, especially when they wouldn't stop going on about it. It's died down a bit by Aang's time, as Zuko's the only one really focused on it, and then only because of circumstances.
  • Stuff Blowing Up: Combustionbending, a rare form of firebending which involves creating targeted explosions.