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Chekhovs Gun / Avatar: The Last Airbender

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Fans have become incredibly familiar with, and wary of, this trope, as apparently nigh-on everything in the show eventually comes back as a major plot point later on:

  • In the first episode, Aang and Katara come across a Fire Navy ship from one of the Fire Nation's attacks on their village when her grandmother was a child. Several series later, they come across a woman who was taken in one of those attacks.
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  • Early in Episode 5, Aang mentions his friend Bumi, a kid with mismatched eyes and bad teeth. At the end of the episode, the king of Omashu, who has mismatched eyes and bad teeth, gives Aang one final test. It's to guess his name: Bumi.
  • The warden's word that he would sooner jump into the boiling lake than tarnish his prisoners' escape record (then, zero). One episode later he is willing to have the gondola cable cut to prevent our heroes from escaping, even when it means his own demise.
  • Zuko's twin swords (seen on his wall early in the series), schematics for a drilling machine, Katara's necklace twice (once used by Zuko to track the Gaang and once when Master Pakku realizes it belonged to Kanna), Katara's amulet of water from the North Pole oasis, the Lotus tile, Iroh's sandal, the scroll with the Lion Turtles at the Library, and the bison whistle in particular since Sokka initially chided Aang for wasting money on it. One season later, it's still important.
    • The bison whistle is more of a Chekhov's Boomerang: It apparently serves its purpose at the end of the episode it first appears in, only to show up again halfway through the next season.
    • The war balloon is a special one that deserves mention because it takes two seasons to resolve.
  • After Katara steals the waterbending scroll, she attempts to learn the water whip. Look at the diagram. It's the same waterbending move in the intro every week.
    • The same waterbending scroll is what allows Katara access to the Library in a later episode.
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  • From the start of "The Waterbending Scroll," they set up a Chekhov's Gun that really plays out only if you're really paying attention closely. Iroh mentions he lost his Lotus tile and remarks that a certain strategy he uses often revolves around it. At the time, you assume he's being the bumbling old man he's been since the show started. Fast-forward to Season 2, where he sits down to play Pai Sho with an old man and uses the White Lotus Gambit, which the old man recognizes and sets up his board accordingly. The result? The old man and Iroh create the sigil for the Order of the White Lotus, who serve the purpose of sneaking Iroh and Zuko into Ba Sing Se. The lotus tile makes another reappearance, as Pian-Dao leaves one for Sokka after Sokka's apprenticeship is completed, and in the end, the Order of the White Lotus makes a reappearance as the army set to reconquer Ba Sing Se in Season 3. This was a use worthy of Rowling!
  • A minor one in "The Avatar State," Zuko and Iroh cut off their top-knots with a knife Zuko has on him. Guess what pops up six episodes later in "Zuko Alone?"
    • Their top-knots?
  • In "The Library", Aang finds a picture of a human with a lion-turtle and comments on the fact that they supposedly have mystical powers. In the third-to-last episode, just before going off to fight Ozai, guess who he encounters?
  • * In the first season's finale, Admiral Zhao mentions entering a library hidden "deep beneath the sands" in his youth, where he learns how to kill the Moon God. Aang and his friends, in turn, unknowingly find the same library in the second season, and learn how to defeat the Fire Nation: by attacking the Fire Nation capitol on The Day of Black Sun.
  • The amulet full of water from the Northern Water Tribe's spirit oasis, presented to Katara at the beginning of season two: Shortly before the season finale, Katara shows it to Prince Zuko, explaining that she'd been saving it for something important and suggesting that it could be used to heal his facial scarring, by way of foreshadowing the fact that she uses it to save Aang's life at the end of the finale. Too bad that only a few episodes previous, Jet was fatally injured and the spirit oasis water was never mentioned, prompting certain viewers to think that maybe he hadn't been fatally injured after all. They were right the first time.
  • Zuko's swords, seen hanging on the wall in the first episode, eventually become his weapons of choice as the story progresses; unfortunately for him, it is this signature dual-wielding style which allows Zhao to uncover the truth that Zuko is The Blue Spirit.
  • One that nobody saw coming was various appearance of Lion Turtles: a picture of one in "The Library", and the statue and line about one in "Sokka's Master".
  • Another that even less saw coming: Iroh's sandal Zuko finds while looking for him in the first season. Used in the last episodes to track Iroh using Jun's beast, after Zuko reveals he had it all this time. This series defines this trope.
  • Toph's bracelet/piece of meteoric iron is something of Double Subversion: she missed the time it would be really useful because she didn't have it on her, but it served a mildly useful purpose an episode later (picking a lock).
    • Later in the graphic novels, Toph learns she can use it to find new metal benders.
  • During the first episode of the third season, Katara commented, while healing Aang's burn on his back, that she could feel "a lot of energy twisted up around there". In the very last episode of the series, Aang was hit hard on the scar of said burn. It was what was preventing him from using the Avatar state. Cue asskicking the Fire Lord time.
  • A more ingenious one, although it's more of a Chekhov's Skill. Remember in the episode The Storm when Iroh redirected lightning? Guess what begins to become really important throughout the second half of sesaon two and season three?
  • Katara's necklace is also used pretty ingeniously as a Chekhov's Gun. She is shown wearing it in the first episode, and then later Zuko takes it and uses it to track down Katara and the Avatar. Later, when the gang goes to the Northern Water Tribe, it is only after seeing Katara's necklace that Master Paku realizes that she is the granddaughter of his first love, for whom he made the necklace. This in turn causes him to change his mind about teaching Katara waterbending, her knowledge of which is essential in the rest of the series.
  • In an early season one episode, Katara and Sokka get sick, and Momo is sent to fetch water. He brings back piles of random junk instead. One of these items is a crown with two dragons facing each other. Guess what they find in season three? The secret society of Sun Warriors, with two dragons that perform a 'dance' that ends in the exact position shown on the crown.
  • In season 3, Zuko is invited to a war meeting by his father in "Nightmares and Daydreams." However, what happens in the meeting is not shown and only alluded to onscreen. One episode later, in "Day of Black Sun", Zuko decides somewhat suddenly to abandon the Fire Nation and assist the Avatar in defeating his father, despite Ozai's approval in the previous episode. It's not until early in the finale, several episodes later, that both of these questions are answered - in the meeting Ozai revealed his plan to destroy the entire Earth Kingdom, which horrifies Zuko and leads to his desertion.


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