Follow TV Tropes


Film / Avatar

Go To

"This is why we're here. Unobtainium. Because this little gray rock sells for $20 million a kilo. That's the only reason. This is what pays for the whole party, and it's what pays for your science. Those savages are threatening our whole operation. We're on the brink of war, and you're supposed to be finding me a diplomatic solution. So use what you've got and get me some results."

Avatar is a 2009 epic Science Fiction adventure film directed and written by James Cameron.

The film takes place in a future where Earth is a polluted Crapsack World, though the story itself unfolds on Pandora, a large moon of the planet Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri A system. The moon's air is toxic to humans, but it has lots of Unobtainium note , which the human Resources Development Administration is mining, but in order to get at the richest source of it, they need to relocate a clan of the native population; ten-foot-tall, blue Humanoid Aliens called the Na'vi who live in the forests.

A paraplegic former U.S. Marine named Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is given a remotely-controlled Na'vi body called an "avatar" in order to communicate with the Na'vi and gain their trust, but the resident General Ripper Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) has other ideas and wants to remove the Na'vi by force. Jake ends up torn between his humanity and the adopted Na'vi way of life, made harder by his growing bond with The Chief's Daughter, Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña).

James Cameron first got the idea for Avatar in The '90s and wrote an 80-page scriptment for it, but he shelved the project because he felt that the special effects technology at the time was insufficient for portraying Pandora and its inhabitants adequately, particularly in regards to translating actors' faces to CGI. Thus, he spent the time between Titanic and Avatar creating smaller products as he developed these technologies and amassed a large budget for the movie.

Avatar is also notable for using a form of stereoscopic 3D for filming. The film's incredible financial success led to a surge in interest for 3D films; indeed, it currently stands as the highest-grossing film of all timenote , having held the title for a decade before being overtaken by Avengers: Endgame in 2019, and then reclaiming the title in 2021 through re-releases.

For sequels and other media see Avatar.

No relations to Avatar: The Last Airbender, or any other meanings of the word "avatar".

This film provides examples of:

    open/close all folders 

  • Accidental Misnaming: A unique version. When Mo'at asks Jake his name, he responds with his full name "Jake Sully". The Omaticaya all call him this, except for Neytiri who calls him Jake, but they pronounce it (and it's subtitled) as Jakesully, meaning they think that's his full proper name.
  • Actor Allusion: Grace was called Shipley in earlier drafts. She spends a lot of time in a capsule, is pretty badass and no-nonsense, and knows a lot about extraterrestrial life forms. Are we being told something?
  • Actually Pretty Funny: Quaritch and Selfridge both laugh when Jake tells them how he told the Na'vi that he belonged to the "Jarhead Clan."
  • Alien Blood: Averted, the Na'vi bleed red as people do.
  • Alien Invasion: By humans, naturally, invading Pandora to get Unobtanium to save their own homeworld.
  • Alien Landmass: The Scenery Porn includes the Hallelujah Mountains of Pandora, verdant floating rock formations that are sacred to the Na'Vi. The phenomenon is Hand Waved as an interaction of the moon's magnetic field with its Unobtainium deposits.
  • Alien Sky: Pandora is one of the moons of a blue gas giant named Polyphemus, so we are treated to many shots of said planet in the sky. Other moons are also visible.
  • All There in the Manual:
    • An online encyclopedia. It contains any information that could possibly help explain why humans are there, what the Unobtainium actually does, and gives backstory to the creatures, plants, technology, and Na'vi.
    • There is an In-Universe manual on the Na'vi in the movie, courtesy of Dr. Grace.
    • The video game has additional information on the characters, species, etc. that doesn't appear in the movie.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: On Jake's first excursion into the Pandoran forest, a massive titanothere charges at him. Grace tells him to hold his ground. When it halts and then retreats, Jake is exultant, not realizing that the reason for its fear is the even bigger and nastier Thanator creeping up behind him. This time, Grace tells him to run...
  • Analogy Backfire: When Jake asks why Neytiri saved him from danger despite perceiving said danger as being Jake's own fault:
    Neytiri: You have a strong heart. No fear. But stupid! Ignorant like a child!
    Sully: Well, if I'm like a child, then maybe you should teach me.
  • Animal Stampede: Invoked in the climax. The Na'vi forces are decimated by the human's far more advanced technology in the all-out battle, and all hope seems lost... when suddenly something big starts crashing through the brush. The RDA soldiers stand ready, but are utterly annihilated when a massive herd giant Pandoran megafauna and predators plows right through them, Eywa herself having called upon Pandora's biosphere to fight off the alien invaders.
  • Animal Wrongs Group: PETA's at it again in the backstory. In fact, RDA mucking around on Pandora was not popular at all, thanks to ads put out by PETA... until someone revealed that the emaciated Na'vi in the commercials PETA put out was a human with prostheses. This is what caused the whole "RDA gets mining rights" fiasco and people unaware of Selfridge being an ass to Na'vi, and presumably was a holdover from the first draft (RDA was being monitored by an inspector as a result of charges of abuse, but he was bribed).
  • Annoying Arrows: Justified in the attack on the home tree, where the Na'vi arrows harmlessly bounce off the gunship cockpits. Later when the Na'vi fire their arrows from a dive on their banshees at the gunship canopies, they have sufficient velocity and the right angle to penetrate.
  • Anyone Can Die: The film pulls no punches in showing nobody is safe during a battle situation. In terms of leading characters, five (Eytukan, Tsu'tey, Grace, Trudy and Quaritch) die, with only one of them an antagonist.
  • Arc Words:
    • The Na'vi greeting "I see you", plays into the film's repeated image of eyes and learning to see the world from another's perspective.
    • Grace Augustine repeatedly refers to collecting "samples" as a method by which they could come to understand the Na'vi greater. Tellingly, when she's mortally wounded and plugged into the Tree of Souls, she mentions to Jake that they should "try and take some samples."
  • Are We There Yet?: Jake, coming out of cryo, asks a med tech "Are we there yet?" The tech assures him "Yeah, we're there, sunshine."
  • Armies Are Evil: This one is led by Quaritch, a General Ripper who sounds like an AM talk show host, and takes his orders from a Corrupt Corporate Executive. All of the science department employees shown in the movie are shown as closer to Earth and completely accepting of the Na'vi.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: During the pause in the final battle, Quaritch asks Jake how he feels betraying his own race, to which Jake hissed in response.
  • Artistic License - Astronomy: The film takes place on a moon orbiting a gas giant around Alpha Centauri A. No such large world has been detected in this trinary star system.
  • Artistic License – Biology:
    • All the large land animals of Pandora have six limbs. However, the first two pairs of legs are identically shaped, and move in unison, meaning that despite having six legs the creatures all walk with a quadruped-like gait. Which realistically, would cause them to trip over their own legs when running.
    • The Na'vi are said to be related to the Prolemuris, which is stated to be a link between the four-limbed Na'vi and the rest of the six-limbed wildlife. However, the Prolemuris has two pairs of arms that are partly fused at the elbow joint, which along with being an unlikely course of evolution, would also compromise the functionality of said limbs. A more realistic option would be the Prolemuris having two sets of arms, but one pair much smaller and greatly reduced, which in turn would be completely lost in the Na'vi.
    • The direhorses would make terrible mounts in jungle environs, being tall and lanky so that any hole they step in would break their leg. Similarly, just riding through the jungle would ensure that rider and mount both would hit plenty of brush, as anyone who has ever ridden a horse through a forest can attest.
    • The avatars are, despite all appearances, remarkably human — their voices, spectrum of vision, and hearing all fit human parameters, despite Na'vi evolving on a moon with a different atmosphere guaranteeing all three of the above should be significantly different. The fact the Na'vi are functionally human with the exception of some minor physical traits despite the extreme unlikelihood of this coincidental evolutionary route (even evolving from the Pandoran equivalent of "monkeys") has been stated to be entirely for artistic reasons.invoked
    • Humans smoking would be phenomenally stupid. All their environments are artificially oxygenated. Any equipment failure would risk explosion or faster asphyxiation for smokers.
    • The mere concept of "avatars" is a massive example of artistic license, since it involves mixing of human and Na'vi genes to create a seamless hybrid. The likelihood of alien genes being equivalent enough with human DNA to produce a perfectly compatible body is outrageously improbable (All There in the Manual notes Na'vi don't even have DNA).
  • Artistic License – Economics:
    • While we never learn what unobtanium is used for, we do see several small miracles that humans oddly don't seek to explore or exploit. Even aside from an entire world's worth of new biological data to ship back to Earth to study alive, unlocking the secrets of the floating islands would lead to revolutions in shipping and physics.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: When Grace Augustine dies, she becomes one with Eywa. The movie as well as Na'vi mythology implies that this happens to ALL life on Pandora when they die.
  • "Ass" in Ambassador: Jake clearly couldn't care less about the Na'vi or their culture, at least until he falls in love.
  • As You Know: "This is why we're here. Unobtainium. Because this little gray rock sells for 20 million a kilo."
  • Attack Its Weak Point:
    • The enemy AMP suits and vehicles all have canopies and air intakes where they're vulnerable.
    • The Na'vi have a weak point in the form of the tree that's their primary link to their deity (Quaritch specifically goes after it to "blast a hole in their racial memory"), and in their queue (the braid-looking neural link thing), as seen when Jake and Grace are taken prisoner and frog-marched with knives held to their queues.
  • Audience Surrogate: Jake, who ended up being taught the ways of the Na’vi by the Omaticaya Clan’s chieftain’s daughter, Neytiri.
  • Award-Bait Song: The theme song "I See You", composed by James Horner and performed by Leona Lewis was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Song in 2010.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: The Dragon Gunship is very powerful (carrying enough conventional weaponry to wipe out Manhattan in six seconds), but requires several components to be shipped all the way from Earth. There was a second Dragon airframe on Pandora, but said components hadn't arrived from Earth yet.
  • Badass Bookworm: Norm. He punches a merc on the face, suits up and fights in his avatar, and when his avatar gets killed, he grabs a rifle and proceeds to kick even more ass.
  • Base on Wheels: The Bucket-Wheel Excavators, despite only having 15 seconds of screentime, is the single largest vehicle on Pandora save for starships. These monsters are half a kilometer long and 300 meters tall. It is effectively a mobile mining installation on treads.
    • The D-22 Bulldozer is also this on a lesser extent. These autonomous bulldozers are nearly 40 meters long and 13 meters tall. Imagine each one of them the size of a NASA Crawler-Transporter but three times the height. They are effectively mobile buildings.
  • Battle Bolas: While Neytiri leads him back to hometree for the first time, Jake Sully is tripped with a bola thrown by the Na'vi hunters.
  • Beast Man: The Na'vi are Humanoid Aliens with pointy ears and tails.
  • Becoming the Mask: The main character even remarks at one point that the situation had become reversed — "out there was reality, and in here [in his human body] was the dream." At the end of the movie, he undergoes a ceremony that permanently puts him in the avatar body, and he leaves his old human body to die in the toxic atmosphere.
  • BFG:
    • The autocannons and Flamethrowers carried around by AMP Suits.
    • Jake, in his huge Avatar form, gets to wield an MBS-9M .50 Caliber Hydra (meant to be mounted on vehicles) against the RDA's forces.
  • BFS: In the final battle, Jake uses an AMP suit bayonet as a sword, before switching to using it more as an axe.
  • Big Bad: Selfridge is initially the one leading RDA in destroying large chunks of Pandora's wildlife to get Unobtanium. However, by the final battle, Quaritch usurps command of the operation and lead the charge against the Na'vi.
  • Big Damn Heroes: The Na'vi army is easily defeated by the humans, Neytiri is cornered, Jake is outnumbered and the Tree of Souls is vulnerable... and then a gargantuan stampede of Titanotheres, Viperwolves and Mountain Banshees suddenly charge towards the humans, turning the tide of the battle and overpowering the invaders just as they did to the Na'vi.
    Neytiri: Jake, Eywa has heard you... EYWA HAS HEARD YOU!!!
  • Bioluminescence Is Cool: Every piece of plant life responds to touch with bioluminescent bloom.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sure, the RDA have left, but a lot of Humans are dead. The Omatikaya are homeless and the Na'vi lost even more of their members in the fight as well.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Toyed with, likely to keep a PG-13 rating. Though characters get battered and bloody, and wounds are shown after the fact, when characters are actively seen being shot/arrowed/sliced in battle, there's little, if any, blood shown. Also, they seem to have no problem showing humans being killed pretty brutally (but again, without blood), but the Na'vi simply drop in most instances. Particularly noticeable in the final battle where dozens of Na'vi are gunned down, and simply drop like it's an old western. On the other hand, the level of realism does make the Instant Death Bullet unlikely.
  • Body Paint: Jake is covered in this during his initiation ceremony, and almost all Na'vi use warpaint during the Final Battle. Also, Played for Laughs with Trudy and her gunship. Possibly sensible on their part, as it provided a way to quickly say "this one is not a target". (It would equally quickly say "this one IS a target" to the enemy, but as a high-tech force they have Identify-Friend-Or-Foe transponders anyway.)
  • Boldly Coming: Jake is sent out as a spy/diplomat. After three months, he's mated to Neytiri.
  • Bond Creatures: The Na'vi have a rite of passage where they must sneak into the aviaries of the banshee and bond with one of them. They can do something similar with the direhorse, but with multiple people, as they do not bond with a person for life like with the banshee.
  • Bookends: The opening flying dream over the credits and Jake opening his eye is repeated at the end when Jake opens the eyes in his avatar body and the same flying shot as in the opening is used for the closing credits.
  • Born in the Saddle: The "Horse Clans of the Plain" who provide the initial cavalry charge in the Final Battle seem to be so.
  • Bowdlerise:
    • The extended edition DVD/Blu-Ray has an additional audio track with "all objectionable language removed".
    • Promotional standees for Avatar add a rear panel to Jake's Avatar loincloth (wherein in the actual movie there is merely a woven thong up the back).
  • Brown Note: Several people walked out with motion sickness from watching it in 3D, and one man died, apparently from over-excitement. As might have been expected, the film prompted many people Longing for Fictionland, although most mentions of this were rather sensationalist, to say the least.

  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": There are several creatures which have Earthlike equivalents — horses, humanoids, and titanotheres. Many of the land critters also have an extra pair of legs, a few also having an extra pair of eyes, and for most, breathing is performed through operculum-like openings rather than the nose and mouth.
  • Call a Smeerp a "Rabbit":
    • Humans have forgone the smeerp route and given the animals names compliant with the earth creatures they resemble —hammerhead titanotheres, viperwolves, etc. The Na'vi have their own names for them, as would be expected. Some of the more common: Humans have given the Ikran the name "Banshees" and the Toruk was given the name "Great Leonopteryx".
    • One of the more frequently-seen Pandoran animals has four eyes, six legs, hairless blue skin, a snout like an anteater, and nostrils in its chest. It's known by the Na'vi as Pa'li, but humans call it a direhorse. Fair enough, it is kind of like a horse, it acts and is used an awful lot like a horse, but still... No one else looked at those horses and thought Odin's eight-legged steed, Sleipnir? Humans aren't very original with names for alien creatures in THIS universe, it seems.
  • Casual Interstellar Travel: Averted. Space travel is Slower Than Light, and so witheringly expensive that absolutely nothing that can be made or synthesized on Pandora is brought from Earth — and per Word of God, personnel who develop medical problems that cannot be treated on Pandora are euthanized.
  • Category Traitor: When Jake betrays the human colony, every antagonistic person working for the RDA marks him a traitor. Even Colonel Quaritch questions him on being one of the Na'vi.
  • The Cavalry: In the form of stampeding six-legged titanotheres the size of houses, no less.
  • Centrifugal Gravity: Venture Star has a pair of centrifuge modules which house the crews.
  • Chekhov's Armoury: Eytukan's bow, the 'angtsik' (titanotheres), viperwolves, toruk, the neural network itself, breaking your fall with leaves, and the fact that it's mentioned in passing as being a mobile link station.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Neytiri. "EYWA HAS HEARD YOOOOUUUUU!!!!!"
  • The Chosen One: Jake is chosen by Eywa and becomes the first human accepted into the tribe, eventually leading them to victory over the humans.
  • Close on Title: The title doesn't show up until right before the credits.
  • Colonel Badass: At one point Quaritch charges outside (the atmosphere on Pandora is largely inhospitable to humans) to unload a full magazine at the deserters, then, after his assistant has shown up, finally slips on his breathing mask.
  • Color Contrast: It emphasizes the purple part of the green/purple contrast a lot more than most forest settings.
  • Confession Triggers Consummation: Jake becomes closer and closer to The Chief's Daughter, Neytiri. Though at first annoyed at his helplessness, Jake's gradual growth on Pandora has her side-eyed glares turning into longing looks. Jake is finally initiated into the Na'vi tribe, after which he and Neytiri take a walk through one of their sacred forests. Neytiri suggests he pick one of the Na'vi girls as his mate, but Jake makes it clear she's the only one for him—very, very clear. Unfortunately, Jake fails to mention the impending attack on said forest beforehand.
  • Conlang: The Na'vi language, which was commissioned to be both learnable and pronounceable while not resembling any existing language. Its creator even published a grammar.
  • Contemplate Our Navels: "When I was lying there in the VA hospital, with a big hole blown through the middle of my life, I started having these dreams of flying. Sooner or later though, you always have to wake up..."
  • Convenient Cranny: When Jake flees from the creature near the beginning of the film he ends up ducking in the root system of a tree, but his hiding place is not that effective; the beast still manages to claw at him fairly decently.
  • Cool Airship: The C-21 Dragon Gunship. Also doubles as an Awesome Personnel Carrier, ferrying a squad of AMP suits into battle.
  • Cool Starship: The ISV Venture Staris so realistic, that it even feature radiators, something that even other hard sci-fi spaceships forget.
  • Cool Versus Awesome: Most of the battles, given that one side is armed with helicopter gunships and Mini Mechas and the other is an army of 10-foot Noble Savages riding the pterosaur-like banshees and six-legged horses.
  • The Coup: Quaritch effectively pulls this on Selfridge, usurping command of the RDA operation right before their all-out assault on the Tree of Souls. Emphasized in a deleted scene where Selfridge tries to use his authority as administrator to call off the attack, only for Quaritch to physically threaten him and remind Selfridge how vulnerable his position really is, with Quaritch in full control of Security Operations and its personnel.
    Quaritch: You're a long way from Earth.
  • Crapsack World:
    • Earth in 2154 has become this. Wars, terrorism, and accidents kill many people every day, the entire planet's landmass and its moon are covered in immense, massively polluted cities where twenty billion people live in unbelievably crowded and depressing conditions, the oceans have half the animal life they used to have and are used for farming spirulina for food. It is said that the people on Earth in the original script are greyish and sickly due to their diet of cheap carbohydrates and synthetic proteins, and that the atmosphere is so polluted the exopacks used on Pandora are also necessary for human life on Earth.
    • There's also Pandora. The moon is so dangerous to humans, they call their colony "Hell's Gate". The moon is covered with lethal animals and vegetation, and even the atmosphere is naturally poisonous to humans, without the need for pollution. Colonel Quaritch, a career military veteran, who had been on the front lines of wars for decades without a scratch, got a scarring head wound on his very first day planetside.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The first major fight is this, with RDA wiping out the Na'vi Hometree (and, unbeknownst to them, killing their leader in the process) causing hundreds of Na'vi deaths. Indeed the only downside to that fight for them is, beyond seriously pissing off the Na'vi, is causing a couple of Heel–Face Turns in their own troops.
    • The final battle was definitely turning into this (especially for the ground forces) for the Na'vi, even with the surprise factor on their side. And then Eywa itself decided to intervene, and the people doing the curbstomp got stomped back in the curb.
  • Cyberpunk:
    • Pandora, despite the pre-stone-age level of the natives, have a world-spanning network. Every native plant is part of a natural internet, every animal has a natural brain implant, and every sapient native has a brain implant that overpowers the will of any native creature, allowing them to be controlled and allowing the Na'vi to tap into their moon's natural plant internet.
    • The many images of Earth in the Avatar universe show smoggy and futuristic landscapes with countless lights, city streets flowing with people, entire "skies" of advertisements serving as ceilings for lower levels in the cities, elevated trains and immense sky-scrapers, and even a Hive-city structure covered in advertisement screens that has an uncanny resemblance to the Hometree. The air pollution has gotten to the point that everybody has to wear a dust mask outside on the streets. Not unlike other cyberpunk settings, large corporate bodies like the RDA are incredibly powerful and their presence seen everywhere. Computer technology is also shown to have progressed greatly in the movie, with interactive holograms and an incredible interface which allows for easy blueprint making and construction as long as the required materials are present, and of course, there are advertisement screens and lights everywhere.
  • Dangerously Garish Environment: Pandora's beautiful biofluorescent flora and fauna sometimes make you forget that the atmosphere will kill you in minutes and the fauna can shrug off 30mm autocannon rounds.
  • Darkest Hour: Home Tree is destroyed, so many Omaticaya tribesman are dead in the process (not the least of which is Chief Eytukan), Jake has earned the enmity of Neytiri and the rest of the tribe (except perhaps Mo'at), the Avatar program members are captured, and Grace is shot in the process of escape. The upswing from that begins when Jake's bold plan of becoming a Toruk Makto succeeds.
  • Data Pad: Transparent ones onto which info can be dragged from computer terminals.
  • David Versus Goliath: Generally subverted, as vast differences between size and power are respected.
    • Trudy's Samson vs. Quaritch's Dragon. Trudy is able to put up a valiant battle with her skillful piloting and using the floating islands as cover, but she is quickly blown out of the open sky once the Dragon's sheer firepower is able to flush her out.
    • Quaritch in his 14-foot AMP suit VS Jake in his 10-foot Avatar body. Quaritch is killed by two Na'vi arrows (which are the size of Olympic javelins) through the chest courtesy of Neytiri.
    • The 10-foot-tall Na'vi versus any human NOT in an AMP suit, which guns aside tends to go very poorly for the humans. And the 14-foot AMP suits are literally trampled into the mud by stampeding Titanotheres, which are twice the size of bull elephants.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Various characters are candidates for foul verbal sarcasm, but Grace and Jake are probably the most apparent early in the film.
    Grace: Yeah, yeah, I know who you are and I don't need you. I need your brother. You know, the PhD who trained for 3 years for this mission?
    Jake: He’s dead. I know it’s a big inconvenience for everyone.
  • Death World: Pandora is a planet with a jungle loaded with animals eager to slaughter visitors if provoked, local folks who will attack if also provoked, flora which can withstand human weapons and a toxic air which can kill humans in minutes. That being said, it's really only a death world to humans with the Na'vi being shown to be perfectly capable of living in the ecosystem without much fear (though they still do have to be savvy about the dangers in the wild). It's implied that the reason for this is because whereas the Na'vi are natural parts of the ecosystem, having evolved and developed on Pandora, the humans are alien to this world, and thus completely unsuited to be there.
  • Desolation Shot: When Jake is back in his avatar’s body after escaping from the RDA confinement, he wakes up to see what has become of the Hometree area after the RDA’s assault. What was once a place the Na’vi called home is now barren, gray, and filled with ash.
  • Depth of Field: This is the first film to exploit depth-of-field in the 3D effects, evolving them from a mere gimmick to a sure way to bump the visuals. Not only do the CGI-generated characters look more realistic (as they are better focused) but they also stand in sharp contrast against the non-3D background.
  • Deus ex Machina: The Na'vi are starting to get hammered by the forces of humanity, when suddenly a herd of titanotheres and banshees come out of nowhere and rush the humans, destroying almost all of them. The implied explanation is that Jake's pre-battle talk with Eywa made an impression, considering if they lost, the sky people would destroy everything living in the name of expansion.
  • Disney Death: Grace Augustine gets mortally wounded, but they bring her body to the Tree of Souls in an attempt to save her mind by plugging it into the neural network. It fails.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: Jake and the rest of the Na'vi leadership task the Horse Clan with intercepting Quaritch's ground troops. Quaritch's ground troops are armed with a wide array of nasty weapons including 30mm automatic cannons. The Horse Clan might have been more effective if they hadn't attacked head on and tried flanking tactics. As it happened... World War I anyone?
    • More specifically, while many have cited that the tactics used by the Na'vi are idiotic despite being led by a Marine, let's not forget that despite his training and experience, he's still leading a force of what amounts to be conscripts who know nothing of 'modern' combat as they themselves hadn't reached that technological age yet. In order to break the tribes of their old tactics, he'd have needed weeks, months, even 'years' to train them sufficiently. The only saving grace was that the Na'vi were fighting on their home turf, and had the will of their gods on their side.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: At first Selfridge seems to be the Big Bad of the movie, but by the time Quaritch blows up Hometree it's become very clear who's really calling the shots.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point:
    • Selfridge completely misses the point when Grace tries to explain to him how the Na'vi use trees to communicate...
      Dr. Grace Augustine: What we think we know — is that there's some kind of electrochemical communication between the roots of the trees. Like the synapses between neurons. Each tree has ten to the fourth connections to the trees around it, and there are ten to the twelfth trees on Pandora...
      Selfridge: That's a lot, I'm guessing.
      Dr. Grace Augustine: That's more connections than the human brain. You get it? It's a network — a global network. And the Na'vi can access it — they can upload and download data — memories — at sites like the one you just destroyed.
      Selfridge: What the HELL have you people been smoking out there? They're just goddamn trees!
    • Jake completely misses the point when first introduced to Eytukan.
      Jake: What's he saying?
      Neytiri: My father is deciding whether to kill you.
      Jake: Your father... It's nice to meet you, sir! (cue every weapon getting aimed at Jake's throat)
  • Ecocidal Antagonist: The villains are the RDA MegaCorp and its Private Military Contractors, who plan to strip-mine Pandora for Unobtanium, and destroy countless acres of forest in the process.
  • Elves vs. Dwarves: Na'vi vs. Humans. A race of tall and slender beastmen who are skilled archers and live in a forest idyll with a strong spiritual connection to their home and other creatures, versus a race of short creatures who are brilliant builders and engineers and possess a lot of technology, but also materialistic and willing to destroy the Na'vi and even murder their own over mineral deposits.
  • Enhance Button: Used when Jake smashes the camera on the bulldozer thing. Less egregious than most examples, as it doesn't actually enhance the image very much, and mostly just gets rid of motion blurring. It also helps that there's hardly any distance between the camera and Jake.
  • Epic Movie: It cost a fortune and took years to make, and it shows, by showing an alien world with plenty of strange creatures, along with impressive battle sequences.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Selfridge looks visibly uncomfortable at Quaritch's Moral Event Horizon destruction of Hometree, but never so much as lifts a finger to stop him. Not that he could, but still.
  • Everything Trying to Kill You: Pretty much a given with Pandora.
    Quaritch: If there is a Hell, you might wanna go there for some R&R after a tour on Pandora. Out there beyond that fence, every living thing that crawls, flies, or squats in the mud wants to kill you and eat your eyes for jujubees.
  • Exaggerated Trope: The whole Dances with Wolves/The Last Samurai plotline is cranked up to eleven, and, thanks to Applied Phlebotinum, the protagonist not only goes to live with the natives and adopts their culture and identity — he bodily becomes one of them. Word of God states this was kinda intentional.
  • Expanded Universe: James Cameron wants to flesh out the universe of Avatar in several books and even other films. The official wiki is a great example. Yet aside from Avatar: The Game the same month as the movie, the franchise only started to expand in 2015 (Toruk — The First Flight) and 2017 (Pandora – The World of Avatar).
  • Expansion Pack World: There are other moons around Polyphemus. Possibly with life on them. Cameron has announced that after the Avatar sequels, which will be focused on Pandora, there may be others exploring other moons and planets in the Alpha Centauri system — including planets orbiting Alpha Centauri B.
  • Exposed Extraterrestrials: Lampshaded by Jake when he first walks into the village wearing nothing but what is basically a thong; he even uncomfortably fiddles with the string running down the back.
  • Extinct in the Future: The script and an extended cut for the opening showed life on Earth. All whales and nearly half of all fish species have been wiped out and the last lion living outside of captivity has died in Kenya. However, the Bengal tiger was successfully rescued from extinction via cloning.
  • Eye Awaken: Avatar loves this one, use multiple times, from the opening shot to once Jake is able to reoccupy his Avatar body after the destruction of Hometree, to the very last shot of the movie.

  • Fantastic Aesop: Live in harmony with nature. On a moon where there is apparently next to no disease and a global sentient mind that provides for your every natural need, something that could never happen on Earth.
  • Fantastic Fauna Counterpart: Pandora's wildlife has a number of species that have a clear counterpart on Earth. The Na'vi are humans, of course, but the thanator is essentially a panther, the titanothere is a rhinoceros, the prolemuris are monkeys, the direhorses are horses, the viperwolves are wolves or hyenas, etc.
  • Fantastic Racism: The film is a perfect example of this. The interactions between the alien Na'vi and the humans parallels indigenous cultures meeting Western explorers and colonists. Most humans see the Na'vi as primitive savages to be exploited for their land's natural resources, while a few scientists genuinely want to communicate with and educate them, while studying their way of life. The Na'vi are distrustful toward the humans, whom they see as physically-inferior warriors. The only reason Jake was able to get them to trust him was because he wasn't a intellectual or a diplomat, neither of which they see as worthwhile roles.
  • Fantastic Romance: Made possible by the eponymous "Avatar" project.
  • Fantastic Ship Prefix: The Venture Star has the prefix ISV (Interstellar Vehicle).
  • Feet-First Introduction: There's a shot of Quaritch's boots as he walks up to give his briefing to the new arrivals.
  • Fertile Feet: Reconstructed. Nothing grows as a result of Na'vi passage, but any plants or ground coverings they interact with react with bioluminescence. Mainly just for Rule of Cool and Scenery Porn.
  • Fetal Position Rebirth: Whenever the Tree of Souls is being asked to permanently transfer a human into their Avatar body, both the human and Avatar bodies are in this position. On the other hand, there otherwise wouldn't be place for both bodies, with the Na'vi being almost twice a human's height.
  • Fictional Accent: James Cameron had a team create an entire language for the Na'vi of Pandora. He allowed lead actress Zoe Saldaña to create the accent in English for the Na'vi, which she described as being difficult since in her words "[she] barely speak[s] English as it is".
  • Floating Continent: In fact, this is the reason why humans are there. There's also the Hallelujah Mountains, large mountainous rocks that float in midair. Justified as Superconductors, like the Unobtainium in the Hallelujah Mountians do float in magnetic fields such as the flux vortex.
  • Foreshadowing: A couple of times, mixed with Tempting Fate:
    Dr. Grace Augustine (to Quaritch): What are you gonna do, shoot me?
    Quaritch: I can do that.
    Trudy: Damn, I was hoping for a plan that didn't involve martyrdom .
    • Also, Quaritch makes it very clear in his opening speech to the new meat that Pandora's wildlife are extremely dangerous. This is borne out at the end, when Eywa decides to send in all Pandora's wildlife to attack the Marine force. What was a rout by the Marines quickly turns into the wildlife showing them what it feels like to be on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle. An armored battlesuit doesn't help much when you've got a ten-ton, pissed off, bulletproof creature the size of an elephant stomping on you...
  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: The purpose of the Avatar project was to improve relations with the Na'vi by having the ambassadors who look like the Na'vi. Unfortunately, the Na'vi found it insulting, like black-face. Also, some Na'vi link the avatars to demonic possession.
  • Funny Background Event: When Jake is approaching the colony of ikran searching for one of his own, you can see Tsu'tey in the background shooing away an ikran approaching him and swatting it away.
  • Future Copter: Several different models, all used by the RDA. It is a James Cameron movie, after all.
  • Gaia's Lament: Earth has little to no plant or animal life left, warfare and terrorism grip the populace and resources are running out, the entire human race lives in massive polluted cities, the moon's darkside has even been fully developed, most food has been reduced to artificially processed algae. Jake specifically evokes this when communicating with Eywa, telling her to look at Grace's memories of Earth to see evidence of what human capitalism does to a planet.
  • Gaia's Vengeance: Or "Eywa's Vengeance" in this case. The Na'vi equivalent to Mother Earth, Eywa, eventually fights back against the humans by sending a huge stampede of Pandoran wildlife, including mountain banshees to push back the humans. Neytiri makes it clear this is a very rare occurrence.
  • Gas Mask Mooks:
    • Humans need to wear exopacks when outside their structures. A subversion in that they are designed to leave the face clearly visible.
    • Subverted in the official game, where some RDA soldiers wear masks which hide their lower faces.
  • Genius Loci: The entire moon, shown both when the animals suddenly gain enough intelligence and work together to massacre the Marine strike force, and in Jake's memory transfer.
  • Giant Flyer: Pandora is full of these. Even an ikran is HUGE compared to a human.
  • Giant's Knife; Human's Greatsword: Na'vi are much bigger than humans, resulting in many examples of this when the two species use each other's weapons. A BFG for a human, for instance, is downright dainty in Na'vi hands.
  • Giving Them the Strip: Jake's backpack is grabbed by the Thanator, so he unfastens its straps to escape.
  • Glowing Flora: The alien jungles of Pandora contain an enormous variety of bioluminescent plants, with almost every form of plant life giving off some blue or purple glow. This results in some very surreal forests, and the nighttime experience is as such rather different from nights on Earth — it's a whole lot less dark, to begin with.
  • Going Native: Thanks to Chekhov's moss-mediated brain transfer technology.
  • Gondor Calls for Aid:
    • You may think Jake appealing to Eywa for help against the humans' final assault to be cheesy or perhaps Narm. And then you see the Na'vi getting their asses handed to them. And then you see every animal and its mother ripping the assault force a new one. Good planning indeed.
    • A more traditional version of the trope is the "Toruk Makto unites the clans" montage where Jake calls for every single Na'vi clan to fight the humans.
  • Good Eyes, Evil Eyes: The Na'vi have enormous eyes, the Avatars' eyes are smaller but still much larger than a human's.
  • Gory Discretion Shot:
    • More like Gory Camera Pan. A lot of the attacks that would be bloodier are quickly panned away from. Most noticeable near the end where Jake is running on the top of the shuttle and unloads his machine gun into a group of marines. You see him open fire, but the camera very quickly pans up so you can't see most of the results, although you know exactly what they are. Gotta keep that PG-13 rating.
    • Quaritch's second-in-command getting crushed by a titanothere. It's only shown crushing his AMP suit but we can still hear him scream.
    • The additional scenes in the special edition show a few more nasty deaths of humans. We can see the aftermath of a raid against mining bulldozers, with one shot showing a soldier impaled by arrows and another one a burned out AMP suit, with pilot being implied to have been burned alive in it. Also an additional scene of a sturmbeest crushing an AMP against a tree (and impaling it straight through the cockpit in the process, no less).
    • Same with a soldier being crushed by an crate full of explosives.
  • Great Bow: Played with. Na'vi war bows are only modestly sized compared to their wielders, but they're impossibly huge and devastating by human standards. A trained Na'vi archer is easily capable of taking out lightly-armoured vehicles like VTOLs and Mini-Mecha with a single arrow by shooting through their cockpits and other vulnerable spots.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: The RDA board of Directors and-or the world-spanning neural network of Pandora.
  • Green Aesop: The whole point — to the point where it has been compared to every other story with a Green Aesop.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: Specifically invoked. James Cameron wanted a species that a human protagonist could believably find attractive.
  • Greeting Gesture Confusion: When Jake hears that Neytiri's father is debating whether or not to have him killed, Jake thrusts a hand at him, past the guards... to offer him a handshake.
  • Hand Cannon: Quaritch always carries a massive revolver with a laser sight and high-powered scope.
  • Handy Feet: Na'vi have them, at least those who are not serving as avatars to humans anyway.
  • Heavenly Concentric Circles: The Tree of Souls is regarded as sacred by the Na'vi because it lets them connect to their goddess, Eywa, through neural queues. It's also the place where the Flux Vortex is at its strongest. The Tree of Souls can be found in a ravine shelled by coaxial arcs of humongous fallen trees.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Jake eventually siding with the Na'vi over the RDA.
  • Heli-Critter: The fan lizard's wings resemble Da Vinci's helicopter which allow it to spin like a helicopter's rotor blades.
  • Hive Queen: Eywa, an overmind-like, super-intelligent being made of alien trees, which is linked to most advanced life forms on Pandora and has a form of internet (i.e. instant global communication) built of its roots and seeds.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • Jake's intel gives the marines the info needed to destroy Hometree. By the end of the movie... well, let's just say it doesn't work out for the bad guys.
    • Toruk hunts by diving with the sun behind its back as cover, earning the nickname "last shadow" because that's the last thing its prey tends to see before it snags them seconds later. Jake later uses the same tactic to ambush and tame one, as its skull structure means it can't look up.
  • Hollywood Tactics: The Na'vi attempt an unsupported, unarmored cavalry charge against a prepared line of space marines armed with machine guns. This tactical error could be excused by the Na'vi's lack of knowledge about human weaponry, except that in this particular battle the Na'vi are actually being LED by an ex-space marine. Norm's Avatar is also killed when he faces said marines head-on without taking cover thanks to being a scientist, not a soldier, but still.note 
  • Horse of a Different Color: The direhorse is basically a horse but blue and with six legs.
  • Hugh Mann: Averted — the Na'vi are well aware that the avatars are not actual Na'vi and are remotely controlled by humans.
  • Humanity Is Insane: Seems to be a common opinion of humans among the Na'vi. During his first encounter with the natives, Jake learns that he is "stupid like baby" and must be "cured" of his "insanity".
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: Played with. On one hand, you have it played straight with RDA; an enormous, corrupt corporation with enough resources to field its own private army in numbers rivaling modern militaries in our time, fully and unashamedly intend to wipe the natives of Pandora out of existence just so they can mine Unobtanium freely. On the other hand, there are humans, like Grace and later Jake, who want to work with the Na'vi, and are horrified by RDA's intentions for the moon and its inhabitants.
    • Another complication is the state of Earth itself, according to the backstory: war-torn, exhausted, and polluted almost to being uninhabitable with companies like RDA having an iron grip on the populace. The only chance for humanity to survive seems to be colonizing other planets, but the catch is that it requires Unobtanium, which is vital to building the starships needed for colonization, hence why the metal is so valuable. In short, humanity isn't just acting out of malice or some sort of misguided Manifest Destiny, they're on the brink of extinction and desperate for a solution.
    • The film inadvertently provides a rather disturbing meta-example. The human characters in the film are unwilling to resort to outright genocidal war against the Na'vi or using weapons of mass destruction, out of Pragmatic Villainy (a line suggests that the media and general public back on Earth are largely sympathetic to the Na'vi and violence against the natives is avoided to prevent bad PR for the operation). Yet such suggestions arise in reviews and discussions with alarming frequency.
  • Hungry Jungle: This is how Colonel Miles Quaritch describes Pandora's jungles to Jake when he first meets him. This is also how Pandora's jungles are initially depicted when Jake finds himself stranded in them during one of his first few nights on the moon.
  • Immune to Bullets:
    • The Hammerhead Titanotheres. Claimed to be so by Dr. Grace Augustine and how! Despite not being fully armored all-over these beasties can withstand explosive, armor-piercing and incendiary 30mm GAU rounds without a hitch.
    • Shooting thanators isn't very productive either, not because they're armored, but because they get seriously annoyed by it and take your gun away from you.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Those Na'vi arrows are HUGE. Quaritch in particular, who gets two straight through the chest, pinning him to the interior of his AMP suit.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: Exhibited in a deleted scene where the Na'vi are hunting sturmbeest on horseback and with air support. Both Tsu'tey and Jake manage to land arrows in the nostril, from the air (after which Jake yells "Hell yeah!" and Neytiri repeats it). Justified by the sight of other (lesser) warriors failing to get arrows through the beasts' armor plating; either you Attack Its Weak Point or the projectile bounces off.
  • Improperly Placed Firearms: The machine guns the humans (and a few Avatars) use looks suspiciously like a German MG3 with extra plastic parts. Note the outdated drum magazine at the side, and an internal Shout-Out to the Aliens Smart Guns. All There in the Manual that it is actually an M60 variant with a heatshield/grip and drum magazine, which is around the right size that while being impractical for a human to carry, it is just about assault rifle size for a Na'vi, who are also strong enough to handle the weight and recoil without a problem. They're also using outdated variants on purpose - importing weapons and ammo from Earth is extremely time-and-resource consuming and would malfunction in Pandora's harsh environment. And, as mentioned below, Pandora's very strong magnetic field and thick atmosphere would make the railguns, coilguns, and other such things common on Earth unreliable at best and useless at worst.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: The film is referred to as James Cameron's Avatar by third parties (probably to avoid confusion with the other Avatar), though this is rare for the film itself.
  • In Space, Everyone Can See Your Face: The exopacks show a lot more face than your typical oxygen mask, though this is justified by the setting - A. most people there spend so much time with a mask on that it makes sense to have them big enough for you to see who it is you're talking to, and B. it gives you a wider field of view, which is important in a setting where needing to see what's coming after you to kill and eat you is an ever-present concern.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: The humans have plenty of impressive machines at hand, but the one most featured is their AMP Suit, a robotic mech suit which possesses durable features which allow their operators to traverse through the Pandoran environment and live. Of note if Quaritch's one, which he equipped with a huge knife.
  • Intelligent Forest: The Ewya of Pandora is described as a vast network of fibre optic like branches and roots. Na'vi are able to hook themselves into this network and upload or download information.
  • Ironic Echo: Grace mentions that she would die for a chance to have access to the Tree of Souls so she could take samples. After being mortally wounded, she is brought to the Tree of Souls in an attempt to use it to save her life. Despite being in too much pain to move, she still manages to express her desire to take samples.
    • Also the various uses of "time to"/"have to wake up" throughout the film in concurrence with the film's real world/dream state theme.
      Trudy: Damn, I was hoping for a plan that didn't involve martyrdom.
      Grace: What are you gonna do, shoot me?
      Quaritch: Oh, I can do that.
      Jake: One life ends, another begins.
      Jake: Everything is backwards now, like out there is the true world, and in here's the dream.
      Jake: Sooner or later, you always gotta wake up.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Selfridge in regards to Jake as a replacement for his brother. Grace's annoyance over losing Tommy is understandable, but it could hardly be helped, and the RDA's attempt to salvage the situation by substituting the only one compatible with an otherwise-useless (and extremely expensive) avatar body seems completely reasonable. Perhaps the one and only point a viewer might side with the resident Corrupt Corporate Executive in this film.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Grace comes across as condescending and rude earlier on in the film, but later on is shown to be more compassionate and understanding than most other human characters.
  • Jungle Opera: The whole film is set on a planet with a thick, lush jungle inhabited by blue-skinned alien natives whose culture references those of the real-life Amazonian tribes. The protagonist is also shown trying to survive in the wild before siding with the natives. Basically, the whole film is a jungle story IN SPAAAaaace!
  • Just Plane Wrong: The SA-2 Samson twin-rotor helicopter is described as being built by the Aerospatiale company, which stopped trading under that name in 2001, before the movie was even released.

  • Kill It with Fire: Human soldiers favor incendiary missiles and flamethrowers. Makes sense in a Hungry Jungle.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: The small arms used by the humans aren't that dissimilar to ours — in fact, in the background, the machine gun is an M60 variant, although other sources state that forces back on Earth have more advanced weapons, such as railguns, it's just that the weapons used on Pandora are cheaper and easier to make and maintain, plus Pandora's very strong magnetic field and thick atmosphere make many weapons unreliable at best and useless at worst.
  • The Lifestream: Kinda played with. Eywa acts as this, kinda. It doesn't happen automatically, they Brain Upload just before they die.
  • Lightworlder: Much of the reason the 10-foot-tall humanoid Na'vi can live very well on Pandora is because of the 20% weaker gravity putting far less strain on their bodies. While humans are stronger on Pandora than Earth thanks to decreased gravity, they are still weaker than native animals both proportionally and totally. The Colonel mentions the need for constant exercise to prevent muscle atrophy.
  • Limb-Sensation Fascination: One of the things Jake loves about his avatar body is that it is whole. When he first "wakes up" in it, there is focus on his exploring new things he can do, like running and jumping.
  • Lineage Ladder: A particularly old ancestor is simplified to Neytiri's "grandfather's grandfather" both to describe his position on the family tree and also convey how rare it is for a Na'vi to ride a Toruk.
    Jake: Our guys call it a Great Leonopteryx.
    Neytiri: It is Toruk. Last Shadow.
    Jake: Yeah right. Last one you'll ever see.
    Neytiri: My grandfather's grandfather was Toruk Makto. Rider of Last Shadow.
    Jake: He rode this?
    Neytiri: Toruk chose him. It has happened only five times since the time of the first songs.
    Jake: That's a very long time.
    Neytiri: Yes. Toruk Makto was mighty. He brought together the clans in a time of great sorrow. All Na'vi people know this story.
  • Loincloth: All the Na'vi.
  • Love Across Battlelines: The protagonist is a human soldier falling in love with a warrior of the clan he's hired to defend the human colony against.
  • Ludd Was Right: Debatable, the humans are seen as bad and they use technology. But the technology is not why they are doing what they do, and the hero needed that technology to join the Na'vi in the first place.
  • Machine Worship: The neural network that spans Pandora is worshipped by the Na'vi as a Goddess. In the climactic battle, the invading RDA forces strike the nearest datahub-tree. Unfortunately for them, this seems to convince the world-mind to fight back, with all the dangerous creatures attacking the marines but leaving alone the Na'vi.
  • Magic Skirt: Top half version, Averted for the most part, Neytiri spends most the film clad in a series of necklaces that have no back fastening, any time she moves sharply or downwards, it's revealed that her nipples are fully rendered, the one notable aversion is when she is flying on her banshee, with the windspeed, her necklaces should be essentially flying behind her, giving the audience an eyeful, but they instead stick tight to her chest.
  • Major Injury Underreaction:
    • Grace just goes "this is gonna ruin my whole day" after being shot. For bonus points, the only time she goes "ouch" after that is from a syringe, and it's rather flat. On the other hand, receiving such an injury can actually have this effect as the body dumps a load of adrenaline into the system to try and cope, plus the potential for shock.
    • At one point, Colonel Quaritch ignores that he is on fire. He triages the problem of first and second degree burns to his arm to focus on a complex bailout from a crashing aircraft. Then he puts the fire out.
  • Manly Tears: In the original script when Jake first gets to use the legs of his avatar body, he cries.
  • Matchstick Weapon: When he finds himself surrounded by viperwolves in the Pandoran jungle, Jake is surrounded by tries fighting them off with a burning torch.
  • Meaningful Name:
    • The Pandoran compound Unobtainium is only found on Pandora. The humans don't get much of it, hence it is unobtainable on planets not called Pandora. This is an in-joke relating to something that has incredible properties. See Unobtainium.
    • Jake, or Jacob, is the name of one of the great Patriarchs of The Bible; his brother Thomas' name means simply "the twin." Grace Augustine is named after both a heavenly gift and the great Doctor of the church... it goes on.
    • Some people think Eywa sounds like Yahweh, the Hebrew name for God. —and 'Selfridge' sounds a lot like 'selfish'.
    • Though best known for opening the box, the Pandora of Classical Mythology was created to be the perfect woman, and her name literally means "All-Gifted". The namesake moon is everything that the earth of the time is not: Lovely, with a rich ecology and massive natural resources.
  • A Mech by Any Other Name: The combat AMP suits used by the military, which are pretty much the descendants of the Power Loader from Aliens, or Terran Goliaths. They were originally developed as the equivalent of power loaders, but modified to carry armament and having been used on Earth in this capacity as well, particularly in environments dangerous/toxic to unprotected humans. At least their large cabin, with excellent view but poor protection, and lack of in-built weaponry heavily suggests this. Quaritch's suit is seen to have a combat knife. The manual, on the other hand, states that they are purpose-built for combat and that several armies back on Earth use them.
  • Mech vs. Beast: The fight between Quaritch in his Mini-Mecha and Neytiri's thanator.
  • MegaCorp: The RDA, which is stated to be better funded than most world governments.
  • Men of Sherwood:
    • The bowmen of the combined Na’vi clans are pretty formidable in the climax. They do take casualties, but not gratuitously, and not without inflicting a good amount of damage on their enemies.
    • In a Deleted Scene, Max and a bunch of other scientists take over the RDA command post in a Curb-Stomp Battle, using a mix of weapons and machinery, without taking a single loss.
  • Mighty Whitey: Jake Sully, a white male, leads the primitive Na'vi to victory against seemingly hopeless odds in their battle with the marines.
  • Mineral Macguffin: Obviously, this is Unobtainium again. Despite the backstory provided, we only see one TINY piece of it twice during the movie, which is somewhat justified — even a sliver of it is enormously valuable.
  • Mini-Mecha: The AMP suits straddle the line between Power Armor and Humongous Mecha. Though it also states that AMP suits are normally equipped with armored cover which is placed over the cockpit. However because of the electronic problems on Pandora this had to be removed in order to give the pilots a better field of vision.
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Quite a few:
    • The Na'vi themselves are Humanoid Aliens but also incorporite quite a lot of features from cats and lemurs.
    • The Toruk resembles a pterosaur or dragon with the hooked bill, grasping feet and eyebrow ridges of an eagle and a black-and-orange color scheme somewhat evoking a monarch butterfly.
    • Direhorses, while looking mostly horse-like, have a snout and tongue like an anteater and a "mane" resembling a cetacean dorsal fin.
    • Titanotheres look a lot like the extinct rhinoceros-like mammal Megacerops, but with a feather-like fan on its head resembling a peacock's tail.
    • Ikran are mostly lizard-like, but have a facial structure reminiscent of certain carnivorous fish like barracudas, as well as having hind legs modified into wings, similar to the Microraptor.
  • More Dakka: The Tie-in guide says that AMP Suits have a flamethrower and (auto)cannon built in, for self-defense and defoliation. In the movie, the actual weapons are more "Interchangable", the ammo system is the "built in" part. The Dragon Gunship has about 300 missiles, 10 grenade launchers, and four Miniguns. More or less every ranged weapon trope besides Kill It With Fire (though that would depend on whether the commander decided to spring for incendiaries) on a heavy-duty flying platform.
  • Motherly Scientist: Dr. Grace claims that Na'vi children she taught at her school called her "mother".
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: A flashy sci-fi action with an emotional love story, hence having an appeal broad enough to become the highest-grossing film ever.
  • Myself, My Avatar: The eponymous Avatars are "Na'vi" clone bodies controlled by humans, allowing them to explore Pandora's environment and try to negotiate with the local Na'vi to end the conflict between them without having to do it themselves due to the planet's toxic atmosphere. Jake, a paraplegic, controls one to "regain" his ability to walk, however short-lived it may be.
  • My Sibling Will Live Through Me: Tom Sully's Avatar was created to work with his DNA; when he is killed, only someone with identical DNA, in this case his twin brother Jake, can operate the Avatar. So he does.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast:
    • The thanator. "Thanatos" is the Greek word for "death," and also the name of its personification. It's very appropriate in this case.
    • Then there's the Toruk, which in Na'vi means "Last Shadow".
  • Nature vs. Technology: Puts the indigenous and sentient life of Pandora against the resource-exploitative technological humans. Eywa, the supreme being of Pandora, comes to the Na'vi peoples' aid when they go up against the humans.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: The "flux vortex" of the moon's strong magnetic field makes a lot of instruments, such as mapping and targeting systems, completely useless. Things like thermal scans, communications, and motion sensors still work, though they get statics.
  • Neutral No Longer: When Jake asks for Eywa's help in the coming battle, Neytiri says that Eywa "does not take sides, she only protects the balance of life." However, when the Na'vi are about to be overrun, the Pandoran fauna, including animals who are normally natural enemies, suddenly attacks the human forces en masse.
    Neytiri: Jake, Eywa has heard you! EYWA HAS HEARD YOU!
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Jake Sully provides all the intel that the RDA needs to successfully take down Hometree. Not only that but he completely neglects to mention that they only want a small rock from underneath their land. He goes so far as to sleep with Neytiri without ever actually passing on the message that the entire Avatar program was intended for.
  • No Biochemical Barriers: Averted and done straight. The air is unbreathable to humans thanks to its concentration of CO2 and H2S, causing a coma in a matter of seconds, and death in minutes. Pandoran plants are loaded to the brim with toxins, as far as humans are concerned. However the namesake Avatars are created by the improbable working combination of human and Na'vi DNA. Which is another can of worms in itself, because the Na'vi, according to Pandorapedia, do not have DNA.
  • No Kill like Overkill: The Na'vi arrows are the size of boar spears, and laced with a deadly neurotoxin. The bows they are shot from are about ten feet long and powerful enough to send the arrow clean through an armored human torso. One of these arrows is complete overkill for a human target, but after Quaritch destroys her home, kills her father and God knows how many of her other family and friends, leads an assault against the cultural center of her people, and tries to directly kill her and her mate, Neytiri decides to go ahead and shoot him twice.
  • Noble Savage: The Na'vi way of life is depicted in the film as noble.
  • Non-Mammal Mammaries: Despite being aliens, the Na'vi women have breasts used to nurse their newborns like placental mammals. James Cameron commented in an interview that right from the beginning that the Na'vi'' design "got to have tits", even if it didn't make sense.
  • Nose Art: For the film's climax, Trudy has a white and blue cheatline painted on her chopper, presumably to help the Na'vi tell her apart from the other aircraft flying around.
  • Not Disabled in VR: The artificial Na'vi body that Jake Sully uses has working legs.
  • Not What I Signed on For: An odd example when Trudy mutinies.
    Trudy: Screw this. I didn't sign up for this shit!
  • Nuclear Torch Rocket: The Venture Star uses a dual-propulsion method: going from Earth, it uses a Solar Sail to get moving, and an antimatter rocket to slow down. Going from Proxima Centauri, it does that in reverse.
  • Ominous Fog: The otherwise scenery pornographic Pandora gets this trait once Hometree is destroyed, since the ashes contribute to the fog.
  • One-Product Planet: Pandora may appear to be this as it is valued for its Unobtainium, but the background mentions genetic development from plants on Pandora. Also, one of the few examples of this trope that uses Slower-Than-Light travel.
  • Only a Flesh Wound: Averted, painfully. One character takes a rifle bullet to the stomach and is in too much pain to move for the next few scenes; the protagonists perform first aid and rush them to a healer, but the wound is too severe, and they arrive too late anyway.
  • Only the Chosen May Ride:
    • The Ikran are dragon-like creatures that the Na'vi use as mounts. Every Ikran chooses its own master, and only then if the one they choose can best them in combat and tame them.
    • Worth special mention is the Toruk, a larger apex predator of the Ikran. It is said to be untameable by even the strongest of Na'vi, and only five individuals are known to have tamed one in their history. Jake manages to become the sixth by virtue of being ballsy (and desperate) enough to attack one with the same method it uses to hunt Ikran.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Jake; American character, Australian actor, accent bouncing back and forth as much as it liked.
  • Out Run The Fireball:
    • Quaritch does this to escape the exploding gunship. Granted, he's in a giant robot suit, which should help to protect him from the heat, though it gets some burning fuel on it.
    • Several Na'vi are also shown doing this while Hometree explodes around them.

  • Pieces of God: Just about all plantlife on Pandora forms a neural network, and most animal life (including the Na'vi) have the ability to tap directly into that network.
  • Pinball Protagonist: Until Grace dies, Jake doesn't actually really make any moral decisions, with one key exception — otherwise, he is just drifting along with the plot. Even afterwards, all he's doing is trying to make up for his errors, and get together with the only people who'd accept him.
  • Planetary Romance: It's set on a detailed alien world with a mostly primitive setting involving frequent use of melee weapons and seemingly magical abilities with vague scientific explanations. James Cameron even stated that he was heavily inspired by John Carter of Mars, the first major planetary romance ever written. One might argue that the film is a Reconstruction of (or a Genre Throwback to) this century-old genre, updating and re-imagining many tropes characteristic of it.
  • Planet Looters: A peaceful moon is brutally invaded by short, militaristic aliens who want a valuable mineral to make their dying world a little more convenient and make a shitload of money in the process. To the aliens' credit they tried to negotiate mining rights first. Kind of subverted in that the natives don't seem to know or care how important the mineral is themselves, and the moon is too remote and too dangerous for colonization.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: Immediately following the massive air battle between the invading humans and the native Na'vi, "Papa Dragon" descends down to Pandora's surface and subsequently does battle with Jake Sully personally one final time before ever actually going down for good.
  • Precision F-Strike: Trudy saying "I didn't sign up for this shit" when mutineering. Not the only instance of vulgarity in the movie, sure, but probably the most impactful one given the context.
    • Grace's "Oh shit." earlier in the film is another great example.
  • Private Military Contractors: All the human soldiers are explicitly this, even though most served as army or marines in the past. Most likely a result of how much flak Cameron took for portraying actual marines this way in Aliens.
  • Psychic Link: The link between avatars and their operators, enabled by the link bed.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "They have sent us a message. That they can take whatever they want. Well, we will send them a message. That THIS! THIS IS OUR LAND!"
  • Punny Name: A few human firearms manufacturers have this. Hirte and Fahl? (Hurt and Fall) Massa-Cirre? (Massacre)? Matanza (Slaughter) Arms? Subtle.
  • Puny Earthlings: Na'vi are much taller, stronger and more agile than humans. They are fighting on their home turf, and they have the ability to neurally connect with other living things on Pandora. In fact their entire homeworld is connected by a neural Internet that is comparable to the will of a deity. Sure, humans have guns and machines, but Na'vi can pick up and use guns too...
  • Railroad Plot: Humans go to Pandora to mine unobtanium. The largest deposit is, unfortunately, under the Na'vi Hometree.
  • Real Robot: The AMP suits have been jury-rigged as heavy weapons platforms by the Space Marines.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: The Na'vi have their palms facing outwards, which is the opposite of real life archers. While In-Universe this is justified by the Na'vi having different biomechanics, there is still the fact that humans were performing that gesture. With enough practice in this grip, it's more than plausible to use it. It's not considered proper by professional archers, but it's far from a useless grip.
  • Recurring Extra: Flat Character Mook Fike, a bald black guy in Selfridge's headquarters, two science team members who play basketball with their Avatars, and the Asian mission control tech on Grace's staff. All of them appear in multiple scenes throughout the film, but have very few lines and little characterization beyond their loyalties to one side or the other.
  • Remote Body: Jake spends most of the movie as the controller of a synthetic alien. In the end, he permanently transfers his conscious into the alien body.
  • Reveling in the New Form: When paraplegic marine Jake Sully first gets to control his Avatar Remote Body, the first thing he notices is that his new body has functioning legs. So ecstatic is he over this regained mobility that he immediately exits the lab (much to the consternation of the doctors monitoring his first use of the Avatar), leaps and dashes across the nearby garden, and digs his toes into the loamy dirt. Colonel Quaritch exploits this glee over the regained mobility, saying that he'll ensure that Jake gets his "real legs" back if he continues reporting on the Na'vi.
  • Rock Beats Laser:
    • Played with. In the first battle, the natives' basic weapons do very little damage to human gunships. In the second, after they work on their tactics with advice from Jake, and with much nastier compound bows it's subverted when that's still not enough to carry the day against the wall of gunfire, despite doing quite well at first. Then the Deus ex Machina kicks in. Also, Lampshaded by Trudy:
      Trudy: You're going up against gunships with bows and arrows.
    • It is also used straight — a billion-dollar mining machine is blinded and halted by a guy with a rock. Justified in that he didn't break the machine, just its camera, blinding its remote operator.
  • Rock of Limitless Water: The floating islands have waterfalls constantly flowing from out of them, despite not having a source for such water. In this case, there is a somewhat logical reason given for the phenomenon that does not quite justify the amount of water created this way.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: Despite being 10 foot tall CGI figures, the Na'vi are amazingly humanlike in their appearance, especially compared with the other wildlife shown on Pandora. This was done so that the audience could identify with them more easily. Lampshaded and discussed in extra material — a scientist notes that, despite looking and acting very human, we have more in common with garden snails than with them.
  • Savage Piercings: One clan of Na'vi wear nose bones.
  • Scared of What's Behind You: One of Jake's early experiences in his avatar found him separated from the group and facing down a strange aggressive creature that he had to try to intimidate. When the creature runs away, Jake jeers at it, until he starts to realize that there's another, much larger creature behind him...
  • Scenery Gorn: When hometree is destroyed, the entire landscape is shown smokey, foggy, smouldering, burning, and laden with ashes all at once, leaving for a very poignant and saddening display.
  • Scenery Porn: Pandora is beautiful — especially at night with the bioluminescence. This is arguably the most visually stunning movie ever created.
  • Science Is Bad: Played with, as on the surface it looks straight (evil humans with tech versus Noble Savages), but a closer look reveals a subversion — the most sympathetic humans are all scientists, the only way the protagonist is able to interact with the Na'vi is through science, and the Na'vi forces use some stolen tech themselves in the Final Battle. Indeed, even the Na'vi goddess is shown as being a scientifically based and verifiable entity. Ultimately it's more "Imperialism is Bad", and the imperialists (as is generally true in history) have the more advanced weapons. Science used responsibly is treated as a Good Thing.
  • Science Is Good: Science Is Bad being subverted means this is played straight. The scientists are all good guys and it's through the scientific approach that they realize they shouldn't interfere with Pandora's ecosystem. The Na'vi goddess is also a real being, fully examinable and explainable through science. The bad guys are the military and corporates who misuse technology. The movie does not suggest that humans should shift back to hunter-gatherer culture like some supporters and detractors believe. In fact, the supplementary material is pretty adamant that scientific advancement is the only way to rescue Earth from its miserable state, and that research from Pandora is vital to this progress. The message is that aboriginal peoples should not be forced to adapt modern lifestyle against their will, and that horrible consequences caused by environmental exploitation can't be fixed with more exploitation.
  • Sealed Cast in a Multipack: The film has the humans spend the long trip between Earth and Pandora in deep sleep.
  • Second-Hand Storytelling: We follow Jake Sully's story practically minute-by-minute until he begins to gather the tribes, when we just get narration.
  • Serkis Folk: The Na'vi (both real and Avatars). Also the direhorses, whose movements were performed by real horses (although the animators had to add an extra pair of legs).
  • Shades of Conflict: The movie is closer to White-and-Grey Morality than a lot of fans and detractors may claim. While the Na'vi just want to be left alone, the humans are willing to disrupt the Na'vi culture in order to get a MacGuffin that can be used to improve the already abysmal quality of life back on Earth, as well as helping with space travel. Whether it would actually be used to make Earth suck less is a lot less clear; Selfridge seems largely concerned with mining Unobtainium, regardless of environmental impact, and when Grace tells him Eywa is alive, he brushes her off entirely. We don't know if his attitude is the typical one of the RDA administration, but there's a good chance we'll see in the sequel.
  • Shadow of Impending Doom: The Na'vi name for the Great Leonopteryx, a flying Apex predator, is Toruk, which translates to "Last Shadow". Toruk's favored method of attack is to dive with the sun behind it so by the time you see its shadow fall on you, it is often already too late.
  • Shaky Cam: Used lightly enough that the audience can tell more-or-less what's going on. There may be hope for this trope yet.
  • Shout-Out: There's plenty of other sci-fi films this one makes references to, being a sci-fi film itself. They have their own page here.
  • Shown Their Work:
    • Per the Pandorapedia, the starship Venture Star combines beamed light sail propulsion for the outbound flight and a fusion/antimatter hybrid drive to decelerate at Alpha Centauri. Yes, those are some of the leading ideas for interstellar flight that don't involve new science.
    • The biggest problem a large spaceship will have is getting rid of waste heat; the Venture Star has huge radiators, and they're red-hot.
    • See also the amount of detail in Pandorapedia, such as their careful examination of the Scorpion's vulnerabilities and advantages against the Na'vi. Or this series of articles.
    • Also regarding the Na'vi language: While James Cameron isn't an expert in language construction, he had the very good sense to hire people who were. He also had the actors practice their Na'vi lines until everything was perfect.
  • Sickly Green Glow: All Pandoran organisms, including the Na'vi, possess bioluminescence of many colors which emit light when darkness falls and one of those colors is green. However, the Pandoran animals are happy to leave anyone alone if no one disturbs them and the Na'vi are not evil.
  • Signed Up for the Dental: Jake's major motivation to participate in the Avatar program is to get his paralysis fixed. To repeat the line from the Crapsack World point:
    Jake: Sure, they can fix a spinal [cord injury] if you have the money, but on veterans' benefits? Not in this economy.
  • Simple, yet Opulent: Although he doesn't draw attention to the implications, Selfridge does keep a fist-sized sample of unobtanium ("20 million per kilo!") unguarded on his desk, which certainly says a lot about how wealthy he is.
  • Single-Biome Planet:
    • Fully averted (there is no land mass at either of the poles, so the icecaps are floating with no fixed features), but there's never a location visited where temperatures look like they could drop below freezing (with the POSSIBLE exception of the plains).
    • The sequel will feature Pandora's oceans, which fits with Cameron's obsession with the ocean.
  • Single Language Planet: Enforced. On Pandora the native population, despite being split into numerous clans, only has one language, the lì'fya leNa'vi. There's no variance between individual clans. Partly justified, because since there is a planetary superintelligence on Pandora, and since every living being is more or less linked to Eywa, this could be a reason why there's a uniform language on this world.
  • Sleeper Starship: Most of the passengers aboard the Venture Star are cryogenically frozen since it takes about five years to reach Alpha Centauri.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Despite the classic Humans Are the Real Monsters plot, the film falls squarely on the idealistic side: the cynical, war-loving Colonel is defeated by the peaceful scientists, the Na'vi and mother nature, who are bonded by The Power of Friendship via a Psychic Link.
  • Solar Sail: The Venture Star has a large solar sail which is used for accelerating towards Pandora. The sail is shot at by a large laser somewhere in the Solar System to provide enough thrust to reach 70% lightspeed.
  • Soul Jar: Not exactly, but when Jake (in Avatar form) is fighting the colonel toward the end of the film, and he makes a move to attack Jake's unprotected human body, the effect is similar.
  • Space Marine: The corporation's private military contractors fill this role in this movie, although one wonders why Cameron didn't just bite the bullet and call them the Colonial Marines. With their AMP suits supporting foot-mobile infantry, they're ironically far closer to the Mobile Infantry of Starship Troopers than the so-called film adaptation of that book.
  • Space Plane: The absolutely massive "Valkyrie" shuttle is capable of going either to or from space unaided, and can rotate its engines to land without a runway.
  • Space Whale Aesop: The pro-conservation message is conveyed through the world of Pandora, a flawless alien paradise untainted by technology. On Pandora, deforestation is depicted as evil because it nearly leads to the destruction of a sentient organic mind-linking supercomputer that lets the resident aliens communicate with their dead relatives, and nearly everything that humans had to develop through technological advances—medicine, transportation, shelter, and even data storage—is naturally provided by the living ecosystem. It's easy for the Na'vi to preach about respecting the environment when their environment apparently supplies them with all the perks of an industrialized society.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: As much as audiences commented its derivative nature, it took some concepts used previously in different works and done in a polar opposite execution. Past works such as:
  • Square-Cube Law: The lighter gravity of Pandora partly accounts for the huge bodies (though not the great strength) of the Na'vi, Avatars, and wildlife (although the AMP suits may seem to stretch the suspension of disbelief note ).
  • Starfish Aliens:
    • The creatures of Pandora were supposed to be like this, and they even got Wayne freakin' Barlowe and Neville Page to help out. But eventually they had to tone it down because the creatures looked "too alien". At one point the banshee and Leonopteryx looked like giant flying manta rays. This was part of an overall theme change, as the Na'vi concept art at the time had a reptilian look, which is where all the confusion about their being mammals originated from thanks to out-of-date information.
    • Pretty much all life on Pandora has six limbs, four eyes, and breathes through an operculum on the chest... except the Na'vi, Prolemuris (a clear evolutionary link intended to show the reasoning behind it), and ikran (which have four wings, all of which function as legs on the ground, and no trace of the third pair of limbs).
    • Though there are still some minor creatures in film that are definitely Starfish Aliens, many of the flora and fauna were inspired by deep sea Earth creatures and plants.
    • The creatures on Pandora, while looking vertebrate-y, are also shown to breathe through an operculum (e.g. ikran, toruk and pa'li).
  • Stock Sound Effect: The Thanator's roar is identical to that of the T. rex from Jurassic Park, while the Direhorses make honking calls similar to the raptors of the same film.
  • Stock Star Systems: Pandora is a moon in the Alpha Centauri A system. This is only implied in the film itself, but confirmed in the manual.
  • Stuff Blowing Up:
    • The Dragon ship and the makeshift bomber go out with huge kabooms that put Michael Bay to shame. Justified in case of the bomber, because it's loaded with lots of explosives.
    • The Hometree falls after perhaps several dozen huge explosions.
  • Stumbling in the New Form: Jake Sully's first use of his Avatar sees him awkwardly stumble around the medical bay and accidentally give one of the doctors a Tail Slap. This is an unusual case where his new form isn't radically different from his real human body (the Na'vi being Humanoid Aliens), but Jake had been so out of practice with walking due to his paraplegia that it's as good as a new experience for him.
  • Sub-Lightspeed Setting: Antimatter-powered human starships can only reach a significant fraction of the speed of light, but can't exceed it. The 4.3 light year-voyage from Earth to Pandora takes half a decade.
  • Subspace Ansible: It never appears in the film itself, but the Pandorapedia mentions that the Venture Star, the otherwise-realistic starship, has a low-bitrate superluminal communication ability using quantum entangling.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: The thanator scene most obviously, but from the sound of things, pretty much every single piece of wildlife on Pandora. May be justified, if everything is this vicious, it may be necessary just to land a meal.

  • Taxonomic Term Confusion: The tie-in novel to the movie lists the scientific name of the Na'vi as Homo pandorus. However, it's justified in this case. Organisms of separate evolutionary origin are allowed to share the same genus name— plants can have the same genus names as animals, and some do. For example, the genus Prunella is occupied by both a flowering plant and a songbird.
  • Techno Babble: Both played straight and subverted. Played straight when Grace uses a jargon-heavy explanation to describe to Selfridge why the Na'vi concept of Eywa residing in all of Pandora's plant life is actually a very real fact. Subverted, as the unnecessarily Techno Babble-heavy explanation goes right over Selfridge's head.
  • Technology Porn: The few scenes showing Earth, which were not ever seen in the theatrical release, also show endless amounts of lights and neon signs, and entire planes of advertisement screens, only matched in real life by cities like Tokyo or Shanghai. Earth may be in a potentially irreversible state of severe environmental decay, but at least its technology is amazing, and its cities bright and lively.
  • Tempting Fate: Grace taunts Quaritch over what he's going to do with her, one of which was shoot her. Quaritch tells her he can do exactly that...and he makes good on that promise when Grace, Jake and company run from the RDA, leaving the lady mortally wounded.
  • Thank Your Prey: The Na'vi do some sort of a mercy kill to any wildlife they've hurt, such as Neytiri putting a wounded viperwolf out of its suffering after it got hurt by Jake. Taken from tribal cultures that do the same.
  • Third-Act Misunderstanding: Jake's motives are revealed at the point where he's already past Becoming the Mask, and he tries to explain to his teammates that he's on their side now, but they don't believe him.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: "You're not the only one with a gun, bitch."
  • This Means Warpaint: The Na'vi and their allies, just before the Final Battle. Trudy even put warpaint around the cockpit of her stolen gunship.note 
  • Throwing Off the Disability: Achieved by means of transferring his brain/mind into a different body. Jake actually signed up for the program for both a chance at this and the fact RDA would fix his spine as soon as his tenure was over, but decided that it wasn't worth performing genocide for.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Inverted: using your longbow as a club always works in the movie. Justified, as Na'vi bows are at least 8 feet long and would have to be heavy enough to be used as a melee weapon in order to withstand their draw weight.
  • Tin Man Typist: The Mini-Mecha carry oversize knives and machine guns rather than having them built into their arms.
  • Tiny Guy, Huge Girl: Done briefly when Neytiri cradles Jake's dying human form.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: Not a trailer, but the soundtrack album gave away a couple of key plot points in its track titles. Most notably, "The Destruction of Hometree" and "Shutting Down Grace's Lab". The trailer gave away basically the entire plot.
  • Transparent Tech: Transparent screens are seen in the avatar labs where Jake Sully's body is usually found, which is the most high-tech room in the film.
  • Tree Top Town: Hometree appears to play this trope straight, except it just consists of one huge tree instead of several.
  • Tribal Face Paint:
    • When Jake is inducted into the Na'vi they paint his entire body with a white paint of some sort.
    • Some of the Na'vi (e.g. Neytiri) wear a different kind of paint when going into battle.
    • The bioluminescent spots on the Na'vi can be viewed as a sort of permanent face paint.
  • Trilogy Creep: The number of sequels has been moved up from two to three.
  • Universe Bible: 350 pages of alien language (Speak Na'vi), plants and wildlife taxonomy, a scale structure for the alien music, Pandora's physical properties etc., etc.
  • Unobtainium: They actually call it that. Word of God is that it is used in starship drives. Before the discovery of Pandora, interstellar travel was too costly and long.
  • Vapor Wear: Most female Na'Vi wear a Mr.T level of thin necklaces with nothing securing them to cover their breasts, leading to Neytiri having constant Nip-slips throughout the film.
  • Vasquez Always Dies: Trudy Chacon explodes with her gunship in the climactic battle.
    Trudy: Damn, I was hoping for a plan that didn't involve martyrdom.
  • Vertebrate with Extra Limbs: Every creature on Pandora, except the Na'vi, ikran and stingbats. Word of God explains that this is due to the fact that they evolved from the monkey-like Prolemuris, which as we see in the film has six limbs — but two of those are two arms that bifurcate into four forearms (each with a two-fingered hand as opposed to the Na'vi four-fingered hand). These forearms fused into two by the time the Na'vi had evolved, leaving them the only ones with four limbs.
  • War Is Glorious: So much cool hardware and stirring martial prowess, this one's inevitable.
  • Watching Troy Burn: The destruction of Hometree.
  • Waterfall into the Abyss: The Hallelujah Mountains. The floating islands have waterfalls constantly flowing from out of them, despite not having a source for such water.
  • Weaker Twin Saves the Day: Inverted. Jake is the stronger brother; a marine. However, he still gets to be the hero by virtue of his DNA being similar enough to his dead brother, a scientist.
  • What Did You Expect When You Named It ____?: Really, humans? You named this world Pandora? Even if it does mean "All-Gifted", there is a reason that name has fallen out of use.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: When Jake first exits the RDA Complex, we see dozens of Avatars running around. Apart from Grace, Norm and Jake, none of them are ever shown after this point. A deleted scene from the final battle shows the Avatar Project staff storming the link room, and using the Avatars to take over Main Ops from the RDA and Selfridge.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Played with VERY strangely. Here we have human characters taking on alien forms, learning to associate with said alien species, etc. and the protagonist taking the side of said aliens over that of his Evil Mentor.
  • Wheelchair Antics: Norm can briefly be seen messing around with Jake's wheelchair, balancing on the back two wheels in the link room.
  • The World Is Just Awesome: Many. Just to name a few:
    • Bioluminescence is a major part of Pandora — the forest glows at night.
    • The Hallelujah Mountains, which are, er, mountains. That float magnificently, thanks to gravity and magnetic fields.
    • Iknimaya.
  • World Tree: Hometree, and especially the Tree of Souls.
  • Wormsign: The Toruk is named Last shadow by the Na'vi for a reason: its shadow will be the last thing its prey will ever see, with the Toruk swooping on them for the kill after they see its shadow.
  • You Killed My Father: Neytiri's father is killed in the attack on Hometree. Sure enough, she gets her revenge, using her father's own bow.
  • Zerg Rush: Attempted by the Na'vi in the final battle. Didn't work very well, until Eywa performs a much larger Zerg Rush — this time with Titanotheres, who can actually withstand the heavy fire. And Viperwolves. And many many more Banshees. Capped off with a Thanator offering itself to Neytiri as an Epic Mount.

Jake Sully: Well, uh, I guess this is my last video log. 'Cause whatever happens tonight, either way, I'm... I'm not gonna be coming back to this place. Well, I guess I'd better go. I don't wanna be late for my own party. It's my birthday, after all. This is Jake Sully signing off.