It takes place in a Constructed World divided into nations based around the elements of water, earth, fire, and air. Some people from each nation, called "benders", have the ability to control the element on which their nation is based.
However, one character, called the Avatar, is incarnated into each of the nations in an endless cycle, and he or she has the ability to bend all four elements. The main character of each work is this Avatar, and he or she must undergo the trials, tribulations, and responsibility of holding that power.
Works in the canonWestern Animation
- The Lost Scrolls
- The Earth Kingdom Chronicles
- Sozin's Comet: The Final Battlenote
- Ready-to-Read Seriesnote
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – Legacy
- The Rise of Kyoshi
- The Legend of Korra: Revolutionnote
- The Legend of Korra: Endgamenote
- The Legend of Korra: An Avatar's Chronicle
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Lost Adventuresnote
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – Rebound
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – Shells
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – Sisters
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – Smoke and Shadow
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – North and South
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – Team Avatar Talesnote
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – Imbalance
- The Legend of Korra: Friends for Life
- The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars
- The Legend of Korra: Lost Pets
- Republic City Hustle
Non-canon works based on the franchise
- Super Deformed Shorts
- The Last Airbender
- The Last Airbender Movie Novelization
- Aang's Destiny
- Battle of the North
- Trial by Fire
- The Avatar's Return
- The Last Airbender (manga)
- Zuko's Story
- Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Burning Earth
- Avatar: The Last Airbender – Into the Inferno
- The Last Airbender
Tropes common to the franchise:
- Animesque: The art style of the franchise is based on anime, as admitted by the creators themselves, especially the work of Hayao Miyazaki. It also helps that the show is animated by many companies known for working on genuine anime.
- Arc Villain: While Airbender featured a single Big Bad for the duration of the series, Korra features several major antagonists as well as introducing the Greater-Scope Villain of the franchise.
- Airbender: Zuko and Zhao for Book One, Azula in Book Two, and Fire Lord Ozai, who is Orcus on His Throne for the majority of the series, but takes a more active role in the third book. Long Feng is an Arc Villain from episodes fourteen to eighteen in Book Two, before this position is taken over by Azula again.
- Korra: Amon for Book One, Vaatu and Unalaq for Book Two, Zaheer for Book Three and Kuvira for Book Four.
- Bilingual Bonus: All the text within the franchise is executed with real Chinese.
- Dangerous Forbidden Technique: Bloodbending has been revealed to be downright illegal in Korra, with the punishment being a life sentence.
- Dragons Are Divine: Dragons were the original Firebenders. Because of that, they were respected and revered by the Sun Warriors and their later incarnation, the Fire Nation. However, Fire Lord Sozin created dragon hunting and they were driven to extinction. Thankfully, two were saved by Iroh and were being protected by the Sun Warriors. These two help Aang and Zuko learn the true way of Firebending.
- Elemental Powers: A central ability of the franchise, where it's called "bending."
- Blow You Away: Airbending.
- Flight: Flight - The ability of controlled flight without the use of a glider staff or wing suit, it is unlocked by complete detachment from earthly tethers. Extremely rare - as in, only two known human practitioners in recorded history.
- Dishing Out Dirt: Earthbending.
- Living Lie Detector: Seismic Sense, used to 'see' the world through vibrations to the point of sensing the subtle inconsistencies in people's rhythm and pulse.
- Dishing Out Dirt: Sandbending - a variation that focuses on fine particles rather than large stones.
- Extra-ore-dinary: Metalbending - by manipulating the small earth impurities found in processed metal. Pure metals like platinum can't be bent at all.
- Magma Man: Lavabending - by compressing and heating earth until it turns semi solid. A very rare skill.
- Making a Splash: Waterbending.
- An Ice Person: Waterbenders can easily make water into ice and ice into water.
- Healing Hands: By moving water in the body along its chi lines.
- Green Thumb: Plantbending, by moving the water within plants.
- People Puppets: Bloodbending, the Dangerous Forbidden Technique of Waterbenders by bending the water in animals and humans. Normally can only be done by a master Waterbender under the full moon, but there have been exceptions.
- Swiss-Army Superpower: Waterbending has the most versatility of all the bending styles since water comes in so many forms. This is balanced by the fact that Waterbenders are the only ones that have Elemental Baggage - they have to carry their water around or pull it from nearby sources.
- Playing with Fire: Firebending.
- Soul Power: Chi/Spirit/Energy-bending. The Avatar's unique power to remove and/or restore people's ability to bend. Others can tap into Spirit power as well; Waterbenders have been seen using it to purify dark spirits, and Jinora, an Airbender, uses it for Astral Projection.
- Blow You Away: Airbending.
- The Epic: Both series qualify, and together they form a Generational Saga.
- Expanded Universe: The comic books as well as canonical comic strips.
- Extraordinary World, Ordinary Problems: The conflicts in most of the story arcs are often mundane issues which just so happen to take place in a fantasy setting. For example, the Fire nation's imperialism in the first series is shown more akin to something like a European nation at the height of colonialism or the Roman empire, rather than hoards of Always Chaotic Evil mooks marching out of Mordor.
- Fantasy Gun Control: Played with in that explosives made from blasting jelly and "spark powder" are prevalent, but handheld firearms of any kind are never seen, even in the 1920's style setting of The Legend of Korra.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: The four nations borrow features from real-life historical nations.
- The Air Nomads draw most of their influence from Tibet, specifically from the monks of Tibetan Buddhism.
- The Fire Nation's political situation at the beginning of the story (technologically advanced archipelago with imperialist intentions) mirrors that of Imperial Japan, though its aesthetics draw more from Cambodia and Tibet.
- The Earth Kingdom's aesthetics and politics are taken from countries in mainland East Asia, chiefly China and Korea.
- The Water Tribes are chiefly based on the Inuit peoples.
- Greater-Scope Paragon:
- The great lion turtles. In ancient days they were the protectors of humanity, and granted them the power of bending. After the mortal Wan joined with the spirit of light Raava to become the first Avatar, the lion turtles withdrew from the world at large. At the end of the Hundred Years War, Aang met the last lion turtle, who gave him the final key to defeating Fire Lord Ozai.
- Avatar Wan himself counts as this, as the very first Avatar who separated the human and Spirit Worlds and sealed the spirit of darkness Vaatu inside the Tree of Time for 10,000 years. By the time of The Legend of Korra, so much time has passed that very few apart from the Red Lotus and later on Korra herself even know of his existence.
- Avatar Aang attains this status in The Legend of Korra, having been the one who originally founded the United Republic alongside Fire Lord Zuko and being Korra's direct predecessor. However, because of Korra's issues with the spiritual aspects of being the Avatar, his role as Spirit Advisor is limited to giving her dreams of his battle with Yakone 42 years prior, and restoring her bending at the end of Book 1. In Books 3 and 4 he's unable to help Korra because he and all her other past lives had their connection to her severed by Unalaq managing to kill Raava.
- Fantasy World Map: Shown in the beginning of each episode of TLA.
- Greater-Scope Villain:
- Vaatu, the spirit of chaos and darkness, though he wasn't revealed until the Origins Episode during the second book of Korra.
- For smaller examples of this, there's Fire Lord Sozin, who committed the genocide of the Air Nomads, and Yakone, a crime boss whose legacy proves disastrous for Republic City. The Red Lotus, a terrorist organization out to enforce a new world order, make their debut in the third book of Korra.
- God of Good: The Avatar is the human incarnation of the spirit of light and peace, Raava. She bonded herself with a human host in order to defeat her evil opposite Vaatu and later bring peace to both physical and spirit worlds.
- In My Language, That Sounds Like...: In the real world, the whole franchise suffers from this in Britain. Unfortunately, in British English, the word "bender" is a childishly insulting slang term for a gay man. Compound words like "airbender" aren't too problematic, but lines referring to a person being a "bender" generically sound unintentionally "naughty" to a British audience. This led to the first show being promoted in the UK as Avatar: The Legend of Aang, which then inspired the worldwide title of the second show.
- Legacy Character: The Avatar, via reincarnation.
- Reincarnation: The Avatar's spirit never truly dies as it continuously reincarnates into a new body at death. However, if the Avatar is killed in the Avatar State, the Avatar would truly die.
- Whatevermancy: Or whateverbending in this case.