Avatar: The Last Airbender may be a kid's show, but considering that it's produced by the animated production division of Nickelodeon, a network that has gained infamy for having no shortage of terrifying moments across its many animated series, it's to be expected that Avatar: The Last Airbender will certainly fall into this standard as well... in some different ways. Brace yourselves...
- Everything about Fire Lord Ozai, the sociopathic, cruel Big Bad. From his genocide campaigns to his treatment of his children, he is a terrifying villain. The fact that he's voiced by Mark Hamill (also known as the Joker) and never shows his face during the first two seasons makes him more unnerving.
- Ozai's daughter, Princess Azula. A sociopathic fourteen-year-old girl who is not only a Child Prodigy and one of the most powerful and skilled firebenders in the world, but also a Machiavellian-style tactical genius and a metaphorical and literal Hero Killer.
- The Fire Nation proves to be one to not only the audience but the entire Avatar world as well. They're basically fire-slinging Nazis that go around assimilating territory and annihilating whatever gets in their way. Under the rule of Ozai's father and grandfather, the Fire Nation annihilated the entire race of pacifistic Air Nomads and went on ritual pogroms towards Water Benders as well. The Nation's forces even attempted to scorch the entire Earth Kingdom and its people to ash near the end of the series. The blatant jingoism of its people portrays how dangerous patriotic zealotry and fanaticism can be for a nation.
- The Avatar State. Aang loses control and turns from a kind, Cheerful Child into a cold, merciless Creepy Child with the Voice of the Legion and Glowing Eyes of Doom."TELL ME WHERE APPA IS!"
The Southern Air Temple
- The episode has the first jaw-dropping instance of nightmarish imagery the show spit out- the moment Aang spies a heap of Fire Nation soldiers' skeletons all gathered around another skeleton leaned against the wall- Monk Gyatso's. Not only are they the first legitimately depicted deaths in the series, but it's on a scale of its own when you realize it premiered on Nickelodeon- a kid's show network. Then you see that they're all charred black... meaning they burned to death; killing people by burning them alive... on a children's show! Worse, Aang goes into a terrifying rage that sets off his Avatar State and he loses control. Everything around him turns dark, he surrounds himself in a sphere of wildly spinning air powerful enough to kick up a tornado, and starts levitating. You can only see his shadow-obscured face with cold, glowing eyes and an eerie whirring sound pulsating from him.
- Place yourself in Aang's shoes: scared of his responsibility as the Avatar, he leaves his friends and possibly his family, and to him that was only a few DAYS ago. Then he sees the skeletal remains of his people and teachers after holding some desperate hope his people were still alive. That's when reality sets in and he realizes the horrible truth: he's completely alone and truly the last of his people. Who knows what Aang would have done had Katara not stepped in to comfort him.
Winter Solstice, Part 1: The Spirit World
- The Hei Bai Spirit is as freakish in its appearance as its behavior. Although it appears as a panda bear when docile, when pissed it becomes an unstoppable six-legged, light spewing, black-and-white monster that destroys everything in its path and moves in flashes. Not to mention it had a disturbing habit of terrorizing a village near its protectorate forest by abducting one villager each day despite the Fire Nation being responsible for the destruction of its forest. Eventually it might have taken them all and it managed to take Sokka!
Winter Solstice, Part 2: Avatar Roku
- We see Fire Lord Ozai for the first time albeit only a vision of him. The terrifying part? He's seen completely in shadows surrounded by flames before he roars a huge stream of fire and generally looks demonic. It's here where both we (and Aang) realize what he truly has to defeat.
- When Roku manifests through Aang, he saves the heroes and drives off Zhao's forces by activating the volcano under the fire temple. The cold glare he turns upon the traitorous fire sages suggests they'd be going the same way as the temple if he had less control over the Avatar State.
- The titular character, who plans to flood a valley, killing an entire town's worth of Fire Nation soldiers and civilians alike. Keep in mind that he can't be older than sixteen, yet he's trying to commit mass murder on a whole town of innocent people just to get rid of the Fire Nation troops.Jet: Now listen, you are not to blow the dam until I give the signal. If the reservoir isn't full, the Fire Nation troops could survive.The Duke: But what about the people in the town? Won't they get wiped out too?Jet: Look Duke. That's the price of ridding this area of the Fire Nation.
- Jet's insane fervor against the Fire Nation would not be the first instance that the series would present and speaks volumes of how awful the Fire Nation has been since Aang’s absence, as well as the disturbing He Who Fights Monsters issue of many who are fighting the Fire Nation.
- Aang's nightmare in the beginning:Everyone in unison: We need you, Aang. We need you. We need you, Aang. We need you.
- And then a split second of Fire Lord Ozai's silhouette flashes before Aang wakes up.
- The episode is a double whammy:
- There's a very poignant moment from Gyatso when he realizes that Aang's just run away... and there's a massive storm brewing outside. Not to mention he never sees the kid again and soon after is killed as part of the Air Nomad genocide when the Fire Nation invades.
- More famously, there's that scene where we see the Fire Lord Ozai (or rather, hear him) torching his then-13-year-old son Zuko's face. Zuko is on his knees, begging for mercy, with tears in his eyes, and then — oh great gods of Egypt — his SCREAM. The poor kid is terrified, and you can practically hear how betrayed he feels. Worse is Zhao's look of contentment when he witnesses the outcome of the Agni Kai firsthand. Iroh, on the other hand, can't bear to watch and turns away. But the scariest reaction is the one that comes from the girl next to him, who smirks with delight and clenches her fist as though Zuko was finally getting what he deserved and being knocked down a peg or two after mommy kept showing him more attention and favoritism. Come season finale time, we learn that girl's identity: Azula. And then it hits you: Azula was overjoyed watching her own, kind-hearted brother get his face seared to a crisp. That's the first warning sign of how twisted, deranged, and utterly inhumane she's become upstairs.
The Blue Spirit
- The Yu Yan. These guys are the best archers in the entire Fire Nation, possibly the entire world, and when ordered to have absolutely no qualms about ganging up on a twelve-year-old boy like a pack of wolves. Just the look on Aang's face after they have him pinned to the log.
- Even before it's revealed to be Zuko, the Blue Spirit persona is incredibly creepy due to its silent Implacable Man accuracy, stealth, and lethal precision with dual blades. It's no wonder Aang screamed in genuine terror when he showed up swinging his swords.
The Northern Air Temple
- The Mechanist mentions that the Fire Nation demanded weapons and technology from him in return for leaving him and his people alone. The kicker? The Mechanist's group were a harmless band of refugees displaced by a flood - not even the war - and then moved into the vacant Northern Air Temple simply because it was there and no-one was using it. But apparently, that's not good enough for the Fire Nation - if you're not from there, then you owe them for simply existing, and if you can't pay up, they'll destroy you.
The Waterbending Master
- We get some good parental worries when Iroh goes out for a walk, leaving Zuko alone on the ship... When a group of pirates come to blow it up. We cut away from the explosion—to Iroh's reaction to it. Imagine leaving the boy who is like your son alone for ten minutes, and coming back to find the place where he was ablaze, with no sign of life anywhere.
- Add to that the knowledge that Iroh already knew the pain of losing a son, and you have a Tear Jerker moment as well.
The Siege of the North, Part 2
- The scene with Koh the Face Stealer. Koh is an Eldritch Abomination with a centipede body and many faces he can wear like masks. He switches between faces by "blinking" an eyelid-like flap over his face. His voice is like a cross between Jigsaw and Tom Waits. And when you meet him, you must maintain a perfect poker face. If you show any emotion in your expression at all, he'll add your face to his collection and leave you as a blank."You've come to me... with a new face."
- The whole atmosphere around Koh's cave is carefully calculated to build tension, rising to a peak when Aang sees a monkey outside the cave... a monkey with no face.
- A little bit later, Koh shifts into the face of a screeching mandrill—this may have been that monkey's face.
- It's not helped at all by the fact that Koh says something like it's been a while since he's gotten a child's face. That's right, Koh was excited about taking faces from children.
- When Aang asks Koh why a previous incarnation would try to kill him, Koh switches to the face of a young woman and says, "Oh, something about stealing the face of a loved one." The young woman in question is Kuruk's wife, whose face Koh happens to be wearing.
- At one point when Koh's back is turned, Aang has a "Eureka!" Moment and lets out an excited "That's it!" to which Koh responds by immediately swooping in to try and snatch Aang's face off. Fortunately, Aang goes back to his poker face just in time, but it's still a pretty chilling moment.
- The whole atmosphere around Koh's cave is carefully calculated to build tension, rising to a peak when Aang sees a monkey outside the cave... a monkey with no face.
- The result of Zhao messing with the Moon Spirits is pretty unnerving. Putting one of the spirits in the bag was enough to turn the Moon, sky, and everything else Blood Red as well as take away waterbending. Killing it made the Moon disappear from the sky!
- Killing the fish didn't just make the moon disappear. From the moment it dies to to moment Yue sacrifices herself to restore it there is no color from anything but fire, everything else is just black and white. It shows just what upsetting the balance of the spirits can really mean.
- When considering how things might have looked around the world, it could be absolutely terrifying to have the moon just suddenly vanish from the sky and remove all visible color around you. Without context, one could correctly assume the end of the world was nigh.
- Aang and La fusing together to become the Koizilla monster after Tui is killed by Zhao. The moment when you realize it's not Aang in there, but a vengeful and angry ocean god possessing him and proceeding to single-handedly annihilate the invading forces. The music is also quite ominous and intense in this scene.
The Avatar State
- An Earth Kingdom general attempts to get Aang to use the Avatar State at will. He tries to provoke Aang into entering the Avatar State by actually Earthbending Katara INTO THE GROUND as if she's in quicksand, and she disappears while screaming in pain and fright. Needless to say, this provoked Aang to go into the Avatar State, and he goes berserk and starts attacking everybody in a blind rage.
The Cave of Two Lovers
- While trying to move through the cave, the Gaang and the hippie nomads hear a creature coming from a dark tunnel. A wolf bat leaps out and attacks them, scaring Appa and causing a cave in that results in them getting separated. The wolf bat's jump scare is made more frightening on home media releases and most streaming, as the jump scare happens after a fade to black, and in the scene right before it, the proverbial camera zooms in on the dark tunnel. Since there's no commercials on home media, the screen is pitch black for a short minute before the wolf bat's jump scare happens with little to no warning.
- The atmosphere of the episode was incredibly creepy.
- Early in the episode, the Gaang hears a bird with a cry that sounds exactly like a human scream, disturbing all of them, because they can't find where the sound is coming from.
- The visions. Katara thinks she sees her mother, only for it to be an illusion. She collapses to the ground in tears. Then, Sokka sees Yue, who says in a creepy, echoing voice: "You didn't protect me." She disappears... and when Sokka turns around again, she's right behind him, staring at him blankly, accompanied by a scare chord.
- Vision!Toph's laugh is downright creepy due to it having a echoic effect.
- The swamp actually has a mind of its own.
- Huu's swamp-monster disguise made out of vines. The way it glides around is unnerving, too.
- The swamp is terrifying. Two words: Tentacle. Vines. They slither up to you whilst you sleep and then DRAG YOU OFF, SCREAMING.
- The spider that built a web in Sokka's mouth at the beginning? *bwuaaaah* Doubles as Nausea Fuel.
- The whole notion that the people of Chin Village wanted to kill Aang, a child, for an act one of his past lives committed is unsettling. Even worse when it's revealed that Kyoshi, the past life in question, wasn't even guilty and they still wanted to kill Aang using one of many punishments displayed on a raffle wheel. The punishments included being put on a bed of nails, being put on a whipping post, boiled in oil, eaten by shark, thrown in a razor pit, mauled by platypus bear, and burned alive.
- Even better is that the village was that dead set on persecuting the Avatar that they didn't give a damn that he is the only one who could stop the Fire Nation from winning the war. As long as they can get their "justice", the world (and possibly even themselves in the long run) can burn.
- Zuko's memories are absolutely TERRIFYING in their depiction of Azula as a true fledgling sociopath. Zuko mentions that she feeds the sweet little turtleducks by throwing bread directly at the ducklings, and while her other acts of petulance and spite are childish, they are a definite foreshadow of what she'll be like later. The fact that she can completely switch personalities and play the innocent so convincingly even when her mother knows how manipulative she can be is quite chilling, as is her total lack of empathy for her "friends" and her family, even after their mum is banished, her only reaction is to taunt Zuko with how she's no longer there to stop her tormenting him. However, the bit where she opens Zuko's bedroom door at night and happily sings "Dad's going to kill you!" and explains every detail of why she's certain and, for once, isn't lying is one of the scariest moments of Creepy Child Troubling Unchildlike Behavior in history.
- Never, EVER tell Katara to calm down when she's clearly anything but. That is, unless you want her to scream in your face that she is "Completely calm" while sporting an unhinged expression complete with bloodshot eyes.
- Never make Wan Shi Tong angry. EVER. His punishments include killing and stuffing intruders to put on his display wall.
- The part where his neck stretches out and he starts screeching is terrifying and shows he's less a spirit and more of a pissed off Animalistic Abomination.
- Team Avatar's situation is this in an eerily mundane way. Now that their trusty flying bison is gone, they're stuck in the middle of a Thirsty Desert with little food or water and no way to cross it before their supplies run out and they'll die of thirst. They're eventually saved by what seems to be a pure Deus ex Machina.
- Aang in the whole episode. Sure, Katara calms him down before any real damage is done, but think about it...this one sandbender stole a rare animal. It turns out it belongs to the Avatar, who is very, very upset about losing his one living remnant of his people. And then Toph says one thing too many, and Aang's eyes start glowing. At this point, there is nothing the sandbenders can do to get him back. They start pleading, saying they'll help in any way they can, but they quickly realize that he's beyond reasoning. Eventually, Sokka just grabs Toph and makes a run for it along with them.
- Preceding that, Aang saving Momo from the Buzzard Wasp. While it is meant to overlap with awesome for the rescue, Aang blasts the wasp and it drops straight to the ground. Aang, raised his entire life as a Martial Pacifist and respect for life, is so distraught and angry at another loss after Appa that he, without hesitation or even a lingering thought, by all appearances killed a creature in one blow.
- Even worse is that the scene was the first time Toph ever experienced being around a pissed-off Aang in the Avatar State and considering she's blind all she could feel was the land trembling and Aang, going from "Twinkle Toes" to sounding like a demonic force of nature in a moment. Her agape mouth and terrified expression before Sokka takes her to run tells volumes of how scared she probably was.
- The vulture wasps. Giant insects that combine all the unpleasant looking features of vultures and wasps.
City of Walls and Secrets
- It may be a "kid's show", but there is no way in hell that the bit where Long Feng introduces the replacement Joo Dee wasn't designed to terrify everyone watching.
- The swamp is scary. Bloodbenders are terrifying. Joo Dee being replaced? Easily the most horrifying moment in the entire series.
- The music that first plays when Joo Dee is introduced. Just THAT should show you that she's bad news...
- Even before you know about the brainwashing, that constant, creepy, fake grin the Joo Dees have is very... unsettling.
- The entire episode counts as one. The mysterious secrets...The tortuous brainwashing...The Perpetual Smilers...The denial about obvious facts...Really, the episode seems to be a love letter to George Orwell's 1984!. Ba Sing Se might as well be called Oceania in any case.
- The Dai Li themselves are insanely terrifying to have as enemies. They're some of the city's and by extension the Earth Nation's strongest Earthbenders that rely on stealth and precision and can swarm their targets by clinging to walls like spiders with sheer numbers and deadly silence. They're responsible for stamping out any dissent within the city and are greatly feared by every social caste because of how successful they are at their jobs. It only took a handful to take down the Earth Kingdom's generals and stage a successful coup with Long Feng in charge. As Azula aptly put, whoever controls the Dai Li controls Ba Sing Se.
- Jet's brainwashing at the hands of the Dai Li. He even gets brainwashed with a trigger phrase to make him a loyal pawn of Long Feng if needed.
- The situation for the Earth Kingdom becomes quite nightmarish when examined closely. The Earth Kingdom is literally the last and only effective force that can do battle with the imperialistic and destructive Fire Nation led by the psychopathic Fire Lord Ozai and the kingdom is literally spread out in individual towns slowly being dominated by the Fire Nation and citizens abused by Fire Nation troops and Earth Kingdom soldiers alike as seen in Zuko's travels. The Kingdom's last stronghold of Ba Sing Se, the place all desperate refugees are trying to flee to after hearing false tales of sanctuary and good living, is actually a highly segregated caste system society where the poor refugees are shunted off into crowded slums left to starve and everyone else is constantly watched by the Dai Li Secret Police while the Earth King is none the wiser. Think a fantasy form of North Korea but worse. On top of that, the whole kingdom is being fed knowledge that the war between the Fire Nation and Earth Kingdom is not happening by the Dai Li and their leader Long Feng trying to turn the kingdom into his personal puppet state. As a whole, the situation is an absolute nightmare for any Earth Kingdom citizen trying to find sanctuary.
Appa's Lost Days
- The scene of the circus. The episode won the Genesis Award — an accolade awarded by the Humane Society of the United States to individuals in the major news and entertainment media for producing outstanding works which raise public awareness of animal-related issues — for its REALISTIC portrayal of animal abuse in the circus. Sweet dreams...
- Appa looking for a place to sleep causes him to run into an angry boar-q-pine. This animal is much smaller than Appa, but it's still huge and covered in quills. Even though Appa drives it away, a number of its quills still get jabbed into him.
- It's also a rare subversion of the Bloodless Carnage- if you watch Appa try to yank out the quills in his body stuck in him from his scuffle with the boar-q-pine, he bleeds out.
- The scene where the Gaang see a room full of women being brainwashed into being "Joo Dee". Made even worse by the fact that after being creeped out by it when they see it the Gaang never brings it up again. Even when trying to bring down Long Feng, Logai is only brought up as proof on Long Feng trying to control the King, and Jet's brainwashing is mentioned once. But the Hundreds of Joo Dee's? Never come up.
Long Feng: Jet. The Earth King has invited you to Lake Laogai.'Jet: (pupils dilate) I am honored to accept his invitation. (starts attacking Aang'')
- Jet's brainwashing in general. One minute he's fighting with Team Avatar, the next:
The Earth King
- Zuko's nightmare during his coma, in which he is a scarless Fire Lord in some sort of throne room accompanied by two dragons, composites for Azula and Uncle Iroh, encircling and whispering to him. Made even creepier by the fact that Azula's dragon is enticing Zuko to 'fall asleep', whilst Iroh's dragon fights to keep him 'awake' (a metaphor for Zuko's internal good vs evil conflict and a clever piece of foreshadowing for the events of the season finale.). The vision ends with Zuko being swallowed by his surroundings and Ursa screaming for Zuko's help.
- During his training to unlock his first chakra, Aang experiences a vision of... quite terrifying things (Sozin's Comet, Fire Lord Ozai, Katara being dragged under the ground) but what's REALLY terrifying is when he opens his eyes... AND HE'S SURROUNDED BY FIRE WITH A SPECTRE OF WHAT WE CAN ONLY PRESUME IS THE FIRE LORD STANDING JUST OUT OF REACH! It's all in his mind but still!
Crossroads of Destiny
- Aang goes into the Avatar State and rises into the air, encased in a pillar of light. Katara looks on with admiration and awe, the music gets upbeat and seriously epic, and it looks like we're about to see a repeat of the Book One finale... and then Azula fries him with a bolt of lightning, in the middle of the transformation sequence. Worse, Aang is left with a gaping scar dead center in his back where the lightning hits, big enough to burn off a good deal of his arrow tattoo, plus a second one where the lightning came out the sole of his left foot.
- Azula in the final two episodes of Book Two as a whole is very unnerving to watch. We've already seen how much more dangerous she is than Zhao was, and even before the outcome of all of her plans is revealed, the sheer composure and confidence with which she carries herself as she puts those plans into motion gives the two episodes a far more sinister and foreboding atmosphere than the Book One finale did even at its most dire moments.
- The fact the Fire Nation have taken over the world at the point of the story after the Earth Kingdom fell once Azula took over Ba Sing Se with the only remaining forces left free being the Water Tribes who stand no chance against the Nation. On top of that, the whole world thinks the Avatar died at Ba Sing Se, destroying most people's hope that the Fire Nation can be stopped.
- Combustion Man. The Voiceless, hulking mercenary bent solely on murdering the Avatar. We don't know anything about him aside from the fact that he can make things explode with his mind.
- The episode is supposed to be a Breather Episode for the bad guys. Supposed to be. But it still has character development moments for Team Azula (and Zuko).Prince Zuko: I guess you wouldn't understand, would you, Azula? Because you're just *so* perfect.Azula: Well, yes, I guess you're right. I don't have sob stories like all of you. I could sit here and complain how our mom liked Zuko more than me, but I don't really care. (somewhat sadly) My own mother... thought I was a monster... (matter-of-factly) She was right, of course, but it still hurt.
The Avatar and the Fire Lord
- The dragon catacombs. Dragon skulls strewn about make for some awful childhood nightmares.
- Let's not forget how Avatar Roku actually died: poisoned so badly by volcanic gas paralysis sets in, his vision turns dull and blurry, and he can't breathe at all. Then Sozin, his best friend for life, pulls the mother-of-all backstabs in the series and leaves him to be buried under the unbelievable heat and airless horror of an avalanche of volcanic ash. Fang, Roku's own dragon, can't rescue him in time, causing him to make a futile effort to shield him from being buried alive, but that only serves to kill them both. At least Roku isn't too upset about showing his own demise to Aang, but Ta Mihn had to have been destroyed by his loss.
- The entire episode goes for a very clear horror theme, and most of the action takes place either at night or in a near-empty wooden house in the middle of the woods. And the musical direction reflects it, with a recurring use of discordant music boxes even in the title card and "Psycho" Strings. Even the way Hama's drawn and animated in a way reminiscent of a J-Horror villain, like something out of a Junji Ito creation.
- Bloodbending, the art of turning someone into a People Puppet by Waterbending their body fluids. The concept is already horrifying, but the way it's presented with jerky, puppet-like movements and sickening crunch sounds, as well as the completely horrified responses the very idea is met with with plays it for all the nightmare fuel it can be.
- In general, the concept of a form of bending which quite literally invades someone's body and overrides their own autonomy is a very special kind of horror, and Katara's tearful, broken response both to being on the receiving end of it and forced to use it herself against Hama to save her friends plays it in a way that carries some truly horrible undertones.
- And they were so kind as to take it up a notch in The Legend of Korra. It makes perfect sense why Katara would outlaw the practice.
- Hama herself. She seems like a kindly old woman at first, but by the time you reach her final moonlight duel with Katara, the animation and lighting make her incredibly disturbing. Wrinkled, twisted features, veins popping out her arms, long willowy hair and skeletal hands with nails like claws. The scariest feature has to be the Slasher Smile, with her expressions growing downright demonic◊ as her vengeful colors begin to seep through.
- It's also very disturbing to see Hama's veins engorge as the full moon rises and she prepares to bloodbend.Hama: I've never felt more alive.
- It's also very disturbing to see Hama's veins engorge as the full moon rises and she prepares to bloodbend.
- Hama has an entire dungeon hidden in a mountain filled with civilians chained just like she was by the Fire Nation, being visited regularly enough to keep all of them alive. Who knows how long many of them have been down there, let alone what she's been doing to them. The fact Toph repeatedly describes screaming beneath the mountain is never heard or explained. What exactly was Hama doing down there?
- The entire description of people screaming beneath the mountain is like an old horror in itself. In particular, the shot of the mountain after Toph realizes exactly why she heard it complete with "Psycho" Strings is one of the most frightening in the episode.
- Why Hama would do all this? Years of imprisonment in those Fire Nation Tailor-Made Prisons for waterbenders made her snap, and desperate for escape she invented bloodbending. Think about spending years cooped up in a cage, being starved and dehydrated, only being kept barely alive... what made Hama cruel was the Fire Nation's cruelty toward her and her people.
- How about Katara's ghost story at the beginning of this episode? Never fails to give the chills. Even though the story has nothing to do with the episode itself, it sure as hell sets up the mood. It's quite telling that all of them, even Toph, are visibly shaken by the story.
- Even more chilling is the fact that according to Katara, not only is the story true, but very personal in her family.Sokka: Is this one of those "a friend of my cousin knew some guy that this happened to" stories?
Katara: No… it happened to Mom.
(Sokka stiffens at this)
Katara: One winter when Mom was a girl, a snowstorm buried the whole village for weeks. A month later, Mom noticed she hadn't seen her friend Nini since the storm. So Mom and some others went to check on Nini's family. When they got there, no one was home. Just a fire flickering in the fireplace. While the men went out to search, Mom stayed in the house. When she was alone, she heard a voice. "It's so cold and I can't get warm!" Mom turned and saw Nini standing by the fire. She was blue, like she was frozen. Mom ran outside for help, but when everyone came back, Nini was gone.
Sokka: Where'd she go?
Katara: No one knows. Nini's house stands empty to this day, but sometimes, people see smoke coming up from the chimney, like little Nini is still trying to get warm.
- The fact that the fate of Nini's family is never truly solved and the events surrounding it are just plain bizarre. It's not just a genuinely scary Ghost Story, it's a disturbing Riddle for the Ages that is never really bought up again. Certainly wouldn't want to be from the Southern Water Tribe after hearing that story.
- Even more chilling is the fact that according to Katara, not only is the story true, but very personal in her family.
- The moment that Katara is forced to use bloodbending herself to stop the mad bender from forcing Sokka to run his blade through Aang. Hama twitching like mad and slowly dropping to the ground with an expression of pure agony is horrifying all on its own but there's Katara herself - she can only look on in wide, twitch-eyed horror before shutting her eyes as she brings Hama to the ground, as if she can't even bear to watch what she's doing. It's clear the entire experience is traumatizing for the poor girl.
- The worst part of it all is that even in defeat, this result is exactly what Hama wanted. Whether or not she's imprisoned, her technique has been passed on, to the next generation of the southern tribe waterbenders at that, and she's even capable of a waterbender than Hama is. Katara using the technique to bring her down only proves the seed has been planted for Hama's legacy to live on, and the realization leaves poor Katara in tears as Hama cackles as she's taken away. This is the shot the episode ends on.Hama: My work is done. Congratulations, Katara. You're a Bloodbender.
- The worst part of it all is that even in defeat, this result is exactly what Hama wanted. Whether or not she's imprisoned, her technique has been passed on, to the next generation of the southern tribe waterbenders at that, and she's even capable of a waterbender than Hama is. Katara using the technique to bring her down only proves the seed has been planted for Hama's legacy to live on, and the realization leaves poor Katara in tears as Hama cackles as she's taken away. This is the shot the episode ends on.
Nightmares and Daydreams
- The nightmare Aang has after his friends try to "help" him.
Aang: "You need to start wearing your hair up! In my dream, your hair got caught in a train, and-"Katara: "Aang! I know you're trying to help, but you really need to get a grip."
- Toph with no eyes.
- Some of Aang's descriptions of the nightmares are even worse. Katara doesn't let him finish, but it seems to end pretty gruesomely.
The Day of Black Sun, Part 2: The Eclipse
- The War Zeppelins are incredibly intimidating. They're huge, they have snarling faces, shoot cannons, are nearly unassailable because they are crawling with firebenders, and can pretty much only be sunk by a fully realized Avatar- or EACH OTHER. Not to mention they are later used as the Avatar-verse's version of a weapon of mass destruction.
- When Ozai fires lightning at Zuko. Apart from the obvious implications of shooting to kill his own son, the most terrifying part of this exchange is the lightning itself. This is the only time we actually see Ozai bending without the power of the comet. Previously, we have only seen Iroh and Azula shoot lightning; when they did, it took a couple seconds to charge up the energy, and the bolt itself was blue and branched. Ozai's lightning comes out in a split second, deadly focused, and WHITE. That moment alone is enough to cement him definitively as THE most powerful firebender in the series, dwarfing Azula's formidable power and even making Iroh look shaky by comparison. Here is the scene for reference.
Western Air Temple
- There's one in the episode where Zuko joins the Gaang. Zuko spends the entire episode trying to prove himself to the group. No one accepts him except for Toph who wants to give him a chance. She goes to where he is camping for the night, but Zuko mistakes her for an assassin and firebends, burning her feet. The kicker is that she's essentially completely blind. Her feet are useless. What hammered it home is the fear in her eyes as she panics while he desperately tries to explain it was an accident.
- That scene where the Combustion Man continues attacking the Gaang even after Zuko tells him to stop and offers to pay him more if he did. This man is so dedicated to being an assassin, he'll try to kill you even if his employer cuts his contract!
- The Gaang had escaped his clutches twice at that point, the second time embarrassing him by somehow disabling his firebending. It's possible it had become Personal for the man. Which is terrifying in itself.
- The ending where Katara threatens to kill Zuko if he steps out of line is pretty frightening, especially the close-up shot of her face: it looks like she's threatening the audience.
The Firebending Masters
- A glue trap is triggered, trapping Aang and Zuko until they're 'rescued' by the Ancient Sun Warriors. It doesn't sound dangerous on paper, but consider one fact: the room fills itself almost up to the brim with this stuff, with only a grated air hole at the top. Anyone who's trapped would normally race to position themselves up there, and get their head above 'water'... however, when Zuko tried to put the golden egg back, the initial burst trapped him against this grate upside-down... therefore, if Aang hadn't done his one airbending move, flipping him, Zuko would have been face-down in glue for at least several minutes, and suffocated.Zuko: "At least we have air..."
- Though there is some Nightmare Retardant in Aang's ridiculous wide-mouthed expression when he screams for help.
- After Zuko and Aang perform the Dancing Dragon with the Ran and Shaw, the mighty creatures stare the pair down as they make their final judgment. Despite how awe-inspiring and even beautiful the titular firebending masters are, anyone would agree that having dragons that gargantuan and that fearsome so fixated on them would be petrifying.
The Southern Raiders
- "I am about to celebrate becoming an ONLY CHILD!" If it wasn't clear before how much of a sociopath Azula is, the utter and terrifying glee with which she says that should be the perfect indicator.
- Katara is downright terrifying. She's out for revenge for who killed her mother and she even used bloodbending on the first man she thought was responsible. She then uses her unparalleled waterbending mastery to control the rain and almost kills the man who is responsible. Suffice to say, Yon Rha was lucky that Katara spared his life even when she had the chance to kill. Just, whatever you do, do not get her actually angry.
- It's not just the actions. The sole idea that Katara, sweet, nice, motherly Katara could be so possessed by fury as to actually kill someone, anyone, is horrifying in itself (and, somehow, just as sad).
Sozin's Comet, Part 1: The Phoenix King
- The whole scene where Aang is unwilling to deal the final blow to the "Melonlord". Sokka walks up and berates him and but Aang explains that it "just doesn't feel right". Sokka grimly pulls out his sword, and the camera pans to Aang's horrified grimace just as we hear a sickening "sqilsh"- but we never actually see the "decapitation". A moment later, the top half of the melon falls and Sokka declares matter-of-factly "There- that's how it's done" while Aang looks like Sokka just killed someone in cold blood. This whole scene is accompanied by the music used when the Gaang has just found out something serious and terrifying. YMMV on this point, but even Momo licking the pink inside of the melon- which is supposed to be comedic- makes one think of some scavenger animal eating a human brain.
- When Zuko tells about how his father plans to use the comet to launch a genocidal campaign against the Earth Kingdom just as his grandfather used it against the Air Nomads, it really nauseated Team Gaang. Sokka's response seals it: "I always knew the fire lord was a bad guy, but his plan is just pure evil!"Katara: (About the Fire Nation nearly winning the war) Things can't get any worse.
- "I know you're scared, and I know you're not ready to save the world. But if you don't defeat the fire lord before the comet comes, there won't be a world to save anymore."
- And in Zuko’s flashback, imagine being in his position, but it’s so eerily familiar—Zuko was naive during the first war meeting, but he’s a bit wiser for this one. After Zuko shared what he knew about Earth Kingdom People, he finds himself all of a sudden surrounded by sociopaths—his father who decides to annihilate the Earth Kingdom, and the generals who are all cheering at it. You can only sense the helplessness in Zuko at that moment, where his chance to share in his country’s glory became a nightmare. Zuko knows he just can’t have any part in it."I wanted to speak out against this horrifying plan, but I'm ashamed to say that I didn't. My whole life I struggled to gain my father's love and acceptance, but once I had it, I realised I lost myself getting there. I've forgotten who I was."
- Zuko’s experience, coupled with the stakes involved once the comet comes, are a grim reminder that again, the Fire Nation stands for tyranny and bloodshed, not peace and compromise. There’s no way the war can end with any sort of negotiation or diplomacy. It can only end with their complete defeat.
- When the Gaang finds the picture of a baby, they assume it is Zuko. Much to everyone's surprise, Zuko corrects them, noting that the picture is actually of his father. When Suki states that Ozai looks "so sweet and innocent," he adds that said "sweet little kid grew up to be a monster, and the worst father in the history of fathers." The Gaang looks horrified as to how this innocent-looking child eventually grew up to become the corrupt and war-mongering dictator they're now against. And, considering Zuko is the splitting image of his father, it’s a shuddering thought that Zuko COULD’VE turned out like that.
Sozin's Comet, Part 3: Into the Inferno
- The entire scene where Azula hallucinates seeing her mother in a mirror and talking to her."No. I love you, Azula. I do."
- Not to mention the tortured cello that plays during her Villainous Breakdown, right before she slices her bangs off.
- The utter insane fury she unleashes in her Agni Kai with Zuko is downright unnerving to comprehend.
- While Azula's mental health has degraded we see she is far from stupid. Rather than aiming her lightning attack at Zuko she aims for Katara. While Zuko was able to safely redirect Ozai's lightning attack, he isn’t able to act fast enough when jumping in front of Katara. This leaves Zuko twitching on the ground while Katara is now tasked with fighting an empowered Azula all on her own.
- Ozai's positively gleeful expression as he is burning the entire Earth Kingdom to the ground. It's absolutely terrifying.
- Not to mention the horrific tortured-metal screeching sound his fire makes when he's charging it up.
- "Prepare to join them. Prepare to DIE!" Only Mark Hamill could make such campy villain banter terrifying.
- Strangely, a crossover one with Halo. If you know the Halo storyline, you know that the Covenant like to glass planets, essentially what the Fire Lord is doing. Except this time it's not a dogmatic alien menace that's doing this... coupled with the baby pictures earlier, it drives home that this is a human, not so different from his son or his wife or anyone else, doing this. The capacity to do evil doesn't have to be limited to monsters- mankind is capable of becoming those monsters all on its own.
- As a commenter pointed out, Toph's remark on there being a lot of fire can't be her seeing it (blind and all), so she, Suki, and Sokka must be able to feel the sheer heat even on an airship miles away.
- The sheer power we see the firebenders have thanks to the comet. Azula and Zuko throw fire blasts the size of houses at each other. Iroh blasts through the walls of Ba Sing Se in one stroke, a task that had previously taken his entire army over a year to accomplish. It's easy to see how the Fire Nation's first strike with the comet's power was so devastating and how they wiped out the Air Nomads.
Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang
- Azula's Villainous Breakdown. Straining at handcuffs, and the NOISES she was making. The closeup of her face as her eyes flood with tears as she sobs and screams loudly does not help AT ALL. It makes you feel sad for her. Alas, Poor Villain.
- Ozai's sheer ruthlessness in his firebending towards Aang, absolutely not letting up. And Aang is trapped in his rock sphere trying to protect himself, the feeling of utter helplessness is palpable. When Ozai unleashes an extremely powerful fire blast, it blows Aang so hard into a pointed rock formation that he's finally able to go into the Avatar State and becomes a godly being surrounded by all four elements. Both cool and terrifying.
Avatar State!Aang: FIRE LORD OZAI, YOU AND YOUR FOREFATHERS HAVE DEVASTATED THE BALANCE OF THIS WORLD, AND NOW, YOU SHALL PAY THE ULTIMATE PRICE!
- Once Aang enters the Avatar State, he starts by reaching out of the pile of rocks he's buried in and grabs Ozai by the beard, giving the Phoenix King a good look at the absolutely pissed off Physical God looking straight up into his soul and jumping up to greet him. Ozai tries to blast Aang with a handull of fire, but the Avatar effortlessly deflects it and, before Ozai can react, blasts him with a hurricane force air stream that knocks him very far into a massive rock pillar. creating five massive streams of fire while letting out this otherworldly roar, not the standard Voice of the Legion accompanying the Avatar State, looking almost like an amazing and terrifying beast of flame. Ozai can only watch and barely stand on his feet as Aang rips boulders out of the ground, forms giant streams of fire, and summons raging winds and tons of water, this is the one time where the Avatar State seems less like a Physical God, and more like a terrifying Humanoid Abomination.
- Once in the Avatar State, Aang becomes an unflinching sentinel with one single goal in mind: kill Ozai. He drops all pretenses of holding back, and immediately rushes down Ozai, relentlessly using all 4 bending arts to throw him around like a ragdoll. After several minutes of the Fire Lord running away for dear life and Aang countering any amount of fire that Ozai throws at him, the Avatar catches the Fire Lord, throws him onto a pillar with immense force to stun him, and locks his limbs in place with Earthbending. When he starts talking, his Voice of the Legion makes Aang sound like a judge sentencing someone to death.
- Aang's first time Energybending on Ozai of all people is as visually stunning as it is unsettling. Beams of light shoot out of their eyes and mouths before engulfing their bodies and Ozai's energy creeps and corrupts Aangs like some kind of viral infection. According to the Lion Turtle who gave Aang the ability, bending another's energy requires one's own energy to be unbendable or one will be corrupted and die from the attempt. Word of God described the scene as Ozai and Aang's souls flipping inside out, with Ozai's corrupting Aang's until the very last moment. If Aang failed, he would have either died or had his soul corrupted by a monster like Ozai with all the power of the Avatar in tact!
- The way removing people's bending is treated in The Legend of Korra (practically a Fate Worse than Death, with most of the victims begging for it not to happen and visibly traumatized afterwards) makes Aang's use of energybending rather... uncomfortable. The Benders are used to it being an extension of their body, so getting rid of it would be like ripping off somebody's arm... or one of their senses. Or both. Even worse, Amon's method doesn't strip someone of their bending, just their ability to use it. Meaning they have their abilities constantly just out of reach but are functionally perpetually chi-blocked. Of course, considering that this is Fire Lord Ozai that receives it, he absolutely deserves it.
- The villain’s plan for the tie-in video game. She blames Benders for the war and has come up with a plan to rid the world of Benders and replace them with her machines. Her gadgeteer skills were initially used by the Fire Nation, but once she was freed, she continued making her machines with the intention of ending the war her way via mass genocide.