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    Avatar The Last Airbender 

Avatar: The Last Airbender

  • Aang introduces the siblings to Appa and claims he can fly. Because their raft was destroyed (and because Sokka would rather not freeze to death waiting for help), they climb aboard the bison.
    Aang: First time fliers, hold on tight.
    (Appa jumps into the air...and crashes into the water.)
    • Turns out, when you're trapped in an iceberg for a long time (not to mention having previously been caught up in a wild storm before being placed into an iceberg), you can become exhausted pretty fast. It takes at least a day of resting before Appa can successfully fly again.
  • "The Firebending Masters" subverts Durable Deathtrap by revealing that the Sun Warrior civilization still exists, and that they were maintaining and resetting the traps.
  • "Sokka's Master":
    • Aang tries on a ridiculously oversized suit of Scary Impractical Armor. He can't even move in it, falling over after a single step.
    • Sokka confesses to his sword-master Piandao that he is from the Water Tribe, to which the latter admits he figured out that tidbit the moment Sokka used his actual name instead of playing it smart like Zuko and using a common name (or at least one native to the Fire Nation) instead.
      Piandao: You're gonna need a better Fire Nation cover name. Try Lee. There's a million Lees.
  • In "Bitter Work", Aang is having trouble learning Earthbending, and Toph is being incredibly hard on him. Meanwhile, Sokka gets trapped in a hole and is waiting to be rescued. After Aang finally passes the test and earns Toph's respect, he finds Sokka in the hole. With his newfound Earthbending skills, he steps up to plate... and Toph stops him, saying that if he tried, he'd probably break Sokka's neck by accident. She then gets him out. Just because you passed the test doesn't mean that you're an Instant Expert.
  • After two episodes of turmoil, Aang finally unleashes his Avatar State. The assaulted army stops, watching in awe as the Avatar prepares to unleash his spiritual wrath upon them—and then he gets shot down immediately. With Azula, transformation is NOT a free action.
  • In "The Siege of the North", Chief Arnook comes up with a plan to infiltrate the Fire Navy by using old Fire Navy uniforms... and Sokka points out that the Fire Navy has updated its wardrobe in the 85 years since the Water Tribe got the uniforms. Sure enough, the soldier that tries to assault Zhao gets found out immediately.
  • "Zuko Alone": Zuko is traveling by himself in order to get a good grasp on who he is. He comes across a village and makes friends with a boy there. But when Zuko is forced to use his firebending to stop a group of thuggish Earth Kingdom soldiers abusing their authority over the town, it naturally outs him a person from the Fire Nation, and worse yet, Zuko proudly proclaims his true identity as the prince of the Fire Nation and son of the country's bloodthirsty ruler. Despite saving the village, they immediately turn on him, (the boy he befriended included) and Zuko has no choice but to leave without a word. One good deed doesn't make up for the fact that Zuko's nation launched an unprovoked war against the rest of the world, and has spent a century trying to conquer the world while using tactics that are often incredibly brutal. Being proud of your heritage as the son and grandson and great grandson of brutal dictators isn't going to win you any points with the people who have been oppressed by your family either.
  • "City of Walls and Secrets":
    • Jet saw Iroh firebending his tea, and is determined to find proof that he and Zuko are actually criminals. After stealing Iroh's fire stones, he expects Iroh to heat it with firebending. Instead, Iroh remembers what Zuko said about not blowing their cover and borrows extra stones from their neighbor. He may have a weakness for tea but Iroh is not stupid.
    • Later, Jet storms into the tea shop, threatening Iroh and Zuko at swordpoint to out themselves. Thing is, he walks in accusing them with no evidence, in the presence of two guards who point out a teamaker would be heating tea. He gets into a fight with Zuko, who is a master fencer and remains on the defensive side until the Dai Li come. The shopowner rightly points out that Jet assaulted his employees and destroyed his shop, with the guards corroborating these stories. Jet promptly gets arrested on these charges as he's shouting that Iroh and Zuko are firebenders.
  • "The Earth King": The Gaang, by this point utterly fed up with trying to navigate the conspiracies and lies in the city of Ba Sing Se, decide to go directly to the Earth King to explain what's going on. Except that in order to get to him, they have to launch an all out attack on the palace, fight numerous guards, and their enemy Long Feng already got there before them. Understandably, the Earth King isn't inclined to hear them out at first: "You invade my palace, lay waste to all my guards, break down my fancy door — and you expect me to trust you!?" (Toph admits he has a valid point.) And when he's calmed down (and his bear, who Aang befriended earlier, licks him to show he remembers him), he wants proof before he believes their (apparently) wild claims.
    • Following on from that, when the Gaang take him to see Lake Laogai (where various unethical things have been going on) they find the entrance has been destroyed and likely the rest of the facility has suffered the same fate. Obviously Long Feng and the Dai Li weren't going to leave incriminating evidence around. However, they're unable to do the same with the Fire Nation's drill that nearly breached the city walls in a previous episode, as it's out in plain sight and far too many people know about it already.
  • "The Beach": Azula Sacrificed Basic Skill for Awesome Training, but that bit her in the butt when we see that without balancing both out, she can't socialize normally, leading her to have real difficulty in talking to people. Also, it shows that when you dedicate yourself to a single way of life (in her case, the commander), it's not easy to try a new way of life that you aren't used to.
  • "Imprisoned" The Gaang come across a settlement that is under Fire Nation rule, and they meet an Earthbender named Haru who's trying to keep himself under their radar. They come across an old man who's trapped under rocks and Haru uses his power to free him. Surely the old man will be grateful for saving him, right? Er, well, yeah, but doesn't stop him from reporting Haru to the Fire Nation. No Good Deed Goes Unpunished indeed.
    • From the same episode, Katara finds out what has happened and gets herself sent to the prison he was taken to, which turns out to be a ship made of metal which (at the time) the Earthbenders couldn't bend. However, for said ship to be powered, it still needed coal, which is a form of Earth. After Katara managed to get the coal to the prisoners along with some inspiring words, the Earthbenders use it to stage a prison riot. The issue was that the prisoners had their morale broken; they never thought to use the coal because they were all so battered and depressed.
  • In the finale of Book 1, Zuko finally has seemingly captured Aang (who has left his physical body behind to visit the Spirit World) and made a successful escape. Only he does so by running through a blizzard, and, being fatigued from fighting Katara, wet from his infiltration as well as said fight, he almost dies from hypothermia. He only survives thanks to the others who find him. Later in Book 2, Iroh even brings this up as an example of his And Then What? flaw.
  • The Fire Nation is a volcanic archipelago which means they have metal deposits and fertile soil which is because they are the most technologically advanced and stable (politically) nation. In real life, the Industrial Revolution didn’t start until people began finding metal deposits. It allows them to have built metal ships before everyone else to trade their food. The metal ships also give them a military advantage.
  • "The Headband": Aang saw firsthand that the Airbenders were annihilated in a Curb-Stomp Battle, thanks to the skeletons he saw in the Southern Air Temple and their generally pacifist nature. In a Fire Nation school, however, it turns out the teachers believe the Airbenders had an army and were able to fight back, with Aang's teacher chiding him for questioning that. Thanks to Written by the Winners, it would be like the Fire Nation to cover up that Sozin committed a heinous misdeed and murdered a group of peaceful benders.
  • "The Runaway": During a training exercise, Sokka rushes at Aang from behind while screaming "SNEAK ATTACK!!!" Aang clobbers him with a pillar without even looking.
  • "The Western Air Temple": Zuko thinks the best strategy to win over Team Avatar is to display humility and apologize to them for all of his misdeeds. There is just one problem; he already did that back in season 2 with Katara willing to trust him. Katara, as a result, is thinking this is another trick of his and smacks him with a water whip, reminding him of what he did before. And when you admit to your List of Transgressions involves trying to kill the people you're trying to join, it doesn't help your case. Not to mention that it was his fault that Ba Sing Se fell, so knowing he's the reason the Big Bad won the war doesn't endear Zuko to the Gaang.
  • "The Southern Air Raiders"
    • Zuko tries to tell Katara he has changed and thus she should trust him. She reminds him that they went through that in Ba Sing Se, and he chose to betray her and let Azula take over the city after a bonding moment. He visibly has no argument against that, especially since that basically won the war for the Fire Nation. Not to mention Katara was traumatized when Aang died for a few minutes and it was only with her Spirit Water that she was able to revive him.
    • Yon Rha was the man who killed Katara's mother when she claimed to be the last Waterbender in the Southern Tribe. Katara rightly calls him a monster for breaking into a helpless woman's home and leaving her body for her husband and children to find. It turns out, however, that his life was ruined after that; he retired and is spending his existence with his abusive mother. By the time Katara and Zuko track him down, Katara takes him down in a Curb-Stomp Battle but finds him too pathetic to kill. Even monsters can be broken and ruined by the choices they make, and the crimes they commit.
  • "Sozin's Comet, Part One": Zuko yells at the Gaang for just waiting on Sozin's Comet to pass instead of doing something about it. They reveal that, despite Aang being a Child Prodigy, that he's not ready to face Ozai on a regular day, let alone on the one day that all firebenders are superpowered. He's only been bending water for a year, earth for a few months, and fire for a few weeks. Ozai, in contrast, has been firebending for decades. Not even a Child Prodigy stands a chance against a trained Big Bad. Since the Day of the Black Sun was their last hope at securing a victory, the team planned to wait until Aang was older and strong enough to beat Ozai. Zuko then becomes apologetic because he realizes that he's asking Aang to fight as a Curb Stomp Cushion against his murderous father but says there isn't a choice if they want to save the Earth Kingdom from Ozai.
  • In the same episode, we see a flashback to the war meeting Zuko attended before making his Heel–Face Turn. Turns out that even though the Fire Nation finally captured Ba Sing Se, the sheer size of the Earth Kingdom continent means that their armies are spread too thin to maintain control and they are regularly dealing with rebellions in the more remote areas of the country. Just because the capital of a country is conquered doesn't mean total victory is achieved.
  • Aang knew he'd have to face the Fire Lord to bring peace to the world. It never occurred to him that he'd might have to actually take the man's life in cold blood; something that not only goes against everything he learned as an Air Nomad, but as an act no 12 year old boy should ever have to burden upon himself. His friends, including said man's own son, are yelling at him to do the deed, either unaware or uncaring that the burden of the deed falls on Aang rather than directly on any of them.
  • In part two of the finale when Aang goes missing, Zuko suggests that Iroh battle Ozai for the position of Fire Lord and use the power to end the war. Iroh tells Zuko that even if he did defeat Ozai in a duel, which isn't a guarantee, it wouldn't end the war. Everyone would see it as Iroh making a power grab and it would create political instability within the Fire Nation. Aang, being the appointed peacekeeper and protector for all four nations, is the only one who can defeat Ozai and ensure peace.
  • Despite being stronger than Zuko, Azula is unable to defeat him during the finale of the series until she cheats and shoots Lightning at Katara, which Zuko is only just able to redirect at the cost of it damaging him. Zuko might be weaker, but his calm and focused mental state allows him to counter Azula, who is suffering a mental breakdown during this period. This is shown during their fight especially; Zuko primarily plays defensively, blocking or countering Azula, while Azula attempts to overpower him through raw power. As a result, Zuko is able to block her attacks and even counter because Azula is basically just throwing her attacks at him, while Zuko counters or avoids it. In most cases, the fighter with the calmest mental state will win because they can plan and strategize over their enemy.
    • Likewise, the Agni Kai is meant to show who wins in terms of firebending skills and prowess, as well as who is calm in the face of serious injuries. Azula at first "wins" by ensuring Zuko gets struck by lightning, but she forfeits by default when chasing Katara around the arena with an intent to kill. It's clear to any eyewitnesses and Fire Nation priests that she is unfit for rule if trying to murder an Innocent Bystander, especially when said bystander has to restrain her with chains to end the fight.
  • "The Avatar State": General Fong tries helping Aang achieve the Avatar State by offering Aang chi-enhancing tea, rather than achieve the avatar state, the caffeine instead makes Aang too hyperactive to focus.
  • Aang never fights Big Bad Firelord Ozai until the Grand Finale of the series...because he’s the ruler of a nation. Ozai has to run his country, and can’t just go off to chase down the Avatar himself; instead he assigns the mission to the Admiral Zhao, who’s in the most appropriate position in the Fire Nation to lead the hunt. After, he sends his daughter Azula who is extremely dangerous and doesn’t have any other obligations that require her to be in the FN. It’s only at the end of the series, when he’s leading the assault on the Earth Kingdom under the power of Sozin’s Comet, that he fights Aang. Even then, it was more to him just showing up then actually searching for him.
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    Comics set after the Aang era but before the Korra era 

Comics set after the Aang era but before the Korra era

  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Promise: The long-term consequences of a century-long war of conquest and genocide will not simply go away because one of your friends has replaced the Evil Overlord in charge of the aggressor nation and is perfectly willing to make any reparations requested. Even if both sides have well-intentioned individuals in charge, there is still the potential for conflict simply because some things can't be fixed, and instead have to be lived with.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – Rebound: Just because the Evil Overlord was defeated doesn't mean his empire fell with him. While The Empire is fractured, a new order of Ozai's loyalists (dubbed the New Ozai Society) is on resurgence with the Imperialist ideals still alive.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Search: At one point in the comics, Zuko's frustrations get the better of him when dealing with Azula, and he frustratingly yells at his sister "Why does our relationship have to be like this?" to which Azula doesn't even properly reply because she isn't lucid at the moment. It captures a dark truth about dealing with a loved one who is suffering from mental illness in that sometimes it's really not easy to deal with it and those types of frustrations happen more than we'd like to admit they do. It's also a reveal in a way that Zuko also could do with some therapy; as even though he does want to help his sister get better too; he also has a lot of trauma (inflicted by Azula as well) since the beginning of the series that he needs to come to terms with.
    • For people to change, they have to want to change. Zuko was willing to change and mend ways with his sister; but his sister was barely lucid to try to change; and even when she was, she was clearly only humoring Zuko long enough to find Ursa. It made mending bridges harder to do between them as a result of it. You can't mend a relationship unless both parties are willing to try. Doubly so when, again, one of the two people in the conversation isn't consistently mentally healthy enough to try.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – The Rift
    • One of the Rough Rhinos defies Talking Is a Free Action.
      Rough Rhino: Let this be a lesson to you, kiddies. Never have a conversation when you're in the middle of a fight!
    • Since the war is over, this leads to Fire Lord Zuko downsizing the Fire Nation's armed forces as there is no longer any priority for them. This has caused a number of army personnel to be discharged from service and have to take contractor jobs.
    • Aang was eleven when he ran away from the temple, and didn't learn all the reasons why certain traditions existed, merely knowing the steps to follow. This proves a big hindrance when he tries to recreate the Air Nomads.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – Smoke and Shadow: This comic deconstructs The Good King trope. Zuko finds out that even with him being an objectively better Fire Lord than his father, there is still resistance to his rule, resistance that may one day need to be dealt with through overt violence.
    • The comic also shows a toxic relationship between what are (normally) two good people who when together just end up fighting all the time. Mai and Zuko had a relationship in the comics that was a case of "skipping the foreplay and getting right to the intensity" in the animated series; but here (and in the series as well, to be honest) we see what a relationship like that is: When it's good and all is smooth; the relationship is fantastic. But it's a very brittle relationship and one that, once conflict occurs between them can get VERY ugly and VERY bad, VERY quickly.
    • Kiyi starts out acting cold towards Ursa, notably ever since she got back her original face. It's not easy for a child to adjust to new changes so drastically. They need time to get used to said-changes.
      • Building on that, Kiyi grew up her entire life identifying the plain-faced Noriko as her mother. She isn't going to be easily swayed into loving Ursa's beautiful princess face, even if it is essentially her mother's real face.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – North and South
    • Despite similar cultures and a shared history, the Northern and Southern Water tribes are not one big happy family, and prejudices and other issues exist between the two. (A century of separation and being cut off from each other doesn't help either, as the two tribes have essentially become strangers to each other.) Especially when the South has valuable natural resources that can be exploited and the Northerners feel the South is too ignorant/uncivilized to take advantage of it. The South isn't free of other prejudices against the other nations either, despite being "good guys" in the war, with some southerners bitter and resentful towards the North for staying out of the Hundred Year War until near the end of it.
    • Just because the South united in the war, it doesn't mean there won't be a falling out and divisions about policy regarding what road to take after the war.
    • Katara imagines she'll go back to the South and find nothing has changed, only to find that everything is changing as the tribe tries to adapt to new post-war circumstances. When she is upset about this and says she expected things to go back to normal with the war over, Sokka points out that nobody in the South still remembers a time before the war, so nobody even knows what normal is anymore. A lot of people, including Katara, are trying to go back to a normal that they don't even know, and may have never existed.
    • As part of their reconstruction plans, the North converts several villages in the South into a massive city very similar to the North's capital. This is seen as cultural erasure by certain southerners, namely Gilak and Katara.
    • Pakku is attempting to teach waterbending to two very young sisters, the first souther waterbenders since Katara. Their mother always told them to hide their powers or the Fire Nation would take them away, which was a very real danger since the Fire Nation had a specialist military unit for that exact purpose less than ten years ago. They're too young to really understand that the war is over and the "monsters" aren't coming for them, and they're also away from their family and their incredibly isolated village for the first time ever. Naturally they're terrified and don't want to learn waterbending or understand why their mother suddenly decided to send them away to do the thing she always told them never to do.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender – Imbalance: Just like the real industrial revolution, the creation of machines to replace jobs that previously required human workers leads to a massive job shortage, with many of those out of work forced to turn to crime. Satoru highlights this from the business man's perspective: Noting that because of the improvements made to technology, he had no reason to keep the benders around and spend money on them, yet he never intended to put people out on the streets.
    • Change occurs, but change is constant. What was once a blessing for a small town to prosper ended up turning it into a Wretched Hive because of the sudden downturn in employment thanks to Satoru. Yes, change was going to occur, but not all of it is good; especially as a town can go from the top of the heap to down in the dumps in less than a few years.
    • Though much more prevalent in The Legend Of Korra, it was only going to be a matter of time before people with the ability to shoot fire or throw rocks at whim would start to use their abilites as leverage and superiority over those who can't. Despite the practice growing traction, Chi Blocking isn't widely used or readily available to non-combatants and it's difficult to stand up to benders who can cause massive damage at whim.
    • Aang realizes that it would've been easy to energybend away the power of Liling; but doing so would've been fruitless; for the racism she spouted wasn't only her but shared by hundreds of benders and it would've been nearly despotic to remove the bending of hundreds of people, fueling their rage even more so. The bigotry of the people is awful; but it's something that can only be changed by changing the minds and hearts of the people; and brute force wasn't going to solve that problem.

    The Legend Of Korra 

The Legend of Korra

  • One of the overall themes is to show that the original Team Avatar didn't live happily ever after. They went on to live very realistic lives, complete with personal and family issues. These issues ultimately affect the lives of their children and grandchildren; Bumi and Kya are resentful towards Tenzin due to Aang's favoritism of his only airbending child, Lin not knowing her father makes her angry at her mother, her and Suyin growing up without parental supervision messed up their ability to form relationships, etc.
  • At the end of Season 1, Korra is granted the use of the Avatar State by her past lives despite being a neophyte airbender and still lacking in maturity (usually an Avatar masters all four elements and the discipline from doing so is how they become fully-realized, per the previous series.) Come Season 2 Korra is using the Avatar State to cheat at racing Tenzin's children and refusing to continue her airbending training now that she's "fully-realized." Except she's not, as an encounter with a Dark Spirit shows she's not the Instant Expert she thinks she is as any skill takes time and practice to perfect, especially if it requires a mental state entirely different from your usual self. It takes some character building with Iroh in the Spirit World before she's able to become the full Avatar. If someone is just handed something without earning it, nine of ten times they're not going to respect it.
  • The first episode has the title character stopping some thugs from getting tribute money, destroying a lot of the street while doing so. When the police show up, they almost immediately attempt to arrest her for property damage.
    • Earlier in the same episode, she tries to get food for Naga, but having been locked in a compound for the majority of her life, she didn't know she needed to carry money around and spend it in exchange for things.
    • Trying to catch fish from a pond in a public park likewise draws the attention of the police, since that pond is the city's property.
  • As early as the third episode of season 1, Amon gets Korra on the back foot and tacitly explains that while it's well within his power at this moment, depowering the Avatar - generally seen as the Big Good to the world at large - would turn her into a Martyr and make his still-growing Equalist faction into terrorists. So with a simple threat that she'll be last, he leaves her be, and doesn't attempt to go after her again until he's drummed up enough public support and dissatisfaction even Korra is grouped in with the "Us vs. Them" mentality the Equalist movement made. This incident also leaves Korra huddled up as a crying mess; she had never been so thoroughly defeated, helpless and threated and only remained the Avatar because the villain was a pragmatist.
  • The Korra/Mako/Asami Love Triangle in season 1 is a typical "plucky teen heroine wins boy away from girlfriend who doesn't deserve him" plotline. In season 2, the constant lies necessary to uphold it leads to a lot of lingering strain between them, Korra and Mako face difficulties in actually maintaining a relationship, Mako and Asami still have remaining feelings for each other which creates problems, and Korra and Mako eventually break up entirely, as a Belligerent Sexual Tension romance is not usually a good basis for a successful relationship. In season 3 everyone finally stops lying and talks it out, allowing them to deal with and move past the problems, and although Mako needs some space all three remain friends despite the fiasco.
  • The first episodes of season 2 show that The Hero would not be happy if their Mentor Archetype hid important things from them "for their own good", would likely develop serious trust issues, and would probably get pretty annoyed about being constantly bossed around and told that they are The Chosen One.
  • In Season 3, Korra and Tenzin are so excited that Harmonic Convergence made several people airbenders that until they try to recruit those people to rebuild the Air Nomads, they don't realize that, new powers or not, people aren't too keen on leaving behind their lives, homes, and families in order to adopt an entirely new culture. In fact, on the trip to Ba Sing Se, the only successful recruit is Kai, a Street Urchin thief who sees his new airbending abilities as a way to earn redemption for the wrongs he committed in the past. And while several of the new airbenders do willingly join the Air Nomads later in the series, several of them still choose to keep living their current lives.
    • One of the issues created by the new airbenders who refuse to accept the monks' lifestyle is that they're not trained to hold back for the sake of only fighting in self-defense. This shows how absurdly dangerous control over the air itself can be when one goes entirely on the offensive, as a group of untrained airbenders working together can easily create a tornado, or tell the air not to enter someone's lungs and asphyxiate them (as the Earth Queen finds out the hard way when Zaheer assassinated her this way).
  • The second season ends on an uplifting note with Korra's speech about looking towards a new future. The third season quickly reveals that a lot of people are mad at the changes that have come about as a result of spirits living in the material world and all. This leads to another Aesop that part of making decisions is making peace with them, no matter how difficult.
  • Then Season 4 begins with a newsreel showing that the area the spirits took over is now a major tourist attraction, intercut with scenes of people and spirits getting along peacefully. People can pretty much get used to anything.
  • Korra learns a Be Yourself Aesop at the end of Book 2, but over a decade of identifying mainly as the Avatar isn't brushed away so easily.
  • In "Long Live The Queen", Bolin and Mako are imprisoned in the Earth Queen's dungeons. Mako tells Bolin to metalbend the doors, gives him a speech about how this is his time and gets the whole cell block to cheer him on. Bolin digs deep, focuses... and achieves absolutely nothing. You don't instantly gain a very difficult and specialist skill because people believe in you.
  • This is an Exploited Trope by Zaheer:
    • In the same episode, Zaheer points out that trying to hold Korra prisoner would bring unwanted international attention upon the Earth Kingdom.
    • If an authority maintains order over the masses through iron rule which is heavily disapproved of, things will get ugly when that authority is bumped off. This is exactly what Zaheer and his team wanted.
  • The Arc Villain Zaheer is an Instant Expert at airbending but has only had his powers for at most a few months (and seems to use moves based off firebending he probably picked up from P'li), and when he faced Tenzin (who's been an airbending master nearly all his life) he got creamed until his teammates arrived to Zerg Rush Tenzin. Similarly in the third season finale, Bolin's new Magma Man abilities do take away a good portion of Ghazan's advantage, but the older lavabender still has the upper hand from experience until Mako joins in.
  • Zaheer’s legitimately a very good airbender for someone who’s had the powers for such a short amount of time but he’s also got the fact that very few people (probably a dozen at most) on earth have ever actually been around airbenders on his side. No one knows how to fight him. Kya, who grew up with an airbender dad and brother and presumably trained with them, gives him a much harder time than anyone else. Lin and Su, who also grew up around Aang and Tenzin, are similarly able to get the better of him a few episodes later.
  • The Earth Queen was a terrible tyrant, no doubt about it, but killing her just creates more problems. The ensuing chaos creates a power vacuum that gives rise to another tyrant, Kuvira. This happened in real life in both China and Russia around the time show is based on.
  • The Avatar State doesn't cure poison, so Korra's battle ends up being short-lived once the poison gets the better of her determination. It's definitely not something one can bounce right back from, as by the beginning of season 4 she still hasn't recovered mentally. Her physical recovery also took three years and a lot of willpower.
  • When Korra loses a fight in an underground Earthbending ring, she is smacked around in possibly the most brutal curb stompings in the show, which depicts her injuries fairly realistically and demonstrates just how painful being on the receiving end of what is essentially a beating with flying rocks would be in Real Life.
  • The duel between Korra and Kuvira in "Battle of Zaofu" has a double example. Korra may have just cured herself of mercury poisoning, but she's spent most of the last three years recovering from it and hasn't had much chance to practice fighting during this time. As a result, Kuvira — who's spent the last three years fighting to stabilize the Earth Kingdom — easily kicks her ass. Unfortunately for Kuvira, reality then ensues in the opposite direction. Flippantly goad a Physical God to invoke her Super Mode during a duel, and she may end up doing just that, blasting you halfway across the field before crushing your prone form with a massive boulder.
  • In her final battle Ming-Hua (an armless waterbender who fights by creating temporary prosthetics) lures Mako into a pool of water, giving her a decisive advantage. Or at least, she thinks. She dies seconds later when Mako puts himself on dry land and just zaps the pool with lightning.
  • Toph explains to Korra the futility of her job. Even if she stops one bad guy, there will always be others waiting to take his place. Tenzin admits she has a point but offers a less cynical view of it. Of course, Toph lightens up later on in this matter, realizing that while evil never gives up, neither should the forces of good.
  • In "Enemy at the Gates", Varrick's Beleaguered Assistant Zhi Li turns against him and Bolin when the three of them get captured trying to defect from Kuvira's army because she's sick and tired of Varrick treating her like crap in order to keep herself from being imprisoned along with them. In "Operation Beifong", it turns out that Zhu Li only pretended to switch sides in order to hurt Kuvira's spirit vine cannon experiments and gather intel on when Kuvira will attack Republic City because she truly does love Varrick and wanted to protect him. However, the next episode proves that being pushed around by an ungrateful boss would grate anybody's nerves and Zhu Li more-or-less meant everything she said during "the betrayal". When Varrick finds out the truth and attempts to get her to become his assistant again, she flat-out refuses and demands to be treated like an equal if he really does wants her around. This makes Varrick have a Heel Realization, and he begins to treat her better as a result, culminating in the two of them becoming Happily Married in the Grand Finale.
  • Opal isn't Easily Forgiving towards Bolin when he and Varrick return to Republic City to warn President Raiko about Kuvira's new spirit vine weapons. While she's glad that he's alive and that he immediately deserted Kuvira once he realized that he was fighting on the wrong side, she's still understandably upset with him and he needs to work to regain her trust again, which he does by helping Opal and Lin free the remaining Beifong family members from Kuvira's captivity. On the other hand, his friends forgive him easily, because they're like his family, and have known him far longer than Opal has.
  • Zaheer's anarchist revolution is brutally crushed by a well organized military push, and Kuvira has shown herself to be even worse than Hou-Ting ever was, which Korra calls him out on. All Zaheer's ideals about freedom though chaos were just that, ideals. This was actually foreshadowed when Asami and Bolin were playing Pai Sho in Book Three while staking Aiwei out. Bolin, who was playing fast-paced Pai Sho, lost pretty much every time to the strategic and calculating Asami (he nearly won once, but Pabu scattered the pieces). While chaos may be effective in the short term, order tends to win out in the long term, especially when safety is threatened.
  • Despite the huge technological strides made between The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, large swathes of the Earth Kingdom are shown to look pretty much the same as they did seventy years ago. This is a fairly realistic look at how economic and technological development would spread through a country as huge as the Earth Kingdom- the rest of the world is relatively much smaller and could introduce new technology faster and easier, but the sheer scale of the Earth Kingdom would make that a logistical nightmare. Add to that the devastation of the war and the comet, and the general ineptness and selfishness of the Earth Queen, and it makes sense that there would be huge areas of the Earth Kingdom set away from the railroads which would be just as isolated and underdeveloped as they were decades ago even if the nation as a whole is wealthier and more modern. There are many historical examples of this such as the USA from around the time of the Civil War to World War II, late Tsarist Russia/early Soviet Union, and modern-day China.
  • At the end of "Operation Beifong" Toph saves her family but announces she's going back to her home in the swamp. When questioned, she points out that while she is powerful, she's pushing ninety and can't perform the same large-scale heroics she could when she was younger, and also notes that this is why Katara stayed out of the Water Tribe Civil War in Season 2. Unlike the White Lotus grandmasters who fought in their oldest years, not everybody will age gracefully; and Old Age can affect everyone differently.
    • Toph finally reveals the long-awaited identity of Lin's father. Turns out it was just some guy named Kanto, a name that has absolutely no importance to anyone, including the audience. Missing parents are not automatically indicative of a special lineage, and just because the audience know the two characters doesn't mean they'll hook up together.
  • Toph's Brutal Honesty and flippant nature was cute when she was a kid. It's not so cute when she directs those same brusque words and carelessness towards her own daughters; Suyin explicitly says that she wished Toph had been a parent instead of an absent authority figure which is partly why she rebelled as a teen and became a getaway driver. Lin for her part always believed that Toph cared more about her own ego and reputation than actually answering her questions about her father or putting in the minimal effort of parenting, eventually severing ties with her for several decades. Toph only gets a Jerkass Realization about this when Lin says they're only allying to save an imprisoned Suyin and after that, they're going their separate ways.
    • To a lesser extent, Toph invoked this when Lin was forced to arrest Suyin for serving as a getaway driver, resisting arrest, and assaulting an officer. She said if Suyin was in jail then it'd ruin her as police chief and burns the warrant, choosing to exile her daughter to her strict grandparents in the Earth Kingdom. A bandaged Lin turns it around on her by pointing out she's saying what Suyin did was okay and she can get away with it. What's more, Lin establishes that Toph by covering up what Suyin did means they are no longer on speaking terms and refuses to consider them as family.
  • The two-part Grand Finale features The Colossus. While the airbenders give it a lot of trouble and are able to dodge the beam itself they are still blown away by the shockwave it produces. It's mostly hollow, save for the framework, and its spirit vine power core is the size of a house, which makes sense when you consider that something that big must need a lot of power to function. And even though they managed to take it down, it and the opening of the new spirit portal still did immense damage to the city.
    • Also, the Earth Empire only managed to make one. The Colossus was untested technology that required a lot of time and effort to create. In fact, it took so much platinum, so many workers and so much time to create that there's no way a second one will ever be rebuilt. Besides, since the Earth Empire ultimately fails to take Republic City, it's not like anyone's going to let them try.
  • Though Kuvira surrenders and apologizes to Su, she doesn't get Easily Forgiven by the older woman.
  • Though the plan to take Republic City ultimately fails, the Earth Empire doesn't just automatically all disappear because their leader was captured. However, reality ensues on them when, due to the aforementioned resources needed to make the Colossus all being gone, they're completely unprepared to deal with the counterattack, and get taken down pretty swiftly.
  • In the opening of Season 4, Korra is severely mentally damaged after the mercury poisoning effectively taking away her status as the Avatar. Being raised your entire life to believe you are the chosen one had serious mental repercussions and self-esteem issues inflicted upon her as now she has no self-worth.

    Comics set after the Korra era 

Comics set after the Korra era

  • The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars
    • Having grown up in near isolation from the rest of the world, it doesn't occur to Korra that some people might take issue with her relationship with Asami.
    • Kuvira attacking Republic City with the Colossus, and the attempts of the heroes to stop it, destroyed a lot of the city. Both the police station and city hall are out of commission, with their respective staff having taken up temporary headquarters in residential areas. The government has basically no money thanks to the massive cost of reconstruction. Hundreds of people have been left homeless and are set up in tents city outside the city. And with the police stretched thin and communication spotty thanks to the spirit portal, the bending gangs have grown in power.
    • The mere existence of the new spirit portal becomes a point of contention; relationships between spirits and humans may have improved greatly since Avatar Wan's time, but they're still not perfect, and the spirits aren't happy about having another entrance to their world in the middle of a populated human city. And while Korra, Asami and the Air Nomads are willing to watch over the portal and prevent its exploitation, the land around the portal did have an owner before it became "sacred", who would want to see a return on his investment.
    • A couple can sometimes be more effective when they're not working alongside one another. While at the refugee camp, Asami declines Korra's request to join her on her visit to the refugees, on the basis that she'd be unnecessary with the Avatar there. Instead she spends her time drawing up housing development plans in order to get the refugees back into proper accommodation, which ends up fitting in nicely with Korra's promise to find homes for them all in her Rousing Speech to them.
    • Mako's arm is still injured. Only a few days have passed since the wedding, so no Hollywood Healing.
    • Korra and Asami may have become a couple, but that doesn't mean that they'll immediately start being physically intimate with one another, as demonstrated when Asami makes a move on Korra in her office. Different people will become more comfortable with physical intimacy at different speeds.
    • Asami learns the hard way that dating a powerful figure like the Avatar will make you a target for those seeking to exploit and manipulate her.
  • The Legend of Korra: Ruins of the Empire
    • Even though Kuvira may have seen the error of her ways and surrendered, it doesn't mean that all of her supporters will do the same. She also still defaults to her previous methods when talking doesn't work, as Guan gets a first-hand taste of.
    • Related to the above, three months is not nearly enough time for the members of Team Avatar to consider forgiving and/or trusting Kuvira again. Especially Asami, whose father was killed by Kuvira, and whose girlfriend nearly went the same way multiple times. They do warm up to her at the end, but only after Kuvira helps stop Guan, shows genuine remorse for her crimes, and risks her mind to help create a fix for Guan and Dr. Sheng's brainwashing. And even then, Asami makes clear that she won't forgive Kuvira for "a very long time", which could mean anything up to multiple decades.
    • Also, the reason Korra's the first one willing to give Kuvira a chance to atone is that she's had the most interactions with Kuvira in the moments leading up to and after her surrender, so she has more experience with Kuvira, and more reason to buy her Heel–Face Turn than the others do. But that doesn't mean she'll just forget all the times Kuvira's wronged her friends, or ignore the possibility of the other woman betraying her trust.
    • In the past, Kuvira could threaten and bully others into submission because she was the one in charge. When she tries it as a prisoner in Korra's custody however Korra immediately moves to try and stop her, and Asami electrocutes her into unconsciousness soon afterward, neither of them approving of her chosen course of action. It doesn't help that unlike Kuvira's previous victims, Guan has a small army at his command, who would have attacked had Kuvira not stopped assaulting their commander.
    • Because of Kuvira's actions as stated above, none of Team Avatar is willing to set her free to help against Guan’s forces, even though she was absolutely right to request it.
    • Any kind of political reform on a national scale will take time to implement; it's at least three months since Kuvira's defeat before the first election is held, and the process is expected to take around a year to complete, which is considered to be an unrealistic timetable given the scale involved. Wu ultimately admits that he was pushing his nation into becoming a democracy too hard, and too fast.
    • Furthermore, the two magistrates running for Gaoling's governorship are from "the outdated bureaucracy" (Wu's own words), and both look old enough they may have once served King Kuei. Just because democracy was being introduced does not mean that the old order instantly vanishes into the ether.
    • It's worth noting that while the Earth Kingdom is willing to give the Democracy thing a try, it's also difficult for a kingdom to try a new way of life after years of Monarchical rule. It's really hard to determine if the people's choices for leaders are really what they want or if it's just them reverting to old habits.
    • The ugly side of freedom and democracy rears its head with Guan; and while Korra and Wu believe in the good of a democratic system, people like Guan can just as easily use it for their own ends as well.
    • After Guan reveals his plan to run for Governor of Goaling Mako tells Wu that he should cancel the vote until they can sort this mess out. Wu points out that canceling the vote just because he doesn't like one of the candidates would set a pretty bad precedent for democracy going forward.
    • As a result of the above five points, and the fact that it was blatantly sabotaged, Wu decides to postpone the Gaoling election at the end of the trilogy. He then asks Toph if she'll be willing to participate next time, but she warns him not to get his hopes up. After all, she prefers to be alone, has little love for politics in general, and only took part in the previous election out of necessity.
    • Baatar Jr. is spending his sentence in Zaofu, under house arrest. This is actually more of a punishment than being in jail for a number of reasons: one is that he witnesses the damage he caused by turning Zaofu into a war camp and imprisoning his parents and siblings. The second is that Suyin is the only one who has forgiven him; most of his family members tolerate him because he caused them undue trauma for months on end and he only reformed when staring death in the face. Opal has a few moments where she's a Deadpan Snarker. While Baatar Jr. redeems himself in this comic and admits he was stupid for following Kuvira blindly, including a scene where he calls her out for trying to kill him, it's going to take a long time for him to fix the damage.
    • Most of the Beifongs forgive Kuvira after she helps fight Guan to make amends for enabling his rise to power, showing that she has changed, and helps with undoing the brainwashing on Team Avatar. There's just one exception: Baatar Jr. She didn't just try to kill him; she tried to kill him when he was taken hostage by his own family and begging her to negotiate for his freedom. That is not an easy thing to forgive, especially since Baatar Jr. believes that their relationship was a lie if she was so willing to sacrifice his life for her ambitions. He's willing to work with her but is keeping their relationship professional. Opal hints, however, that Baataar Jr. just needs time to forgive his ex so that he can live with what they both did.
    • Kuvira attempts an I Surrender, Suckers and metaphorical suicide to Guan. He questions why she would want to be brainwashed after seeing its horrific effects, and she says she doesn't want to remember nearly killing her mother or losing the Beifongs. Guan humors her and straps her into the chair, but he reveals he's not stupid; he knows Kuvira too well to know that she would want to give up her free will since it's Too Good to Be True. So he had Mako and Bolin on standby to attack if she tried something.

    The Kyoshi Novels  

The Kyoshi Novels

  • The Shadow of Kyoshi
    • Kyoshi has been working for two whole years to find Yun at the beginning of the book, but since he's one person travelling in the huge, populous Earth Kingdom continent, it's impossible to really to nail down his movements.
    • When you're the Avatar and are supposed to bring Balance to both the Spirit world and The Human world, favoring one over the other can lead to disastrous consequences, especially for the non favored party. Yangchen favored the Human world, which caused many spirits to become corrupted and leaving her successor, Kuruk, to deal with the consequences. His fate can also be this, as the stress of having to clean up her mess in the Spirit World caused him to die prematurely.
    • Kyoshi notes that being abandoned by the people you were sworn to protect would leave lasting scars; she can relate all too well from the previous book. Yun cannot shake off his Trauma Conga Line of being left to die and face a dangerous spirit, seeing an evil mentor drag off his best friend, and having to restore himself to the human world. He understandably snaps when an innkeeper mocks him for claiming to be the Avatar when he just wants a damn sip of water, and cannot turn back after killing everyone in the inn.
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