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WMG / Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Gaang

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The writers have responded to Zuko being the Ensemble Dark Horse by making Aang more like Zuko.
In season 1, to establish that The Hero and the Anti-Hero aren't so different, the two usually got parallel plots in each episode, but Zuko's would always be the more popular. By season 2, the laughing, lovable, fun-loving Kid Hero was spending so much time sulking, losing his cool, and raging at the world, the fans coined the term "aangst". Everything (especially Waterbending) came easily for Aang in the first season, but nothing ever worked out for Zuko, no matter how hard he tried; in the second season, everything starts going wrong for Aang more often than right, and he actually struggles with learning Earthbending. This culminates in the season 3 premiere, with Aang full of self-loathing, guilt, powerlessness, physical and emotional pain, impatience, and driven blind to reason by his mission — Zuko's personality to the letter. To quote Toonzone's review, "Aang drops a line that sounds like it came from Zuko's script" — "I need to redeem myself. I need my honor back." He even had black hair for awhile (not to mention a massive burn scar)!
  • Alternately: The writers knew damn well what they were doing from the start, and as early as the second episode established the parallel between the two; Notice that Aang became more like Zuko, while Zuko became more like Aang (less serious and angry, though still plenty of agnst). This comes from the fact that Zuko's life started as shit as the Un Favorite, got shittier when his mother disappeared, and the Shit Hit The Fan when his father burned off half his face, but through living with Iroh realized that there were people capable of honestly loving him; Aang, on the other hand, lived a happy life surrounded by friends and a loving father figure, then ran away when things sounded like they'd get a little hard, only to be frozen & awakened by a complete hottie a hundred years later to go on a wicked awesome world-spanning adventure... but then his best friend gets stolen, his friends nearly killed several times by his own inaction, and he sees first-hand all the shit that's befallen the Earth Kingdom because he ran away from home a hundred yers ago. Honestly, we should all be thankful that the 13-14 year old main character didn't completely snap in a moment of wangst-fueled scizzo-rage, go ultra Avatar State, and wipe the world of all but a few humans because of their inability to relate to one another.

Trope Math is in effect here
Okay, the show began with ¡Three Amigos!, which went well.In the second season, they added a fourth character, Toph. And as we know, Four Is Death. Coincidentally, they experienced a series of abysmal losses such as the fall of Ba Sing Se, which continues in the third season with them barely escaping Combustion Man and the failure during the Day of Black Sun.Now, in the third season, with Zuko joining, they have (what else?) a Five-Man Band. Which lead to the almost immediate defeat of Combustion Man.
  • Confirmed. Combustion Man died the same episode that Zuko joined the group.
  • Of course, Zuko does have a girlfriend who might join in the fun, or cause a second group of AntiHeros who will end up trying to piece together a now broken Fire Nation.
  • Alternatively, Mai and Suki will end up joining the Gaang, turning it into a Magnificent Seven.

Come on, his weapon of choice is a boomerang sharpened to a knife edge. Hardly a clumsy kid's practice weapon- that's nothing you'd want to throw unless you were very sure of how to make it go where you wanted and how to catch it when it comes back!
  • Alternatively (or relatedly; I can never tell which), Sokka is the mastermind behind the entire series, manipulating everyone and everything around him for the benefit of himself or the group. He brought Katara to the iceberg in order for her to waterbend Aang free, he became the stereotypical sexist on Kyoshi so Suki would take pity on him and train him to be a better warrior, simultaneously seducing her so they'd have powerful allies to call upon later, he formed a relationship with Yue so she'd be near the group and in a position to save the moon spirit once it's eventually killed (although he got little too invested in that one), and he's the Voice Of Reason in a very unresonable world just so his tsundere sister will argue with him and try to guide Aang and the group in the opposite, unreasonable direction, which is the right direction in their world.
    • This troper officially subscribes to that theory - it is AWESOME!
    • Makes even more sense when you consider what Aunt Wu predicted about Sokka's future. Something about things being "self-inflicted", maybe a nod to that these events were provoked by Sokka.
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    • Now that I think about it... Iroh appeared the same way at first. Sokka keeps the act up only because he doesn't have secret group helping him. Sokka is even more Magnificent Bastard than Iroh and Azula together!
      • And that is why Sokka's eventual place in the Order of the White Lotus will be Grand Master. Piandao saw his potential at fifteen, and gave him his first push towards the secret society: Sokka's going to be brilliant. In his own [[Adorkable wonderful]] way.
    • Even better: Wang Fire is the mastermind. Come on, you know you want it to be true.
      • Sokka never existed. Wang Fire is an immortal godlike being with many identities throughout time, some years ago he started living with Hakoda and Kya after he used his power to convince them he was their son. He has minipulated everything in the seriess from first developing Energybendin in the past to specifically placing the rock that knocked Aangs scar in the final.
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  • He's a badass, but he's also a teenage boy. Of course he's awkward and clumsy; he's 15! He's still growing, both physically and personality-wise. This explains the food obsession; he's building muscle. He's clumsy because he's recently gained height and muscle mass, and isn't used to it yet. And he's awkward, especially around girls, because the only girl near his age anywhere nearby was his sister, and he's just coming up to marriageable age. He gets more badass as the story progresses because he's not living hand to mouth and hunting every meal, he's learning new things (and probably reading up on anything he can get his hands on), and training with some of the world's greatest benders to adopt their styles into his own. This also explains why he learned so much from such a short period of sword training; he already knew most of the basics.

The Gaang found the world's first Ice-Cream Truck franchise
Think about it, Sokka'd probably come up with it, Zuko'd give the initial funding, Toph and Aang would provide propulsion and music, and Katara keeps the ice cream cold. It's PERFECT!!
  • Then a piece of ice spalls off the outside of the truck they're using, landing on and crushing the cart of Cabbage Man (see the WMG above about draft animals). MY CABBAGES!!!
  • Hang on, this is TOO perfect... Actually, screw it. This is CANON. I'll tell Bryke the news.

Appa and Momo talking and fighting in Nightmares and Daydreams? Not a hallucination.
  • Appa and Momo have always been able to speak and fight samurai-style. Everyone is aware of it except Aang, and everyone is keeping it a secret from him because they feel he has enough to worry about. Hence, when Aang asked Sokka about the Appa/Momo fight, Sokka pretended it was just another of his hallucinations.
    • Now I understand why Sokka thought Appa had eaten Momo. He saw the animosity between them!

The Gaang share Aang's reincarnation cycle.
  • Roku has stated that some friendships trascend lifetimes. He was hinting at the fact that the Avatar's closest friends reincarnate with him. That's the reason why most of his companions are so good at what they do: just like the Avatar, they are just remembering abilities they mastered lifetimes ago. Also, the Avatar's lover is supposed to be born in the same element as the Avatar, but since Aang was frozen and she perished among with the other Air Nomads at the start of the war, she was reincarnated into the Water Tribe at the time when the next Avatar should have been born - from there fate guided her to the place where she would find Aang.
    • Unfortunately, while there might be a system in place to keep the Avatar from going rogue (as put forth by above theories), there is no such system for the Avatar's friends. We're looking at you, Sozin.
      • Oh, there is one. It's the Avatar himself. Nice job there, Roku.
      • Wait, does that mean Sokka is a reincarnated Sozin? Think about it, they are both natural leaders, all about the ideas, and Sokka's status as the universe's butt-monkey is the result of Sozin's terrible karma.
    • This better explains Aang's visions of Toph in the swamp. A couple of incarnations ago, Toph's predecessor dies after The Avatar masters Earthbending. He would have ended up being the Unlucky Childhood Friend, but his death still hurt The Avatar deeply. After all it was supposed to show someone you lost. Toph is still okay at the end of the series.
      • This could be carried even further. The Gaang aren't just a reincarnation cycle to provide friends for the Avatar, they're the potential benders who would've been the Avatar if it had been their element's turn in the cycle.
    • This also makes Sokka learning sword fighting interesting, his teacher approved of all of Sokka's weird actions, to the point of almost expecting them sometimes. Did Sokka's previous incarnation teach Sokka's master, thus being responsible for his own instruction...
  • How Toph managed to be the first metalbender is a doubt, but perhaps she was so good at Earthbending that she needed another reincarnation (and blindness) to perfect her style.
    • The guy that runs the Earthbender arena points out that no one is known to be able to Bend metal. It's possible that only those taught by the badgermoles can develop the talent, but no one does, because everyone believes it's impossible. It's kind of like Bloodbending, something that is possible, but considered so hard or gross that it's not sought out by the average student, thus mostly unteachable.
    • Exactly, it's just like Energybending. It existed but it wasn't known about. This is likely due to the fact that metal didn't exactly become prevalent until the Fire Nation's war so there would've been no need to demonstrate the ability to bend metal.
      • Also, it would be quite possible to bend metal that occurs naturally, like iron ore.
  • We could even carry this one step further. The Gaang is made up of the people who would've been the Avatar had it been their elements turn in the cycle. Zuko, Toph, and Katara are all master benders before they even reach adulthood and they all have similar attitudes to the Avatar about balance. Think about it like this, the master bender of the generation will be the one to teach the Avatar, so it makes sense that the Avatar be taught by reincarnations of his teachers/friends to make the learning process easier. So the Avatar would have one bending friend from every nation who would manifest themselves as his teacher. Sozin, Gyatso, the unnamed Earth and Water benders would've been the past lives and Katara, Zuko and Toph are the newest incarnations (maybe Momo is the incarnation of his Airbending friend until people come back!). Of course that doesn't really leave any explanation for the nonbenders but it's a start.
    • The flaw in this theory is Sokka. No bending and all. Is he just a protective big brother who tagged along with Katara, or is it important to the reincarnation cycle and the balance of the Avatar's friendship group that one member be gifted at something other than bending (like swordfighting and strategy, as was mentioned earlier)?
      • Sokka is the group's power of heart?
      • Maybe Sokka is the reincarnation of the Air Bender?
      • Alternately, Sokka was supposed to be this generation's avatar. Maybe the "Avatar spirit" is only half the soul, and was supposed to attach to Sokka after Aang died, but when Aang froze himself, he altered the cycle. Zuko and Toph are the reincarnations of the other element teachers, and had things gone "correctly" the airbending role would have found a way to appear (someone turning out to be a descendent of the nomads, perhaps?), while Karara takes on Sozin's role of a powerful bender of the same element. IIRC, Roku claims that Sozin was like a brother to him, and Katara and Sokka do tend to have loud screaming matches.
      • Having one non-bender would still make sense I think. Afterall, not everyone in the world is a bender, and having a friend who is a non-bender would make it easier for the Avatar to understand how to relate to them.
      • Like what Aang learns from his previous lives (Yang Chen?), that the Avatar is born human because the spirit of the planet and bridge to the spirit world needs to experience what it is to be human and all that goes with that. So, his group is made up of individuals whose affinty to their elements plays a large part in their characterisation in one way or another, and the 'human' aspect of the Avatar is represented by the 'ordinary' non-bender, Sokka (albeit he is 'ordinary' only through contrast with his True Companions). And then you have the secondary influences upon the war and international relations, the Order of the White Lotus, which transcends the boundaries of the element-affliated nations.
    • Considering Zuko began his quest at sixteen, the usual age Avatars are told who they are, this does hold at least some water.
      • ... except that he began his quest when he was thirteen.
    • The problem with that theory is that Avatars switch genders meaning that it only holds true with Katara
      • Ok, that doesn't make ANY sense at all; what "only" holds true with Katara? We see mixed genders among Aang's friends; if any of them had the potental to be the Avatar, it is showing (as we have seen) that the Avatar can manifest in either gender. Also, it's not like the cycle goes male/female/male/female instead of Air-Water-Earth-Fire. Otherwise, since Roku was the last Avatar, Aang should have been a girl. On a related note, I was saying that Aang 'broke' the cycle in his 100 year "nap" and Katara should have been the next Avatar in the cycle all along, practically since the third episode.
      • The cycle does go male/female. If we are to assume that one of the below Avatar-choosing theories is correct, then Aang and Roku both being males makes perfect sense since, otherwise, each nation would only have a male or female avatar. Following this line of reasoning Katara is the only member of the gaang (besides Aang) who could have been avatar if it was their nation's turn.
      • According to The Avatar Wiki, this is not quite true...
    "It is unknown if there is a pattern in the re-incarnation cycle that determines whether a particular Avatar will be male or female, although visions seen by Aang displaying previous Avatars seem to suggest there is not. (Interestingly, the last four avatars followed the pattern female-male-female-male, though Aang breaks this pattern)."

  • Sokka sharply resembles Kuruk in personality, and there's some resemblance between Toph and Kyoshi too.

  • This theory is (sort of) jossed by The Legend of Korra: Katara, Toph and Zuko are still alive, yet Korra already has a group of friends similar to Aang. Whose reincarnations are they?

    • quite possibly people who are in the cycle, but we haven't seen before?

  • theory. the avatar spirit is part of a larger construct, and the Gaang are not the usual group sent to the avatar. the're the best and fiercest, sent in to a world with a missing avatar and a massive war.

Toph will get killed sometime in the future.
Hue: In the swamp we see visions of people we've lost, people we loved
Yes, we GET that whole "time is an illusion" thing, but that still means Toph is gonna die while she looks like a 12 year old.
  • Maybe this was just Avatard fantease so that in the finale when she and Sokka are dangling dramatically off the edge of the airship, hardcore Avatards will say, "Oh no, what Hue said in The Swamp will be true!" Though by the time people will finish formulating that thought Suki will have dramatically returned to save them all. Dramatically.
    • No. The swamp shows people we've lost and people we've yet to meet. Seeing someone there does not mean you're seeing them as they died.
    • Addendum to the above: Also included is "people we've loved". Combine with "time is an illusion," and you get "people we will love in the future."* It could stand in for "or" - "people we've lost, OR people we've loved." Taang-shippers may rejoice, but there are different kinds of love.
  • Jossed by Sequel Series The Legend of Korra. Not only did Toph have two daughters in her 30s, but she was shown in flashbacks where she was 40 or so and the Chief of the Metalbending Police in Books 1 and 3, and eventually turned up alive and well in her 80s in Book 4.

Toph is Iroh's reincarnated daughter.
Since Iroh's unnamed wife died sometime before Lu Ten did it is entirely possible that they had a child that died before she did, or even died with her. It would fit beautifully and sadly with the theme of freindships outliving people. Especially if during his journey to the spirit world he learns this but says nothing to Toph in series in order to not freak her out.
  • Since reincarnation can switch a person between genders in the avatar universe, she could even have been Lu Ten.
    • She can't be Lu Ten: in the flashback where Fire Lord Azulon's family is informed of Lu Ten's death, Zuko and Azula are about 9 to 11 years old, and since Toph is only a couple years younger than them, it means she was born about 7 years before Lu Ten died.
  • Or Toph is the reincarnation of Iroh's wife.

The reason it's the same season in both the north and south hemispheres...
Is that the seasons in the Avatar world aren't based on the tilt of the planet's axis and whatnot, but instead on the relative metaphysical position of the material plane to that of the spirit world.

Not sure that was completely coherent, but hopefully it was at least understandable.

  • Jossed. Sokka makes a reference to the midnight sun in the opening episode, which is something that only polar regions of planets that are tilted on their axis can experience during their summer months. That it is nearing summer at the South Pole and winter in the northern hemisphere is a further indication that the hemispheres of the Avatar world experience opposing seasons. But as all of the national seats of power and the majority of the world's population are in the northern hemisphere, it's more common to hear references to the northern hemisphere's seasons than the southern's.
    • Additionally, we learn in The Legend of Korra that winter is most definitely beginning in the southern hemisphere as summer is beginning in the northern.

The comma is an implied "and" in Hue's comment that the swamp shows us "people we've lost, people we loved".
I don't know what it means, though, aside from the possibility that Toph's reincarnated from someone a previous Avatar knew, loved, failed to protect, or left behind in death (see also the "the Avatar's True Companions are usually reincarnated too" guess above).
  • I've seen a "Toph = Ummi" theory based on this exact sort of idea. Mostly among Taangers, naturally, but it's one possible answer.

Aang had to learn one thing from each of his friends in order to defeat the Firelord
By learning Air (Gyatso), Water (Katara), Fire (Zuko) and Earth (Toph), he was able to almost completely defeat Ozai. Why is this a WMG?

Because of the last thing he needed to defeat Ozai.

"Heart" (Or "Spiritbending")

Where did he learn this? From Sokka. However, Sokka isn't a bender, so the spirits send Aang someone else who can teach him the True Awesomeness of Heart.

Momo is the Spirit of Air
Much like Tui and La residing amongst the Northern Water Tribe, Momo is the Spirit of Air and has decided to follow the last Airbender and current Avatar. It is their responsibility to restore the Airbenders to the world.

Sokka has some degree of latent waterbending potential.
Often, when someone's waterbending goes harmlessly wrong, Sokka is on the wrong end of it and gets a soaking - but he never seems to get hit with dangerous waterbending mistakes (spikes of ice, huge quantities of water, etc.). His status as the Butt-Monkey aside, Sokka may have the potential to waterbend on some basic level, but not the correct attitude or self-confidence to control it.

This is also part of why Katara had so much trouble when she was first starting out - she was often near Sokka, whose unwitting protowaterbending was interfering with her attempts and drawing the water to him.

Appa is powered by spirits
This is coupled with the comet is a spirit theory. Appa can fly across the world in a single day because there is a enormously powerful spirit close to the world. In addition, Appa was able to fly from the earth kingdom to the fire nation in a few hours during the winter solstice, when the spirit world and the physical world were at their closest.

The Lion Turtle Reopened Aang's Chakras.
Along with teaching Aang energy bending before the final battle, the Lion Turtle demonstrated it by unlocking his chakras and making it possible to reconnect to the Avatar State. After that, Aang's body needed a little jump start via acupressure on the spot of where he was injured to reawaken it. Ozai just happened to unintentionally provide that therapy. Hence Avatar State in the final battle.

Modern-day Toph wouldn't be blind.
Her eyes are pretty clearly clouded over, which points to cataracts. The surgery to fix this is fairly simple and one of the most frequently performed surgeries, therefore, Toph wouldn't be blind in a modern day setting.
  • Not necessarily. Cloudy lenses are a symptom of cataracts, but not exclusive to them. Many loss-of-vision disorders are accompanied by cloudy lenses, usually as cataracts end up being a secondary condition to the primary one.

Suki is a descendant of Avatar Kyoshi.
She is the leader of the Kyoshi Warriors, and from what we've seen descendants of Avatars tend to remain prominent figures. Roku's granddaughter Ursa was high status enough to have an arranged marriage with the second son of the Fire Lord.
  • 'Tis certainly possible. Word of God says Kyoshi had a daughter.
If Zuko had chosen to join the Gaang in the catacombs...

Aang would awaken as per the show and at first be shocked to see Zuko among them. Katara quickly convinces him that Zuko has changed and is no threat; in fact he seems to have endeared himself to both of the girls. Seeing Zuko's friendliness with Katara and remembering the scene he and Iroh busted in on back in the caves, this gives Aang reason to be jealous, playing with the fan wars.

Rather than Sokka and Toph (which came out of nowhere, I think), it's Zuko with which she has the confidence as well as the secret crush on because I can't be the only one who saw it in the last few episodes. Toph totally digs the guy, though admittedly the chance of her feelings being returned are quite slim. Their mutual kinships with Iroh and similar personalities would have lead to a very believable friendship. Also, it's not that Zuko betrayed his uncle, it's that he abandoned him, leaving his fate in Azula's hands which is as good as killing the man himself.

Rather than the girls duking it out, Sokka, being Sokka, is the only member still openly hostile to Zuko, constantly suspicious of him and his motives to the point where they're the ones who actually get into a physical fight. Sokka also does not appreciate the scared one's friendship with his sister and even takes to teasing them about their relationship, which often leaves Aang rattled. Toph, being able to read heartbeats (I think) is not effected and is aware that Zuko and Katara truly are Just Friends and nothing more.

The conflict to the Western Air-temple and the subsequent plot to the fire-bending masters happens much earlier (think around Nightmares and Daydreams), keeping that particular piece of the story and pretty much forcing Aang to get over much of his ill feelings towards Zuko. Still, that doesn’t mean he likes seeing the girl he likes being so friendly with their now mutual friend. This also gives more time to flush out the following brotherly relationship between Zuko and Aang.

The Black Sun happens largely the same, though Zuko splits off to find his uncle rather than confront his father. This fails as, like the firelord, Iroh has been moved curtsey of Azula who anticipated this attempt because that's what she does. Eventually, Zuko returns to the group and they flee as the episode shows, though with Zuko aboard Appa with everyone else.

The roles of the Boiling Rock and the Southern Raiders are reversed, with Zuko helping Katara to track down Yan Rah as a simple favor to a friend, and helping Sokka bust his dad out of prison as proof of his allegiance and loyalty. Other than that, the end of the series is largely the same.