Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them. But when the world needed him most, he vanished.
A hundred years passed, and my brother and I discovered the new Avatar, an airbender named Aang. And although his airbending skills are great, he has a lot to learn before he's ready to save anyone.
But I believe Aang can save the world.
Avatar: The Last Airbender is a Nicktoon that ran from 2005-2008 on Nickelodeon. It is the first series in an eponymous franchise which takes place in a Constructed World divided into four nations: the Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. Each nation has developed a spiritual art form to manipulate ("bend") their namesake element, but only the Avatar — one person reincarnated periodically into each race — is capable of mastering all four elements. The Avatar's role is to serve as a peacekeeper and protector for all four nations (as well as bridging and balancing the physical and spiritual worlds).
The show's story centers around Aang, the biologically-twelve (chronologically ONE-HUNDRED-and-twelve) year-old incarnation of the current Avatar, and the eponymous Last Airbender. He must master the four bending arts so that he can save the world from Fire Lord Ozai and end the century-long war, a war which he accidentally avoided, spending a hundred years trapped in an iceberg after running away from his sudden heavy responsibility as the Avatar. Ozai's plans for domination are on a specific timetable, though, meaning that Aang has until the end of summer to stop them.
Aang has thankfully found himself in good company with teenage waterbender Katara and her brother Sokka, the two who freed Aang from the iceberg. As the trio works to save the four nations with the company of Aang's lemur and flying bison, they gain many more allies; take a look at the Character Sheet to get to know more about the cast.
There was a canonical online game, Escape from the Spirit World, released between seasons two and three and set between them.
The first season was adapted into a live-action film directed by M. Night Shyamalan — The Last Airbender — which is the second Shyamalan film to be inspired by a Nickelodeon show. The film was intended to be the first season in movie form, with the hope that a pair of sequels based on the other two seasons would follow. The film's critical failure, however, put a stop to any further plans for any follow-up to the show.
A Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, premiered in 2012. The new series takes place seventy years after Avatar and focuses on the next Avatar, a hotheaded waterbender named Korra, who has to live up to her responsibilities as the Avatar in a world that is vastly different than it was in Aang's time.
Nickelodeon has also released a digest graphic novel called The Lost Adventures, which includes the out of print Expanded Universe strips.
Several graphic novel trilogies published by Dark Horse Comics that detail the Gaang's rebuilding of the world and serve as a bridge to Korra have been released. The first five are written by Gene Luen Yang and drawn by Gurihiru. Following that, Faith Erin Hicks took over on writing and Peter Wartman on art. In the order of publication, they are:
- The Promise: Picks up immediately after the end of the series, and deals with Zuko's struggles after the war.
- The Search: The fate of Zuko's mother is revealed, tying up one of the biggest loose threads of the original series.
- The Rift: Aang receives visions of the previous Airbending Avatar, and deals with the celebration of an Air Nomad holiday held in her honour.
- Smoke and Shadow: Zuko deals with a rebel faction of Fire Nation citizens calling themselves the "New Ozai Society."
- North and South: Katara and Sokka return home for the first time after the war, and finds out that some things have changed. The final trilogy to be penned by Yang.
- Imbalance: The Gaang deals with technological progress in a small town, and its effect on benders and non-benders alike.
On September 18, 2018, Netflix and Nickelodeon announced that a live action television adaptation of the show, though without DiMartino and Konietzko returning as showrunners or executive producers (they were initially on-board, but left due to creative differences), but it remains in development.
On June 22, 2020, SMITE, of all things, had a crossover with this series, with character skins that portray Aang, Zuko and Korra being available in the "Avatar Battle Pass".
This show is not to be confused with other meanings of the term "avatar".
Due to the sheer number of trope examples, they have been divided into their own alphabetized pages. There is also a largely-complete recap page available for those who want to see what all the fuss is about.