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YMMV / Avatar: The Last Airbender

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  • Broken Base: The very idea of a live-action remake of the original series when it was announced mid-September 2018. After the massive flop that was the 2010 live-action film and the divisive sequel The Legend of Korra, fans of the original animated series just wanted the franchise to rest. The fact that Bryke are returning as the main show-runners either 1) soothe the fans that it won't be a case of Adaptation Decay like the 2010 film and the remake will actually be handled properly or 2) didn't soothe the backlash one bit and actually divided the camps further. It's because many fans were worried that what made Korra divisive in the first place will be carried over to the live-action remake as Aaron Ehasz (he original series' head writer and the person some fans consider to be it's real saviour in the first place) will not be part of the new project as he will be too busy writing the Netflix original The Dragon Prince to join.
  • Fandom-Enraging Misconception: Never, ever, ever, call any part of this franchise "anime"; the universe was developed with anime stylings, yes, but it is a western cartoon. It's a common mistake, but doing so gets certain people really angry.
  • Friendly Fandoms: In spite of the fandom being vicious to anyone who makes the mistake of calling the franchise anime, the franchise commands a lot of respect among actual anime fans. This is due to it taking influence from some of the most influential parts of Japanese animation, such as the works of Studio Ghibli. The franchise is regularly discussed casually among anime fans alongside their favorite series despite being a western cartoon.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight: A YouTuber posted news that the next entry in the franchise after Korra will move to an April Fools gag in 2017. Jump forward to mid-September 2018...

    The Original Series 
  • Accidental Innuendo: "The Drill". Not only is the long stick like drill very phallic in appearance, but when the slurry overflows it looks like a "climax" into the wall.
  • Alternate Aesop Interpretation: The Great Divide. It seems many viewers focus on the feud between the clans itself and Aang's solution to the conflict. However, from another viewpoint, the episode is a warning about getting caught up in arguments and controversies where there is no clear logical resolution because it's easier to align yourself with one of the groups. Both clans are telling different versions of the same story about a significant ancestor and don't seem to have any sort of evidence or documentation. Sokka and Katara find themselves weighing in on opposite sides of the feud because of which side of the story they heard first, and because of their views on how to adequately build tents in the dry season.
  • Angel/Devil Shipping:
    • The basis for the massive Zuko and Katara ship, especially in the first season.
    • [insert Aang, Sokka, or any other good guy] and Azula.
  • Anvilicious:
    • "The Great Divide." The tribes hate each other, and this is a Bad Thing. We get it.
      • At least they realize this and skip it in the Ember Island play.
    • "The Painted Lady." Katara's Chronic Hero Syndrome gets dialed up to eleven, to the point the entire episode could be renamed "I will never ever stop helping people, and anyone who doesn't agree with me or appreciate my efforts is a bad person!" What made this episode particularly egregious is the whole show, up until this point, took a subtle approach to "save the environment"—refreshing, especially for a kids show. Why the writers felt they needed to suddenly hammer home the message seems a bit baffling given how well it's handled before and after.
  • Arc Fatigue: It takes Zuko two and a half seasons to figure out he should be with the good guys and that the Fire Nation as it stands is a horrible mess that he needs to redeem.
  • Ass Pull: A lot of people think the finale had two major ones. The first one with Aang being granted energybending by the lion-turtle is hotly debated as to whether it was or not, with the issue mostly being accepted in concept as it fits with the lore with the timing of its implementation being the most controversial. The second with Aang entering the Avatar state by hitting a perfectly-shaped rock as opposed to opening his chakras on his own is near universally considered a giant Ass Pull.
    • As a meta example, a lot of fans view the sequel comics as an attempt to answer questions that they ran out of time to answer in the show proper.
    • Aang suddenly having problems with killing Ozai in the last few episodes when he showed no hesitation or reluctance with the idea before. In "Nightmares and Daydreams" where Aang was mostly concerned with the idea of not defeating Ozai and failing the world again. During the eclipse invasion where he reaches the throne room and the bunker, he doesn't appear to have any issues with killing Ozai either time. Made even worse given how often Aang's actions have indirectly killed before (the siege of the North Pole being the most glaring example).
  • Awesome Ego: Toph proclaims herself the greatest Earthbender on the planet - and can back it up.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Katara: Strong female lead and good role-model, or over-emotional hypocrite? Most of her actions split the fandom in half as well.
    • Zuko: Badass relatable character with a sympathetic backstory, or wangsty, honor-obsessed Emo Teen who is way too easily forgiven?
    • Mai: Some find her an amusing Deadpan Snarker, others think her Emotionless Girl schtick is dull. The comics have only made her more divisive.
    • Suki: When she was introduced, she was a near-unanimous Ensemble Dark Horse. But her joining the Gaang for the final battle split the fandom in half. Some are happy to see her return with more spotlight, others thought that she was just sort of thrown in without much consideration or fanfare and it wound up making her duller. Not to mention she lost her distinctive Kyoshi Warriors garb.
    • Toph: Badass precocious child? Or a whiny, aggressive and rude brat?
  • Broken Base:
    • Aang's conflict in the finale split fans between those who felt it came out of nowhere and those who felt it was perfectly justified given what we'd seen of Aang to that point. Then there's the controversy over whether the resolution of using the previously unseen Energybending so Aang could stop Ozai without killing him was reasonably foreshadowed or a complete Ass Pull. For the record, the creators had the idea of Aang sticking with Thou Shalt Not Kill in their mind from the beginning of the series, they just didn't have anything specific. But the less said the better.
    • Shipping, anyone? Let's see, we have Kataang versus Zutara versus Taang versus Maiko versus Jetara. Then we have Sukka/George versus Yuokka versus Tykka versus The Doph versus Taang versus Toko versus Tokka. And that's not even mentioning anyone outside of the Five-Man Band or any of the crack/yaoi/yuri pairings.
    • Season 3: Fans either consider it to be the strongest season of the three or the weakest. Most of this is directed at it's rather loose first half.
    • The revelation that Roku and Sozin were best friends and that both are Zuko's great-grandfathers. Some fans love it and view it as a good plot twist while others view it unnecessary and the most blatant case of Writers Cannot Do Math (considering the ages both would have to be when they had their kids; considering Rina was Roku's daughter and Ursa was born 76 years after Roku's death, Rina would have been at least 76 years old when she gave birth to Ursa and at least 97 when she died.)
  • Cargo Ship: Sokka/Boomerang, on again off again.
  • Complete Monster: Fire Lord Ozai is a genocidal, child-abusing fascist dictator who has dedicated weeks at a time and large portions of his national army to hunting down and killing a twelve-year-old and his friends. He forced Ursa into marrying him, and tried to kill her old lover out of spite. He obtained the throne when he manipulated Ursa into murdering his father to usurp the throne from his grieving older brother Iroh. He then thanked her with banishment from the Fire Nation and threatened to hunt them down and kill the children if she took them with her. He abused his son Zuko out of spite when Ursa claimed that Zuko was not his son even though he knew it was a lie, burned his face for speaking out of turn, and tried to shoot him with lightning when he decides to join Aang. He manipulated his loyal daughter Azula into becoming his perfect little villain to the point where she snaps from the pressure, only to later discard her to a completely meaningless position. Finally, his reaction to news of rebellions in the Earth Kingdom is to try to incinerate the continent. Even after his downfall he still tries to manipulate his son Zuko into being a tyrant like himself.
  • Crazy Awesome: Between his unconventional Secret Test of Character and his generally madcap personality, Bumi was a fan favorite from the word "Go".
  • Creepy Awesome: Koh the Face Stealer, Azula, and Hama.
  • Draco in Leather Pants:
    • Zuko (especially before his Heel–Face Turn). As horrible as his life was, it makes it easy for the viewers to forget that his motives for going after Aang were entirely selfish. Zhao, Azula, Jet and yes, even Ozai.
    • Zhao. Unlike Zuko, he wasn't meant to be sympathetic but because Evil Is Sexy he wound up quite popular and many whitewash his transgressions/incompetence, especially with female fans.
    • Koh as well, to the point where many fans speculated that he would play a significant role in The Legend of Korra.
    • Azula. While few people actually gloss over her misdeeds, she just comes off as too damn pitiable by the end of the series.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Suki was originally meant to be a one-off character, but they brought her back by fan demand and she eventually became part of the Gaang.
    • Ty Lee is also a popular character due to her unique ability, Foe Yay with Sokka, and attractive design in general. Many were disappointed that she rarely appeared in season three.
    • Jet was meant to be a one-shot character, but fan popularity brought him back for four more appearances.
    • Zhao has his share of fans despite him only having a major role in the first season. It helps that Jason Issacs voices him.
    • Koh only had a meaningful role in one episode but he's so creepy that fans still yearn for his return to this day.
    • Jin only had a role in one filler episode, however is one of the most popular characters in fanart and fanfiction. Many love her due to her cute design, personality, and for being someone to ship Zuko with for fans who don't like him with Mai.
    • King Bumi for being a powerful earthbender, Crazy Awesome, and one of the few people who Aang knew before being frozen.
  • Evil Is Cool:
    • Princess Azula is regarded as one of the coolest characters in the series, as well as one of the most evil. Those are directly tied together (or rather how good she is at being evil).
    • Her father Ozai could qualify as well. While he has nowhere as much screentime as his children, the ominous build-up to his character via flashback presents him as a truly intimidating figure. And once Season 3 kicks in, it shows that it's far from an Informed Ability, and comes closest to giving Aang the fight of his life. The fact that he's voiced by The Joker helps.
  • Evil Is Sexy:
    • Azula. Being an Ax-Crazy sociopath does little to mitigate this. The sultry voice performance by Grey Delisle adds a lot more seductive undertones to her as well.
    • Ozai is this during the final battle, thanks to his Walking Shirtless Scene. As with his daughter, his voice actor definitely helps.
    • Mai and Ty Lee also, although they're merely antagonists, and not evil.
    • Zhao. Helps that he's voiced by Lucius Malfoy.
    • Zuko! Though, he's not really evil.
  • Family-Unfriendly Aesop:
    • Subverted. For a long time the series, particularly the series finale, look to be building up to the very Family-Unfriendly Aesop that sometimes Violence Really Is the Answer. Aang speaks with all of his past lives and is told by Roku how many lives they could have saved if they had "acted decisively," and by Kyoshi and Yangchen how they were willing to do "anything" to save the lives of millions of people, and that as Avatar his duty is to put the well-being of the people of the world over his own path to enlightenment. It seems like the series is directing Aang to kill Ozai after all. However, Kuruk provides a clear opposition to the idea, advising Aang to "actively shape your own destiny." Ultimately Aang chooses to go with Kuruk's advice and finds a way to stop Ozai for good without having to kill him.
    • The Great Divide: Lying through your teeth is an acceptable and effective way to resolve deeply ingrained disputes. Doubly so when the cause of the fight is truly unknown to modern descendants ready to escalate into pointless violence.
    • The Southern Raiders: You don't always need to forgive someone who's wronged you to achieve closure.
  • Fandom Rivalry: "A couple more years, and you might be ready to fight a sea sponge."
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Zuko/Katara is a legendary example (it's even the trope's image). In fact, it is very common among casual viewers or people who have never watched the series to think Zuko and Katara ended up together due to the sheer ubiquitousness of the pairing; there are roughly twice as many Zutara fics as there are Kataang ones. The two are the Designated Parents for the Gaang, have copious amounts of Ship Tease and spend the finale together as Fire-Forged Friends. The Zuko/Katara ship is further fuelled by their voice actors Dante Basco and Mae Whitman openly supporting the couple - even thinking the story was heading in the direction of the two ending up together.
    • Tokka (Toph/Sokka) is Sokka's most preferred couple. And this was before Sukka (Suki/Sokka) was made canon.
  • Fanon Discontinuity: There are numerous fans who don't consider the sequel comics to be canon , with The Promise, The Search and Smoke and Shadow each proving to be divisive with parts of the fandom, especially the latter two for respectively turning Ursa and Mai into Unintentionally Unsympathetic characters (to the point that the comics' depiction (not the show's depiction, who is considered to be one of the Base Breaking Characters in the fandom) of the latter is considered to be The Scrappy). They still sell well enough to warrant continuations though, so they are by no means hated by the majority of fans.
    • There is another group of fans who ignore the events of the finale or the entirety of Season 3 altogether.
    • For specific episodes, "The Great Divide" often gets this treatment and to a lesser extent "Avatar Day" and "The Painted Lady".
    • The sequel series, The Legend of Korra is completely disregarded by some fans of the Avatar franchise.
  • Fashion-Victim Villain: Ozai. Though he fixes that in time for the final battle.
  • Fountain of Memes: Sokka. Practically every comedic moment he's involved in is basically a goldmine of memetic levels, most notably during his cactus juice-induced hallucinatory state.
  • Franchise Original Sin:
  • "Funny Aneurysm" Moment:
    • In "Jet":
      Katara: We were following instinct.
      Jet: You'll get yourself killed that way.
    • From "The Great Divide": "Settling feuds and making peace. All in a day's work for the Avatar." Tell that to the people of Yu Dao.
    • From "The Blind Bandit": An Earthbending member of the Fire Nation? Surely you jest.
    • Toph's attempt at having a "life-changing field trip with Zuko" getting blown off, followed by her grumbling, "this is the worst field trip ever," is funny until one sees The Legend of Korra. What she tries to resolve is her strained relationship with her parents, and the Time Skip sequel reveals that Toph's unresolved issues with her parents bleeds into her parenting of and relationship with her own daughters. The Rift, at least, shows her reconciling with her parents while Korra's third season has her making amends with her daughters.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Ozai's title in the finale is probably a reference to the Chinese "fenghuang" (the phoenix lord of demons, which is symbolic in and of itself).
    • The sheer number of accurate details from different cultures is immensely rewarding for anyone familiar with Asian history, and not just Ancient Asian history. Many of the best references and parallels are actually from 20th century China and Japan. Ba Sing Se especially will ring a lot of bells for anyone who's been to China lately. The Dai Li, for example, are named after a real person, the leader of the Kuomintang's State Sec during the Chinese Civil War, who were known for their extreme brutality in quelling dissent against the state.
  • Gotta Ship 'Em All: The fandom has shipped almost every possible combination of characters, up to and including everyone with everyone else ''simultaneously''.
  • Growing the Beard: In the trope sense, it seems most of the fans agree the show was great from the start but others like to point at various points in season 1 (and up to Season 2) as to where it "really" hit its stride. "The Storm" which reveals the backstories of Aang and Zuko is a popular candidate.
    • Another common one is "Avatar Roku: Winter Solstice Part 2" due to it being the first time the Gaang enters the Fire Nation, the first time Aang meets Avatar Roku, the first time Zhao poses a threat to them, and being the episode where we learn that there is a time limit to defeating Fire Lord Ozai. Basically this episode kicks off the main plot.
  • Harsher in Hindsight:
    • Iroh exasperatedly telling Zuko he'll never find the Avatar in the first episode. Once you know Zuko's whole backstory, it comes off pretty damn callous in a rewatch since he's offhandedly saying "Oh, just give up on ever returning to your homeland, family, and birthright and go to bed." To be fair, they had no legit indication at the time that it was anything more than a Snipe Hunt used to manipulate Zuko to keep him from turning face in his exile.
    • In the Guru, Azula taunts to the Earth King when he learns that Long Feng was manipulating him by saying "It's terrible when you can't trust the people who are closest to you." It become dramatically ironic when latter, her own friends, Mai and Ty Lee, turn against her which causes a big Villainous Breakdown.
    • Hama passing down bloodbending to Katara doesn't seem like a big deal until The Legend of Korra, where two of the series' main antagonists are bloodbenders, and they don't need a full moon to bloodbend.
    • Zuko blowing off Toph when she tries to tell him about her unresolved issues with her parents, followed by her feeling disappointed that she didn't find a resolution to this central issue for her, becomes much harsher when The Legend of Korra reveals that Toph not finding a resolution to her issue with her parents affects her parenting of her own future daughters, which creates a host of emotional issues with them regarding her parenting. Somewhat alleviated after The Rift shows her rebuilding her relationship with her parents and the last season of Korra has her make amends with her daughters as well.
    • In-universe, "Nightmares And Daydreams." An episode where Mai is trying to cheer up Zuko, who just stumbled out of a war meeting with his father and sister, but he doesn't mention what happened in there. He seems depressed over it, though. We later see that this was the meeting where the Fire Nation decided to burn the entire Earth Kingdom to the ground, turning its surface to glass and murdering every single person there.
    • "The Beach" has Azula hilariously, yet somewhat painfully, try to socialize and act like a normal teenager but just cannot do it for the life of her. Then, you realize that it's because of this that she prefers to use manipulation and fear to get what she wants but it also sets her up for a lifetime of misery and betrayal once those tactics don't work anymore.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Toph asks Aang if it's possible for friendships to transcend lifetimes. Considering her own friendship with Aang's reincarnation Korra in the sequel series, it's safe to say it happened for her.
  • He's Just Hiding!: Jet, Zhao, and Combustion Man get a lot of this. The sequel series reveals it's actually true with Zhao... In the worst possible manner.
    • Most fans still believe this of a number of Air Nomads.
      • One of the comics actually had this be true... for a while.
    • In-Universe example: When Aang is told that airbenders have not been seen in a century, he insists that they must be in hiding. Then he learns the truth...
      • According to Word of God, a small colony of Sky Bison were found by Aang in the remote mountains between the original show and Legend Of Korra, so depending on your viewpoint, the Airbenders really were just hiding.
      • Careful reading of the old drafts for Avatar will reveal that Aang was not the last airbender and many were just out there hiding. After the war had ended, he set off on a quest with Appa and Momo to find his people. This idea was dropped as the show went on and Aang truly did become the sole survivor as a way to make him tragic and give him more depth. His status as The Last of His Kind has been confirmed by Word of God.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • In "The Storm", Sokka describes a dream he had where Momo talked ("You said some very unkind things.") Two seasons later in "Nightmares and Daydreams", one of Aang's hallucinations starts with Momo talking.
    • In "The Fortuneteller", Katara hopes that the man she marries will be tall. Aang is shorter than Katara in the series, but we find out in The Legend of Korra that he had a growth spurt and wound up being a whole head taller than Katara.
    • The final scene of "The Ember Island Players" can also come off as this, as many fans came away from The Last Airbender with the same sentiments.
      Zuko: That... wasn't a good play.
      Aang: I'll say.
      Katara: No kidding.
      Suki: Horrible.
      Toph: You said it.
      Sokka: But the effects were decent.
      • On top of the constant complaints by the characters that their representations in the play are nothing like real life, accurately mirroring fan complaints of characterization and appearance in the film.
      • This YouTube video puts it in cartoon form.
      • There's also Aang's "Wait, is that a woman playing me?" Aang's stunt double in the movie is female.
      • On a semi-unrelated note on Cowboy Bebop-ladened review of the movie incorrectly said that it was about a battle between the "Fire and Air Nations", the latter actually was used on the show in the episode "The Headband" as Fire Nation Propaganda/Historical Revision.
    • The existence of Koh the Face Stealer became this when a woman with the last name of Koh was hired to do the line art for a Legend of Korra comic.
    • The first tie-in video game featured steampunk-heavy people who believed bending to be the source of the all of the world's problems as the antagonists. Now look what's happened in the first season of The Legend of Korra. Somewhere, "the Maker" must be laughing her ass off.
    • In the 'Ember Island Players', the play's version of Aang is a girl posing as a boy. The next Avatar is a girl with boyish tendencies.
      • Double hilarious for Russian fans, since Aang & Korra in the Russian dub are voiced by the same voice actress, Olga Shorokhova.
    • For much of the series, we were told that metalbending was impossible (Hell, it's a major plot point in the episode "Imprisoned"), but then Toph came along and did just that.
    • In "The Siege of the North, Part 1", Hahn mispronounces Sokka's name with a long "O" sound. That same pronunciation is used for the entirety of the live-action The Last Airbender film.
    • Roku tells Aang that "being the Avatar doesn't hurt your chances with the ladies." In Korra, it turns out this is true even for female Avatars.
      • Similarly, the meaning of "bender" in the UK now has a whole different context in the show.
    • In 2007, Bryan Konietzko joked at Comic-Con, "I'll give you a spoiler. Cabbage Merchant. Fire Lord Ozai. Same guy!" While purely a joke in this series, in 2013, the irate cabbage merchant of another series would turn out to secretly be a villain... working for Mark Hamill (aka Fire Lord Ozai).
    • Also on the subject of Mark Hamill, the year the series finale aired, he voiced a villain very much like Ozai — obsessed with domination and destruction, and the ability to breathe fire. His name? Malefor.
    • Before the first season was over, Zuko's fans noticed he was a human version of Kovu from the 1998 Lion King II. Over 7 years after the series ended, Disney came out with The Lion Guard, a new installment in The Lion King franchise about a young hero who has a power that allows him to access all the power of his ancestors to cause things like great bursts of wind, earthquakes, rain, and erupting volcanoes in order to maintain balance in his kingdom — in other words, the Avatar State. Bonus? Like Aang, the hero constantly fears losing control of the power and harming those he loves. And sings a song called "Path of Honor."
    • In "The Firebending Masters," when Zuko needs to rediscover the original source of Firebending, Sokka jokingly suggests he could "jump into a volcano." While that may not be an effective way to learn the philosophy of Firebending, it turns out jumping into a volcano is a great way to acquire the Prince Zuko look.
  • HSQ: The entirety of the last two episodes.
    • Any of the season finales counts, the season 2 finale arguably even more than the series finale.
    • Zuko and Katara's battle against Azula in the finale is often regarded as the best fight scene in the series.
  • Incest Yay Shipping:
    • Zuko and Azula. It helps that they suffers a lot from Foe Yay.
    • Some between Katara and Sokka because of the time they dressed up as a married couple to pretend they were Aang's parents.
  • Inferred Holocaust: The show is often quite open about death by kids' show standards, but in particular there is no way that Aang didn't kill a hell of a lot of people in his Avatar-state rampage at the end of "The Siege of the North".
  • Love to Hate: Azula, for those that prefer her to not be a DILP. Long Feng too. Zhao is much less Evil Is Cool but definitely Love to Hate.
  • Magnificent Bastard: Princess Azula shows herself as far more ruthless and manipulative than her elder brother Prince Zuko. Pursuing the Avatar, Azula later conquers the supposedly impregnable city Ba Sing Se by sheer guile after winning its secret police the Dai Li to her side by sheer force of will and charisma. After supposedly killing Avatar Aang, Azula gives her brother credit, knowing that if Aang is found alive then it is Zuko who will suffer the wrath of their father Fire Lord Ozai. While she succumbs to madness at the conclusion of the show, The Search shows Azula begin to recover, even manipulating Zuko when he knows how dangerous she is, before she returns in Smoke and Shadow, having accepted she will never have the throne. Instead, Azula orchestrates a series of plots to force her brother to take a heavy hand, content to manipulate him into being the Fire Lord she believes he should be.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • Parodied with Sokka's Wang Fire persona, who becomes a Fire Nation hero.
    • Toph. She even gets it in-universe, one of her students being surprised that Toph was born to human parents instead of willing herself into existence from a boulder.
    • And Iroh.
    • Also Bumi.
    • Aang himself. Several have stated that if he hadn't been killed off prior to The Legend of Korra, then none of its big villains would have gotten very far in their respective sagas, since he isn't Unskilled, but Strong like Korra is.
  • Memetic Molester: Azula, due to the massive amount of subtext at play between her, her friends and her brother.
  • Memetic Psychopath: Kyoshi (see Never Live It Down).
  • Mis-blamed: Some people claim the energybending in the finale was thrown in as an Ass Pull in order to avoid killing on a kids' show, however Mike and Bryan claim to have had the idea as the resolution of the conflict in the series bible from the beginning.
  • Most Wonderful Sound: The epic sounds of Zuko and Azula shooting fire at each other during the comet-enhanced Agni Kai.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: Sure, it's a kids' show. It also tackles very mature themes, has plenty of fanservice for anyone who's interested, and isn't afraid to say die when it's warranted, all without becoming kid-unfriendly.
  • Narm: Zuko seems to be a fountain of these:
    • Some consider Zuko's reaction to Iroh being attacked by Azula in Book 2 chapter 8 to be this.
    • Also, his Rage Against the Heavens moment earlier was a little over-the-top.
    • His line "my father decided to teach me a permanent lesson, on my face" is suitably tragic... but still incredibly awkward.
    • After Sokka tells Zuko the tragic story of how he lost Yue, the only answer he can come up is "that's rough, buddy", said in a blase voice as if Sokka had told him about some minor mishap.
  • Narm Charm: Despite being somewhat narmtastic, Zuko's comment on Mai's beauty ("You're so beautiful when you hate the world.") comes across as being rather sweet and romantic, albeit in an awkward, emotionally repressed teen sort of way. Considering who the little moment is in between, the awkwardness of exchanging 'romantic' comments is arguably why it's adorable.
    • It helps that the "I don't hate you" "I don't hate you, too" followed by the kiss that comes afterwards is Played for Laughs.
    • Also Zuko's practice attempts to become a good guy and join the Gaang in the beginning of Season 3.
    • Even Azula has her moments of this when she tries to seduce some of the boys in the beach episode.
    • If you really pity Zuko's repeated failures to capture the Avatar, him screaming at the skies in "Bitter Work" can be this too; painting the image of a man who is just desperate to go back home.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • Kyoshi is the most direct and pragmatic of the known avatars, but is flanderized by fans into being a Blood Knight who breathes and eats violence just because she took responsibility for Chin the Conqueror's death without a second thought and outright advising Aang to kill Ozai.
    • Some fans still mock Zuko for needing someone to help him defeat Azula in their final battle, despite the fact that he was clearly winning before she targeted Katara.
    • Many fans view Zhao as a weakling due to his many failures despite the fact that he's been consistently shown to be a deadly firebender and skilled strategist. One could even argue that he's gotten closer to capturing Aang than Zuko or even Azula ever did.
  • No Yay: Invoked by Bryke, who (jokingly) suggested "Bluezula" during the infamous shipping-slideshow. You can actually hear someone in the crowd screaming "What is WRONG with you?"
  • Older Than They Think: The first series premiered in 2005. As early as 2004, various journalists have referred to the "Rust Belt" area of the United States as the "metal-bending states."
  • One-Scene Wonder:
    • Since Foamy Mouth Guy got more than one scene, this honor goes to Freestyle Guy from "The Headband".
    • Koh counts too, but he is mentioned other times.
    • Fire Lord Azulon only appeared in a flashback scene. He remains the only character Ozai showed complete respect towards.
    • The Yuyan Archers only appeared in a few scenes of one episode, but are highly memorable for being Badass Normals with Improbable Aiming Skills in a world full of people with Elemental Powers.
  • Periphery Demographic:
    • Despite being initially targeted at elementary school-age kids, the show become quite popular (likely even more popular) among preteens and teenagers. And young adults in their twenties. And not-so-young adults.
    • Toph being a girl rather than a boy was supposed to appeal to the female demographic... which it did, but the showrunners probably weren't expecting her to be equally popular with teen to college-aged men.
    • One of the Avatar video games on the Xbox 360 is popular among achievement hunters due to ease of getting 1000 points.
  • Portmanteau Couple Name: A lot of them:
    • Aang and Katara = Kataang
    • Sokka and Yue = Suekka or Yuekka
    • Zuko and Mai = Maiko
    • Zuko and Katara = Zutara
    • Toph and Aang = Taang
    • Jet and Katara = Jetara
    • Suki and Sokka = Sukka
    • Toph and Sokka = Tokka
    • Jet and Zuko = Jetko
    • Zuko and Aang = Zukaang
    • Zuko and Sokka = Zukka
  • Relationship Writing Fumble:
    • Some fans think Aang and Katara's relationship comes off as more familial than romantic at times as Katara acts as the mature Team Mom to the goofy Kid Hero Aang. The Will They or Won't They? aspect is dragged along and beaten to death until the very end of the series finale. This is even Lampshaded a couple of times throughout the series by the writers, most prominently in Ember Island Players where actress Katara says she only loves Aang like a brother.
    • Azula permanently sounding like she's trying to seduce her brother. Okay, admittedly, that's how she acts with pretty much everyone. But Bryke sure loved to tease the fans with this idea such as a possible pairing in the series being her and the Blue Spirit, aka Zuko's alternate identity.
    • Azula's interactions with Ty Lee, and vice versa, sometimes come off as romantic or resemble a Romantic Two-Girl Friendship but this was unintentional. Azula was manipulating Ty Lee for her own gain and Ty Lee behaved sycophantically towards Azula out of her extreme fear that Azula would harm her. Later confirmed in the comic trilogies, and it jossed many fanworks by showing that Ty Lee is not on pleasant terms with Azula post-series (Azula is still angry at her for her betrayal and Ty Lee is naturally even more afraid of her than before.) Still, their voice actresses like the ship.
  • Rooting for the Empire: Azula's ability to provoke this almost rivals Grand Admiral Thrawn. People want to see her win simply because they know it will be awesome to watch.
    • Her conquest of Ba Sing Se without lifting a finger is something that must be seen to be believed.
    • Zuko can provoke this response simply for how horrible his life is.
  • Sacred Cow: It's safe to say that Iroh is this. He's easily the most beloved character in the Avatar universe, but what truly cements this was being voiced by the late Mako, whose passing only amplified people's love of Iroh. It also helps that he is an All-Loving Hero with a backstory that can and will break your heart.
  • Seasonal Rot: Though not as bad as other examples, with the second half of the season (to be more specific, the Day of the Black Sun two-parter onwards) picking up the pace, but many felt that the first half of season 3 is the weakest part of the show. Fans were hoping that the Gaang being in the Fire Nation would provide opportunities to learn more about certain characters such as Ozai, Iroh, Azulon, Ursa, Kuzon and Ty Lee. However, it consists mostly of filler episodes, many which aren't referenced in any other episodes. Many fan-favorites are sidelined such as Toph, Ty Lee, and Iroh. This season also wastes opportunities in returning characters such as Ursa and Koh, while most of the characters they do introduce are only given a single episode or are written off as quickly as they're introduced (Chit Sang is a good example). Also, many found that the writers placed too much emphasis on Rule of Funny or Rule of Cool to the point of being unrealistic. That being said, several episodes such as The Puppetmaster, The Beach, The Avatar and the Fire Lord, and Sokka's Master are still beloved on their own for exploring or developing the main cast in meaningful ways.
  • "Seinfeld" Is Unfunny: The Last Airbender introduced not only extremely accurate martial arts but also a level of fight choreography found in action movies and anime/manga , something very unheard off in a mainstream Western TV series aimed at children. In addition to featuring actual deaths of characters, it features rather detailed and realistic injuries such as bruises,torn clothing, burns, and such which was unheard off in an American children's TV series and almost taboo. Furthermore while other children shows already have expanded into worldbuilding, and overall story arc with a specific bigbad, and other more complex storytelling, The Last Airbender wowed audiences in the West with its epic storytelling that eschewed villain of the week format in favor of adventure and an overlying war dominating the plot. Nowadays all these stuff are so common even more upbeat and less serious cartoons such as Steven Universe features this and more. In particular, the once brutal fights and injuries has been surpassed in gore, blood, and general brutality by newer series making it look tame. Zigzagged in that while the show's innovations are now common in Western animation, the show as a whole is still modern enough to captivate new audiences.
  • Ships That Pass in the Night: Teo, the wheelchair-bound guy, and Ty Lee, one of the most acrobatic girls around, have some moderate popularity, despite the fact they never interacted and probably never saw each other. Fanfics that ship them usually include a mention of their meeting at Zuko's coronation to get around that problem in the easiest way available.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat:
    • Rivals Harry Potter for some of the fiercest battles (Zutara vs Kataang) of all time.
    • There is a lot of animosity between Suki/Sokka shippers and Toph/Sokka shippers.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: Just because someone is your family does not mean you have to unconditionally love and obey them when they abuse you or make it clear they don't care about you. True family are the people who look after you, love you unconditionally despite your faults, and are willing to die for you.
  • Strangled by the Red String: Zuko and Mai being a couple in the very first scene involving both characters at the beginning of Book 3. The only build-ups to the relationship in the second book were a throwaway line from her friend Ty Lee note  and a scene in a flashback sequence set several years before where Mai appears to have a crush on him but there's no implication they've seen each other since. A comic with an original story had to fill in the gaps and explain how they got together.
  • Spoiled by the Format: The invasion of the Fire Nation on the day of the solar eclipse is built up as the final confrontation, and the final blow to end the war. Too bad it happens in episodes ten and eleven out of twenty-one. Any savvy viewer would know Failure Is the Only Option for the heroes.
  • Tastes Like Diabetes: Ty Lee is so unbearably sweet she could give someone a toothache.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character:
    • Ty Lee! She is a fan favorite with a unique ability, and is much nicer than Azula or Mai despite being an antagonist. We never really learn anything about her (other than she comes from a big family where she felt overlooked), and we only see her three times during season 3, only in one of these episodes was she a major character.
    • Ozai and Iroh's father, Fire Lord Azulon was only briefly seen in one flashback episode and mentioned in passing in another. Despite being the Fire Lord before Ozai and despite the fact that most of the Hundred Year War passed during his reign we know next to nothing about him.
    • Koh, the Face Stealer is quite popular with many fans, yet we never see him after his debut (at least, not in the show proper. He makes appearances in some sort of (now defunct) online game and the sequel comics). Still, some fans are disappointed that he didn't appear in the show itself.
    • Aang's old friend Kuzon. Though he was most likely dead by the time of the show, it is a shame that we never really learn anything about him, not even a flashback. This becomes especially annoying in season 3 where the Gaang visit the Fire Nation, giving us the perfect opportunity to learn more about him including his friendship with Aang, his role in the war, and his possible connection to Zuko (due to their similar names and the fact that Aang compared the two). Word of God originally stated that Kuzon would play an important role in a Season 3 episode, but this unfortunately never came to be.
    • Azula's elderly advisors/instructors Lo and Li originally seemed to be Azula's equivalents to Zuko's Iroh only much colder in personality. Come season three, their role becomes more comical and it's revealed that they aren't even firebenders which makes absolutely no sense considering that it was implied that they were her firebending instructors.
    • Chit Sang was an interesting character who briefly joined the group along with Hakoda midway through season 3 only to leave the following episode without a single line of dialogue!
    • Haru is on the same boat as the above two. He, Chit Sang and Hakoda are all competent warriors in their own right, but are shelved just before the Grand Finale.
    • Waterbenders in general. Other than Katara we only really get one episode per season featuring other waterbenders, even in book one (water). Somewhat justified in that they only live at the poles, but still, compared to the amount of earthbenders and firebenders we see, it would've been nice to see some more waterbenders. The comic North and South was created in an attempt to rectify this.
    • Airbenders too. Sure, given the title, this is pretty justified, but it would've been nice to have seen more of Aang's flashbacks which could've featured other Air Nomads.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Bryke said that more airbenders would be introduced in Season 2 and 3 (either as flashbacks or as the hiding diaspora), but they decided against it in the end.
    • Iroh's journey to the Spirit World has left fans with many questions, yet has never been touched upon.
      • Actually Iroh's entire past. There was originally going to be an episode focusing on Iroh's backstory, but it was scrapped.
      • What makes this worse is that before season 3 aired, it was said that Zuko would begin searching for his mother in the season. Guess what never happened.
    • Koh ominously told Aang that they would meet again. This never happened onscreen.
    • Xin Fu and Master Yu seemed like they would become recurring antagonists in season two. They were only seen two more times and their role was greatly rushed at the end of the season. Furthermore, Xin Fu's plan to capture Aang for the Fire Lord seemed to have been thrown out.
      • On top of that, the whole mistaken-kidnapping plot around Toph was resolved off-screen, including the revelation to the Gaang that she had lied about joining them.
    • Everything involving bloodbending. Despite only being the focus of a single episode, its horrific nature and backstory make it one of the most memorable plot points of Book 3. It wasn't until The Legend of Korra that the concept was explored to its true potential.
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Zuko and Azula.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Smellerbee, lampshaded by Iroh in "The Serpent's Pass"."
  • What Do You Mean, "It's for Kids"?: While it seems to be primary a kids show, it does has its fair share of horror and especially in the third seasons deals with a series of very tough issues. The main character is the lone survivor of a genocide during which an ethnicity was completely wiped out and the 100 year long war seems to have spared not a single family from having lost relatives in combat or war crimes. The Starter Villain and Deuteragonist is the victim of absolutely horrific child abuse from his father that the series depicts without pulling any punches and is always Played for Drama. Some episodes in the 3rd season even deal with an assassin hired to kill the protagonists and one of the heroes setting out to kill the murderer of her mother.


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