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    Franchise as a whole 
  • 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. Fast forward to 2020 and it seems the opposite is now true, with Avatar even being considered an honorary anime in some circles.
    • Do not mistake it for James Cameron's 2009 blockbuster Avatar when it is brought up in conversations.
  • 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 Western-produced.
    • When Walt Disney's Raya and the Last Dragon was announced, and the first promotional images and trailers were released to the public, a number of Avatar fans were quick to comment that it seemed very reminiscent of the series, due to its Southeast Asian-inspired "cultural hodgepodge" aesthetic, a band of heroes from disparate cultures, a conflict that was kicked off by the actions of one specific nation, and the presence of Mix-and-Match Critters (most notably Raya's steed, Tuktuk, who is based on a woodlouse, an armadillo, and a Pug). Amazingly, the producers of the film actually appreciated these comparisons.
  • Gateway Series: 2000's animesque cartoons like Avatar: The Last Airbender and Teen Titans are credited with helping foster interest in anime and anime-inspired cartoons in the West.
  • Hilarious in Hindsight:
    • A YouTuber posted news that the next entry in the franchise after Korra will move to Netflix...as an April Fools gag in 2017. Jump forward to mid-September 2018/Summer 2020...
    • The live-action movie being infamously seen as a poor adaptation lead to Bryke attempting a new live-action adaptation on Netflix, only to end up leaving the project due to Creative Differences... so that they could return to Nickelodeon to establish Avatar Studios, which plans to explore the Avatar universe in more animation. Because of this, fans have called the two live-action tragedies the greatest things that have ever happened to Avatar.
  • Hype Backlash: Both shows have at various points been called some of the greatest shows in Western Animation ever made. Naturally, some disagree, and common points of criticism include divisive characters and the use of Deus ex Machina.

    The Original Series 
  • Accidental Aesop:
    • "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.
  • 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.
  • Adorkable:
    • Zuko's attempts to be a normal and friendly guy end up charming failures. Notably, he practices an apology to a frog, then proceeds to demand an answer. Or, he attempts to tell a joke he doesn't even remember, so he skips to the punchline, with ensuing embarrassment. But his social ineptitude being the result of his Dark and Troubled Past and his being a genuinely kind-hearted guy made him extremely beloved by the fandom.
    • Aang may be a Physical God, but that doesn't change the fact he's still a goofy, smiling kid who has a ton of energy. His dorkiness really comes out during his interactions with Katara.
    • Sokka's moments of over-enthusiasm are the farthest thing from cool, but still endearing in their way.
    • Earth King Kuei also comes out at this, due to his oblivious behaviour, result of his sheltered upbring, and attitude towards his pet bear Bosco.
    • Azula in "The Beach", jarringly exposing her lack of social skills.
    • Ikem messes up his lines while practicing, gets scared by props used in the play he is in, absolutely ruins a Badass Boast by stuttering, and when questioned about his choice of weapons, he can only meekly say they are the only ones he has.
  • 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. This can also apply to the resolution of the conflict. Aang told a total lie to get the two to stop fighting; which DID end the feuding between the two tribes so they could focus and move past their long standing quarrel. A little lie helps if it avoids a worse outcome.
  • Angst? What Angst?:
    • It's implied that the Fire Nation guards — and possibly Azula — tortured Suki while she was in prison. Given her despondent expression in the Boiling Rock courtyard and her lack of surprise about a disguised Sokka barging in on her, there is evidence to support that theory. Even without it, her team of Kyoshi Warriors lost in a Curb-Stomp Battle with Azula and her friends to save Appa, and Azula in Kick the Dog mode not only separated them like prisoners but also took their clothes and makeup to impersonate them. That is one Trauma Conga Line. Suki doesn't get her Kyoshi garb back until the end of the series when the war is over, and she takes a lot of pride when wearing it. Despite that, she regains her spirit quickly when reuniting with Sokka, saying she knew he would come for her. Then she helps stage the successful jailbreak by taking the Warden hostage, without breaking a sweat. Oh, and she let Ty Lee, one of her former enemies, join the Kyoshi Warriors under the condition that Ty Lee taught them chi blocking and would be on her best behavior. Sokka wasn't as cool with the idea when he found out, for understandable reasons.
    • Haru finds his father captured at the end of the Black Sun invasion. He and a ragtag bunch of survivors have to make their way to the Western Air Temple, in Fire Nation territory and knowing they're fugitives with little to no resources. While Aang is hiding his angst about the failure by taking Haru and the others on a tour, Haru seems really into it and not showing trauma at all.
    • Ty Lee never gets over her fear of Azula, but handles a stint in jail relatively well. Ty Lee was afraid of crossing Azula or stepping out of line, and she ended up in Fire Nation jail when betraying the princess to save Mai from a would-be fatal attack. The last episode has her in Kyoshi Warrior garb, casually explaining that she "bonded with the girls in prison" and became one of them due to her chi-blocking skills.
  • Anvilicious:
    • "The Great Divide." The tribes hate each other for very trivial reasons, and this is a Bad Thing. We get it.
    • "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 and at least one fake-out to fully figure out he should be on the Avatar's side and that the Fire Nation as it stands is a horrible mess that he needs to redeem. In the end this actually usually isn't a big point of criticism, however - considering a lifetime under his Jerkass abusive father (who's also the most powerful man in the world) and being indoctrinated to believe the propaganda of his own country - especially as a prince - it makes quite a bit of sense it takes Zuko so long to finally turn around for good. As much as it puts many viewers frustratedly on edge waiting for it to finally happen, the many steps the complicated process takes is precisely one of the reasons his redemption and eventual Heel–Face Turn is so beloved. Not to mention that the show lampshades how, because he took so long, earning his place in the Gaang and proving he has changed for real is an uphill battle. He then has to face the problem of how no one has really forgiven him for his actions, and Zuko's next arc is working hard to show that he can be trusted.
  • 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 and lack of foreshadowing 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.
  • Awesome Ego: Toph proclaims herself the greatest earthbender on the planet — and can back it up.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Fans either consider Mai an amusing Deadpan Snarker or find her Emotionless Girl schtick to be dull. The comics have only made her more divisive as she comes off as Unintentionally Unsympathetic to many.
    • 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.
    • Jet is an incredibly divisive character because of his radical approach to decolonization. The series portrays him as an extremist and he is eventually killed off. This rubbed many fans the wrong way because they saw Jet as a traumatised teenager who only did what he had to to survive and they thought it was bizarre that Jet was one of the only characters to die in the series while the Big Bad Ozai did not. Other fans agree that Jet was in the wrong and they do not like him because of his manipulative personality.
    • Fire Lord Ozai is somewhat of a contested character in the fandom. Despite his rather short screen time, many felt that he was a truly intimidating Knight of Cerebus that made for a good Big Bad. However, others felt that he was rather generic and one-dimensional, especially compared to his children who were much more fleshed out and given more screen time.
  • 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.
    • Season 3: Fans either consider it to be the strongest season of the three or the weakest. Most of this is directed at the 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 as unnecessary and the most blatant case of Writers Cannot Do Math (taking into account 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.)
  • Catharsis Factor:
    • Zuko eventually turns good but he's not exactly the nicest guy in his first appearance. When Sokka attacks him to defend his village, Zuko doesn't even bother firebending; he grabs Sokka's spear, breaks it, and pokes him in the head several times out of pettiness. Sokka returns the favor in the pilot's climax, poking Zuko in the head several times to get him to release Aang's airbending staff.
    • Likewise, in "The Western Air Temple," Zuko has defected and goes to offer his firebending services to Aang. The Gaang doesn't believe him and remind him Zuko has a history of hunting them down, providing a List of Transgressions. To top it all off, Katara smacks him in the face with a water whip, telling him he can't be trusted; she later bluntly tells him she will provide Betrayal Insurance if he ever hurts Aang again. (It's hard to blame her considering that Zuko betraying her in "The Crossroads of Destiny" led to Aang dying for a few minutes.) After this, Zuko works hard to show that he's changed, and admits in "The Southern Raiders" that Katara had a point to not trust him.
    • The sandbender chief's son went behind his father's back to kidnap Appa and strand several innocent travelers, including children, in the desert. He's also a Jerkass that has the gall to accuse them of being thieves when they make it out with their lives using a windsail. Though it's a Nightmare Fuel moment for everyone else, it's satisfying when he goes Oh, Crap! when Toph identifies him as Appa's kidnapper, and Aang starts glowing. Aang proceeds to destroy several of the windsails while demanding to know where his sky bison is. The man is forced to confess, as his father is giving him a Death Glare and shouting "What have you done?!" and you can tell on his face he knows he has screwed up big time. It's also implied his father has further punishment for him offscreen for endangering the Avatar's life and violating Sacred Hospitality.
    • Considering how smug and arrogant Azula has been in most of her appearances before now, the climax of "The Boiling Rock" is an immensely satisfying Break the Haughty moment for her. Not only does she fail to capture Zuko and Sokka, Mai's uncle betrays her, causing her to almost fall in a lake of boiling water, which is immediately followed by Mai and Ty Lee betraying her, ultimately leaving her feeling angry, humiliated and robbed of her bending power. Considering Azula bullied Ty Lee into accompanying her on her quest in the first place, it's also satisfying to see Mai and Ty Lee finally end their toxic 'friendship' with the princess who's tried to manipulate them both through fear for years.
    Azula: I never expected this from you. The thing I don't understand is why? Why would you do it? You know the consequences.
    Mai: I guess you don’t know people as well as you think you do. You miscalculated. I love Zuko more than I fear you.
    Azula: (outraged) No, you miscalculated! You should have feared me more!
    The two girls charge at each other, before Ty Lee chi-paralyzes Azula in the back to save Mai, causing her to topple over onto her face on the ground.
    • After Ozai has burned his chances at being Father of the Year, literally, he shows he has no compunctions about murdering children as well as maiming them. Then he accidentally unblocks Aang's chi, allowing him to reach the Avatar State and curbstomp the Fire Lord in the series finale. Aang proceeds to strip him of his bending, leaving him to lie on the ground in a pathetic, half-naked mess. Suki and Toph arrive with Sokka on their shoulders, and the three of them proceed to mock Ozai. Sokka calls him "the Loser Lord" while Toph goes with "King of getting his butt whipped". Doesn't feel good to be beaten by a bunch of kids, does it?
  • 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.
  • Creepy Awesome: Koh the Face Stealer for his freakish design and sinister mannerisms, Azula for her cunning and mad firebending skills, and Hama for the fact that she managed to develop a horrifying new waterbending technique.
  • Crossover Ship: One fan artist had the (seriously) brilliant idea of pairing Iroh with Grandma Fa. Considering the fact that they both have a delightfully quirky sense of humor, as well as a strong bond with their younger relatives (Zuko and Mulan, respectively), it's really a match made in heaven.
  • Cry for the Devil: Though Azula seems like a completely evil Magnificent Bitch, her Villainous Breakdown and her status as a Tragic Villain coming to light in the finale is one of the saddest parts of the show.
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Between his unconventional Secret Test of Character and his generally madcap personality, Bumi was a fan favorite from the word "Go".
    • Ty Lee is a popular character due to her unique ability, Villainous Crush on Sokka, perky personality, and attractive design in general. Many were disappointed that she only appeared in three episodes of the final season.
    • Jet was meant to be a one-shot character, but fan popularity brought him back for four more appearances.
    • Suki was likewise not meant to reappear after her debut, but her popularity made her the biggest case of Ascended Extra in the series; she returned twice in Season 2, became an Official Couple with Sokka, then in Season 3 became The Sixth Ranger for Team Avatar.
    • Koh only had a meaningful role in one episode, but he's so creepy that fans still yearn for his return.
    • 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 and one of the few people who Aang knew before being frozen.
    • Of the past Avatars, Kyoshi tends to be the most popular, despite speaking in only two episodes. This stems from her striking design note , her great power note , and being a Pragmatic Hero relative to the other Avatars note . She's even received a series of spin-off novels detailing her backstory and time as the Avatar.
    • Badass Normal, Punch-Clock Villain, Parent Service Bounty Hunter June..
    • The Big Bad Hippo, one of Toph's competitors from her first episode, for being a Mighty Glacier with some Hulk Speak.
    • Piandao, the retired Fire Nation swordsman who briefly mentors Sokka and once defeated a hundred fire nation soldiers in the past after deserting from the army. Despite not possessing any bending skills his episode training Sokka is considered to be one of the better mentor episodes.
    • Huu, the Cool Old Guy of the Foggy Swamp waterbending tribe, who introduces plantbending to the series and puts it to good use against fire nation tanks in "The Day of the Black Sun".
    • Shyu, the Token Good Teammate of the Fire Sages, and the grandson of Avatar Roku's firebending teacher.
  • 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).
    • Ozai. 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 he 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.
    • Zhao could also qualify, thanks to his shirtless Agni Kai with Zuko in the first season. His being voiced by Jason Isaacs doesn't exactly hurt.
  • Fans Prefer the New Her: Met with varying reactions, but a lot of people find Katara’s Took a Level in Cynic mindset, her distrust to Zuko, and coupled with her new appearance in Book Three much more appealing than her Plucky Girl tendencies back in the early seasons.
  • Fandom Rivalry: Ever since The Legend of Korra aired, Last Airbender and Korra fans had maintained a rivalry over which series is superior. While it waned in the years after both series concluded, the rivalry was revived in 2020 with Netflix obtaining the streaming rights to both series.
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
  • Foe Yay Shipping:
    • Zuko and Aang:
      • Zuko says that his drive to capture Aang used to be his "inner fire". Given that this line was delivered mere minutes after he and Aang danced together inside a fiery rainbow, fans interpreted it as a confession of love.
      • In the first season, Aang retrieves Katara's necklace from Zuko and jokingly says the prince wanted her to have it back. She sarcastically tells him to give Zuko a kiss for her, which shippers understood literally.
      • When Aang is having nightmares in season 3, Zuko appears shirtless in his dreams. Fans immediately took notice that all of Zuko's Shirtless Scenes happened when Aang was not present, and consequently Aang has never actually seen Zuko shirtless.
    • Katara and Zuko started to get some traction as early as season 1. In "The Waterbending Scroll", Zuko ties Katara to a pole and offers to exchange her mother's necklace for Aang. A later episode reveals that Katara's memento is actually a Water Tribe betrothal necklace.
    • Some fans like to interpret Zhao's inexplicable rivalry with Zuko as repressed romantic feelings towards him.
    • Azula and Zuko, to almost Mind Game Ship levels. When she isn't playfully teasing "Zuzu", she's exploiting his fears and insecurities for her own benefit, somehow making "brother" sound erotic. Fans like to interpret Azula's We Can Rule Together spiel in "Crossroads of Destiny" as a Femme Fatale trying to drag The Hero into villainy rather than siblings plotting conquest. Then in "The Awakening", Zuko decides to confront Azula in her bedroom, and she deflects his accusations by getting way too close to him while wearing nothing but a robe.
    • After defeating Suki, Azula wore her clothes to infiltrate Ba Sing Se. Later on, Azula taunts Sokka (Suki's boyfriend) that Suki is her "favourite prisoner" and talks about how Sokka would rescue her, before eventually giving up, which some fans like to interpret as a disturbing reference to Prison Rape.
    • Jet's behavior towards Zuko in "City of Walls and Secrets" — the observations of a Well-Intentioned Extremist, or the obsession of a Stalker with a Crush?
    • Avatar Roku and Fire Lord Sozin, once their backstory was revealed: They were best friends and even shared the same birthday. Neither of them got married or had kids until much later in life.
  • Fountain of Memes: Sokka. Practically every comedic moment he's involved in is basically a gold mine of memetic levels, most notably during his cactus-juice-induced hallucinatory state.
  • Franchise Original Sin: The follow-up show's big complaint of having a lot of overpowered villains starts here, as far back as the introduction of Princess Azula and the Fire Nation upping its game after the first season, with Team Avatar running away constantly and winning only small victories for most of the rest of the show. However, this is tempered due to the villains always failing to capture the Gaang.
  • "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.
    • A meta example: in "The Siege of the North, Part 1", Pakku sarcastically tells one of his pupils that if they keep their performance up, they may be able to fight a sea sponge in a couple of years. The creators confirmed in a commentary that this was intended to be a friendly Take That! towards Spongebob Squarepants, Nick's other most-popular show at the time. However, following The New '10s, which had the Sequel Series Korra be completely Screwed by the Network at every possible opportunity in favor of Spongebob, this formerly lighthearted jab can seem a lot more serious/justified.
    • In "The Beach":
      • Azula comments that her own mother thought she was a monster, then jokes that she was correct in thinking so. The scene becomes much less funny after the finale, where Azula hallucinates Ursa showing her affection, which causes the princess to break down in tears.
      • Ty Lee says that spending time with her friends at Ember Island is something that she will remember forever. This heartwarming line becomes cringeworthy following the events of "The Boiling Rock - Part 2", where Ty Lee turns against Azula and is imprisoned in return.
  • Genius Bonus:
    • Ozai's title of "Phoenix King" in the finale is a reference to fenghuang (the phoenix lord of demons, which is symbolic in and of itself). It should be noted, however, that fenghuang is distinct from the Western phoenix, though they tend to be conflated in Western imagination.
    • 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 known as the 'Bureau of Investigation and Statistics' during the Chinese Civil War, who were known for their extreme brutality in quelling dissent against the state. The 'Bureau of Investigation and Statistics' moved to Taiwan where they reorganized and still exist today. Likewise, Lake Laogai, the Earth Kingdom's secret prison, is named for the now-abolished, real-life prison camps of Communist China (the equivalent of a Soviet gulag).
    • As one fan has noticed, Hama displays some hallmarks of the aswang (one of several related species of monstrous creatures from Philippine Mythology).
  • 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.
    • "Avatar Roku: Winter Solstice Part 2" is 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 is the episode where we learn that there is a time limit to defeat 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 legitimate 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.
    • Azula taking down the Kyoshi Warriors and impersonating them was bad enough in the last arc for season two. What made it worse was that she casually hints to Sokka during the Black Sun that she tortured Suki into a Despair Event Horizon during her time in prison, and mocking him for not realizing his girlfriend was locked up all this time. Sokka nearly killed her then and there if not for her powers coming back at that moment. 
    • In "The Guru," Azula taunts 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 became dramatically ironic when Mai and Ty Lee turn against her in the third season, which causes her to undergo a 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 "Nightmares And Daydreams", 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, and whatever happened in there helped him finally pull a Heel–Face Turn. 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.
    • Considering what happened the last time The Fire Nation came to the Southern Water Tribe "The Southern Raiders" seeing Aang sacrifice himself to save the South Pole from Zuko goes a long way in explaining why Katara and Sokka are so loyal to him.
  • He Really Can Act: Until Avatar, Dante Basco was mostly known for playing aloof "tough guy" or hip kid characters. Zuko finally gave him a role that allowed him to show off his true dramatic talents.
  • 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.
    • According to Word of God, Aang found a small herd of sky bison in the remote mountains between the original show and Legend Of Korra, so depending on your viewpoint, the airbenders really were just hiding.
  • 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 one Cowboy Bebop-ladened review of the movie incorrectly stated that it was about a battle between the "Fire and Air Nations", the latter actually being used in 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 The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars.
    • The first tie-in video game featured steampunk-heavy people who believed bending to be the source of 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.
    • 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.
    • In Book One, Sokka fell in love with Yue, a girl with white hair and a connection to the moon. Jack DeSena (Sokka's voice actor) would later star in The Dragon Prince as Callum, who ends up falling for Rayla, a Moonshadow Elf who also has white hair.
    • The most notable parts of Zuko's backstory wound up being ripped wholesale years later in the form of Shoto Todoroki. The manga's author had to state that it is a coincidence when asked about the similarities.
    • The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild has so many similarities with this show (Hero that vanished for 100 years and is somewhat clumsy, four kingdoms with representatives that bestow the hero with the power of four elements, a headstrong tomboy deuteragonist who also serves as narrator) that it's common for fans to mash up the game's footage with Avatar's intro. Even the cover art of Breath of the Wild (as well as the game's own intro) features Link on a cliff overlooking the world in a manner similar to Aang at the end of the intro.
    • In The Lion Guard, the Roar of the Elders allows its user to control all four classical elements. The "Avatar Kion" jokes practically write themselves.
  • Incest Yay Shipping:
    • Zuko and Azula. It helps that they suffers a lot from Foe Romance Subtext.
    • 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", though it is downplayed since it's heavily implied that this is one of the main reasons why Aang doesn't want to enter the Avatar State again, as it clashes with his pacifistic ideals.
    • In the finale, it seems highly likely that many Fire Nation soldiers died when Sokka, Toph, and Suki crash their air fleet.
  • It Was His Sled:
    • The titular king in "The King of Omashu" also being Aang's childhood friend Bumi was a surprise when the episode first aired, but it's common knowledge now.
    • Zuko's Heel–Face Turn was fairly surprising when it first occurred, but it has since become one of the most popular and well-known parts of the show, and is frequently cited as an example of how to do character development and a redemption arc right. Most people who have been on the internet since Netflix announced the show was coming to the platform are likely aware of this before even seeing the first episode.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Zuko. He behaves like a Royal Brat and an Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy during most of the first season, but he gains more sympathy when we learn more of his backstory: his father, Fire Lord Ozai, scarred him, rejected and banished him from the Fire Nation for merely objecting to his plans, and Zuko is desperately chasing after the Avatar to restore his honor. By learning to be nicer throughout the series and eventually joining the Gaang, he slips more into The Woobie.
  • Launcher of a Thousand Ships: Azula has been shipped with about everyone, since she constantly talks in a sultry voice no matter the situation, constantly smirks even if she's trying to kill someone, and the way she worms her way into people's psyches is played almost like seduction.
  • 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.
    • June is a sultry, whip-wielding bounty hunter who uses her shirshu Nylah to masterfully track targets across the world, using Nylah's paralyzing tongue and her own fighting skills to easily accomplish her missions. Hired by Prince Zuko to hunt down Avatar Aang, June first tracks down and ambushes Aang's friend Katara, then uses her as bait to lure Aang into a fight, where June works with Nylah to take down Aang's sky bison Appa. Even when beaten by the group's quick thinking, June simply dusts herself off and continues her successful career, spending her free time kicking ass in bar fights while endearing herself to the occupants before working with Zuko once more on a mission to help protect the Earth Kingdom with her usual snark and skill.
  • Memetic Badass:
    • 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.
    • Iroh gets this from fans as well. A common joke is that he was not pulling himself up while training in prison, he was pushing the Fire Nation down.
    • Sokka often has fans exaggerate his intelligence from "competent strategist and inventor" to "rivals Ozymandias." Since he took out a fleet of war balloons with just two other fighters and invented both dirigibles and submersibles, he could be a realistic Ozymandias — capable of repeated moments of inventive and strategic genius, but still only human. Einstein didn't discover relativity every day. Considering Leonardo Da Vinci only theorized this kind of thing, whereas Sokka not only came up with the concept but designed functional units, and, in the case of the submersables, put the design into practice for the first time the week they would be used for an invasion, calling him an engineering genius may be understating it. Okay, he started out as a "competent strategist and inventor", but after he Took a Level in Badass he became the Steampunk Ozymandias.
    • Avatar Kyoshi, overlapping with Memetic Psychopath:
      • Kyoshi doesn't bend blood. She bathes in it.
      • The reason Kyoshi lived to be 230 years old? Death feared her.
    • 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 Loser: Kuruk is treated as such compared to all other Avatars, due to dying very young, spending most of his short life trying to show off and impress the ladies instead of saving the world, and overall being such an apparent jerk that he lost his wife to Koh on their wedding day.
  • Memetic Molester: Azula, due to the massive amount of subtext at play between her, her friends and her brother.
  • Memetic Psychopath: Kyoshi, thanks to her frequent Flanderization by the fanbase as a Blood Knight who considers violence to be the best solution to any problem.
  • Mentor Ship: Aang got shipped with all 3 of his bending teachers — Katara, Toph, and Zuko.
  • Misaimed Fandom:
    • There exists a sizeable group of viewers who feel that Zuko should have killed Fire Lord Ozai with his Lightning Redirection during the Day of Black Sun, as in their mind it would have stopped the conflict. This misses the fact that Zuko makes it clear its the Avatar's job to do so, and the show heavily leans into the idea that if he did so, he'd be no better than Ozai, who plotted the death of his own father to obtain the throne. Letting Aang be the one to do so, thereby making it clear how wrong Ozai is, was the best option to avoid the war continuing and things getting worse.
    • Many fans believe Azula to be irredeemable, despite redemption being a major theme. Iroh and Jeong Jeong were high ranking soldiers for decades in the Fire Nation before turning good, and it took Zuko three years and many major hurdles. Zuko even implies to Ozai that he could find redemption at some point. Aang himself claims no one is born evil. When it comes to Azula however, despite being only fourteen and being actively fighting for less than a year, she is held up as the one exception because of how villainous she acts, and many fans believe she was born evil. This is in spite of the restraint she shows compared to her father or Zhao, being able to capture Ba Sing Se in a relatively bloodless coup rather than a years long siege. They also ignore that Azula shares the Sozin/Roku dilemma with Zuko, and is actually shown to feel some deeply buried self-loathing over her behavior, but feels she has little choice.
  • 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.
  • Moe:
    • Ty Lee. Peppy and childish with large eyes.
    • Toph is very Moe in appearance, although more of a Badass Adorable when you consider what she's capable of. As in, "Kick your ass to oblivion and then some with a bunch of rocks without even bothering to look at you" Badass Adorable. Doesn't deter a lot of fans from viewing her as Moe all the same, though.
    • Zuko, especially during the episode "The Western Air Temple" where he tries to join Team Avatar and it doesn't go so well at first, resulting in him yelling, "Why am I so bad at being good!" There's also the fact that his temper stems more from him being the Woobie than him being a jerkass for the most part, and he can be very socially awkward.
  • 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 intended to be a kids' show. Yet, 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:
    • In "The Great Divide", the scene where Aang breaks up a fight between the two tribal leaders and discovers that both of them have been hoarding food is clearly meant to be the point where his frustration at their inability to get along finally boils over. The problem is that his facial expressions are so exaggerated during his outburst that it looks more like Comical Overreacting than actual anger. It doesn't help that immediately after the outburst he's distracted when he sees a custard that makes him hungry, making it look like he was only pretending to be mad.
    • In "Bitter Work", after Iroh refuses to shoot lightning at Zuko so he can practice the redirection technique, the prince stands alone in a thunderstorm and demands the universe strike him with everything it's got. When no lightning comes, Zuko tears up and screams in frustration. The scene as a whole is unintentionally comical due to how over-the-top Zuko's reaction and facial expressions are.
    • Zuko's line "My father decided to teach me a permanent lesson, on my face" is suitably tragic... but still incredibly awkward.
    • During "Lake Laogai," in the shot of Zuko when Iroh is admonishing him to ask himself "the big questions," the former is shown with clenched teeth, and he visibly starts to tremble a bit towards the end before yowling with frustration and throwing down his swords. For a couple of reasons ((A) the shape in which Zuko's mouth was drawn, and (B) the fact that the gritted teeth is shown at the start of the shot, rather than only appearing towards the end of Iroh's line), it's a little hard to seriously imagine his mounting rage with that visual in one's head.
  • Narm Charm:
    • Zuko's Emo Teen moments, including the aforementioned lightning scene, are a frequent target of mockery by the fandom, but he's still considered to have one of the greatest redemption arcs in animation history for a reason. It helps that the show is self-aware about his overreactions and itself makes fun of him for them.
    • Azula's Villainous Breakdown after losing her fight against Katara in the Finale. On its own, it just looks like she's throwing a ridiculously over-the-top tamper tantrum over merely losing a fight, but if you take into account everything she went through, being psychologically and emotionally manipulated by her father, repressing her deepest emotions, not being allowed to grieve over her Missing Mom, losing the only people she had as friends, and being denigrated by her father over her failures, it becomes much more tragic.
  • Never Live It Down: There exists a Vocal Minority of fans who will never forgive Katara for telling Sokka that he didn't love their mother the way she did. Not helping matters is that she never apologized for this. While it's true that what Katara said was pretty mean, it's human as she was consumed by negative emotions. The lack of forgiveness these fans have for this glosses over the fact that Zuko has had many more such moments like this with Iroh and that, throughout the series, Katara has been a supportive sister to Sokka to the point where he sees her as a mother figure.
  • 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:
    • 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.
  • One True Threesome:
    • Zutaraang (Zuko/Katara/Aang) is one of the most popular threesome ships because it puts an end to the infamous Zutara vs Kataang ship war, and according to the creators they are the three most important characters of the story. By the end of the series the characters form a classic The Hero, The Lancer, and The Chick trio.
    • Jetkotara (Jet/Zuko/Katara) is another traidic ship with a following. Mostly based on the fandom joke that both Katara and Zuko are Jet's exes.
    • The Zukki ship (Zuko/Sokka/Suki) has become surprisingly popular among the newest fans, mostly thanks to Zuko's chemistry with both Sokka and Suki in the animated series proper and in the comics and the general dislike towards Zuko's canon Love Interest Mai.
    • On the other hand, there is also a smaller part for Zuko/Mai/Ty Lee or ,for people more willing to forgive Azula: Mai/Azula/Ty Lee
  • Periphery Demographic:
    • Despite being initially targeted at elementary-school kids, the show become quite popular (likely even more popular) among middle- and high-schoolers. And young adults in their twenties. And not-so-young adults. The most vocal fandom for the series back when it was airing were college-aired teens and adult anime fans.
    • 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
    • Azula and Ty Lee = Tyzula
    • Zuko and Aang = Zukaang
    • Zuko and Sokka = Zukka
    • Azula and Katara = Azutara
    • Mai and Ty Lee = Mailee
  • Realism-Induced Horror: Ozai is a tyrannical king who heads a war against the entire planet and tries to become the ruler of all the kingdoms. His most reprehensible behavior is his Domestic Abuse of his wife, children, and to a lesser extent his older brother. The comics made it worse by revealing he and Ursa were never in love. He forced her to marry him and the children were conceived under dubious consent.
  • 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. When Mai betrayed Azula for Zuko, Ty Lee also betrayed Azula for Mai. Later confirmed in the comic trilogies that Ty Lee prefers Mai and 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. This jossed many Tyzula shipping fanworks. Still, their voice actresses like the ship. Azula's voice actress, Grey DeLisle has stated that she recognizes that a potential relationship between Azula and Ty Lee would be abusive. But since this is Grey DeLisle we are talking about, Azula/Ty Lee being an abusive relationship just makes the pairing even more appealing to her.
  • 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:
    • Avatar is considered by many to be one of the greatest television shows ever made, animated or live-action, and has an extremely high Multiple Demographic Appeal (so much so that the show overall received an exceedingly rare 100% critics' approval ratingnote , and an even rarer, nearly perfect audience score of 99%, on Rotten Tomatoes); as such, some fans can get very defensive whenever any form of criticism is brought up. Saying that you don't like this show or that its heavily divisive Sequel Series, The Legend of Korra, is better is bound to be met with serious backlash.
    • 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 Makoto Iwamatsu, 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 Black Sun" onward) 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 of 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.
  • Ships That Pass in the Night: Teo (the guy in the wheelchair) 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.
    • Zuko/Sokka (Zukka) became popular shortly after the series was put on Netflix, with many shippers attacking Zuko/Katara (Zutara) and Mai/Zuko (Maiko) shippers by claiming that Zutara is "racist" because Zuko's home nation persistently attacked Katara's tribe as well as the rest of the world (failing to realize that this claim would apply to Zukka as well) and that Maiko is a Destructive Romance that was Strangled by the Red String (which gave a boost to the Mai/Ty Lee ship that subsequently generated friction with many Azula/Ty Lee shippers). Some Zukka shippers have gone as far as to actively harass Dante Basco, Zuko's voice actor, simply because he favors the Zutara ship. Zukka's sudden explosive popularity has generated friction with some Aang/Zuko (Zukaang) and Jet/Zuko (Jetko) shippers as well, since the two used to be Zuko's more popular same-sex ships with accusations that Zukaang is "pedophilia" because of its 4 year age gap and that Jetko would be "unhealthy". As for Suki/Sokka, most Zukka shippers do not seem to mind that ship as much and write Suki out of the way or simply forget about her since her role in the series was minor. Since Suki is a much more beloved character than Mai, some people actually do ship Suki together with Zuko/Sokka, whereas something like Zuko/Mai/Sokka is near non-existent.
  • Slow-Paced Beginning: The first two-thirds or so of the first season is considered by some to be a bit of a slog because it’s mostly world building. It’s not until episode 8 (40% mark) that Aang meets Roku who then explains the Myth Arc to him. The story plods around for another handful of filler episodes before really hitting the home stretch with Zuko’s development episodes and the kids getting to the Northern Water Tribe.
  • 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.
    • For specific moments, there is a scene in season 3, episode 10 where Zuko delivers something of a Kirk Summation to Ozai:
      Zuko: "Growing up, we were taught that the Fire Nation was the greatest civilization in history. And that, somehow, the War was our way of sharing our greatness with the rest of the world. What an amazing lie that was. The people of the world are terrified by the Fire Nation. They don't see our greatness. They hate us! And we deserve it! We've created an era of fear in the world. And if we don't want the world to destroy itself, we need to replace it with an era of peace and kindness."
      Ozai: [laughs] "Your uncle has gotten to you, hasn't he?"
      Zuko: "Yes. He has."
    • "The Painted Lady." Some saw Katara in this episode as a bit self-righteous and stubborn, neither of which dispel the fact that the people were eating poisoned fish, the river was absolutely toxic, and that the industry that was causing all of it had to be stopped; not to mention, the people weren't doing anything about it, causing them to suffer and eat mutated, two-headed fish full of toxic slush. Inaction IS an action, and doing nothing while people suffer, doubly so if you have the means to stop it and change things, is outright heinous.
    • Fascism, nationalism and imperialism are innately cancerous and will ruin both the nations surrounding you and your nation itself, and those that prop it up will quickly only become concerned about extolling their own power over anything else. Sozin's initial attempts at "spreading prosperity" to the rest of the world by military conflict only leads to horrific suffering on a scale that disgusts him, and his descendants continue to use this excuse to justify conquest while ultimately only caring about becoming as powerful as possible. This degradation into militarism completely bankrupts the Fire Nation's culture and leads it to a diplomatic nightmare that Zuko will have to spend the rest of his adult life attempting to clean up.
    • Zuko's arc in the second half of Book 3 emphasizes that your actions have consequences and that the people you have betrayed over and over again have no obligation to trust you. The more harm you cause, the harder you have to work to show that you are worthy of their trust and can do good. Practically every episode until "The Ember Island Players" features this, of Zuko making up for his past mistakes. He's sincere about wanting to teach Aang firebending and to help overthrow Ozai, but most of the Gaang except Toph understandably think this is a trick. Katara still has long memories of him interfering in her fight against Azula in Ba Sing Se, and that it was his fault Aang died the first time. She spends four episodes treating him with derision and hostility until he realizes that he needs to make it up to her and prove that he's not going to be the cause of Aang's downfall. Meanwhile, Sokka takes time out of his day to mock Zuko for being a "jerkbender" and poking him to make him angry enough to firebend; Zuko has to help him stage a jailbreak and rescue his father and girlfriend for the two to realize they have a lot in common, and Sokka appreciates how Zuko risked his life, and his relationship with Mai, to break into and out of the Boiling Rock. Aang is the only one who needs minimal persuasion to trust Zuko after seeing him fight Combustion Man, but he lets it slip that not many people think Zuko is smart on a quest to the Sun Warrior temple, and tells him off for touching a Schmuck Bait egg. All in all, Zuko earned his redemption.
  • 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.
  • 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. It's even argued that Zuko had more chemistry with Song and Jin, characters who only appeared in one episode each.
  • 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 graphic novels). Still, some fans are disappointed that he didn't appear in the show itself.
    • Aang's old Fire Nation 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. 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, though he does appear in a flashback in the comic "Dragon Days"
    • 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 3, their role becomes more comical and it's revealed that they aren't even firebenders which makes 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 and Hakoda are competent warriors in their own right, but are shelved just before the Grand Finale.
    • Combustion Man is a menacing figure with unique firebending abilities and was hyped to be a major antagonist for the final season. However, other than acting as a somewhat arbitrary plot device to help Zuko earn Aang's trust, his relevance to the main story is minimal. He does not have any lines, his true name is never revealed and he is only fought in two filler episodes before dying in his final appearance.
    • Chey, the Fire Nation explosives expert and second man to deter them and live is only in one episode, and has a minimal, somewhat comic relief, role in it.
    • Jee, the captain of Zuko's ship never reappearing after Zuko becomes a fugitive, when that could have had a good sense of conflicting loyalty. He also feels wasted for not appearing in the siege of the North as a potential voice of reason.
    • Some fans wish June the Bounty Hunter had showed up chasing the Gang and/or Zuko at certain points between the two episodes in which she appeared.
    • Shyu, the one Fire Sage who remains loyal to the Avatar, is in just one episode and then is never referenced again.
    • Xin Fu and Master Yu seemed like they would become recurring antagonists in Season 2. 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.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot:
    • Iroh's entire past, including his journey to the Spirit World, has left fans with many questions, yet has never been touched upon in the show itself (although some of it was alluded to in supplementary books).
    • Before Season 3 aired, it was said that Zuko would begin searching for his mother in the season. Guess what never happened. (Thankfully, it was covered in the graphic novels.)
    • Koh ominously told Aang that they would meet again. This never happened onscreen.
    • 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.
  • Trans Audience Interpretation: Smellerbee is frequently headcannoned as a trans girl, in particular due to one scene in the episode "The Serpent's Pass". She is offended and storms off after Iroh assumes she's a boy (for which he apologizes, he is Iroh after all). Longshot follows her off and gives her a look that convinces her that "it doesn't matter what others think, as long as [she] knows [that she's a girl]." This overlaps with Does This Remind You of Anything?
  • Unpopular Popular Character: Zuko has been banished for speaking out in his father's meeting, burned by said father, and until Book 3, is given no respect from anyone in the fire nation, aside from his uncle and crew. He is also one of the most popular characters in the franchise thanks to his tragic backstory and sheer determination.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion:
    • Smellerbee has an androgynous appearance and wears masculine clothes, but is actually a girl. Her gender is only revealed when Iroh questions her feminine name in "The Serpent's Pass", after which she immediately takes offense at his mistake.
    • Because of his name, Nyla (June's shirshu) is often mistaken for a female. Doesn't help that he's only referred to with a pronoun once.
  • What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: While it seems to be geared primarily towards the elementary- to early-middle-school set, it does boast its fair share of horror, and, especially in the third season, it deals with a series of very heavy themes. The Protagonist is the lone survivor of a genocide during which an entire culture was completely wiped out, and the 100-Year War seems to not have spared a single family from losing relatives in combat or war crimes. The Starter Villain and Deuteragonist is the victim of absolutely horrific child abuse from his own father that the series depicts without pulling any punches and is always Played for Drama. Some episodes in the third 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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