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  • Alas, Poor Villain:
    • Azula is a terrible, terrible person, and while it's possible to feel sorry for her, she's usually such a Magnificent Bitch that you temporarily forget those feelings. Then she spends the whole series finale going more and more insane, with her Freudian Excuse coming to the surface. Then she finally snaps after she loses to Katara and the last shot of her in the series is her sobbing uncontrollably, with Zuko and Katara themselves looking sad about it.
    • Fire Lord Sozin dies offscreen, but he gets a lot more sympathetic by then, realizing that he basically crossed the Moral Event Horizon by betraying and murdering his best friend Avatar Roku and wiping out the Air Nomads, and has nothing to show for it except an empty, hollow life.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Azula: Is she a sociopathic Manipulative Bitch or just a product of parental neglect, much like Zuko, but without the benefit of having a loving figure in her life?
      • She's both. She's not a character who can be so simply defined.
      • Word of God seems to lean at least slightly towards the latter though. The creators have stated in interviews that Azula isn't inherently evil and may eventually get better.
    • Ozai: Word of God says he got along very well with Ursa when they first married, which could mean he wasn't always this evil. Conversely, it could say some things about Ursa...
    • Combustion Man: All over the place, which is understandable. We still know very little about this guy as a person.
    • Azulon: Considering how little is known about him and how ambiguous the scenario involving him is, alternate interpretations have cropped up about the order to kill Zuko. Some see it as a sick display of affection and loyalty for his eldest son Iroh, others saw it as a Secret Test of Character that went out of hand, much like Abraham being ordered to sacrifice Isaac in The Bible. It has even been suggested that he never gave any such order - that Azula made it up in order to pick on Zuko, and Ozai went along with the lie in order to gain Ursa's cooperation. One Fanfic even suggested that when Azulon said that Ozai would feel the pain of losing his son, it was because Azulon wanted Zuko to become Iroh's heir.
    • Koh: Some people see him as a more neutral force, mostly because his one appearance in the series had him helping Aang. Alternatively, he could be seen as a Bigger Bad.
    • Katara: Good feminist icon in that she's an Action Girl who doesn't disavow her maternal instinct and still embraces her call to Team Mom, or bad feminist icon in that she's hyper-emotional (to the point of allowing their entire overall mission to get sidetracked by her just-add-water instant sympathy for random townspeople who, really, will probably be helped out anyway by them rallying to finish overthrowing Ozai) and has that whole "Hell Hath No Fury" thing that leads her to betray her own ideals (in a very definitely bad way) and never really got called on it by any other character in the show?
    • Avatar Kyoshi: She's pretty much the Lawful Good of the Avatars so far that we seen. However, the people of Tumblr seem to be under the impression that, just because she doesn't regret dropping Chin the Conqueror off a cliff to save her people, she's a full-on Blood Knight who apparently loves to battle and kill her enemies. Here's one example.
    • Zhao: What was his motive for rejecting Zuko's help when he was about to die? Zhao may have realized that, by accepting Zuko's hand, the both of them would have died simultaneously. Another idea is that, in his arrogance, Zhao refused to receive help from his teenaged rival, as he felt that being saved from (what he viewed as) an impatient, talentless, hot-headed and overconfident "child", on top of losing the battle at the Northern Water Tribe, would have disgraced his reputation to the public and his peers, damaged his authority over the Fire Nation military, and prompted a demotion. If this second possibility is true, then through death, as well as the Fire Lord holding the blame for the defeat on the Dragon of the West, Zhao managed to gain a slightly more 'merciful' final fate.
      • Another interpretation is that, through Zuko's rescue, Zhao felt that he would have owed his life to his rival out of obligation for being saved and may have perceived that as an act of submission. Finally, the last interpretation is that, once the Moon rose again, Zhao realized that his supposed "destiny" of being a legend was indeed false, and without this crutch to explain his own misdeeds, the purpose for his existence fell apart before his eyes. Zuko is basically a male version of Azula to them.
    • Zuko: In-universe. Aang, Sokka, and Katara treat him like a violent sociopath when he shows up at the Western Air Temple, because, from their prospective, he is. Zuko has only ever shown up around them to either assault them or, in the case of the Crystal Catacombs, stab them in the back after making peaceful overtures. They've never witnessed the same inner doubts and character growth that the viewers have. Only Toph has no history with Zuko, which is why she's the one willing to reach out to him first.
  • And the Fandom Rejoiced: Dark Horse Comics has announced that they'll be publishing new canonical comics in early 2012 that bridge the gap between the end of the series and The Legend of Korra, as well as an anthology of all the Avatar comics featured in the now defunct Nickelodeon Magazine. Looks like the fans might get their "Book 4" after all.
  • Angel Devil Shipping: Aang and Azula, Zuko and Katara.
  • 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 over it in the Ember Island play.
  • Base Breaker: Name a character, any character (except for Iroh).
  • Big Lipped Alligator Moment: Guru Pathik's "reappearance" in "Nightmares and Daydreams".
    • All of Aang's nightmares in general are classified as this.
  • Brick Joke: In "Nightmares and Daydreams", Aang has a reoccurring "Not Wearing Pants" Dream about fighting the Fire Lord only to discover he's not wearing pants, until he eventually gets over it, saying "No, Fire Lord, it is you who is not wearing pants!". In the finale, Aang and Ozai are both shirtless for most of the fight, so they are both only and specifically wearing pants.
  • 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.
  • Cargo Ship: Sokka/Boomerang, on-again, off-again.
  • Crazy Awesome: King Bumi. Between his unconventional Secret Test of Character and his generally madcap personality, he was a fan favorite from the word "Go". Then came the revelation that he singlehandedly liberated Omashu during the Day of the Black Sun.
  • Creepy Awesome: Koh the Face Stealer and Azula.
  • Darker and Edgier: Apparently, The Promise seems to be heading in this direction. Not only is it showing that the ending for the series is not the definitive one nor as happy as it initially seems, but both Fire Lord Zuko AND Earth King Kuei slip into Well-Intentioned Extremist territory. A hundred years of warfare can't be unmade in just a few months, after all...
  • Die for Our Ship: Has its own page.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Zuko (before his Heel Face Turn), Zhao, Azula, Jet and yes, even Ozai.
  • Dry Docking: Generally, Zutara shippers have the reputation (whether or not it's deserved is an argument that can light a forum ablaze almost instantly) of projecting romance onto the character they identify with and the character they want to tap. However, it's also common for people to go one step beyond and declare that "ZUKO/ME IS THE ONLY THING I SHIP!!!"
  • Ear Worm: "Secret Tunnel! SECRET TUNNEL!"
    • "...and DIE..."
  • Ensemble Darkhorse:
  • Epileptic Trees:
    • Seriously, what happened to Ursa?
    • Combustion Man is a badass assassin with a mysterious past, a completely unique form of Firebending and leaves more questions than answers. You do the math.
      • According to creator commentary, he has an extremely overdeveloped third eye, which makes sense as his tattoo looks like the symbol for an Ajna chakra.
    • What are the stories behind all of Koh's faces?
  • Evil Is Sexy: Azula and Ozai. Mai and Ty Lee, also.
  • Fan Community Nicknames: Due primarily to one certain "megafan"'s infamous, long-running satire comic of the Avatar fandom, fans have come to almost unanimously accept the term "Avatards" (some people feel that, in referring to the term "retard", fans' use of this label is demeaning to the mentally-disabled).
    • The term fell out of use after The Legend of Korra was announced, partially because of the Unfortunate Implications - it's now rarer to find someone in the fandom who calls themselves an "Avatard" than someone who doesn't.
  • Fan Dumb: Fans throwing fits about the long hiatuses between seasons without considering how much time is needed for animation as quality as Avatar's was. Plus, the spacing issue was largely the fault of Nickelodeon, who is known for their less than savory treatment of hit shows that aren't SpongeBob SquarePants.
  • Fandom Rivalry: "A couple more years, and you might be ready to fight a sea sponge!" (For the record, we were. "Yes! We have defeated you for all time! You will never rise from the ashes of your shame and humiliation!"[1])
  • Fan-Preferred Couple:
    • Zutara (Zuko/Katara) is the biggest example - about 22% of the AtLA fanfics at Fanfiction.net alone list the two as main characters. Doesn't help that Zutara had an unusual amount of Ship Tease in the show, or that they had their own canon shippers, in the form of June the Bounty Hunter and the Ember Island Players.
    • Tokka (Toph/Sokka) is Sokka's most preferred couple... and this was before Sukka (Suki/Sokka) was made canon.
    • After the show was Vindicated by Netflix, meaning that a lot of newer viewers got caught up in it, Zukka (Zuko/Sokka) has surprisingly eclipsed Zutara almost entirely. Mostly because the new fans noticed a lot of tender moments between them, the standards of homosexual relationships changing over time and both Mai and Suki being rather controversial. Especially the former, with many considering Mai's and Zuko's relationship to be somewhat forced, if they don't outright (unjustly) compare it to Domestic Abuse. Shippers also take comfort in Mai and Zuko's relationship seemingly collapsing in the sequel comics.
  • Fashion Victim Villain: Ozai. Though he fixes that in time for the final battle.
  • Foe Yay: Responsible for a lot of the shipping between Zuko and Katara (not that shippers need any encouragement).
  • Fountain of Memes: Sokka.
  • Funny Aneurysm Moment: When Aunt Wu offers to tell Iroh's fortune in "Bato of the Water Tribe", Iroh says that for a man of his age, there was only one great surprise left and he preferred that to remain a mystery. A year later, Iroh's voice actor Mako passed away.
    • Also, in "Jet":
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Katara: "We were following instinct."
Jet: "You'll get yourself killed that way."

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  • Gainaxing: It's hard to tell unless you're really looking, but during the episode "The Beach", Ty Lee has a tendency to... bounce quite often.
  • Generic Doomsday Villain: For some fans, Fire Lord Ozai is this.
  • Genius Bonus: Dear lord, everything. 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 final Shonen Upgrade Aang gets becomes a lot less of an Ass Pull if you know your ancient Greek natural philosophy.
    • The sheer number of accurate details from different cultures is immensely rewarding for anyone familiar with Asian history.
      • Note that this is 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.
  • 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 the first season (and even up to Season 2) as to where it "really" hit its stride. However, there are a number of literal cases of sudden beard growth, too.
    • Iroh's beard goes from its Season 1 Fire Nation style goatee-with-sideburns to a much longer Earth Kingdom style over the course of Season 2.
    • When Haru shows up again in "Day of Black Sun" to help in the invasion of the Fire Nation capital, he has grown facial hair (lampshaded by Sokka in his Disorganized Outline Speech).
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Iroh exasperatedly telling Zuko that he'll never find the Avatar in the first episode. Once you know Zuko's whole backstory, it comes off as pretty damn callous in a rewatch since he's basically offhandedly saying "Oh, just give up on ever returning to your homeland, family and birthright, and go to bed."
    • The quotes listed under "Funny Aneurysm Moment" above.
  • Heartwarming in Hindsight: Toph asking Aang if it's possible for friendships to transcend lifetimes. Considering that she was able to create a friendship with Aang's reincarnation Korra in the sequel series, it's safe to say that it most definitely is.
  • He's Just Hiding: Jet and Zhao. The Legend of Korra reveals that it's true for the latter... in the worst way imaginable.
    • Most fans still believe this of a number of Air Nomads.
    • In-Universe example: When Aang is told that airbenders have not been seen in a century, he insists that there must be some left in hiding... and then he learns the truth.
  • 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.
    • 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:
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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!"

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Azula: "I could sit here and complain how our mom liked Zuko more than me, but I don't really care. My own mother thought I was a monster!"
(beat)
Azula: "She was right, of course... but it still hurt!"

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  • Memetic Badass:
  • Memetic Molester: Azula.
  • Memetic Mutation: Has its own page.
  • Memetic Sex Goddess: Pretty much every young female character on the show, but especially Katara, Toph, Azula, Mai, Jin and Ty Lee.
  • Mis Blamed: Some people claim the energybending in the finale was thrown in as a Deus Ex Machina in order to avoid killing on a kids' show. Except that Mike and Bryan had that idea as the resolution of the conflict in the series bible from the beginning. And death has been dealt with plenty of times in the show before, so this was again, not a case of Executive Meddling censorship. Aang was never going to end the war in a violent way.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Admiral Zhao crosses it when he kills the moon spirit, simply to spite Aang and Iroh.
    • Long Feng crossed it when he brainwashed Jet and then killed him as soon as he came to his senses.
    • In-universe, Zuko feels his father crossed it being willing to commit genocide instead of dealing with a few rebellions. This breaks Zuko of his need to get his father's love at all costs.
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Sokka: "I always knew the Fire Lord was a bad guy, but his plan is just pure evil."

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    • For the viewers, Ozai crosses a new Moral Event Horizon almost every time he appears on-screen. The only time he didn't do or try to do something really horrible was his appearance in "The Awakening", when we finally got to see his face.
    • Fire Lord Sozin crossed it when he left Avatar Roku to die and then wiped out an entire race of people.
      • Sozin is an interesting example, as he actually realizes that he crossed this and regrets it by the end of his life, ultimately realizing that all his success was meaningless because it wasn't worth the cost.
    • Azula crossed it when she shot Aang in the back with a bolt of lightning, thus proving she will do anything to serve her father. There's also manipulating Zuko into backstabbing Uncle Iroh.
  • Multiple Demographic Appeal: Sure, it's a kids' show. It also tackles very mature themes, has plenty of Fan Service for anyone who's interested, and isn't afraid to say "die" when it's warranted, all without becoming kid-unfriendly.
  • 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 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" moment, 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 at the beginning of Season 3.
    • Even Azula has her moments of this when she tries to seduce one of the boys in the beach episode.
  • Nightmare Fuel: Has its own page.
  • Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Koh, Hama and Wan Shi Tong as well.
    • Fire Lord Ozai also counts.
    • If one is not, by nature, a fan of owls, one is advised to skip "The Library".
  • No Yay: Bryke (jokingly) suggested "Bluezula" during the infamous shipping-slideshow. You can actually hear someone in the crowd screaming "What is WRONG with you?".
  • 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 college-aged men.
    • One of the Avatar video games on the Xbox 360 is popular among achievement hunters due to the ease of getting 1000 points.
  • Relationship Writing Fumble: Azula permanently sounding like she's trying to seduce her brother.
  • 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.
  • Sacred Cow:
    • Avatar: The Last Airbender is considered by many to be one of the greatest television shows ever made (so much so that the show overall received a 100% approval rating from critics and a near-perfect audience score of 99% on Rotten Tomatoes), and 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 Uncle Iroh is this. He's easily the most beloved character in the Avatar universe, but what truly cements this was him being voiced by the late Mako Iwamatsu, whose tragic passing from throat cancer in 2006 only amplified people's love for Iroh. It also helps that he's an All-Loving Hero with a backstory that will break your heart.
  • Ship-to-Ship Combat: Rivals Harry Potter for some of the fiercest battles (Zutara vs. Kataang, anyone?) of all-time.
  • Some Anvils Need to Be Dropped: This series is anything but subtle with its messages, and it's that much better for it. See the example page for more details.
  • 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 10 and 11 out of 21!
  • Tethercat Principle: The last we ever see of Azula is her being chained to a grate, completely insane and screaming in despair. While Word of God stated that Azula was committed to a maximum-security asylum, it's not actually shown in the series proper.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: Toph's storyline concerning her parents never gets resolved. It gets a nod in "The Runaway", when she sends them a letter.
    • According to Word of God, it was at least confirmed that Sokka's hawk managed to deliver the letter.
  • Values Resonance: The series gave viewers a range of diverse characters including both genders and covering a wide age range, women who can kick butt as much as men, girls and boys portrayed as both sensitive and tough (which was a rarity when the show first aired), and disabled characters shown in a respectful manner that didn't focus on them "overcoming" their disability; it dealt with serious themes in a proper manner and had complex villains, with Zuko in particular being given what many considered a proper redemption arc.
  • Viewer Gender Confusion: Smellerbee, lampshaded by Iroh in "The Serpent's Pass".
  • Villain Decay: Zuko, as Season 1 progressed. He hadn't even become all that conflicted about what he was doing yet, but still kept on failing in his endeavors. No wonder Admiral Zhao wound up taking the position of Big Bad, despite Zuko being a more constant threat. This may or may not be tied with his Character Development, however.
    • It's also somewhat ironic, since Zuko got noticeably and progressively more powerful throughout season 1. It just became more and more apparent as the season went on that he had inadequate resources facing effectively impossible odds. From the very first episode, the only reason he was a threat to Aang at all were his cunning, desperation and absolute refusal to give up.
  • What an Idiot!: Delectable tea or deadly poison, anyone?
    • This was somewhat justified due to the fact that Iroh and Zuko were out of food and supplies at the time, and Iroh was desperate for something to tide him over, even if it meant taking the huge risk with the flower being delectable tea or deadly poison. That, and he may have poisoned himself on purpose in order to convince a stubborn Zuko to seek shelter after they'd been on the run so long.
    • A group of Earthbenders try to force Aang into the Avatar State. It works, but Aang almost destroys the complex and everyone inside.
      • Of course, seeing as everyone in the complex is too young to have been alive when the last fully-realized Avatar was alive...
    • Iroh using firebending to heat his tea while he and Zuko are pretending to be Earth Kingdom refugees. Zuko even hangs a lampshade on it ("For a wise old man, that was a STUPID move!")
    • Zhao killing the moon spirit simply to spite Aang and Iroh, despite them telling him that the entire world will be thrown out of balance if he does.
      • It makes a little bit of sense in context (waterbenders are powered by the moon, so destroying it would render them useless), but yeah. Still a terrible idea.
        • It wasn't that (from a purely military, in-the-moment tactical point of view) the idea ITSELF was bad; it was doing it right in front of the Avatar. Seriously, he's the page image for a trope more famously paired with the freakin' Hulk!
  • What Do You Mean It's for Kids?: While it seems to be primary a kids' show, it does has its fair share of Nightmare Fuel and, especially in the third season, deals with a series of very tough issues. The main character is the lone survivor of a genocide, during which an entire ethnic group 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. Some episodes in the third season even deal with an assassin being hired to kill the protagonists and one of the heroes setting out to kill her mother's murderer.
    • About the only tell (aside from the squeaky-clean language) is when characters are strangely incapable of outright suggesting they will kill each other. Further, while some characters are shown dying in the series, their deaths are never depicted outright (poked fun at in "The Ember Island Players"). However, sometimes even Never Say "Die" can get lifted - such as showing Monk Gyatso's remains a whopping two episodes into the series.
  • The Woobie: Most of the cast has had their moments of this.
    • This show has two diametrically opposed Woobies at the same time, in Aang and Zuko... especially after "The Storm" where we learn about Aang's feelings of guilt over running away from home and Zuko's abuse and exile at the hands of his own father (demonstrated nicely here).
    • Katara in episodes such as "The Southern Raiders".
    • Sokka gets some of this from time to time, too, especially in "The Waterbending Master", "The Siege of the North" and "The Boiling Rock".
    • Then there's Azula, who goes from being a Magnificent Bitch to The Woobie over the course of only four episodes. And it actually works.
    • Appa during Season 2 - the episode "Appa's Lost Days" has him go through a certain level of Hell.
    • Iroh, in an Iron Woobie kind of way, in that he doesn't let it show very often. For most of the series, he looks like a funny, yet awesome character who always has Zuko's best interests at heart... But then we find out that he lost his son in the siege of Ba Sing Se that he led, and it goes downhill from there.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds:
    • Aang, in his Avatar State, usually qualifies for this.
    • Hama. Kidnapped and imprisoned by the Fire Nation army as a teenager, prevented from bending her native element (water), it's no wonder she took her only chance of escape by turning the guards into People Puppets by bending their body fluids. But then she snuck into the Fire Nation and started kidnapping innocent civilians with the same technique she used on the prison guards...
  1. Well, that was fun.
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