"Avatar" is a Sanskrit word that usually implies a deliberate descent from higher spiritual realms to lower realms of existence for special purposes. It is often translated into English as "incarnation", meaning the physical incarnation of a divine or higher power. In the modern world the term has picked up a number of other meanings, and is the namesake for many fictional works. Its broadest definition is "some sort of remotely controlled entity which is present in the role of its controller". Naturally, that all means there are a lot of different works that use "Avatar" in their names:
- American cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender
- Avatar (film), the 2009 feature film by James Cameron.
- Ultima IV: The Quest of the Avatar, where the player seeks to become "the Avatar," basically their version of Crystal Dragon Jesus.
- The Avatar, a book by Poul Anderson, which involves a group of explorers commandeering a space freighter. The best-known cover has three characters on the cover—two humans (presumably viewpoint characters Daniel Brodersen and Caitlín Mulryan) and a four-armed alien vaguely resembling a humanoid sea lion (Fidelio).
- Avatar (video game), an old Role Playing Game on a multi-university computer network back in The Seventies.
- Avatar, the first book in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine relaunch.
On top of that, there are tropes:
- Author Avatar: The higher being is the author and they have a character in their work that represents him/herself.
- Digital Avatar: The sort you find in games as the Player Character, by way of Cyberpunk (specifically Snow Crash) influence.
- God in Human Form: one of the ways it happens is through an avatar projection. See also A Form You Are Comfortable With. As mentioned above, examples from certain mythologies are the Trope Namer.
- Fighting a Shadow: In general, using an avatar means that if something kills it, what had the avatar doesn't completely die.
- ↑ In addition to the examples below this can include remote controlled vehicles (particularly ones operated at distance with their own sensors, a representation of someone in a digital space (see below), or an incarnation of a divine being as a mortal (indeed the use of this in Hindu mythology is the Trope Namer).
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