After 12 years since the last episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender was released, the show has once again gained massive popularity in recent months. The animated show set in a traditional Asian fictional world was released on the online streaming platform Netflix back in May 2020. The earlier popularity of the show at the time it was aired along with the ongoing home lockdown once again created a massive spike in Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s fanbase.
As an animated show, Avatar: The Last Airbender is considered one of the greatest television shows of all time. Targeted towards pre-teenagers, The Last Airbender is set against the backdrop of a world war and does not shy away from exploring mature themes of authoritarianism, genocide, police brutality, suffering, and redemption. With memorable characters, tight plotline, and magnificent world-building, Avatar: The Last Airbender must be watched by everyone regardless of their age. Even after 12 years since its last episode was released, there are some facts about The Last Airbender even its most ardent fans might not know. Interested? Let’s hop in!
10. Zuko Was Originally Planned As A Late Entrant
In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Zuko is one of the most popular characters. A confused character at the beginning, Zuko is the primary antagonist but later turns out to be a major ally of Aang. An angry and conflicted prince in exile, the character of Zuko is a classic example of redemption.
But, the showrunners originally had planned to make the Firelord Ozai as the major antagonist in all the three seasons. As a result, Zuko was planned to enter the scene at a later point. But, Firelord Ozai was mostly going to be present in the Fire Nation, severely limiting his story arcs. As a result, Zuko was introduced in the very first episode.
9. The Show Was Originally Set In A Futuristic World
Avatar: The Last Airbender is set in predominantly Asiatic culture with the inclusion of Inuit tribes as Water Tribe. The show’s ancient and mystical environment played a vital role in setting up the show’s theme seamlessly.
But originally, the showrunners had decided to set the show in a futuristic world, thousands of years into the future. Thankfully, the idea was dropped as a technological world would have distracted the viewers from its mystical tribes and eccentric characters.
8. Azula Almost Had An Arranged Marriage
Azula, the daughter of the Firelord Ozai and the younger sister of Zuko, is a major antagonist throughout the show. Despite her sadistic and evil intentions, Princess Azula has her own loyal set of fans for her character depth and being a strong female character.
In the show, Princess Azula is a force of nature. An accomplished fire bender, she is also a cunning strategist with an unbreakable mental fortitude. Despite such strong traits, Azula was an introvert who found social settings quite awkward. Originally, Firelord Ozai was going to marry off Azula through an arranged marriage in the final season. But, the idea was dropped as it did not fit properly.
7. The Dark History of Lake Laogai
Lake Laogai is the seventeenth episode of the second season and is widely considered as one of the greatest episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Set in the Earth Kingdom, this episode features Team Avatar looking for Aang’s trusted loyal bison and his animal spirit guide, Appa. As Appa has been captured in an underground prison under Lake Laogai.
While Lake Laogai might have been fictional, the term Laogai means reform through labour in Chinese. In the 1950s, it has been claimed that Prisoners of War were often brainwashed in such secret facilities.
6. There Have Been 181 Avatars Before Aang
In Avatar: The Last Airbender Aang is the current Avatar from the Air Nomads. While the show does show a few of the older Avatars during its run, the exact number of Avatars can be known from the Southern Air Temple.
In the Southern Air Temple, there’s a chamber containing approximately 130 statues representing prior incarnations of the Avatar. These are tiered in 7 ascending rows plus a further 51 statues at floor level giving a grand total of 181 previous avatars. This number was once again repeated in the movie, thus confirming that it is canon.
5. A Family Guy Connection
Avatar: The Last Airbender was created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael DiMartino. It’s not just fate which brought these two insanely talented artists together to create a masterpiece like The Last Airbender.
Before working on The Last Airbender, DiMartino used to work at Film Roman, which was responsible for Family Guy. At Film Roman, DiMartino had also written and directed a few episodes of Family Guy.
4. Zuko and Katara Were Intended To Be A Couple
At the end of the second season, a spark was quite visible between Prince Zuko and Katara. This was not an unintended action as the showrunners actually wanted them both to become a couple.
Yet, in the final season, Aang confessed his feelings to Katara and both ended up together. This decision was a safer one considering that Aang was the major protagonist of the series and deserved a happy ending.
3. The Cabbage Merchant
In Avatar: The Last Airbender, one of the most popular running gags is the cabbage merchant who keeps finding himself and his carts filled with cabbages caught between earth benders. As his carts were destroyed by the earth benders, the merchant would shout “My cabbages!”.
This scene was originally considered to be a one-off scene. But the scene’s popularity made the showrunners portray the unlucky cabbage merchant multiple times.
2. Alternate Origin Of Toph
In a show which revolves around the chosen Avatar, Avatar: The Last Airbender does an amazing job in its portrayal of its secondary characters. One such character is Toph who is widely popular despite being blind. Despite her blindness, her sarcasm, stubbornness, and independence made her a valuable member of Team Avatar.
But in its nascent phase, Toph was actually created as a muscular male character who was supposed to teach Aang earth bending. Toph was also considered to be Katara’s love interest. Kudos to the showrunners for promptly dropping this idea.
1. Uncle Iroh As A Bad Guy
If you would ask anyone about who’s their favourite character from the series, most of them would reply that it is the wise Uncle Iroh. As a mentor to the exiled Prince Zuko, Uncle Iroh’s wisdom was a major reason behind the show’s massive popularity. His life lessons were so simple yet so profound that it left a lasting impact on the fans for many years.
But originally, the showrunners had planned Uncle Iroh to be a double agent who would betray Prince Zuko in the end. Thankfully, they dropped the idea and didn’t taint his character. The emotional trauma of that act would have been too much, and most probably would have resulted in a massive backlash.