Avatar: The Last Airbender is widely considered to be one of the greatest cartoons, if not one of the greatest TV shows of all time. I actually grew up with the show myself and I was obsessed with it to the point of writing thankfully long lost fanfiction. I'm sure I'm not the only one who loved this show, but we all probably loved it for different reasons. Some people might have liked the fight scenes and thought it was an awesome action show. Others, like me, might have found themselves relating to the characters and invested in their stories. Still, others might have finally watched a show where the characters looked like them and realized how much of a breath of fresh air that was. Regardless, there are many reasons why Avatar: The Last Airbender has achieved the level of immortality it has.
With a show this popular, there's definitely a lot of theories as to how it got inspired and about the story that has gotten confirmed or denied over the years. The sequel show, The Legend of Korra, has helped a lot with making some of the murkier things about Avatar make more sense, which is great. The creators have also shed light on things, which is also great.
However, a lot of the theories we've created for the show over the years can be confirmed or denied just from watching both shows and reading between the lines. Here are 25 theories about the Avatar franchise that people have guessed over the years that have been confirmed by the show or outside sources.
25 Avatar Is Loosely Based On A Famous War
Avatar: The Last Airbender is essentially World War II. Don't believe me? Think about how the story begins. The Fire Nation essentially takes the place of the tyrannical powers trying to subjugate the other Nations, while the others have to either rebel in secret or submit to the rule of the tyrants to survive. They got rid of the Air Nomads to do that as well. The reason why the war in the original series ends is that the nations all band together to stop Ozai, the guy making the Fire Nation do those things.
24 The Legend Of Korra Is The Cold War
Piggybacking off of the original series, The Legend of Korra mirrors the Cold War. Instead of an outright battle against good and bad, the world is essentially picking up the pieces, which gives way to the ways of thinking that bring Amon and the Equalists into power. People follow them until it's found out that Amon is a fraud, much like how the Soviet Union overthrew Stalin when he was discovered to be living a richer life than he claimed. This franchise gets deep, guys.
23 Zuko's Ship Is Based On An Actual Ship
Zuko's ship is actually based on a real-life ship, the USS Cole. To be fair, just one event seems to be based on real-life events on a real-life ship, but it's definitely worth talking about. On October 12th, 2000, revolutionaries snuck onto an American ship, ending the lives of 17 sailors. This bears a remarkable similarity to the time Admiral Zhao went and snuck some revolutionaries onto Zuko's ship to end his quest to find the Avatar. The USS Cole stayed afloat, however, while Zuko's ship fell.
22 Sokka's Sword Literally Comes From Yue
The sword Sokka gets and fights with for all of the third season episodes comes from a meteor from space that happened to fall during the beginning of that episode. The conclusion can be drawn that the sword Sokka wields didn't come from a random coincidence, but was actually sent down by his ex-girlfriend Yue, who is now the moon. It would be really easy to draw the conclusion that she sent that meteor down to him so he could take a few extra levels in greatness to be on par with his traveling companions. It also shows that even though she's the moon, she still loves him.
21 Who Is The Cabbage Man, And Why Is This Guy Everywhere?
The cabbage man is kind of an enigma because he shows up all the time. He’s a meme unto himself since whenever the Avatar is in a situation where something gets destroyed, he’s also ruining this guy’s business. However, the question remains: where is this guy continuously getting the money for cabbage carts if the Avatar is destroying them? The only explanation: he’s part of the League of the White Lotus that all the mentor characters are a part of. It’s really the only logical conclusion we can make!
20 Iroh Might Be Part Spirit Like Yue
Just like Yue was part of the spirit world as a human, long before she became the moon, Iroh might have been as well. This means that if that's true, Iroh would have needed to visit the Spirit World and we have no idea how that could possibly have happened. The best theory for how this could have happened is probably the one that actually happened: back during season 2 when everyone was in the library, there were three adorable foxes. In Legend of Korra, we see them again, but there are only two. Chances are, the third one knew it would perish so it passed part of its soul onto Iroh.
19 An Explanation For Why General Zhao Only Ended One God-Fish
Admiral Zhao ended one of the god fish at the northern water tribe at the end of season one, obligating Yue to replace it and literally become the moon. However, he could have ended both fish and totally ruined the water tribe and the world. Why didn’t he? The answer is simple: the other fish was the ocean spirit, and ending the ocean spirit is very bad news for him since he's a navy commander. Even as a firebender, for Admiral Zhao, the ocean is still a big deal. That's just another example of balance: how you can't just have one element in your life.
18 Toph Had A Crush On Sokka
Okay, not to get super into shipping stuff here, but as a fan of this series, I support Sokka and Suki, but Sokka and Toph would have been perfect for the show and for their character arcs. All the evidence points towards Toph having the biggest crush on Sokka throughout the series, but there was no moment bigger than the finale when she essentially confessed that to him. At this point, he was already with Suki, but you can't fault the girl for shooting her shot even if she thought all three of them were going to perish.
17 The Ship Wasn't Endgame, But Toph And Sokka Did Happen
While we know Suki and Sokka was endgame for the series, there's still hope for the Sokka/Toph shippers in the form of a concrete theory about Toph's daighter Suyin, who has a father who has never been mentioned in the series. Not even the comics, which were designed to help clear up these questions, shed light on this. Yes, she looks like Toph and all, but she definitely looks like her other parent as well. Then look at her own children, Baatar Jr. and Huan, who look exactly like Sokka. They might not have had a life together or anything, but they definitely happened at least once.
16 Ba Sing Se = Beijing?
Ba Sing Se is a huge city with a culture of its own in a kingdom that has a totally different look and vibe from the rest of the kingdom. The city is packed with people, especially in comparison to the rest of the world we've seen thus far. When you get to Ba Sing Se in the series, it feels like things have changed even though they still haven't left the Earth Kingdom (and to be fair, we see them in the Earth Kingdom a lot in the first series). In a lot of ways, Ba Sing Se is basically fantasy Beijing. The army even wears uniforms just like the Manchurian soldiers did in the Qing dynasty.
15 Republic City = Hong Kong?
If Ba Sing Se is Beijing, Republic City is a lot like Hong Kong because of its independence from the rest of the world. It's also a place where the cultures of all four nations blend together seamlessly. Republic City is actually reminiscent of a few cities that have that melting pot vibe to them, come to think of it. However, Republic City bears the most similarity to Hong Kong because of how its history has a lot to do with imperialism since Aang and Zuko made Republic City by taking Earth Kingdom land to do it.
14 Mo-Mo Is A Reincarnation Of Another Flying Lemur
Remember the time we got the backstory about the first Avatar on The Legend of Korra? His name was Wan and he was the first person to show compassion to a flying lemur name Aye-Aye who turned out to be a spirit who was being harassed by humans. It was that decision on Wan's part that made Aye-Aye his Avatar animal companion. This is reminiscent of another Avatar who shows compassion to a lemur after his friend Sokka tried to eat him. Most likely, the spirit of that first lemur incarnated into Mo-Mo to help him find the then-missing Aang.
13 A Major Plot Hole Gets Filled With Basic Understanding Of Tactics
As you get older and rewatch the episode where the Northern Water Tribe needs to hold off the Fire Nation invasion, you start to come to the conclusion that the Northern Water Tribe really messed up. Why would you let the Fire Nation approach your ice wall, after all? That's not actually the case, though. If anything, the Fire Nation had come at them with a navy larger than what they'd ever dealt with before and the Northern Water Tribe was still actively winning before Admiral Zhao cheated. They were just dealing with a major disadvantage.
12 Appa Perished When Aang Did
Appa wasn't just the main group's living taxi, he was a character on his own and every kid's dream pet. Sadly, he didn't live much longer after Aang passed on. Appa is Aang's animal companion, more so than even Mo-Mo is, so they have mixed energies and can find each other spiritually. When Aang perished, chances are Appa followed him into the great beyond. We actually saw this with Avatar Roku and his dragon as well, so it's not unprecedented.
11 Aang Is Definitely Gone, So Let's Put Those Theories To Rest
Aang is absolutely gone and we need to put those “Aang is alive” theories to rest. The reason is simple: we see the birth of the Avatar from the perspective of Avatar Roku, the previous Avatar. Early on in the series, we see him perish at the hands of Sozin and close his eyes in that life, and in the next instant, he’s baby Aang because the Avatar title has passed on. Because we see this, we know that the title moves from person to person in this way and in a specific pattern, water, earth, fire, and air. Knowing what we know, there’s no way Aang is alive. Sorry, everyone.
10 Did Giant Energy Bending Turtles Create The Universe?
We don't know a lot about the giant energy bending turtles that taught Aang how to remove abilities from people like Fire Lord Ozai. We know there's more than one because they have the ability to give people a certain kind of bending, and we know they can carry cities and forests on their backs. Given the all-powerful nature of these turtles, we have to come to the conclusion that they made the Avatar world, if not that whole universe. After all, what else could have that power?
9 This Family Has A Lot In Common With The Lannisters
Knowing what we know about the Fire Lord royals and how corrupted and twisted they were in their behaviors, we have to assume that they acted like royals when we don’t see them as well. Not to mince words here, but there’s a very good chance that the Fire Lord royals took part in making the next generations in a strange way. It would certainly explain the madness of the later generations like Zuko’s dad and sister Ozai and Azula, but not Zuko’s mother since she married into the family. It’s uncomfortable to think about but considering how deep this show gets, it’s not hard to draw that conclusion.
8 Is Zaheer Aang's Son?
We meet Aang and Katara's children in The Legend of Korra and we know that one's an Airbender, one's a Waterbender, and the third doesn't have any abilities. However, that might not be the whole story. A lot of people think that villain Zaheer was going after Korra because Aang was also his father. It certainly explains how Kya knew Zaheer was even on Air Temple Island. He has no abilities, but he knows way too much about Airbending for us to not consider that he's Aang's son who got his airbending taken away.
7 Is Sozin's Comet Really A Comet?
Sozin's Comet gives Firebenders the ability to bend much stronger fire, basically. Unfortunately, the last time it showed up before the events of the series, it was used to end all the Airbenders. The weird thing about this comet is that it shows up precisely every one hundred years, which is something no comet can do. The only conclusion? It's not actually a comet, but a huge solar flare or geomagnetic storm. That's why it only affects Firebenders: they're the only ones who would be able to harness that power.
6 Is Amon The Son Of Ty Lee?
Amon was a fantastic character in Legend Of Korra not just because he was a great villain but because we couldn't help but empathize with him and see where he was coming from when it came to benders. However, there are a lot of theories that he's even more than that. There's a very good chance that Amon is the son of Azula's cheery friend Ty Lee or a possible student of hers. Amon is able to block chi, and the only other character we know of with his skill level or above in this sense is Ty Lee herself.
5 Bending Might Be A Result Of Genetic/Biochemical Engineering
Bending is awesome and we all know it because of a whole generation that grew up wanting to learn how to do it. However, we don't know how the characters know how to do it. There's a theory about how people learned how to bend the elements that sound out there but actually makes a lot of sense if you think about it. The idea is that bending didn't occur naturally, but it happened because of genetic engineering on a massive scale. The four nations sent people to another planet, the Avatar world, and when they got their genetics changed to allow those abilities.
4 The Avatar Universe Learned Their Language From Spirits
The Avatar world has a lot of differences in culture from nation to nation and even region to region. However, one thing is the same and has remained the same: their language. Sure, the show could be translating for us, but given what we know about the show, everyone seems to speak the same language. There's only one explanation for the uniformity of the language in this world: the spirits literally taught them their spoken and written language. Given how connected everything is to the spirit world, this makes a lot of sense and is basically canon.
3 What Would've Happened To Jinora If The Writing Went A Different Way?
Season 2 of The Legend Of Korra had a lot of twists and turns, and while not everyone holds the sequel show in the same regard as the original, it's still a really solid show that you should watch if you're a fan of this franchise. There was a dropped plotline where Jinora would have become a sort of Anti-Avatar character thanks to season villain Vaatu reincarnating himself into her. She would have been chosen because of her air bending and her bloodline. That didn't happen, but if it had, that could very well have changed everything and we wouldn't have gotten the series we did in the end, so we're glad this didn't happen.
2 The Avatar Franchise Takes Place In A Post-Apocalyptic Future
The Avatar world doesn't seem like it has much in common with our own, but if you really look at the map, it's not hard to draw the conclusion that the world actually seems a little small, maybe even too small for that to be the complete picture. There's a theory going around that the Avatar series takes place after a world-ending apocalypse, long after humanity was able to rebuild. That actually explains why we have an Avatar in the first place: a person came to bring balance to the universe and the natural order of things after the end of the world includes an Avatar now.
1 The Cycle Might Have To End One Day Because Of Its Nature
The Avatar cycle seems like it could go on without an end, which would be awesome for those of us who would happily watch a series about every new Avatar from here to eternity. That being said, there's no way this could be the case because the very ideal of balance forbids that from happening. The Avatar can't live forever because tht isn't balanced, so there will eventually be a point where the Avatar will perish and not be able to come back, bringing about a new age in this world that seems to need an Avatar. This isn't just a theory we think will come true, this is our potential pitch to Nickelodeon for a show about the very last Avatar in the cycle.