Avatar: The Last Airbender aired on Nickolodeon between 2003 and 2008, and, eleven years later, the show still captivates fans from all over the world. Later, a sequel was created: The Legend of Korra aired between 2012 and 2014. Both shows were critically acclaimed and received a warm welcome from the public (Avatar has a 9.2 rating on IMDb and Legend of Korra has an 8.5 rating).
Fans fell in love with the show for many reasons; the art style is beautiful, the music is breathtaking, and the show has everything you could ask for: drama, magic, friendship, humor… It’s so much more than a show for kids, as it takes on adult themes and draws inspiration from (and pays tribute to) real world cultures.
Avatar: The Last Airbender has an incredibly rich lore, and, with hundreds of episodes and through other resources such as extras and comics, there’s always more to learn. Since the rich, diverse cast of characters is one of the things that drew fans into the show, it’s always fun to learn more about the characters themselves. Sokka, for instance, is more complex than you might think (or that the Ember Island Players might have you think), but so is Katara. She’s often dismissed as “too boring,” but she’s an incredibly complex character in her own right. Don’t let her movie portrayal deceive you: she’s smart, funny, an excellent fighter, and one of the most talented benders of her time. Here are 25 ridiculous things about Katara!
25 She Can Control Other’s Bodies
“Congratulations, Katara. You’re a bloodbender.” I think it’s safe to say we all got chills when we heard these words. One of the most ridiculous things about Katara is how powerful she is. In “The Puppetmaster,” she learns bloodbending from Hama, meaning she can use the water in other’s bodies to control them.
She’s one of only five bloodbenders in Avatar and Legend of Korra. And if bloodbending doesn’t sound frightening enough, consider this: just like energy bending, it can remove a person’s ability to bend.
24 And Bend Water From Anything
As a master waterbender, Katara can do much more than control the water in people and animal. She can use pretty much anything as a source of water. For instance, she once breaks out of prison…by breaking a sweat. Katara is resourceful enough to think of bending her own sweat! In “The Puppetmaster,” Hama also teaches her to bend the water in plants around her, demonstrating by draining the water from fire lillies. This means that even when there isn’t a full moon, Katara’s powers are incredible.
23 She’s The First Person You Hear In The Show
If you watched the show as a child, you probably remember the opening: “Water. Earth. Fire. Air Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked.” These words have become iconic, and, as you might remember, Katara is the one who delivers this opening monologue, meaning her voice is the first one you hear in the show. Pretty cool legacy! She’s also one of the first characters to appear onscreen, and the second character to speak after the opening.
22 She Wears Her Grandmother’s Betrothal Necklace
Katara’s necklace, a blue choker with a pendant inscribed with the symbol for water, is more than just a simple piece of jewelry. Indeed, considering that most of the characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender dress in fairly practical clothing (they are, after all, in the middle of a war), it may seem odd that Katara even has a necklace. It actually has a lot of sentimental value, as it is her grandmother’s betrothal necklace, and one of the few ties to her family she has as she travels the world with the rest of Team Avatar.
21 Her Parents Were Non-Benders
Surprisingly enough, Katara’s parents weren’t benders. It’s a common mistake, as her mother lies to the fire nation officer who interrogates her and tells him she is the last waterbender to protect her daughter, but Kya isn’t actually a bender.
Like Toph, Katara was born from non-benders, and still ended up being one of the most powerful benders of her time. She’s also the only known waterbender to give birth to an airbender! It goes to show that there’s no way of knowing if a child will be a bender or not.
20 The Story Behind The Hair Loopies
Katara’s iconic hairstyle, or her “hair loopies,” as Sokka affectionately calls them, is an important part of her character design. Even when she parts with her braid later in the series, she mostly keeps her hair loopies.
They’re more than a way to easily identify her, however. Her signature hairstyle is inspired by her Gran-Gran, who wore her hair the same way. They’re one of many things that show how similar Katara and her grandmother are—the betrothal necklace being another.
19 She Lived A Very Long Life
Katara is about 14 when we first meet her in “The Boy in The Ice,” and we see her become more mature over the course of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Between The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, many, many things happen, and Katara lives to see them all. The Republic was founded, the City of United Nations was built, Toph created a metalbending academy, Aang and Zuko became best friends… And ultimately, Katara even outlived her husband, Avatar Aang.
18 She Taught Two Avatars
Not only did she outlive Aang, but she was also still alive when the time came to teach the new avatar, a waterbender named Korra. When Aang started to learn waterbending, Katara was also the one who taught him, meaning she’s one of very few master benders who taught not one, but two avatars.
Considering how young she was when she taught Aang, that’s even more impressive. Then again, she’s one of the most powerful waterbenders the Avatar World has seen, so it’s hardly surprising.
17 She’s Really Smart
Katara’s brother Sokka may be Team Avatar’s strategist, but that doesn’t mean that Katara is the brawn to his brains. She’s a fighter, yes, but she’s also incredibly smart and resourceful. The anecdote I brought up earlier about her bending her own sweat shows that.
Katara is incredibly smart for her age in The Last Airbender, and in Legend of Korra, we get to see her when she’s older and wiser, which gives us a really interesting perspective on her character.
16 She Dressed Up As A Spirit
In “The Painted Lady,” Katara dresses up as a spirit. After visiting a village stricken with poetry and illness, she takes on the identity of the Painted Lady, the village’s water spirit. She secretly gives them food at night and uses her waterbending powers to heal the sick. Eventually, Aang discovers her secret, and they destroy the factory that was polluting the river and draining the village’s resources, solving the problem for good. Eventually, the real Painted Lady thanks Katara.
15 The Moon Makes Her So Much Stronger
The moon spirit (who also happens to be Princess Yue, Sokka’s first love), provides waterbenders with their strength. Waterbenders have a strong connection to the moon; as it waxes and wanes, so too, do their powers. This means waterbenders are at their weakest during the new moon, and at their strongest during the full moon.
Therefore, some techniques like bloodbending can only be used during the full moon, and writers took great care to make sure the moon was always full when Katara resorted to bloodbending.
14 She Sought To Avenge Her Mother
While she is a gifted fighter, Katara tends to favor peaceful solutions, much like Aang himself. She is benevolent and kind, as the Painted Lady story proves. However, she’s also capable of being vengeful, especially when it comes to her family. She decides to avenge her mother and seek out the fire nation officer who ended her. For this mission, she enlists Zuko, knowing that Aang would not approve. In the end, however, she can’t bring herself to hurt him.
13 Her Portrayal In The Movie Is Nonsensical
The adaptation of the series to the big screen, directed by M. Night Shyamalan, was an absolute disaster. In fact, many fans agree to pretend it never happened at all. One of the things that fans and critics particularly hated was the casting, as the culturally diverse series was completely white-washed.
Sokka and Katara’s actors, in particular, caught a lot of hate. Not only were they white while the water tribes are inspired by Inuit culture, the characters were also flattened, and lost the humor and personality that made fans fall in love with the show.
12 People Ship Her And Zuko
Zuko and Katara may seem as different as, well, water and fire, but as Zuko gets closer to the members of Team Avatar, they grow closer and eventually became friends. Their closeness inspired fans to ship the two of them, creating the ship name “Zutara”.
This makes sense, as the “enemies to reluctant friends to lovers” trope is widely popular in shows, books, and movies. However, to some’s disappointment, the unlikely pair never ended up together, and Zuko and Katara both found other partners.
11 Her Representation By The Ember Island Players
We’re not sure what the Ember Island Players have against Katara, but their representation of her is particularly harsh. Aang was shocked that his character was played by a woman, and Toph was pleased with her portrayal, but Katara’s character gave long, winding speech about hope, and was very whiny and sensitive; she was also portrayed as being infatuated with Jet. All in all, not a very flattering way of portraying a master water bender and a member of Team Avatar.
10 She Married The Avatar
Katara may not have ended up with Zuko, but she married none other than Aang, the Avatar himself. Fans weren’t too fond of seeing the two of them together, but we all grew to like the couple that affectionately became known as “Kataang”. The two of them are quite sweet , as they shared quite a lot of experiences and overthrew a tyrant before getting married, having children, and growing old together. Couples who take down Fire Lords together stay together, I suppose.
9 She And Aang Reenact A Famous Sculpture
There’s a specific scene in Avatar: The Last Airbender when Katara holds a wounded Aang. It’s poignant and emotional and had many viewers in tears, but art history enthusiasts may have noticed a similarity with a famous sculpture.
The way she holds Aang is directly reminiscent of La Pieta, a sculpture by Michelangelo. It represents Mary holding a wounded Jesus, so there’s obviously a biblical parallel to be made there! It’s incredible how you’ll notice details like that when you re-watch the show.
8 She Inspired Memes
You know you’ve made it on the internet when your face is on a meme. Katara is such an iconic Avatar character that memes have been made about her, the most famous being the “creepy Katara” meme.
Sure, it’s not the most flattering meme, but it got quite popular. Memes like this one show just how much of an impact Avatar: The Last Airbender had on our popular culture, thanks, in part, to ridiculously fleshed out characters like Katara. It’s a testament to the show’s popularity, and to its longevity!
7 She’s A Gifted Healer
Over the course of the series, Katara finds out that she can use waterbending to heal people. She uses it on her hands after Aang accidentally burns her, for instance, or on the villagers in “The Painted Lady.” What’s ridiculously impressive, however, is that healing is one of two subsets of waterbending, bloodbending being the other. Katara is the only character in Avatar and Legend of Korra to master both subsets of skills! Not only that, but she’s excellent at both of them.
6 She Should Have Been Named Kya
In the unaired pilot, Katara was originally named Kya. According to the Avatar wiki, “The name Kya was later given to her previously unnamed mother. Nickelodeon's legal department vetoed the name when they discovered there was already a video game character named Kya, so they had to change it. Kanna was first proposed to replace Kya, but was later used for the name of her grandmother instead.” It’s interesting to see that all these names have the k sonority in common—and so does Sokka’s name.
5 She’s Only A Child When She Meets Aang
Katara was supposed to be 12, and Aang 10, but they were later aged up to 12 and 14. Still, all the characters are quite young, but they act so mature that it’s easy to forget. In the first episode, however, Aang reminds Katara that despite all the responsibilities she and Sokka had to take on, they’re still kids.
The two of them enjoy a blissfully innocent moment, playing in the snow and sledding near Katara and Sokka’s village in the South Pole.
4 She Knew Yoga
When it comes to fighting styles, Avatar: The Last Airbender took inspiration from real-life martial arts. For instance, firebending is based on Northan Shaolin, and waterbending is based on Tai Chi, which is used for fighting but also, like yoga, for relaxation. Therefore, it’s no surprise that Katara knew yoga, and when you think about it, she’d probably need yoga or meditation to deal with the rest of Team Avatar’s antics sometimes! Details like this are a reminder of how much research went into creating the show.
3 She’s Used Fake Names
Katara has, as I stated before, taken on the identity of a water spirit, but she’s also used fake names, along with the rest of the Team Avatar, to disguise her identity. After all, they were traveling with the Avatar himself, and Aang was being hunted by the finest firebenders Ozai could dispatch—they needed to be safe. The funniest of these fake names is probably June Pippinpaddleopsicopolis, which she came up with after Aang told a guard he was Bonzu, the Third. You have to give it to Aang and Katara there, that’s pretty good improv.
2 She’s The First Person To Touch Zuko’s Scar
Katara and Zuko were not meant to be, but they went from being bitter enemies to sharing a touching closeness. The two of them gradually grew to trust each other, to the point where Katara was able to touch Zuko’s infamous scar.
In fact, she is the first person in the series to do so, which is quite impressive considering how guarded the elusive Prince Zuko can be. While it may not indicate a romantic closeness between the two, it shows that they were able to overcome their past together and their differences.
1 She Can Calm Aang Out Of The Avatar State
Perhaps one of the most ridiculously impressive things about Katara is the fact that she can calm Aang out of the Avatar state. Sure, Aang has a crush on her for most of the series, and they end up married, but given how impossibly powerful Aang is in the Avatar state, and given that he usually doesn’t remember what he did when he was in that state, it’s a testament to Katara’s wisdom and character that she’s able to calm him out of it.