Avatar the Last Airbender, who didn’t love this show? It had action, it had drama, it had romance. But most of all, it was smart. And not just any normal level of smart, oh no. This series went straight up philosophical in people’s business. From the plot to the characters and the general world-building, everything about this show screamed unique. Things weren’t black and white. The characters weren’t stereotypical, and most of all, everyone had a part in the story. Fan gushing aside, though, there was one thing that every fan can agree made the series great: the characters.
For one thing, it’s not just the heroes who made the show interesting but the villains as well, which was a huge first in most cartoons. Add to the fact that there was a lot of philosophical exploration on each character, it made for a treasure chest of character development. Aside from the complex character shaping though, each one was just a fun character to enjoy. Every one of them had their strengths and flaws and none of them ended up as a side character or a sidekick character, so to speak, for the hero. The same goes for even the villains.
It’s been years since the original series has ended. With all the books, articles, and the extras that were released on the show, it seems as if everything there is to know about the show has been revealed already. But the fun thing about a series that had so many layers like this one, especially with the characters? There’s always a surprise quirk or another layer to be found that even big fans can miss such as these.
25 Missing Zuko
What a lot of fans of the show might be surprised to know is that Zuko wasn't even originally supposed to be there. The main antagonist of the show, at first, was meant to be Ozai himself. The creators eventually decided that he couldn't do that all by himself.
The main reason for this was mainly location. Since Ozai had to rule the fire nation, there wasn't much opportunity for him to leave his throne. It wouldn't really make sense for the show to have the only antagonist sit in one place the whole time; there's no tension that way. As a result, Zuko was created. This way, the characters had someone who would actually see them and have conflict with them. And we're glad that they added him, as he ended up being a great character!
24 That's Why That Looks Familiar...
Though many people might have figured out that bending has something to do with martial arts, not a lot of people will know that each type has to do with a different, specific style. In fact, those who don't practice these types of martial arts would probably have had a tough time recognizing them.
All elemental bending movements are based on different kinds of martial arts. Earthbending, for example, is based on Hung Gar Kung Fu. Firebending takes from a different kind of kung fu, Northern Shaolin, to be exact. Airbending draws from Ba Gua. And Waterbending might be the most recognizable of all, since it's based on Tai Chi. It's interesting to know, and next time you watch it you should try paying attention to the different styles to see how different they are!
23 From Fantasy To Science Fiction
When you think of Avatar: The Last Airbender, there's a good chance you think of fantasy settings with an Asian influence. But what you might not know is that it wasn't always supposed to be like this. In fact, it was almost very different.
Avatar was originally supposed to be a science-fiction based show. It would still have some of the same elements, obviously, but with the setting changed so much, it's likely that it would barely resemble the show that we all know and love. In addition to these extra sci-fi elements, the show (at least in the early development stages) was supposed to take place 1,000s of years into the future. That would have been so different. We're kind of happy that that didn't happen!
22 Zuko's Secret Talent
Anyone remember the tsungi horn? That big horn instrument that Iroh played like once? Well, outside of it looking like something meant to be played by an older player, it was noted once in the series that Zuko had the skill to play the instrument but refused to play it when asked. Now we learn that he’s actually a natural on the thing. Can we get an extra scene where we actually see this happening? Seriously, it’s one thing to know how to play an instrument, but it’s a whole different thing if one is a natural at it. Just imagine if he was to do a concert or had composed an original song. Really, all of the characters just have such a cute/dorky side to them.
21 What's In A Name?
Having watched the whole series, it's hard to imagine Katara as anything other than Katara. But that's exactly what almost happened. Originally, they were planning on naming her Kya. Nickelodeon had to change gears very suddenly when they were confronted by their legal team and told that a game coming out featured a girl with that same name. They were encouraged to change it to avoid any conflicts, and so they did. They almost named her Kanna, following that, but eventually settled on Katara. And we're happy they did, as we can't see her as anything else!
Don't worry, though. If the names Kya and Kanna sound familiar, that's because they are. Her mom and grandmother, respectively, ended up being named that!
20 Airbending Culture/Traditions
So there is, in fact, a reason behind Aang and the airbenders having their heads shaved other than having a monk-like lifestyle or for the placement of their tattoos. Apparently they also do it to feel the air better, which when you think about it makes a lot of sense. Throughout the whole series, there have been all kinds of talks on the different ways to benders connect to their element. So it’d be no surprise if certain groups of benders had their own traditions or unique cultural acts. Who here thinks it would be fun if a book came out with all kinds of notes on the different quirks of benders and nations that didn’t make it to the show? Too much? Well it’s worth thinking about, at least.
19 He's Got Flute Skills
There were quite a few characters that had a talent for music, weren’t there? Well, not a whole lot, but still a good few. Can you just imagine characters like Zuko and Aang having their own little concert? Speaking of Aang, it is not all that surprising that he’s able to play the flute. It is the best instrument for him, not just because it suits him but also because it’s pretty much the best instrument. Deep thinking aside, though, if only there was a somber scene that had Aang playing a song from his time to his friends. Bittersweet ideas aside, remember that one time that Aang played something like a flute for the animals? That was pretty cute, until Sokka stopped him.
18 Glider Technicalities Was A Thing
Ever noticed the differences when Aang launches himself off with his glider staff? Of course you did. Who doesn’t remember the different fights he won just using the thing? Different fighting styles were studied for the show, among other things. But it’s interesting to think that there are more technical aspects to Aang’s glider other than in his ability to fly. For one thing, who knew that those times that Aang did a helicopter move wasn’t just a different way of taking off, but was done for a reason? According to in-depth notes on the show, a.k.a. the extras, the maneuver is actually only used for when he doesn’t have proper take-off room. The more you know. And for those who did know, props to you for going possibly deeper than hardcore.
17 The Movie That Never Was
Many Avatar fans have wondered what happened to Zuko and Azula's mother. It was never really revealed in the series, and unless you've read the comic books, you probably just assumed that there was never an answer for this.
Well, originally you were supposed to find out, but it wasn't supposed to just be in the television show. Instead, they had planned on making a sequel movie of sorts to the show. It would have aired on Nickelodeon, and it would have shown Zuko attempting to find out what happened to his mother. They decided against doing that, and instead put their efforts into making The Legend of Korra. It's kind of a shame that they dropped this, but honestly, Korra was so good that it's probably okay.
16 Zuko And Buddha And Mirrored Paths
There may be not a lot who remember or even know of Buddha’s journey, but every fan knows of Zuko’s journey. From villain to hero, it was one of the best aspects of the show given how deep it was. Sure, all the characters had a great development to them. But Zuko was complex with self-doubt, mixed emotions, and a good dash of angst, since he is, after all, a teen. Still, when you think about it, there are a few points of similarity with the two’s journey. Both started off a life of privilege and were set to rule, but in their journey, they found more to what they once knew. After a struggle with self-identification and self-searching, they emerged a new person. Sure, the points are not completely accurate, but you can’t deny it gives a whole new depth to him.
15 From The Male Sud To Female Toph
Out of everything that has been listed, this by far is the least surprising fact of the lot. The only problem here is the name. Really? Sud? Already there are a handful of jokes that can be made with that kind of name, especially with Sokka around. Then there's also the amount of pun plays that fans could come up with… yeah, Toph was really the best thing to go with. That and the whole gender aspect, as well. If you think about it, if Toph had ended being a male, there would have been slightly lesser drama. But then there wouldn’t have been as much drama and development as there was with Toph. Unless they had the idea to amp up the whole "protective parents" arc and make “Sud” more aloof and aggressive. Then maybe it would have gone somewhere. But Toph still works best.
14 Zuko And Above Average Hearing
Can we just say that Zuko has earned the title as a bonafide ninja at this point? The guy can sneak around in the shadows, can use broadswords, and is a flexible fighter. Let’s not forget the whole Blue Spirit episode of his, where we see him helping out Jet. Add having a higher than average hearing, and he may as well have the title as part of his character sheet. Remember in certain scenes when he was all alone and he seemed to hear things the audience didn’t? Well, it was only maybe one or two scenes that we really saw this, and most fans may not remember it. But hey, this is just another cool point for the character. Who knows, maybe another character has their own enhanced senses! Barring Toph, of course.
13 So He Can Say "Scout's Honor," Then
Jokes aside, Aang was noted at one time to have been an air scout when he was young... well, younger... and had learned how to do things like how to tie reins to a bison's horns with the bison horn knot. It was a little note that was only spoken of once, so not many fans may remember unless they note down every little detail they've ever heard from the show. The idea, however, of such a thing as scouts existing during Aang’s time period is pretty questionable. Like, were there also other bender scouts as well? What happened to the whole program? Were there Fire Scouts? What would they have learned? Did they give out badges? I don’t know, does it just seem a little weird to anyone else?
12 Shippers Might Be Happy
It seems kind of obvious to anyone who's watched the show that Katara and Aang are just meant to be. Heck, they've had so much development, and have basically grown with each other over the seasons. But that wasn't always the case.
Zuko was originally supposed to end up with Katara. I guess you can argue that there's some kind of fire/water thing happening here, and opposites attract. But it's so weird to think about! It's kind of strange, since Zuko was a villain at the beginning of the show, so this turns into more of a Beauty and the Beast situation than we'd like. But hey, I guess that's how love works sometimes. We're still happy that that wasn't the case.
11 Sand Artist Iroh
Honestly, how many talents does a character have to have? He can breathe fire, can sing, and even knew to breakdance at one point. Now it’s confirmed that the guy has another artistic talent, and in sand art, no less? The guy already earned himself the title of cool uncle and favorite character among different fans. If he gets any more cute or awesome quirks added, that we don’t know about yet, he might just become the ultimate combination of cute and awesome old man. Already he's probably the best wise old man character in all the cartoons we can think of. Exaggerations aside, Iroh really is a great character, and it’s easy just to imagine him creating some pretty works such as flowers or hey, a pot of tea.
10 The Human Dragons
Ever wondered how is it some firebenders are able to keep warm even when they are in the coldest of places? Well, for Zuko, he apparently has what’s called “breath of fire.” Well, with a skill name like that, I wonder who taught it to him? Perhaps a certain old dragon, hmm? Okay, in all seriousness, though, who here's had cold days where they wished that they had this power? No more putting layers upon layers of coats, scarves, or even shirts. But then there is also the downside to think about if this ability ever existed. Accidents would be a thing… yeah, just let the human dragons keep their techniques to themselves. On the other hand, it is a handy trick to have, especially since Zuko had managed to master in the third book and managed to survive because of it.
9 Travel Schedule? Nope, Production Schedule
Here’s a little test for some fans' memory. Who remembers that one scene in the “Painted Lady” episode of the third book when Sokka took out his travel schedule and rolled it out? Notice anything interesting about that schedule? Well, believe it or not, the schedule is, in fact, the actual production schedule of the series. You would think that the animators or writers would just have the scroll have some images of the area along with some scribbles... but nope. Apparently, someone had the idea to slip this little tidbit in. Whoever it was was a clever little cookie, and funny too. Seriously, though, that map was way too detailed, even for Sokka. The coloring did look a bit off, if we're being honest.
8 The Fire Nation Royals And The Letter Z
Sozin, Ozai, Zuko… the letter Z did appear quite a lot on the family tree, didn’t it? It could have been coincidence, or it could have been traditional. But it really is uncanny that all the people who have taken to the Fire Nation throne have the letter in their name. Well, that’s a pretty tame thing for the royal family to have. There have been a lot of interesting things that were noted about the royal family, but there is a chance that one or two people have grown to not trust the Fire Nation Royal Family. So even with the people cheering over Zuko taking the throne, there may be nobles that are wary of him or would just make things hard for him, with his history and all.
7 It's Hard Out Here For Azula
Azula is the kind of villain that you just love to hate. She's a more complex character than so many people on the show, and honestly, she's got reasons to be the way that she is. But she was originally supposed to be so much worse.
Azula was originally supposed to be a lot more intense than she ended up. She was supposed to be more ruthless. She was supposed to end one of her attendants using her firebending, which would have been a scary thing to see in a children's show. The censors forced them to change this scene, but we still have to imagine what it would have been like had we seen it. It certainly would have given us a very different view of this girl.
6 Who Can't Lie Well? Zuko And Iroh
When you think about it, this is pretty true. There have been all kinds of situations where they had to hide and went around the truth, but never have they outright lied. Even when they weren’t hiding anything, they never lied, even to further their agenda. This should have been one of the clues that Zuko was not the villain that he was first portrayed to be. Oh sure, he’s not a completely good guy, but still. The idea that this gruff prince actually had the value of honesty is pretty interesting. Unless, of course, it’s just a quirk of his that he had apparently got from his uncle. Then this is pretty adorable. Can you just imagine a young Zuko and his uncle getting caught by his mother, and neither of them can come up with anything to get out of trouble? Adorable.
5 Iroh Knew How To Break Some Moves When He Was Young
Okay, it’s easy to believe that Iroh is talented at many things, from music and tea making to awesome things like lightning bending and fire-breathing. But breakdancing? Really? I mean, I get that certain dances work as techniques for bending, but this note here? It's kinda funny given the setting. Like there isn’t much shown of the young Iroh, outside of him being a great dad. But we imagined Iroh in the prime of his life, and then got that image of him breakdancing. Either it looks fun and a little silly, or it comes off as rather awesome given how talented the guy is. Besides, have you seen how bulked up he can be? The guy has some great muscle control on him.
4 He's Big And Fluffy But Holds A Steel Skull
It’s no wonder that it’s so difficult to take Appa down. Not only does this loveable companion have his large size going for him, but he might as be a battering ram if his head is as hard as it is. Or better yet, he could have been used as a shield to pave the way to battle with armor on. Okay, sure, they did make use of Appa in all kinds of fights and especially in the final battle, but still, it’s nice to know that this giant loveable character has more going on for him. He's more than the animal companion/source of transport for the characters. And we actually get a hint of a biology lesson on flying bison, outside of the whole him being a teacher of airbending, of course.
3 The Lost Season (And The Extra Movies)
This is something that's probably more of a relief to most fans. Remember that horrible The Last Airbender movie? The one we all like to pretend doesn't exist? Well, that wasn't supposed to be the only one. M. Night Shyamalan had originally planned for this to be a trilogy of movies, meaning that we would have seen more. In fact, this is the reason why we only ended up with 3 seasons of the show instead of 4; the creators decided, based on the movie plan, to change their series to also only be 3 seasons long. Though we're happy with the way that the show ended up, it's still sad to think about the season that could have been.
2 A Short-Time King But A Solid Ruler
From the very first moment that he appeared on screen, Ozai was the most intimidating villain. We didn't even have to see his face! Throughout the series, he basically acted like a bogeyman to the characters. He even tormented his own son! And to just think: he ruled for only six years. Talk about leaving a mark! Seriously, he had the shortest reign in Fire Nation history. And yet, he managed to do a lot. He might not have been the best father, and was actually a dictator who sought to rule the world... but he knew how to get things done. Heck, even if he wasn't a king, we know that he would have found a way to get what he wanted.
1 Behold The Supposed Gyatso Reincarnation, Momo
That's right: at one point during the development of the series, there was actually a plan to make this wide-eyed animal companion the reincarnation of Aang's mentor. What? Clearly, that plan didn't happen. Instead, we got another comedic character to add to the group. But still, can you just imagine what would have happened if that plan had succeeded? Just think: we could have had a scene where Momo comforted Aang. He would then realize that this was his mentor/father figure. Someone get me some tissues! Seriously, though, couldn't we see a deleted scene of this? Or a side story in the comics? Fans need to know!