Why Avatar: The Last Airbender is Still Fantastic 15 Years Later

Published on May 25, 2020

Avatar: The Last Airbender has some of the best character arcs of all time. Naysayers who dismiss it as a kids show are missing out. While the show does start out relatively lighthearted the plot quickly turns to the looming threat of war. The show’s diverse cast of characters and incredible storytelling lends to a worthwhile Netflix binge watch.

Source: Nickelodeon

Avatar: The Last Airbender is really the story of Aang, told through the eyes of the brother and sister duo Sokka and Katara. When the two discover Aang frozen in an iceberg they’re shocked to discover that he’s the legendary last Airbender. In the world of the show there are different types of benders based off the four elements. Katara is a waterbender, while Aang is the last Airbender in existence and is later discovered to be the Avatar, someone that can master all four elements. The trio later meets Toph, a blind and prodigious Earthbender. The four nations of earth, fire, wind and air lived in peace until one day the Fire Nation attacked, forcing Aang into hiding for 100 years.

Spoiler alert: there are spoilers ahead for Avatar: The Last Airbender ahead.

Source: Nickelodeon
Prince Zuko: From Villain to Good Guy

One of the greatest parts of the show is the show’s initial villain, Prince Zuko. Zuko is of the Fire Nation and spends a lot of time chasing the main trio in an attempt to capture Aang. However, his layered relationship with his Uncle Iroh gradually leads Zuko to start questioning his own ethics and purpose.

Zuko ends up going from one of Aang’s greatest adversaries to one of his best allies. The transition isn’t rushed, and is incredibly satisfying for Zuko’s growth. Another thing that’s fantastic about the Fire Nation prince’s character growth is that he has to earn the trust of Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph. They understandably don’t trust him when he says he wants to fight on their side. The episodes where he has to earn their trust and respect are among some of the show’s best. (Recommended episode: “The Avatar and the Firelord)

The Women of Avatar

The women of Avatar: The Last Airbender are by far the strongest part of the show overall. While Aang is arguably the hero, it is characters like Katara, Toph, Suki and more that get things done. There’s also the bone chillingly frightening Azula. Azula is Zuko’s sister and pretty much his foil. She follows her father Firelord Ozai’s rule without question and puts up a pretty epic fight in the series finale. However, it’s Katara that really experiences the most character growth, learning how to let go of the anger towards those who killed her mother in order to help the four nations achieve peace.

Avatar the Last Airbender is streaming on Netflix now.

Katherine Stinson is an award-winning journalist and Staff Reporter at Grit Daily News, where she covers Texas and Southern states' startup and entrepreneurship news. Based in San Antonio, Texas, she also contributes to ScreenRant, Outlander TV News, and San Antonio Magazine.

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