Theories about A:TLA from my younger years

In honor of Avatar: The Last Airbender finally, finally, finally getting onto U.S. Netflix, I figured I’d discuss my favorite cartoon of all time. I’m not going to do an outright review, because I don’t think a single review can do it justice.


So. I’m gonna write a bunch of posts!

Avatar: The Last Airbender was my first fandom. It was the first show that really had me shipping characters, writing fanfic (or making them up with friends) and theorizing. Of course, back then my theories weren’t too good but I had my reasons.

So I present to you the inner-workings of my prepubescent mind.


  • Zuko and Katara were going to end up together


I remember my friend Sophie and I discussing little moments, going through frames online and YouTube and going on message boards for proof, any proof that Zutara was endgame. Aang was too childish for Katara; they were better as friends or in a sibling-type relationship. Plus they had the whole “opposites attract” thing going for him.

I’ve seen some Twitter discourse recently about how having the Zutara ship become canon would undermine the themes of anti-imperialism, anti-colonization and oppressed overcoming the oppressor the show had…and I can’t believe I’m saying this: You all are reading too much into this.

Yes. This was part of my theory. This may or may not have influenced some things

They had potential. They had chemistry. Katara was somebody who called him out on his bullshit, but unlike Azula, she never treated Zuko as a joke. Katara’s protection of Aang never came off as a crush to me…always just a girl clinging to the only hope she had. But I digress, done right, Zutara is my favorite kind of ship and I’m still a little salty that it never happened.


  • Zhao and Azula were betrothed 


I never shared this theory with anyone before, but hear me out… My 10-year-old logical was sound. Forget about the age gap for a moment, because that shit wouldn’t have mattered to Ozai. You think that man cares about things like healthy, consensual relationships? You think he wouldn’t plan an arranged marriage? 

Obviously, Ozai liked Zhao. Zhao kept getting promotions, many of which seemed to happen fairly quickly and while he was competent, there definitely seemed to be more to Zhao’s rise to power. 


Just marrying Azula off to a Commander wouldn’t have worked, but the future Fire Lord, getting married to the highest ranked officer in the armed forces? The people would buy that. Now, I don’t know if Zhao ever intended to steal the throne, but he was a man who would do anything for control. And since it seems unlikely he was married…it could work. (I have no doubt that he has a bastard or two running around somewhere in the Earth Kingdom colonies.)

And Ozai was an eugenicist who wanted to create the most powerful firebender. A child born from Zhao and Azula, just genetically speaking, would be an extremely powerful firebender. And with the right training, little would be able to stop them.

Now, this wouldn’t necessarily be a happy or healthy  marriage. I never said that. This would only be a marriage to cement the Fire Nation’s power and to continue the experiment to create the most powerful firebender who ever existed.


  • Gran Gran had a larger role to play


She seemed so important in the first few episodes, but never appeared again. Although Katara’s relation to her helps her get a water-bending teacher, I thought she might hold some other knowledge that would help the Gaang on their journey.

So, it’s a little disappointing that she wasn’t one of the few people alive who remembered the location of a MacGuffin.


  • Yon Rha suspected Kya was lying but didn’t want to deal with a child



This part has always bothered me. Why did he interrogate Kya of all people? And what are the odds that the one woman he interrogates is the last Waterbender? I’m also curious as to who his source for this information was, though I assume it was some kind of trader who did business with the Southern Water Tribe-because if a villager revealed it, it would have been explored.

I mean he just so happened to interrogate the one member who happened to be the sole Waterbender? Aside from the fact that this guy had a source, probably some kind of trader who did business with the tribe (which never got explored), this idea could have been expanded on.

Katara, in the flashback, has a crescent moon on her clothes, something we’ve only seen associated with benders. Yon Rha would have to know this, and was willing to take Kya’s life instead of her daughter’s because she gave him “evidence.”

Either killing a child or taking one prisoner, just wouldn’t be satisfying for the Raiders. I think if Katara had somehow proved herself to be a waterbender, like trying to protect her mother, she would have been taken prisoner instead of being killed.

Part of this would be because, Katara as a child posed no threat to the Fire Nation. They wouldn’t have to worry about her blood bending to escape and likely thought it would be a great way to break the other benders’ spirits.


  • Perpetuating the Avatar Cycle


I always wondered why the Fire Nation kept the captured Waterbenders alive. Wouldn’t it make more sense to kill them rather than designing these elaborate prisons to hold them. The only way this would make sense was if they were waiting for the Avatar to re-incarnate. One of these waterbenders could have been the Avatar – or could give birth to the Avatar via not so consensual means.

If they killed that baby and somehow managed to find and kill the Earth Kingdom Avatar, then the next Avatar would be born in the Fire Nation. This Avatar would be indoctrinated  into Firebending ideology early on. And the captured benders would train him.


Though the Avatar wouldn’t have an Airbending master, it’s not out of the question that the Fire Nation would have access to some old Air Nomad texts, and they wouldn’t need a fully realized Avatar to help them maintain control over the rest of the world.

And when they died finally breaking the cycle -they would both mourn and celebrate.

What do you think? Do you have any lingering theories you want to share? Let me know in the comments!


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