23 details even die-hard fans might have missed in Netflix's 'Avatar: The Last Airbender'

Advertisement
23 details even die-hard fans might have missed in Netflix's 'Avatar: The Last Airbender'
  • Netflix's live-action "Avatar: The Last Airbender" adapts the original cartoon, and has plenty of easter eggs.
  • They include recreations of shots from the cartoon and references to the "Avatar" comics and books.

Are you a freak like me? If so, the most exciting part of Netflix live-action "Avatar: The Last Airbender" for you was probably the litany of references and lore drops that tied the adaptation back to the original cartoon and its spin-off material.

The live-action series follows the major strokes of Nickelodeon's "Avatar: The Last Airbender": Aang, a young airbender, wakes up after being frozen in a block of ice for 100 years to the news that all of his people are dead. As the Avatar, the only person in the world able to master all four elements, he's responsible for restoring balance.

There are, of course, differences in the live action, but also tons of easter eggs for longtime fans. If you haven't watched the 2005 animated series in a while — or haven't had the time to check out spin-off comics like "The Search" or YA novels like "The Shadow of Kyoshi" — don't worry, we've got you covered.

Here are 23 details you might have missed in the "Avatar: The Last Airbender" live-action adaptation.

Warning: Major spoilers ahead for Netflix's "Avatar: The Last Airbender," the original "Avatar: The Last Airbender," and select spin-off comics and novels.

Advertisement

The show regularly uses musical cues from the cartoon.

The show regularly uses musical cues from the cartoon.
You'll recognize the Fire Nation theme in "Avatar: The Last Airbender" from the original cartoon.Robert Falconer/Netflix

While the live-action series isn't scored by Jeremy Zuckerman, the composer for the original show, it references some of the cartoon's most iconic musical themes.

You can hear the four-note Fire Nation musical cue seconds into the first episode. The show also references the opening and ending themes from the original cartoon, and other themes like Azula's.

The live-action’s introduction sequence mirrors a shot from the original.

The live-action’s introduction sequence mirrors a shot from the original.
Aang holds a similar pose in both the live-action and animated "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Netflix; Nickelodeon

The final shot of the opening sequence shows Aang standing with his staff, overlooking mountains and a valley. In the iconic original opening from the cartoon, Aang is seen in a similar pose, holding his staff at an angle behind his back.

Advertisement

The statue of Avatar Yangchen actually appears in the Eastern Air Temple in the Avatar Universe.

The statue of Avatar Yangchen actually appears in the Eastern Air Temple in the Avatar Universe.
Aang and Gyatso speak in front of a statue of Avatar Yangchen in the Southern Air Temple — but in the animated "Avatar: The Last Airbender" and "The Legend of Korra," the statue is in the Eastern Air Temple.Netflix; Nickelodeon

In episode one, Gyatso breaks the Avatar news to Aang in front of a statue of Avatar Yangchen, the most recent Air Nomad in the Avatar cycle.

However, there isn't a large statue of Yangchen at Aang's home, the Southern Air Temple, in the original series — rather, it's a hall of statues of past Avatars. But in "Avatar" and "The Legend of Korra," the statue of Yangchen lies in the Eastern Air Temple — you can see it in the season two "Avatar" episode "The Guru," and again in the season two "The Legend of Korra" episode "The Guide."

Ironically, while passing statues in the Northern Air Temple in "The Dawn of Yangchen," written by F.C. Yee, Yangchen says that she hopes that her statue — a necessity of Avatar tradition — will be small.

"I don't need everyone staring at my giant head for eternity," she says.

Gran Gran delivers the iconic opening monologue from the cartoon.

Gran Gran delivers the iconic opening monologue from the cartoon.
Gran Gran, seen center, delivers the iconic "Avatar: The Last Airbender" opening monologue from the cartoon.Robert Falconer/Netflix

After Aang wakes up in episode one, he explains that he just came from the Southern Air Temple, where they were celebrating the Great Comet Festival.

Katara and Sokka's Gran Gran responds by immediately launching into the "everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked" monologue from the original cartoon. In that opening sequence, Katara's the one who delivers it, explaining the Fire Nation's attack and how she and Sokka came across Aang.

Advertisement

Aang runs into a statue on Kyoshi Island in a recreation of a shot from the cartoon.

Aang runs into a statue on Kyoshi Island in a recreation of a shot from the cartoon.
The live-action "Avatar: The Last Airbender" recreates a shot of Aang running into a statue on an air scooter from the original cartoon.Netflix; Nickelodeon

In the opening sequence for the cartoon, Aang runs into a statue on an air scooter. While playing with some children on Kyoshi Island, he does the same thing.

"There are certain scenes, or moments, or even just images that felt iconic to all of us," showrunner Albert Kim told Business Insider. "In the second episode, we did Aang on his air scooter bumping into the statue, that's something every fan knows because it's in every episode in the title sequence. And so I felt like, 'Let's do it again.'"

Sokka appears to be training with melons on Kyoshi island, echoing a sequence from the cartoon.

Sokka appears to be training with melons on Kyoshi island, echoing a sequence from the cartoon.
Sokka uses melons for target practice, referencing a moment in the original "Avatar" cartoon.Netflix; Nickelodeon

Sokka runs into Suki while training with his boomerang, using fruit that appear to be melons as targets.

It could be a callback to a training sequence from the original cartoon in which Team Avatar practices taking down Fire Lord Ozai. During the exercise, they create a fake Ozai with a melon head and clothes drafted on sticks, and enlist earthbender Toph (who has yet to appear in the live-action) to represent him in combat.

"I am not Toph, I am Melon Lord!" she cries out.

Later, in episode eight of the live-action, Sokka drops another casual reference, saying that Aang has a "melon head."

Advertisement

Katara repeats one of Kyoshi’s bits of wisdom while studying the previous Avatar.

Katara repeats one of Kyoshi’s bits of wisdom while studying the previous Avatar.
The "Avatar: The Last Airbender" live-action series quotes one of Avatar Kyoshi's lines from the original series.Netflix; Nickelodeon

On Kyoshi Island, Aang and Katara study Avatar Kyoshi's past. The pair look at a painting that appears to depict Kyoshi defeating her adversary Chin the Conqueror, and Katara reads the inscription: "Only justice will bring peace."

When Aang consults his past lives in the original cartoon for advice on how to defeat the Fire Lord, Kyoshi tells him the same.

Incidentally, the live-action also incorporates some of Kyoshi's backstory as a servant girl from the "Avatar" novel "The Rise of Kyoshi," written by F.C. Yee.

Iroh picks up a white lotus Pai Sho tile in a spot of foreshadowing.

Iroh picks up a white lotus Pai Sho tile in a spot of foreshadowing.
Iroh holds a white lotus title in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Netflix

In Omashu, Iroh picks up a white lotus tile. Later, Zuko finds it while tracking his uncle and a group of Earth Kingdom soldiers. Iroh is an avid player of the in-universe strategy game Pai Sho — but the tile signifies something greater.

In the cartoon, Iroh is a member of a group called the White Lotus, which is unaffiliated with any one nation and works behind the scenes to influence the course of history. Iroh, and others Aang and his friends encounter over the course of the series, are part of the group.

Advertisement

Aang airbends a set of plates in a familiar fighting style during his fight with Zuko.

Aang airbends a set of plates in a familiar fighting style during his fight with Zuko.
Aang uses airbending to throw plates at Zuko in a style reminiscent of pro-bending.Netflix; Nickelodeon

In Omashu, Aang and Zuko spar in a market in one of the show's most fun fight sequences. In one moment, Aang uses his airbending to sling a set of plates towards Zuko.

While it might be pure coincidence, Aang's move is reminiscent of another fighting style in the "Avatar" universe: pro-bending. In "The Legend of Korra," bending has become a spectator sport, with teams of three formed of a waterbender, firebender, and earthbender duking it out. Earthbenders use earthen disks, bending them like projectiles in matches.

Bumi mentions Kangaroo Island while dining with Aang, referencing a location from the original show.

Bumi mentions Kangaroo Island while dining with Aang, referencing a location from the original show.
Bumi in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Robert Falconer/Netflix

In episode four, Bumi offers Aang short ribs from Kangaroo Island at dinner, quipping that "they practically jump into your mouth!"

In the original cartoon, Aang, Katara, and Sokka lie their way into Omashu without Jet's help, since he appears in a completely different episode. Aang, posing as an old man, says that he's from Kangaroo Island, which is coincidentally a real island in Australia.

Advertisement

There’s a statue of Bumi’s pet from the cartoon in his dining hall.

There’s a statue of Bumi’s pet from the cartoon in his dining hall.
There's a statue of Flopsie the gorilla goat in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Netflix; Nickelodeon

When Bumi presents Aang with a feast, there's a statue of a goat gorilla behind him.

In the original cartoon, Bumi has a pet goat gorilla named Flopsie that he tasks Aang with catching as part of a trial.

Bumi challenges Aang with crystals similar to ones he uses to trap Katara and Sokka in the original.

Bumi challenges Aang with crystals similar to ones he uses to trap Katara and Sokka in the original.
The live-action "Avatar" references jennamite, also known as creeping crystal.Netflix; Nickelodeon

Bumi momentarily traps Aang in a rock candy trap during their visit in Ba Sing Se.

The stone's name is jennamite, or creeping crystal, and in the original cartoon, it's Katara and Sokka that he traps. The crystals' slow growth along their bodies serves as a timer for Aang to complete Bumi's trials.

Advertisement

Katara says she didn't know that seal jerky was edible, referencing a moment from the original cartoon.

Katara says she didn't know that seal jerky was edible, referencing a moment from the original cartoon.
Katara and Sokka in the tunnels near Omashu in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Netflix

In the tunnels near Omashu in episode four, Katara and Sokka reminisce about their home in the Southern Water Tribe. Sokka says that he misses their grandmother's seal jerky. As they walk away, Katara remarks, "Seal jerky, never knew you could eat that stuff."

In episode three of the original series, Sokka finds his pouch of seal jerky empty as he, Katara, and Aang fly through the air on Appa. Aang says that he didn't know it was food, and used it as kindling for their campfire the night before.

During the memorial service for Iroh’s son, a song from the cartoon plays in the background.

During the memorial service for Iroh’s son, a song from the cartoon plays in the background.
Iroh at the memorial for his son Lu Ten in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Netflix

In episode four, there's a flashback to the memorial service for Iroh's son Lu Ten, who died during the siege of Ba Sing Se. During the sequence, as Zuko gives Iroh a medal Lu Ten had passed on to him, a familiar musical theme plays: "Leaves From The Vine." The song plays again later in the episode during a flashback, when Iroh tells Zuko that he'll join him on his banishment.

In the original cartoon, Iroh sings the song in the season two episode "Tales of Ba Sing Se," when he celebrates his son's birthday, creating a memorial for him near a tree in Ba Sing Se. The sequence also honors Mako Iwamatsu, the voice actor who played Iroh in the first two seasons of "Avatar" and died in 2006 of esophageal cancer.

The lyrics from the song are: "Leaves from the vine / Falling so slow / Like fragile tiny shells / Drifting in the foam / Little soldier boy / Come marching home / Brave soldier boy / Comes marching home."

Advertisement

Sokka quotes a haiku he recites in an episode from the cartoon.

Sokka quotes a haiku he recites in an episode from the cartoon.
Sokka speaks to a young girl in a burned forest in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Netflix

In episode five, Sokka comforts a young girl that he, Katara, and Aang meet in the forest. He tells her that his name is "Sokka, rhymes with Okka, and wakka wakka." When he learns that the girl's doll doesn't have a name, he suggests that it could be called "Pippinpaddle Oppsokopolis the Third."

These are two separate references from the cartoon: In the episode "Tales of Ba Sing Se," Sokka attempts to woo a haiku club full of women by freestyling haikus for them. "That's right, I'm Sokka / It's pronounced with an 'Okka' / Young ladies, I rocked ya," he recites — but the last line has too many syllables, and the bouncer kicks him out.

"Pippinpaddle Oppsokopolis the Third," on the other hand, is a derivative of a fake name that Aang gives to get into Omashu in the season one episode "The King of Omashu." The full name that Aang gives is "Bonzoo Pippenpadlopsicopolis the Third."

A villager references some of Team Avatar’s escapades from the cartoon.

A villager references some of Team Avatar’s escapades from the cartoon.
A group of men at a pub give Zuko and Iroh information about the Avatar.Netflix

As Zuko and Iroh search for Team Avatar — the Gaang, if you will — in episode five, we get a brief update on what they've been up to.

A shopkeeper tells Zuko that he heard the Avatar was traveling with a few waterbenders, questioning another patron about the specifics.

"What, the Avatar? That's what those pirates said," the man, Muki, replies.

"No, it wasn't the pirates. It was that canyon guide," another says. "He said the Avatar fought off some canyon crawlers with the help of a couple of waterbenders. Was he the one who told us about how they stopped the volcano from erupting?"

"Right after they fought the mad King of Omashu," Muki replies.

This is a reference to four different episodes from season one of the cartoon: "The Waterbending Scroll," in which Katara steals a scroll from a group of pirates; "The Great Divide," in which Aang mediates a dispute between two refugee tribes as they cross a large canyon; "The Fortuneteller," in which the Gaang helps a village placated by a fortune teller survive a volcanic eruption; and of course, "The King of Omashu."

Advertisement

There’s a glimpse of Azula’s blue fire.

There’s a glimpse of Azula’s blue fire.
Azula uses blue fire in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Netflix

In episode five, Azula spars with a man in the Fire Nation. She doesn't back off even when he tells her to stop, pinning him to the ground and hodling a flaming fist above his face. Before her friend Mai cuts her off, her fire briefly flashes blue. Later, in episode seven, we finally get to see her bend lightning — a high level technique.

In the original cartoon, Azula's blue fire is a mark of her extraordinary talent and skill. We don't frequently see her wielding red fire, except as a child — so in the live-action, we're witnessing the birth of a prodigy.

The spirit world incorporates spirits from across the “Avatar” series.

The spirit world incorporates spirits from across the “Avatar” series.
Wan Shi Tong, the steward of the Spirit Library, appears much earlier in the live-action "Avatar" than he does in the cartoon.Netflix

During Aang, Sokka, and Katara's journey into the spirit world we encounter a number of spirits that don't appear until later in the series. That includes Wan Shi Tong, the owl spirit of knowledge who presides over the spirit library, Koh, the face-stealer, and the Fog of Lost Souls, which Avatars Korra and Yangchen encountered in "The Legend of Korra" and "The Dawn of Yangchen, respectively.

Advertisement

The Mother of Faces plays a crucial role in the “Avatar” comics.

The Mother of Faces plays a crucial role in the “Avatar” comics.
A statue of the Mother of Faces in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Netflix

Aang must return a relic of the Mother of Faces that Roku stole from Koh, the face-stealing spirit, in order to save Katara and Sokka in episode six.

The Mother of Faces doesn't appear at all in the cartoon — so if you don't want major spoilers for the spin-off comics, keep scrolling.

The Gaang, Zuko included, meets the Mother of Faces in "The Search" graphic novels, which focus on Zuko's search for his mother Ursa. The Mother of Faces is responsible for creating faces and identity — and she's Koh's mother. At one point, she gave Ursa a new face and erased her memories of her prior life, including those of her children Zuko and Azula. However, the spirit later restores Ursa's previous identity.

Some of the shots and moments from episode 6 directly reference the original cartoon.

Some of the shots and moments from episode 6 directly reference the original cartoon.
Episode six of the live-action "Avatar: The Last Airbender" recreates some shots from the original.Nickelodeon; Netflix

Parts of episode six, "Masks," correspond to episode 13 of the original cartoon, titled "The Blue Spirit." In both episodes, Zuko disguises himself with a blue mask to break into Pohuai stronghold, where Aang is being held captive by Admiral Zhao. In order to further conceal his identity, he only wields dual swords as the Blue Spirit, and doesn't firebend.

The original episode is stunning — and the live-action episode recreates some of its original bits in detail. You'll probably recognize familiar shots, pieces of choreography, or bits of dialogue that correspond to the original (unfortunately, given that the setup has changed, we don't get the line, "My friends need to suck on those frogs!").

But you should recognize action pieces like Aang and Zuko using ladders as stilts to cross between the multiple walls of the stronghold, or Zuko crossing his swords over Aang's throat to allow them to escape.

Advertisement

Katara enjoys sea prune soup, which she has in a memorable meal in the cartoon.

Katara enjoys sea prune soup, which she has in a memorable meal in the cartoon.
Katara enjoys stewed sea prunes in both the live-action and cartoon "Avatar."Netflix; Nickelodeon

When the Gaang reaches Agna Qel'a, the capital of the Northern Water Tribe, Katara eats a bowl of stewed sea prunes, part of traditional Water Tribe cuisine. She remarks to Aang that it tastes like "home."

In the first season of the cartoon, the Gaang runs into Bato, a warrior from the Southern Water Tribe. He makes them a pot of stewed sea prunes, much to Katara's excitement.

Kuruk’s history is drawn from the spin-off novels.

Kuruk’s history is drawn from the spin-off novels.
Avatar Kuruk in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Robert Falconer/Netflix

In episode seven, Aang communes with Avatar Kuruk, who explains to him that he can't take over Aang's body in the physical world like Kyoshi did because of the spiritual corruption he sustained as the Avatar.

In the main cartoon, we don't get this part of Kuruk's backstory — rather, he's framed as more of a lackadaisical, hedonistic Avatar. But we learn more about his history in "The Rise of Kyoshi" and "The Shadow Kyoshi." While he appeared to be a slacker, he was actually battling dark spirits in secret, coping with the resulting spiritual corruption through alcohol and other vices. He eventually died at age 33, having greatly neglected matters of the physical world during his tenure as Avatar.

Advertisement

Bumi's wearing metal boots when the Fire Nation takes him prisoner.

Bumi's wearing metal boots when the Fire Nation takes him prisoner.
Bumi's wearing metal restraints in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."Netflix

Towards the end of episode eight, we learn that the Fire Nation attack on Agna Qel'a was merely a diversion — the true target was Omashu. King Bumi was captured by the Fire Nation forces led by Azula, and is restrained with chains and metal boots on his feet.

That's likely because, at this point in the "Avatar" continuity, earthbenders haven't yet invented metalbending (Toph, we're looking at you in season two!). For a powerful bender like Bumi, cutting off his access to the earth through his feet is a strong measure of restraint.