|"The Avatar must be compassionate towards all people, and the only way to do that is to live with them. The Avatar must experience sadness, anger, joy, and happiness. By feeling all these emotions, it helps you understand how precious human life is, so you will do anything to protect it."|
|— Avatar Yangchen to Avatar Aang.|
The Avatar, formed initially when Wan permanently fused with Raava during the Harmonic Convergence of 9,829 BG, is the human embodiment of light and peace through the connection with the Avatar Spirit. As the only physical being with the ability to bend all four elements, it is considered the Avatar's duty to master the four bending arts and use that power to keep balance and peace among the four nations of the world, as well as between mankind and spirits. Upon death, the Avatar Spirit causes the Avatar to reincarnate into the next nation, dictated by the cyclic order: fire, air, water, and earth. Mirroring the order in which the first Avatar, Wan, learned the elements, this is also the traditional order in which any one incarnation is to master the elements, beginning with the bending art of the Avatar's birth nation. The reincarnation cycle can only be broken if the Avatar is killed while in the Avatar State, Raava is removed from the Avatar and severely injured, or the Avatar Spirit is compromised by a spiritual infection.
As part spirit, the Avatar possesses an innate connection to the Spirit World and is at their strongest in that realm, due to being surrounded by spiritual energy. The Avatar used that connection to the Spirit World to be the bridge between the two worlds in order to keep peace between them and ensure harmony. After the Harmonic Convergence in 171 AG, however, Avatar Korra left the spirit portals open and renounced her role as the bridge between the two worlds to let humans and spirits live together in harmony. The Avatar is also capable of recalling memories from past lives. This ability, however, can be injured or even completely severed. Avatar Aang unintentionally weakened his connection to all his past lives who came before Avatar Roku when he broke off his relationship with the Fire Nation Avatar, though he managed to restore the connection. When Raava was ripped out of Avatar Korra by Vaatu and subsequently destroyed, Korra's link to her past lives was completely severed despite the light spirit's revival.
The Avatar also possesses the ability to bend energy itself, although few Avatars have learned this technique, and even fewer have used it. Avatar Aang learned it from the last living lion turtle and used it to remove Phoenix King Ozai's firebending, ending the Hundred Year War. He later used it to end Yakone's reign of terror in Republic City by stripping him of his waterbending. Korra was also taught this ability after connecting with Aang when she lost her bending. Aang used this ability to restore her bending and she likewise did the same for Lin Beifong and many other victims of Amon's unique technique.
Upon mastering control of the Avatar State, after having learned to bend the four elements, an Avatar is referred to as "fully realized".
Before Wan became the first Avatar, he was banished into the Spirit Wilds from the fire lion turtle after he had stolen the power of fire. Over the course of the two years following his banishment, Wan befriended the spirits, learned firebending, and decided to travel the world to find the other lion turtle cities. During his journey, Wan encountered Raava, the spirit of light and peace, fighting against Vaatu, the spirit of darkness and chaos. Unaware of Vaatu's identity at the time, Wan was tricked by the dark spirit into separating him from Raava, releasing darkness and chaos into the world. Wishing to fix his mistake, Wan journeyed with Raava in search of other lion turtles for the purpose of gaining the elements of air, water, and earth and learning how to master them. About a year later, during their fight against Vaatu at the time of the Harmonic Convergence, Wan merged permanently with Raava, becoming the first Avatar and gaining the ability to bend all four elements at once. After he sealed away the dark spirit in the Tree of Time, Wan oversaw the departure of the spirits to their own world and closed the two portals to the Spirit World, so that no human would be able to physically travel there and risk Vaatu's escape. Wan took on the task of being the bridge between the two worlds, maintaining balance and peace. Years later, Raava assured a dying Wan that they would be together throughout all his lifetimes, heralding the beginning of the Avatar Cycle and ensuring the continuation of the Avatar's role as peacekeeper of both worlds.
The Avatar Cycle continued for ten thousand years. The cycle was eventually interrupted on the next Harmonic Convergence, when Avatar Korra battled Unalaq, who attempted to create a new world under Vaatu's influence by fusing with the spirit to become the first Dark Avatar. During the battle, Vaatu was able to reach out of Unalaq and rip Raava out of Korra's body. Unalaq caused significant injury to the light spirit, which severed Korra's connection to her past lives and ended the Avatar Cycle. As a means of connecting with the cosmic energy of the universe, Korra meditated in the Tree of Time and was able to bend her own energy to release an astral projection of herself to battle Unalaq. With help from Jinora, who sped up Raava's growth within Vaatu, Korra managed to extract the light spirit from her dark counterpart and defeat Unalaq with his own pacification technique, purifying and dissipating the Dark Avatar. Returning to the Spirit World, Korra and Raava used the spiritual energy from the overlap of the spirit portals to fuse, seconds before the end of Harmonic Convergence. Although her Avatar Spirit had returned to her, Korra could no longer connect with her past lives, and the Avatar Cycle restarted with her as the originator. After deciding to keep the spirit portals open, Korra declared that the Avatar would no longer be the bridge between worlds, but she would continue to use Raava's light spirit to guide the world toward peace.
The Avatar Cycle is based on the passage of the four seasons, which coincides with the order in which Wan first learned the elements; fire related to summer, air to autumn, water to winter, and earth to spring.
When an Avatar dies, the next Avatar will be born into the next nation in the Avatar Cycle. For example, Avatar Yangchen, an Air Nomad, was reincarnated as Avatar Kuruk from the Northern Water Tribe, followed by Avatar Kyoshi from the Earth Kingdom, and Avatar Roku from the Fire Nation.
The Avatar Cycle also determines the order in which each Avatar is supposed to learn the four bending disciplines. The nation into which the Avatar is born identifies the first element that is to be mastered, often prior to the bender being revealed as the Avatar. For instance, an Avatar born into the Water Tribe first learns waterbending, before attempting to master the three remaining bending disciplines in the order of the cycle: earthbending, firebending, and finally airbending. There are instances, however, of an Avatar learning the elements out of order. Kyoshi, having begun with her native earth, trained in firebending with her bodyguard and friend, Rangi, while simultaneously learning waterbending from her friend, Kirima. However, in order to keep some semblance of order in how she mastered the elements, Rangi made Kyoshi summon a breeze to at least get a taste of airbending before she began waterbending in earnest. Similarly, due to his unique situation, Avatar Aang tried to learn fire as his second element under the tutelage of Jeong Jeong, who originally objected because of the cycle. Aang did learn to create fire, but he did not have the spiritual maturity to control it well enough, and after Jeong Jeong's camp was attacked by Zhao, Aang's firebending training ended. He eventually learned to bend the element under Zuko's tutelage, after learning the other elements in their proper sequence. Similarly, Korra, despite already being able to bend water, earth, and fire to some extent at the age of four, was actively discouraged by Katara to hone her bending skill of the elements until she mastered waterbending.
Each Avatar has a particular element with which a low affinity is established, dictated by the personality of that Avatar. This element can be difficult to learn, sometimes proving impossible to control until faced with a situation in which the Avatar is forced to reach within and manifest the power. The bending discipline is often the opposing element to the one of the Avatar's birth nation: Avatar Roku found mastering waterbending particularly difficult, and earthbending was difficult for Avatar Aang due to his predisposition to indirectly engage in combat and evade problems as often as possible. However, such symmetry is not always the case; despite being a native waterbender, Korra actually favored her opposite element and instead found mastering airbending the most challenging due to her brash and direct nature, contrary to airbending's philosophy of contemplation, measured action, and avoidance of conflict.
Identifying the Avatar
Each nation has a method of recognizing the new Avatar. Among the Air Nomads, this involved presenting infants with a selection of toys and watching for a child that selected the exact four that had belonged to past Avatars, known as the Avatar relics. Earth Avatars were traditionally identified by directional geomancy, a series of rituals designed to winnow through the largest and most populous of the four nations as efficiently as possible. A special set of bone trigrams was cast and interpreted by the earthbending masters, ruling out half the Earth Kingdom as the location of the newborn Avatar. This ritual was repeated in the remaining territory, with the possible locations shrinking by halves each time until the searchers were brought to the doorstep of the Earth Avatar child.
The methods used by each nation for identifying the next Avatar are not unfailing, however, as there has been at least one instance in which a normal individual was misidentified as the Avatar: Yun, instead of Kyoshi, was named successor to Avatar Kuruk. Traditionally, the child is told of their identity as the Avatar on their sixteenth birthday, though Avatar Aang was told at age twelve, in fear of an impending war due to the Fire Nation's growing aggression, and Korra was discovered as the Avatar after exhibiting bending abilities beyond her native waterbending without formal training, when she was just four years old.
The known Avatars in the order of current to oldest are:
- Korra (Water Tribe, Southern Water Tribe)
153 AG - present
- Aang (Air Nomads, Southern Air Temple)
12 BG - 153 AG
- Roku (Fire Nation, Fire Nation Capital)
82 BG - 12 BG
- Kyoshi (Earth Kingdom)
312 BG - 82 BG
- Kuruk (Water Tribe, Northern Water Tribe)
345 - 312 BG
- Yangchen (Air Nomads, Western Air Temple)
Unknown - 345 BG
- Szeto (Fire Nation)
- Salai (unknown nation)
Years unknown - lived before Szeto; remembered as one of the greatest Avatars
- Gun (unknown nation)
Years unknown - lived before Szeto; key details about their life forgotten by Yangchen's childhood
- Wan (Fire lion turtle)
c. 9,829 BG (Beginning of the Avatar Cycle and the era of the Avatar)
Despite their immense power, no Avatar can keep balance and peace in the world by themselves. As a result, most Avatars had a group of close companions, colloquially referred to as "Team Avatar", to aid them in their quests. Over time, it became a tradition that the Avatar would travel the world with their best friends after completing their training. This was considered to be a great honor, being able to travel with the Avatar and influence them in a way no other could. Usually, such teams consisted of the individual Avatar's teachers and best friends. The Order of the White Lotus has attempted to influence various Avatars through their respective teams, as the teachers and protectors of the Avatars were often covert White Lotus members.
The known Team Avatars in the order of current to oldest are:
- Korra's Team Avatar: Korra, Asami Sato, Bolin, Mako, Naga, Pabu
- Aang's Team Avatar: Aang, Appa, Katara, Momo, Sokka, Suki, Toph Beifong, Zuko
- Kyoshi's team (Flying Opera Company): Kyoshi, Rangi, Lao Ge, Wong, Kirima, Lek, Pengpeng (formerly), Jinpa, her fox spirit
- Kuruk's team: Kuruk, Jianzhu, Kelsang, Hei-Ran, Nyahitha
- Yangchen's team: Yangchen, her bending teachers, Pik and Pak
The Avatar is capable of bending more than one element simultaneously. Avatar Aang first demonstrated this ability while stranded in the desert, when he bent water from a cloud into Katara's water pouch while flying with airbending at the same time, and again in Ba Sing Se when he used his earthbending to recreate a zoo while traveling on the air scooter made by his airbending.
Exclusive to a fully realized Avatar is the creation of an elemental sphere involving the simultaneous bending of every element, and it is one of the oldest techniques to be used by the Avatar. Both an offensive and defensive technique, it can be used to main repeated, destructive attacks against opponents while also shielding the user from attacks themselves. It can also be used to entrap and restrain opponents, including spirits such as Vaatu.
After permanently fusing with Raava during the Harmonic Convergence of 9,829 BG, Wan enveloped Vaatu in an elemental sphere and subsequently sealed him in the Tree of Time. Millenia later, Avatar Yangchen used the same technique to defend herself from General Old Iron, while also responding with attacks herself.
In 100 AG, during the climax of the Battle at Wulong Forest, Avatar Aang re-unlocked the Avatar State and formed an elemental sphere around himself, quickly overwhelming Phoenix King Ozai with his destructive barrage of attacks. He used the technique again a year later at Yu Dao during a confrontation between the opposing armies of the Earth Kingdom and Fire Nation, and a further time during his battle with General Old Iron, the sphere acting as the head of a constructed earthen body.
During the Harmonic Convergence of 171 AG, Avatar Korra used an elemental sphere to trap Vaatu, who had been freed from his prison, though her attempt to reseal him in the Tree of Time was disrupted when Unalaq struck the Avatar with his waterbending, allowing the dark spirit to break free from the sphere.
- "Yangchen read [Kyoshi's] thoughts, a feat made easier by the fact they were the same person."
- ―Kyoshi communicating with Yangchen.
As the Avatar reincarnates, it is generally assumed that the various Avatars are different individuals yet also part of a continuum. The Fire Sage Nyahitha tried to explain this to Kyoshi by likening the Avatar to a candle's flame: "It is one flame, and it is many. It changes with every moment. No fire is ever the same fire. No Avatar is ever the same person. You and the flame change with every moment, every generation. You are one flame, and you are many." Despite or because of this, the Avatars as individuals seemingly can exist, to a certain extent, separated from the Avatar Spirit: Kyoshi appeared to Suki at the Boiling Rock without possessing or being close to the current Avatar, Aang; Kuruk seemingly continued to roam the Spirit World despite having died and reincarnated; and Korra existed separated from Raava for a short time. This was also reflected in some belief systems, as regular people would pray for support to past Avatars, even when facing the current Avatar.
Due to the nature of the reincarnation cycle, the Avatar can recall memories of past lives. This can be done directly through deliberate meditation in order to connect with a specific past Avatar, as demonstrated when Korra meditated in order to connect with Aang and relive Yakone's trial. As a variation of this, the Avatar can call forth a spirit-like apparition of a past life, or even their current self, in order to communicate with them. Recalling a past memory can also be done subconsciously when in the presence of people or objects important in a past life, or other certain triggers which can force the recollection of a memory. This was demonstrated by Aang when he recognized Roku upon seeing his statue, despite not knowing what he looked like, as well as when Korra recognized Wan's teapot as her own and Iroh as a friend, despite having seen neither in her current lifetime. Kelsang began to seriously consider that Kyoshi was the Avatar after she recited a poem that Avatar Kuruk had once composed. The Air Nomads used this concept of subconscious recognition to find the next Avatar, which was the child that chose the Avatar relics due to their familiarity.
A previous incarnation of the Avatar can also manifest through the current Avatar by possessing their body. In this case, the summoned Avatar will temporarily replace the appearance and abilities of the current incarnation, as demonstrated by Roku, who took over Aang's body to burn down the Crescent Island Fire Temple, and Kyoshi, who appeared in Aang's place to explain to the people of Chin Village what truly transpired centuries prior to their leader, Chin the Great.
The past Avatars' knowledge does not end with their death nor is it dependent on what the current incarnation knows. Yangchen regretted always favoring humans over the spirits, which was not true balance, and it weighed heavily on her in the afterlife that it led to Kuruk's suffering during his lifetime. She was also aware of the Air Nomad Genocide. Kyoshi regretted creating the Dai Li during her lifetime even if she did not know how corrupt they would eventually become after her death, and also knew of Sokka's attempt to infiltrate the Boiling Rock despite even Aang not knowing this at the time. It was Roku himself who revealed to Aang that Ursa and her children were Roku's descendants, even though she was born decades after his death.
All the Avatars are connected to one another like a chain, so if an event causes the connection with one past life to be lost, the connection to all the preceding Avatars is also jeopardized. This connection can temporarily be restored by participating in certain traditions such as Yangchen's Festival, which can act as a conduit for communication. After Dark Avatar Unalaq extracted Raava out of Korra and attacked the light spirit, her connection to the past Avatars weakened with every blow, each hit doing more damage than the last and eventually severing her connection to Wan. Even after Korra managed to restore Raava's light to the world and fuse with her again, the connection to any of her past lives remained lost.
- "The Avatar State is a defense mechanism, designed to empower you with the skills and knowledge of all the past Avatars. The glow is the combination of all your past lives, focusing their energy through your body. In the Avatar State, you are at your most powerful, but you are also at your most vulnerable. If you are killed in the Avatar State, the reincarnation cycle will be broken and the Avatar will cease to exist."
- ―Roku to Aang.
The strongest and most powerful ability that the Avatar can invoke is the Avatar State. This state was created when Wan permanently bonded with Raava by touching the energy coming through the spirit portal during the Harmonic Convergence in 9,829 BG. It allows the Avatar to channel vast cosmic energies and the knowledge of previous Avatars, granting them increased strength and the ability to perform especially powerful and extraordinary feats of bending. The Avatar may unconsciously enter the State in response to the perception of mortal danger or high emotional stress, utilizing the State as a defense mechanism.
While in this state, the Avatar has access to bending techniques that may have not yet been learned in their current lifetime but typically has no conscious control over the resulting actions if the state is triggered reflexively or momentarily, which can cause great collateral damage. An Avatar with full mastery of the Avatar State has conscious control over the State and can enter and exit it at will. It was by entering the Avatar State reflexively that Aang was able to freeze himself and Appa inside an iceberg for a hundred years by using a combination of airbending and waterbending. He did not physically age at all during the century, as he was in suspended animation, but it took a great physical toll on his body after being in the Avatar State for such an extended period of time.
While in the Avatar State, the Avatar's eyes glow, as did Aang's Air Nomad tattoos; however, if the body has received a fatal injury deeper than the tattoos, that specific area will not glow in the State. The white glow is the result of Raava's spirit in the Avatar, resulting in the combination of all the Avatar's past lives focusing their energy through a single body. When Aang spoke in the Avatar State, his voice encompassed a combination of several different voices at once. When Korra spoke in the Avatar State, her voice was simultaneously encompassed with Raava's.
It is possible for an Avatar to control the Avatar State, but this requires great spiritual discipline and concentration: Guru Pathik attempted to teach Aang to control the Avatar State by helping him clear his chakras, but Aang could not let go of Katara in exchange for cosmic power. Fire Sage Kaja informed Roku to clear his mind, but Roku found emptying his mind of thoughts to be quite challenging and was initially unable to do so. More often, the Avatar State is activated by danger or emotional turmoil. Aang inadvertently entered the Avatar State when he discovered that his friend and teacher, Monk Gyatso, was killed by comet-enhanced Fire Nation soldiers. Aang also entered the Avatar State when General Fong placed Katara in danger by sinking her into the ground with earthbending. When in complete control of the Avatar State, an Avatar's eyes glow momentarily, rather than continuously.
It is possible for an Avatar to channel a specific previous incarnation while in the Avatar State. When this happens, the Avatar takes on the appearance and voice of that previous incarnation. However, the Avatar will be unable to recall the experience because the previous incarnation takes over the current Avatar's body, necessitating the presence of another person to witness and relay details of the possession. Aang did this on multiple occasions, channeling Roku twice, and Kyoshi once. The appearance of these incarnations seems to vary as Roku always appeared as an old man while all the other Avatar incarnations appeared youthful and in their prime. It is unlikely the age of the Avatar's death is the deciding factor in their appearance since Avatar Aang died at the age of 66 yet is seen much younger when he appeared to Korra. It is possible that those in the Spirit World manifest visually as they see themselves and not as they currently are: Aang saw himself garbed in Air Nomad attire and with a shaved head within the Spirit World, even when he was wearing a Fire Nation outfit in the physical world and had hair.
Ways the Avatar State works
There seem to be three distinct ways in which the Avatar State works:
When the State activates without the Avatar calling on it, Raava's spirit allows for active channeling of the energy, skills, and knowledge of past Avatars through the body of the current Avatar, heavily augmenting the current incarnation's bending abilities.
The State works this way almost exclusively when it is triggered as an instinctive, unconscious reaction, a 'defense mechanism' for when an Avatar's physical capabilities would be insufficient to confront the current threat, or in situations of extreme emotion, specifically rage and sorrow. When the State is triggered this way, the current Avatar has little to no control over the performed actions and may retain little to no memory of what happened, though there are exceptions; Aang was able to speak when confronting the sandbenders about Appa, and Kyoshi was acutely aware of what she was doing when she entered the Avatar State for the second time and killed Xu Ping An.
In another instance, Aang reflexively entered the Avatar State when the scar on his back was forced against a rock during his fight with Fire Lord Ozai, which unlocked his seventh chakra by releasing the energy block twisted up around his scar and restored his connection to all of the cosmic energy in the universe. He proceeded to continue using the State without control throughout the fight until finally showing signs of mastery, when he managed to exit the State before killing Ozai and without experiencing the physical exhaustion he customarily exhibited upon exiting it reflexively.
When the State is used intentionally, the Avatar stores the knowledge and energy needed so that it can be released once exiting the State, taking only the power needed for a specific task. This reduces the danger of being killed in the Avatar State and enables a more willful, controlled use of the Avatar State's power. This can only be done by an Avatar who has mastered the State as it is a conscious use rather than an instinctual response, during which the Avatar has complete control and awareness of their surroundings. Mastery of this technique is part of what distinguishes an Avatar as "fully realized".
Aang first demonstrated masterful use of the State following his fight with Ozai, briefly allowing his eyes to glow in order to summon the energy needed to raise the tide and put out the flames marring the landscape. Many years later, he again used the State masterfully to pursue and defeat Yakone when he escaped his trial.
The Avatar State can be entered momentarily and be used as a slight power up, rather than using its full potential and risking getting killed in the process. This method requires no mastery, as Kyoshi was able to do it even before knowing she was the Avatar.
The Avatar State also allows an Avatar to join with certain spirits. This was demonstrated when Aang entered the Avatar State in order to aid the frantic Ocean Spirit. Both Aang in his Avatar State and the Ocean Spirit combined their abilities to defend the Northern Water Tribe after all waterbenders were rendered defenseless.
While the Avatar is all but invincible in the Avatar State, having access to the bending experiences of all the past lives, there is one grave weakness: while in effect, the Avatar Spirit can be harmed. If the Avatar were to be killed while in the Avatar State, the cycle would break and the Avatar would cease to exist.
Aang was mortally wounded by a lightning strike from Azula while in the Avatar State. As a result, the Avatar Spirit was jeopardized, resulting in the Avatar Spirit's fall from the plane of existence. Katara was able to use the spirit water she received from Pakku to revive Aang and consequently the Avatar Spirit. The strain of the revival caused Aang to slip into a coma for several weeks, and during that time, he managed to retain his connection to his past lives by meeting with the four most recent ones. However, it took longer for his ability to use the Avatar State to be restored.
Another downside to the Avatar State is the considerable mental strain it can cause to less experienced Avatars. Prior to his tutelage under Guru Pathik, Aang would often leave the Avatar State feeling horrified at what he had done under its influence. Furthermore, use of the State, at least in extraordinary circumstances, can place such a large physical strain on an Avatar's body such that their life span can be affected, as seen when Aang's one-hundred-year time in the iceberg contributed greatly to his eventual death at sixty-six years of age biologically and 165 years chronologically.
Another disadvantage is that the Avatar State can be triggered by forcefully endangering the Avatar, either by his/her own accord or by somebody else, providing a higher chance for the Avatar to be killed and subsequently ending the Avatar Cycle. Zaheer, utilizing this disadvantage, almost killed Korra by poisoning her with mercury, which had greatly weakened her, all the while she was in the Avatar State, which she was not able to exit due to the metal inside her body.
Known incidents of use
- In 9,829 BG, about ten thousand years before Korra's time, Wan created the Avatar State by bonding with Raava when he touched the geyser of energy from the Southern spirit portal during the Harmonic Convergence. He used this newfound power to defeat Vaatu and restore balance to the world.
- At some point, Wan entered the Avatar State when he intervened in a war between clashing armies with simultaneous bending.
- At some point in his later life, Szeto entered the Avatar State, causing four volcanoes to erupt, and bending the lava from the eruption.
- Yangchen reflexively entered the Avatar State to fight General Old Iron to save a nearby town prior to the establishment of Yangchen's Festival.
- At some point in her life, Yangchen entered the Avatar State in a meadow near Yaoping Town while practicing her airbending, causing great winds to blow and almost uprooting trees.
- Kuruk entered the Avatar State for the first time on a small, uninhabited atoll, though he ended up destroying the island and nearly killed his friends.
- Kuruk used the full force of the Avatar State to destroy a dark spirit.
- At some point in his life, Kuruk entered the Avatar State, creating a massive wave with waterbending to propel his raft.
- Kyoshi used a combination of Avatar State and raw power to bend the seabed in her fight against Tagaka, her eyes glowing only for a moment rather than fully entering the Avatar State.
- Kyoshi fully entered the Avatar State for the first time after Kelsang was killed by Jianzhu while trying to defend her from the Earth Sage. She subconsciously rose up into the air, tore apart the side of a mountain, ripped trees out of the ground, and completely obliterated her mentor's body.
- Kyoshi entered the Avatar State when dueling Xu Ping An, leader of the Yellow Necks. While in the Avatar State, she spoke to him and remained fully aware of her actions, consciously deciding to kill him.
- Kyoshi entered the Avatar State in the Qinchao Village teahouse following her encounter with Jianzhu and Yun. Her eyes glowed only in a brief pulse, allowing her to summon the energy needed to keep the stone building from collapsing long enough for the people inside to evacuate.
- Kyoshi entered the Avatar State at the end of her duel with Yun, reducing her power as much as possible to bend a trickle of water up from the well beneath the Avatar mansion so she could heal Rangi.
- Kyoshi entered the Avatar State in her battle with Chin the Conqueror. Masterfully, she used the non-continuous Avatar State to split her homeland from the mainland; by using her earthbending to break apart the peninsula, summon lava from the Earth's mantle, and push the mass of land out to sea, while using airbending to hold back Chin and his army, she created Kyoshi Island.
- At some point in her life, Kyoshi entered the Avatar State to levitate two massive badgermole statues.
- Roku entered the Avatar State on three known occasions. The first was during the winter solstice at the Fire Temple; while learning how to enter the State, he became trapped in it, subsequently destroying the temple. This was his only known continuous use. The second time was non-continuous in a brief fight with Fire Lord Sozin, and the last known time was in an attempt to stop a volcanic eruption that threatened to destroy his home island.
Before 99 AG
- Aang entered the Avatar State to save himself and Appa from drowning after their fall into the ocean. Both were sealed into an ice-encrusted air pocket that eventually froze into an iceberg. Aang would remain in the State until he was released from the iceberg around one hundred years later, hinting at the incredible power available to the Avatar.[nb 1]
Winter 99 AG
- Aang entered the Avatar State to escape another fall into the ocean and to stop Zuko. He waterbent a water spout in the form of a twister.
- Aang later entered the Avatar State after witnessing the skeleton of his former mentor Monk Gyatso. In his anguished-induced state, he generated hurricane-force winds. In this event, it is shown that depictions of previous Avatars (such as sculptures or murals) may react to the Avatar State, even when far away, glowing in the same manner that the Avatar in the image would.
- When Aang met Avatar Roku in the fire temple, Roku helped him and friends escape by directly taking over Aang's body and activating the volcano underneath the temple.
- Aang almost entered the Avatar State while telling Katara that Monk Gyatso and he were to be separated.
- Aang entered the State after saving Sokka and a fisherman, rounding up everyone that fell into the ocean and pulling them out of the water into the calmness of the storm's eye.
- During the Siege of the North, Aang combined the Avatar State's power with the spirit of the Ocean, La, after all waterbenders were rendered powerless, and proceeded to lay waste to the Fire Nation fleet besieging the city.
Spring 100 AG
- Aang entered the Avatar State when General Fong used earthbending to bury Katara underground to force Aang into the Avatar State. He used airbending to knock the general to the floor, rose into the air on a tornado, and crashed down to the earth, releasing a powerful earthbending attack on the general, his guards, and his fortress. A small air sphere surrounded Aang before the spirit of Avatar Roku took him to the Spirit World to explain to him about the true nature of the Avatar State. In several flashbacks, Avatar Kyoshi, Avatar Kuruk, Avatar Yangchen, and Avatar Szeto were seen in the Avatar State.
- Aang entered the Avatar State when infuriated at a group of sandbenders for kidnapping Appa. A large air sphere surrounded him, lifting him up into the air, but was brought down by Katara, who grabbed his arm and embraced him.
- While battling in Ba Sing Se, Aang let go of his attachment to Katara and willingly entered the Avatar State. When Azula struck him with lightning, the Avatar State became inaccessible to Aang.
Summer 100 AG
- Aang suffered a blow to the back while fighting Phoenix King Ozai in the same spot where Azula struck him with lightning, reopening his chakra and enabling him to effectively use the Avatar State. He collected all four elements and compressed them in a sphere around him, moving at incredible speed, plowing straight through obstacles whereas Ozai had to dodge said obstacles. The sphere could be used both for offense and defense. Since the sphere contained all four elements, it allowed Aang to earthbend and waterbend while away from a source. After the fight was over, Aang used it once again; pulling in the ocean to put out the fire at Wulong Forest, before lowering the tide back again, this time entering a momentary glow with realized control.
After the Hundred Year War
- During a confrontation with Fire Lord Zuko over Yu Dao, Aang entered the Avatar State with intent to fulfill his promise to kill the Fire Lord if he became like Ozai, though was brought out of it by Katara.
- During the battle for Yu Dao, Aang entered the Avatar State once more to stop the Earth King and Fire Lord's armies from reaching Yu Dao by creating a massive chasm around it. When he did this, he made a sphere with all four elements reminiscent of his fight with Ozai.
- Aang entered the Avatar State three times during his battle with General Old Iron: once to destroy the refinery, once in the midst of the battle itself, and a third time to save Toph from being hurt by the spirit.
- Aang entered the Avatar State at the end of his battle with Liling in Cranefish Town to remove her bending but was talked out of this plan of action.
- Aang entered the Avatar State twice non-continuously to defeat Yakone and used his energybending to take the criminal's bending away.
- Korra entered the Avatar State after having her bending abilities unlocked by the spirit of Avatar Aang when "she was at her lowest point". She formed an air spout to lift herself into the air and released air, fire and earth rings around her before forming a large wave from the ocean below her and sending it crashing against the cliff.
- Korra entered the Avatar State again while using energybending to restore Lin Beifong's earthbending abilities.
- Korra entered the Avatar State to win an air scooter race against Tenzin's children, though Tenzin admonished her for abusing her power.
- Korra entered the Avatar State while encountering a dark spirit in the Southern Water Tribe.
- Korra entered the Avatar State in a desperate attempt to break free from dark spirits while trying to open a dormant spirit portal in the South Pole.
- Korra entered the Avatar State to make an opening in the Northern Water Tribe blockade at the Southern Water Tribe.
- Korra entered the Avatar State after encountering a dark spirit while traveling to the Fire Nation by speedboat.
- Korra entered the Avatar State briefly when she awoke from her spiritual cleansing journey at the Bhanti Village Temple.
- Korra entered the Avatar State when she successfully traveled to the Spirit World alongside Jinora.
- Korra entered the Avatar State while in the Spirit World to open the Northern spirit portal.
- Korra entered the Avatar State while in the Spirit World again to engage Vaatu during Harmonic Convergence to prevent Vaatu from fusing with Unalaq and to re-imprison him into the Tree of Time.
- Korra again entered the Avatar State in both realms several times to engage the newly created Dark Avatar who was in his own unique Avatar State to decide the fate of the world.
- Korra entered the Avatar State again in the Spirit World after being reunited with Raava shortly before the end of Harmonic Convergence.
- Korra entered the Avatar State in an attempt to clear the spirit vines that were overtaking Republic City.
- Korra was forced into the Avatar State after being poisoned by Zaheer in the latter's attempt to kill the Avatar and end the Avatar Cycle.
- Korra briefly entered the Avatar State after bending the residual traces of mercury out of her system, restoring her connection to Raava.
- Korra entered the Avatar State in her battle with Kuvira, though lost control and exited the state upon witnessing a hallucination of herself in the Avatar State.
- Korra entered the Avatar State while bending the energy within a bubble created by spirit vines in order to save the trapped souls of Jinora, Ryu, and several tourists.
- Korra entered the Avatar State in order to scare Baatar Jr. into exposing the secrets behind Kuvira's spirit energy cannon, though she exited after he called her bluff.
- Korra entered the Avatar State while she was performing an airbending attack against Kuvira's giant mecha suit in order to make it fall down.
- Korra entered the Avatar State during her second attack against the giant mecha suit, in order to increase her speed and avoid its spirit beams.
- Korra entered the Avatar State and bent the spirit beam of the spirit energy cannon which was about to blast Kuvira, creating a new spirit portal.
- Korra entered the Avatar State in order to intimidate Wonyong Keum and his construction workers into leaving the area around the new spirit portal.
- Korra entered the Avatar State attempting to battle the Triple Threat Triad, but exited after Tokuga threatened her that Asami would die if his demands were not met.
Aang enters the Avatar State in order to cross over into the Spirit World, and his tattoos and eyes glow in the same way as when he enters the Avatar State as self-defense. With this method, he visited the Spirit World with his soul, leaving his body a defenseless shell in the real world. An example of this was seen at the North Pole. The Avatar is also capable of meditating to connect with their past lives.
Known occurrences of meditation
- Yangchen meditated in a meditation circle in a meadow above the cliffs of the Western Air Temple, and Jetsun helped her cross over to the Spirit World for the first time.
- Kuruk meditated in a meadow near Yaoping Town, and crossed over to the Spirit World for the first time.
- Kuruk meditated in the hills overlooking North Chung-Ling to recover from his spiritual journeys.
- Kyoshi meditated in the hills overlooking North Chung-Ling, where she received a vision of Kuruk's early life.
- Kyoshi managed to meditate in the sea where Yangchen's island once stood, where she crossed over to the Spirit World and met Kuruk in person for the first time.
- Kyoshi meditated in a spring in a forest near Yokoya, where she contacted Avatar Yangchen for the first time.
- Roku meditated in the temple on Crescent Island to enter his Avatar State.
- Aang meditated into the Spirit World to find a way to save the North Pole.
- Aang meditated on Avatar Roku's home island to meet him in the Spirit World. Curiously, when Aang was shown from a non-Spirit World perspective after crossing over, his tattoos were not glowing, which differed from previous occasions when his tattoos remained glowing.
- Aang meditated on the lion turtle to gain wisdom from his past lives on what he should do when facing Fire Lord Ozai.
- Aang meditated before meeting Zuko in Yu Dao to ask Roku for advice when he saw Zuko.
- Aang meditated in order to persuade the Mother of Faces to appear at a specific pool in Forgetful Valley.
- Korra meditated while kidnapped by Tarrlok to find out more about Aang and Yakone.
- Korra meditated in the Tree of Time in order to connect to the cosmic energy of the universe and create an astral projection to battle the Dark Avatar.
- Korra meditated to reach Xai Bau's Grove twice, first to find Aiwei and later to find Zaheer.
- Zaheer helped Korra to meditate into the Spirit World and overcome her mental block born out of a fear. Arriving in the Spirit World, she reconnected with Raava and saved Jinora, Ryu, and several others.
- Korra meditated into the Spirit World to ask the spirits to help defend Republic City against Kuvira.
- Before the elaboration of how the Avatar came to be in "Beginnings, Part 1" and "Beginnings, Part 2", Michael Dante DiMartino stated in Avatar: The Last Airbender—The Art of the Animated Series, page 14, that "in the series bible, we [he and Bryan Konietzko] wrote that 'the Avatar is the incarnation of the Spirit of the Planet in human form,' though we later dropped that idea for the series"; however, no mention of the Avatar Spirit's origin is made in the released version of the series bible. On page 28 of the artbook, DiMartino further elaborates on the status of the series bible, saying that it is sixty-five pages in length. Contrarily, the released version of the bible, entitled "Avatar: The Last Airbender I.P. Bible", is only nine pages long. Despite these claims, the original assertion apparently found in both series bibles must be considered true if one takes stock in a statement on an archived Nick.com page of the Wayback Machine. At this URL, within the tab titled "THE LEGEND" is a subsection (in itself another tab) that reads "THE AVATAR". Its response to the question of "What is the Avatar?" is "The Avatar is the incarnation of the Spirit of the Planet in human form." Due to the fact that the Nick.com statement was released while the series was running, the information was technically a part of the series as well. Therefore, although even one of Avatar: The Last Airbender's creators seems not to believe so, DiMartino's conceptional idea of the Avatar reigned true, if inadvertently.
- At the 2014 San Diego Comic-Con, the creators described Korra's lost connection to her past lives as "rebooting your hard drive".
- While pursuing information in Wan Shi Tong's Library, Katara discovered that one of the Avatar's past lives had been left-handed.
- The term "Avatar" comes from the Sanskrit word avatāraḥ (अवतारः), which means "descent". In Hinduism, Vishnu manifests himself as an avatar to restore balance on earth, during a period of imbalance.
- The Chinese translation of the word (降卋神通) means "supernatural powers".
- The cycle of reincarnation corresponds to the cycle of the seasons; each of which is affiliated with a particular nation and element; fire and summer, air and autumn, water and winter, earth and spring.
- The Avatar State was much more simplistic in the unaired pilot; Aang put himself in danger to activate it and seemed to be able to exit the State at will, seemingly indicating mastery. In the eventual show, the concept of the Avatar State was much more complex as the Avatar is not born with mastery of the State and it activates only when the Avatar is in real danger or from extreme emotion.
- Stopping the Avatar State during its reflexive use might not represent mastery of the Avatar State but rather the ability to harness the Avatar State's power momentarily and enter and exit the State at will more freely. Aang stopped the State himself a few times throughout the first series, initially at the Southern Air Temple following soothing words from Katara, as well as in "The Storm" when his tattoos only briefly glowed. He did it again in "The Desert" when he realized he had nearly taken his wrath out upon Katara, and finally when stopping himself from killing Ozai at Wulong Forest. The Promise Part One supports this, as Aang enters the Avatar State when Zuko starts to act like Ozai, snapping out of it when Katara reminded him he could do things he would later regret.
- Aang demonstrated little to no realization or memory as to what he was doing at various times during usage of the Avatar State, though at other times he was shown to have had such understanding and cognitive awareness of his surroundings. This was demonstrated when Katara's words alone brought him out of the Avatar State at the Southern Air Temple, when he experienced haunting nightmares regarding his actions at the North Pole, and after stopping himself from nearly harming Katara in the Si Wong Desert.
- The glow while in the Avatar State was influenced by the anime FLCL, of which the creators are fans.
- There is a recurring joke that people who battle fully realized Avatars always end up "looking stupid".
- Chin the Conqueror ended up having all of his clothes blown off after he challenged Avatar Kyoshi, leaving him to stand in front of his own army in his undergarments.
- Fire Lord Sozin was left hanging from a stone pillar by the back of his robe after his duel with Avatar Roku.
- After the battle at Wulong Forest, Ozai was left powerless, could barely move, and drooled on the floor, prompting Toph, Sokka, and Suki to insult him.
- After Zaheer was defeated by Korra in the Avatar State, he was imprisoned in a rock cone, to which Bolin stuffed a sock in Zaheer's mouth to stop him from talking.
- Aang became a fully realized Avatar at the youngest biologically and oldest chronologically known age.
- The concept of becoming a fully realized Avatar resembles the psychological theory of self-actualization.
- Aang went into the "continuous" Avatar State nine times during the course of the first series, but only once into the "non-continuous" State. Aang entered the "continuous" Avatar State once in The Promise and twice "non-continuously" in The Legend of Korra.
- Both Avatar Aang and Avatar Korra were taught by descendants of the previous Avatar. In Aang's case, Zuko (Roku's great-grandson) taught him firebending; in Korra's case, Tenzin (Aang's son) taught her airbending.
- When Aang went into the Avatar State at the Southern Air Temple, Avatar statues across the world lit up, signaling the return of the Avatar. It is unclear what triggers this phenomenon, seeing as Aang had been in the Avatar State for a hundred years and the statues did not light.
- Korra was the youngest known Avatar to have learned her status; most Avatars are not told until they are sixteen, but Korra discovered her ability to control several elements by the age of four. The only other known exception was Aang, who was told at age twelve. The falsely identified Avatar, Yun, was misinformed of his status when he was fourteen; ironically, the true Avatar, Kyoshi, did not learn of her identity until she was sixteen.
- Avatars Aang and Korra are the only known Avatars to have achieved full realization without having full mastery of every element; Aang at the time showed room for improvement in earthbending and firebending, as evidenced by comments from Zuko and Toph, his firebending and earthbending teachers respectively; and Korra mastered three of the bending arts but achieved realization shortly after having unlocked her ability to airbend for the first time.
- Aang, Roku, and Kyoshi are all known to have had their own island residence. Aang created and lived on Air Temple Island, Roku lived on his island, and Kyoshi created and lived on Kyoshi Island.
- Although at least two known Avatars remained in their home nation to master the non-native bending arts, namely Korra and Kyoshi, who both proved to be effective Avatars, Unalaq stated that this goes against the whole purpose of the Avatar's journey.
- Wan is the only known Avatar to have a spirit or animal as a bending master, having honed his firebending skills by observing a white dragon and trained in the art of air, water, and earthbending under the supervision of Raava.
- The glow from the Avatar State resembles the white aura surrounding Wan when he and Raava temporarily merged.
- When Roku mentioned to Jeong Jeong that he had mastered the elements "a thousand times in a thousand lifetimes", he was exaggerating; since the Avatar was created in 9,829 BG, the average age of each Avatar would have to be ten years for his statement to be true.
- The two occurrences in which Raava permanently merged with a human contrast each other in that the gender and original elements of the human were opposites. When the cycle was initially started, the spirit merged with Wan, a male whose original element was fire. The second instance was with Korra, a female whose original element was water.
- Although their names are not known, the genders of several past incarnations were, in reverse order before Szeto: male (earth), male (water), male (air), female (fire), male (earth), female (water), male (air), male (fire), female (earth), female (water), male (air), male (fire), male (earth).
- The Earth Kingdom's use of directional geomancy to find the Earth Avatar bears resemblance to I Ching, an ancient Chinese divination text. While I Ching uses eight Bagua trigrams (that create 64 possible hexagrams), geomancy uses tetragrams that create sixteen geomantic figures. However, the Earth Sages rely on earthbending to decipher the bone trigrams they cast while I Ching uses cleromancy.
- The search for the Avatar had never faltered to such an extreme extent prior to the era of Kyoshi for hundreds of years according to the documented history of the four nations at the time.
- Many Avatars throughout history tried to take their training easy by coasting on their talents.
- This lengthy use of the State is ascribed to be a major factor in Aang's eventual death at the biological age of sixty-six.