The Death of Avatar Aang

The Last Airbender
Aang - Avatar the Last Airbender. Nickelodeon

Avatar Aang was introduced to viewers of Nickelodeon's "Avatar: The Last Airbender" in 2005. But by the time viewers meet Korra, the most recent Avatar from the Southern Water Tribe, Aang is dead—leaving many viewers to wonder what happened to him.

Who Is the Avatar?

The Avatar is the one person from the four nations who can bend all four elements: air, water, earth, and fire. Over the centuries, the Avatar is reincarnated. Each time they die, they are reborn into the next nation in a specific pattern, moving from air to water to earth to fire. This cycle mirrors the order of the seasons. The four Avatars before Aang were, in receding order: Roku, a male from the Fire Nation; Kyoshi, a female from the Earth Nation; Kuruk, a male from the Water Nation, and Yangchen, a female from the Air Nation.

Before Korra, there was Avatar Aang, the last Airbender. When we last see him in "Avatar: The Last Airbender," he is a 12-year-old boy who has just defeated Fire Lord Ozai. Aang and Prince Zuko, who later becomes Fire Lord Zuko, are planning to restore peace to the four nations, which includes building Republic City, a central capital.

"The Legend of Korra" picks up 70 years later, after Aang's death. Viewers learn that he and Katara had children, including Airbender Tenzin, a Republic City delegate selected to train Korra. But what happened to Aang during the years in between? How did he die?

The Death of Aang

According to Nickelodeon, after heroically ending the Hundred Year War, Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko (Lord Ozai's son) worked together to restore peace and balance among the four nations. They transformed the Fire Nation colonies into the United Republic of Nations, a society where Benders and Non-benders from all over the world could live and thrive together in peace and harmony. They named the capital of this great land Republic City. Technology advanced at an exponential rate (even so, their cars, music, and radios are from our 1920s).

Aang and Katara married and had three children: Bumi, a Non-bender; Kya, a Waterbender; and Tenzin, an Airbender. Aang trained Tenzin in Airbending and passed down to him Air Nomad teachings and culture. A following of Air Acolytes grew around them. They rebuilt the Air Temples and established new ones in the United Republic. The Non-bending Acolytes uphold Air Nomad teachings and spread peace and harmony throughout the world.

Aang had much success, but his 100 years in the iceberg caught up with him when he was in his 60s. His health began to fail. With the help of the Order of the White Lotus, Aang established safeguards so that his next incarnation would be protected from anyone who might do the young Avatar harm. At the age of 66, Avatar Aang passed away.

The fictional Republic City honors Aang with an enormous statue on Aang Memorial Island. The island is also a way for the cartoon creators to pay homage to a hero who meant so much to so many. Viewers see Aang in every "Korra" opening, and they will not forget him.