Article written by The Magic Rain.
Believe it or not – Avatar: The Last Airbender is 15 years old this year!
It seems like just yesterday when we followed Aang and the gang on their adventure. Since then, there haven’t been many animated series that have aged as well as this one.
However, we’re not here today to bask in good memories. Instead, we will be going on an adventure of our very own: to find out, once and for all, who are the best characters in ATLA and what makes them so awesome. Let’s get kickin’!
#7. The Cabbage Merchant
Really, we can’t imagine the show without the cabbage merchant. He has more luck (or bad luck in his case) in encountering Aang than the whole Fire nation combined. A travelling merchant with only one product, he is constantly unlucky in selling it. Instead, he’s more often plagued by many problems wherever Aang and the gang show up.
He eventually meets the playwright of the Ember Island Players who describes the cabbage merchant as “a surprisingly knowledgeable merchant of cabbage”. He recounts all his encounters with Aang to the playwright and it became the greatest recap episode ever.
Even though Fire Lord Ozai was poised to be the main antagonist, it was his daughter Azula who left the most villainous impression in the end. Right from the beginning, she was introduced as someone with no shred of good in her; able to outsmart, manipulate, and mercilessly overpower her foes – even if they were her own kin.
While she seemed like an irredeemably evil (and kind of crazy) person for most of the show, we do get to see her most vulnerable moments towards the end. We were all surprised when she mused about being a normal teenager, and shocked when she was betrayed by her only friends, leading into a paranoia-fuelled spiral when she achieved her goal with nobody by her side. Now, that’s pretty good writing.
People tend to discredit Sokka when it comes to growth because he’s the comedic relief, but they forget that he held his own in a group of benders. That’s no easy feat! On top of that, he’s the Slytherclaw and unsuspecting brains of the group: Always resourceful, strategic, curious, intelligent, and most importantly, a feminist (!)
His goal was always to make his father proud, and some of his best moments revolve around that. From leading the Southern Water Tribe as a teenager, to eventually initiating the invasion on the day of The Black Sun. In all of the above, he showed that he could make the right decisions in desperate times, something not many characters in this series can do.
On the other end of the Zuko anger spectrum, lies the happy-go-lucky Aang. He’s adventurous and immature for a 100-year-old, treating every dire situation with a sense of humor.
However, with his lightheartedness comes a heavy burden of being the Avatar and the last Airbender alive. Besides being a great main character, what puts him on our list is how he’s morally good throughout the series. Uncompromising in sacrificing his beliefs, he refuses to kill the Fire Lord even if it’s to win the war.
It is also seen when he struggled to gain control of the Avatar spirit, choosing Katara over power.