When Avatar: The Last Airbender began airing back in 2005, the concept of bending the elements was a brand new idea that had never been seen before on television, let alone an entire world centered around it. The art and craft of bending may have been a beautifully constructed vision, but the fights between the benders themselves were what really drew the audience in.
It seems only natural that benders would clash with one another, and not just for the cultural differences between the four nations but because the technique of bending is based on several different styles of Kung-Fu. While the martial art may be a self-defense tactic, the benders of the Avatar universe certainly knew how to use them in the offensive. Here are the best fights from season 3.
10 Sokka vs. Piandao
All that talk about bending and the first fight to make the list has nothing to do with it. In the Avatar universe, what’s a person to do when they don’t possess the elemental manipulating gift? When it came to Sokka, he chose to master the sword instead.
Long feeling like a forgotten and left out part of Team Avatar, Sokka found himself a master of the blade and learned quickly under his teacher’s tutelage. But Piandao was from the Fire Nation, and when Sokka revealed his true identity, his master attacked him. It turned out just to be a test, and Sokka passed with flying colors, but the fight itself was ferocious, and the first we got to see Sokka truly battle 1×1.
9 Painted Lady (Katara) vs. Fire Nation Soldiers
Aang may be the Avatar, but Katara proved during this particular fight (and whole episode) that she was truly the purest character in the entirety of the show. Aang made it known from the very first episode that he didn’t want to be the Avatar and didn’t want the destiny of being the world’s savior.
Katara, however, had no such divine obligations to save the world and still refused to turn her back on people that needed her. Disguised as a spirit, she took out an entire Fire Nation factory and when the battalion of troops blamed the nearby villagers, she took all of them out too.
8 Avatar Roku vs. Fire-Lord Sozin
Props to the Avatar creators for giving the audience an episode they didn’t even know they wanted. It was well known that the Avatar was a reincarnated spirit within a different member of the elements based on a specific cycle, so it was also known that any previous Avatar’s wisdom or memories were at the disposal of the current Avatar.
But what the audience never expected was to see Avatar Roku play out his entire life leading up to the 100 years war, including a fight between him and Fire Lord Sozin (although it wasn’t really a fight as much as a spanking). Sorry, Sozin, but Avatar trumps Fire-Lord; know your place.
7 Aang, Toph, Sokka vs. Azula, Dai Li
Forget the fact that Azula couldn’t even bend during this fight and that Katara absolutely should have been there (sorry, Hakota, but you’re not more important than killing the Fire-Lord). The scariest part of this entire fight was the split-second before Azula revealed that she had brought back Dai Li agents from Ba Sing Se.
Watching the rocks break around Azula when the Dai Li weren’t yet visible had the entire audience wetting their pants, thinking that she had obtained some sort of multi-elemental bending abilities when she shot Aang down while he was in the Avatar State. It all turned out fine, despite the fact that Azula did eventually escape, but the concept of her being able to earth bend was heart-stopping.
6 White Lotus vs. Ba Sing Se Soldiers
Season 3 was easily the best when it came to bending fights in the Avatar universe, and the series finale had a lot to do with it. The 4-part, two-hour-long conclusion featured several battles and nearly every one of them makes this list, but the first to make an appearance is when Iroh and the members of the White Lotus took on the fire-benders occupying Ba Sing Se.
Audiences had no idea that virtually every master introduced throughout the series was a member of this secret organization, and when they teamed up to free Ba Sing Se from their pyro-captors, fans everywhere cheered to see the fan-favorites back and better than ever.
5 Katara vs. Hama
While the episode itself may have been more of a half-hour horror movie, the final battle at its conclusion was terrifyingly good. The main elements were always known from the beginning credits, but the creators of the bending universe slowly incorporated different tricks and styles of bending based on the main four. Some were cool (lightning, metal), but this one was literally blood-curling as the gang found a water-bender who could bend blood.
Nearly forcing Sokka to kill Aang with the haunting ability, Katara must use it herself in order to save them, and the result was spine-tingling. We’re guessing Hama was in the Red Lotus rather than the White.
4 Rebel Invasion vs. Fire Nation
When the “Day of Black Sun” 2-episode special came out in the middle of the final season rather than at the conclusion, fans everywhere let out a groan – this was meant to be the day the Fire Lord was brought down, so an extra 10 episodes afterward almost assuredly meant that wasn’t happening.
However, knowing that made the battle all the more intense because it seemed with every step that the rebels would win the day. Everything was going to plan, but Azula’s knowledge of the attack gave the Fire Nation the upper hand, thus allowing them to win the day. Despite the overall outcome, the entire invasion sequence was something to behold.
3 Sokka, Toph, Suki vs. Fire Nation Air Fleet
Now we’re back to the finale and we won’t be leaving it again by the end of the list because that’s how many amazing battles occurred during the conclusion of Avatar. Team Avatar, along with the White Lotus, had to spread themselves pretty thin in order to take down the entirety of the Fire Nation’s resources, but the team least likely to succeed was that of Sokka, Toph, and Suki.
Nothing against the team that had the greatest earth-bender to ever live at its helm, but they were facing over a dozen metal air-ships, and it was just the three of them. But somehow, the trio pulled it off with nothing more than a broken leg from Sokka (he did lose his space-sword, though…)
2 Zuko, Katara vs. Azula
Thus ends the conclusion of one of the greatest character arcs in television history. When Zuko took on Azula in an Agni Kai duel and sacrificed himself when his demented baby-sister tried to cheap-shot Katara with a lightning strike, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
Even better was when Katara was able to take on a Sozin’s-Comet-enhanced Azula by herself and save Zuko in the process. Katara is the G.O.A.T. of the Avatar universe, and that’s not up for debate after this battle. We bet she could’ve taken Ozai no problem.
1 Aang vs. Ozai
This was it. Everything that the Avatar universe had been building up to for three whole seasons and sixty-one episodes. Aang knew from his first conversation with Roku that this was his ultimate destiny, and the audience knew it too.
Expectations for this battle couldn’t have been higher, and somehow they were not only met but exceeded in every possible way. The Fire-Lord was as vicious and terrifying as advertised, and Aang worked all four elements into his arsenal before turning on the glow and showing off the most impressive bending moves the show ever gave. Not to mention, they worked in a comedic aspect when Aang grabbed Ozai’s goatee. Flawless.