Nickelodeon’s popular TV show Avatar: The Last Airbender remains one of the most beloved cartoons to this day. The show was greatly praised for its excellent mix of Japanese and American cultures while also depicting a fantastic story filled with memorable characters. The show also balanced a lot of mature themes mixed into a fun, kid’s show. The cartoon did so well that, a few years after its conclusion, it even launched a spin-off series, The Legend of Korra.
While the sequel series isn’t held in as high regard, there is still a lot of praise for it. Thankfully, it builds on what Avatar: The Last Airbender had already established in its great 3 season run. However, in 3 seasons of greatness, there are still a few bumps and missteps. To look at some of the lesser moments in the series, here is our list of the worst episodes of Avatar: The Last Airbender according to IMDB.
Updated On June 2, 2020 By Amanda Bruce: Since the Internet Movie Database is a live site, ratings for television shows and movies can change as more viewers add their own ratings to the site. With Avatar: The Last Airbender now available to stream on Netflix, even more television fans are watching the show for the first time, and some are rewatching the series through new eyes, changing their opinions of the episodes.
15 The King Of Omashu S1E05 (8.2)
This isn’t a bad episode per se, and in fact, there’s a big chunk of episodes that wind up with a rating between 8.5 and 8.1 on IMDb because they simply aren’t as outstanding as something like the series’ final stretch of episodes.
In this season one episode, Aang, Katara, and Sokka make their way to Omashu, looking to have a little fun where Aang used to play with one of his friends 100 years ago. Instead, they get caught, and the local king puts Aang through his paces, testing him when he discovers he’s the Avatar. In the end, very few fans were likely surprised that the king turns out to be Aang’s old friend.
14 The Runaway S3E07 (8.2)
This season three episode doesn’t sit as well with fans simply because it repeats story beats they’ve already seen before. Katara and Toph don’t see eye-to-eye on pretty much anything, and here, Katara has enough when she realizes that Toph’s scheming and conning the locals could get them into trouble.
On the plus side, Katara and Toph end the episode closer than ever, but considering all of the bonding they’ve already done in the past, it seems redundant.
13 Winter Solstice, Part 1: The Spirit World S1E07 (8.2)
Only the seventh episode of the series, this episode started Aang’s introduction to the Spirit World, but it did it with a story that seemed like Aang could never win. One of the best things about the series is that there’s always a little bit of hope.
Aang spends the episode pretty adamant that he has no idea what’s going on or what to do, and it takes the majority of the story for him to get answers. For that reason, this episode feels a bit more meandering than most, despite setting up a lot of pieces that come into play later in the series.
12 The Boy In The Iceberg S1E01 (8.1)
Yes, that’s right, the very first episode of the series is considered one of the worst. Considering the episode serves as mostly set up, it’s not surprising it would be a low-ranking one. When a series has more than 60 episodes of story, it stands to reason that the very first episode introducing the main characters isn’t going to be as great as an episode with a hugely emotional arc or one that solves a major mystery.
11 The Northern Air Temple S1E17 (8.1)
As the first season nears its end, Aang makes a journey to one of the Air Nation temples with Sokka and Katara. What he finds there initially disgusts him as civilians have made their home in the temple, destroying things Aang finds sacred, but they simply see them as items no longer in use.
Aang spends the episode learning about change while the people he encounters learn a lesson in secrets and survival. Like a lot of the early episodes of the series, it sets up a lot of interesting pieces and introduces a lot of great characters, but the story doesn’t grab the audience like later episodes.
10 Imprisoned S1E06 (8.0)
As one of the best of the worst, “Imprisoned” is actually one of the darker episodes of the first season. While the series itself has plenty of dark moments, “Imprisoned” is really the first to set that tone for what initially seemed to be a lighthearted kid’s show. It also showcases just how tyrannical the fire nation is, as it is discovered that they are capturing earthbenders and forcing them to work in a rig.
However, by the end of the episode, Katara manages to convince the imprisoned earthbenders that there is, in fact, hope. The prisoners work together to take down the rig and escape. While there is still a lot of substance within the episode, the suddenly darker nature seems to throw it’s audience off, making for the first small dip in quality for the series.
9 The Waterbending Scroll S1E09 (8.0)
Yet another episode from the series’ first season, “The Waterbending Scroll” sees Katara attempt to teach Aang what little she knows of waterbending. However, she quickly grows frustrated when Aang masters things that took her forever to grasp.
Zuko also successfully attempts to entice Katara into betraying Aang, leading to an altercation between the group and some pirates later in the episode. Overall, “The Waterbending Scroll” offers an odd twist in character development and motivations. Furthermore, the characters make the course correction within the same episode, making for a very awkward pace.
8 The Painted Lady S3E03 (8.0)
In the series final season, the crew takes a break from their scheduled journey to help a town of villagers with broken spirits. However, thanks to the Painted Lady, the town’s spirits begin to rise and its inhabitants begin to get better. Eventually, the Painted Lady is revealed to be Katara posing as the Painted Lady allowed the group to stay longer.
Upon the reveal, the crew along with some of the villagers band together to take down the nearby Fire Nation soldiers. Part of what makes this a weaker episode is the break from the team’s main goal. While it’s definitely nice to catch a break from time to time, being the third episode of the season feels very early to be putting the main story on the backburner. Though the episode isn’t bad, it can’t help but feel wedged in as a very serious situation is unfolding elsewhere.
7 Bato of the Water Tribe S1E15 (7.9)
“Bato of the Water Tribe” can’t help but feel like a “filler” episode. The episode sees Sokka and Katara discover some means of connection to their father. In doing so, they encounter Bato, a member of the waterbending tribe and friend of their father. Meanwhile, Zuko and June finally create a plan to capture Aang once and for all.
By the end of the episode, the characters are all on their separate ways once again. Nothing really feels like it got accomplished and very little character development occurs.
6 The Fortuneteller S1E14 (7.9)
In being only marginally worse than “Bato of the Water Tribe,” “The Fortuneteller” also falls into the “filler” category, though there are still some interesting things about it. The episode itself actually foreshadows several events that the series would eventually get to.
However, it also tells audiences a little of what would occur between the end of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra. Despite its fun nature, there is basically nothing else within the episode. Most of the other events do little to move the plot forward or set up future outcomes. Nevertheless, “The Fortuneteller” would be far from the worst episode the series has ever put out.
5 Jet S1E10 (7.8)
The series first season can’t seem to stop making missteps. Though thankfully, everything beyond the first year would be a great improvement, Season 1 simply has the largest number of weaker episodes, at least according to IMDB.
“Jet” serves as the name of the episode as well as the character that the trio encounter along their journey. “Jet” is used to fill in a little extra backstory on the Fire Nation and Earthbenders. While this information is needed and necessary, almost nothing else within the episode is worthwhile. As a result, it can’t help but feel like a pointless episode and great waste for the series.
4 The Swamp S2E04 (7.8)
Much like other episodes here, “The Swamp” is Season 2’s first major “filler” episode. After Season 1’s great finale and a great start to the subsequent year, “The Swamp” really just sees the characters adjusting to their new situations. Zuko and Iroh are on an interesting path, and the episode offers some great humor with Iroh, but little else is done for these two characters.
Furthermore, Aang and the gang are hunting for an earthbending teacher, yet stumble upon some unique supernatural entity that isn’t all that it seems to be. For as much as a letdown as the episode is, it isn’t even the worst that Season 2 has to offer.
3 Nightmares and Daydreams S3E09 (7.8)
As the worst episode of Season 3, “Nightmares and Daydreams” follows Aang as he struggles to deal with a series of nightmares that he believes foreshadow the future. As a result of these nightmares, Aang becomes filled with a great sense of self-doubt.
In fact, for most of the episode, Aang is just complaining that he feels unready. While it makes sense for there to be some doubt within Aang, the fact that it takes up a whole episode seems entirely unnecessary, making “Nightmares and Daydreams” seem more like a burden than proper character development.
2 Avatar Day S2E05 (7.6)
As the worst episode of Season 2, more than anything else, “Avatar Day” is burdened by an overdramatic back and forth. After the gang hears of the Avatar Day festival, they quickly learn that the holiday is meant to demonize the Avatars instead of honoring them.
Audiences are constantly led to believe one thing only to be told something else mere moments later. Characters also make drastic life and death decisions on a dime, making for a very convoluted mess of a story. If it had managed to spread out or explain some of the events a bit more, then perhaps the episode would have been better.
1 The Great Divide S1E011 (7.1)
The worst episode of Season 1 and the whole of Avatar: The Last Airbender is “The Great Divide.” This episode sees Aang and the gang attempt to pass through a deadly canyon full of separate gangs and other dangers. Along the way, Aang is able to unite the warring groups using a story that he later reveals was completely made up on the spot.
The episode actually does a good job of showcasing some of Aang’s wisdom despite being so young. However, the episode is also burdened by awkward pacing and random events. Aside from a unique display of wisdom from Aang, the episode overall is simply just a mess.
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