Avatar: The Last Airbender
The sequence opens by showcasing the four elemental bending styles: waterbending, earthbending, firebending, and airbending. The waterbending is performed by Pakku, the earthbending by Sud, the firebending by Azula, and the airbending by an Air Nomad. The sequence cuts to the map of the Avatar World, followed directly by Katara's explanation regarding the origins of the Hundred Year War launched by the Fire Nation. Following this, Avatar Roku is seen bending all four elements before disappearing in a gust of air, just as Katara states that the Avatar disappeared when the world needed him most. Next, Katara and Sokka appear, followed by Aang, showing scenes from the first episode. The title card is shown immediately after. The Chinese characters that appear at the top of the show's title card mean "the divine medium who has descended upon the mortal world".
Katara narrates the opening sequence. In the first episode, she states:
"Water. Earth. Fire. Air. My grandmother used to tell me stories about the old days, a time of peace when the Avatar kept balance between the Water Tribes, Earth Kingdom, Fire Nation, and Air Nomads. But that all changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar mastered all four elements. Only he could stop the ruthless firebenders. But when the world needed him most, he vanished. A hundred years have passed and the Fire Nation is nearing victory in the War. Two years ago, my father and the men of my tribe journeyed to the Earth Kingdom to help fight against the Fire Nation, leaving me and my brother to look after our tribe. Some people believe that the Avatar was never reborn into the Air Nomads, and that the cycle is broken. But I haven't lost hope. I still believe that somehow, the Avatar will return to save the world."
In subsequent episodes, she says:
"Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then, everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them, but when the world needed him most, he vanished. A hundred years passed and my brother and I discovered the new Avatar, an airbender named Aang. And although his airbending skills are great, he has a lot to learn before he's ready to save anyone. But I believe Aang can save the world."
In the unaired pilot episode, she says:
"Water. Earth. Fire. Air. My grandmother used to tell me stories about the old days, how the four nations once lived in harmony. How everything changed once the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar mastered all four elements. Only he could stop the ruthless firebenders. But when the world needed him most, he disappeared. Nobody had seen him for a hundred years, until my brother and I found him, an airbender named Aang. The problem is, this Avatar is still a kid, and even though his airbending skills are great, he has a lot to learn before he's ready to save anyone. The Fire Nation will do anything to capture Aang before he masters all four elements, so I must keep him safe until he's ready to fulfill his destiny. My brother thinks I'm crazy, but I believe Aang can save the world."
"Water. Earth. Fire. Air. Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them, but when the world needed him most, he vanished. A hundred years passed and my brother Sokka and I discovered the new Avatar, an airbender named Aang. Although his airbending skills were great, he had a lot to learn before he was ready to save anyone. But from the first day I met him, I believed Aang would save the world. And you know what? I was right. With the help of his friends, Aang defeated Fire Lord Ozai and ended the Hundred Year War. Zuko, Ozai's son and our ally, became the new Fire Lord. Together with Earth King Kuei, Aang and Zuko promised to return the nations to harmony."
- Main article: Writing in the World of Avatar
The Legend of Korra
The show opens by showcasing the four most recent Avatars bending their native element: earthbending by Kyoshi, firebending by Roku, airbending by Aang, and waterbending by Korra. Behind each bender is calligraphy similar to that seen in the background of the original series. It subsequently shows a picture of Team Avatar, followed by a map of the Avatar World. After that, Tenzin explains the transformation of the Fire Nation colonies into the United Republic of Nations, before the picture zooms in on the capital: Republic City. A statue of Aang is seen on an island in the bay, and it is explained how the Avatar accomplished many remarkable feats in his life, before he eventually died and was reborn into the next nation of the Avatar Cycle. As of the second episode, the opening sequence is much shorter; the display of bending is abridged to show only a few seconds of each element and the sequence skips over the origin of Republic City to show the statue of Aang, with Korra nearby striking a similar pose.
"Earth. Fire. Air. Water. When I was a boy, my father, Avatar Aang, told me the story of how he and his friends heroically ended the Hundred Year War. Avatar Aang and Fire Lord Zuko transformed the Fire Nation colonies into the United Republic of Nations, a society where benders and nonbenders from all over the world could live and thrive together in peace and harmony. They named the capital of this great land Republic City. Avatar Aang accomplished many remarkable things in his life, but sadly, his time in this world came to an end. And like the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of the Avatar began anew."
In subsequent episodes, he says:
"Earth. Fire. Air. Water. Only the Avatar can master all four elements and bring balance to the world."
- In the opening of both series, the airbenders featured are the only characters who begin their respective bending sequence without having both feet on the ground.
- In most episodes of the second series, Shiro Shinobi narrates events of previous episodes, similar to Roku's "Previously on Avatar" sequence from the first series. The sequence is shown with an effect similar to newsreels in the 1920s.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
- While Katara says the words "everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked", a line of firebenders is shown as they are seen in the series. However, the war began one hundred years prior, when the armor used by the Fire Nation military supposedly had large shoulder spikes and a faceless helmet, according to Arnook.
- When Azula demonstrates firebending, she uses conventional fire rather than her trademark blue fire.
- The Air Nomad who demonstrates airbending is the only bender in the opening sequence whose identity is not known.
The Legend of Korra
- Kyoshi is shown bending an element for the first time without using her fans.
- Aang is wearing different clothes than those he wears in the actual series. These are also used for his design in the "Who is Amon?" photo album on Nickelodeon's website.
- Korra uses a waterbending move similar to the one she used during the semifinal match against the Bau Ling Buzzard Wasps.
- Tenzin uses an airbending move similar to that of Aang's while dueling Zaheer at the Northern Air Temple.
- In the extended opening sequence, there is a picture showing the original Team Avatar: Aang is in his original design used in Books One and Two, Katara is in her original Book One design, Toph is in her original Book Two design, Suki is in her Kyoshi Warriors makeup, Sokka is in his original Book One design but also has his space sword from Book Three, and Zuko is in his Book Three design.