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The Boy in the Iceberg

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This article is about the episode. For the play created by Pu-on Tim and performed by the Ember Island Players, see The Boy in the Iceberg (play).
Aang in the iceberg
"The Boy in the Iceberg"

Avatar: The Last Airbender





Original air date

February 21, 2005

Written by

Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko
Additional writing: Aaron Ehasz, Peter Goldfinger, Josh Stolberg

Directed by

Dave Filoni


JM Animation

Guest stars

Mako (Uncle), Melendy Britt (Gran Gran)

Production number


Episode guide

"The Avatar Returns"

"The Boy in the Iceberg" is the first episode of Book One: Water of Avatar: The Last Airbender and the first of the overall series. It debuted on February 21, 2005.


While fishing, siblings Katara and Sokka discover Aang, a young boy frozen in an iceberg. After freeing him and his flying bison named Appa, they learn his identity as an airbender, long thought extinct, and bring him back to their village in the Southern Water Tribe. After witnessing the beam of light that shot through the sky after the two broke through the ice, Zuko, exiled prince of the Fire Nation tasked with finding the long lost Avatar to restore his honor, becomes intent on capturing him. While playing, Aang and Katara mistakenly trigger a booby trap in an ancient Fire Nation ship, revealing Aang's whereabouts to the nearby Zuko.


Long ago, the legendary Avatar kept the world and its four nations at peace with each other. However, the Avatar disappeared one hundred years ago and has not been seen since. During that time, the tyrannical Fire Nation used the opportunity to wage war with the other three nations, seeking to conquer them. One hundred years passed and people began to lose hope that the Avatar would ever return and bring peace back to the world. Even the Southern Water Tribe, located in the distant South Pole sea, has been affected by the Fire Nation's war. The men of the tribe all sailed abroad to fight, leaving behind the women and children. Sokka and his younger sister Katara are the oldest of the tribe's children in the South Pole.


Two siblings, Katara and Sokka, are out fishing in a small canoe. Katara, a waterbender, practices her bending as Sokka prepares to spear a fish. Katara bends the water around a fish, lifting it above the canoe; the back of Sokka's spear inadvertently pierces the water bubble, causing the fish to fall back into the water and the cascading water to soak him. He grows angry and scolds Katara, saying that if he had "weird powers" he would keep his "weirdness" to himself. When the sea currents suddenly pick up speed, Sokka tries to steer the boat to avoid colliding with the small chunks of floating ice, while Katara frantically shouts directions. However, the boat is crushed between two ice floes, leaving Sokka and Katara stranded in the middle of the sea on a floating chunk of ice. Sokka blames Katara for the mess, which causes her to lose her temper and start yelling at him.

Sokka and Katara

Sokka and Katara have been left to watch over their village since their father left to fight in the Hundred Year War.

As Katara rages, she ends up violently waterbending without realizing it; soon, she cracks and shatters an ice formation, revealing a giant glowing orb of iceberg which rises to the surface of the ocean. Seeing the form of a human inside the ice, Katara, assuming the person needs help, grabs Sokka's club and begins chopping at the side of the iceberg with it despite Sokka's adamant warning that they do not know who the "thing" is. As she assaults the ice, it breaks and releases a bright column of light into the sky.

Prince Zuko, a Fire Nation teenager who has been hunting the Avatar for two years, sees the bright light from his ship. His uncle, Iroh, who has accompanied the young prince on his journey, dismisses the event as completely natural. Zuko orders his crew to head toward the light, insisting that the light was emitted by the Avatar.

After Katara breaks through the ice, she finds the person is a young boy with strange arrow-shaped marks on his head and hands. Sokka, jarred by the bizarre events occurring around him, immediately points his spear at the boy, but the boy simply collapses into Katara's arms. She lays him down and tries to help him. Sokka pokes the boy in the head with the blunt side of his spear, still skeptical, but an annoyed Katara shoos him away.

The mysterious boy drowsily opens his eyes to see Katara staring down at him, her own eyes a deep blue. He quickly recovers from his dazed condition, abruptly and cheerfully asking Katara if she wants to go penguin sledding with him, to which she confusedly agrees. The boy rises to his feet swiftly, the sudden movement taking a wary Sokka by surprise, prompting him to become defensive with his spear. When the boy, himself surprised by Sokka's aggressiveness, inquires as to what is happening, Sokka angrily demands to know how Aang became trapped in the ice, only to hear the boy say that he does not know as he nudges the point of Sokka's spear, now pointed directly at his face at close range, aside casually.

Team Avatar meeting

Katara and Sokka meet Aang after freeing him from the iceberg.

Hearing a growling noise from within the crater of the hollowed iceberg, the boy climbs back over the rim to find a large, furry, six-legged creature lying motionless within; it takes a moment for him to enthusiastically rouse it. Sokka asks, unsure, what the thing is, and the boy replies that it is Appa, his flying bison. Sokka expresses disbelief over the purported ability of the large bison to fly; Appa then sneezes on Sokka, covering him with bison snot. A thoroughly disgusted Sokka reacts by trying frantically to rub the offending substance off himself onto the snow, while the boy assures him that it washes out. The boy, looking around at his surroundings, asks if they live nearby, which triggers Sokka to tell Katara not to answer, as he is convinced that the mystery boy is a Fire Nation spy, a notion that Katara rejects sarcastically. Asking the boy what his name is, he briefly tries to comply before being beset by a sneeze, which launches him into the air for a short distance; drifting deftly back to the ground, he rubs his nose and tells them happily that his name is Aang. Katara, astonished by the sneeze, realizes that he must be an airbender, a conjecture which Aang confirms.

Sokka, convinced that he is going crazy, decides aloud to go home and leave behind the nonsensical world he has stumbled upon; he takes all of three steps before realizing, unfortunately, that he is stranded on an iceberg in the middle of the ocean. Aang, seeing the problem, offers to fly the two back to the Southern Water Tribe; Katara happily agrees, while Sokka refuses at first, agreeing after a few seconds only when he realizes he has no other choice. The group gets on Appa's saddle, with Sokka still grumpily refusing to believe that Appa can fly. Aang cries, "Yip-yip!", and Appa leaps into the air, but he comes crashing back down into the water and starts swimming. While Sokka crows sarcastically about Appa's inability to fly, Aang decides Appa is still too tired to fly just yet. He turns around and stares at Katara with a huge smile on his face, causing her, after a few long, awkward seconds, to ask, "Why are you smiling at me like that?" He replies, "Oh, I was smiling?" Sokka lifts his head back, groaning, while Katara, at first smiling at Aang's response, frowns back at Sokka.

On the deck of the ship, Zuko stands looking out over the water alone. Iroh briefly tries to convince him to sleep, telling him that he will, like his ancestors, fail to capture the Avatar even if they do find him. The prince refuses to accept it, believing that he will succeed because he seeks to regain his honor through the endeavor, a trait none of his ancestors shared with him.

After some time on the water, a curious Katara asks Aang if he knows the fate of the Avatar; being an airbender, she knows that the Avatar was supposed to be an Air Nomad. Aang awkwardly states that he knew people that knew the Avatar, but did not know the actual Avatar himself. A disappointed Katara drops the subject, leaving Aang looking guilty.

Later, Aang has a dream about a storm that he and Appa had encountered while they were near the South Pole. He re-lives the dream how both of them were brought under the waves by the intense wind and rain, and how Aang started glowing and created the orb of ice that surrounded him. He is jolted awake, finding himself awakened by Katara in a tent in the Southern Water Tribe. He quickly gets dressed with Katara watching. She notices the arrow markings running along his body, and after he is completely dressed, she pulls him into the village to introduce him to the entire village, which has a small population.

Everyone expresses surprise at seeing an airbender, as no one has seen an Air Nomad in a hundred years, thinking they must have become extinct. Sokka wonders why Aang always carries a staff around, realizing it is not sharp enough to stab anybody. Aang responds by showing the village how he uses airbending to fly with it. Aang ends up accidentally crashing into Sokka's poorly-constructed watch tower.

Southern Water Tribe village

This Southern Water Tribe village is where Katara and Sokka live.

Kanna, also known as Gran Gran, the grandmother of Katara and Sokka, wonders if Aang may be a threat to the tribe. Katara wants him to stay, believing he could teach the village so many good things as well as waterbending to her. They happen to glance over at Aang, who is showing off to the village toddlers how he can stick his tongue to his staff.

On the Fire Nation ship, Prince Zuko is practicing his firebending techniques with Uncle Iroh as his mentor. Zuko becomes impatient and asks for his uncle to teach him advanced moves, but Iroh demands that he first master the basics. However, after Zuko's angry persistence, he finally consents.

Sokka begins to teach the young boys of the tribe, lecturing them about how they are the "warriors" of this tribe, until one of them says innocently he needs to pee. Sokka gets mad at Aang for distracting his "warriors" with fun and games and throws a fit because they should be focused on the ongoing war. When Aang sees an otter penguin, he gets excited and tries to capture it, but the creature proves to be too fast and slippery. Katara approaches and agrees to teach him the "fine art" of catching penguins in exchange for lessons in waterbending. However, Aang points out that he knows nothing about waterbending, being an airbender, and tells her that she could learn from the other people in the tribe. Katara responds that she is the only waterbender in the whole South Pole.

Aang says that the Northern Water Tribe should have waterbenders to teach Katara and offers to fly her to the North Pole. Katara is not sure whether leaving her tribe is a good idea. Aang suggests to her that she could think about it later, and in the meantime she could teach him to catch penguins. Thus, Katara begins her "lessons" to Aang.

Zuko spots Aang and Katara

Zuko spots Aang and Katara after seeing the flare go off.

Aang and Katara go penguin sledding and have fun until they accidentally slide near an old abandoned shipwreck. Aang wants to go in and explore it, but Katara is wary. She has been told never to go onto the Fire Navy ship, but Aang convinces her to do so. As they explore the ship, Aang wonders why a Fire Nation ship is so far from its home. Katara realizes Aang has no knowledge of the Hundred Year War at all and deduces that he was trapped in the iceberg for one hundred years. They accidentally set off a booby trap in the ship, sending off a flare into the sky. Aang saves Katara by carrying her and airbending out of the ship. However, Prince Zuko has seen the flare and Aang escaping from the ship and believes he has found the long lost Avatar – at last.


Production notes


Main article: Transcript:The Boy in the Iceberg

Series continuity

  • In "The Storm", Aang's flashback shows that the iceberg is under the sea. Due to Katara's violent waterbending, however, she unconsciously cracked the ice formation causing it to rise to the surface of the ocean.
  • The abandoned Fire Navy ship Aang and Katara explore is the same one Hama and the other waterbenders were shown uprooting decades before in a flashback in the episode "The Puppetmaster".
  • The subtitle of the last episode in the series, "Avatar Aang", and this episode's title both refer to Aang himself. They also highlight how he has changed. In the beginning, he is a young Avatar who has not mastered the elements. By the end, he is a fully realized Avatar.

Character revelations

  • Katara reveals that she is the only waterbender in the South Pole.
  • During Aang's dream, it is revealed how he came to be frozen in the iceberg.


  • When Katara attempts to catch a fish using waterbending, she takes off her glove. However, in a later shot, when she is seen waterbending, her glove is back on again.
  • After Sokka and Katara's boat gets crushed and they land on a slab of ice, they are surrounded by other slabs of ice floating on the water, with seemingly no icebergs around them. In the next aerial shot, however, the water around them does not have any slabs of ice but one line of them to the right and a few icebergs around them.
  • During the scene where Zuko is trying to get Iroh to teach him an advanced set of firebending moves, Zuko's belt is momentarily silver instead of the usual gold.
  • When Sokka and Katara first see Aang in the iceberg, there is nothing in the water between them, but in the next frame there are many floating icebergs in the water.
  • When Sokka and Katara see the iceberg floating up, it appears to be merely an icy sphere with no ground surrounding it. Katara, however, seems like she can stand on the iceberg with ease and the iceberg does not seem to move with the added weight, even though in the previous shots the ice looked relatively light since it bobbed in the water.
  • After Appa sneezes on Sokka, the latter's entire right side is shown covered in bison snot. A few seconds later he is clean again, as if the incident never occurred.
  • When Aang is letting the kids use Appa's tail as a slide, the first scene shows his tail propped up on Sokka's spear. The next scene shows Appa a few feet away, with his tail on the ground. In the scene after that, Appa's tail returns to its original position atop the spear.
  • When Aang and Katara stand next to the abandoned ship, they look up at the tattered flag still waving atop the mast. In that shot, they are about five feet away from the shadow of the boat. In the next shot, however, they are standing right next to the shadow.
  • When Aang crashes into the watch tower at the Southern Water Tribe, he is covered in snow, but when Katara pulls him up, he is lying on top of the snow.
  • When Katara and Aang are walking toward Appa, they are about a few feet away from him. However, after they walk for about another few yards, they are still in the same place.
  • The Netflix description for the episode is incorrect; it states "Waterbenders Sokka and Katara make a startling discovery while fishing: a boy frozen in a iceberg, perfectly preserved and, amazingly, alive". However, only Katara is a waterbender.


  • This is the only episode of Avatar: The Last Airbender to feature a different and extended opening sequence.
  • Though this is the first official episode of the series, the unaired pilot was created beforehand, but never aired on television.
  • Sokka said he might have "Midnight Sun Madness" because during summertime in the South Pole, which is the wintertime in the Northern Hemisphere, the sun remains in the sky into the night, due to the Southern Hemisphere facing the sun.
  • This is one of only two episodes that shows "To be continued" before the ending credits. The other is "The Boiling Rock, Part 1".
  • According to Avatar: The Last Airbender—The Art of the Animated Series, the creators of the show like to think that Aang and Appa were "floating in a ball of energy" instead of being frozen solid.[1]


Start a Discussion Discussions about The Boy in the Iceberg

  • It all seems too perfect

    3 messages
    • Ah! Serendipity! And how many waterbenders had been in the very same area where Aang's bubble was in 100 years? And I guess Azula can thank ...
    • Your first point is excusable. Who would thin to crack open a random iceberg? As for your second point, maybe we can blame Katara's morality. ...
  • Happy Ninth Birthday ATLA!

    16 messages
    • I'm not above taking a day off. 
    • Well, I just did it over my winter break.

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