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  • The title says it all. If we take a look back in Katara's family, we can notice that they are all non-benders, with the exception of Pakku, but he joined the family later. Then how did Katara gain waterbending abilities?

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    • The bending gene can be passed trough many generations, so her parents could be nonbenders but they passed the bending gene to Katara.

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    • She may have had a waterbender relative that we don't explicitly know about. For instance, we know Kanna is her grandmother, but that is only on one side of the family. We don't know IF there were any benders anywhere up her family tree, because all other benders in the SWT had already been killed or captured by the Fire Nation by the time the story begins.

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    • She could even have a great-great-great grandfather that was one, and the gene would still be in her family. 

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    • We don't know all her family. Maybe her grandmother from the mother side is bender. she could have aunts and uncles we don't know. they could be benders.

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    • because the show's creators wanted to have 'strong female' presence in their series. Seriously just look at the show. The best benders and most awesome characters are ALL female. Katara is a waterbending prodigy who over turns the 'patriarchy' Azula is a fire bending version of her, Toph the earth bending. Fast forward to the next series and you have Korra, another bending badass (avatar so duh) supported by more female bending wunderkinds. 

      Overpowered females is kind of the shows 'thing'. If you're a male in the series you either better be the Avatar or you're just a support character at best or the punching bag

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    • Mako, Bolin, Tenzin, Iroh II, Tonraq, they're all male. Female benders who supported Korra include Lin, Suyin, the air sisters (always with Meelo), Opal once along with the rest of the Air Nation, & some of the Zaofu Guards. And so what if they're supporting characters? Katara & Toph are also supporting characters.

      This also disregards Iroh I, that Toph was originally planned to be male, & that Zuko's arc is all about how his work pays off. Plus, it's rather arbitrary to say not to count Avatars...& then count Korra anyway.

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    • Rhomer wrote:

      Overpowered females is kind of the shows 'thing'. If you're a male in the series you either better be the Avatar or you're just a support character at best or the punching bag

      Significant female characters: Katara, Toph, Suki, Azula, Mai, Ty Lee; Korra, Lin, Suyin, Asami, Jinora, Kuvira, Ming-Hua, P'Li

      Significant male characters: Aang, Sokka, Jet, Jeong-Jeong, Zuko, Iroh I, Master Piandao, King Bumi; Mako, Bolin, Tonraq, Iroh II, Tenzin, Amon, the Lieutenant Zaheer, Ghazan.

      That's about the same number of male and female characters...interesting.

      As for their being "support characters"...well guess what? Any character in either series who's not the Avatar or the primary antagonist is going to be a support character. That includes all members of either Team Avatar who's not the Avatar.

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    • And if we're going to be playing the genderdrama game, I could talk about how there's only been one female primary antagonist.  (Azula, P'Li, and Ming-Hua were secondary antagonists.)

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    • Nah Azula was still a main villain she carried out ozais dirty work during books 2 and 3

      Mai, Tylee , Azula . Kuvira , Pli , Minghua

      Zhao, Ozai, Amon , Unalaq, Zaheer , Ghazan, Zuko

      It's pretty even if you ask me

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    • Yeah, I think that what Bryke was trying to convey in the series was that male and females should be equal, unlike many series before Avatar, which always focused on males, not females should dominate everything lol.

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    • You know, ever since I first got into Avatar, the closest parallel to bending that I could think of is the mutants from Marvel Comics. Think about it: the only reason many of those characters had their powers was because of an anomoly in their genetic makeup. Although there are cases of mutant parents having mutant children, there are just as many examples of a single mutant born into a completely Homo Sapien bloodline. It's something that's virtually impossible to gaurentee (which is why they call it a "mutation").

      To a lesser extant, this same argument could be applied to the Harry Potter universe. While there are many instances of magic running in the family- Weasleys, Malfoys and MacMillians, among others- characters like Hermione Granger and Colin Creevy were the first ones in their family bloodlines to have magical powers. On the other side of the coin, Argus Filch is a squib- born into a wizarding family but with no powers of his own- so the reverse can just as easily be true.

      In all fairness, I doubt the people of the Avatar world would think in terms like genetics, but it would explain how bending can show up in unexpected palces. If you remember from the episode "The Fortuneteller", there were twin brothers in Makapu Village, but only one of them had earthbending abilities. It's not somthing that can be gaurenteed or even easily predicted in some cases.   

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    • Gotlvr87 wrote:
      You know, ever since I first got into Avatar, the closest parallel to bending that I could think of is the mutants from Marvel Comics. Think about it: the only reason many of those characters had their powers was because of an anomoly in their genetic makeup. Although there are cases of mutant parents having mutant children, there are just as many examples of a single mutant born into a completely Homo Sapien bloodline. It's something that's virtually impossible to gaurentee (which is why they call it a "mutation").

      To a lesser extant, this same argument could be applied to the Harry Potter universe. While there are many instances of magic running in the family- Weasleys, Malfoys and MacMillians, among others- characters like Hermione Granger and Colin Creevy were the first ones in their family bloodlines to have magical powers. On the other side of the coin, Argus Filch is a squib- born into a wizarding family but with no powers of his own- so the reverse can just as easily be true.

      In all fairness, I doubt the people of the Avatar world would think in terms like genetics, but it would explain how bending can show up in unexpected palces. If you remember from the episode "The Fortuneteller", there were twin brothers in Makapu Village, but only one of them had earthbending abilities. It's not somthing that can be gaurenteed or even easily predicted in some cases.   

      - While Marvel's mutants are somewhat recent, elemental magic has been around for millennia and is in lots of art and literature worldwide. In partial agreement with your comparisons, I find bending rather similar to sorcery and alchemy. But I don't think bending is quite as similar to Marvel mutant abilities.

      - Many of Marvel's mutants had freak accidents or were somehow quickly and artificially altered. In ATLA, bending manifested as an ability people learned from watching animals naturally interact with the environment. Then in ATLOK, bending was granted as a supernatural gift from ancient (sort of god-like) animals. After these instances in both series, bending is genetically passed. But the ability's initial occurrence is quite different to the mutations in Marvel comics.

      The ATLA explanation suggests any group of people could've learned to bend through extremely disciplined and observational practices--likely, if only to use bending as an extension of such people's lifestyle. In this series, it's implied that bending gradually developed over a long period of time.

      The ATLOK explanation is somewhat contrary to ATLA. This series insists that bending had to be gifted to a person incapable of naturally developing such power. For the sake of sustaining an already good explanation from ATLA, I tend to think that the bending forms were learned from animals, but the ability itself was from a lion turtle.

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    • It's probably an act of Dominant and Recessive genes;

      Since Pakku was a waterbender, and then had a child. Judging by how Hakoda, Pakku's and Kanna's child, was not born a waterbender, we can safely assume waterbending is a recessive gene, thus meaning it was rare. However, since Hakoda still had the recessive gene in him, when he had children with Kya, those genes were passed down to Katara and Sokka. Sokka likely has the genes in him, but do not appear because of the whole recessive genes thing, but it was passed down to Katara just from amazingly good genetic luck. Boom, then Katara was brought in as a waterbender.


      Dominant: A primary gene in which it is extremely common.

      ex; Brown eyes


      Recessive: A gene in which is very uncommon, but not an impossible trait to have.

      ex; Blue eyes.

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    • Dominant & recessive have nothing to do with rarity, they describe how the gene is expressed. A recessive gene requires 2 copies to be expressed while a dominant gene requires only 1.

      It is entirely possible to have a rare dominant or a common recessive allele. For instance, if the dominant gene results in a genetic disorder with a high rate of mortality early in life, obviously it won't be passed on as much.

      As an aside, there is also incomplete dominance, where you get a mixture of the 2 genes' effects, & codominance, where you get bits of Gene A & bits of Gene B.

      So imagine a flower with genes for red & white. If the genes are incompletely dominant, you'll get a pink flower. If they're codominant, you'll get a flower that has both red & white parts.

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    • Neo Bahamut wrote:
      Dominant & recessive have nothing to do with rarity, they describe how the gene is expressed. A recessive gene requires 2 copies to be expressed while a dominant gene requires only 1.

      It is entirely possible to have a rare dominant or a common recessive allele. For instance, if the dominant gene results in a genetic disorder with a high rate of mortality early in life, obviously it won't be passed on as much.

      As an aside, there is also incomplete dominance, where you get a mixture of the 2 genes' effects, & codominance, where you get bits of Gene A & bits of Gene B.

      So imagine a flower with genes for red & white. If the genes are incompletely dominant, you'll get a pink flower. If they're codominant, you'll get a flower that has both red & white parts.

      That's just what I was taught from an actual biologist, so idek

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    • Well, no need to take my word on it, I can find more official sources that can explain things. I've narrowed it down to what I think are the 3 best sources I could find on the subject.

      On the dominance, codominance, etc. patterns.

      Common genetic misconceptions.

      A more detailed explanation of how allele prevalence works.

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    • There are cases where genes can jump generations. The common theory is that sometimes traits "jump a generation", and others where you can trace the genetic history because you have a trait that one other person in your family line has.

      Of course, this genetic trait theory is all speculation. Of course, there could also be a randomness to the selection of benders. Like the spirit world chooses characteristics, or just randomly chooses, people to be benders. Think what you want, but that's my unfounded theory. 

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    • Neo Bahamut wrote:
      Well, no need to take my word on it, I can find more official sources that can explain things. I've narrowed it down to what I think are the 3 best sources I could find on the subject.

      On the dominance, codominance, etc. patterns.

      Common genetic misconceptions.

      A more detailed explanation of how allele prevalence works.

      Thank you for clarifying this :-)

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    • Rhomer wrote:
      because the show's creators wanted to have 'strong female' presence in their series. Seriously just look at the show. The best benders and most awesome characters are ALL female. Katara is a waterbending prodigy who over turns the 'patriarchy' Azula is a fire bending version of her, Toph the earth bending. Fast forward to the next series and you have Korra, another bending badass (avatar so duh) supported by more female bending wunderkinds. 

      Overpowered females is kind of the shows 'thing'. If you're a male in the series you either better be the Avatar or you're just a support character at best or the punching bag

      What about Zuko? he was a master, and his father?

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    • DrachenRitter42 wrote:
      She may have had a waterbender relative that we don't explicitly know about. For instance, we know Kanna is her grandmother, but that is only on one side of the family. We don't know IF there were any benders anywhere up her family tree, because all other benders in the SWT had already been killed or captured by the Fire Nation by the time the story begins.

      I don't understand how you think that when two of the fandom's most favorite characters include Zuko and Sokka, both male characters. Also, we see that "breaking the bonds of patriarchy" or some shit is important, but in this show, it's done really well. We also see that regardless of gender, everybody has some insane strength that contributes to helping the team overall. 

      Do you honestly think that there are no good and important male characters? Let me list some for you:

      - Iroh

      - Sokka

      -Zuko

      -Ozai (The bad guy of the first series)

      - Roku (Aang's spiritual mentor throughout the whole series)

      - Bumi (Aang's friend from 100 years ago who is now the King of Omashu)

      - Jeong - Jeong, Piandao, Pakku (Masters of fire, swordsmanship and water, respectively)

      Do you need any more?

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    • Gotlvr87 wrote:
      You know, ever since I first got into Avatar, the closest parallel to bending that I could think of is the mutants from Marvel Comics. Think about it: the only reason many of those characters had their powers was because of an anomoly in their genetic makeup. Although there are cases of mutant parents having mutant children, there are just as many examples of a single mutant born into a completely Homo Sapien bloodline. It's something that's virtually impossible to gaurentee (which is why they call it a "mutation").

      To a lesser extant, this same argument could be applied to the Harry Potter universe. While there are many instances of magic running in the family- Weasleys, Malfoys and MacMillians, among others- characters like Hermione Granger and Colin Creevy were the first ones in their family bloodlines to have magical powers. On the other side of the coin, Argus Filch is a squib- born into a wizarding family but with no powers of his own- so the reverse can just as easily be true.

      In all fairness, I doubt the people of the Avatar world would think in terms like genetics, but it would explain how bending can show up in unexpected palces. If you remember from the episode "The Fortuneteller", there were twin brothers in Makapu Village, but only one of them had earthbending abilities. It's not somthing that can be gaurenteed or even easily predicted in some cases.   


      That is proof that genes are not the deciding factor on when someone will be a bender or not. They are a factor, but if two people with the same genetic make up are not both benders or both nonbenders, genetic isn't the main one. We need now to discover what is. Spirituality? Aren't the AN the ones with most percentage of benders[100 percent] in the four nations because of it? But what spirituality is it? The baby's spirituality, the parent's spirituality, the spirituality of the baby's past life, the spirituality in wich the kid is brought up[since they only start showing bending signs when they are not babies anymore], or the general spirituality of the place they live in? In the last case, how does it affect each and every baby that is born in the place?

      Maybe Katara is a waterbender just for plot conveniency and we will never get an answer, but trying to argue this using genes makes no sense. As far as we know, everyone has the bending gene[we did see everyone in a line getting the power from the Lion Turtles, maybe nonbenders only appeared later on], it's just dormant and need something specific to awaken it.

      I think that it didn't need an explanation to how bending came to be, and that by doing that in LoK they shot themselves in the foot. It would be better iff it was just something some people have and others don't, this way the equalist thing would work better in my opinion.

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    • Uh, with the exception of clones & identical twins, there's no such thing as "2 people with the same genetic makeup."

      Now, people would often point to the twins in 1 episode where 1 is an earthbender & the other is not, but there are certain epigenetic effects that do result in differences even between identical twins.

      However, just as far as a trait skipping generations, that happens a lot & indicates a recessive genetic pattern.

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    • Toph's parents weren't benders, so it doesn't matter. Non-bending parents can children who are benders. Katara and Aang's eldest son Bumi wasn't born a bender.

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    • An anonymous contributor
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