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Unaired pilot

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The following information is not considered canon.

"My brother and I are quickly learning that life with Aang is one adventure after another. But who knows, one of those adventures might even save the world."
Kya narrating.

The unaired pilot episode is a low-budget, pre-production test episode created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko with the assistance of Korean animation studio Tin House,[1] to pitch the Avatar: The Last Airbender series to Nickelodeon.

The pilot episode never aired on public television and instead appears as an extra feature on Avatar DVDs with commentary from Mike and Bryan; it is also available for purchase with and without the commentary on iTunes. Many elements of the pilot are dissimilar to what eventually developed into the televised series.


Pilot - Fire Nation soldiers

Early designs of Zuko and Fire Nation soldiers.

Since January 2002, Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko had been given the blessing of Nickelodeon's then-head of development Eric Colemen to begin crafting a series that contained "action and adventure" and "legends and lore". Konietzko eventually fell in love with the drawing of a "balding human man in his forties wearing a futuristic outfit" and later adding an arrow design to his head as well (an early prototype for Aang) along with sketches of a "robot cyclops monkey holding a staff" (an early concept of Momo[2]) and "a bipedal polar bear-dog hybrid" (an early concept of Appa that was later recycled as Naga[3]).[4]

As other characters were created,[5] and concepts such as the bending arts' reliance on martial artistry came to be,[6] the show's focus shifted slowly from sci-fi heavy to more Asian-influenced. These modifications were the ones presented to Nickelodeon, the same ones which persuaded the corporation to "greenlight" Konietzko and DiMartino's plans and produce their pilot.[1] The characters were the earliest forms of Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.


The pilot begins with Kya explaining the war between the nations and the absence and later discovery of Avatar Aang. Aang, Sokka, and Kya are flying on the Avatar's flying bison, Appa, fleeing from Prince Zuko of the Fire Nation, who is pursuing them on his ship. Zuko launches fireballs in an attempt to bring them down, but Appa manages to avoid the attack. Moments later, a serpent rises out of the water in front of Appa, who manages to evade it. Deprived of its prey, the serpent searches for another victim to attack, and begins to attack Zuko's ship upon spotting it. This buys Aang and his friends enough time to get away safely. Zuko, defending his ship, starts attacking the massive serpent with firebending.

The group lands on an island to relax. Kya tries to practice her waterbending, but she cannot control it well. Seeing her frustration, Aang proceeds to give her some pointers by demonstrating the correct leg stance. Sokka, agitated that the two of them are playing around, demands they help him look for food. Kya is reluctant to let Aang go off by himself since he is the world's last hope, so Sokka goes out to look for food alone. He finds some wild berries and eats them, but they taste bad. Suddenly, Fire Nation soldiers arrive, and they ambush and capture him.

Alarmed that Sokka has not returned yet, Aang asks Kya to fly with him on his glider around the island to search for him. They manage to spot the soldiers taking Sokka into a Fire Nation base. Reasoning that since Aang is the Avatar and too important to risk being captured, Kya tells him to wait outside the base while she sneaks in to save Sokka. Irritated, Aang plays with Momo, but later decides he should be helping people, and flies into the base anyway.

Pilot - Aang glides by

Aang shocks everyone by his sudden appearance.

Sokka is brought forth to Prince Zuko, who has just returned to the base with the serpent's decapitated head. Sokka insults him, calling Zuko "scar boy". At that moment, two guards arrive with Kya captured, and the two are subsequently questioned by Zuko about the whereabouts of the Avatar, but they deny everything. Zuko prepares to have the soldiers scour the island for the Avatar, but at that moment, Aang suddenly flies in on his glider, shocking everyone.

Aang flies around the base, gathering everyone's attention by performing stunts and lands, but is quickly surrounded by soldiers armed with spears. Zuko orders the soldiers to throw Kya and Sokka down into a pit. Determined to save them, Aang uses airbending to escape and taunts Zuko to take him on alone. Momo and Zuko's pet hawk fight, while Zuko pursues Aang and attacks with firebending.

Pilot Avatar Aang

Aang enters the Avatar State by purposely endangering himself.

They battle atop a scaffolding, eventually fighting on the head of a huge, defaced Avatar statue within the base. Zuko eventually disarms Aang and thinks he has cornered the Avatar, but Aang jumps off the statue. His purposeful endangerment of himself causes him to enter the Avatar State, and he subsequently throws Zuko off with a powerful gust of air. However, before Zuko hits the ground, Aang leaves the Avatar State and saves him from a fatal fall. Sokka, trapped in the pit with his sister, finds the situation hopeless. However, Kya waterbends a large container of water to fill the pit, freeing them, though they find themselves surrounded by soldiers. Aang flies by as Sokka throws his boomerang with rope attached to it, and it wraps itself around Aang's glider. They all escape, along with Momo and a basket of food.

That night, they leave the island flying on Appa. Aang falls asleep and comically falls off Appa's head, later remarking he had meant to do so.


Production notes

Pilot bending

Bending in the pilot episode.


Main article: Transcript:Unaired pilot


  • The four images shown in the opening sequence of Aang bending do not follow the order of the Avatar Cycle. Instead, they go from air, to water, followed by fire, and ending with earth.


  • There are several bending techniques used that were not seen in the polished show, such as the group-fireball created by Zuko and several of his soldiers.
  • The concept of the Avatar State functioning as a defense mechanism was similar to its concept in the main series, though in the pilot, Aang would purposely put himself in danger to enter it. The creators later felt that the concept of the Avatar State needed to be more complex, and so, in the series, they initially gave Aang no control over it, requiring him to be in genuine danger before he would enter the state.
  • Much of the music featured in the episode was either reused or reworked for use in the actual series.
  • Many aspects of the original pilot were later incorporated into the actual series but in different fashions:


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