I’m not sure if this has been talked about on Tumblr before, but I want to talk a little about the Air Nomad genocide in A:TLA. According to the show, all of the airbenders, except for Avatar Aang, have been completely wiped out.
I know that the whole point of the show was that Aang was the last airbender and he needed to get back at the Fire Nation for the atrocious act, but was it really necessary? Why did Sozin feel the need to wipe out the least threatening nation of all the nations in Avatar-verse? From what we’ve gathered from the show, the Air Nomads were peaceful and didn’t even feel the need to have a formal military to defend themselves. Sozin wanted Roku’s successor as the Avatar dead, but there should not have been any further intent to hurt the Air Nomads and punish them for that. Sozin’s go-ahead on the massacre of the Air Nomads just seems like a weak and cowardly move on his part (not that it’s completely out of character). If Sozin used the Great Comet in order to send a message to the rest of the world and begin a war, he made the wrong decision to kill the least confrontational nation of them all. If anything, it would have made more sense that Sozin would have tried to advance further into the Earth Kingdom (I’m not sure if he did? Can anyone confirm/correct me?). What did the Air Nomads do or not do to have elicited such a response from Sozin that he decided it was best to kill them all?
Another thing that bothers me is that apparently every single Air Nomad has been wiped out according to the canon. I find this almost impossible to believe. Even if the Air Nomad population hadn’t been large, there should have been at least one survivor other than Aang. It should not have been beyond the realm of possibility that some Air Nomads managed to escape and find refuge in the Earth Kingdom. I’ve seen this idea used in fanfiction and I’m glad that at least part of the fandom has the same mindset I do, but why was it so necessary to have Air Nomads out of the canon? And wouldn’t the Earth Kingdom have made a move to help defend the Air Nomads? Would it really have been that impossible to give Aang a little hope by discovering that some Air Nomads managed to escape and remained in disguise somewhere in the Earth Kingdom? It’s also possible that not every Air Nomad was as peaceful and pacifist as we’ve been lead to believe. Avatar Yangchen is a perfect example—she didn’t hesitate to change her beliefs when she realized that they would get in the way of her duty as the Avatar. Wouldn’t the same have occurred if it meant survival for the hunted Air Nomads? Sure, they didn’t have a formal military, but that doesn’t negate that at least some of them had some airbending training in attack and defense. Did the flight instinct kick in with any of them?
I know that the Air Nomad genocide was a key plot point in A:TLA, but now that I’m really considering it, it really seems like an unnecessary move for the story.
I’ve been thinking about this so many times.
The ONLY explanation I can come up with for why Sozin had them wiped out is, although Aang learned he was the Avatar at the age of 12, no one else besides the other monks of the Southern Air Temple knew, so no one else in the world knew, and since Sozin, being the dick he was, didn’t know who the Avatar was, he decided to lash out at the whole population altogether.
Zhao (in one of the comics) said that Air Nomad cultural artifacts were used to lure surviving Air Nomads, and it was an Air Nomad who turned on his people and had the Fire Nation attack them (the same monk was later executed). There was also an Air Nomad girl who survived, and she lived in a forest and would fight whenever she could.
Monk Gyatso took out a room full of Fire Nation soldiers before he died, which confirms that airbenders knew some deadly attacks, and coincides with the fandom headcanon that the real reason Sozin had the Air Nomads wiped out was because they were really the most dangerous.
Although I’m still of the personal belief that some Air Nomads did in fact survive all that, and that there’s a secret society of them living somewhere, like the Sun Warriors.
I like all of this—and it makes a lot of sense! I never considered the fact that because the Air Nomads were the least threatening, they were possibly the biggest threat to the Fire Nation. If anyone was half the bender Monk Gyatso was, it’s possible that the Air Nomads could have been a force to be reckoned with if they had a formal military. Aang is a pretty darn good airbender during the events of A:TLA and his training wasn’t even finished yet. I’m glad that in the comics (which, unfortunately, I have not read yet) there were some survivors.
I like your explanation about why Sozin did it. It fits his character, and it explains why it meant that every Air Nomad had to go. It’s devastating to think that an entire nation of people were wiped out because of the greed and thirst for power of one person. What if most of them died defending the identity of the Avatar? :(
I’ve thought of Monk Gyatso and the others dying to protect Aang’s identity, and since Aang ran away and they didn’t know where he’d gone, that probably ticked off Sozin even more. =(
Guru Pathik, being 150 years of age when Aang met him, was around back then. I like to think he helped some Air Nomads escape and stay hidden.
I still think Ty Lee is an Air Nomad descendent hiding in plain sight. She has the grey eyes, brown hair, effervescent personality, and amazing acrobatic skills. Her parents also had a lot of kids. There are probably more left than Aang thinks; many just don’t know their own family history.