It’s been 15 years since “Avatar: The Last Airbender” first premiered on Nickelodeon in 2005, becoming a massive commercial success. Now that the animated series is available on Netflix (and the streamer’s no. 1 most popular show this week), fans old and new are able to experience the story of 12-year-old Aang, the Avatar and sole survivor of the Air Nomads, as he and his friends work to restore harmony between the Water, Fire, Earth and Air nations.
However, the popular series that fans know and love today didn’t turn out to be what the creators originally envisioned. It’s hard to imagine the show without Zuko, the vindictive fire nation prince fans hated to love, or the “cabbage man” who became a recurring fan favorite, but both characters were nearly erased in the writer’s room.
Here are eight surprising facts about the beloved series:
The “Cabbage Man”
‘My Cabbages!’ ’is a line all-too-familiar with viewers of the show. Originally meant as comic relief, the “cabbage man” wasn’t supposed to stick around long, but the writers kept him as a running gag throughout the series.
Prince Zuko Write In
Prince Zuko was initially just an extension of the Fire Lord’s persona, and never actually meant to be a main character. To give some more allure and storyline to the Fire Lord’s vindictive quest, they had to write in a character that would bolster the cat and mouse chase around the kingdoms that would eventually birth a maturing and relatable cast of characters. It also gave us someone that we honestly kept around to hate, but won our hearts over by revealing a complex persona behind a detestable facade.
Toph Was Originally Meant to be a Guy
To serve Toph’s tough and rugged exterior, the show’s producers suggested that she be given a more correlated physique. She, the most powerful earth-bender, was initially meant to be a “he” that was as strong physically as they were appearance wise. Shocker.
Zuko and Katara Were Almost a Thing
The relationship between these two was supposed to blossom into a full-blown romance. The writers of the show tossed around the idea of Zuko and Katara ending up together. Unfortunately, their romance was not meant to be.
Sokka’s Boomerang Personality
Where would this series be without Sokka’s goofy humor to cut through the animosity? Originally meant to be yet another dry and sobering serious character, the character’s voice actor Jack DeSena decided to add his own flair to the character’s personality. It wound up being quite the success and ended up perfectly enveloping the nature of the show’s biting yet moving nature.
Azula Was Meant to Have an Arranged Marriage
Yup, Azula, spearheaded to be the most heinous of the fire nation’s armory, was supposed to get married. According to the show’s creators, during Book Three, Azula was actually meant to have an arranged marriage. Thankfully, the idea was later scrapped.
Co-Creator Michael DiMartino Left “Family Guy” to work on “The Last Airbender”
One of the co-creators of “The Last Airbender,” Michael DiMartino, actually worked on “Family Guys” for years, directing and writing a number of episodes, but left the Fox comedy show in 2002 to work on his passion project, “The Last Airbender.”
Uncle Iroh Almost Betrayed Zuko
There isn’t a more likeable character in the series than Uncle Iroh, so it’s hard to imagine that the series finale ended with him stabbing his favorite nephew, prince Zuko, in the back. In Iroh’s original role in the series, the uncle was intended to betray Zuko, acting as a double agent that would have been a major plot twist in the animated series. Thankfully, the writers finished the series with the happy ending Uncle Iroh deserved.