I recently rewatched all of Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra, and I found a pattern. All waterbenders have blue eyes, airbenders have grey, firebenders have hazel and earthbenders have green.

Has this been noticed by anyone else in the Avatar universe? If so, how was Team Avatar able to stay unnoticed by so many in the Fire Nation if they couldn't change their eye color?

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    I always figured it wasn't specific to bending, but genetics- people from the Water Tribes have blue eyes, regardless of whether or not they can bend, I suspect. – Adele C Jun 28 '12 at 3:11
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    Don't Mako and Bolin have the eye color of their respective elements? I suppose it could still be genetic since they're from a mixed family, but it makes it more likely that it's be correlated to bending ability... – Micah Jun 28 '12 at 3:27
  • @Micah Yes, Mako and Bolin have the eyecolors that correspond to their elements. – sevvack Aug 4 '14 at 3:16
  • The fun of genetics, is simply that If everyone has the same color eyes, the children are likely to have that color of eye, especially with recessive colors, like blue and green. 2 blue eyed parents basically can only have blue eyed children with possibly rare exceptions, usually mutations. That being said, since bending seems partially genetic, there may be a relationship between the eye color genes and the bending genes, but as the answer points out, its not an unbreakable bond. – Ryan Oct 25 '16 at 16:58
  • I can't answer due to my low reputation on the site but during the episode when Aang goes to the fire nation school as "Kuzon" there are several scenes where his eyes are brown/red to blend in, and among the fire nation students there are students with various colored eyes. See the following two screen captures: imgur.com/G87iC6g and imgur.com/UAIQX3H – Albert Renshaw Oct 10 '17 at 7:46

I do not think what we see in the show provides any evidence that there is any causal relationship between bending power and eye color, beyond tribal/familial/genetic ties.

We see many people who possess blue eyes, but not all are Waterbenders. Sokka is one prime example of this. In fact, the lack of reaction to Katara's blue eyes while she was journeying in the Fire Nation with Aang is actually evidence that blue eyes are not a mark of a Waterbender. She claimed to be a refuge from the colonies, and no one really thought anything of it.

In addition, in The Legend of Korra, we see several "mixed race" benders, and they do not support this "eye color causation" theory.

Tenzin has blue eyes, like his mother, Katara, but he is an Airbender.

Tenzin, shown with blue eyes

Tenzin's children also display deviance from the "Airbenders have grey eyes" theory. Jinora, Tenzin's daughter, is an Airbender, yet she has brownish eyes.

Jinora, shown with brown eyes

Tenzin's newborn son, Rohan, has bright green eyes. He has not been shown Airbending as of yet, but Katara predicted that he would become the most powerful Airbender of the family.

Rohan, shown with green eyes

I believe when it comes down to it, this is really just a confusion of correlation and causation.

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    Hmm I didn't notice this pattern in Legend of Korra. Only in Last Airbender – OghmaOsiris Jun 28 '12 at 5:46
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    Well that makes sense with my genetics theory. In The Last Airbender, the nations were far more isolated. Aang and Katara are the first real cross-nation romance we see. – Gabe Willard Jun 28 '12 at 6:46
  • Only if you look closely you see Tenzin has grey eyes. Everyone outside of Tenzins family and the new airbenders also follows the eye color-element pattern. – sevvack Dec 31 '14 at 7:44

This is a well known genetic phenomenon, known as gene linkage. It means the genes for eye color and bending are located close to one another on the same chromosome. This means they are rarely separated. Coupled with the colloquial genetics idea (Earth Kingdom people tend to have green eyes, etc.) this makes sense.

So we can conclude that the genes for Earth and Water bending lay on the short arm of Chromosome 19, close to 19p13.1-q13.11, and the genes for Fire (brown) and Water (blue) bending lay on the long arm of Chromosome 15.

Air bending is likely entirely different, considering all air nomads were air benders, but Aang's descendants are not pure-breeding air benders. It's likely on a completely different chromosome, and the entire population of Air Nomads were from a common ancestor or population. It's also not linked to any eye color, because look at Jinora and Ikki. This could, however, be explained by the two-"Not Brown" gene loci, meaning they could have inherited the Chromosome 19 "Not Green" gene, but gotten the Chromosome 15 "Yes Brown" gene from Pema. It is also likely Pema could be carrying the Chromosome 19 "not green" gene, as the Chr15 "Yes Brown" gene is dominant over the Chr19 gene.

Rohan could be explained by Pema carrying one copy of the "Yes Green" and one "Not Green" gene and one copy of the "Yes Brown" and one copy of the "Not Brown" genes.

So air bending could be on Chromosome 19, or it could be on any other autosome other than 15.

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    Surely bending is not caused by genetics? Lest airbenders pop up randomly in the fire-nation, etc. – Albert Renshaw Oct 10 '17 at 6:29

My theory is that all waterbenders have blue eyes and all firebenders have hazel/brown eyes no matter what genes. Ive also rewatched tlok and realized that some earthbenders have brown eyes which could be gene related and airbenders can have any depending on genes also. But I believe its more based around bending rather than genes. I know my answer isnt that scientific it just what i observed

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    Is your theory supported by evidence from the show? – Adamant Jul 18 '16 at 3:53

I will give you the answer here; All fire benders have hazel eyes. ALL earth benders have green eyes. ALL water bender have blue eyes. ALL air benders had grey eyes….but now with them being extinct it has changed. NON benders can have any eye color at all…that means they have the genetics of that kind, but didn't get the gene to bend. LIke Sokka would have been a water bender, but never got the bending gene.

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    What evidence could you show us to support this? – Möoz Aug 3 '14 at 23:52
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    ALL benders, except for the benders shown in the accepted answer from 2 years prior. – user20155 Aug 4 '14 at 2:20

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