In the Avatar world, why are Firebending and lightning generation linked? In Western culture, it seems like air and lightning mesh better (weather phenomena), or perhaps water and lightning (a la Storm from the X-Men?). From a science point-of-view, they're both plasmas, but is there some Eastern connection, or why did the creators connect the two?

  • Even as a "westerner", I see more in common between fire and lightning than between lightning and air/water. Just because things mesh well together (as you mention storms and Storm), doesn't mean it necessarily makes the best sense that they should share the same origin. But that's just my $0.02. May 4, 2016 at 20:08
  • Waterbenders already got blood magic as a second ability, earth guys got ironbending and airbenders got flying. Would be unjust to leave the firefolk without a sub-bending.
    – Shana Tar
    Nov 23, 2018 at 16:17

5 Answers 5


Lightning is linked with firebending through many reasons.

But first you have to think what is fire and lightning:

Fire – a state, process, or instance of combustion in which fuel or other material is ignited and combined with oxygen, giving off light (same as the glow of lightning), heat, and flame.

Lightning – a brilliant electric (creates light) spark (fire) discharge in the atmosphere, occurring within a thundercloud, between clouds, or between a cloud and the ground.

Both fire and lightning are linked due to the flow of energy. Fire, when has no fuel, ceases to exist. While at the same time, lightning appears for seconds.

In the Indian culture fire was called Agni, and it had has three forms: fire, lightning and the sun.

In Avatar the Last Air Bender, lightning was considered "Cold-Blooded Fire". And in several occasions (not just in the show), the lightning creates fire when it stuck the surface of a flammable object, let's say wood.

Also, Lightning and Fire burns.

  • 2
    Good catch on the Agni, probably the source of the phrase Agni Kai. With the avatar verse rooted in many Asiatic cultures, though using Classical Hindu's and Tibetan philosophy's 4 physical elements as opposed to the 5 Chinese physical elements. Also in Japanese Philosophy lightning is an extension of Ka, or fire chi. Jul 19, 2012 at 19:51
  • It may also help to think about 1) Lightning and fire are both forms of energy (electric and thermal) and 2) Before they figured out how to make fire ourselves (without spirits), lightning strikes would have been a natural source of fire
    – user31178
    Jan 16, 2015 at 22:54

Note that firebending is technically the bending of chi energy, chi energy leaves the body through the limbs as fire. Lightning bending is the separation of chi energies yin and yang, which create an imbalance. This causes the energies to come crashing back to each other, creating lightning.


There are 3 different main theories on how firebenders can bend lightning:

  1. Firebenders bend Chi, which would also explain how in TLOK the firebender could detect a dark spirit.
  2. Firebenders bend therno energy; this theory is o.k except though then that would mean firebenders are able to bend radiation.
  3. Firebenders bend kinetic Energy; this makes sense except what else kinetic Energy is, it is essentially where the energy flows once an object makes contact with anything from solids to liquids, some kinetic energy goes to the object making contact the others go to the air and into the object that was made contact with. If the bender bent kinetic energy they could make their punch go only to the thing it is touching so you don't get hurt but the object gets severely damaged and vice versa if an Earthbender throws a rock at you or anybody hits you. But this is the most plausible because kinetic energy is powered by the sun, this would make sense on how the Day of The Black Moon affected the Firebenders, the moon gets it's glow from the reflection of the sun, on the eclipse the sun is completely blocked so that means no powers
  • Are you sure you mean "thermodynamics?" It's not a concrete noun; it's like saying "firebenders bend eligibility." You say this is well thought out; can you provide a reference?
    – DavidW
    May 15, 2020 at 22:28
  • thermodynamics /ˌθəːmə(ʊ)dʌɪˈnamɪks/ Learn to pronounce NOUN the branch of physical science that deals with the relations between heat and other forms of energy (such as mechanical, electrical, or chemical energy), and, by extension, of the relationships between all forms of energy. May 15, 2020 at 23:46
  • And also what I mean is they can bend what the work of Thermodynamics such as heat and temperature, and their relation to energy, work, radiation, and properties of matter May 15, 2020 at 23:51

Both properties involve the excitation of atoms and the manipulation of thermal energy.


If you want to get into the science behind it, you should look up information on a device called a thermoelectric generator. LSS, in Avatar lore firebenders can turn themselves into thermoelectric generators, allowing them to convert heat into electricity and shoot lightning.

Rub your hands together and they warm up. Friction generates heat. Rub a certain material on shaggy carpet and you can generate an electrical charge. Bring the material close to a conductive metal and a bolt of lightning will shoot from the material to the metal. Kinetic energy can generate both heat and electricity. Theoretically, firebenders can create both heat and electrical charges through channeling energy through their cells or clothing and discharging the energy as fire or lightning.

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