If Sozin had killed all the airbenders, and then worked through the next three Avatars, would the cycle have stopped? Skipped over? Thrown a Null Avatar Exception?


6 Answers 6


In canon it is stated that the only way to end the Avatar Cycle would be to kill the Avatar while they were in the Avatar State. A specific mention to this vulnerability is by Roku during "The Avatar State", stating it is a time where the Avatar is most vulnerable. (Comment by Micah).

As in-universe, the Avatar is a literal manifestation of the Earth's spirit in human form, they may only be totally destroyed when the whole of the Earth's spirit is present, the Avatar State.

However it is also mentioned in canon, that if Ozai were to destroy the Earth Kingdom, it would totally and irrevocably alter/destroy the balance of the universe they exist in. So it is entirely possible that this balance was only kept alive due to Aang's survival during Sozin's attack on the Air Nomads. So it is not entirely possible that killing off all the airbenders would not only break the Avatar cycle, but also possibly the entire balance of the elements and cause unknowable effects on the environment they exist in.

Edit: In light of Legend of Korra's revelations in Book 2: Spirits. It looks like the destruction of the Earth Kingdom would upset the balance between the elements and would prevent Raava from being able to regenerate into another Avatar. Also, once bending is granted, it can be passed on through genetics, possibly due to a piece of the spirit/chi passing onto the next generation. So in this sense, they can't get back Airbending other than Tenzin's genes and that is all the Airbenders were killed, that the current Avatar Cycle would definitely end, though if Raava was able to find a suitable other vessel (unlikely since only the Energybending Lionturtle is alive to give bending), a new cycle could begin.

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    The only quote I can find about this is Roku's statement from "The Avatar State": "In the Avatar State, you are at your most powerful, but you are also at your most vulnerable. If you are killed in the Avatar State, the reincarnation cycle will be broken and the Avatar will cease to exist." I don't think this rules out that the possibility that there might be some other way of breaking the cycle (though maybe that's implied by "most vulnerable"); it just says that it can be broken by the Avatar dying while in the Avatar State.
    – Micah
    Aug 30, 2012 at 18:10
  • @Micah, and thanks to your comment I just remembered another episode where they start debating the balance of the Four Nations and why Ozai is VERY bad news if he destroys the Earth Kingdom.
    – ardent
    Aug 30, 2012 at 18:27
  • Couldn't the spirit portals alter this bringing about another avatar? The Spirit portals brought about new airbenders?
    – William
    Jun 11, 2017 at 14:20
  • The Air Nomads were world-traveling monks who were both spiritually and sexually liberated (according to the comics). There is no way there aren't Airbender genes floating around in every corner of the world. Apr 5 at 13:09
  • @William That was thanks to Harmonic Convergence, which only happens every 10000 years. If that can fix the cycle by granting the missing element to people, you're still stuck waiting until it happens. Which can be between 1 and 10000 years. Apr 5 at 13:17

I believe it could simply skip to the next element.

There doesn't seem to be a reason for the Avatar cycle to work the way it does. After all, the Avatar is basically the combined spirit of Raava and all of the previous Avatars, flitting from life to life. I don't see any reason why the spirit couldn't be reincarnated by skipping an element.

Besides, there has been no concrete indication that genocide can wipe out a bending ability permanently (Attempts by Sozin and Amon seem to indicate that this is true, however). The lionturtle(s) certainly can intervene and reintroduce the ability (not so unlikely, the mass genocide would lead to a great imbalance which they probably do not like). The current Avatar may be able to use energybending to do the same, if alive. Finally, benders may "reappear" through a recessive gene, though as far as I can tell the bending ability doesn't seem to work that way and only appears if one of the parents has it.

Also, I think that Aang was born the precise moment Roku died, so killing all the airbenders would have just killed Aang and moved the cycle over to the waterbenders. Not sure of this, though, and it's not so relevant.

  • And the order isn't nearly as important as people think. I believe it is more tradition than rule. Aang technically learned Firebending before Earthbending, and the world didn't explode. Apr 5 at 13:14

This answer is in addition to the well thought-out and detailed answer by ardentsonata.

Killing off all the Airbenders would NOT "break" the Avatar cycle, but MIGHT have led to a situation where the Avatar could not REINCARNATE. It's basically the difference between blowing up a plane and keeping it from landing. The plane may not arrive either way, but it's important to recognize that the two ARE different things.

Perhaps part of the original plan was to hasten the return of a Fire Nation Avatar, but Sozen's TRUE goal may not have been so simple. Remember, Aang was 12 years old when Sozen BEGAN the genocide of the Air Nomads - meaning Sozen had already waited 12 YEARS to put this plan into action:

  1. Element bending can be given and taken away through Spirit bending.

  2. Avatar Aang was seemingly the first human to be given Spirit bending by a Lion turtle, though Amon seemed to be able to sever a person's -physical- connection to an element via blood-bending. (Possibly via some form of lobotomy)

  3. Amon was able to Physically remove Korra's bending but Korra was still able to form a NEW connection to Air.

  4. The Avatar reincarnates through all 4 nations. Legend of Korra Book 2 expands this to (seemingly) include ALL humans.

  5. The Avatar ALWAYS masters the element of the nation they are born into first.

    A - This implies that bending is somehow carried from reincarnation to reincarnation and is affected by both the Spirit and the Body of the bender.

(i.e. bending ability and the NUMBER of elements is a product of the Spirit and persists from reincarnation to reincarnation but precisely which element a bender can bend is a product of the body aka. genetics)

Please also consider:

  1. All humans reincarnate upon death.

  2. at the end of the Hundred Year War, the Earth and Fire Nations had a HUGE population

  3. The Southern Water Tribe had a very small population, and few water benders.

  4. The Air Nomads had been exterminated to the point where AT MOST a mere handful survived in hiding amongst the other nations and not a single Airbender had been seen in decades.

    B - IF all humans reincarnate through the Avatar Cycle, all of the above is explained. The Air nomads die and are reincarnated into the Water tribe. When Water and Earth go to war against Fire, Water casualties become Earth warriors and when Earth warriors die, they become Fire Nation. Yet Fire Nation casualties do not reincarnate at all, leading to a sharp drop in Water Nation birth rates. Ultimately, the Fire nation steps up to a Total War footing and mobilizes their entire available population in an endless stalemate against the massively swollen Earth Kingdom population.

C- Killing the Air nomads may have been part of a long-term strategy of attrition warfare on the part of Fire Lord Sozen. In trying to eradicate the next Nation in the reincarnation line, Sozen guaranteed that the souls of his own warriors would not be reborn to fight against him. Meanwhile, his STANDING army only stood to GROW in size.

D- If Phoneix King Ozai had been successful, the mass murder of Earth Kingdom citizens would lead to a temporary baby boom in the Fire Nation, but would greatly hasten the eventual destruction of the entire human race.

E - When you call Tenzen's wife the "Mother of a Nation" try two. Literally.

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    The Avatar ALWAYS masters the element of the nation they are born into first. This implies that bending is somehow carried from reincarnation to reincarnation and is affected by both the Spirit and the Body of the bender. Faulty logic. It is more likely the fact that the Avatar is born into a nation surrounded by benders of a certain type - and raised with the appropriate mindset. Aang learned Airbending first because he was born into a group of Air Nomads. Koora learned Waterbending first because she was born amongst other Waterbenders.
    – phantom42
    Jan 14, 2014 at 13:45
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    All humans reincarnate upon death. Except for the ones that we've seen specifically not reincarnated, like everyone in the Spirit World - both willingly and unwillingly. The only confirmed reincarnation we have seen is the Avatar.
    – phantom42
    Jan 14, 2014 at 13:47
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    Amon was able to Physically remove Korra's bending but Korra was still able to form a NEW connection to Air. No. Amon was a bloodbender. He was effectively blocking everyone's chi, similar to Ty Lee - only in a more "permanent" manner. No "new" connections were made, just restored.
    – phantom42
    Jan 14, 2014 at 13:51
  • Raava/the avatar would reincarnate regardless. Raava is an immortal spirit attached to a human. The reincarnation would probably just be skipped to the next element in the cycle.
    – Reiko96
    Apr 21, 2014 at 8:39

What will probably happen is that a non bender will have a baby that will turn out to be a airbender. The only way to stop the avatar state is by wiping out the avatar connection(avatar state).


I don't think that it would cause there to not be another airbender Avatar. It IS possible to learn an element and be a bender in that without having been taught, as you can see from Katara in ATLA, and again by Korra in LOK. As a child, Korra was earth bending and firebending, and that is how they knew she was the Avatar. So in theory, there could be another avatar, who would have to learn airbending on his/her own, but could possibly never be a master.


Yes I do think their could be an avatar without a master because the first earthbenders learned it without a master. Plus if humans could master bending from the moon, sun, animals, etc then the avatar could do it

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    Hi, welcome to SF&F. To make this a good answer you need to provide some references to some sources that say this is possible, otherwise it's just your personal theory. Please read How to Answer.
    – DavidW
    Jul 20, 2020 at 23:27

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