Been a while I don't watch the series, but it is strongly implied that the Fire Nation killed all airbenders. Of course, since they probably have no armies, they would be easy targets.

But, the nomads seem to have lived in places difficult to reach. If the Fire Nation attacks, the nomads should have had plenty of time to run away (you know, they can fly after all). Fly where? Well, there were plenty of places relatively free from Fire Nation's influence even after the hundred year war, like the Earth Kingdom's Omashu or Ba Sing Se. Of course, they're nomads and wouldn't like to stay and live in cities like these, but I'd rather do that than being massacred by the Fire Nation.

As a side, small note, we also see in the air temples "Chambers that can only be opened by an airbender" that somehow seem to have worked and kept their contents safe from the Fire Nation. Now then, if they didn't want to run away, these chambers look like nice bunkers...

Was there a realistic explanation as to how did the Fire Nation effectively kill the 99.9% of all air nomads?


6 Answers 6


They managed to kill them in a variety of ways.

  • They probably used airships to reach the hidden mountain enclaves which could only be reached by sky bison. (Though this is still likely to be a plot hole since the origin of airships officially doesn't happen for one hundred years. The storyline says the Air Temples were attacked and destroyed, it just doesn't quite mention how.)

  • They used overwhelming firepower to take down other groups and judging by the losses taken by the Fire Nation, the Air Nomads did not go quietly.

  • Lastly they tricked them into coming out of their hideouts by stealing and using relics to create places where Air Nomad escapees might try to gain refuge and then killing them.

This was a systematic and well considered plan of genocide on the part of Firelord Sozin.

A small number of Air Nomads escaped the initial attack on the temples and proved too elusive for the Fire Nation to hunt down. Changing tactics, Fire Lord Sozin removed relics from the temples and had a number of small residences high in the mountains furnished with them, giving these places the appearance of being inhabited by other Air Nomad refugees. Using spies to spread rumors about these safe houses throughout the Earth Kingdom population, Sozin successfully lured the remaining airbenders into the hands of waiting Fire Nation soldiers, and eliminated them. --Avatar Wiki > Air Nomad Genocide

  • 13
    Regarding airships...wasn't the airships of the fire nation just developed during the series by that scientist/engineer in one of the temples? I was under the impression that he had just developed those and had already send the plans to the fire nation. As far as I know, there are also no hints that the fire nation had airships before that.
    – Bobby
    Jun 8, 2013 at 13:34
  • 1
    Argh, I so wanted an Order 66 answer. Jun 9, 2013 at 8:31
  • Yeah, every mountain can be climbed given enough effort and considering their pacifist nature and desire to avoid conflict I could see them being driven from the air temples before being cornered and wiped out. Aug 19, 2014 at 3:06
  • @Bobby You're right, airships were developed after the genocide of the air nomads (Season 1 Epsiode 17, "The Northen Air Temple")
    – USFBS
    Jun 1, 2015 at 16:55

Well obviously they couldn't get there so easily. My theory is that when Sozin's Comet came, they used a firebending technique called Jet Propulsion. Jet Propulsion is a firebending technique, which a trained master could use. Jet Propulsion is a skilled technique which boosts a firebender of the ground into the air at high speeds, the fire derives from the benders arms and feet boosting them into the air.

This is a valid answer because this is a skill which could be used by firebenders and it makes sense because; how could they use dragons when they were killed by Fire Lord Sozin's orders. Airships/War Ballons hadn't existed yet as they were not constructed for 100 years after this event. Sozin's Comet gave firebenders enhanced bending power, they used this to an advantage to use their increased power to kill Air Nomads and cause destruction to The Air Temples. They probably used firebending technique to get to the high Air Temples and used bending techniques such as Lightning Generation to kill the Air Nomads.

They also could have used tundra tanks as their exact year of construction is unknown. The Tundra Tanks could be used like on the show in the episode The Northern Air Temple in season 1, to get to Air Temples.

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    Dragon killing wasn't a sport until Roku died, presumably because Roku wouldn't have let that happen. And Iroh was supposedly the last Dragon killer, years before Zuko was born, so there is a 100 year period of when that happened. Both Roku and Sozin had domesticated dragons as mounts/pets, they could have been used in the start of the war.
    – user16696
    Jun 14, 2014 at 17:54
  • Using jet propulsion is supported by the fact that Ozai, arguably the most powerful firebender in Aang's time, propelled himself with fire during Sozin's Comet. If he could do it and be nimble enough to stand toe to toe with the Avatar during the Comet, others might have been able to do the same with the untrained airbenders a hundred years before. Mar 26, 2017 at 2:23

I was thinking maybe the Fire Nation used the dragons before they became extinct in order to fly to the temples and massacre the Air Nomads unsuspectingly. As for the Air Nomads who did escape, the Fire Nation used trickery to kill them.

  • 1
    Do you have any information from the show to suggest this?
    – Adamant
    Oct 27, 2016 at 22:20
  • I have no evidence about the dragons, except the fact that they can fly which would have made it easy for the Fire Nation to get to the Air Temples. As for the Air Nomads being killed by trickery, evidence for that is posted above in Thaddeus Howze's post. For me, I just think dragons make more sense than airships, considering those weren't invented until much later. Of course, there is always the tanks with the chains and hooks that can climb mountains which is another plausible option.
    – Gillian
    Oct 27, 2016 at 22:26
  • Yeah. It looks like all the answers are somewhat speculative.
    – Adamant
    Oct 27, 2016 at 22:27

Maybe they used ships to sail to the Air Temples and since Sozin's Comet gives firebenders improved fire power anywhere I guess they sailed to the air temples and climbed up the mountain. Air Nomads were oblivious to the fact that the Fire Nation would attack, so they would do there regular things until they came. They could get there as a flying bison isn't needed to get to an air temple because obviously Fire Nation didn't have any, and as seen The Mechanist and the other people got to the Northern Air Temple without Sky Bison. So I guess that means Aang was wrong about needing a Sky Bison to get to an Air Temple.


Although probably not canon, in the trading card game based on the ATLA show, there was at least one villainous Air Bender who was said to have assisted the Fire Nation in entering and raiding the Air Temples.

  • I'll upvote this if you can provide a source.
    – Rogue Jedi
    Nov 1, 2015 at 23:36

I didn't understand at first how can they reach the air temple! But in the serious when zuko and aang go on a journey of the avatar before him n zuko grand father, they where Riding on dragons to beat the volcano! Like bisons are air benders pets a I guess dragons was the fire nations! Till they hunted them, maybe that's how they reach the air temple!

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