‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ Comparison: How Well Did Netflix Capture the Nickelodeon Series Locations & Characters?

We compare the character and locations from the Nickelodeon series to Netflix's live-action adaptation.

Ashley Hurst What's on Netflix Avatar

Netflix Avatar The Last Airbender Vs Nickelodeon Series

Pictures: Nickelodeon / Netflix

Netflix’s live-action adaptation of Nickelodeon’s beloved fantasy cartoon, Avatar: The Last Airbender, is here! As far as adaptations go, Avatar has proven to be a bit of a mixed bag. Let’s see how some of the most significant locations and characters compare to their animated counterparts. 

While far from a shot-for-shot adaptation of the original series, Netflix’s live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender retains plenty of likeness to the original. Some scenes and characters are perfect live-action recreations of their cartoon counterparts. However, other elements are shadows of what they once were.

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With that in mind, here’s our side-by-side of how the live-action remake looks in comparison to the beloved original series.

How The Main Cast Compares in Netflix’s Avatar: The Last Airbender to Nickelodeon’s

Team Avatar

Avatar: The Last Airbender

If a live-action Avatar: The Last Airbender was ever going to be a success, the casting team simply had to get the casting right for its core team: Aang, Katara, and Sokka. From the actors to the costumes, they got it right. Gordon Cormier is the spitting image of Aang, Kiawentiio perfectly embodies the caring nature of Katara, and Ian Ousley aces the comedic side of Sokka’s character.

Their chemistry was fantastic, balancing humour with the more serious tones. Now we wait to see who they have in mind to cast as Top Beifong in season 2, which will complete Team Avatar.


Avatar: The Last Airbender

Aang’s flying bison, Appa, was recreated perfectly in live-action. Big, cuddly and unbelievably cute, Appa translates seamlessly into the new medium. The team did a great job at bringing him to the screen, and also giving him some personality along the way. Although it is surprising that nobody says the famous ‘Yip Yip’ to get him flying anywhere near as much as we expected.


Avatar: The Last Airbender

Team Avatar’s beloved lemur companion, Momo, makes up the other loyal creature. Like Appa, he’s super cute and expressive, and a lot of fun to see come to life in live-action.

Zuko and Iroh

Avatar: The Last Airbender

The relationship between Zuko (Dallas Liu) and Iroh (Paul Sun-Hyung Lee) was one of the best aspects of Netflix’s reimagining. Fans loved the seriousness of Zuko coupled with the tea-loving, wise-cracking Iroh partnership in the cartoon, and the live-action version expands on their backstory, adding some extra weight to their scenes.


Avatar The Last Airbender

Azula doesn’t feature in season one of the animated show, but given her status as a beloved character, the writers extended her story to fit into the first batch of episodes. Her drive to prove herself to her father, while endlessly trying to one-up her brother Zuko, added plenty to her story.

Going into season 2, fans have an idea of just how powerful Azula is, and how she ties into the larger story. Introducing us to Azula early on was a great move, and Elizabeth Yu plays the role brilliantly!

Fire Lord Ozai

Avatar The Last Airbender

Fierce and immensely powerful, Daniel Dae Kim brings the ruthless Fire Lord Ozai to our screens with a flourish. His intimidating presence adds to the gloomy tone of the show.

Ozai plays a bigger role in the first season of the Netflix show than he does in the cartoon. This expanded presence allows fans to get a greater grasp of the extremely high stakes, but also how he treats his two children: Zuko and Azula.

Admiral Zhao

Avatar The Last Airbender 7

Played by Ken Leung, Zhao is a ruthless Admiral of the Fire Nation who goes toe-to-toe with Zuko in the search for the Avatar. he lacks empathy towards Zuko’s cause of regaining his honour, and instead takes the lead in the search for Aang. Leung’s sideburn game might not be on the same level as the cartoon version, but he still aces the menacing motivations of Zhao.

Avatar Kyoshi

Avatar: The Last Airbender

Thanks to a series of novels chronicling her story, Avatar Kyoshi (Yvonne Chapman)has become a favourite in the Avatar fandom. And leveraging on her popularity, the creators of the Netflix show gave her a chance to shine. When the Fire Nation attacks Kyoshi Island, Aang visits Kyoshi’s shrine, where she connects with him and returns to her physical form to fight off the Fire Nation. It’s a pretty epic scene, and it was fantastic to see Kyoshi in battle.


Avatar The Last Airbender

The leader of the Kyoshi Warriors on Kyoshi Island, Suki becomes a love interest of Sokka. She’s strong and fierce, and isn’t afraid to show it to Sokka when he comes across as arrogant. Suki has long been a popular figure in the fandom, and should Netflix’s Avatar get more seasons, there’s no doubt that Maria Zhang’s character will continue to impress.

King Bumi

Avatar The Last Airbender 2

King Bumi’s story arc was significantly different in live-action compared to animation. In the Netflix show, he’s decadent and serious; whereas, the cartoon version is more of a goofy trickster. This change was one of those that, on the whole, didn’t go down too well among fans.

Despite a good performance from Utkarsh Ambudkar, the story had just changed too much. Bumi revealed who he was to Aang much earlier than he did in the animation. Plus, neither Katara nor Sokka were there… well at least not until the final moment, but at that point the ship had sailed.


Avatar The Last Airbender 6

Live-action Jet is a great resemblance of his animated version. He’s got that same cheeky personality, and of course, actor Sebastian Amoruso looks just like him, too. Jet is a Freedom Fighter (in the cartoon, he hails from Ba Sing Se; whereas the live-action moves him to Omashu) who is determined to take down the Fire Nation. He and his group of Freedom Fighters will stop at nothing to attack the Fire Nation and get revenge for what they’ve done to the world.


Avatar: The Last Airbender

June is an immensely powerful freelance bounty hunter from the Earth Kingdom, though she affiliates herself with no one. Given her notoriety as one of the greatest bounty hunters in the Four Nations, she fetches a hefty price. But her expertise is unparalleled, and when Zuko and Iroh come across her, they decide to enlist her services to capture Avatar Aang.

Needless to say, actress Arden Cho couldn’t have been more perfectly cast as June. She closely resembles the character, and her costume is spot on!


Avatar The Last Airbender

Koh the Face Stealer is an entity from the Spirit World. He’s got a complicated history with past Avatars, and when Aang encounters him, he steals both Sokka and Katara, and Aang must seek help from within the Fire Nation to reclaim his friends. The live-action version of Koh is brilliant. Voiced by the iconic George Takei, Koh is terrifying; I only hope we see more of Koh in the future!


Avatar The Last Airbender

In the season finale, when the Fire Nation attacks the Northern Water Tribe, Commander Zhao takes away the power to waterbend by killing the Moon Spirit. As a result, the Ocean Spirit becomes enraged, and channels its anger through Avatar Aang, transforming into Koizilla; a towering water entity, capable of destroying the Fire Nation.

Seeing Koizilla translate to live-action was superb. The team did an incredible job at bringing it to our screens. The scale, the design — it’s fantastic, and capped off a brilliant finale!

Locations of Avatar: The Last Airbender in Netflix vs Nickelodeon

Southern Air Temple

Some of the locations in Netflix’s Avatar were absolutely stunning and seeing these places come to life was incredible. The Southern Air Temple is a glorious example of this. The towering buildings surrounded by lush greenery… it’s superb.

In the animated show, we don’t really see the Southern Air Temple until it’s been destroyed by the Fire Nation’s attack. But the live-action show gives us a bit of background. We see the temple in the peak of its beauty.

Avatar: The Last Airbender



Avatar: The Last Airbender

Speaking of beauty and scale, Omashu — the second largest city in the Earth Kingdom —  is similarly spectacular. I loved how they designed the characteristic chutes that carry goods across the city. The attention to detail is wonderful. As is the scale. It feels like a thriving city rather than a soulless CGI design.

Northern Water Tribe

Avatar: The Last Airbender

The Northern Water Tribe is the main setting for the final battle in season one. With enormous, towering ice walls, it’s well suited to face the siege from the Fire Nation. The fortress well encapsulated the feel of the cartoon counterpart. It certainly kept that same magnificence, helping the final battle feel more epic in scale.

How would you rate the translation from Nickelodeon’s animated series to live-action? Let us know in the comments.

Written by

An expert in all things geek with a particular emphasis on DC, Marvel, Star Wars, and Game of Thrones. On Netflix, Ashley is an expert on The Sandman, Dead Boy Detectives and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Bylines at Winter is Coming and Comic Book Resources and notably runs a fan page social account for Netflix's The Sandman.

 Poster Rating: TV-14
Language: English
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy
Cast: Gordon Cormier, Kiawentiio, Ian Ousley
Season Additions:
  • - Season 1 was added to Netflix on February 22nd, 2024
  • - 3 Seasons was added to Netflix on May 15th, 2020