How old are the characters in Avatar: The Last Airbender? What about the actors?

The original Last Airbender show was animated, so the characters could remain teenagers as long as the producers wanted. The remake uses flesh-and-blood actors, which makes things tricky.
Avatar: The Last Airbender. Gordon Cormier as Aang in episode 101 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Robert Falconer/Netflix © 2023
Avatar: The Last Airbender. Gordon Cormier as Aang in episode 101 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Robert Falconer/Netflix © 2023 /

Next week, Netflix will drop the first season of Avatar: The Last Airbender, its live-action remake of the animated series of the same name. Redoing this show in live-action will present challenges: namely, in the animated show, the characters could stay the same age while the cast and crew worked on all three seasons, which came out on Nickelodeon at a rate of one per year. But Netflix has a problem: its young actors will age as production goes along, and it'll eventually be impossible to insist that they're the same age as they were when the series began shooting. A lot of the main characters are teenagers, and teenage actors grow up fast.

The entirety of the original series, which follows Avatar Aang as he and his friends try to step the tyrannical Fire Nation from taking over the world, takes place over the course of about one calendar year. But because the actors on the Netflix show will age between seasons, showrunner Albert Kim had to rework things a bit. "[W]e had to design this first season, especially, to accommodate the possibility of some time elapsing between the first and the second season,” he said.

This likely means that there will be a time jump between seasons 1 and 2, assuming Netflix orders a second season, which isn't guaranteed. This way, the characters will grow up with the actors.

But how old are the characters at the beginning of the show anyway? how old are the actors?

Gordon Cormier as Aang, the last airbender

Aang: 12 years old

At the start of the show, Aang is just 12 years old. Technically, he's 112, since he's frozen in an iceberg at the age of 12 and then wakes up a century later to find the world in desperate need of saving. But he was inanimate that whole time, so he's still 12.

In the Netflix show, Aang is played by Gordon Cormier, who was 11 years old when he was cast. Cormier is 14 now, so he was probably around 12 or 13 when he was filming the show. That sounds about right.

Avatar: The Last Airbender. Kiawentiio as Katara in episode 101 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Robert Falconer/Netflix © 2023 /

Katara: 14 years old

Katara is a waterbender (meaning she has the power to control the element of water) from the Southern Water Tribe. She and her older brother Sokka find Aang frozen in that iceberg early in the series, and the three of them set out to help save the world. Aang is the Avatar, the only person on the planet who can control all four elements: water, fire, earth and air. It's the Avatar's responsibility to maintain balance in the world, and things got wildly out of balance while Aang was frozen.

Katara is 14 years old at the start of the series. She's played in the Netflix show by Kiawentiio Tarbell, who is 17 years old right now. If we assume she was cast around the same time as Gordon Cormier, that means she was around 14 years old when she cast, and probably 15 or 16 during filming. Again, it sounds about right.

Avatar: The Last Airbender. Ian Ousley as Sokka in episode 101 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Robert Falconer/Netflix © 2023 /

Sokka: 15 years old

Sokka is Katara's older, brasher, more bumbling brother. He often provided the comic relief on the original show, although he also grew into a responsible leader and clever tactician. He's 15 years old when the story begins.

Sokka is played by Ian Ousley, who is 21 years old today. That means he was around 18 when cast and maybe 19 when filming happened. That old enough that it might be hard to convince audiences that Sokka is actually 15, so I wonder if the Netflix show might age the character up a tad.

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Avatar: The Last Airbender. Dallas Liu as Prince Zuko in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Robert Falconer/Netflix © 2023 /

Zuko: 16 years old

Prince Zuko is 16 years old when the original show begins, the oldest of the young lead characters. He's a prince of the Fire Nation, and begins the series as an enemy of Avatar Aang. He has a good heart, though, and changes his attitude over time, although there are a lot of bumps and bruises along the way.

On the Netflix show, Zuko is played by Dallas James Liu, who is 22 years old right now. That means he was around 19 when the cast and 20 when filming the show. Again, I wonder if the show might age the character up a bit to fit the actor. However, by the age of 16, Zuko has already experienced a lot of trauma and has been forced to grow up quickly. It's probably easier to pass off a 20-year-old Dallas James Liu as the 16-year-old Zuko than it is to pass off a 19-year-old Ian Ousley as the 15-year-old Sokka. Zuko already seems older than his years, while Sokka begins the series a bit immature.

Maria Zheng as Suki, and her mother, Yukari, played by Tamlyn Tomita

Suki: 15 years old

Those are the most prominent teenage characters we meet in the first season of the original Last Airbender show, but there are a couple more worth mentioning. First up is Suki, a warrior that Team Avatar encounters early on their journey. She's 15 years old at the start of the original show.

In the Netflix remake Suki is played by Maria Zhang, who is 24 years old. That means she was likley 21 when cast and 22 when filming. Again, the show will probably age her character up a bit, because trying to pass off a 22-year-old actress as a 15-year-old character could look very silly. Also, Suki and Sokka have a romance, so it's in the best interests of the show to convince us that the characters are around the same age. I think Sokka and Suki will both be aged up a bit for the Netflix remake. Maybe they'll be in their late teens rather than their mid-teens.

Avatar: The Last Airbender. Elizabeth Yu as Azula in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Robert Falconer/Netflix © 2023 /

Azula: 14 years old

The last character we'll look at is Azula, Zuko's little sister. Believe it or not, Azula is only 14 years old when we meet her at the very end of the first season of the original show, which is hard to believe given some of the henious, violent, sociopathic stuff she does. She is a cold-hearted villain from the jump, and the fact that she's so young is part of what makes her unnerving.

On the Netflix show, Azula is played by Elizabeth Yu, who is 21 years old right now, a year younger than Zuko actor Dallas James Liu. That means she was around 18 years old when cast and 19 when she filmed the series. It would be hard to find a 14-year-old actress who could convincingly pull off the menace Azula brings to the table, so better cast someone a bit older and age the character up a tick.

We'll spend more time with Azula in the first season of the Netflix remake than we did in the original show. That's just one of the many changes the new series is making to the source material:

Next. atla. Avatar: The Last Airbender: Every confirmed change to Netflix's remake. dark

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