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The Real Inspiration For Aang's Arrow In The Last Airbender Will Surprise You

Over the years, Nickelodeon has produced numerous successful shows, especially in the realm of animation. From "SpongeBob SquarePants" to "Rugrats," Nick has managed to pull young viewers in with action, adventure, and laughs time and time again. However, for as plentiful as the channel's hits are, a select few stand head and shoulders above the rest as truly special. One of the most celebrated examples is "Avatar: The Last Airbender," which endures as one of the finest cartoons to ever join the Nickelodeon catalog, and it's not hard to see why.

"Avatar" takes viewers to a world where humanity can control, or "bend," fire, water, earth, and air. Civilization is divided along these lines as well, and while most nations are peaceful, the authoritarian Fire Nation desires dominion over all others. Thus, it's up to the last Air Nomad and fabled Avatar, Aang (Zach Tyler Eisen), to master all four elements, stop the Fire Nation, and usher in an era of peace. The only problem is, he's technically just a kid who has to overcome himself in addition to the fierce obstacles standing in his way.

Thanks to his endearing nature and his well-written journey throughout "Avatar: The Last Airbender," Aang has steadily become something of an animated icon. Not to mention, he boasts a recognizable design that's topped off by his signature blue arrow tattoos on his head and hands. Here's where this now-famous element of his character design comes from.

Aang's tattoos call back to Avatar: The Last Airbender concept art

To achieve his destiny as the Avatar, Aang assembles a crew of companions to help him along his journey. There's the sibling duo of Katara (Mae Whitman) and Sokka (Jack DeSena) from the Southern Water Tribe, Toph Beifong (Kate Higgins) of the Earth Kingdom, and later the disgraced prince to the Fire Nation throne, Zuko (Dante Basco). Of course, one would be remiss not to mention Aang's animal allies, Momo the winged lemur and Appa the flying bison, who both featured in one of the earliest pieces of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" concept art.

In the mini-documentary "Avatar Spirits," series creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko discussed their brainstorming process. In looking over all the material they'd created, they highlighted a piece of concept art that featured a young boy with a bald head, a cyborg monkey, and a cross between a dog and a bear that walked on its hind legs. The monkey and the bear eventually became the Momo and Appa we know today, and though the former lost his arrows, they were ultimately repurposed for both Appa and Aang, completing their final looks.

Considering that Aang's arrow tattoos have gone on to become one of his defining features, it's plain to see that DiMartino and Konietzko made the right call passing them to him instead of scrapping them along with Momo's original design.