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The Worst Choice Katara Ever Made On Avatar: The Last Airbender

"Flameo, hotman!" Even though it went off the air in 2008, "Avatar: The Last Airbender" is still considered one of Nickelodeon's best animated shows. While the series is targeted at children, it appealed to a wide audience by gracefully handling serious topics like genocide, war, and imperialism. With beautiful animation, complex world-building, and a laundry list of compelling characters, it's no wonder that the show is still relevant today. Its popularity surged once again when it was added to Netflix during the COVID-19 pandemic, and the streaming service even has an "Avatar: The Last Airbender" live-action series in the works.

Although Aang (Zach Tyler Eisen) and the development of his elemental powers are a main focus of the series, the other main characters bring a necessary levity to the narrative. Without Sokka's (Jack De Sena) constant stream of jokes and Toph's (Michaela Jill Murphy) wry humor, the show wouldn't be the same. Katara (Mae Whitman) is often the voice of hope and reason as the characters travel the world in preparation to defeat the Fire Nation. Her friends even note that she is often the most responsible member of their group.

However, there are several moments throughout the series where Katara lets her emotions get the better of her. All the characters make questionable decisions at one point or another on "Avatar: The Last Airbender," but what is the worst choice Katara ever made on the show?

The Painted Lady was a risky move

Katara took a significant risk in Season 3, Episode 3, "The Painted Lady." The plot follows Aang, Sokka, Toph, and Katara as they travel in disguise through the Fire Nation while preparing for an upcoming solar eclipse that will weaken the enemy firebenders. Along the way, they find a fishing village that's being polluted by a nearby Fire Nation factory. When everyone else wants to continue on their journey, Katara makes Appa (Dee Bradley Baker) appear sick, forcing them to stay nearby. Katara assumes the role of the Painted Lady, a local legendary river spirit, in order to help the ailing villagers.

While her actions aren't malicious, Katara still draws attention to her friends, who are wanted criminals in the Fire Nation. Considering the Fire Nation's brutal attitude toward its opposers, Katara jeopardizes the entire mission by revealing her identity as a waterbender. Fans on Reddit were divided about Katara's actions in the episode, but one user summed up the problem with her thought process perfectly. "Her method of using disguise was creating an environment where the town truly believed there was a higher power solving all their problems for them," wrote u/ST34MYN1CKS.

This episode points to Katara's most prominent foible: She always thinks she knows best for everyone, regardless of their input. Even though it all works out in the end, Katara could have been more careful considering the other lives at risk.