Avatar’s original plan for Azula’s team was totally different! (No Ty Lee & Mai)
Of all the antagonists Aang faced in Avatar: The Last Airbender, Azula was by far the most formidable one. Even though the final battle was against Firelord Ozai, it was Azula who gave Aang the most trouble. Moreover, she was only so dangerous because of her team of friends – Ty Lee and Mai. These three almost defeated Aang at every stage of the show. However, the Avatar creators initially had a different plan for Azula’s team. And it didn’t involve Ty Lee and Mai at all!
Azula came into Avatar: The Last Airbender after General Zhao’s invasion of the Northern Water Tribe failed catastrophically. Firelord Ozai had trained his daughter to become the ultimate weapon he would use to conquer all the kingdoms. And the fact that she was a firebending prodigy since her youth helped her case. And so, she was given the tough task of capturing her Uncle Iroh and her brother Prince Zuko. She almost caught them single-handedly, but ultimately realized that she would need the help of her friends. That’s when fan favorites Ty Lee and Mai jumped into the show. And it was all bad news for Avatar Aang afterward.
When Azula teamed up with Ty Lee and Mai, they really gave team Avatar a run for their money. Ty Lee was especially lethal because she knew how to block the chi paths of her opponents, rendering them paralyzed and without their bending powers too. On the other hand, Mai was exceptionally skillful at throwing stilettos, which is a skill she learned because she was bored. Team Azula was truly a death squad. However, Avatar’s creators initially had a completely different idea about Azula’s team.
Avatar creators wanted Azula to have a team of ninjas instead
In season 2’s Avatar Extras for the episode “Return to Omashu,” the creators revealed that their initial idea for Azula’s team was to fill it with a team of ninjas. However, they decided to abandon that idea and went for two companies with personalities and character arcs. Even though ninjas seemed more apt for a character as powerful as Princess Azula, adding Ty Lee and Mai was the right decision by far. These two characters were truly great and likable like all the others from Avatar: The Last Airbender. The audience was truly invested in their stories and personalities.
Moreover, this gave us that memorable moment when Mai deceived Princess Azula for Prince Zuko, followed by Ty Lee blocking Azula’s chi paths which left all of our mouths wide open. Furthermore, Mai and Zuko’s relationship also gave their characters a different insight and really humanized them. And of course, Princess Azula’s nervous breakdown in the finale would not have been possible without Ty Lee and Mai betraying her in the episode “The Boiling Rock”. And ultimately, it is these effective changes and incredible writing that made Avatar: The Last Airbender such an iconic show.