For Millennials. By Millennials.
TV doesn’t get more perfect than ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’. It’s amazing how the creators made such a perfect show, despite it being a cartoon. And the audience could guess from the pilot that it’s going to be an amazing ride. But, Nickelodeon had prepared another pilot that never saw the light of day. And it is way darker than you’d expect.
The unaired Avatar: The Last Airbender pilot
Nickelodeon recently held a live stream session for ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’. There, they shared the story, with the creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko narrating how ATLA came into existence. During the live stream, the network also released the unaired pilot, which was previously only a part of the DVDs.
This unaired pilot was not very different from the original one. But, it’s clear that the network made some changes to it before airing it on TV. For example, Mitchel Musso initially was the voice actor of Aang, the Avatar. Zach Tyler Eisen later replaced Musso as Aang, which is the voice we associate with the character to this day. Moreover, Katara was a slightly different character in this unaired pilot. She depended a lot on Aang, which was uncharacteristic of her since everyone pretty much depended on her throughout ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’. And for some reason, they all referred to her as Kya.
How the unaired pilot different was darker
In terms of the plot, the unaired pilot was very different than the original Avatar pilot. For instance, that entire part where Sokka and Katara stumble upon Aang by chance is skipped. Instead, we catch them in the middle of their adventures, running away from Zuko (Dante Basco). Moreover, Momo is already a part of the team, and another creature from season 2 makes an appearance as well. We’re talking about the serpent from the episode, “The Serpent’s Pass.”
Avatar Aang, Appa, and the rest of the gang manages to escape the serpent. But, when Zuko faced the serpent, it spelled a very horrifying end for the beast. Here’s a snapshot from the unaired pilot:
Yes, that is the decapitated head of the serpent being rolled into the camp by Fire Nation soldiers. His face has burn marks from Zuko’s attack as well. And look at how its tongue is clapped between its death. This is way darker than anything we have seen throughout ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’.
How was this pilot not okay for ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’
Throughout the series, we never saw anyone get murdered, let alone see their lifeless and damaged body. Even Jet’s dead body, who died in the Earth Kingdom, was never shown on screen. Despite the incredible power that earthbenders, firebenders, airbenders, or the Avatar himself wielded, they never killed anyone with it. Even Zuko was never this cruel in the entirety of ATLA. This is too graphic for a cartoon show suitable for all audiences, especially that of ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’.
Furthermore, this pilot doesn’t introduce us to our main characters the same way that the original one does. In the first few minutes, we knew exactly what kind of characters Sokka, Katara, and Aang were. And the show did an equally good job on the introduction of Zuko and Uncle Iroh as well.
The Avatar live-action series
There is a live-action series based on ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ in production at Netflix. However, the creators of ATLA recently revealed that they’re no longer part of the production of that show. This was a very sad blow, especially after they revealed that there were serious creative differences. As a result, fans are questioning how good the live-action series will be. Chances are, it might be a forgettable one, that ATLA lovers just won’t ever revisit. But, we’ll have to wait and see. Let us know in the comments below if you think this unaired pilot of ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ was suitable for the show or not.