|Fandom:||Avatar: The Last Airbender|
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Aang/Katara is the main canon pairing of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
Katara met Aang in the very first episode, freeing him from a large iceberg. The two became fast friends, getting along beautifully from the outset as Katara accepted his invitation to go penguin-sledding with her. When he learned she was a Waterbender, Aang promised Katara he would help her get to the North Pole to find a master. The journey was chronicled through season 1, with Aang becoming friends with Katara's brother Sokka and soon developing a crush on Katara.
The relationship was a series-long slow burn, a strong friendship blossoming into mutual crushes. It became apparent how they felt about each other, mostly via Aang's very obvious crush midway through season 1 but also through subtle gestures and body language from Katara. The question was not if they would get together but when. The series closed with a kiss between the two, and the sequel comics delved more into the relationship's growth.
Though not explosively popular, Aang/Katara had a large and very devoted fanbase. The appeal of the pairing was watching the characters build a friendship and grow together, overcoming obstacles, protecting each other and getting stronger as the series progressed. The fans would document and write lengthy posts on Livejournal and Tumblr discussing the defining moments of the relationship; big favorites were "The Fortuneteller" when Katara realized she thought of Aang as more than just a "sweet goofy guy," the season 2 finale, their dance in the second episode of season 3, and the kiss they shared just before the midseason battle.
The ship was quite versatile to fans, whose works ranged from G-rated fluff, character and relationship building, angst, hurt/comfort, and smut. Most smut aged the characters up, set in a distant future, but others wrote tame sexual explorations that didn't go further.
When it was announced that Aang and Katara had not only stayed together and married but that a major character in Legend of Korra was one of their three children, the fans were ecstatic. Many enjoyed speculating on what the comics and the series didn't cover: Aang and Katara's wedding, the births of their children, and how they spent their time as a family.
Controversy and bashing
This pairing has come under a lot of fire from the fandom, quite possibly one of the most controversial pairings in a children's show. Part of this is due to the popularity of rival ship Zuko/Katara, whose fans felt their pairing deserved to be canon more due to Zuko being older and better-looking or just hating Aang for varied reasons. This led to the ship war Kataang vs Zutara. Some of the more extreme shippers denounced Kataang as fake and insisted the ending was just Aang's dream, and turned many vicious attacks on the creators. Others wrote lengthy essays trying to disprove the validity of Aang/Katara, or trying to make the pairing sound as creepy and horrible as possible to discredit it.
Other fans felt the series didn't handle the pairing correctly, finding the kiss at the end of the series rushed due to the last major interaction between Aang and Katara being tense and awkward. Even fans of the pairing felt this way; despite rooting for the characters to be together at the end, they'd wished for a more clear resolution of the tense, awkward scene in "The Ember Island Players."
The shipping war never really calmed down, but the Legend of Korra announcement and confirmation of Aang/Katara lasting past the end of the series set the fires roaring anew. Recently, TVTropes and parts of Tumblr have claimed that only Mike and Bryan cared about Aang/Katara, forcing it on the writers, animators, and voice actors who preferred Zuko/Katara.
Fans of the ship were often accused of liking and defending it "just because it was canon," but many fans quickly refuted that by pointing out how they enjoyed the chemistry between the characters and their interactions, and would ship it no matter what.