Kataang vs Zutara

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Ship War
ShipWar: Kataang vs Zutara
Fandom: Avatar: The Last Airbender
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Kataang vs Zutara is a Ship War in the fandom of animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, between shippers of two Katara pairings: Kataang (Katara/Aang) and Zutara (Katara/Zuko).

Kataang is generally considered to be the "winner" of the ship war, since it became canon in the series finale and their relationship was further explored in post-canon stories and The Legend of Korra. This has not stopped Zutara's popularity, though, or the fans who still wish or believe it should have been the canon pair. The Zutara fandom is by some considered to be the fan preferred couple, various voice actors have even stated a preference towards Zutara[1]. The popularity of the ship has even spun an event called "Zutara week", which is often considered the first modern fanweek, an annual event that has remained active for decades devoted to the ship.[2]


Zutara shippers developed into two camps: those who were simply passionate about their OTP and those who insisted it become canon. The "cave scene" in "Crossroads of Destiny" was an infamous moment in the shipping war. As well as the entirety of the episode "The Southern raiders".

During the third season, the increased Kataang shiptease (as well as the reveal of Mai as Zuko's love interest) led to outcry among Zutara fans. Zutara and Kataang shippers got into heated debates about which ship would become canon.[3]

ATLA Finale

The finale saw Zuko getting back together with Mai and closed out with a romantic kiss between Aang and Katara, initiated by the latter. Zutara fans were livid. Some even tried to claim that everyone on the staff except Bryan and Mike shipped Zutara in order to validate their insistence that their ship should have won, though many of them failed to provide proper context or evidence.

Immediately after the initial run of the show, there were a number of rumors that appeared concerning the canonical validity of Zutara. One suggested that the show would be getting a fourth season, and that this mysterious fourth season would have Zuko and Katara getting together. Another rumor posited that head writer Aaron Ehasz was the one to write this fourth season, and that he had intended for Zutara to happen all along— the evidence for which was an informal interview that was spread by word-of-mouth through the fandom. Eventually, the theory that head writer Aaron Ehasz shipped Zutara was neither truly confirmed nor denied, but that some supposed interviews had never happened.[4]

I would first caution anyone that unfortunately there are some "fake interviews" with me out there that spread some false info

Aaron Ehasz, Reddit AMA [1]

However, there is also a lot of conflicting information surrounding this. While Ehasz has remained quiet on what he ships (only releasing a troll video where he said he shipped Azula and Katara), he did in fact confirm the rumors that he was approached by Nickelodeon about his ideas for a fourth season and that he discussed this issue with co-creators Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino to the point where he thought it would end up being produced. He states such plans were eventually scrapped when the co-creators became occupied with assisting M. Night Shyamalan to produce 'The Last Airbender' live action movie as executive producers.[5] The co-creators themselves, however, deny a fourth season was ever even discussed.[6]

Another point of contention is that the Avatar Extras state "Zuko was originally going to be the love interest for Katara" and "The writers and creators toyed with the idea of Zuko and Katara falling in love". While the co-creators deny that Zutara was ever considered, series writers John O'Bryan and Joshua Hamilton have both gone on record to state that the writer's room fought a lot over whether Katara should end up with Zuko or Aang.[7][8] Shyamalan has also stated that during the production of Book Three: Fire, the co-creators Mike and Bryan were still undecided, "At that time they hadn't even decided where things were going to end, even like who Katara was going to end up with."[9] The episode, The Southern Raiders, written by Elizabeth Welch, even references the Zutara ship directly in the script and compares them to Mr. & Mrs. Smith.[10][11]

Several member from the main cast was also favorably positioned towards Zutara.[12][13] Including Mae Whitman and Dante Basco, the voice actors of Katara and Zuko respectively.[14]

The ship war continues to this day, with debates continuing about the compatibility of both ships.[15][16]


When The Legend of Korra was announced in 2010, it was revealed that Aang and Katara had stayed together and had three children, one of whom was revealed in the first trailer. This angered Zutara fans who had hoped the canon pair would break up somewhere along the line, freeing Katara for Zuko.


During 2020, “Avatar: The Last Airbender” was put on the streaming platform Netflix. This caused the fandom to experience what it has called the atla renaissance, a period where an influx of new fans flooded in, reinvigorating old ships and reigniting old tensions.

Results of the Conflict

Some Zutara shippers would continue to deny Kataang or try to make it look bad, while others apologized for the behavior of their more aggressive counterparts.[17][18][19][20]

Some more extreme Kataang shippers accused Zutara shippers of projecting onto Katara because they want to hook up with Zuko themselves[21], which other shippers found uncomfortably close to hateful personal attacks. Some anti-Zutara fans compared it to Reylo, another controversial ship that took a lot of heat in fandom for being "abusive." [22]

In 2020, Netflix began airing the series, re-igniting the shipping war, and made Zukka one of the most popular ships of the fandom, completely outstripping Kataang and being almost on-par with Zutara in terms of fan content.

In 2021, it was announced that Katara in the upcoming live-action adaptation would be aged up to 16 with Aang still being 12,[23] causing Zutara fans to hope their ship would be canon.[24] Though this change was reversed and Katara was back to being 14 while Zuko was aged up by one year to be 17 which made Kataang more likely.

Kataang shippers have become far more rabid in their defense of their ship over the years; engaging in smear campaigns, impersonation, stalking, doxxing, and sending death or rape threats. [25][26] Kataang shippers have harassed comics writer Gene Luen Yang,[27] voice actor Dante Basco, and live action ATLA writer Keely MacDonald all because they ship Zutara. In 2020-2021, they doxxed Twitter users who shipped Zutara and even their friends who did not ship the pairing in their group chats.[28]

Meta and Further Reading



  1. ^ https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/FanPreferredCouple/WesternAnimation
  2. ^ https://zutaraweek.tumblr.com/
  3. ^ Zutara is so stupid
  4. ^ let it be known that 2018 was the year zutara died
  5. ^ https://gizmodo.com/avatar-the-last-airbenders-writer-says-a-possible-seas-1833776084
  6. ^ https://www.polygon.com/animation-cartoons/2020/8/31/21405084/legend-of-korra-netflix-bryan-konietzko-michael-dimartino-interview-avatar
  7. ^ https://www.iheart.com/podcast/1119-avatar-braving-the-elemen-83488502/episode/meet-the-writer-with-john-obryan-85919549/
  8. ^ https://podtail.com/en/podcast/avatar-braving-the-elements/secret-tunnel-with-joshua-hamilton-and-jeremy-zuck/
  9. ^ https://www.lastairbenderfans.com/index.php?start_from=&ucat=8&subaction=showfull&id=1269959997&archive=1272555212&
  10. ^ https://sneezypeasy.tumblr.com/post/697556130407350272/original-script-analysis-part-1-kataang-is
  11. ^ https://sneezypeasy.tumblr.com/post/697895290000277504/original-script-analysis-part-2-the-southern
  12. ^ https://screenrant.com/avatar-last-airbender-jack-de-sena-zukka-ship-response/
  13. ^ https://imgur.com/a/HvhgHX9
  14. ^ https://zutaras-where-its-at.tumblr.com/post/619718788405985280
  15. ^ I’ve censored names because I don’t want anyone to be sent hate
  16. ^ And so a lot of Katara hate a la Southern Raiders arises. [Dead link]
  17. ^ Exploring Canon
  18. ^ Fandomsecrets Thread
  19. ^ Derogatory Urban Dictionary entry
  20. ^ Fandom Secret
  21. ^ just bc zuko was older, had a scar and a “bad boy image” doesn’t mean that katara had to like him [Dead link]
  22. ^ r*ylo really is just a crap version of z*tara, huh.
  23. ^ Avatar: The Last Airbender Netflix Series Reportedly Lands New Showrunner
  25. ^ Aang was infatuated with Katara, not in love with her [Dead link]
  26. ^ where was all this caring for katara's arc
  27. ^ https://www.iheart.com/podcast/1119-avatar-braving-the-elemen-83488502/episode/the-siege-of-the-north-part-94166486/
  28. ^ https://twitter.com/aesmei/status/1771307320984682630