Avatar: The Last Airbender introduced us to Aang, the titular Avatar, a boy gifted with the ability to bend all four elements. He rose from a 100-year slumber inside an iceberg and freed the world from the clutches of the tyranny of the Fire Nation and its villainous ruler, Ozai. In less than a year, he accomplished more than most Avatars did in their entire lives. Aang, as the series makes clear at every possible moment, is very powerful and is able to master numerous techniques.
But what about the less obvious abilities, the ones not made clear from the onset or not addressed altogether by the show? Thanks to the comics and The Legend of Korra, the abilities of the Avatar have become clearer, not to mention the little moments where the show peeled back the curtain and revealed pieces of Aang’s mostly untapped arsenal.
10 Energy Bending
This one might be considered cheating. The key moments in Aang’s journey in the four-part series finale are the meeting with the lion turtle that teaches him to bend the energies within and the climactic moment where he uses that power to take Ozai’s firebending away from him. However, at no point did The Last Airbender indicate that any such technique existed, and it does not appear until the very end.
The Legend of Korra makes this power and other abilities related to the spirit world central to Korra’s journey as an avatar.
9 Being Possessed By Past Avatars
We all know about the Avatar state, where Aang has the power and wisdom of all past Avatars. What almost gets brushed under the rug is his ability to be possessed by one of his past selves. It only appears once in the series (and very briefly) during the episode, "Avatar Day." After choosing to stand trial for a crime Kyoshi was supposed to have committed, Katara and Sokka dress Aang in Kyoshi's clothing. Moments later, she appears... and confesses to the crime before she vanishes and Aang re-materializes.
The power did little for him, so it is perhaps a wise choice for Team Avatar to avoid giving it another go.
Despite Toph christening him “twinkle toes,” Aang’s dancing was never more than a hasty attempt to cause a distraction when he accidentally drew attention to himself. He, however, proves to be quite adept at tripping the light fantastic.
While undercover in a Fire Nation school, Aang invites his classmates to a party. To get the uptight kids to let go of their inhibitions, he pulls Katara onto the dance floor and wows them with his rendition of a traditional Fire Nation dance. Pretty soon, the kids are trying out their best moves and letting loose.
Placing this technique in Aang's skillset is a stretch. At no point is he ever clearly seen using the ability. For that matter, neither is Korra, his successor. Bloodbending is perhaps the darkest technique in the Avatar universe, as it gives the bender control over another person's limbs, rendering that person helpless. That doesn't mean he is incapable of doing it. The Legend of Korra revealed that a waterbender doesn't need a full moon to bloodbend if they are powerful enough.
That show also provided a flashback scene in which Aang frees himself from a bloodbender's grasp by entering the Avatar state, giving rise to a fan theory (albeit a quiet one) that he used the ability on himself while in the Avatar state. Perhaps a past life had learned the technique.
What's better than fighting off enemies with masterful airbending? That's right, not fighting at all. Had Aang not been the Avatar, he would have made an excellent statesman. His diplomatic talents are understated and mostly overlooked. Wherever he goes, he is able to make friends and mend rifts between people, an ability that is just as crucial to his victory as his mastery of the four elements.
This becomes especially clear in the comics, when he comes face to face with a tricky cultural situation in Yu Dao, a city on the border of the Earth and Fire Nations. His ability to convince Zuko and the Earth King to stand down prevents war and leads to the founding of Republic City.
5 Spirit Bending
In Avatar: The Last Airbender, the spirit world comes second to the immediate physical dangers embodied by the Fire Nation. Aang’s spiritual interaction is used primarily to help him better understand his responsibility as an Avatar. The Legend of Korra, however, reveals a wider range of spiritual possibilities, including the ability to turn dark spirits to the light—and vice-versa.
Had Aang’s destiny led him to engage with spirits in a more direct manner, as he did in the North Pole, then the ability to free spirits from their dark bonds would have served him well.
4 Opening Spirit Portals
The Avatar is the bridge between the spirit world and the physical world. Aang often transports himself via meditation to the other side when he needs information from an ancient spirit or to talk to a past Avatar. The technique is Avatar 101. Only the fully realized Avatar can open the portal between the two worlds.
The portals play a major role in Season 2 of The Legend of Korra, where Korra’s uncle, Unalaq, has her open the portals for him. Once she defeats her uncle, who turns himself into a dark Avatar, she leaves the portals open, allowing spirits and mortals to interact with each other face to face.
3 Cellular Freezing
Aang having spent 100 years frozen in an iceberg is common knowledge. Despite being chronologically 112 years old, he physically remains the 12-year-old boy who got caught in a storm a century earlier. The entire time he was in an energy/air pocket created by being in the Avatar state. That means the Avatar state is not only a survival mechanism in battle, but it also freezes the cellular state of the Avatar (and those around them) for as long as it’s necessary to keep them alive.
This opens up a scenario in which an Avatar could save themselves and their loved ones if all hell broke loose in the hopes that they would resurface one day in a more peaceful world.
2 Coming Back From the Dead
This is not so much a technique as it is Aang just being both unfortunate and the most fortunate person to ever exist. Azula nearly ended the Avatar cycle when she struck Aang with one of her lightning blasts while he was in the Avatar state, one of the show’s most shocking moments, but the order was restored when Katara used water from the spirit oasis to heal his fatal wound. He was saved and the fight against the Fire Nation could continue.
Not only does Aang cheat the natural aging process, but he also cheats death.
Hold on, isn’t this a list about the Avatar’s hidden techniques? Good kissing is indeed a technique, and not one necessarily expected of Aang, who had been raised by monks in a monastery. Yet, there he is in the show’s closing moments making out with Katara, the love of his life—and seems to be doing a decent job at that.
To the best of everyone’s knowledge, the scene marked the first prolonged kiss Aang’s ever experienced. He doesn’t appear overawed by the situation. Rather, he looks perfectly comfortable. Are these the perks of choosing the right partner, or had he been practicing on the side 100 years ago?