Why the original creators behind Avatar: The Last Airbender left the Netflix series


Those watching the series premiere of Netflix's live adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender are enjoying every second of the newly released title. Even still, many glaring issues make the show fun to watch but almost unrecognizable when compared to the original animated series.

Avatar: The Last Airbender. Elizabeth Yu as Azula in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024 /

Between Sokka, played by Ian Ousley, being written to not be sexist (even though that flaw was a large part of his character development) and Azula, played by Elizabeth Yu, not being menacing enough (another character inconsistency fans aren't too privy of) there seems to be a disconnect between what fans remember the show to be and what is currently being presented in front of them.

The reason for all of the above seemingly lies in the original creators' shocking decision to depart from the Netflix series.

Avatar: The Last Airbender creators got the short end of the stick

As reported by The Hollywood Reporter in August 2020, during the early stages of production, Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, the co-creators of the original Avatar: The Last Airbender, were hired to be the showrunners of the Netflix series.

Avatar: The Last Airbender. (L to R) Gordon Cormier as Ang, Kiawentiio as Katara, Ian Ousley as Sokka in season 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Cr. Netflix © 2024 /

Having DiMartino and Konietzko included in the making of the 2024 title would have been an enriching process, as no one would know how to best tell this story other than the creators themselves. However, as we've seen, having the creators included could also have the opposite effect, as, again, no one would know how to best tell this story other than DiMartino and Konietzko.

Somewhere along the line, the creative duo felt slighted about the direction of the show and thus, walked away, each releasing their passionate statements about their decision.

"When Bryan and I signed on to the project in 2018, we were hired as executive producers and showrunners. In a joint announcement for the series, Netflix said that it was committed to honoring our vision for this retelling and to supporting us on creating the series. And we expressed how excited we were for the opportunity to be at the helm. Unfortunately, things did not go as we had hoped."

Michael Dante DiMartino, 2020

As for Bryan Konietzko, he took to his Instagram to express how he disliked the way Netflix handled the behind-the-scenes process for creatives like himself and his Avatar: The Last Airbender partner. He even went so far as to call out how Netflix sold them a false dream.

"The general handling of the project created what I felt was a negative and nonsupportive environment. To be clear, this was not a simple matter of us not getting our way. Mike and I are collaborative people; we did not need all the ideas to come from us. As long as we felt those ideas were in line with the spirit and integrity of Avatar, we would have happily embraced them. However, we ultimately came to the belief that we would not be able to meaningfully guide the direction of the series."

Bryan Konietzko, 2020

Naturally, Netflix saw it best to address the concerns head-on after fans were immensely disappointed.

"We have complete respect and admiration for Michael and Bryan and the story that they created in the Avatar animated series. Although they have chosen to depart the live-action project, we are confident in the creative team and their adaptation."

Netflix, 2020

Flash forward nearly four years later, the release of the live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender is here and is in full-throttle.

Avatar: The Last Airbender
Appa takes flight through couldy skies with passengers Aang (Gordon Cormier), Katara (Kiawentiio) and Sokka (Ousley) on his back. /

Neither Michael Dante DiMartino nor Bryan Konietzko have yet to release any statement about the final product of the Netflix original series. It's unclear if they ever will, especially now that they have their hands tied with creating an entire Avatar universe.

Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko ditch Netflix for Paramount

In a statement released by Paramount in February 2021, DiMartino and Konietzko signed on to be Nickelodeon's Co-Chief Creative Officers of Avatar Studios, which is a studio dedicated to the creation and the eventual release of entirely new Avatar installments. This could be the start of something big, as there exists endless stories left to be told in the world of Avatar.

"We are fortunate to have an ever-growing community of passionate fans that enjoys exploring the Avatarverse as much as we do," Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko said in a joint statement. "And with this new Avatar Studios venture we have an unparalleled opportunity to develop our franchise and its storytelling on a vast scale, in myriad exciting ways and mediums."

Although we'll have to wait a little longer to know more about what's in store for our Avatar co-creators, things are looking up for Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko. The same can be said for the Netflix live adaptation, as generally positive reviews are pouring in. Even so, only time will tell what's to come of all these projects and the creatives behind them.


The live-action adaptation of Avatar: The Last Airbender is now streaming on Netflix.