10 animated shows to watch after you’ve finished your Avatar: The Last Airbender rewatch 

Avatar: The Last Airbender is a tough act to follow, but luckily, if you’re watching the series for the first time, sequel show The Legend of Korra is waiting for you right after. If you’ve already finished both of those, however, you might still be itching for a character-focused, plot-heavy, fantasy-action animated series to fill the void in your heart. What comes next?

Many people would point to anime as the natural next step, but if you’re not quite ready to dip into the anime pool yet and you’re hungering for serialized all-ages animation that isn’t afraid to push the boundaries of the medium and tackle deeper themes, then here are 10 shows you should check out.


Samurai Jack

A samurai fights against an evil demon god Image: Cartoon Network

Where to watch: Max

Samurai Jack pushed the boundaries of what all-ages action could look like. (There’s a reason he mostly fought robots in the first four seasons — no blood!) Genndy Tartakovsky’s sci-fi action series follows a samurai who, after being displaced into the distant future, must defeat an evil demon in order to return home. The fight sequences are stellar and the animation is amazing. The show returned in 2017 to wrap up for one final (darker and adult-tailored) season.

Teen Titans

Beast, Starfire, Robin, Raven, and Cyborg sitting on the couch at their headquarters watching TV Image: Warner Media

Where to watch: Max

Teen Titans did just as much as ATLA in bringing anime sensibilities to young American audiences, especially when it came to its distinct visual style. Based (loosely) on the DC superhero squad of the same name, Teen Titans follows a group of five teen superheroes who battle superpowered villains to protect their home. It starts out light, with episodic shenanigans and a lot of jokes, but eventually builds to some incredibly epic fights and powerful character moments.

Young Justice

DC Universe Young Justice Season 3 Image: DC Entertainment

Where to watch: Max

One of the most compelling elements of Young Justice is how it digs into the implications of a world full of superheroes. Each season builds upon the foundations of its universe. What starts out as a simple team of young heroes taking on covert missions turns into a sprawling interrogation of masked vigilantes’ place in the world. It is a lot, but like ATLA and Korra, it doesn’t shy away from the harder themes.

Voltron: Legendary Defender

End scene of Voltron Season 6, featuring the paladins Image: Netflix

Where to watch: Netflix

From the animation studio behind The Legend of Korra, Voltron: Legendary Defender was the first indication that serialized animation had found a groove on streaming services. It might be reboot of a toyetic franchise, but it’s worthy sci-fi epic, one that “takes the time to make you care about the characters and the travesties happening around them,” as our season 2 review said.

The Dragon Prince

Callum in The dragon prince trailer Image: Netflix

Where to watch: Netflix

With ATLA writer Aaron Ehasz at the head, The Dragon Prince is the most natural successor to Avatar. It’s a more traditional European medieval fantasy world than that of Avatar, but there’s a lot of detail in the world-building that helps make it unique, especially when it comes to the magic system. There are some silly moments, but it still manages to tackle heavy themes of war and prejudice as the young human heroes venture into a magical world.

She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Glimmer, Adora, and Bow gear up for battle in she-ra Image: DreamWorks Animation/Netflix

Where to watch: Netflix

ND Stevenson’s take on She-Ra turns the heroine from a simple He-Man spinoff into something more complex. She-Ra and the Princesses of Power breaks down the chosen one narrative and gives compelling and fleshed-out relationships to all the characters (particularly Catra and Adora). It deftly balances heavier moments with lighter moments of character interaction. It is the fantastic queer magical girl show of our dreams.

Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts

mandu, kipo, wolf, benson, and dave all hanging out Image: DreamWorks Animation/Netflix

Where to watch: Netflix

If your very specific favorite part of ATLA was the funky hybrid animals, then you’re in for a treat with Kipo and the Age of Wonderbeasts. It takes place in a world where humanity is forced underground after a bunch of animal hybrids gain sentience. It’s a brightly colored, boldly visual post-apocalyptic world, with some very wacky set-pieces and characters. And like Aang, Kipo is determined to find peaceful solutions in a world that constantly pushes her to do otherwise.

Maya and the Three

GAEL GARCÍA BERNAL as THE JAGUAR TRIPLETS and ZOE SALDAÑA as PRINCESS MAYA in MAYA AND THE THREE. Image: Netflix

Where to watch: Netflix

Cultural specificity meets kick-ass action in Maya and the Three. Creators and husband-wife team Jorge Gutiérrez and Sandra Equihua weave an epic tale in this limited miniseries, which follows a warrior princess in a Mesoamerican-inspired fantasy world who recruits three warriors to help her defeat the gods. It has some really cool fight sequences, some stellar world-building, and a story that feels like a gut punch in the best way.

The Owl House

amity and luz dancing against the light of the moon Image: Disney

Where to watch: Disney Plus

Disney Channel rarely does serialized animation, but when it does it well, it does it well. The Owl House starts off a bit episodic, when a plucky teenager named Luz finds herself transported into a world of witches and demons. But it builds up to a more overarching plot, one that’s super character-driven and involves a lot of rivals turning into allies. There’s a reason one character gets called the “Gen Z Zuko!” There’s also a really cool magic system and just a generally delightful world to explore. Disney may’ve shafted The Owl House with an abridged season 3 order, but it still shines.

Arcane

Vi (Hailee Steinfeld) in Arcane Image: Netflix

Where to watch: Netflix

I was on the fence about Arcane since technically it’s not an all-ages show. But while it does go a little grittier on the violence, it never gets explicitly adult. It’s a bit of an ensemble show, where a whole web of characters — from street kids to scientists to political ambassadors — end up entangled in the escalating tensions between classes. Yes, it’s a League of Legends show, but you don’t need to know anything about League to get swept up in the steampunk action and the tragedy of two sisters torn apart.

Honorable mention: Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Alphone Elric and his brother Edward, the “Fullmetal Alchemist.” Image: Bones/Crunchyroll

Where to watch: Crunchyroll, Hulu

OK, I know I said no anime on this list, but the ATLA-to-FMAB pipeline is a very real phenomenon and I would be remiss not to include the masterpiece that is Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. If you’re a big Avatar fan who has yet to make the leap into anime, then Fullmetal Alchemist is the perfect jump.

It follows a young, gifted alchemist named Edward Elric who searches for the philosopher’s stone in order to return his younger brother, Alphonse, to his body, which he lost years ago in an attempt to resurrect their mother. But along the way, Edward and Alphonse discover a dark corruption in their country that they must stop. It has everything great about ATLA — cool powers, great fight sequences, compelling characters, fascinating world-building — but also interrogates the idea that sometimes, after you’ve done some terrible things, you have to make it right.