Legend of Korra had a controversial run on Nickelodeon, but developed a cult following. So why didn’t the groundbreaking show get a season 5?
Nickelodeon’s Legend of Korra was a sequel series to the wildly popular Avatar: The Last Airbender, and it ran for four seasons before it was quietly canceled ahead of season 5. Legend of Korra focused on the new Avatar, a teenage girl named Korra, and significantly built out the mythology of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Prior to the premiere of Legend of Korra season 2, co-creators Michael DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko announced at San Diego Comic-Con that Nickelodeon had ordered 26 more episodes, to be divided into seasons 3 and 4. Following a significant drop in ratings and both creators looking to move onto different projects, Legend of Korra season 4 ended up being the show’s last and was released online in its entirety.
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Legend of Korra was significantly different from its predecessor, although there are connections like Avatar Korra being related to Princess Yue. While Avatar: The Last Airbender was aimed at children, Legend of Korra was designed for an older audience, and it dealt with more mature themes such as terrorism, fascism, and sexual orientation. Some Avatar: The Last Airbender fans hated the show’s tonal shift, while Legend of Korra supporters blamed Nickelodeon’s refusal to promote the show for its cancellation before season 5. Since Legend of Korra’s addition to Netflix, the debate over the show has fired back up.
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Nickelodeon ultimately canceled Legend of Korra for a variety of reasons including poor ratings and creative differences. Legend of Korra season 5 was never officially on the table anyway, but any chance of it had disappeared quickly during season 3’s run. Here are the details about why Legend of Korra was canceled ahead of season 5.
Why Legend of Korra Season 5 Never Happened
Legend of Korra had a troubled relationship with Nickelodeon from the start. Avatar: The Last Airbender’s unaired pilot in 2004 was followed up by the three-season run Nickelodeon promised (with potential for a fourth, which was ultimately scrapped). By contrast, Legend of Korra was never guaranteed anything past the original one-season order. Nickelodeon eventually gave the show a total of 52 episodes and four seasons, but as the show’s ratings rapidly declined, Legend of Korra season 5 never had a chance. When Nickelodeon pulled Legend of Korra from the air without warning in the middle of season 3 and released season 4 entirely online, it became clear that the show had no future on the network.
Although Legend of Korra’s cancelation by Nickelodeon was never official, the network did systemically undermine the show’s success. Even before pulling Legend of Korra off the air, Nickelodeon was continuously changing the date and time that the show aired, and did almost no promotion for it. Legend of Korra’s Korra-Asami relationship and other content considered too adult meant that Nickelodeon was hesitant to air Legend of Korra on a channel geared towards children. However, pushing it online without warning meant that devoted fans had difficulty finding new episodes. Already dealing with a ratings drop from waiting 18 months to release season 2, Legend of Korra never recovered after its move.
Even despite Nickelodeon’s sabotage, Legend of Korra season 5 may not have happened anyway, as DiMartino and Konietzko were ready to work outside of their creative partnership. As a result of the show’s soft cancellation or due to its low ratings, the Avatar: The Last Airbender spinoff never moved forward past season 4 — but Legend of Korra’s story did continue after the show ended in a three-part graphic novel, Legend of Korra: Turf Wars. The graphic novel was written by DiMartino and is considered a canonical continuation of the series.
Related: Avatar: Why So Many Last Airbender Fans Hate Korra
Legend of Korra Season 5: Status and Updates
Although there are no official plans for Legend of Korra season 5, the series now has a greater chance of continuation thanks to the new Avatar Studios. Headed by Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra’s original creative partnership of Konietzko and DiMartino, Avatar Studios intends to move forward with many movie and TV projects set in the same world, starting with the Avatar: The Last Airbender live-action show. While the chances of a Legend of Korra season 5 still seem low, this is the first time in the years since its cancelation that such a project could have any hope of happening.
Legend of Korra was criticized for the lack of an overarching plot but spent most of its run under the threat of cancellation due to the rapidly dropping ratings and explicit content. After battling diminishing support from Nickelodeon, a surprise shift to airing exclusively online, and backlash from fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender, it’s no surprise that Legend of Korra season 5 wasn’t realized back in the day. Although it was never officially canceled, its massive ratings drop and mature content meant that Legend of Korra season 5 couldn’t have happened on Nickelodeon, even with renewed interest in the series.
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About The Author
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Kay McGuire is a Seattle-based features writer for Screen Rant with an interest in movies, television, and musical theatre. She received her Bachelor’s in Theatre and certificates for Game Design and Creative Writing from the University of Texas. With a background in the professional theater industry, she now writes about movies and pop culture for the internet. Find her on twitter at @benafflecksmoke.
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