Avatar: The Last Airbender is hugely popular not only because of its charming Asian-inspired setting and its exciting combat system, but also its heartfelt and richly developed characters, heroes and villains alike. The story soon builds its Team Avatar, and two key members are Sokka and Katara of the Southern Water Tribe.
In fact, Sokka and Katara are the first two characters to ever appear, and they have journeyed and fought side by side ever since the first episode of the show. These Water Tribe siblings have a lot in common, of course, but there are a few key factors setting them apart as well. Each of them contributes a lot to the show but in different ways.
10 SIMILAR: They Embody Water Tribe Culture
Sokka and Katara grew up together in the remote Southern Water Tribe, and while the brother and sister have their differences, they do have a common culture between them. They are both intimately familiar with the ways of the Southern Water Tribe, from traditional cuisine to local history and much more.
This became clear in the episode "Bato of the Water Tribe," when Bato chatted with Sokka and Katara about their shared culture and history. Poor Aang felt rather left out, though; he's from a different culture and a different era, too.
9 DIFFERENT: Katara Is A Waterbender
This is the single biggest difference between Sokka and Katara: the latter is a bender, and the former is not. Sokka does his best to protect Katara as a responsible big brother, but he cannot do it with bending. Indeed, Katara is the stronger fighter between them.
Sokka is sometimes bitter about this, but not always. He has other things to think about, and so does Katara. Still, Sokka felt bad when he, as a nonbender, was unable to help save a town from a meteorite strike.
8 SIMILAR: They Care Deeply For Aang
Every member of Team Avatar looks out for the others, and Sokka and Katara are protective of not only each other but also Aang, their mutual friend. Aang can usually look after himself, but even he needs help sometimes, and Sokka and Katara are always there for him.
Sokka won't admit it as easily as Katara, but he cares greatly for Aang, and he'd feel terrible if Aang was killed or lost his conviction and resolve as the Avatar. Either of them is ready to give Aang a motivational pep talk if he needs one.
7 DIFFERENT: Katara Is Highly Sentimental
Katara and Sokka are both noble and brave heroes, but they have different attitudes about this. Sokka is cautious and practical, while Katara is the type to make motivational speeches and inspire others with her heartfelt words. She inspired Haru and his grandfather to resist the Fire Nation, for example.
Katara unintentionally called herself out on this once, casually denying that she's a "crybaby" who gets sentimental about everything. Sokka may not be terribly sentimental, though he will go to great lengths for his lover, Suki the Kyoshi warrior. He's not that cold.
6 SIMILAR: They Each Get A Training Sequence
Most characters in Avatar learn from a mentor and coach, even after they've learned the basics of their craft, such as Aang learning earthbending from Toph Beifong. Katara trained with Pakku of the White Lotus in the Northern Water Tribe, and later on, Sokka got his turn.
An entire episode was dedicated to this: "Sokka's Master." Sokka upped his game when he trained with Piandao in the Fire Nation and forged a unique sword, and he could wield that sword with remarkable skill. Sokka felt much better about himself after all that.
5 DIFFERENT: Sokka Is A Tactician
Every member of Team Avatar is capable of clever tactics and strategies in the heat of battle, including resourceful attacks and improvised weapons, but Sokka is definitely better than Katara about this. Perhaps it's because he's a nonbender, so he's forced to use everything except bending in battle.
Sokka has improvised countless weapons and traps to take on superior foes, such as when he invented tiny blimps to drop non-lethal bombs on Fire Nation forces, or when he devised the entire Fire Nation invasion by himself. Katara couldn't have done that.
4 SIMILAR: They Suffered At The Fire Nation's Hands
Since Sokka and Katara grew up in the same place, they had the same experiences when the Fire Nation attacked. Both of them watched in horror as the Southern Raiders tormented their tribe, and tragically, their mother, Kya, lost her life at their hands.
Both of Kya's surviving children were heartbroken by this loss, and later, they had to watch bitterly as their doting father, chief Hakoda, departed to fight the Fire Nation elsewhere. Now they don't have their father around, but at least he's still alive out there. But if it weren't for the Fire Nation, the entire family would still be together.
3 DIFFERENT: Katara Has A Confirmed Family Of Her Own
Katara and Sokka both grew up and became successful after the Hundred-Year War ended, but on a familial level, they diverged. Katara married her lover Aang and had three children with him, including the Airbender Tenzin, who went on to have a happy family of his own.
It's unclear if Sokka ever had a family of his own, and it's possible that he never did. Even if he did, though, such a family was never revealed, so Katara has a much larger confirmed family than her brother.
2 SIMILAR: They're Used To Travel
Many characters in Avatar are used to traveling all over the world, from the members of the Gaang to Princess Azula to Iroh, among others. Sokka and Katara didn't travel very far while at home in the Water Tribe, but that changed when they met Aang.
Sokka and Katara both got used to traveling quickly by air aboard the sky bison Appa, and they both figured out how to survive on the road while trying to save the world. They both know how to travel light and evade the Fire Nation while trekking for weeks on end.
1 DIFFERENT: How They Get Along With Toph Beifong
Team Avatar grew when Toph Beifong joined, but Sokka and Katara had different relationships with her. Both of them trusted Toph to train Aang, but personally, Katara didn't like Toph's stubborn and standoffish behavior, though Sokka felt differently.
Katara and Toph often annoyed each other with their words or even their bending, while Sokka and Toph had more overlap in their personalities. Sokka and Toph had great fun pulling scams in a Fire Nation town, and Toph even nursed a small, private crush on Sokka.