man standing behind a lantern

The Last Avatar/Netflix

‘There is No War in Ba Sing Se’: A guide

Never ask a woman her age, a man his salary, or the dai li if there’s a war in ba sing se (there isn’t)


Mike Hadge


“There is no war in Ba Sing Se” is a saying that originates from Nickelodeon’s animated series, Avatar: The Last Airbender, and is utilized as a sarcastic expression implying a statement is extremely false, often with propagandistic implications. 

“There is no war in Ba Sing Se” origins 

man standing behind a lantern
The Last Avatar/Netflix

The second season of Avatar: The Last Airbender featured an episode entitled “City of Walls and Secrets,” which aired on September 22, 2006.

During that episode, the character Jet takes part in a tea show brawl, breaking the terms of an established peace within the city of Ba Sing Se. Jet is captured by officials and put through a form of brainwashing.

The scene in question involves a hypnotic lamp revolving around a Dai Li official, who repeatedly says, “there is no war in Ba Sing Se” to really drive the point home in Jet’s newly washed brain. 

Why did There is No War in Ba Sing Se hide the war?

According to the character of Long Feng, the whole purpose of burying the war was to preserve the culture and utopian life in Ba Sing Se. Pretty standard controlling the narrative stuff. It’s why the government won’t tell us that toys come alive when we leave the room

Meme spread 

After “City of Walls and Secrets” aired in 2006, the phrase slowly began appearing more and more online, especially among the Avatar internet fanbase.

However, on July 1st, 2014, a meme featuring the official from the brainwashing scene was posted by Tumblr account Avatar Parallels, juxtaposing the scene with one of a woman saying woman saying “There are no airbenders in Ba Sing Se,” signifying to fans of the show a clear denial of the truth and implying that both statements are false.

The phrase only grew from there, becoming more mainstream via Tumblr posts, even being listed as a meme from Avatar on TV Tropes

In February 2015, a subreddit was created completely dedicated to Ba Sing Se, but mostly the meme. The group gathered over 2,800 subscribers before being designated as a separate group with a message from moderators reading,  “Here we are safe. Here we are free.”

Finally, in 2019, “There is no war in Ba Sing Se” graduated to trending as an image macro-style meme, featuring Avatar: The Last Airbender character Joe Dee, a Ba Sing Se citizen who acts naively unaware of the world around him.

For example, Twitter user @jpbrammer (now deleted) posted a meme with the image of Joe Dee that referenced Amazon working conditions. 


Since then, the meme format has been taken by the Avatar: The Last Airbender fan community, as well as the internet at large. 

There Is No War in Ba Sing Se memes

MukasTheMole reddit post no-war-in-ba-sing-se meme

@callsignranger There is no war in ba sing se #avatarthelastairbender #basingse #nickelodeon #earthkingdom #dailiagents #fyp ♬ original sound – Just another fan account
Drake CBR-no-war-in-ba-sing-se-meme
Imgflip no war in ba sing se obi-wan
Megamind reddit Zave_A no-war-in-ba-sing-se meme
Reddit acutebutobtuseangle arm-wrestle no-war-in-ba-sing-se

More memes:

The internet is chaotic—but we’ll break it down for you in one daily email. Sign up for the Daily Dot’s web_crawlr newsletter here to get the best (and worst) of the internet straight into your inbox.

The Daily Dot