How many fingers do the Na’vi have in ‘Avatar?’

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) hugging their children
via 20th Century Studios

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for Avatar: The Way of Water.

Avatar: The Way of Water is one of the year’s most hotly anticipated films, with fans desperate to learn what the next part of the Avatar story has to offer. Of course, due to the large gap between the first and second installments, many people are revisiting the previous film to remind themselves of details they may have forgotten. 

One massive but frequently overlooked detail focuses on the Na’vi’s hands, leading many viewers to ask how many fingers the group has. Here is what you need to know. 

How many fingers do the Na’vi have?

In the first Avatar movie, the Na’vi people are shown to have four fingers on their hands, something that is kept very consistent throughout the film’s runtime. However, this confusion is sparked by the lead character Jake Sully. While Jake is in his avatar form, he has five fingers on each hand, one more than the Na’vi standard—biological difference that is also replicated on the feet of each species. 

The film uses this difference to make the divide between the Na’vi and the avatars more obvious—further hammering home the idea that while the avatars may look like the Na’vi on a surface level, they are not perfect copies of the Na’vi. Due to them being a mixture of human and Na’vi DNA.

In a 2010 interview with MTV, James Cameron discussed the fingers in more detail. Cameron told the interviewer: 

They’re a generic hybrid, and they’ve retained a little bit more of the human DNA that expressed itself in the human number of digits, and we wanted to distinguish the one from the other. There’s actually a scene that we shot, which is not in the re-release, where Grace [Sigourney Weaver] is reunited with the children that are part of her school, [and] she sees if they can still count on their fingertips. Her counting is different from theirs because they run out of fingers.

Does this detail reappear in the sequel?  

This small but fascinating detail does come up in Avatar: The Way of Water, as Jake and Neytiri’s children, are shown to have five fingers rather than four. Even though Jake is in his avatar body full-time due to the ritual performed during the first film’s climax, that body is still an avatar. Thus, Jake’s body contains some human DNA. This DNA was obviously passed down to Jake’s children, altering their physiology. Of course, this raises the question of what other differences the children have from the other Na’vi.