When Aang began his 100-year hibernation, things were bad. The weight on his twelve-year-old shoulders was crushing, and who could blame him for needing some time alone? However, when he awakened, Aang soon realized that the situation had become worse than he imagined, and that his abilities were needed more than ever. It was at the end of his extended suspended animation that the animation we’ve come to know and love began in Avatar: The Last Airbender.
There are many elements which make Avatar a classic, but Aang’s personal and geographical journey is the heart of the story which keeps us hooked. In his travels through the four Nations and toward his destiny, Aang had to tangle with some tough customers. Though Appa, Katara, and Sokka were never far away and definitely helped him out of some tough spots, the challenges never ended. Defeating one enemy merely opened the door for the next, and the gang could barely rest for five minutes.
However, not all of Avatar’s characters were cut from the same cloth. Some enemies went away with relative ease while others persisted in their provocations of the poor kids; and some friends were awesomely powerful while others were just, kind of, there. Granted, lots of variety was needed throughout the series to keep us engaged, but there’s no denying that the quality of the casts' powers fluctuated pretty widely. In case you ever run across any of them yourself, we’ve done you the favor of letting you know which ones to watch out for and which ones to befriend.
Here are The 10 Most Powerful Characters (And 10 That Are Just Useless.)
20 The Boulder - Useless
With a name like “The Boulder” we already knew that we might be dealing with the kind of character who might not be that strong. When we find out that he also refers to himself in the third person as “The Boulder”, that seals the deal. It’s not like he doesn’t have muscles and skill, and he could probably take on Momo pretty effectively, but this braggart easily forfeits his place on the list of strong characters.
His loss to Toph was really an embarrassment. She pretty much just had to look his way and he folded like a cheap suit. Sorry, but it takes more than muscles and brawn to make a great warrior. Toph had the real discipline and training to make the most of her powers, and she rocked The Boulder’s world. However, he learned his lesson and came back stronger; during the attack on the Fire Nation, he was seen joining in the fray, which is a good sign.
19 Zuko - Powerful
Ah, Zuko - the troubled soul of the Avatar series with a divided mind to match both sides of his unfortunately scarred face. We despise him during one episode only to find ourselves rooting for him in the next one. Zuko often left us befuddled and feeling as conflicted as he clearly felt throughout, but good things were in store for those with patience!
With Zuko’s troubled childhood, it’s hard to blame him for the rage he kept bottled up, and which occasionally spilled over. But once he learned to control that fire in his belly, his powers as a firebender followed suit. His firebending proved to be insanely good, and the way he chose to use it, in the end, makes him one of our favorite heroes. Kudos to Zuko for taking control of his own destiny and, in doing so, tapping into both his good side and his self-control.
18 Jet - Useless
While his opposition to the Fire Nation puts him on the same side as Team Avatar, Jet is not a great asset to the team. From trying to flood a village full of innocent lives to getting himself caught by the Dai Li, Jet doesn’t do a whole lot to make himself useful to the cause.
Thuggish and overconfident, he is apparently inspired to change after his encounter with Aang and friends. Regardless of that, he won’t allow a firebender like Zuko a second chance and impatiently goads him into a fight where Zuko seems to be able to calmly defend himself without firebending, despite Jet’s aggressive attacks. His main contribution to the success of Aang’s mission is to lead them to Lake Laogai – a service he was unconscious of performing.
17 Ty Lee - Powerful
It seems that in the world that Aang and his friends inhabit, the “powerful” scale is tipped a little in favor of those who can bend the elements. So, it’s not lightly that we rank Ty Lee up there with the best. While her personality and interests are more aligned with circus life than with a career of fighting, she can nevertheless hold her own not only against non-benders like the Kyoshi warriors, but even against benders, including Katara herself.
Her technique of striking her opponents’ pressure points, thereby disrupting the flow of their chi, allows her to paralyze them and render their bending useless for a time. In a world where benders have the upper hand in combat, Ty Lee does what it takes to make the fight fair between a bender and a non-bender, earning herself a seat among the powerful.
16 Mai - Useless
Maybe Mai could be more powerful if she tried harder. However, not trying hard is Mai’s main schtick. Mai’s apathy is as likely to encourage her to enter a fray when she’s bored as it is to prevent her from engaging when it seems like too much effort.
When she does fight, her modus operandi is knife-throwing, which is kind of impressive as a hobby, but really doesn’t seem like a useful skill to bring to actual combat. Sure, she can pin opponents to trees by throwing her knives from a distance, but there is little evidence that she’d do well in hand to hand combat. She’s a lovable angsty teen, so for her sake, let’s hope it never comes to that.
15 Katara - Powerful
Not many characters grew and changed as thoroughly over the course of the series Avatar as Katara did. She learned to constantly adapt her personality and her powers to face new challenges, which perfectly fits her profile as a waterbender. Water is the most adaptable element, and constantly reshapes itself to meet the needs of each new environment.
That quality is what makes her so powerful. Water can adapt to whatever is around it. When you look at a water bottle, the water inside has taken form of the bottle, and that trait is what makes waterbending so powerful. By the time she defeats Azula, Katara has left no doubt that she’s one of Avatar’s strongest characters.
14 Momo - Useless
It’s time to talk about Momo. We never got the chance to see Aang’s winged lemur in the heat of too many battles. And really, who would ever want to fight Momo? He’s just so darned cute. The only bad blood that Momo experienced was with Hawky, Sokka’s pet messenger hawk. Granted, Momo stood up for himself pretty well against someone his own size, but we honestly wouldn’t want to imagine him tangling with many others in Avatar’s intimidating cast.
However, as a team member, the little lemur was indispensable. His quickness, agility, and natural instincts were put to good use on more than one occasion. As an empathetic companion, Momo was never far away and always hit the right notes with his friends. So actually, we’re kind of glad he wasn’t much of a fighter because he filled the roles of comic relief and loyal companion so well that his life and health just couldn’t be risked.
13 Bumi - Powerful
It’s kind of hard for a 12-year-old kid to love hanging out and goofing off with a guy who’s more than 100 years old; it’s just not easy to imagine and wouldn’t be written into most scripts. But Bumi in Avatar is a major exception to this rule. He and Aang were good friends before Aang got himself frozen in place and age for more than a century. Add to this prior connection the fact that Bumi still acts like a kid and is incredibly strong and athletic, and you’ve got a friendship made in heaven.
But it’s not all fun and games with Bumi. When he’s not making a roller coaster out of his city, he’s an amazingly strong earthbender who is in amazingly good shape for a guy that old. His status as a member of the Order of the White Lotus proves his status as a powerful master.
12 Sokka - Useless
Look, we have no problem with Sokka, and wouldn’t trade him for the world. He brought great energy to the group, and always kept us laughing. Even though he started out as a bit of a rude character, his journey toward maturity is awesome to watch. But if we’re talking about the most powerful characters in Avatar, Sokka just doesn’t rank at the top.
Granted, Sokka’s skill with the boomerang increased along the way, and he became quite adept with the old throwing stick. Same with swords - his skills sharpened quite a bit and he eventually became a serviceable swordsman. Though Sokka’s tactical skills really shone throughout the series, they were usually at the service of his friends who were actually winning battles. Again, no one wants to cut Sokka from the team, but unfortunately, he wasn’t on the winning end of a ton of skirmishes.
11 Firelord Ozai - Powerful
Surely you knew that the mighty Firelord Ozai would soon show up. There’s no way that the avatar of all that is wrong and misguided could go missing from the “powerful” group. Though he was spoken of more than seen throughout Avatar, the mysterious aura that was built up around him helped make him seem even more formidable. His imposing reputation was deserved too, and when he did appear he lived up to expectations.
While there’s no doubt that Ozai did some good things for his own nation in the way of technology and infrastructure, the surroundings nations ended up not faring quite as well. Like other powerful despots before him, one kingdom just wasn’t enough for Ozai, and he set out to conquer the known world. It’s doubtful that anyone, except possibly Iroh, would ever have stopped Ozai’s destructive ways had not Aang embraced his destiny and extinguished the great Firelord for good.
10 Suki - Useless
Handy with a fan and quite acquainted with facepaint, Suki is a talented warrior in many respects. But it’s hard for non-benders to measure up against benders. Even accompanied by her fellow warriors who outnumber Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee, she gets taken captive.
Granted, she was put in the difficult position of having to hold her own against Azula, when her friends are quickly bested by the other two Fire Nation girls. However, that just proves that you can’t bring a fan to a bending fight. Even when taking on a non-bender (Ty Lee) at Boiling Rock prison, Suki doesn’t do much to redeem herself. The match is technically a draw as Ty Lee and Azula retreat, but it’s hard to imagine that Suki would have won when you watch Ty Lee’s acrobatics.
9 Iroh - Powerful
What person with half a heart doesn’t adore Uncle Iroh? We love this deceptively chill mentor as much as he loves his tea and his White Lotus tile. As ready to crack a joke as he is to dispense his wisdom, Iroh contains multitudes. His easy-going personality deliberately conceals an enlightened, highly trained master whose tough side can emerge at a moment’s notice - but only if it’s needed to get the job done, and definitely never to show off.
As a Grand Master of the Order of the White Lotus, Iroh serves as a reminder that not everyone on “the other side” is always bad. The jovial, wise uncle never for a moment stopped working for the ultimate good even while surrounded by those doing evil. Those with the highest levels of power never go around advertising it, as the “one-man army” Iroh proved when he broke himself out of prison during the eclipse. Never underestimate the nice guys.
8 Haru - Useless
Haru is obviously a really nice guy, but being nice isn't always enough to qualify someone for status as a powerful character. Still, let's take a moment to celebrate Haru's great personal qualities. He's obviously unselfish and willing to use his earthbending abilities to help others. When he ran across the villager trapped under the rock slide, he wasted no time freeing the man. Sadly, of course, as often happens to nice guys, this act of kindness got him betrayed and thrown into prison.
It's also true that Katara couldn't have pulled off the prison revolt and escape without his help, but she was the one getting him out of the bad situation here. Let's also give him and his awesome new facial hair credit for joining in the big attack on the Fire Nation, but again he was one of many contributors. Haru is definitely a solid earthbender and a good teammate, but we've never seen him do anything that spectacular.
7 Toph - Powerful
Taking a perceived weakness and transforming it into an incredible strength, Toph is one of the most innovative characters in Avatar and easily earns her place in our “strongest” list. Not only was Toph not held back by her lack of sight, but her ability to sense vibrations in the earth saved her friends on more than one occasion and added an invaluable advantage to the group.
Without finding Toph, Aang might have wandered the earth endlessly in search of an earthbending teacher, but when he was ready his master appeared. Toph was an unlikely choice to teach the Avatar the skills he needed, but now it’s hard to imagine anyone else doing it so well. And if her natural earthbending skills weren’t enough, Toph invented her own new technique in the form of metalbending when she found herself needing to escape a tight spot. Anyone who invents their own form of bending gets permanent hero status.
6 Huu - Useless
Huu had a lot going for him for sure. He was definitely one of the wisest and most enlightened characters in Avatar (even though he did sort of attack Aang and his friends before he knew who they were). One of his quotes has stuck with fans for a long time. "You think you're any different from me, or your friends, or this tree? If you listen hard enough, you can hear every living thing breathing together. You can feel everything growing. We're all living together, even if most folks don't act like it. We all have the same roots, and we are all branches of the same tree."
His wise quotes and sage advice aren't quite enough to make Huu one of the most powerful characters. His plant-bending skills were mostly intended to scare people away from his swamp, and he seems like the kind of guy who might practice nonviolence anyway. Good friend? Yes. Super powerful? No.
5 Jeong Jeong - Powerful
The noble deserter Jeong Jeong played a crucial role in Aang's development. After turning his back on Ozai's cruel tactics, Jeong Jeong was destined to be a bit of a loner and a nomad, but he made the most of his difficult choice. As a member of the Order of the White Lotus, Jeong Jeong joins an elite group of masters.
But this firebender's unique strength was his discipline and control. He knew the dangers that were inherent in his nation's way of life: "Fire brings only destruction and pain. It forces those of us burdened with its care to walk a razor's edge between humanity and savagery. Eventually, we are torn apart." However, Jeong Jeong walked that line with skill, and did his best to impart his wisdom to Aang, even though Aang kind of blew it. Jeong Jeong did his best to prepare the Avatar for firebending, but quickly saw that Aang wasn't mature enough yet. Firing the Avatar as one of your students makes you a pretty powerful character.
4 Admiral Zhao - Useless
What keeps Zhao from being a powerful character is the same thing that kept him from reaching his full potential as Jeong Jeong's student. His arrogance, impulsiveness, and lack of self-discipline prevented his greatness and eventually led to his downfall. Here's his assessment of himself: "I am a legend now! The Fire Nation will for generations tell stories about the great Zhao who darkened the moon! They will call me Zhao the Conqueror! Zhao the Moon Slayer! Zhao ... the Invincible!" Automatic red card for Zhao.
As much potential skill as Zhao possessed, his unbridled ambition and narcissism ruined him. When he refused Zuko's offer of an outstretched hand to save his life, Zhao stubbornly chose to go under instead. He ended up in the Fog of Lost Souls, where he belongs, reliving his glory days which no one else really cared about. Zhao was his own worst enemy and bought his own ticket to this useless characters list.
3 Azula - Powerful
Princess Azula is definitely one of those annoyingly strong characters that you really wish were on your team. It seemed like she was always just around the corner waiting to put Aang and his friends in an incredibly awkward situation just when they thought they were rid of her. Perhaps Zuko might have seen the light a lot earlier, if Azula had not always been over his shoulder, whispering manipulative lies into his ear.
Azula was a firebending prodigy her whole life, and also possessed the surprising ability to bend lightning. But even with all these powers, Azula had a weakness, and it turned out to be between the ears. She just couldn’t keep her cool in the end, and her loss of self-control was her undoing. Thankfully, Zuko knew his sister well enough to know when and how to attack while she was mentally unstable, and he and Katara finally dispatched her for good.
2 Piandao - Useless
Piandao is another character with some genuine skill that nevertheless wouldn't hold up for long outside of his small circle. While in the confines of his school for teaching swordplay, Piandao is definitely the best around; but he'd be dealing with way too many benders while out and about against whom his swords wouldn't stand much of a chance. Sometimes isolation can be a bad thing, especially when current events are changing rapidly and require constant adaptation.
Still, we give Piandao major credit for helping Sokka become a better contributor to the group. We're not quite sure how Sokka became such an expert in swords so quickly, but in any event, it's clear that Piandao was a good teacher who really helped Sokka realize his potential. However, because Piandao seems to be a cool guy, we hope that for his own safety he stays around his school helping new students who come along.
1 Aang - Powerful
Of course, our hero Aang wins the title of the most powerful character ever in Avatar: The Last Airbender. For starters, he now controls and can use all of the elements, not just one. This awesome power gives the Avatar the extreme versatility to use whatever his surroundings are to defeat his enemies. As if that wasn’t enough, Aang can enter the Avatar state when it’s really called for, and no one wants to mess with him when that happens.
But Aang’s total control wasn’t the result of some silver spoon being stuck in his mouth, he earned it fairly. Summoning the will to seek out training in all the elements and maintaining the courage to continue his quest when times got tough proves his character. Mastering his own unpredictable Avatar state and learning to use it for good reveals him to be a master of the highest order. Aang’s persistence in spite of all the obstacles in his way turned out to be one of his most powerful traits.
Do you think there is someone more powerful than Aang in Avatar? Let us know in the comments!