The first episode of The Legend of Korra was released on April 14, 2012, a little over 7 years from when Avatar the Last Airbender was first released. Unlike its predecessor, The Legend of Korra was not about freeing the world from the Fire Nation or any specific overarching bad guy. In fact, The Legend of Korra (other than Korra’s own narrative) had no overarching conflict.
The Legend of Korra is separated into four books, each with their own main antagonist: Amon, Unalaq, Zaheer, and then Kuvira. In the fourth book, however, it is arguable that Korra’s true enemy was herself. Each of these enemies had a truth that could be found within Korra herself, letting the Avatar grow and mature with her battles and enemies.
Differentiating itself even more from Avatar the Last Airbender, the characters in the Legend of Korra are much more equal in their bending prowess. The gap between one bender and another among the re-occurring characters tend to be near negligible. There are, of course, characters which are obviously stronger than others, but others not so much. Mako and Bolin, for example, are relatively equal in power and thus are only separated by their potential or alternative areas of strength.
So, with that lead-in, here are 20 Legend of Korra Characters Officially Ranked!
Tenzin’s youngest daughter, Ikki is quite the active child. Not as much so as Meelo but she certainly has her ups and downs. She is, however, shown to be constantly getting picked on by her siblings. After Harmonic Convergence, she runs away to go hang out with some of her spirit friends because she can’t stand being with Meelo and Jinora.
While Ikki’s character is fun loving, determined, and always trying to be full of joy, her strength was never depicted as being anything more than average. Ikki’s abilities tended to lay elsewhere, away from combat.
Commander of the United Force’s Second Division, Bumi’s strength was more in strategy and leadership than it was in straight fisticuffs. As a non-bender as well, Bumi was perhaps the weakest in terms of combat among his siblings, Tenzin and Kya.
Fortunately, Bumi does develop the ability to bend air after Harmonic Convergence, but because he was so late in learning his skills it was realistically more difficult for him to pick up. Although he was shown to have developed his bending abilities quite well after the time jump, he’s still quite a distance from consistently winning against most of Legend of Korra’s main cast.
The one and only true creator of fart bending, Meelo’s character arc mainly revolves around being the comic relief whenever the child is in play. That, however, should not take away from the skill he demonstrated in the Legend of Korra. Having grown up with an airbender father and two airbender older sisters, airbending is a part of Meelo’s very identity as opposed to a simple ability. Even at the age of five, Meelo is able to take on a handful of Amon’s Equalist soldiers, screaming “Taste my fury!”
Nothing will knock you out harder than getting hit in the face by a talented far-, er, airbender!
Before the time jump, Kai wasn’t exactly powerful but he had always been clever. Smart. And, let’s be honest, a little bit of a brat. Though it was lucky Kai still clung to that street kid/petty thief mentality that resulted in him trapping Mako and Bolin in the Earth Kingdom’s outer ring. Without that the two brothers would have never discovered and then saved their long lost relative!
However as he met Jinora and settled in with the others in the Air Temple, Kai not only gained a better perspective on life but also becomes more efficient in his airbending. Even in his younger years, he was one of the most talented airbenders forced into the Earth Queen’s “army.”
The middle child of Katara and Aang, Kya is the only daughter and only waterbender of the siblings taking after her mom. Although Kya isn’t going to go down in history as one of the strongest waterbenders in history like Katara, she was no slouch when it came to combat even managing to go toe to toe with Red Lotus members (despite ultimately losing the battle).
With her forceful determination, full heart, and an obvious need to protect those she deems family, Kya fights for what she believes in until she can’t stand any longer. This strength of will was best depicted during the Air Temple fight where she, Bumi, and Tenzin fight tooth and nail to protect the new airbenders.
Everyone has heard of Toph Beifong, the strongest earthbender in the world and the first metal bender in existence. As she grew older, Toph had two daughters, both from different fathers. Suyin Beifong was the young and chose not to follow in the steps of her mother, deciding instead to found her own city. Zaofu. But her experiences were vast even before the creation of Zaofu, her younger personality being one of rebellion and joy seeking, eventually resulting in her having ties with the Terra Triad.
Culminated together, however, sheds light on how Suyin could have accumulated her skills and prowess in metal bending. Not to mention she was probably highly trained by Toph herself, considering Toph is her mother.
An experienced waterbender and chief of the Northern Watertribe, Unalaq was dead set on bringing the world out of its era of relative peace and into one of absolute chaos with the freeing of Vaatu. He may have been Korra’s uncle and had the skill to show for it, but Unalaq’s goals and personality were as opposite from Korra’s as they could get.
It’s possible that Unalaq himself may have held more strength and weight as a character than shown, but under the shadow of the spirit Vaatu he was held up to be nothing more than a pawn. A vessel for a stronger being. Which, unlike Amon, Kuvira, and Zaheer who fought on their own for their own beliefs with their own strength, made it so that most of his “power” was reliant on another.
The fraternal twins of Unalaq, Esna, and Desna took the seat of the chief, or in this case chiefs, of the Northern Watertribe when their father was defeated by Korra. But before that, they had been tasked with finding Korra though they believed her to be gone after their fight was interrupted by a giant spirit. Later, they also fought Mako and Bolin as the two brothers attempted to cross into the spirit world to go aid Korra in her fight against Vaatu.
The twins may not have been the strongest or most well-liked characters in the Legend of Korra and individually they were perhaps not that powerful, but the two of them fought like one. Acted like one. Ruled like one. The power of twins is nothing to scoff at.
Chief of the Southern Water Tribe and elder brother to Unalaq, Tonraq is a powerful waterbender that was born as the heir of to the Northern Water Tribe chiefdom. Not to mention he’s the father of the avatar. Once Tonraq was really put into play, viewers quickly saw where Korra got her stubbornness and ferocity from.
While his pure bending skills may or may not have been on par with Unalaq, his heart and leadership qualities far outweigh anything that Unalaq brought to the table. Stubborn in his beliefs, Tonraq always stood up to defend his tribe and family. Even if it would cost him his life, always trying to find the best solution for his people.
The eldest of Tenzin’s kids and Avatar Aang’s first grandchild, Jinora is the first of her siblings to be awarded the arrow of a master airbender. Even in the first season of Legend of Korra Jinora was already helping Tenzin teach Korra the basics of airbending. Unlike Tenzin however, Jinora has an extremely close link to the spirit world. A connection which has helped save Korra. the group, and the world many times.
Combining her affinity to the spirit world and her early mastering of airbending, Jinora is a force to be reckoned with. Especially after the three-year gap, gaining all the experience from traveling around and saving people with Opal and the others of the Air Nation.
A beloved member of the main Legend of Korra group and a highly skilled hand to hand combatant, Asami has proven her worth to the world time and time again. Unlike most on this list, Asami isn’t a powerful bender. In fact, she’s not a bender at all! Instead, she uses her intellect, creating powerful tools and inventions to fight against those that would harm her.
Though so many benders combined their skills to defeat Kuvira’s giant mecha suit, not a single one of them was able to damage it. Much less defeat it. Without the Asami’s conception of the Hummingbird mecha suits, it would have proven to be nearly impossible in defeating it.
Originally introduced as the captain of a pro-bending team called the fire ferrets, Mako is a powerful firebender that is able to lightning bend and is a brilliant detective for the Republic City police department. Toughened by years of living on the street and protecting his younger brother, Mako has unmatched determination and courage to spare. Not even in the face of defeat and being locked up in prison wrongly accused would Mako turn away from doing what he believes to be right.
It was him and Bolin who defeated the Red Lotus members when Korra was escaping, him and Bolin that fended off Unalaq and his children while Korra fought Vaatu, eventually ending up the bodyguard of Prince Wu. His skills were so refined that not even handfuls of Kuvira supporters could defeat him in their attempts to take Prince Wu.
Prior to discovering his lava-bending abilities, Bolin was already an above average bender. Just like Mako, he grew up on the street fighting for his survival with nothing but his brother and Pabu. Rising up from nothing to something, Bolin made his name known first as a pro-bender on the Fire Ferrets and then has a “mover” star. Famous on two different fronts. That itself demonstrates a variety of strengths.
But Bolin didn’t stop there, deciding to join Kuvira in her quest to reunite the Earth Kingdom. Although Bolin’s good heart persuaded him to abandon Kuvira once the nefarious details about how she was reuniting the people came to light, he had already proven himself and risen through the ranks to the inner circle. Then he learned lava-bending, an extremely rare and powerful variation of earthbending (though some argue it makes Bolin a dual bender as lava is a combination of earth and fire). That, in itself, makes him a powerful bender of infinite potential.
As the eldest daughter of Toph Beifong, Lin had a lot of pressure on her to live up to her mother’s reputation. To make her proud, in a sense. In that attempt, Lin followed in Toph’s footsteps to become the next Chief of Police for Republic City. Other than Toph, we also know that Saikhan was a chief of police coming after Lin Beifong in the first season. Compared to Saikhan it was clear how gifted of a leader Lin was, despite her gruff attitude and generally cold demeanor.
That being said, Lin Beifong always seemed to have trouble winning a fight in the series. If she was fighting by herself then chances were she was either defeated or fought off. However, without her strong sense of justice and willingness to sacrifice herself for others, the series would have most likely ended in the first series with Amon winning.
Similar to Unalaq and Tonraq, Tarrlok is also from the Northern Water Tribe, though unlike the other two he is not (at least directly or that we know if) related to Avatar Korra. Living in Republic City Tarrlok acted as the representative of the Northern Water Tribe, eventually being promoted to act as its chairman.
Despite Tenzin advocating against Tarrlok’s suggestion that they fight the Anti-bending revolution factions with peace instead of violence, the Water Tribe councilor was quite clearly the better politician of the two. Tarrlok, however, was never shown to be a particularly talented bender. Even when it was revealed that he was a blood bender, he still lived in the shadow of his elder brother. But the ability to bend blood, to manipulate the water within another person so that you can control their every moment, is in itself extremely powerful. Just on his own Tarrlok managed to incapacitate some of the strongest benders to in Republic City. His father, another blood bender, was able to control the movements of even a full-grown Avatar Aang (if only at first).
Kuvira is an extremely dangerous antagonist, both because of her inherent skill in metal bending and the purpose behind her actions. Despite her methods not necessarily being the best paths to take, such as her “reeducation” camps, there was truth to her aim of reuniting the Earth Kingdom and having it be ruled by someone qualified.
Even Bolin, a character that is known for his pure heart and good intentions, was convinced to work for Kuvira because there was power behind Kuvira’s intentions. But, the British Historian Lord Acton once said, “All power tends to corrupt; absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
Technically a blood bender, Amon put his bending in the past in order to take up the “Amon” mantle and fight for the rights of non-benders. In order to not be called out for being a hypocrite because he’s a bender pretending to be a non-bender, he disguised his blood bending as an “ability to remove bending” similar to what Aang had done with Fire Lord Ozai. Though, obviously, it wasn’t the same technique.
Not only was Amon incredibly skilled in hand to hand combat, treating many strong fighters like rag dolls, he was also talented in blood bending. Talented with potential beyond his father and brother. Not even Avatar Korra and all of Republic City’s police department managed to arrest him. Sure, they stopped his plans but that would only have been temporary had Tarrlok not killed them both.
Out of all the characters in Legend of Korra, this Avatar experienced the greatest physical and emotional pain of all. Her character development was intense, starting her out from an inexperienced country girl coming to the big city and wrapping up the series with her overcoming a tremendous emotion hurdle and coming into her own.
Regardless, Korra was an unbridled train from the get-go. It took Avatar Aang teachers to learn how to bend elements other than air, but as a small child, Korra was already able to bend earth, water, and fire. By the second episode, Korra’s mastery over her powers are consolidated and she’s well on her way to becoming a true Avatar. When she finally unlocks her Avatar Mode, well, her fight against Vaatu says it all. And, increasing her combat skills, she learned how to fight like a probender with the Fire Ferrets, a method some would argue is a more realistic fighting style.
Zaheer is commonly held up as one of, if not the, best antagonist in the Legend of Korra series. Forgoing and letting go of all worldly attachments, Zaheer was able to unlock the power of flight. The ability to fly was a skill locked away in the distant past that not even Aang or Tenzin had been able to attain. If it had not been for the group of airbenders pulling him in to save Korra, it’s safe to say that his plans would most likely have continued to progress.
Even before he was an airbender Zaheer was imprisoned in an extremely high-security prison because of his extraordinary martial arts capabilities. With this previous skillset along with his passion for the wisdom of previous airbending masters, Zaheer was probably the most dangerous person to have been granted airbending. His belief in returning the world to its natural state of chaos made him all the more dangerous, as those dogmatic in their stances tend to have the potential to be.
Airbending master, son of Avatar Aang, teacher to Avatar Korra, and head of the new Air Nation, Tenzin is not just an extremely powerful bender but also someone rich in leadership skills. It takes a strong will to deal with a wild child like Meelo. Even Zaheer, an extremely strong and intelligent fighter, couldn’t even land a single hit against Tenzin during the Air Temple battle. Against Tenzin, Zaheer was forced to constantly retreat and dodge until P'Li, Ghazan and Ming-Hue came to help him out.
Perhaps Korra will grow up to be more powerful than Tenzin and perhaps an older Jinora’s connection to the spirit world will allow her potential to skyrocket, but by the strongest character in terms of raw prowess and authority, by the end of the Legend of Korra is, undoubtedly, Master Tenzin.
Who is your favorite Legend of Korra character? Let us know in the comments!