Characters: Avatar: The Last Airbender: Mentors
These characters are the mentors to Team Avatar.
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The four Avatars that came before Aang, listed in descending order. Even after their deaths, they serve as Spirit Advisors
for the current Avatar, and can lend Aang their power through the Avatar State. Since Roku is the one that came directly before Aang, he does most of the advising.
- Roku is a Fire Nation Avatar and the one directly preceding Aang. He blames himself for the war, and with good reason — he was close friends with Fire Lord Sozin and was unwilling to kill him in order to put a stop to Sozin's imperialism before it got out of hand.
- Kyoshi is from the Earth Kingdom and the founder/creator of Kyoshi Island. She is best known as the creator of the Dai Li and the inspiration for the Kyoshi Warriors. She is also on record for the most triumphant demonstration of the power of the Avatar State, as she used it to alter plate tectonics.
- Kuruk is a member of the Water Tribe, and being alive during a relatively peaceful era led to him not taking his job as Avatar too seriously. This came back to bite him when Koh took his wife from him to punish him for his irresponsibility. When not advising Aang, he spends his time searching for Koh for vengeance.
- Yangchen is an Air Nomad, and can give Aang insight the others can't due to their shared heritage. However, she believes that Aang's pacifism is detrimental to his job as Avatar. Case in point, her tenure as Avatar was so successful it allowed for multi-generational peace; the reason Kuruk had all that time to take it easy? HER.
- Action Girl: Kyoshi managed to earthbend an entire island and is an all-around Badass. It's also implied with Yangchen, considering her tenure as the Avatar was the most successful.
- Amazonian Beauty: Out of all the previous Avatars, Kyoshi was the largest of the Avatars. They even stated that she had the largest foot size of any Avatar.
- Ascended Extra: Both Yangchen and Kuruk first appeared in a tie-in online game. They made their show debut during the finale.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Kuruk was one to the point where Koh had to kidnap his fiancée to remind him of his duties as an Avatar.
- Badass: All of them were this in life, and for good reason.
- Badass Beard: Roku and Kuruk both have one.
- Brutal Honesty: Kyoshi, if the two instances in the series involving her are anything to come by. Such as blatantly admitting to the crime that could get Aang killed if he was declared guilty and flat-out mentioning her opinion about how to deal with Ozai by killing him right then and there.
- The Casanova: Kuruk's tenure was a peaceful one so he was more interested in flirting than his duty.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Roku is the Avatar seen bending all 4 elements in the opening then vanishing.
- Contralto of Danger: Avatar Kyoshi has a deeper voice than some of the other female characters to portray her as powerful and dangerous.
- Cool Old Guy: Technically speaking, all of them qualify, but Roku fits the spirit of the trope the most. Aside from helping Aang out the most, he is the only one who chooses to appear as an older man (his appearance when he died) instead of his appearance when he was younger and in his prime.
- Could Have Avoided This Plot: According to Roku, he states that if he had killed his friend Sozin instead of letting him off rather easily, then the Hundred Year War would never have happened.
- Cryptically Unhelpful Answer: Roku's advice to Aang when he was consulting the preceding four Avatars for advice on how to deal with Ozai was only to "be decisive".
- Dance Battler: Kyoshi and her fans. She founded the Kyoshi warriors.
- Dragon Rider: Roku's familar was a dragon.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Roku is the shadowed Avatar in the beginning of the series bending all 4 elements.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Roku and Sozin had their friendship strained after Roku warned Sozin that he would kill him should he start the war. Though they were still friends with each other while they were helping to evacuate the villagers from the volcano eruption, that is, until Sozin realizes that Roku is vulnerable and leaves him to die on the island while he fulfills his ambitions of his world conquests.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble:
- Roku is Phlegmatic; best shown by his dealings with Sozin, he was kind, forgiving, and placed great stock in peace and harmony. Blames himself for the Hundred Year War.
- Kyoshi was Choleric; very task-oriented and exhibited greater leadership in her role as Avatar, dictating terms to the Earth King and created the Dai Li to protect the Earth Kingdom's cultural heritage.
- Kuruk was Sanguine; he was extroverted and people-oriented, very friendly and a "go with the flow" kind of Avatar. Unfortunately, he was also impulsive and self-indulgent.
- Yangchen was Melancholic; she doesn't seem to have cultivated any close relationships, and like Kyoshi, she was very task-oriented and dedicated to keeping things hunky dory. By force if necessary. Of all the Avatars, she displays the most willingness to use violence if no other options present themselves.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Goes with the territory; an avatar's eyes glow when they enter the avatar state.
- Iron Lady: Kyoshi is a true earth avatar; strong, unmoving, formidable, etc.
- It's All My Fault: Roku regrets not killing Sozin when they fought, as doing so would have prevented the war.
- Killed Off for Real: Well, they're all dead by the events of the series, but when Unalaq merges with Vaatu and destroys Raava, all the spirits of the past Avatar's were destroyed and did not return when she did. Meaning that Korra and no future Avatar may ever consult or see Aang or any of the previous Avatars ever again.
- Ladykiller in Love: Kuruk was a flirt before he fell in love.
- Lady of War:
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Roku is the great-grandfather of Prince Zuko.
- Men Act, Women Are: Subverted. It's actually the two female Avatars, Kyoshi and Yangchen, who unambiguously suggest Aang kill Fire Lord Ozai, while the two male Avatars, Roku and Kuruk, only give him vague suggestions about "being decisive" and "choosing your own destiny," respectively.
- My Greatest Failure: Roku blames himself for not dealing with Sozin when he had the opportunity, believing that if he had acted more decisively instead of just assuming the matter was settled, then Ozai wouldn't be a problem.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- Aang's firebending accident with Katara came about as the result of Roku manifesting before Jeong Jeong and strong-arming him into training Aang. This may have been because Aang needed a blunt lesson in the dangers of uncontrolled firebending.
- Kyoshi created the Dai Li. We all know how that turned out. Then there was that time that she admitted guilt for the crime that almost gets Aang executed... though he was likely gonna be executed before she said so anyway.
- One-Man Army / Person of Mass Destruction: A fully realized avatar has god-like power. Aang, when he was a child and only mastered one of the four elements, wiped out fourteen ships without the avatar state. These guys have all four elements and a lot more practice.
- Reincarnation: All of them are Aang's past lives. Aang himself is Korra's past life.
- Screw Destiny: In response to the claim that it was Aang's destiny to kill the Fire Lord, Kuruk advised him to "Actively shape your own destiny".
- Shoot the Dog: Kyoshi and Yangchen are proponents of this when it comes to Aang killing Ozai. Yangchen, the last Airbender Avatar before Aang, was especially supportive of the option, much to Aang's chagrin.
- Spirit Advisor: Every past avatar becomes one of these to the current-living-avatar. Aang talks to Roku the most because he is Aang's immediate predecessor.
- Tragic Hero: Roku betrayed by his best friend yet sparred his life out of friendship. Then betrayed a second time in his moment of weakness.
- Warrior Nun: While it's not stated if Yangchen was a nun at the Air Temples, she definitely qualifies. Even though she was an Air Nomad like Aang, she still advised him that killing Ozai was the only other option.
- Wizards Live Longer: Avatars normally enjoy an extended lifespan, such as Kyoshi (who lived to be the oldest Avatar, at 230). However, they are still vulnerable to violent deaths, such as Roku who died in a volcanic eruption at age 70. Aang is a more complicated case; chronologically he's 112 but biologically 12 and dies when he is biologically 66 because of the time he spent frozen in the iceberg.
- Averted with Kuruk, who only lived to be 33.
- Women Are Wiser: Yangchen has the most successful tenure of the four and Kyoshi ended hers without regrets because the Da Li weren't corrupt under her watch. note On the other hand, Kuruk is still making up for his mistakes three generations later and Roku is riddled with guilt.
"Aang, I'm not going to let them take you away from me."
Aang's guardian at the Southern Air temple. He frequently tried to keep Aang from working towards his Avatar duties, preferring what was best for Aang over "what was best for the world"; while he was
trying to look out for Aang's well-being, this might have made Aang more reluctant to face his destiny.
- Badass Grandpa: The skeleton of a pacifist monk, lying on top of a PILE of fire soldier skeletons. Note that when said pile of skeletons were living and breathing, they were powered up a hundredfold by Sozin's Comet. Airbending is also never shown to have any inherently lethal abilities other than Razor Wind over the course of the series, so this is impressive indeed.
- Cool Old Guy: In the first flashback he appears in, he uses airbending to pie some stern-looking monks.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Implied. See Badass Grandpa above.
- Give Him a Normal Life: Towards Aang. The other elder air nomads wanted to jumpstart his avatar training but Gyatso wanted him to have a normal air nomad life until the traditional age of 16. He wants this because he knows that's what Aang wants and thinks that would be better for him.
- Intergenerational Friendship with Aang.
- Doubly so because he was also Childhood Friends with Roku, Aang's previous incarnation.
- Meaningful Name: Gyatso was also the name of the Dalai Lama at time. Make of that what you will.
- Membership Token: In flashback, he is shown playing a White Lotus tile, implying that he was a member of the Order of the White Lotus.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: It wasn't old age that killed him.
- One-Man Army: See Badass Grandpa above
- Parental Substitute: Implied to be the closest thing Aang ever had to a parent, let alone a father.
- Posthumous Character: In the main narrative, he is long since dead. We learn of him through Aang's flashbacks.
"Who are you calling old? ...Okay, I'm old."
Calling himself a mad genius, Bumi was a childhood friend of Aang. After Aang got frozen in the iceberg, Bumi grew into an old man and became King of the Earth Kingdom city of Omashu. With Aang now free and accepting his quest, Bumi uses his unorthodox teaching methods to train his old friend for the trials ahead. Also a member of the White Lotus.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He's the king of Omashu and one of the most powerful Eartbenders in the world. The only person who comes in spitting distance of him is Toph, and the jury's out on which is stronger.
- Badass: A man who's built like a wrestler and has a long white Badass Beard.
- Badass Grandpa: He's 112 years old, and yet he's easily one of the two strongest Earthbenders alive (a duel between him and Toph ended in a draw) and the only other person in the series that could surpass him was Avatar Kyoshi. He's such an amazing Earthbender that he can do it WITH HIS FACE WHILE COMPLETELY RESTRAINED.
- Badass Boast:
- This one's from just before he fights Aang. It's unlikely he's lying:
"You thought I was a frail old man. But I'm the most powerful Earthbender you'll ever see."
- His reply when asked about his "escape from" (read as "reclamation of") Omashu:
"Escape? I didn't escape, everybody else escaped."
- Old Master: Over a hundred years old, and still able to back up his boast that he's the greatest Earthbender that Aang will ever see. Most Earthbenders (like most benders in general) need to use complex arm and/or leg movements to bend. Bumi? He can bend with his face.
- One-Man Army: During the eclipse (which only lasted a mere eight minutes), he took back Omashu and chucked out the Fire Nation (for good) by himself. Even Toph was astounded.
- Phrase Catcher: Well, only with one person, granted, but when Aang realizes who Bumi is, he says the same thing as in a previous flashback: "Bumi, you're a mad genius."
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Action variety and a good law maker.
- Sweet Tooth: He loves that rock candy.
- Trickster Mentor: His favored method of teaching.
- The Wonka: He appears to be a crazy old king and Katara mentions that "His crown is a little crooked" but his brand of logic makes sense if you think about it. "You gotta keep your mind open to the possibilities."
"You want to learn to fight so bad? Study closely!"
One of the greatest Waterbenders in the world, and well aware of it, Pakku is a Waterbending teacher from the Northern Water Tribe. In his youth, he was engaged to a woman named Kanna. Though he loved Kanna, she was put off by his arrogance and fled to the South Pole. Since then, Pakku has been bitter towards women in general, believing that female Waterbenders should stick with healing. Naturally, he came into conflict with Katara. While Pakku was ten times the bender Katara was at the time, Katara "won" by unknowingly revealing that Kanna was her grandmother. Confronted with what could have been if he had not been so arrogant in his youth, Pakku changed his mind enough to give some Waterbending lessons to Katara and Aang. Also a member of the White Lotus.
- Arranged Marriage: With Kanna in the past. While he did love her, she didn't and ran away.
"Water brings healing and life but 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."
Once a legendary admiral (according to his wanted poster
) of the Fire Nation and one-time teacher of Zhao, Jeong Jeong eventually realized the horror the Fire Nation had let loose on the world and deserted, becoming the first person in history to do so and survive. Now a hermit living in the woods, Jeong Jeong believes that Firebending is a curse due to its destructive nature. On orders from Avatar Roku, Jeong Jeong gave Aang some rudimentary lessons on Firebending. Also a member of the White Lotus.
- The Atoner: Once a top-ranking officer of the Fire Nation military, now he seeks seclusion and aids Aang in his training.
- Badass Grandpa: The first guy to abandon the Fire Nation military and live.
- During the finale under the influence of Sozin's comet he was able to Firebend with enough power to fly. The only one shown to have been able to do that was Ozai, who's at worst the third most powerful bender in the world. Even Azula can't truly fly, being just good enough for limited directional control. And while Ozai was limited to his lightning while flying, Jeong Jeong could still create his walls of fire while in the air.
- Cursed with Awesome: He's an amazing Firebender, but he constantly mourns having control over the most destructive element.
- Defector from Decadence: Deserted because he was horrified by what the Fire Nation had become.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: In an interesting parallel (foreshadowing?) to Zuko, a wanted poster for Jeong Jeong has his picture, presumably of his appearance before deserting, with his scar already present.
- Homage: To Apocalypse Now. Jeong Jeong's situation mirrors Colonel Kurtz, and there's even slow boat rides down the river.
- Playing with Fire: Despite considering it Cursed with Awesome, he will use his Firebending when he has to.
- Retired Badass: Retired Fire Nation admiral.
- Technical Pacifist: He doesn't like killing anymore because of his Atoner status.
"The sword is a simple tool, but in the hands of a master it becomes the most versatile of weapons. Just as the imagination is limitless, so too are the possibilities of the sword."
A legendary swordsman/smithy of the Fire Nation, Piandao grew tired of the Fire Nation's ways and went into retirement. He regards swordsmanship as an art, and often paints as a way of honing it. Although he had been approached by many other students and dismissed them, he made an exception for Sokka due to his modesty and honesty. Supportive of his student even after learning of Sokka's Water Tribe status, he taught Sokka the way of the sword. Also a member of the White Lotus.
- Badass Grandpa: See One-Man Army. He did that after his retirement.
- Badass Normal: The other mentors on this list are all benders. He's not.
- Battle Butler: He has a butler named Fat, whom he trained. While Piandao doesn't need a bodyguard, Fat helps him by sparring with new recruits and forging swords.
- Combat Pragmatist: Is one himself, and heavily encourages Sokka to be the same.
- Cultured Badass: Is a master with the sword and calligraphy, as both arts share similar philosophies. He also incorporates the philosophies of other styles of bending to his art, and is open to sharing his knowledge to those who are humble enough to learn. It is this combination of talent and wisdom that allow him to be par with the likes of Iroh, Pakku, and Bumi.
- Expy: He is based on two real-life people who were key to building the world of Avatar: His badassery, skills and looks are based off the show's martial arts consultant, Sifu Kisu, while his calligraphy skills and artistic philosophies are based off Dr. Siu-Leung Lee (no, not Lei Siu Leung), the show's consultant on writing, translation, and culture.
- Master Swordsman: His skill with the sword, along with his cleverness, rank him up there with the other mentors.
- Meaningful Name: Piandao is a type of Chinese sword.
- Membership Token: He presents a White Lotus tile to Sokka as a parting gift.
- Muggle Born of Mages: According to the official website, his parents were both talented Firebenders.
- One-Man Army: Word of God says that when he retired from the army, the Fire Nation sent a force of a hundred soldiers to reclaim him. He sent them all back.
- Parental Abandonment: According to the official website, his parents were both talented Firebenders who left him on the step of an orphanage when he turned out to be a nonbender.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Piandao shows a great deal of patience with Sokka's antics during his training.
- Refuge in Audacity: He's a wanted army deserter who lives in a castle in the middle of the Fire Nation. Because nobody can make him leave.
- Renowned Selective Mentor: Skilled swordman, former Fire Nation Elite Soldier (but not a Firebender), High Master of the White Lotus Order and famous for defeating 100 soldiers alone after he deserted the army; many people wanted to be trained by him, but he rejected most of them. The few pupils he accepted to train were Prince Zuko, and Sokka (who gained him a level in Badassery after his training).
- Retired Badass: Used to be active in the Fire Nation military but now he's content to practice calligraphy at his estate.
- Warrior Poet: His lessons train the mind as much as they develop the body. For instance, one of his lessons was drawing a landscape.
"We're the last Waterbenders of the Southern Tribe! We have to fight these people whenever we can, wherever they are, with any means necessary!"
A Waterbender from the Southern Water Tribe, Hama was one of many benders who defended her home from the Fire Nation. Eventually imprisoned and kept from all liquids, Hama was left to rot. She eventually realized that water is part of all life, and used this to create a deadly subset of Waterbending: Bloodbending, a dark art of manipulating the bodies of others. After using this to escape, Hama kept to herself in the Fire Nation countryside, and used her powers once a month to torment Fire Nation civilians. But she's not getting younger, so she intends to pass the art of Bloodbending onto the next generation. And no, she doesn't care what Katara has to say about that. Is not a member of the White Lotus.
- The Bad Guy Wins: She succeeds in forcing Katara to use Bloodbending at the end of "The Puppetmaster". She was arrested immediately after, but she didn't care.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Years restrained in a POW camp made her into a bitter and hateful person.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: She acts like a Mentor Archetype for Katara but is far more sinister.
- Blinding Bangs: In a flashback during her time in prison.
- Broken Bird: See Being Tortured Makes You Evil. She believes she's acting out of self-defense.
- Evil Counterpart: To Katara and Pakku.
- Evil Mentor: Forces Katara to learn Bloodbending.
- Evil Old Folks: She looks like an evil witch and has the personality to match.
- Fallen Heroine: She used to be a Nice Girl defending her home. Then she was captured...
- Grey Eyes: This is what separates her from other Waterbenders.
- Hypocrite: She claims that since Katara is also from the Southern Water Tribe, it's her duty to help win the war against the Fire Nation. This is despite her (Hama) doing absolutely nothing in that regard, as far as we can see.
- I Was Quite a Looker: The flashbacks show she was attractive in her youth.
- The Jailer: In vengeance on the Fire Nation for what they did to her, she uses Bloodbending to capture Fire Nation civilians and lock them away.
- Kubrick Stare: Pulls off a terrifying one after her true nature is revealed.
- Making a Splash/An Ice Person: She teaches Katara to use these powers far from traditional water sources.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Subverted; At first it seems like she's an old woman, living alone and isolated in an otherwise friendly Fire Nation town. She's got a few odd hobbies, but a clear fondness for the Gaang, especially Katara. When she tells her story she's a noble hero of the war and the Water Tribe. But eventually, one realizes she's alone because she hates every last soul in the Fire Nation.
- Never Mess with Granny: She invented Bloodbending and can make you kill your best friends.
- People Puppets/The Power of Blood: Bloodbending; by bending the blood in living things she can control their bodies.
- Revenge Before Reason: She's so consumed by hatred that she imprisons every single Fire Nation citizen she can; even ones that have nothing to do with the war.
- She Who Fights Monsters: Because she was kidnapped and imprisoned, she kidnaps and imprisons others.
- Sole Survivor: She was the last South Waterbender to be captured and the only one that escaped.
- Touch of Death: Her style of Waterbending involves pulling water out of plants and other living things; effectively killing them.
- Wicked Witch: Her powers aren't unusual in the Avatar universe; it's how she uses them...
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Kidnapped and imprisoned by the Fire Nation army as a teenager, prevented from bending her native element (water), it's no wonder she took her only chance of escape by turning the guards into People Puppets by bending their body fluids. Then she snuck into the Fire Nation and started kidnapping innocent civilians with the same technique she used on the prison guards...
"I was a spiritual brother of your people, and a personal friend of Monk Gyatso."
One of the oldest people in the Avatar world (even older than Bumi), Pathik has been alive long enough to have known the Air Nomads. Seeking out the Eastern Air Temple after a vision, he patiently waited for the Avatar there. He encountered Appa while the sky bison had been separated from Aang, and used a special technique to locate the Avatar. He also attached a note to Appa's horn, promising that he could teach Aang to master the Avatar State. When Aang came looking to take him up on his offer, he instructed the young Avatar on how to unlock his chakras, pools of energy in the body that must be opened for the Avatar State to function properly. Aang was able to open all but the last one, because the process involved letting go of Katara. The last we see of Pathik is him warning Aang that if he leaves now, he won't be able to enter the Avatar state at all.
- Cool Old Guy: Like Gyasto, his good friend, he is an affable and wise old man.
- Expy: Being an impossibly-old, extremely wise, tiny man who trains the protagonist in the second act of the story and tells him to give up his attachments in the interests of saving the day makes him a pretty clear one for Yoda.
- Hermit Guru: Naturally. He lives in seclusion with his cosmic chi and stuff.
- Lotus Position: His lessons are conducted from this position and the chakras are released from here too.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Last seen telling Aang that he needed to open his final chakra as Aang flew off to save Katara from danger. His only appearance after that was in a sleep-deprived hallucination with six arms singing "Chakras, chakras, everyone loves chakras."