Characters: The Legend Of Korra Enemies
This is a partial character sheet for The Legend of Korra. Visit here for the main character index. Subjective trope and audience reactions should go on the YMMV page.
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Amon / Noatak
"I am the solution."
The leader of the Equalists and the primary antagonist of the first book. A man shrouded in mystery, Amon seeks to rid the world of benders and usher in a new era of equality. He seeks to destroy Korra, whose presence in Republic City threatens his anti-bender agenda.
- The Ace: Let us count the ways...
- Amon is exceptionally intelligent, proving himself capable of extraordinary strategic organization, and his challenge to the Council in "And the Winner Is..." is a near-flawless Xanatos Gambit, creating a situation in which it is nearly impossible for him not to advance.
- He's a charismatic public speaker, winning over huge numbers of non-benders to his side and inciting their distrust, all while playing himself up as a tragic and noble figure.
- He's a master of a dangerous martial-arts style that allows non-benders to challenge benders.
- And to top it all off, he's a prodigy waterbender—one of the strongest non-Avatar benders in the entire franchise—who can bloodbend with his mind, outside of a full moon.
- Accidental Public Confession: Non-verbal one. After being blasted out of a window into the ocean, he reflexively waterbends himself back out to avert drowning, exposing himself as a waterbender and washing off the paint used to fake a firebending scar.
- Ambiguously Evil: While Amon is unquestionably a villain, to what degree is another matter. After the reveal, his exact motives for his revolution are not made clear, though Tarrlok thinks Amon believed his own rhetoric.
- Wanting equality and to help lower class citizens isn't bad... but doing so by trying to eradicate bending is extreme. He only targets benders who use their abilities for evil, at least until he's built up enough support to get away with more ambiguous targets or full-on public servants. He has also told Korra to her face (while his men held her down) that the only reason she still has her bending is that he is saving her for later. For all purposes, he does appear to have a moral code. It's just that he is pragmatic enough to take more amoral or even outright immoral actions to see his plans come to fruition.
- It's revealed in the finale that he's actually Yakone's son and a bloodbender, and, according to Tarrlok, came to the conclusion that bending was the root of all evil due to his father's abusiveness. The fact that bloodbending is known to get people Drunk on the Dark Side probably didn't hurt. He ultimately seems to come in as an Anti-Villain if one believes that Tarrlok was wrong in his assessment of Amon's motivation.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He prefers not to fight (see Pragmatic Villainy) but when he does....
- Badass: Amon is high in the running for the most dangerous character (apart from spirits or the Avatar) in the entire franchise.
- Badass Baritone: He is voiced by Steve Blum.
- Badass Boast:
- Badass In Charge: He's the leader of the Equalist Movement, and more than a match for the Avatar herself.
- Badass Longcoat: A bit shorter than some other examples, but no less badass.
- Bad Powers, Bad People: Zig-zagged. A Well-Intentioned Extremist with the ability to take away people's bending. He's actually a bloodbender, but he's a villain of the Knight Templar flavor, so he's bad in a rather unorthodox way.
- Believing Their Own Lies: Tarrlok theorizes that while the Equalists philosophy was based on lies, Amon genuinely believes benders are the source of the world's woes.
- Beyond the Impossible: He is one of the greatest waterbenders alive, capable of using bloodbending (which was always thought to only be possible on the night of a full moon, when a waterbender's power is at its peak) in the middle of the day. In fact, he's so good, he doesn't even need to move his hands; Tarrlok calls this "psychic bloodbending."
- Big Bad/Arc Villain: He is the main villain of Book One, the leader of the Equalists, seeking to eliminate all Benders in the world.
- Big Brother Instinct: Tarrlok claims he always looked out for him when they were kids. In "Out of the Past" he does the grunt work of taking Tarrlok to the truck himself while the Lieutenant and some mooks try to nab Korra. In the finale, Amon tells him he's all he has left in the world.
- Bond Villain Stupidity: Subverted. While he lets Korra go even though he has her completely at his mercy, he does so because taking her bending would only make her a martyr and damage his cause.
- Boomerang Bigot: He's a bender himself, using bloodbending to nullify the powers of other benders.
- Breaking Speech: He delivers one so effective and intimidating that Korra suffers a complete breakdown afterwards.
- Cain and Abel: Zigzagged. He takes away his brother's bending, but his brother ultimately kills him. And he still loves him regardless.
- The Chessmaster: His actions in episode 6 sealed his status as one and even more. See Xanatos Gambit below.
- Child Prodigy: By the age of 14, he was at least as good at bloodbending as his father, Yakone.
- Combat Pragmatist: Uses ambushes, greater numbers, weapons the opposition has no defense against, and psychological warfare to lead the Equalists to victory. He also subtly uses bloodbending to gain the edge in fights with other benders without exposing himself.
- Cool Mask: It resembles a Chinese opera mask, it has the spook factor of one.
- Crazy-Prepared: The finale reveals that he wears fake firebending scars just in case a situation might arise where he'd have to show them. Too bad he didn't think to make them waterproof.
- Creepy Monotone: He maintains a level tone in all situations.
- Culture Police: Desires to end pro-bending as means to end "bending worship".
- Dangerously Genre Savvy:
- Dark and Troubled Past: According to Amon himself, he was a simple farm boy before his family was murdered and he was disfigured by a firebender. His true backstory is even darker.
- Dark Messiah: He's set himself up as a Messiah figure to the Equalist movement, and his ultimate goal is to replace the Avatar as the world's savior. Though the Equalists are not a religious movement, he does claim that his exceptional abilities were granted to him by the spirits that protect the world, and that it is his destiny to be the savior of non-benders by bringing them into balance with those who can (or could) bend.
- Death Glare: Gives quite a potent one to Korra as seen in episode 4 when he confronts her underneath Aang's statue. It's especially notable since he can give quite a Death Glare even behind that mask.
- De-power: He has the ability to strip people of their bending, which he accomplishes through the use of bloodbending. It's not clear exactly how this works, but it can't be healed even by the most skilled healers. Korra's energybending, however, can reverse the effect.
- Diabolical Mastermind: Amon is really good at manipulating others and organising a military movement.
- Dissonant Serenity: The cargo bay of his zeppelin being filled with flame by Korra doesn't even break his stride. He doesn't seem fazed by Tarrlok's bloodbending, and while he's affected he is able to push through and maintain his composure without faltering. The mask definitely helps with the effect.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: On multiple levels.
- His ideals parallel the development of Communism and Fascism, (particularly the former given the "equality" rhetoric) which rose to compete against the democracies of the early 20th century. His rhetoric also is reminiscent of the Taiping Rebellion, as he fashions himself as a messianic figure and tries to replace the Avatar. Besides, the way his followers cover their faces in And the Winner Is... and the way he argues for the complete reformation of the society kinda reminds one of Anarchist movements which were responsible for a lot of terrorist acts of middle XIX - early XX centuries in Europe, Russian Empire and other parts of the world.
- The way in which he blames "every war" on bending, after several episodes in which its spiritual side has been stressed by Tenzin, is uncannily similar to the misnomer that religion is the cause of over 90% of the world's wars.
- Ironically, he also has several aspects of fundamentalist evangelism to him: besides his supposed "mission from the spirits", he lays down his hand on his victims' foreheads in order to "cleanse" them. More darkly yet, most of said victims end up with severe depression and loss of identity. Add in the British meaning of the word bender, and there you go.
- The white version of his flag calls to mind Japan's history of ultra-nationalist, xenophobic anti-government terrorists, particularly just prior to the Meiji restoration and in the 1920's and 30's, the latter of which gave rise to the Imperial Japan of World War II infamy.
- The Reveal has him appear as a Boomerang Bigot and unintentionally echoing his father, Yakone, through his abuse of others. Aside from being an explicit case of him emulating his father, this is something often linked to children that are sexually abused.
- Don't Create a Martyr: It's the reason he doesn't take away Korra's bending when they meet for the first time. It would just make her a martyr for benders to rally behind.
- The Dreaded: He terrifies Korra to the point that she breaks down into tears after one confrontation with him, and his encounter with Bolin left the earthbender with nightmares for at least a week.
- Drunk on the Dark Side: While his brother tried his best to swear off bloodbending, Amon took to it and embraced it. Tarrlok even comments that his borther seemed to enjoy having the power.
- Empowered Badass Normal: He's a Badass Normal who claims to have gotten his powers through contact with the spirits. In fact, he's actually just an extremely skilled bloodbender.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: He does seem to still love Tarrlok, although he rejected him when they were children.
- Evil Counterpart: He is established as one to the Avatar, a human given mysterious power by contact with the spirits, as opposed to the Avatar, who is the physical reincarnation of a Nature Spirit. After the reveal of his true origins, he becomes one to Korra herself. Both are benders of immense skill, both had fathers who were shamed, both fathers moved elsewhere to start a new life, and said fathers eventually ended up siring successors who would change the world. While Avatar Korra took it as her responsibility to bring balance to the world through her bending, due to her status as the Avatar, Amon believed he could bring balance by removing bending itself.
- Eviler than Thou: Amon ends up pulling this on every villain not working for him. Even Tarrlok can't compete.
- Evil Sounds Deep: What else would you expect from Steve Blum? Evil's as deep as the ocean.
- Expressive Mask: On occasion, there are subtle illustration changes to the mouth on his mask and his eyes and tone do the rest.
- Famous Last Words: "I had almost forgotten the sound of my own name."
- Fantastic Racism: Hates benders and seeks to get rid of bending altogether.
- The Faceless: He wears a mask due to Facial Horror he received from a firebender. This turns out to be a lie, however.
- Facial Horror: He cites this as the reason he wears his mask, even revealing an impressive scar once he removes it. That turns out to be a lie, however, and the scar is fake. Underneath, he's actually good looking.
- Fatal Flaw: Amon's eventual downfall comes from one simple fact: although he is a truly brilliant strategist whose schemes account for every eventuality he can think of, he has no ability to improvise and thus no fallbacks for eventualities he didn't think of, meaning Korra's airbending catches him completely off-guard at the worst possible moment and sinks his entire plan, mere moments from victory.
- Faux Affably Evil: He plays up the idea that he's actually a nice guy just doing a dirty job. He usually gives his victims the chance to fight for their bending, and he's quite polite when speaking, but he's still the leader of a terrorist organization seeking to create an upheaval against all benders and he's still crazy and wants to destroy all bending because his father was extremely abusive.
- Fights Like a Normal: His ability to remove bending isn't really immediately useful in a fight; he has to subdue his opponent using normal methods first. Subverted when we find out that he's actually been using psychic bloodbending to subtly influence the movements of his opponents, giving himself a edge in his fights.
- To Korra. His debending powers make him a sort of anti-Avatar. He styles himself in the same vein as an Avatar, claiming to be a savior sent by the spirits. He is a very calm, controlled individual who claims to be sent by the spirits, while Korra is a Boisterous Bruiser who has major difficulty with the spiritual side of bending. Finally, it turns out they're both native waterbenders and bending Child Prodigies. In a geographical sense, Korra was born and raised in the south pole while Amon originates in the north pole. Not to mention his young self looks strikingly like a male version of Korra.
- His fake back-story is very similar to Mako and Bolin's. They all had parents killed by a firebender. But while the brothers eventually learned to live with their loss, he took it in a completely different direction.
- On the other hand, he is truly a Foil to Mako on a much deeper level—Mako is fiercely protective of his younger brother and protected him throughout their bad childhood, whilst Amon abandoned Tarrlok and left him to deal with their abusive father alone. Both are also very talented benders, and the more talented of their brothers, and Amon goes out of his way to compliment Mako on that front. Both are the The Stoic in their Sibling Yin-Yang relationship to their more emotionally sensitive younger kin too. The fact that Amon lied about their similar-sounding backstory only drives the point home further that Mako is the anti-Amon.
- In a meta sense, he's a foil to Ozai in the same sense that Korra is to Aang. Whereas Ozai was a power-hungry conqueror, Amon is a partisan revolutionary. Ozai was a clear monster, whereas Amon is seemingly a genuine case of a Knight Templar Anti-Villain. Ozai was a firebender that had his bending removed with energybending, while Amon uses bloodbending to effectively lobotomize other people's bending away. Finally, Ozai was a younger brother who wanted to be just like his father and Amon was an older brother who hated his father.
- In another sense, he could be seen as this to Aang of all people, as they both fight against what they see as an oppressive government (though Aang's fight is rightfully more legitimate). They also both ran away from the pressures put upon them by their elders while young, and they are great sources of hope and fear. It helps that the Young Amon sounded eerily similar to Aang's younger self, too.
- And to add another layer to this, he and Korra act as a foil to Ozai and Aang. The Last Airbender went out of its way to show just how opposite Aang and Ozai were. Ozai had no compunction about maining or killing people, even his own son, while Aang couldn't bring himself to kill even when the world was at stake. Their primary elements are also diametrically opposed: firebending is mostly offense, while airbending is mostly defense. The theme with Korra and Amon is that they aren't terribly dissimilar. Same elements, and a similar way of approaching things. Where Aang used his title of Avatar to bring an authority as an arbiter more often than not, Korra wielded it like a club... at least until she got a good look at where that path would take her. Further, they are both people who use relatively brutish methods to achieve, in their own eyes, the greater good.
- In a way, he could be seen as this to Tarrlok. Both men are highly charismatic people who've captured the hearts of their respective branches of public, they're both more than capable of holding their own in a fight, and they both have secret powers that come off as a major shock to anyone who's fighting them for the first time. And then it turns out Tarrlok is Amon's brother.
- Freudian Excuse: His family getting killed by firebenders. Though that turns out to be a lie, he does have a real one courtesy of his father Yakone, who forced him and his brother into bloodbending.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: He claims to have been a simple Farm Boy until his family was murdered. Now he's a Dark Messiah revolutionary trying to bring down bending and replace the Avatar. Zig-zagged in the finale with his real backstory. His father was Yakone, who fled Republic City after being depowered by Aang, who then raised Amon and Tarrlok as tools for revenge. No one knew about Yakone, but he nevertheless hails from more auspicious beginnings than he first claimed.
- Full-Circle Revolution: When the Equalists took over Republic City, they proved themselves every bit as oppressive as the benders they rallied against.
- Genius Bruiser: Really good public speaker, social leader, and master strategist; expert chi-blocker, prodigy waterbender and psychic bloodbender.
- Gold and White Are Divine: An unusual case in that said color pattern is confined to his mask.
- Good Colors, Evil Colors:
- His mask is white and gold, noble colors, which are his mask which he hides behind, his red circle on his head could be his "evil" ambitions poking through his veneer of righteousness, and the fact that this is surrounded by black seems to mean he is the one noble being surrounded by darkness "benders" his point of view.
- When viewed through the lens of Chinese opera, Amon's mask takes on considerable symbolism. Its white/silver and gold color scheme immediately places the character in the realm of the mystic, with the gold/yellow coloration also playing into the character traits of treachery and ferociousness. The red circle on his forehead evokes a hint of Buddhist symbolism, referencing his spiritual connection, and also carries some connotations with intelligence and cleverness.
- White is the color of death in Asian cultures, which fits well with the symbolism often attributed to the White Mask of Doom. Red and gold are generally considered positive colors in Chinese culture, making their use ironic in this case.
- The gold on his mask can also be seen as green. Another analysis through that lens holds that the white symbolizes cunning, treachery, and craftiness, the green is violence and lack of self-restraint, and the red dot is both spirituality and the mocking of it.
- Go Out with a Smile: After losing Republic City and the Equalists, Amon decides to reclaim his old identity as Noatak and turn over a new leaf with Tarrlok, his long-lost brother. As they leave on a getaway boat, Noatak happily contemplates the new life they would build with each other as brothers, while Tarrlok silently decides to kill both of themselves as recompense for their past crimes and to halt their father's villainous legacy once and for all. From the driver's seat Noatak smiles as he muses on how he'd almost forgotten the sound of his own name and begins crying, perhaps realizing and accepting what Tarrlok is about to do just before Tarrlok ignites the gas tank and detonates the boat.
- Hero Killer: More like Hero De-Bender. Anyone he can lay his hands on is effectively neutralized since they can no longer bend. His first confrontation with Korra also implies that he plans to kill her after taking away her bending, though that may have been poor use of the phrase "untimely demise" as a metaphor. He fully enters into this trope after de-bending Lin Beifong and Korra, though doing so to Korra ultimately backfired.
- He Who Fights Monsters: In trying to eradicate benders as the source of the world's woes, he eventually became as bad as those he sought to eliminate.
- Hidden Agenda Villain: After The Reveal, his true motivations are never really addressed. His backstory implies he's either a Knight Templar seeking to rid the world of bending because he sees it as the root of all evil, or was seeking to follow in his father's footsteps and take over Republic City. Evidence is presented for both.
- Hypocrite: He wants to get rid of benders for making non-benders live in terror, while his own strategy consists of doing exactly that. Not to mention that he's a a bender himself, using bloodbending to fake spiritual powers. While Tarrlok thinks Amon is none to proud of his powers, he still uses them subtly to fight, rather than fighting like a Badass Normal. In the end, the Lieutenant is not at all happy to realize this.
- I Am the Noun: "I am the solution." Also printed on some of his posters, though that's a Readers Of Chinese Bonus.
- Icy Blue Eyes: Once his mask comes off, Amon's eyes are revealed to be a light blue. Fitting, considering his cold, calculating personality and status as a waterbender.
- Implacable Man: No matter what you throw at him, he won't stop coming.
- In the Hood: Wears a hooded robe.
- The Juggernaut: When Tarrlok tries to use bloodbending on him, he just shrugs it off and keeps advancing. Turns out he was bloodbending himself.
- Just Toying with Them: Amon makes a show out of tying up bending members of a crime syndicate (and one of the heroes who got mixed up with them) and removing their powers in front of a huge crowd of Equalist sympathizers. This trope comes into play when, as part of his show, Amon lets the crime boss loose and offers him the chance to fight to protect himself. It's all the more impressive when Amon wins. Rather easily, in fact. It's later revealed he uses bloodbending to get them to move somewhat predictably without revealing his ability, making his defeat of them inevitable.
- Just You Me And My Guards: How Amon eventually responds to Korra's mano-a-mano challenge to him. Could be justified because Tarrlok was supposed to have soldiers watching the fight, and Amon is Genre Savvy enough to suspect something like that.
- Karmic Death: In the first season finale, Tarrlok, one of the individuals he de-bended, blows up their boat with an electric glove (a signature weapon of the organization that he founded). Tragic, but nevertheless karmic.
- Kick the Dog: After his plans have advanced far enough that he doesn't need the good press anymore, he has no problem attacking benders who haven't done anything to deserve it. The Metalbending police, the entire Republic City Council (save Tenzin), the last airbenders (who escaped), and Lin Beifong. Not to mention bombing the crap out of Republic City. In the finale, he has benders lined up execution-style, captures Tenzin and his family to eliminate airbending altogether (despite the Air Acolytes being altogether peaceful, and Tenzin supporting non-bender rights more than anyone else), and attacks and possibly kills the Lieutenant when he finds out Amon is a bloodbender and makes a Mook-Face Turn.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Invoked in his early targets for de-bending, since he wanted to portray himself as targeting benders using their power to oppress non-benders (the Triple Threat Triad, an organized crime syndicate, and the Wolfbats, who cheated their way into winning the pro-bending tournament). This is also why he refuses to de-bend Korra at first.
- Kneel Before Zod: Forces a pack of wolves to do this as a child with bloodbending.
- Knight of Cerebus: The first couple of episodes are relatively lighthearted and upbeat. Then Amon takes center-stage in the third episode and every episode proceeds to get darker and darker. In the end, Amon is the only major villain in the entire franchise who is not EVER used for laughs. Even Ozai, after he was defeated, was the butt of jokes from other characters. But even after his defeat, he still left enough of a mark on Korra that the season very nearly had a Downer Ending.
- Knight Templar: Amon definitely invokes this in his rhetoric, and follows up rather well, rapidly escalating the stakes from vigilantism to terrorism to an open revolt which temporarily succeeds in deposing the government of Republic City.
- Light Is Not Good: Though Amon invokes certain heavenly archetypes with his white and gold sun mask, Egyptian sun god name, and possible mystical connections, he's still the leader of a terrorist organization. He's a waterbender, and while a bloodbender, his method is essentially a reversal of waterbending healing, manipulating chi regardless. Thus, arguably White Magic.
- Lightning Bruiser: Extremely agile and nimble fighter with the strength to take down even the most skilled benders with no sweat.
- Made of Iron: Mako shot him in the chest with a bolt of lightning, several seconds long at that, and Amon walked it off. Though Mako can fire non-lethal shots, there's no indication he intended this to be anything less than fatal.
- Mage Killer: Not surprising, given that he's the leader of the Equalists.
- Malevolent Masked Men: Like the lower-level Equalists, although they're Gas Mask Mooks and his is more of a traditional mask.
- Mission from God: He claims that he was chosen by the spirits to bring down bending and replace the Avatar.
- Names to Run Away From Really Fast: "Amon" has plenty of possible meanings.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Debending Korra ultimately only served to make her even stronger and upend his entire revolution.
- No Sell: When Tarrlok uses bloodbending to incapacitate his mooks, Amon shrugs it off. Even when Tarrlok redoubled his efforts, it just barely slowed Amon down. Since he can bloodbend with his mind, he was able to counteract Tarrlok's powers without moving.
- Not So Stoic:
- When he takes off his mask to "disprove" Korra's revelation of his backstory, Amon is suddenly much more enthusiastic and emotional in his speech. Considering that he was lying, it's most likely an act.
- Amon loses his composure after he inadvertently outs himself as a bender to his followers, and during his reunion with Tarrlok, is far more emotional than he had been up to that point, even shedding a tear just before dying.
- Odd Name Out: While Yakone and Tarrlok have Meaningful Names, Amon's real name is simply the name of a river.
- Obviously Evil: He looks pretty dang evil, but looking at him through the lens of Asian Culture (which Avatar takes heavy cues from), he looks a lot more evil. See Good Colors, Evil Colors.
- Pragmatic Villainy: When Korra challenges him to a duel, he has his mooks ambush her. Rather than remove her bending, however, he lets her go with a Breaking Speech, reasoning that removing her bending now wold only serve to martyr her.
- Pre Ass Kicking One Liner: "It is time for you to be Equalized."
- Psychopathic Man Child: In his final scenes he displays naivety and untoward optimism, shucking off his persona of Amon as if it was a disguise. He's incredibly cheerful for a defeated man and is seemingly giddy from the prospect of being with his little brother again, as if he and Tarrlok are two little schoolboys running away from home. He seems to think everything will be just fine, ignoring the fact that every facet of their identities were shaped so that a normal life would be improbable or even impossible. That said, his boat is suspiciously well-stocked with Equalist equipment, which suggests he had ulterior motives.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: He never does this personally, but quite a few of the Equalist powers depict him this way, probably for Rule of Drama.
- Rebel Leader: He is the leader of the anti-bending movement.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Vilified: Once the Equalists took over, it's subverted.
- The Runaway: In his real backstory, he fled from his abusive father.
- Self-Disposing Villain: A case where the hero isn't even aware of it. Korra never has the chance to take care of him, since he escapes. Tarrlok takes care of that.
- Shadow Archetype: To Korra, as essentially the anti-Avatar. He's also one to Bolin and Mako, as they've all lost their parents to firebenders. However, Amon now wants to destroy all benders, while Bolin and Mako are making the best of their situation.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: With Tarrlok. Amon's more calm, collected and is on the side of nonbenders. Tarrlok is more prone to anger and is firmly on the side of benders.
- Single Tear: Sheds one right before his death.
- The Social Expert: Amon can expertly predict what people will do and how best to exploit them.
- Straw Hypocrite: Possibly. He leads a crusade against bending, when he is in fact a waterbender—in fact, his method for removing other people's bending involves bloodbending. But it's not known if he truly believes in the cause, even if he uses bending to achieve it, or whether he's just exploiting the cause for his own personal gain or a desire to upstage his father.
- The Stoic: Always calm and collected, even in the midst of battle.
- Stronger Sibling: He's Tarrlok's.
- Super Power Lottery: He's a master waterbender, can bloodbend without a full moon, and his control is such that he can remove bending from his victims.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: All of which come standard for members of the Water Tribes.
- Tell Me How You Fight: Tarrlok identifies Amon as his brother, despite Amon's appearance being concealed, by the distinctive feel of his bloodbending.
- This Cannot Be!: When he debends Korra only for her to use airbending against him.
- Thought-Controlled Power: His psychic bloodbending technique lets him paralyze people at a glance or subtlety control their movements during combat.
- Tragic Bigot:
- Amon's parents were murdered and his face disfigured by a firebender when he was just a child.
- Turns out that backstory is a lie, but his real backstory is arguably just as sympathetic. His father, Yakone, was an extremely abusive parent, and forced him and his brother Tarrlok to learn bloodbending so he could use them to exact revenge on Republic City and the Avatar. Ultimately, this mistreatment put Amon on the path to darkness. Eventually, when his father made him and his brother use bloodbending on each other, he turned on his father, and ran away from home, and implied to be convinced that bending was evil.
- Tragic Villain: In the finale, it's revealed that Amon is actually Tarrlok's older brother, Noatak. He and Tarrlok were forced by their father Yakone to learn bloodbending, so that he could use them to exact vengeance on Republic City and the Avatar. After Yakone forced him and Tarrlok to use bloodbending on each other, Noatak turned on his father, incapacitated him with bloodbending, and ran away from home, taking up the identity of Amon years later. According to Tarrlok, he really and truly believed bending to be the root of all evil in the world, despite being a bender himself, though Tarrlok also implies Amon enjoyed the power bloodbending gave him. He wanted Tarrlok to run away with him, but Tarrlok didn't want to leave their mother behind. In the finale he's looking forward to a peaceful life with his brother. Apparently that's all he really wanted.
- Tykebomb: His father Yakone tried to turn him and his brother, Tarrlok, into this in a plot for revenge on Republic City and the Avatar. While he did turn on his father, he ultimately ended up fulfilling what Yakone wanted him to do anyway.
- The Unfettered: He will eradicate bending by any means necessary.
- Unflinching Walk:
- Pulls this off in the face of a fireball that blasts most of his Mooks away.
- Also, when up against Tarrlok, he walks through Tarrlok's attempt to bloodbending with only minimal flinching.
- Unreliable Expositor: His given backstory is a lie in order to gain support and sympathy.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Until his father forced him and his brother to learn bloodbending.
- Villain Exit Stage Left: After being defeated and uncovered by Korra, Amon asks Tarrlok to escape together and rebuild a life as brothers. Tarrlok agrees, but has ulterior motives for doing so.
- Villain Has a Point: His talk about benders oppressing non-benders gained a lot more credence once Tarrlok took over. This was probably intentional on his part.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Invoked. His Evil Plan requires popular support, so he avoids actions that could negatively impact his reputation. While officially considered a terrorist, he has amassed a modest army, enough to threaten all of Republic City.
- Villainous Breakdown: After Korra manages to use airbending despite having been debended. He really gets this once he's not only unmasked, but his makeup to make him look scarred is washed off in the water, revealing him for what he really is.
- Villainous Rescue: Rescues Korra from Tarrlok, though he didn't plan on letting her go free after taking down Tarrlok.
- Visionary Villain: A world of equality.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He wants to make the world more equal for non-benders, but to that end he'll go to some pretty extreme lengths. May be a subversion or deconstruction as he's a bender himself, and his devotion to the Equalist cause is brought into question as he may simply be using them as his personal army—The Reveal throws many things into question, although Tarrlok believes him to be sincere.
- White Mask of Doom: The only known Equalist to have one.
- Why Don't You Just Shoot Him?: He makes it clear that he could have easily taken away Korra's bending when he ambushed her. He also makes it clear that doing so would have made her into a martyr, which is why Korra will be the last to lose her bending, and then she will die.
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: The abuse Amon suffered at his father's hands led him to bitterly despise bending, eventually leading a revolution intended to purge all bending from the world.
- World's Strongest Man: Described as one of the most powerful benders ever, and certainly the strongest waterbender shown so far. He's possibly the strongest non-Avatar bender to ever live. The only thing ever shown to be able to break his psychic bloodbending is the Avatar State.
- Would Hit a Girl: He knocks Korra unconscious when he ambushes her. And he plans to kill her.
- Would Hurt a Child: In the finale, he has captured Tenzin and his family and plans on debending them.
- Xanatos Gambit: Pulls one off in "And the Winner Is...". He makes a public demand over the radio that the city government shut down the Pro-Bending arena and cancel the championship match. If the pro-bending championships are not stopped, then he and the Equalists have an audience for the demonstration of their power and he gets to begin his war. If the tournament is canceled the government has given into Amon's demand and showed that it will not challenge him.
"You benders need to understand... there's no place in this world for you anymore."
Amon's second-in-command. Little is known about him, except that he believes quite strongly in the Equalist cause.
- Ambiguously Evil: While there's no doubt he's one of the bad guys, his reasons for doing the things he does remain unknown, as is whether he would qualify as a straight up villain or an Anti-Villain.
- Ammunition Backpack: Since it's a generator and he wields electrified weapons.
- Awesome Backpack: He carries a power generator on his back to supply power for his weapons.
- Badass: He may get a lot of abuse, but it can't be denied that he's always back up and ready for a fight. He manages to curbstomp Bolin and Mako in their first fight. In episode 10, he manages to fight Lin to a standstill.
- Badass Baritone: Owing to his voice actor, he has a very cool, deep voice.
- Badass Moustache: It adds to his badass appearance, since he's a badass and has a moustache.
- Badass Normal: No bending abilities.
- Broken Pedestal: Let's just say that he didn't take learning the truth about Amon well.
- The Determinator: Always back up and ready for another fight, no matter how much of a beating he takes.
- Diminishing Villain Threat: Appears very threatening early on, soundly defeating Bolin and Mako in "The Revelation," but every time he is encountered thereafter, he is usually either attacking a helpless or outmatched opponent or he loses.
- The Dragon: For Amon.
- Dual Wielding: Electricfied kali sticks in both hands.
- Everyone Calls Him Barkeep: Everyone up to and including Amon, in fact. Bolin nicknames him Moustache Guy.
- Evil Sounds Deep: Being voiced by Lance Henriksen, this is a given. That man could inhale multiple canisters of helium and he would still sound like he had more than one puberty.
- Glass Cannon: Very agile and deadly in combat. He hits as fast as lightning, and he's very powerful. However, he goes down after one hit.
- Goggles Do Nothing: They don't seem to do very much.
- Good Hair, Evil Hair: He has a Fu Manchu mustache.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: Asami once beat him by electrocuting him with his own weapon. Perhaps not coincidentally, this is the point where he stopped being a serious threat.
- Impossibly Cool Weapon: He wields a pair of electrified kali sticks, because his opponents are metalbending cops, and electricity works pretty well on all benders. The fact that an industrialized city like Republic City has conductive metal everywhere doesn't hurt, either.
- Ineffectual Sympathetic Villain: Starts to shade into this as the Diminishing Villain Threat kicks in. Poor guy can't do anything right.
- Iron Buttmonkey: No beating really seems to stop him.
- It's Personal: When Korra's trapped in a metal cage, he shows a certain satisfaction in getting to shock her unconscious as payback. Unfortunately for him, she was one step ahead.
- He also takes realizing that he'd been played by Amon pretty badly.
- Otherwise averted. It's suggested that he feels eradicating bending is a logical conclusion.
- Made of Iron: Has been sucker punched with a boulder, knocked off a building, blasted over a roof, and smashed into the ground from midair by a polar bear dog. And each time, he has dusted himself off and returned ready to fight again.
- Mook-Face Turn: He turns on Amon when he finds out about his bending, though as usual he didn't do that well in the ensuing "fight".
- Noble Top Enforcer: While the Lieutenant comes off as sadistic and cruel, he truly believes in the Equalists' agenda and dedicated his life to it.
- No Name Given: He's just "the Lieutenant".
- No Peripheral Vision: Maybe it's the goggles, but the Lieutenant has had an unfortunate tendency to be taken out by surprise, typically by someone new showing up from behind or the side while he's fighting another opponent.
- Psycho Electro: While he is serious in wanting to end bending like all other Equalists, he seems to actually enjoy inflicting pain on benders with his electric arsenal a bit too much.
- Shock and Awe: Through his electrified kali sticks.
- Simple Staff: Of the two handheld rod variety.
- Spanner in the Works: His "battle" with Amon gave Mako the time to muster up the energy to fire off his lightning.
- Tall, Dark and Handsome: He actually doesn't look that bad unmasked. Seen here◊.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: He really did believe in Amon's message and felt that the world would be better off without bending. He was enraged when he saw that Amon was a liar and a fraud.
- The Worf Effect: His role in a lot of episodes is essentially "Equalist more dangerous than a mook but less than Amon." Him being the only person in that niche means he shows up a lot to show things are serious, but the heroes can beat him without Amon suffering a loss.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Amon tries this after he walks in at a very inconvenient time. Word of God is that he survived, however.
The foot-soldiers of the Equalist cause, trained in chi-blocking to nullify the powers of benders.
- Airplane Arms: They use the further back, ninja-like variation.
- Badass Army: Badass Normal Gas Mask Mooks trained specifically in a Pressure Point-striking fighting method designed to temporarily disarm and disable the wielders of Elemental Powers. Later armed with electric weapons that achieve similar effects to chi blocking without needing special training, and eventually equipped with heavy firepower in the form of mecha tanks, airships and bomber airplanes.
- Badass Biker: The chi blockers are excellent motorcyclists.
- Badass Normal: They completely dominate Korra and Mako in their first fight, due to clever use of their gadgets and their martial arts.
- Combat Pragmatist: They take any advantage they can get. Aside from their grenades, they use bolas, tripwires, whips, and do not obey Mook Chivalry, for the most part.
- Elite Mooks: They're an army of them. Even just a few of them can put up a hell of a fight against very powerful benders.
- Equal-Opportunity Evil: Their figures show that more than a few are women. The ladies fight alongside the men. Also we can't be sure with their masks, but they seem to be non-benders from any of the three nations.
- Gas Mask Mooks: Since they use gas grenades, this is a necessary aspect of their outfit. Also helps when being knocked down by fartbending.
- Kick the Dog: Electrocuting Shiro Shinobi, the announcer, who is a non-bender and wasn't fighting back.
- Using Bolos and attacking the non-bender communication-staff at the police station.
- Kung-Fu Proof Mook: The Equalists' Mini-Mecha are made from platinum, metal so pure metalbenders are incapable of manipulating it.
- Mage Killer: Their combat training specifically targets benders.
- Mini-Mecha: Their platinum mech-tanks.
- Mook Chivalry: Averted for most of the first book, but played straight in "Turning the Tides" when half a dozen stand still and let themselves be knocked over by a slow attack, and they back away when the Lieutenant fights Lin.
- Ninja: They seem to take loose inspiration, focusing on pragmatic fighting and using chi-blocking.
- The Paralyzer: Their blows cause temporary (and apparently painful) paralysis in addition to serving as a...
- Power Nullifier: Even after the paralysis wears off, a chi-blocker's strike will render their target temporarily unable to bend.
- Pressure Point: The centerpiece of their fighting style, featuring extremely rapid strikes.
- Samus Is a Girl: A minor variation; some of the chi-blockers are clearly women, but you have to be paying attention.
- Shock and Awe: A favored tactic of theirs, in various flavors:
- The less skilled among them use electricity-generating gloves. The ones in full attire never do.
- The Mini-Mecha have built in tasers and can fire bola disks which shock the recipient unconscious. This same weapon is used by hand occasionally.
- Smoke Out: They use grenades that release a greenish, slightly unpleasant gas to dissuade pursuers.
- The Voiceless: They apparently use this as a psychological tactic, as their near-absolute silence in battle, communicating and coordinating only through gestures and reading each other's body motions, accentuate the inhumanity their faceless masks lend them. It's almost jarring when we hear them speak in episode 9 during unguarded moments.
- The Worf Effect: In episode 10, several of them were quickly defeated by Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo. Granted, most of them had probably never fought an airbender before.
- They also easily lost to Asami.
- Zerg Rush: They performed this quite often, though also mixed smart tactics and gadgets with it, making them very dangerous. Probably the best example would be when they ambushed Korra with about two dozen attacking her at once.
He's a protester who comes into the Republic City park to preach about Amon's ideals.
- Attention Whore: He promotes the Equalists for this reason, according to the official website. He attempts to get said attention by taking the unpopular position on any given issue (in this case, bending rights). His parents were evidently supportive of benders.
- Back for the Finale: He appears in the first episode or two, then disappears. He comes back in a brief scene later.
- Big "WHAT?!": He lets one out in the finale when Amon outs himself as being a waterbender.
- Bullying a Dragon: Invoked. He deliberately insults any benders that come by, because goading them into attacking him would prove his point.
- Hot Blooded Sideburns: Which also point to Fire Nation parentage.
- No Name Given: He's just "the protester".
- Playing the Victim Card: Enjoys goading benders, and when they are about to beat him up always shouts about how the benders are oppressing him and other non-benders. He does this at least once when Korra was about to beat him up so he'd tell her and Mako where Bolin might be after he was kidnapped by Chi-Blockers; but he's probably done it more than once.
"So, I understand you're dirt poor!"
Descended from the first Fire Nation colonists, Hiroshi came from a poor background but rocketed himself to riches through investment in and development of the consumer automobile (or the "satomobile"). His wife was murdered by a Firebender when Asami was young. Her murder prompted him to join the Equalists, as he believed they could make a better world for non-benders like himself and his daughter. He is responsible for their technological advantages, supplying them with taser gloves, weaponry, platinum Mini-Mecha
tanks, and bipanes.
A member of the United Republic Council, representing the Northern Water Tribe. Ambitious and manipulative, he is Tenzin's primary political rival.
- Ambadassador: For the Northern Water Tribe, and can fight Korra on equal terms.
- Anti-Villain: Initially, once he's revealed as a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, he appears to be a straight up villain. However, in the first half of the finale, when Korra and Mako find him locked up on Air Temple Island, he reveals his backstory, which is exceedingly tragic. It was established in episode 8 that he was Yakone's son, and, it turned out that Yakone was an absolutely terrible father. See Tragic Villain for more.
- Ass in Ambassador: He has his own agenda and will be a pain to everyone, use every fault or failure he can find to make them bend to his will. And if they do not bend, he will break them.
- The Atoner: He realises that what he was doing was wrong, and he became the very weapon against the Avatar his father wanted him to be. In repentance, he tells Korra the truth about Amon, and later kills both himself and his brother as his brother tries to escape the city with him.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He is the Northern Water Tribe's council representative, and one of the most powerful waterbenders ever shown onscreen in either series. If Korra weren't the Avatar, he probably could have beaten her in a straight fight. Since Korra has multiple elements to bend, he's forced to fall back on his bloodbending once she deprives him of a water source.
- Badass Bureaucrat: His manners at the council suggest a Desk Jockey, but he quickly proves to be a competent martial organizer.
- Bad Powers, Bad People: He's a particularly evil bloodbender, just like his father. However, subverted in his backstory. He was a kind-hearted kid who hated blood-bending, and tried his best not to use it. However, his father's manipulations and his own desperation made him the very thing he hated.
- Berserk Button: Hearing he was just as bad as Amon did not go well with him. Becomes Harsher in Hindsight when they're revealed to be brothers, a fact even Tarrlok wasn't aware of at the time.
- Big Bad Wannabe: He tries to stand on equal grounds with Amon, but ultimately he cannot.
- Big Good: Subverted. He at first appears to be the leader of all the good guys in opposing Amon, but it's a stretch to call him a good person. It soon becomes clear that he has his own agenda.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: To the public, he's considered a fair-minded and likable guy. Behind closed doors, well...
- Braids, Beads and Buckskins: Heavily Downplayed; the most prominent signifier of his roots is his elaborately triple tailed, beaded hair.
- Break the Cutie: He used to be a sweet child, but was put through hell when Yakone made him learn bloodbending. He felt the pain of the animals he was forced into practicing on, saw his brother's Start of Darkness, and was a wreck by the time Yakone passed away.
- Cain and Abel: Zig-zagged. His brother takes away his bending, but he ultimately ends up killing both himself and his brother.
- Character Development: It comes late, but it's potent. And really sad. After being forced to use bloodbending, having his bending taken by Amon, then learning that Amon is actually his brother, Tarrlok becomes a lot less self-serving. In his final moments, he seems to have gotten some perspective on his and Amon's actions. While Amon decides to run away with Tarrlok, believing they could turn over a new leaf and live as a family, Tarrlok is much more realistic and skeptical. Instead, he decides to repent for his and Amon's actions and prevent further damage. Tarrlok blows their boat up and ends both their lives and legacies, even as his brother smiles over thoughts of their new life.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Makes a brief appearance in a newspaper photo in episode 2.
- The Chessmaster: He frames the Equalists for kidnapping Korra, planting appropriate evidence and electrocuting himself to make it stick. He also sends Tenzin and Lin on a Snipe Hunt for Korra while he's at it.
- Clasp Your Hands If You Deceive: Steeples his fingers over his desk when Korra confronts him in his office.
- Color-Coded for Your Convenience/Good Colors, Evil Colors: His clothes are the palest shade of blue among waterbenders seen in the Avatarverse, almost silver in tone, which fits well with his Bitch in Sheep's Clothing personality.
- Composite Character: Word of God is that Tarrlok was intended as a cross between Azula and Long Feng from the previous series.
- Control Freak: Especially evident in how frustrated he gets at Korra when she leaves his task force.
- Corrupt Politician: He browbeats the Council into going along with his plans, all of which only serve to make him more powerful.
- The Dandy: He is mocked by Ikki for "smelling like a lady" when he joins Tenzin's family for dinner.
- Agent Peacock: He wears nice clothing and has such pretty hair. And he is one of the strongest waterbenders of the age.
- Death by Flashback: Before his Murder-Suicide, the audience gets to learn about his past.
- De-power: And richly deserved at the time.
- Devil in Plain Sight: As everyone panics over Amon, they ignore the ambitious, amoral politician who's been using that threat to further his own agenda.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- His actions of arresting non-benders under the pretense of them being Equalists, simply because they were protesting having their power cut off, are highly reminiscent of Joseph McCarthy and the Communist phobia (or Red Scare) that infected North America during the 1950's.
- His rise to power mirrors that of Mussolini and to a lesser extent Hitler, persuading the democratic and monarchic power structures to give him more and more power, supposedly in order to counter the threat of the Equalists/Communists.
- Driven to Murder-Suicide: He kills both himself and his brother by blowing up the boat they're in.
- Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: He's genuinely fond of his mother. His concern for her is the reason he didn't run away with his brother.
- Even Evil Has Standards: He may be using the Equalist threat to advance his goals, but he's genuinely disgusted by Amon. He also considers Yakone's methods to be beneath him. Of course, he will cross these lines if his patience is tested.
- Evil All Along: His goal was to use the Equalist threat to become a legitimate sole ruler over Republic City.
- Evil Overlord: By all accounts, Tarrlok's in charge of Republic City, with the police in his pocket and the rest of the Council (sans Tenzin) being his Yes Men and Woman, which was his goal all along. Then the Council learns he's a bloodbender. Then Amon debends him.
- Expository Hairstyle Change: Much like Hiroshi, his meticulously coiffed hairdo is disheveled after his revelation as a bona fide villain and a tangle with Korra, which he won only because of bloodbending. He is far less unkempt when speaking to the police, even though he's pretending to have been attacked by the Equalists, only further emphasizing this trope.
- Fallen Hero: He could have been a good man. A great one even. However, his pride blinded him to the fact he had become just like his father and a scourge to Republic City.
- Famous Last Words: "It will be just like the good old days."
- Faux Affably Evil: Whenever he seems to act polite, it's usually accompanied with a smug voice tone, so take his "friendliness" with a grain of salt.
- Freudian Excuse: He was trained by Yakone to take over the Republic City.
- Friendly Enemy: While he and and Korra are nominally on the same side, he has an almost inhuman patience for her flouting the law and undermining his efforts. He also has an open offer of re-employment for Korra in his task force after the arena was closed. All this despite having pressured Korra into joining him for his own efforts near their first meeting. He's later shown to be more "enemy" and less "friendly" in episode 8.
- General Ripper: Evident when he shuts off the power in the Dragon Flats District, drawing many innocent non-benders out of their homes, only to brand them as an Equalist rally and arrest them all. The causes and reasons for his treacherous actions are magnified after we learn his past of being subjected to his own father's treachery. Tarrlok needed an excuse to exercise the might of Republic City, and made the Equalists his Enemy X.
- He Who Fights Monsters: Subverted, as he was always a villain, and his excessive actions are just him trying to exert more control over the city. He never had decent intentions and he uses the fight against the Equalists as an excuse for his own ends.
- Heel Realization: After losing his bending and learning that Amon is his brother, he realizes that he had become the very thing his father wanted, which he had been trying to avoid.
- Heroic Sacrifice: At the end of the first season finale.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: Who needs water when you've got blood?
- I Am Not My Father: While they were both bloodbenders, Yakone ruled the underbelly of the city as a crime lord, and Tarrlok believes that's why he failed. Tarrlok decided to take Republic City as a sleazy politician, instead.
- An Ice Person/Making a Splash: He's a waterbender.
- In the Blood: The only thing separating Tarrlok from his dad is he chose to be a politician, not a crime lord.
- Jerkass Has a Point: It's practically his hat.
- In episode 4, Tarrlok is using his task force to score political points, but the Equalists are a militant revolutionary group openly advocating the violent overthrow of their country's government and the extermination of bending. Some sort of official response is necessary to that existential threat and Tarrlok is the only council member offering a plan.
- In episode 7, Tarrlok's opening narration is politically self-serving yet accurate: the Equalists are warring on benders under the guise of fighting for equality, Chief Beifong did utterly fail to protect Republic City during the arena attack, and new leadership was needed for the police considering how ineffective Chief Beifong had proved against the Equalists. Lin herself even comes to agree with the latter two points.
- In episode 8, he brings up how Korra is only a "half-baked Avatar in training" because she has yet to master airbending. When Korra later barges into his place trying to intimidate him into releasing her friends, she accuses him of oppressing people exactly like Amon says benders do, and he points out that she's used force to oppress and intimidate people before, so in that respect they're Not So Different.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: At first, it seems that Tarrlok wants to close down the Pro-Bending arena to spare innocent lives. But when Lin Beifong enters the picture, he realizes someone else can take the responsibility (and the rap) of others, thus relinquishing him from any blame if anything happened. Then, when Korra approaches him about abusing his power to arrest innocent civilians, he kidnaps her using bloodbending.
- Subverted in the finale, where he is genuinely repentant for everything he's done, having had time to reflect, and helps Korra unmask Amon then sacrifices himself to put an end to both Amon and Yakone's evil legacy.
- Knight Templar: While personal paranoia is a major factor, Tarrlok definitely invokes this with his rhetoric, claiming that his actions are a righteous crusade against Amon. Though it's later revealed to be a front.
- Lamarck Was Right: Inherited his father's extraordinary bloodbending talent.
- Laser-Guided Karma: He goes after everyone who isn't a bender, using a "if-you're-not-one-of-us-you're-against-us" philosophy. And then he gets reduced to a non-bender, himself.
- Let's Get Dangerous: His demeanor makes him out to be just an Attention Whore, but his waterbending isn't half bad. Then there's his bloodbending...
- Let no Crisis Go to Waste/Opportunistic Bastard: His entire crusade against the Equalists isn't really to protect the benders of Republic City; he's only taking advantage of the crisis to consolidate his own power.
- Long-Haired Pretty Boy: Whenever his hair is down.
- Manipulative Bastard: Very good at manipulating others into furthering his goals. Even knowing that he's up to something won't help you. Goes into the realm of physical manipulation, since he's a bloodbender.
- Meaningful Name: "Tarlock" is a name of Irish origin that means "instigator" or "abettor," which is certainly fitting for his status as a Manipulative Bastard.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Seems to have this feeling towards his crimes done after some time held by his brother. Leads to his Redemption Equals Death. It also happens to a lesser extent after bloodbending a group of people in episode 9. Two episodes later, we see exactly why.
- Not So Different:
- His approach to dealing with dangerous non-benders is, if anything, more indiscriminate than the Equalists' actions toward elitist benders. Korra calls him on this, likening him to Amon. It turns out they really aren't that different, being brothers and both blood-benders who use their powers to nefarious ends, though Tarrlok had no idea who Amon really was until well after Korra calls him out.
- According to him in a Hannibal Lecture, he and Korra aren't all that different, because they both go to extremes in order to get what they want.
- Not So Stoic: "When Extremes Meet" shows that he has a pretty short fuse. Control Freak above explains more on that.
- Opening Narration: Replaces Shiro Shinobi in the Previously On recap for "The Aftermath", giving a speech about Lin's failure to stop the Equalists in the previous episode and calling for her to be replaced.
- Overlord Jr.: He's the son of Yakone, the master crimelord of Republic City during Aang's time as the Avatar.
- People Puppets/The Power of Blood: It is revealed during his fight with Korra in "When Extremes Meet" that he is a bloodbender, one good enough that he can do so on a whim, rather than only during a full moon. His father, Yakone, could do the same.
- Praetorian Guard: His task force
- Personality Powers: The power hungry politician can control people? What a shock!
- Psychopathic Man Child: Has shades of it in episode 8. He has a lot of power in the city but comes off as a spoiled brat who will do anything to get what he wants and won't listen when others try to reason with him.
- He ultimately grows up some in the finale, while his big brother Amon ironically takes on a few Psychopathic Man Child traits himself. Amon thinks that everything will be flowers and sunshine now that he's reunited with his baby brother (though he starts crying as he says this), while Tarrlok is more somber and, in repentance and to head off further harm, quietly kills them both.
- Redemption Equals Death: After realizing what he and his brother had become, he blows up the boat they're in, killing them both and ending Yakone's bloodline.
- Psychotic Smirk: In "The Voice in the Night".
- The Rival: To Tenzin, in the political arena, and to Korra in dealing with the Equalists.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: His brother is Amon.
- Sleazy Politician: Everything he does is for his own personal agenda.
- Smug Snake: His regular attitude gives off this vibe, though it's subverted by the end of the series.
- The Social Expert: Besides his fighting, this is his most dangerous skill. He can generally read a person and knows how to play them so they follow his way. His only misjudgement was thinking Korra would be his by showering her with gifts. Then he wises up and just attacks her pride by having reporters berate her.
- Strong Family Resemblance: Tarrlok looks similar to his father, which might clue viewers in to their relation before the reveal.
- Taking You with Me: How he ends Yakone's bloodline by killing both himself and his brother.
- This Cannot Be!: When his bloodbending fails to stop Amon.
- Together in Death: With his brother.
- Tragic Villain: When it was discovered he was a waterbender, Tarrlok's father Yakone forced Tarrlok and his brother Noatak to learn his bloodbending techniques so that he could use them to exact revenge on Republic City, even going so far as to pit Tarrlok and Noatak against each other and demand they use their bloodbending on each other. Noatak bent Tarrlok, but Tarrlok refused to bend Noatak back, and Yakone rounded furiously on Tarrlok. At this, Noatak turned on Yakone and ran away from home. Ultimately, this was the Start of Darkness for both of the brothers; Noatak went on to become Amon, and Tarrlok attempted to fulfill his father's dream of ruling Republic City through legal, but still underhanded means, becoming the Sleazy Politician we see in the present day.
- Tykebomb: His father tried to mold him and his brother into this to take his revenge on Republic City and the Avatar. Tarrlok becomes horrified when he realizes that he became what his father tried to make him.
- Tyrant Takes the Helm: He implements a city-wide curfew to all non-benders and a law that makes it illegal to even be associated with Equalists (i.e. Hiroshi Sato, which is what Tarrlok uses to rationalize arresting his daughter). He shuts down the power to their homes, which forces them to break that curfew by going outside to protest, and arrests all those that don't follow his new law, claiming that they're Equalists for not doing so.
- The Unfavorite: Yakone favored Noatak more than him, although given how they were both treated that's not saying much.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Courtesy of his dad.
- Utopia Justifies the Means: He desires Republic City to be led by a powerful leader, so that threats such as the Equalists may be eradicated. Ego comes into it to a degree, of course.
- Villainous Breakdown: He starts freaking out as his plans unravel. He manages to regain his cool after his Heel-Face Turn.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Until he's exposed as the man who kidnapped Korra.
- We Have Become Complacent: He considers this for the Benders against the Equalists. He feels Benders need to take back the power and when they to, they end up becoming the very monsters the Equalist supporters are told Benders are.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Seems like it at first, with his heavy-handed but arguably reasonable responses to the Equalist threat. Except it's not so well-intentioned; that part's a front.
- What Have I Become?: Is genuinely horrified by the fact he became the soldier of vengeance his father wanted him to become.
- The Worf Effect: Tarrlok's bloodbending, which is demonstrably strong enough to incapacitate at least eight people simultaneously, has only a limited effect on Amon, and Tarrlok is taken out in seconds.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Tries this on Korra and the rest of Team Avatar when Korra no longer follows his orders. Then to Saikhan later on.
The Dark Spirits
The Dark Spirits
The main antagonists of Book Two.
- Badass: The larger spirits are capable of matching Korra blow for blow. Even while she's in her Physical God Super Mode, the Avatar State, at least until she gets more used to fighting them later on.
- Blue and Orange Morality: With the exception of those who lead them (Vaatu and Unalaq), the Dark Spirits are not malicious or evil in their invasion and attacks on human beings, they just don't have any concept of morality beyond "everyone who defiles the spirits must be killed". Even if this is their nature, their allegiance is only to those who are allies of Vaatu.
- Combat Tentacles: Some of them fight using this style.
- The Corruption: "The Beginnings" reveals that dark spirits are in fact a product of Vaatu's influence. A failed battle with a larger spirit also leaves a bit of corruption in Korra, threatening to destroy her Avatar spirit if it isn't cleansed. Negative human emotions in the spirit world can also corrupt them, as demonstrated by both Korra and Unalaq. The latter can even control the corrupted spirits, even if they were once friendly to his enemies.
- Dark Is Evil/Dark Is Not Evil: A combination of both. Being dark spirits, they are inherently destructive. However, this is only because they're extremely angry, similar to Hei Bai's rampage in the previous series. Much like Hei Bai, they can be calmed down and convinced to leave peacefully.
- Eldritch Abomination: An army of them. However, they are nothing compared to Vaatu, their master.
- Elite Mooks: When working for Unalaq (who serves their master, Vaatu), they easily overpower the the Southern rebels and later Korra's group, whereas the Northern soldiers were defeated without much trouble.
- Fusion Dance: The smaller spirits are capable in a fight, but can be taken down by a skilled bender. However, they can combine into larger spirits to increase their strength and durability. These fused spirits can also reform into their original smaller forms if the big form is blasted apart.
- Gaia's Vengeance: Focused on Tonraq, who desecrated one of their forests in the past. Later revelations about Unalaq's hand in things indicate that he likely made them attack humans as part of his plans.
- Griping About Gremlins: The imp-like spirit that sabotages Bolin's snowmobile in "The Southern Lights" seems to be invoking this trope.
- The Heartless: They're vicious, dangerous spirits who were apparently formed by the Southern Water Tribe being spiritually thrown out of whack for over the past century. The reality, however, is that Unalaq is behind the attacks.
- The Imp: The smaller spirits give of this vibe.
- Intangibility: In the same sense as a cloud of gas. They can still be barred by physical barriers, but can manage to slip through cracks.
- Invincible Minor Minion: Physical offense has almost zero effect on them. They can be blasted apart by a strong enough bending attack but may reform if the dark spirit was made up of smaller ones fused together. The bigger ones can be almost unstoppable, at least for any bender not experienced at fighting spirits.
- Lightning Bruiser: Strong enough to toss humans around like ragdolls but fast enough that it's very hard to land a solid hit on them. Even then, bending is practically useless on the bigger ones.
- Made Of Air: They are difficult to harm via conventional means, though strong bending attacks are seen to blast apart weaker ones with little trouble.
- More Teeth than the Osmond Family: They have way too many teeth when they roar.
- Music Soothes the Savage Beast: Bumi manages to calm one down with some flute playing. It only worked on that one, though; the rest got mad and attacked him.
- No Sell: They can (sometimes) laugh off even Avatar State-boosted bending assaults without even trying.
- Unstoppable Rage: Unalaq explains that they aren't evil, just pissed off at the spiritual imbalance and desecration. At their core, they are chaos personified.
- Villain Decay: A somewhat different from normal example, as the weaker dark spirits are different from the ones that appear early on, and even then they are still dangerous. However, the fact remains that the first two dark spirits to appear (the giant squid and the one at the festival) appear almost invulnerable, while at the end we see whole groups of dark spirits being blasted apart with normal bending and no sign of them regenerating.
"I lived ten thousand lifetimes before the first of your kind crawled out of the mud."
Voiced by: Jonathan Adams
The spirit that embodies darkness and chaos, counterpart of Raava, the spirit of light and peace.
Northern Water Tribe
"I have spent my life studying spirits and learning their ways. All of this knowledge is lost in the South. But I could teach you everything I know."
Voiced by: Adrian LaTourelle
Korra's uncle and the chieftain of the Northern Water Tribe. He serves as her spiritual mentor early on in Book 2, before his less than noble intentions come into the light and drive a wedge between them.
- Abusive Parents: He's not physically abusive, but he's definitely neglectful and emotionally abusive. When Desna was injured during their joint attempt to open the northern spirit portal, Unalaq ignored his plight and pressed on.
- Always Second Best: His brother was like this to him. He was oldest and next in line to become chief, so to subvert this Unalaq got him banished. But during his banishment, Tonraq sired Korra, the Avatar, double subverting it.
- The Antichrist: He acts as Vaatu's herald and merges with him to become the new Dark Avatar, the equal and opposite to the Avatarverse's Messianic Archetype.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: After fusing with Vaatu and destroying Raava, the two transform into a massive humanoid version of Vaatu's spirit form.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He's no slouch in combat, easily besting his brother one-on-one and later holding his own against Mako and Bolin.
- Ax-Crazy: He takes a savage joy in destroying Raava.
- Badass: While he may be a terrible human being, he is not someone to be trifled with.
- Balance Between Good and Evil: He's a deconstruction stating why this philosophy is not a good thing. He plans to release Vaatu and bring balance to the world on his terms.
- Bait the Dog: He takes Korra's advice and agrees to let the rebels who just tried to kill him have a fair trial. In his very next scene, he arrests Korra's parents. And the trial turned out to be rigged anyway. Hell, this could be considered his whole character arc. See Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
- Big Bad/Arc Villain: He appeared to be the main villain of Book Two, seeking to conquer both of the Water Tribes and open the Spirit Portals. However...
- Big Bad Duumvirate: Unalaq, however wanted to do more than just that and he was not the only one; he is actually working with Vaatu, and is behind the Dark Spirit attacks. Furthermore, the Water Tribe Civil was but a distraction. All this was leading up to becoming the new Dark Avatar through a fusion with Vaatu.
- Big Little Brother: Looking at Tonraq and Unalaq, you wouldn't peg Tonraq as the older brother. The difference is made more apparent by flashbacks, where Tonraq looks almost identical to his present-day self, while Unalaq looks much more youthful.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: After the reveal of his true nature in "Civil Wars", Part 2", and Varrick was the only one who caught on. Though even then it isn't until "The Guide" and "A New Spiritual Age" that the full extent of his evil is revealed (before he just came across as a jerk. After "A New Spiritual Age" it's pretty clear the guys pure evil.)
- Broken Pedestal:
- Korra realizes he's just power-hungry and spiteful once she learns that he deliberately rigged her father's trial and orchestrated his banishment from the Northern Water Tribe.
- His children eventually let go of their devotion to him when it becomes clear that he doesn't care for them at all. In the end, they admit to Korra they hold no grudge for her defeating him and that they won't miss him.
- Cain and Abel: The Cain to Tonraq's Abel.
- Chest Blaster: In his One-Winged Angel form, Vaatu's Eye Beams are fired from his chest.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: His only loyalty is ultimately to himself, or rather to Vaatu whom he doesn't betray. He secretly betrayed Tonraq in order to become chief, hid his involvement with the Red Lotus after they failed to kidnap four-year-old Korra and even worked with his enemies, the White Lotus to imprison P'Li, and in addition to screwing over his brother a second time, abused Korra's trust while using her to further his own ends.
- Classic Villain: Shows signs of Ambition, Pride, and Envy. Ultimately somewhat zig zagged, however, since he consistently remains a Knight Templar, though his projects of uniting with Vaatu do invoke classical villainous traits of Satanism.
- The Corrupter: Within the spirit world, his presence is enough to turn normal spirits dark.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: He delivers one to Tonraq. Tonraq puts up a terrific fight but Unalaq defeats him with barely any effort.
- Dark Is Evil: A variant of his healing technique, characterized by purple instead of yellow/gold, allows him to corrupt or destroy whoever he uses it on, as he attempted to do on Jinora and Korra.
- Dark Messiah: Even more so than Amon—his ambition is to become the new "Dark Avatar" and he is willing to sacrifice anybody, even his own children, to do this.
- Dark Shepherd: He'll bring unity whether his flocks want it or not. To this end, he set Tonraq up to destroy the spirit forest in the North so he would be banished and Unalaq would be first in line, and worked to free Vaatu, the universe's equivalent of Satan, so they could fuse and become the equivalent of the Anti Christ.
- Deader than Dead: Both he and Vaatu were purified by Korra and turned into nothingness. While Vaatu will be reborn, it seems unlikely Unalaq will be joining him.
- Death by Irony: He's beaten (along with Vaatu) when Korra uses his own spirt pacification technique against him. His previous advice to Korra to "find the light in the dark" is also echoed when Korra meditates in the Tree of Time to connect to the cosmic energy of the universe.
- The Dragon: To Vaatu prior to their merging, if they do not count as a Big Bad Duumvirate. The reveal that he was serving a bigger evil did not make him any less dangerous.
- Dragon-in-Chief: Although Vaatu was more powerful than him, Vaatu couldn't do much while being trapped, so Unalaq served as this until Vaatu was freed. After Vaatu was released and they merged as one being, Unalaq commanded most of Vaatu's power even though their personalities coexisted at the same time.
- Driven by Envy: Korra speculates that the real reason why he arranged his brother's banishment is because he envied his brother's position. She also suggests that his desire to train her stems from further envy that Tonraq sired the Avatar.
- Drunk on the Dark Side: He enjoys his merger with Vaatu, since it gives him so much power.
- Evil Is Petty: While Unalaq has higher goals, he still manages to go out of his way to ruin his brother's life just out of envy and spite. He framed him despite knowing full well that Varrick was the one who masterminded the assassination/kidnapping attempt.
- The Evil Prince: Arranged his brother's banishment so he would be next in line as Chieftain. And that's just step one.
- Evil Uncle: He set his brother up to be banished so he could become chief, uses Korra's trust in him to manipulate her into furthering his goals, and ultimately plans to fuse with Vaatu and become the Dark Avatar.
- Evil Counterpart: By fusing with Vaatu, he becomes the Dark Avatar.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: Invoked by Tonraq, but averted; despite many warnings that Vaatu is too powerful to be trusted, their arrangement ultimately goes exactly as planned.
- Evil Mentor: To Korra, briefly, before she realized he was evil and called him on it.
- Eviler than Thou: Strayed from the Red Lotus' ideals and betrayed their mission. The Red Lotus just wanted spirits and humans to exist without laws and boundaries, but Unalaq wanted to take it a step further and enslave humanity.
- Exact Words/Suspiciously Specific Denial: Unalaq tells Korra that it was her father's and Tenzin's decision to keep her secluded in the White Lotus Compound. Korra even chewed them out, especially her father on it. It turns out Unalaq wasn't lying, but that was only half the truth; they did so in reaction to the Red Lotus trying to kidnap her when she was four. Unalaq was the one that suggested the idea.
- He has many similarities with Fire Lord Sozin. Whereas Sozin tried to forcibly spread technology and industrial advances to the other nations of the world, Unalaq is trying to return to the old ways and spiritual roots to the Southern Water Tribe... by landing his army in his brother's city. He is also similar to Sozin in trying to manipulate the Avatar to his own profit and/or their own nation above all others, or forcing to doing it.
- Eventually he becomes a straight expy of Fire Lord Ozai. He tries destroy the entire world in a misguided attempt to usher in a "new age," proclaims himself the Dark Avatar (like Ozai proclaims himself the Phoenix King) and confronts the Avatar in a cosmic event.
- Faux Affably Evil: He very briefly pretends to be a benevolent, if rude, man that seeks to bring balance to the world. Doesn't last long.
- Flanderization: In universe. Varrick's moving pictures have him portrayed as a over-the-top villain with a waterbending doomsday machine. Strangely, the actor looks a lot like Actor!Ozai from "The Ember Island Players". Funny thing is, the propaganda films weren't that far off, apart from hamminess of the actor of course.
- Fluffy Tamer: A rare villainous example, as he is able to corrupt and control Dark Spirits that he either creates himself, or that Vaatu corrupts. He leads an army of his corrupted spirits against the Southern Water Tribe's La Résistance and curbstomps them.
- In many aspects to Zuko's Uncle Iroh from the first series. He is a tall and lean man contrasting Iroh's short and chubby aspect; Iroh was a rather kind, friendly and spiritual man; Unalaq is a spiritual man as well, but he is a more devious and ambitious man; Iroh was a Cool Uncle to his nephew Zuko; Unalaq is an Evil Uncle to his niece Korra. Iroh and he are each a Parental Substitute to their nephew/niece, but Iroh was sincerely worried about his nephew, whereas Unalaq has more selfish reasons for working with Korra. This contrast becomes more evident in "A New Spiritual Age", when both appear and interact with Korra in the Spirit World. Finally, Unalaq is secretly a member of the Red Lotus, a foil to the White Lotus, of which Iroh was secretly a member.
- Also to Jinora. Unalaq is an adult man with years of training himself in spiritual matters, while Jinora is a preteen female whose natural affinity with spirits makes up for her lack in experience. Jinora befriends spirits; Unalaq only pretends to be a friend of spirits and will forcefully control them to reach his own goals. And while Unalaq practically, but smoothly forced his way into becoming Korra's spiritual mentor, Jinora didn't and only became her Guide when things got serious. There's also the kind of the relationship they have with Korra: Unalaq is his distant uncle who only want to use her, but Korra and Jinora have close sibling relationship (along with Ikki and Meelo).
- Wan, the first Avatar, was a firebender. Unalaq, the first Dark Avatar, is a waterbender. Fire and water are opposite elements.
- The Fundamentalist: He does not compromise with his view of Water Tribe spirituality and practices. Because of this he comes off as a jerk. It's later revealed that he actually is a jerk, as he manipulates Korra to get her on his side when he takes control of the South, and uses his position to settle a personal grudge against his brother on the side. It comes off as a subversion, he's working on freeing the evil Vaatu for the Harmonic Convergence, and plans on destroying the Water Tribes and every nation afterwards so that there is only one world where spirits and humans are under one banner.
- Genre Blind: Subverted. Despite being called on how unwise it is to work with Vaatu, everything went according to plan and Vaatu never betrayed him.
- A God Am I: His ultimate goal is to fuse with Vaatu and become the Dark Avatar, ushering in ten-thousand years of darkness with himself as the ruler of humanity.
- Good Powers, Bad People: Not as pronounced as Zaheer, but still, he is a Waterbending master with an affinity for the spiritual, who specializes in appeasing and purging Dark Spirits. Doesn't prevent him from working with this universe's God of Evil and trying to become The Antichrist.
- Good Shepherd: He's the verse's equivalent of a priest and he's big on fasting, meditation, and other self-discipline practices and he can calm angry spirits and send them back to the Spirit World. However, all thus turned out to be an excuse for executing his final plan.
- The Heavy: While the Dark Spirits and Vaatu are the overriding Big Bads of the season, Unalaq is the more direct threat. Since Vaatu can't doing anything until he's free, the leg-work is left to Unalaq.
- The High King: Unalaq is technically Chief of both tribes, but the South sees him as a mere figurehead to their council of Chieftains. This creates quite a bit of friction when Unalaq decides to assert his authority by force.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: He's ultimately defeated by his own spirit-bending technique.
- Holier Than Thou: Gives off vibes of this when he is ranting about the Southern Tribe lacking in spirituality. Then he calls in the troops to take over the Southern Tribe in order help them spiritually. This extends to the entire world in general, as he believes that the Avatar has failed in maintaining balance and intends to personally rectify that problem.
- Hostage for MacGuffin: Forced Korra to open the portal by threatening to destroy Jinora's soul.
- Humanoid Abomination: After becoming the Dark Avatar by fusing with Vaatu, then destroying Raava, they go One-Winged Angel and become a giant, humanoid Vaatu.
- Talks about spiritual balance, yet he caused a spiritual imbalance in the North in order to get Tonraq banished so that he could be chief. He also plans on releasing and merging with Vaatu to become the new Avatar, but in this case he still believes he can bring balance, just under his tyrannical rule.
- He had also treated his children coldly, yet he had the nerve to call Tenzin a bad father for letting Jinora be Korra's guide into the spirit world. Jinora calls him out on this.
- He accuses Korra of causing chaos when he's trying to release the spirit of chaos and is deliberately corrupting spirits to further his plans.
- Irony: He sought to fuse with Vaatu and break down the barrier between the spirit world and material world so humans and spirits could coexist. After Korra beat him, she decided he had a point and left the portals open, allowing the two worlds to connect once more.
- It's All About Me: Unalaq doesn't just want to see his ideals realized, he wants to be the one to realize them. While the Red Lotus shared his goals, fusing with Vaatu was not part of the plan. Ultimately, they were just one more step to achieving what he believes is his destiny.
- I Want Them Alive: When he sends Desna and Eska to capture Korra he explicitly reminds Eska that he needs Korra alive. Given Eska's current Yandere state this is a very smart move. He was none too pleased when he found that the Avatar was presumed dead.
- Jerkass: When you take the opportunity at a Southern Water Tribe festival being held in your honor to complain about their lack of spirituality, you qualify for this.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Subverted. All his supposed compassion and care is an act put on to keep Korra from turning on him.
- Karmic Death: After countless atrocities, Unalaq is finally done in by the own spirit pacification technique.
- Knight of Cerebus: A case where a villain gets darker as the season progresses. He started off as a Jerkass at the outset of the season, but as his true colors are revealed, the season begins to take a darker turn. And when he fuses with Vaatu, things really get dire.
- Knight Templar: Initially, he was showed as a fundamentalist antagonist who wanted to unite the water tribes and bring balance... at any cost. Indeed, the last part of his goal is actually true. He plans to fuse with Vaatu to become the Dark Avatar, then use that power to rejoin the human and spirit worlds, restoring balance to both. He sincerely believes in his rhetoric, even if to a truly horrifying extreme.
- Lean and Mean: To contrast his brother's Heroic Build.
- Leave Him to Me: When Desna and Eska move to engage Tonraq, he tells them to back off, wishing to fight his brother himself.
- Light Is Not Good: Is a self-righteous preacher that can infuse water with bright golden light and appease spirits... who launches a mass scale invasion to force his ideals on his Southern brethren, and who set his brother up to be banished, and framed him as having taken part in an assassination attempt on Unalaq, using a judge who was working for him to ensure Tonraq got a conviction. His powers most certainly don't reflect his personality, aside from his spirituality.
- Lightning Bruiser: Unalaq moves surprisingly fast and hits hard.
- Making a Splash: He is a master waterbender.
- Manipulative Bastard:
- He plays on Korra's role as the Avatar to guilt her into going along with his plans, even when she doesn't agree with them. After an attempt to kidnap him is foiled by Korra, he agrees to a trial to seem reasonable, but then rigs it so they're found guilty and sentenced to death. He then "convinces" the judge to bump down to life imprisonment to seem merciful.
- He also did this to the Red Lotus, giving them the idea to kidnap Korra and train her themselves. Though they shared the same idea of balance, Unalaq had greater plans and was simply using the Red Lotus to realize them.
- The Mentor: To Korra in Book Two... at least for the first few episodes.
- Moment Killer: He has a bad habit of cutting into otherwise heartwarming moments. It's even become a minor meme.
- Mook Maker: He can corrupt spirits, which will then do his bidding.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Korra learns to copy his spirit pacification technique after watching him perform it a few times, which proves to be his undoing when she uses it to defeat him and Vaatu in their One-Winged Angel form. In addition, his needless attempt to screw over Tonraq only served to alienate Korra before she had opened both spirit portals, causing him a whole lot more grief than he needed to deal with.
- No Ontological Inertia: Subverted. As part of his new world order, Unalaq covered Republic City in spirit vines. Though he's stopped, these vines continue to be a problem in Book 3, since not even Korra can figure out how to get rid of them and their presence is seriously affecting city infrastructure.
- Not Even Human: After his monstrous transformation after fusing with Vaatu. This is probably why the show got away with killing him.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: The outset of the season portrays him as a fundamentalist Jerkass with a Holier Than Thou attitude towards things, but not outwardly malicious. The rest of the season, however, sees him jump off the tracks and head into Omnicidal Maniac territory real fast.
- Not Worth Killing: It would be trivially easy for the North's forces to wipe out the Southern resistance, but Unalaq is content to leave them bottled up in one area while he dedicates the majority of his resources to securing the spirit portal. He doesn't kill Tonraq after beating him down since he's not worth killing and he wants to gloat.
- Obviously Evil: He has a Lean and Mean Villainous Cheekbones appearance and shares a lot of traits with Tarrlok and Fire Lords Sozin and Ozai. This made The Reveal as an enemy a lot less surprising as a result. Even in-universe, Tenzin was wary of him, but didn't think he would go so far.
- Oh Crap: Has this expression when Tonraq is only inches away from punching him in the face. He manages to waterbend Tonraq away before the hit lands, though.
- One-Winged Angel: When Raava is destroyed, he and Vaatu turn into a giant, humanoid version of Vaatu.
- One World Order: He plans to fuse with Vaatu and create a world where there are no nations, just humans and spirits united under his "new world order".
- The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: He orders his children to stop attacking Tonraq so he could beat him himself.
- Parental Neglect: He isn't openly or outright abusive, but his children seem afraid of him and he cares very little for them beyond their usefulness to him. When trying to breach the Northern portal with their help, he shows no concern when Desna is injured by the backlash from a failed attempt. Tonraq's attempt to appeal to Unalaq's Papa Wolf mentality likewise falls on deaf ears.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Years ago, when the Red Lotus were causing trouble, he helped Zuko by creating the secret prison to hold P'Li. He even kept it a secret from everyone, including his own children. Then it turns out he was just using them for his own ends, and it was in his best interests to keep them locked up. In the present, he tries to invoke this to stay on Korra's good side, but it falls apart quickly.
- Rebellious Rebel: In a sense. The Red Lotus was itself a Renegade Splinter Faction of individuals who rebelled against the Order of the White Lotus and whose purpose was in direct opposition to them, but Unalaq had greater goals which the Red Lotus wouldn't have approved of, and he used them as so to achieve this. When they failed, he then left them to rot.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: He chews out the Southern Tribe for its spiritual decay and decadence in the middle of a banquet in his honor, saying it is their fault the spirits are attacking. Ultimately, his words were nothing but excuses for his cause. In fact, He was actually behind the attacks.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: As the Dark Avatar, his eyes glow in a fiery red light when he uses his version of the Avatar State.
- The Resenter: His brother was next in line to become Chief, so he set him up to be banished in order to take the position for himself.
- Revive Kills Zombie: On account of being fused with Vaatu, when he fell prey to it.
- Sibling Yin-Yang: Unlike his older brother, Unalaq is ambitious, focused on spiritual concerns, and feels driven to lead his people.
- Slasher Smile: Shows a nasty one often after freeing Vaatu, and displays it again when beating Raava to death. Even before that, he's smirking like a madman when he threatens Jinora.
- The Sociopath: Another trait that he shares with Fire Lord Ozai: Unalaq displays a distinct lack of empathy towards anyone, including his own brother and children, callously manipulates anyone he needs to, is completely self-centred and arrogant, and has virtually no regard for the lives of anyone beyond their usefulness to him.
- Super Mode: As the Dark Avatar, he has his own Avatar State which has glowing red eyes.
- The Unfettered: He will bring about unity between spirits and humans by any means necessary, no matter who or what he has to sacrifice to do so.
- Villain Ball: Unalaq might have succeeded were it not for his petty desire to screw over Tonraq. Doing that turned Korra against him before he could complete his plan. His heavy-handed invasion of the south didn't do him any favors, either. If the intent was to make sure no one entered the portal and found Vaatu, he could have easily sent his men to guard just the portal, as opposed to a full-blown occupation.
- Villain Has a Point: Korra agrees with him that the Avatar wasn't meant to be a bridge between the spirit and human worlds and that Wan may have made a mistake when he sealed off the spirit portals, so she leaves them open after he and Vaatu are defeated and resolves to find a way for humans and spirits to live together in harmony.
- Villainous Cheekbones: Has very pronounced cheekbones, and he's not the nicest guy.
- Villainous Breakdown: Has one when Korra reawakens Raava and extracts her.
- Villainous Legacy: He was a member of the Red Lotus and proposed the plot to kidnap Korra when she was a child. However, he was never caught and covered up his involvement.
- Visionary Villain: He intends to change the world. He plans to do this by releasing Vaatu and fusing with him to become a Dark Avatar, in order to create a world where there is no barrier between the spirit world and the material world.
- White Magic: Engages in a holy form of waterbending that allows him to pacify spirits by turning negative energy into positive energy. The water also glows with golden light. Becomes a case of Good Powers, Bad People after The Reveal.
- Black Magic: He has a dark variation on this ability which infuses dark energy instead of light, which can kill human souls if used on them.
- Would Hurt a Child:
- Threatens to wipe out Jinora's soul in the Spirit World to force Korra to open the portal, and would have done the same to Korra if not for a timely rescue.
- As part of the Red Lotus, he was the one to suggest the plan to kidnap Korra as a child. While they (seemingly) were genuine in their desire to train her under their ideals, his plans for her would have brought harm to her eventually.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: He tells Korra this when she thinks he needs her to open the northern spirit portal because she was needed to open the southern one. He's actually lying, but he thinks it will help him control her, which backfires. Later played straight in "A New Spiritual Age": as soon as Korra opens the second portal, Unalaq tries to erase her soul. He also did this to the Red Lotus, leaving them to rot in jail after they failed to kidnap Korra.
- Youngest Child Wins: Was second in line for the North's chieftainship, but became first in line for the throne after Tonraq's banishment. Turns out that this case of the trope involved cheating on the part of the youngest child, however.
Desna and Eska
Desna and Eska
Korra's twin cousins and Unalaq's children. Desna is the boy and Eska is the girl.
Tropes that apply to both twins
- Authority Equals Asskicking: As a team, they are able to beat Tonraq, and later Mako and Bolin. Ming-Hua easily defeated them, however, helping to establish her skill.
- Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other:
- When they are pressed into trying to open the spirit portal and Desna is injured, Eska shows she cares more for him than she does for aiding her father's ambitions.
- Not quite love but definitely a better relationship then before: in the finale, Eska uses Bolin's name ("NOT MY BOLIN!") and when they part she calls him "my turtle-duck" instead of "my feeble turtle-duck".
- Big Damn Heroes: When Bolin was getting swarmed by dark spirits, he gets a timely rescue from the twins.
- Break the Haughty: Eska gives this impression at the end of "Civil Wars, Part 2" when we see her chasing the boat Bolin is on looking like she is about to kill him.
- Cannot Tell a Joke: Eska appears to think an insincere statement followed by an explanation of how it is insincere is side-splitting sarcasm. Desna apparently agrees with her.
- Character Development: Eska maturely decides that she and Bolin were not meant to be together at the end of Book 2.
- It takes a while, but Desna finally manages to realize what type of person his father is, and lets go of his blind loyalty to him just in time to help protect Korra in the finale.
- Character Focus: Out of the two of them, Eska has gotten the lion's share of character development, while Desna was mostly there for Creepy Twins jokes and to act as extra muscle for the bad guys.
- Co-Dragons: They become this to their father in "Peacekeepers". "Harmonic Convergence" reveals that he also leaves the minutiae of organizing his army to them when he knows that a battle is coming.
- The Comically Serious: Both of them are hilariously deadpan to everything.
- Creepy Monotone: How they both talk. As a result, it's even hard to tell if they are sarcastic or serious. It's even present when they laugh.
- Creepy Twins: They're described as "androgynous creepy twins" by the writers. Korra echoes this sentiment.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Desna and Eska look like they stand around and do nothing but be creepy, but in "Peacekeepers" they're able to fight Korra as a team and hold their own (before a Dark Spirit interrupted).
- Dance Battlers: Their fighting style includes a lot of acrobatics.
- Emotionless Girl: They don't seem to be given to emotion. Even when jealous of Bolin hugging Korra, Eska doesn't break from her usual monotone (though she does raise her voice ever-so-slightly).
- Easily Forgiven: Especially from their cousin.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones:
- When Desna gets injured during Unalaq's attempt to open the Spirit Portal without the Avatar, Eska defies her father's order so she can take him back to the real world and have him healed.
- They also apparently really care about their mother, seeing as the only thing bugging them about their father's death is now they'll break the news to her.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- Despite being eager to kill her first cousin, Eska does seem to care a lot about her brother. She thought he was much more important than trying to help her father.
- Averted with Desna; when he does find out about his father's plan to release Vaatu, he believed his father even when Eska seemed to be having doubts. Later on, he and Eska decide that there was nothing to gain from serving Vaatu.
- Evil Duo: After Eska goes crazy, she and her brother become this trope, with Eska as the Id and Desna as the Superego.
- Expy: They resemble Mai from the original show by personality and expression. You could include status, but Mai was the daughter of a Fire Nation governor while these two are a prince and princess. Eska is also reminiscent of Azula in several ways, acting essentially as an examination of what would have happened if she had found a date in "The Beach", complete with horrifying laugh and devolution into a complete lack of composure at a companion's betrayal.
- Flechette Storm: They use a version of this with ice needles in their battle against Ming-Hua.
- Foil: Desna and Eska seem deliberately as opposed to Princess Yue (the last Northern Water Tribe heir we witnessed) as possible, being tactless, ruthless, and relishing their status to Yue's compassion and Spoiled Sweet nature. Eska's relationship with Bolin especially contrasts with Yue's relationship with Sokka: Sokka worried he wasn't worthy because of his lower status and Yue wanted to be with him, but was bound by her engagement to Hahn; Eska exploits Bolin's lower status to domestically abuse him into slavery and puts her desire to be with him before his own emotions or input.
- Half-Identical Twins: One is a boy and the other a girl, but they still look very similar. Bolin even thinks they're both girls at first.
- Heel-Face Turn: The two show slight hesitation and reluctance to some of their father's orders, but still believe he was doing what is best for all. Bolin's Anguished Declaration of Love turns Eska around, at which point they let Mako and Bolin escape. They swear Unalaq off for good when they witness his transformation into the monstrous Unavaatu, and don't even care when he dies. In Book 3, they aid Tonraq and Zuko in trying to prevent P'Li's escape. They're beaten, but at least they tried.
- Hime Cut: Both have this, befitting their status as the children of the chieftain of the Northern Water Tribe.
- Identical Twin ID Tag: A few.
- Desna's coat has a straight hem. Eska's has a V shape.
- Desna has wide leggings, while Eska has narrow ones.
- Eska has blue hair ties and eye makeup, neither of which Desna wears.
- Jerkass: They come across as condescending, but Eska especially rubs people the wrong way, due to her insistence in bossing Bolin around.
- A Lighter Shade of Black: In comparison to Vaatu.
- Lightning Bruiser: They hit hard, they hit fast, and when on large stretches of water like the ocean or the snow-covered South Pole, they can use a waterbending technique that makes them go faster than a speed-boat or a plane.
- Making a Splash/An Ice Person: They're both Waterbenders.
- No Social Skills: It's implied very heavily that they don't know how to interact with other people other than family members. Eska actually hissed at Bolin when he first talked to her.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Especially Eska. She was first shown as merely a creepy Jerkass princess with comedic flaws. After Bolin ditched her, she later works up to becoming one of the most dangerous villains, as Korra finds out in "Peacekeepers". In the final act of the season, they tend to be key to Unalaq's plans by removing threats that neither him nor his army could take out.
- Royal Brats: Both of them look down on Korra's Southern Water Tribe heritage, thinking she is a "rube", despite being the Avatar (and their cousin). After Harmonic Convergence, they're square.
- Run or Die: As they lack their father's training in the spiritual arts, when they see a dark spirit coming after Korra over open water, they keep away from the fight until it is over.
- Single-Minded Twins: Both have the same emotionless and snarky personality.
- Spock Speak: They frequently engage in this. In fact most of their lines are delivered in a eerie monotone.
- Stealth Hi/Bye: They're good enough to pull this on Bolin and Mako at the end of Book 2.
- Theme Twin Naming: They are named after rivers. Desna is a river in Russia and Ukraine that flows into the Dnieper. Eska is a river in southern Alaska.
- Twin Telepathy: The two of them are able to communicate from just glances without speaking.
- Victory Is Boring: Now that they both rule the Northern Water Tribe, neither of them enjoys their new positions and would rather be fighting. They're more than willing to drop everything when they learn Zaheer is on the way to break P'Li out.
- The Worf Effect: In Book 2, Tonraq loses to them, and they manage to beat Mako and Bolin. In Book 3, Ming-Hua beats both of them with practically no effort.
Tropes that apply to Eska
- All Take and No Give: Eska takes advantage of Bolin's attraction to her and turns him into a servant for herself and her brother. Deconstructed, as he quickly wants out of the relationship. Eventually, Eska stuck out for him in the end.
- Amicable Exes: Eska and Bolin decide to be this at the end.
- And Now You Must Marry Me: Eska tries to force Bolin to marry her when even she recognizes that he wants out of the relationship.
- Ax-Crazy: Eska's insanity rivals Azula's after being rejected. Though she seems to have calmed down by the episode The Sting. However, she still maintained a grudge towards Bolin.
- The Chief's Daughter: Eska is the daughter of the chieftain of the Northern Water Tribe and thus essentially a princess like Yue.
- Classic Villain: Eska has come to represent Envy, Wrath, and Lust after Bolin "rejected" her.
- Clingy Jealous Girl: Eska. Her reaction to Bolin hugging Korra was to restrain him in ice and drag him back to her. She later remarks that Korra "stole" Bolin from her, blaming her cousin for the entire thing.
Eska: Why did you initiate physical contact with another woman?
- Dark Action Girl: One of the Co-Dragons to the Big Bad and a very lethal waterbender in her own right.
- Declaration of Protection: Eska tells Bolin she will protect him after he becomes afraid of dark spirits... in her own way.
Eska: I will protect you, my feeble turtle duck.
- Defrosting Ice Queen: Eska, pun intended; it happens when Bolin apologizes for ditching her during her wedding. Bolin's Anguished Declaration of Love caused Eska to defrost—both literally (she had trapped him in ice) and figuratively.
- Domestic Abuser: She treats Bolin like a servant.
- The Dreaded: To Bolin, who is terrified of her.
- Everything's Better with Princesses: Very, VERY subverted. Things go south after Bolin jilted Eska.
- Fourth Date Marriage: Eska forcibly makes Bolin her fiancé and declares they will be married at sunset. Bolin runs. Very fast.
- Hair Decorations: Eska wears beads in her hair.
- Masculine Girl, Feminine Boy: Eska is the masculine to Bolin's feminine.
- Mathematician's Answer: When Eska said she would make Bolin hers, he asked if as a boyfriend or slave. She just said yes. Turns out there's little distinction between the two in her eyes.
- More Deadly Than The Male: Eska is the one we've seen speak more frequently and the one more likely to make demands. She's also the one more prone to hunting down men who break up with her. It is, however, possible that Eska only seems more verbose than her brother because she's given more attention, being the one dating Bolin. Both seem to be equally competent fighters.
- Nightmare Face: Eska gets a rather terrifying one after Bolin tries to ditch her. Even Unalaq's commander was freaked out.
- Nightmare Fetishist: she claims to enjoy the sweet scent of desperation.
- Not So Stoic: Eska takes Bolin breaking up with her... poorly. In a more down-to-earth example, when Desna is injured while they're trying to open the Northern spirit portal, she shows immediate concern, even ignoring Unalaq's orders so she can get Desna to a healer.
- Opposites Attract: Bolin attempts to start a relationship with Eska, Despite the fact that Bolin himself is Big Fun (in every sense of the trope) and that Eska has all the warmth and charm of a glacier. Though the "attract" part disappears rather quickly. At least, from Bolin's side.
- Reconstructed in the Book 2 finale, where he admitted he always loved Eska, but just felt too overwhelmed by the thought of marriage.
- Pitbull Dates Puppy: Eska quickly shows herself to be domineering, possessive and insensitive to Bolin's feelings. Bolin, for his part, is too intimidated by her to ever stand up for himself or breakup with her. This hits its peak when Eska tries to bully Bolin into marrying her with Bolin only responding by sobbing at the prospect then fleeing as soon as the opportunity presented itself.
- Power Born of Madness: After becoming an Axe Crazy Yandere Eska comes off as far more vicious and dangerous than her brother.
- Psycho Ex-Girlfriend: Eska already showed Yandere tendencies before Bolin broke up with her and left her at the altar, but after the break up she completely drops her emotionless personality and becomes a full-blown Ax-Crazy Woman Scorned out for her cousin for "stealing her husband".
- Psychopathic Womanchild: Eska's behavior after Bolin's leaving her (and her behavior before when you realize she seems to have actual feelings for him) has revealed that underneath her icy exterior she does have something in common with him—she is a rather sheltered individual with a fairly childish view of the world. Unfortunately, where Bolin's childishness is sweet and innocent, hers is domineering and insane...
- Red Oni, Blue Oni: Eska has shifted into being the Red Oni after being rejected by Bolin, leaving Desna as Blue Oni and Only Sane Man.
- Took a Level in Kindness: After Bolin apologizes to Eska for ditching her, Eska and Bolin were able to reaffirm their feelings for each other, they join the heroes later on (albeit late to the party), and commend their cousin for defeating their father. Then they both reach the conclusion that the whole thing was just something caused by the heat of the moment; Eska breaks up with Bolin on good terms, saying he's still special to her.
- Uptown Girl: Bolin starts pursuing a romance with Eska, who, as the daughter of the chieftain of the Northern Water Tribe, is essentially a princess.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend: Eska when she protects Bolin from dark spirits.
- Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Eska sees Bolin as an uncultured man and by the way she treats him, he wonders whether she sees him as a boyfriend or slave. Eventually deconstructed, as the relationship is unhealthy, Eska treats Bolin like an object (and plans to take him home to the Northern Water Tribe without asking), and Bolin wants out desperately.
- Woman Scorned: Bolin skipped town on his wedding to Eska and she is pissed. Granted, he didn't want to get married in the first place, but he still ran away without confronting her, so you can kinda see how that might upset someone.
- Yandere: Eska is one woman you don't want to see scorned. She informs Bolin that should he try to break-up with her, she will freeze him in a block of ice and feed him to dolphin-piranhas. And when he does break up with her... she looks ready to commit murder.◊ Later, when their father tells the twins he wants Korra found alive, Eska showed visible disappointment. But by the episode Harmonic Convergence, she seems to have gotten over it.
- Your Makeup Is Running: Eska while pursuing Bolin after he breaks off their engagement and it stays that way, until the episode The Sting.
Tropes that apply to Desna
- Agent Peacock: Given his noted feminine appearance and waterbending skills.
- Blind Obedience: Desna is confident that, no matter how bad his father's plan sounds, it can't possibly be for anything other than the greater good on the grounds that Unalaq is the wisest man Desna knows. He gets over it by the next episode.
- Deadpan Snarker: Desna shows some skill at this in "Civil Wars, Part 2".
- Disproportionate Retribution: Played for Laughs. When they find out about the super secret ice prison, Desna comments that he wants to throw his tailor in there for messing up the sleeves on his coat.
- Dude Looks Like a Lady: Desna and Eska have nearly identical clothing and hairstyles, so naturally Desna comes off as this. Bolin even mistakes him for a girl in "Rebel Spirit".
- Meaningful Name: Desna means "right hand" in an old Slavic language. He's one of his father's right-hand men alongside Eska and he's very often placed on the right of his father whereas Eska tends to be on the left.
- Only Sane Man: One can't help but get the vibe that Desna is this, given his father's obsession with the spirits and Eska's downright psychotic obsession with Bolin.
- Satellite Character: Desna has virtually no characterization outside of a couple snarky one-liners, being there to be the creepy twin that makes them Creepy Twins.
- Tempting Fate: Desna dryly exclaims there's no way anyone could break out of his father's secret ice prison. Zuko cautiously warns him not to underestimate Zaheer and his cabal, reminding them of their breakouts. Desna learns this the hard way in the next episode.
- "Well Done, Son" Guy: Implied with Desna. He thinks his father is the wisest man he's ever known and uses this as his reason for helping Unalaq fuse with Vaatu. He gets over it in the end.
Triads In general
The gangs that run the Republic City streets. Most of them are benders, which set up much of the bender/non-bender conflict that the Equalists capitalized on.
- Butt Monkey: The Triple Threat Triad gets this treatment, and nothing usually goes right for them. Korra easily handles them in the pilot, and Amon's Equalists kidnap their leader and several others to have their bending removed. This is averted when Varrick hires them as part of a trap set for Mako, which succeeds in being a distraction even though he figured it out.
- Mob War: They are constantly in this, as Skoochy pointed out.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: In Book 1, they were more of a laughable joke, often getting served. In "The Sting", they manage to put up a decent fight against Mako and Asami. The laughable tone that encompassed their villainy from the first Book vanishes in this episode.
- Goldfish Poop Gang: The Triple Threat Triad is this, mostly serving as recurring side villains. They usually pale in comparison to the Big Bad(s) of the season, and are a laughable threat to the heroes. When they're working for Varrick, however, they actually manage to get the job done.
- Psychos For Hire: On a regular basis, they extort people for their money. Of course, they can take tasks for hire as well.
Lightning Bolt Zolt
The firebending leader of the Triple Threat Triad at the start of the series. He is deposed after losing his bending to Amon, the first person to suffer that fate.
- Anti-Villain: If the Republic City Hustle shorts are anything to go by, he's seemingly a Noble Demon. Of course, he's still a murderous crime lord.
- De-power: Stripped of his bending by Amon, the first example of his power.
- The Don: Formerly.
- Evil Mentor: According to supplementary materials, he taught Mako how to bend and redirect lightning.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: He is the first person to lose his bending to Amon and apparently loses his position as the Triad's boss soon after.
- Kill It with Fire / Shock and Awe: He's a skilled firebender and lightningbender, hence the nickname.
- Noble Demon: In the Republic City Hustle shorts, he is shown as a somewhat honourable figure, protecting the brothers from Shady Shin's wrath, being pissed off at Tousa specifically for not fulfilling his part of the deal after "what they've done for him", and respecting Mako's wishes.
- Put on a Bus: In Book 2, he's apparently stepped down, been imprisoned or overthrown after losing his bending, with Viper having replaced him as the Triad's leader.
- Wouldn't Hurt a Child: In the Republic City Hustle short he tells Shin not to fight Mako and Bolin, stating that fighting children is "undignified".
Voiced by: Michael Yurchak
A Water-bending member of the Triple Threat Triad
- An Ice Person/Making a Splash: Like all water-benders.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: Not apparent in his first appearance, since he was up against Korra and only had a single water pouch to work with. When he comes up against Mako in Book Two while in open water at nighttime (a situation that both empowers him and weakens Mako), he manages to overpower Mako briefly.
- Badass Longcoat: A grey one.
- Beard of Evil: Has a small beard.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Was one of the gangsters Korra beat up in her first episode.
- Dragon Ascendant: Since Zolt lost his bending; Viper has either taken over, or leads a section of the Triple-Threats.
- Faux Affably Evil: All of his dialogue is polite, and delivered in a sleezy mocking tone.
- Jerkass: Slimy and smug through and through.
- Nice Hat: Grey like his coat.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: Subtle, but the fact he still has his bending meant he likely avoided Amon's mass debendings during the time he controlled Republic City. Whether or not this was luck or being good at avoiding the Equalists has still yet to be explained.
- Shame If Something Happened: His debut had him threaten a business.
- Smug Snake: He's smug and contemptuous, it's what makes him over-confident.
- Underestimating Badassery: Justified. He didn't know Korra was the Avatar at the time before getting his ass handed to him.
Voiced by: Fisher Stevens
A Waterbending member of the Triple Threat Triad.
- Beard of Evil: He has a small brown beard, and he considers shaving it for a date he has.
- De-power: After Amon debends him; as a bribe, Mako lies and offers to have Korra give it back.
- The Dragon: He may have been it to Zolt, and he seems to be it for Viper.
- Evil Mentor: To Bolin, sort of. He taught him a "fast-paced, street version" of Pai Sho.
- Graceful Loser: Despite the brothers costing the Triple Threats a lot of money by getting Toza to not throw a fight, after Zolt calms him down, Shin leaves amicably even wistfully saying maybe they can fix a fight together someday. He's even willing to hire the brothers out for a job, like when Bolin was trying to find cash.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Amon depowered him and Zolt to prove his abilities. He made it seem like Pay Evil unto Evil, but he did it because they were benders not because they were bad people, though he used that fact to gain more followers.
- Making a Splash/An Ice Person: Formerly.
- Meaningful Name: He's a shady figure who's offer of "legitimate" work should be taken with a grain of salt.
- Not-So-Badass Longcoat: He wears a blue coat, not as long as Viper's, but he was depowered before we saw him demonstrate any combat feats.
- Would Hurt a Child: In Republic City Hustle, he and two other gangsters go after Bolin and Mako after they cost the group a lot of money, saying they're going to have a "talk" when they all get home. Zolt tells him to stand down because fighting kids is undignified.
Two Toed Ping
Voiced by: Richard Epcar
A fire-bending member of the Triple Threat Triad.
- Affably Evil: Very polite and happily strikes up a conversation with the heroes even when pulling the wool over Mako and Asami's eyes.
- Agony of the Feet: Implied. Mako pulls a flame dagger and threatens to turn him into "No-Toed Ping" if he doesn't say who hired the Triple Threats. Ping's information, while not useful, is genuine because he'd never lie with his lucky toes on the line.
- Bullying a Dragon: By the time Ping decided to pick a fight with Korra, it was abundantly clear that he was dealing with the Avatar. He tries anyway and gets thrown into a building window for his efforts.
- Butt Monkey: Is often beaten in hilarious ways.
- Chekhov's Gunman: He was one of the three gangsters who Korra first encountered in Republic city.
- Four-Fingered Hands: Inverted toe variant, he has 12 toes.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: Has a scar over his left eye.
- Meaningful Name: He has two extra toes. He would have gone with "Twelve-toed" but another gangster claimed that nickname.
- Motor Mouth: From Toes, to dating, to strong-arming, Ping likes to talk. And an advantage is he rarely talks about anything useful. He can go on for hours about the said categories just to waste time.
- Nice Guy: For a gangster anyway.
- One Steve Limit: He wanted to be called "Twelve-Toed Ping", but some other guy already had the nickname.
- Playing with Fire: Like all firebenders.
- Scarf of Asskicking: A small red one.
- Shame If Something Happened: His debut has him firebend a phonograph to show what they could do to a business.
Earth Queen Hou-Ting
Earth Queen Hou-Ting
Short may she reign. Or rather, May Raava have mercy on her soul.
Voiced by: Jayne Taini
The daughter and successor of Kuei, Hou-Ting is the petty, dictatorial monarch of the Earth Kingdom. Feeling that Aang and Zuko took advantage of her father's "vulnerability" to steal her nation's lands for their own empire, she is an immensely bitter woman, who takes out her grievances on her own kingdom.
- 0% Approval Rating: She's almost universally hated, Mako and Bolin's grandmother being the only person to ever speak of her fondly. When she dies, the people are quite pleased.
- And There Was Much Rejoicing: After Zaheer announces that she is dead, her citizens start cheering.
- Antagonistic Offspring: In a sense. Her father was an ally of the Avatar; she antagonizes the new Avatar, and she thinks poorly of her father and his deal with Aang and Zuko which ceded Earth Kingdom territory to the United Republic of Nations. She also apparently ate her father's pet bear, Bosco.
- Bad Boss: She has the Dai Li drag off servants who fail to cater to her whims properly. She's also constantly rude and demeaning towards her Number Two, who later abandons her, not that he would have been able to do much anyway.
- Big Bad Ensemble: With Zaheer. The two have opposing goals, but both antagonise Korra. At the end of "Long Live the Queen", Zaheer kills her, leaving Zaheer and the Red Lotus as the sole Big Bad.
- Big Bad Wannabe: Hou-Ting is far too confident in her own abilities and resources, treating her position as a license to do whatever she wants. The reality is that Zaheer and his group are considerably more dangerous and her poor management is weakening her kingdom. When the two clash, she ends up dead.
- Bright Is Not Good: Dresses similar to her father, who was The Good King. She, on the other hand, is the worst ruler this show has ever put forth, at least in terms of competence, though in terms of cruelty, she's right up there with Ozai, and Unalaq.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: Her slow asphyxiation at Zaheer's hands might very well be the most brutal death in the entire franchise.
- Cruella to Animals: Though somewhat justifiable, since she has allergies to most animals. She and her court also dine on rare animals. There are rumors that she even ate her father's beloved pet bear, Bosco.
- Defiant to the End: She would not bow before a bunch of super-powered commoners who already made it clear they wouldn't be ordered around. She died disgracefully indeed.
- Didn't Think This Through: She tries to have the Avatar locked up for crimes against her kingdom. As Zaheer points out, the other nations wouldn't stand for this and she'd be forced to release Korra, lest they take more drastic measures. She agrees to give Korra up to Zaheer in exchange for the location of the airbenders, though she goes back on her word as soon as Zaheer slights her.
- Does This Remind You of Anything?:
- While the overtaxation and poverty are rather general traits that could apply to any number of real-world parallels, the Secret Police and personality cult vibe make her rule suspiciously similar to that of North Korea.
- Also seems to be a bit inspired by Empress Dowager Cixi of China, especially given the Earth Rulers' Qing inspirations. An iron-fisted ruler who wasted taxpayers' money on things like a boat made of marble, while also undermining any effort to reform or modernize the country, bringing China to near ruin as a result.
- Despotism Justifies the Means: She makes life for commoners living hell, and undid all the progress achieved under her father. If anything, she hated this so-called progress that her father made.
- Disproportionate Retribution: She tosses people in prison for such things as not trimming the hedges correctly or not showing her the proper respect, basically using any excuse to lord her position over those beneath her.
- Evil Overlord: Hou-Ting is nothing but an animal-hating tyrant who robbed her people of their freedom and happiness.
- Exotic Entree: If the rumors are true, she ate her father's pet bear. It is a fact, however, that she enjoys dining on baby air bison steaks, which would be bad enough even if they weren't endangered.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: Zaheer kills her by bending the air out of her lungs and surrounding her head in vacuum until she suffocates.
- Famous Last Words: "You wouldn't dare attack a queen!"
- Femme Fatalons: Has very long green nails with golden nail coverings on the pinky and ring fingers. Long fingernails were often a fashion of imperial Chinese aristocracy in real life.
- Foil: She is the exact opposite of her father: he was clueless and passive (in his early years), so she became a domineering control freak; he was used by the Dai Li, so she brought the Dai Li to heel and under her control; he "lost" Earth Kingdom territory, and it seems she wants to take it back, likely through force; she is hostile to the Avatar for Aang and Zuko's perceived exploitation of her father; and finally, she hates animals of all kinds, while her father loved them (though the hatred of animals is partially justified because she has allergies. In any case, it is rumored that she ate her father's beloved pet, Bosco).
- Likewise, her right-hand man, Grand Secretariat Gun, is an obvious foil to his predecessor Long Feng from the previous series. Whereas Long Feng was a schemer who went behind the Earth King's back and kept him ignorant of the Earth Kingdom's affairs, Gun is a sniveling coward and a Yes-Man who is constantly fearful of the Earth Queen's tantrums. Likewise, where Long Feng was a powerful earthbender who wasn't afraid to get his hands dirty, Gun is seemingly a nonbender, and completely useless in a fight.
- Freudian Excuse: Her father's weakness is one as to why she became an iron-fisted tyrant. Then there's her allergy to most animals, which she uses to justify her cruelty to animals.
- God Save Us from the Queen!: Especially notable since she is the one Queen seen in either seriesnote .
- Gonk: Aside from her clothing, she wouldn't look particularly out of place in The Boondocks, which tends to use more caricatured faces and facial expressions.
- Greed: She makes Varrick look charitable by comparison.
- Hair-Trigger Temper: It's not at all hard to make her neurotically angry.
- Hate Sink: Zaheer and his allies fall squarely under Evil Is Cool and come across as rather humane, but the Earth Queen more than picks up the slack.
- Hidden Agenda Villain: It's not made clear why she was trying to build up an airbender army, though it's hinted she wanted to reclaim the United Republic, which was formerly Earth Kingdom territory. Any designs she had died when she did.
- It's All About Me: She over-taxes her subjects to fund her lavish lifestyle, imprisons the airbenders in her kingdom to force them to become her army, and people apparently have to keep pictures of her in their homes.
- Jerkass: Really, this is the nicest thing you can call her.
- Jerkass Has a Point: At one point Bumi lampshades that, yes, sovereign rulers do have the right the conscript their own citizens into the military.
- Kick the Dog: There are rumours that she ate her father's pet bear, Bosco. Whether or not this is true is unknown, but it's really not something that could be put past her. She also enjoys eating baby air bison steaks, which would be bad enough even if they weren't endangered.
- Karmic Death: After attempting to force airbenders to fight in her army; it's only fitting that she is killed by Zaheer, who bends the air out of her lungs and thus asphyxiates her.
- Lack of Empathy: Of all villains, she is worst offender of this trope.
- I Lied: When Korra approaches her asking for information on any airbenders in Ba Sing Se, Hou-Ting sends Korra off an errand to collect some taxes. Once Korra comes back, Hou-Ting continues to insist that there are no airbenders in Ba Sing Se.
- Narcissist: The Queen cares for nobody but herself.
- Never My Fault: She blames the various problems facing her kingdom alternatively on her father's weakness, the disloyalty and incompetence of her citizens, and bandits. Never on the fact that she's a tight-fisted tyrant who doesn't care about anyone but herself. The Queen learns the hard way whose fault it really is.
- Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: She's responsible for swelling the Air Nomad ranks by not only gathering up airbenders, but also ingratiating them to Korra and Team Avatar. Prior to her involvement, they only had one recruit who had already abandoned them. Twice.
- Non-Action Big Bad: Doesn't seem to have any bending ability since she was unable to do anything when confronted by Zaheer.
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Her forces manages to capture Korra and Asami as they made their escape from Ghazan and Ming-Hua, though Korra was unconscious at the time. Subverted in the following episode when Asami and Korra make their escape long before they reach Ba Sing Se.
- Obviously Evil: You mean the mannish-jawed, long-nailed, perpetually angry queen that is allergic to animals is evil!? How shocking!
- Oh Crap: Both times when her Dai Li agents get defeated and a final one when she realizes Zaheer is bending the air out of her body.
- Pragmatic Villainy: Zaheer talks her into turning over Korra to him in exchange for the location of her stolen airbenders, reasoning that the other nations would pressure her into releasing Korra once they found out that the Earth Queen had her. That fell through when Zaheer learned that Korra had escaped and confronted the Earth Queen about it; in keeping with her character, she is insulted by his brashness and tries to force the location of the airbenders from him. It didn't end well for her.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Subverted. At first she appears to be agreeable as long as whatever deal she makes benefits her, but in the end, she never honors her end of the bargain.
- Sketchy Successor/Fisher King: In a sense. Under her reign, the Upper and Middle Rings of Ba Sing Se have grown even more decadent while the Lower Ring and outskirts have been driven down further into poverty.
- Smug Snake: Thinks her Dai Li could beat Korra and the Krew. She was wrong. She also repeats her mistake with the Red Lotus, and doesn't get to live to learn better.
- The Sociopath: Reviewing her key personality traits is like reading through a sociopath diagnostic checklist: superficial charm, a grandiose sense of self, pathological lying, a penchant for manipulating others to achieve her own ends, an absolutely astonishing lack of empathy or remorse for any of her actions, and an insatiable lust for dominance and importance that drives her every move. She has no qualms whatsoever about sacrificing those closest to her if it suits her purposes.
- Spanner in the Works: In "The Stakeout", her forces capture Korra, Asami and Naga before the Red Lotus gets the chance.
- Too Dumb to Live: Having just witnessed the Red Lotus easily defeat her Dai Li, she tries to use her position as a shield against any further retaliation. Zaheer then suffocates her.
- Underestimating Badassery: Since she isn't familiar with Zaheer and his crew, she assumes them to be mere bounty hunters she can push around like everyone else. This ends with the Dai Li getting curb-stomped and herself being suffocated by airbending.
- Villain Has a Point: She technically does have the ability to conscript Earth Kingdom citizens into the army, something that both she and Bumi mention, although the lengths she goes to are extreme and what she's doing is technically enslavement rather than conscription.
- Would Hurt a Child: Not only not above conscripting kids in the first place, she's okay with the Dai Li killing them if they desert.
- You Wouldn't Shoot Me: Attempts this in "Long Live the Queen" with the Red Lotus after her Dai Li are curbstomped and her assistant deserts her. Doesn't work.
The Dai Li
The Earth Kingdom's Secret Police
. They are largely unchanged from the previous series, down to the mannerisms and fighting styles, though unlike with Kuei's reign they are perfectly aligned with Hou-Ting's will.
- Badass Crew: They're vile, but they're no less dangerous than in the previous series, able to hold their own against Korra and her friends. The Red Lotus are out of their league, however.
- Decapitated Army: After the Earth Queen's death, Ba Sing Se descends into total lawlessness within a matter of hours.
- Dishing Out Dirt: The Dai Li are all Earthbenders.
- Elaborate Underground Base: While they've since abandoned the one under Lake Laogai, Ba Sing Se has no shortage of underground tunnels for them to use as hideouts. Their newest one is right under the Earth Queen's temple.
- Elite Mooks: The Earth Queen prefers to use them instead of her Royal Guards. They're good enough to hold their own against Korra and her friends, though they ultimately failed to stop them from escaping with the airbenders. Then the Red Lotus overpowered eight of them in under a minute without a scratch.
- Gone Horribly Right:
- They trained the airbenders to become elite warriors by chucking rocks at them. As soon as the opportunity presented itself, the airbenders turned their skills on the Dai Li and escaped.
- The Dai Li themselves could be an example when compared to their counterparts in the first series. In that series, they were going behind the Earth King's back and following the corrupt Long Feng, and later Azula. Here they've apparently been reformed to be completely loyal to the monarch... who unfortunately happens to be an evil, oppressive tyrant. Oops.
- Hazy Feel Turn: Again. First they served a corrupt official who reduced the Earth King to a puppet, then they switched loyalty to the ruthless Fire Nation. Seventy years later, they're back under the command of a tyrannical Earth Queen.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: It's obvious that without the Dai Li at her beck and call, the Earth Queen would be considerably less powerful.
- Karma Houdini: In a manner of speaking after the war. It didn't seem like they were tried for crimes against the Earth Kingdom, nor were they disbanded for said crimes. Instead, they were just reformed to serve the monarch and no one else, which didn't take into account the fact that Kuei's daughter would be an evil tyrant.
- Irony: The Dai Li were originally formed in response to peasant uprisings. When the Earth Queen is killed and the peasants start looting and rioting, there's no sign of the Dai Li anywhere.
- The Men in Black: They are definitely this under the Earth Queen. They do dress in black, have a rather conspicuous looking demeanor, and are complicit in the Queen's dirty ops. Whenever they see an Airbender, they capture them and repudiate their existence within Ba Sing Se. Furthermore, it's even Lampshaded when Bolin's cousin says he's rumors of them doing experiments on Airbenders.
- Secret Police: Just like in the last series. Only now, instead of there being no war; "there are no airbenders in Ba Sing Se", and they appear to be completely loyal to the Earth Queen.
- The Worf Effect: After holding their own against Korra and her friends, plus several amateur airbenders, Zaheer and the Red Lotus steamroll them.
- Would Hurt a Child: Again. Even children are not exempt from the Training from Hell; and when Kai tries escaping with the others, they declare that it is punishable by death.
"The natural order, is disorder."
A secret society that broke off from the Order of the White Lotus, consisting of dangerous anarchists who seek to eliminate world leaders and bring about chaos to the world, believing it to be the one true way of life. The main four members are Zaheer
, Ming Hua
, and P'Li
, all four with unique and powerful abilities. There are also Mooks
and agents all over the world.
- Badass Crew: According to Zuko, all four of the main members are strong enough to take down any bender on their own, and the entire world together. Note that Zaheer wasn't a bender until recently, so that's high praise indeed. They're basically the villainous counterpart to Team Avatar. The other known members, Unalaq and Aiwei, are also incredibly skilled in their own right.
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: All four of them have been locked in a Tailor-Made Prison for 13 years with barely any human contact, but aside from Ming-Hua looking slightly gaunt, they definitely don't look it. Zaheer is unkempt but not as much as he should be, and someone must have been providing Ghazan razors to keep that stache of his so neatly trimmed.
- Big Bad Ensemble: Their goals put them at odds with the Earth Queen, who is no saint herself. She doesn't survive their encounter, making them the sole Big Bads.
- Bigger Bad: The Red Lotus society as a whole and whomever leads it (assuming it wasn't Zaheer) could be considered this for season three, in addition to Zaheer directly filling the role of Big Bad. We know that the group is not limited to the four "main" ones we meet on-screen, but it is unclear as of yet how numerous, powerful or influential the rest of the society is, and how highly Zaheer and his gang rank in their hierarchy.
- Bomb-Throwing Anarchists: Minus the bombs, but the ideals are all there. Their ultimate goal is abolition from all rulers, no matter how good or evil they are, and they're quite willing to use violence to make that possible. In Zaheer's words, "The natural order... is disorder." Killing the Avatar while in the Avatar State was going to be the final trigger to their plan.
- Combat Pragmatist: Every single one of them has no qualms about fighting dirty, doing whatever it takes to overwhelm their (usually far underpowered) adversaries. Best exemplified when they ganged up on Tenzin after he proved to be too strong for Zaheer to handle alone.
- The Conspiracy: It turns out they also have mooks in addition to the active members. Who knows how many more of them are left.
- The Dreaded: Everyone who knows of them is terrified of what they can do, both individually and as a team.
- Death by Irony: All of them are defeated by their own elements. P'Li blows herself up when Su cages her head in metal while she's attacking. Ming-Hua is killed when Mako electrocutes her through her water arms. Ghazan purposefully kills himself with his own lavabending (trying to take Mako and Bolin with him) rather than go back to prison. Finally, Zaheer is beaten when Jinora conjures a tornado to keep him from flying off with Korra, and Korra uses the metal chains she was bound with to slam him into the ground.
- Didn't Think This Through: In the end, the biggest fault with their plans was their lack of foresight. Their plan to kill Korra in the Avatar State failed to take into account just how powerful she was at the time. Even poisoned and berserk, she is still too much for them to handle, and Ming-Hua and Ghazan ended up dead in the struggle. They came very close to killing her, but couldn't finish the job.
- Their intention of freeing Vaatu falls into this as well. They don't understand that the Great Spirit of Darkness and Chaos is an Omnicidal Maniac. note
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Besides obvious comparisons to real life communist and anarchist groups, the Red Lotus has a distinctive Arabic motif. The Leitmotif, Zaheer's own name and the distinctive red turbans the sentries wear in the finale seem to suggest clearly a comparison to Muslim terrorists.
- Establishing Character Moment: Each character gets one during their respective escapes.
- Evil Counterpart: To Team Avatar; like them, they are a cabal of powerful benders. They are also one to the White Lotus; a small group of very powerful people that have more influence than is apparent at first.
- Eviler than Thou: In "Long Live The Queen", they kill Earth Queen Hou-Ting when it no longer serves their purposes to work with her.
- Evil Is Not a Toy: They originally wanted to achieve their goals by releasing Vaatu, but doing so would've backfired on them anyways because he is an Omnicidal Maniac who would wipe out all existence.
- Evil vs. Evil: After the Earth Queen's forces manage to kidnap Korra, the Red Lotus sets off for Ba Sing Se to get her for themselves. They end up killing her once Korra escapes on her own, no longer having a need to barter with her.
- Fallen Hero: Their founder, Xai Bau is this. He and anyone who followed suit used to be members of the heroic White Lotus.
- Four Element Ensemble: Each member has one elemental power, though Zaheer was a non-bender prior to Harmonic Convergence.
- Gender-Equal Ensemble: Another parallel to Team Avatar, but only among the core members.
- Hero Killer: They're exceptionally powerful benders, to the point that Zuko believes they are a threat to the entire world if allowed to roam free. They live up to this in "Long Live The Queen" by killing the Earth Queen and sending Ba Sing Se into chaos. Then they make their way to the Northern Air Temple and quickly overwhelm its defenders as a hostage gambit to get Korra. Then they very nearly kill Korra by poisoning her.
- Hidden Agenda Villain: In-universe, no one knows what they truly want, as none of the group would give up any information. Zaheer explains most of his plan to Korra when asked. The Red Lotus seeks the abolition of all governments and nations in order to free the people, despite the chaos this would cause. When Korra asks what they want of her specifically, however, Zaheer doesn't give an answer. It's ultimately revealed that they want to kill her while she's in the Avatar State, ending the Avatar cycle and basically resetting the field. As for where Guru Laghima came in, Zaheer coveted the secret to weightlessness.
- Inverse Law of Utility and Lethality: Since Ghazan and P'Li possess abilities that would be deadly were they to connect, they rarely land hits with those abilities. This is mitigated somewhat by the fact that Ghazan can fall back on normal earthbending if the plot requires that he hit someone, and P'Li's blasts don't need to make direct contact to cause damage.
- I Want Them Alive: Whatever their plans with Korra, simply killing her isn't an option. If she's killed immediately, she'll just be reborn, so that would only serve to render the Avatar a non-issue for a couple of decades at best. Mako even questions them on this; Ghazan only vaguely replies that the world will change for the better. It turns out, their plan is to induce the Avatar State in her and then kill her, ending the Avatar Cycle. With no world leaders and no Avatar to guide the people, they believe chaos will finally reign.
- Knights of Cerebus: In a recurring theme for the series, episodes involving them are inevitably more serious than normal. They're not entirely devoid of humour, in contrast to Amon and Vaatu, but they're more serious nevertheless. They're also the first villains in either show to explicitly kill someone on screen—other villains have killed people, but never in full view of the audience.
- Leitmotif: The music from the Changes trailer serves as their main theme.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: They don't pick fights unnecessarily and don't overplay their hand. Zaheer leaves Air Temple Island as soon as he has what he came for, only fighting long enough to facilitate his escape. When they try to kidnap Korra from Zaofu, they try to sneak out quietly and then play defense until Zaheer can provide cover. When Korra was rescued, they abandoned that attempt.
- Mook Chivalry: Averted in "The Ultimatum". When it appears Tenzin is about to defeat Zaheer in a one-on-one fight, all four members of the Red Lotus simply gang up and easily defeat him.
- Nebulous Evil Organization: A global one that has existed since the end of the Hundred Year War, and have been enemies of the White Lotus since they splintered from them. They engage in acts ranging from criminal activity, to acts of terrorism, to assassination of world leaders, all for one goal: the elimination of law and order and the dominance of anarchy in the world.
- No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: All of them collectively give one to Tenzin after he refuses to admit defeat, despite his injuries.
- No-Nonsense Nemesis: Much like Amon and the Equalists, the Red Lotus are dangerously competent villains. As shown in their kidnapping attempt on Korra, they infiltrate Zaofu with no one noticing, incapacitate Korra without raising any alarms, any only fail to get back out because Pabu happened to catch them and alert Bolin. After losing Korra in the subsequent fight, they cut their losses and retreat.
- Order Versus Chaos: They believe Wan interfering in the battle between Raava and Vaatu by sealing the spirit portals has disrupted the natural chaos of the world. Furthermore, they see governments as an extension of this disruption, and seek to eliminate them, as well. They shared Unalaq's goal of releasing Vaatu, but Unalaq had greater ambitions and used them as pawns, abandoning them when they failed.
- One Degree of Separation: Unalaq was a former member of the Red Lotus.
- Pyrrhic Villainy: They seemingly managed to break Korra and destabilize the Earth Kingdom, but their most powerful agents are either dead or captured, and the world at large is now aware of them.
- Quirky Miniboss Squad: Zaheer and particularly his three comrades fill out this role within the society.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Not the core members (aside from P'Li, who's a firebender), but the sentries. These come in at least two versions: an externally black cloak with red inside (worn by the guy who poisoned Korra), and a black tunic with a red turban.
- Renegade Splinter Faction: The Red Lotus is an offshoot of the White Lotus, founded after the Hundred Year War by one of their membership who disagreed with the White Lotus coming out of hiding to serve the Avatar.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: All of them are quite friendly and approachable with the rest of the group; with their enemies they are ruthless opponents.
- Tailor-Made Prison: All four of them were held in prisons built specifically for them.
- Zaheer, a former nonbender, was held in a metallic prison on a nigh-unclimbable mountaintop that could only be opened by a metalbender. He also seems to be the persuasive one, so putting him in a prison without frequent interaction with guards makes sense. It didn't work later on, because these safeguards failed to take into account him gaining Airbending.
- Ghazan, the earthbender, was held in a floating wooden island prison.
- Ming-Hua, the waterbender, was held in a cage over a volcano.
- P'Li, the firebender, was held in a cell deep inside a glacier at the north pole, with restraints to block her combustion bending.
- Villainous Friendship: The whole group seems to genuinely like each other, and is full of teamwork and light-hearted teasing. During "The Terror Within", when they fail to capture Korra, they keep their composure and retreat. This doesn't extend to the membership at large, however, as Zaheer had no problem dooming Aiwei to eternal torment in the Fog of Lost Souls for his failure, and Unalaq betrayed the four of them for his own ambitions. This is another parallel to Team Avatar.
- Blink and you'll miss it, but when Zaheer tells Ghazan and Ming-Hua about P'Li's death, they are both visibly saddened.
- We Will Meet Again: Zaheer invokes this on behalf of the whole of the Red Lotus, telling Korra that her conflict with the Red Lotus is far from over, and there are more of them out there. Zuko and the others even acknowledge the great possibility of them striking again.
- Would Hurt a Child:
- Subverted with Korra. Though they tried to kidnap Korra not long after she was revealed to be the Avatar, resulting in their imprisonment, this was only because they wanted to train her themselves.
- However, killing her later on was the trigger to their final plan. The only reason it wouldn't have counted as hurting a child before was that Korra would have been conditioned to willingly do herself in for their cause.
- Played straight in "The Ultimatum". In order to force Korra to surrender, they threaten to wipe out the new Air Nation. Out of the two-dozen or so members, at least half are teenagers, several more are even younger, and Tenzin's wife and year-old son are among them. He may have been bluffing, but then again, maybe not. Technically, Zaheer didn't harm them when they were kept imprisoned while Korra turned herself in, but it didn't mean he had to care for them.
- Wrong Context Magic: All four possess bending that should, by most normal rules of bending, be impossible. In rough order from least to most uncanny:
- Zaheer's airbending is technically the closest to normal, with only his aggressive fighting style betraying anything odd. However, he gained the ability through Harmonic Convergence, when bending is usually present from birth. He's also the only airbender seen using the art to its full lethal potential, as well as being the only airbender in thousands of years to fly.
- Ming-Hua lacks arms, but can use her waterbending to create substitute limbs, and seems to use them in place of her normal arms for bending. Most benders have less control when they can't use their limbs to direct their element, but this seems to have resulted in an unusually fine control over her water arms.
- P'Li can create explosions like Combustion Man in addition to normal firebending. Unlike him, she can send the blasts around corners.
- Ghazan can liquefy Earth into magma when previously, only Avatars have shown the ability to do so. Prior to his appearance, it was assumed to require a combination of earth and firebending.
- The two known non-core members continued this trend. Unalaq was able to control spirits (though partially because of his allegiance to Vaatu), while Aiwei could detect lies in addition to metalbending. The finale introduces a few mook-level Red Lotus members, who seem to be average.
- You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: It didn't really matter if Korra was going to join their cause or not. Killing Korra in the Avatar State was the trigger to their final plan of ensuring eternal chaos. After all, their goal was to rid the world of all its leaders AND the Avatar.
"When you base your expectations only on what you see, you blind yourself to the possibilities of a new reality."
A formerly non-bender criminal and member of a society known as the Red Lotus who was arrested with his three cohorts for attempting to kidnap the Avatar. Having now gained airbending through Harmonic Convergence, he breaks his cabal out of their prisons and intends to finish what they started.
"Look, all you need to know is that the world is about to change, for the better."
Voiced by: Peter Giles
An earthbender who can create magma.
- Affably Evil: While he's ruthless in a fight, outside of battle he's a very friendly guy. He's great friends with his group, and when Bolin is his captive, they strike up friendly conversation, delivered without a hint of sarcasm.
- Anti-Villain: Quite an affable and genuinely friendly person when not following orders, and like Zaheer he seems to consider their mission to be for the betterment of all.
- Badass: Was able to easily best Bolin when they fought one-on-one, with Bolin being a professional martial artist of sorts. He also effortlessly destroys a section of Ba Sing Se's inner wall on his own (which in the last series took the combined might of the Dai Li), and one-ups himself later by destroying the Northern Air Temple.
- Badass Driver: He can drive on snow and ice while under attack, and get away cleanly.
- Badass Mustache: Haru would be proud. Bolin at one point theorises that he started to grow it from the age of ten.
- Better To Die Than Be Killed: Or sent back to prison in his case.
- Convection Schmonvection: No one is ever burned by the heat of his lava, even in situations where it logically should.
- Deadpan Snarker: During their getaway in episode 4, P'Li and Zaheer start kissing. He simply says "Really? Right now?"
- Dishing Out Dirt: He's an earthbender.
- Driven to Suicide: He lets himself be buried in a cave-in rather than go back to prison.
- Elemental Rock-Paper-Scissors: Ghazan's ability to convert earth to lava made him nigh invulnerable to other Earthbenders. When Bolin manages to learn to do the same, the two actually cancel each other out, making Ghazan easy to defeat when Bolin and Mako double team him.
- Evil Counterpart: To Bolin. Both are the most lighthearted members of their respective group and can lavabend. Might possibly share the status of younger sibling as well.
- Faux Affably Evil: Similar to Zaheer, he drops the pretext when his defeat is imminent and he'll be sent back to prison.
- Friendly Enemy: To Bolin.
- Genius Bruiser: Implied to be this when he was dealing with the Inner Wall's destruction, where he focused on heating up the lower part to weaken the foundation so he can demolish a large chunk in one fell swoop on the second strike. Further implied when, after merely setting certain sections alight with lava and fleeing, it spreads and consumes everything nearby and below it - the end result brings down the entire Northern Air Temple.
- Get a Room!: His reaction to P'Li and Zaheer making out.
- I Die Free: When he realises he can't beat Mako and Bolin, he decides he'd rather die than go back to prison, and makes the cave he's in collapse and melt instead.
- Magma Man: He's the only known non-Avatar bender that can create and control lava by liquefying rock. Until Bolin also picks up it as well.
- Meaningful Name: His name may come from kazan, the Japanese word for "volcano".
- Moment Killer: See Get a Room!.
- Minion Shipping: Hinted at. Bolin speculates that he 'grew his moustache at age ten', that he was 'raised by an older sister', and that he and Ming-Hua share an 'unspoken attraction'. Ghazan shares a quick glance with his Red Lotus teammate, and then says (in a surprised but not displeased tone) that he's got two out of three right.
- No Sell: Every time Bolin tries attacking him, he converts the rocks into lava and sends them right back. When the Dai Li try their rock gloves, he punches each one right back with ease.
- Only Sane Man: Not stated, but he is apparently the most down to earth of the four; given how P'Li and Ming-Hua are temperamental and Ax-Crazy, respectively, while Zaheer has shown himself to possess a nasty ruthless streak. Meanwhile, Ghazan hasn't shown any real quirks of his own.
- Person of Mass Destruction: The Red Lotus team are among the most powerful benders in the world, but most of them (even the walking artillery platform P'li) are more in 'precise, controlled One-Man Army' territory than this. Ghazan, on the other hand, has an offensive output roughly on par with a firebending master empowered by Sozin's Comet - or, to put it another way, he can melt mountains.
- Punch Clock Villain: By the standards of the Red Lotus, he's quite nice. Very friendly with the heroes when not in combat, and he hesitates significantly when the situation requires lethal force. He needed encouragement from Ming-Hua to attack and seemed content to let her kill Korra, not making a move until she began to break her chains. He also doesn't show signs of sadism or psychopathic behavior like the others.
- Prisons Are Gymnasiums: Not much else to do when stuck in a giant cage other than pull-ups.
- She-Fu: Like Bolin, a rare male example who's light on his feet and full of flips.
- Superpower Lottery: His lavabending makes it difficult to fight him, particularly for other earthbenders, who pretty much just give him more ammo.
- Taking You with Me: Cornered by Mako and Bolin, he finally loses his cool at the thought of going back to prison, and attempts to bring the whole cave down with all of them in it. They escape, he does not.
- Tattooed Crook: His Shirtless Scene introduction shows his chest, back and arms have multiple tattoos.
- Villainous Breakdown: It's brief, but he freaks out at the idea of going back to prison and proceeds with the above Taking You with Me.
- Wild Hair: It's pretty long.
- Worthy Opponent: Feels this way about Bolin, after Bolin learns how to lavabend.
"Urgh, I would've killed for some rain."
An armless waterbender who uses water to form substitute limbs.
Voiced by: Kristy Wu
"I thought I'd never see you again."
A firebender who, like Combustion Man, is able to generate explosions.
- Achilles' Heel: Her Third Eye tattoo generates her combustion attacks, but can be disrupted by a simple strike to the head.
- Affably Evil: Inverted, and notable for its absence. Unlike the other members of her group, P'Li is all business and very cold, for the most part. She only really shows emotions whenever she's with Zaheer.
- Alas, Poor Villain: Her death by Suyin was quite cruel and sad. Just hearing her backstory of how she ended up in the Red Lotus just makes it sadder.
- Attack Its Weak Point: Just like Combustion Man before her, attacks to the Third Eye can disrupt her combustion bending.
- Ax-Crazy: Gives off an air of this during her rambling when Zuko and Tonraq visit to make sure she's still in her prison, and again when surrounded by flames. She's a little unbalanced, to say the least, though far less so than Ming-Hua.
- Badass: She shot down a dragon.
- Berserk Button: Harming Zaheer. She nearly blew up Tonraq when he was fighting Zaheer, and Tenzin likewise nearly caught an explosion when he had Zaheer on the ropes.
- Braids of Action: She wears a short braid on the top of her head with the sides and back shaven.
- The Brute: While they're all dangerous, P'Li is definitely the powerhouse of the group, since her combustion bending has the most direct offensive potential. She's also the tallest.
- Child Soldier: She was supposed to be one to some unnamed warlord, raised as a killing machine due to her destructive power. That is, until Zaheer saved her.
- Cold Sniper: Combustion bending makes any firebender who has mastered it into essentially one of the most feared and devastating snipers ever to grace the world of Avatar, and P'Li is no exception. Not only can she curve her shots to blast enemies behind cover, but, as evidenced in "The Ultimatum", her visual acuity and hand-eye-chakra-tattoo-thingie coordination is insane, allowing her to track moving targets from a distance and pick them off at her leisure. Not only that, she is capable of using her sharp vision and explosive sniping ability in a tactical manner by taking her environment into consideration, such as aiming for structural weak points or scattering a herd of air bison to prevent the airbenders at the temple from escaping. This in mind, it makes sense from a strategic standpoint for Zaheer to have her circling the temple from their airship, because that's where she could do the most damage and work in the group's favor to control the fight by providing coverfire and keeping the airbenders busy. In addition, P'Li is not immune to her own combustion, so having her fight from a distance is simply a matter of practicality. Suyin takes advantage of this by metalbending a barrier right in front of P'Li, which kills her.
- Contralto of Danger: A throaty growl, although her voice rises in pitch when she's getting cozy with Zaheer.
- Crippling Overspecialization: P'Li's over-reliance on her combustion bending makes her the worst close-range combatant of the four, and the one with the most obvious weakness in that her combustion must be fired from a distance. Bolin exploits this with a precision shot and puts her out of commission for a battle in Zaofu. Su later exploits this on Laghima's Peak, resulting in P'Li blowing herself to pieces.
- Cruel and Unusual Death: While Lin distracts her, Su encases her head with her breastplate as P'li is about to let off of a blast. The last thing we see is light poking through the holes in the armor before we're treated to a Gory Discretion Shot. At least it was quick.
- Dark Action Girl: One of the most dangerous ladies in the series.
- Dark and Troubled Past: She was raised as a living weapon, only to be rescued by Zaheer.
- Death Glare: Gives a rather scary one right at the start of "In Harm's Way". Any use of her combustion bending is preceded by a serious glare at her intended target.
- Distaff Counterpart: To Combustion Man, as noted by Zuko.
- The Dreaded: Even more so than the rest of the Red Lotus. On both of the occasions an opponent has had time to articulate a strategy against them, it has included specifically neutralizing or avoiding her.
- Even Evil Has Loved Ones: She's Zaheer's girlfriend, and even stays behind to protect his defenseless body while he's in the Spirit World as Ghazan and Ming-Hua head after Korra. The minute she dies, Zaheer loses all that remains of his earthly attachments, but it makes him even more vengeful.
- Family-Unfriendly Death: For what is ostensibly a kids' show, it's hard to get worse than having a self-inflicted case of Your Head Asplode. The rather extreme Gory Discretion Shot (not so much as a "boom") leaves most of it in the imagination of the viewer.
- Femme Fatalons: Downplayed example. Her nails, while not particularly long, are painted red-black.
- Freudian Excuse: She was captured by a warlord when she was a young girl. This is part of the reason why she joined the Red Lotus.
- Glass Cannon: Her combustion bending gives her tremendous offensive power at a second's notice, but conversely it's extremely sensitive and easily knocked out if her opponents can hit the tattoo. However, she can use her normal firebending to supplement her defense if need be.
- Having a Blast: She's able to fire beams from her Third Eye that explode on contact, just like Combustion Man. Unlike him, she can also curve her shots, so hiding behind cover isn't nearly as effective.
- Hoist By Her Own Petard: P'Li's is not immune to the affects of her own combustion, so she must fight at a distance. In addition, her detonations require an unobstructed path to follow, blockades in the way will detonate them early. Suyin takes advantage of both of these faults by metalbending her breastplate onto P'Li's head just as she is about to fire upon Lin. The detonation blows P'Li to pieces.
- Meaningful Name: Her name sounds exactly the same as Pele the Hawaiian goddess of the Volcano. There is no way that is just a coincidence.
- One Head Taller: An unusual version in that it's P'Li who's a head taller than Zaheer.
- Playing with Fire: Unlike Combustion Man, she can use traditional firebending in addition to her explosion talent, hence the need to keep her somewhere very cold. She shows off her skills when she uses firebending to block a fire attack from Zuko's dragon.
- Red and Black and Evil All Over: Her outfit is mostly shades of bright and dark red, her nail polish is black with a hint of red, and the dominant color of her Third Eye tattoo is red. Even her eyes are deep russet. (Then again, of course, she is a firebender.)
- Rescue Romance: A rather twisted, evil version of this. Zaheer saved her from a life as some warlord's living weapon, to which she is eternally grateful. He saves her again by breaking her out of prison.
- Reunion Kiss: With Zaheer, after the group breaks her out of prison.
- Satellite Character: To Zaheer, even more than Ghazan and Ming-Hua. Most of what characterization P'Li has revolves around her love and loyalty to him.
- Statuesque Stunner: She's the tallest of the group◊ at 6'8" and cleans up rather nicely after escaping prison.
- The Stoic: She is always calm and composed; rarely losing her temper, unless Zaheer is in danger.
- Sugar and Ice Personality: While all of them have this to a degree, she is the stand-out example. Unless you are Zaheer, don't expect any warm feelings from her.
- Superpower Lottery: P'li has more refined control of her combustion blasts than Combustion Man, being able to direct them around corners.
- Third Eye: The red tattoo on her forehead.
- Tragic Villain: Used as a weapon by a warlord when she was a girl, then rescued by Zaheer who, while genuinely loving her, ultimately led her into back into the same fate he rescued her from, just in a different context. Then she dies in defense of him.
- Unholy Matrimony: With Zaheer.
- Violently Protective Girlfriend:
- She nearly blew up Tonraq when Zaheer was having trouble with him.
- She later blasts Tenzin off a ledge when he subdued Zaheer and is about to deliver a finishing blow.
- Would Hurt a Child: While she shows no pleasure in it, she also shows no hesitation firing directly on Kai when he tries to distract her from stopping the other airbenders from escaping, and would have likely killed him had he not airbended a shield to take the brunt of the blast (and what got through was still enough to knock him unconscious). She appears to treat opposition as simply opposition, regardless of who it comes from, and deals with it in the same way (blasting it until it either stops moving or retreats).
- Your Head A Splode: Implicitly via Gory Discretion Shot, when Su bends her armour over P'Li's head as she is about to combust.