Team Avatar (Avatar Aang, Prince Zuko, Katara, Sokka, Toph Beifong) | Mentors | Allies (General Iroh) | Fire Nation | Fire Nation Royal Family (Fire Lord Ozai, Princess Azula) | The Ember Island Players | Other | Comics
These characters are the mentors to Team Avatar.
The four Avatars that came before Aang, listed in descending order. Even after their deaths, they serve as Spirit Advisors for the current Avatar, and can lend Aang their power through the Avatar State. Since Roku is the one that came directly before Aang, he does most of the advising.
- Four-Temperament Ensemble:
- Roku is Phlegmatic; best shown by his dealings with Sozin, he was kind, forgiving, and placed great stock in peace and harmony. Blames himself for the Hundred Year War.
- Kyoshi was Choleric; very task-oriented and exhibited greater leadership in her role as Avatar, dictating terms to the Earth King and created the Dai Li to protect the Earth Kingdom's cultural heritage.
- Kuruk was Sanguine; he was an extroverted "people person", very friendly and a "go with the flow" kind of Avatar. Unfortunately, he was also impulsive and self-indulgent to compensate for the fact he was Secretly Dying thanks to his constant battles with dark spirits.
- Yangchen was Melancholic; like Kyoshi, she was very task-oriented and dedicated to keeping things hunky dory. By force if necessary. Of all the Avatars, she displays the most willingness to use violence if no other options present themselves.
- Gender-Equal Ensemble: Roku (male), Kyoshi (female), Kuruk (male), and Yangchen (female) are Aang's frequent Spirit Advisors.
- Glowing Eyes of Doom: Goes with the territory; an Avatar's eyes glow when they enter the Avatar State.
- Hero of Another Story: They've all had their own adventures as the avatar and savior of the world, but usually we only get to hear tidbits of it.
- Iconic Item: Kyoshi's fans and crown, Roku's crown, and possibly Kuruk's bear headdress. Air Nomads like Yangchen disapprove of material possessions, but she is usually seen wearing meditation beads like the ones Aang uses in the comics.
- Men Act, Women Are: Gender Inverted. It's the two female Avatars, Kyoshi and Yangchen, who unambiguously endorse the option of Aang killing Fire Lord Ozai, while the two male Avatars, Roku and Kuruk, only give him vague suggestions about "being decisive" and "shaping your own destiny," respectively. Likewise, Roku allowed Sozin to live, and openly regrets not killing him when he had the chance, and Kuruk admits he was a "go with the flow" Avatar, which worked against him. Kyoshi, on the other hand, openly defies Chin the Conqueror and lets him fall to his death (and bluntly admits to it), as well dictating terms to the Earth King himself; Yangchen, implied both through the show and the comics before being displayed in her own book, was very pro-active and unrestrained in dealing with threats to the world's balance and peace.
- Neglectful Precursors: Not intentionally, of course, but a reoccurring theme throughout the franchise is that the Avatar, for all his or her power, is still human and liable to making mistakes — mistakes that their successors usually must correct as best they can in their own time. With the exception of Yangchen, each of these Avatars ended up leaving behind some kind of problem that Aang is forced to deal with over the course of the series. Yangchen herself is not innocent of this trope either, as her own failures during her tenure as the Avatar led to the early death of her successor Kuruk, which caused a line of Disaster Dominoes that saw no small amount of personal tragedy for Kuruk's own successor Kyoshi.
- One-Man Army: A fully realized Avatar has god-like power. Aang, when he was a child and only mastered one of the four elements, wiped out fourteen ships without the Avatar State. These guys have all four elements and a lot more practice.
- Posthumous Character: They're all long dead by the present day of the series, and only appear in spirit form or flashbacks.
- Reincarnation: All of them are Aang's past lives. Aang himself is Korra's past life.
- Spirit Advisor: Every past Avatar becomes one of these to the current-living-avatar. Aang talks to Roku the most because he is Aang's immediate predecessor. As of season 2 of The Legend of Korra this is no longer the case: Raava's brief destruction broke the Avatar cycle, and so Korra and any Avatars after her cannot seek advice from Aang or anyone before him.
- Wizards Live Longer: Avatars normally enjoy an extended lifespan, such as Kyoshi (who lived to be the oldest Avatar, at 230). However, they are still vulnerable to violent deaths, such as Roku who died in a volcanic eruption at age 70. Aang is a more complicated case; chronologically he's 112 but biologically 12 and dies when he is biologically 66 because of the time he spent frozen in the iceberg, Averted with Kuruk, who only lived to be 33. It's unclear to the world whether or not he died of natural causes, although in The Shadow of Kyoshi it's revealed that Kuruk spent much of his time as Avatar fighting corrupted spirits caused by Yangchen's decisions regarding the spirit world, and each battle drained his life force.
- Women Are Wiser: Going purely by what is shown in the show, at least. Yangchen has the most successful tenure of the four and Kyoshi ended hers without regrets because the Dai Li weren't corrupt under her watch. note On the other hand, Kuruk is still making up for his mistakes three generations later and Roku is riddled with guilt. Later works would establish that both Yangchen and Kyoshi both still made their fair share of mistakes and had their own regrets, and that a lot of Kuruk's perceived shortcomings were a direct result of dealing with problems Yangchen left behind, but you wouldn't know that just by what's shown in the series.
Voiced by: James Garrett (original), Andrew Caldwell (original, young), Sergio Schmied and Carlos Carvajal (Latin American Spanish)
Roku is a Fire Nation Avatar and the one directly preceding Aang. He blames himself for the war, and with good reason — he was close friends with Fire Lord Sozin and was unwilling to kill him in order to put a stop to Sozin's imperialism before it got out of hand.
- Appeal to Force: Scares Jeong-Jeong into training Aang, against the other man's better judgement, whatever his reasons for doing so. This was a recurring pattern with him, as demonstrated when he responded to Sozin's first colonies by threatening him, then obliterating half his palace in a brutal Curb-Stomp Battle and informing him that if he steps out of line again, he'll kill him. It's worth pointing out that in the later case, Roku actually sees what he did as the opposite of this trope. As far as he's concerned, he was being soft on his former friend, merely trying to show him humility. In hindsight, he fully believes he should've killed Sozin right there and prevented the entire war and the century of devastation that followed.
- The Atoner: With the complication that, because Roku is dead, he can't do any of his atoning himself. All he can do is guide and try to influence Aang. This intensifies the conflict in The Promise, because Roku's desperation to atone for the crimes Sozin committed because of his leniency causes him to overcompensate and double-down on what he should have done — neutralize the Fire Lord and dismantle the colonies — 112+ years ago, unable to understand that the moment has passed and the situation has drastically changed.
- Badass Boast: In addition to what's mention to Appeal to Force, Roku is prone to flexing the fact that he is the Avatar, and that challenging him is therefore a bad idea.To Jeong-Jeong: "You think I am weak? I have mastered the elements a thousand times across a thousand lifetimes! Now I must do so again."
- Berserk Button: It seems he hates being called "weak", possibly because he feels he was too soft on Sozin. When Jeong-Jeong says Aang isn't strong enough to learn firebending, he immediately appears, berates Jeong-Jeong, and tells him that he will teach Aang firebending (though he may have been doing so to make Aang understand that he was trying firebending too soon).
- Beware the Nice Ones: He doesn't take Sozin occupying Earth Kingdom territory well and proceeds to effortlessly defeat him in battle. Sozin only lived because Roku didn't want to kill him.
- Broken Pedestal: Aang has a moment of this to Roku during the Promise trilogy after finding out that Zuko is his great grandson and he still wants Aang to kill him. After the Yu Dao incident is over Aang contacts Roku and calls him out for trying to get him to kill Zuko who is technically family to him with this revelation. Aang eventually decides that Roku has nothing more to teach him and cuts off his connection to him though not without some clear sadness. The two would eventually reconcile in The Rift trilogy but that wasn't until a year after the previous trilogy.
- Buried Alive: While he was weakened and probably already dying after getting blasted with toxic gases, Roku dies when he is buried by a volcanic eruption after Sozin abandons him to his fate.
- The Cameo: He makes a few fleeting appearances in The Legend of Korra:
- He is the Firebending Avatar who appears in the show intro.
- He is present when Aang restores Korra's connection to the other elements besides air.
- The Avatar spirit takes on his form in "Beginnings, Part 1".
- Finally, he is shown being wiped from existence along with the other pre-Korra Avatars when Unalaq and Vaatu destroy Raava.
- Cool Old Guy: Technically speaking, all of them qualify to one extent or another, but Roku fits the spirit of the trope the most. Aside from helping Aang out the most, he is the only one who chooses to appear as an older man (his appearance when he died) instead of his appearance when he was younger and in his prime.
- Chekhov's Gunman: Roku is the Avatar seen bending all 4 elements in the opening then vanishing.
- "Could Have Avoided This!" Plot: According to Roku, he states that if he had killed his friend Sozin instead of sparing him in the name of their friendship, then the Hundred Year War would never have happened.
- Cryptically Unhelpful Answer: Roku's advice to Aang when he was consulting the preceding four Avatars for advice on how to deal with Ozai was only to "be decisive". Ironically, this answer could also sum up the fix to another Cryptically Unhelpful Answer which Aang had received earlier regarding controlling the Avatar State from Guru Pathik, though Roku did help correct the mistake in Aang's thinking on that subject simply by showing his marriage in his life's story.
- Deconstructed Character Archetype: Roku's portrayal in The Promise deconstructs the Spirit Advisor trope. Roku is well-intentioned in his advice to Aang to strike down Zuko before his withdrawal of support for the Harmony Restoration Movement triggers another world war. However, he is A) poorly equipped to handle the increasingly complex issues of the modern world, and B) projecting his own regrets over his failure to kill Sozin onto a radically different situation, driving Aang to cut ties with him for a year. When they reconcile in The Rift, Roku acknowledges his own failures and states that he and his predecessors can only give advice from their own perspectives; Aang must balance the past and present, much as he must be the balance between humanity and the spirit world.
- Deliberate Values Dissonance: Especially in The Promise, where he still recommends that Aang decolonize the Fire Nation colonies as part of pre-Hundred Year status quo, and remains steadfastly unable to conceive the notion of uniting the four cultures when Aang tries to explain it to him as another solution. He gets over it in The Rift.
- Dragon Rider: Roku's familiar was a dragon.
- The Dreaded: He was a Nice Guy, but he terrifies Jeong-Jeong into compliance with a single tongue-lashing, he singlehandedly demolished Sozin's first colonies and effortlessly flattened Sozin (an exceptionally powerful firebender in his own right) so thoroughly that Sozin didn't dare restart his plans until his death, and his possession of Aang has everyone trembling before him as he rips apart the island in the space of a minute.
- Early-Bird Cameo: Roku is the shadowed Avatar in the beginning of the series bending all 4 elements.
- Et Tu, Brute?: Roku and Sozin had their friendship strained after Roku warned Sozin that he would kill him should he start the war. Though they were still friends with each other while they were helping to evacuate the villagers from the volcano eruption. That is, until Sozin realizes that Roku is vulnerable and leaves him to die on the island while he fulfills his ambitions of world conquest.
- Hairstyle Inertia: Roku had his long hair pulled back his entire life.
- It's All My Fault: Roku regrets not killing Sozin when they fought, as doing so would have prevented the war, to the point that he tries to prep Aang up to kill Zuko in the comics in order to avoid a repeat of this.
- Luke, I Am Your Father: Roku is the maternal great-grandfather of Prince Zuko and Princess Azula. He confirms in The Promise that he is aware of this, by being the one to reveal it to Aang. It was possibly Foreshadowed earlier, when he freed Zuko in addition to Katara and Sokka during the Solstice.
- My Greatest Failure: Roku blames himself for not dealing with Sozin when he had the opportunity, believing that if he had acted more decisively instead of just assuming the matter was settled, then Ozai wouldn't be a problem. This deeply colors his advice to Aang.
- Nice Guy: Spared Sozin because they were friends and is consistently kind to Aang.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Aang's firebending accident with Katara came about as the result of Roku manifesting before Jeong-Jeong and strong-arming him into training Aang, thanks to his desperation to get Aang ready to face Ozai. However, this may have been because Aang needed a blunt lesson in the dangers of uncontrolled firebending. He's also responsible for the war happening in the first place.
- Noble Bigot: Deconstructed Trope in The Promise; his insistence on removing Fire Nation colonies even if it meant separating mixed-race families came off as villainous even for a well-meaning attempt to bring peace while ignoring that they could become independent culture.
- Parental Substitute:
- To Aang, to an extent, weird as that may seem. He's kindly and patient with his successor when advising him, though also willing to be firm, and he and Aang seem to care for each other very much, something elaborated upon in the comics when Aang tearfully cuts himself off from Roku after strongly disagreeing with Roku's advised course of action, on the grounds that he thinks that Roku's views are stuck in the past and only holding him back. It is followed then by the emotional reunion after he reconnects with him, something that has all the vibes of estranged family members reuniting. Going by the other past Avatars shown and Aang's relationship with his successor, Korra, they're unusually close, with the former being cryptic and unhelpful, and the latter being kind enough, but distant.
- It's justified by the fact that Aang is an anomaly among Avatars. Most Avatars learn of their destiny as the Avatar and embark on their journey to learn all four elements at sixteen; however, the Air Nomads forewent tradition for Aang's situation due to the ominous portents surrounding the oncoming war and their eventual genocide, the latter of which Aang only avoided due to a stroke of fate. With the loss of his people and thus most of his support system, on top of being stuck in a world far different from the one he remembered, Aang naturally turns to Roku for any adult support he needs, since, as Roku's most recent reincarnation, Roku is the one adult he can count on to always be there for him and support him.
- Person of Mass Destruction: Like all former Avatars, he qualifies, but he deserves particular note - while Kyoshi created an island, he destroyed one while possessing Aang.
- Shoot the Dog: His advocating Aang killing Zuko in The Promise. All the more so because Zuko is his great-grandson and he hates the thought of killing him.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Roku was shown to be in love with his future wife, Ta Min, and only her until his death.
- Stealth Pun: Roku is the one who gives the 'Previously, on Avatar...' speech, because he IS the previous Avatar.
- Token Enemy Minority: Alongside Shyu, Roku is one of the first Fire Nation citizens we meet who is explicitly against the war and unquestionably on Aang's side no matter what. (Because they're the same person, but still.) The artbook points to him as an early humanizing face of the Fire Nation, and this is the lesson Aang takes from learning about his history.
- Took a Level in Badass: Flashbacks into Roku's early years showed he was a talented firebender but still a young, untrained Avatar. Spending most of his teenage and early adult years training in the other elements, turned him into the powerfully skilled Avatar he is today.
- Tragic Hero: Roku was betrayed by his best friend, yet spared his life out of friendship. Then, he's betrayed a second time by the same friend in his moment of weakness and need.
Voiced by: Jennifer Hale (original), Maureen Herman (Latin American Spanish)
Kyoshi is from the Earth Kingdom and the founder/creator of Kyoshi Island. She is best known as the creator of the Dai Li and the inspiration for the Kyoshi Warriors. She is also on record for the most triumphant demonstration of the power of the Avatar State, as she used it to alter plate tectonics.
- Action Mom: Kyoshi is a powerful Avatar and had a daughter named Koko.
- Anti-Hero: Probably one of her most well known traits even compared to other Avatars. While Kyoshi had no love of violence she was perfectly willing to commit it, even so far as to kill her enemies, if it means protecting the world.
- Appeal to Force: During the Peasant Uprising of Ba Sing Se she staunchly refused to kill the peasants and, when the Earth King ordered her arrested, she knocked out his guards and threatened him for defying the Avatar. She then made sure that a compromise was made that allowed the peasants to have a voice with their King and eventually led to the creation of the Dai Li to protect cultural artifacts.
- Breakout Character: Has become this for the past Avatars, receiving the most attention and focus in expanded universe materials, including her own novel series. She will also be the star of her own project by Avatar Studios, an untitled animated film thats set to release sometime after 2024.
- Brutal Honesty: If her two appearances in the series involving her are anything to go by. She openly admitted to having killed Chin the Conqueror, when Aang was being tried in a Kangaroo Court for that very action. Later, when Aang sought her counsel about how to deal with Ozai, she remained staunch in her opinion that would-be conquerors must be stopped.
- Combat Hand Fan: She used a pair of gold fans when she bended. The Kyoshi Warriors use the same type of fans for combat to honor her memory.
- Contralto of Danger: Avatar Kyoshi has a deeper voice than some of the other female characters to portray her as powerful and dangerous.
- Dance Battler: Kyoshi and her fans. She founded the Kyoshi warriors.
- Distinction Without a Difference: How she sees Chin the Conquerors death; while Aang points out that she didn't actually kill Chin and it was his own stubbornness that caused him to fall to his death, Kyoshi says she doesn't see any difference, since her actions still led to his death, and if he had pushed the issue, she would have killed him outright.
- Girly Bruiser: A more serious variation. She wears makeup that highlights her beauty, fights in a dress, her weapon of choice is her fans, and incorporates dancing in combat. She also happens to be strong enough to earthbend entire islands. Simultaneously, she's also a very much no-nonsense stoic type of fighter, and the tallest Avatar on record, in contrast to the usual kind of personality and appearance associated with the trope.
- Good Is Not Soft: She is absolutely relentless to her enemies and is not above intimidating world leaders by sending assassins after them to subtly threaten their lives to get her point across.
- Iron Lady: Kyoshi is a true earth avatar; strong, unmoving, formidable, unrelenting, etc.
- Lady of War: Kyoshi has a very regal and imposing presence due to her physical size, calm deep voice, dress and ability to earthbend an entire island. Her followers, the Kyoshi Warriors, are Badass Normals but all look and act the part.
- Long-Lived: Unlike her predecessor she lived for a very long time eventually dying at the ripe old age of two hundred and thirty years old.
- More Deadly Than the Male: Kyoshi and Korra are the only Avatars with confirmed kills to their name - though Aang's de-bending of Yakone was depicted as a Fate Worse than Death, to the point where Amon learned to mimic it via blood-bending for the impact value in Korra. Aang would rather not see what she did as killing Chin but she does. She also outright kills someone in her novel in a duel by dropping him to his death. This reputation seems to have long survived her, as Aang regrets asking her advice on how to handle Ozai.Aang: I knew I shouldn't have asked Kyoshi.
- My Greatest Failure:
- Downplayed compared to Roku, but according to The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars Part 1, the Earth Kingdom in her time was too stubborn and militaristic to be more open-minded to queer people despite years of effort, which considering her lifespan was a considerably long time.
- In a more personal case, failing to save Kelsang and Lek from Jianzhu. And most importantly, failing to save Yun from his fall to madness.
- She admits to Aang in Escape from the Spirit World that she regrets the creation of the Dai Li; while they weren't corrupt during her time, they still ended up corrupt regardless and would prove to be major thorns in the sides of not just Aang but their later reincarnation Korra too. The former by first acting as a State Sec for Long Feng and suppressing information about the war in Ba Sing Se, then by siding with Azula, causing the downfall of the Earth Kingdom during the war, and the latter by enforcing the tyranny of the Earth Queen Hou-Ting, King Kuei's daughter, which eventually led to her assassination by the Red Lotus and the Earth Kingdom collapsing into chaos, paving the way for Kuvira and her Earth Empire to take over. All things considered, the creation of the Dai Li was probably Kyoshi's greatest mistake during her tenure as the Avatar, even if she didn't realize it until after she was dead.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
- Kyoshi created the Dai Li. We all know how that turned out.
- Then there was that time that she admitted guilt for the crime that almost gets Aang executed... though he was likely gonna be executed before she said so anyway, and her confession indirectly bought time before the upcoming attack.
- Our Founder: She is the creator of Kyoshi Island after she split her homeland from the rest of the Earth Kingdom to prevent Chin the Conqueror from capturing it. After her passing a statue of her was erected in her honor. She was also the founder of the Dai Li.
- Pragmatic Hero: Kyoshi did not enjoy violence, but was willing and ready to ruthlessly use it the most when it was the necessary action.
- Really 700 Years Old: Kyoshi lived well into her third century before dying at age 230, and she's confirmed to be the longest-lived Avatar.
- Self-Disposing Villain: Discussed when Aang points out that Chin fell to his death due to refusing to surrender his ground, even as it crumbled beneath him, not a direct attack from Kyoshi herself. Subverted when Kyoshi bluntly states she sees no distinction between killing him either directly or indirectly and was willing to kill him without regret at that point.
- Shoot the Dog: Kyoshi was a proponent of Aang killing Ozai. In her youth, she did this herself with Yun, when she realized he was far too gone to be saved. She was deeply saddened by doing this and wondered if there could've been a way to save him.
- Somebody Else's Problem: During Kyoshi's life, Chin the Conqueror took over nearly all of the Earth Kingdom. Kyoshi didn't bother doing anything about it until he came to her doorstep with an army. Her general reaction was to tell him to buzz off, then separate what would become Kyoshi Island from the mainland. Chin only dies by accident and his own stubbornness, not because of any direct action against him on Kyoshi's part (unless one includes using airbending to rip off his clothes).
- This makes sense in-universe, as the role of the Avatar is to ensure balance between the nations, not enforce a particular form of government. Kuvira points this out to Korra, telling her to mind her own business, and that Kuvira's war against the United Republic was actually an internal Earth Kingdom matter over which the Avatar has no jurisdiction. It's implied the real problem everyone had is that her justifications and actions were beginning to resemble that of Fire Lord Sozin's (suggesting her conquest might've not stopped at just the Earth Kingdom) and everyone knows how that turned out.
- Statuesque Stunner: Kyoshi boasted a height of about seven feet and was considered a very beautiful woman.
- Tragic Keepsake: Zig-Zagged. She wielded her mother Jesa's golden fans, wore her father Hark's crown and their daofei's makeup, but she was very angry with her parents for abandoning her when she was a child.
Voiced by: Jim Meskimen
Kuruk was the Avatar preceding Kyoshi, hailing from the Northern Water Tribe. Describing himself as a 'go with the flow' Avatar, he let people work out their own problems— which he came to regret when the spirit Koh kidnapped his wife, Ummi, and stole her face.
For more on him, check out the two Kyoshi-focused prequels. While he is very, very dead by then, several of his friends are major characters who offer insight about him, and like Roku to Aang, he ends up giving Kyoshi a flashback of his history to help her understand what she's up against and what she has to do next— a flashback which completely upends what she thought she knew about him.
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy: Kuruk enjoyed challenging other benders to prove their strength against his.
- Ascended Extra: Kuruk first appeared in Escape from the Spirit World, a tie-in online game. He made his show debut during the finale. He ascends again in The Rise of Kyoshi, by virtue of being Kyoshi's direct predecessor. The novel begins with Kuruk's "Team Avatar" (not that they're referred to as such) attempting to locate the next Avatar on his behalf, and their internal monologues flesh him out a bit more. The sequel, The Shadow of Kyoshi, includes an extended flashback about his short life as the Avatar, and recontextualizes many of his tropes listed here.
- Blood Knight: Was always challenging random benders to fights just to prove his strength.
- Brilliant, but Lazy:
- Despite having the skill of powerful past Avatars like Yangchen, he was self-described as a "go with the flow" Avatar that generally let problems solve themselves and generally lazed around and flirted with women.
- Shadow of Kyoshi would reveal that Kuruk was on the concept that each of the four elements were actually one and that the separation between the four was a mere illusion; stuff the viewer learns from Iroh and Guru Pathik. However, Kuruk was also at the mercy of stubborn teachers who refused his way of thinking and understanding and chose the path of least resistance partly to shut them up and continue on with the lessons.
- The Casanova: Kuruk's tenure was a peaceful one (he tells), so he was more interested in flirting than his duty.
- Cultured Badass: He was the Avatar, but he was also a genius Pai Sho player and wrote competent poetry.
- Fatal Flaw: Kuruk's love for his friends led him to withdraw from them to slay dark spirits as opposed to letting them help him. Not only did this shorten Kuruk's life and sully his reputation by his hedonistic coping mechanism; but without four equally brilliant minds working as one; Kuruk didn't get a chance to find another way to stop the issue and thus cut his own life short and drove his friends apart.
- Hidden Depths:
- Both In-Universe and out he has a reputation for being the most lackluster Avatar in recent memory, being a carefree flirt and dying very early, with even Kyoshi herself initially having a low opinion of him. The Kyoshi Novels recontextualize a lot of what was known about him and instead painted a much more somber picture of the man.
- Kuruk is also the only avatar outside of Korra who ever refers to Raava by name, albeit in a vision Korra has. Everyone else simply calls her the "Avatar Spirit", implying that Kuruk may have been aware of the spiritual side of the Avatar moreso than any of his successors or predecessors.
- Ladykiller in Love: Kuruk was a flirt before he fell in love.
- Meaningful Name: A double case:
- In the language of the Pawnee Nation, kuruk is the word for "bear," reflecting the fact that he is shown clad in a robe made from the skin of an animal that closely resembles a polar bear.
- In Iñupiaq, it means to bow one's head in shame or humility. Quite fitting, considering how ashamed Kuruk is of how he failed to protect Ummi — the person he loved most — from Koh.
- Mundane Luxury: Kuruk loved and treasured his friends Kelsang, Jianzhu, and Hei-Ran. When the spirits revolted because of actions taken during Yangchen's time; Kuruk chose to hunt down and kill dark spirits without telling any of them that doing so was shortening his own life and adopted hedonism as a coping mechanism; eventually driving them apart and sending Kuruk into depression.
- My Greatest Failure: As he reveals to Aang his was not taking his Avatar duties seriously enough as it led to Koh stealing the face from the woman he loved.
- The Power of Legacy: The Shadow of Kyoshi reveals that his apparently lacklustre tenure as Avatar was in part because he sacrificed his reputation and health to protect Avatar Yangchen's legacy as one of the best Avatars, who threw the balance between humanity and spirits out of whack by favoring humans extensively.
- Screw Destiny: In response to the claim that it was Aang's destiny to kill the Fire Lord, Kuruk advised him to "Actively shape your own destiny".
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: His early death plunged the world into chaos when no one could locate his successor for 14 years, and moreso when they found the wrong one. Not to mention getting his wife's face stolen by Koh...
- We Hardly Knew Ye: In-Universe. He died at the age of 33, only half as old as Aang, who lost a lot of time because of his time in the iceberg. Jianzhu laments how his early death was the first time Kuruk ever did anything early.
Voiced by: Tress MacNeille
Yangchen is an Air Nomad, and can give Aang insight the others can't due to their shared heritage. However, she believes that Aang's pacifism is detrimental to his job as Avatar. While she isn't as well known by the time of the series, the Kyoshi Chronicles show that she was a successful, beloved Avatar across all Four Nations.
- 100% Adoration Rating: In The Rise of Kyoshi, she's often invoked instead of the more recent Avatar Kuruk as the gold standard of a hardworking, effective Avatar, and described as 'blessed' and 'holy.' As she makes clear, though, this wasn't the whole story and Kuruk did a lot to preserve her reputation.
- The Ace: She has an impressive track record, and seems to be held up as something of a gold standard for Avatars. She herself disagrees with this interpretation, and tells both Aang and Kyoshi, in no uncertain terms, that she made catastrophic and consistent mistakes.
- Ascended Extra: Like Kuruk, she debuted first in Escape from the Spirit World, a tie-in online game, and makes her show debut in the series finale. She gets an extended flashback in The Rift, about her first mission as the Avatar, while The Rise of Kyoshi frequently namedrops her. She finally makes another appearance near the end of The Shadow of Kyoshi. Finally, much like Kyoshi herself, she is set to be the focus of the next novel in the Chronicles of the Avatar series, The Dawn of Yangchen.
- Bald Mystic: Downplayed; only the front half of her head is shaved to expose her blue arrow tattoo, while she has flowing brown hair on the back half. Air Nomads have shaved or mostly shaved heads to emphasize their spirituality.
- Both Sides Have a Point: Lao Ge, the earthbender assassin, tells Kyoshi that Yangchen liked to read a monk who was deemed heretical's writings to better understand an opposing viewpoint.
- She's an Air Nomad. You know, the most peaceful group of people in the Avatar universe? But she's also quite the Lady of War and uses violence quite freely to solve issues if other options don't present themselves, especially when compared to other Avatars.
- In addition, while the Air Nomads are the most spiritual of the Four Nations, Yangchen came down much more on the side of the humans as opposed to being a force for balance, enraging the spirits.
- Lady of War: She's implied to be one from her demeanor.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: In The Rise of Kyoshi, Kyoshi recalls that two of her bending masters lost their lives holding off enemies so that Yangchen could escape to fight another day.
- My Greatest Failure: In The Shadow of Kyoshi, Yangchen explains that, despite being the bridge between the humans and spirits, she often came down too much on the side of the humans, telling the spirits to go back to the Spirit World and trust the humans to care for their sacred lands. As more humans broke her promises, this angered and corrupted the spirits. Kuruk's apparent hedonism was a reaction to the fact that he was hunting down these rogue dark spirits Yangchen created and destroying a little bit of his own spirit each time he did so, leading to his early death.
- Pragmatic Hero: Yangchen stands out due to the advice that she gives Aang: while the monks' teachings were wise and sacred, it was pushing him into Honor Before Reason, and as the Avatar, such restraint would hurt the world he is bound to protect. And that as the Avatar, their duty to protect the world must outweigh all other priorities, even their own spiritual wellbeing. Considering her tenure as the Avatar was the most successful, it was implied that she sacrificed the monks' pacifist teachings herself and did whatever it took to protect the world.
- Quit Your Whining: Her wisdom to Aang, while tactful and firm, ultimately amounts to this. Telling him that, his personal qualms against violence aside, the Avatar has a responsibility to do whatever it takes to protect the world, even if he has to make a great personal sacrifice to do so.
- Shoot the Dog: Yangchen was especially supportive of Aang killing Ozai, much to Aang's distress.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Ultimately, most of the tragedy her next two successors went through land on her shoulders. Her inability to properly bridge the human world and the spirit world leads to Kuruk sinking into hedonism in order to cope with the constant dark spirit attacks that came about because of her choices, and those same attacks eventually cause him to die at a young age. More than that, because he is so focused on stopping these attacks, he is forced to neglect the more mundane problems of the human world, eventually leading to Kyoshi being stuck with multiple international crises when she finally takes on her duties as his successor. Yangchen openly acknowledges what happened is her fault, and uses it as a lesson to Kyoshi that there is no 'correct' way to be an Avatar, and that she's going to make mistakes like all her predecessors did. All she can do is find a way that works for her, do her best using that way, and hope that it's enough.
- Warrior Monk: While it's not stated if Yangchen was a nun at the Air Temples, she definitely qualifies. Even though she was an Air Nomad like Aang, she still advised him that killing Ozai was the only option.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Unlike Kuruk, she believed Aang would inevitably have to sacrifice his pacifist beliefs like she once did to protect the world and didn't advise Aang to try to find a compromise.Aang: But the monks taught me that I had to detach myself from the world so my spirit could be free.
Yangchen: Many great and wise Air Nomads have detached themselves and achieved spiritual enlightenment, but the Avatar can never do it, because your sole duty is to the world.
Voiced by: Sab Shimono (original), Alexis Quiroz (Latin American Spanish)
Aang's guardian at the Southern Air temple. He frequently tried to keep Aang from working towards his Avatar duties, preferring what was best for Aang over "what was best for the world"; while he was trying to look out for Aang's well-being, this might have made Aang more reluctant to face his destiny.
- Badass Pacifist: Subverted. He was almost certainly this way before the Fire Nation attacked, but when the chips were down, he killed hundreds of them before he went down himself.
- Badass Teacher: He was Aang's Airbending teacher and was referred to as the greatest by his pupil.
- Beware the Nice Ones: A kind and fatherly man who was heavily implied to kill a significant number of Comet-boosted Fire Nation soldiers in self-defense.
- Beware the Silly Ones: Gyatso was an Eccentric Mentor and pulled pranks but was still an airbending master not to be trifled with.
- Cool Old Guy: In the first flashback he appears in, he uses airbending to pie some stern-looking monks. Also doubles as his Establishing Character Moment, as he uses the opportunity to have the Avatar practice his airbending skills.
- Dying Moment of Awesome: Implied. See Last Stand below.
- Eccentric Mentor: He was really laid back and often pulled pranks on his colleagues. This is probably where Aang got his cheerfulness.
- Give Him a Normal Life: Towards Aang. The other elders of the temple wanted to jump-start his Avatar training, but Gyatso wanted him to have a normal childhood until the traditional age of 16. He wants this because he knows that's what Aang wants and thinks that would be better for him.
- Intergenerational Friendship: With Aang. Doubly so because he was also Childhood Friends with Roku, Aang's previous incarnation.
- Last Stand: Implied. We see the skeleton of a pacifist monk, lying on top of a PILE of fire soldier skeletons. Note that when said pile of skeletons were living and breathing, they were each powered up by 100 times the normal level by Sozin's Comet, but Gyatso's bones were unburnt — so it can be inferred that instead of burning to death, he managed to take all of them out. Airbending is also never shown to have any inherently lethal abilities other than Razor Wind over the course of the series until The Legend of Korra, so this is impressive indeed. When he went down, he went down hard.
- Meaningful Name: Gyatso is also the surname of the current Dalai Lama. Make of that what you will.
- Membership Token: In flashback, he is shown playing a White Lotus tile, implying that he was a member of the Order of the White Lotus.
- Mentor Occupational Hazard: It wasn't old age that killed him.
- Nice Guy: Easily one of the sweetest, kindest characters in the whole franchise; in fact, you might say that, aside from his apprentice, he was the living embodiment of the Air Nomads' Always Lawful Good values. The warmth of Sab Shimono's vocal performance certainly helps, too.
- It's safe to assume that if Gyatso had lived long enough to meet Uncle Iroh, they would have gotten along famously.
- Offscreen Moment of Awesome: His Last Stand against the Fire Nation's soldiers. His skeleton is seen, completely uncharred, with the heavily burnt remains of dozens of Fire Nation troopers right in front of him. Whatever he did, he managed to turn their firebending against them without getting hit once, and while they were all at their strongest due to the presence of Sozin's Comet.
- One-Man Army: As the Avatar's direct mentor, he was probably one of the strongest airbenders of his time. Implied when we see his skeleton on top of a pile of Fire Nation soldier skeletons.
- Papa Wolf: Gyatso was willing to defy the Air Nomad council to keep Aang with him.
- Parental Substitute: Implied to be the closest thing Aang ever had to a parent.
- Posthumous Character: In the main narrative, he is long since dead. We learn of him through Aang's flashbacks.
Voiced by: André Sogliuzzo (original), Javier Ridríguez and Daniel Seisdedos (Latin American Spanish)
Calling himself a "mad genius", Bumi was a childhood friend of Aang. After Aang got frozen in the iceberg, Bumi grew into an old man and became King of the Earth Kingdom city of Omashu. With Aang now free and accepting his quest, Bumi uses his unorthodox teaching methods to train his old friend for the trials ahead. He's also a member of the White Lotus.
- Authority Equals Asskicking: He's the King of Omashu and one of the most powerful Earthbenders in the world. The only person who comes in spitting distance of him is Toph, and the jury's out on who is stronger.
- Badass Boast:
- This one's from just before he fights Aang. It's unlikely he's lying:"You thought I was a frail old man. But I'm the most powerful Earthbender you'll ever see."
- His reply when asked about his "escape from" (read as "reclamation of") Omashu:"Escape? I didn't escape, everybody else escaped."
- This one's from just before he fights Aang. It's unlikely he's lying:
- Beware the Silly Ones: Don't be fooled by his goofy demeanor. He's one of the two most powerful earthbenders on the planet, perhaps even number one.
- Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Hell, his "crown" literally looks like bunny-ears. And it's still completely obvious he's the right man to lead his city against the Fire Nation.
- Childhood Friend: One of Aang's. One of Aang's flashbacks is them playing around in Omashu.
- Clark Kent Outfit: His cloak and hunched posture makes him look like a feeble old man. When he takes off the robe, it's revealed that he's anything but.
- Cloud Cuckoo Lander: His actions and words sound crazy and weird but, if you think about it, they actually make sense.
- Cool Old Guy: When he drops the act that he's a feeble old man, he sheds his robe and reveals he's a Top-Heavy Guy despite being over a hundred years old, still sporting a six-pack and towering over Aang. And if not for his Friendly Rivalry with Toph, his above Badass Boast would've been stating a fact.
- Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: Invoked as part of his lessons. "You thought I was a frail old man but I'm actually the most powerful earthbender you'll ever see."
- Deadpan Snarker: Especially while he was challenging Aang. He mostly did this to push Aang to try various things."Climbing the ladder? Nobody's tried that before."
- Dishing Out Dirt: Self-proclaimed most powerful earthbender in the world. At the time he said it, he might well have been right.
- Fighting Clown: His fighting style is best described as Refuge in Audacity given form, looking less like he's fighting and more like he's prancing like a lunatic for some of his bending motions, seemingly going out of his way to have as much fun with it as possible. He can still crush entire Fire Nation battalions like flies.
- Fluffy Tamer: His pet, Flopsy, is a giant gorilla-goat thing.
- Friendly Rivalry: With Toph in the comics. They get into a disagreement over who is the most powerful earthbender ever/of all time, which escalates into a duel that devastates the White Lotus's camp. It comes down to a draw thanks to Zuko putting his foot down, but they both agree to a rematch with great gusto. (Now, if they'll only ever show that rematch...)
- The Gadfly: Spends an entire episode dicking around with Aang before revealing himself as a Trickster Mentor and Aang's childhood friend all grown up. Sure it was to teach him a lesson, but Bumi still enjoyed every second of it.
- Good All Along: In his debut episode, Bumi is set up as an antagonist, but he turns out to be Aang's old friend, and the challenges were his way of helping train Aang to think creatively.
- The Good King: He might act crazy (and probably is crazy), but he is also wise, benevolent and considers the life of every one of his citizens. So when faced with a choice of either defending his city from an impressive force from the Fire Nation, where his people would certainly die, and surrendering where all would live, he picks the latter and waits until an opportune moment to take back his city arises. And when it does, he promptly takes it back. All by himself. After having spent months in a metal coffin with only his face exposed. In the space of eight minutes.
- Hero Antagonist: Bumi takes this role in his debut episode, providing the challenging fight for Aang. However, it turns that he was helping the Avatar train to become creative during conflicts.
- Heroic Build: He hides it well under those robes, but Bumi is ripped◊.
- It Amused Me: The main reason he put together a series of dangerous tests for Aang instead of telling him who he was outright. Sure, he was playing the part of Trickster Mentor, but it was mostly this trope."It's pretty fun messing with people!"
- Kansas City Shuffle: His final test has Aang choosing an opponent for a duel, rolling out two dangerous-looking gladiators, and telling him to "point to his chosen opponent." Aang thinks he's being clever by pointing to the elderly king, only to learn that that was exactly the wrong choice to make.
- Know When to Fold 'Em: The second the Fire Nation attacked Omashu, he surrendered and let them encase his body (minus his face) in a steel box. Not only was it to save his people and resources from a long, drawn-out siege, but it was to teach Aang a lesson about various Jings — positive (advancing), negative (retreating), and neutral (doing nothing), the latter of which Bumi said was crucial to earthbending, and that he'd have to find a teacher who taught like that. Cue Toph. And later, when the eclipse comes, he takes his city back. In eight minutes. As he puts it... "Escape? I didn't escape. Everyone else escaped."
- Mad Eye: His right eye is always wide open compared to his more natural left eye. Aang's flashback shows that he had this when he was younger too. He also has a few screws loose, though in a constructive way.
- Meaningful Name:
- In a number of South- and Southeast-Asian languages (for example, Hindi and Indonesian) Bumi — sometimes, Bhumi — is the word for Earth ...rather appropriate, no? Apparently, Sokka was onto something with his "He's an Earthbender, his name must be Rocky!" quip.
- Bhumi is also the name for the Hindu earth god. Very appropriate considering his nigh-godlike earthbending.
- Nice Guy
- Obfuscating Stupidity: He initially appears to be a half-senile stooped old man, but quickly reveals himself to be the strongest Earthbender in the world (save possibly Toph), and later, as a tactical genius.
- Oh, Crap!: Aang quite rightly has this reaction when he picks Bumi as his opponent, only to realize what a big mistake this is when Bumi reveals that he's an incredibly powerful earthbender with a six pack who towers over him instead of a frail and stooped old man.
- Old Master: Over a hundred years old, and still able to back up his boast that he's the greatest Earthbender that Aang will ever see. Most Earthbenders (like most benders in general) need to use complex arm and/or leg movements to bend. Bumi? He can bend with his face.
- One-Man Army: During the eclipse (which only lasted a mere eight minutes), he took back Omashu and chucked out the Fire Nation (for good) by himself. After starting in a steel box. Even Toph was astounded. The steel box was meant to stop him from bending by restraining all his limbs. The Fire Nation's mistake was failing to also restrain his face.
- Phrase Catcher: Well, only with one person, granted, but when Aang realizes who Bumi is, he says the same thing as in a previous flashback: "Bumi, you're a mad genius."
- Pre-Asskicking One-Liner:
King: Wrong. Choice.
- When Aang chooses to fight Bumi instead of his other warriors, the king only gives a wicked smile.
Bumi: Its time [to reclaim my city]
- When the eclipse began
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: Action variety and a good law maker.
- Sweet Tooth: He loves that rock candy.
- Took a Level in Badass: The first scene of Bumi was back when Aang hadn't vanished from the world. He was a scraggly kid with a weird face and a love of pranks. A century later and he is the strongest Earthbender in the series able to do several amazing feats of bending with only his head exposed. He later freed his city in the span of 8 minutes when all the Firebenders were powerless.
- Trickster Mentor: His favored method of teaching.
- Wake-Up Call Boss: He provides the challenging fight for Aang, who spends most of the fight on the defensive, only being able to pull off a draw.
- Wins by Doing Absolutely Nothing: Surrenders when the Fire Nation come to Omashu to cut his losses, and waits for just the right moment to break out and take back his city ... which just so happens to be on the day of a solar eclipse, when firebenders can't bend. "Impeccable timing, Your Majesty!"
- The Wonka: He appears to be a crazy old king and Katara mentions that "His crown is a little crooked" but his brand of logic makes sense if you think about it. "You gotta keep your mind open to the possibilities."
Voiced by: Keone Young (original), Sandro Larenas (Latin American Spanish)
Once a legendary admiral of the Fire Nation and one-time teacher of Zhao, Jeong-Jeong eventually realized the horrors the Fire Nation had let loose on the world and deserted, becoming the first person in history to do so and survive. Now a hermit living in the woods, Jeong-Jeong believes that Firebending is a curse due to its destructive nature. On orders from Avatar Roku, Jeong-Jeong gave Aang some rudimentary lessons on Firebending. He's also a member of the White Lotus.
- Ain't Too Proud to Beg: When Avatar Roku confronts him and accuses him of saying Roku is weak, he immediately goes back on his words and says that "he did not mean that".
- The Atoner: Once a top-ranking officer of the Fire Nation military, now he seeks seclusion and aids Aang in his training, his only reservation being that he doesn't think Aang is ready. Roku disagreed.
- Cultured Badass: Similar to Iroh, he incorporates some waterbending forms into his firebending style, preferring to fight defensively, turning his opponents' energy against them, and utilizing fire walls and fire waves when fighting rather than streams or blasts, and conjures it out of thin air in the surrounding environment (with enough control to make it burn on liquid surfaces) rather than from his own body. This could be due at least in part to his envy of waterbending, choosing to incorporate elements of the art into his own firebending as a way of compensating. With his fire walls, he seems to incorporate some Earthbending techniques too. He also seems to have studied some airbending techniques, which he appears to use to cover his escape when surrounded by Zhao's men, giving Aang a slight smirk before he disappears. Apparently, he's enlightened to the point that he sees his own firebending abilities as a curse - though not quite enlightened enough to understand the true nature of firebending.
- Cursed with Awesome: He's an amazing Firebender, but he constantly mourns having control over the most destructive element, to the extent that he rarely uses it unless necessary, and often only defensively. By contrast, he envies Katara's waterbending and healing abilities, to the point that much of his firebending form and style mimics that of waterbending, rather than his native firebending (such as the use of fire walls and waves, and bending them as if they were water).
- Deadpan Snarker: Doesn't put up with Aang's shenanigans and calls him out on his impatience.Aang: I've been breathing for hours!
Jeong-Jeong: You want to quit breathing?
- Defector from Decadence: He deserted because he was horrified by what the Fire Nation had become.
- Foil: To Iroh. Both of them are the resident firebending masters in the Order of the White Lotus, and incorporated aspects of waterbending into their fighting styles; Jeong-Jeong uses his opponent's energy against them as well as walls and waves while Iroh created lightning redirection from observing waterbenders. Each were high-ranking members of the Fire Nation's military but turned on the Fire Nation after realizing how far it had fallen. Their demeanors however are different; Iroh is laid-back and easy-going most of the time while Jeong-Jeong is a stern and brooding Cynical Mentor.
- Good Is Not Nice: Jeong-Jeong is a good man who made mistakes in the past. However, he's not afraid to scold Aang for trying to rush his firebending training and for not following his instructions.
- Good Scars, Evil Scars: In an interesting parallel (foreshadowing?) to Zuko, a wanted poster for Jeong-Jeong has his picture, presumably of his appearance before deserting, with his scar already present.
- Homage: To Apocalypse Now. Jeong-Jeong's situation mirrors Colonel Kurtz, and there's even slow boat rides down the river.
- Internalized Categorism: He loathes his own mastery of firebending, thinking his nation's elemental trait a solely destructive and evil ability due to the way it's fuelled by hate and rage (or rather, that's how it's taught in the Fire Nation. Originally, it was a very different matter). When he meets Katara, he tells her how he wishes he were blessed with waterbending like her, rather than the "burning curse" that is his own heritage.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Sometimes his jerkass nature is understandable, but he calls Sokka "the oaf" when he hardly knows him for no reason, hates his culture and element as a whole rather than viewing the good in it like other "good" Firebenders, and is kind of a dick in general. That said His hatred of his culture and element are rooted from the way that the Fire Nation's royal family has corrupted the original and true nature of fire, which taught that fire is a means of life, only for the royal family to change it to be a source of destruction, which Jeong-Jeong was unaware of. He is also completely polite toward Katara and explains her healing abilities that she unlocked.
- Jerkass Has a Point:
- Rebuffs Aang's desire to learn firebending, criticizing Aang's impatience and lack of interest in learning control, and only teaches him because Roku bullied him into it. Aang proves him right by hastily creating fire when he got sick of Jeong-Jeong's lessons and burned Katara's hands (which might have been what Roku was after).
- He also points out that skipping water and earth bending as an Avatar isn't good as you need to understand how those elements work before going into fire.
- Playing with Fire: Despite considering it Cursed with Awesome, he will use his Firebending when he has to.
- Retired Badass: The first guy to abandon the Fire Nation military and live (at least, officially). During the finale, while under the influence of Sozin's comet, he was able to Firebend with enough power to fly. The only one shown to have been able to do that was Ozai, who's at worst the third most powerful bender in the world. Even Azula can't truly fly, being just good enough for limited directional control. And while Ozai was limited to his lightning while flying, Jeong-Jeong could still create his walls of fire while in the air.
- Signature Move: Jeong-Jeong seems fond of conjuring a wall of fire, using it to block Zhao's boats from traversing a river, to provide cover to escape from Zhao's men, and creating enormous walls of flames to push back Fire Nation tanks in the finale. Fitting, given how this is one of the few forms of non-destructive Firebending.
- Technical Pacifist: He doesn't like killing anymore because of his status as The Atoner.
- Tempting Fate: After the failure of the Black Sun attack, Katara suggest Aang to find him Jeong-Jeong to learn firebending, but doubts it as he's into hiding. Only a few episodes after Zuko teaches Aang firebending, Jeong-Jeong appears wih the rest of the White Lotus members, but now without Aang.
Voiced by: Brian George (original), Iván Romo and Mario Santander (Latin American Spanish)
One of the oldest people in the Avatar world (even older than Bumi), Pathik has been alive long enough to have known the Air Nomads. Seeking out the Eastern Air Temple after a vision, he patiently waited for the Avatar there. He encountered Appa while the sky bison had been separated from Aang, and used a special technique to locate the Avatar. He also attached a note to Appa's horn, promising that he could teach Aang to master the Avatar State. When Aang came looking to take him up on his offer, he instructed the young Avatar on how to unlock his chakras, pools of energy in the body that must be opened for the Avatar State to function properly. Aang was able to open all but the last one, because the process involved letting go of Katara. The last we see of Pathik is him warning Aang that if he leaves now, he won't be able to enter the Avatar state at all.
- Bald Mystic: Guru Pathik, though not a bender himself, is a long-lived and highly spiritual Eccentric Mentor Hermit Guru whose deep knowledge of the Spirit World helps Aang master his chakras and the Avatar State. His character draws greatly from Hinduism; he himself is a bald man with a bushy beard and eyebrows.
- Cool Old Guy: Like Gyatso, his good friend, he is an affable and wise old man.
- Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Quite blatantly Indian, though what culture he comes from in-universe is unknown, as no other character in the show has his overtly Indian cultural markers. Given the fact that he's in the Eastern Air Temple, he's probably from somewhere in the Earth Kingdom.
- Friend to All Living Things: Guru Pathik's spirituality and connection with the natural world allow him get along greatly with animals, even allowing him to help heal Appa's rage and fear in "Appa's Lost Days".
- Hermit Guru: Naturally. He lives in seclusion, spending most of his time meditating.
- Lotus Position: He sometimes conducts his lessons seated thus, and the Earth Chakra is unlocked from this position, too.
- Love Confessor: Aang makes his first declaration of his love for Katara to Pathik.
- Mysterious Past: Much like Master Yoda, his origins are completely unknown.
- Poor Communication Kills: His counsel to Aang to clear himself of his earthly attachments in order to achieve mastery of the Avatar State almost fell on deaf ears because Aang couldn't bring himself to sacrifice/abandon his love for Katara, and then led to a barely-averted disaster when he reluctantly tried to do so. If only Aang had known beforehand that abandonment or sacrifice wasn't necessary to achieve what Pathik was talking about... Thankfully he had Roku to patch that up later on.
- Soul Power: He demonstrates such knowledge and mastery of spiritual powers as to get the fandom wondering whether he might be an energybender.
- Trademark Favorite Food: Onion-banana juice, which seems to be the only food he eats or gives Aang during his training.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Last seen telling Aang that he needed to open his final chakra as Aang flew off to save Katara from danger. His only appearance after that was in a sleep-deprived hallucination with six arms singing "Chakras, chakras, everyone loves chakras, chakra sandwich is good, yum!" Also, we never find out where he came from, since he appears to be of different ethnicity than anyone else in the Avatar world. Tenzin namedrops him in Book 2 of The Legend of Korra, so he wasn't completely forgotten (like Admiral Zhao), but that just makes the questions all the starker.
Voiced by: Victor Brandt (original), Marco Antonio Espina (Latin American Spanish)
One of the greatest Waterbenders in the world, and well aware of it, Pakku is a Waterbending teacher from the Northern Water Tribe. In his youth, he was engaged to a woman named Kanna. Though he loved Kanna, she was put off by his arrogance and fled to the South Pole. Since then, Pakku has been bitter towards women (and, in fact, towards everyone), believing that female Waterbenders should stick with healing. Naturally, he came into conflict with Katara. While Pakku was ten times the bender Katara was at the time, Katara "won" by unknowingly revealing that Kanna was her grandmother. Confronted with what could have been if he had not been so arrogant in his youth, Pakku changed his mind enough to give some Waterbending lessons to Katara and Aang. He's also a member of the White Lotus.
- Arranged Marriage: With Kanna in the past. While he did genuinely love her, she didn't (or rather, she valued her desire to make her own decisions more than her affection for him) and ran away. Still came to be later on.
- Badass Teacher: One of the greatest waterbenders of the world who personally taught Avatar Aang and Katara. In fact, his mentorship towards the latter helped bring out her full potential in a short timespan.
- Character Development: He goes from being a Straw Misogynist to Katara's instructor within two episodes - though this has a fair bit to do with the fact that Katara is his ex's granddaughter and able to explain why she left. He even states that Katara has become one of his best students in years. Avatar: The Last Airbender North and South shows that it stuck— he introduces Katara to his new students, a pair of sisters named Siku and Sura, lamenting to her that they refuse to admit they're benders and refuse to be taught by him.
- Chekhov's Gunman: He's one of the benders in the opening sequence for the show and he's also the first of them. This makes him the first character ever seen on the show, despite not actually being a part of the show until near the end of the first season.
- Cool Old Guy: He isn't considered a water-bending master for nothing, as he demonstrates when he easily flattens dozens of Fire Nation soldiers powered by Sozin's Comet.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: Katara challenges when she's had enough of his sexism. She manages to make him exert himself, and he admits that she is genuinely impressive, but he was clearly in a different league. When Pakku fights in the finale, we see he was going easy on Katara.
- Deadpan Snarker: Most of his dialogue, even after his Character Development, takes this form.Katara: I didn't travel across the entire world so you could tell me "no"!
- DecemberDecember Romance: With Kanna. They were previously engaged back in their youth until Kanna ran away. It wasn't until Pakku learned his lesson and travelled to the Southern Water Tribe that they finally married under much happier circumstances.
- Early-Bird Cameo: He's the waterbender in the show's intro sequence, technically making him the very first character we see in the entire franchise.
- Foil: To Iroh. Both elderly masters of their respective art, both have a strong (but ultimately not absolute) commitment to tradition, however, while Iroh forgives Zuko's every misstep, Pakku forces Katara to earn his respect. Iroh's Nice Guy contrasts Pakku's Jerk with a Heart of Gold almost as neatly as fire contrasts water.
- An Ice Person: As a waterbender, he can turn water into ice and vice versa.
- In the Back: Katara attacks him from behind when he refuses to duel her and tries to leave.
- Irony: He refused to teach waterbending to girls. Then, after he realized that his misogyny cost him the love of his life (and having a kickass granddaughter), the two Southern Water Tribe girls he tried to teach after Katara refused to learn from him.
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold: He's a jerkass, but he's a member of the White Lotus, and is not unwilling to admit he is wrong and change his mind accordingly.
- Making a Splash: Waterbending master.
- One-Man Army: Cements his reputation as a master during the Siege of the North, where he singlehandedly holds off an entire army of Firebenders from atop a massive waterspout.
- Noble Bigot: Courtesy of Deliberate Values Dissonance, as much of Northern Water Tribe culture follows the same paths. He refuses to teach waterbending to females, as in the Northern Water Tribe, female water benders are healers only. That said, despite said bigotry, he was willing to admit Katara had some seriously mad skills even before his Character Development.
- Old Master: One of, if not the, strongest Waterbenders alive and not afraid to show it off.
- Politically Incorrect Hero: Pakku held sexist values for most of his life. When he was a teenager, his bigotry caused his fiancée, Kanna, Sokka and Katara's future grandmother, to leave him. After realizing this as an old man, he realizing that his ideas were wrong and starts to see women as equals. He trains Katara in combat waterbending, even though traditionally, female waterbenders are only allowed to use their powers for healing. He even meets up with Kanna again, and after she realizes that he's changed, Kanna marries him, making him the step-grandfather of Sokka and Katara. When we meet him again in Avatar: The Last Airbender North and South, he is trying to convince two young girls, Siku and Sura, to let him teach them, but after being told all their lives to pretend that they can't waterbend lest the Fire Nation steal them away, they refuse.
- Single-Target Sexuality: Implied. He was engaged to a younger Kanna but she left because of the sexism from both him and the Northern Water Tribe. He remembered the wedding necklace he gave to her, which now belongs to Katara, and didn't marry in all of the time Kanna left. By the time of Book 3, he reunited with her, and the two are engaged.
- Straw Misogynist: He refuses to train Katara in combative waterbending due to her being a girl in the name of it being tradition. However, by the end of his introductory episode, he's shown to realize the folly of his ways and how it has personally hurt him. He was supposed to marry Kanna, Katara and Sokka's future grandmother, and genuinely loved her, but she chafed under the Stay in the Kitchen roles that the Northern Water Tribe enforced and left without a word, which soured his opinions toward women greatly until he met Katara and realized their connection, as well as how things could have been different if he hadn't acted as he had in his youth.
- Took a Level in Kindness: After discovering Katara was Kanna's grandaughter, he comes to realize how his traditionalist views towards women are what ultimately pushed the love of his life away, making him change his views towards women and becoming much nicer as a result. By the series finale, he becomes their step-grandfather. By Avatar: The Last Airbender North and South, we see that Katara's example has stuck with him, and he's trying to teach waterbending to two little girls named Siku and Sura, the first Southern waterbenders born since Katara.
Voiced by: Tress MacNeille (original)
A Waterbender from the Southern Water Tribe, Hama was one of many benders who defended her home from the Fire Nation. Eventually imprisoned and kept from all liquids, Hama was left to rot. She eventually realized that water is part of all life, and used this to create a deadly subset of Waterbending: Bloodbending, a dark art of manipulating the bodies of others. After using this to escape, Hama kept to herself in the Fire Nation countryside, and used her powers once a month to torment Fire Nation civilians. But she's not getting younger, so she intends to pass the art of Bloodbending onto the next generation. And no, she doesn't care what Katara has to say about that. And she's not a member of the White Lotus.
- The Bad Guy Wins: She succeeds in forcing Katara to use Bloodbending at the end of "The Puppetmaster". She was arrested immediately after, but she had accomplished what she wanted so she didn't care.
- Bad People Abuse Animals: She first developed bloodbending by testing her waterbending on the elephant-rats that scurried about her cage during her imprisonment. She even derides the animals as nothing more than "skins filled with liquid", and is shown giving a Psychotic Smirk while she's making one of the poor things squeal in agony by forcing it to violently spasm and twitch against its will.
- Being Tortured Makes You Evil: Years restrained in a POW camp made her into a bitter and hateful person.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: She acts like a Mentor Archetype for Katara but is far more sinister.
- Blood Magic: Is the first Bloodbender to be introduced to the series
- Broken Bird: See Being Tortured Makes You Evil. She believes she's acting out of self-defense.
- Cordon Bleugh Chef: To Aang and Toph, anyway. When Hama makes a Water Tribe dinner for the Gaang, Katara and Sokka don't say anything bad about the food, but Aang and Toph, who are not from the Water Tribe, find it disgusting.
- Evil Counterpart:
- To Katara and Pakku. For the former: the episode The Southern Raiders had Katara acting a lot like Hama - hateful, driven, and focused on revenge - while she was looking for the man who killed her mother. She even used bloodbending on the man she thought was him. Hama represents what Katara could've ended up like if she had let her anger and hatred control her. For the latter: Katara's reception to the two water benders changed as the episodes went on. Katara originally hated Pakku for his sexist behavior towards female Water benders, but grew to respect him as a master after his Character Development and was pleased on finding out he was to wed her grandmother. But for Hama it's the exact opposite, with Katara initially appreciating her kind gestures and sorrowful backstory, but despising her after finding out what she did after.
- She also came across as one towards Toph, as they both learn a new bending technique from the element they used while being caged up (Toph learned metal bending, while Hama learned blood bending) and used it to escape. The main diffeernce was that while Toph used it for self defense, Hama wanted to use it for revenge on the people that tried to kill the people she loved.
- Evil Mentor: Forces Katara to learn Bloodbending.
- Evil Old Folks: She looks like an evil witch and has the personality to match.
- Fallen Heroine: She used to be a Nice Girl defending her home. Then she was captured...
- Femme Fatalons: Hama has long and sharp fingernails, most emphasized when she freezes water around her fingertips into ice claws.
- Freudian Excuse: Being captured and deported far from her home, then spending years being mistreated in a prisoner-of-war camp twisted her into a hateful bitter person.
- From Nobody to Nightmare: From a simple Waterbender fighting for the Southern Water Tribe against the Fire Nation to the inventor of one of the most horrifying forms of Bending in the entire franchise.
- Genocide Survivor: The Fire Nation attempted to wipe out the waterbenders of the Southern Water Tribe by taking them from their tribes and placing them in special prisons. Hama was captured and eventually became the only one to escape.
- Icy Gray Eyes: In addition to being a rare color amongst Waterbenders, her gray eyes also reflect her cold and dangerous personality.
- I Was Quite a Looker: The flashbacks show she was very, very attractive in her youth.
- The Jailer: In vengeance on the Fire Nation for what they did to her, she uses Bloodbending to capture Fire Nation civilians and lock them away deep below a mountain, seemingly for the rest of their lives.
- Karma Houdini Warranty: Downplayed; her warranty expires when she finally gets arrested for her many crimes against the village, but Hama still manages to get the last laugh through teaching Katara bloodbending beforehand.
- Kick the Son of a Bitch: Deconstructed; Yes, the Fire Nation certainly deserves at least some Laser-Guided Karma for trying to commit genocide against the Southern Water Tribe's waterbenders... but instead of actually trying to directly impair their war efforts and further attempts at genocide through attacking military bases or sabotaging factories, Hama instead targets largely blameless and innocent Fire Nation civilians and "punishes" them by locking them away under a mountain for the rest of their lives.
- Knight of Cerebus: She comes off as a kindly old lady at first, but things take a very dark turn later in the episode when her true colors comes to light. And even though she's defeated and will be locked away for the rest of her life, she doesn't care as she was still successful in forcing Katara to master bloodbending. She may have only appeared once in the entire series, but her legacy will live on thanks to her technique being passed onto a new generation of waterbenders. This realization causes poor Katara to break down in tears while Hama rubs salt in the wound by laughing maliciously as she's taken away.
- Kubrick Stare: Pulls off a terrifying one after her true nature is revealed.
- Making a Splash: She teaches Katara to use these powers far from traditional water sources.
- Misunderstood Loner with a Heart of Gold: Subverted; At first it seems like she's an old woman, living alone and isolated in an otherwise friendly Fire Nation town. She's got a few odd hobbies, but a clear fondness for the Gaang, especially Katara when she tells her story that she's a noble hero of the war and the Southern Water Tribe. Eventually, one realizes she's alone because she hates every last soul in the Fire Nation.
- Never Mess with Granny: She invented Bloodbending and can make you kill your best friends.
- Not-So-Well-Intentioned Extremist: There is no indication she's been using her bloodbending to actively mess with the Fire Nation's military. The people she's been using it on were located in a town that had no active involvement with the war and were openly nice to everyone. If anything, all she's doing is lashing out at civilians and potentially giving them more of a reason to despise Waterbenders.
- One Degree of Separation: All There in the Manual identifies her best friend as Kanna, Katara and Sokka's grandmother.
- People Puppets: Bloodbending; by bending the blood in living things she can control their bodies.
- Psychotic Smirk: There's an incredibly creepy moment during "The Puppetmaster" where a young Hama is testing her bloodbending on the rats scurrying about her cage while imprisoned, and she gives a sinister smirk to herself while the poor rat starts to squeal and twitch in agony.
- Punny Name: A dramatic example; her name is a pun on "hema-", the Greek prefix referring to blood. It's quite appropriate for the modern creator of bloodbending.
- Revenge Before Reason: She's so consumed by hatred that she imprisons every single Fire Nation citizen she can; even ones that have nothing to do with the war.
- Rule of Symbolism:
- Under the full moon and the additional strength it gives Waterbenders, her fingernails become haggard claws and her veins prominently protrude from under her skin along with her hair becoming unkempt, making her look all the more like the Wicked Witch she really is.
- Additionally, the hand motions she makes while bloodbending someone actually do strongly resemble a puppeteer controlling a set of puppets on strings.
- Shadow Archetype: Hama is what Katara would become if Katara would ever truly succumbed to her inner rage. Katara nearly became Hama in "The Southern Raiders", but fortunately chose to end her rage against her mother's killer rather than start taking revenge.
- She Who Fights Monsters: Because she was kidnapped and imprisoned, she kidnaps and imprisons others.
- Silk Hiding Steel: Provides one of the most horrifying examples in Western Animation. This "frail" and "kindly" old woman can take control of your entire body by manipulating the blood within you.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Despite only appearing in one episode, her role is a big impact as she invented bloodbending and passed it on to others (either from experience or word of mouth) and that later had ramifications.
- Sole Survivor: She was the last Southern Waterbender to be captured and the only one that escaped.
- Tareme Eyes: She had slightly droopy eyes as a teenager.
- Touch of Death: Her style of Waterbending involves pulling water out of plants and other living things; effectively killing them. However, as she points out, populated areas outside of the poles where the Water Tribes are don't always have large regular bodies of water, so it's mostly a case of adapting to her surroundings, though it's still pretty dark.
- Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Before being kidnapped and imprisoned, she seems to have been a normal and sweet Girl Next Door who just happened to be a waterbender.
- Villain Has a Point: Though she uses her powers for villainous purposes, she still shows Katara that extracting water from the air and plants can actually be very useful for a waterbender when there's no other source of water available around.
- Walking Spoiler: It's impossible to talk about her without noting that she's the modern creator of bloodbending and the true villain of "The Puppetmaster".
- Water Is Womanly: An elderly waterbender who acts like a kind grandmother. Except it's just all an act, as she really is a Bitch in Sheep's Clothing.
- Wicked Witch: Her powers aren't unusual in the Avatar universe; it's just how she uses them...
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Kidnapped and imprisoned by the Fire Nation army as a teenager, prevented from bending her native element (water), it's no wonder she took her only chance of escape by turning the guards into People Puppets by bending their body fluids. Then she snuck into the Fire Nation and started kidnapping innocent civilians with the same technique she used on the prison guards...
Voiced by: Robert Patrick (original), Ricardo Soto (Latin American Spanish)
A legendary swordsman/smithy of the Fire Nation, Piandao grew tired of the Fire Nation's ways and went into retirement. He regards swordsmanship as an art, and often paints as a way of honing it. Although he had been approached by many other students and dismissed them, he made an exception for Sokka due to his modesty and honesty. Supportive of his student even after learning of Sokka's Water Tribe status, he taught Sokka the way of the sword. He's also a member of the White Lotus.
- Badass Normal: Nearly everyone else on this page are all master benders, with the exception of Guru Pathik, but he's at least very spiritually tuned. Piandao is not a bender, but is still a wise mentor and a Master Swordsman.
- Battle Butler: He has a butler named Fat, whom he trained. While Piandao doesn't need a bodyguard, Fat helps him by sparring with new recruits and forging swords.
- Charles Atlas Superpower: Master Piandao has these in Warrior Poet form, in that he can fight on par with incredibly powerful benders with just a sword and defeat ludicrous numbers of foes and so on, and Training Montages some of 'em into Sokka.
- Combat Pragmatist: Is one himself, and heavily encourages Sokka to be the same.
- Cultured Badass: Is a master with the sword and calligraphy, as both arts share similar philosophies. He also incorporates the philosophies of other styles of bending to his art, and is open to sharing his knowledge to those who are humble enough to learn. It is this combination of talent and wisdom that allow him to be par with the likes of Iroh, Pakku, and Bumi.
- Deadpan Snarker: Fitting for a mentor to Sokka. In response to Sokka introducing himself, Piandao anticipates Sokka bragging about his skills, which apparently happens a lot. His interest was piqued when Sokka did the exact opposite.
- Do Wrong, Right: His advice to Sokka and the Gaang after their duel is to pick more native cover names going forward so they can blend in better. He is aware of Aang's identity as the Avatar and is helping the group lay low until the Day of Black Sun.Piandao: Try "Lee". There's a million Lees.
- Eccentric Mentor: He is a sword master whose training of Sokka didn't include any actual sword techniques. Justified since he was intelligent enough to realize that Sokka already was a Badass Normal, and more than anything else the young man needed more confidence to reach his full potential.
- Hyper-Awareness: In his words, you start to pick things up quickly when you get to his age. He knew from the very beginning that Sokka was from the Water Tribe and that Aang was the Avatar.
- I Am Not Left-Handed: At the end of his duel with Sokka, Piandao sheathing his sword into a flying scabbard despite being blinded shows that he has been holding back a lot of his full power.
- Master Swordsman: His skill with the sword, along with his cleverness, rank him up there with the other mentors.
- Meaningful Name: "Piandao" is a type of Chinese sword.
- Membership Token: He presents a White Lotus tile to Sokka as a parting gift.
- Muggle Born of Mages: According to the official website, his parents were both talented Firebenders, who abandoned him when he wasn't one.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: He is based on two real-life people who were key to building the world of Avatar: His badassery, skills, personality, and appearance are based on the show's martial arts consultant, Sifu Kisu, while his calligraphy skills and artistic philosophies are based on Dr. Siu-Leung Lee (no, not Lei Siu Leung), the show's consultant on writing, translation, and culture.
- One-Man Army: Word of God says that when he retired from the army, the Fire Nation sent a force of a hundred soldiers to reclaim him. He sent them all back.
- Parental Abandonment: According to the official website, his parents were both talented Firebenders who left him on the step of an orphanage when he turned out to be a nonbender.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Piandao shows a great deal of patience with Sokka's antics during his training, partly because he sees the potential in Sokka's capacity for lateral thinking. He also reveals that he knew Sokka was from the Water Tribe, not the Fire Nation, the whole time. And yet he trained him anyway. The reason?Piandao: The way of the sword doesn't belong to any one nation. Knowledge of the arts belongs to us all.
- Refuge in Audacity: He's a wanted army deserter who lives in a castle in the middle of the Fire Nation. Because nobody can make him leave.
- Renowned Selective Mentor: Skilled swordsman, former Fire Nation Elite Soldier (but not a Firebender), High Master of the White Lotus Order and famous for defeating 100 soldiers alone after he deserted the army; many people wanted to be trained by him, but he rejected most of them. Among the few pupils he accepted to train were Prince Zuko and Sokka (the latter of whom gained a level in badassery after his training).
- Retired Badass: Used to be active in the Fire Nation military, but now he's content to practice calligraphy at his estate.
- Secret-Keeper: He's one of the few people in the Fire Nation entrusted with the true identities of Team Avatar, and the fact that the Avatar is still alive.
- Secret Test of Character: When prospective students come to him, he inquires as to their reasons for wanting to be trained by him. He is looking for humility, something that barely any actually end up showing. Sokka is a rare individual who passes and ends up being taken as a student. Notably, Zuko was also a student of his, potentially hinting at his Hidden Depths even before the series began.
- Stealth Mentor: Never actually shows Sokka any swordfighting techniques, instead teaches philosophies that allow Sokka to incorporate his intelligence into his fighting style. Then there's this little incident as Sokka is sparring with Fat:Piandao: Sokka.
(Sokka looks up and is immediately whacked by Fat)
Piandao: Concentrate on what you're doing.
- The Team Normal: As part of the Order of the White Lotus, as its most prominent members are some of the world's most powerful benders. Piandao is a Master Swordsman who is just as useful in a fight as they are.
- Warrior Poet: His lessons train the mind as much as they develop the body. For instance, one of his lessons was drawing a landscape.
- Wax On, Wax Off: His training of Sokka has him practicing calligraphy, landscape painting and rock gardening. Unlike most examples he is up front about the purpose of his odd training.