Follow TV Tropes


The Legend Of Korra / Tropes G to L

Go To

    open/close all folders 

  • Gainaxing: Surprisingly yes: For real. However, it stands out because it's a more realistic example, and if you don't pay attention, you'll miss it.
  • Gambit Roulette: Kuvira had no way of knowing that Suyin would try a sneak attack on her during a truce, yet she predicted just that, and she set and even baited a trap for when that happened.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: Team Avatar, once Asami officially joins up. The villainous Red Lotus as well, not including their other allies.
  • Generational Saga: In Korra, the previous series' protagonists, their children and grandchildren are alternately featured, depicted in flashback or discussed, particularly Avatar Aang's multigenerational family, with his reincarnation Korra narratively treated as a de facto member.
  • Genericist Government: We know the United Republic of Nations is some sort of a republic, that there's a council overseeing Republic City at the very least, but beyond that Season 1 leaves a lot of details blank.
  • Genre Shift: Happens book after book. Book 1 deals with terrorism and Fantastic Racism against empowered individuals. Book 2 is based around an End Times genre, involving a conflict against an Eldritch Abomination who seeks to destroy all the heroes hold dear. Book 3 is the series' attempt at Conspiracy Thriller, dealing with a conspiracy group of anarchists that have been around for seventy years, with a bit of a Buddy Cop vibe.
  • Gentle Giant: Doubly subverted: Iroh is still on the short side, as he was in the original series, but towers over Korra by dint of her having regressed into childhood.
  • Getting Crap Past the Radar: Can be found here.
  • Gilded Cage: At the start of the series, Korra lived in a large estate, with her only real challenge in life being to learn bending from masters... in the middle of an inaccessible and heavily fortified compound, miles from any other inhabitants of the South Pole—including her own parents. She was not allowed to leave the compound without permission, and had guards watching her at all times, even while taking Naga on a walk.
  • Girly Run:
    • In "The Spirit of Competition," Bolin does this with bonus Inelegant Blubbering while fleeing the deeply hurtful sight of his friend Korra (who he'd taken on a date the night before) kissing his brother Mako.
    • Opal also runs out in tears after Lin yells at her. For added cute, the fact that she's wearing Metal Clan jewellery means she jingles as she runs away. Fortunately Lin apologizes to Opal later.
  • Golden Snitch: A pro-bending match consists of three rounds that are normally worth one point each; however, if one team manages a knockout (pushing all three players of the opposing team out of the ring, which eliminates them for the remainder of the round), that team wins instantly, regardless of previous score. Cue surprise comebacks in the final round when the opposing team is leading 2:0.
  • Gone Horribly Right: At the beginning of Book Two, Bolin attempts to flirt with Eska. Surprisingly enough, Eska almost immediately engages in a relationship with him. Unfortunately for him, though, Eska has all the warmth and charm of a glacier, her definition of "boyfriend" appears to be "slave", and she has some scary Yandere tendencies beneath her emotionless mask.
    • Possibly subverted, because we it's never explained how much of Bolin confessing his love for her in the finale is a ploy, heat-of-the-moment insanity, or him having developed sincere emotions for Eska.
    • Bumi suggests that Tenzin try being a Drill Sergeant Nasty to motivate the Airbender recruits. So he does. Too bad Bumi forgot he was one of the recruits, too.
  • Good Parents: Korra's parents, along with Tenzin and his wife.
  • Good Republic, Evil Empire: The United Republic and/or its values are under threat from four opposing governmental philosophies over the course of the series: First, Amon is Communist-esque. Second, Unalaq is seemingly a supporter of theocracy, though that belies his true intention of heralding the apocalypse. Zaheer and his Red Lotus cohorts are a fantasy anarchism cabal. And lastly, the most clear example of this trope, the Earth Kingdom, rebranded the Earth Empire by Kuvira the "Great Uniter" is fascism and totalitarianism.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: P'Li's death in "Enter the Void" has a rather conspicuous cut, not even playing the sound of an explosion. It just cuts from the moment before to the reaction shot.
  • Gosh Darn It to Heck!: Enforced, as it is both a family show and Justified as it's set in the equivalent of the 1920s. A frustrated Tenzin, for instance, mutters "criminy" at one point.
  • Got Volunteered: Mako becoming Prince Wu's full time bodyguard in Book 4. He doesn't take the news very well.
  • Graying Morality: While it's still firmly in the territory of Black-and-White Morality, there are some subtle hints that the Equalists aren't just Windmill Crusaders, and that nonbenders really are at a disadvantage in society compared to benders.
    • And in the first half of Book 2, Unalaq and the northern water tribe are at first not shown as inherently evil, just overzealous about uniting the water tribes and willing to go to all lengths to save the water tribe from dark spirits, while the Southern Water tribe rebels and Varrick in particular use morally questionable methods to fight back. This is Inverted when Unalaq's real plans are revealed, that he and the Northern Water Tribe military are allied with Vaatu and the Dark Spirits, placing them on the evil side.
    • Definitely very gray morality is present in Korra's conflict with Raiko. Both positions are always shown to be right, but they're in opposite directions, which creates a wedge between both.
    • Ultimately graduates into almost White-and-Grey Morality from Book 3 onwards: Korra's conflict with the Earth Queen is definitely Black-and-White Morality, as is the Red Lotus, being ruthless, their end goal is chaos, but overall sympathetic in both goals and personality. While Kuvira genuinely wanted to help her nation, the one time her goal is selfish is her attack on the United Republic.
  • Group Hug: The Fire Ferrets have one in "The Spirit of Competition" after defeating the Rabiroos.
    • After Kuvira's surrender in "The Last Stand," an exultant group including Asami, Bolin, Mako, Tenzin, Meelo, Jinora, Ikki, Varrick and Zhu Li cover Korra in a hug.
  • Growing with the Audience: With respect to Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: A heroic example. While the Order of the White Lotus serve as Korra's Hero Secret Service, she can get around them pretty easily when she wants to.
    • Despite their badass introduction, the Metalbending police seems to be incredibly incompetent as a security detail, allowing dozens of people to smuggle weapons into the Pro-bending Arena and getting curbstomped by said weapons, even though they knew full well that the Arena would almost undoubtedly be attacked. Later in the series, they are incapable of protecting the United Republic's president or even notice that that very same arena is again under attack.
  • Guilty Pleasures: Tenzin does not approve of pro-bending, yet in "And The Winner Is" he seems to know the rules quite well. He even cheers on Korra when she plays; though it's just as likely that he learned the rules after he decided to allow Korra to keep playing, all in support of his pupil and not for any love of the game. Or to the extent that he genuinely enjoys the sport, it may be because he enjoys seeing Korra succeed.
  • Gut Punch: "And The Winner Is..." starts with the pro-bending tournament. It ends in the aftermath of a successful terrorist attack by the Equalists.

  • Half-Identical Twins: Desna and Eska. Hilarity Ensues when Bolin tries to figure out who is who. Bolin even assumes them to both be female when he first sees them, causing him to say that he finds both attractive before Korra corrects him.
  • Handicapped Badass: Just as Avatar: The Last Airbender did, this series has a number of awesome disabled characters:
    • While she didn't appear in-show until Book 4, Toph Beifong is considered a Living Legend, as the inventor of metalbending, founder of the RCPD, mother of the Metal Clan's founder, and an all-round visionary and genius. Also, she's blind.
      • When she finally gets her appearance, she proves that she is no slouch in her golden years. In fact, she appears even more awesome!
    • Ming-Hua, the Red Lotus' waterbender, has no arms, relying instead on two large watery tentacles, which she uses to swing around, as a bladed weapon, and even to drive a car.
    • The airship captain in "Long Live The Queen" has a hook-hand. Though he doesn't do any fighting, he stands up to Korra without so much as flinching.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Korra learns a few of these after she gets poisoned:
    • 1) Being the savior of the world doesn't stop bad things from happening to you. The Avatar may be a borderline Physical God but she's a person and can get hurt in the same way as anyone else.
    • 2) You can't fix something like that over night. It takes her three years of hard work and determination but she's still not back to her normal self by the time season 4 picks up.
    • 3) No one condones what happened to her but everyone tries to tell her that wallowing in self pity doesn't help anything. She can't un-do the horrible thing that happened to her but her refusal to accept what happened is what holds her back from finding peace and fully healing. It's not until she does accept it that she's able to move on with her life.
  • Hate Sink:
    • Lu and Gang exist for exactly two purposes: troll Mako and make Mako look sympathetic by trolling Mako. They're lazy, ugly, smug bums that (somehow) mispronounce his name while stuffing their faces and playing with their nicknamed moustaches. They display zero skills that justify their position to the extent that it's not clear if they're benders or not, let alone what elements if they are as they're easily jumped during the one security job they had to do, which unsurprisingly cost them their jobs. No tears are shed at their demotion.
    • Compared to Kuvira, who's pretty Affably Evil, Baatar Jr. is incredibly cocky and smug, especially at the prospect of "taking his hometown by force" (a hometown his own mother founded and still governs), so it's hard not to imagine he was intended to be this.
    • Another example would be the Earth Queen since, while Baatar Jr. does get some sympathetic moments near the end, she gets exactly none. She's a ruthless tyrant that forcibly conscripts (read: kidnaps) airbenders found around Ba Sing Se for her own personal army, eats endangered species of animals (including her dad's bear), declares war on the Krew and tries to kidnap them when they release said airbenders, and generally acts like a smug asshole throughout the majority of the season. As such, when she gets murdered by the far more sympathetic Zaheer very few people, In-Universe or Out, complain. Even Korra was more worried about the impact that the Earth Queen's death had on the world rather than the woman herself.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: "A Leaf in the Wind," when Bolin lies to Toza to let Korra backstage, Korra feels the need to correct him:
    Bolin: So, you see, we're together...
    Korra: Well, not together-together, more like friends.
    Bolin: Right, right, friends... no, I didn't mean to imply that...
    Korra: Oh, you implied it.
  • Healing Hands: Korra is one of the water-benders who have the ability to heal, having learned it from Katara.
  • Heart Symbol: Mako has them fluttering around his head after meeting Asami, but more subtly, the table and chairs they sit at on their first date are lit in such a way as to strongly imply a heart.
  • Held Gaze:
    • One between Korra and Mako in "A Leaf in the Wind" after they win the pro-bending match.
    • Bolin and a minor unnamed bender share one of these when the bender is led away to have his abilities removed by Amon in "The Revelation".
    • Bolin and Opal have one when they formally hit it off... only to have Korra interrupt.
    • Korra and Asami share a loving one in the series finale, signaling their Relationship Upgrade.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • In "The Turning of the Tides", Lin buys the airbenders time to escape. When captured she refuses to tell Amon where Korra is hiding, and has her bending removed.
    • There's also Hiroshi Sato, who sacrificed his life to open the mecha-giant with a flying suit equipped with plasma cutters, thereby allowing the assaulting party to destroy the mecha-giant from the inside.
    • Mako comes within a hairsbreadth of one in the finale whilst singlehandedly blowing Kuvira's colossus in two. Bolin manages to save him, though.
  • Hero Insurance: Subverted in the premiere. Though she assumes she has leeway, Korra learns the hard way that being the Avatar is not a license to dish out vigilante justice and smash property. Double Subverted later on.
  • Hero Secret Service: The Order of the White Lotus act as this to Korra in the first few episodes. Downplayed after that, since Korra runs around them whenever she feels like it. They mostly stick around Air Temple Island as generic guards.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity:
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Korra and Asami eventually developed this kind of relationship in the third season. However, the "Heterosexual" bit becomes more and more tenuous as the show progresses, and they are eventually upgraded to the Official Couple in the finale.
  • High-Voltage Death: Mako kills Ming-hua by shooting lighting up her water arms.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: In-universe example; in the first episodes of Book 2, it seems like Chief Unalaq is the Big Bad. However, it's eventually revealed he actually is working for Vaatu, a Predecessor Villain who was introduced later on, but whose first appearance chronologically happened before the original series, and who had only been seen in flashback at this point.
  • Hitler Cam: Used on Amon at the end of "And the Winner Is..."
  • Hobos: Korra encounters one in the first chapter, living in a bush in one of Republic City's public parks. He alludes to there being quite a few homeless people in the city.
    • It later turns out to be quite a few- an entire city's worth, living underground.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard:
    • At the start of Book 2, Unalaq is determined to teach her a technique to purify Dark Spirits. Have a guess at what Korra uses to wipe him out in the Finale.
  • Holding Hands: Korra and Asami end the series holding hands and gazing at each other.
  • Hold Your Hippogriffs:
    Bolin: [to Korra] In a real match, you'd be a sitting turtleduck.
    Bolin: [Pabu] is not a one-trick poodle-pony.
    Korra: What is that weasel-snake Tarrlok up to?
    Bolin: [Kai]'s like a little... greased hog-monkey.
  • Holding Your Shoulder Means Injury:
    • Bolin performs this in "The Spirit of Competition," after getting smacked by a stray earth disk. Unusually, it actually is his shoulder that's injured, complete with ugly bruise.
    • General Iroh does the same thing in Endgame, even though his injury is lower, against his bicep.
  • Hollywood Density: The mecha-tanks are said to be made of pure platinum to prevent metalbending, disregarding how mind-bogglingly heavy this would actually be. Given that metalbending is achieved by manipulating the impurities, any sufficiently purified material should suffice for this purpose. Titanium would have made more sense, being more common and far less dense for its relative strength.note 
  • Homage: The Beginnings two-parter has a lot of direct references to Hayao Miyazaki films, specifically Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke.
  • Homoerotic Subtext: Korra and Asami have some in Books 3 and 4, culminating in the ending of the finale, in which they both go on vacation to the spirit world holding hands. Whilst gazing into each others' eyes. Far more text than subtext.
  • Hope Spot:
    • During the Equalist siege of Republic City, Tenzin calls in help from the United Forces. However, when the flotilla arrives, it's destroyed by an Equalist ambush in a matter of minutes.
    • Later, when Korra and Asami accidentally crash an Earth Kingdom transport zeppelin into the desert, they work with the crew to repair it. They succeed, and get the engine running, only to have a giant dune monster split the ship in half and bury it seconds later.
  • Hope Springs Eternal: The world was far from being in balance when Wan died. However, somewhere among those who would be the Air Nation eventually, a child would be born who would continue what Wan started. The world may be out of balance but the hope for restoration continues to thrive.
  • Horseshoe Effect: Kuvira's Earth Empire proves to be Not So Different from the Earth Kingdom, building an army by force (through Join or Die intimidation rather than forced conscription) and attempting to conquer the United Republic.
  • Hostage for MacGuffin:
    • In "A New Spiritual Age" Korra must decide between opening the spirit portal for Unalaq, or watching Unalaq corrupt and destroy Jinora's soul. Furious, she picks the former.
    • In "Long Live The Queen", Zaheer offers to trade the location of the airbenders to the Earth Queen in exchange for her turning over Korra to him. This deal never comes to fruition.
  • Huddle Shot: Used "Spirit of Competition", when Mako tries to build up confidence for the upcoming tournament.
  • Hufflepuff House:
    • The other three members of the city council. The only two actual voices in the council are Tarrlok and Tenzin, and the rest of the council always sides with Tarrlok. Even when he changes his mind.
    • The Fire Nation is demoted to this role, in contrast to Avatar: The Last Airbender. Retired Fire Lord Zuko and his grandson Iroh appear as supporting characters, but we never get to see what the Fire Nation itself looks like in this era. Also, the current Fire Lord Izumi wants her country to remain neutral in global politics (which is quite understandable, considering the atrocities her grandfather and his predecessors committed), so the Fire Nation doesn't take part in the various conflicts seen in the series.
  • Humans Are Flawed: Most spirits tend to have this view towards humans.
  • Humans Are Smelly: At least to spirits, humans don't smell good to the point Wan, the first Avatar, is named "Stinky" by a spirit.
  • Humongous Mecha: Kuvira marches on Republic City with one. It's twenty-five stories tall and mounts a Wave-Motion Gun that was originally pulled on train tracks.
  • Hypocrite: The main villains of each season have their moments:
    • The Equalists go on about how benders are oppressors who abuse their gifts on the defenseless, yet are no less oppressive of benders or even sympathetic non-benders once they have the power to do the same. Amon takes this a step further, being a prodigy waterbender and bloodbender who uses his abilities to remove the bending of others. Hiroshi Sato hates benders for killing his wife, but attempted to murder his own daughter for refusing his side and rightfully calling out how his wife would be disgusted with what he's done.
    • Unalaq has a Holier Than Thou attitude to the world, namely the Southern Water Tribe, for not treating the spirits with respect and not keeping a balance, yet caused a spiritual imbalance that corrupted many spirits to become chief of the North. He also paints Tenzin and Tonraq as a poor mentor and father respectively to Korra, yet tutored her only to further his own goal and had no love for the lives on his own children. He also states that Avatar Wan brought chaos by sealing away Vaatu, the very embodiment of chaos, and sets him free and unleash darkness on the world.
    • The Red Lotus, namely Zaheer. He states their mission is to wipe out oppressors, using the extinction of the airbenders by the Fire Nation as an example. What does he do to lure Korra out? Attack the Northern Air Temple and threaten to kill off all of the new air benders.
    • Kuvira, in Book 4. She refuses to relinquish power in the Earth Kingdom to Prince Wu, declaring that the age of monarchs is over and that the people don't want to be ruled by a dynastic leader consolidating power into one person. However, that's exactly what she endeavors to do, and as the season progresses on, she adds more and more trappings of a cult of personality. She demands unwavering loyalty, and she makes it clear that she will be the leader of the new Earth Empire (which would make empress). Eventually her followers begin bowing to her, hailing her as the "Great Uniter."
  • Hypocritical Humor:
    • Tenzin is frequently shown to be Not So Above It All, which is Played for Laughs.
    • The Earth Queen admonishes Gan for running away like a coward... while she cowers behind her massive throne.
    • Mako and Bolin criticize the residents of Ba Sing Se for looting the Earth Queen's palace while they themselves are trying to take one of her airships for their own use.
    Bolin: Some folks just have no respect for other people's property. Now let's steal this airship!"
    • In "The Coronation," Varrick expresses his joy at being an "upstanding citizen" again after President Raiko was forced to pardon his (alleged) crimes. He then immediately tells Zhu Li to steal all the lavender scented soap she can find.

  • I Am Not My Father: A recurring motif.
    • Tenzin is as serious and staid as Aang was carefree. Despite this, he still feels enormous pressure to live up to him - his main lesson in season 2 is "Be Yourself".
    • Although Lin shares Toph's toughness, she's very strict about enforcing the law and has no patience for the Avatar's vigilante justice.
    • Asami refuses to join the Equalists and avenge her mother with Hiroshi.
    • Tarrlok decided to take over Republic City through legal means, rather than from the criminal underground.
    • Su had too much freedom as a child and so raised her daughter with too little. Fortunately, she realised it was for the better for Opal to realise her potential as an airbender. Conversely, Su's free-range upbringing was probably the result of Toph's being stifled by her parents.
    • Baatar Jr. joins Kuvira to escape his father's shadow. It wasn't worth it.
  • I Can't Believe I'm Saying This: When Amon tried to intimidate Republic City into not holding the pro-bending tournament finals, Korra wanted the finals to be held despite Amon's threats. Chief Lin Bei Fong, despite how she usually feels about Korra, agreed with her.
  • Ice Magic Is Water: Waterbenders are also able to control snow and ice, and can turn water into ice and vice-versa. They can also control steam in the same manner.
  • Identical Grandson: Iroh II to Zuko, in voice anyway.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Mako delivers this line word for word when defending his prior association with the Triple Threat Triad.
  • Idiosyncratic Episode Naming: The pattern is carried on from the parent series, with "Book Name- Chapter- Episode Name".
  • Idiot Ball: Sadly, it appears Lin is carrying one in Season Two, completely ignoring Mako's investigation as well as criticizing him and for trusting two detectives who are incredibly lazy and inept.
  • Impairment Shot:
    • Korra's view of Amon wobbles, goes sideways, then goes dark after he strikes her.
    • When Tenzin takes a hard blow fighting the Equalist Mechs outside city hall his viewpoint is unfocused, with tunnel vision, until it fades out as he collapses.
    • In the "Harmonic Convergence" episode, Oogi crashing and dumping his passengers leads to Korra getting a view of approaching Unalaq from a sideways and blurred view.
    • Korra again in "The Terror Within", shortly after being sedated by Zaheer.
  • Important Haircut: Korra in "Korra Alone", as she leaves her old life behind to travel the world incognito.
  • Impossibly Cool Weapon: The Lieutenant, Amon's second-in-command, dual wields electrified kali sticks.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • In the battle between the Beifong sisters, they make use of the surrounding metal and earth as weapons. These include the metal floors, Huan's sculpture, and an entire staircase.
    • Asami uses a hand rail as a crowbar, and possibly as a club.
    • Su bends her metal necklace at Zaheer's glider, and later uses her breastplate to cause P'li to blow herself up.
    • In "Operation Beifong," Su uses a piece of railing as bo staff, skillfully deflecting Kuvira's attacks.
  • Inadequate Inheritor:
    • Played for laughs in Book 2. When the caretakers of the Southern Air Temple praise the next generation of airbenders, Pema looks to her currently bickering kids and less-than-enthusiastically repeats the sentiment.
    • One of the themes of Book 2, actually. Tenzin and Korra in particular are forced to come to terms with the fact that they are their own person and not simply the roles that are placed upon them (progenitor of a new generation of airbenders and the Avatar).
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After going through hell and back trying to escape a giant desert-shark in the Si Wong desert, the crew of the airship carrying Korra finally arrive at the Misty Palms Oasis... only to find Zuko's dragon napping right in front of them. Small wonder that this trope is the captain's reaction.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog:
    Korra: I'm supposed to air sit, I mean baby bend, I-I mean babysit the airbender kids.
  • Inelegant Blubbering: In "The Spirit of Competition", a deeply hurt Bolin is reduced to this, complete with Ocular Gushers, rivers of snot and miserable wailing.
  • Infectious Enthusiasm: In "A Leaf in the Wind," staid Tenzin gets caught up in the mood and lets out a celebratory whoop at Korra's first pro-bending victory.
  • The Infiltration:
    • In "The Revelation" Mako and Korra disguise themselves to sneak into an Equalist rally.
    • In "Endgame," Korra and Mako disguise themselves as chi-blockers to gather information.
  • Insecure Protagonist, Arrogant Antagonist: After being poisoned by the Red Lotus, it takes Korra two years to recover physically and she's plagued by mental trauma. With the belief that the world no longer needs the Avatar and the effect of her PTSD on her fighting, the formerly confident Korra has become insecure about being the Avatar. In contrast, Kuvira is a master metalbender who's become arrogant and smug after uniting the fractured Earth Kingdom, believing herself to be the only one capable of leading the nation. This was intentional by the creators, who wanted Korra to face a past version of herself.
  • Instant Awesome: Just Add Mecha!: The Equalists, with the help of Hiroshi Sato, developed small mechas equipped to counter Bending, with a group of them being able to render Korra, Tenzin, Lin and some of the police force unconscious. In Season 2, Asami was going to try selling the mechas her company produced to the Southern Water Tribe, but her supply was hijacked. Meanwhile, the Northern Water Tribe acquired their own. Bumi hijacked one and managed to level a Northern Water Tribe base almost by accident.
    • Season 4 sees an updated version in Kuvira's army. They come equipped with grappling hooks, flamethrowers, bola launchers, and can shoot lightning. They are dwarfed by Kuvira's Humongous Mecha which mounts the spirit Wave-Motion Gun.
  • Instant Expert:
    • As with the original series, this is the norm rather than the exception. Characters master forms incredibly fast (learning bending moves incredibly quickly, even if they haven't mastered the bending behind it) and figuring out new technology quickly.
    • Deconstructed in season 3. Zaheer picks up airbending very quickly, but when he fights against Tenzin, an actual master, he gets curbstomped thanks to Tenzin's years of experience. Downplayed with Bolin, who picks up lavabending quite quickly, but aside from a few basics it's not that different from earthbending.
    • Averted with Bumi, who also gains airbending, but despite being a seasoned Badass Normal got schooled by a kid a fraction his age and relies more on improvising than straight combat just to survive against one of the bad guys for the entire season. It's not until years later in Book 4 that he caught up to the rest in competence, which is reflected in a trimmer physique.
  • Instant-Win Condition: In pro-bending, if an entire team is knocked off the ring in a single round, they lose the entire match, regardless of score.
  • Insult Backfire: Unalaq tries to anger Jinora by questioning her father's parenting. Jinora has none of it.
    Unalaq: I can't believe Tenzin sent his daughter here instead of coming himself. What kind of a father is he?
    Jinora: Better than you.
  • Insult of Endearment: After warming up to Wan, the aye-aye spirit affectionately calls him "Stinky".
  • Inverse Law of Complexity to Power: Continuing from the ascended Fridge Logic of the original series (that firebenders can generate and redirect lightning, earthbenders can bend the impurities in metal, waterbenders can control all fluids, including the blood in a person's body, etc), Zaheer also demonstrates in Book 3 how airbenders can pull the air out of a person's lungs and suffocate people to death.
    • In Book 2, Unalaq shows how waterbenders can calm an angered spirit. That skill isn't nearly as useful as the other sub-disciplines of bending, and is only seen one time anywhere else.
  • Inverse Law Of Utilityand Lethality: Especially in Book 1, people get casually electrocuted A LOT. The Equalists have their electrocuting gloves, mecha tanks, and other implements; Mako (and other firebenders, presumably) have lightning; and although characters are definitely in pain when hit, everyone shakes it off like nothing happened. Particularly striking for Amon, who takes a full dose of lightning from Mako at point-blank range in the season finale, and walks away from it like he just took a shot of espresso.
  • Invisible Means Undodgeable: Bloodbending.
  • Ironic Echo: During the infiltration of Sato Manor, one metalbender cop was assigned to watch over Asami, Mako, and Bolin. When he tells them to stay put until Chief Beifong returns, Mako and Bolin incapacitate him, and Bolin delivers this spiteful reprise:
    Bolin: Yeah, just stay put until the chief comes back. That sounds very familiar, doesn't it? Why? Because you said it.
  • Ironic Episode Title: "Long Live the Queen", in which Zaheer kills the Earth Queen
  • Ironic Name: Korra's father Tonraq is a huge man who towers over his wife AND daughter. His name is an Inuit word for "tiny man".
  • Irony:
    • Toph, a boastful, destructive, anarchist hustler became a police chief? That's really challenging to comprehend.
    • Toph points out some of the issues she has with the relationship that she has with her parents in the first series. Unfortunately, she seems to have, in her own way, committed some of those same mistakes. In her efforts to not be overbearing like her parents, Toph gave her children a lot of space and freedom. This lead to neither Toph or her children feeling like they received the love and validation they needed. Guess she can't give away what she never got.
    • During her initial training with Aang, Toph criticized him for finding another way to Earthbend, insisting that there was no trick to it, no other way around it, he had to deal with it and stand his ground, reflecting the rigid nature of the element. That's a fine philosophy for bending, not so much for raising children. As such, Toph's "Deal with it" attitude with raising her two children, and her inability to alter the way she did things, to find a new path, led her to become estranged from her family for years, with both daughters resenting her.
    • The present generation of the Beifong family seems to have an element of this. While her sister eventually ran away and found the love and validation she needed but didn't get at home, Lin played things close to the vest, following in her mother's footsteps but reaping relationships that yielded none of the validation and love that she wanted, even from her own mother.
    • Zaofu is supposed to be about being allowed to live up to one's full potential yet Su doesn't want Opal to let go to the Air Temple to train with the other airbenders until Opal finally talks to her about it.
    • In a case of Dramatic Irony, Zaofu also stood as a place for second chances for those seeking it such as her chef being a former pirate and of course, Varrick yet the traitors are all either trusted honorary family (ex. Aiwei, Kuvira) or actual relatives (ex. Bataar Jr.)
    • In The Last Airbender, Ba Sing Se was considered to be the greatest city on the planet, a much vaunted jewel of the Four Nations. In The Legend of Korra, the city has become eclisped by both Republic City- the captial of the Four Nations, and home to a wide variety of benders and non-benders, and Zafou, the most advanced city on the planet. Ba Sing Se seems to be the city most stuck in the past and of an entirely different era, not showing any advancements in terms of technology or social innovation in 70 years.
    • In Book 1, Mako lamented/was conflicted over liking two girls at the same time, much to his brother's chargrin, by the end of Book 2, he doesn't even have one.
    • In Book 3, Harmonic Convergence randomly gave non-benders all around the world the ability to airbend. Very few of them have the time or interest in becoming full-fledged Air Nomads. In fact, only one Air Acolyte has been shown to have gained airbending, and he's a little on the off side.
    • Zaheer's goal was to get rid of kings and queens and other rulers, putting the world into a state of chaos and anarchy in order to achieve true freedom for all people. He succeeded in killing the Earth Queen, but this only resulted in setting the stage for the even more controlling and tyranical Kuvira to step in, and in just three years her new Earth Empire has become even more totalitarian than the Earth Kingdom was, with supporters treating her like am empress and dissenters being sent camps to be used as slaves.
    Korra: Before, you were always talking about chaos and freedom. Then you took out the Earth Queen and created the worst dictator the Earth Kingdom has ever seen. Thanks for that.
    • Zaheer's endgame in Book 3 was to destroy the Avatar. In Book 4, he ends up helping Korra reconnect with the Spirit World and Raava, helping make the Avatar whole again.
    • The Grand Finale had an amazing example of irony that takes watching the entire series to understand. Korra and Asami were romantic rivals in regards to Mako. Not only did both of them break up with Mako, the series ends with them getting together instead.
  • Island Base: While not exactly a "base," the Air Temple Island where Tenzin and his family live is pretty sweet.
  • It Makes Sense in Context: Implied. Several of Bumi's stories sound completely insane and made-up, but after he accidentally starts a chain reaction that destroys an entire enemy encampment, it's implied that his stories are true and he's just not that great at explaining what actually happened.
    Tenzin: Bumi, how did you manage to take out this entire encampment by yourself?
    Bumi: I did it all with my trusty flute...
  • It Only Works Once: When Korra first fights Equalist chi-blockers, they use smoke bombs to disorient her and cover their escape. The second time she faces chi-blockers she encases the smoke bombs in water and freezes them to contain the smoke. And during the car chase shortly after the formation of the new Team Avatar, Asami beats the smoke screen by putting on a pair of goggles.
  • In Touch with His Feminine Side: Bolin, who despite his bulky physique and athletic profession, is extremely emotional and sensitive, and loves make-overs.
  • I Want Them Alive: Like the previous series, the villains have valid reasons for leaving Korra alive, and eventually stop caring as their plans come to fruition. The reasoning varies, however:
    • Amon is afraid of turning Korra into a martyr and wants to gain public support before going after her. Even afterwards, he doesn't want to kill Korra because he prefers to leave his enemies alive to suffer.
    • Unalaq and Vaatu need Korra's help to open the Spirit World portals.
    • Zaheer plans to kill Korra while she's in the Avatar State, so he takes extra care that she's in his custody before then.

  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Korra doesn't mind beating information out of people, and in one case threatens to feed one of Unalaq's men to her polar bear dog if he doesn't "...keep talking."
  • Jazz: Has been added to the soundtrack. A sprightly big-band-esque set of horns plays whenever Korra springs into action.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • 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.
    • Similarly, while the Equalists are depicted as being far too extreme, they wouldn't have been able to raise an army if benders weren't abusing their powers on the scale we saw.
    • While Korra acts rather rude about it in the start of Book 2, she does have a very valid point when she calls out Tenzin and her father for constantly bossing her around and treating her like a child.
    • While the humans from Wan's home village are destructive towards nature and attack spirits on sight, the spirit wilds are shown to be actively hostile to human life and the spirits have no problem attacking humans even though, by all indications, even a human with elemental powers doesn't have a chance of killing a spirit. The spirits aren't natives, either, having migrated from the spirit world, and it's their presence that forced the humans to retreat to the lion turtles in the first place.
    • A downplayed example with Lin Beifong. She is brusque and dismissive of Mako's detective work in Book 2, but when she points out that he's a beat cop and not a detective, she's right. Law enforcement and investigations are two separate divisions within police departments, and have different responsibilities. Mako was acting outside his lane, and had also barged into a private meeting. What makes it a downplayed example is that Mako is more competent than the actual detectives, and they give him the All of the Other Reindeer treatment so the audience will sympathize with him.
  • The Juggernaut: Kuvira's Colossus is all but unstoppable. Even Korra admits as much:
    Korra: We may not be able to stop that thing, but we can slow it down.
  • Just Friends: In "The Spirit of Competition," the Sibling Triangle of Bolin, Mako and Korra articulate their feelings towards each other in various ways. After resulting interpersonal tensions nearly cost them their place in the finals, the three settle back into a mutually friendly dynamic, with the larger underlying Love Dodecahedron unresolved.

  • Kaiju: Some of the larger Dark Spirits fall into this category, especially the one that swallows Korra.
    • The Dark Avatar Unalaq turns into one, who is then defeated by a Korra-Kaiju in the bay of Republic City.
    • The sandshark that attacks Korra and Asami in the Si Wong Desert.
  • Kangaroo Court: The trial in the third episode of the second season. Korra's father is found guilty of treason (a capital crime) simply because the meeting that led to the rebellion was at Korra's father's home. No defense was allowed, and the prosecutor/judge asked nothing but leading questions. And it's quickly revealed that the judge was ordered to make his decision by Unalaq in order to manipulate Korra and still get the rebels out of the way. Varrick expected this and tried to get Bolin to rig the trial in his favor, but it didn't work because Varrick wasn't specific enough on who Bolin was supposed to bribe,
  • Karma Houdini: Varrick starts and escalates a war for profit, steals from a business rival, and tries to kidnap the President ... and only stays in prison - a cushy prison he designed ''for himself'' - before almost immediately breaking out.
    • Lin initially sees Suyin as one of these (which she admittedly was), but gradually sees how far her half-sister has come and reconciles with her.
  • Ki Manipulation: Like in its predecessor series, bending has a basis in the eastern theme of Chi, so all bending is technically ki attacks of an elementally aligned nature.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Amon, being a politically-minded villain, makes a habit of this:
    • The first public victims of his bending-removal ability are the leader of the Triple-Threat Triad gang and three of his bender thugs.
    • Amon's second group of victims is the Wolf-Bats pro-bending team, which had just won the championship through bribery and flagrant cheating.
    • He then takes out Tarrlok, the Sleazy Politician who was making a grab for power on the backs of Republic City's non-bending population.
    • Zaheer kills the current Earth Queen, a bitchy tyrant who forcibly conscripted Airbenders into her army, heavily taxed her citizens to support her luxurious lifestyle, and sponsored Sky Bison poaching to satiate her taste for exotic meats. Very few people in-universe are upset over this; even Korra is more angry about the lengths Zaheer has gone to fulfill his goal, and the chaos and destruction that resulted rather than the Queen's death.
  • Kid Hero All Grown Up: Most of the heroes from the first series became powerful and successful leaders before they died.
  • Koan: Continuing the established tradition in Avatar: The Last Airbender, a beautiful and meaningful one is delivered by Iroh in the Spirit World:

  • La Résistance: The New Team Avatar, who defected against Tarrlok's oppressive system. Later against the Equalists and the Earth Empire during their respective takeovers of Republic City.
  • Lame Comeback/No, You:
    • In "Welcome to Republic City" Korra is not that good with the verbal wit.
      Protestor: Benders like this girl only use their power to oppress us!
      Korra: What? I'm not oppressing anyone! You're—You're oppressing yourselves!
      Protestor: That didn't even make sense!
    • In "The Spirit of Competition", Bolin gets one, but he has the excuse of being "drunk":
      Mako: I told you that dating a teammate was a bad idea.
      Bolin: You're a bad idea!
  • Lampshade Hanging: Zaheer learning to fly unaided a little hard to swallow? Well, quite a few characters comment on it in disbelief.
    • Then the same thing happens when Kuvira shows up with a 25-stories-tall mecha, to use her spirit cannon with. Both Bolin and Zhu Li are asked if they knew about this - nope, there was no clue anyone was building that thing.
  • Land of One City: In the time of Avatar Wan, humans lived in isolated cities far from each other. So far and with such dangerous terrain between them the idea of other humans living outside the city is considered a legend and not possible. And these cities are on top of lion-turtles.
  • Large Ham: Everybody in the Nuktuk films, probably as a side effect of being produced by Varrick.
  • Last-Name Basis: Iknik Blackstone Varrick.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Pretty much everything from the first series.
  • Laughably Evil: Varrick had the distinction of being the only villain to be light-hearted and comical.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall:
    • In "Night of a Thousand Stars", Varrick flashes a grin at the camera, complete with Audible Gleam.
    • During Jinora and Kai's reunion, Kai states, "It takes more than that to get rid of me!" and then gives a big grin to the camera.
    • "The Coronation" has Eska respond to being told she and her brother only have one room with a single bed in it with "There's no mistake. Desna sleeps in the tub." Then she glares at the camera, as if she knows what crossed viewers' minds.
  • Left Hanging:
    • At the end of Book 3, Zuko mentions that there are still more Red Lotus members in hiding. However, other than Zaheer's appearance in Book 4, the Red Lotus is never mentioned again.
    • "Beyond the Wilds" shows the effects of Kuvira harvesting the vines of the swamp to fuel her superweapon. However, after this episode, this is never brought up again and the fate of the swamp goes completely unquestioned. Seeing as Kuvira specifically ordered her troops to "Harvest these vines until there's nothing left", there may not even be a swamp at all anymore.
  • The Legend of X
  • Lensman Arms Race: A subtle one that goes on through the series but accelerates in the final season. The Equalist Mecha-Tanks were a big deal in the first season, and just barely next season, they've been disseminated to at least the Republic armed forces and to the Northern Water Tribe armed forces. Once season four hits, Kuvira's Earth Empire sports an evolution of the mecha-suit that are more compact, nimble, and numerous than the mecha-tanks and are more akin to Powered Armor than Mini-Mecha, and then Asami and Varrick make a more revolutionary advancement with highly-nimble flying mecha-suits.
  • Le Parkour: The urban cityscape setting allows for heavy use of the style in outdoor fight choreography, and an expert is employed as a consultant.
  • Legacy of the Chosen: The Avatar has been reborn into the world for countless generations over ten millennia. Avatars past, even as recently as Aang, are spoken of with reverence, their exploits the stuff of legend.
  • Legion of Doom: In Varrick's latest Mover pitch, Zaheer leads one consisting of himself, Zombie!Amon, and Vaatu. The Evil Unalaq keeps trying to join, and though they try to exclude him, he ends up accidentally merging with Vaatu to fight Bolin. Hilarity Ensues.
  • Leitmotif:
    • Korra's theme recurs several times throughout the series, with variations depending on her mood or the mood of the scene she's in.
    • Katara's eight-note theme can be heard when she's about to tell Jinora the story of Zuko's mother - before Ikki cuts the story short.
    • Amon's theme evokes the terror and mystery that characterises him.
    • Whenever the theme from the original series plays, it means a serious Avatar scene is coming! Examples include Korra entering the Avatar State for the first time, Wan permanently fusing with Raava, and a variation when Korra is forced into the State by poisoning, and Raava turns out to be spiritually pissed off.
      • Fittingly, the original series theme begins to echo in the track when Jinora leads the Airbenders in creating a massive, sucking vortex to capture Zaheer; the technique that earns her official Master status, and thus signals the true rebirth of the Air Nation. Usually, the ATLA theme reprises for the Avatar; just this once, it showed up for Aang.
    • The spirits have an eerie four-note theme, especially noticeable when they're being purified.
    • Varrick has a cheerful, sprightly jazz theme.
    • The Air Nomads have a theme played on pipes, which evokes their peaceful and humble nature.
    • Kuvira has a low, sinister theme on strings, which heats up into militaristic drumbeat during battle.
    • Asami's theme (and variations of it) can be heard in several of her more emotional scenes, such as when she's talking about her mother, when her father tries to convince her to join the Equalists, when Future Industries is robbed, and when she visits her father in prison. Additionally, a combination of it and Korra's theme is played when Asami is shown to be Korra's caretaker at the end of Book 3.
  • Let Them Die Happy:
    • "It will be just like the good old days."
    • In "Kuvira's Gambit," Kuvira assures Bataar Jr. that she loves him and that Republic City isn't worth losing him over. Presumably that's the last thing he was ever meant to hear before she fires on his location.
  • Light/Darkness Juxtaposition: The show's mythos doubles this with Order Versus Chaos. Raava, the blue and white ancient spirit of light and peace, is in constant conflict with Vaatu, the red and black spirit of darkness and chaos.
  • Limp and Livid: Korra encounters a hallucination of herself multiple times that moves like this.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Asami qualifies as a lipstick bisexual.
  • Loads and Loads of Characters: For a 53 episode series, The Legend of Korra sure has a lot of them. Major characters with multi-episode story arcs include Korra, Asami, Mako, Bolin, Tenzin, Amon, Tarrlok, Unalaq, Desna and Eska, Zaheer, Kuvira, Jinora, Lin, Suyin, Hiroshi, Opal, Varrick, Kai, Prince Wu, and Bumi. And then you have a whole bunch of important supporting characters, such as the other family members of Tenzin (Pema, Ikki, Meelo, Kya) and Lin (Baatar, Huan, Wei, Wing), Korra's parents (Tonraq and Senna), the extended family of Mako and Bolin, the dragons and allies of the big bads (The Lieutenant, Ghazan, Ming-Hua, P'Li, Aiwei, Bataar Jr.), characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender (Katara, Zuko, Iroh, Toph), spirits (Raava, Wan Shi Tong), characters from the past (Aang, Wan, Yakone), animal allies (Naga, Pabu, Oogi), other allies (Zhu Li, General Iroh), various Republic City inhabitants (Tahno, President Raiko, Ginger, Shiro Shinobi), and so on...
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: Lin gets a brief but spectacular one when she dons her armour in Chapter 9. Magical powers make these all the more epic.
  • Logical Weakness:
    • The Equalists' electrical technology is very effective against the Metalbending Police, whose armor and Combat Tentacles are a perfect conductor.
    • The chi-blockers have training/experience against the healthy amount of fire, water and earthbenders in Republic City, but they are completely unprepared for an element that's both rare and specifically designed for evasion (Air) as well as a fellow non-bender, let alone one with her own shock glove (Asami,) so fights against either tend to end badly for them.
    • Defied with the Colossus. Our heroes try to exploit just about every disadvantage that a Humongous Mecha should reasonably be expected to have, only for their efforts to be defeated by its bulk, durability, and clever, far-sighted engineering. The only one that does end up helping them a little is the fact that something so big can't move very fast, and even then, meaningfully exploiting that weakness requires a Heroic Sacrifice.
  • Love at First Sight:
    • Bolin did a Double Take the first time he saw Korra and later explained that he liked her right away.
    • Korra's face lights up when she first sees Mako.
    • After Asami ran over Mako, he began seeing hearts after she took off her helmet and scheduled a date.
    • Ultimately deconstructed. None of the above relationships work out by the end of the series and each pair remains platonic partners. The only relationships that do work require work to keep it that way (Bolin and Opal) or build up based on preexisting, strengthening emotions that eventually become romantic (Asami and Korra).
  • Love Dodecahedron:
    • Bolin likes Korra, who likes Mako, who likes Korra but is dating Asami.
    • Possibly Deconstructed, as by the end of Book 2, after quite a bit of personal drama, all four have decided that they're Better as Friends. Ironically, by the end of Book 4, the Official Couple among the New Team Avatar is Korra and Asami.
  • Love Theme: Implied. In the final scene of Book 4, as the camera pans up from Korra and Asami holding hands and staring into each others' eyes, a few notes of the theme "The Avatar's Love" can be heard right before "The End" is displayed, implying a romantic relationship between the two. This is also something of a callback to the end of Avatar: The Last Airbender, where this theme plays during The Big Damn Kiss. Confirmed by Bryke to be intentional, signifying Korra and Asami's relationship moving beyond friendship.
  • Love Triangle:
    • Lin used to date Tenzin who is now married to Pema.
    • There's a brief one at the beginning with Korra between Bolin and Mako, which is quickly resolved when she chooses the latter, then the first two season have its romance arc driven by one with Mako between Korra and Asami. From season 3 on they seem to settle as Just Friends until the finale, when Korra and Asami become an Official Couple.


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: