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The Legend Of Korra / Tropes M to R

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  • Made of Explodium:
    • Played With. When Hiroshi is looking out the window of his mecha he sees Lin stabbing away at another, which then appears to explode. Cut to a different POV and its revealed to really have been Korra blowing fire on his window.
    • In "Endgame," one biplane blows up for no other reason than that its propellers get stopped by a bola.
  • Made of Indestructium: Aang's statue. It's survived having a plane run into it, which only served to knock off the giant Equalist mask covering it, and being ripped from its pedestal by a Kaiju-esque spirit. In the latter case, while it was ripped off, it came off completely intact.
  • Madness Mantra:
    • Slowly developed by those trapped in the Fog Of Lost Souls.
      Zhao: I am Zhao the Conqueror! I am the Moonslayer! I WILL CAPTURE THE AVATAR!
    • Subverted in the case of Tenzin, who is almost driven insane, but then adopts a Survival Mantra after seeing a vision of his father.
  • Magic A Is Magic A: Bending follows specific rules. Certain characters seeming to violate the rules are major plot points: Amon and Tarrlok can bloodbend when there is not a full moon, and using that with chi blocking, Amon is able to block others bending indefinitely.
  • The Magic Comes Back/Nothing Is the Same Anymore: In the Book 2 finale, Korra decides to keep the spirit portals open so humans and spirits can interact again. This also has the effect of giving air bending abilities to non-benders all over the world in Book 3.
  • Magic Plastic Surgery: Utilized by Yakone to start a new life for himself in the Northern Water Tribe after breaking out of jail and fleeing Republic City. Strangely, Tarrlok and Noatak resemble his new face more than the original.
  • Magic Versus Science: The primary theme of Book 1. Continued in Book 2, especially where Vaatu and Wan Shi Tong scoff at human 'stuff' (the act of having evolved and technology, respectively.)
  • Magitek: While a lot of the technology is what you'd expect to find from the 1920s, things are supplemented by bending. Lightningbending generates electricity, metalbending and firebending aid the working of metal and the making of buildings, etc.
    • Varrick tries to combine spirits with tech, but that turned out to be a bad idea.
    • There are a variety of implements designed for and used by benders made possible by industrial and technological advancements made since Avatar Aang's youth. Metalbenders can use metal cables stored on spools mounted on their hips or backs. Zaheer's "True Flight" was approximated with the advent of the airbender wingsuit and proliferated to all the new airbenders. Earth Empire metalbenders are are covered in metal that can quickly be launched in a Flechette Storm. None of them are imbued with "bending" powers, but they were specifically designed as tools for those skilled in their particular bending arts.
  • The Magocracy: The modern United Republic Council is made up of five benders representing each Elemental Nation (Earth, Fire, Air and North & South Water), so Republic City lacks non-bender representation within its government. Nominally, this trope is not in play—a previous iteration of the council is shown to have at least two non-benders, Sokka and an Air Acolyte, though by the time the series starts, the city government is de facto controlled completely by benders.
    • Republic City averts this from Book Two onward as the city is now led by a democratically elected president.
  • Malevolent Masked Men: All of the Equalists wear masks. Some are Gas Mask Mooks, and the leader wears a White Mask of Doom.
  • Man Bites Man: Bumi bites Ghazan during his fight with him.
  • Man in the Iron Mask: Tarrlok, who is imprisoned in Air Temple Island because he is Amon's brother. This ultimately proves to be Amon's undoing as Tarrlok's knowledge of Amon's true past is used to turn the Equalists against him.
  • Market-Based Title: Due to the legal issues surrounding the name "Avatar," the show is referred to as just The Legend Of Korra in the United States, and Avatar: The Legend Of Korra for international audiences.
  • Mass "Oh, Crap!": Team Avatar and the entire cast are horrified when Kuvira's Humongous Mecha steps onto the scene.
  • Mass Super-Empowering Event: Harmonic Convergence has the side effect of granting airbending to non-benders all across the world.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Bolin is first seen in the background in "A Leaf on the Wind" as he walks past Korra arguing with the gym manager of the Pro-bending Arena. He does a Double Take when he sees her, slicks back his hair and walks over. In "The Spirit of Competition," he explains to Korra that he liked her from the very moment he saw her.
  • Meaningful Echo: The scene where Amon demonstrates the ability to remove people's bending is extremely similar to the scene where Aang did the same thing to Ozai. Right down to the dialogue.
    Zolt: What... what did you do to me?
    • At the end of Book 2, Korra announces that the fallout from Harmonic Convergence has ushered in a new age. In the season premiere of Book 3, we have Zaheer announce this:
    "It's the dawning of a new age. The end of the White Lotus, and the end of the Avatar."
  • Meaningful Name: Amon is the name of an Egyptian god. This comes from the root amen, meaning "what is hidden." Amon always wears a mask. It could also refer to Marquis Amon, the 7th listed demon in Ars Goetia.
    • It's also the name of the demon who personifies the Deadly Sin of Wrath.
    • It's also the name of the chakra located at the base of the skull.
    • In Book 3, there's a nerdy-looking Airbender named Otaku.
  • Mecha-Enabling Phlebotinum: Kuvira's colossus and its Wave-Motion Gun are powered by spirit vines, letting it drain limitless energy from the Spirit World and No-Sell the EMPs that disable conventional mecha suits.
  • Medieval Stasis: Averted. The technology present in Aang's time has advanced and spread, with Republic City boasting radios, electricity, cars, skyscrapers, cameras, microphones, and trains. A post-war development boom erased the Fire Nation's previous technological advantage. However, the Air Temples use less technology, save for radios and lamps, and the Earth Queen has been slowing down change in the Earth Kingdom, especially in Ba Sing Se.
    • On the other hand, the flashbacks to the time of Avatar Wan show a world that is much more advanced than would be expected given the 10,000 year gap.
  • Meet the New Boss: Prince Wu, who is being groomed to take over the Earth Kingdom after the assassination of the Earth Queen, is shown to be just as spoiled and vain as she is. At least in this case, Republic City is something of a moderating influence.
  • Men Are the Expendable Gender: Averted. Whether they are Equalists, Red Lotus or random bandits, the mooks who are getting their asses kicked by Team Avatar almost always include women. Justified in-universe in that bending ability is not limited to any gender, although this is probably not the reason for the Equalists' equal-opportunity recruitment.
  • Mega-Corp: Future Industries is a large business empire that provides products to Republic City and beyond on nearly every scale, from automobiles to airships for the police, and war equipment. However, its villainy becomes obvious when it's revealed that Hiroshi Sato has been bankrolling the Anti Bender movement, not unlike Worthington industries, and creating mecha tanks and other weapons to use against benders. After the Equalists are defeated, Hiroshi's business empire all fell apart, and thanks to his reputation, no one was willing to do business with the corporation under the reins of another Sato.
  • The Mentor: Deconstructed in Book 2 as both Unalaq and Tenzin try to assert themselves as the Avatar's spiritual mentor. The conflict arises because while both have considerable intellectual knowledge of the spirits, Unalaq seems more concerned with manipulating Korra for his own ends and is in cahoots with the spirit of chaos and season's Big Bad, Vaatu. While Tenzin is so bound by his duties in the physical world that he's never entered the Spirit World and his efforts to help Korra do so are useless.
    • Finally reconstructed at the end of The Guide, when it turns out Jinora is destined to be Korra's spiritual guide, and with the help of her new mentor, Korra successfully enters the Spirit World for the first time in her life.
  • Might as Well Not Be in Prison at All: When Varrick is arrested, his prison cell is spacious with two desks, a king-sized bed, and chair and table. His assistant, Zhu Li, is also with him in the cell. He explains that since his company had built the prison, he designed the cell for himself— expecting to need it one day.
  • Militaries Are Useless: Played with. On one hand, the United Republic Forces have been routinely trashed by the current Big Bad if engaged. However, this is usually just because they're way over their paygrade. Against a conventional, even if unknown, threat like Equalist Biplanes, they lose but still do some damage and hold their own. Against Vaatu or Kuvira's super mech w/spirit cannon, they just don't have the firepower to do anything. Note that they are never treated as incompetent - Bumi and Iroh II were both veterans of its service and Korra even outright describes them as more than capable of taking out Kuvira's military save for her superweapon.
  • Mini-Mecha: The mecha-tanks. They were built by Hiroshi Sato, for the Equalists.
  • A Minor Kidroduction: The series opens with a brief look at four-year-old Korra as part of an Establishing Character Moment, before jumping ahead in an Age Cut thirteen years later to the present day.
  • Misaimed Marketing: In-Universe. The announcer uses Bolin throwing up last night's meal as the perfect time to advertise "Flameo Instant Noodles, the Noodle-iest noodles in the United Republic!"
  • Mix-and-Match Critters: Animals from the original show, with some new additions.
    • Korra's Canine Companion Naga the Polar Bear dog, just as giant as one might assumenote 
    • Bolin's pet fire ferret Pabu, a mix between a ferret and a red panda.
    • Descendents of rediscovered Sky Bison and Ringtailed Winged Lemurs (close cousins to Flying Lemur Momo) live on Air Temple Island.
    • The flashback to Wan's era gives us the cat-deer, essentially a pronghorn antelope with the paws and face of a household cat.
    • Lizard-crows scavenge in Republic City's urban sprawl.
    • Spider-Rats are mentioned at one point, as are Dolphin-Piranhas; but never shown.
    • Notably averted with wolves, who are shown to be as normal as in Real Life, and one of the first victims of Amon's blood-bending.
  • Mixed Ancestry: A big difference from the original series, many main characters are explicitly of mixed race, and numerous secondary characters are implicitly this as well. As such, it's no longer possible to instantly know what bending a character may have on sight.
  • Monument of Humiliation and Defeat: After the Equalists take down The United Republic's government, Aang's statue is made to wear a giant version of Amon's mask.
  • Monumental Damage: In the Book 2 finale, the giant version of Unalaq pulls down the statue of Aang that looks a lot like the Statue of Liberty.
  • Monumental Damage Resistance: In the beginning of Book 3, mere weeks after the finale of Book 2, Aang's harbor statue is re-erected, seemingly none the worse for wear.
  • Mood Whiplash:
    • "The Voice in the Night" ends with Korra sobbing into Tenzin's chest as she admits that, for the first time her life, she is terrified and has no idea what to do. "The Spirit of Competition" begins with upbeat big band music and turns into a shipping plot.
    • "And the Winner Is..." starts with the continuation of the Pro-bending Championship now with more serious opponents and ends with a terrorist attack led by Amon.
    • "Civil Wars: Part 1" shows the familial issues with Tenzin and his siblings fighting, the Water Tribes issues escalating, and Korra's still troubled life with her family. Then there is a tearful healing moment for Korra's family as her father and mother tell her they just wanted her to live a normal a life as she could before they were no longer needed in her life and she says she will always need them. And then Unalaq arrives to arrest both Senna and Tonraq for being party to the assassination attempt on his life.
    • In Book 2, "Beginnings: Part 2". At the end, Wan merges with Raava to become the first Avatar (and unleash the Avatar State in the process), triumphing against the spirit of chaos and sealing it away. There is a triumphant artshift image of him bending all four elements around himself, stopping warring human nations from attacking each other, while he declares and promises that he WILL stop the conflict created by the evil beings influence and bring peace to the world. Then it suddenly switches to the scene of a horrific battle that recently ended. With a very old, exhausted Wan in battle armor on the ground despairing that he couldn't keep his promise to bring peace and there "just wasn't enough time" as his old body finally gives out from a life time of constantly trying to end war, thus starting the cycle of reincarnation to maintain balance and end conflict.
    • Prince Wu responding to Kuvira abolishing the Earth Kingdom monarchy by going shopping and petulantly yelling at Kuvira supporters is amusing. Him shoving children out of his way and breaking down sobbing while sitting on a replica of the throne, not as much.
  • Mook Chivalry: Zig-zagged. Perhaps the most obvious application on the heroic side is the late season 3 battle of a metal bender security force against P'Li. The combustion bender is a walking artillery piece of death and destruction, but her main weakness is that her power is entirely offensive and she can't use its explosions too close to herself. Additionally, while it affects an area, she can't "sweep" with it. The metalbenders have her surrounded and could theoretically just swarm her to take her out with minimum casualties. Instead they wait until she picks them off one by one...
  • Mook Lieutenant: Unalaq issues orders to a northern commander with a white beard, he can be seen taking away the rebels, and later advising Unalaq on their hideout. Even he seems unnerved by Desna and Eska.
  • Moral Dissonance: In Book 2, based on nothing more than his denial of guilt (because obviously no guilty person would ever claim innocence) after her father is sent to prison Korra decides the trial was rigged, so she chases down the judge and threatens to murder him if he doesn't admit that he's on Unalaq's payroll (it does turn out that she's right, and that her father really is innocent, but that is entirely the wrong way to go about exposing the truth).
  • Morality Kitchen Sink: There are some outright evil characters, but all of the series' major villains are Well Intentioned Extremists who genuinely believe that they are making the world a better place. While Korra and most of her allies are unquestionably good, a major part of her character arc is rejecting Black-and-White Morality and understanding that her enemies can have worthwhile ideas.
  • More Diverse Sequel: This show is more diverse than its predecessor when it comes to LGBT+ characters. Korra and Asami, who are seen holding hands and staring into each other's eyes at the end of the series on their way to the spirit world, are later confirmed in an interview to be bisexual. Other confirmed LGBTQ+ characters in the interview are Kya, Aang and Katara's daughter, and Aiwei. In contrast, none of the main characters in the predecessor are confirmed to be something other than straight.
  • Motive = Conclusive Evidence:
    • Councilman Tarrlok uses the logic that "the terrorist Equalists are angry non-benders, therefore all these non-benders are Equalists". The crowd he refers to is made up of angry non-benders, but clearly aren't terrorists and non-violently protest Tarrlok's false accusation as unfair. Tarrlok uses their protests to reinforce this trope on them.
    • Unalaq accuses his brother Tonraq of conspiring to assassinate him. The judge states that there was a meeting where plans of a civil war was discussed, the meeting took place at Tonraq's home, and Tonraq is chief, and therefore he must be guilty. However, Korra knows her father is innocent because she was a direct witness to the event and Tonraq was not only absent from the assassination attempt, but had confessed sincerely to Korra that he had no intention of murdering his brother. Unalaq knew all along that Tonraq was innocent and exploited this trope to have his brother found guilty and taken out of his way.
    • Northern Water Tribe members are suspected for bombing the Southern Water Tribe cultural center during a peaceful protest made by Southerners. Mako knows better, witnessing that the perpetrator was a firebender and identifying who he is as well as his affiliation with a bending triad. Other cops on the police force tell Mako to quit because it was clear that the Northerners did it. This poor judgement is portrayed as laziness on their part.
  • MST3K Mantra: Invoked in the flashback episode in season 4. Varrick does a horrible counterfactual mashup of the last three season's events. When Bolin complains about it, one of the rebels tells him that he should relax, since it's just a story.
  • Mugging the Monster: In "Welcome to Republic City" Korra readily Exploits a Triple Threat Triad Power Trio's utter ignorance of her identity and skills with Blood Knight zeal, baiting them into a Curb-Stomp Battle.
    Viper: Who do you think you are?
    Korra: Why don't you come and find out?
  • Muggle-and-Magical Love Triangle: Mako is in one with Korra (magical) and Asami (normal). They end up dating each other.
  • Muggle Born of Mages:
    • Aang and Katara's first child, Bumi, is the non-bender of their three children. Opal Beifong is the only Beifong Spin-Offspring established to definitively not be an earthbender. Both end up subverting it when they're granted airbending by Harmonic Convergence.
    • Played straight with Baatar Jr., who we can reasonably assume is a non-bender.
  • Muggle–Mage Romance: Like its predecessor, there are plenty of relationships between benders and non-benders, the most prominent being Tenzin and Pema. Eventually, we also have Korra and Asami.
  • Muggle Power: The entire Equalist movement is based around establishing nonbenders in positions of power and eliminating the need for bending entirely, in response to the oppression of nonbenders by benders. Despite the Equalist movement being defeated at the end of Book One, in Book Two, the council is disbanded in favour of open elections, leading to the election of a President who happens to be a non-bender.
  • Muggles Do It Better: The technology of the Equalists allows them to counteract all known bending disciplines, as well as giving them abilities which exceed bending.
  • The Münchausen: Bumi is constantly going on about the crazy adventures he had while he was still an active duty officer in the United Republics military. Subverted in that we are later shown one of his zany plans succeeding, implying that those stories may have actually happened as he told them after all.
  • Mundane Utility:
    • Firebenders can be seen generating lightning for use at a power plant.
    • The Adventure Game on reveals that Future Industries uses firebenders for welding.
    • Korra uses the phenomenal cosmic power of the Avatar State to... win an air scooter race with Tenzin's kids. Tenzin is furious.
  • Murder-Suicide: Tarrlok does to his brother, Amon, and himself at the end of Book One.
  • Musicalis Interruptus:
    • See Fandom Nod above. As Katara begins her story, dramatic music starts in the background, only for it to abruptly stop when Ikki interrupts.
    • At the beginning of "A Voice in the Night," while Korra practices airbending forms after dinner, she has the radio on to some cheerful music. Halfway through, it is interrupted by a broadcast from Amon.
    • As Tenzin begins to explain to Korra the choices in life which lead to him choosing Pema over Lin a serene, peaceful music wells up, only to break off with him sputtering "Why am I even telling you this?!"
  • Mutant Draft Board:
    • When Tenzin fails to recruit any new airbenders with his sales pitches, Korra tries to forcibly conscript an airbender out of his mother's basement. It doesn't work.
    • The Earth Kingdom had the real deal going, press-ganging all airbenders in Ba Sing Se into the army using the Dai Li.
  • Mutually Exclusive Magic: As in the original series, only the Avatar can bend all four elements, on account of being fused with the light spirit Raava. Everyone else can only bend one. In the case of children of mixed heritage, they may inherit either one, or none at all, but never both.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • Based on his facial expression, Zaheer gets a subtle one in "Beyond the Wilds" when he hears he is indirectly responsible for the rise of the worst dictator the Earth Kingdom has ever seen. He starts to make amends by helping Korra to overcome her spiritual block.
    • Bataar Jr. experiences this after Kuvira intentionally nearly kills him in an attempt to kill Korra. He expresses his guilt and confusion to Su and worries that his family will never forgive him.
  • My Parents Are Dead: In "The Revelation", Mako snaps at Korra when she comments she has people to take care of her, and his brother Bolin explains to Korra that they have been orphaned for quite some time. Later, Mako elaborates further, revealing to Korra that at age eight, he witnessed his parents' murder during a mugging by a firebender.
  • Mythology Gag: In "A Breath of Fresh Air", Meelo forces Bumi to airbend at the dinner table by hurling a plate at him. This is very similar to how the original Bumi caused Aang (Bumi's father/Meelo's grandfather) to expose himself as an airbender in "The King of Omashu" in the original series.

  • Neutrality Backlash: Unalaq convinces Korra that remaining neutral in the conflict between the Northern and Southern Water Tribes is the proper role of the Avatar. When she tries to mitigate a stand-off between between some Northern troops and Southern civilians, the Southern children the whole thing started over label her "the worst Avatar ever."
  • Never Going Back to Prison: All of the four main Red Lotus characters feel this way. When it looks like Ghazan will be defeated by Mako and Bolin, he kills himself rather than be captured and return to jail. Their prisons were worst than most, to be fair.
  • Never My Fault: When Raava explained the Fantastic Racism between spirits and humans were due to Spirits essentially taking over the world and confining the humans to a few isolated cites she went on to call human selfish and self centered when after generations of being confined to lion turtles they forgot that there were others out there.
    • Varrick is called out on this habit by Asami that everything he does wrong is "allegedly" and only around the end of the series does he come around.
    • As "Remembrances" gleefully points out, this has been Mako's M.O. throughout the series, specifically when it comes to his romantic foibles (ex. trying to deny ever dating Asami,) and his weak denials of them in the present.
  • Never Say "Die":
    • Eska and Desna say the words expired and perish, but this is only because they like talking in Spock Speak.
    • Book 3 has the rather grisly on-screen asphyxiation of the Earth Queen, but conspicuously uses euphemisms like "took out" or "brought down" to refer to the event afterward. Oddly enough, immediately afterwards, Bumi and Kya observe that they are going to die when The Red Lotus attacks the Northern Air Temple. Two episodes later, it's averted again as Korra says to Zaheer, "You killed my father!"
    • In the Book 4 finale Kuvira asks Korra "Are we ... dead?" after being transported to the spirit world, which is answered with "No, we're ok."
  • Never Trust a Trailer:
    • "The Spirit of Competition" looked as if it would focus completely on the pro-bending tournament, but was really an episode about the Love Dodecahedron.
    • The trailer for the Book 1 finale had a blatant lie. The trailer showed a clip with Amon saying that he would rid the world of bending forever that night. It's actually an edited clip of him promising to rid the world of airbending, which would have betrayed the plot twist.
    • The first clip released of Book 4 is set not long after the end of Book 3, making it seem as if the series would pick up right where the the last season left off. The official trailer, released not long after, then revealed that Book 4 actually has a three year timeskip, putting that clip into context as a flashback.
  • New Era Speech:
    • Amon gives one of these at an Equalist rally where he publicly humiliates benders on stage in order to incite non-benders to take action and upset the social order.
    • Korra gives one at the end of Book 2 about how spirits and humans can live in peace.
    • At the start of Book 3, Zaheer gives a monologue about how he can use his new Airbending abilities to change the world for what he feels to be the better.
  • N.G.O. Superpower: The Equalists have an truly incredible amount of resources for a revolutionary organization. By the end of the first season, they've built an army large enough to take over Republic City in one day and easily fight off the United Forces' counterattack. They can field airships, motorcycles, armored cars, Mini-Mecha, and an Air Force, while also having huge hidden factories and airfields to manufacture, store and maintain them all. Justified because they're bankrolled by Future Industries, which has those kinds of resources at its disposal.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!:
    • Lin Beifong voluntarily resigns from the police force due to her failures to curb the Equalist threat. However, that allows Tarrlok to manipulate the new chief of police.
    • In the start of season 2, Korra's quickness to trust and help her uncle ends up giving him just what he needs to launch an invasion.
    • In Beginnings, Wan uses his firebending to stop Raava and Vaatu from fighting, freeing the spirit of darkness to wreak havoc on the world.
    • Leaving the Spirit Portals open sounded like a good idea, right? Wrong. Turns out that Zaheer gained the ability to airbend, got himself out of jail, and reform the Red Lotus. It later on led to Kuvira's army being able to create spirit weapons, which caused disruption in certain areas in Republic City.
    • "Long Live The Queen" has Korra and Asami attempt to commandeer an airship. During the fight with the captain and co-pilot, Korra slams them into the dashboard so hard that she smashes the steering wheel and the radio, causing the ship to crash in the desert.
    • Suyin killing P'Li in "Enter the Void" turned out to be this since Zaheer's love for P'Li was his last earthly tether. With her dead, he is able to become the first airbender in thousands of years to achieve the power of flight, which allows him to escape with Korra.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!:
    • In "Out of the Past", Korra is solidly trapped in a metal cage, unable to break herself out, and is only freed when the Equalists try and fail to subdue her and capture her themselves.
    • When Tenzin first learns that airbenders are returning in season 3, he has a hard time recruiting people to rebuild the air nation until he rescues the air benders kept prisoner by the Earth Queen.
    • Zaheer killing the Earth Queen and injecting Korra with mercury poison for her to recover after 3 years ends up leading to an even more dangerous tyrant (Kuvira) taking control. Korra even thanked him for creating Kuvira's rise to power. Oops?
    • Ghazan lavabending the entire Northern Air Temple has led to Bolin, while escaping, to inadvertently learn how to lavabend. Looks like that didn't go well for Ghazan the next time they fought.
  • No Cartoon Fish:
    • Practically every animal in the series is a Mix-and-Match Critter... except the plain old fish Korra catches in the first chapter.
    • Season two's third episode subverts this. Bolin explains that Eska will freeze him in a block of ice and feed him to dolphin-piranhas if he tries to break up with her.
  • No Celebrities Were Harmed: While not closely visually related to their historical equivalents, some characters share features of famous people of the World War era (with one or two more modern examples).
    • Varrick's eccentric mannerisms, quick temper, and business layout are very similar to that of American media mogul William Randolph Hearst. In "Peacemakers", he furthers the similarities by openly filming the civil war and splicing it with fake footage to make it propaganda, a practice Hearst used in the Mexican theatre of WWI.
    • Varrick can also be seen as an expy of Howard Hughes, since both men were incredibly prolific and highly eccentric inventors. Hughes was also a well known film tycoon and businessman.
    • The Earth Queen is a dead ringer for the Empress Dowager Cixi, known for her conservatism, autocratic rule, and - according to even the most charitable accounts - her immense wastefulness.
    • After getting his head shaved, Zaheer bears a striking resemblance to his voice actor Henry Rollins.
    • Hiroshi Sato after some years in jail looks a lot like Hayao Miyazaki.
  • No Endor Holocaust: Averted and played straight, but justified, in the final episodes. Averted in that the destruction caused by Kuvira's giant robot laser canon and the attempts to stop it is shown completely in all its horrifying glory. Played straight in that no civilians are killed in the fighting, which is justified because the protagonists spend several episodes evacuating Republic City before the fighting starts in earnest.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: The guard aboard the Earth Kingdom airship, who is genuinely nice to Asami, suffers this. She proceeds to use his kindness to escape and clobber him, which leads on to Korra crashing the airship.
  • Non-Human Sidekick:
    • Korra's polar-bear dog, Naga.
    • Bolin has a Fire Ferret buddy called Pabu.
    • Wan's cat deer, Mula.
    • Bumi has a pet dragonfly-bunny called Bumi Junior, or Bum-Ju.
  • Nonstandard Character Design: The spirits that appear in book two have a noticeably different art and animation style.
  • No Range Like Point-Blank Range: When Amon restrains him with bloodbending, Mako blasts him with lightning at point-blank range. Naturally, he is unharmed.
  • No-Sell:
    • Flashbacks in "Out of the Past" show that, in the Avatar State, bloodbending has little effect at all upon Aang.
    • Amon has the ability to simply shrug off bloodbending with little more than a few jittery steps, and it is later revaled that he is a better bloodbender.
    • Pretty much anyone fighting against Ghazan.
      Bolin: I can't beat this guy! It's like I'm giving him ammo!
  • Not an Act: Mako and Bolin are held captive by Bolin's sort-of fiancee Eska and her brother Desna as Unalaq fuses with the evil spirit Vaatu. Bolin starts blubbering that he and Eska will never be together if the world is destroyed, prompting Eska to kiss and release him (as Mako and Desna share an "are you seeing this too?" look). As Mako and Bolin escape, Mako congratulates Bolin on his acting skills. Bolin mumbles something like "yeah... acting..." and sheds a Single Tear.
  • Not Bad: In "A Leaf in the Wind" stoic Mako sincerely offers this compliment when Korra successfully follows Bolin's pro-bending advice. It backfires, as she assumes she has been Damned by Faint Praise, to Mako's confusion.
    Mako: What? I said "Not bad."
  • Not Me This Time:
    • In Book One, Tarrlok kidnaps Korra and frames the Equalists for it, leading the heroes to attack an Equalist base. The Equalists end up going after Tarrlok and trying to kidnap Korra for real.
    • In Book Two, Future Industries shipments bound for the Southern Water Tribe are intercepted by waterbenders assumed to be working for Unalaq. They're actually working for Varrick, who is trying to bankrupt Future Industries so he can buy a controlling interest.
    • Book 3 has Korra and Asami be captured by an earthbender while running away from Ghazan. Turns out said earthbender was working for the Earth Queen.
  • Not Now, Kiddo: In Book Two, Mako is a rookie police officer and a beat cop, and Chief Beifong does not prove amenable to him acting like a detective or bypassing the chain of command, especially not when listening to him and working with him might have the whole case wrapped up.
  • Not So Different:
    • In chapter eight, Tarrlok compares Korra to himself this way, saying they both use force to get what they want. It is promptly turned on him when Korra states that his actions towards non-benders makes him no better than Amon, making his eye twitch in fury.
    • Deconstructed in "The Coronation" when Bolin tries to defend Kuvira's actions by saying that she's just like Korra. Mako, and presumably the audience, is extremely skeptical. Reconstructed in the Book 4 finale, when Korra herself admits she and Kuvira are very alike. Korra uses this realization to better understand Kuvira's motives.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You: Averted.
    • When Korra freefalls from hundreds of feet in the air, Chief Beifong does not catch her. She extends a metallic cable, allowing Korra to swing down and slow her descent more gradually and safely.
    • Whenever Korra jumps into the water, she creates a water spout to slow her descent.
    • In a more humorous example, when Bumi falls off a cliff and catches himself just short of impact with his new-found airbending, he notes that falling three feet onto the hard ground and landing on your face still hurts quite a lot.
  • Noodle Incident: God only knows what happened when Tenzin and Lin broke up, but given the look on her face it must have been epic.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The second season ends with some pretty major shake-ups to the status quo. Unalaq opens the portals between the spirit and mortal world, and they stay open. Spirits and humans can intermingle freely again, and will have to learn to get along. The previous Avatar Cycle has been destroyed, so Korra can no longer get help from her past lives. Finally, Korra and Mako permanently break up on amicable terms.
  • No, You
    • In "Welcome to Republic City" Korra is not that good with the verbal wit when engaging a member of the local Muggle Power movement.
      Protestor: Benders like this girl only use their power to oppress us!
      Korra: What? I'm not oppressing anyone! You—You're oppressing yourselves!
      Protestor: That didn't even make sense!
    • In "The Spirit of Competition," an unhappy Bolin gets one, but he has the excuse of being "drunk" on his Comfort Food:
      Mako: I told you that dating a teammate was a bad idea.
      Bolin: You're a bad idea!
    • "Rebel Spirit" gives us yet another younger-sibling example:
      Ikki: I wanna get tattoos! But instead of arrows, I want lightning bolts!
      Jinora: You can't get lightning bolts. That doesn't make any sense.
      Ikki: You don't make any sense!
    • A more serious variant comes when Unalaq, of all people, questions Tenzin's parenting skills - see Insult Backfire.
    • In "Peacekeepers."
      Korra: I can't be around you when you're like this!
      Mako:'re the one who's like this!
    • Korra does a bad job describing her conversation with Zaheer, leading to this exchange:
    Korra: You have to let me out! The Earth Queen is in danger from a group of terrorists calling themselves the Red Lotus. I talked to one of them in the Spirit World yesterday. He's insane!
    Captain: Screaming about terrorists in the Spirit World? You're the one that sounds insane.

  • Obfuscating Stupidity: Varrick pretends to be a Cloud Cuckoolander, but he's very clever. He exploits the civil war between the Southern and Northern Water Tribes to increase tensions and make it more favorable to war profiteering, at the same time covertly sabotaging Asami's struggling company so he can buy it out. Either that, or he really is a Cloud Cuckoolander who simply has no scruples whatsoever when it comes to making money and knows how to use his eccentricities to distract people from the fact that he's manipulating them.
  • Obliviously Evil: Bolin works for Kuvira in Book 4, under the pretense that she is bringing peace to the Earth Kingdom, ignorant of her ruthlessness and her need for absolute control.
  • Obvious Rule Patch: Pro-bending didn't take into account what would happen if the Avatar became a player. The referees allowed Korra to continue, but only as long as she bent a single element.
  • Official Couple:
    • Originally, Mako and Korra's relationship was the primary romantic focus of the show, though over time it becomes less relevant.
    • As of the Grand Finale, Korra and Asami have become this, as confirmed by Mike and Bryan
  • Off-Model:
    • During a flashback, Toph is drawn with six fingers. They forgot to correct this when the same scene came up again, even though the scene isn't just a reused clip.
    • In several scenes during "When Extremes Meet" Asami changes between her regular outfit and racing outfit, the difference is that the former outfit has a skirt.
    • It was this reason (among others) that Studio Pierrot did only six episodes of season two. Most noticeably, the characters never blink.
    • While still drawn well, the animation became somewhat lazy after the first season (perfectly still characters with only their mouth flaps moving, unanimated background characters, still montages instead of animated scenes, etc.)
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: In "The Spirit of Competition", all we hear of the Wolf-Bats fight is some noise of the hits and the buzzer going off every few seconds. When we look back at them, they won their match in the first round and their opponents are being carried out on stretchers, indicating how brutal the Wolf-Bats' methods are.
  • Offscreen Teleportation: Special points to Tenzin in "A Leaf in the Wind" for somehow making it from Air Temple Island to the Pro Bending Ring in the 30 seconds between the match resuming and Korra getting knocked into the pool below. Airbenders travel fast.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • In "A Leaf in the Wind" the White Lotus guards Spit Take when they are listening to the radio and learn that Korra is playing in the pro-bending playoff. Cue Tenzin furiously storming off to the pro-bending arena to personally find Korra.
    • Tahno gets a moment when the Equalists subdue him and Amon approaches him. We get a close up of his face just before Amon takes his bending.
    • The new Chief of Police Saikhan gets one when he sees Councilman Tenzin coming into his station after Tarrlok ordered him to arrest Korra's friends and many innocent non-benders.
    • Korra when she realizes that Tarrlok is a bloodbender and can do it without the full moon.
    • Tarrlok in chapter nine when Amon demonstrates that he can resist bloodbending.
    • Amon gets a subtle one in the finale when Korra calls him Noatak and he realizes she knows his true identity. Being Crazy-Prepared, though, he deflects her accusations rather quickly. Later, when he is seen waterbending by everyone, he gets a much better one.
    • The Earth Queen, as she watches Zaheer bending the air out of her lungs.
    • The outpost guards in "Kuvira's Gambit" can only stare in fear and confusion at Kuvira's Humongous Mecha emerging from the fog. They are Deer in the Headlights as Kuvira fires her spirit weapon and completely destroys the outpost. Many similar moments occur as Kuvira makes her way to Republic City.
      Bolin: I know what happens next! We gotta get out of here, now! Now!
    • Vaatu gets one despite not having a face when Wan permanently merges with Raava, visibly backing away from the newly formed Avatar; the dot of his diamond-shaped "eye" visibly shrinks to accentuate the effect.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: The Wolfbat's over the top entrance in "And the Winner Is..." comes complete with a choir chanting ominously in the background.
  • Once a Season: Someone calling Korra "the worst Avatar ever". Korra even does this to herself.
    • Mako using lightningbending at the end of a season, regardless of whether he's used it earlier in the same book as a Finishing Move:
      • In Book 1, used it to hit Amon.
      • In Book 2, used it to Hold the Line against Dark Spirits to protect Korra's body.
      • In Book 3, used it to kill Ming-Hua in a do-or-die situation.
      • In Book 4, used it to destroy the mass of spirit vines powering the Colossus.
  • One Name Only: In-universe, surnames are the exception instead of the rule, and tend to indicate wealth, as with Lin Beifong, and Hiroshi and Asami Sato, though Combat Commentator Shiro Shinobi also has a surname.
  • The Oner: There is a very epic 21 second single shot in "Venom of the Red Lotus" tracking Zaheer flying at top speed while Korra chases and attacks him with earth and firebending; in the middle of the shot he stops, the camera passes him and turns around to watch him attack Korra. It's one of the most visually incredible moments of the show.
  • On the Rebound: Mako gets back together with Asami in less than a week after breaking up with Korra, something Bolin calls him out on.
  • OOC Is Serious Business: When Korra uncharacteristically refuses an offer to join an Equalist-hunting taskforce in favor of finishing her training, Tenzin correctly deduces that she's doing so out of fear rather than any sense of obligation.
  • Opening Narration: In the same style of the original. The demonstrative benders are the Avatars Kyoshi, Roku, Aang, and Korra. Tenzin inherits the speaking role from his mother. The "Previously On…" segments use a sepia tone and a dramatic announcer, indicative of the era because of their great similarities to 1920's film.
    • The pilot differs slightly from the rest of the chapters, using a longer recap:
      "Earth. Fire. Air. Water. When I was a boy, my father, Avatar Aang, told me the story of how he and his friends heroically ended the Hundred Year War. Avatar Aang and Firelord Zuko transformed the Fire Nation colonies into the United Republic of Nations: a society where benders and non-benders from all over the world could live and thrive in peace and harmony. They named the capital of this great land Republic City. Avatar Aang accomplished many remarkable things in his life, but sadly his time in this world came to an end, and, like the cycle of the seasons, the cycle of the Avatar began anew."
    • Later chapters use a shorter narration and the demonstrative bending is sped up:
      "Only the Avatar can master all four elements and bring balance to the world."
    • In chapter seven, Tarrlok replaces the announcer in the Previously On… segment, which is also changed to a press conference recap instead of the film style of the previous chapters (though the sepia tone is kept).
  • Opposing Sports Team: The Wolf Bats are a group of cheating jerks that are established champs, in contrast to the honest underdogs of the main characters' team of choice, the Fire Ferrets.
  • Opposites Attract:
    • Hot-headed waterbender Korra and cool-headed firebender Mako.
    • Also the case with the tomboyish, technologically-stunted, Boisterous Bruiser Master-Of-All-Four-Elements Korra, and the feminine, Wrench Wench Ojou, non-bender Asami
  • Once More, with Clarity!: Throughout the series, Korra has visions of Aang in the past. In "Out of the Past", these scenes are shown again in context.
  • Orange/Blue Contrast:
    • The pro-bending arena is divided between an orange half and a blue half. Interestingly, the protagonists tend to fight on the blue half while the opposing teams stick to the orange half.
    • During the fight in "The Stakeout," Mako's fire bending and Ghazan's lava bending contrast with the cool blue nighttime pallet of the background and Ming Hua's water bending, creating a stunning visual effect.
  • Orbital Shot: Used in "The Revelation" when Korra and Mako are fighting some chi-blockers.
  • Order Versus Chaos:
    • This is a battle that Vaatu (Chaos) and Raava (Order) must fight every 10,000 years during Harmonic Convergence.
    • More subtly, Book Three's villain Zaheer is an anarchist and Book 4's villain Kuvira is a dictator. Zaheer is fighting order (in the form of formal governments) while Kuvira is fighting the chaos that erupted after Zaheer's uprising. Both of them briefly help Korra take down the other.
    • Doubling as a Red Oni, Blue Oni couple, this can be said of Korra and Mako. Korra represents freedom-based chaos, as she is carefree, rebellious, and hardly does things by the book. Mako is an officer of the law who stands for logical order, favoring control and oversight.
  • Organic Technology: The Earth Empire devises a Fantastic Nuke by harnessing the power of spirit vines. The robotic Colossus itself is powered by an enormous clump of spirit vines that are even arranged to resemble a brain.
  • Orgy of Evidence: In "The Terror Within", Aiwei sets this up on a random guard when investigating how the villains infiltrated the ironclad-security city of Zaofu and almost succeeded in abducting Korra. It sets off Mako's suspicion first, since it's his job as a police detective back at Republic City.
  • Origins Episode: The "Beginnings" two-parter, which explains the early history of the world and the origin of the very first Avatar.
  • Our Founder:
    • Republic City has a massive, Statue of Liberty-esque monument to Aang, one of the city's co-founders, in Yue Bay. His face is also printed on the Yuan.
    • Toph, inventor of metalbending and establisher of the force, has a gold statue at Police Headquarters.
      • In Zaofu, she has two statues, one of which has her in Metal Clan garb and holding up the city's symbol.
    • Zuko has his own statue at Central City Station, with him holding up an eternal flame.
    • The Cabbage Merchant has a statue in front of Cabbage Corp's main building, proudly holding a cabbage above his head.
    • Sokka had a statue in front of the Southern Water Tribe Cultural Center. Before it exploded.
  • Our Souls Are Different: "The Beginnings" demonstrates that spirits can fuse with humans temporarily, and in extreme cases bond souls forever. "Darkness Falls" shows that even this permanent bond can be destroyed by an outside force.
  • Out of Focus:
    • Korra's leaving the Spirit Portals open and her limited efforts to find a way for humans and spirits to live together are given only token attention in season 3, and are quickly pushed into the background by Zaheer with season 4 having it relegated to a footnote on a sideplot.
    • Asami gets the absolute worst of this as her sub-plots either get hijacked by other characters or just remain hers yet overshadowed by others. In Book 1, her being a non-bender rebelling against Hiroshi and the Equalists is put on the backburner compared to Mako fawning over Korra and ignoring Asami until the penultimate episode to officially break up. In Book 2, besides being unseen for 4 episodes, her sub-plot to save her company ends up being commandeered by Mako then Bolin while she rebounds with the former and literally spectates watching the latter do the job for her instead of helping out. Book 3 makes up for previous romantic mess by becoming closer to Korra, but still has less individual screentime and lines than Mako. And finally, Book 4 gives her the most sub-plots she's ever had and even more than the rest of the team yet Mako still gets more screentime/lines as well as getting overshadowed and has such little amount of screentime that even supporting character, Varrick is more focused on than her.
    • The Fire Nation and its royal family are give much less prominence than in the first show. Korra only very briefly visits the country in season 2 after Iroh tells her to go talk to his mother, Fire Lord Izumi, because he can’t help her. She gets attacked by a spirit on the way to see Izumi and then leaves right after she wakes up from a coma in a temple. As for the royal family, Iroh is a fairly prominent side character in season 1 but doesn’t show up too much after that. Zuko appears in season 3 and in a cameo in season 4 but given that he’s pushing 90 pre-Time Skip, he’s not in the action very much. Izumi appears in a cameo in the same episode with Zuko and gets to speak a few episodes later. She’s onscreen for, at most, three minutes in the entire show. She and Korra never directly interact and we never see any members of the family interact either. She also has a daughter who they couldn’t fit into the show and who her husband (if she’s even married) and mother are also never explained. It's never even been confirmed whether or not she's a bender. The In-Universe given for this is that Zuko and Izumi are somewhat isolationist. Izumi and her daughter were supposed to have a bigger role in season 4 but they got cut for a lack of time when an episode got cut out of the budget.

  • Pair the Suitors: The first season features a love triangle between Korra, Asami and their mutual love interest Mako. Both girls date, and later break up with, him at different points in the show. The series finale ends with Korra and Asami becoming a couple.
  • Parental Abandonment: Mako and Bolin, whose parents were murdered when the brothers were eight and seven, respectively. They had to take care of themselves at a young age while living on the streets. Mako, in particular, took on the parenting role.
  • Parental Favoritism:
    • Apparently Aang spent much more time with Tenzin than with his non-airbender children, to the point of taking him on vacations conveniently without the rest of their family.
    • Lin alleges that Toph letting Suyin off the hook for scarring her and breaking the law is this.
  • Pardon My Klingon: "What the flameo happened here?"
  • People Puppets:
    • Bloodbending, like in the previous series. Yakone, Tarrlok, and Amon have the added benefit of not needing a full moon to do it.
    • While bloodbending was only used at most on a couple people simultaneously in the previous series, Yakone, Amon and Tarrlok are shown to be capable of manipulating several benders/nonbenders all at once.
    • Yakone takes the cake by far. He could bloodbend a courtroom full of people, simultaneously, on broad daylight and using only his face. It's no wonder that Aang decided to permanently take his bending away. In a very real way he was more powerful than Ozai during the comet!
  • Perpetual Storm: There was a blizzard at the South Pole that lasted decades, known as the Everstorm.
  • Person as Verb: An angry Varrick coined two in the same sentence: "Zhu Li'd" for an act of betrayal, and "Varricked" for suicide by Fantastic Nuke.
  • Pet the Dog: After finding Naga and Pabu in visible distress, Lin gets annoyed, as always, when they get too affectionate towards her. Then she hands them a piece of seal jerky which does a great job of cheering them up.
  • Physical, Mystical, Technological:
    • Of Team Avatar, Korra herself is the obviously the Mystical, being the Avatar and having strong connections with the Spirit World, though she prefers using more aggressive Bending styles like Earth and Fire than the more spiritually-driven Air. Bolin is the Physical because he's a strong Earthbender (who later on learns the insanely powerful Lavabending), but doesn't have much in terms of Spirit connection. Asami is the Technological, as she's a non-bender who relies on technology, machines and being a Combat Pragmatist to hold her own against bender enemies.
    • Each Arc Villain also follows the theme: Amon is the Physical, as he fights enemies head-on and erases their power, Unalaq and Zaheer are the Mystical, as Unalaq is a powerful Waterbender with connections with the Spirit Realm, and later forms a pact with the evil god Vaatu, while Zaheer is an ascetic Airbender anarchist obsessed with Air Nomad culture and mysticism, whose intense meditation gives him the power to fly freely. Kuvira is the Technological, as her army uses lots of hi-tech weapons and machines including a giant spirit-powered cannon and a Humongous Mecha. Subverted with Zaheer, as he tends to use his spiritually-driven Airbending to fight up close instead of being a Squishy Wizard.
  • Plot Parallel: Ikki's relationship with her brother and sister parallels Tenzin's relationship with his siblings. When Tenzin finds Ikki, they both praise the merits of the other's siblings in a way to put things in perspective.
  • Plot-Relevant Age-Up: Inverted: Korra's lack of experience in spiritual matters means she regresses to childhood within a few minutes of entering the Spirit World. After she learns some useful life lessons and rescues a baby dragon-bird, she returns to her current age.
  • Police Are Useless: Zig-zagged: in general the police are quickly taken down in their first fight against the Equalists, but they were ambushed by mooks wielding weapons specifically developed to be used against them, and tend to improve after experience. As for individuals, they range from utter incompetents like Lu and Gang, to utter badasses like Lin, who is herself sometimes blinded by short temper and stubbornness.
  • Portal Network:
    • The Spirit World portals can be used for near-instantaneous travel between the poles, as well as between the physical and spirit worlds. Unalaq's ultimate goal is initially assumed to be to use them to unite the Water Tribes.
    • Korra creates a new spirit portal in the middle of Republic City in the series finale, after bending the out-of-control energy of Kuvira's spirit vine cannon.
  • Potty Emergency:
  • Powers as Programs: Bending worked this way in the era before the Avatar. Lion turtles would give people bending powers to protect themselves and then took them back when they were no longer needed. Before he became the Avatar, Wan could only use one bending art at a time and had to have Raava switch them out for him.
  • Powered Armor: After three years and some upgrades, Varrick armed Kuvira's army with these. While smaller than the Mecha Tanks used in the first two seasons, they are faster and more agile while also armed with Flamethrowers and Lightning guns.
  • Power Trio:
  • Practice Target Overkill: When the Spirit Cannon is first tested, it puts a hole clear through a mountain.
  • Pre Ass Kicking One Liner:
    • Amon: "It is time for you to be Equalized."
    • Jinora: "Stay away from my dad's ex-girlfriend!"
    • Raava: "We are bonded forever."
  • Precocious Crush: Meelo has one on Asami. Jinora and Ikki also refer to Mako as "cute" or "dreamy," though that's at least partly just to tease Korra.
  • Pretender Diss: Tarrlok brings up Aang's defeat of a man named Yakone 42 years before the start of the series during his speech calling for an anti-Amon task force, resulting in...
    Tenzin: This is a completely different situation, and how dare you compare yourself to Avatar Aang!
  • Prevent the War: In season 1, Korra tries to defuse the Equalist/Bender conflict, and season two she tries to stop the Northern and Southern Water Tribes from fighting.
  • Previously On…: Narrated by Combat Commentator Shiro Shinobi, in the style of a sepia-toned 20s-era movie serial with melodramatic background music.
  • Princeling Rivalry: Tonraq as the strong first born, and Unalaq as the smart plotting second born. Unalaq tricks Tonraq into getting himself banished, thus becoming the King in the North, while Tonraq still became a pretty high ranking member of the South. After experimenting in the Spirit World, and his treachery being unveiled, Unalaq becomes stronger than Tonraq too and actually engages and defeats him in a proper duel.
  • Pride: A flaw for a number of characters, namely the title character herself.
  • Product Placement: In-universe only.
    • During the bender battle where Bolin vomits over the side, narrator Shiro decides to mention their sponsor Flamey-O noodles.
    • Discussed during the filming of the propaganda movie to draw attention to the Southern Water Tribe invasion. Ginger is shown applying her hair dye in the movie, and it'll sell rapidly after it airs.
  • Psycho Rangers: The Red Lotus are, in essence, a team of Evil Counterparts to Team Avatar.
  • Purity Personified: Applies, obviously, to Raava, the spirit of light and peace, but also to Jinora, whose innocence and intimacy with the spirits lead to her fusing with the Korra-Kaiju to help her defeat Vaatu.
  • Putting the Band Back Together: Book 4 has Team Avatar having to reassemble again after going their separate ways for three years.
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • The Season 2 finale sees Korra restore the Spirits and end the war in the Water Tribe, but at a great cost to her abilities as an Avatar. Korra saved the world from Unalaq and Vaatu, preventing darkness from engulfing and destroying the world as they know it, but also broke the previous Avatar cycle in the battle. This winds up costing her ten thousand years worth of skills and knowledge built up in the lives of previous avatars, as well as apparently permanently destroying the spirits of those previous Avatars, including Aang.
    • Book 3 finale serves as one for both Korra and the Big Bad, Zaheer. It ends with Korra depressed, confined to a wheelchair owing to poisoning and with signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. Goes for the Red Lotus as well: they managed to dismantle the Earth Kingdom's government, the anarchy is slowly spreading, and they managed to badly break the Avatar even though she wasn't killed. However, they lost three of their most powerful members, with Zaheer, the lone survivor, imprisoned again.

  • Race Against the Clock: The plot of the third chapter of Book One is to rescue Bolin before the Equalists take away his bending. They come right down to the nail.
  • Racial Remnant: Tenzin and his family, for the Air Nomads. Until Book Three, when many people gain the power of Airbending and begin to repopulate the Air Nomads.
  • Rage Against the Legal System: Korra herself, when her father is found guilty of high treason. Her first reaction is to threaten the judge's life in the courthouse. Then, to kidnap him and threaten to feed him to Naga. (The judge is corrupt, and so kind of deserves it, but she doesn't know that, at least not at first. And it does not make her look very good to the courtroom audience any which way.)
  • Ragtag Bunch of Misfits:
    • The New Team Avatar is this; a cocky, arrogant Avatar-in-training, two Street Urchins and a Fallen Princess.
    • Tenzin's airbender trainees can be considered this in "Original Airbenders", when they go to take on the air bison poachers.
    • Zaheer and his crew consist of an airbender who favours chaos and is not above violence, a waterbender with no arms, an earthbender who bends lava, and a combustion-bender who is built like a WNBA player.
  • Reality Ensues:
    • Republic City is governed by a council made entirely of benders, one of which only represents a small island of people on the outskirts of the city, and two representatives for the Water Tribe (which at that point nominally were one country anyway). It's not surprising that the non-benders of the city felt they had no representation and gave Amon quite a few followers.
    • The dysfunctional family back stories that plague the modern day characters almost feel like deconstructions of the presumed happy endings of the protagonists of the first series.
      • Childhood sweethearts Aang and Katara got married when they grew up and had three kids - Bumi, Kya and Tenzin - but they proved to be a case of Parents as People due to Aang's responsibilities as the Avatar and need to pass on his culture and bending to Tenzin, which lead to some favoritism over Kya and Bumi. You can’t blame Aang for having a lot on his plate but Kya and Bumi were just kids who didn’t understand the weight their dad and brother were carrying on their shoulders. This ultimately ended up damaging Tenzin’s relationships with his older siblings who grew up resenting him and vice versa, to say nothing of the enormous pressure this placed on Tenzin.
      • Toph Bei Fong was also not an ideal parent if not worse by neglecting her daughters Lin and Suyin with her "hands off" parenting that was meant to give them the space and freedom she never had, which left both girls feeling alienated and unloved and, in Lin's case, seriously damaged her ability to form healthy relationships with others and ultimately caused Lin to become estranged from both her mother and sister when Toph hypocritically chose to protect Suyin from the legal ramifications of breaking the law (and scarring Lin's face). It’s also implied that Lin had to be responsible for Suyin from a very young age which isn’t something any child wants to do or anyone who comes from money should be expected to do. It also didn't help that Toph dismissed Lin's desire to learn about her father and not revealing his identity until the latter was almost retirement age. Turns out that if you're an insensitive and neglectful parent at least one of your kids is going to end up resenting you.
      • Although ironic, Zuko turning out to be a better parent than Toph and Aang is actually quite realistic. While Toph was merely overprotected, Zuko lost his mom and then had his face burned by his dad over a minor response. That kind of mistreatment would push anyone to try as hard as possible to avoid parenting mistakes. Even if Izumi is a head of state in her fifties with two grown children of her own, Zuko drops everything to go to make sure the Red Lotus doesn’t kill her. From what little we see of her, Izumi is the most well-adjusted of all of the Gaang’s kids and seems to have been a good mother herself.
    • In Avatar: The Last Airbender, elderly masters like Bumi or Pakku or Hama were still as capable fighters as the younger benders. But in The Legend of Korra Toph openly admits old age has caught up with her and Katara, which is why they tend to avoid conflicts these days (Though Toph still proves she's not too old to kick the ass of Kuvira's troops in order to save her family when she is a direct threat to her family). And based on the one fight we see Zuko in, he isn't in top form anymore, either.
    • A central theme of the series is that no matter who Korra defeats, a new Big Bad will always rise up to take their place and pose a threat to the world. Toph, Tenzin, and Asami eventually teach her that yes, there'll always be a new Big Bad, but the good that comes from defeating every Big Bad, stopping them from hurting people in the world and learning from each enemy is always more than worth it.
    • Tenzin learns to his dismay that despite many people around the world attaining the power of Airbending, not all of them are going to want to drop everything, including their family, work, and lives, and come help resurrect a centuries-dead culture. Also, some like Zaheer, can and will use Airbending to its fullest, lethal potential and that a revived Airbending culture doesn't mean that everybody will adopt air nomadic ways.
    • Iroh refrains from giving Korra too much in the way of advice when she meets him in Book Three, as he is from a long-past era and can't give his views on a world he's not been a part of for almost half a century. Instead, he points her in the right direction to Zuko for help.
    • Although the world has gone through the equivalent of the Industrial Revolution in the time between the shows, large parts of the Earth Kingdom haven’t developed much since Aang’s childhood since it’s so big. In real life, it happened in the US from around the time of the Civil War in the 1860s to the New Deal in the 1930s, in Russia in the time period leading up to and following its revolution in 1917, and modern day China.
    • Usually in shows (especially those aimed towards children), many characters go through ordeals that would traumatize real people if they experienced the same thing. This notably includes, but is not limited to, near-death experiences and dying in general. At best, they might not flinch. At worst, they may have one or two time emotional breakdowns which might change their personality a bit, if at all. Korra, though? Her nearly dying to Zaheer during the finale of Book 3 not only broke her down emotionally, it outright gave her post-traumatic stress disorder.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
    • In "And the Winner Is..." Amon delivers one to pro-bending fans about celebrating and praising the flagrantly cheating Wolfbats, (incidentally giving due credit to the above-board Fire Ferrets) drawing a parallel to societal worship of domineering, abusive benders.
    • "Beyond the Wilds" has Korra give a long overdue one to Zaheer, for killing the Earth Queen and allowing Kuvira to rise to power. He's visibly taken aback by this, and it's enough to make him compliant. The same episode features Opal giving one to Bolin for siding with Kuvira.
  • Rebel Leader: Varrick and Tonraq separately dance around this trope for the Southern Water Tribe, though there's also the one voiced rebel that seems to represent the the group and is cast listed as the trope name. Tonraq steps up as the leader at the end of "Civil Wars Part 2".
  • Recurring Riff:
    • The SDCC '11 Trailer uses the same score that the trailers for Season 3 of ATLA used. The music is particularly moody and energetic at different times. Special award for the Editor who synched all the action so meticulously.
    • The music heard in the opening is an orchestral version of ATLA's theme.
    • The main theme is remixed and repeated often in every chapter.
    • Korra's theme usually pops up once per episode, and varies in tone depending on the mood of the scene.
    • Appearance of a spirit is often accompanied by a four-note motif.
  • Redemption Equals Death: During part 1 of the Grand Finale, Lin frees Hiroshi Sato from prison to assist Asami and Varrick with completing the Hummingbirds. While the Hummingbirds are trying to cut the Colossus' armor, Korra freezes it in place with a river, but Kuvira manages to free one of the arms. The cutting isn't finished, so Hiroshi whispers "I love you" to Asami before firing her ejector seat just as the giant metal hand comes crashing down on him. The plan works, and the armor is cut.
  • Red Eyes, Take Warning:
    • After Unalaq fuses with Vaatu, he develops these whenever he goes into Dark Avatar State.
    • Downplayed with P'Li, whose eyes are russet...but played straight with the third one tattooed on her forehead.
  • Red Herring Twist:
    • The Earth Queen's attempts to create an airbending regiment in the Earth Kingdom army greatly hinders efforts to rebuild the Air Nation. Twinned with some hostile remarks from the Earth Queen towards the United Republic, and it seems like the Queen is planning a large invasion. Then Zaheer kills the Earth Queen...
    • Bolin's arc in season 3. He wants to learn metalbending, but for some reason he can't do it. In the penultimate episode, he learns lavabending. What's more, he first lavabends in a Die or Fly scenario, and later fights Ghazan using it, either of which could have been the scenario in which he metalbent for the first time.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • In Book 2, Korra's the red oni, young and brash as she is, to Unalaq's blue oni, with his preference for more subtle and backhanded means of victory. Notably, Unalaq is actually associated with dark red to contrast the light blue that Korra adopts as the Avatar.
    • Mako is the Blue to Korra's Red; in keeping with his position as The Spock of Team Avatar, he often has to restrain Korra from doing something rash, like blowing their cover to "go knock some heads", while he himself is rather cold in Book 1 and in Book 2 is often non-committal, problems he himself acknowledges.
    • Asami is also the calm and elegant blue to Korra's brash, rough-and-rumble Red Oni. Just like with Korra and Mako, their Chromatic Arrangement is the opposite of their oni, with Asami consistently dressing in red and Korra primarily dressing in blue. They also double as the Official Couple at the series finale.
    • Also in Book 2 is Desna and Eska. As the story begins to unravel, Eska defines herself as the Red oni becoming a vicious ex-girlfriend to Bolin. While the outcasted Desna takes over as the Blue oni, being both submissive to his father and sister but open to understanding things, less dramatically than his twin.
  • Redshirt Army:
    • The Metalbending Police appear to fill this role considering how the Equalists use electric gauntlets and Mini Mechas made of platinum that the former are no match for.
    • The White Lotus mooks guarding Zaheer's happy little bunch. Zaheer and Co. cut through them like a hot knife through butter. This is somewhat justified though, as none of them were prepared for the idea of Zaheer gaining Airbending abilities.
    • Averted with the Metal Clan, who are able to hold their own against Zaheer of all people, in a world where even the most skilled fighters are usually no match for airbenders due to lack of experience.
  • Refusal of the Second Call: The living members of the Gaang only show up in a small handful of episodes each.
  • Regional Redecoration:
    • It's revealed that the Spirit Wilds that covered the globe during the Era of Raava were created when Vaatu first broke the barrier between the human and spirit worlds.
    • Following Korra's defeat of Unavaatu, part of Republic City gets covered with vines from the Spirit World.
    • After bending the energy of the spirit cannon during the final episode of the series, Korra ends up creating a third spirit portal, leaving a vine covered crater around it.
  • Relationship Upgrade: Strongly implied between Korra and Asami in the finale, and then confirmed by Word of God.
  • The Republic:
    • The United Republic of Nations is the first one in the Avatar-verse, headed by a representative council made up of ambassadors from each nation. In Book Two, this council is replaced by a popularly elected president.
    • In the series finale, Prince Wu declares his plan to reform the Earth Kingdom into a republic or multiple independent democratic nation-states.
  • Reset Button:
    • The worst of Amon's crimes in season 1 are undone in the last moments of the finale. Specifically, Korra gets her bending back and can now restore powers to Amon's previous victims using her newly-discovered energybending.
    • Harmonic Convergence is described as being this for the universe. The spirits of light and dark meet to fight a battle to define the next 10,000 years, and whatever the outcome, the world enters a new spiritual age. In Korra's case, she loses all connection with the past Avatars, but her decision to reopen the spirit portals after her victory causes the Air Nation's rebirth, and a renewed connection between the physical world and the spirit world.
  • Retired Badass:
    • A remarkable variation in "A New Spiritual Age": Uncle Iroh, former Dragon of the West, treats his death more or less like retirement, spending his days in the Spirit World with the other spirits, enjoying tea, cake and games of Pai Sho.
    • Fire Lord Zuko, having abdicated his throne, has spent the last three years roaming the earth astride his magnificent dragon, and aids Team Avatar in the fight against the Red Lotus.
    • Toph left the force after covering up Su's criminal activity to travel the world pursuing enlightenment, and now lives in the Foggy Swamp. With the exception of her daughters, everyone speaks of her with utmost reverence and still regard her as the greatest Earthbender alive.
  • The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized:
    • The Equalists are ruthless, organized, well-equipped, and determined to wipe out any benders. What makes them scarier is that they seem to enjoy at least some popular support until Amon is revealed to be a bender himself.
    • The rebels in the Southern Water Tribe. While Unalaq's actions are very questionable, they're the ones who escalate things first by trying to kidnap him. Their leader Varrick also seems to be more interested in improving his company's profits than getting the Southerners fair treatment. The rebels make a Heel–Face Turn after Tonraq takes over.
    • The Red Lotus bitterly oppose civilisation and wish to dismantle all forms of government. This begins with them assassinating the Earth Queen, freeing all of Ba Sing Se's criminals, tearing down the city's inner walls, and starting a citywide riot.
  • Rhetorical Question Blunder: In "Civil Wars: Part 1" Varrick switches between rhetorical and serious questions when complaining about Unalaq's restrictions so quickly Zhu Li and others cannot keep up.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: Abound. Aside from Naga and Pabu, the mascots of Team Avatar, there are an unlimited amount of adorable animals (like a reindeer-dog at the Misty Palms Oasis) and spirits in the Avatar World. In Korra Alone, one of these spirits (a little yellow blob with leafy ears and a childlike voice) dedicates himself to helping Korra recover spiritually. When she rebuffs his initial offer, he disguises himself as another critter, a tiny, pure-white dog, scares off her Dark Avatar self and then leads her to Toph.
  • Ring Out: An important mechanic of pro-bending. Forcing a player off the back (and only the back) of the arena and into the surrounding pool removes them from the game for the remainder of the round. Forcing all three players out in a single round is an Instant-Win Condition, which is why, in a best of three rounds format, the third round is always played. It's the only way left to win for a team down two rounds.
  • Roaring Twenties: The technology, speech mannerisms and culture are evocative of the real-life 1920's, and Word of God says this is the current time period in Korra's day. However, the Time Skip between seasons 3 and 4 moves the show into the equivalent of the 1930’s, especially with Kuvira being analogous to the fascists who came to power in the decade.
  • Romanticism Versus Enlightenment: One of the major themes explored in the series is tradition versus modernity. Spirituality versus progess also plays a part.
  • Royal Mess: The Fire Nation's ruler, a position roughly analogous to China's Emperor, is termed "Fire Lord," and as of Korra's era, the title is held by a woman. Justified - in-universe, the title is not a gendered one as it is in English: Ozai stated that he intended to crown Azula Fire Lord.
  • Rushmore Refacement: After Amon conquers Republic City, he has a large copy of his own mask placed over Aang's statue, and covers the Air Symbol on his staff with the Equalist banner.


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