I’m going to be blunt. Some fans of Avatar: The Last Airbender straight up despise its follow-up show, The Legend of Korra. Some (not all) will even claim that it ruins The Last Airbender. Not me, though. Personally, I've always felt that The Legend of Korra was the natural progression of Avatar, and that the two shows together make one full, epic storyline. One of my friends actually compared it to the first few books in the Dune series in that the sequels go further into the future, but still concern events from the previous stories.
Now, I will admit that I do prefer one series over the other, but I don’t understand the utter disdain for Korra. I mean, I get the animosity toward The Last Airbender movie, but I can’t reconcile the idea that The Legend of Korra isn't a top notch series. That’s why I’m going to rank every season of both shows together. That makes seven seasons—or Books (Avatar’s 3, and Korra’s 4). I know I’m going to catch hell for it, but I don’t care. I love both shows so much that they both deserve the spotlight. Oh, and spoilers, of course.
7. The Legend of Korra: Book 2: Spirits
I know a lot of people love Book 2 of The Legend of Korra since it goes into the history of the very first Avatar, Wan (voiced by The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun). It also has fan favorites like Uncle Iroh, who’s chilling out in the spirit world, as well as an adult version of Aang. Oh, and it probably has the most tense moment in the entire series when Korra’s connection is severed from all the other avatars. But overall, this season is just kind of a mess for me.
It’s probably because there are two antagonists in Korra’s uncle, Unalaq, and in Vaatu, the spirit of darkness and chaos. Plus, the whole season just seems lopsided with the Republic City stuff and the spirit world stuff. And finally, it has, in my opinion, the worst climax of any season from both series when Korra goes all Kaiju in her final fight against Vaatu. I love The Legend of Korra, but man, I really don’t like this season.
6. The Legend of Korra: Book 4: Balance
Book 4 was lucky to even happen, and it only appeared online. Still, I prefer Book 4 to Book 2 for two reasons—1) Kuvira is a fascinating antagonist, and 2) “Korra Alone” is widely considered the best episode in the entire series, and it even includes one Ms. Toph Beifong, who is my favorite character is the entire world of Avatar.
Book 4 is when Korra is traumatized from the events in Book 3, and you truly feel her pain. This is also the season when she finally comes into her own and grows into the Avatar you always wanted her to be. This is why I think Book 4 really helps the entire series. Still, it feels shorter and more rushed than Book 3, even though it has the same amount of chapters. Plus, even though I highly champion that the show ends on Korra and Asami’s relationship, the show could have been even ballsier by making their relationship a focal point of the season. Still, the chapters are pretty great and it's a fine way to end the series.
5. Avatar: The Last Airbender: Book 2: Earth
Okay, I know I’m going to catch hell for this, but I think Book 2: Earth is the worst season of Avatar. I know, I know. This is the chapter where we meet Toph. It's also the chapter where we get to see how crazy Azula is, and it has, arguably, the best episode in the entire series with “The Tales of Ba Sing Se.” Yes, I know all this. Book 2 has a lot of highlights. But it also has one major flaw for me—that annoying search for Appa.
I’m sorry, but the search for Appa just makes most of this season drag for me. I love Aang trying to master the Avatar state. I adore that Zuko learns he has more in common with Katara than he ever imagined. And Sokka is probably the funniest he’s ever been in this season. But that Appa stuff just kills it for me. When I think back to Book 2, all I can think of is the team trying to rescue the cherished sky bison, and that’s just a bummer for me, since the rest of the book is so good.
4. The Legend of Korra: Book 1: Air
The Legend of Korra had a rocky start. The first few chapters are painfully slow as they’re mired in stuff like the pro-bending league (Gawd!), and all the world building. Plus, all the characters don’t seem nearly as interesting as those found in ATLA. And when you look back at the entire season, it has the fewest chapters with only 12. So why is this season so high up on this list? Because of one character—Amon.
Amon is the best antagonist in the entire series since he brings so much fear and tension. A character who can take bending away from benders? It sounds too horrible to be true. And it’s a good thing that Amon is such a good villain, since all the other new characters—Bolin, Mako, Tenzen, Asami, and especially Korra—just seemed like lesser versions of all the characters we grew to love on Avatar: The Last Airbender. But Amon, with his desire to make everybody equal, is just such a compelling villain that it elevated the show from being a disappointment to must-watch TV. Just like Avatar.
3. Avatar: The Last Airbender: Book 1: Water
The season that started it all. It’s easy to look back and think that Season 1 is just a little too quaint since we don’t have Toph yet, Zuko is more of an angsty teen than the complex character he would later become, and it’s more just set up for what will come later in Books 2 and 3. But as a complete season, it just flows so well. Like water!
We get to see Aang’s fear of having to learn three more elements in a limited amount of time, which ratchets up the tension. We learn about the spirit world, which would become crucial to both this series and Korra, and we get to meet Avatar Roku. We also get to meet the Kyoshi Warriors and see Aang save Kyoshi Island with the Unagi. Finally, we get that great two-parter at the end with the siege of the north, which is also the best part in the mostly terrible Avatar movie. Front to back, Book 1 is just an excellent season.
2. The Legend of Korra: Book 3: Change
Book 3, which, during its initial run was first on Nickeloeon proper, and then concluded on Nick.com because of the show’s declining ratings, is the series’ best season since so much happens. For one thing, fan favorite Zuko returns as an old man. And the ramifications of what happened in Book 2 concerning the Spirit Realm seep into this season, as spirit vines are popping up all over Republic City. But probably the biggest change this season that propels the plot is that people start getting the ability to airbend again, which actually impacts Korra since the main antagonist this season, Zeheer (Voice by Henry freaking Rollins) acquires airbending abilities, too. He also eventually helps break other powerful benders out of captivity to form a group called “The Red Lotus.” Exciting stuff.
Zaheer is the most interesting antagonist since Amon, and Korra actually starts to show real growth this season as she takes her position as Avatar gravely serious and tempers her hot-headedness. In fact, if the show had ended at season 3, I think a lot more fans of The Last Airbender would have appreciated The Legend of Korra more. It would have ended off on a real high note.
1. Avatar: The Last Airbender: Book 3: Fire
The last (and best) season of Avatar, and also the best season of both shows, Fire is deserving of its name since it’s hot and never lets up. The last four episodes alone, which make up what’s called “Sozin’s Comet” are probably the most riveting in the entire series, with Aang fully realizing his powers and going head to head with Fire Lord Ozai. Plus, there’s not a single wasted episode. All of the characters’ arcs (with Zuko’s probably being the best of all from where he began to where he ends) are complete, and the dragon dance is by far my favorite moment in the entire saga.
All in all, Book 3: Fire, is the best both series have to offer. And while I still prefer The Legend of Korra as a whole, I can’t deny that this season beats out everything else. It's just so satisfying.
And that's the list. But what's your favorite book in this sweeping epic? Sound off in the comments.