For those who don’t know, I’m a pretty big fan of Avatar: The Last Airbender. I’ll recommend it to anyone that hasn’t seen it, because I feel that everyone deserves to watch at least once in their lifetime and find joy in it, whether that be through Iroh’s words of wisdom or Aang’s badass bending abilities. After, I usually tell them to check out the spinoff, The Legend of Korra, a good sequel that can be even better than the first show.
Today, I’m not going to talk about the main characters of these shows, as much as I love them. No, today I’m going to talk about the ones that we don’t talk about - and the ones that deserve a heck of a lot more praise. From some of the oldest Avatars in the series to non-benders, here are eight characters (eight plus, really) that deserve more attention.
Ty-Lee (Avatar The Last Airbender)
Ty-Lee is the first non-bender on this list and honestly, she is so badass in Avatar: The Last Airbender. I feel like no one ever really takes her seriously because of her quirky personality and (admittedly) cute behavior, since she always tries to look on the bright side and wants to just be there for her friends.
But, Ty-Lee is deadly in many ways. She may not be able to bend elements, but she is the most flexible person on this show and is able to do tricks unlike anyone else and avoid getting hit so easily. Not only that, but she knows pressure points and is able to block people's chi, and with one solid touch, she is able to render you useless and unable to use your bending abilities or even your muscles. She was even able to keep up with Kyoshi warrior, Suki, someone who was trained in combat.
Was Ty-Lee trained in warrior combat? Nah, she’s just a cartwheeler who is really good at marital arts and chi-blocking. And you have to love her.
Jinora (The Legend Of Korra)
Seriously, why does no one ever talk about her?
The first bender on the list, Jinora was featured in The Legend of Korra and was one of Aang’s grandchildren, and while she’s badass in her own right because she’s an airbender, the reason she’s on this list is that she literally replaces her grandfather - a literal Avatar - as the youngest person to ever master airbending.
This is a huge feat. When Aang accomplished this at twelve, it was a big deal, but now here is Jinora, his granddaughter, doing the same thing as one of the youngest benders ever in the series. It’s admirable. I wish I had that sort of resilience.
Wan (The Legend Of Korra)
There are plenty of great Avatars in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender, but the one that I feel is always talked about is Kyoshi. And while she was a great Avatar that didn’t hold back from hurting people to protect the ones she loved, I’m talking about Wan today - who was literally the first Avatar and featured in The Legend of Korra.
Wan (who was actually voiced by Steven Yeun), was the first one to develop the ability to bend all four elements, ten thousand years before Korra was the Avatar. While he was a bit of a troublemaker, he turned his banishment from his home into a positive by eventually bringing balance to the spirit realm, something that had never been done before. It’s because of him that Aang and Korra ended up being as powerful as they were. You have to give him credit for that.
Mai (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
To be honest, a part of me almost loves Mai from Avatar: The Last Airbender because she loved Zuko more than Azula, but I also just love her as a stoic, badass non-bender.
Her skills with her knives were legendary and could make any man or woman fear her, but what I love the most about her is the loyalty that she has to her own morals. Even if she was friends with Azula, she knew to draw the line when she could see that Azula was losing it. It takes courage to stand up to your enemies, but even more to stand up to your friends, and for that, I have to give her so much credit, much more than she gets.
Zhu Li (The Legend Of Korra)
Zhu Li was the best assistant and honestly, I’m glad that she got her happy ending in Season 4 of The Legend of Korra, because she deserved it. Working as the assistant to Varrick, she always had a calm and stoic demeanor to deal with his demands, up until the point where she just couldn't anymore, because it felt like Varrick had never appreciated her.
It wasn’t until he finally came clean about realizing that he loved her that she finally forgave him. I have seen so many other characters in my life get pushed around easily by their superiors, but Zhu Li knew when to stop it and for this, she gets my love. She took her life into her own hands despite the circumstances she was in.
Jet (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
I’m still not over Jet’s “death.”
While it was alluded to in Avatar: The Last Airbender that Jet died because of his injuries during Season 2, I’m still upset that we didn’t really get good closure with his character. I don’t think I could ever go along with what he had originally planned to do to that Fire Nation village in Season 1, but I can understand how his trauma with what happened to his family would make him think like that.
I seriously believe that if he was given more time, he could have had a great redemption arc, but instead, he was given a vague death that still doesn’t sit right with me all these years later.
Amon (The Legend Of Korra)
I’m going to say this - Amon (otherwise known as Noatak) was scarier than Fire Lord Ozai in The Legend of Korra. There, I said it.
Sure, Ozai was scary in that “mad ruler” kind of way. Almost like an Aerys Targaryen from Game of Thrones, where he wanted to rule over everyone, and all who defied him would die. But Amon was scary in a subtle way, because at first it was as if he could take your bending away, but in reality, he was able to find a way to block bender’s chi through bloodbending.
It’s a more subtle way of trying to show power against non-benders, and what made him a great villain was not only his surprising ability, but his charismatic nature. He was a legit threat to Korra, and one that is not talked about nearly enough.
Momo, Appa, And All The Cute Animals (Avatar: The Last Airbender/Legend Of Korra)
Because sometimes we just need to talk about all the cute animals in this universe when we're having a bad day, dang it.
But, on a serious note, I do think that more episodes about the individual stories of the animals would have been much appreciated, such as Appa’s story in “Tales of Ba Sing Se” in Avatar: The Last Airbender. It shows the world through different eyes and provides much needed backstory. And, who doesn’t just want to look at Appa or Momo or Pabu from The Legend of Korra for hours on end? They’re just too cute not to love.
For those who haven’t seen either of these shows - what are you doing? Go and watch them, because it’s time to watch these relevant TV series. These are just my thoughts on who I think we should be talking about more; maybe we’ll get additional conversations about these characters in the upcoming Avatar movies, or the comics, but whatever the case, I’ll still be thinking about them.
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A self-proclaimed nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Alexandra Ramos is a Content Producer at CinemaBlend. She first started off working in December 2020 as a Freelance Writer after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. She primarily works in features for movies, TV, and sometimes video games. (Please don't debate her on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!) She is also the main person who runs both our daily newsletter, The CinemaBlend Daily, and our ReelBlend newsletter.