Like Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra came in hot during its first run in 2012 and though the anime was hampered by Nickelodeon studios towards the final seasons, that didn’t stop creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko from crafting a superb series. This article will highlight the five best characters from the popular cartoon. Korra, Mako, and Bolin are exempt since we know they’re awesome and there are plenty of articles talking about their greatness. However, guest appearances such as Aang, Toph, and Avatar Wan are exempt from the list as well. As great as it was for the creators to dig deep into their Avatar lore, it’s better to focus on characters that had a major impact throughout the seasons. Let’s get started with the first name:
The stubborn, yet tough-as-nails Chief of Police for Republic City is a great representation of the original characters from the Avatar series. Lin, Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi helped reveal the message that their parents were far from perfect. In Lin’s case, Toph gave her a ton of freedom based on her restrictive parents growing up. However, Lin’s scars come from simply trying to please her mother, which actually ended up tearing her away from the family. There’s no denying that the meat of this backstory could be a series of its own. However, Lin isn’t just a great character because of her backstory, but she’s in the same vein as her mother, brave, loyal, headstrong, and entertaining to watch. Her character softens once she warms up to Korra and the gang, but her development was nicely done. Her ultimate sacrifice for Tenzin and his family in season one was her strong moment, though her reunion with Toph was a fun trip down memory lane.
The Legend of Korra came out strong with an amazing villain, Amon. He sees bending as evil due to his cruel treatment from his father. Amon is Jet, minus any of the heroic stuff. His worldview is skewed due to his tragic backstory and he’s willing to permanently rid the world of benders for his selfish goals. The reveal that he’s a blood bender was brilliantly done, and his final confrontation of with Korra and Mako was superb. That encounter also helped make one of the show’s stronger moments, which was Korra finally mastering air bending. Given the fact that we didn’t actually see Amon’s death in the boat with Tarrlok, there seemed to be a hint that maybe he would come back in another season, but it’s likely due to the fact that it’s a kids show and showcasing such a strong and violent moment wasn’t allowed.
The clearly evil representative of the Northern Water Tribe who got stronger as a character as season one progressed. The show never shied away from Tarrlok’s clear manipulative and cunning behavior; however, once it was revealed that he was a blood bender then the writers wisely developed his character and the brilliant flashback to his childhood made Tarrlok come full circle. DiMartino and Konietzko are masters at the way they pen their villains. These men or women aren’t evil for the sake of being evil, their upbringing shapes them as human beings and even then, we get to see the kinder side of their personality. It was hard not to tear up at the tragic ending for these emotionally scarred brothers, especially when it seemed that they were finally happy for once.
Iknik Blackstone Varrick
While Bolin was a great Sokka for The Legend of Korra, Varrick would steal the show with his weird and zany antics. Mainly known as Varrick, the charismatic and flamboyant character had some of the best wisecracks and gags throughout the show. His little heel turn felt a bit forced in season two, though mainly due to the fact that we didn’t get to spend enough time with the eccentric billionaire. Thankfully, the showrunners opted to bring back Varrick and his loyal assistant Zhu Li for the remaining seasons and his dynamic with the cast worked so well. The writers also did a great job of not overlapping Varrick and Bolin’s character. Both are comedic foils, but Varrick is more of an over-the-top goofball, whereas Bolin has a nice layer of seriousness that compliments his comedic side. Varrick isn’t as layered as well as the other characters on the list, but he’s such a joy to watch that it’s hard not to put him on it.
Amon would’ve been locked in as best villain of the entire series if Zaheer didn’t come along in season three. Again, what makes these villains so great is that they aren’t just madmen trying to destroy the world. The leader of the Red Lotus wants to restore balance within the world, but one that doesn’t have the order of the White Lotus, the four nations, or the Avatar. Season three could be considered packed with the cool villains of the series. The introduction of lava bending, Ming-Hua’s freaky use of waterbending, and a vicious assassin with powers similar to Combustion Man, P’Li, could’ve easily seen those three outshine Zaheer; however, it’s the deep exploration of his character that keeps Zaheer interesting and he’s had several standout moments, including outright killing the earth queen. Zaheer would’ve been the perfect final villain for Korra as she truly didn’t win the war against him. She may have beaten him, but the mental scars carried over into the next season.