Which ‘Avatar: Last Airbender’ Characters Returned in ‘The Legend of Korra’?

Avatar: The Last Airbender is one of Nickelodeon’s most widely acclaimed series in its three-decade history. While the channel is synonymous with lighthearted children’s entertainment such as SpongeBob SquarePants, The Last Airbender was an action series dealing with heavy topics like death, war, and grief. However, when the series ended, many of those same characters appeared in the sequel series, The Legend of Korra. 

Avatar The Last Airbender with Aang, Katara, Sokka
‘Avatar: The Last Airbender ‘with Aang, Katara, Sokka | Nickelodeon

What was ‘The Last Airbender’?

An ode to Eastern philosophy and mythology, According to its series page on IMDbThe Last Airbender focused on a 12-year-old boy named Aang. In a world where people like him can bend the elements to their will, and many villains have used that as an act of war, Aang wants to bring peace to the universe. He tried to bring balance to the Four Nations. 

The show lasted for just three years, but its legacy remains intact today. Critics have praised the series’ willingness to cover such heavy topics while keeping the children mesmerized and informed since it premiered in 2005.

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While they tried to bring that same success to the big screen with M. Night Shyamalan’s The Last Airbender, the film was a disaster. At the same time, the series that inspired it remains as popular as ever. 

Following Aang and company’s adventures through the Four Nations, however, fans got another look at them, albeit in adulthood, when The Legend of Korra debuted in 2012. 

What was ‘The Legend of Korra’?

According to IMDb, The Legend of Korra follows a young Water Tribe member named Korra. Like Aang in the previous series, she’s trying to master the elements and become a new AvatarWhile Aang was raised in the temple and forced to learn the aspects, Korra’s journey was different. Naturally adept at three of them, the bulk of the series focuses on Korra’s journey to learn to bend the air. 

Taking place 70 years after the first series, Korra runs into several original series cast members. Heroes, villains, and sentient owls all make appearances as Korra tries to reach her ultimate goal. This series lasted one year longer than its predecessor, entertaining children and adults alike for four seasons before wrapping up Korra’s legend, too. 

Like the previous show, Korra focused on issues not often covered in children’s entertainment. From race to the trials and tribulations that Korra faces as a young girl, the show was not afraid to tell it like it is. Its memorable finale, which implies a romance between Korra and Asami Sato, is one of the first instances of a same-sex relationship not played for laughs but played for beauty and romantic intrigue. 

While the show juggled many issues, Korra had to look to some familiar faces to reach her ultimate goal of becoming a real Avatar.

Who returned? 

Taking place seventy years after the original series, ScreenRant notes that while many of the characters we knew and loved are presumed dead, that doesn’t mean that Korra misses out on meeting Aang’s friends, mentors, and enemies. She meets a spiritual version of Aang that guides her from a spirit realm. Now, his three grown children took his place. However, it does not stop there. 

Katara returns as one of the three remaining Avatar members. She helps mentor Korra in Waterbending and serves as a human mentor to counteract Aang’s spiritual guidance. Similarly, Toph, Aang’s blind Earthbending friend, is also back. Now, she and her daughters live in Republic City, where she helped establish the police force. 

Sokka passed away before the series but appeared in several flashbacks through the eyes of other characters. At the same time, Zuko is an elderly Fire Lord getting ready to pass his reigns off to his daughter, April. Uncle Iroh also makes a posthumous appearance from the Spirit realm. Avatars Roku and Kyoshi complete the spiritual guidance Korra receives from ages past, but not every run-in features a trusted ally. 

Zhao, one of Zuko’s rivals in the first season, is a rambling soul in the afterlife who cannot live down his desires to conquer the world and capture all Avatar to use their powers for evil. Furthermore, the owl guard, Wan Shi Tong, is still perched at the Spirit Library, keeping that world safe. While the series mentions several other names from the past, it draws on a cast of memorable new characters, too. 

The Legend of Korra was a fitting continuation for the Avatar world that not only paid homage to its mythology but built something entirely new. While it might forever remain in the shadow of its predecessor, it’s just as vital to the series plot. These connections to the past series might build some similarity, but where the series truly thrived was by using it to show the differences in Korra, as well.