Jeremy enjoys anime when not working as a chemist or building manager.
Benders in Avatar
Earth, water, air, and fire compose the four elements in Avatar's universe, where special individuals called "benders" can manipulate these forces at will. But not all benders are equal, with some demonstrating unique abilities; today we'll examine the show's ten strongest champions.
We're only looking at the original cast (we'll save Korra's for later), and only current-era combatants, meaning no previous avatars will appear. With that in mind, here are the ten most powerful benders throughout Avatar: The Last Airbender! Spoilers ahead.
Once regarded as the strongest waterbender in the world, Pakku's experience and skill are evident during his duel against Katara, where he overpowered his still-green student. Still, Pakku's harsh attitude belies a caring heart, and he's a member of the White Lotus, determined to restore order to all nations.
Alongside his fellow Lotus warriors, Pakku assists with the liberation of Ba Sing Se, keeping par despite the current firebender boosted from Sozin's Comet.
Another member of the White Lotus, King Bumi is a well-built and agile warrior despite his advanced age,. While eccentric, he's a brilliant tactician and can bend with just his face (normally you need arm and leg movements).
Bumi's mastery over terrain lets him shoot enormous boulders, jump incredible heights, and create rock pillars capable of destroying tanks. He's also Aang's only surviving human friend, having been a young boy before the Avatar entered his 100-year slumber.
Hama was once the last prisoner captured by the Fire Nation during the southern raids, and despite being caged for years, she slowly concocted bloodbending. This dark and powerful ability lets her control the water inherent in all life, leading to her escape and subsequent kidnapping of Fire Nation civilians.
Katara initially takes a liking to her water-bending elder, but changes her tune when she discovers Hama's secret. After a fierce battle, Katara only manages to beat Hama by utilizing bloodbending herself, an act that leaves Katara devastated and Hama satisfied.
At first, Zuko's firebending skills are only decent, as he's frequently outmatched by Aang and Azula. However, as the disgraced prince gradually softens his anger under his uncle's tutelage, his bending slowly but surely improves. Eventually finding his way to Team Avatar, Zuko masters the rare ability to redirect lightning and (alongside Aang) learns the true nature of firebending.
He even manages to gain the upper hand in his Agni Kai duel against his sister, and many fans also forget how proficient he is with blades. Zuko's swordsmanship alone has defeated several foes (standing up to swordmasters like Jet and Sokka), and he gained much notoriety as the masked Blue Spirit.
Zuko's villainous sister and firebending prodigy from birth, Azula has the unique ability to project stronger blue flames. Her agility, power, and cunning make her both politically and martially dangerous, and her ability to shoot lethal lightning blasts only increases her threat.
Azula is ultimately taken down by Zuko and Katara. Still, she had to take on two powerful foes back-to-back, and as Zuko himself notes, she might have won were it not for her deteriorating mental state. After all, she previously dueled Sokka and Zuko simultaneously, showcasing her skill.
Despite her youth and blindness, Toph's earthbending is so powerful she can "feel" the ground's slightest vibrations and use them to accurately discern locations. She was also trained by the original badgermole earthbenders and refers to herself as the world's greatest earthbender.
While she has her share of weaknesses (struggling against airborne foes and in terrain like water or sand), her boast likely proves true, as it's Toph who discovers metalbending. This powerful upgrade accesses an entirely new field that devastates the Fire Nation's reliance on steel.
Though initially unrefined, Katara's waterbending soon progresses to be top-notch, proving much more adept than Aang's. Katara's water can heal wounds, and if she truly goes all out, she can take command of someone's body with bloodbending.
But even without her forbidden art, Katara proves exceptionally capable, gaining a clear advantage against Azula in their 2v2 (alongside Aang and Zuko), and she's ultimately the one to defeat Azula for good despite her boost from Sozin's Comet.
We haven't seen Ozai engage in many battles, but when Aang finally confronts him, they enter an epic duel. Ozai's powerful bending lets him fly with streams of fire, unleash devastating blasts, and shoot deadly lightning. Even with Aang's ability to use all four elements, he struggled against Ozai until entering his Avatar form.
That said, remember Ozai was boosted by Sozin's Comet during their bout (Aang was too, but he preferred other elements), and he would have lost had Aang not purposefully misaimed his redirected lightning.
While Iroh is a gentle and wise soul, he's a devastating warrior when the need arises. He's the only character shown to both shoot and redirect lightning, he serves as grandmaster of the White Lotus, and he unleashes the single biggest fire blast in the entire series (when reclaiming Ba Sing Se). He's also one of few firebenders to harness its live-giving attributes rather than its destructive ones.
Furthermore, Iroh was considered the only person besides Aang who could stop the Firelord, developed a peak physique during his time in prison, and was described as a "one-man army" when he broke himself out.
Type: Airbender (later gains other elements)
Even without his Avatar state, Aang's arguably the strongest bender in the series. Airbending provides a unique edge that no contemporaries can claim, and his ability to harness the other elements makes him incredibly versatile.
Aang also learns lightning redirection from Zuko, and had he been willing to take a life, with it he would have beaten Ozai in just his default state. But when situations grow desperate, Aang's unparalleled Avatar form vastly augments his bending, easily becoming the strongest character in the series.
More of Avatar's Strongest Characters
In addition to today's benders, even non-superpowered combatants like Sokka, Ty Lee, Suki, and Mai repeatedly prove their worth. After all, bending is a relatively rare ability, and wars heavily rely on regular soldiers.
Still, picking just ten of the many powerful benders we've seen wasn't easy, and we'll undoubtedly return to tackle the strongest characters from The Legend of Korra. But for now, vote for your favorite fighter and I'll see you at out next countdown!
© 2019 Jeremy Gill