Avatar: The Last Airbender and Avatar: The Legend of Korra had an insanely large cast between the two shows. Each managed an interesting set of protagonists, antagonists, and random lay-abouts, which all had different strengths, weaknesses, and special abilities.
There was the quiet strength and wisdom of Iroh, a powerful firebender in his own right, helping to uplift his nephew to higher morals. On the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the barely noticeable Hahn whose failed elimination attempt on Admiral Zhao went so spectacularly poorly it was treated as a joke.
Not all were created equal, it's clear some characters were granted or earned incredible power and fighting strength while others... didn't and tried anyways.
With so many different good guys and bad guys running around trying to thwart each other it was inevitable that we'd wind up in arguments over who could beat who and who the strongest Avatar was.
Below, in no particular order, we're going to introduce you to the fifteen strongest and the fifteen weakest characters across the series. From Avatar to Boulder, we'll talk about what makes them strong and what makes them weak.
Only characters who have seen some sort of combat, or professed to be good at it are on this list. Characters who never fought don't get a spot (sorry Cabbage Man).
30 Saviour Of The World (Powerful)
Of course, Aang was gonna be on the list somewhere, he was pretty much guaranteed a spot as the protagonist of The Last Airbender. Getting him out of the way early means we can talk about some of the more surprising choices and so nobody thinks I saved a boring character for last.
There's a lot that can be said for Aang; he uses a long-deceased fighting style that's hard to react to, he can mix it up with all the elements, he tries to escape most of the time rather than actually fight, and there's the Avatar State.
While he had trouble mastering all his skills early on.
Aang was a real contender by the end of the series. He even managed to learn a special technique to remove peoples bending so he didn't have to eliminate them.
29 Admiral Weakling (Weak)
Admiral Zhao was such a tool. He was our first main antagonist and to be honest was pretty forgettable. He actually did manage to capture Aang but then Zuko broke the Avatar out.
We don't really ever get to see him fight either until the end of Book One.
The reason that he's weak is that he never wins a fight on screen. He always resorts to someone else doing all the work for him, like when he sent pirates to eliminate Zuko or when he had a crack team of archers attack the Avatar. When it's finally time for him to fight, he winds up running away from Iroh and then losing to Zuko a second time.
He would have been a bit more threatening if he actually had ever beat someone. He even passes in a boring way, refusing to take Zuko's hand because he'd rather drown than be saved by the Prince.
28 Mad Genius (Powerful)
King Bumi is a hoot and a half. I remember losing my head to his brilliant Lettuce Leaf pun, which made me start to want to tell puns pretty constantly. I'm great at parties, or I would be if I was invited to any.
Anyways, his puns aren't the only thing strong about him though. First off, the dude is ripped.
The guy looks like he could wash washboards on his abs.
Secondly, he's the strongest earthbender in all of history, (sorry Toph, you can metalbend but it's true. Old dude too strong).
Being a high ranking member of the White Lotus also proves his status as one of the strongest, a legendary figure who wants to return balance and beauty to the world.
27 The Other One (Weak)
I'm going to get a lot of hate for throwing this fan favorite here, but I didn't like King Bumi's namesake and I didn't find him particularly strong. First off he's too... random goofy. Most of the other characters have some redeeming qualities but it seems like Bumi can't do anything right and so he just does the wrong things loudly.
While he does end up saving the group once or twice, those are results of his completely non-sensical wacky idea of the week. Having insanely good luck and protagonist protection doesn't make you a strong or balanced character and since Bumi straight up loses or only wins through randomness in every fight he's been in, he makes a weak spot.
26 War Profiteer (Powerful)
A character can sometimes be defeated before a punch is even thrown. Varrick is one of the few people who outsmarted Team Korra repeatedly for a long period of time. He managed to shatter the team through social machinations and nearly left Aasami destitute.
Sure he can't bend and he can't really throw a punch we'd bet, he's still in great physical shape, he just doesn't want to do anything boring. Which is why he makes Zhu Li and Bolin carry him around.
The brilliant inventor even managed to create the most dangerous weapon of his time.
When a fight did break out that he couldn't escape from, he managed to rig an emp from assorted electrical equipment in a guardhouse.
25 A Disappointing Legacy (Weak)
Boy, oh boy, did they ever try to make Prince Wu dislikable when he showed up. They realized they did far too good a job in his introduction and so later tried to backpedal and make him seem like a good person but it didn't really work.
He's another one of those "goofy" fighters that The Legend of Korra had way too many of. As with nearly no warning or character development or even explanation, it's revealed he can convince wild animals to fight for him by singing to them.
This is one character I would have been fine getting to see knocked around more often.
He definitely played the part of the annoying damsel in distress well but the fact that they tried to show he could fight just fell flat.
24 True Madness (Powerful)
Compelling, sympathetic and yet relatable while posing a big enough threat that everyone agrees she has to be defeated.
She honestly seemed unstoppable throughout most of the series, tearing through Team Avatar and manipulating Zuko with ease. It was only when her sanity began slipping and she began to crack under pressure that we ever saw a weakness.
Princess Azula could write the book on how to be an effective villain.
A Firebending prodigy, Azula managed to master Lightningbending at an extremely young age and uses that creatively in her fights to entirely overwhelm her opponents. Her regular flames too burn so hotly they flare blue instead of orange.
A true terror anywhere you meet her, Azula likely wouldn't have lost if she'd managed to keep her self-control.
23 Rock-A-Lanch (Weak)
I love The Boulder. He's hilarious and one of my favorite characters, I really wish they'd done something with the wrestling joke in The Legend of Korra.
Doesn't stop The Boulder from being a bit of a weakling though, while there's no real shame in losing to Toph he at least could have put up a fight. Instead, it was two moves from her and a very painful scream from The Boulder before he had lost the fight.
He did come back later to help during the attack on The Fire Nation but all he did was throw boulders alongside a few of the other Earthbenders present. Kind of a let down really.
I'm still waiting for the comic that's gonna explore his tragic backstory.
22 Ice Queen (Powerful)
Waterbending is one of the strongest disciplines. Maybe not for direct attacks but it has the most varied and diverse usages. From healing to controlling other people's blood in an incredibly painful process, Waterbending is extremely versatile.
Katara is a master at Waterbending.
She had been self-taught most her life before finally getting some training from a White Lotus member no less. While healing was her forte before her proper training after she grew to be a much more competent fighter.
She only became stronger when she learned the hilariously overpowered skill of Bloodbending straight from its creator. Katara really is a strong character and has even managed to defeat Azula by outsmarting her and then a very complex technique.
21 Wheat Kings (Weak)
One of the most commonly shipped characters, with... well basically everyone, Jet manages to look cool. He's got the most interesting weapons in the show, looks like Spike from Cowboy Bebop and he's even chewing on some wheat constantly.
He's so weak though. He manages to get the drop on Team Avatar at first but quickly loses that advantage and is defeated. Later on, when he runs into Zuko, he attacks the exiled Prince in an attempt to prove he's a Firebender.
Despite his amazing sword skills though he's defeated again.
Without Zuko needing to rely on any bending. Poor Jet never manages to win even a single fight before he's slain by Long Feng.
20 True Art (Powerful)
Speaking of swordplay, it's a good time to point out there are an actual large amount of non-benders on this list. Perhaps one of the coolest is Piando. An ex-Fire Nation soldier turned White Lotus, Piando is the worlds greatest sword master.
Piando is truly an artist with a blade.
He views the blade as an art form and it shows, as he trains Sokka we're given glimpses into his skill and ability. Using techniques from all the Kingdoms much like Iroh, Piando has shown he's able to fight while entirely blinded. Even more impressive is how easily he disarmed his apprentice, and the caught and sheathed his sword in the air while sightless. Sword fighting seems strange in a world filled with benders but Piando proves it's still a viable art form.
19 Nickname Doesn't Really Make Sense Anymore (Weak)
I'd nearly entirely forgotten about this guy, and so did everyone else I think. Suffering from the Worf Effect where he was talked up the entire show as a big bad gang leader, Lightning Bolt Zolt winds up having the floor wiped with his dumb hair.
Seriously, The Legend of Korra gave him a cool name and a backstory as a ruthless crime lord only for him to get beaten before we can see him do anything. It was an attempt to make Amon look like an actual threat but didn't do much apart from making Zolt look weak as heck.
It's even weirder that in the little side story involving Mako and Bolin they even go more into his backstory as a super tough dude who can't be beaten.
18 Body Bending (Powerful)
Ty Lee is a cutie. She's also gonna turn you into a floppy numb mess on the ground in about five seconds flat. The gymnast is a master of Chi-Blocking and non-bending combat. Her sort of ditzy nature belies a cunning mind and she's probably the character in all of Avatar who's landed the most blows.
She even manages to take down Azula, though to be fair it was a cheap shot from the side.
Ty Lee is so respected as a fighter she ends up joining the Warriors of Kyoshi and teaching them her techniques, ensuring that her skills will be passed down.
17 I Like Knives (Weak)
Conversely, her counterpart Mai is... kinda useless. She throws knives at people pretty well but that's about it. Ty Lee gets more screen time, is shown beating more people and just generally being stronger.
To be fair it can be kinda hard to have a knife throwing fighter in a kids show, you're pretty much resigned to only on-screen hitting clothing. Still, though it doesn't make a good argument for her being strong and the whole character feels like a letdown.
She's even so bored with everything all the time that it makes her kind of a boring character. You can only mutter the words "How boring" so many times before people start thinking you're the problem.
16 Suddenly Really Strong (Powerful)
Bolin didn't start out as the strongest character in Legend of Korra. He was constantly being outdone by his brother Mako, Bolin was essentially the loyal golden retriever. He was pretty much relegated to comic relief for the first two seasons with occasional moments of behind-whooping.
Thankfully though, they wound up doing him justice.
Bolin found out while training with Suyin that he was not a Metalbender, instead he was bound for something far greater.
In a tense and stressful situation, Bolin discovered his ability to Lavabend which is probably the most directly destructive discipline. He masters it incredibly quickly working mostly on instinct he eventually becomes skilled enough to defeat the much more experienced Lavabender Ghazan.
15 Trying Too Hard (Weak)
Bolin's brother Mako, meanwhile, gets nothing. Nothing at all. He gets zero character development and when the writers realized everyone disliked him for being a tool they dropped him nearly entirely. He doesn't get any cool flashy abilities (apart from his basic understanding of Lightningbending) and sorta winds up being Bolin's sidekick.
Heck, even though in the early seasons we were supposed to care more about Mako's love life then Bolin's, eventually Bolin is getting all the girls. Mako's fighting skills just aren't the best, he gets beaten by most characters or shows up to turn one on one fights into an unfair advantage for his ally. He even screws up the Varrick investigation.
He's the definition of mediocre.
14 Empty And Become Wind (Powerful)
Zaheer was an interesting villain. He actually seemed to have flaws, a philosophy and a reason for what he was doing. It was cool to see them have an Airbender as a bad guy and even cooler to see him eventually master the discipline more than anyone else could. While that may have happened too quickly for some's liking, I thought it fit quite well with his study of Airbender culture.
Either way, the dude could fly.
He even showed a few times he wasn't that good of a fighter at first while he was learning how to use his skills, by the end of the season though he was a terror. Zipping around and sucking the breath right out of people's lungs.
13 Kind Of A Wimp (Weak)
Bataar Sr. Barely managed to make the list at all, however, since he was in a fight and was such a focal character along with his family in the final season, I've decided to include him. He's married to one of the strongest Metalbenders and one of the daughters of Toph Beifong.
Yet, he's... pretty useless. He doesn't fight, he doesn't really do anything.
He's just sort of there to be Suyin's arm candy.
He talks a big game though, condemning his son's actions. Bataar Jr., meanwhile, seems to think he's the greatest person ever and feels he's been living in his father's shadow.
What shadow? Guy has about as much presence as a field mouse. Also, why did everyone in Legend of Korra have a problem with their Dads, come to think of it?
12 World's Greatest (Powerful)
Toph Beifong, inventor of Metalbending and the second greatest Earthbender to ever live. She's so strong and versatile she was another contender for the top spot, that honor though is reserved for the second to last member on this list.
Toph has some really interesting talents that all stem from her being blind. She has super hearing and can read vibrations in the earth using her feet. It's so honed she can tell if someone's heart rate quickens when they lie.
Thanks to her handicap she discovered her true purpose in life.
She's won against incredibly strong opponents and without her addition, Team Avatar wouldn't have gotten anywhere. Several times her skills have saved the group. Also, she's funny as hell.
11 Chaaaaaarge! (Weak)
This is another guy I highly doubt you'll remember at first. When Sokka was selected for a super top secret mission, Hahn was on his team. Hahn was that jerk who was set to marry Yue, even though she didn't like him.
The Northern Water Tribe spent a lot of time talking this guy up as their best warrior, despite his lack of bending, common sense, or ability to remember names.
Seriously how did this guy get promoted? He mistakenly calls Zhao "Choi" for some reason multiple times even after being corrected. Eventually, him and Sokka fight and Sokka gets taken off the strike team. Which turned out to be a good thing as Hahn immediately sheds his disguise upon seeing Zhao, announces himself and his attack and then charges while screaming.
Zhao casually throws him overboard without even interrupting his conversation and we never see Hahn again.
10 The Legend (Powerful)
Korra may be the strongest avatar of all time.
The first time we see her she's a toddler and she's bending three of the four elements at the same time with no training in order to scare old men and knock down walls.
This... kinda broke canon as most avatars were stated to not be told about their heritage until they were sixteen or so, quite literally to avoid the situation Aang was placed in. Also, they weren't able to bend most of the elements at age four.
She also manages to quickly pick up some of the specialized types of bending. Including Spirit, Metal, and Energy. Completly managing to negate the fact that the avatar is supposed to train most of their life to master these arts.
9 She Never Wins A Fight (Weak)
Lin Beifong is a cool character. I'm going to lead with that before I anger everyone by pointing out how weak she is.
Republic City's Chief of Police never wins an on-screen fight and quite frankly is the worst detective ever.
Although she has some cool fight scenes where she does really well she always loses in the end and winds up captured or needing to retreat.
We wind up watching her fall for planted evidence not once but twice! She blows off Mako's concerns when he brings her actual legit proof and when there was a planned terrorist attack on an event, she argued to have the event happen anyways.
It went horribly of course as, despite her claim that her officers and she had the place on lockdown, the Equalists still managed to sneak in a bunch of weapons, position themselves perfectly, and had an escape airship ready to go. C'mon Lin, do your job!
8 Shock It To Em (Powerful)
Asami Sato is the best character in Legend of Korra. While the series didn't manage to capture The Last Airbender's amazing characters and development, they came the closest with Asami.
Originally, when she was introduced, we weren't supposed to like her since she was dating Mako and she was the "girly girl" to Korra's aggressive stubbornness. Thankfully, the writers eventually abandoned trying to make us dislike her and we began seeing Asami showing up and showing out. Not only is she a brilliant businesswoman but she's a competent inventor, skilled driver and strong fighter.
Though she might not have any ability to bend, her shock gloves pack a nasty punch.
Using her inventions and skill, Asami has been able to pull not only her weight but sometimes even Mako's heavy behind to victory.
7 I Smell Trouble (Weak)
June from The Last Airbender had a cool concept of a beastmaster. Using a massive blind creature that navigated through smell, June managed to track down the Avatar, something that everyone else failed at repeatedly.
It's too bad she doesn't do much during her fight scene and then get's K.O'd by her beasts own paralyzing toxins.
For the whole fight, she only whips her creature to get it to strike at people, she never actually does any fighting herself. This is kinda lame considering how much they played her up. Also, although the original attempt to use her beast failed why didn't they just try again? It was shown she could track him if not fight him, they could have had her lead them and a whole battalion to the Avatar!
6 Big Fan (Powerful)
Suki is a machine, we see her kicking behind all over The Last Airbender and she quickly became a fan-favorite recurring character. Despite being a non-bender, she's extremely skilled at fighting.
Suki is also best girl, hands down.
The leader of a group of female warriors who revere a past Avatar known as the Kiyoshi Warriors, Suki has a mastery of multiple forms of combat. She's shown being adept with a sword, shield, bladed fans, and in unarmed combat. We even watch her manage to hold off Azula for a brief amount of time.
She's also incredibly acrobatic, easily making her way up to where the Warden of Boiling Rock was and capturing him while Zuko and Sokka argued about the best way to do it.
5 Old Rich Dudes (Weak)
While being rich like Batman may be a fantastic superpower, you still need the training to back it up. Hiroshi Sato was an example of too much money and not enough skill. Probably one of the more boring villains, he just sorta gets revealed as one and makes Asami sad over his classism.
It's kinda lame too how he winds up defeated in his big indestructible mecha just to make Mako and Bolin look good.
Even as a good guy he's kind of terrible When Lin lets him out of prison, yeah, he figures out how to defeat the giant mecha but then he also just perishes for literally no reason and we're supposed to feel sad about it. Surely a different plan apart from Kamikaze could have been thought up.
4 Water Tribe (Powerful)
While there's a lot of strong non-benders on this list, none of them can compete with the wacky brilliance of Sokka. Team Avatar's strategist and comedian, Sokka spends most of the series losing fights, there's no way around that. The difference between him and Lin, though, is he's still doing something even when he's losing and we slowly see him get better at fighting.
He even manages to win a few along the way.
Any plan that worked for Team Avatar had Sokka behind it, desperately trying to make a bad situation work. The fact that he winded up being trained by the strongest swordsman in all of history is another point in his favor, in addition to having a sword made out of a space rock.
3 Absentee (Weak)
Ahhh, Hakoda. Also known as the King of not actually doing anything. Finding their father who is out fighting the Fire Nation is a driving motivation for both Sokka and Katara for a large part of the series and when they finally find him...
He's not doing anything.
Seriously, they sorta find him and some other Water Tribe kinda hanging out and even manage to schedule time for Sokka to go through a rite into adulthood.
Later on, when they get him and his forces to invade the Fire Nation, he winds up being captured and sent to jail. Sokka manages to bust him out but during the whole escape, he kinda doesn't do anything and then once they're out they all split up again.
2 Endless Wisdom (Powerful)
Iroh, the man, the myth, the legend. Probably the most powerful character in all of Avatar, Iroh has every advantage going for him short of being an Avatar himself. He's an insanely strong Firebender, he's a master of strategy, he's full of endless wisdom and everyone underestimates him since he acts harmless.
In his youth, he was a terror in the war against the Earth Kingdom, nearly taking Ba Sing Se for the Fire Nation before his son was eliminated in battle.
His son passing changed him and that was when he began to work to better himself and walk an enlightened path. A path he desperately wanted to take his nephew down and succeeded in the end. He's so strong he lives still today in the Spirit World, handing out advice to anyone who needs it.
1 The Weakest Character (Weak)
Long Feng, aside from having the most memeable name in The Last Airbender, couldn't stop a group of children from finding a bison.
To put how embarrassing this is into perspective, Long Feng was the leader of probably the most extensive intelligence network in the world and could brainwash people and he couldn't stop a group of children from finding a bison.
In the climactic fight scene against him, he was immediately defeated by said bison before throwing a single punch.
Even though he manages to secure his release from prison it amounts to nothing in the end as he gets outplayed by Azula and then gets the sickest burn slapped on him when he tries to compliment her.
Seriously Long Feng is just a mess, and his motivations made no sense throughout the series.