Toph Beifong from Avatar: The Last Airbender is an inspiration to young girls everywhere. She’s incredibly strong, and, while her parents see her blindness as a weakness and try to shield their daughter from the outside world, Toph finds ways to use her blindness to become an even more formidable fighter. She becomes the world’s best earthbender, and teaches not one, but two Avatars during her lifetime. Not to mention, in the case of Avatar Aang, she teaches the Avatar while being just a young girl herself.
Toph is also an Earth Rumble champion and beats formidable opponents while she fights as “The Blind Bandit.” She’s one of several Avatar characters to use an alias, but hers is definitely one of the cooler ones. Toph’s personality also brings a lot of life to the show and to Team Avatar. Unlike Katara, who has a reputation for being gentle (until she starts fighting, that is,) Toph is all rough edges and devastating one-liners. Her time in the Earth Rumble tournaments taught her to properly taunt people!
Unsurprisingly for an earthbender, Toph is… down to earth. She’s very rational, although she can sometimes let her headstrong personality get the best of her, which leads her to charge into sometimes dangerous situations. She also has a sense of humor, although she makes it clear when she doesn’t appreciate someone messing with her. Toph is many people’s favorite character in the Avatar series, and she is more powerful than most imagine. Here are 10 powers Toph has— and 10 weaknesses only super-fans know about!
20 Power: A Unique And Unpredictable Style
Toph didn’t learn earthbending the traditional way: rather than being taught by a human instructor, she learned all she knows from the blind badgermoles, the original earthbenders. As a result, her style is noticeably different from other earthbenders.
She has unique moves that most benders never learned, and, as a result, she’s very unpredictable in combat, which is only one of many things that give her a decisive edge in earthbending battles. The animators who worked on Avatar: The Last Airbender showcased the uniqueness of her style by basing it on the Chu Gar Southern Praying Mantis style, rather than the Hung Gar style of kung fu they used for the other earthbenders.
19 Weakness: Being On Ice
Toph doesn’t let her blindness slow her down: by feeling even the tiniest of vibrations, she can “see” thanks to her connection to the earth. From a friend’s footsteps to a row of ants walking by, Toph can sense the world around her with exceptional accuracy… as long as she’s on firm ground.
Her bare feet need to touch the earth for her to be able to “see” things, and this ability doesn’t seem to work on ice. It makes sense, of course: even though her senses are generally heightened, as an earthbender, Toph has no connection to ice. Not to mention, the cold might damage her sensitive soles.
18 Power: Sand Bending
Sand bending is hard work for most earthbenders who didn’t grow up in the desert. Toph herself struggles to master this difficult technique at first, as sand is much looser than the earth she’s used to bending. However, there’s no particle of earth this bender can’t control, and, with practice, Toph eventually becomes quite good at sand bending.
This gives her a distinct advantage in dry, desert environment, where other benders would struggle to find materials to bend. However, it seems that walking on send does hinder her seismic sense and limit her ability to sense vibrations in her surroundings.
17 Weakness: Flying
As I’ve mentioned earlier, Toph needs to have both feet firmly planted on the ground to be able to sense vibrations and “see” what’s going on around her. Like most earthbenders, she definitely feels more at ease on firm land— after all, there’s not much an earthbender can do in the sky. Unfortunately for Toph, she happens to be traveling with an airbender, which means she has to spend more time than she’d probably like on the back of a flying bison. However, even in the air, Toph can always carry some form of earth with her— like her meteorite bracelet.
16 Power: A Human Lie Detector
Toph’s seismic sense can do much more than “simply” detect vibrations and alert her to movement. In fact, her ability is so precise, she can feel a person shaking, and can sense a heart beating. This means that she is literally able to sense fear— and also detect lies.
In most cases, even the most experimented of liars will feel a bit of a rush while telling a fib, and their heart will beat faster. Toph can sense this, which effectively makes her a human detector. However, some people, like Azula, are able to lie without getting nervous at all, which means they’re immune to Toph’s lie-detecting.
15 Weakness: Being In A Submarine
Sure, Toph can bend metal, but it seems that her connection to the material is not strong enough to overpower her discomfort when she’s under water. For an earthbender, that’s perfectly understandable— just like in the sky, there’s probably not much to bend aboard a submarine. However, since Toph relies on vibrations to sense the world around her, it would make sense that she’d struggle more than other earthbenders underwater.
The water would distort the vibrations and keep her from feeling things like she normally does. In fact, Toph seems to get nauseous aboard submarines. Thankfully for the young earthbender, submarines aren’t exactly a common mode of transportation.
14 Power: Mud Bending
When people think of earthbending, they usually imagine heavy rocks being hurled at opponents, and hard bits of earth being raised or overturned. In short, earthbending is powerful, but it isn’t something most people would call “fluid.” Toph, as usual, ends up defying everyone’s expectations.
She eventually masters mud bending, which, since it involves water, is evidently more fluid than traditional earthbending. In short, Toph learns to bend an extraordinary variety of materials, which is one of the reasons she’s an amazing bender: she never stops learning. Combine that with her already unique fighting style, and there’s no denying she makes a formidable opponent.
13 Weakness: Sensitive Feet
Toph’s sensitive feet are, in many ways, one of her greatest advantages. Many make the mistake of underestimating her because of her blindness, not realizing that her feet and her earthbending powers allow her to sense things sometimes better than they can. However, because she relies so much on her feet to “see,” they’re also her greatest vulnerability.
If her feet get injured (like the time Zuko burnt them,) Toph is considerably weakened. She can use her hands to sense vibrations as well, but of course that’s hardly efficient in combat. This means Toph has to be very protective of her feet.
12 Power: Her Meteor Bracelet
As I’ve mentioned a few times, most eartbenders find themselves at a loss in environments that contain little or no earth for them to bend— like the sky or the sea. However, as it is often the case when it comes to bending, there are ways around that. For instance, Katara learns to bend water found in the unlikeliest of sources.
Toph manages to bring “earth” with her everywhere in the form of her meteor bracelet. Indeed, after his meteor sword was forged, Sokka gave Toph a bit of leftover meteor, which she fashioned into a bunch of different shapes (including, briefly, the Nickelodeon logo) before settling on a bracelet she can discreetly wear and then bend to her will.
11 Weakness: Her Temper
As a contestant in the Earth Rumble tournaments, Toph was forced to grow up fast, and become a fierce fighter. “Fierce” accurately describes her temper as well: Toph is brutally honest, and she’s never afraid to say what she thinks or fight for what she wants. Though her parents, who were Earth Kingdom nobles, tried to shelter her, Toph rebelled every time she got a chance, eventually leaving her family to travel with Team Avatar. Her fierceness and her intrepid character are assets in battle, but they’ve put her and her friends in danger a few times. After all, it’s important to remember that though she’s one of the land’s greatest benders, during the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Toph is only a child.
10 Power: Locate And Bend Particles Of Earth Anywhere
This is probably what sets Toph aside from most earthbenders, and what allowed her to discover and subsequently teach the art of metalbending. Thanks, in part, to her heightened sense, Toph can sense and bend earth particles in the unlikeliest of places.
This ability allowed her to eventually master sand bending and mud bending, and, in time, led her to the discovery of metalbending. Metal is made from ores that come from the earth, after all; for Toph, this was enough to create an entire sub-genre of eartbending. She’s also able to manipulate her meteor bracelet with ease thanks to this ability.
9 Weakness: Not Spiritual
Before Sokka met Yue, he and Toph were the two members of Team Avatar who decidedly did not believe in spirits and supernatural occurrences. Because of their down-to-earth personalities, they dismissed the old stories, and scoffed at the others when they mentioned spirits. However, Sokka eventually fell in love with Yue, who became the moon spirit, and Toph became the only remaining sceptic of Team Avatar. This is a weakness in the sense that, as we’ve all seen, spirits do exist in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Underestimating them might prove to be a crucial mistake, especially since Toph’s, even with all her abilities, wouldn’t be able to do much against a spirit.
8 Power: Anticipating Enemies' Moves
As I’ve briefly mentioned, since she can sense vibrations in the ground, Toph can feel people moving around her. Thanks to her time with the badgermoles, she’s honed this skill so well that she can actually anticipate an enemy’s move before they even have time to execute it. Obviously, anticipating what her opponents are going to do next gives her a non-negligible advantage in combat.
In the Earth Rumble tournaments, this ability gave her an edge over her sometimes much bigger opponents. As you can imagine, on the battlefield, this requires intense concentration, especially if she’s fighting multiple enemies, which is a testament to her skill as a fighter.
7 Weakness: Her Youth
Like I was saying earlier, Toph is, at the end of the day, a child. She may be powerful, and it’d definitely be a mistake to underestimate her, but, during the events of Avatar: The Last Airbender, Toph’s youth sometimes gets in the way of her ambitions. On the battlefield, being underestimated by your opponents is an asset, as it gives you the element of surprise and can eventually lead the opponent to lower their guard. However, this being said, there are plenty of other situations where being a young girl (not to mention a blind, young girl) would lead to Toph not being taken seriously. Unfortunately, in some of these situations, Toph’s youth is a weakness.
6 Power: Super Hearing
Toph “sees” by sensing the vibrations of the earth with her feet (and sometimes hands,) but her other senses are acutely developed as well. Being blind, Toph has learned to never rely on just one sense, and her hearing is just as much of an asset as her seismic sense.
Thanks to her incredibly powerful sense of hearing, Toph can spy on conversations far away, hear distant cries for help, and so much more. She also has an incredible auditive memory, and claims that she never forgets a voice. Is she starting to sound a bit like Supergirl to anyone else?
5 Weakness: Can’t Swim
As I’ve mentioned earlier, being an earthbender, Toph is definitely not comfortable in the sky or the sea. And, since she relies on vibrations to sense her surroundings, being surrounded by water must be a frightening experience for her.
We’ve already talked about her getting nauseous in a submarine, and as you can probably imagine, being in the water is much worse. In fact, as it turns out, Toph can’t swim at all. This may not seem like such a disadvantage until you consider that she’s traveling with a master waterbender and that Team Avatar spends quite a bit of time near water.
4 Power: Can Walk On Any Terrain
I’ve mentioned earlier that Toph’s feet are sensitive and that she must protect them, but at least she doesn’t have to worry about injuring her feet by stepping on a sharp rock. Like most earthbenders, Toph can walk barefoot on any terrain, without getting injured. This means that, on dry land at least, the only dangers to her feet are direct attacks.
For someone who’s so reliant on her feet— and on walking barefoot— in her everyday life, that’s definitely a good thing. Of course, much to her parent’s distress, her earthbending powers don’t keep Toph from getting dirty or muddy— she likes to be covered in, as she puts it, “a healthy coating of earth”.
3 Weakness: Her Feet Must touch The Ground
The other problem with Toph’s seismic ability, aside from the fact that she must be very protective of her feet, is that they have to touch the ground for it to work. I’ve already mentioned her problems with flying and swimming, but what about riding in a cart, or riding a horse, or even acrobatics during combat? Or even just sitting in a tall chair— would she be able to feel the vibrations from the chair? If she loses her ability to sense her surrounding whenever her feet are off the ground, it would definitely be a weakness. Any attacker that got close enough to lift her up would have an edge over her.
2 Power: Incredibly Agile
Despite needing to keep her feet on the ground to see, Toph manages to be incredibly agile and perform daring acrobatics during combat. Given what we’ve just talked about, that’s quite impressive! Even outside of combat, it’s clear that Toph, like many master benders, is much more agile than you’d think by initially looking at her.
Once again, appearances are deceiving, and it’d be a mistake to underestimate this prodigious earthbender! Toph is definitely a formidable fighter in more ways than one, which is why she’s qualified to be Aang’s earthbending teacher— not to mention, an asset to Team Avatar.
1 Weakness: Her Insecurities
This last point ties into her being young: Toph doesn’t open up very easily, but people who are close to her know her well enough to tell when she’s feeling insecure. Though she puts up a tough exterior, the young girl does have her insecurities— some of which stem from the way her parents treated her.
After all, they didn’t even always publicly acknowledge they had a daughter! They also treated her like she was fragile and needed to be taken care of at all times. Because of this, while Toph seems confident and bold (she calls herself the world’s best earthbender,) her insecurities could become weaknesses in some situations.