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What Happened To Toph's Parents After Avatar: The Last Airbender?

Though the original series ended nearly fifteen years ago, Nickelodeon's "Avatar: The Last Airbender" persists as one of the best animated shows ever made. Set in a world where powerful beings called "benders" can manipulate the known elements, this epic saga has expanded into multiple comic books and series — and the announcement of Avatar Studios only makes this world even bigger

When "The Last Airbender" wrapped up in 2008, some of the show's many plot threads were left unresolved. In the time since, a lot of these questions have been addressed — often at length — in supplementary material, comics, and the sequel series "The Legend of Korra," set a generation after "The Last Airbender." One such mystery belonged to the enigmatic brawler Toph Beifong, who remains a favorite among fans eager to learn what became of her estranged family. 

Though they had to wait a few years for answers, the "Avatar" universe did finally reveal what became of Lao and Poppy Beifong, and if Toph found them again before she died.

Who were Toph's parents?

After their daughter was born without sight, the Beinfongs sought to protect her from an outside world they feared would harm her. Thus, Toph grew up safe but guarded in the gilded cage of her parents' opulent Earth Kingdom estate in Gaoling. By coincidence, Toph eventually encountered a group of Badgermoles — the original Earthbenders — who taught her how to use her natural gift of Earthbending. 

Years later, Toph became a competitive bender in Gaoling's underground fighting ring, where she earned the nickname "The Blind Bandit." It is here that she meets Aang and his friends, whom she ultimately joins in order to teach the budding Avatar the art of Earthbending. Effectively running away from her constrictive life to save the world, Toph was briefly pursued by her parents' hired mercenaries before losing contact with them completely. It was only after the war ended that Toph would learn the fate of her family.

What happened to them?

As revealed in the three-part graphic novel "The Rift," Toph remains with Aang as the 14-year-old savior attempts to restore order to the four nations. While struggling to accept Air Nomad traditions as the two prepare a traditional festival called "Yangchen," Toph encounters her father, Lao Beifong, who now owns a crystal refinery. Surprisingly, Lao denies Toph as his daughter, inferring that the girl before him wasn't the girl he had worked so hard to raise while calling her "rude" and "ungrateful." In an interview with The Illuminerdi, Toph voice actor Michaela Jill Murphy (aka Jessie Flower) describes her character as a tough "tomboy" — which, indeed, is far from the prim and protected daughter Lao desired. 

Despite his cruel treatment of her, Toph has to save Lao's life when his crystal refinery is destroyed by unsafe operating procedures. Witnessing the hero his daughter has become firsthand, Lao apologizes for his shameful behavior and confesses that the thought of her has haunted him ever since she left. He then reveals that, as a consequence of losing Toph, Poppy and Lao became so distant that he had to leave their home for good. It's a bittersweet resolution to one of the series most complex subplots, though one that maintains some hope for the future of Toph's relationship with her parents.