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Why Avatar Kyoshi Is The Best Known Avatar From The Last Airbender

Over the course of many episodes, comics, and novels, fans of the "The Last Airbender" series have become intimately familiar with the lives of both Aang and Korra. From following Aang's hundred-year journey towards defeating the fire nation, to Korra's complete reinvention of the Avatar cycle, so much has happened with these two that it's almost easy to forget there have been other Avatars. Nevertheless, even these long-dead incarnations hold a special place within the fanbase, perhaps none more so than Avatar Kyoshi.

As the Avatar that was two incarnations behind Aang, Kyoshi had little to do with the rise of the Fire Nation or the troubles of Republic City. However, her story is no less compelling. Revealed through flashbacks, comics, browser games, and her two novels — 2019's "The Rise of Kyoshi" and 2020's "The Shadow of Kyoshi" — Kyoshi's life is nothing less than impressive, even among Avatars. In fact, her accomplishments may just rank her as the best known Avatar in "The Last Airbender" franchise. Here is why Avatar Kyoshi is the GAAT (Greatest Avatar of All Time).

Kyoshi learned bending at a much older age than Aang or Korra

Unlike Aang or Korra, who were taught bending from the time they were children, Kyoshi had a very unique upbringing that prevented her from beginning her training until she was a teenager. The child of two Daofei bandits, Kyoshi spent her earliest years traveling until she was abandoned in a poor fishing village. She lived alone on the streets until Kelsang — an air nomad looking for the next Avatar — found and began to care for her. Though she took the Avatar test, she never completed it, and worked as a servant at the Avatar mansion until she was 16. Meanwhile, another boy, Yun, was falsely identified as the Avatar.

Things changed, however, when a group of pirates attempted to capture Yun. During the conflict, Kyoshi's Avatar abilities awakened, and Yun's true nature was drawn into question. It wasn't until a man named Jianzhu used an evil spirit to confirm the real Avatar that Kyoshi learned the truth. After Jianzhu killed Kelsang and left Yun for dead, Kyoshi ran away to join her parent's old gang, the Flying Opera Company.

It was then, at 16 years old, that Kyoshi finally began her Avatar training. The gang taught her earthbending and waterbending, while Yun's old bodyguard, Rangi, taught her firebending. Another year would pass before Kyoshi finally revealed herself to the wider world, and journeyed to the Southern Air Temple to learn airbending.

Kyoshi inspired real social change

While both Aang and Korra were faced with real political problems during their lifetimes, they merely followed in the footsteps of Kyoshi. The most famous example of this is when she stopped the Earth Kingdom Tyrant Chin (literally) dead in his tracks by separating the village she grew up in from the rest of the landmass, creating Kyoshi island. Chin died in the process, and in his wake a new era of peace was born throughout the world.

Prior to this, however, Kyoshi had already made a name for herself as a figure of social and political change. An open bisexual, Kyoshi fought hard (often to no avail) for the sexual and gender equality of all people. In the Avatar comic, "Shells," when Kyoshi learned that the men of her home village often abused women in the town marketplace, Kyoshi trained these women to defend themselves. This led to the creation of the Kyoshi Warriors, a fighting force that persisted for centuries after her death.

Kyoshi lived a full life and died of old age

Speaking of Kyoshi's death, she is also one of the only known Avatars who kicked the bucket from old age. Granted, being a gigantic battle-Amazon — who bends all four elements, has the knowledge of a thousand lifetimes, and isn't scared to end a few lives when the occasion calls for it — is a pretty solid safety measure. What makes that really impressive, however, is that Kyoshi lived to be 230 years old before time got the best of her.

For context, most Avatars we know of either die in the line of duty or die early. Roku, for instance, lived a full life, but died saving his home from an erupting volcano. Meanwhile, Aang technically died of old age, but did so at the relatively young age of 66 due to the adverse effects of spending 100 years frozen in ice.

Though Kyoshi was something of a renegade among Avatars, the one-time street urchin fostered an era of peace and balance far exceeding that of any other known Avatar. She would come to have regrets, such as creating the corrupt Dai Lee following the Peasant Uprising of Ba Sing Se (via "Escape from the Spirit World"), but she accomplished her duties as Avatar better, and secured a more long-lived and stable era of peace, than any other incarnation ever mentioned in "The Last Airbender" franchise.