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The Most Powerful Avatar: The Last Airbender Characters Ranked

"Avatar: The Last Airbender" is a show filled with powerful characters, from skilled benders and resourceful non-benders to spirits of immense strength. The rich lore of the beloved Nickelodeon series includes a wide range of supernatural techniques and high-level bending abilities, all of which play into "Avatar's" running theme of improvement through curiosity and dedicated training. But who are the most powerful characters in "Avatar"?

Before getting to the proper ranking, it's important to outline a few ground rules and honorable mentions. Spirits like Koh, Hei Bai, and Wan Shi Tong are all clearly powerful, but their abilities are quite limited to where, when, and how they can exercise their powers and are hard to compare directly with those available to humans. For these reasons, "Avatar's" spirit characters won't be present on this list. This also applies to past Avatars who only appear in spirit forms and flashbacks — sorry, Kyoshi fans, but you know it just wouldn't be a fair fight.

This is a ranking of objective power, which sadly means that some great non-benders will be left in the honorable mentions zone. That includes famed sword master Piandao, Mai, who is very good at throwing many knives all at once, and Sokka, whose skills as a tactical, out-of-the-box thinker are invaluable, but whose combat power doesn't quite stack up against the competition here. With all that out of the way, here are the most powerful characters in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."

14. Master Pakku

Master Pakku, the most powerful waterbender in the world at the start of "Avatar," just barely makes it onto this list. He's the most respected master in the Northern Water Tribe, training Katara and Aang to become master waterbenders, and fights valiantly during the Fire Nation navy's siege of the North Pole (per A.V. Club). He also plays a key role in the White Lotus' retaking of Ba Sing Se, where he holds his own against a number of firebenders powered up from Sozin's Comet during Season 3. That's an impressive resume, and Pakku gets an extra gold star for working to become a better person — way to confront the patriarchy within yourself, old guy.

Unfortunately, Pakku is held back from being higher on this list for a few reasons. The title of "strongest waterbender in the world" isn't as impressive as it sounds during Season 1. The South Pole's benders had been almost entirely eradicated by the Fire Nation, and the North's sexist policy of women not being allowed to fight meant that generations of potential masters were held back from challenging Pakku. Plus, because of the North's isolationist stance during the war, Pakku isn't really that battle-tested. And to top it all off, he has a difficult time beating Katara in "The Waterbending Master" (via Ranker). Does he ultimately win their duel? Yes. Does it take way, way longer than it should for the best-in-the-world to beat a 13-year-old girl with zero official training? Also yes.

13. Suki

For any non-bender, earning a spot on the "Avatar" most-powerful list is an incredibly impressive achievement. But then no one who's seen the show needs to be told that Suki is an incredibly impressive individual, per Screen Rant. As the leader of the Kyoshi Warriors, Suki is a master of an ancient fighting style that prioritizes weapons proficiency and defensive unarmed combat. Her physical strength, skill, and Olympic-gymnast level of dexterity and flexibility have helped her score wins against countless foes, bender and non-bender alike. To be fair, she's also recorded a big notable loss to Princess Azula, but come on — it's Azula.

Could Suki beat Master Pakku in a fight? The real answer is we don't know, but it also doesn't matter that much in the grand scheme of this list. This is a ranking of objective power, not a bracket of one-on-one encounters, and Suki represents the absolute best of traditional non-bender fighting styles in "Avatar." Her versatility with different weapons and her near-superhuman agility launch her above all her immediate competition, even Sokka. We love you, Sokka, but Suki is the better fighter.

12. Jeong Jeong

Just ahead of Suki is another old master of the White Lotus, Jeong Jeong. First introduced in Season 1 as an ex-Fire Nation officer, Jeong Jeong is the first person to teach Aang firebending and an incredibly strong fighter in his own right. "Avatar: The Last Airbender" features a ton of powerful firebenders, and by comparing Jeong Jeong's abilities to theirs, his power and prowess quickly become clear.

Jeong Jeong doesn't bend much during his first appearance in Season 1's "The Deserter," but even the little bit that's shown is enough to inspire awe and respect — creating and manipulating massive walls of flame, nearly setting rivers on fire, and evading the attacks of numerous other firebenders through expert control and clever tricks. During the White Lotus' retaking of Ba Sing Se, Jeong Jeong exhibits even more impressive skills. He uses the power-up from Sozin's Comet to fly — something only he, Firelord Ozai, and Azula are shown to do — and once again demonstrates his ability to control vast amounts of fire at once, quickly and singlehandedly dispatching an entire tank battalion.

From his introduction, Jeong Jeong espouses the need for control in firebending, and given the sheer power he seems to wield, it's likely that his limits aren't even seen in "Avatar."

11. Combustion Man

Jeong Jeong may be strong, but he's far from the most powerful firebender in "Avatar: The Last Airbender." Just edging him out for the 11th spot here is Combustion Man (or Sparky Sparky Boom Man, if you prefer) — the deadly assassin hired by Prince Zuko to kill Aang in Season 3. Though he gets no lines and little screen time, Combustion Man makes a big impression in a short stretch of time, via CBR. He introduces an incredibly rare and particularly deadly form of firebending known as combustion-bending, which involves channeling all of the body's chi toward a single point — in his case, the forehead — and using it to release intensely focused and explosive fire blasts on his foes.

Combustion Man earns a spot over Jeong Jeong because of the sheer technical difficulty of his bending style and his track record fighting Aang and the gang. On two different occasions, he proves too strong for the combined powers of Aang, Katara, Sokka, and Toph. The third time they fight, he's only defeated because of a daredevil move from Zuko and an impossibly precise boomerang toss from Sokka. See? Sokka still gets love on this list.

10. Hama

Speaking of rare and devastating subforms of bending, our top 10 starts off with Hama, the Southern waterbender who introduces bloodbending to the world of "Avatar." As far as the canon has yet to confirm, bloodbending is the only form of bending ever to be outlawed worldwide — a testament to both its inherent invasiveness and the raw danger it poses. As such, any practitioner of bloodbending should be in fierce contention as one of the most powerful "Avatar" characters.

Hama isn't just a practitioner, though. She discovers the technique entirely on her own, all while malnourished and barely alive in the bowels of a Fire Nation prison. It's unlikely that Hama is the first person in history to bloodbend, but that doesn't take away from the fact that she's figured it out by herself. She was also the final waterbender captured in the Fire Nation's raids on the South Pole, suggesting that in her era, she was the strongest in the whole tribe.

The only thing working against Hama here is that once Katara learns bloodbending herself, she makes short work of the old puppetmaster. Still, that's not really a loss to be ashamed of, given that Katara is a full master at that point in the show, and that Hama is well past her prime by the time they fight.

9. Ty Lee

Just briefly, glance back at all the powerful benders who've already made appearances on this list — two masters of the White Lotus and two (admittedly evil) innovators who pushed their respective disciplines to new limits. Now envision a young girl with no bending abilities whatsoever, and recognize that she is more powerful than all of them.

Ty Lee is so strong that she's basically an anomaly in the world of "Avatar." While there are interesting theories that her agility and fighting skill could be because she's descended from airbenders, this list is only concerned with what's canonically confirmed in the show. That means that for our purposes, Ty Lee is an ordinary girl with no bending powers, who can also disable the most powerful of benders with a couple quick jabs and leap 20 feet in the air from a standing position.

Yes, Ty Lee sort of defies the laws of physics, but she earns the number nine spot here on the merits of her chi blocking alone. Through her expert use of the ability, Ty Lee has fought successfully against Katara, Sokka, Aang, and some of the Earth Kingdom's best soldiers. Her technique becomes the basis for an entire fighting style in "The Legend of Korra" that nearly puts non-benders and benders on an equal playing field. Ty Lee is the gold standard for non-bending power in "Avatar," and there's an argument to be made that she belongs even higher on this ranking.

8. King Bumi

King Bumi is very funny. He has a cool and trendy haircut, the latest designer robes, and can move rocks with his head. He's also one of the most powerful benders in the world, even at the age of 112 (per CinemaBlend). During the solar eclipse in Season 3's two-parter "The Day of the Black Sun," Bumi takes down an entire city's worth of Fire Nation soldiers with no help and what must be some serious muscle cramps. He's also proven himself to be one of the most inventive benders in the world, constantly outwitting opponents with his mad genius. And as the icing on the cake, he's a master of the White Lotus, who handles whole squads of firebenders during Sozin's Comet without breaking a sweat.

Despite all that, there are a couple of things holding Bumi back from climbing higher on this list. As far as we know, he lacks the ability to perform any of the higher level earthbending techniques, such as lavabending or metalbending. And for all of his impressive performances in "Avatar: The Last Airbender," he's never been shown fighting against other masters. He does battle Toph in a short "Avatar" tie-in comic, but the fight is interrupted before any real conclusion can be drawn. Still, Bumi is well-deserving of the number eight spot here.

7. Zuko

Zuko fans, give it a second, please — don't close the tab just yet. Zuko is far from the most powerful character in Avatar. He's a fierce fighter with a lot of raw strength, intelligence, cunning, and a masterful control of himself, his emotions, and his abilities by the end of the show. He easily places over some of the series' most powerful masters and fighters. But when it comes to the absolute best of the best, there are still other characters more powerful than him.

For now, though, let's focus on Zuko's wins: victories over numerous earthbending and firebending elites, including agents of the Dai Li and the Fire Nation royal guard; an impressive comeback win against Commander Zhao while still early on in his training; and a number of other significant victories and even matches against the likes of Jet (with no firebending) and Azula.

Zuko also has recorded a number of big losses to Azula, Aang, and Katara. Yes, most of those occur before his true peak, but they still hold sway here. Additionally, he never fully mastered the lightning technique, at least as far as the existing canon has shown. The fact is, Zuko's true strength doesn't lie in his raw power, but it's tough to fully explain what that means without first looking at his younger sister.

6. Azula

Here's the thing about Azula — she's insanely powerful. She's so strong, her fire comes out blue because it's hotter than normal fire, according to Reference. She was a bending prodigy from birth, and she almost never loses a fight unless she's incredibly outnumbered (see: "The Chase"). That is, until she starts to lose her grip.

After being betrayed by Mai and Ty Lee (per TVTropes), Azula quickly spirals into a dangerous descent of fear, paranoia, and self-loathing that feeds itself through the final episodes of Season 3. It's that destabilization, not a lack of power, that leads to her ultimately losing to Zuko and Katara during Sozin's Comet. Zuko even admits that, if she wasn't "slipping," he would have needed help to stand a chance against her.

Here's where we get back to Zuko: The whole point of Zuko's story, of his entire arc through "Avatar: The Last Airbender," is to show that balance and wisdom are more important than power. Zuko is not as strong as Azula. He was never, at any point in his life, stronger than Azula. 

And that's okay. Zuko masters something far more important: the ability to grow, to learn, and to move through the world with care and wisdom. Unfortunately, this is not a ranking of the wisest characters in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."

5. Katara

Starting off the top five is a character who needs absolutely no introduction for "Avatar: The Last Airbender" fans, so instead, let's just do a quick rundown of her qualifications. She's a self-taught prodigy who takes down trained soldiers and pirates with no proper training of any kind, other than a single instructional scroll. She's a master of all forms of waterbending, from the traditional styles to healing and even bloodbending, which she learned in a matter of minutes after discovering its existence. Her list of victories includes wins over Azula, Zuko, Ty Lee, Mai, countless Dai Li agents and elite firebenders, and the Earth King's personal guards.

Suffice it to say, Katara is a legend, and certainly one of the five most powerful benders in "Avatar." Master Pakku tells her that she is the best student he's ever had, and it's safe to assume that by Season 3, she's the greatest waterbender in the world. Katara's skill, power, and resourcefulness are superseded only by her desire to find nonviolent means of conflict resolution — a quality that makes her just as good of a leader as she is a fighter.

4. Ozai

Firelord Ozai is a difficult character to place on this list, for the simple reason that he's only shown fighting during Sozin's Comet. He launches one particularly impressive-looking lightning blast at Zuko immediately following the solar eclipse in Season 3, but even that attack is effectively redirected. So the only data that stands as testament to Ozai's power is his extended battle against Aang, throughout which the Firelord is significantly stronger than he would be on any other day due to the comet's effects.

How, then, does Ozai earn such a high spot on this list? Because he nearly kills the Avatar.

Yes, it's during Sozin's Comet, and yes, Aang ultimately comes back and wins the fight. But it takes everything Aang has — a mastery of all four elements, the wisdom of his past lives, the enhanced power of the Avatar state, and the comet itself — to defeat the Firelord. Considering that numerous other characters are able to defeat elite firebenders during Sozin's Comet, Ozai's prowess can't simply be written off as a side-effect of the weather. He's intensely skilled, fiercely powerful, and a master of many high-level techniques.

3. Iroh

The bronze medal spot for most powerful character belongs to Iroh of the Fire Nation — tea master, spiritual sage, and Dragon of the West. But how can Ozai be weaker than Iroh when Azula is more powerful than Zuko? Iroh is the master of balance and wisdom, the things Zuko comes to value over strict power. It would stand to reason, then, to think that like Azula, Ozai would have an advantage over his brother in terms of absolute strength, even if he's subpar in other spiritual areas.

Going off of what has been shown in canon, Iroh seems to outmatch his little brother in both spiritual matters and raw strength. There is no technique Ozai wields that Iroh can't match. Even as an old man, he's capable of incredible feats of physical strength, like deftly wielding metal chains as weapons and breaking through prison cell bars with his bare hands, per Avatar Factor.

That's even before getting to his bending power. With the aid of Sozin's Comet, Iroh is able to blast a hole clean through Ba Sing Se's walls like they're nothing, which appears to be a stronger blow than any Ozai lands against Aang. At his core, however, Iroh is a man who prefers not to fight. He's said he's not sure if he could have beaten Ozai, but the odds say Iroh probably would have come out on top.

2. Toph Beifong

There is an argument to be made that Toph Beifong is the most powerful bender in all of "Avatar." Think about that — a 13-year-old blind girl with a single element to her name has a case for being more powerful than the literal Avatar. Ultimately, the ability to bend all four elements and access to an ancient reserve of spiritual power make Aang too powerful for even Toph to place above on this list, but the fact that it's even a conversation at all is staggering.

In every "Avatar" battle, she fights with an impossible balance of precision, stability, versatility, and raw strength. She knows your next move before you make it, and she's already sent out her counterattack. Her heightened attunement to her element is unprecedented, and she's basically never lost a fight.

To top it all off, there's the fact that Toph invented metalbending — a technique thought for most of history to be impossible because of the superhuman accuracy and awareness necessary to pull it off. Toph not only proves that belief wrong; she turns her new style into an art form that has a profound impact on future generations. If it weren't for the fact that this show is called "Avatar," Toph would be second to none.

1. Aang

It may be predictable, but that doesn't make it false — Aang is the most powerful character in "Avatar: The Last Airbender." Even before he ran away from the Southern Air Temple, he'd already gotten his airbending master tattoos, making him the youngest person at the time to do so. He picks up waterbending with incredible speed, even making Katara severely jealous. When training with Jeong Jeong, he has a similarly quick and impressive intuition with firebending.

Yes, Aang is the Avatar, and as such, he's expected to be a great bender, but that doesn't make these early achievements any less impressive. He makes short work of nearly every foe he encounters before even adding waterbending to his arsenal. And as the show progresses, he becomes more discerning and decisive as well as more powerful. With the help of the lion turtle, he masters the ability to bend others' energy, a technique he uses to defeat Firelord Ozai without compromising his personal values, and which no known human had ever been able to execute before. That's all without bringing to bear the Avatar State, which Aang is able to fully control by the end of the series. 

It's not a hot take, it's just the right one.