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15 Best Avatar: The Last Airbender Characters Ranked

"Avatar: The Last Airbender" sweeps viewers into a unique fantasy world populated by "benders," who can use martial arts to control air, fire, water, and earth. The Avatar unites them all as the bridge between the material and spiritual worlds, capable of controlling all four elements. Unfortunately, the Fire Nation has decided they want to dominate the world. When it comes time for the Avatar to be reborn into the Air Nomads, the Fire Nation wipes them out. For a century, young Avatar Aang appears to have perished in this terrible assault ... until he is discovered in an iceberg.

Every season of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" sees Aang master an element, until he's finally able to face off in an epic battle against the Fire Lord. This journey is long and arduous — but luckily, he doesn't have to undergo it alone. Over the course of the series, audiences meet a wide variety of truly memorable characters it's impossible not to fall in love with. In celebration of these kings, warriors, princesses, and pacifists, we're here to rank the 15 best characters in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."

15. The Boulder

Starting off this list is the comical character known as the Boulder (Mick Foley). The Boulder is a professional earthbending wrestler and a long-standing champion of the Earth Rumble tournaments. Initially a self-assured braggart, the Boulder manages to get some serious development over the course of the show: He goes from being a stereotypical celebrity jock to becoming a fully-fledged hero in his own right when he takes part in the invasion of the Fire Nation with the rest of Team Avatar in Season 3.

The Boulder is a terrifically strong earthbender with an even stronger personality. Fans of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" are likely to smile when they think of his name, as he continuously refers to himself in the third person with tremendous gravitas. While he's just a minor character, he makes a lasting impression with his goofy antics and genuine heroism. Plus, he's used to introduce fan-favorite Toph — that alone wins him a spot on this list.

14. Hakoda

Hakoda (André Sogliuzzo) is Sokka and Katara's father. He is also the chieftain of the Southern Water Tribe, and must make the difficult choice to leave his family behind to fight the Fire Nation. Eventually, he's reunited with his kids, and helps Team Avatar invade the Fire Nation in the hopes of ending the war. Unfortunately, things don't go as planned. Hakoda and his team allow the Fire Nation to capture and imprison them, so that Team Avatar can escape to fight another day.

Hakoda is a loving father who does everything he can to keep Sokka and Katara safe — even if that means being apart from them for enormous lengths of time. He's also comfortable with his kids becoming adults: Once they're reunited, he sees the value in listening to Sokka's council, and steps back to let him take the lead when making plans for their invasion. Once Hakoda is imprisoned in the Boiling Rock, the Fire Nation's most formidable prison, he never submits to the warden, and inspires other inmates with his quick resolve and hopeful ideals. All in all, Hakoda is a great man, a skilled leader, and an excellent father. 

13. June

June (Jennifer Hale) is a talented bounty hunter who takes jobs in the Earth Kingdom and the Fire Nation. She is considered to be a mercenary with no allegiance to anyone — as long as she gets paid, she doesn't bother with much else. While June isn't a bender, she's deadly in her own right as a skilled fighter. She spends at least some of her free time betting men in taverns that she can beat them at arm-wrestling — a bet she typically wins. 

Although June is certainly charismatic, fans never get to see much of her — she doesn't seem interested in tying herself down to any one person, ideal, or conflict. June is only loyal to her pet, steed, and companion Nyla, a shirshu whose powerful sense of smell allows the duo to track down almost anything. A sarcastic and witty character, June's cleverness is matched only by her confidence. On a show full of strong female characters, she still manages to stand out, earning her a spot on this list. 

12. Avatar Kyoshi

Avatar Kyoshi (Jennifer Hale) was the Avatar before Roku, who reigned directly before Aang. Born in the Earth Kingdom, she was a famously no-nonsense woman, willing to do whatever it took to succeed. She was also exceptionally tall. While her height might have intimidated some, it was her bending skills and fierce determination that made her legendary.

Kyoshi's presence lives on far past her death. She created the Kyoshi Warriors, a band of female fighters that still exists in Aang's time. They train with the same fans Kyoshi was known for fighting with, and wear the make-up she made famous. While Kyoshi maintained peace between the four nations during her time, she wasn't exactly a pacifist, which she makes especially clear when her spirit visits Aang. One memorable instance of this attitude arrived when she refused to bow down to Chin the Conqueror: After he refused to halt his attempt to conquer the Earth Kingdom, Kyoshi created Kyoshi island in a monumental act of bending, which led to Chin's death. She might be brutal, but you can't deny she gets things done.

11. King Bumi

Eccentric King Bumi of Omashu (André Sogliuzzo) gets an interesting introduction: He initially acts as an antagonist to Team Avatar. The madcap ruler traps Sokka and Katara in ever-growing crystal and forces Aang to participate in strange challenges to win their freedom. However, by the end of the episode, Aang realizes that Katara and Sokka aren't in any danger — the crystal is rock candy, and Bumi is actually Aang's childhood friend from 100 years ago. All his tests are a way of making sure Aang is ready to tackle the Fire Nation.

King Bumi is one of strongest earthbenders in the Avatar universe. When the Fire Nation invades and takes control of Omashu, Bumi single-handedly frees the city and expels his enemies. He is also a member of the White Lotus, the international group of powerful benders and non-benders who stand against tyrants like the Fire Lord. He's a weirdo for sure, but the sort of weirdo you want on your side.

10. Katara

One of the main members of Team Avatar, Katara (Mae Whitman) is the first person Aang meets after emerging from the ice. Katara has been deeply affected by the war: A marauding band of Fire Nation raiders murdered her mother years prior. This massive conflict eventually dragged her father away as well, and has left the Southern Water Tribe a shadow of its former self. When audiences are first introduced to Katara, she's a weak waterbender who hopes to sharpen her skills, but lacks the resources to do so — she's the only bender left in the entire tribe.

Katara believes in Aang wholeheartedly, even when the young Avatar doesn't believe in himself. He believes in her in turn, which is more than justified: By the end of the show, Katara is a master waterbender who has saved Aang countless times. She gains the respect of her peers, and even teaches some adults a thing or two. Katara is also featured in "Avatar: The Legend of Korra," which reveals that she and Aang went on to marry and have three children, one of whom trains Avatar Korra in airbending. To say she comes a long way is a supreme understatement. 

9. Ty Lee

Ty Lee (Olivia Hack) is a bubbly and energetic character who is best friends with Princess Azula and moody Mai. A Fire Nation noblewoman, Ty Lee grew up with six identical sisters, which made it hard to stand out. Because of this, Ty Lee is often found taking part in unique and outlandish acts, in the hopes of earning attention. It is this drive to distinguish herself that leads her to join a Fire Nation circus as an acrobat. 

Unfortunately, Azula puts her performances on hold when she asks Ty Lee and Mai to hunt the Avatar with her. While Ty Lee is gentle by nature, she's a force to be reckoned with when she wants to be. A non-bender, Ty Lee can block people's chi, which essentially means she can cut benders off from their own abilities. Her knowledge of the human body is so complete, she can further render anyone who tries to stand up to her immobile for a short time. But she just doesn't have it in her to be evil for long: By the end of the series, Ty Lee and Mai betray Azula, and Ty Lee joins the Kyoshi Warriors. It's the perfect place for such a skilled and sociable character.

8. Suki

Suki (Jennie Kwan) is the leader of the Kyoshi Warriors, and has the distinct pleasure of teaching Sokka that not all fighters need to be men. A skilled and valued warrior, she decides to leave her island to take part in the war against the Fire Nation. While Suki is a generous and kind character, she's a soldier first and foremost. When Sokka learns to respect that, a relationship filled with mutual admiration, trust, and respect develops between them. 

During Suki's travels, she comes across a stranded Appa, who's been separated from Team Avatar. She does her best to protect him against those who would do him harm. Unfortunately, she and the other Kyoshi Warriors are captured and sent to the Boiling Rock. Sokka and Zuko eventually break into the prison and devise a plan to rescue Suki and Hakoda, but it is only through Suki's dazzling skill that said plan succeeds. Once they escape, Suki remains with Team Avatar until the end of the series as a valued friend and a much-needed fighter. No one could uphold Avatar Kyoshi's legacy better.

7. Aang

As the show's main character, the last living Air Nomad, and the titular Avatar, Aang (Zach Tyler Eisen) is a boy with a massive destiny. It is his responsibility to put a stop to Fire Lord Ozai's tyranny — but he's also just a kid. This tremendous task forces Aang through many changes throughout "Avatar: The Last Airbender." He starts off the series as a young boy who doesn't want to deal with the reality of what's happened while he was frozen in ice. He ends it as a leader of era-defining skill and compassion.

Aang carries many heavy burdens, yet he holds onto the pacifist principles he was raised with. As the final battle looms, everyone tells Aang he must kill the Fire Lord to restore balance. Yet he's able to find another way to achieve peace without taking a life, by taking Fire Lord Ozai's bending away. This strength of character allows Aang to remain an optimistic, goofy, and lovable character throughout the show, even when things are at their darkest.

6. Azula

Azula (Grey DeLisle) is a princess of the Fire Nation and Fire Lord Ozai's favorite child. A firebending prodigy, her flames are so powerfully hot, they're a bright blue. While Azula is a clear villain Team Avatar must overcome, she's also an incredibly intriguing character. 

Azula believes her mother didn't truly love her, and even considered her a "monster." This, combined with Ozai's manipulation, has made Azula into a remarkably cruel person. She uses her power to bend people to her will, and believes fear is a lot more reliable than love. But for all her brutality, Azula is ultimately sympathetic. Shortly before her final battle with Zuko, she endures a hallucination of her mother, forcing her to break down into sobs. Azula's struggle elevates the show from fun children's cartoon to genuine drama, filled with betrayal, tragedy, and breathtaking bending sequences. "Avatar: The Last Airbender" would not be the same without her.

5. Sokka

Sokka (Jack DeSena) is Katara's elder brother and the only non-bender in the original Team Avatar. He starts out with a whole lot of flaws: Sokka can be condescending, arrogant, smug, and dismissive. But he learns from his mistakes, and never loses sight of what's right. By the end of the series, he's a true hero and a stalwart friend.

Sokka is also immensely funny and charismatic, and often serves as the show's comic relief. This is always a hoot, but he's no clown – Sokka is the mastermind of Team Avatar, and truly finds his footing in strategy and tactics. It is this sharp thinking that takes down a fleet of Fire Nation airships during the final battle. He's also remarkably cool under pressure, though this takes a little practice. While Sokka makes some questionable statements in Season 1, he learns from his closed-mindedness. By the end of the series, you could even make a strong argument that he's the Team Avatar MVP.

4. Appa

Without Appa, Team Avatar would have never made it past Season 1. This cuddly sky bison saves our heroes countless times, and rarely asks for anything in return beyond a place to sleep and some food. We use "ask" loosely, as Appa can't talk. But he's still a character with real depth and a huge role in the series.

Aside from being the team's main mode of transportation throughout all three seasons, Appa is Aang's only tie to his Air Nomad roots. They're both the last of their kind — or at least, they seem to be. "Avatar: The Legend of Korra" reveals that more sky bison survived the Fire Nation's attack than previously thought, which means Aang's kids have flying steeds of their own. But in the first series, all Aang and Appa have is each other.

Appa isn't just a loyal and loving animal — he goes through his own journey. Season 2's "Appa's Lost Days" puts him in the spotlight, following the sky bison as he is captured by sandbenders, helped by the Kyoshi Warriors and Guru Pathik, and eventually imprisoned by Long Feng. Watching this gentle giant go through countless hurdles is truly heart-breaking: Appa deserves the world for his fortitude and sacrifice. If anything more permanently terrible happened to him in the series, we think audiences would have revolted.

3. Toph

Toph Beifong (Jessie Flower) is the greatest living earthbender. This abrasive master develops metalbending entirely on her own, after she's forced into a metal box. It's no wonder, then, that she isn't used to depending on others for help, a trait that causes some friction with the rest of Team Avatar. But eventually, Toph learns to adjust, and becomes a true-blue friend.

Having grown up with incredibly overbearing parents who believe her to be delicate and vulnerable due to her blindness, Toph is forced to hide her tough personality and prodigious talent. She ends up entering earthbending tournaments to show off her skill as the mysterious Blind Bandit. Most of her opponents don't see her as a threat, but they quickly learn Toph is not to be messed with. But Toph isn't just an amazing bender — she's a wise soul whose tough-love attitude brings some much-needed perspective to Team Avatar. Without her, there's no way Team Avatar would have made it to the end.

2. Uncle Iroh

Uncle Iroh (Mako Iwamatsu) is a kind and gentle soul who knows the Fire Nation is in the wrong, despite the fact that he was once one of its fiercest generals. An incredibly powerful firebender, he is known to many as the Dragon of the West. Though he was initially in line for the throne, after his beloved son died, he lost any interest in power. This put Iroh on a unique path. He embarked on a spiritual journey which saw him learn about the other nations, protect the last living dragons, and eventually act as Zuko's mentor.

Though Ozai saddles Zuko with what appears to be the impossible task of hunting the Avatar, Iroh chooses to go with his nephew. Over the course of their travels, he encourages Zuko to embrace the good inside of him and develop an independent sense of self. Though Zuko falters, Iroh never gives up on him — he knows how difficult growth truly is. Like King Bumi, Iroh is also a member of the White Lotus. When they take back the Earth Kingdom city of Ba Sing Se, he unleashes a gigantic amount of power. That he puts it towards freeing a city from Fire Nation control is a testament to his bravery and kindness.

1. Zuko

Zuko (Dante Basco) has the most interesting character arc in the entire show. When audiences meet him, Zuko has spent years tracking down the Avatar, who has been missing for a century. Though he's the crown prince of the Fire Nation, Zuko bears a scar given to him by his father, who burned Zuko for daring to defy him. Zuko was then banished in disgrace, and told he'd never be forgiven or regain his honor until he captured the Avatar. 

As the show continues, audiences are given glimpses of the decent young man Zuko truly is. Eventually, he witnesses what the Fire Nation has done to the world first-hand, which kicks off his redemption arc in earnest. While Zuko continues to struggle, even returning to the Fire Nation for a brief time, he ultimately decides to join the Avatar to defeat his father and sister. Once he's crowned Fire Lord, he and Aang work together to repair the world. His growth is unequaled, and that's why he's the absolute best character in "Avatar: The Last Airbender."