Seventy years have passed between Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, but the families of the original “Gaang” are still helping to shape the future. After their quest to end the Hundred Year War…ended, each member of Aang’s team set about forging their own legacies, apart from and alongside the Avatar.
Toph, Katara, Aang, and Zuko’s influence carries throughout the series beyond what they accomplished on their journeys together. Their children and the ideals they raised them with play influential roles in Korra’s new world and will continue to do so as long as their family lines don’t peter out. Let’s take a look at the branches of the Gaang family trees.
Zuko first appears as an angry youth with everything to prove, aiming to capture Avatar Aang to impress his father and restore his honor. Over the course of the story, though, his personal arc shifts him away from this quest and places him on a path of redemption and self-acceptance. As his Uncle Iroh taught him, the opposite of pride is not shame, but humility, and Zuko became humble enough to realize that his title of prince didn’t come with glory or honor – he had to earn it for himself.
Where Zuko was once fighting the Avatar, his quest for redemption saw him helping Aang instead. Zuko realized that his family, from his tyrannical father to his cruel sister, weren’t even worth trying to impress. Instead, he resolved to help make the world right by aiding the Avatar, teaching Aang enough Firebending to stand a chance against Fire Lord Ozai. By the time the end credits roll, Zuko is the new Fire Lord, a sworn ally of Aang’s and a champion of world peace.
He passes this noble idea down to his daughter, Izumi, who was born as the Fire Nation’s princess and later assumes the title of Fire Lord from her aging father. By the events of The Legend of Korra, Izumi appears to be in her early 50s, and as Fire Lord, she is a champion of peace and diplomacy, a far cry from her Aunt Azula or her grandfather Ozai. Izumi has a son of her own named Iroh, a talented Firebender and general of the United Forces fleet. During the Equalist revolution, the younger Iroh helps lead the relief force to Republic City from Amon, and he fearlessly helps take out Equalist planes. He continues along this path, thoroughly impressed by the new Team Avatar and a sworn ally. At last, the Fire Nation dynasty is on the side of world peace and unity, not conquest.
One of the first major characters introduced in The Legend of Korra is Lin Beifong, the chief of Republic City’s metal bender police force. Korra runs afoul of them after dispensing some vigilante justice on the streets, and tries in vain to appeal to Lin’s parentage and Korra’s own past life as Avatar Aang.
This is one of the clearest inter-generational connections between the old and new Team Avatars. Toph Beifong was a creative Earthbender that truly understood her art, single-handedly inventing Metalbending. She had two daughters, each with a different father: Lin, and Suyin. Lin, the elder, took after her police chief mother to impress her and carry on the family work. Meanwhile, the free-spirited Suyin went her own way and explored the world and all its wonders.
Both sisters are vital allies to Korra, just as their mother greatly aided Korra’s predecessor. Lin was instrumental in helping defeat the Equalist army, and obligated herself to be Korra’s personal bodyguard afterward. Suyin, as the founder of the metal-clad city of Zaofu, eagerly taught Korra how to bend metal and, in season 4, helped fight back against Kuvira’s Earth Empire, lending all her expertise and resources in the fight. Toph, who was living as swamp recluse, once arrived on the field of battle to fight alongside her daughters and her old friend’s successor alike.
Katara of the Southern Water Tribe is an elderly woman during Korra’s days, but her role is perhaps the most important of all. She married the love of her life, Avatar Aang, and the two of them had three children: Bumi, a non-Bender, Tenzin, an Airbender, and a daughter, Kya, who is a Waterbender. Bumi went on to serve as a high-ranking officer in the United Forces military along with Iroh, helping Korra’s team in his own creative ways. Kya has a lesser role in Korra’s team, serving mostly as a healer and support, though she later fought Zaheer and Ming-Hua as well.
Most significant is her son Tenzin, who was the only Airbender aside from the Avatar. As a man, Tenzin married an Air Acolyte named Pema, and they had four Airbender children: Jinora, Ikki, Meelo, and Rohan. This entire family was vital to Korra’s success as an Avatar, from teaching her Airbending and meditation techniques to fighting alongside her against all the major villains. And, when ordinary people suddenly gained Airbending, it was up to Tenzin and his family to train this huge new crop of Airbender kin. The Air Nation was restored at last.
Let's untangle the family ties formed in the time between Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra.