Legend of Korra: Top 10 Episodes & Characters from Books 1 and 2

I didn’t think I’d be producing an editorial examining the best of The Legend of Korra until the series had concluded, but the more I thought about it, writing such an article now isn’t a bad idea.

We’re halfway through the series as of Book 2′s finish, so it’s easier to judge what we’ve seen so far, now that there’s been more than one season to analyze. Plus, following the current Book 2-Book 3 hiatus, we’ll be entering the final stretch of the series, and so it seems appropriate to celebrate the show’s greatest success thus far.

So without further ado, here are my picks for The Legend of Korra’s top 10 episodes and top 10 characters:

10. Ep211 – Night of a Thousand Stars

“Night of a Thousand Stars” is an all-in-one package of an episode. It has the laughs with Nuktuk, the drama with Bolin, and some excellent action sequences thanks to Tonraq’s rebel invasion and Bolin’s rescuing of the president.

9. Ep212 – Harmonic Convergence

There’s nothing wrong with devoting an episode to back-to-back action sequences once in a while and, similar to Book 1′s “Turning the Tides” (but better), “Harmonic Convergence does just that. More importantly, these action set-pieces are extremely impressive, with an aerial combat sequence being the standout. There’s also plenty to love for Bumi fans such as myself.

Out of the Past

8. Ep109 – Out of the Past 

This episode was successful for a lot of reasons: Korra is faced with a polar opposite sort of challenge then she is familiar with (a challenge of the mind, as opposed to physical endurance), Amon confronts Tarrlok, and Lin leads the rest of the cast on a dangerous rescue mission, but the real reason “Out of the Past” makes my list Is thanks to the Gaang’s incredibly nostalgic return via flashbacks.

7. Ep207 – Beginnings Part 1

The first half of “Beginnings” does a highly admirable job of opening up the world 10,000 years ago with a visually stunning design aesthetic, some fun characters, and a delightful soundtrack. I knew I would be hooked on this story arc as soon as I watched this episode, and I was absolutely right.

6. Ep106 – And the Winner Is… 

I’m a sports guy, so Probending is very exciting to me, but I will admit that I was more invested in the Equalist side of the story in Book 1 than in the Fire Ferrets. “And the Winner Is…” combines the two with an expectedly thrilling championship match followed up by an Equalist invasion that leads to what is arguably the best action sequence of the season, along with some much welcomed relationship growth between Korra and Lin.

5. Ep112 – Endgame

The final episode from Book 1 is probably the most controversial as an ending because of how tightly the plot is wrapped up. However, I’m a firm believer that it is far more essential to conclude the current season’s story than it is to hint at the next season. In addition, the episode consisted of more standout scenes than I could keep track of… So, it has that going for it…

Light in the Dark

4. Ep214 – Light in the Dark

Often criticized for its over-the-top “giant fight,” but nonetheless remembered for its venture into uncharted territory and an enthralling conclusion that takes the series in a completely new direction.

3. Ep213 – Darkness Falls 

The penultimate episode to Book 2′s humongous finale definitely got the plot rolling immediately, with a multitude of explosive duels between characters, but it also has its delicate side in Tenzin’s personal journey. The Fog of Lost Souls brought a nice change of pace that kept the story intimate, even in the midst of all its chaos.

2. Ep210 – A New Spiritual Age 

A Spirit World journey was both inevitable and highly anticipated, and while we got exactly what we wanted in terms of the gorgeous settings and the plethora of wonderfully designed spirits, there remains a very human essence throughout Korra and Jinora’s plot-lines. The emotions evoked from a sense of relation is what makes “A New Spiritual Age” truly memorable. Also, Uncle Iroh, baby Korra, and Wan Shi Tong…

1. Ep208 – Beginning Part 2 

This one’s a no-brainer for me. “Beginnings” is a beautiful story that deserved a beautiful conclusion, and luckily, the second half of the two-parter exceeded my expectations and became one of my favorite episodes from the entire Avatar franchise. If The Legend of Korra never outdoes “Beginnings Part 2″ I’ll completely understand (and yes, that’s a challenge).

And now for the top 10 characters:

Lin Beifong

10. Lin

Lin just barely makes my list thanks to her very solid outing in the first season, but that’s not to say she doesn’t deserve it. When put to good use, Lin is a noteworthy character among others, and it appears we’ll be seeing more from her in Book 3, so hopefully she’ll return to being awesome and not underused like in Book 2.

9. Tarrlok

When I was watching Book 1 of The Legend of Korra, Tarrlok was the character I hoped would enter a scene while a friend or family member was in the room with me watching. He’s one of the most serious, well written, and professionally acted characters on the show, with a mysterious backstory to compliment. Also, it’s just fantastic to have Dee Bradley Baker (Tarrlok) voice a character who isn’t an animal (he’s responsible for voicing/growling for various sky-bison and other animals).

8. Mako

Mako haters, look away… Mako, quite simply, carries a lot of potential with him, more so than the likes of some others (Asami). Also, being a rookie detective adds some serious merit since we’ve gotten to see him do something more important than what he is usually confined to. From the looks of it, Mako will be well worth the writers’ effort in the long run.

7. Bumi

Bumi is a strange addition to the cast. He’s not very skillful (unless you count his flute playing ability, and his luck with a mecha-tank), nor is he much of a leader for the other characters to rally under. He’s definitely not irrelevant though, and what makes him so interesting to me is that his presence appears to exist in between the dimensions of those other cast members rather than sticking out. He’s very enjoyable on screen and he always feels very streamline, for lack of a better term.

Bolin

6. Bolin

Book 1 was a worthy showcase for Bolin as a comedic hero that still had enough fight in him to be an irreplaceable member of Team Avatar, and he may have ranked higher up on my list had his success between the first two seasons been more consistent. But even when he is confined to the acting life as Nuktuk: Hero of the South, one gets the sense that the problem lies more in the storytelling than in the character, which might as well be set in stone after Bolin redeems himself later in the episode “Night of a Thousand Stars.”

5. Korra

I feel like a lot of people overreact to Korra’s hotheaded attitude, even when her aggressive behavior acts as a strategically placed springboard for crucial character growth (Book 2). That being said, I never find her unlikeable, as many do, and it’s a joy to watch Korra mature into a responsible and respectable young Avatar.

4. Wan

The first Avatar certainly left an impact with his lead role in the “Beginnings” story-arc, as evidenced by the audience’s reluctance to part with the new-found hero. It’s truly impressive for a character to leave such a profound mark on the series with merely two episodes to work with.

3. Varrick

Varrick’s just one of those characters who may not be as sophisticated as the rest of the bunch, but he’ll steal almost every scene he’s featured in, regardless, which makes him one of the most fun to watch in Book 2.

2. Tenzin 

Tenzin would not be in my number two spot, had it not been for his excellent character development in Book 2, and so he has become my personal favorite of the show’s regulars over time. He transcends the typical mentor/father figure and embodies a sophisticated character that can maintain his own storyline.

Amon

1. Amon

I love me a good villain, so Amon’s inclusion in The Legend of Korra’s freshman season is right down my alley. From his complicated motives with his realistic (and relatable) political ploys to his awesomely formidable presence, Amon quickly became my favorite antagonist from any season of Avatar (yes, I put him ahead of Azula).

One thing that we should keep in mind is that opinions change, and we still have 26 best episode candidates to come, along with a full cast of developing characters and a number of not-yet-known characters to add to the list. It’ll be interesting to see how the list has changed when it is updated by series end, but in the mean time I’d like to hear what you have to say in the comments section. What are your favorite episodes and characters?

  • Mitch

    Nice list! Though I myself would not have put Endgame anywhere near the top 10. Also, I think 1 and 5 need to be switched on your characters list. I get that people find Korra frustrating, but a frustrating heroine with huge character development and growth is very endearing to me. :)

    • Ariana Moreno

      I agree. Korra is more relatable, human, and more real because of the fact that she isn’t the perfect, ideal saint-like hero. Even Aang was too saint like and nice, so, I like that they made Korra very human and real. She’s like a typical teenager, someone who is brash with her decisions, doesnt consider consequences, and wants what she thinks is best for her benefit sometimes, despite that her decisions involve others. It’s awesome X) that’s what makes the creators worth some praise because they made a non stereotypical girl who is very human and imperfect, even though she’s the hero of the show.

    • Wyatt

      I like Korra. I just put her at #5 because there are 4 other characters that I find to be better as of now. I, like you, believe people hate on Korra too much.

      • Link9150

        Awesome list. Even if Korra isn’t number 1. Yeah, people like to hate on her because she isn’t perfect. Well… That’s the point to achieve perfection by the end of Book 4 not halfway through the show.

        • KorraKorra

          imperfection is perfection

    • Loklover

      Bryan Posted something on Tumblr! The first one is the pic and the bottom one is the caption! :D

      • Legama

        God Book 3 hasn’t aired yet and they are finishing the series finale story. It’s not even 2015 but i’m somehow already missing Korra after the finale :L They better come up with something new after Korra, like a movie, although i heard they were retiring or something like that.

        • Loklover

          Yes I agree! Legend of Korra is going by too fast. Idk wat I’m going to do when it ends :’{

          • Legama

            Watch it again of course. I will make a marathon in 2015 of Avatar, from “The boy in the iceberg” to Korra’s finale, although it will take the whole day.

          • Loklover

            Yeah.. I will. But.. watching the same episodes over and over again makes watching Atla and Lok less special yah know?

      • Link9150

        Wow… That kind of touched me right there on the heart haha. Book 3 just screams an April release if you ask me. As for Book 4, there could be a small possibility that it would be ready for September/October, unlikely but still a little bit possible.

  • Rache

    I feel like you didn’t consider some of the other good female characters (not to be sexist) like Jinora and Kya in your top 10 character list.

    • Erin

      Yeah but they aren’t that a good characters we’ve barely gotten to know.kya and jinora doesn’t stand a chance next to Korra and amon and tenzin it’s not sexist notice Korra is at number five

      • Ariana Moreno

        I bet you that Kya and Jinora may have bigger roles in book 3, so don’t underestimate them too early X)

      • Rache

        What about Asami? If this person is including Mako in this list then I think Asami deserves a spot too. Maybe it should have been like a top 15 list.

        • Ariana Moreno

          haha nice catch XD yeah, i think people have the love for these characters backwards X) just my opinion, that Asami deserves more praise than Mako all together :p

          • Rache

            Exactly ;)

        • Wyatt

          The way I look at it:
          Asami and Mako were both steering their own boats. Asami passed Mako in Book 1, thus becoming a better character (though not among the very best). But then they steered into Book 2, Mako being his usual self and Asami looking as though she can further her lead over Mako with a struggling story to save her company. However, as the season went on, Asami and Mako found themselves neck-and-neck (since Mako maneuvered himself through a detective story arc and Asami became less prominently featured). Eventually, their boats collide, sending Asami into a corner (where the writers put her) and Mako straightens out. Asami attempt to squeeze her way out, but doesn’t have the potential to make it, and so she waits there until Book 3. Mako on the other hand, while not able to pass any characters beyond his 8th place spot, is at least on a more stable current than Asami.

          • Ariana Moreno

            I rank them according to the way they are morally, and lemme tell ya, Mako has a long way to go XD I think Asami is better off than him :p if this comes down to the amount of uselessness in the show like it sounds like you’re saying, I’d blame the creators for the poor writing.

          • Wyatt

            Yup, the writers messed her up for sure.

          • Ariana Moreno

            Agreed, she had so much potential, but she was lowered down to the team avatar transportation method. XD I hope that book 3 will fix this with her character.

          • Wyatt

            Yeah… also, if you ranked characters morally, then how could you accurately include villains? Ya know?

          • Ariana Moreno

            well, villains would be ranked according to how developed they are and the depth of their development/character. Of course villains are bad, but good ones are the ones you still feel for, and fear, and enjoy at the same time X)

          • Wyatt

            There are tons upon tons of criteria we could come up with for what makes a good character, but ultimately, it all comes down to personal preference. This is why you’ll see a character like Varrick make my top 3, because he really resonated with me, regardless of how developed he is.

          • Ariana Moreno

            very true. i guess it is fair to say we all grade characters according to our preference and taste, and what we expect in a character to make it good, to us at least. so, yeah X) well said.

          • Wyatt

            Well responded to ;)

          • Ariana Moreno

            actually, i also rank characters according to their depth and development as well, including how realistic they are and relatable too. haha XD

    • http://avatarthelegendofkorraonline.com/ Keval

      While this isn’t my list, I’d have to agree with Wyatt’s decision not to include Kya and Jinora in the top ten. Both only just made their presence in Book 2. I would give them some more development time before considering them a top tier character. Just for the record, I am a huge Jinora fan and I expect her to be a top character by the end of Book 3, provided that she’s given an extensive role.

      • Rache

        Good point. Although, I do think that Jinora had just as much character developement as Bumi did during book 2 seeing as he made this top ten list, but that’s okay. It’s only an opinion.

      • Nico

        Ya I hope we see her get her tattoos

  • Erin

    What is varrick doing at number three? Switch him and korra please Korra has developed and grown varrick has just been a on the side villain comedian

    • Erin

      But I guess they’re ur picks not mine and I shouldn’t judge. Ignore my comment.

      • Cast Bender Podcast

        Wyatt is right, ever single scene Varrick is in he shines the most!

        • Link9150

          That’s thanks to his amazing charisma. It’s like the Robert Downey Jr of the Avatar world.

    • Wyatt

      I know that Varrick didn’t get much development (well, he really didn’t get any), but for me, he stole the majority of the scenes he was featured in and became a very memorable character. Over time, we’ll likely see Korra take his place on the list as the series progresses.

  • Legama

    140% Agreed. Amon is one of those unique antagonists that really cause that fear feeling in your throat, but at the same time at the end you really start to feel some sympathy with him. Amon is clearly the best developed antagonist, I even think it surpasses Ozai. Meanwhile Tenzin is advancing toward Iroh’s direction in character development, with it’s story, family and wisdom. Lin will be probably following him as one of the best characters, after Book 3.
    In the Chapters, there’s no doubt, Beginnings 2 was the best episode of the series, following A New Spiritual Age with their masterfully written and animated story. I would put Darkness Falls, Light in the Dark and Endgame tied on 3rd place, those episodes were also great.
    I’m just hoping they develop Jinora, Bumi and Bolin a bit more.

  • Ariana Moreno

    Nice X) yeah, I will list my episodes, but I don’t really have a list of 10 in one list, so I will separate them by book to begin, Book 1: When Extremes Meet, Out of the Past, The Voice in the Night, Welcome to Republic City, Skeletons in the Closet, Endgame
    Book 2: A New Spiritual Age, Darkness Falls, Light in the Dark, Beginnings 1 & 2. All of these episodes I’d say are on my top list. But i couldn’t’ list them in order because it’s so hard XD haha. I hope book 3 allows us to list even more as top favorites :)

    Favorite Characters: Korra, Jinora, Tenzin, I really like Bumi as well, and Kya, which I’m willing to bet they will get more time in book 3, so I’m just gonna list em now yo XD

  • Nico

    Great post, I love Amon he really is one of, if not the best, villain they have ever created. I’m surprised that turning the tides did not make the list.. Love that episode.

    • Ariana Moreno

      add it to your own list! Xp and Amon is really bad ass.

  • Raimundo

    Awesome list…… I have waited sooooo long for someone to do a top 10 list for LOK because I see so many for the original series. Also, thank you for including Bolin; I absolutely LOVED him in the first season.

    • Wyatt

      Thanks. The list will be even better by the end of the series!

    • Wyatt

      Thanks. The list will be even better by the end of the series!

  • Nico

    Check out Bryan’s tumblr, said that book 3 should air SOON, whatever that means

    • Loklover

      I posted it up top

    • Legama

      Probably the next months (April, May, June at last)

      • Loklover

        Agreed! I’m hoping May (:

  • Sibis

    Mako criticism warning.

    Mako has potential, but so far he’s been more than half the time toxic to the other characters. There was the love triangle being a “bull in a china shop” to the series.

    It’s not so much that he’s growing, but just steps on the backs of the other characters to stand out. Plot B where Lin and her force takes a nose dive past Reno 911 and Asami has another road to being used depressing struggle which lays the foundation for the Mako detective story.

    All of Mako’s work get thrown out of the window in the conclusion with no one still believing him til the end, Bolin busts Varrick in the process of another crime with the help of a loose lip flunky, no word on Asami getting her company back, and Varrick escapes. Such a shoddy ending for that.

    The rest of the list is fine. I think Eska deserves honorable mention for her performance of whipping Bolin for a few episodes. Mostly that she was the only female character to put her foot down in a relationship, which was funny. lol

    • Link9150

      I’m going to hate myself for saying this but… Mako does have some potential. Although I believe that Asami has much more.

      • Sibis

        Every character has potential, even the worst ones.

        Mako just thrives in disharmony of the others.

  • Matt Brown

    This is a great list Keval! I have a left over article from when I was writing for Cast Bender about my top 10 Avatar episodes. I think I’ll go ahead and post it.

    Top 20 Avatar the Last Airbender Episodes.
    20- The Day of Black Sun p1
    19- The Blue Spirit
    18- Day of Black Sun p2
    17- The Puppet Master
    16- Siege of the North p1
    17- Siege of the North p2
    15- Lake Lougai
    14- The Guru
    13- The Crossroads of Destiny
    12- The Avatar and the Fire Lord
    11- The Southern Raiders
    10- Sokka’s Master
    09- The Tales of Ba Sing Se
    08- Sozin’s Comet p3 Into the Inferno
    07- Sozin’s Comet p2 The Old Masters
    06- Jet
    05- Zuko Alone
    04- Boiling Rock p1
    03- Boiling Rock p2
    02- The Blind Bandit
    01-Sozin’s Comet p4 Avatar Aang

    Top 10 The Legend of Korra Episodes
    10- The Voice in the Night
    09- Harmonic Convergence
    08- Endgame
    07- The Aftermath
    06- A New Spiritual Age
    05- Light in the Dark
    04- Out of the Past
    03- Beginnings p1 & 2
    02- When Extremes Meet
    01- And the Winner Is…

    Top 20 Avatar Characters
    20- Fire Lord Ozai
    19- Jet
    18-Admiral Zhao
    17- Avatar Kyoshi
    16- King Bumi
    15- Appa
    14- Monk Gyatso
    13- Suki
    12- Koh “The Face Stealer”
    11- Avatar Roku
    10- Fire Lord Sozin
    09- Zuko
    08- Guru Patik
    07- Long Feng
    06- Sokka
    05- Katara
    04- Azula
    03- Toph
    02- Aang
    01- Uncle Iroh

    Top 10 The Legend of Korra Characters
    10- Asami
    09- Kya
    08- Amon
    07- Mako/ Bolin
    06- Lin
    05- Wan
    04- Tarrlok
    03- Jinora
    02- Korra
    01- TENZIN!!!!!!!

    Of course ghere are certain episodes and characters that I do adore, but I simply felt that others were able to make the cut just a bit more, so they made it to the list.

    • Wyatt

      Actually, I wrote this post… But anyways, interesting choices. Especially in your Top 10 Legend of Korra Episodes where you put “And the Winner Is..” and “When Extremes Meet” as your top two. I haven’t seen anybody place those two episodes up so high on a top ten list.

      • Matt Brown

        I am so sorry Wyatt Lol!!! I didnt notice the publisher name. So with that being said, GREAT LIST WYATT!!!! And yeah, And the Winner Is is where Book 1 reallh started to pick up. It was already interesting to see that Amon was able to take someone’s bending away, but then seeing him have the balls to take over the arena was incredible. And those action sequences were amazing. I was really happy to see Lin and Korra work together. It was interesting to see just how much of a drive they both had to take Amon down. They let that drive fuel them during their fight with the chi blockers, which led to them working together. It was really cool. It also showed just how much of a threat Amon posed to Republic City and potentially the rest of the world. And with When Extremes Meet, it was interesting to see how Tarlok’s character took an unexpected twist which really played into the season’s plot later on down the road. It also bought some slight depth as to why Tarlok makes the decisions that he does.We always knew that it was for more power, but now we see that in order for him to have the power over the city that he wants, he needs Korra to be under his control. It also made a slight connection between Korra’s visions and Tarlok, which bought a bit more depth to his character and also left the door open for the next episode. It was also cool to see him kidnap Korra. It showed just how far he would go. And when you think about it, Tarlok played just as much of a role to the down fall of Republic City as Amon. I’ll go back and edit your name into my first comment. Lol sry about that

        • Wyatt

          Haha, it’s fine. I haven’t been posting as much as I wanted to during the current hiatus, so it’s expected that people may confuse my articles with Keval’s. No biggy :) as long as people enjoy my writing, I’m happy.

      • Legama

        Hey Wyatt will you write a general review of the overall series, after Korra’s finale? including both ATLA and LOK episodes.

        • Wyatt

          I’m definitely going to do a best of the entire Legend of Korra series. I’m not sure about combining ATLA and LOK since it would be very difficult (for one), but who knows? I’ll play it by ear, and maybe someday, it’ll be appropriate.

    • Laneskeeper

      I think my favorite ATLA episodes were The Boiling Rock episodes, The Southern Raiders, Siege of the North episodes, and then the final four episodes of the series.

      Uncle Iroh was by far my favorite character!

      • Laneskeeper

        Honorable mention to The Avatar and the Firelord

        • Matt Brown

          Ikr. It was an amazing episode.

      • Matt Brown

        Yeah. His character alone offered so much to the series and played such a tremendous role in a majority of the character development for Toph when she left the group, Aang, and various other characters. He really served as a crutch for character development… especially when it came to Zuko. 95 percent of Zuko’s character development came from Uncle Iroh. The other 5 percent is a combination of what happebed to his mom, his interactions with Azula, and his relationship with Ozai. But majority of it was in fact from Uncle Iroh. I definitely enjoyed seeing him again in A New Spiritual Age. Who’s your favorite character from The Legend of Korra???

        • Laneskeeper

          I think Tenzin. Especially after he came into his own at the end of book two after he set himself free from his unrealistic expectations he had set for himself.

          I also see Tenzin as a similar character as Uncle Iroh, full of much wisdom. I’m anxious to see how the writers develop Tenzin’s character in book three now that he’s “free” of his perceived father’s expectations that hindered him in every aspect of his life.

          I personally think Tenzin can take on the role as an effective mentor for Korra, just as Uncle Iroh did for Zuko.

        • Laneskeeper

          I’m really excited about book three. The writers have set the series up in such a manner that the options they have are almost limitless in regards to the plot.

  • Josh

    WOW! I guess it’s finally safe to say that Book 3 is already finished and ready to air. It just depends on when Nick is willing to premier it. I mean by now they should know that fans don’t like to wait. If we don’t get Book 3 by April/May I will lose all my faith in Nick!

  • Link9150

    Very good list and awesome justifications! Also, I love the fact you put Amon first. He’s a total badass and the best villain in the entire Avatar franchise, though at times I feel like I prefer Azula.

    Here’s my top character list (Korra-exclusive):
    5 – Lin
    4- Jinora
    3- Wan
    2- Korra
    1- Tenzin

  • Sibis

    Iroh 2.0 is simple to explain. Admiral and grandson of Zuko that wears an “I love Avatar” T-shirt over his “I love Korra”.

  • Sibis

    Wyatt will you be doing an opposite article to list the worst LOK episodes and characters?

    • Matt Brown

      I dont think that any of episodes of Avatar the Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra are bad, however, I do believe that some outshine others.

      • Sibis

        Wyatt could do top 10 best moments and top 10 worst moments in Legend of Korra.

        There are some terrible moments. The ending scene of Out of the Past. Kissing scene from Spirit of Competition.

  • Nadia

    I can’t understand why some people don’t like Korra. She’s my favourite character since episode 1.
    But I also like Tenzin and Amon very much.

  • Nicolai

    Where is Iroh? He is by far the best character because he is simply Iroh