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"I am not a reflection of my father. I am Tenzin."
— Tenzin finding his spiritual enlightenment.[1]

Tenzin
丹增
Tenzin
Biographical information
Nationality

Republic City, United Republic

Ethnicity

Air Nomad; Water Tribe

Age

51 in Book One: Air[2]

Born

119 AG

Predecessor

Gyatso (as the airbending teacher of the Avatar)

Physical description
Gender

Male

Hair color

Black (typically shaven)

Personal information
Allies

Pema, Jinora, Ikki, Meelo, Rohan, Korra, Aang, Katara, Oogi, Kya, Bumi, Air Acolytes, Order of the White Lotus, United Republic Council, Saikhan, Lin Beifong, Iroh, Team Avatar, Tonraq, Zuko, Sokka, Suyin Beifong, Kai, more ...

Enemies

Equalists, Hiroshi Sato, Tarrlok, Unalaq, Vaatu, Red Lotus, bison rustlers

Weapon of choice

Air

Fighting style(s)

Airbending

Chronological and political information
Profession
  • Airbending instructor
  • Spiritual mentor
  • Councilman (formerly)[4]
Position
  • Air Nation representative on the United Republic Council[5] (formerly)
  • Leader of the Air Nation
  • Airbending master
  • Interim chairman of the United Republic Council, during the battle for Republic City[6]
Affiliation
First appearance

"Welcome to Republic City"

Voiced by

J. K. Simmons

Tenzin is the youngest child of Avatar Aang and Katara and the oldest living airbending master. He lives on Air Temple Island with the Air Acolytes, his wife Pema, and their four children: Jinora, Ikki, Meelo, and Rohan. During the resurfacing of airbending across the Earth Kingdom after the Harmonic Convergence of 171 AG, Tenzin and his family temporarily relocated to the Northern Air Temple.[7] A calm and serious man, he represented the Air Nation on the United Republic Council in Republic City prior to its dissolution and was responsible for educating Avatar Korra in the art of airbending and spirituality.[4]

History

Early life

Aang, Katara, and their children

Tenzin posed for a photo with his family when he was just a baby.

As the only airbender to be born in over a hundred years, Tenzin was extensively taught the traditions and customs of the Air Nomads by his father and eventually earned the traditional Air Nomad arrow tattoos, symbolizing his status as an airbending master.

In 158 AG, after Korra's identity as the new Avatar was revealed, Tenzin joined forces with Southern Chief Sokka, Fire Lord Zuko, and Korra's father, Tonraq, to prevent a kidnapping threat forged by Zaheer, Ghazan, Ming-Hua, and P'Li. They were able to defeat and apprehend the criminals and imprison them in four separate and specially-designed prisons that would neutralize their combative abilities. Because of this threat, Tenzin and Tonraq decided to move Korra to the Southern Water Tribe compound where she could safely train.[8]

Tenzin has been friends with Lin Beifong since they were children, and the two of them were at one point a couple.[9] However, their romantic relationship eventually deteriorated, partially because Tenzin wanted children while Lin did not.[10] As their relationship was slowly falling apart, Pema approached the airbender and confessed her feelings for him, causing Tenzin to break up with Lin and start a new relationship with Pema instead.[11] Tenzin and Pema eventually married, and by 170 AG, their family consisted of three children: two daughters, Jinora and Ikki, a son named Meelo, and a fourth child on the way. He succeeded an Air Acolyte in being the representative of the Air Nation on the United Republic Council.

170 AG

Main article: History of Tenzin (119 AG - 170 AG)
Tenzin reassuring Korra

Tenzin reassured Korra that it was all right to struggle with airbending.

After Avatar Korra successfully competed her training in the other three elements, Tenzin started her airbending training after she had followed him to Republic City.[12] When it became time for the first lesson, Tenzin theorized that Korra's struggles to learn airbending were because the art was opposite of her hotheaded nature and he emphasized that she just needed to be patient. Both parties soon became frustrated, however, as they often clashed about the reasons for Korra's inability to airbend and about how the teenage girl should spend her free time.[13]

After Korra returned from an Equalist rally and stated how Amon had succeeded in taking away someone's bending ability, Tenzin stated that the Revolution was more dangerous than ever.[14] In he United United Republic Council, Tenzin tried his best to avoid anti-nonbender measures to be taken, though he was unable to prevent Tarrlok from forming his task force to attack Amon head-on. After Korra publicly challenged Amon to a duel, Tenzin tried to dissuade her, to no avail, and afterward offered her comfort when she cried in fear of Amon.[15]

Tenzin airbending

Tenzin used his airbending to evade the attacks of the mecha tanks.

After this encounter, Tenzin and the rest of the United Republic Council were threatened by Amon to shut down the Pro-bending Arena or face "severe consequences". Despite Tenzin's disapproval, the rest of the Council voted to keep the arena open, which proved to be catastrophic as Amon and his Equalists blew up part of the arena in their attack.[9] With Lin and Korra's help, Tenzin discovered that Hiroshi Sato had ties to the Equalists, though the ensuing confrontation nearly led to their capture.[16]

When Korra was kidnapped, Tenzin set out to find her, together with Lin, Asami, Mako, and Bolin. After they discovered an Equalist hideout and rescued several captured Metalbending Police Force officers, Tenzin realized that Tonraq was the one who was holding Korra captive. They eventually found the Avatar as she was being carried through the city by Naga.[17]

Tenzin and his children captured

Tenzin and his three eldest children were captured by Amon.

Soon after, the city came under attack. Tenzin only narrowly managed to evade being captured and was forced to flee the city with his family.[6] However, they ended up being captured and Amon was about to take their bending when Korra and Mako saved them, though it cost Korra her bending abilities. After Korra regained her bending and gave Lin her earthbending back by using energybending, Tenzin, who had been in awe watching her, walked up to her and told her "I am so proud of you, Avatar Korra."[18]

171 AG

Main article: History of Tenzin (171 AG - Harmonic Convergence)
Tenzin bidding farewell to Korra

Tenzin bowed before Korra, sadly bidding her farewell.

Six months after the Anti-bending Revolution, Tenzin traveled with Korra and his family to the Southern Water Tribe for the Glacier Spirits Festival. When Korra learned that it had partially been Tenzin's doing that she had grown up in the secluded Southern Water Tribe compound, her relationship with his became strained and when the airbending master failed to subdue a dark spirit, Tenzin was replaced by Unalaq as the Avatar's spiritual mentor. While she remained at the South Pole, he left for the Southern Air Temple with his family and siblings,[4] where he visited the hall of Avatar statues with his children.[19]

When Ikki ran away after a conflict with her siblings, Tenzin and his siblings set out to look for her, though it did not take long before they too ran into trouble with each other and Tenzin told his siblings to go back to the temple to see if Ikki had come back while he would continue looking for her alone.[20] When he eventually found her in a cave with four flying bison calves, they had a talk about family with each other and concluded that while every family has its ups and downs, they would always be there for each other. The duo returned and reunited with their respective siblings.[21] The rest of their stay at the Southern Air Temple was quite relaxing, with Tenzin teaching Meelo how to train ring-tailed winged-lemurs.[22]

Tenzin confesses

After failing to guide Korra into the Spirit World, Tenzin sadly admitted that he had never entered it before.

When residing at the Eastern Air Temple, Tenzin was glad to reunite with Korra, who brought him up to speed with all the worldly troubles like the Water Tribe Civil War and Unalaq's intentions to free Vaatu during Harmonic Convergence. Tenzin tried to help Korra to cross over into the Spirit World, though was unable to do so and reluctantly deferred the task to his eldest daughter, Jinora, while he and his siblings would guard their bodies.[23] However, when only Korra returned from the Spirit World, Tenzin grew alarmed over the wellbeing of his daughter.[24] Horrified to learn that Jinora's soul was trapped in the Spirit World by Unalaq, Tenzin and his allies set out toward the South Pole to enter the Spirit World through the spirit portal there.[25]

Tenzin finding spiritual enlightenment

When Tenzin finally decided to step out of his father's shadow, the reflection transformed into one of himself.

While Jinora was left in Katara's care, Tenzin, Bumi, Kya, Korra, Mako, and Bolin made it into the Spirit World, where Tenzin and his siblings split off from the teenagers in order to locate Jinora's spirit. After wandering through the Spirit World for a while, they were found by Iroh and Tenzin deduced from the elder's cryptic warning that Jinora was kept in the Fog of Lost Souls. After having lost Kya and Bumi to the dangers of the mental prison, Tenzin began to desperately cling to his views on who he was, until he was met by a manifestation of Aang, who made him realize that he should not try to be anyone but himself. Understanding what Aang meant, Tenzin found clarity and was able to escape the fog with his daughter and siblings.

Tenzin consoling Korra

Tenzin consoled Korra after her defeat, reminding her that she was not defined by the Avatar spirit, but by her own spirit.

After finding and healing Korra, Mako, and Bolin, Tenzin learned that Raava had been destroyed, severing Korra's connection to her past lives. The airbending master brought her to the Tree of Time, where he reminded her that it was not Raava that defined her but her own accomplishments. When Korra subsequently bend her own spirit and left to fight the Dark Avatar, Tenzin and the others defended her body against countless dark spirits until she returned. When Korra hesitated to close the portals, Tenzin encouraged the young Avatar to do what she felt was right, whereupon Korra decided against closing the portals.[26]

Post-Harmonic Convergence

Discovery of airbenders

Two weeks after Harmonic Convergence, Republic City had become overgrown by spirit vines, which Korra futilely attempted to clear away with firebending, though Tenzin remained optimistic that she would find a way. When they return to Air Temple Island, Bumi started claiming that he could airbend but Tenzin didn't believe him. However, Bumi continued insisting it was true as they had dinner. Figuring that his bending would activate if his life was in danger, Bumi requested that Bolin earthbend boulders against him, which Tenzin forbade. However, Meelo complied with his uncle's request and airbent a plate at him, which Bumi miraculously stopped in mid-air with airbending, much to everyone's astonishment. The next day, the group was informed by Lin and Mako then there was another airbender in the city and on the run because of his new abilities. Tenzin then reflected with his children over the idea of them no longer being the only airbenders in the world.

Tenzin later finds Korra meditating in an attempt to reconnect with her past lives for a solution on how to remove the spirit vines with no success. She then began considering that she made a mistake in leaving the portals opened but Tenzin consoled her, telling her that her fulfilling her duties as the Avatar would not please everybody. They are then informed by Bolin that the new airbender had turned up on the city bridge. After Korra rescued the airbender, Tenzin offered to train him.[27]

Tenzin solicits for airbenders

With the emergence of new airbenders, Tenzin desperately attempts to recruit them to rebuild the Air Nation.

The next day, Asami brought in an airship for Team Avatar to use to search for more airbenders. However, everywhere they went, none of the new airbenders seemed interested in leaving their previous lives and training at the Northern Air Temple. When Bolin suggested that they put up a circus act at the next town, which draws out an orphaned airbender boy named Kai. Just as they accept Kai into their group, the local sheriff and his deputies turn up, revealing that Kai is in fact a thief who stole his adoptive family's life savings. The sheriff intended to put Kai in prison, however, in exchange for returning the life savings to Kai's family, Korra convinced Tenzin to appoint Kai as his ward to turn over a new leaf with Team Avatar.[28]

In Ba Sing Se

As the group neared Ba Sing Se, Tenzin was asked about the Earth Queen by Korra, to which the airbender replied that he had not met her, but heard that she could be demanding. Upon arrival, the group was personally greeted by Grand Secretariat Gun, who led them to their home while giving a lengthy list of rules for interacting with the queen. Shortly after they settled into their place of stay, they realized that Kai was missing. As they wondered if he was even worth searching for, Tenzin argued that, despite the boy's shortcomings, he was still their first recruit and they could not lose him.[29]

Mako talks about Lake Laogai

Tenzin discussed the possible whereabouts of the missing airbenders along with the other members of Team Avatar.

Two days later, Tenzin found out through Korra that the queen, Hou-Ting, had been conscripting the city's airbenders into her army. Like the rest of the group, Tenzin glared at Bumi after he suggested that the queen had a right to do so. Mako suggested that the airbenders could have been held under Lake Laogai, and Jinora told her father and the group that she could still use her astral projection to get underneath the lake, much to Tenzin's shock.

Team Avatar made their way to Lake Laogai and, before his daughter began her meditation, Tenzin advised her to return to her mortal body if anything were to go wrong. When she returned, Tenzin and Korra were informed that nothing was down there. The airbending master was left frustrated, realizing that the Dai Li could be holding the airbenders anywhere in the city. Upon Korra suggesting that Jinora and Kai had a connection, Tenzin wondered what that could mean as Jinora attempted to meditate and reach them again.

After Jinora discovered that the airbenders hold was under the Earth Queen's Temple, the team reconvened at their home, with Tenzin believing they needed to free them that night, but sighed as Bumi proposed a complicated plan. When they heard a knock at the door, Tenzin opened it, and was shocked to see that it was Lin who had dropped by. The police chief informed them that Korra was in danger and needed to leave Ba Sing Se due to the escape of Zaheer and his allies. Having no idea as to who they were, Korra asked who these people were, which Tenzin answered by telling her of the criminals' kidnapping attempt, subsequent imprisonment, and why he and Tonraq placed her in the training compound. The Avatar refused to leave however, instead desiring to continue with Tenzin's plan to free the airbenders, which Lin agreed to join.

Team Avatar ambushes guards

Tenzin and the members of Team Avatar ambushed two Royal Earthbender Guards to infiltrate the Earth Queen's Temple.

That night, Team Avatar sneaked to the Earth Queen's Temple, easily defeating two Royal Earthbender Guards. Once underground, the group split up, with Tenzin, Bumi, and Korra going to free the majority of the airbenders after advising the other half to radio them if anything went wrong. When Tenzin and Korra entered the airbenders' barracks, they wondered what the two were doing there, with Tenzin trying to calm them down and informing them that they were being freed. They watched as the benders left the barracks, Tenzin assuring one of them that Kai was also going to be released. Soon, they all found their way above ground, and began to make their escape after Korra believed they were clear. However, they soon found themselves surrounded by Dai Li agents and the Earth Queen, who ordered the agents to attack the group when Korra refused to turn the airbenders over. Tenzin joined in on a combined defensive to hold off the agents as Lin's police airship made its way overhead and the benders fled to it. Tenzin and Korra soon worked to blast Dai Li agents off the scaffolding of the temple as the airship made its way away from it with the airbenders in tow. Upon seeing Oogi, the master airbender whistled for his companion, and he and Korra propelled themselves onto the bison's saddle. Shortly thereafter, the other members of the team, including Kai, launched to the flying bison with Bolin's earthbending, enabling a full escape of the city.

The morning after, Tenzin offered the airbenders either safe refuge or relocation to the Northern Air Temple to learn the ways of the Air Nomads. Much to his happiness, they all chose the latter option. Before he left, Tenzin assured Korra that she was making friends and had done well before embracing her. He soon departed for the air temple aboard the Future Industries airship.[8]

Training new airbenders

Tenzin annoyed

Tenzin grew frustrated with his class of new airbenders, as none of them, save for the Air Acolyte Otaku, showed any interest in Air Nomad history and even Jinora had to laugh at Bumi's distraction.

At the Northern Air Temple, Tenzin tried telling the new airbenders about the tale of Monk Tang Xu's legendary fast, but to his dismay, all but one airbender, Otaku, showed no interest in the lesson. He tried to ask the group what island the fasting took place on, but only Otaku knew the answer. As he tried to continue with the lesson, he found his teachings mocked by Bumi, inciting laughter among the class and, to the master's further frustration, Jinora. Tenzin was able to catch the group's attention by riding around on Oogi and performing tricks, though warned an excited Kai that they needed years of training, in addition to there not being enough bison for them. After they saw a herd of the animals, Tenzin further cautioned them that they were wild and would again require years of training to tame. Just as he was about to return them to lessons, Ikki, Meelo, Pema, and Kya arrived with the airbenders from Air Temple Island. Seeing everyone anxious to see them, Tenzin annoyingly dismissed them. He asked his wife and sister how things were in the city, to be informed by the former about Zaheer's infiltration of Air Temple Island, much to his dismay. Kya assured him everyone was all right but told him he escaped, taking Tenzin's locket of Guru Laghima along the way. When she expressed her confusion regarding all the gurus, including the "boring" story of the guru who never ate, Tenzin gruffly said he recalled it. At that moment, an Air Acolyte informed him that Korra was calling on the temple's radio.

Tenzin asked Korra if everything was all right and where they were; he found out they were in Zaofu and that Lin's half-sister, Suyin, had an airbending daughter, Opal, who would be headed his way, much to his pleasure. He was briefly left with an awkward feeling, however, when Bolin jumped on and fawned over Opal. Once Korra regained control, she asked him how the training was going. The airbender expressed his disappointment over the students' lack of interest in the training. At her suggestion of letting Bumi help out because of his military command experience, he was baffled, noting that he believed him to be his worst student. Once she explained about his enjoyment of organizing and how he could trick his brother into thinking it was all his idea, Tenzin agreed and called her wise.

Bumi advising Tenzin

Following Korra's advice, Tenzin asked Bumi for advice on how to motivate the new airbenders.

Tenzin approached Bumi for advice about being in charge. His brother advised him that he would need military discipline, needing to break them down and build them back up, rule with an iron fist, and show them who the master was. Tenzin thanked him and, the next morning, followed up on his advice. He woke the airbenders up at dawn with a large blast from a horn before leading them on a ten-mile hike, exhausting them, but he kept them pushing onward to meditation lessons, saying the chilled group could warm themselves with their breathing. He promptly dismissed Bumi's concerns, going right into meditation.

The airbender followed by leading them to a training area for a balancing exercise. He demonstrated the form by shooting up onto a small post on one leg, explaining they would need to maintain their connection with heaven and earth while balancing a feather in the air. He ordered them to stay on the posts and concentrate; when Bumi fell, he got in his face and told him to get right up, asking him angrily if he could not handle it while calling him a soldier. He assured a concerned Jinora that they would be able to take it, while advising Otaku, who was covered in lemurs, to keep concentrating.

Tenzin yelling at Bumi

Now following Bumi's advice, Tenzin started teaching with an iron fist, yelling at his students and dismissing their complaints.

Later, he shaved Daw's head while explaining that, with one's head shaved, an airbender could feel the wind around them. As the rest of the group showed some reluctance to shave their heads, Tenzin was quick to elaborate that they did not need to as it was a personal choice, much to Daw's surprise, who had not been aware of the fact that he had had the option to refuse. When no one else opted to have a haircut, Tenzin moved them right on to the obstacle course. He was warned by his daughter that he was pushing too hard, but again assured her all was under control before walking away. As the students attempted the course, he advised them that airbenders needed to move like the wind. While they crossed the rash cacti, he stated they would need to stay on their feet. Once everyone except Bumi had made it up, Tenzin warned his brother that failing to complete the course in thirty seconds would mean everyone would have to run it again. After Bumi fell, Tenzin told him to get right back on the wall, prompting the retired commander to quit out of anger. Tenzin dismissed him, saying they did not need his attitude. Upon several complaints, he snapped at them and told Jinora to take over, telling her she was the master and to lead them through basic exercises. Jinora wondered, the idea having been brought to her by Kai, when she could get her tattoos, but the master snapped again, believing Kai had no knowledge of when one got their tattoos. He told her she was still a little girl and thus could not get them, but his daughter snapped and walked away. Tenzin subsequently told Ikki and Meelo to lead them through the Ba Gua circle.

Tenzin retired to a small room for meditation, muttering in frustration about his daughter's actions and Bumi while trying to focus. When Pema approached him, he lamented over his apparent failure while wondering why they could not understand his goals. His wife reminded him that were not necessarily Air Nomads while telling him about her first worrisome night as an Air Acolyte, though Tenzin said the hard beds she had to lie on were better for one's back, though this only served to annoy her, resulting in a prompt apology. His wife continued, recalling her need to adjust and advising him to be patient as they were going through the same. Tenzin came to a realization about his attitude, particularly toward Korra, before thanking his beloved and kissing her on the cheek.

Returning to where Bumi and the airbenders were gathered, Tenzin apologized to his brother for losing his patience, but Bumi told him he was not talking to him and walked away. The master tried to tell him to get back there, but just sighed and wondered where Jinora was. He was told that she left with her "boyfriend" on her glider, whom he recognized as Kai.

Searching for Jinora atop Oogi, Tenzin soon spotted a truck riding around the mountain. Upon hearing a cry for help from his daughter toward Kai, Tenzin took action, directing his bison toward the ground. He rammed the truck from the side with Oogi before rescuing Kai. After Kai began attacking the truck's driver, who was the head of a gang of bison rustlers, Tenzin stopped him, advising his student that an airbender did not attack a defenseless foe, but complemented him on his technique.

Tenzin and Bumi reconcile

Tenzin apologized to Bumi for yelling at him and emphasized that he truly was a part of the Air Nation.

That evening, with the bison retrieved and the rustlers captured, Tenzin expressed his pride in Bumi; his connection with the spirits and natural leadership reminded him of their father. The master accepted his brother's apology for being a problem and assured him he was truly a member of the Air Nation. Afterward, he approached Jinora and Kai, telling the two that the bison recognized them to be of their own kind because the animals were the original airbenders. He hugged Jinora, expressing their luck that no one was hurt. He also realized that he had been too hard on his daughter; while unable to believe she could be old enough to earn her tattoos, he promised her he would think about it. Upon watching as the baby bison began to fly, he stated that everyone was growing up.[30]

Ambushed by the Red Lotus

Tenzin and his family cornered

Tenzin, his family, and the other airbenders were rounded up in the Northern Air Temple's courtyard to be used as leverage by the Red Lotus to get to Korra.

Sometime later, Tenzin was tending to baby bison when Meelo retrieved him as Korra was calling on the radio from Zaofu. He was warned that Zaheer was on his way to the Northern Air Temple, but upon receiving the message, he noticed the Red Lotus had already arrived. When questioned by Meelo what was happening, he told his son just to stay close as they flew to the courtyard on their gliders. Tenzin found Bumi with a group of airbenders and told his brother to gather up the rest of the benders, get to the bison stables, and evacuate. As he, Pema, and their children tried to leave, they were confronted by Zaheer and gathered, along with the rest of the airbenders, in a courtyard. There, the master asked Zaheer what they wanted from them, only to be told the Red Lotus wanted nothing, which prompted him to ask why they came at all. Upon the criminal telling him he wanted Korra, Tenzin realized he and the airbenders were being used as leverage. Declaring he would not let his foe get to Korra, Tenzin attacked Zaheer, Ghazan, and Ming-Hua with a powerful gust of air before telling Jinora to lead the airbenders out while asking Kya and Bumi to help him hold the Red Lotus off. After nearly being impacted by a combustion beam from P'Li, he warned everyone to stay out of her line of sight.

Wounded Tenzin

A battle-weary Tenzin declared that he would rather die than let the Red Lotus get to Korra.

Tenzin dueled with Zaheer and went on the offensive, pursuing him up the courtyard walls and firing several blasts of air as he chased Zaheer up the temple and toward the cliff. At a temple's ledge, he briefly knocked the criminal airbender down and dodged counterattacks. Soon after, Zaheer lunged over him and attempted to attack from behind, but Tenzin fought it off and continued to duel along a walkway. The master was able to knock down his foe again while turning on his back, but just as he was about to finish off Zaheer, P'Li shot a combustion beam at the cliff, sending Tenzin flying; he was, however, able to break his fall with airbending. As he recovered, he was hit with shots of water and earth from Ming-Hua and Ghazan, knocking him down. He tried to get back up and defend himself, but was overwhelmed by his foes and knocked down again. Rising a third time, he blasted Zaheer and Ghazan away with airbending and managed to defend against Ming-Hua, but was blasted to a wall by P'Li. Surrounded, badly injured, and barely able to rise, Tenzin nonetheless refused to yield, saying it was not over as long as he was still breathing. He tried another air blast at Zaheer, but it was dodged; he was instead hit by Zaheer in return. Soon, the master found himself relentlessly being attacked by Zaheer, Ghazan, and Ming-Hua.[31]

Escaping the air temple

Asami supporting Tenzin

After being released by Asami, Tenzin was held up by the industrialist.

Tenzin was taken to a small room in the temple and chained to the floor, where was approached by Mako, Bolin, and Asami, who had come to retrieve the airbenders under the terms of Kora and Zaheer's deal. Upon Korra's surrender to the Red Lotus, Bolin and Asami worked to try and free him, only to soon realize the Red Lotus had double-crossed Team Avatar. While the brothers tried to hold Ghazan and Ming-Hua, Asami continued to try and release him, asking him where the airbenders were, to which he replied he did not know as Zaheer moved them out of the temple. Ghazan began using his lavabending to destroy the temple as Tenzin was freed through Asami's hair pins. With the exit blocked off and lava quickly surrounding them, the airbending master informed the team that Oogi and the other bison had been scared away, but let them know of a secret passage out, telling Bolin to bend through a back wall.

The group made their way up the stairs to a meditation room with Mako and Asami supporting Tenzin while Bolin tried to block the lava flow. He pointed them to a door which led to a secret stairwell out of the temple, but on the way down, the hot liquid rapidly approached them. With them unable to outrun it, Bolin tried bending out rocks along the side of the stairwell, but this only led them to the edge of the mountain with nowhere to go as the lava approached them. Bolin, however, was able to bend the lava back and cease its flow, with Tenzin remarking it was incredible. Kai soon approached them on his baby bison, Lefty, much to the master's happiness. The group hopped aboard Lefty and flew away from the collapsing temple; Tenzin watched briefly in sadness as it fell apart.

Kai and Team Avatar

Kai told Tenzin and Team Avatar about the airbenders' probable location.

After meeting up with Lin, Suyin, Tonraq, and members of the Metal Clan, Tenzin was held up by Mako and Lin, asking if Zaheer had escaped with Korra; he was told that was the case and that Zaheer had unlocked flight, much to his shock. He told them about Guru Laghima's rumored ability to fly, but had never believed it to be true. Upon saying they needed to find the airbenders, Kai told them he knew where they were, prompting Tenzin to ask of there whereabouts and how he found them. The younger airbender told him he had seen them being transported by P'Li to a series of caves, where the captives were taken by Red Lotus guards. Unsure of how they could reach them, Tenzin soon spotted Oogi returning and patted his head, glad to see him again. He rode on his bison, along with several others except Kai, to the caves in question.[32]

Reunion and rescue of Korra

After reaching the caves, Tenzin was helped off Oogi by Tonraq and Bolin. He told them to find the airbenders and his family, to which Suyin assured him they would not leave without them. While he watched Korra and Zaheer duel, his family approached him with Jinora, Ikki, and Meelo rushing to hug him, saying he was glad they were all right while assuring Pema he would be fine. He watched as everyone else emerged before continuing to view the duel in the skies. When Bumi asked how Zaheer could fly, Tenzin explained the criminal had unlocked airbending powers that had not existed for thousands of years. He soon played spectator as Jinora rallied up the airbenders to create a tornado to save Korra from Zaheer's grasp and also as Suyin saved the Avatar by extracting a metallic poisonous substance from her body.[33]

Anointing Jinora

Two weeks later and fully recovered, Tenzin returned to Air Temple Island with his family, joining them, the Beifong sisters, Korra's family, Zuko, and Raiko as Asami wheeled the debilitated Avatar out to them. He told her she was looking stronger every day. He assured a concerned Raiko she would be fine, needing time to heal from the effects of the poison, though pondered who could protect the world as the Avatar healed.

Jinora hugs Tenzin

Tenzin was embraced by Jinora after he officially anointed her an airbending master.

At Jinora's ceremony, Tenzin expressed his pride in her, praising her for never giving up hope and demonstrating leadership when the fate of the Air Nation and the Avatar hung in the balance. He stated the future was bright and praised Korra as well for opening the portals and reviving the nation in addition to her willingness to lay down her life for them. He announced that, while she recuperated, the Air Nation would return to its nomadic roots but would serve people of all nations to help restore balance and peace. He vowed to Korra they would follow in their footsteps and bring harmony to the world before revealing Jinora's master tattoos, declaring his daughter would lead them in their new path. As the ceremony reached its conclusion, Tenzin was embraced by Jinora.[33]

After the ceremony, Tenzin joined Jinora, Asami, Bolin, and Mako on the ferry dock to say goodbye to Korra, who was set to board a ship heading toward the Southern Water Tribe. He urged Korra to not worry about anything other than her recovery, emphasizing that he, his daughter, and the airbenders had everything under control. Months later, he journeyed to the Southern Water Tribe compound, where he was warmly welcomed by Korra, who excitedly dragged him toward the training grounds to show him how much she had improved. When her duel with three firebenders did not turn out well, Tenzin interfered, telling her opponents the sparring match was over. Helping Korra to her feet, he tried to console her by saying that there was no shame in taking the time needed to recover and that her duties as the Avatar could wait. He acknowledged that Korra wanted to help, though emphasized that everything was under control. Before he could tell her she merely needed to be patient, however, she cut him off and threatened to "water smack" him in the face if he dared to finish that sentence, prompting him to say that she needed to stop worrying about the future and focus on the progress she had made.[34]

174 AG

In the three years following the insurrection of the Red Lotus, Tenzin made good on his promise to Korra and sent members of the Air Nation around the Earth Kingdom to help where needed. When he was contacted in 174 AG by the governor of Yi, he sent Kai and Opal out to deal with their situation.

Raiko, Wu, Lin, and Tenzin

Tenzin, Raiko, and Lin tried to reassure Prince Wu that his return to the Earth Kingdom was nearly without danger.

Meanwhile, Tenzin remained in Republic City and attended the opening of the renovated Central City Station with his family, holding Rohan on his shoulders. After the ribbon-cutting, the airbending master informed Prince Wu, the future king of the Earth Kingdom, that the United Forces would escort him to Ba Sing Se after his coronation. When the prince outed his doubts about the safety of his return, Tenzin attempted to assure Wu by stating that the roving bandits were "mostly" dispersed, though this failed to assure the prince.

That evening, Tenzin enjoyed dinner back at Air Temple Island together with his family, Asami, Mako, Lin, Wu, and the presidential couple, during which he was unimpressed by his eldest son's proclamation that he had turned into a man and would be unrecognizable to Korra due to that. When an Air Acolyte notified everyone that a Southern Water Tribe ship was pulling up at the dock, Tenzin smiled in anticipation of seeing Korra again. As he made his way out with everyone else, he shook Tonraq's hand, warmly welcoming him back to the city and stating how excited everyone was to see the Avatar again. When the Southern chief confusedly asked if Korra was not already there, Tenzin stated that they were under the impression that she would come back with him. Upon hearing that Korra had left the South six months prior and had written her father letters about being in the city, Tenzin assured Tonraq that they had not seen Korra, leaving everyone to wonder worriedly about the Avatar's whereabouts.[35]

The day before Wu's coronation as the fifty-fourth earth monarch, Tenzin arrived at City Hall, where he found Mako and Raiko eyeing a dancing Wu and dryly remarked that the prince was "becoming accustomed to the burdens of leadership". Tenzin's attention was drawn away from the prince by Raiko asking him if he had any updates regarding Korra's whereabouts. Having to respond negatively, he assured the president that he had airbenders all over the world on the lookout for her, hoping they would track the Avatar down soon. Tenzin was also concerned about the reports he had heard about Kuvira's growing military and the fact that she was throwing some of her dissenters into prison camps. Although Raiko reassured him that Kuvira was stepping down the following day and that they could then correct any mistakes she might have made, Tenzin was not entirely convinced and stated he would feel better if Korra were there.

Raiko and Tenzin

Concerned about Kuvira's declaration of usurping power in the Earth Kingdom, Tenzin shared a worried glance with Raiko.

The next day, Tenzin sat on the podium with the rest of the world leaders from where he witnessed Wu's coronation as the fifty-fourth earth monarch. When Kuvira speeched after receiving the Kyoshi Medal of Freedom, he glanced at Raiko, who was sitting next to him, in concern when the metalbender announced that she had no intention to relinquish the power over the Earth Kingdom to the newly crowned king, denouncing his authority altogether and appointing herself as the leader of the new Earth Empire. Concerned about Kuvira's declarations, Tenzin and the world leaders convened after the coronation and agreed to send Suyin Beifong as their representative to speak with Kuvira and convince her to step down.

When Tenzin returned to Air Temple Island where he gathered his three eldest children in the meditation pavilion and tasked them to bring Korra home as the world would need its Avatar with conflict coming to the Earth Kingdom.[36] As his children prepared to leave on Pepper the next day, Tenzin said to his wife that he could not accompany them as Raiko had asked him to stay behind and help find a diplomatic solution for Kuvira's actions. As Jinora hugged him goodbye, Tenzin inquired if she had been able to get a read on Korra's spiritual energy. Although the answer was negative, he was assured that she would be able to track Korra within a few days. When the three children mounted the flying bison, Tenzin reminded Ikki and Meelo that Jinora was in charge before watching them all take off, hugging Pema in comfort.[37]

Personality

Meditation practice

Tenzin meditated alongside Korra and his three eldest children.

Tenzin is far more calm and stern in demeanor than his father; however, he does have a sense of humor at times. He also occasionally displays a bit of "craziness" himself, though he works hard to suppress this. He always tries to be a calm person, an attempt that is sometimes thwarted by his "crazy" children or his siblings. Similarly, his mother described him as having a serious personality since childhood compared to his own siblings. He finds his patience severely tested with the arrival of the impetuous Korra.[5][38] In an attempt to fill his father's footsteps, he works hard to transmit the Air Nomad teachings and culture, while taking his leadership role in Republic City seriously. He does embody the Air Nomad nature of being peaceful and calm, but can sometimes be riled when around his children or toward Korra due to their differing perspectives.[5] Despite his generally calm demeanor, he can become aggressive and prone to do "whatever it takes", when his family is threatened or in any danger, exemplified by his willingness to use brute force to break through the Northern defenses surrounding the Southern spirit portal in order to save Jinora.[39] This desperation to protect his family and nation have instilled him with a dangerous inner fury that explodes from him when his loved ones are threatened, much like his father.

Tenzin is a staunch traditionalist, and at times can come across as rather inflexible and stubborn. This also shows in his disdain for pro-bending, which he considers violent, irrelevant, and a perversion to more traditional forms of bending. However, after Korra joined the Fire Ferrets, he brushed up on the rules of the game and seems well versed in the sport and less antagonistic to it than before. He even started cheering during one match. By doing this, he shows that he is willing to show a liking in the interests of those close to him.[9]

Tenzin also appears to be rather prideful and overbearing, as he hid his inability to enter the Spirit World, instead making up excuses that the people around him were preventing him from doing so. When he found out that Jinora was able to see spirits, he grew jealous of her, and kept stubbornly insisting that he should be the one to bring Korra to the Spirit World, stating that Jinora would be unable to face its dangers. Nevertheless, he softened, following his sister's persuasion and daughter's assurance, and expressed how proud he was of Jinora.[23]

Tenzin is willing to do anything to preserve the new Air Nation, even dueling with the all the Red Lotus' elemental masters. Even when he is bruised and battered by the Red Lotus' attack, he refuses to give in, showing a strong resolve to protect his loved ones and allies as well as a love for his nation.

Abilities

Airbending

Tenzin airbending Equalists

Tenzin's airbending prowess is of such a level that he can subdue multiple assailants at the same time.

As the first airbender among Aang's three children, and the only one during Aang's lifetime, Tenzin has been trained extensively in all of his father's airbending knowledge and prowess. After his father's passing, he became the only airbending master in the world. Ensuring that the teachings and techniques would live on, Tenzin has since been passing on the art to his airbending children, Avatar Korra, and the new recruits who have just acquired airbending abilities. Though a pacifist at heart, Tenzin has made his combat prowess evident during the first confrontation with the Equalists' mecha tanks, exhibiting air blasts that were powerful enough to knock his opponent backward. Likewise, against another proficient airbender in Zaheer, Tenzin was able to effectively control the battle and gradually wear down his opponent, forcing Zaheer's allies to aid him, to which Tenzin was still able to hold his own for a short period.[31]

Tenzin is well-versed in all airbending techniques, including a previously unseen variant of Aang's air scooter technique. Tenzin conjured a "wheel" of air which not only allowed him to evade attacks, but was powerful enough to deflect the claws of the mecha tanks. He is also able to use a glider by bending the air around it. Tenzin is skilled in creating extremely powerful tornadoes that are strong enough to throw the mecha tanks in the air. He was also capable of creating an air dome of sorts to protect himself and others from any harmful gases. Tenzin was the first known individual to land a solid strike on Amon, sending him and some of his men flying away with an airbending kick, though he did have some assistance from Mako at the time. Tenzin has also displayed the ability to use airbending in order to conduct a spiritual cleansing of an area, which can restore a place's connection with the Spirit World.

Other skills

Despite being middle-aged, Tenzin has proven himself a highly nimble and evasive fighter. When the Equalists launched a sneak attack to capture him, he effortlessly dodged their initial assault with no wasted movement. Even when his hands were bound, he was able to calmly dodge all of a chi blocker's close-range attacks. He also has excellent stamina for his age as he can go for a ten mile hike without tiring. While defending the Northern Air Temple from the Red Lotus' elemental masters, Tenzin displayed incredible physical resilience when being beaten by all four, sustaining severe injuries without losing consciousness.

Tenzin is also knowledgeable regarding locations in the Spirit World, such as the Fog of Lost Souls and the Tree of Time.

Relationships

Main article: Tenzin's relationships

Relatives

Kanna
   
   
Pakku
   
   
   
   
Hakoda
   
   
Kya
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Sokka
   
   
Katara
   
   
   
   
   
   
Aang
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Bumi
   
   
Kya
   
   
Tenzin
   
   
Pema
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Jinora
   
   
Ikki
   
   
Meelo
   
   
Rohan

Appearances

The Legend of Korra

Book One: Air (气)

Book Two: Spirits (神靈)

Book Three: Change (易)

Book Four: Balance (平衡)

Trivia

  • Tenzin is the only child of Katara and Aang who was not named directly after an already known character that was close to his parents.
  • "Tenzin" (བསྟན་འཛིན) is an extremely common Tibetan name meaning "defender of the faith" or more applicably, "upholder of the teachings". This could refer to his position as the last airbending master after his father died, and that he must also defend his bending art against extinction. Its popularity derives from the fact that it is the first name of the 14th Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, who also served as the inspiration for Monk Gyatso.
  • It is interesting to note that Tenzin learned airbending from his father, Avatar Aang, and that Avatar Korra, Aang's reincarnation, sought out his tutelage to learn the art of airbending, meaning that, in a way, Tenzin is passing on his father's teachings back to him.
  • Tenzin is the first airbender to be born after the Air Nomad Genocide and the first known to be born to a waterbender.
  • Tenzin is generally seen wearing the same attire his father, Aang, did in his adulthood, though with a slight alteration on the cape.
  • During the time between his father's death and the birth of Jinora, he took his father's title as the last airbender.
  • Tenzin provides the narration for the opening sequence of The Legend of Korra, as Katara did in the original series.
Preceded by
An Air Acolyte
Air Nation Representative to the United Republic Council
Unknown - 170 AG
Succeeded by
Position abolished


Preceded by
Gyatso
Avatar's airbending master
170 AG - 171 AG
Succeeded by
Incumbent


Preceded by
Guru Pathik
Avatar's spiritual mentor
157 AG - 171 AG
Succeeded by
Unalaq

References

  1. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (November 22, 2013). "Darkness Falls". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 25. Nickelodeon.
  2. Welcome to Republic City. Nickelodeon (April 6, 2012). Retrieved on April 6, 2012.
  3. Nickelodeon (September 26, 2014). Legend of Korra: Book Four: Balance Official Trailer. Nick.com. Retrieved on September 26, 2014.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (September 13, 2013). "Rebel Spirit". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 The Legend of Korra Press Site - Character descriptions. Viacom International Inc. (March 2012). Retrieved on March 17, 2012.
  6. 6.0 6.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (June 16, 2012). "Turning the Tides". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 10. Nickelodeon.
  7. Mattila, Katie (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (July 18, 2014). "Old Wounds". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 6. Nickelodeon.
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  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (May 12, 2012). "And the Winner Is...". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 6. Nickelodeon.
  10. Director commentary. Nicktoons (July 9, 2012). Retrieved on July 30, 2012.
  11. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (May 5, 2012). "The Spirit of Competition". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 5. Nickelodeon.
  12. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (April 14, 2012). "Welcome to Republic City". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
  13. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (April 14, 2012). "A Leaf in the Wind". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 2. Nickelodeon.
  14. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (April 21, 2012). "The Revelation". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 3. Nickelodeon.
  15. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (April 28, 2012). "The Voice in the Night". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 4. Nickelodeon.
  16. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (May 19, 2012). "The Aftermath". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
  17. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (June 9, 2012). "Out of the Past". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 9. Nickelodeon.
  18. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (September 13, 2013). "The Southern Lights". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 14. Nickelodeon.
  19. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (September 20, 2013). "Civil Wars, Part 1". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 15. Nickelodeon.
  20. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (September 27, 2013). "Civil Wars, Part 2". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 16. Nickelodeon.
  21. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (October 4, 2013). "Peacekeepers". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 17. Nickelodeon.
  22. 23.0 23.1 Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (November 1, 2013). "The Guide". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 21. Nickelodeon.
  23. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (November 8, 2013). "A New Spiritual Age". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 22. Nickelodeon.
  24. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). "Night of a Thousand Stars". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 23. Nickelodeon.
  25. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (November 22, 2013). "Light in the Dark". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 26. Nickelodeon.
  26. Hedrick, Tim, Hamilton, Joshua (writers) & Heck, Colin, Zwyer, Melchior (directors). (June 27, 2014). "A Breath of Fresh Air". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 1. Nickelodeon.
  27. Hedrick, Tim, Hamilton, Joshua (writers) & Heck, Colin, Zwyer, Melchior (directors). (June 27, 2014). "Rebirth". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 2. Nickelodeon.
  28. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian. (June 27, 2014). "The Earth Queen". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 3. Nickelodeon.
  29. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Zwyer, Mel (director). (July 18, 2014). "Original Airbenders". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
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  32. 33.0 33.1 Hamilton, Joshua and Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Zwyer, Mel (director). (August 22, 2014). "Venom of the Red Lotus". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 13. Nick.com.
  33. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (October 10, 2014). "Korra Alone". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 15. Nick.com.
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  35. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Zwyer, Melchior (director). (October 17, 2014). "The Coronation". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 16. Nick.com.
  36. Traveling the World clip. Nick.com (October 18, 2014). Retrieved on October 18, 2014.
  37. San Diego Comic-Con 2011
  38. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (November 15, 2013). "Harmonic Convergence". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 24. Nickelodeon.

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