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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

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, Council page, Saikhan, Lin Beifong, Iroh, Team Avatar, more ...

Enemies

Amon, Equalists, Lieutenant, Hiroshi Sato, Tarrlok, Unalaq, Vaatu

Weapon of choice

Air

Fighting style(s)

Airbending

Chronological and political information
Profession
  • Airbending instructor
  • Spiritual mentor
  • Councilman (formerly)[3]
Position
  • Air Nation representative on the United Republic Council[4] (formerly)
  • Airbending master
  • Interim chairman of the United Republic Council, during the battle for Republic City[5]
Affiliation
First appearance

"Welcome to Republic City"

Voiced by

J. K. Simmons

Tenzin is the youngest child of Avatar Aang and Katara, and the only 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. 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.[3] He also serves as her spiritual mentor.

History

Early life

Aang, Katara, and their children

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

As the first airbender to be born in over a hundred years, Tenzin was extensively taught the traditions and customs of the Air Nomads by his father. As a child, Tenzin went on vacations with his father to locations such as Kyoshi Island and Ember Island for recreational and training purposes.[6] He eventually earned the traditional Air Nomad arrow tattoos, symbolizing his status as an airbending master. Upon learning the identity of the next Avatar in 153 AG, Tenzin and Tonraq, the new Avatar's father, agreed to keep Korra secluded at the Southern Water Tribe in order for her to focus solely on mastering the bending arts.[3]

Tenzin has been friends with Lin Beifong since they were children, and the two of them were at one point a couple.[7] However, their romantic relationship eventually deteriorated, partially because Tenzin wanted children while Lin did not.[8] 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.[9] Tenzin and Pema eventually married, and by 171 AG, their family consisted of four children: two daughters, Jinora and Ikki, and two sons, Meelo and Rohan. He succeeded an Air Acolyte in being the representative of the Air Nation on the United Republic Council.

170 AG

Training Avatar Korra

In 170 AG, Tenzin was supposed to relocate to the Southern Water Tribe in order to begin Avatar Korra's airbending training. Due to instability in Republic City at the time, Tenzin turned the Avatar down, as he had to focus on his duties as a councilman. An eager to learn Korra suggested that she join him in the city, but Tenzin promptly refused, deeming it to be too dangerous. Despite this, Korra traveled to the city as a stowaway in pursuit of him, but ran into trouble with the Metalbending Police Force, and was arrested. Tenzin was informed of Korra's detention, and journeyed to the police headquarters to bail her out. He managed to persuade Lin Beifong, despite her initial stubborn attitude to let the Avatar go, ensuring her that he would take full responsibility for what had happened, and cover the cost of the damage Korra had caused. As they waited to collect Naga, Tenzin admonished Korra for disobeying his wishes, brushing aside her response that Katara had supported her decision, and her belief that she, as the Avatar, was needed in the city as well. Arriving back at Air Temple Island, however, Tenzin informed Korra that he had come to realize she was right, and that the city indeed needed its Avatar once more. Much to Korra's delight, he invited her to stay with him on the island and begin her airbending training.[10]

The following day, Korra and Tenzin enjoyed breakfast together, during which Korra invited Tenzin to visit the Pro-bending Arena that evening in order to catch a few pro-bending matches. However, as a follower of the ancient ways, Tenzin dismissed the notion of pro-bending, deeming the sport to be a mockery of the noble traditions of bending. He ordered her to stay on the island, as he believed that Korra required a calm and quiet environment, free from any distractions, in order to learn airbending.

Tenzin reassuring Korra

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

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, as Aang too had struggled to learn the element opposite of his pacifist nature. They subsequently made their way to the temple's training area, where Tenzin tasked Korra to make her way through a series of spinning gates, instructing her to flow with the movements of her surroundings. As Jinora demonstrated how to move through the gates, Tenzin explained the fundamentals of airbending. However, when it became Korra's turn, he watched her fail miserably, as she ended up being knocked out by one of the gates.

That evening, Korra's frustration over her inability to airbend resulted in a first argument with Tenzin over the fact that she had been listening to a pro-bending match over a radio. When they started the meditation exercises the next day, Tenzin told Korra that she needed to let her mind and spirit be free, as airbending was the element of freedom. Much to his annoyance, the Avatar scoffed at his words of wisdom, accusing him of letting her be everything but free while being there on the island with him, referring back to the radio incident of the previous night. He implored her to be patient and to let his teachings sink in, though Korra got fed up with the exercise and left against Tenzin's will.

Tenzin distraught

Tenzin was horrified at the destruction of an ancient artifact.

When Tenzin let Korra try to pass through the airbending gates again, he witnessed her destroy the gates in a fit of rage over her constant failure. The two got into an argument, in which Korra snapped at him, stating him to be a bad teacher. Frustrated, he remained behind as Korra stormed off.

Hours later, when he was looking for Korra, he discovered that she was at a pro-bending match through a radio broadcast. Angered, he went to the arena to retrieve her, but Korra again refused. They got into another argument over the necessity of airbending and the purpose of the Avatar. As Korra walked off to participate in the third round of her match, Tenzin stayed, witnessing how she finally demonstrated airbending movements while dodging attacks from her opponents, rallying her team to win the match. Ecstatic about the development, Tenzin cheered the team on, though immediately calmed himself after realizing what he just did.

After the match, Tenzin returned to the island to oversee the repair of the airbending gates. When Korra came and apologized for taking out her frustrations on him, Tenzin apologized too, stating that while he was teaching her patience, he lost his own in the process. The two reconciled, with Tenzin even complimenting Korra about her pro-bending gameplay, stating that the sport proved to be the training tool Korra needed. However, he sighed deeply upon learning that Korra had permanently joined the Fire Ferrets and would compete in the Pro-bending Tournament in a couple of weeks.[11]

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.[12]

Tarrlok's task force

United Republic Council

Tenzin opposed the creation of Tarrlok's task force.

Realizing the threat Amon and the Equalists posed to everyone, Tenzin attended an important meeting with the United Republic Council, where a solution about the Equalist movement was going to be discussed. When Councilman Tarrlok proposed the formation of a task force to attack Amon head-on, Tenzin strongly opposed this, stating that such an aggressive action would only further the rift between benders and nonbenders. However, the airbender found himself outvoted by the remainder of the Council.

Later, Tarrlok visited Air Temple Island and interrupted Tenzin in the middle of the prayer for the family dinner. Tenzin found himself obligated to let him pass, much to his wife's irritation. At Korra's refusal to join Tarrlok's task force, he was surprised, and interrupted the Northern waterbender before he could insist and try to convince her to change her mind, saying that Korra had already made a decision. Noting Tarrlok's increasingly extravagant gifts, Tenzin approached Korra and informed her that he, although glad she had refused the offer, hoped she had done it for the right reasons and knew it was okay to be afraid. However, at Korra's silence, he assured her he would be there to talk about anything if she needed it.

During a gala Tarrlok threw in Korra's honor at City Hall, an exasperated Tenzin had to deal with Meelo's antics, and, worriedly watched Korra's announcement to join the task force to the press. After Korra publicly challenged Amon to a duel, Tenzin flew to her location using a glider, trying to dissuade her, but without success. When Tenzin found her on Aang Memorial Island, he was concerned that Amon had taken her bending, but at Korra's denial, he was relieved and offered her comfort when she cried in fear of Amon.[13]

The Anti-bending Revolution

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. Tenzin accompanied Chief Lin Beifong as she and the Metalbending Police Force protected the arena from the Equalists.

Lin and Tenzin

Tenzin and Lin oversaw security for the Pro-bending Championship.

Tenzin and Lin watched the match together, and he even protested a series of controversial calls made that allowed the White Falls Wolfbats to defeat the Fire Ferrets. After the match, the two were stunned and knocked unconscious by two Equalists with electrified gloves. After everyone was reunited safely, Tenzin tried to ease Lin's regrets of playing right into Amon's hands by suggesting that everyone was. He subsequently declared that "Republic City [was] at war."[7]

Later, Tenzin assisted Lin in her investigation of the arena attack, helping her interview the witnesses which included Hiroshi Sato and Tahno. Soon after, Korra overheard Hiroshi Sato while in his home saying that the Cabbage Corp investigation provided a decent distraction, and that he would "strike" soon; she immediately told Tenzin and Lin, who both agreed that Sato had the means and the motive to make weapons for the Equalists, so they decided to interrogate him again. Tenzin and Lin visited the Sato estate and after informing him of their suspicions, the businessman assured them that he had no ties with the Equalists, and he gave them permission to search all of Future Industries' factories.

While Tenzin and Lin were distracted after a search of Future Industries yielded no evidence, a worker slipped Korra a note to meet him beneath the Silk Road Bridge that night. The three arrived and the worker revealed that Sato was indeed manufacturing weapons in an hidden factory under his home.

Tenzin airbending

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

Tenzin, Lin, Korra, and some metalbending officers investigated the mansion, finding the factory and Sato's mecha tanks. However, they soon discovered it was a trap, and Sato cornered the benders and began attacking them with the help of some Equalists. Tenzin was the last bender standing, and proceeded to fight the tanks himself. Despite putting up a long, strong fight, he too was eventually overpowered and knocked out. Sato ordered his men to bring the benders to Amon to have their bending taken away; however, Mako and Bolin managed to sneak into the factory undetected, and began carrying the airbender, Korra, and Lin out. Sato cornered them before the brothers could escape, but he and the Lieutenant were suddenly attacked by Asami, allowing the group to escape the Sato estate via airship, but they were forced to leave behind Lin's officers.

As Lin began to recover from the attack, she told Tenzin she was resigning as Chief of Police in light of her recent failures. Tenzin told her she could not give up, but the chief explained her decision had been made with the objective of taking down Amon without the restraints of the law.[14]

New Chief of Police

Tenzin advising Korra

Tenzin gave Korra advice regarding her airbending block.

After Korra's friends moved into Air Temple Island, Tenzin took Korra to the police headquarters in order to attend the inauguration of the new police chief, Saikhan. During the ceremony, both Tenzin and Korra became concerned when Saikhan announced that he would be directly reporting to Tarrlok on all matter relating to the Equalists. After the ceremony, the airbender and the Avatar confronted Tarrlok, the former suspecting that he blackmailed Saikhan but Tarrlok brushed off his concerns. On the way back to the island, Tenzin spoke with Korra about her block in airbending and asked if she had any contact with her past lives, so Korra told him about the visions she had of Aang. He advised her to meditate on them, believing that Aang's spirit was trying to contact her.

Later on, Korra contacted Tenzin at the police headquarters to help get her friends out of jail after being wrongly arrested. After Saikhan turned them down by telling them to talk to Tarrlok, he decided to speak with Tarrlok in the morning. Before leaving, though, Tenzin agreed with Korra that Saikhan was the "worst Chief of Police ever!"[15]

Finding Avatar Korra

Tenzin scowling

Tenzin scowled upon realizing that Tarrlok had kidnapped Korra, fooling them all.

Tenzin awoke to Meelo crawling over his face to answer a phone call the next day; taking the phone from his son, Tenzin was alerted about a fight that went down at City Hall. Rushing over there, he learned that Korra had supposedly been kidnapped by the Equalists. Trying desperately to find her, he phoned every contact he had for a possible lead to her whereabouts, but was interrupted by Lin Beifong, who had broken Mako, Bolin, and Asami out of jail to help locate Korra. Together, they all set out to find her, and their search led them to an underground Equalist hideout. Confronting a chi blocker, they learned that Tarrlok had lied about the Equalist attack, making Tenzin realize that he was the one who was holding Korra captive.

Returning to City Hall, Tenzin called the other Council members and Chief Saikhan and accused Tarrlok of detaining Korra. Before Tenzin could apprehend him, however, the waterbender used his bloodbending skills to overpower Tenzin and the others and subdue them into semi-consciousness. Being roughly awakened some time later by Lin, he and the others resumed their search for Korra, patrolling the city from up above using Oogi. They found Korra when they heard Naga howl. Tenzin and Lin rushed to her side to inquire where Tarrlok was, but were pushed aside by Mako who demanded that they "give her some space".[16]

Attack on Republic City

After Korra was found to be safe and sound, Team Avatar, Lin, and Tenzin returned to Air Temple Island to enjoy dinner from Pema. During the meal, Tenzin asked Korra to relate the events of her captivity by Tarrlok, learning that the former Councilman was Yakone's son and that Amon had appeared "out of nowhere" to take away Tarrlok's bending, subsequently capturing him, to which the airbender said that Amon was becoming emboldened and was entering his "endgame".

Tenzin attempting to save Saikhan

Tenzin attempted to save Saikhan from an Equalist mecha tank.

Before heading to City Hall to a council meeting, Tenzin left Lin in charge of protecting his family in the island. Once there, he was attacked by Equalists in the building's roof, but he could defeat them by performing an air spout. Tenzin met the Council page, who informed him about the abduction of the other members of the Council. The two observed several Equalists airships coming to the city and throwing bombs at different sectors. The Councilman quickly went to the police headquarters to plan a counter-attack with Saikhan. Being that the police force was spread too thin, Tenzin ordered a dispatch to be sent to the United Forces to send aid to the city; however, he was forced to escape from a gas attack in the building with the chief and some officers by creating a bubble of air to shelter. When they went outside, the group was ambushed by mecha tanks and, despite his best attempts to fend them off, Tenzin and the others were soon overpowered, but the airbender was saved by Team Avatar, who arrived at the scene in time. However, this victory was short-lived after they noticed an Equalist airship in the distance preparing to attack Air Temple Island.

Pema with Tenzin after giving birth

Tenzin returned home to find his newly born baby son.

Tenzin returned to the island to find the Equalist attackers defeated by his children and Lin. He rushed to Pema, who had just given birth to their second son, Rohan, but the tender moment did not last as Tenzin and his family were forced to flee from Republic City in order to preserve the airbending race. He also advised Team Avatar to go into hiding until the United Forces arrive to turn the tide of the war. As they attempted to escape on Oogi with Lin, two of the Equalist airships began to pursue them. Using her metal cables, Lin shot down a net and grabbed a rope connected to the ship, successfully taking one of them down, but being captured while attempting to take out the second. Meelo declared that "that lady is [his] hero", a statement to which Tenzin solemnly agreed.[5]

Capture and release

Tenzin and his children captured

Tenzin and his three eldest children were captured by Amon.

Despite Lin's sacrifice, Equalists managed to capture Tenzin and his family. During an Equalist rally in the Pro-bending Arena, Amon revealed Tenzin and his children, announcing the world's riddance of airbending. Korra and Mako, who had attended the rally to expose Amon as a bender, intervened. Mako attacked Amon and his Equalists while Korra freed Tenzin and his children, asking about Pema, the baby, and Lin. Tenzin told her that Pema and the baby were in prison, and he had no idea on Lin's whereabouts. While Korra moved on to free his children, Tenzin assisted Mako in overpowering Amon and his Equalists. Tenzin and his children went on to save Pema and Rohan while Korra and Mako created a distraction.

After Amon's defeat, Tenzin and his family, along with Lin and Team Avatar, reunited at the harbor of Air Temple Island. When the United Forces back-up fleet arrived, the captain was Tenzin's brother, Bumi. The kids were excited about their uncle's visit, but Tenzin was less than enthusiastic to meet him.

Avatar Korra

Katara and Tenzin

Tenzin stared in amazement as Korra restored Lin's bending.

Tenzin and his family were among the many people in a small Southern Water Tribe home, anxious to find out if his mother, Katara, could heal Korra. Katara came out from the back room, announcing that nothing was working and she could not restore Korra's powers. Tenzin wanted to comfort Korra when she came out from the back room, but Korra took off on Naga. Mako tried to follow her, but Tenzin restrained him, saying that she needed time to come to terms with what had happened to her. Korra went to a cliff and cried her heart out, sitting on the ground, her head buried in her arms. In the background, a person wearing Air Nomad attire walked up. Korra had mistaken the person for Tenzin, but when she looked she saw it was Aang, who subsequently restored her ability to bend. After Korra regained her bending, she was able to give bending abilities back to those who had it removed. When she gave Lin her earthbending back by using energybending, Tenzin, who had been in awe watching her, walked up the steps and told her "I am so proud of you, Avatar Korra."

171 AG

Separation from the Avatar

Tenzin chastising Korra

Tenzin chastised Korra for abusing the Avatar State.

Six months after the revolution, Tenzin overheard Ikki telling Korra that using the Avatar State to win a race was unfair. Tenzin was alarmed by what he heard and walked over and chastised Korra for using the Avatar State "as a booster rocket", saying she was using it irresponsibly. He also said that she clearly needed more training to "grasp the depths of [her] spiritual connections" as the Avatar, and that she was far from fully mastering airbending, the latter of which Korra rejected and unsuccessfully tried to prove her mastery of the art. Tenzin shared his plan to take Korra and his family on a vacation to the air temples in order to give the Avatar "inspiration" to improve her airbending abilities and gain a deeper spiritual connection with her past lives. Korra did not exhibit enthusiasm after hearing this plan, and she suggested that they go to her tribe's upcoming spirit festival before going to the temples, gaining the children's support and leaving Tenzin little choice but to honor his commitment to not only teaching Korra, but also spending more time with his family, traveling to the Southern Water Tribe for the Glacier Spirits Festival.

While at the festival, Tenzin's position as Korra's airbending and spiritual instructor was contested by the Avatar's uncle, Chief Unalaq of the Northern Water Tribe, which led to teasing from his siblings. Korra's annoyance toward Tenzin, already prominent due to her daily training, reached its peak after she discovered that he and her father, instead of Aang, were the ones who had planned to keep her locked up in the Southern Water Tribe compound while she mastered waterbending, earthbending and firebending.

Tenzin bidding farewell to Korra

Tenzin bowed before Korra, sadly bidding her farewell.

Later that night, Korra was attacked by a dark spirit. Tenzin, Tonraq, Mako, and Bolin rushed to help her, but were all powerless against its attacks. Suddenly, Unalaq appeared and calmed the spirit with a highly advanced waterbending technique. The tribal chief's display of his knowledge in dealing with spirits, combined with Korra's growing frustration toward Tenzin, caused the Avatar to cut ties with her airbending teacher and seek Unalaq's tutelage in order to deal with the spirits and restore the Southern Water Tribe's decaying spirituality. Feeling upset and hurt, but unable to convince Korra to change her mind, Tenzin nonetheless respectfully bid the young Avatar farewell.

Family vacation

Tenzin and Katara hug

Tenzin bid his mother goodbye.

The next morning, as Tenzin prepared to leave, he was approached by his mother and siblings. Katara persuaded Tenzin to take Kya and Bumi along, reasoning that he should cherish the time he has with his entire family and that they should all visit Aang's birthplace together. Tenzin gave his mother a farewell hug and promised to see her again soon and departed with his family.[3]

By next day, Tenzin and his family arrive at the Southern Air Temple, where they are greeted by Abbott Shung, who presents Tenzin and Pema respectively with an airbender head shaver and a large bouquet of flowers. Nearby, Jinora and Ikki began arguing over a book, and Meelo popped up on Shung's head with a ring-tailed winged lemur in his hands, whom he named Poki, and chased after him when the lemur got loose.

Tenzin and Jinora later visited the hall of Avatar statues, before noticing that Ikki and Meelo were absent. Next thing he knew, the two came whizzing by on air scooters, in which Meelo crashed into and accidentally broke a statue, forcing Tenzin to attend to him.[17]

Tenzin and Rohan

Tenzin held Rohan, pleased that he could spend more time with his youngest son.

One morning, Tenzin was sitting comfortably with his wife and sister when Bumi interrupted their tranquility. Bumi remarked how glad he was to see "Vacation Tenzin" and Tenzin agreed, saying he was happy to spend time with his family as he took Rohan from Pema and playfully asked the baby if he thought the same. Tenzin commented that it was just like the vacations he and his siblings took as children with their father. Kya cut him off, saying his memory was fuzzy, as she and Bumi had never gone on any of those vacations. Perplexed, Tenzin recalled riding the elephant koi on Kyoshi Island and building sand castles on the Ember Island beach. Kya and Bumi corrected him both times, saying they were not there. Before Tenzin could respond, Jinora and Meelo came in on air scooters. Tenzin laughed when Meelo noticed his uncle's belly and asked if he had a baby in it. After Pema scolded the children for teasing Ikki and making her run away, Tenzin calmed his wife down by reassuring her that Ikki could not have gotten far and that he would go look for her. Bumi and Kya offered to help and Tenzin graciously accepted. 

Kya chiding Tenzin

Tenzin was chided by his elder sister for making the same mistake Aang had: being too focused on his work and too little on his family.

Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi searched the mountains for Ikki, calling out to her as the sun was setting. When Kya said she could not find Ikki anywhere, Tenzin blamed himself for her running away and Kya agreed with him. When Tenzin questioned her about it, she told him that he was probably too focused on his job in Republic City and Tenzin agreed with her, saying he only wanted to be like their father. Bumi interjected and told him he was exactly like their father, who did not have any time for any of them, but always made time for "his little airbender". When Tenzin asked his siblings why they were bringing up the past like this, Kya told him that he was under some kind of illusion that their family life growing up was perfect when it was not. Tenzin changed the subject, saying they had to find Ikki before dark. When Kya tried to tease him for cutting and running, Tenzin simply gestured for his siblings to follow him without looking back.

Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi argue

Tenzin, Kya, and Bumi argued over their childhood.

When Bumi started telling them a story about a rescue mission, Tenzin sighed at hearing the story again. The longer the story went on, the more irritated Tenzin became until he snapped at his brother, asking how the story would help them find Ikki. When Bumi told him he was only trying to lighten the mood, Tenzin began pointing out all of the incongruities in Bumi's story, such as there being three typhoons. Kya interrupted, telling Tenzin to bring his lantern to her as she found footprints. Later, Tenzin easily descended a waterfall with Kya as Bumi used some rocks to jump down, though slipped and plunged into the water below. When Kya was healing Bumi after he hurt himself, Tenzin and Kya's scolding turned into an argument between all three siblings. After the argument, 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.[6]

Tenzin and Ikki

Tenzin and Ikki concluded that while every family has its ups and downs, they would always be there for each other.

By morning, Tenzin found Ikki hiding away in a cave with four flying bison calves, where she was having breakfast. He walked in on her as she was saying a blessing, which ended in her dissing her siblings. He joined her and was introduced to the bison calves, which Ikki saw as her new brothers and sisters. Upon hearing this, Tenzin asked his daughter if the calves could be his new siblings as well. As time passed, he bonded with the calf that Ikki had named Blueberry Spicehead, enjoying himself by petting the animal. When Ikki proposed to invite Bumi and Kya, Tenzin opposed to idea, stating that they would only spoil their good mood. Surprised by her father's comment, the young airbender proceeded by listing all the good qualities of Kya and Bumi. Tenzin countered by doing the same for Meelo and Jinora, causing them both to come to the conclusion that being part of a family is not always easy, though it does mean that there will always be someone there for when needed.

Kya, Bumi, and Tenzin

Kya, Bumi, and Tenzin reminisced over an old family photo.

When Tenzin and Ikki returned to the temple, they were happily greeted by their family. After watching Jinora and Meelo make up with Ikki and run off to play together, Tenzin approached his own siblings and apologized to them. He acknowledged that he had been too busy celebrating Aang's legacy, causing him to overlook parts of him that were not ideal. He received an apology from Kya and Bumi in return, and the siblings made up by reminiscing over an old family photo.[18]

As things calmed down, Tenzin enjoyed relaxing at the temple. He watched from a distance how his eldest son attempted to train his ring-tailed winged lemur, Poki, muttering to himself how Meelo was going about it all wrong, making classic mistakes such as over-rewarding the animal for and failing to establish a bond of dominance. When the creature flew away, Tenzin approached his son and offered him to teach him how to become a master trainer, something the young airbender gladly accepted. Tenzin's teachings proved to be very effective as Meelo managed to train his lemur, as well as all the other lemurs at the temple. Realizing he went too far with the training discipline, Tenzin suggested that his son would replace training with having some fun, a suggestion Meelo liked very much.[19]

Reconciling with the Avatar

Korra tells Tenzin her plan

Considering it to be his destiny, Tenzin announced that he would help Korra journey to the Spirit World.

Tenzin's vacation took him to visit the Eastern Air Temple. There, he grew excited over the prospect of taking his family for a tour of the temple to show them all the ancient sites. However, before they could embark on the trip, Korra arrived, pleasantly surprising everyone. Even though they had parted on shaky grounds, Tenzin was glad to see the young Avatar again, but wondered what she was doing there as opposed to training at the South Pole. Unaware of the events occurring elsewhere due to his decision to stay out of touch with the outside world during the family's retreat, he implored Korra to bring them up to speed with everything. After Korra shared the outlines of the situation with everyone, Tenzin and the Avatar retreated to one of the temple's gardens to discuss it more in depth. Although he was shocked about the lengths Unalaq was willing to go for power, Tenzin remained focused at the task at hand, namely aiding Korra cross over to the Spirit World in order to close the Southern spirit portal.

Tenzin confesses

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

Together, Tenzin and Korra visited the stone garden where Aang and Guru Pathik went on a spiritual journey seventy one years prior, inspiring the young Avatar with confidence that she could enter the Spirit World. Although Tenzin's family helped to set the mood for meditation, neither Tenzin nor Korra could successfully meditate into the Spirit World, severely annoying the master airbender. After three failed attempts at three different locations, Tenzin confessed to Korra that he had never entered the Spirit World before, deeming it to be his greatest shortcoming as an airbender, spiritual leader, and son of Aang. Despite that, he remained adamant that it was his destiny to guide the Avatar to the Spirit World, having spent years studying spiritual matters. When Kya suggested Jinora might be able to help, Tenzin brushed aside the notion, believing her to be too young and untrained to be knowledgeable over spiritual affairs. However, he was shocked to be proven wrong when his daughter called upon her dragonfly bunny spirits to reveal themselves. Baffled, Tenzin asked how long she had been able to do that, and grew jealous upon learning that she had always had a natural connection with spirits, while he had none.

Tenzin and Korra hug

After apologizing, Tenzin and Korra shared a hug.

Although Tenzin strongly believed in his training and the historic manuscripts that stated the spiritual energy to be strongest at the temple, he reluctantly followed suit nonetheless when Korra, Kya, Bumi, and Jinora decided to follow the spirits. He was amazed when they arrived to an ancient airbender meditation circle. Noticing how it had been neglected for years, distorting its energy and connection to the Spirit World, he performed a spiritual cleansing ceremony. Burning incense, he used his bending to rhythmically distribute the smoke around the site, which scared away the dragonfly bunny spirits and eventually drew out a swarm of bat-like dark spirits that immediately attacked the group. Tenzin tried to blow them away, though his bending had no effect on the entities. At a loss about what to do, he watched in awe how Korra stepped forward and used Unalaq's purifying technique to pacify and disperse the dark entities, cleansing their hold on the site in the process. Walking up to her, Tenzin bitterly noted how much more effective Unalaq's teachings had been for her spiritual training, though he was immediately put at ease by Korra who emphasized that he had at least helped her for her, not for personal gain. She proceeded to apologize for how she had treated him, expressing her regret over turning her back on him. When Korra stated that she needed him more than ever, Tenzin promptly stated that he would not let her down, before sharing a hug with the young Avatar.

Tenzin and Jinora

While frustrated over his lack of spiritual connection, Tenzin accepted that he might never have the affinity with spirits like he always wanted and allowed Jinora to guide Korra in his stead.

Believing in the site's spiritual connection, Tenzin confidently stated that if they were to meditate there, they would succeed to cross over, growing excited once again over the prospect of finally being able to fulfill the dream his father had for him. However, even though he meditated for the remainder of the day, Tenzin did not manage to connect, much to his frustration. He stubbornly held on to his belief that if he was just given the time, he would be able to guide Korra, renouncing the option to allow Jinora to do it, asserting that she was not ready for the dangers of the Spirit World like he was. However, when Jinora reassured him that she could do it while remaining out of harm, Tenzin conceded, and accepted that he might never have the connection to spirits like he always wanted. He hugged his daughter, telling her how proud he was of her, and stepped aside to make way for Jinora as Korra's guide to the Spirit World, stating that he would watch over their bodies alongside Bumi and Kya until they returned.[20]

As Tenzin and his siblings sat around a campfire, close to the girls' bodies, he confessed to his feelings of helplessness and worry about their safety in the Spirit World. To put him at ease, Kya assured him that his daughter was smart and had a strong connection to the spirits, while Bumi noted that their father traveled to the Spirit World all the time. Not convinced, Tenzin stated that they would be defenseless without their bending, a statement which Bumi took offense to. The airbending master attempted to explain why Bumi's situation was different, but was unable to come up with a reason, looking to his sister for assistance. He subsequently informed his siblings that he would take the first watch, telling them to get some rest, and in turn, they assured him that they were there for him if he needed them. Tenzin thanked them, and walked over to Jinora's silent form, squatting beside her and lovingly rub her head, urging his eldest child to return soon.

Tenzin panicking

When Jinora did not return from the Spirit World, Tenzin began to panic and turned to Korra for answers.

The next morning, Tenzin and his siblings were startled by Korra's sudden return to the physical world. The airbender rushed to her side and asked her if she was able to close the portal and if Jinora was able to help. However, when Korra, looking upset, apologized, Tenzin grew alarmed as he looked toward Jinora, who was still silent and motionless. He rushed over his daughter, wondering why she would not wake up, and turned to Korra, asking her what had happened.[21]

Horrified to learn that Jinora's soul was trapped in the Spirit World by Unalaq, Tenzin cursed himself for letting Jinora ever go alone. The group quickly went to Republic City, where they explained to President Raiko the true danger of Unalaq's intentions. While believing them, Raiko's single-minded interest on the safety of Republic City refused to spare any assistance, instead focusing all man-power on protecting the city should it be attacked. With Raiko being no help, the group instead gained assistance from Varrick despite being imprisoned for recent crimes. He allowed Korra and the others to take his personal battleship and all its resources.[22]

Harmonic Convergence

During the week spent traveling to the Southern Water Tribe, Tenzin began drilling Korra on her airbending. Upon arriving, they immediately went to Katara in hopes that her healing skills could help sustain Jinora's life force without her soul after so long. It was learned that the entire Southern rebellion was defeated by Unalaq and his army of dark spirits. Realizing that the Southern portal would be heavily guarded, the team took Varrick's biplane and Oogi for an aerial assault. Ultimately, Unalaq was prepared for this and quickly had his forces subdue Tenzin and the others, minus Bumi who fell off Oogi. Unalaq presented himself to his captured foes and revealed his intentions; to fuse with Vaatu to become a Dark Avatar and usher in a new world order connects the material and Spirit World. After Unalaq left to await Harmonic Convergence in the Spirit World, Tenzin and the others were saved by Bumi and Naga. The group proceeded to enter the Spirit World.

Tenzin finding spiritual enlightenment

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

While Korra, Mako, and Bolin went to deal with Unalaq, Tenzin and his siblings went to find Jinora's soul. Quickly lost and confused by the Spirit World, they were soon found by Iroh. While happy to see his old friend after forty years, Tenzin declined the wise firebender's offer to be brought home as they still needed to find Jinora. Iroh accepted their choice and warned them of the impending danger, to which Tenzin realized where Jinora was. He quickly provoked a giant spirit from earlier, intentionally getting captured and was brought to the Fog of Lost Souls. Knowing well about its dangerous nature of driving lost souls insane, Tenzin tried to keep his siblings focused. Ultimately, Bumi and Kya fell victim to the fog's effect, running away in fear. As Tenzin began to desperately cling to his views on who he was, he was met by a manifestation of Aang himself. Tenzin profusely apologized to his father for not being more like him. Aang agreed with Tenzin, much to the younger airbender's shock, and continued by saying he should never have tried to mimic him in the first place, and that he put up a false perception of himself. Aang finished by saying that Tenzin was not him, and that he should not be him, but be himself instead. Understanding what Aang meant, Tenzin finally stepped out from his father's shadow and embraced his spiritual side. With his new clarity, the fog let up, allowing Tenzin to collect his siblings and daughter's soul. As Tenzin's siblings regained their sanity and Jinora her consciousness, they embraced one another. As they prepared to leave, Tenzin's daughter sensed that something was wrong with Korra and disappeared to help her.

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.

Tenzin and his siblings were guided by a light butterfly spirit and returned to the spirit portals, where they found Korra and the others defeated. After Kya healed them and Korra explained that Unalaq, merged with Vaatu, had managed to extract and destroy Raava, Tenzin was urged by Kya to console the young Avatar. He reminded her that being the Avatar did not make her great, but rather the other way around. He brought her to the Tree of Time, where inside its hollow, it projected many of Korra's memories. Tenzin reminded her that it was not Raava that defined her but her own accomplishments which mirrored those of Wan's. Upon seeing an image of Unalaq laying waste to Republic City, Korra followed Tenzin's advice to meditate on the cosmic energy of the universe. In doing so, she manifested her own spirit, which went to confront Unalaq. After Korra departed, countless dark spirits approached to which Tenzin and the other benders attempted to protect Korra's vacant body. With Harmonic Convergence nearing its end, Korra, Jinora, and the revived Raava returned to the Spirit World after destroying the Dark Avatar, saving Tenzin and the others as they continued to defend Korra's body.

Korra leaves the portals open

Tenzin reassured Korra that whatever decision she made, he would support her.

Following Korra's restoration of the Avatar State, Tenzin asked if she could still connect to her past lives. Korra replied sadly that she could not and possibly never would again. After Korra hesitated on her decision to close the portals, Tenzin encouraged the young Avatar to do what she felt was right, whereupon Korra decided against closing the portals.[23]

Post-Harmonic Convergence

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 airbended a plate at him, which Bumi miraculously stops in mid-air with airbending, to everyone's astonishment. The group then were informed by Lin and Mako then there was another airbender in the city and currently 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.[24]

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. Though the sheriff intended to put Kai in prison, however, in exchange for returning the life savings to Kai's family, Korra convinced the sheriff to allow Kai to turn over a new leaf with Team Avatar.[25]

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.[4][26] 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 very 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.[4] 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 recklessly break through the Northern defenses surrounding the Southern spirit portal in order to save Jinora.[27]

Tenzin is a very 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.[7]

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 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.[20]

Abilities

Airbending

Tenzin airbending Equalists

Tenzin's airbending prowess means he can easily subdue his assailants.

As the only airbender among Aang's three children, 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 and the current Avatar, Korra. 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 and displaying a previously unseen variant of Aang's air scooter technique – 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.

Tenzin is also very 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)

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 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.
  • 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. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (September 13, 2013). "Rebel Spirit". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 The Legend of Korra Press Site - Character descriptions. Viacom International Inc. (March 2012). Retrieved on March 17, 2012.
  5. 5.0 5.1 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.
  6. 6.0 6.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (September 20, 2013). "Civil Wars, Part 1". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 15. Nickelodeon.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 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.
  8. Director commentary. Nicktoons (July 9, 2012). Retrieved on July 30, 2012.
  9. 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.
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Dos Santos, Joaquim, Ryu, Ki Hyun (directors). (June 2, 2012). "When Extremes Meet". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 8. Nickelodeon.
  16. 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.
  17. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (September 13, 2013). "The Southern Lights". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 14. Nickelodeon.
  18. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (September 27, 2013). "Civil Wars, Part 2". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 16. Nickelodeon.
  19. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (October 4, 2013). "Peacekeepers". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 17. Nickelodeon.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (November 1, 2013). "The Guide". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 21. Nickelodeon.
  21. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (November 8, 2013). "A New Spiritual Age". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 22. Nickelodeon.
  22. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). "Night of a Thousand Stars". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 23. Nickelodeon.
  23. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (November 22, 2013). "Light in the Dark". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 26. Nickelodeon.
  24. 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.
  25. Hedrick, Tim, Hamilton, Joshua (writers) & Heck, Colin, Zwyer, Melchior (directors). (June 27, 2014). "Rebirth". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 2. Nickelodeon.
  26. San Diego Comic-Con 2011
  27. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (November 15, 2013). "Harmonic Convergence". The Legend of Korra. Season 1. Episode 24. Nickelodeon.

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