|"At least I'm different now. 'Circus freak' is a compliment!"|
|— Ty Lee to Zuko.|
Ty Lee was a cheerful and energetic girl who hailed from the Fire Nation. As the daughter of a nobleman, she attended the Royal Fire Academy for Girls with her friends, Princess Azula and Mai. As a child, Ty Lee dealt with six sisters who shared identical appearances with her. This caused her to feel a loss of individuality, and led her to have a longing to be a unique, recognizable person, and a desire for attention from other people. Because of this, after she matured, she ran away from her home and joined a Fire Nation circus, becoming a skilled acrobatic performer and gaining more personal attention.
Ty Lee was a formidable hand-to-hand combatant, often utilizing chi blocking, a unique form of martial arts which targets pressure points located in the human body. By striking these, she was able to disrupt an individual's chi flow and temporarily paralyze them, thereby also preventing the victim from bending for a period of time. Mai and Ty Lee were recruited by Princess Azula to hunt down and capture Prince Zuko and Iroh, and later Avatar Aang and his friends.
Mai later betrayed Azula to save Zuko's life, and when the infuriated princess retaliated, Ty Lee defended Mai by paralyzing Azula, which led to her imprisonment. While in prison, she met the Kyoshi Warriors for a second time and befriended them. In return for teaching them how to chi block, they allowed her to join their group. Upon their release at the end of the Hundred Year War, Ty Lee adopted their makeup and clothes, effectively becoming part of a matched set once again, though this time with the reassurance that she could become a unique individual again whenever she wanted, simply by removing her makeup and uniform.
Born into a Fire Nation noble family in 85 AG, Ty Lee was one of seven identical sisters, the others being Ty Lin, Ty Lat, Ty Lao, Ty Liu, Ty Lum, and Ty Woo. In order to preserve a sense of individuality, the sisters each chose a different hobby and agreed to stay away from each other's so their parents could not compare them with one another. Despite that, Ty Lee still felt like she was part of a matched set and constantly had to compete for attention, often feeling neglected by her surroundings.
She attended the prestigious Royal Fire Academy for Girls where she met Azula and Mai, both of whom she developed a close friendship with. Due to her close association with the Fire Nation princess, Ty Lee was permitted to play with Mai and Azula at the Palace. During one of those outings, Ty Lee demonstrated her superior acrobatic skills by performing a series of cartwheels and somersaults, which Azula proved unable to mimic. As a result, Ty Lee was pushed to the ground by a jealous Azula, who subsequently laughed at her. Despite her indignant reaction to the princess's behavior, Ty Lee happily went along with Azula's plan to humiliate Zuko, on whom Mai had a crush. After Azula orchestrated a situation in which Mai and Zuko fell into a fountain, Ty Lee teased the pair about being "cute" together.
Spring 100 AG
A new task
After Ty Lee ran away to join the circus, Azula tracked her down and attempted to recruit her to assist with the capture of the now-fugitives, Zuko and Iroh. Ty Lee, however, was happy and at peace with her lifestyle, claiming that her "aura [had] never been pinker!" Azula, in an ostensibly friendly gesture, informed Ty Lee that she would attend that night's performance before leaving, though the acrobat seemed rather uneasy and nervous about the announcement.
During the performance, Ty Lee performed a tightrope act for the private audience consisting of the Fire Nation princess. While she was balancing on one hand high above the ground, Azula ordered the ringmaster to set the net beneath Ty Lee's tightrope ablaze and release an assortment of dangerous animals, increasing the peril for Ty Lee should she fall. Ty Lee watched from above, her smile becoming an expression of terror as she remained in Azula's gaze.
Afterward, when Azula told her she was looking forward to the next day's show, Ty Lee informed Azula that she would not be performing, due to the fact that "the universe was giving [her] strong hints that it was time for a career change." When Mai later asked her about the circus being her calling, Ty Lee noted that "Azula called a little louder." She accompanied Mai and Azula during a hostage trade to exchange King Bumi for Tom-Tom, Mai's younger brother. In the battle that ensued after Mai called off the trade per Azula's suggestion, Ty Lee handled herself well, using chi blocking to disable Katara's waterbending. She and Mai were eventually defeated when Appa knocked them off the platform on which they were fighting. As they were leaving the city, Ty Lee gently teased Mai once again about her affections for Zuko, noting that it would be "interesting" for Mai to see him again.
Pursuing Team Avatar
Ty Lee, Mai, and Azula pursued Aang and his companions after their confrontation at Omashu. When Sokka and Katara split from the Avatar, Ty Lee and Mai were charged with the task of tracking down the siblings. The two of them overwhelmed their targets easily but were promptly sent flying into a river by an air blast from Appa. Once out of the water, Ty Lee asked Mai if she too believed that Sokka was "kind of cute".
Ty Lee, Mai, and Azula oversaw the attempt to breach the walls of the Earth Kingdom capital, Ba Sing Se. When the Terra Team was sent out to slow the drill, Azula ordered Mai and Ty Lee to deal with them. With the help of her companion, Ty Lee made quick work of the team, blocking their chi and rendering them disabled. Later, when Aang, Katara, and Sokka were found sabotaging the drill, Ty Lee once again acknowledged Sokka particularly, this time sending him a flirtatious look, to which Sokka responded with some light flirting of his own. When Azula sent Mai and Ty Lee after the fleeing siblings, Ty Lee followed them into the slurry waste pipeline. However, Katara and Toph bent the water and rock mixture, using it to plug up the waste tunnel while Ty Lee was trapped in it, thus thwarting her attempt to catch them. During this, Katara was presumably embittered toward Ty Lee because of her ability to impair bending and aggressively insulted Ty Lee, calling her a "circus freak". After the drill was destroyed, Ty Lee was launched out of the pipeline by the build-up of pressure and slammed into a rock platform, but was more or less unharmed.
Fall of Ba Sing Se
After the defeat of the drill, Ty Lee played a minor role and only reappeared when helping Azula attack Suki and the other Kyoshi Warriors. During the battle, she showed concern over her physical appearance when she remarked that she and her friends were more attractive than the warriors they were fighting.
After Team Avatar departed from Ba Sing Se, Earth King Kuei gave an audience to three impostor Kyoshi Warriors, who were later revealed to be Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee in disguise. The girls used their false identities to aid their infiltration into the Earth Kingdom city, fooling both the Earth King and Team Avatar. Eventually, however, Katara rushed in with important news. She stated that Zuko and Iroh had entered the city, to which Azula responded that she would be sure to let the Earth King know. Katara quickly saw her gold eyes, recognizing them as Azula's, and prepared to attack the group. However, Ty Lee suddenly attacked Katara with a chi block, therefore allowing the trio to easily capture her.
After a successful coup against the government of the Earth Kingdom orchestrated by Azula, Ty Lee remarked playfully how cute Sokka was. While fighting Sokka, she claimed it was as if they were dancing. Ty Lee was last seen trying to teach the Earth King's bear, Bosco, how to do a handstand. While in the process of doing this, Toph earthbent her hands and feet to the floor, rendering her immobile.
Summer 100 AG
Ty Lee and her friends vacationed for a short time at Lo and Li's beach house on Ember Island. At the beach, Ty Lee soon found herself being approached by a boy who helped her unpack and stood over her to provide her with shade. Not long after, another boy came with a seashell to present to Ty Lee as a gift. In no time at all, Ty Lee was surrounded by many admirers. During a kuai ball match, she attracted the attention of two boys, Chan and Ruon-Jian, who invited Ty Lee and Mai, and more reluctantly, Azula and Zuko, to a party that night.
During the party, Ty Lee was surrounded by the boys from the beach and many others and was forced to paralyze them with chi blocking to escape the crowd. Seeing this, Azula called Ty Lee a "tease" and said that none of the boys really cared about her. Ty Lee immediately started crying, clearly upset, and Azula hurriedly apologized and confided that she said those things because she was actually a little jealous of Ty Lee's popularity. Azula asked Ty Lee how to make boys like her and Ty Lee admitted that boys might be intimidated by Azula. Ty Lee advised her friend to act as if she was interested in whatever the boy was saying and to laugh frequently. Zuko was later kicked out of the party and Mai, Azula, and Ty Lee came down to the beach to find Zuko. After starting a campfire, Zuko mocked Ty Lee as a "circus freak". She subsequently revealed tearfully that she had six sisters who looked identical to her and that she had gone to the circus to have individuality. Because of her experiences, "circus freak" was a term she regarded as a compliment. Mai replied that the reason Ty Lee craved so much attention was because she received so little as a child.
The group subsequently began to open up to one another. With all their secrets revealed, the heaviness between the four seemed to vanish. Ty Lee commented that she would remember that night forever and that Lo and Li were correct about the beach's ability to reveal people's true selves. To celebrate their revelations, Azula decided on a fitting end to their night – the four later headed back to Chan's party, trashing the house and leaving it a ransacked mess. Together, the four of them forged their own memory of the place, uniting as friends for the first time in years.
Captured at the Boiling Rock
Ty Lee made another appearance when she assisted Azula at the Boiling Rock maximum-security prison. She and Azula confronted Sokka, Suki, Zuko, Hakoda, and Chit Sang, a firebending prisoner. Suki, well aware of Ty Lee's chi blocking techniques by this point, took great care to evade her attacks. When the guards were about to cut the line on the gondola in which Suki, Hakoda, Sokka, and Zuko were escaping, Ty Lee and Azula, who were dueling the escapees, jumped onto a passing gondola. Immediately after this, Ty Lee wore an unsure and anxious look on her face – either for Sokka, hinting that she may still have had some feelings for him, or for Zuko, her old childhood friend.
Back at the Boiling Rock, she saw Mai double-cross the Fire Nation guards. After some tension and an argument between Azula and Mai, the two prepared to attack each other. Azula was getting ready to attack Mai when Ty Lee turned against her as well, attacking her by blocking her chi and paralyzing her to protect Mai. Ty Lee quickly urged her dumbfounded friend to leave the scene, but they were arrested before they were able to flee. Azula ordered the guards to lock the two away and "let them rot", not wanting to be in their presence ever again as a punishment for their unfaithfulness. These events severely weakened Azula's mental state and played a part in her eventual defeat and nervous breakdown at the hands of Zuko and Katara.
Release from prison
Ty Lee and Mai were locked up at another prison, where they met the rest of the Kyoshi Warriors, until the defeat of Fire Lord Ozai during the coming of Sozin's Comet. While in prison, Ty Lee befriended her old enemies and gave them some lessons in chi blocking, which led to their bonding. After they were let out of prison, Ty Lee felt that the world was broken due to the war and wanted to help rebuild it, so she decided to join the Kyoshi Warriors. Together with her new comrades, she appeared on Fire Lord Zuko's coronation day in a Kyoshi Warrior uniform, elated to be a part of the warrior order. Sokka became hysterical, initially believing that Ty Lee was impersonating a Kyoshi Warrior again, but they explained their bonding while in prison, which proved to be enough to calm him.
A year after the end of the Hundred Year War, Mai asked Ty Lee and the rest of the Kyoshi Warriors to protect the Fire Nation Royal Palace after an attempt by Kori to murder Fire Lord Zuko. The first night they were standing guard, Zuko woke up in the middle of the night and went outside. Suki and Ty Lee assured him that it had been quiet all night. Zuko apologized, saying that he did trust the Kyoshi Warriors as the best guardsmen in the world, to which Ty Lee cheerfully answered "guardswomen, you mean!"
After the resolution of the conflict in Yu Dao, Ty Lee and Suki were tasked to keep an eye on Azula and Ozai when they were placed into adjoining cells in order to facilitate conversation about Ursa's whereabouts. When Zuko entered Azula's cell and was subsequently attacked by his sister, Ty Lee did not hesitate to chi block her former friend, incapacitating her from further action. Azula recognized her and started asking nonsensically how "she", referring to Ursa, managed to turn the fear Ty Lee and Mai had for her, though Ty Lee brushed it aside, saying that she was not making any sense. After they all left the cell as requested, Ty Lee admitted that Azula was wrong, as she had never stopped fearing Azula.
Ty Lee later greeted Team Avatar when they arrived at the Fire Nation Royal Palace, and saw them off the next day as they took Zuko and Azula to Hira'a to track down Ursa. She stayed behind with Suki to act as guards to Iroh, who agreed to assume temporary control of the Fire Nation.
While still residing at the Fire Nation Capital, Ty Lee began to feel down for reasons unbeknownst to her, causing her to skip one of the Kyoshi Warriors' training drills. Being approached by Toph, she admitted that she needed a break as nothing felt right to her anymore. Upon revealing that her aura was off, she was dragged off to a Fire Nation circus, which she quickly recognized as her former workplace after seeing the circus master. When Ty Lee greeted her former employer, he wondered what she was doing there, considering the show was scheduled to start five minutes later, and pushed her into a nearby tent, ordering her to get dressed.
As the man left and Toph entered, Ty Lee was surprised to find her six identical sisters inside the tent. After introducing them to Toph, the Ty sisters, ecstatic to see each other again, embraced. Despite the joyful reunion, Ty Lee became upset to learn that her sisters all joined the circus, performing as the "Flying Ty Sisters", and argued that acrobatics had always been her defining trait, something they had promised to stay away from so their parents would not be enticed to compare them to each other. An argument quickly ensued, however, when Ty Liu and Ty Woo each claimed that Ty Lee had stolen the hobby from them. As more joined in, an unnerved Ty Lee stormed out of the tent. Despite her intention to leave, Toph managed to convince her to stay and attend the platypus bear show with her.
During the performance, Ty Lee figured out that she had been down because being part of the Kyoshi Warriors was just like her home life as part of a matched set, several people looking and acting the same. Not wanting to be in that situation again, she decided to quit the order. As the announcer introduced her sisters as the next act, Ty Lee grew annoyed and quickly left the tent with Toph. On their way out, Toph noticed two men plotting to burn down the circus. While the earthbender challenged the firebending assailant, Ty Lee attacked the other man. Despite kicking the large man directly in the chest, the attack left him unfazed. Before he could do anything, however, Ty Lee was saved by her sisters, who defeated him together. Thanking them for their help, Ty Lee hugged her siblings, commenting that it was a good thing they had become acrobats after all.
Upon returning to the capital, Ty Lee redonned her Kyoshi Warrior outfit, much to Suki's excitement, who had been told by Toph that she was quitting the team. Ty Lee responded by saying that hanging out with her sisters made her realize there were advantages to being part of a matched set, as some problems were too big to tackle alone. When Suki asked why she did not stay with her family then, Ty Lee answered that the warriors were her sisters too and added that she did not always have to match with them as she could take off her makeup whenever she wanted.
Ty Lee was bubbly and outgoing, yet slightly airheaded. She was a direct contrast to Azula's cruelty and Mai's constant torpor. She took delight in her acrobatic abilities, never missing an opportunity to show them off, and often craved attention and recognition, a result of her upbringing as part of an identical set of seven sisters. These attention issues also caused her to be a bit of a flirt, which is why, according to Mai, she needed the affection of multiple boyfriends.
Ty Lee showed a strong sense of loyalty to her friends, Mai and Azula. Despite her obvious differences from Mai, she had a deep respect for her, and they often made an effective fighting duo, teaming up numerous times against their enemies. Ever since childhood, Ty Lee also considered Azula as a friend, but as she got older, that loyalty seemed to have been out of fear of the princess. When she first refused Azula's request to join her search for the traitorous Zuko, Azula persuaded her by endangering her life during a circus performance. For some time, Ty Lee never disobeyed Azula's orders. However, her breaking point came at the Boiling Rock, during Azula's attempted murder of her own brother and Ty Lee's childhood friend, Zuko. When the rope holding Zuko's gondola was about to be cut, which would send Zuko along with several prisoners and friends plummeting to their deaths, Ty Lee showed concern while Azula smirked next to her. After Mai helped Zuko and his friends escape the prison, Azula threatened her life. Fearing for Mai's safety in the face of Azula's terrible rage, Ty Lee attacked Azula, finally conquering her own fears and taking a stand against her "friend" after months of obedience.
Ty Lee was known not to hold grudges against her enemies despite their encounters on the battlefield. She bonded with the Kyoshi Warriors, for whose confinement she was partially responsible, establishing a fairly strong friendship with the group while they were imprisoned together. She also showed affection for Sokka, despite the enmity between her allies and Team Avatar.
Ty Lee displayed great affection toward animals. In Ba Sing Se, she taught Bosco acrobatic moves before Toph earthbent her to the ground.
Ty Lee sometimes came off as superficial, as seen when she affirmed her beauty to a Kyoshi Warrior and when she warned her friends about the risk of getting acne from the negative energy surrounding their serious conversation.
Ty Lee was extraordinarily agile. Even as a child, she was able to execute mid-air somersaults and cartwheels that surpassed even Azula's. Her agility continued to improve with age and she was commonly seen walking around in a headstance on just her fingers. She later developed remarkable acrobatic abilities, which allowed her to join the Fire Nation circus and perform high-wire acts with balance and grace. People traveled for miles to see her perform. Because of this, she was fast and agile in battle, able to outmaneuver almost any opponent she came across and jump exceptionally high and far, even from a stationary position. Her abilities allowed her to dodge the attacks of dozens of powerful earthbenders, who were unable to land a hit on her. She was also limber; able to twist, bend, and contort herself into positions nearly impossible for an ordinary person to achieve. These abilities also granted her impressive parkour and free-running skills, allowing her to scale almost any surface or terrain quickly and squeeze through most barriers and small spaces with noticeable ease.
Another of Ty Lee's defining abilities was her mastery of pressure-point-striking martial arts, or chi blocking. With her extensive knowledge of the human body, she could strike sequences of pressure points, immobilizing her enemies to various degrees. She had the ability to paralyze a single body part or an opponent's entire body. This technique allowed her to block certain chi paths in benders to compromise their abilities. This made her especially dangerous to benders who relied solely on their bending and possessed no secondary fighting skills. Combined with her extraordinary agility, she was able to defeat dozens of powerful earthbenders within seconds. However, if her target had faced her before or was expecting her attacks, the effectiveness of her chi blocking decreased as her opponent took measures to prevent her from using the technique; Suki was able to avoid her attacks at the Boiling Rock, and Katara and Sokka were also able to effectively counter her when facing her again.
- Main article: Ty Lee's relationships
- Ty Lee is the first known character to have more than one identical sibling, as she has six identical sisters.
- In the Taiwanese dub, Ty Lee's name is written as , meaning "calm and beautiful".
- Ty Lee appeared to have a crush on Sokka, as she mentioned that Sokka was cute. When she, Mai and Azula found Aang, Sokka and Katara, she said, "Azula, you were right — it is the Avatar ... and friends", directing the last part of the comment toward Sokka as her look grew more flirtatious. Later, when confronting Sokka in the Earth King's throne room, she cheerfully described their fight as dancing.
- Though arrested at the Boiling Rock, Ty Lee was not held there, as she bonded with the Kyoshi Warriors in prison and only Suki was held at the Boiling Rock.
- Ty Lee was the second known outsider to join the Kyoshi Warriors, Sokka being the first. She was also the first known Fire Nation native to join them.
- Ty Lee was one of the few natives of the Fire Nation that did not have black hair or golden eyes.
- According to "Avatar Extras", Ty Lee was described as the Avatar version of a Valley Girl.
- In the non-canonical "School Time Shipping" episode, Ty Lee was shown to have some attraction to Haru.
- Ty Lee went to the circus because she did not feel different among her six identical sisters. Ironically, by the end of the series, she joined the Kyoshi Warriors, who all dress and look alike, differentiating only by each girl having their own personal hair accessory.
- Ty Lee's chi blocking fighting style is similar to Gentle Fist, the fighting style of the Hyūga clan from the popular manga/anime series Naruto; both use martial arts to block a person's internal flow of energy, though in Naruto this is referred to as chakra rather than chi.
- Ty Lee was the only person in the series to whom Azula ever apologized.
- Ty Lee's pink, acrobatic outfit symbolized her bubbly demeanor and optimistic outlook on life.