|"If you want me around, you need to start treating me like an equal!'"|
|— Zhu Li to Varrick.|
Zhu Li Moon is a calm and serious woman who is fiercely loyal to those she deems worthy. While serving as Varrick's assistant, she helped him with any task he asked of her. When Kuvira threatened in 174 AG to send her off to a reeducation camp while Varrick was forced to continue working on a deadly spirit vine-charged weapon, she feigned to be loyal to Kuvira, blaming her employer for underappreciating her. Being subsequently appointed as Baatar Jr.'s assistant, she tried to sabotage the spirit energy cannon, though was forced to flee with the Beifong family when she was discovered. She helped defend Republic City against Kuvira's invasion and after the metalbender was defeated, Zhu Li married Varrick.
In the Southern Water Tribe
Zhu Li was present on Varrick's yacht when Asami and Bolin boarded in order to negotiate a business deal with the wealthy tycoon. She carried out tasks for her boss without even being asked, gesticulating for certain bystanders to move from their seats so that Varrick could take their place. Afterward, she gave the new arrivals some tea and began to play the motion picture projector to comply with Varrick's request. She continued to tend to the guests' refreshments and to the orders of her employer, even assisting Asami in getting to her feet after a minor fall, before once more taking her place in the background.
A few days later, when the Northern Navy invaded the South, Zhu Li accompanied Varrick to a meeting at Tonraq and Senna's house where the occupation would be discussed. She continued to faithfully carry out his orders, answering her employer's question before realizing it was rhetorical.
After a failed attempt by Southern rebels to kidnap Unalaq, Varrick was forced to go into hiding, and since Zhu Li never left his side, she followed him. Together, they hid inside a stuffed platypus bear located in his living room. There, they evaded arrest by Northern troops when the latter came to search the house. While her employer spoke with Asami, Bolin, and Mako, all of whom had been present during the brief investigation of the living room, Zhu Li offered him some hot tea. She apologized for the lack of honey, blaming their hiding place's lack of the substance. Zhu Li proceeded to drop a wad of yuans out of the statue's behind, Varrick asking that Bolin use it as a bribe during the trial so that the rebels would be set free.
Zhu Li remained with Varrick inside Ping Ping, the stuffed platypus bear, using it as a disguise to escape the Southern Tribe, with Bolin acting as Ping Ping's owner. When a Northern trooper stopped them with the question of whether the animal was licensed, Zhu Li shoved a large number of yuans from the bear at Varrick's instruction, creating a distraction during which they were able to evade the guards. Zhu Li remained inside with Varrick, even after making it to the boat, as her employer was unwilling to exit the disguise until he was convinced they were completely safe.
In Republic City
Arriving at Republic City, Zhu Li immediately scheduled a meeting with President Raiko on her employer's request. When the party was breaking up, Zhu Li trailed her boss, carrying all his luggage. She later procured some nice clothing for Bolin when he was invited by Varrick to experience the rich life of the city. As a loyal employee, she never left Varrick's side, and kept catering to his every need. When the businessman wanted to brainstorm, she brought him all the needed supplies, namely a rack to hang upside down from and a plate of hot peppers. As Varrick uttered random words, Zhu Li took note and gave them to Varrick Global Industries' development team.
When the news of the fifth robbery on one of Varrick's ships reached Republic City, Zhu Li relayed it to her employer, though was immediately chided for bringing him bad news without first giving him some good news. In an attempt to make up for her mistake, she told him that his The Adventures of Nuktuk: Hero of the South mover got great reception. However, it was promptly dismissed as Varrick considered that to be old news already.
Zhu Li attended the premiere of the Nuktuk finale at the Pro-bending Arena, where she was seated in a loge with her employer. After Varrick was outed as the instigator of the attempted kidnapping of President Raiko, she was told to leave the arena, though their escape was thwarted by Chief Lin Beifong, who arrested Varrick, and Zhu Li by proxy as she would not leave her employer's side.
Zhu Li continued to cater Varrick's every need in the luxurious jail cell they shared. She was ordered to make a pot of green tea when Varrick was visited by Team Avatar. When Republic City later came under attack by the Dark Avatar, Zhu Li was reading a book when she was knocked aside by giant vines that inadvertently destroyed Varrick's cell. She was told to commence operation "Winged Freedom", which entailed her strapping a glider pack to her back and holding onto the businessman, deploying man-made wings to soar away to freedom. Making their way out of the city and into the woods, Zhu Li served as Varrick's mode of transportation, carrying him around on her back. Even after she sprained her ankle, she continued to do so for twenty miles a day.
Zhu Li journeyed with Varrick to Zaofu, where her boss's old associate, Suyin Beifong, granted them refuge. A few weeks after Harmonic Convergence, Zhu Li was dutifully by Varrick's side as he reunited with Team Avatar and Lin during a dinner hosted by Suyin.
The next morning, Zhu Li assisted Varrick in testing his new magnetic suit at breakfast, causing all the metal on the dining table to be attracted to him. With the test deemed successful, Zhu Li unplugged the suit at Varrick's direction and was left to clean up the mess, much to her displeasure.
The next day, following the attack on Suyin's estate by the Red Lotus the night before in an attempt to kidnap Korra, Zhu Li stood behind her boss as he was questioned about what he had been doing. Later, as Varrick was collecting pumice rocks that were created from the lavabending attack by Ghazan, Zhu Li had to scrape the industrialist's foot with one, much to her disgust.
When Varrick decided to leave Zaofu with Kuvira and Baatar Jr. to stabilize the chaotic Earth Kingdom a few weeks after the assassination of Earth Queen Hou-Ting, Zhu Li accompanied him as a private in the military of the Earth Empire and traveled through the nation by train.
Helping reunite the Earth Kingdom
En route to the state of Yi, Zhu Li was ordered by Varrick to give everyone a cup of celebratory tea when Bolin reported that two more states had joined Kuvira's cause, which brought their goal ten percent away from completion. However, no one drank the beverage after Kuvira announced that she refused to celebrate until they had completely reunited the Earth Kingdom, which caused them all to spill the liquid on their clothes when their train abruptly came to a halt.
The day before Prince Wu's coronation as the new Earth King, Zhu Li arrived at Republic City with the rest of Kuvira's army. As they checked in to the Republic City Four Elements, she carried in all of Varrick's luggage. When he gloated about President Raiko's discomfort over being forced by Kuvira to pardon Varrick's crimes, Zhu Li dryly commented that he was an upstanding citizen once again, before being ordered to steal as many lavender-scented mini-soaps as possible.
Zhu Li attended Wu's coronation the following day and bore witness to Kuvira's declaration of usurping power in the Earth Kingdom, which she renamed "Earth Empire", although she did not applaud like the rest of the army. After the ceremony, Zhu Li showed a piece of spirit vine to Varrick and was promptly ordered to take it to their lab to get it stabilized. She later helped Varrick to study and stabilize the vine, trying to utilize the energy it possessed.
While traveling to Zaofu, Zhu Li set up a camera to record the spirit vine experiment she and Varrick were conducting. Upon request, she handed him the stasis capsule that contained a sample of the spirit vine and, while Varrick placed the tube into a machine, secured the cables on the machine. The contraption soon overloaded, however, and Zhu Li was ordered to shut it down. When she pulled its power lever, nothing happened and the excess energy shot out in a concentrated energy beam, ripping a hole in the back of the wagon. The rattling of the train knocked Zhu Li off balance and she tumbled out of the hole, barely managing to hold on to the cart. Screaming for help, Varrick attempted to pull her up but struggled, suggesting that she should lose some weight. Zhu Li deflected the barb, stating that he was just weak and needed to pull harder. When Varrick managed to drag her up, she ended up falling on him. Impressed that he had saved her, Zhu Li removed her goggles and gently gazed at him. Her romantic mood was quickly broken, however, when Varrick told her that it was only natural for him to have saved her as he was not going to clean the mess of the explosion up by himself. Pushed off her employer, she was ordered to grab a broom and started sweeping. While cleaning, Kuvira and Baatar Jr. entered and Zhu Li deadpanned that Varrick had developed a conscience upon hearing the eccentric inventor's confusion in regards to the voice in his head that made him discern right from wrong. After Kuvira slammed Varrick down to the floor of the cart after having threatened to kill him if he did not continue weaponizing the spirit vine energy, a concerned Zhu Li rushed to her employer's side, placing a gentle hand on his shoulder while glaring after the retreating army commander.
Zhu Li was locked inside a cart together with Varrick, who was freaking out over their imprisonment. Believing he was running out of air, Zhu Li was ordered to hold her breath, though she calmly refused the command and continued to serve tea. When Bolin called out to Varrick from a hatch, Zhu Li, wordlessly and without looking, pointed to the ceiling in order to guide her boss's attention toward the earthbender. As the two men were freaking out over their recent discovery of Kuvira's craziness, Zhu Li calmly stood by, awaiting their plan. As they agreed that they needed to get out of there, Varrick pointed at Zhu Li, who instantly jumped on a nearby desk and vanished via the ceiling hatch. Leaning back, she offered her hands and pulled Varrick up, while Bolin followed them on his own accord.
The three each secured a mecha suit and made their escape to the nearby forest. As they stopped to decide where to go, they were ambushed by Baatar Jr. and two sergeants of the army, each piloting a mecha suit as well. As Baatar Jr. launched himself at Varrick after having shot down Bolin, Zhu Li determinedly placed herself in front of her employer and intercepted the charge. She was left to fight the two sergeants when a recovered Bolin tackled Baatar Jr. out of the way. Knocking with a bola as he dashed toward Varrick, who had trouble with his visor. As Varrick asked what idiot had designed the mecha suits, she quipped that it had been him. Ordered to lecture less and focus more on saving his life, Zhu Li turned her attention back to the fight. Although she received some blows, she managed to gain the upper hand and kick the sergeant back against a tree. Despite being outnumbered two-to-one, Zhu Li managed to hold her own in battle, keeping the sergeants at bay and away from Varrick, who had sought refuge in a tree. She was shot down by an electricity charge, however, accidentally aimed at her by Varrick. She tiredly noted that he was making it very difficult for her before being thrown through the air. She recovered and managed to toss her opponent when they were grappling with one another, pushing him back with a charged kick. Given the time to take in her surroundings, she noticed that Varrick had abandoned his suit and was attempting to outrun one of the sergeants. Defending her boss, Zhu Li hurled a rock at the pursuing mecha suit, knocking it down a cliff. Before she could finish her attack, she was shot down herself by an electricity charge from the other sergeant. Engaging in close range combat with the two sergeants, Zhu Li was saved by Bolin's intervention, as he created a lava stream to melt her opponents' suits. The victory was short-lived, however, as she was forced to surrender when Baatar Jr. threatened to kill Varrick. As her boss sarcastically thanked her for his predicament, Zhu Li averted her gaze, gritting her teeth in anger.
Escorted back to camp, Zhu Li and the others were presented to Kuvira, who ordered her to be sent to the reeducation camp for the most severe dissenters along with Bolin. Before the soldiers could execute the order, however, Zhu Li surged forward and dropped to her knees in front of Kuvira, begging for mercy and to be taken back. She stated that her only mistake had been to be loyal to the wrong person, as she had been under the impression that Varrick possessed the most brilliant mind in the world. However, upon meeting Kuvira, she had come to realize that she had been wrong, deeming Varrick to be a fool compared to the army commander. Affirming her belief in everything Kuvira had done, as well as in the metalbender's vision for the nation, she proclaimed that she wanted to devote her life to Kuvira and pledged her allegiance to her. As she was pardoned by Kuvira, Varrick urged Zhu Li to reconsider what she was doing, though she angrily rejected him, pointing out that he had never appreciated her despite the fact that she had done everything he had ever asked of her. Zhu Li ordered the guards to "do the thing" and Varrick was dragged out of Kuvira's tent.
Working directly for Kuvira
That night, Zhu Li was ordered to sleep in Kuvira's bed, as the army commander predicted Suyin to attempt a sneak attack on her. As such, the former assistant was entangled with a metal cable while sleeping, though as she was turned around, she pleaded not to be hurt.
At dawn, Zhu Li lined up with the rest of the army to watch Avatar Korra battle Kuvira one-on-one. When the army commander managed to land a blow and all the soldiers erupted in loud cheers, she merely applauded slowly with a bored expression on her face. After Korra's defeat, Zhu Li stood alongside the army commanders when Kuvira addressed the crowd, demanding them all to bow. She retreated with Kuvira and Baatar Jr. toward Suyin's personal yard, where she heard him report that Varrick and Bolin had blown themselves up and were most certainly deceased. Upon being asked rhetorically if she would like to assist Baatar Jr. in building the "most powerful weapon the world [had] ever seen", she stoically answered that it would be her honor, before calmly walking away.
Sabotaging the cannon
Zhu Li relocated together with Baatar Jr. to a factory not far from Zaofu, where they manufactured the spirit energy cannon. Weeks after the fall of Zaofu, the weapon was completed and Zhu Li assisted Baatar Jr. in a test of the weapon's power core to make sure that the demonstration in Kuvira's presence the following day would run smoothly. Unbeknownst to him, however, Zhu Li had sabotaged the cannon by cracking its channeling ring, hoping to cause the machine to overload and explode. On Baatar Jr.'s orders, she initialized phase one, though soon reported that there was a problem with the condenser backing up. She tried to shut the machine down, though the override was not working and shouted for all the workers to evacuate, since the cannon was about to explode. She urged Baatar Jr. to leave as well, though he ignored her and manually shut the machine down by removing part of its circuitry. As he found the cracked channeling ring, Zhu Li and the other workers were ordered to disassemble the entire cannon to check every part for irregularities. When Kuvira later arrived to check up on their progress, Zhu Li explained the malfunctions they had encountered as normal for such a complex machine and lied to the army commander that she was doing everything she could to correct those.
The following day, the cannon was presented to the gathered troops and Zhu Li stood with Kuvira and Baatar Jr., as the latter powered it up to fire a test shot. When the cannon malfunctioned once again due to a missing distributor pin, Kuvira confronted Zhu Li and demanded to know what she knew about it. Although she answered she had nothing to do with the failure, Kuvira bent the pin out of her uniform. Her betrayal discovered, Zhu Li dropped her loyal façade and denounced Kuvira as a monster, not regretting any of her sabotaging actions. She was chained up in a tower located in the abandoned village that was the target of the cannon, though before the energy blast could kill her, the Beifong family managed to alter the weapon's trajectory, enabling Bolin and Opal to free her. As they all managed to escape to safety atop Juicy, Zhu Li thanked Bolin and the Beifongs for having saved her, urging them to not be too hard on the lavabender for his affiliation with Kuvira, since his heart had been in the right place. Much to everyone's shock, she added that they needed to return to Republic City as soon as possible, since she had to warn them that Kuvira planned on attacking the metropolis two weeks later.
Defending Republic City
Having returned to Republic City, Zhu Li, Lin, Suyin, and Bolin immediately set course for City Hall, where they interrupted a meeting between President Raiko, Avatar Korra, Prince Wu, Mako, and Tenzin. She explained that she had pretended to be loyal to Kuvira in order to sabotage the spirit energy cannon and although that had failed, she had overheard her plans of attack and warned them about Kuvira's impending attack on the city two weeks later.
After the meeting, Zhu Li changed out of her military uniform and was led by Bolin to the Future Industries factory where Varrick was overseeing the manufacturing of the hummingbird mecha suits. As Bolin urged Varrick to open up to his former assistant when he presented her to him, Zhu Li urged him to listen to her first before he said anything. She apologized for all the things she had said to him in front of Kuvira and emphasized that she had not meant a word of it. She revealed that she had thought that her only chance to save him when he was being taken away was to join Kuvira, though not a day had gone by that she did not wish she would be given the chance to reunite with Varrick, so she could tell him that he meant the world to her. As he told her not to be so hard on herself, she smiled hopefully at him when he gently reached for her as if he was going to cup her cheek, though she snapped when he grabbed a hold of her shoulder at the last moment and exuberantly exclaimed that he accepted her apology, before ordering her to man the assembly line like a good assistant. Much to his shock, Zhu Li yelled at him that she was no longer his assistant and demanded to be treated like an equal if he wanted her around, before storming out.
When Kuvira arrived at Republic City a week later, Zhu Li was shocked to learn she had mounted the spirit weapon on an enormous mecha suit, as she had not even been aware that Kuvira had been building that machine. After Korra and a stealth team of airbenders kidnapped Baatar Jr. and brought him to the factory as well, Zhu Li stood by while Korra and Suyin tried to convince him to reveal how they could defeat the enormous mecha suit. After Baatar Jr. contacted Kuvira and seemingly succeeded to convince her to cease her conquest of the United Republic, Zhu Li was forced to run for her life when Kuvira traced Baatar Jr.'s radio call toward the factory and blew it up with her spirit energy cannon.
Zhu Li managed to survive the explosion and emerged from the rubble with everyone else when Bolin lifted a large piece of concrete. While the benders faced Kuvira and her army in an attempt to stop them or at the very least, slow them down, she joined Varrick and Asami to adapt the prototypes of the hummingbird mecha suits in Asami's office to get them airborne. Despite their best efforts, however, they had trouble getting the hummingbird suits to work. Believing Varrick had fixed the hydraulics, Zhu Li and Asami tested out one of the suits, though crashed after Asami was unable to stabilize the machine. When Daw warned them that a platoon of mecha suits was incoming, Zhu Li followed Varrick up to the roof of the tower and, after being equipped with a spool of metal cables, started to climb the lightning rod. Asking if Varrick was sure his plan would work, he answered that since he could stop the regular sized mecha suits with a normal electromagnetic pulse, an enormous pulse could stop an enormous suit. While he was adjusting the wiring to put his plan into motion, she grew hopeful when he revealed that he had been thinking a lot about her and admitted that there were several things he should tell her since there was a chance that they would not survive the battle with Kuvira. Her interest disappeared, however, when he started to recall that, before circus people had taken him away, he had grown up on a farm where he had owned an ostrich horse named Mrs. Beaks, whom he had loved, though had taken for granted. Noticing Kuvira's troops had marched within range, Zhu Li interrupted Varrick's tale and flipped the switch to the electromagnetic pulse. Although the regular mecha suits all shut down, the enormous suit was unaffected and when a panicked Varrick called for her to "do the thing", she sadly answered that she feared there were "no more things to do".
Returning inside, Hiroshi joined their group and following his lead, Zhu Li, Asami, and Varrick added an electrical element to the welding torches already on their suits and converted them into plasma saws. When the suits were ready and Zhu Li was about to board, Varrick walked up to her and, after swallowing nervously, declared that he needed to "attach" something before they took off. As she asked in confusion to what he wanted to attach something, he promptly opened the small box he was holding, revealing the green ring it held inside, and dropped to his knee, asking her if she would "do the thing for the rest of [their] lives". Smiling fondly at him, Zhu Li accepted his proposal and, after he slipped the ring on her finger, kissed him. When he took her in his arms and excitedly announced that they would go attack Kuvira's high-tech machine with their "barely-functional" prototype suits, she noted that it was exactly how she always imagined their engagement to be. The two subsequently boarded the same mecha suit, with Zhu Li being the pilot and Varrick manning the welding torch.
Approaching Kuvira's machine, Varrick told Zhu Li to land on the spot in the middle of the enormous suit's back, guiding her by making a comparison to a specific spot on his own back that he could never reach. The moment they touched down, Varrick started welding, though before he could inflict any serious damage, Zhu Li was forced to abort their attempt, lest they would be crushed. She continuously tried to land again, though Kuvira kept lashing out at them, preventing them from attempting another attack. Eventually, Zhu Li and Varrick's suit had a wing blown off when Kuvira fired her spirit energy cannon. Before they crashed against a building, Zhu Li flipped the ejection seat switches and she and Varrick floated off to safety with their parachutes.
Having made a safe landing, Zhu Li and Varrick eventually made their way to the heart of the Spirit Wilds, where now a new spirit portal was located. Realizing Korra and Kuvira were nowhere to be found, Zhu Li and the rest of Team Avatar set out to search the area, scouring her surroundings from atop the wreckage of the enormous mecha suit. After all the spirits returned a moment later, she was glad to see that Korra emerged from the portal as well. After Kuvira was handcuffed and escorted away, Zhu Li joined in with the group hug the team bestowed on Korra.
Following Kuvira's defeat, Zhu Li and Varrick received permission from Tenzin to hold their wedding ceremony and party at Air Temple Island, decorating parts of the island in a winter theme, while Bolin acted as the official during their ceremony. For her vows, she asked Varrick to treat her as his honored and cherished partner as opposed to his assistant, to which he excitedly answered positively. In his own vows, Varrick had described a list of tasks that Zhu Li would have to perform, scrubbing his calluses on a bi-weekly basis being one of them, which Bolin refused to read. Zhu Li lovingly answered, however, that she took Varrick with his "calluses and all". When Bolin announced that they could "do the thing", she dipped her husband so she could kiss him. As the couple turned to the now applauding audience, Zhu Li asked why Varrick had started to cry, though lovingly smiled at him when he declared it to be out of happiness. Wiping his tears, Varrick took a remote out of his pocket and the couple flipped the switch together, setting off a firework display. During the dinner party, Zhu Li was led by her husband in a dance.
When she was Varrick's assistant, Zhu Li was completely loyal to him, never failing to carry out any command of his or fulfill any whim. She knew her employer well, which enabled her to perform tasks without even being asked, as she did on his yacht, and frequently acted according to various plans, despite his often vague commands, most notably "do the thing". Her devotion to Varrick included becoming a fugitive with him, following him on his unlawful trip out of the country, and becoming a part of Kuvira's army. She showed little concern for ethical dilemmas as long as Varrick was appeased. Varrick described her as a "cold, heartless war machine", for which he named his battleship after her. Despite her generally calm and serious demeanor, Zhu Li sometimes allowed her emotions to be shown, such as when she lovingly looked at Varrick after he saved her from falling out of a speeding train, when she thanked the Beifong family for having saved her, or when heatedly refused Varrick to be his assistant, demanding to be treated as his equal if he wanted her around. She is also courageous, as she was willing to sacrifice herself in order to destroy the spirit energy cannon.
Zhu Li is highly proficient in piloting a mecha suit, able to fight equally against two professional pilots, even when Varrick's poor control of a mecha suit made it considerably more difficult for her. Her intelligence and quick thinking allows herself to make quick decisions in many situations. She also possesses considerable physical strength as she was able to hold on to a speeding train and carry Varrick on her back for twenty miles a day after spraining her ankle. She was also able to carry a spirit vine capsule with ease, while Varrick struggled to carry it. While working on weaponizing the spirit vines, Zhu Li displayed proficiency in deception and sabotage, having concealed her true motives from both Kuvira and Baatar Jr.
- Zhùlǐ (助理) is a Chinese word that means "assistant".
- According to Bolin, Zhu Li makes no mistakes.
- Zhu Li and Varrick are the fourth couple in the Avatar franchise to be seen getting married, after Roku and Ta Min, Ozai and Ursa, and Ikem and Ursa.
- Zhu Li's hairstyle resembles that of Chihiro/Sen's from Hayao Miyazaki's Spirited Away, which has been cited by the creators as one of their inspirations.