Non-Benders in the Avatar Franchise

Piandao, Sokka's master in Avatar, against abstract flower background in red and white.

Image Credit: ladyinwait on Deviant Art.

Many fans enjoyed Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend Of Korra because of the magical ability known as bending. No matter which element a character mastered, they had a huge advantage in and out of battle.

However, as the narrative explained, the majority of people didn’t have any bending powers at all. Instead, they had to make do as normal humans—and non-benders living in a magical world is, in many ways, just as fascinating to watch.

Non-benders in the Avatar franchise might not get the same love, but these ones definitely deserve the hype.

Sokka

Sokka of the Avatar franchise non-benders, standing against blue background with arms folded.
Image Credit: shinobisena on Deviant Art.

Show: Avatar: The Last Airbender

Weapon Of Choice: Boomerang, Jian

As one of the show’s principal characters, audiences watched as Sokka made the transition from a cocky, misogynistic kid to a mature, intelligent teenager.

Though he often plays the role of comic relief, Sokka brings a lot to the table. Additionally he’s a valuable ally for the Avatar.

In fact, his skills with multiple weapons, innovativeness, and strategic planning all play a major role in the Avatar’s eventual victory.

 

Jet

Jet, one of the non-benders from the Avatar franchise, with his hook enclosing around Zuko's neck.
Image Credit: Nicca11y on Deviant Art.

Show: Avatar: The Last Airbender

Weapon Of Choice: Hook swords

Jet possessed three main strengths: his charisma, confidence, and hook swords.

While a powerful fighter with his swords, he often relied on his friends to help him out during battle.

Though he ultimately met an untimely end, his desire for vengeance against those who had wronged him was strong, and he made some great strides with his Freedom Fighter buddies.

 

 

Ty Lee

Ty Lee, one of the non-benders from the Avatar franchise standing tall with an enclosed fist held by her face.
Image Credit: BaramArts on Deviant Art.

Show: Avatar: The Last Airbender

Weapon Of Choice: Unarmed

Ty Lee is probably one of the strongest non-benders in Avatar, given her ability to not only do damage to her opponent, but also to chi-block their bending abilities.

Her fighting style is very versatile, and she can adjust her agile maneuvers depending on whether she is fighting alone or with teammates.

By poking certain points on the body, Ty Lee is capable of completely paralyzing someone for a short period of time.

What’s more, she can injure them, or just render them unable to summon the power of the elemental forces.

 

Mai

Mai, one of the non-benders from Avatar, crouching and staring in wind.
Image Credit: RaindropArt21 on Deviant Art.

Show: Avatar: The Last Airbender

Weapon Of Choice: Daggers

Like Ty Lee, Mai may not be a bender, but she is a good enough fighter to keep up with Azula, a talented firebender.

Instead of pursuing open-handed fighting like Ty Lee, however, Mai prefers to stay out of the fray. She uses thin daggers that look like needles, throwing several at once with precise aim.

No matter how many she throws, she never seems to run out.

 

 

Suki

Suki of the Avatar non-benders, holding a metal war fan against fiery background.
Image Credit: GENZOMAN on Deviant Art.

Show: Avatar: The Last Airbender

Weapon Of Choice: Fans

Suki’s fans are one of the more exotic weapons in the show. As the leader of the Kyoshi Warriors, it’s no surprise that she is the best at using them, but the idea of a fan as a weapon isn’t commonly seen by Western audiences.

War fans—made of metal—could be thrown like boomerangs, used to trap opponents’ hands, or defend the user.

These versatile weapons served Suki very well when she made occasional appearances with the Avatar’s group.

Suki’s weapons were a big part of what made her strong, but it wasn’t just about the fans.

As seen when she was captured and imprisoned at Boiling Rock, she is a capable martial artist and acrobat who can run up walls, make incredible leaps, and even take down soldiers in heavy armor.

 

Piandao

Piandao, one of the non-benders from Avatar, and Sokka's master, against abstract orange background.
Image Credit: Pretty-Angel on Deviant Art.

Show: Avatar: The Last Airbender

Weapon Of Choice: Sword

According to the story, when Piandao escaped from the Fire Nation he was forced to confront a small battalion of soldiers sent to bring him back.

His swordsmanship was so phenomenal, he single-handedly took down 100 well-trained soldiers from the Fire Nation’s army.

While it isn’t explicitly stated whether or not every soldier in the Fire Nation’s army is a firebender, most examples indicate the country has a preference for benders.

Considering that statistically, most people in that world aren’t benders, it’s fair to say that the Fire Lord would have chosen 100 elite soldiers to pursue someone as valuable as Piandao—which means that one man, alone with his sword, took down 100 firebending soldiers in a daring escape.

Sokka is very lucky indeed that Piandao is willing to train him.

 

Asami Sato

Asami Sato from Avatar franchise, standing against the wind with stormy background.
Image Credit: abbey-tex-johnson on Deviant Art.

Show: The Legend Of Korra

Weapon Of Choice: Electricity

In addition to her father’s inventions, Asami herself is a natural-born inventor.

Throughout the show, she is responsible for creating many different prototypes, or improvements upon existing machinery.

Not only could she design a weapon to give the Avatar a run for her money (if they weren’t dating), she’s also an excellent martial artist.

In the show, audiences watched as she put her superior acrobatic skills on display time and time again, sometimes taking on multiple enemies at once.

While she might not be capable of actually defeating Korra in a fight, Asami is more than capable of defending herself in a fight against a single-element bender.

It’s worth noting that while Korra’s story focuses much more on the world of difference between benders and non-benders, the majority of powerful, memorable non-benders are from the first series.

Asami Sato and her father really stand out, in a show where non-benders are mostly nameless faces in the crowd.

 

via GIPHY

Benders deserve the praise and fascination, of course. Their abilities are interesting, and the challenges those characters face throughout the Avatar franchise make for amazing storylines.

Still, there’s something to be said about a non-bender, surviving and thriving in a bending world.

In The Legend Of Korra, in fact, Korra loses her bending powers for a while. Despite her peak physical condition, she then becomes unable to do much of anything. This demonstrates exactly how reliant benders are upon their powers.

It also makes it all the more impressive when non-benders can catch up—or even challenge—benders.

For more television recommendations, check out the types of bending in Avatar, the best anime for newcomers, or every Simpsons episode ever.