Two of the most beloved Western animes ever are, by far, Avatar: The Last Airbender and Legend of Korra. They follow a world filled with element-bending humans, vaguely following the technological advancements of the past and several Asian/Native cultures. Fans quickly fell in love with the characters, the world, and their fantastical abilities. Between Aang's brave companions Katara and Sokka and Korra's own heritage, waterbenders have become a favorite among the series. After all, who doesn't love an underdog story? They began the first series oppressed by the Fire Nation, every waterbender taken or in hiding. In Korra, they are a thriving, urbanized civilization (that almost breaks the world, but let's not worry about that).
Throughout both series, the two Team Avatars have met countless colorful, fascinating, and powerful waterbenders. They all came from different backgrounds and ideas, but they all used the same element. Some were violent, others were peaceful, and some weren't even warriors.
Rumors of a possible third series have been circulating for years, but with all the rebooted franchises recently, maybe Avatar fans have a chance for their Earth Nation Avatar. Until then, why not take a look at our favorite waterbenders and see how they measure up? After all, not everyone can be as powerful as the almighty otter penguin (kidding).
Here is Every Waterbender, Ranked From Weakest To Most Powerful.
When Katara and Aang got to the Northern Water Tribe, they found a successful and impressive community of waterbenders. While the South had been preyed upon by the Fire Nation, the North found a way to protect themselves. During their stay, they took part in some sessions with a master waterbender, Pakku. One of his students, Sangok, was also there. In contrast to eager learners Aang and Katara, he was lazy and undisciplined. By far, one of the weakest displays of waterbending throughout the series.
19 Wacky Wushu
Not all benders use their power for combat. For example, Wacky Wushu (with his trained otter penguins) used water to entertain nobles. During Unalaq's Southern Tribe festival, he wowed guests with his and his animal's capabilities. Though most all of his strengths are used to dazzle, he has to know his routines perfectly to give such impressive performances. While Wushu may never be fit for battle, he found a new way to make his waterbending all the more special. Not just anyone can make it look so whimsical.
When Korra came to Republic City, she was quickly enamored with the pro-bending scene, a place for benders to battle it out in a sports arena. Coincidentally, the brothers she met, Bolin and Mako, were pro-benders on a team with their friend, Hasook. He took over their waterbender position.
Though Korra eventually took over as waterbender, before his injury Hasook was a competent bender. He may not have been the Avatar, but he understood the craft, could work well on a team, and was a member of a pro-bending group. His powers had to be moderately impressive to achieve that.
While Republic City has its charms, it also has gangs. One gang member is Shin, a shifty waterbender that recruited young people for questionable work. He often asked Bolin and Mako to do odd jobs for him. Though it sometimes helped the boys in times of need, it was a reckless thing to do.
Shin may not look like much, but before he lost his bending, he was intimidating in his own way. He understood his own powers and how to use them against others.
Kuvira's domination of the Earth Kingdom put a lot of unsuspecting people in danger. Her tirade of ethnic cleansing found residents of other nationalities imprisoned and fighting for their lives. Two such citizens were Baraz and Ahnah, a Fire Nation and Water Nation pair that helped protect each other from Kuvira's people.
Under such harsh circumstances, Ahnah learned how to hold her own in combat. Unlike most waterbenders, though, she learned how to use her powers with a firebender to keep herself safe. Versatile, clever, and determined to make a stand, Ahnah never was a bender to be messed with.
Mother of Avatar Korra, Senna holds a lot of understated power. After all, she had to have the immense patience to deal with her erratic, outspoken, and overpowered daughter. Though not the strongest waterbender, her even temper and intelligence make her a powerful ally in battle. Sometimes patience and brains are more important than brute strength.
Furthermore, though, she spent years with Korra and Katara, watching waterbending techniques alongside her daughter. In second-hand knowledge alone, Senna has learned much more than most waterbenders ever will.
The water aspect of the Triple Threat Triad, Viper is a dangerous bender to cross. However, not nearly as dangerous as he'd like people to think. Though he is powerful, he and his buddies were tossed across the streets of Republic City the first time they ran into Korra. She completely destroyed them in battle.
Viper may have connections and street bending experience, but that hardly makes him an expert. No one should underestimate him, but there's nothing to overestimate either. He's just a well-worn thug.
Arguably the most powerful pro-bender in Republic City's sports scene, Tahno is impressive and completely full of himself. His team, the White Falls Wolfbats, are the four-time defending champions. As their captain, he has a lot to do with their success. Though he clearly understands his abilities and how to use them against others, that doesn't discount his immense arrogance. The whole "avid cheater" thing doesn't help, either. After he loses and regains his bending, though, he becomes a far more humble man.
Oh, and he can play trombone, which is generally just a cool thing to be able to do.
12 Desna And Eska
As the mildly creepy cousins of Korra, Desna and Eska are waterbending twins in tune with one another's abilities. Each one of them is strong, but together they are something else. Their coordination and teamwork make their propensity for throwing icebergs even more dangerous. Two of the most aggressive waterbenders in the series, they show a different side of the water tribes. Even without bending, though, the pair are highly athletic and acrobatic. Anyone who can't get close to them will have a hard time ever defeating their barrages of attacks.
The son of a dangerous criminal, Tarrlok kept his heritage a well-kept secret for years. It wasn't until he revealed his bloodbending abilities that his connections to Yakone were revealed. Hardly as powerful as his brother or father, Tarrlok still proved to be a dangerous threat to Team Avatar. After all, he had his political career and connections to help him. Those can make any foe far more intimidating.
However, ultimately, Tarrlok never wanted the equalized world that Amon called for. Even though he could have saved himself by allying with his brother, he ended it by sacrificing them both.
When Republic City was in its early days, the town was terrorized by Yakone, a criminal who used his bloodbending powers to control people around him. Avatar Aang was forced to take away his abilities, but after that, the criminal snuck away. Yakone lived the rest of his life in a remote water tribe, raising two boys into monsters. The eldest, Noatak (Amon), took to his teaching and became an excellent bloodbender, and Tarrlok was eventually forced to learn.
Between his own evil deeds and the manipulative powers he passed on to his children made Yakone a powerful, yet cruel, man.
As the first bloodbender Avatar fans meet, Hama is just as sadistic, vengeful, and dangerous as anyone might expect. Waterbending is known for its healing, flowing nature, but this subset turns it into something far more evil. Using the blood in a person's veins, an adept waterbender well-trained in honing in on the water in blood can control a person's movements.
Hama used this power to escape from Fire Nation prisons and, later, to make the local villagers suffer for the pain she endured. Growing more bitter and bloodthirsty each day, it's no wonder Katara had to stop her.
Between leading a Southern Water Tribe and passing on his waterbending abilities to Korra, Tonraq is no slouch when it comes to his ancestral powers. Early in the series, his strength is understated. However, once Korra is forced to face off her uncle, Unalaq, it's clear he's a force to be reckoned with. Though Tonraq doesn't have any unique specialties like blood or spiritbending, he is firm and powerful. As an extremely well-rounded combatant with a steady mind, Tonraq deserves credit and more for leading and protecting his people.
7 Tui And La
While most powerful waterbenders are human, two exceptions are the powerful spirit fish, Tui and La. They protect the Northern Water Tribes, even saving the sick young Princess Yue. These fish are the root of waterbending, giving all the tribes-people their abilities. If these spirits were to disappear, the waterbenders wouldn't exist anymore.
Their greatest weakness is the vulnerability their fish form. Considering they hold the power of all waterbenders in their hands, though, they're pretty impressive.
The foremost master and teacher of waterbending in the Northern Water Tribe, Pakku was a staunch traditionalist. This didn't stop him from being the most powerful waterbender in the world, though. Waterbenders all across the North Pole (and even South) journeyed to learn from him. Eventually, once his rigid views wore down, he taught Katara and Aang, training the new Avatar in waterbending.
Eventually, Pakku traveled to the South Pole to help rebuild their waterbending population and reunite with his true love, Kanna. His efforts helped waterbenders survive and then move forward after the terror of the Fire Nation Occupation.
At first, Korra's estranged uncle just seemed like a strict, powerful Water Tribe leader. However, once his spiritbending is revealed, he becomes something much more. After all, not only is it an impressive ability, but it leads to his downfall.
Over time, Unalaq slowly loses himself over to his internal darkness. His discovery of spiritbending made him obsessed with the spirit world, corrupting the already morally questionable person he once was. Though it's his undoing, Unalaq's spiritbending made him one of the most powerful waterbenders ever. It's not every day a person discovers a completely new bending subset.
The ultimate bloodbender, Amon superseded his powerful father to become something even more powerful. Not only could he bloodbend with ease, but he perfected a technique to block someone's bending abilities. Over time. and after years of cruelty from his father, Amon believed that bending made people greedy and unfair. To change the world's game, he would equalize everyone. Taking revenge on the Avatar for his father's treatment didn't hurt, either.
While charismatic and influential with his powers, that didn't save this waterbender from an untimely, explosive end.
The beloved young Avatar who mastered all four elements in a year, Aang will always be considered a great among greats. Not only did he stop Fire Lord Ozai, but he also made peace between the four nations and founded Republic City. One of the most impressive Avatars ever, Aang's best element never was water. He preferred his natural born air and earth once he understood them all. He used it when necessary and was strong with it, but if he was restricted to just water?
Aang would still defeat most anyone. But it does demote him from being the strongest.
Water-born and willful, Avatar Korra knew from a young age she was the Avatar. While her passionate soul was drawn to fire, water always was a part of her soul. The element came naturally to her and was the first she mastered. Though she doesn't use it as much on offense, she always relies on it to support her other powers. If she could only use water, she still would be a dangerous foe to go up against.
Moreover, Katara was her teacher. Of course she's good.
Brave and intelligent, Katara was born to be a waterbender. When she discovered her powers, she knew the danger that came with it, but was ready to face those challenges. While with Aang, she learned more about her abilities and picked up subsets of waterbending around the world (swampbending, bloodbending, Northern healing, etc.) Well-rounded and indomitable, Aang learned faster than her, but she became the true waterbending master. With her advanced knowledge and deep connection to water, no waterbender could compare.
Who knew what that innocent Water Tribe waterbender would one day become?