Ranking Every Episode of The Legend of Korra
The Top 25 Chapters
Like every other series, there is a point where the credits must roll one last time. In 2014, the tales of the waterbending Avatar to succeed Aang closed out on four great seasons with one action-packed finale. After ranking every individual book of The Legend of Korra, it is finally time to see how all the episodes stacked up when placed against one another. Until we are able to send word that the Avatar has returned again for another series from Nickelodeon’s latest Avatar Studios, this is currently our final episode ranking for the world of the four nations. Without further ado, it’s time we “do the thing” and rank the top twenty-five chapters of The Legend of Korra…
25. Night of a Thousand Stars
Of all the minor characters, who would have thought Bolin would have had one of the most important roles of Book 2: Spirits? As Mako is stuck in prison, Bolin makes his way to the grand premiere of Varrick’s revolutionary The Adventures of Nuktuk propaganda mover film to flaunt himself. Of course, this results in Bolin’s revelation of the entrepreneur’s plot to pull President Raiko into the Civil War against Unalaq’s unlawful regime leaving the Earthbending Fire Ferret to save the day. “Night of a Thousand Stars” is a nice tribute to the birth of a Hollywood-like atmosphere within the Avatar universe that stays focused on wrapping up some important story beats before diving headfirst into the closing chapters of the season’s narrative. Perhaps it is not the most exciting episode due to the obvious twist Mako previously discovered, nonetheless, Bolin’s entire arc still manages to be one of the best aspects of season two. Hero of the South!
24. Harmonic Convergence
In a race to save Jinora’s spirit and the world from impending chaos, Team Avatar and crew plan and initiate a sudden raid on the same Spirit Portal Korra first opened in hopes of gaining the upper hand on the Northern Water Tribes defense forces before Unalaq can unleash Vaatu’s power. “Harmonic Convergence” sets the stage for the ultimate confrontation between Korra and the Dark Avatar with pure class and anticipation. On top of the thrilling combination of Unalaq and Vaatu, Bumi’s rescue attempt is hysterical chaotic nonsense that you can not help but love. His improvised accidental battle plan was the needed moment that gave a ridiculous loudmouth actual credibility — seeing that Naga and Pabu were finally tossed out from the sidelines for a finishing blow was a nice bonus for the chapter too.
23. Day of the Colossus
After just nearly escaping with their lives from the spirit beam, Team Avatar and their allies faced down the franchise’s largest threat outside of executive board members; Kuvira’s massive mecha suit. “Day of the Colossus” is an entertaining episode focused on providing one action-packed experience before the series has the opportunity to wrap up all loose ends with an emotional finale. It is not The Legend of Korra’s deepest episode when it comes to providing a sense of depth within its complex ideologies and villains, yet it is able to provide a rather entertaining penultimate chapter that gives everyone a small spotlight including a season one fan-favorite who received a final chance at redemption. Whether you are here for Korra’s final confrontation, the Fire Ferret duo, some airbending action, or Varrick and Zhu Li shenanigans, this chapter had it all nicely wrapped into one constantly exciting episode.
22. And The Winner Is…
After chapter five of Book 1: Air took its sweet time setting the stage for the Probending Arena’s final match, “And The Winner Is…” comes in and well utilizes every concrete plot point and setpiece developed up until that point. The Fire Ferrets seamlessly pointless subplot that helped build upon character relationships is finally tied excellently into the overarching narrative. Amon’s plans to commit a terrorist attack against Republic City’s arena if their popular bending game continues is a phenomenal premise that gives our major and minor characters all the reason to stand up against their oppressors. The episode is filled with tremendous action scenes, marvelous visuals, and great character setups as it pushes both the Avatar and Equalists Leader’s agendas forward. The episode’s opening quarter does come off as a bit sluggish as it aims high and takes time discussing politics, but after that, it continually succeeds in completing its promises.
21. Darkness Falls
“Darkness Falls” is a fantastic penultimate finale that is arguably far superior to its conclusion. From the constant high-stakes story to its incredibly well-directed action scenes, this chapter is by far one of the strongest pre-finale episodes of The Legend of Korra. The last physical fight between both Korra and Unalaq was completely worth the wait. He may have certainly been one the least engaging villains in the Avatar universe, but Unalaq had one heck of a final battle with dire consequences. The destruction of Korra’s connection to her past lives is nothing short of chilling as seeing everyone’s favorite Avatars vanish in a few seconds was heartbreaking. “Darkness Falls” provided an overarching challenge for our hero in the future that no other Avatar had previously faced. The unexpected appearance of Admiral Zhao was also a neat touch that was able to give audiences answers as to what his fate had in store after vanishing in Book 1 of Avatar: The Last Airbender.
20. Beyond the Wilds
“Beyond the Wilds” is Book 4: Balance’s chapter that is dedicated to the idea of reconcile. When Jinora and a group of tourists are trapped in the Spirit World thanks to the growing Republic City vine phenomenon, Korra makes a desperate last-minute decision in hopes of saving an unfateful group of souls by conquering her biggest nightmare. This lead to the moment audiences desperately waited for ever since Book 4 began: Korra’s reencounter with Zaheer. What happened to the only surviving villain after the three-year time jump? The terrorist leader himself was bound in chains in order to be utilized in one brilliant way. On top of the addition of Bolin attempting to rekindle his relationship with Opal, this gently placed episode of hope stays true to its theme right until the credits roll. “Beyond the Wilds” aims high as it luminously reconnects the Avatar and the spirit of light for one seemingly simple side-quest.
19. The Battle of Zaofu
“The Battle of Zaofu” takes the fight up close and personal as the Avatar goes up against her first real physical opponent since Zaheer all while Varrick and Bolin make a daring escape from the clutches of Bataar Jr. and Kuvira’s Earth Empire forces. Korra’s unwillingness to initially fight and her slow realization that she is still in full recovery mode allowed the character to go up against what some may consider her greatest obstacle yet. Kuvira shows herself as an idealist looking to be a powerhouse rather than a kindhearted human, something that Korra can relate to as the Avatar has struggled to be both a symbol and person. While the confrontation between the protagonist and antagonist is mesmerizing, Varrick and Bolin’s escape through a train car bomb is hilariously entertaining as it provides an even break from the emotional action-packed fall of Zaofu. The Battle of Zaofu itself is no war, but it is an incredible fight for the future with a promising ending for what was to come in the collapsing Earth Kingdom.
18. The Metal Clan
Toph Beifong. Is there really anything else to say about her? The concept of bending metal was already fascinating, but utilizing the art to create a city where the majority of her future family resides is genius. “The Metal Clan” stays focused on adding more history to everyone’s favorite Beifong family by introducing a rivalry between both Lin and her sweeter sister Suyin who destroyed their childhood in the past by sabotaging the relationship they had with their mother by breaking the law — or more so for Lin that is as Suyin reconnected with Toph before she could explore the world. “The Metal Clan” is undoubtedly one of the best chapters of Book 3: Change that really stays true to the season’s name. This could not be reinforced any further by the return of the psychotic visionary Varrick (and Zhu Lee!) who is the icing on the cake for a sharp chapter that was already killing it with great new and old character introductions.
17. The Terror Within
“The Terror Within” is oddly one of the more action-focused episodes of Book 3: Change that tremendously pushes the overarching narrative forward for not just Team Avatar but the Red Lotus criminals viewers were starting to expect to see more so than the other previous villains. Even though every character in Zaofu claimed it was the safest location in the world, audiences waited for Zaheer to strike in another cunningly spectacular way — and of course, he did with by far one of the series best fight sequences that combined every element without the need of Korra. The main centerpiece city helps this particular chapter utilize its world and surroundings better than many others in the series have as audiences get to witness modern metalbending. Aiwei’s scheme to help the gang of terrorists brought many questions to the table, but it is a shame we did not get to see more of him before his role was pulled into the spotlight.
16. The Stakeout
As the episode’s title implies, “The Stakeout” is a giant waiting game that brilliantly utilizes the spiritual portion of the Avatar universe while also allowing viewers to reconnect with an iconic location, The Misty Palms Oasis Aang and the gang previously traveled to before entering Wan Shi Tong’s spirit library. It oddly adds more depth to the famous game of Pai Show in a humorous way, but more importantly, it aims to add more to Zaheer’s untold ideology. It smartly takes its time to allow our protagonist and antagonist to properly communicate with one another without having to use the logic of violence in a physical situation. Using the spirit world as an excuse to pull viewers away from the physical realm not only allows us to focus on an important subject without distraction, but it allows the show to reinstate itself in a new point afterward when Korra returns to the physical realm.
15. The Calling
While the airbender children are out looking for a long lost Korra, the Avatar herself receives by far one of her most valuable lessons from the original Blind Bandit explorer, Toph Beifong. “The Calling” dives deep into Korra’s fears as the Avatar has to face her destiny and get back on her feet to resolve an incoming conflict. Between Toph and the airbending kids, the comedy in this chapter is just as strong as its usage of rooted beliefs and dark emotion. The removal of the mercury scene is by far one of Book 4: Balance’s — and The Legend of Korra’s strongest moments. Its cinematography combined with its iconic score is undeniably a beautiful moment that puts Korra back on the right path. Ultimately, “The Calling” is more than a new embarkment for adventure by the time its runtime concludes. It is a call of redemption for our hero who has been lost and alone for over three years as she has slowly learned to conquer her human side through the help of those around her.
“Endgame” is a finale that properly ties off almost all loose ends while continuing to build upon the relationships of the main cast. Korra’s first use of airbending and finally connecting with her spiritual self are obviously the major steps she takes during the finale. That’s not to say that the events leading up to Amon’s downfall did not contain other key moments for the rest of the cast though. Tarrlok’s suicide to permanently end Amon was a daring move to make by the writers, yet the way in which the animators pulled it off was even more impressive. Following that scene up with Korra looking over the cliffside contemplating restarting the Avatar cycle just goes to show how this series was always likely considered with an adult audience in mind. Endgame is not the perfect finale — or even the best The Legend of Korra’s finale — but it was a damn fine conclusion to what once was the new Avatar’s first outing. Its major issue is the fact that it feels as if the series is over when it clearly was nowhere near the finish line.
13. Operation Beifong
A Beifong family reunion fueled by an undercover operation into enemy territory? If there is one bloodline every viewer of the series can agree on that was done justice, it has to be the divided metalbending family of the Beifongs. “Operation Beifong” is not only an episode that is vastly entertaining thanks to its diverse cast, but fascinating from its villain’s dictator-like perspective that is slowly spiraling into insanity. It is simply one of those chapters that is as amusing as it sounds on paper. “Operation Beifong” does not pull any punches as it focuses entirely on the family members’ rescue plan during Kuvira’s first weapon test. Through both sides of the fight, viewers are granted with a ton of valuable information that details the heroics and failures of the Earth Kingdom’s most powerful citizens. The family dynamic between the Beifongs was surely a highlight of Book 3: Change and Book 4: Balance and this chapter gave the metalbenders one last hurrah before the series came to its conclusion.
12. The Last Stand
In the same style as almost all the other Avatar franchise finales, “The Last Stand” is a brilliant sendoff to a heartfelt series as audiences finally got to witness the epic conclusion between the great uniter and the Avatar. Whether you are focusing on the incredible set pieces of the giant interior or that eye candy blast caused by the spirit beam, “The Last Stand” combined so much of what The Legend of Korra worked hard for. It was the perfect time for Korra to recognize the fact that being the Avatar meant that she would equally have to reconcile with being an ordinary human capable of making and fixing mistakes. Its final moment of Korra and Asami heading into the Spirit World as more than friends changed children’s television forever. The Last Stand was not just an impactful bookend for The Legend of Korra, it opened a larger door to an embraceful age of episodic fantasy creators fueled by a passion to share their personal feelings.
11. When Extremes Meet
It would be a crime to not acknowledge the fact that “When Extremes Meet” has aged far better than just about most other television show episodes that aim to tackle such controversial subjects of divide. Of all the chapters in The Legend of Korra, this particular one has managed to exponentially remain relevant to the times, not just because of its fantastic premise and surprising twists, but due to its political themes and subcontext that should not be disregarded. Tarrlok’s attempts to jail non-benders and taking advantage of law enforcement is something that is more prominent in the world now more than ever before. The bloodbending reveal is obviously the highlight of the episode that shocked every Avatar fan, but it is hard to ignore the fact that the political struggle of this episode has never fallen anywhere close to irrelevant since the episode aired.
10. Out of the Past
“Out of the Past” is an episode packed to the brim with warnings, regrets, and punishments. After Korra is sealed away in a platinum encased box, Tarrlok unsuccessfully attempts to recreate an Equalist attack so Tenzin and the police would never suspect his true intentions. After Tarrlok’s secretary publicly oust his secret bloodbending abilities to the rest of Republic City’s board members, the councilman makes a daring escape that gives Korra just enough time to concentrate and reflect on Aang’s memories that her Avatar spirit has repeatedly shown her. On top of an incredibly well-articulated setup, “Out of the Past” quite possibly features some of season one’s most engaging action sequences that are more so focused on emotion rather than being an actual battle. Not only did we get to see Tarrlok face off against Amon, but we also got to see Aang airbending in his former glory against Republic City mobster Yakone. The addition of Jeremy Zuckerman’s incredible rendition of the Avatar State and Aang’s theme during Korra’s visions of the past is the cherry on top of this amazing chapter.
9. The Ultimatum
An airbender versus an airbender at an air temple? There is a lot to love about “The Ultimatum” when looking at its position in Book 3: Change’s narrative, but the action sequences absolutely steal the show. Ba Sing Se’s descent into madness is definitely worth a mention, but the continuous battle for an ideology gone too far is what is worth talking about here. Due to the circumstances previously surrounding airbenders, the audience never got to see what it would be like if two went up against each other. The children of Aang rivaling the Red Lotus for the future of the air nation never fails to disappoint viewers. In regular Avatar fashion, not only is this episode able to provide content we have never seen before, but the conclusion to its story is also able to surprise audiences with a cliffhanger. It was impossible not to be worried for Tenzin after witnessing the killing spree The Legend of Korra was already on.
8. Long Live The Queen
As democracy flourishes, the empire comes crashing down. “Long Live The Queen” featured one of those moments you totally did not expect to see in Avatar, let alone any show that aired on Nickelodeon. As if Book 3: Change had not already proved itself to be Korra’s finest, this particular chapter was triumphant to witness on Nickelodeon. While Korra certainly has interesting moments as she and Asami have to escape the desert with the help of an Earth Kingdom military unit, it is undeniable that the Red Lotus completely one up Korra for the spotlight in every possible way this time around. The obvious moment to talk about from this episode is when Zaheer takes every breath of air out of the Queen herself ultimately killing her by lack of oxygen. Everything this character and his mercenaries do is just fascinating. The Red Lotus continue to justify themselves as they present the viewer with debatable solutions to the presence of the world’s most powerful figures.
7. Beginnings, Part 1
There is no other Avatar: The Last Airbender or The Legend of Korra episode that is comparable to the “Beginnings” story arc. From its unique art style inspired by 16th-century Japanese and Chinese artwork that is noticeably different from the rest of the series to its exclusive cast of characters who would never return, Beginnings is a one-time deal. The opening half of this origin story introduces us to the thieving Robin Hood teenager Wan (voiced by Steven Yeun) who would later meet with the light spirit Ravaa and become the first-ever Avatar. While many fans have debated whether or not Korra rewrote the origins of bending and the Avatar cycle, it is undeniable that Beginnings is an extremely well-written and coherent story that encompasses the best of Book 2: Spirits as it introduces both Ravaa and the spirit of darkness Vaatu.
6. A New Spiritual Age
“A New Spiritual Age” is one massive callback to the past that helps push the narrative of The Legend of Korra forward in several ways by utilizing fan-favorite characters from Avatar: The Last Airbender. It oddly manages to see an actual continuation of stories from the predecessor series while remaining focused on the current cast of characters. Wan Shi Tong and Uncle Iroh — a spirit and a human of undefinable wisdom — both make welcoming appearances here that are not wasted by any means. Each character receives closure for their stories as we discover what happened to the three of them after the events of The Last Airbender. While Wan Shi Tong does receive great moments with Jinora, Iroh undoubtedly steals the spotlight by granting the same life-changing wisdom he bestowed upon Aang onto Korra. “A New Spiritual Age” is a heartwarming episode that makes you emotionally and nostalgically feel right at home.
5. Beginnings, Part 2
Returning to the adventures of the first Avatar, the Aladdin-like good-hearted thief Wan, the second half of “Beginnings” is an action-packed journey that excellently sets up the world of the four nations. It may not be Korra’s finest episode by any means as it slightly rewrites Avatar lore for debatable reasons, but on its own, it still concludes a fantastic story arc that added another memorable Avatar to the cycle’s line. Wan’s journey to separate the living and spirit realms was a captivating tale reminiscent of an ancient legend being told within the story’s universe. For the icing on the cake, audiences receive an epic battle between Wan and Vaatu that is gorgeously animated in its unique episode art style. To put the cherry on top of that though, Jeremy Zuckerman’s incredible orchestration of the Avatar State theme helps conclude an absolutely breathtaking point in The Legend of Korra’s run.
4. Skeletons In The Closet
“Skeletons in the Closet” is without a doubt the best episode of The Legend of Korra Book 1: Air. Chapter eleven is simply brilliant from its opening air raid to its closing moments of Tarrlok behind bars. It has an incredible pacing, a heartwrenching tale of the past, and a phenomenal buildup for both Amon and Tarrlok. It all culminates into an episode that should arguably be the climax of the season rather than something placed toward the end. Only one well-crafted origin story was needed to seal Amon and Tarrlok’s high pedestal placements in the Avatar universe forever and the writers downright nailed it here. Not only is it an engaging episode to watch, but it adds a higher level of depth to our heroes and villains that were well needed up until that point. The childhood of both Amon and Tarrlok nicely tied into Korra’s visions of the past, while presenting reasonable explanations as to how the two visionary leaders came to their ideologies. Perhaps there is still so much more to Amon that we will never understand, yet what we were given was enough to leave audiences completely satisfied and ready for more.
3. Enter The Void
“Enter The Void” draws conclusions and plants seeds for the future of The Legend of Korra all while entertainingly blasting its way to the third book’s finale with a high stakes chapter. Not only does it do an outstanding job when it comes to transitioning into a season finale, but it takes its time to give some of our underdogs more notable standalone and cooperative moments. After eleven episodes of constant back and forth cat and mouse chases between Team Avatar and the Red Lotus, the audience finally gets to understand Zaheer’s ancient airbending belief of flight as he makes intricate moves to capture Korra. It is an episode with downright shocking moments and extremely meaningful character moments that would inevitably establish the foundation for Book 4: Balance. One could say P’Li’s death was absolutely mind-blowing like the rest of the episode and a perfect connection to unlocking Zaheer’s final steps toward his goal that brought his entire character arc full circle.
2. Venom of the Red Lotus
“Venom of the Red Lotus” is not only hands-down the best episode of Book 3: Change, but it might just be the rival to The Legend of Korra‘s most pristine chapter. Every moment the show has escalated upon paid off during this chapter. Whether you are looking over the engaging action sequences, its complicated ideologies powering its cast of suicidal villains, or even Zuckerman’s majestic musical score, every aspect of Book 3’s final chapter is emotionally thrilling from beginning to end. The final minute of the episode is undoubtedly one of the most emotional moments in the entire Avatar franchise as Jinora rightfully receives her airbender tattoos and Korra witnesses the next major step taken for the very culture she saved from potential extinction. Is our hero successful? Perhaps, but it came with a dangerous physical and mental cost that would excellently set up the opening chapters of Book 4: Balance’s narrative. “Venom of the Red Lotus” prepared Korra for her final steps in learning how to be a human rather than the all-powerful Avatar.
1. Korra Alone
Believed to be alone in the world carrying the burdens of others out of our control. Sound familiar? Like Avatar The Last Airbender’s superlative episode titled “Zuko Alone”, “Korra Alone” is the best episode of the entire series. The protagonist’s struggle to reconnect with the world after experiencing unimaginable physical trauma through metal poison is- as I previously phrased it with the banished prince- heartbreaking, but bewitching by the end of it all. The Legend of Korra may have struggled in several regards when it came to building a familiar cast like its incredibly successful predecessor, but the audience can surely all relate to the Avatar. We have all experienced depression and horror, but the challenge is accepting ourselves and becoming who we have to be. From her opening struggle to take out a fast-footed earthbender to discovering an old Toph Beifong, “Korra Alone” astonishingly shows what The Legend of Korra could have potentially been every chapter had its two creators broke free from the bonds Nickelodeon locked them to. There is no other episode or character in Book 4: Balance or the entire series that plows through a struggle like Korra’s beautifully distressing aftermath.