The Legend of Korra is an American animated television series that aired on the Nickelodeon television network from 2012 to 2014. It was created by Bryan Konietzko and Michael Dante DiMartino as a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender, which aired from 2005 to 2008. Animated in a style strongly influenced by anime, the series is set in a fictional universe in which some people can manipulate, or "bend", the elements of water, earth, fire, or air. Only one person, the "Avatar", can bend all four elements, and is responsible for maintaining balance in the world. The series follows Avatar Korra, the reincarnation of Aang from the previous series, as she faces political and spiritual unrest in a modernizing world.
The Legend of Korra was initially conceived as a twelve-episode miniseries. Nickelodeon declined the creators' pitch for an Avatar: The Last Airbender follow-up animated movie based on what then became the three-part comics The Promise, The Search and The Rift, choosing instead to expand Korra to 26 episodes. The series was expanded further in July 2012 to 52 episodes. These episodes are grouped into four separate seasons ("Books") composed of twelve to fourteen episodes ("Chapters") each, with each season telling a stand-alone story. Beginning with episode 9 of season 3, new episodes were first distributed through the Internet rather than broadcast. The Legend of Korra concluded with the fourth season.
The Legend of Korra is set in the fictional world of Avatar: The Last Airbender, 70 years after the events of that series. The world is separated into four nations: the northern and southern Water Tribes, the Earth Kingdom, the Fire Nation, and the Air Nomads. The distinguishing element of the series is "bending", the ability of some people to telekinetically manipulate the classical element associated with their nation (water, earth, fire, or air). Bending is carried out by spiritual and physical exercises, portrayed as similar to Chinese martial arts.
Only one person, the "Avatar", can bend all four elements. Cyclically reincarnating among the world's four nations, the Avatar maintains peace and balance in the world. The Legend of Korra focuses on Avatar Korra, a seventeen-year-old girl from the Southern Water Tribe and the successor of Avatar Aang from The Last Airbender.
The first season is mostly set in Republic City, the capital of the United Republic of Nations, a multicultural sovereign state that emerged from civil conflict in the Fire Nation colonies in the Earth Kingdom after the end of The Last Airbender founded by both Avatar Aang and then recent new Fire Lord Zuko. The residents of the metropolis, described as "if Manhattan had happened in Asia" by the series' creators, are united by their passion for "pro-bending", a spectator sport in which two teams composed of an earthbender, waterbender, and firebender throw each other out of a ring using bending techniques. The second season is mostly set in the southern polar region, while the third and fourth seasons take place mostly in the Earth Kingdom and, to a lesser degree, in Republic City.
The first season, Book One: Air, sees Korra move to Republic City to learn airbending from Tenzin, Avatar Aang's son. She enters the pro-bending league, and befriends the brothers Bolin and Mako, as well as Asami Sato, heiress to Future Industries, a leading engineering corporation. The ambitious politician Tarrlok enlists Korra to fight the anti-bender uprising of the "Equalists", led by the masked Amon, who strips benders of their abilities. Korra and her friends, aided by police chief Lin Beifong and United Forces General Iroh, unmask Amon as a bloodbender and Tarrlok's brother, ending the Equalists' coup. A spiritual meeting with her predecessor Aang allows Korra to realize her powers and to restore the bending abilities of Amon's victims.
The second season, Book Two: Spirits, begins six months later, with dark spirits terrorizing the seas. Korra turns to her spirit-attuned uncle Unalaq, chief of the Northern Water Tribe, for tutelage, and opens the polar portals to the Spirit World at his direction. Unalaq then seizes power in the Southern Water Tribe by force, starting a civil war in which he is opposed by his brother, Korra's father, Tonraq. Seeking allies against Unalaq, Korra experiences the life of the first Avatar, Wan, who fused his soul with the spirit Raava to imprison her opponent Vaatu. Aided by his twin children Eska and Desna, Unalaq frees Vaatu during the Harmonic Convergence, a decamillennial alignment of planets, and unites with him to become a dark Avatar. As Korra fights this figure, her link to the previous Avatars is broken; but with the help of Tenzin's daughter Jinora, she defeats Vaatu and Unalaq, and leaves the spirit portals open, allowing a new coexistence of spirits and humans.
The third season, Book Three: Change, begins two weeks later with people all over the world discovering airbending powers as a result of the Harmonic Convergence. As Tenzin, Korra, and her friends recruit them to re-establish the extinct Air Nomads, the newly airbending criminal Zaheer escapes his prison, frees his allies Ghazan, Ming-Hua, and P'Li, and attempts to kidnap the Avatar. This fails thanks to the help of Suyin Beifong, Lin's previously estranged sister. Zaheer and his team – members of the Red Lotus, an anarchic secret society – kill the Earth Queen, throwing her kingdom into chaos, and try to force Korra's surrender by taking the Air Nomads hostage, including Suyin's daughter Opal. In the final confrontation, Zaheer's comrades are killed and he is captured by the Air Nomads led by Jinora. Two weeks later, a weakened, wheelchair-bound Korra watches as Jinora is anointed an airbending master, and Tenzin rededicates the Air Nomads to service to the world.
The final season, Book Four: Balance, is set three years later. Korra slowly recovers from the injuries incurred in the fight with Zaheer, traveling the world alone and haunted by fear. Meanwhile, Suyin's former head of security, Kuvira, reunites the fractured Earth Kingdom with the metalbenders loyal to her, and refuses to release power to the unpopular heir to the throne, Prince Wu. At the head of her new, totalitarian "Earth Empire", Kuvira seizes Suyin's city of Zaofu and sets her sights on the United Republic, which she claims for her nation. With Toph Beifong's help, Korra frees herself of the remnants of Zaheer's poison, but after losing a duel to Kuvira at Zaofu, she allows Zaheer to help her overcome her fears and fully reconnect with her Avatar Spirit, Raava. When Kuvira attacks Republic City with a giant mecha carrying a spirit-powered superweapon, it takes all the efforts of Korra and her friends, including the inventor Varrick and his assistant Zhu Li, to stop the colossus. Only after Kuvira's weapon blows open a third portal to the Spirit World, destroying much of the city, does she concede defeat. The series ends with the prospect of democracy for the former Earth Kingdom, and with Korra and Asami leaving together for a vacation in the Spirit World.