|“||Do you have any idea the power these criminals possess? Individually, they can take down any bender. Put them all together, they could take down the entire world.||„|
|~ Lord Zuko describing the criminals to a White Lotus sentry.|
The Red Lotus, also known as the Order of the Red Lotus, is a radical anarchistic secret society and a major antagonistic group in the Avatar: The Last Airbender franchise. Spectifically, the Red Lotus is the main antagonistic faction of the animated series The Legend of Korra.
In The Legend of Korra, they are the unseen overarching antagonistic faction of Book 2, the main antagonistic faction of Book 3, and the overarching antagonistic faction of Book 4.
An antagonistic faction founded by Xai Bau after the Hundred Year War, who broke off from the White Lotus after they came out of secrecy and openly served the Avatar as bodyguards and trainers. They believe that chaos is the natural order of things and that the only way to achieve true freedom is by the destruction of all tyrannical governments, and desire to undo the actions of Avatar Wan and have humans and spirits coexist once more.
When the news of Korra being discovered as the new Avatar had spread, her uncle Unalaq, a member of the Red Lotus at the time, devised a plan to use Korra to further the organization's goals. They planned to kidnap and brainwash her to open the spirit portals and release Vaatu, thus restoring the natural order of the world. He sent Zaheer and three others (Zaheer's lover, P'Li and his friends, Ghazan and Ming-Hua) out to abduct her, but they were stopped and imprisoned by Sokka, Zuko, Tenzin and Tonraq. Unalaq covered up his involvement with the abduction and helped to imprison them in four separate prisons that were built to specifically counteract their abilities.
Book 2: Spirits
Unalaq would later go on to follow his own ambitions to guide the world into a new spiritual age by merging with Vaatu and become the Dark Avatar during the Harmonic Convergence, which was never part of the Red Lotus's original plan. After defeating her uncle, Korra realized Unalaq may have been right about keeping the portals open and decides not to close them. Harmonic Convergence also results in many people around the world suddenly getting airbending.
Book 3: Change
After thirteen years in prison, Zaheer was beginning to lose hope of ever escaping, until he discovered that he was one of the new airbenders. Having studied the culture previously, Zaheer was able to become a powerful airbender within a few weeks and use his new skills to escape prison. Believing his newfound abilities were a gift and a sign that his path was a righteous one, Zaheer breaks the rest of the Red Lotus out of their prisons and attempts to kill the world leaders, including Korra, to usher in chaos (the natural order) and provide freedom to all from oppressive governments.
In their pursuit of Korra, at least a dozen people are killed by the Red Lotus (including the Queen of the Earth Kingdom), and the Northern Air Temple is completely destroyed. However, Korra is successfully captured and poisoned with mercury. The poison triggers the Avatar State, whereupon the Red Lotus attempts to kill her, thus ending the Avatar cycle forever. They fail in their mission, however, and everyone except for Zaheer dies in the ensuing battle.
Zaheer is once again incarcerated, no longer a feasible threat on his own. Korra is rescued and most of the poison is removed from her system by Suyin Beifong, however, due to a combination of the poisoning and her battle with Zaheer, Korra is left a wheelchair-bound invalid for six months. Even after the main members of the group are taken down, Zuko remarks that there are likely other Red Lotus members at large. The Republic City President, Raiko declared the Red Lotus a terrorist organization in the eyes of the United Republic of Nations.
Book 4: Balance
Three years later, Korra is still reeling from her nightmarish struggle with the Red Lotus, in addition to her post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, she is still weakened from the remaining poison in her body. The death of the Earth Queen at the hands of the Red Lotus resulted in a power vacuum that was filled by a ruthless and imperialistic dictator named Kuvira. Upon learning that he caused the very thing he fought against, Zaheer briefly helped Korra from prison to regain her strength and defeat Kuvira, thus restoring freedom to the Earth Kingdom.
- Xai Bau (founder, presumably deceased).
- Zaheer (incarcerated).
- P'Li (deceased).
- Ghazan (deceased).
- Ming-Hua (deceased).
- Aiwei (trapped in the Fog of Lost Souls).
- Unalaq (traitor, deceased).
- Red Lotus Sentries (possibly deceased).
- The Red Lotus was also indirectly responsible for the events of the Legend of Korra graphic novels: Turf Wars and Ruins of the Empire. In Turf Wars, a Republic City crime boss merges with a spirit and becomes a major threat, and in Ruins of the Empire, two of Kuvira's high ranking officers attempt to re-establish the Earth Empire. Neither of these would have taken place if it weren't for Unalaq forcing Korra to open the spirit portals and Zaheer killing the Earth Queen, thus allowing Kuvira to get to power.
- It is entirely possible that Vaatu was the basis for the Red Lotus. This theory has a fair amount of evidence to it, as the Red Lotus firmly believes that chaos (what Vaatu represents) is the natural order and strives to fufill this wish. Unalaq (a former Red Lotus member) was so obsessed with Vaatu that he actually attempted to fuse with the great spirit. The Red Lotus insignia also strongly resembles the pattern on Vaatu's body, and even has the same black and red color pallette.