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Zaheer: True freedom can only be achieved when oppressive governments are torn down.
Korra: But that won't bring balance. It would throw the world into chaos!
Zaheer: Exactly. The natural order is disorder.
~ Zaheer explaining to Korra his anarchistic ideas about "true freedom".
When you base your expectations only on what you see, you blind yourself to the possibilities of a new reality.
~ Zaheer
It's the dawning of a new age. The end of the White Lotus and soon, the end of the Avatar.
~ Zaheer

Zaheer is the main antagonist in Book 3 and one-shot anti-hero in Book 4 episode "Beyond the Wilds" of The Legend of Korra. Zaheer is also the third archenemy of Avatar Korra and her most dangerous enemy. He is one of the most dangerous criminals along with P'Li, Ming-Hua, and Ghazan, as well as a member, turned new leader, of the Red Lotus. He acquired the ability to airbend some time after Harmonic Convergence and used his newfound skills in order to escape imprisonment.

He is a rebellious anarchist who believes strongly in the foundation of a new world order, without the White Lotus, the Avatar, or any government and its nations. Many of his beliefs are influenced by those of an ancient airbender named Guru Laghima, and like Laghima, he is the only other known airbender to have mastered the ability to fly without the assistance of bending, an ability that haven't existed for thousands of years.

He was voiced by Henry Rollins.

History

Early Years

Years before the start of the series, Zaheer was a member of the Order of the Red Lotus, along with Ghazan, Ming-Hua, and P'Li. He met P'Li when he saved her from becoming an assassin for a warlord. They were assigned by Unalaq to capture Avatar Korra when she was a little girl. Zaheer and his gang attempted to kidnap her, but were defeated by Tonraq, Sokka Fire Lord Zuko, and Tenzin. The four criminals were separated and placed in four separate prisons designed specifically to limit their bending abilities (despite the fact that Zaheer was not a bender at this time). While imprisoned, each of the criminals was individually interrogated as to why they attempted to kidnap Korra, but never got answers. During this time, Zaheer took a fascination towards the greatest Airbender in history; Laghima.

Post-Harmonic Convergence

Zaheer

Zaheer, after breaking out of his prison cell, declares the end of the Avatar and the Order of the White Lotus.

Shortly after Harmonic Convergence, Zaheer discovered that he could airbend. With his new powers, Zaheer managed to escape from his prison cell as well as lock up four members of the Order of the White Lotus. He then decided to break his friends out of their prison cells. He somehow knew that each of them was imprisoned at different locations as they were also placed in different cells to prevent them from escaping.
Zaheer and Ghazan reunite

Zaheer and Ghazan reunite and proceed to free their comrades from incarceration.

The first one he broke out of prison was Ghazan, a powerful Earthbender. Zaheer disguised himself as a member of the Order of the White Lotus and traveled to a sea vessel, where Ghazan was being held. While he was fending off some guards Zaheer tossed Ghazan some rocks, which allowed Ghazan to Lavabend and escape his captivity. After the two managed to escape the sea vessel, they traveled to a volcano where another criminal, Ming-Hua, a powerful Waterbender, was being held. The two broke into the prison and tossed Ming-Hua a barrel filled with water, so she could waterbend and escape her imprisonment. After successfully breaking out Ming-Hua, they three went to the Northern Water Tribe so they can break out Zaheer's girlfriend; P'Li, a powerful Firebender with abilities similar towards Combustion Man. They succeed, and the two share a passionate kiss when they reunite, much to the discomfort of Ghazan.   

Later, under the identity of 'Yorru', Zaheer infiltrated Air Temple Island as one of the many new airbenders looking to train at the Northern Air Temple. He re-evaluates his plan, however, when he learns that Korra is not at the Northern Air Temple at all. In the meantime, he impresses Meelo with his mastery of the airbending gates and shares the poetry of Guru Laghima with Ikki. However, when confronted by Kya, she eventually realizes he is, in fact, Zaheer, at which point the two begin to duel. Overpowering both Kya and the White Lotus sentries, Zaheer stated he had other plans, and used a glider to fly off the island.

Zaheer reunited with the others. Ghazan asked Zaheer if they were considering attacking President Raiko. But Zaheer declined that offer as they could do it later. With that, Zaheer and the others continuing their search for Avatar Korra but needed to find a way to escape Republic City. They commandeered a truck, and even though they had some issues with the Metalbending Police Force, the four managed to escape. After they escaped and were far away from Republic City, Zaheer meditated hoping he could locate the Avatar. When he finished his meditating, Zaheer told the others that the Avatar was with the Metal Clan in Zaofu.

Capturing the Avatar

With the assistance of Aiwei, Zaheer and his gang infiltrated Zaofu and attempted to kidnap Korra, subduing her with poison darts. Everyone in the city was alerted to their presence and their mission failed, ending with Zaheer and the others fleeing in anger.

When Aiwei flees to Misty Palms Oasis and Team Avatar tracks him down, Korra and Asami find a note in his vehicle from Zaheer, telling them to meet at Xai Bau Grove, which could not be found on the map. Later, they find Aiwei meditating, and conclude that the grove is in the spirit world. There, Korra finds Zaheer and the truth seer discussing their failure in Zaofu. The airbender blames Aiwei for their failure, although he insists otherwise because he destroyed the evidence, and says there are no loose ends. Zaheer tells him he is the loose end and throws him into the Fog of Lost Souls. When Korra finally meets him, he is willing to answer any questions she has about his motives. He reveals he is part of a society called the Red Lotus, which was what the White Lotus was supposedly meant to be before they began protecting the Avatar. Kidnapping Korra was, in fact, Unalaq's idea, although he wasn't imprisoned and went on to become the Dark Avatar, which Zaheer says wasn't part of the plan and was a "selfish goal". Their ultimate goal is freedom and establishing chaos as the new order, and to do that, they needed to free Vaatu. The airbender says his idea of freedom is not so different from Korra's, congratulating her on freeing the spirits.

Meanwhile, in the physical world, Zaheer gives his gang Korra's location. P'Li stays and guards his body, while Ming-Hua and Ghazan go after the Avatar. They are intercepted by Mako and Bolin, who are easily defeated and brought back to the airbender, who resolves to bring them to Ba Sing Se.

Insurrection of the Red Lotus

Zaheer taking down Hou-Ting

Zaheer used his airbending to suffocate Earth Queen Hou-Ting and end her reign over the Earth Kingdom.

I don't believe in queens.
~ Zaheer showing his true colors to Hou-Ting.

Zaheer brings Mako and Bolin to Hou-Ting, telling her in the process that if she doesn't hand Korra over, she would get the attention of the other nations and they would turn on her. He also tells her that he can lead her to the rest of the airbenders. She agrees to this, but after the airship carrying Korra crashes in the desert, she demands that he tell her where the airbenders are. Zaheer refuses and she orders them imprisoned, but he resists, taking out the guards and finally killing the Earth Queen by airbending her breath, telling her that freedom is as essential as air. He then releases the Earth Queen's prisoners and announces her death over the radio, causing Ba Sing Se to erupt into chaos. He passes a message to Mako and Bolin, telling them that he intends to travel to the Northern Air Temple and use the airbenders as leverage to lure Korra out.

Tenzin battles Zaheer

Zaheer and Tenzin engage in a heated duel at the Northern Air Temple.

Korra finds out about Zaheer's plot and attempts to warn Tenzin, but she is too late, as he has already arrived by the time she does warn him. Zaheer then tells Tenzin about his plans, but the airbending master refuses to comply, displaying that he is the superior airbender. The two airbenders duel and Zaheer appears to be losing until Ghazan and Ming-Hua step in to assist. While Tenzin is able to hold off all four Red Lotus members, he is soon overwhelmed. Zaheer and the Red Lotus begin to brutally bombard Tenzin with attacks. Zaheer suggests Tenzin surrender, to which Tenzin refuses. Zaheer and the others then proceed to savagely beat Tenzin against a wall.

Later, Zaheer receives a radio transmission from Korra confirming that she's ready to surrender herself. Zaheer meditates in a room with a statue of Guru Laghima when P'Li informs him that the airbenders are secured.

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Zaheer briefly distraught after witnessing the death of P'li.

The two share a moment of passion before both heading off to capture Korra. He briefly has her until Mako radios her to inform her that it was a trap and that the airbenders, except Tenzin, are not at the temple. She is thrown off the cliff but saved by her father. She and her father battle Zaheer while P'Li fends off Lin and Suyin Beifong. He threw Tonraq off a cliff, causing Korra to believe he is dead. However, not only was he saved by the Metal Clan, but Zaheer also witnesses the death of his girlfriend. With his last attachment to the world gone, Zaheer grabs Korra and, after reciting Laghima's poem, jumped off the cliff, gaining the ability of flight. He brings Korra to a nearby cave where the airbenders are held captive and chains Korra up with an insignia of the Red Lotus on the wall behind. Other Red Lotus members bring out poison to administer into Korra's body, where Zaheer reveals his true goal; to force Korra into the Avatar State so that he may kill her and end the Avatar Cycle once and for all.

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Now able to fly, Zaheer pursues Korra in their final battle.

Though she enters the Avatar State, Zaheer fails to kill her, and flies out of the cave while battling Korra. She briefly holds up on her own until the poison begins to hinder her. Zaheer almost succeeds in killing her, until the airbenders create a massive tornado trapping both himself and Korra inside, allowing Korra to drag Zaheer down with her. Zaheer is stunned after hitting the ground, and is trapped in rock by the Beifong sisters before he can try anything. 

Zaheer Captured

After his defeat, Zaheer is encased in earth and humiliated by having a sock shoved in his mouth.

When Korra seemingly dies a few moments later, Zaheer begins to laugh, declaring victory for the Red Lotus. However, Jinora points out that the poison is metallic, meaning a metalbender would be able to remove the poison out of Korra's system. Suyin removes the poison from Korra's body and Korra regains consciousness. Unable to admit defeat, Zaheer declares the beginning of the revolution of chaos as the natural order, until he is silenced and humiliated by Bolin literally putting his sock in his mouth. With all of his friends dead and no longer considered a feasible threat on his own, Zaheer is later incarcerated in another tailor-built prison.

Post-Insurrection

But if you had any other opinions, you wouldn't be here now, would you? We may have been enemies once, but for now, our interests align.
~ Zaheer helping Korra to get into the Spirit World.
Though three years have passed since Zaheer's defeat, Korra still fears him, being afraid of feeling great suffering, frequently seeing him in visions whenever Korra attempts to get better. Also, after Korra found Toph Bei Fong living in a swamp, her seismic sense revealed that there will still traces of the poison within Korra, meaning Zaheer had indirectly taken the Avatar out of commission for three years.
Zaheer imprisoned

Zaheer imprisoned.

Even after the poison is extracted, she still has trouble going into the Avatar State and going into the Spirit World due to her lingering fear of her nemesis, mostly of Zaheer. 

For this reason, Korra finally decides to confront Zaheer so she can be restored to her former strength. He tells her that her powers are limitless and that she is merely blaming him to make herself feel better. Korra, in turn, blames Zaheer for inadvertantly creating Kuvira's dictatorship with his revolution and killing the Earth Queen. Regretful of his actions, he stated he heard rumors of her but didn't know she was so infamous and offers to help Korra overcome her fear of him and get into the Spirit World, which she reluctantly accepts. Zaheer points out that Korra has been trying to forget her near death experience rather than confront and accept it. Through Zaheer's guidance, Korra successfully enters the Spirit World and is cured of her PTSD, allowing her to fully recover.
Zaheer helping Korra

Zaheer guiding Korra into the Spirit World, helping her overcoming her fears.

With his final act to Korra, Zaheer proved that he was a man that possessed good within him, even if he were fighting for the wrong side of the cause. Zaheer remained in prison after Kuvira was defeated and it's unknown what happened to him, but it's relevant that he was imprisoned for life. 

Powers and Abilities

Zaheer flying

Devoid of all earthly tethers, Zaheer masters the ability to fly without any outside help

Let go your earthly tether. Enter the void. Empty and become wind.
~ Zaheer. unlocking Guru Laghima's unique ability to fly without using bending.

Zaheer is a masterful strategist, who is able to take down a small army of soldiers, as well as being a master of disguise and deceiver. Recently, after the Harmonic Convergence, he found out he could airbend. Despite him just recently learning of his new ability, Zaheer is shown to be a fast learner as he can create large and powerful gusts of wind and knock people off balance. He's even capable of sucking the air out of a person, causing them to suffocate to death. He is also proficient at meditation and is able to discern Korra's location with ease. After the death of P'Li, Zaheer was free from all earthly tethers and gains the same abilities as Guru Laghima, the ability to fly without the need of his glider staff or even bending. He can fly like he was lighter than air.

  • Airbending: After the Harmonic Convergence, he found out he could airbend. Despite only having airbending abilities for a short time and being self-taught, Zaheer displays high proficiency in the art and shown to be a fast learner as he created large air currents capable of knocking people off balance, as well as increasing his agility,  to evade attacks, enabling him to take on multiple benders at a time. He defeat Kya, a master waterbender, while fending off White Lotus sentries. Although he is not as powerful as a full-fledged master like Tenzin, he was proficient enough in combat to more or less hold his own against the more experienced airbender, though he needed the assistance of his companions to defeat the master. He is also capable of using a glider, both in combat and as a means of transportation despite having no training in using one. He can take on multiple opponents at once and, since he is not a pacifist like most airbenders, he also uses his airbending in a more offensive and even lethal manner, such as pulling the air out of Hou-Ting's lungs and suffocating her.
    • Flight: During a battle to rescue Korra from the Red Lotus, Zaheer developed the ability of flight through the teachings of Guru Laghima, becoming the first airbender in four thousand years to do so. After the death of P'Li, Zaheer was free from all earthly tethers and gains the same abilities as Guru Laghima, the ability to fly without the need of his glider staff or even bending. He can fly like he was lighter than air.  Zaheer demonstrated that the power of flight enabled him to make fast and agile at incredible speeds and make airbending attacks while airborne. Although a powerful technique, his flight abilities are hindered by additional weight and the currents of the wind, as shown when he began to fall after Korra froze one of his feet and when he could not escape the pull of an airbender-created tornado
  • Hand-to-Hand Combat: Even prior to obtaining airbending, Zaheer was already remarkably agile and acrobatic. He was a master of several forms of martial arts and had extensive combat experience. He was deemed dangerous enough to be detained in an isolated prison similar to his bending cohorts and had to turn his back to the cell doors with his hands behind his head while receiving food. He took down small armies of soldiers, as well as being a master of disguise and deceiver.
  • Intellegence: Zaheer is also well-versed in Air Nomad philosophy and history, mainly teachings of the legendary airbender, Guru Laghima, whom he holds in high regard.Through meditation, Zaheer was capable of entering the Spirit World and freely teleport himself and others to various places in that realm. His extensive practice and training in meditation gives him the ability to communicate with his physical body while his soul is still in the Spirit World and discern Korra's location with ease. He shown to be a master in stealth, manipulation, leadership, tactics/strategy, warfare, and psychological warfare. Zaheer is a masterful strategist/tactics, who is able to take down a small army of soldiers, as well as being a master of disguise and deceiver. He is also proficient in the art of public speaking, capable of swaying the public opinion to support his goals, as he demonstrated in his speech to the people of Ba Sing Se.

Personality

The idea of having nations and governments is as foolish as keeping the human and spirit realms separate. You've had to deal with a moronic president and a tyrannical queen. Don't you think the world would be better off if leaders like them were eliminated?
~ Zaheer's views on nations and governments.
Zaheer is cruel, arrogant, vicious and delusional about the natural order of things. He has a deep passion for philosophy, mostly around the theme of freedom, though often mixed up with delusional ideas that chaos is the natural order of things. He often twists Guru Laghima's philosophy into anarchistical ideas for his Red Lotus organization. He's very cold blooded when it comes to taking a life. If necessary, he's willing to kill without hesitation. Indeed, even his affinity for Air Nomad culture and becoming an airbender did not prevent him from threatening the lives of the new airbenders in order to force Korra to surrender herself, and he displayed duplicity in going back on his word to release them in exchange for her surrender so that he'd still have them as hostages.

However, he's not completely devoid of compassion, sympathy and honor. He cared deeply about his girlfriend P'Li. Even if his actions threw the Earth Kingdom into chaos, he believed that the Earth Kingdom belonged to the people and not to tyrants, like Hou-Ting. When Korra came to him to overcome her fear of him, he agreed to help, feeling guilt over that his actions gave Kuvira the opportunity to take power and maybe even feeling remorse over P'Li's death.

Gallery

Trivia

  • Zaheer is one of the few known villianous airbenders.
    • The other one is Jesa, a renegade Air Nomad who became a crime boss, and later mother to Avatar Kyoshi.
  • He is the first main antagonist of Korra to live at the end of the book, the second being Kuvira.
    • Aside from Kuvira, Zaheer is also the only main antagonist in the series that "redeems" himself in the end, even showing sympathy and compassion for Korra. 

Quotes

You think freedom is something that you can give or take on a whim, but to your people, freedom is just as essential as air, and without it, there is no life. There is only... darkness.
~ Zaheer's idea of liberation while murdering the Earth Queen.
You know, being locked away for so many years, I was beginning to lose hope. But when I awoke with airbending, I knew I would be the one to destroy the old world and plant seeds for a new world to flourish.
~ Zaheer to Korra.

Navigation

           Avatar The Last Airbender logoVillains

Fire Nation
Fire Lord Ozai | Fire Lord Azulon | Fire Lord Sozin | Azula | Zuko | Ty Lee | Mai | Zhao | Ukano | Combustion Man | Yon Rha | Warden | Boiling Rock Warden | Bujing | Mung

Earth Kingdom
Hou-Ting | Jet | Chin the Conqueror | General Fong | Xin Fu | Gow | Long Feng | Dai Li Sergeant | Liling | Ru | Yaling

Water Tribe
Hama | Tahno | Tarrlok | Noatak | Yakone | Varrick | Zhu Li | Unalaq | Eska | Judge Hotah | Gilak | Thod | Thod's disciples

Equalists
Amon | Lieutenant | Hiroshi Sato

Red Lotus
Zaheer | Ghazan | Ming-Hua | P'Li | Aiwei

Earth Empire
Kuvira | Baatar Jr. | Guan | Sheng

Spirits
Vaatu | Dark Spirits | Wan Shi Tong | Koh | Kemurikage | Old Iron

Other Groups
Dai Li | Rough Rhinos | Southern Raiders | Yuyan Archers | New Ozai Society | Triple Threat Triad | Royal Procession

Individuals
June | Lightning Bolt Zolt | Shady Shin | Tokuga | Wonyong Keum

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