Thursday, August 11, 2022

'Avatar: The Last Airbender' Creators Fought Nickelodeon to Make Toph a Girl

The creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender reveal they had to fight with Nickelodeon to make Toph Beifong a girl in the series.

The creators of Avatar: The Last Airbender had to fight to have Toph Beifong be a girl, it has been revealed.

 The network apparently had issues with her being written as a female character. Here's what he had to say:

Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko appeared on Nickelodeon's Avatar: Braving the Elements podcast to discuss Toph. Surprisingly, despite being one of the most popular characters in the original animated series, Toph could have been written very differently. On the show, Konietzko described the pushback from the network when it came to Toph's initial conception, revealing, "We had quite a battle to convince the network to let us make Toph a girl," the reason being that the network wanted a "boy audience."

"When I was a kid," Konietzko explained, "I watched shows with girls, all the time. And I was never, like, it wasn't a problem! If it was a good show, I was into the show. And I think I remember this tough-looking, muscular teenage kid, and we were like, 'So, who's your favorite character?' And he said, 'Toph.' [Laughs] We got so many of those, but that one was really memorable, and it's just vindicating, you know? You're just like, ugh, if you could just get the suits to understand."

Introduced in a vision in Avatar: The Last Airbender Season 2, Episode 4, "The Swamp," Toph made her full debut in Season 2, Episode 6, "The Blind Bandit." A powerful Earthbender and the discoverer of metalbending, Toph was a key member of Team Avatar and helped teach Aang how to harness the element of Earth. The character was voiced by Jessie Flowers in Avatar: The Last Airbender.

Audiences may remember an episode late in The Last Airbender season 3, in which the main characters attend a play about their lives. Knowing the network originally wanted Toph to be written as a muscular male character adds another layer of humor to her portrayal in that play. Luckily, in the end, the creators held strong to their decision to feature one of their most powerful characters as a blind girl, not to mention the youngest member of the group. That decision sparked a wave of increased diversity and inclusion that was furthered in the show's sequel, The Legend of Korra, which famously faced many bitter battles with the network and was eventually forced to air its final season online.

The stories about a network trying to change an ultimately popular decision is not unique to Avatar: The Last Airbender. Fortunately, the creators trusted in their product enough to dig their heels in and tell the story they knew would be the most effective, and now the show lives on as a critically-acclaimed cornerstone of animation.

Running from 2005 until 2008 on Nickelodeon, Avatar: The Last Airbender lasted three seasons and is generally considered one of the most beloved animated series ever. The show sees Aang, the titular Avatar and last remaining member of the Air Nomads, learning to harness his power to stop the imperialist ambitions of the Fire Nation.

Avatar: The Last Airbender enjoyed success as the highest-rated animated television show for its demographic at the time of its premiere. Ratings continued to climb, and the show's finale was the best rated installment in the series.

After Avatar: The Last Airbender ended, DiMartino and Konietzko created The Legend of Korra, a sequel show taking place decades after the events of the original series. That series ran for four seasons between 2012 and 2014. The stories of both shows have been continued in the comics. Additionally, while the franchise laid relatively untouched in the realm of animation for several years, a number of new projects set in the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender are currently in the works, including films. Netflix is also currently working on a live-action adaptation of the show, though the animated series' creators have since departed that project.

The series also inspired a poorly received movie adaptation in 2010, directed by M. Night Shyamalan. However, since the film only covered The Last Airbender season 1, and Toph wasn't adapted.

Stream Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra on Paramount+ and Netflix! Try Paramount+ for FREE at

Listen to the brand new podcast, Avatar: Braving the Elements!

Original sources: CBR, ScreenRant.

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