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Monday May 20th

Will Toph remain blind in Netflix’s ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’?

<p><em>Season one of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (2024) garnered massive polarization, with praise for its visuals but criticism for deviations from the specific animated characters&#x27; depth (Photo courtesy of </em><a href="" target=""><em>IMDb</em></a><em>). <br/></em></p>

Season one of “Avatar: The Last Airbender” (2024) garnered massive polarization, with praise for its visuals but criticism for deviations from the specific animated characters' depth (Photo courtesy of IMDb). 

As Netflix's live-action adaptation of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" gears up for its highly anticipated second season, fans eagerly question whether the beloved character Toph Beifong will retain her blindness. This defining trait has resonated deeply with audiences for almost two decades.

On Feb. 22, Netflix released season one of the widely anticipated and intriguing live-action adaptation of “Avatar: The Last Airbender.”

The original “Avatar: The Last Airbender” remains one of the most groundbreaking successes in Nickelodeon's animated catalog and Western animation, in general. However, when a live-action series was announced in 2018, fans grew apprehensive. This skepticism was largely influenced by the disappointing reception of M. Night Shyamalan's 2010 live-action film adaptation, which failed critically and commercially, disappointing both fans and adherents to the source material. Season one's release garnered massive polarization, with praise for its visuals but criticism for deviations from the specific animated characters' depth. As fans eagerly await season two, one character in particular has been a focal point of concern: Toph Beifong.

A non-hyperbolic statement among the “Avatar” community is that Toph Beifong remains one of the most beloved characters in the franchise. Beneath her powerful combatant and incredibly humorous exterior lies a girl belittled by her wealthy royal parents as incapable of anything without protection, assumed by her born blindness. After running away from home and hiding in a cave, Toph connected with the equally blind badgermoles — the original earthbenders — who taught Toph the art. She used it both for combat and as an extension of her other senses while hiding her advanced skills in the art from her parents. To their realization, Toph’s parents try to isolate Toph from the outside further upon Aang, Sokka and Katara’s arrival. However, she disobeys her parents to travel the world with Team Avatar, and as two masters — demanded by her parents — capture Toph, she senses earth within her metal cage to manipulate and become the world's first metalbender.

Alongside these physical achievements, Toph often shows stubbornness and initially refuses to open up, primarily with Katara and her motherly attitude. Given the strictness of Toph's parents, Toph does not want that controlling nature bestowed onto her by someone around her age. Toph would eventually understand - through Sokka - how Katara acts like her late mother out of responsibility and pain, thus coming to appreciate Katara as a great friend and as someone who understood Toph better than Toph's mother.

All of these recognized traits of Toph's character throughout the original show intersect with her blindness and her family's shackles on her freedom due to said blindness, which adds to her truthfully formidable and comical exterior without hiding how she wants her parents to understand her without negative changes between them. Therefore, with the animated show's live-action counterpart on Netflix producing season two, fans pleaded for no flanderization of the character, which mostly translated to not removing her blindness. Given the audience's complaints regarding characters already introduced lacking what made their animated versions more engaging, various accounts posted false confirmations for parody. Those posts were out of disappointment for the show, falsely stating that the showrunner would remove Toph's blindness to avoid belittling blind people, implying full removal of the original show’s blind jokes.

Nothing is confirmed nor debunked, so audiences can only wait for more official information on season two (relatively theorized for a 2026 release). Fans have loved the character for almost two decades due to her disability arguably making her more able-bodied and able-minded, so we will eventually see if that passion prevails.


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