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It's true that when Wan fused with Raava, he tipped the scales in her favor. But this time I'll be here to level the playing field. When Harmonic Converguence comes, I will fuse with Vaatu and together we will become the new Avatar. A Dark Avatar. Your era is over.
~ Unalaq's plan for "spiritual balance"/power.
With you out of the way, I will be the one true Avatar!
~ The Dark Avatar preparing to destroy his niece, Korra.

Unalaq is one of the main antagonists of the Avatar franchise, serving as one of the four main antagonists (alongside Amon, Zaheer and Kuvira) of The Legend of Korra. He serves as one of the two main antagonists (alongside Vaatu) of Book 2: Spirits, one of the two posthumous overarching antagonists (alongside Vaatu) of Book 3: Change and a posthumous antagonist of Book 4: Balance.

He was the former chief of the Water Tribe who was obsessed with fusing with Vaatu to plunge the world into darkness and end it to give it a rebirth and create an Age of Darkness and Suffering as he and his successors rule over the world as gods. His actions resulted in his brother Tonraq’s banishment, Korra's decade of being locked away in the south, a civil war between the water tribes, the severance of the Avatars' connection to their past lives, humans and spirits coexisting and the return of new airbenders to the world for the first time in almost. An omnicidal maniac focused on his ambition for persoal power, Unalaq is arguably the most dangerous human in the entire franchise.

He was voiced by Adrian LaTourelle.

What Makes Him Pure Evil?

Before Book Two

  • Hired a Barbarian army to attack the Northern Water Tribe and have them hide in a spiritual forest to exploit his older brother's reckless behavior and destroy the forest, which were the homes of many spirits, and have the angered dark spirits attack the Northern Water Tribe and cause multiple damages to have his brother exiled so he can be the next in line as he was envious he would end up having more power than him.
  • Started the plot by the Order of the Red Lotus to kidnap his young niece, Avatar Korra, and indoctrinate her into their beliefs. It is due to this that Korra started to become the overconfident, aggressive, spirituality-lacking and utterly incompetent Avatar she was in the start of the show due to her training in isolation following the kidnapping being foiled.
  • Didn't care about about his allies as he planned to backstab and leave them in prison in harsh conditions, even building the prison for P'Li where she is left in extremely cold temperatures for the rest of her life, with no escape so he could fuse with Vaatu to become the Dark Avatar, something Zaheer hated him for, and called his intentions to fuse with Vaatu as selfish.

Book Two: Spirits

  • Tortures multiple spirits using his spirit bending to exert dark energy around them, corrupting them into dark spirits and have them attack the Southern Water Tribe, framing the Southern Water Tribe's lack of spirituality for it.
  • When decides to rule the Southern Water Tribe directly, he brought a civil war between the 2 tribes.
  • Arranged a rigged trial for his own brother in order to get him out of the way, even about to sentence him to death, only sparring Senna, Tonraq's wife, and lowering his sentence to life, just to keep Korra on his side.
  • Threatens to kill Jinora (a child) if Korra does not open the spirit portal for him, by corrupting her soul to the point of disintegration, and even after Korra complies, he has a furry-foot to give her in a fate worse than death by trapping her soul in the Fog of Lost Souls where she will be trapped forever and driven to insanity, and she was there for one week, with her body placed under immediate care so she won't die, which is a fate worse than death as not even her physical death can free her.
  • Attempts to kill Korra, his own niece, after she opened the spirit portal for him.
  • He assaults the Southern Water Tribe and viciously beats down Tonraq to near death, only sparing his life so that he can watch him win and beat his daughter, Korra.
  • His final goal was to merge with Vaatu, becoming the Dark Avatar and plunge the entire world into 10,000 years of darkness and remake it in his image, which defeats the purpose of his goal to bring spiritual harmony. To show how bad it is, respect for Unalaq was already faltering, and any such respect even left was erased for bringing the near end of the world, with not even his own family and children missing him.
  • After merging with Vaatu, he tears Raava, the spirit of light and order that exists to keep Vaatu in check, out of Korra and uses his waterbending to beat her to death, that also permanently severed Korra's connection with her past lives and the next Avatar can only have Korra for advice, so Unalaq & Vaatu's powers can peak. Even though Raava was eventually recreated, Korra's connection to her past lives are still severed. Made worse is that he is one of the few villains to outright murder onscreen in the show.
  • In the season finale, he assaults Republic City and attempts to destroy it.
  • Attempts to kill Korra one last time by using dark spiritbending by corrupting her body and be destroy that and her soul.
  • He doesn't even care about his own children, as shown by how when Desna gets hurt, he ignores helping him and encourages Eska to leave him to continue his mission of opening the spirit portal, despite Desna getting an injury that could've killed him, and even before that, clearly neglectful and is mostly using his children as pawns. he was willing to sacrifice them for his plans for rebirth, in which upon realizing the omnicidal maniac he is becoming, turn against him.
  • While it may seem his crimes as UnaVaatu don't count as he is merged with Vaatu, he still has his free will and full control of the crime he did and did them together, especially considering the fact that the light Avatars were merging with Raava yet they have their free will and moral agency. And while Vaatu is the only one he hasn't betrayed, it was due to pragmatic reasons only. Considering he has complete control of his actions here, it makes his "good" intentions even more shallow considering multiple spirits were corrupted and transformed against their will and enslaved by the duo as revealed in Season 4, and that is barring his omnicidal mania he displayed.
  • While Wan Shi Tong claims Unalaq is a good friend amongst all spirits, Unalaq just has an affinity with them, and is pretty much using a façade on them considering how easily fooled Wan Shi Tong can be and that Unalaq's friendship with them is a facade.
  • While like all other main villains of each season in the show, Unalaq was intended to be a case of good intentions going too far: In his case wanting the coexistence of humans and spirits. However, Unalaq's "benevolent" motives fall very flat in executions as it comes across as an informed attribute and was pretty coincidental to his power lust as a result for the following reasons:
    • Unalaq was completely fine tricking his brother into destroying a spirit forest which housed many spirits to usurp his birthright and torturing spirits with dark energy and unleash them upon the southern Water Tribes to open the Southern Spirit Portal and to conquer the Southern Water Tribe. Reminder, the earliest we know of him was basically how he doomed and harmed spirits out of basically jealousy his brother would end up becoming the Chief and usurp that birthright from him, with this, Unalaq may have never had good intentions in the first place and may even have less of an excuse than Ozai as a result (who was born and raised by terrible tyrants, that too in a very war-torn world, no matter how weak it is by the grand scheme of things).
    • Desna himself tells Unalaq that he already united the Water Tribes and opened both the Spirit Portals and humans and spirits can coexist. Had Unalaq really cared about spiritual harmony, he would've stopped it at their and not fused with Vaatu as that would've been a largely unnecessary step that would've only given him unlimited power. Zaheer, who himself believed Avatar Wan made a mistake in separating the human and spirits worlds and it done more harm than good and genuinely wanted to do good and bring freedom by freeing Vaatu, called his motives in fusing with Vaatu selfish and was disgusted by it.
    • Unlike Amon, Kuvira and Zaheer, Unalaq's end goal wouldn't actually bring spiritual harmony. While the former 3 have also been shown to be hypocritical, their end goal would've actually achieved what they were fighting for. Amon's plan to debend all benders would bring equality, Zaheer's plan to destroy all governments and the Avatar and plunge the world to chaos would give everyone absolute freedom as no one would be oppressing the people with rules, and Kuvira's plan to annex all the territories would've brought unity and stability to the Earth Kingdom. Not only was Unalaq's intentions to fuse with Vaatu a selfish decision for power and a largely unnecessary step had he actually cared for spiritual balance, but his plans with Vaatu's power itself goes heavily against his own "benevolent" motives", in which it is to become an omnicidal maniac that plunges the entire material world to darkness and remake it in his image to rule as a God and create a Draconian age while having having all of spirit kind enslaved to his will. That is not a goal someone genuinely wanting for spiritual harmony would have and would be of the end goal of a power-hungry maniac, especially if it would itself specifically harm spirits or that in his new draconian rule, all life would be enslaved to his will.
      • Upon fusing Vaatu, he doesn't proclaim to even bring a Spiritual Age at that point, and full on flat out just vows to bring an Age of Darkness to create a new world to rule. Even before that, Unalaq himself just merely states his goal is to rule both human and spirit worlds rather than to unite them.
    • Even in the speech Toph gave about Korra's enemies having good intentions, unlike with Amon and Zaheer, who were described to actually believed in their good intentions ("What did Amon want? Equality for all." & "And Zaheer believed in freedom."), Unalaq's good intentions were described more as if something good actually came from Unalaq's villainy rather than Unalaq genuinely wanting to do good ("Unalaq? he brought back the spirits.")
    • He was also the only villain to be called out once for his hypocrisy and using his good intentions to cover up his secretly selfish motives. Korra called him out for using his rhetoric as an excuse for power and Zaheer calls his intentions selfish and resents him for perverting the Red Lotus cause for his selfish desires.
    • Unalaq speaks so highly of bringing spiritual balance and claims his intentions to fuse with Vaatu were to even the playing field as Raava fusing with Wan tipped the scales in her favor, and yet destroys Raava with great relish jsut so he and Vaatu's powers can peak and remake the world in their image and tip the scale to his favor instead.
  • Overall, Unalaq is so vile, nobody even misses him when he is gone, not even his own family, with the closest to even caring that he was gone was Korra who only felt regret having to kill him to comfort her cousins, who themselves are more concerned with explaining to their mother about their situation than this, with Korra herself having more hallucinations of him being an evil sociopath. To show how bad it is, Ozai of all people got an entire secret society dedicated to restoring him to the throne in the sequel comics, while no one even wanted to even think about avenging Unalaq out of sheer disgust for his crimes.

Trivia

  • Unalaq is one of two Pure Evils in the Avatar franchise, alongside Ozai. Coincidentally, Unalaq had some backlash for having many uncanny similarities with Ozai in personality and backstory:
    • Both are the second-born prince of one of the 4 nations that are jealous of their older brother (Tonraq and Iroh) who are more selfless than them and sought to usurp their birthright to gain power and eventually succeed.
    • In order to usurp their older brother's birthright, they have someone exiled on the way (Ursa, Ozai's wife, and Tonraq).
    • Both are abusive parents to their 2 children, consisting of one son and daughter, neglecting their daughter's emotions and needs (although Unalaq does it to his son also), and are willing to let their sons die (although in Ozai's case, he actively tried killing his son Zuko), as they view them as tools for their goals if they meet their expectations, and scold them and call them failures if they fail to meet them.
    • Both seek to rule the world, and plan on remaking it in their image upon causing mass destruction and laying waste to it by using a major event that has a long timespan from when it happened in the past (Sozin's comet for Ozai that happens every 100 years, and Harmoic Convergence for Unalaq that happens every 10,000 years), that both caused the end of things it started (Sozin's comet was used to start and end the 100 year war, Harmonic Convergace both was when the First Avatar Cycle started and ended).
    • Like Ozai, Unalaq has a comical counterpart in-universe played by an actor (The Ember Island Play version of Ozai and Varrick's mover depicion of Unalaq) that flanderize them and depict them as less Pure Evil than they really are. Plus in Varrick's movers, the similarities between him and Ozai have been magnified, with the same beard and Unalaq's plan to freeze the world is like Ozai's plan to burn down most of it.
  • Unalaq was supposed to be a well-intentioned extremist. However, poor writing in the show's second season made him seem like he was just a delusional power-hungry warmonger.

External Links

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TV Shows
Are You Afraid of the Dark?
Quiet Librarian

Avatar franchise
Ozai | Unalaq

Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness
Ke-Pa

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012)
Count Dracula | Kavaxas | Rat King | Overmind | Kraang Prime

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