The surprising revelation from the legend of Korra that Toph became the chief of police seems odd at first, but actually has surprising meaning.
One of the biggest fan issues with The legend of Korra is the lasting legacy of the characters of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Some members of Gaang’s life have taken unexpected, even controversial, directions, and the chief of them is Republic City Police Chief Toph Beifong. Toph’s transformation from a girl who hates the rules to a woman who enforces them has been shocking, leaving some fans as if the character’s legacy has been tarnished. However, Toph’s surprising character development makes more sense than one might think.
Understandably, Toph has a bit of a hard time being told what to do when she joins Team Avatar. Before its introduction to Air master, she had lived all her life with her parents too strict who left her little or no freedom. Naturally, therefore, Toph’s perception of “rules” is that they are a means by which to restrict a person’s freedom. It’s this critical but understandable misinterpretation of the purpose of the rules that has led her to swindle people or destroy homes that don’t belong to her – she thinks that being free is doing what she does. wants, when she wants, and the consequences are unfair.
However, Toph’s stance on the notion of living by rules clearly changed between the end of Air master and his legacy in Korra. This change was likely brought about by his move to the front row in the final showdown against Ozai. Even blind, Toph could grasp the outright destruction of Ozai’s plan to burn down the Earth Kingdom, his home. Ozai’s rise to power and the devastation of the Earth Kingdom are proof of what happens when the wrong person lives like Toph, doing whatever they want without worrying about the consequences.
On becoming the Republic City Police Chief, Toph seems to understand that while the rules that restrict freedom are wrong, the rules that protect people and hold people accountable are worth fighting for. Toph probably doesn’t even see being a police officer as enforcing the rules, but rather as a way to protect people and prevent the birth of another Ozai. His growth from rebel to cop in Korra is not a betrayal of his character as Air master, but proof that she has grown, not just physically, but as a person. While this is a stark contrast to her wrestling days, Toph is the best of herself as a police officer.
A fighter at heart, the end of the 100 Years War likely left Toph on the hunt for something new to fight for. In the early days of Republic City, there was surely no shortage of criminals trying to sabotage Aang’s legacy by causing trouble in the city, giving Toph an excuse to chase someone away once more. It seems that from there, Toph becomes a police officer for this booming metropolis. It probably also helps that as a police officer Toph can lead people, which she has always been a huge fan of.
As evidenced by Zuko’s betrayal of Katara and Aang in Ba Sing Se, a story is always more interesting when a character makes an unexpected choice. Toph’s transformation from a rebellious fugue to esteemed police chief is certainly not where many fans would have guessed his character was post-Air master would take him. As the first metalbender, Toph would have been the perfect choice to subdue criminals regardless of their bending abilities anyway. While Tthe legend of korra may not be perfect, it stays true to the characters from the original series while still managing to surprise fans. Whether fans generally like surprises or not is another story.
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