|“||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? (Korra: No. I mean, I don't really agree with what they have done, but taking out world leaders isn't the answer.) It wasn't to long ago that the airbenders was nearly all wiped out, thanks to the Fire Lord's desire for world dominance. 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!) Exactly. The natural order is disorder.||„|
|~ Zaheer explaining his anarchistical ideas about "true freedom" to Korra is the Spirit World.|
|“||It's the dawning of a new age. The end of the White Lotus and soon, the end of the Avatar.||„|
|“||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 in 'The Stakeout'|
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 Arch-enemy of Avatar Korra and her most dangerous enemy. He's one of the most dangerous criminals along with P'Li, Ming-Hua, and Ghazan, as well as a member, turned new leader, of the Order 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 an anarchist and believes strongly in the foundation of a new world order, without the White Lotus, the Avatar, or the 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.
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 were 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.
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 the decided to break his friends out of their prison cells. He somehow knew that each of them were imprisoned at different locations as they were also placed in different cells to prevent them from escaping.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
When Korra seemingly dies, Zaheer begins to laugh, declaring victory for the Red Lotus. However, Jinora points out that the poison is metallic, meaning Suyin was able to metalbend the poison out of Korra's system. Unable to admit defeat, Zaheer declares the beginning of the revolution of chaos as the natural order, until he is silenced by Bolin putting his sock in his mouth. He is later revealed to be back in prison.
Though three years has passed since Zaheer's defeat, Korra still fears him, 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.
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.
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. Regretful of his actions, he offers to help Korra overcome her fear of him and get into the Spirit World, which she reluctantly accepts. Korra successfully enters the Spirit World with his help and feels stronger from the experience.
Powers and Abilities
Zaheer is a master strategist as he's 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. This allowed him to gain the ability to fly without the need of his glider staff.
- Zaheer is the first villainous Airbender.
- He is also the first airbender to murder a character on-screen.
- He was voiced by Henry Rollins.
- He and P'Li are the first villains to be involved in a romantic relationship in the series.
- He is the first main antagonist of Korra to live at the end of the book, the second being Kuvira.