Ling Beifong (北方琳, Běifāng Lín) is the main character, voiced by Mindy Sterling, in the Nickelodeon animated television series The Legend of Korra, which aired from 2012 to 2014. The character and series, the sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender, was created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Brian Konietzko. Lin’s mother, Toph Beifong, greatly helped the previous avatar, Aang, in his efforts to save Earthrealm from destruction. Lin is the eldest of Toph’s two daughters.
Lin Beifong is the police chief of Republic City and the daughter of Toph Beifong, who once held the same position. Like her mother, Lin is able to manipulate the classical element of earth, which is called earth bending, as well as manipulate metal, which is called metal bending. Like Toph, Lin also has the ability to sense movements around him using mechanoreception. She learned these techniques under the diligent guidance of her mother.
Despite the fact that her mother was friends with the previous Avatar, Lin was initially hostile towards Avatar Korra, at one time she interrogated the main character. However, throughout the series, she warms up to Korra.
Lin has a long friendship with Tenzin, the son of Aang and Katara. Once, when they were younger, there was a romantic relationship between them. Tenzin consoled Lin and a higher level of trust developed between them. However, their romantic relationship ended, partly because Tenzin wanted children and Lin didn’t, and partly because of Lin’s abrasive nature. Tenzin eventually married, while Lin remained unmarried. Like her mother, Lin’s character is described as tough, uncompromising, and straightforward.
However, unlike Toph, Lin can be described as embittered, which is primarily due to her strained relationship with her mother and half-sister Suyin Beifong. In the latter half of the series, Lin came to terms with the two characters and became less touchy as the series progressed.
Creation and conception
While her mother was known at the time of the series’ announcement and established at the beginning of the series, her father’s identity was not initially revealed. Lin Beifong’s character design was inspired by Han Yung Ja, a longtime friend and colleague of Konietzko and DiMartino. Elements of her design were also taken from Marlene Dietrich, as the creators wanted her to “have a tough and natural beauty”, with both Joaquim dos Santos and series co-creator Michael DiMartino working on her appearance, which DiMartino thought was ” fun process.”
Legend of Korra
Book One: Air
Lin spent most of the first season in Republic City. When Lin first met Korra, she made it clear that she was not doing Korra any favors. She interrogated the Avatar, and when Tenzin arrived, Lin agreed to drop the charges against Korra, although she made it clear that she wanted the Avatar to “get out of her city”. Lin initially held a grudge against Tenzin due to their breakup years earlier, but agreed to “bury the hatchet” in their attempt to protect the sporting event from the terrorist group The Equalists. Despite maximum security, the Equalists managed to disrupt the event by outweighing the police force.
Lin, with the help of Korra, was able to fight off the terrorist group, although they failed to capture the organization’s leader, Amon. In the process, Korra earned Lin’s respect and trust.
After the Equalist attack, Lin received negative press for failing to capture Amon. Lin led an investigation that revealed that industrialist Hiroshi Sato, Asami Sato’s father, was involved with the Equalists. During the ensuing battle between Lin, Korra, Tenzin, and the cops against the terrorist organization, several cops were captured by the Equalists. The trio managed to avoid capture, but Lin decided to resign. When Tenzin urged her not to give up, Lin shared that she intended to catch Amon “outlaw”. Later, when Tenzin needed to attend a council meeting, Lin looked after Tenzin’s wife and children on Air Temple Island. The Equalists soon invaded the island, incapacitating Lin.
Ironically, Lin was saved by Tenzin’s three children, Jinora, Ikki and Mielo, who easily defeated the invaders.
After Tenzin returned to the island, noticing that more Equalist airships were heading to Republic City, Tenzin decided to take his family and flee Republic City on Tenzin’s sky bison, Ougi. Lin accompanied the family. However, when it became apparent that Oogie would not be able to outrun the airships, Lin made the decision to leave Oogie behind and attack the fleet in the air to ensure the family’s escape. An impressive display of metal bending in the air, Lin single-handedly destroyed several airships before being captured by a terrorist organization, allowing Tenzin and his family to evade capture at least temporarily. Lin lost her bending ability at the hands of Amon, who had the ability to take away bending, but was later restored by Korra.
Book Two: Spirits
In the second season, Lin returned to Republic City, reinstated as police chief. Impressed by Mako’s outstanding work in fighting local gangs, Lin hired Mako as an officer. Six months later, Lin and the Republic City Police investigate the bombing of the Southern Water Tribe’s cultural center. When Korra and Mako parted for the first time (due to issues related to the explosion) at the city’s police station, Lin, upon discovering an overturned table, demanded to know what had happened. Mako stated that he broke up with the Avatar.
Amused, she said that he got off easy compared to her breakup with Tenzin.
A few days later, Lin went to Mako’s apartment to look for evidence related to the explosion of the cultural center. Mako categorically denied any involvement in the explosion. However, when money and explosives were found in the apartment, Lin had Mako arrested. Later, Lin and her co-workers provided security at the pro-banding arena during the premiere of Bolin’s film. When Varrick, who financed the film, was revealed to be the mastermind behind not only the attempted kidnapping of President Raiko at the event, but also the bombing of the cultural center, Lin quickly arrested him and freed Mako. Lin promoted Mako to detective, noting that this officer first suspected Varrick of involvement in the bombings.
Third Book: Changes
In the third season, Lin spent a significant amount of time outside of Republic City. After helping Korra free the captive airbenders in the Earthrealm capital of Ba Sing Se, Lin joined the Avatar team (Korra, Asami, Bolin, and Mako) in searching for another discovered airbender in Earthrealm city Zaofu. When Lin arrived at Zaofu, she chose to remain on the ship, instructing the Avatar team not to reveal her presence. However, Lin’s presence was discovered and Suyin, Zaofu’s matriarch, met Lin on the ship.
Suyin told Team Avatar that she was Lin’s sister, to which Lin reminded her that she was her half-sister. Suyin revealed that Lin’s niece, Opal, was an airbender. During the dinner that followed, Lin made a number of snide remarks about many of Suyin’s remarks.
Before the argument flared up, they were interrupted by Varrik, who was released from prison and was living in Zaofu. Later that evening, Opal and Korra visited Lin in her room. In an attempt to reconcile the two sisters, Opal shared with Lin that she wanted her to be part of the family. Lin replied with a cold “get out”. Opal ran out of the room in tears. In response to Lin’s behavior, Korra angrily told Lin that the police chief would always be a lonely and bitter woman and ran out of the room. Lin cried in her room alone. The next morning, Lin followed the advice of Suyin’s trusted advisor Aiwei to visit the city’s acupuncturist to deal with her stress. During subsequent sessions, during which Lin had to look into her buried memories, she again recalled her past with Suyin. Ling remembered her attempt to arrest Suyin and the scar that Suyin accidentally inflicted. After waking up from her last session, she ignored the doctor’s suggestion to rest, choosing instead to confront Suyin.
Enraged Lin started another argument with Suyin. The quarrel quickly escalated, and when Suyin told Lin that she was a bitter, selfish woman and that Tenzin was right to leave her, Lin attacked, causing a full blown fight between the siblings.
When an angry Opal finally broke up the fight, demanding to know why the two sisters hurt each other, Lin collapsed from exhaustion and slept for the next sixteen hours. Upon waking up, Lin was well rested and in a much more positive mood. She apologized to Opal for her behavior, explaining that she was uncomfortable talking about personal matters. She advised Opal to train with other airbenders away from home, which Opal ended up doing. Ling also reconciled with Suyin. Later, Lin will be involved in a massive clash with the anarchist group “Red Lotus”. During the battle, she and Suyin battled P’Li, a formidable foe and mage of burning. P’Li had the rare ability to generate fire from his forehead, causing explosions. Lin told her sister that when she drew P’Li’s fire, Suyin would have to incapacitate her. Suyin objected, but Lin told her sister that she loved her before unilaterally proceeding with the plan. The police chief was struck by P’Li’s explosion and nearly fell off a cliff. In one of the series’ most graphic moments, as P’Li prepared to throw Lin off a cliff with an explosion, Suyin quickly fastened her armor around the incinerator’s head.
This caused P’Li’s explosion to explode in front of her face, killing her instantly. Although the fatal explosion was not shown on screen, P’Li’s death was evident.
Fourth book: Equilibrium
In Season 4, which takes place three years after the conclusion of Season 3, Lin will spend most of his time in Republic City. However, she made one trip outside the city to rescue Suyin and many of her family members, who were imprisoned by Earthrealm’s dictator Kuvira. When the world leaders decided not to attack Kuvira, Lin immediately sought out Opal. They eventually allowed Bolin to join their mission by flying in on Opal’s sky bison, Juicy.
Arriving on Zaofu, the trio encountered Toph, whom Lin referred to as “chief”. After Bolin, as a soldier in Kuvira’s army, was able to tell them the location of the nearest “re-education camp”, the quartet traveled to the camp on Jusi.
During dinner, Lin made some snarky remarks about her mother. When Bolin asked Toph who Lin’s father was, her mother casually replied that it was a man named Kanto, whom she described as a “good man”. Feeling her daughter’s “angry breath”, Toph told Lin to say whatever was on her mind. Lin angrily replied that growing up without a father, never seeing him or even discussing him was unacceptable to her. Lin stated that after the rescue, she wants nothing to do with her mother. Toph solemnly declared that if it made Lin happy, then she would accept her decision. In the end, the four successfully released Suyin and all of her imprisoned family members. They will also rescue Varric’s longtime assistant, Zhu Li. Lin and her mother eventually reconciled, with the latter stating that she was proud of both her and Suyin.
Subsequently, Zhu Li informed Ling that Kuvira planned to invade Republic City in two weeks. Lin played a big role in the battle for Republic City.
Together with Korra, Mako, Bolin, Tenzin, Bumi, Jinora, Ikki, Mielo, Opal and other airbenders, she fought against the 25-story mechanical suit controlled by Kuvira. She was part of the invasion team that successfully infiltrated Kuvira’s car. Once inside, Lin and Suying inflicted severe damage. They disabled the main weapon of the suit – a large cannon mounted on the right arm. When Kuvira tore off her inactive arm and threw it away with force, Lin and Suyin were trapped in the appendage. From hitting the ground, they lost consciousness, but later came to their senses. When Kuvira finally gave in, Lin arrested the despot and took her away.
Soon after, she and many others attended Varrick and Zhu Li’s wedding and reception, Ling smiled as the newlyweds kissed.
Graphic novel trilogy
Main article: The Legend of Korra: Turf Wars
In the first part, Lin focused on destroying the triads with the help of her task force. Lin, along with his task force, breaks up a fight between the Triple Threat and the Crawling Crystals. Two-legged Ping is arrested, Lin and Mako interrogate him and find out the name of the new leader of the “Triple Threat” – Tokuga.
By grounding with bare feet, Lin can “see” and “feel” even the slightest seismic vibrations of the ground, whether it be the presence of trees or the march of ants several meters away. Lin has developed acute hearing, allowing her to recognize people by their voice, determine a person’s appearance from sound, and eavesdrop on distant conversations; as well as to feel lies by subtle breathing, heartbeat and physical reactions of a person.
Lin is proficient in the art of earthbending, which uses Chinese martial arts techniques Hóng Quán and Chu Gar Nán Pài Tángláng. The creators of the series consulted with a professional martial artist when developing the series’ fighting style. Earth magic represents the element of matter, and is considered the most varied and enduring of the “four arts of magic”. Earth magic is the geokinetic ability to manipulate earth, rock, sand, lava, and metals in all their various forms. Earthbending uses neutral ching, which involves waiting and listening for the right moment to take decisive action.
Ground striking involves holding out attacks until a suitable counterattack opportunity presents itself, emphasizes “strongly rooted stances and strong strikes that evoke the mass and strength of the ground”, and requires accurate stepping to maintain constant contact with the ground.
Bending the earth parallel to the movements of the Five Animals. The earthbending is strongest when the feet or hands are in direct contact with the ground, allowing earthbenders to transfer their kinetic energy into the bend for fast and powerful movements. This dependence on direct contact with the earth is literally an “Achilles’ heel”; separating earthbenders from any contact with the earth renders them ineffective.
Reviewer David Levesley called Lyn one of the show’s “standout characters” and one of “many examples of well-written women”. Reviewer Alyssia Rosenberg considered Lean a “real gem” of the first season due to her character, feeling that she embodies a “small trend” of “female action stars” sacrificing themselves. She compared the scene in which Lin loses her abilities to bend Amon to a scene from the movie “Sucking Punch” and praised the soundtrack for “a powerful representation of the sudden absence that made Lyn in many ways who she is.”
Robert Kuang felt that of all the main characters, Lin remained “the most intriguing”, which Kuang attributes to her limited runtime and origins. Prior to the reveal of Kanto, the heroine’s father was a source of great intrigue for many fans of the series.
Some have suggested that the character’s father was Sokka, or possibly Amon. Reviewer Michael Mammano regarded Lyn’s outburst of anger at her mother in the fourth season as “emotional” and similar to that of a child. Reviewer Oliver Sava praised the portrayal of the “icy” relationship between the character and her mother, noting that it better explained how Lyn became the “tough, cold person she is today”.
TV.com felt that Lin was similar to Varric, a character who appeared later in the series, in that she started out “one-syllable” and then became “layered” and writes that it makes sense that Lin “finally will make things right” with Toph after her breakup with Suyin’s sister ends.
However, the character and her plot drew some criticism from the media and fans. Reviewer Gina Luttrell called Lin a “psycho” for becoming attached to Korra after she violently expressed her outrage at Mako during their first breakup. In addition, the mother-daughter reunion of Lin and Toph was called “hurried” by reviewer Joey Sack. Sack suggested that the creators needed another episode to fully “reveal” the conflict between the two long-standing characters.
Paste’s Zach Blumenfeld felt that Lyn brought nothing new to the “hard cop” archetype, but praised her storyline for “beautifully” depicting the loneliness that a career woman can face. Overall, Blumenfeld named Lin the 14th best character in the Avatar franchise.