Avatar: The Last Airbender brought us a colorful cast of characters that would stick around for a while. Many of the main characters were aged around where the target audience would expect, but there were also a collection of important elderly people there. King Bumi is one character who really drove the plot forward in the show.

While everyone knows how amazing Uncle Iroh was, there is one reoccurring geriatric character who feels somewhat underrated. King Bumi is one of the most important characters in the entire universe – yet, he doesn’t get a lot of screen time.

Here’s why the show wouldn’t be the same without Bumi.

1. Aang’s Only Remaining Friend

Although the show kind of dances around the topic, in the beginning, Aang’s existence is depressing. After freaking out over the immense responsibility he has, he finds himself frozen into a block of ice and wakes up a century later. What feels like hours ago to him is a hundred years – and a lot has happened.

He has the whole war to deal with, and the fact that the entire world as he knew it changed. Despite the impressive longevity of some characters on the show, how many of your friends would you expect to still be alive if you found yourself blasted a century into the future? Worse yet, what if you found out that your existence and disappearance led to the death of your entire nation? It’s a lot for a 12-year-old to process.

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He spends a lot of time talking about how things used to be during his travels and are often surprised to see that certain landmarks or cities aren’t what they used to be after falling victim to the fire nation. The world and the people in it are unrecognizable.

Aang is relieved when he gets to Omashu and finds the delivery system is his childhood friend introduced him to was still active. He was able to go around and play on them until he found the crazy king, who turned out to be his best friend. He offered excellent guidance and was the only familiar (human) face he had going for him.

It’s a complicated experience on both ends, but it is certainly a moment where Aang could feel grounded and connected to a world he hardly understood anymore. It was a great moment when they enthusiastically went down the shute together.

2. His (actually insightful) Trials

Of course, Bumi didn’t come out and say that he was his old friend; instead, he made him go through some trials. Fetching a lunchbox key, retrieving a pet, battling an opponent, and ultimately guessing his name. The entire thing seemed a little maddening – until you realize the message he was trying to teach. Things aren’t always what they seemed. This is also the first real instance where we see Aang forced to go on offense.

As an air nomad, he was preached about pacifism and talking things out. He has more of a dodgy approach than outward offense – even when enemies are blatantly trying to kill him. While Bumi certainly went pretty hard during their attack, he did hold back considerably. He egged Aang on and tried his best to show he needs to get offensive and not always act like an air-nomad.

Even in the end, where Aang tries to demonstrate that he won and Bumi gave him the win, we see the rock hovering over them and realized Bumi could have kept going – but he didn’t. Although it was never outwardly said, upon revisiting the episode, it was like he was trying to give Aang a taste of the battles that would ensue in a somewhat safe environment.

3. He’s a Mad Genius

Most of the lessons he tried to teach came off a bit crazy at times – but his eccentricity was fueled by his intelligent, out-of-the-box thinking. He is an amazing component in so many ways, and there is a reason he makes such a formidable opponent. It wasn’t just the trials where we got a taste of his ability to think things out – but also when the gang revisited when the fire nation managed to take control.

4. Arguably the Strongest Earthbender

Aside from being intelligent – he is ripped. Creators said they kind of wanted to give him that EVA (from Evangelion) appearance and they succeeded. Aside from being physically strong, his bending skills were on a whole other level. Even Toph commented how he was the strongest earthbender. Any time where it seemed like he was concerned or under someone else control, he was simply waiting. He knew when to strike.

5. Led Them to Toph

His strength was revealed when the gang freed him only to discover he could break out the whole time. He wanted to stay and knew where his destiny was. When Aang begged him to be his earthbending teacher, he declined and prophesized he needed someone oddly-specifically sounding like Toph.

Sure enough, on the journey to go find her (which wouldn’t have happened without his rejection), they found her. So much came from having Toph on the journey. The dynamics were great, she was freed, and she ultimately founded metal-bending, which might not have happened if she didn’t leave her home and join the avatar crew.

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6. Loyal to His City

It would have been easy for him to just walk away and help – but he didn’t. His loyalties were always to his cities. While Aang and crew were forced to make some tough decisions and abandon bad situations for the sake of their destiny, Bumi knew where his destiny was – and he stuck through with it until the bitter end. When the time was right, he took back his city.

7. White Lotus Member

It was also revealed that he was a senior member of the White Lotus. The society of powerful, elderly fighters was a crucial part of bringing the war to an end. It even included another favorite elder – General Iroh. When you think about their personalities, it’s no surprise that they would get along.

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8. He’s Hilarious

This is because, despite everything, Bumi is funny. He has that awkward kind of dad humor that you love to hate. He was known for making many bad puns or stupid jokes throughout his appearances. Even his name is allegedly a pun, deriving from the Sanskrit word for earth.

9. The Patience  

Although he was comic relief, he was far from impulsive. Much of his strategy relied on the “slow burn” approach. This meant things like not telling Aang who he was immediately and rushing into the arms of his old (missing) friend, who was allegedly killed. It also meant not breaking free because of the convenience.

He waited out until the solar eclipse for his moment to take back the city he swore to protect – and he did. While he has a comedic appearance – let’s also not forget the atrocities of spending literal months inside those metal cages and pretending to be helpless. He was a true character of honor that gave up a lot despite most of it being offscreen.

10. His Legacy

While he never seemed to have any kids of his own, he did leave behind a bit of a legacy. Aang and Katara’s first son was named Bumi to commemorate him. It was a really sweet gesture to him, considering the importance that the character had to Aang during the show.

Unfortunately, we don’t know too much about what happened to him after. It was easy for fans to assume 112-year old King Bumi was not going to survive a shot taking place decades later. Still, it was nice to see his legacy carry on in a funny, smart, and eccentric character.

Do you think Bumi is underrated, or do you think there are other avatar characters that deserve a little love? We want to hear from you! Let us know in the comments below!

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