5 Harsh Realities Of Being An Earthbender (& 5 Perks)

Known for their strength, courage, and grit, Earthbenders have the ability to manipulate the second of the four elements; water, earth, fire, and air. Earthbenders seem to have an almost infinite supply of resources to use to their advantage. They can use their skills to build, weaponize them for defense, and combine their individuality with their powers to create a unique craft.

RELATED: ATLA: 10 MCU Characters Best Suited For Bending (& Which Element They Would Bend)

Each element from the world of Avatar: The Last Airbender is different, with its own advantages and pitfalls. So it is no surprise fans love to debate the topic of which element would be the best to harness, as it certainly isn’t an easy calculation to make. Environmental, economic, and practical factors must be taken into account, as well as an individual’s unique strengths and goals.

10 Harsh Reality: They Were Captured By The Fire Nation

9 old earth kingdom man from avatar

Being an Earthbender was synonymous with being imprisoned in Book 1: Chapter 6 of Avatar. When Aang and his crew came across an Earth village in this episode, there was only one Earthbender that had not yet been taken by the Fire Nation; Haru. Haru had to hide his Earthbending skills and practice them in secrecy in order to avoid the grim fate of his father and comrades.

Unfortunately, Haru was also taken after an old man reported him to Fire Nation Soldiers. Being an Earthbender at this time wasn’t easy, as they all faced isolation, imprisonment, and betrayal – even from their own fellow villagers.

9 Perk: They Can Use Solid Objects With Bending

Only Earthbenders can utilize solid materials in their craft. This ability sets them apart from other elemental tribes. From creating their own projectiles and imprisoning their attackers in a rocky cell, to combining earthy materials and creating walls of defense– Earthbenders are known for being able to manipulate their environment by harnessing the earth around them.

RELATED: Avatar: 5 Harsh Realities of Being An Airbender (& 5 Perks)

Earthbenders can more easily capture their opponents, as seen when General Iroh was detained in a hot spring by thick stone spikes. Airbenders, Waterbenders, and Firebenders are all incapable of bending solid forms, much to the advantage of Earthbenders.

8 Harsh Reality: The Earth Can Be Used Against Them

Korra trapped with earthbending

In Book 1: Chapter 7, Prince Zuko kicked a boulder that had been launched at him by Earthbenders, successfully deflecting the attack and causing his attackers to be showered by the rock instead. General Iroh also weaponized the Earthbenders’ own rocks against them in the same battle scene.

When a boulder was flung in his direction, he made use of the chains around his hands and managed to wrap them around the gigantic rock, which he then hurled back at his opponent. Although only Earthbenders can utilize the earth through bending in battle, members of other elemental tribes can still counter with basic hand-to-hand combat techniques (similar to the ones used by Prince Zuko and General Iroh).

7 Perk: They Have Access To Pure Jennamite

2 Katara and Sokka inside crystals

Jennamite was introduced to fans in Book 1: Chapter 5 in the form of rings. Also known as creeping crystals, King Bumi slid these rings onto Katara and Sokka’s fingers when he took them prisoner. The Jennamite that started on their fingers had continued growing until it was up to their necks. If King Bumi hadn’t released them from the Jennamite, they would have suffocated after being fully enveloped in the crystal.

Besides being an extremely effective torture chamber and weapon, Jennamite is also made of rock candy, so Earthbenders can take advantage of the Jennamite’s continual growth as an endless supply of sweets!

6 Harsh Reality: They Are Useless Without Solid Earth


Earthbenders are rendered defenseless without rock and stone around them to use. Note that all the Earthbenders of Haru’s village were hopeless and powerless after being caged in a facility made of metal they couldn’t bend. Their spirits were broken.

This is very much unlike Waterbenders, who can find water to use in everything living – even humans. Waterbenders can get creative when they need to and have even been known to use their own sweat and tears, while Earthbenders must be in an environment that already has everything they need.

5 Perk: They Have Access To Unagi

Unagi made its debut in “The Warriors of Kyoshi” when the fire nation soldiers had left the city ablaze. Avatar Aang rode the gigantic eel Unagi and used it to shoot powerful bursts of water, successfully putting out all flames and saving the city from further ruin.

RELATED: 10 Secrets You Didn’t Know About Avatar Kyoshi From Avatar: The Last Airbender

If Aang was capable of taming the humongous eel after one visit, then imagine what an Avatar living by the eel could accomplish with it. Since the Unagi inhabits the body of water in the earth village of Kyoshi, it is a powerful creature a nearby Earthbender could take advantage of.

4 Harsh Reality: Very Few Can Obtain The Power To Metalbend

Metalbending is an extremely hard skill to learn and is known to only be learnable for a small percentage of Earthbenders. Being the founder of Metalbending, Toph was able to determine a way to gauge this potential in others. Metalbending allows Earthbenders to manipulate metal as if it were stone. The skill is extremely difficult to achieve because it requires the user to see the impurity of the metal. The majority of Earthbenders are blind to the trace amounts of earth in metals, making it impossible for them to learn.

3 Perk: They Can Use Rock Wearables

Although Earthbenders cannot use anything naturally on their person, like Waterbenders who can use their own tears, some Earthbenders have gotten creative with ways they can use their powers through the use of wearables. Earthbenders have been known to wear shoes made of rock, which enables them to walk on rock walls, ceilings, and slide across the earth at remarkable speeds – making them extremely versatile in battle and elsewhere.

Another known wearable is rock gloves. Rock gloves can be used to scale rock walls in conjunction with rock shoes (or not). Rock gloves retain their shape when projected, and can be used to throw punches from meters away, to fetch objects at a distance, or even grab and detain their opponent. Toph could steal infinite amounts of money with rock gloves in her hands.

2 Harsh Reality: They Rarely See The World

Bolin earthbending a ceiling

Earthbenders are not known for their travel. Many stay in the Earth Kingdom working for the package delivery service outlined in “The King of Omashu.” Without the ability to fly like Airbenders, and without access to flying bison, a nomadic life is not a common one for the majority of Earthbenders.

RELATED: Avatar: 10 Best Uses Of Waterbending In The Franchise, Ranked

Members of the Earth, Fire, and Water nations are known for staying where they were born. Most don’t have a reason to leave. It’s so rare to leave one’s home village that Katara was going to stay in the South Pole if she didn’t meet Aang. She would have abandoned her Waterbending gift instead of traveling to learn from another tribe.

1 Perk: They Can Build Almost Anything

team avatar in omashu

Earthbenders have the ability to create anything – as long as it’s made from solid earth. They can create whole cities or even whole kingdoms from stone. They have been known to create their own wearables, weapons, and forms of transportation. The speedy delivery system that was featured in the Kingdom of Omashu is a notable example. Earthbenders are even capable of creating amusement parks out of stone – which they have already unintentionally done, as Bumi and Aang made apparent in “The King of Omashu.”

NEXT: Avatar: 10 Best Earthbending Fights, Ranked

Carter smirks as T'Challa looks uncomfortable

What If…? Every Episode, Ranked

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