|"When I first came to the academy, I saw doom everywhere. Now, I hardly see doom at all!"|
|— Ho Tun reflecting on his growth to Penga and The Dark One.|
Ho Tun was one of the first students at the Beifong Metalbending Academy and the second metalbender in history. In his early life, he suffered from extreme insecurities and was constantly worrying about "doom", as well as his parents, who lived in Yu Dao. However, he overcame his nervousness under the tutelage of Toph Beifong, eventually becoming a talented bender and instructor at the Metalbending Academy.
Ho Tun was born into a family in the Fire Nation colony of Yu Dao in 85 AG. At some point, he developed an obsession about impending "doom", always and everywhere fearing for his own and his loved ones' safety. This greatly impacted Ho Tun's life, and he suffered from a low self-esteem while most considered him a "wimp".
One year after the conclusion of the Hundred Year War, Toph found Ho Tun in a ramen house raving over having swallowed half of a spider wasp in his soup; his over-emotional state inadvertently caused Toph's bracelet to vibrate slightly. Ho Tun later enrolled into the Beifong Metalbending Academy near Yu Dao, along with two other earthbenders who had similarly affected the bracelet, in order to begin learning metalbending. However, Ho Tun's improvement was slow, and he had yet to move a single coin when Sokka visited the academy.
When a rival firebending school under the leadership of Master Kunyo forced them out of the school, Sokka bought him and the other students three days during which they could prepare for a "match to the sit", a battle in which the first team to force someone on the opposite team to sit down would win the rights to use the building. When Sokka devised a plan to get the students to metalbend by creating a fake winged boar spirit out of metal, Ho Tun panicked, and the plan failed. After several unsuccessful attempts to metalbend, Ho Tun and the rest of his classmates decided to leave in order to avoid "doom". However, as they were heading out, they overheard Toph saying to Sokka that she had expected them to become metalbenders, but that it was unjust of her to force them to become something that they were clearly not. Moved by her statement that she "expected them to be something", Ho Tun and his friends discovered the secret of metalbending.
The next day, when Toph was about to sit down in defeat before Master Kunyo and his firebending students, Ho Tun halted her by metalbending a coin at her behind. He, The Dark One, and Penga proceeded to defeat the firebending students and their master by metalbending several coins at them. Ho Tun thanked Toph for believing in him, as, although she never said a kind word about him, he admitted that she was the first one who expected him to be something more than a "wimp". In the fight for the Harmony Restoration Movement, the metalbending students helped Toph when she was in trouble by metalbending the Fire Nation soldiers' helmets.
Saving Sifu Toph
After Toph departed from the academy to see her friends, Ho Tun, The Dark One, and Penga became its temporary instructors. He elaborated on The Dark One's poetic instructions regarding chi by saying that they should concentrate and gather the chi deep in their bodies and use it to feel the metal around them. At that moment, Sokka arrived, telling the three that they needed to come with him. Seeing Penga try to flirt with Sokka, Ho Tun warned her that the situation looked serious. He let out a gasp when the warrior added that it was Toph who needed their help.
The students arrived to the town where the Earthen Fire Refinery was located, where they met up with Aang, who explained the situation to them: Toph and several others were trapped underground and he could not dig them out due to the iron ore deposits in the ground. Ho Tun asked if that meant he needed their metalbending, which Aang confirmed. Katara added that Toph stated it to be like spider ants stomping beneath their feet, much to Ho Tun's dismay, because it was an exercise in which they were blindfolded and had to stand in a sand pit while throwing giant metal plates back and forth over their heads, an exercise which if they failed to complete, they would be stomped by the plates. Ho Tun did take offense when Penga said the plates were bigger than him. The metalbender was unsure if he could do it, but Aang motivated him by saying it was what they trained for. He promptly asked if their "gut furnaces were ready"; once they were set, he called on them to metalbend. Ho Tun screamed upon revealing a giant iron mask and soon doubted their abilities again, but was once more motivated by the Avatar, who told them they were the three best metalbenders in the world outside of Toph and the only ones who could complete the task. Continuing, he told Aang that they needed him to ensure that the dirt did not collapse back into the mine before telling everyone to give one last heave. With that move, they freed the caved-in group. Toph complemented them on their job before, much to Ho Tun's worry, she collapsed into her father's arms. Lao assured them that she was just exhausted and would be fine. The student noted that Toph looked small and almost fragile, to which Penga warned him that Toph would pummel him if she heard such words. Upon learning that Lao was Toph's father much to Penga's shock, Ho Tun asked if she thought their sifu just popped out of a rock.
Defending the Earthen Fire Refinery
The students continued to stand near their instructor as she rested. However, when they learned that Aang was about to destroy the Earthen Fire Refinery and Toph awoke, she called on them to help her stop him. They raised an earthen wall to stop his attacks. They were blown off the wall by Aang's air rings but landed softly on their feet before returning to the battle. Toph called on them to metalbend, but their attacks were dodged. Ho Tun soon grew scared, however, upon noticing that the spirit, General Old Iron, was approaching them. With an intense battle between the spirit and Avatar, Toph again called on the three, but this time to help Aang by peeling off Old Iron's armor with their bending, just like the forest bowing to the east wind exercise. They were able to do so and thus give Aang an open shot to the spirit's chest, but General Old Iron soon noticed that the four metalbenders were destroying his armor, thereby causing General Old Iron to turn his attention toward them. Toph told them to run while she held him off, though Ho Tun and his students did not do so. They soon watched as Aang delivered a severe blow to General Old Iron and the vanquished spirit gave a speech about how humans were more powerful than him before walking away.
Three months after the event, Ho Tun participated in the parade for the new Spirits' Friendship Festival, tapping a small drum as the procession made its way down the town's main street. After these events, Ho Tun, Penga, and The Dark One became full-fledged instructors at the Beifong Metalbending Academy, teaching the beginner classes, while continuing their own training under Toph.
Growth of the academy
The success of Earthen Fire Industries meant that the academy gained a new sponsor. New facilities were built and the academy began offering tuition for free. Toph also deemed Ho Tun, Penga, and The Dark One skilled enough to lead the beginner classes. Ho Tun enjoyed teaching, and especially helped the beginner metalbenders get in touch with their emotions. When reporting this to Toph, she abruptly approved of Ho Tun's methods and cut Penga off before leaving. Ho Tun approached her, asking why she was more grumpy than usual, and questioning if there was anything wrong with the academy. Toph explained that the problem was that everything was so respectable and perfect before leaving.
Ho Tun speculated that Toph may have been disappointed because the academy was so different to how she had learned metalbending. They also reflected on their own personal growth since they came to the academy, such as how Ho Tun had become less anxious and worried about doom, and therefore, confidently raised that they could prove themselves by participating in an underground bending tournament, which would prove that they were capable of going toe-to-toe with other bender fighters. The Dark One deadpanned that now he was the one beginning to see doom everywhere.
Although both Penga and The Dark One expressed doubts about entering a derelict part of Yu Dao, Ho Tun hushed his friends, encouraging them to come prove themselves to Toph. Although his friends raised that Toph would likely not dismiss them from the academy, Ho Tun explained that he wanted to do it to prove to himself how capable he was. Penga and The Dark One still offered to help him, not wanting to leave their friend behind. The trio found the abandoned warehouse where the tournaments were taking place.
The group got in line to register for the bending duels. As they were waiting, Sun damaged the warehouse's metal support beams with his lavabending in a duel against a waterbender, causing it to start collapsing. Ho Tun and his friends helped bend scraps of metal away from the crowd, with him being sure that they could save everyone if they worked together. He also appeared very pleased when Toph did not demean the three, as she used their proper names instead of "lily livers". The group ended up heading outside when the warehouse finally did collapse. He also introduced himself to Sun when Toph convinced him to enrol in the academy, claiming that they were the best teachers Sun would meet.
On the following day, Ho Tun and is friends officially welcomed Sun as well as his comrades at the academy.
Work at the South Pole
Some months later, Toph ordered Ho Tun, Penga, and The Dark One to come to the South Pole to assist in the Southern Reconstruction Project. The old work force which had built factories, including those owned by the Earthen Fire Industries, had been forced to leave the Southern Water Tribe due to political tensions. The three metalbenders were consequently drafted by Toph to act as replacement construction force, although they had no experience in this kind of work. One day, Ho Tun was moving a large amount of snow to clear a construction site. He called his comrades for help, and together they used a large metal shovel to throw the snow onto a massive snow pile. After thanking Peng and The Dark One for their help, Ho Tun turned away to get more work done, only to notice the pile collapsing.
Before they were able to flee, an avalanche threatened to bury all three; luckily, Toph intervened and bent metal bars to contain the pile's collapse. Dazed by the near-death experience, Ho Tun commented that he had seen his "life flash before [his] eyes". After getting free, The Dark One began to complain to Toph that they were unsuited for this work. Ho Tun agreed, arguing that they were not trained for this and that the snow around them held "fluffy, white doom". As Toph dismissed their concerns, stating that they could do anything as they belonged to the most prestigious metalbending school in the world. Ho Tun hesitantly commented that the Beifong Metalbending Academy was the only metalbending school. However, Toph continued to try to motivate her students, and Ho Tun agreed that they were metalbenders, not "lily livers".
A few days later, Team Beifong was enlisted to help in a hostage rescue mission at the Bridge of No Return, where Southern Water Tribe nationalists under Gilak had ostensibly agreed to exchange a kidnapped Earth King Kuei for Head Chieftain Hakoda. The rebels showed their true colors when Kuei and Hakoda were both on the bridge, as Gilak attempted to burn its rope. Led by Malina, Ho Tun, Penga, and The Dark One intervened. When Gilak failed to understand The Dark One's poetic announcement that Team Beifong did not need to tell their names, as they would easily defeat the rebels, Ho Tun helped to explain his comrade's argument. The three metalbenders then overwhelmed Gilak's compatriots, but the rebel stormed onto the bridge before they could incapacitate him. There, he attempted to kill himself as well as Hakoda, resulting in a struggle that destroyed the bridge and caused Hakoda, Gilak, Malina, Kuei and Zuko to fall into the abyss. Ho Tun and his friends were shocked at the sight, but luckily all save for Gilak were subsequently rescued by Zuko, Aang, and Katara.
Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game
- Ho Tun represents the vice of fear, which the Beifong Metalbending Academy helps him surmount.
- Gene Luen Yang was originally going to have Ho Tun constantly obsessing over death, but the idea was deemed inappropriate by Nickelodeon for the target age group. Therefore, Gene replaced it with an obsession with "doom", leading to what he feels to be a more comic effect.
- Ho Tun was the first student to learn metalbending, and thus became the second person, in addition to being the first male, to ever bend metal.
- Upon figuring out how to metalbend, Ho Tun became Penga's new crush, much to his surprise.
- He was voiced by Faith Erin Hicks when she performed a Dark Horse live reading of Toph Beifong's Metalbending Academy.