Earth Kingdom emblem

Lao Beifong was a wealthy figure in the Earth Kingdom town of Gaoling. He was the husband of Poppy Beifong and the father of Toph. Caring deeply for his daughter and only wishing for her safety, he was extremely overprotective of her, and hid her existence from the rest of the world. She consequently ran away from home, resulting in a rift between Lao, Toph, and Poppy.

After the Hundred Year War, he became the business partner of Loban and co-founded the world's first joint venture between the Fire Nation and the Earth Kingdom, known as Earthen Fire Refinery. When the project and his life were threatened by a crisis, Lao finally acknowledged his daughter as she was and reconciled with her. Following these events, the settlement around the Earthen Fire Refinery expanded dramatically and became known as Cranefish Town, with Lao becoming one of its leaders as member of the Business Council.


Early life

After it was discovered that Toph was an earthbender, Lao enrolled her in earthbending classes with Master Yu, though he only allowed her to learn basic forms and breathing techniques. Lao loved his only child dearly, but failed to recognize what his daughter really wanted, believing her blindness made her weak, helpless, and frail. As a result of this, he had her guarded and cared for the majority of the time. However, unbeknownst to him, Toph had excellent earthbending skills.

The runaway

In 100 AG, Avatar Aang and his friends showed up at his house, desiring to speak to his daughter. Lao asked the Avatar about how much longer the Hundred Year War would last, and recommended Master Yu to him for earthbending training; unknown to him, Toph and Aang were fighting throughout the dinner. The dinner was ultimately ruined when Aang sneezed and airbent all of the plates off the table.

Beifong family

Lao decided to further restrict Toph's freedom, as he was not able to see his daughter as anything but a helpless girl.

That night, Lao and his wife ventured to the courtyard with Aang's friends and Master Yu, where they discovered that their daughter and the Avatar had been kidnapped, and were to pay ransom at Earth Rumble VI for her return. After returning, they reclaimed their daughter, but the earthbenders insisted on keeping the Avatar. Toph subsequently revealed her earthbending prowess by defeating the Earth Rumble VI competitors who were holding the Avatar hostage, revealing to Lao that Toph was an incredible earthbender. However, his fear for her safety increased rather than being diminished, and decided she would be guarded around the clock, claiming that she had too much time for leisurely activities. This drove Toph to run away from the confines of her home to teach Aang the art of earthbending. Upon realizing she was missing, Lao assumed Aang had kidnapped her, and commissioned Xin Fu, the host of the Earth Rumble VI tournament, and Master Yu, to do "whatever it [took] to bring [her] home", offering a chest of gold as a reward.[2]

However, the two earthbenders were thwarted by Toph's new metalbending abilities, finding themselves locked in the very cage intended to hold her. After they escaped, they gave up their search for Toph, inciting a rift between Lao and his wife Poppy, who blamed her husband for losing their daughter.[1] Lao decided to leave Gaoling to make a new life for himself, and was approached by Loban with an offer to start the Earthen Fire Refinery together. Even though he still could not cope with the fact that his daughter was not like he had always believed,[3] Lao continued to love and worry for Toph during this time, blaming himself for everything that had happened.[1]

Family reunion

Toph and Lao

Lao saw his daughter again for the first time in two years at the Earthen Fire Refinery.

As co-owner of the factory, Lao accompanied Loban in 102 AG to Yu Dao in order to meet with the city's government in regards to the construction of a railroad between the city and the refinery. When he returned to the factory, he was shell-shocked to find Toph, whom he had not seen in two years, there as well.[4] However, when Satoru pointed out that he had said he did not have a family, Lao recovered and reiterated that statement to be the truth, dismissing Toph as some confused little girl as opposed to his daughter. He promptly turned his back to her and ordered the Rough Rhinos to escort her and the rest of Team Avatar off the premises.

Lao returned to his office, where he reminisced about his family over a family picture. His train of thought was cut short, however, when Toph barged into his office. He dismissed her again as being confused and urged her to leave, lest he called security. When Toph called him out for being a liar, he told her that he had spent countless hours of his life and a good portion of his fortune to raise a poised, demure, obedient young woman, for whom he did everything to protect her from the dangers of the world. When he looked at the Toph before him, he only saw a rude and ungrateful child, whom he did not recognize as the quiet, little girl he had raised. After he was told that was because it had all been an act to please him, he ended the conversation by turning his back on her. Before she could leave his office, he was urged by Sokka, who had barged in, to order all his workers to evacuate an unstable mine. Lao dismissed him, stating that the crystal mine's condition was closely monitored, though was shocked to learn that Sokka was talking about an iron mine, the excavation of which he had not been aware of.

Lao Beifong apologizes

Lao apologized to Toph for his past inability to accept her true self, proving that he loved her.

Lao followed Sokka down to the mine, where his surprise only increased upon witnessing the undeniable evidence of excavation. He stated that the mine should not have been there as he was under the impression that he had an agreement with Loban to not excavate the iron ore in that place as the area was unstable. Despite Loban showing up and denouncing the existence of such an agreement, Lao ordered all the workers to leave the premises, urging them to worry about their lives, rather than their livelihoods. When the mine subsequently collapsed, Lao became trapped with several others under the dirt, his life only saved by his daughter's metalbending, as she used the skill to keep them all from being crushed.[3] Realizing it might be their last moment, Lao approached his daughter and apologized for how he had acted, adding that he had thought about her every day since she had left. Toph told him he did not know her well because if he did, he knew he would not have to doubt their survival as she was the greatest earthbender of all time.

Lao asks Toph for help

Realizing that he had to treat his daughter like an equal, Lao finally asked for her help.

After Aang and Toph's students rescued the group, Lao quickly reacted as his daughter collapsed from exhaustion, catching her in his arms and assuring The Dark One that she would be fine. He told the students who he was before worriedly resuming his watch over Toph. Lao took her over to a table and held her hand as she lay unconscious when a female worker ran over and called to him. At first, he scolded her for yelling as Toph needed her rest, but to his distress, the worker informed him that Aang was about to destroy the Earthen Fire Refinery. When Toph awoke and asked what was happening, Lao began to explain, but quickly stopped and requested she continue to rest. Toph rebuffed him, not wanting to be safe, prompting Lao to apologize and reveal what Aang was about to do for reasons he was not sure of. The businessman added that it would not only ruin him but also remove a symbol of peace, a sign that nations could work together; he thus called on his daughter to help and watched as she and her students honored the request. His refinery, however, was ultimately destroyed by the angered spirit, General Old Iron.

After Aang vanquished Old Iron, Lao gave a speech to his workers, asking them to stay with him and rebuild, promising that it would be worth their while and not just financially, finishing with a call to build the future together. Afterward, he asked Toph what she thought of his speech, to which he was told it was not bad, although not as good as the ones she gave at her school.[1] Lao subsequently made his daughter an executive partner of Earthen Fire Industries.[5]

Growth of Cranefish Town

In the next months, more businesses were set up in the area where the Earthen Fire Refinery was located. Many people seeking employement followed, and the small worker settlement grew into a bustling agglomeration. It became known as "Cranefish Town", and soon began to experience growing unrest due to overpopulation, unemployment, as well as tensions between benders and nonbenders. To oversee the growth of the settlement, and find solutions for its problems, Lao and other factory owners founded the Business Council as unofficial governing body for Cranefish Town.[5]

Later life

Lao and Poppy eventually reconciled and resumed living together. In 141 AG, they gave shelter to their granddaughter Suyin after she was sent away from Republic City by her mother to avoid having to go to jail for participating in a robbery.[6]


Lao was a caring and kind man who sought the best for his family, though he could be extremely overbearing, notably to his only daughter, Toph. Ignorant to Toph's true earthbending abilities, he perceived her as helpless and fragile, an image to which, in reality, Toph did not compare in the least. This view remained unchanged even after seeing Toph's undeniable skill first hand. Toph's blindness resulted in him being overprotective of her and she was placed under strict surveillance. His wish to keep his daughter safe often influenced his decisions and contradicted Toph's own desires.[7] It was the culmination of his overprotective nature and his blindness to the truth which galvanized Toph to leave, but even following this, rather than admitting his error, his attitude did not change, as he believed Aang had kidnapped her.[2]


Baatar Jr.


Avatar: The Last Airbender

Book Two: Earth (土)

Graphic novel trilogies


  • According to Toph's passport[8] and the fake letter from her mother,[9] Beifong is written as 北方 and when succeeding , his full name translates to Old North.
  • In contrast with most Earth Kingdom citizens, Lao had brown eyes instead of the typical green.[3]
  • Lao is the first out of three known fathers of a member of a Team Avatar to be antagonistic toward the team, the others being Ozai and Hiroshi Sato. However, he is the only one to have never attempted to murder his child.
  • He is also one of the few characters in the Avatar world to have a known last name, the others being the members of his own family, the Sato family, Shiro Shinobi, Iknik Blackstone Varrick, Zhu Li Moon, Wonyong Keum, and Jargala Omo.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Rift Part Three (November 5, 2014), Dark Horse Comics.
  2. 2.0 2.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (May 5, 2006). "The Blind Bandit". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 6. Nickelodeon.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Rift Part Two (July 2, 2014), Dark Horse Comics.
  4. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Rift Part One (March 5, 2014), Dark Horse Comics.
  5. 5.0 5.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Hicks, Faith Erin (writer), Wartman, Peter (artist), Hill, Ryan (colorist). Imbalance Part One (December 18, 2018), Dark Horse Comics.
  6. Mattila, Katie (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (July 18, 2014). "Old Wounds". The Legend of Korra. Season 2. Episode 6. Nickelodeon.
  7. Throughout Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  8. DiMartino, Michael Dante, Hamilton, Joshua (writers) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (September 15, 2006). "The Serpent's Pass". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 12. Nickelodeon.
  9. O'Bryan, John (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (November 17, 2006). "The Earth King". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 18. Nickelodeon.

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