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Earthbender Earth Kingdom emblem

The Royal Earthbender Guards of Ba Sing Se, commonly known as the King's Guards, are earthbending warriors within the Earth Kingdom affiliated with neither the Dai Li nor the army. They instead serve as personal protectors of the Earth Monarch,[1] though Earth Queen Hou-Ting preferred the Dai Li as bodyguards.[2] As elite troops of Ba Sing Se, they are tasked with guarding the Royal Palace, serving as gatekeepers of the Outer and Inner Walls of Ba Sing Se,[3] and acting as sub-commanders for the Ba Sing Se army troops.[4] They are also responsible for the safety of any properties belonging to the Earth Monarch, such as the royal vault.[2][5]

Due to their importance for both the monarchy and Ba Sing Se, they were involved in many historically significant events, such as the Peasant Uprising in Ba Sing Se[6] and the Fire Nation's attempt to demolish the capital's walls with a drill.[7]


Reign of the 46th Earth King[]

Peasant uprising

The Guards defended the Royal Palace from revolting peasants during the Peasant Uprising in Ba Sing Se.

During the reign of the 46th Earth King, the Royal Earthbender Guards remained loyal to the crown despite the kingdom being plunged into a civil war and an ensuing peasant uprising.[6]

When the peasants of Ba Sing Se rebelled and gained control over the whole city except the Royal Palace, the guards barricaded themselves in the palace, determined to protect the king until the bitter end. Unable to handle the revolt and fearing for his life, the Earth King summoned Avatar Kyoshi to the capital to aid him and bring the revolt to an end. However, when the Avatar refused, the king furiously ordered her arrest, which the Royal Earthbender Guards obeyed without hesitation. Despite outnumbering her, they proved to be no match for the Avatar as she easily brushed them aside with airbending.[6]

Defending Ba Sing Se[]

King's Guards throwing boulders

The Guards attempted to destroy the Fire Nation drill with boulders upon General Sung's command.

Centuries later, during the Hundred Year War, the Royal Earthbender Guards became the first line of defense for Ba Sing Se during the Fire Nation invasion of the Earth Kingdom. Together with the Council of Five, they remained completely loyal to the Earth King throughout the Conspiracy of Ba Sing Se.

In the spring of 100 AG, the Royal Earthbender Guards, under the command of General Sung, tried to fight off the Fire Nation drill that assaulted the Outer Walls of Ba Sing Se. At Sung's order, the guards threw boulders at the heavily armored drill but their efforts proved ineffective, and it was the aid of Team Avatar that eventually secured victory for the guards.[7] Some days later, they served as the Earth King's bodyguards during a party for his pet bear.[8]


The Royal Earthbender Guards defended the palace from Team Avatar with surface-to-air rocks.

The Royal Earthbender Guards later attempted to prevent Avatar Aang and his team from reaching the 52nd Earth King, Kuei, mistaking them as enemies of their ruler. They used specialized surface-to-surface rocks against the invaders, re-purposing the projectiles as surface-to-air rocks against the airborne bison of the Avatar. Upon Team Avatar's landing, the King's Guards deployed their whole force to halt the attack, but despite their numbers and equipment, they were quickly defeated.

When the Avatar tried to convince the Earth King about a conspiracy that prevented Kuei from being informed about the war, the King's Guards escorted Earth King Kuei as he toured the city with Team Avatar.[5]

The Yu Dao crisis and Kuei's international travels[]

After the Hundred Year War, the Royal Earthbender Guards continued their duty, and when the Harmony Restoration Movement failed and the crisis regarding Yu Dao escalated, they served as sub-commanders of the Earth King's army in the ensuing battle against the reformed Fire Nation Army. When the battle eventually ended with a ceasefire and a temporary agreement, they, along with Earth King Kuei and General How, returned to Ba Sing Se peacefully.[4]

Zuko and Kuei arrive at the South Pole

The Royal Earthbender Guards accompanied Earth King Kuei to the Southern Water Tribe.

The Royal Earthbender Guards also accompanied the Earth King when he traveled to the Southern Water Tribe for diplomatic talks around 102 AG.[9]

Decline under Queen Hou-Ting[]

During the reign of Queen Hou-Ting, the Royal Earthbender Guards were replaced in their position as bodyguards and enforcers by the Dai Li, at the preference of the queen, and were instead used as mere guards for her properties and prisons.[10][11]

Royal Earthbender Guards flee

The Royal Earthbender Guards fled as soon as Gombo's gang attacked.

A unit of earthbender guards helped escort the Future Industries airship with Team Avatar aboard to the Royal Palace. Later that day, they served as escorts when Korra went to secure Hou-Ting's tax payments. However, when Gombo's gang showed up, they ran off in fear, leaving Korra and Asami to deal with them.[2] Royal Earthbenders also guarded the Earth Queen's Temple, and two of the guards were ambushed by Team Avatar when the latter infiltrated the compound.[10] One guard patrolled the palace's underground prison during Mako and Bolin's confinement.[11]

After the queen was murdered by the Red Lotus and Ba Sing Se fell into anarchy, mobs of Lower Ring citizens began to plunder the palace. One group threatened a guard not to attempt to stop them; the earthbender instead chose to join the looters, even offering to show the other citizens new treasures to plunder.[12]

Service under King Wu[]

Korra and Wu discuss candidates Ling and Bak

The Guards protected Earth King Wu while he was overseeing the Gaoling elections along with Team Avatar.

After the anarchy in the Earth Kingdom ended and the Earth Empire was defeated in 174 AG, the Royal Earthbender Guards were reconstituted in their original role as bodyguards by King Wu. A small group of royal guards subsequently accompanied him and Team Avatar to Gaoling, where an Earth Empire holdout, under the leadership of Commander Guan, threatened Wu's plan to transform the Earth Kingdom into a democracy. They were present when Wu visited the town to oversee the preparations for the upcoming democratic elections and witnessed the standoff between the commander and Team Avatar.[13] When Wu intended to travel to the Foggy Swamp, the Royal Earthbender Guards' request to accompany him was denied, as Wu believed that the Avatar's presence and his bug spray provided sufficient protection. When Guan's forces later attacked the Future Industries airship, the guards were kidnapped and brainwashed into serving the Earth Empire. During the subsequent assault on the Metal Clan airship, the brainwashed guards located Wu and brought him to Guan to be brainwashed as well.[14] They later all returned to Gaoling City Hall to expedite the elections, delivering Guan a landslide victory in the gubernatorial elections.[15]

After Guan's plot had been exposed and the commander was captured by Team Avatar and its allies, the guards' brainwashing was undone. They consequently assisted in securing Gaoling and helping to cure Guan's civilian victims.[15]


The Royal Earthbender Guards sport a uniform very different from that of normal Earth Kingdom soldiers, wearing heavier, dark green full-body armor with a green plume on top of the helmet.[5]


  • Fire Lord Ozai was known to use dummies clad in Royal Earthbender Guard uniforms during his firebending practice.[16]
  • Under Earth King Feishan, the "Brocade Guards" served as the royal bodyguards.[17] It is unknown whether these were an earlier version of the Royal Earthbender Guards or an unrelated unit.
  • The armor worn by the Royal Earthbender Guards is similar in appearance to that of the brigandine armor worn by both the banner soldiers and cavalry units of the Qing Dynasty military.


  1. From older Avatar: The Last Airbender official site, originally on Nick.com. Encyclopedia now broken, archived at The Lost Lore of Avatar Aang - Character: Royal Earthbender Guards.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian. (June 27, 2014). "The Earth Queen". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 3. Nickelodeon.
  3. Estoesta, Joann, Wahlander, Lisa, Huebner, Andrew, Scheppke, Gary, MacMullan, Lauren, Mattila, Katie, Ridge, Justin, Volpe, Giancarlo (writers) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (September 29, 2006). "The Tales of Ba Sing Se". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 15. Nickelodeon.
  4. 4.0 4.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Promise Part Three (September 26, 2012), Dark Horse Comics.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 O'Bryan, John (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (November 17, 2006). "The Earth King". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 18. Nickelodeon.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Escape from the Spirit World: Avatar Kyoshi Online Comic Book.
  7. 7.0 7.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante, Konietzko, Bryan (writers) & Volpe, Giancarlo (director). (September 15, 2006). "The Drill". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 13. Nickelodeon.
  8. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (September 22, 2006). "City of Walls and Secrets". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 14. Nickelodeon.
  9. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). North and South Part Three (April 26, 2017), Dark Horse Comics.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Zwyer, Melchior (director). (July 11, 2014). "In Harm's Way". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 4. Nickelodeon.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Zwyer, Melchior (director). (August 8, 2014). "Long Live the Queen". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 10. Nick.com.
  12. Hamilton, Joshua (writer) & Heck, Colin (director). (August 15, 2014). "The Ultimatum". The Legend of Korra. Book Three: Change. Episode 11. Nick.com.
  13. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer), Wong, Michelle (artist), Ng, Killian (colorist). Ruins of the Empire Part One (May 21, 2019), Dark Horse Comics.
  14. DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer), Wong, Michelle (artist), Ng, Killian (colorist). Ruins of the Empire Part Two (November 12, 2019), Dark Horse Comics.
  15. 15.0 15.1 DiMartino, Michael Dante (writer), Wong, Michelle (artist), Ng, Killian (colorist). Ruins of the Empire Part Three (February 25, 2020), Dark Horse Comics.
  16. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). The Search Part One (March 20, 2013), Dark Horse Comics.
  17. Yee, F. C. (author). (July 18, 2023). Chapter Twenty-Seven, "Bereavement". The Legacy of Yangchen. Amulet Books.

See also[]