|"That's what I admire about you, Korra. Your willingness to go to extremes in order to get what you want. It is a quality we both share."|
|— Tarrlok to Korra.|
Tarrlok was the last representative for the Northern Water Tribe on the United Republic Council and also served as its chairman. He was an ambitious politician, considered fair-minded and likable by the general public; however, behind closed doors, he was a manipulative man who held a long-standing rivalry with Councilman Tenzin. Tarrlok sought to fight the Anti-bending Revolution with violence rather than peaceful negotiation. He was willing to go to extreme lengths to win the conflict against the Equalists, even if it meant fanning the flames of aggression and risking the lives of innocent people.
Tarrlok worked to conceal his identity as son of the infamous fugitive crime boss, Yakone, but the actions of Avatar Korra and his own unique ability to bloodbend without a full moon exposed his ancestry to the public. After the Equalists seized control of Republic City, Tarrlok revealed to Korra and Mako that he was the younger brother of Amon, the leader of said group, and that together they shared a tragic past. After the latter's defeat at the hands of the Avatar, Tarrlok and his brother left Republic City on a speedboat, and the disgraced Councilman committed a murder-suicide as atonement for their mistakes.
Tarrlok was born in the Northern Tribe in 133 AG to Yakone, a fugitive from Republic City, and his wife, becoming the younger brother to Noatak by three years. Together, the family lived peacefully within the Northern Water Tribe. However, as he grew older, Tarrlok and his brother discovered they were waterbenders, and Yakone commenced their brutal training. Much to his father's frustration, Tarrlok was not a prodigy like his brother, and thus was frequently the subject of Yakone's outbursts of rage.
At the age of seven, Tarrlok, along with Noatak, left on a supposed hunting trip with their father, far away from their home, during which Yakone revealed his true identity as the notorious former crime boss of Republic City and a once powerful bloodbender. From that moment on, Yakone included lessons in the art of bloodbending during every full moon, intending to mold his sons into bloodbenders of the highest caliber to exact his revenge on the Avatar.
After four years of harsh training, consisting mainly of bloodbending animals under the full moon, Tarrlok and his brother learned how to use the illegal technique without the need of a full moon. They were forced to practice constantly, much to Tarrlok's discontent, who did not have the cold heart required to manipulate helpless animals against their will. Intent on pushing his sons to extremes, Yakone eventually ordered the brothers to bloodbend each other.
Noatak obeyed without hesitation, subduing Tarrlok into a painful state of submission. However, when ordered to do the same to his brother, Tarrlok refused, stating that being bloodbent felt awful. He voiced his lack of desire to cause anyone to have to endure the same and denounced his bloodbending abilities in front of his father. Enraged, Yakone lashed out at his youngest son, naming him a weakling, though before he could physically attack him, Noatak interfered and subdued him.
He tried to persuade Tarrlok to run away with him and start a new life, together away from Yakone and his plans for them, but the younger brother refused, unwilling to abandon their mother. Noatak called him a coward and executed his impromptu plan and fled into the blizzard; Tarrlok calling after him to no avail. Together with his father, Tarrlok searched the surrounding barren tundra for days to locate any sign of his brother, but eventually gave up, assuming that Noatak had perished in the storm. After the loss of his older son, Yakone stopped seeking revenge against the Avatar, and halted Tarrlok's training altogether.
Tarrlok eventually moved to Republic City, and, having learned from his criminal father's mistakes, he ascended through the government, eventually becoming the Northern Water Tribe representative in the United Republic Council and the chairman of said council. Tarrlok managed to conceal the truth about his parentage and, through charismatic politics coupled with a fierce stance against the Equalists, maneuvered himself in position to try and seize control of Republic City in order to purge it of people like his father and become its "savior".
The task force
After learning the danger Amon really posed, the United Republic Council held a meeting, during which Tarrlok proposed to assemble a task force whose sole mission would be "to fight Amon and bring him to justice". Tenzin immediately dismissed this idea, asserting that such an aggressive strategy would only worsen the relations between benders and nonbenders, and he claimed it was merely a ploy to grant Tarrlok more power. However, after volunteering to command the task force himself, and strategically pointing out that all benders, even the friends or families of the other council members, would be in danger because of the Equalist threat, Tarrlok succeeded in convincing the rest of the Council to approve his idea, much to the dismay of Tenzin.
Tarrlok later interrupted Korra, Tenzin, and his family's dinner on Air Temple Island. The airbender emphasized the lack of respect shown by the Councilman, but Tarrlok countered by stating that airbenders never turn away a hungry guest, convincing Tenzin to tolerate his stay, albeit reluctantly. Tarrlok saluted Korra, expressing his pleasure at finally meeting her. He introduced himself as the representative of the Northern Water Tribe in the Council and sat down. He was immediately interrogated by Ikki, who asked him why he had three ponytails and smelled like a lady, finally declaring him "weird", which he answered with a look of contempt and a reference to her precociousness.
Tarrlok complimented Korra for her initiative during the Equalist rally and began explaining to her that Republic City was better after her arrival, but Tenzin interrupted him, asking Tarrlok to stop with the flattery and reveal the real reason of his visit. To the surprise of Korra and her airbending master, he asked the Avatar to join his task force to oppose Amon as he needed someone "fearless in the face of danger" at his side. However, Korra declined his offer, stating that she had only come to Republic City to master airbending. Tarrlok, surprised by her answer, tried to insist, but Tenzin cut him short, affirming that Korra had already made her decision, and he should leave. The Councilman did so, but added that he had not given up, before leaving the temple.
Over the following days, Tarrlok began sending a series of increasingly lavish gifts to Korra, mediated by a council page, in order to persuade her to reconsider and convince her to accept his invitation. The presents themselves ranged from a basket of gifts to a luxurious Satomobile; however, the Avatar did not change her mind. The Councilman decided to invite Korra to a gala he would throw in her honor at City Hall. During the party, Tarrlok led the Avatar to some journalists, who began coercing her about Amon, the Equalist revolution, and her refusal to participate in the mission. Korra, upset at their accusations about her backing away and being afraid of Amon, finally announced she would cooperate with Tarrlok and his task force.
At City Hall, Tarrlok explained the first mission to a group of assembled waterbenders and earthbenders, and Korra: a raid on an underground chi-blocker training camp located in the cellar of a bookstore in the Dragon Flats borough. Led by the Councilman, the group broke into the store and started fighting. Tarrlok saved Korra when she was being attacked by two Equalists, freezing one of them against the wall. After defeating all the chi-blockers, the task force arrested them in the presence of journalists.
At a press conference, Tarrlok announced the success of the raid, and said that Republic City had nothing to fear with himself and the Avatar leading the charge. At the question of a reporter about their leader still being free, the Avatar publicly challenged Amon to a duel that night on Aang Memorial Island. Later, when Korra was about to set out to the location they agreed upon, Tarrlok, at Tenzin's accusation to have caused this, claimed to have talked to Korra about her decision, but she had already made up her mind. After the Avatar left, the Councilman informed Tenzin he was going to be watching the island closely, and that if something went wrong, he had a fleet of police airships ready to swoop down and help accordingly.
The Pro-bending Tournament
When Amon threatened the Council with "severe consequences" if the Pro-bending Tournament was not canceled, Tarrlok and the rest of the Council unanimously agreed to shut down the Pro-bending Arena, much to the disappointment of the Fire Ferrets. However, as he was about to declare the decision as final, Chief Lin Beifong, of the Metalbending Police Force, entered the meeting, and demanded the Council show backbone. She offered to provide extra security during the match if the Council agreed to keep the arena open. Tarrlok and the rest of the Council, except Tenzin, accepted this agreement, and the match continued on as planned.
Following the Equalists' successful attack on the Pro-bending Arena, Tarrlok was quick to call a press conference during which he placed the blame for the arena's destruction in Lin Beifong's hands. Pointing out that she had failed to protect the city, he stated that the police force required new leadership in order to survive the dire times coming their way.
Increasing influence and treachery
Chief Beifong's resignation allowed Tarrlok to increase his influence through Saikhan's institution as the new Chief of Police. With the conclusion of the Pro-bending Tournament, Tarrlok offered Korra the opportunity to rejoin his task force, manipulatively reminding her that she had not yet mastered the art of airbending. Korra adamantly refused, suspicious about him and his burgeoning influence over Republic City. In response, Tarrlok warned her that if she did not change her mind, she should stay out of his way.
During a prison breakout instigated by the Equalists, Team Avatar successfully prevented the convicts from escaping. Tarrlok and his task force arrived immediately after the Equalists and the escapees were taken into custody by Korra and her friends. He reprimanded the team about their seemingly illegal actions and warned them to stop interfering.
At the next Council meeting, Tarrlok proposed a law that would establish a curfew on all nonbenders and outlaw any association with the Equalists. The law went into effect with relative ease as Tenzin was the only dissenting vote.
Tarrlok launched a false flag operation that cut off the power to many nonbenders, which only angered them, sparking a protest against him and the police in the Dragon Flats borough. Upon Korra's arrival, the denizens pleaded with her to stop Tarrlok's actions, reminding her that she was their Avatar as well. Korra demanded Tarrlok to stop oppressing the nonbenders, but he refused, arresting Asami on the charges of being nonbender out past curfew and the daughter of a notorious Equalist. Tarrlok arrested Mako and Bolin for resisting and warned Korra that if she attacked, she would join her friends in prison.
Korra visited the traitorous Councilman's office that same night to see if there was a way to intimidate him into compliance and force him to free her friends. Tarrlok reminded her that what she was doing was similar to what the Equalists claimed that benders were doing; using their powers to oppress others. He also pointed out that he and Korra were similar in that they both went to extreme measures in order to get what they wanted. Korra denied their similarity. Tarrlok made Korra an offer that if she "fell in line" and "did what [he] said", he would release her friends. Realizing that was why he had arrested them, Korra refused and accused Tarrlok of being "just as bad as Amon". Upon hearing this, Tarrlok lashed out at Korra using his waterbending, starting a duel. The battle was relatively evenly fought, until Tarrlok appeared to have been defeated when Korra used the earthen wall behind his desk to slam him down to the Council's meeting room, leaving him without a source of water.
As Korra prepared to finish off the duel with two fire blasts, Tarrlok revealed himself to be a bloodbender, using the art on Korra to prevent his defeat at her hands. He used the skill without the aid of a full moon, much to Korra's surprise. Tarrlok replied by saying that there were many more things she did not know about him, and afterward threw Korra into the back of a police car and told her that she would be taken to a place where she would never be found.
Fall from power
Tarrlok drove Korra to a cabin in the mountains outside of Republic City and locked her in a metal cage within the basement. In an attempt to cover his tracks, he quickly returned to City Hall and wrapped an Equalist bola around a column and laid out other "evidence" to make it appear that the Equalists had attacked the building and captured the Avatar. He also used an electrified glove to shock himself to strengthen this charade. After the arrival of Councilman Tenzin, Tarrlok told him about the "Equalist attack" and ordered Saikhan to deploy the entire Metalbending Police Force to search for Korra.
After a raid on a secret Equalist facility, Lin Beifong, Tenzin, and the rest of Team Avatar discovered that Tarrlok had lied about Korra's abduction by the terrorist organization, so they proceeded to confront the Councilman at City Hall. After denying allegations of kidnapping Korra, his page revealed to the group that he had witnessed Tarrlok capturing the Avatar and locking her in the back of a Satomobile. Tarrlok feverishly denied this and scolded him, but the page revealed that the Councilman was a bloodbender. Tenzin and Lin took up fighting stances and told him to give up; having no other options, Tarrlok incapacitated all of his accusers with bloodbending and fled the scene.
He returned to his cabin and grumbled that his plans were ruined. Korra guessed that his bloodbending secret was out and told him she had realized that he was Yakone's son. Tarrlok did not deny it and stated that he wanted to win Republic City by becoming its "savior", rather than through its criminal underbelly like his father. After blaming Korra for his downfall, he planned on starting up somewhere else and assuming a new identity like his father, using her as his hostage. Before Tarrlok could leave, he was confronted by Amon, the Lieutenant, and some chi-blockers. The Councilman attempted to bloodbend them all, successfully subduing all but Amon himself. He was shocked to see Amon was only slightly affected by his powerful bending. Subsequently, the Equalist leader removed Tarrlok's bending and threw him into the back of a truck.
Revealing the past
Four days after the Equalists' takeover of Republic City, Korra and Mako entered an attic on Air Temple Island, planning to hide there until they could confront Amon, but instead found an incarcerated Tarrlok. He explained that he was the only prisoner on the island because he was Amon's brother. After Tarrlok explained his childhood in great detail, Mako inquired at how he knew that Amon was his brother, and he explained that he recognized the sensation when the revolutionary leader had removed his bending, later realizing that it was his brother's bloodbending grip. Tarrlok then lamented that, even if his intentions were pure, he became exactly the kind of person his father wanted him to be, and stated that Amon was the same. He warned the two that he had never encountered a bender as strong as Amon. Despite this, Tarrlok urged Korra and Mako to "put an end to this sad story" and also offered a sincere apology to the Avatar for everything he had put her through. Korra felt compelled to release Tarrlok, but the former Councilman decided against it, affirming that Amon could not know that they spoke with each other.
After Amon was outed as a bender, he freed Tarrlok from his prison on Air Temple Island, and the brothers escaped Republic City on a speedboat through the Mo Ce Sea. Together again, Amon proclaimed joyfully that with the two of them reunited, there was nothing that they could not accomplish. When Tarrlok referred to Amon by his true name, Noatak, the older brother admitted that he had almost forgotten the sound of it. As Amon navigated, Tarrlok sat at the back of the boat and noticed that it was filled with Equalist gear and weapons. Realizing the madness would never end, he picked up one of the electrified gloves and slipped it on, before leveling it over the motorboat's fuel tank after removing the gas cap. He mentioned that everything would be "just like the good old days", reiterating a statement made earlier by his brother. Looking ahead, Amon shed a single tear before Tarrlok ignited the fuel tank behind him, killing them both in the resulting explosion.
As a young child, Tarrlok was a kindhearted and generous person who cared deeply for others. While his father and older brother relished their bloodbending abilities, Tarrlok displayed no enjoyment over it, stating that he never wanted to apply the technique upon anyone.
Ironically, in his desire to prove himself better than his father, Tarrlok became much like Yakone in his later years, obsessed with power and willing to do whatever it took to acquire it. Although a majority of the public perceived him as a fair-minded, decent man with the best of intentions for Republic City, Tarrlok demonstrated himself to be an ambitious and manipulative elitist behind closed doors.
Cold and ruthless when it came to achieving his goals, he was not above utilizing underhanded tactics such as aggression and bribery to get what he wanted. Furthermore, Tenzin and Tarrlok held long-standing rivalry, rarely agreeing on what was best for Republic City due to their diverging outlooks. In fact, Tarrlok seemed to favor outright subjugation to deal with the Anti-bending Revolution, something to which Tenzin vehemently objected. Due to the fostered belief that his father's failure was caused by his obsession with ruling the city's criminal underworld, the councilman was obsessed with ruling from the top of power. His obsession to become the city's "savior" led him to commit immoral, if not illegal, actions, such as arresting innocent people under false accusations and kidnapping Avatar Korra.
Following the loss of his bending and the realization that it was his brother who had taken it away, while imprisoned, Tarrlok began to lament the errors of the path he had taken. When Korra and Mako discovered him locked in the attic of the temple on Air Temple Island, the former councilman sincerely apologized to Korra for everything that he had done to her, having discovered that he had become the very vengeful monster he had been horrified of becoming from his father's training. In a final act of atonement, Tarrlok decided to take both his own life and that of his brother, Noatak.
Tarrlok was a powerful waterbending master. Drilled relentlessly by his father in waterbending, Tarrlok exhibited great proficiency in the art prior to its removal by Amon. He demonstrated this skill numerous times, such as in his skillful utilization of large streams of water to defeat several chi-blockers at an Equalist hideout, and his confident bending ability when challenging Korra. His style of waterbending allowed him to strike quickly, leaving little time for his opponents to react, allowing him to overpower them with ease. His abilities were portrayed most notably in his fight with the Avatar, when Tarrlok skillfully bent the large waterfall in his office to various effects, such as enveloping himself within a dome of water as a shield from Korra's fire blasts, while simultaneously propelling multiple ice projectiles at an exceedingly rapid pace. This offensive was powerful enough to even briefly overwhelm the Avatar.
In addition to his proficiency as a waterbender, Tarrlok was also a powerful bloodbender. As the son of the infamous bloodbending criminal Yakone, Tarrlok could perform such feats as body manipulation. He could achieve this even without the aid of the full moon, usually necessary for this type of waterbending. He was also capable of bending the blood of multiple opponents simultaneously with a sinister degree of control, demonstrated when he levitated his victims, threw them around, subdued them, and even knocked them unconscious. He utilized these abilities on a number of victims, including members of Team Avatar, the United Republic Council, and his brother Amon, though the latter was able to use his own bloodbending to quickly resist Tarrlok's control.
Aside from his former bending proficiency, Tarrlok was a highly intelligent individual. For years, he was able to conceal his bloodbending abilities and his connection to his father, Yakone, all the while fabricating a new identity for himself and rising to the prominent, public, and equally high-profile position of councilman. He exhibited great knowledge of both the Equalist maneuvers and of historic events. Tarrlok was also a very persuasive individual, regularly swaying the other Council members' decisions to his point of view and appearing as a popular, soft-spoken, and caring politician to the public of Republic City. Tarrlok also demonstrated great skill in manipulating others to do his own bidding, succeeding in aligning Korra to his task force even after she refused multiple times.
- Main article: Tarrlok's relationships
The Legend of Korra
Book One: Air (气)
- 104. "The Voice in the Night"
- 106. "And the Winner Is..."
- 107. "The Aftermath"
- 108. "When Extremes Meet"
- 109. "Out of the Past"
- 111. "Skeletons in the Closet"
- 112. "Endgame"
- Tarrlok has used an electrified glove twice, and both times were used to harm himself, albeit for different reasons.
- Tarrlok's actions in keeping the Equalist threat at bay were almost identical to those of Alexander Palmer and Joseph McCarthy, two powerful men in the United States government during the late 1920s and the early 1950s, respectively. Both men were instigators of the "Red Scares", periods in American history where anti-communist sentiments were high. Between the two scares, a law was enacted, making it illegal for anyone to be even affiliated in even the most remote context with the Communist party.
- Palmer was famous for the "Palmer raids", nighttime surprise attacks conducted on alleged communist cells, a parallel to Tarrlok's midnight raid on the Equalist bunker in the Dragon Flats district.
- McCarthy was suspected of having ties with high-level security officers, just like Tarrlok and the Chief of Police.
- Tarrlok's rise from politician to tyrant mirrors that of Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini, two immensely powerful dictators of the World War II era.
- Mussolini persuaded – often illegally – governmental offices to give him more and more power to combat the communists, just as Tarrlok sought to increase his own power to combat the Equalists.
- Hitler took over Germany's nominal democratic republic with fear-mongering and manipulation, later using his resulting power to imprison innocent people, just as Tarrlok wrongly imprisoned innocent nonbenders.
- Tarrlok was the fifth known bloodbender to exist and the third seen capable of using his abilities without the aid of a full moon, after his father and brother.
- Tarrlok shares many similarities with Fire Lord Ozai, the primary antagonist of the first Avatar series. Both of them were the younger, less favored sibling of two brothers by their respective fathers, both became corrupt political leaders in adulthood, soon to have had their bending stripped and both were subsequently imprisoned by a family member.
- Tarrlok's picture was on the front page of a newspaper that Korra burned out of frustration during her early struggles in her airbending training.
- Tarrlok and Amon were the first people to die on screen in The Legend of Korra, followed by Wan, Unalaq, Earth Queen Hou-Ting, Ming-Hua, P'Li, Ghazan, and Hiroshi.
- Tarrlok was also the first character across both series to commit murder-suicide, as well as the first character to do such a thing in any Nickelodeon program.
- Tarrlok shared his father's three ponytail hairstyle, having used a two ponytail style in his childhood.
- According to the creators in the Korra: Making of a Legend marathon, Tarrlok was a hybrid of Azula, for her manipulative abilities and being able to use fear and desire to get what she wanted, and Long Feng, for his use of political power for personal desires and vanity.
- Tarrlok decided to detonate the speedboat, killing both himself and Amon, because he realized that they had no place anymore in the world; he wanted to have a last moment with his brother before dying together.
Unknown, eventually Sokka
|Chairman of the United Republic Council
Unknown — 170 AG
Position abolished (United Republic Council dissolved)