|Chronological and political information|
Toph Bei Fong, usually referred to as Toph, was an earthbending master and perhaps the most powerful earthbender of her time. Blind since birth, Toph was constantly treated condescendingly because of her disability and stature as a little girl, especially by her overprotective parents. Upon discovering badgermoles, earthbending animals who were blind just like her, she learned how to use earthbending as an extension of her senses. This gave her the ability to "see" through every minute vibration that goes through the ground.  This ability is known as seismic sense.
Known as the "Blind Bandit", she mastered earthbending through her own style and developed a tough-guy personality, becoming infamous by winning underground earthbending tournaments behind her parents' backs. Initially uninterested, she eventually chose to leave behind her old life and travel with Avatar Aang and friends to be his earthbending teacher when her parents finally became unbearable for her. Toph's total mastery over earthbending, unique personality, and rough wisdom made her a valuable addition to Team Avatar.
Toph was the only child of the wealthy Beifong family of Gaoling. Born blind, she was sheltered by parents who believed her blindness made her fragile and incapable of looking after herself. They went to extreme measures to protect her, including hiding her existence from the rest of the world, which resulted in no one knowing that the Beifong family even had a daughter. Poppy and Lao Beifong expected their daughter to be well-mannered and proper due to their noble status in Earth Kingdom society; while she usually wore her green and pale yellow belted tunic and pants, at home Toph wore a floor-touching white petticoat dress, with long teal sleeves, a flower printed bodice, a long sash along the back, and a small, tiara-like headband with pink and white flowers on it. Toph, resenting her parents' treatment, grew up hard and rebellious. At the age of six, she ran away from home into a cave inhabited by badgermoles. Badgermoles were the first earthbenders and according to Toph, she understood them, and they understood her because they were both blind. She learned earthbending by imitating their movements. Toph learned to "see" through the use of her earthbending, feeling people and other objects through their vibrations, which she felt through the ground via her bare feet.
She also developed a great sense of hearing. Although Lao Beifong later hired the earthbender teacher, Master Yu, to instruct her, he didn't teach her anything other than beginner moves, according to the orders of Toph's father, unaware that she had already become very powerful. She became such a powerful bender that she secretly entered underground earthbending tournaments as the Blind Bandit, and was actually the champion of Earth Rumble more than once. When she met Aang, she soon ran away to teach him earthbending, but also to get away from her parents, who never gave her any freedom.
In order to escape her parents' control, Toph fled secretly with Aang and his friends and volunteered herself as Aang's Earthbending instructor. Toph's defiance of authority and co-operation annoyed Katara; but the two later became close friends. It is implied in some episodes ("The Serpent's Pass" and "Sokka's Master") that Toph has a crush on Sokka; but this is never consummated.
The Bei Fong family appears well-known and influential in the Earth Kingdom, in that Toph's display of her family's seal was sufficient to gain passage on a ferry ("The Serpent's Pass"), though doing so in the city of Ba Sing Se ("City of Walls and Secrets") did not allow herself and her companions into a party.
In later episodes, Toph becomes less snide of character, but retains her cocky attitude. Her bending abilities improve when she learns to bend metal by detecting and manipulating the impurities therein.
Toph joins Sokka and Suki in the finale to prevent the Fire Nation's decisive attack on the Earth Kingdom's capital. The three succeed in stopping the Fire Nation's airship brigade, giving Aang the opportunity to defeat Phoenix King Ozai. Toph's last appearance is in complimenting Sokka's poorly-drawn image of the group, thus emphasizing that she cannot see it and causing a moment of laughter.
It has been revealed in interviews with the creators of the series that after the Great War, Toph went on a long journey across the Earth Kingdom, teaching Metalbending to elite Earthbenders. During her travels, Toph gave birth to a daughter, and taught Metalbending to the police force of Republic City, of whom her daughter became Chief.
Toph later traveled the world to teach metalbending to other earthbenders; soon after the War's closing, she founded an academy for the art, her first known students being Penga, The Dark One, and Ho Tun. During the impasse between Fire Lord Zuko and the Earth King, this school found it necessary to be prepared for conflict with a rival firebending school. Further in the future, Toph had a daughter who would later become the Chief of Police in the Republic City, Lin Beifong. She passed away sometime before 170 ASC.
When first introduced, Toph brought a totally new personality to the group. Unlike the nurturing Katara, flighty Aang or gruff but goofy Sokka, Toph is fiercely independent, sarcastic, direct, stubborn and confrontational. She appeared to have the same carefree and adventurous personality as Aang and she was very tomboyish in the way she acted and dressed, in contrast to the delicate doll her parents saw her as. However, unlike Aang, who avoided fighting whenever possible, Toph loved battling and took great pride in her earthbending skills. She appeared eager to prove that she was as strong as anyone who could see and that she was the best earthbender in the world.
Toph's eagerness to prove that she can be independent had led to some initial difficulties with Aang and his friends. Toph insisted that she can "carry her own weight" and often mistook a simple friendly gesture as an act of pity for her blindness. Her encounter with Iroh, however, has taught her that Aang, Katara and Sokka care for her because they are friends, not because her disability makes them feel obligated to do so.
Toph was often brutally honest when criticizing others, especially her friends. She was vocal about her opinions on others regardless of status (the Avatar, Aang) or age (Iroh). Her occasional attitude or aloofness is likely related to her being the only child of one of the richest families in the Earth Kingdom. Thanks to her time as a competitor and champion of earthbending tournaments, she was an expert in verbally taunting and insulting her opponents and on occasion her friends (particularly Sokka). She revealed to Katara that, being unable to see what she looks like, she doesn't feel the need to fuss over her appearance. However, despite her many quirks, Toph had shown that she was a quick learner and her courage and loyalty to her new friends seemed very stable.
Toph and Katara seemed to be polar opposites; while Katara was kind, welcoming and supportive, Toph was tough, unyielding and steadfast. These differences in personality extended to the way both girls taught Aang; however, Toph eventually showed a bit of compromise in order to help Aang through his initial difficulty with earthbending. Despite occasional clashes or spats Toph and Katara generally got along, perhaps if only for the fact that they were both girls.
One of Toph's most obvious traits involved personal hygiene. She was accustomed to lying on the ground and walking everywhere barefoot leaving her soles quite soiled. This was common, however, as most earthbenders in the show walk barefoot, likely so that their body is directly touching the earth at all times. Also, she had been seen belching loudly, picking her nose, spitting, and is usually covered in dirt or, as she calls it, "a healthy coating of earth".
Toph was well-educated in the manners and bearings of high society—she merely consciously and constantly chose to ignore them. She made an exception when the group needed to go to a special party to see the Earth King, in order to give news of the solar eclipse, only to meet the head of the Dai Li, Long Feng.
Toph didn't let her blindness hurt her self-confidence. Toph once told Katara, "One of the good things about being blind is that I don't have to waste my time worrying about appearances. I don't care what I look like. I'm not looking for anyone's approval. I know who I am." Katara replied by saying how she deeply admired Toph's self-confidence. Toph had high self-esteem and was more than determined to show that she wouldn't let her blindness deter her from living and fighting like everyone else.
An ongoing joke concerning Toph's blindness was her lack of ability to discern anything that had been written or drawn. In Ba Sing Se, Toph became angry when Sokka suggested that she needed help putting up fliers. She angrily slapped up a poster herself, only to inadvertently place it backwards and say, "It's upside-down, isn't it?". Also, she sarcastically complimented Sokka on his drawings of Appa despite the obvious fact that she couldn't see them. Later, in the Fire Nation, after being presented with the same wanted poster twice, Toph vocally expresses her annoyance with the constant oversight. Toph was comfortable enough, however, with the group's absent-mindedness on the subject of her blindness to even joke about it herself at times. For example, while searching for the library, Toph, while flying on Appa, claimed that she saw it, before remarking "That's what it'll sound like when one of you spots it" before waving a hand in front of her eyes; also, in reaction to Katara's asking why she preferred to not go in the Library, “I’ve held books before, and I gotta tell you, they don’t exactly do it for me”.
While hijacking an airship, Toph mistook Sokka's comment about taking the wheel thinking he was referring to her. By the smile on her face, it was pretty clear that she was gleeful about getting another chance to correct him. However, it turned out that Sokka was talking to Suki, and Toph managed to subsequently cover up her original intention pretty well. At the reunion in the Jasmine Dragon several months after the passing of Sozin's Comet, she made a joke about Sokka's drawing, saying that she thought everyone looked perfect.
Toph is one of few characters within the series revealed as having a last name, Beifong; the only others are the members of the Pang and Yum Soon Han Families (who are never portrayed), Pu-on Tim, and Lao, Poppy, and Lin Beifong. Toph's passport reads as 土國頭等護照北方拓芙 (tǔ guó tóu děng hù zhào běi fāng tuò fú) which translates as 'Earth Kingdom First Class Passport: Beifong Toph'. Here, her name means 'supported lotus,' which matches her parents' view of their daughter as a delicate flower that has to be protected. In one other occasion, her name was written as 托 夫 (Tuō Fū), which means "entrusted husband". In the document from home, her name is reverted back to 拓芙. Her last name Beifong ( 北 方 ) is the Chinese pronunciation for the word "North". It is similar-sounding to the Cantonese word for 'to release back,' which is what Lao Beifong would like for the daughter whom he believed was kidnapped by the Avatar. The word 托 (Tuō) also means 'to support in one's palm' and is usually a prefix to another Fù ( 付 ) that means "hand over".
In addition, Toph is a phonetic reference to the words "tough" and "toff" (slang meaning upper-class) in English. Toph is also the Hebrew term for "drum", which is essentially how Toph can "see", by sensing the vibrations from the ground, much like the way a tambourine is beaten while played.
Toph proclaimed herself the most powerful earthbender in the world, despite the apparent limitation of her blindness. Her bending abilities were indeed incredibly potent.
Although blind, Toph had the unique ability of seismic sense: she used earthbending to "feel" even the most minute vibrations in the earth, including the march of ants several meters away and the presence of trees and buildings. Through this heightened seismic sense, she could visualize where people are, their relative distance to her, and their physical build, but was unable to visualize faces. This sense provided her with a distinct advantage when facing other earthbenders in combat because she could predict attacks as they began and quickly react, and her speed and agility were also greatly beneficial.
Her earthbending style was unique and thus unpredictable, as her training was unconventional. This style greatly differentiated from the rigid training and fighting style that earthbenders like the Dai Li implemented. Toph's style tended to be proven to be superior to the Dai Li, as she was able to take on a number of them and defend her friends at the same time. This is likely because while the Dai Li just manipulated the earth, Toph had established a tremendously deep connection to it at the very outset of her self-tutelage in earthbending (although both styles have an overdependence on something i.e. the Dai Li and their earth gloves and Toph and her feet).
However, because Toph was depending on vibrations in the earth, she was vulnerable to air-based attacks, as shown in her fight with Aang in the Earth Rumble VI. Later, Toph was completely surprised by Sokka dropping a large belt on her head. Her success rate in intercepting projectiles was also tied to her sensing of vibrations, being able to feel an opponent's movement, and proceeding accordingly. By her own admission, she could not feel her own projectiles while they are airborne.
Terrain that impairs Toph's ability to sense vibrations also hindered her abilities, as shown when Toph had some difficulty with sand, describing the vibrations in the earth as "fuzzy". She was able to compress sand into solid rock to gain some temporary footing, but was still unable to accurately aim attacks under those conditions. However, she seemed to have ultimately gained some mastery of sandbending, as she mentioned working on it during Team Avatar's beach party and was able to create a miniature version of the upper ring of Ba Sing Se in rich detail. Apparently, her ability to sense vibrations had improved, which may be how she was able to produce the very fine details of the city and did not show the same helplessness she had shown when previously walking on sand when the gang stepped onto the beach.
Toph also expressed an aversion for flying and submarine travel, as she could not sense her surroundings without her feet on solid ground. Also, as a result of her closeness or affinity with earth, Toph could rest or sleep comfortably on solid rock without any sleeping bag or blanket and could walk on any kind of terrain in bare feet, a standard trait for earthbenders. Toph relied on direct contact between her feet and the ground for "sight" as well as for her earthbending. Toph was very reluctant to allow anyone else to touch her feet, probably because insensitive handling there would make her deaf to other vibrations and thereby render her helpless (and because they were far more sensitive than other people's feet).
Despite her substantial prowess on land, Toph didn't perform well in water and on ice. She seemed incapable of seeing where she was going on ice, was not able to swim and became nauseous when she needed to travel by submarine in the Invasion of the Fire Nation.
Toph had a great sense of hearing and could recognize people by the sound of their voices. In the Si Wong Desert, Toph recognized the sandbender who stole Appa, adding that she never forgets a voice. In Ba Sing Se, Toph was seen feeling even slight vibrations as she told a man they met, "I can feel you shaking." Also, Toph demonstrated an ability to sense when a person is lying by the vibrations of his/her heartbeat and breathing patterns. However, Toph's senses were not absolute, as Azula demonstrated that she was easily able to lie without even the slightest physical reaction. However, not many people have the ability to lie while manipulating their breathing and pulse in this way.
Toph's earthbending style was based on Chu Gar Southern Praying Mantis Kung Fu, which is a style that is apparently unique to her; the style of earthbending used by other earthbenders is rooted in the Hung Gar style of Kung Fu. She was the only bender known to use a style based on a different root martial art than the standard for their bending art. This may be because she was self-taught rather than trained in the traditional earthbending form. Toph came to develop her unique style by observing the movements of the similarly blind earthbending badgermoles that could be found around her hometown.
Sand being loose and ultimately always changing with the winds in the desert, Toph found it hard to navigate through and control. When attacking one of the sandbenders with a small wave of sand, she missed. However, this may have been caused by her hurry to save both Appa and the others.
After the events in the Si Wong Desert showed her inability to see effectively while walking on sand, Toph practiced her sandbending, eventually achieving a mastery over it that allowed her to create an extremely detailed sand version of Ba Sing Se during her time relaxing at Ember Island.
Toph was the first character with the ability to bend metal. Metal is derived from ore, which is found in the earth. Guru Pathik explained to Aang that "metal is just a part of earth that has been purified and refined". Because of Toph's ability to feel the vibrations in earth, she was able to locate the impurities (the small fragments of earth) in metal and manipulate them to "bend" the metal portion.
When Sokka finished his training as a sword master, he gave Toph a small piece of meteorite, which being composed of earth and metal, she could easily mold into a myriad of shapes, and subsequently transformed it into an arm bracelet she now wore. Aside from these abilities, Toph had shown herself to be one of the most powerful earthbenders in the world, being the only known earthbender to ever bend metal during Avatar Aang's time, a feat that even the Avatar was unable to perform since the origin of earthbending.
In Wulong Forest, when she was breaking into a Fire Nation airship, it was shown that her metalbending had improved greatly as she made a metal armor and manipulated the metallic structure of the room with far more ease than before, moving metal more fluidly. She was also able to crawl hanging on to the metal ceiling while completely covered in metal. Also, Toph could metalbend outside of her metal armor, even though she already was bending the armor in the first place.
Toph later taught this self-invented technique to the world and to her daughter, Lin Beifong, who eventually became head of the metalbending police officers who use their metalbending to enforce laws.
Toph showed a decent amount of artistic talent, as she was able to create a realistic replica of the city of Ba Sing Se with sandbending while Team Avatar stayed at Ember Island, contrasting with Sokka's poor sculpting abilities when he created a sand sculpture of Suki. Later in a training exercise involving all of the members of the team, she was able to create earthbending mannequins while acting as the "Melon Lord". She also seemed to enjoy acting and shows a decent amount of talent at it, getting more into character as the "Melon Lord" than was necessary for Team Avatar's training purposes, rebuffing Katara for acting out of character when Aang distracted her from their act of being noblewomen (as was made necessary for entry into the Earth King's party), and reveling in the "stage name" given to her as "The Runaway". This appreciation for "getting into character" as an actor was likely behind her greater ability to enjoy the "The Boy in the Iceberg" play relative to the rest of Team Avatar.
She also displayed a remarkable amount of agility for one who prefers to have their feet planted on the ground at all times. In Team Avatar's first battle with Combustion Man, she rolled, pushed herself off of the ground with one hand, and then flipped over in the air to regain her balance after his first shot and position herself in an earthbending stance so she could fight back against at her attacker as quickly as possible.
- Though Toph could "see" where everyone was by using vibrations, she never actually looked at them while talking, instead staring off into space or in a different direction. Since she never looked at anyone while talking, she did not usually speak unless someone else did, so it is clear whom she was addressing.
- Toph apparently used her hands as sense organs to supplement the vibrations she was able to feel through her feet, as she was often seen doing this to further investigate vibrations she had already felt by other means. This was probably a product of her learning earthbending by crawling on all fours like badgermoles. She was also seen using this ability before entering Old Ba Sing Se. Furthermore, when her feet get burned, she crawled on her hands when trying to get away from Zuko's camp, probably in an effort to retain some sort of sense of her surroundings.
- The creators came up with Toph as a name because it resembled tough. There is evidence of this while Team Avatar watched "The Boy in the Iceberg", when Actor Toph said: "My name's Toph; 'cause it sounds like tough, and that's just what I am!"
- Toph was the only blind person shown in the series.
- Toph was the only person in Team Avatar that did not have a romantic relationship by the end of the events of the Avatar: The Last Airbender section of the series. However, she has to have had some sort of romantic relationship between the events of the series finale and the beginning events of The Legend of Korra, because she had a daughter at some point, Lin Beifong. The identity of the father is not yet known.
- Toph was the third known person shown to be taught earthbending by the badgermoles, the first two being Oma and Shu. Toph was also one of the few known to be taught by the animal from which a bending art originated, others include Iroh, Aang, and Zuko.
- Toph was originally supposed to be a big, muscular boy as revealed by the co-creators Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko during an interview with Toon Zone. Toph would be a jock-type, bad-mouthing teenager who would be a foil to Sokka's nerdy character. The idea to have Toph be a little girl was introduced by head writer Aaron Ehasz and was initially rejected by co-creator Bryan Konietzko. After long discussions, Toph was given her gender and later became one of Bryan's favorite characters. The old design was used for the actor who portrayed her in the play “The Boy in the Iceberg” and was the basis for Roku's earthbending instructor, Sud.
- Although Toph's hair appeared to be short, it was shown to be very long and bushy when she let it down.
- Avatar Extras stated that Toph could sense where rocks were, even if they were not connected to the ground and were suspended in the air. She demonstrated this ability while in combat against the Earth Rumble VI competitors. However, this ability was not infallible.
- Toph was the only member of the original four members of Team Avatar not to go on an adventure with Zuko after he joined the team, later wanting to go with him when splitting up to search for Aang. As she plainly put it, "Everyone else went on a life changing field trip with Zuko, now it's my turn". However, it did not go how she planned, as he was more focused on finding Aang. Toph later stated, "This is the worst field trip ever."
- Toph is a playable character in Avatar: Legends of the Arena. She is unlocked through the use of a secret code (metal bending). Aside from her appearance and name, she is played just like any other character.
- Toph was voiced by Jessie Flower, who also voiced Meng.
- A recurring joke was that other characters tend to forget she was blind, only for her to remind them she was in a sarcastic manner.
- Toph could tell if people were lying as there are physical reactions in the body that she could sense through vibrations. Azula and Old Sweepy were the only known characters that were able to foil this.
- Toph has not been with her parents since she ran away from home. However, she did send them a letter.
- Toph's "sight" was depicted in a way similar to Daredevil's from Marvel Comics, though the vibrations that form his visions come from sound. Daredevil relies on sound waves to bounce off of things and shape the world, while Toph relied on vibrations to wrap around things. Unlike Toph herself, the muscular actor portraying her in the play “The Boy in the Iceberg” claimed to "see" through releasing sonic waves from his mouth.
- Toph's seismic sense also extended to metal, wood, sand, and even to the meteorite that Sokka fashioned his "Space Sword" from which she used as a bracelet and described as "space earth"; but not to non-earthen solids such as ice.
- After making her escape and inventing metalbending, Toph made the claim that she was the greatest earthbender in the world. Taking into account her advanced bending abilities despite her young age, her seismic sense and that she was the first earthbender shown using metalbending (in fact, she was the one who created the skill) and used all the known forms of earthbending, there may be some truth to her words (although King Bumi made similar claims, he apparently lacked the ability to bend metal or perceive his surroundings with Seismic Sense).
- Due to her blindness, Toph had no reading or writing skills. That being said, she apparently had some math skills, as seen when she was counting money.
- Toph was one of the few female earthbenders in the series, the others being Oma, Kori, Penga, Lin Beifong, and all the female Avatars.
- Toph discovered metalbending and was the only person shown to utilize it, until she taught others how to metalbend at her school. In The Legend of Korra, it is apparently taught to the Republic City's police, appropriately named metalbender cops.
- Toph had the last line of the series, saying, "Well, I think you all look perfect."
- Toph was the only main character with a known last name.
- Toph was the only member of Team Avatar whose life was not uprooted or dramatically changed by the War or the Fire Nation.
- Toph was the least spiritual of the benders in Team Avatar, and the only bender who matched Sokka (before Yue's death, at least) in his disregard for the subject.
- Toph was the only member of Team Avatar to be of the same biological age as Aang, as both were biologically 12 years old (though Aang is chronologically older than her by 100 years).
- Coincidentally, the style Toph's earthbending was modeled after was rumored to have been started by a blind woman.
- Despite being a tomboy, Toph has only burped once in the series. However, she has belched in many fanfiction stories.
Toph was originally planned by the creators to be a large, muscular man as a foil to Sokka's nerdiness. This idea made way in the opening sequence, as the shadowed earthbender was confirmed by the creators to be Toph's "prototype". Later on when time came closer to her debut, the creators pitched about it being funny of a small girl being able to take on all the strong, buff earthbenders. This idea blossomed as a joke and Toph's character was changed into what was introduced in the show. The idea and design for Toph was later recycled as the idea for Sud, who was Roku's earthbending teacher. A joke about the prototype later appeared as the actor playing Toph in the "The Boy in the Iceberg" play bore a closer resemblance to her initial design. The original design for Toph also influenced the character Bolin in The Legend of Korra.