It doesn't make any sense that Toph is put in a wooden cell. Reasons -

  1. It's a Fire Nation town, where the chances that the authorities would round up a Firebender are high, and the Firebender can simply burn their way out of prison.
  2. Toph didn't reveal in any way that she was an Earthbender, and that too, a Metalbender, a hitherto unknown art which she invented. The then-situation between the Fire Nation and the rest of the world would imply that even if they catch an Earthbender right in the middle of the Fire Nation (the town is Fire Fountain City, a town located on the main Fire Nation islands), they'd send them to higher officials, possibly to the Fire Nation Capital.

Are there any reasons as to which her being put in a wooden cell makes sense?

  • 4
    fire nation was at war with everyone and no one can bend wood therefore its a safe bet that if they don't have fire nation garb on they couldn't bend fire and thus couldn't burn their way out do keep in mind that also not every person can bend and thus a wooden cell would work fine for the non benders.
    – The Answer
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 14:15
  • 2
    Maybe they thought she was a normal person. Normal people don't need cages that are any stronger than wood. Plus, wood is cheap.
    – Möoz
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 20:16

1 Answer 1


Are there any reasons as to which her being put in a wooden cell makes sense?

The simplest and best explanation is that they knew she was an earthbender. There are two ways they might have known:

  1. Her "wanted" poster was for "The Runaway". Who did she run from? Her parents in the Earth Kingdom. I don't think we have a direct translation of the wanted poster, but it's likely she was described as an earthbender or simply as an earth nation child, and therefore not a firebender.

  2. Upon her capture, we find that the actual imprisonment is orchestrated by Combustion Man, who was hired by Zuko to kill the Avatar. We presume that Zuko would have briefed Combustion Man on Aang's companions, so he would have had full knowledge of Toph's capabilities.

The dialogue suggests strongly that #2 was true:

Toph: (alarmed) Hey, what kind of cell is this?

Female Fire Nation Officer: (through the bars) A wooden one.

Cut to the mayor's office. The mayor is opening a moneybox for Katara when the door creaks open. The mayor points to Katara and speaks to a person in the doorway.)

Mayor: That's her. That's the girl you were looking for.

(Katara turns around to see the hulking figure of Combustion Man looming over her.... Katara has joined Toph in her cell.)

Toph: Wait. It's a trap!

Katara: Really? No kidding. Is that why we're sitting in a wooden cage right now? Gee, how'd you figure out it was a trap?

                                                    Runaway Wanted Poster

  • 9
    Exactly. Sparky Sparky Boom Man sets them up and traps them with the wanted poster and has them thrown in a wooden cell precisely because he knows there isn't a firebender in their group, and neither Katara nor Toph can bend wood. He then uses them as bait to lure in Aang, who's the person he was hired by Zuko to kill. It's not a generic Fire Nation prison, it's purpose-built. Actual Fire Nation prisons are most definitely not made of wood, as seen with both Iroh's imprisonment and Boiling Rock. Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 14:37
  • 8
    Did Combustion Man know about Toph's metal bending? I don't think Zuko knew Toph could bend metal. It makes more sense just to use a normal iron prison. Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 15:10
  • 4
    @SidharthSamant well, Combustion Man had been tracking them, so it's entirely possible he either heard rumours or even saw that for himself.
    – VLAZ
    Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 22:02
  • @vlaz hmmm... okay, sounds plausible Commented Oct 25, 2016 at 22:43
  • 1
    Related for the translation
    – CDspace
    Commented Oct 26, 2016 at 20:57

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