Hou-Ting was the 53rd sovereign of the Earth Kingdom and daughter of Earth King Kuei. Wielding absolute power over the Earth Kingdom,Earth Queen Hou-Ting was more concerned with her personal comfort and possessions than with the welfare of her people. Her reign was marked by revisionist, conservative, and absolutist politics. She employed the Dai Lito round up dissidents and detained them without trial in her dungeon.
In an effort to capitalize on the changes brought on by Harmonic Convergence, Hou-Ting ordered the capture of Ba Sing Se's new airbenders and conscripted them into her army, training them in a base underneath her temple. When this was discovered, Team Avatar freed the airbenders, leading the queen to label the team as wanted criminals throughout her kingdom. She was assassinated in 171 AG by Zaheer during theinsurrection of the Red Lotus, resulting in the collapse of the Earth Kingdom.
Hou-Ting was born to Earth King Kuei following the Hundred Year War and eventually succeeded him as earth monarch. However, she was critical of her father's decision to cede Earth Kingdom land to form the United Republic of Nations. Having a fondness for rare meats, Hou-Ting ate her father's pet bear, Bosco, following her ascension to the throne.
During her reign, the Dai Li reemerged as a powerful political force within the kingdom. Hou-Ting, unlike her father, took a more active role ruling the Earth Kingdom. Many of her rulings proved unpopular. Active uprisings sprouted across the Earth Kingdom, making administrative tasks such as tax collection difficult.
Following the emerging of new airbenders after the Harmonic Convergence of 171 AG, Hou-Ting ordered the Dai Li to capture them so she could conscript them into an army of her own.
Upon the arrival of Avatar Korra, the queen was shouting orders at her servants to properly construct the royal garden in her desired image. After Korra requested her help to find the new airbenders, Hou-Ting revealed that barbarians had been stealing collected taxes and stated she would only even consider helping the Avatar if the latter could deliver her money to her. After Korra completed the task, she asked the monarch about the airbenders, but Hou-Ting denied their existence and insisted that Korra and her party leave the city. However, the Avatar did not believe her and criticized her for extorting her own subjects. Annoyed by Korra's remarks, Hou-Ting ordered her to leave her presence, which the Avatar did, but not before warning the queen that she was not leaving the city until she found the airbenders.
The next day, Hou-Ting approached Korra and her friends and had Gun deliver claims of airbenders in the Yang Province before she reminded them that it was exactly the news they sought. Just as Hou-Ting began to wonder if they would be leaving, she began sneezing in mid-sentence and demanded that Gun tell her if animal was in her presence, as it would be "[his] head" should one be in the vicinity. Afterward, she told the team that Gun would provide them any assistance in packing for an evening departure, but was told by Asami that the airship needed repairs, which would be completed by tomorrow. The queen walked away from this, continuing to sneeze.
That night, Hou-Ting caught Korra, Tenzin, and Bumi attempting to leave the city with her airbending regiment, which had been kept in custody beneath her temple. She declared that because the airbenders were the kingdom's citizens and thus under her control, taking them would be considered an act of war, and also threatened the Avatar with "the force of [her] entire kingdom". Upon Korra's refusal to turn over the airbenders, Hou-Ting ordered the Dai Li to attack, but the agents' efforts proved to be unsuccessful as Team Avatar escaped with her army. As they flew away, Hou-Ting again ordered the airships brought to her, but was left sneezing as Oogi's fur fell from the sky. After this, Hou-Ting branded Team Avatar as outlaws, issuing wanted posters for them and putting a price on their heads.
Sometime later, Hou-Ting had received word that the Avatar had been captured and she impatiently demanded Gun to know when Korra's arrival was scheduled. After being informed that it would take a couple of hours, she was displeased to find out that there were four people who wanted an audience with her in order to personally deliver a captured Mako and Bolin. Although she did not want to deal with bounty hunters, she ordered Gun to let the group in regardless, after being informed that they had information regarding the whereabouts of "her" airbenders. Unaware of the true identity of the people she was dealing with, Hou-Ting struck a deal with Zaheer: information about the airbenders in return for Korra, as the Avatar's imprisonment in the Earth Kingdom would lead to a world war.
After later being told by a Dai Li agent that the airship bringing Korra had crashed in the Si Wong Desert, Hou-Ting grew angry and promptly ordered the deployment of another airship to collect the Avatar. She grew even more indignant when theRed Lotus barged into her throne room unannounced and revealed that they had eavesdropped on her conversation. Stating that the Avatar was still in her custody and that the act of spying on her would land them in prison, Hou-Ting gave them the option to trade their freedom for the information in regards to the airbenders. When Zaheer refused, she ordered her Dai Li agents to take them down, though her bodyguards were swiftly taken care of themselves. Being left alone, she faced Zaheer herself, boldly saying that he would not dare to attack a queen. However, Hou-Ting grew fearful when the Red Lotus leader announced that he did not believe in queens and subsequently used his airbending to remove all of the air from her lungs, suffocating her.
- Unlike her father, Hou-Ting did not tolerate any animals in her presence as she was allergic to their fur, even going so far as to threaten the life of the Grand Secretariat of Ba Sing Se if he allowed them within a fifty feet of her.Nevertheless, she was known to have a fondness for rare meats, even eating her father's pet bear, Bosco.
- Hou-Ting resembled Empress Dowager Cixi, who ruled China and controlled its government from 1861 to 1908. Hou-Ting's portrayal in the series echoes the general opinion of her in the West as well as in modern China, which mainly resulted from stories spread by individuals who visited the Forbidden City during a time when it remained a mystery to the Western populace.
- Hou-Ting also wore ornate finger jewelry to support and protect her long fingernails, a symbol of status and wealth in ancient China that mostly came to be associated with the Empress Dowager.
- Hou-Ting was the first known character to be killed by a non-Avatar airbender.
- Hou-Ting was the fifth person to die on screen in The Legend of Korra.
- The circumstances of her death mirror those of Amon's, as the Equalist leader was killed by a former bender, while Hou-Ting was killed by a former nonbender who gained bending abilities.