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The Red Lotus is an anarchist splinter faction of the Order of the White Lotus founded by Xai Bau after the Hundred Year War. Until 171 AG, the organization's existence was completely unknown to the public, and the motives of those who worked for it remained unknown. The Red Lotus' agenda is to have the humans and spirits coexist again and usher in a new world order by dismantling the established nations and their leaders, which they originally planned to do by releasing Vaatu from his prison within the Tree of Time, and later by assassinating world leaders and ending the Avatar Cycle.

The only Red Lotus members who were publicly revealed as such were all powerful, influential individuals: the former Chief Unalaq, the truth-seer Aiwei, and a group of terrorists led by Zaheer. The latter had been incarcerated for thirteen years following a failed attempt to kidnap Avatar Korra. Zaheer managed to escape his imprisonment two weeks after Harmonic Convergence, using Airbending abilities he had acquired due to the planet's energy shift and subsequently liberated his three associates. They managed to send the Earth Kingdom into chaos, but failed to murder Korra, resulting in the incarceration of Zaheer and the deaths of his three comrades.

Since its public debut and the beginning of its insurrection, the Red Lotus is considered the greatest threat to world peace and balance, with many members believed still being at large.