Characters: The Karate Kid
For characters from the 2010 remake, go here.
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Daniel La Russo
Played by: Ralph Macchio (1984-89)
- Ass Kicking Pose: The Crane Technique.
- Awesomeness by Analysis: After time, he was able to point out the flaws in others techniques and able to improve upon them.
- Badass: Several weeks' worth of training from Mr. Miyagi are enough to turn him into a skilled martial artist.
- Brick Break: The ice-breaking scene in Part II
- Determinator: Even if put through punishment that would take another teenager down and out, he won't stay down.
- Finishing Move: The Crane Technique, the Drum Technique.
- Forgot About His Powers: Daniel suffers greatly from this trope in Part III, almost to Too Dumb to Live's levels at moments.
- Although if you bother to pay attention a lot of it is stupidity that started in Part II, so at least it's consistent.
- Even in the first movie after having his ass kicked by Johnny Daniel starts openly antagonizing him knowing full well Johnny can whip him.
- Heroic BSOD: During the tournament final in Part III, when Barnes has him so intimidated that he's ready to forfeit the match.
- I Have the High Ground: Daniel stands on elevated structures while practicing his Finishing Move in both of the first two movies.
- Intergenerational Friendship: With Mr. Miyagi, of course.
- I Surrender, Suckers: Right before giving Chozen a punch in the nuts in Part II.
- Kung-Fu Kid
- Martial Arts Headband: Given to him by Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid.
- Put on a Bus: In the fourth movie.
- Reluctant Warrior: He even says that he's training "so [he] won't have to fight."
- The So-Called Coward: Chozen and his goons repeatedly call Daniel a coward throughout Part II because of his reluctance to fight them. But when a typhoon hits the village, Daniel and Miyagi risk their lives to rescue Sato when he is trapped inside his dojo, and Daniel further tempts fate by going back into the storm to rescue more villagers. Chozen, on the other hand, cowers in the shelter and refuses to help, even when ordered by Sato to do so. Sato is so impressed with Daniel that he offers to oblige Daniel any request, and he is so disgusted by Chozen's cowardice that Sato disowns him in front of everyone.
- Sword over Head: At the climax of Part II, when he has Chozen at his mercy and asks him, "Live or die, man."
- Took a Level in Badass: Goes from a kid often jumped by gym rats for no reason while walking home to someone decently trained in martial arts to be able to hold his own and even win against traditionally trained martial artists in a duel.
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Daniel, while having his share of flaws, was still likable enough. Which is why it was baffling to see how the first and second act of the third movie took away every quality that made the audience want to cheer for him. Thankfully he came to his senses during the final portion of the movie.
- Training from Hell: Especially what Terry Silver puts him through in Part III, which is more like torture disguised as training.
- "World of Cardboard" Speech: He gives one of these to Mr. Miyagi in Karate Kid after having his knee taken out by Bobby, which convinces Mr. Miyagi to use the pressure point healing technique on him to get him back in the tournament.
Played by: Pat Morita
- Badass: Kicks at least a couple of asses per movie.
- Badass Grandpa
- Cool Old Guy
- Deadpan Snarker: He doesn't speak often, but when he does it's usually this.Daniel: You think you could break a log like that?Miyagi: Don't know. Never been attacked by a tree.
- Eccentric Mentor
- Fight Magnet: For a guy who doesn't want to fight, Mr. Miyagi beats up a lot of people.
- Fish out of Water: In The Next Karate Kid, he proves to be a little out of his element dealing with Julie. For example, he accidentally walks in on her once, freaking her out. He immediately apologizes, citing that he and Daniel used to enter each other's rooms all the time and it was no big deal. He also has some trouble trying to buy her a prom dress, since he has no idea what she would like and can't ask her because he wants it to be a surprise. All of that said, he gets a handle on things fairly quickly.
- Heartbroken Badass: While Mr. Miyagi was serving with distinction for the United States in World War II, his wife and son died due to complications during childbirth in the Manzanar Japanese Internment Camp. Decades later, Mr. Miyagi is still haunted by the loss.
- Martial Pacifist
- My Greatest Failure: It turns that he has a few in the first sequel: he left the girl of his dreams behind to go join the war, he didn't visit his father enough before he died, and he left his brother on bad terms.
- Nice Guy: Mr. Miyagi is an unambiguously good person. He is kind, forgiving, thoughtful, and he only uses violence as an absolute last resort.
- Papa Wolf: Snaps into action whenever Daniel is outmatched in a fight.
- Parental Substitute: As time goes on, Mr. Miyagi becomes more and more of a father figure to Daniel.
- Obfuscating Stupidity
- Ooc Is Serious Business: The only time Miyagi drops his Asian Speekee Engrish act and referring to himself in third person is when he tries to reason with Sato.
- Old Master
- Retired Badass: A martial artist and a World War II veteran (who was even awarded the Medal of Honor).
- Too Clever by Half: He is less arrogant than most examples of this trope. However, he still seems unable to resist opportunities to be clever, even when it goes counter to his goals. His Wax On, Wax Off teaching regimen in the first movie (or rather, his refusal to explain it) almost drove his student away. His impromptu bet at the bar in the second movie may have paid for Daniel's college, but also humiliated the man he was trying to talk out of a duel to the death with him. His "sweep" joke in the third movie drove Daniel straight into the arms of the Evil Mentor when he needed support.
- Trickster Mentor
Played by: William Zabka (1984-86)
- Beauty Is Bad
- Blond Guys Are Evil: One of the most famous examples.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Though he doesn't appear again after he gets berated by Kreese for losing at the beginning of Part II.
- Even Evil Has Standards: When Kreese orders Johnny to target Daniel's wounded knee by performing a leg sweep, Johnny appears shocked that he's being ordered to do something so dishonorable (even though leg sweeping is a perfectly legal move in competitive Karate).
- Graceful Loser: After losing to Daniel in the tournament, he accepts his loss fairly calmly and willingly hands him the trophy.
- Jerk Jock
Played by: Martin Kove (1984-89)
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy
- Big Bad
- Breakout Villain: Technically the only villain to appear in all three movies, although his scene in the second one was actually footage cut from the first.
- The Bully: He's a violent bully and fiercely proud of it.
- Cruel Mercy: Miyagi spares Kreese in their fight in Part II, saying that living would be a worse punishment for Kreese than death since he cannot forgive.
- Dirty Coward: For all his talk of toughness, he only picks fights with those who cannot fight back and uses underhanded methods to win. When faced with someone like Miyagi, he is visibly scared.
- Drill Sergeant Nasty: He's a Vietnam veteran who demands military precision from his students. Lose your focus for one second, and it's sixty push-ups on your knuckles.
- Evil Counterpart: To Miyagi.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: His brutal asshole toward his own students for failing led them to abandon him, leaving him the impoverished wreck we see in the third movie.
- Miles Gloriosus: He's a very tough guy when picking on teenagers and people who can't fight back. But put him in a fight with Mr Miyagi and he goes down easily.
- Also may qualify as a Boisterous Weakling.
- Ordered to Cheat: He instructs Bobby to take out Daniel's knee, even though doing so will result in Bobby's disqualification. Then Johnny also uses "unethical" moves that target the injured knee. Was originally the Trope Namer.
- Politically Incorrect Villain: Called Miyagi a "slope". He was a Vietnam vet.
- Second Place Is for Losers: "Defeat does not exist in this dojo!"
- Sore Loser: He berated Johnny over his defeat, and angrily destroyed his second place trophy. If that weren't enough, he choked Johnny over his failure.
Plated by: Ron Thomas (1984-86)
- Minion with an F in Evil - When Johnny first gets jealous of Daniel with Ali, Bobby tells him to forget it. The third time Johnny beats up Daniel, Bobby tells him to leave Daniel alone, despite Johnny's insistence that an enemy deserves no mercy. During a sparring session he hesitates to hit Robertson while he's down. And when Kreese tells him to injure Daniel in the tournament, he does not want to at first, and apologizes to Daniel when he does.
- Only Sane Man - Tells Johnny to get over Ali when they see her with Daniel at the beginning of the film, doesn't want to beat Daniel to death, doesn't want to injure his friend Robertson during a sparring session and doesn't want to injure Daniel in the tournament when ordered to by Kreese... Bobby repeatedly comes across as this amongst his friends.
- Spell My Name with an "S" - The DVD subtitles call him "Bobby Butterman".
Played by: Danny Kamekona (1986)
- Anti-Villain: Lampshaded by Miyagi after Sato gives him time to mourn his father before demanding that they fight.
- Badass Grandpa
- Big Bad: Of the second movie.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: He's a wealthy industrialist whose supertrawlers have greatly depleted the local fish population, forcing the former fishing village to scrape by via small farming. He also owns all the land in the village and forces its residents to rent from him.
- Even Evil Has Standards: Despite being a real bastard, it's shown that Sato does possess a sense of honor by giving Miyagi time to mourn and honoring the bet that Daniel could break more ice blocks than Chozen.
- Evil Counterpart: To Miyagi.
- Heel-Face Turn: After Miyagi saves his life.
- Honor Before Reason: Despite his hatred for Miyagi, he honors the bet and was genuinely impressed when watching Daniel prepare to break the board.
- Murder the Hypotenuse
- Rival Turned Evil
Played by: Yuji Okumoto
- Arrogant Kung-Fu Guy
- Break the Haughty: Nothing went well for him once Daniel arrived in Okinawa. His uncle shut him up at every turn, Daniel caught him cheating the villagers with false weights, Kumiko falls for Daniel, Daniel bested him at breaking ice blocks (earning him a huge wager that Uncle Sato forced him to honor), Miyagi curbstomped him when he and his friends attacked Daniel, then he got exposed as a coward when the storm hit, and Sato disowned him . That was just the prelude to the big showdown at the end, which he lost.
- The Bully
- Cruel Mercy: When defeated by Daniel. Daniel offers Chozen the choice "Live or die?" Chozen chooses death, but Daniel instead tweaks his nose and drops him to the ground, shaming him in front or the entire village.
- Death Seeker: Becomes one after Sato disowns him.
- Dirty Coward: On only one occasion does he face Daniel unaided, and even then he has Daniel cut off any help.
- Dragon-in-Chief: He bullies Daniel throughout the movie, mirroring the rivalry between Sato and Miyagi. He also is disowned by Sato after his Heel-Face Turn for refusing to save the bell-ringer girl during the typhoon, which leads to him being the Final Boss in the story.
- Evil Counterpart: To Daniel.
- Evil Is Petty
- Faux Affably Evil: His first scene.
- Hypocrite: For all his talk of honor, he never fights Daniel fairly, either having backup or having Daniel cut himself off from help, and Would Hit a Girl.
- Jerkass: Which goes to murderous extremes.
- Never My Fault: Chozen blames Daniel for dishonoring him. Daniel 1) accidentally revealed that he was cheating the villagers 2) fairly won a bet that Chozen forced him into and 3) helped save some of the villagers from the typhoon while Chozen was doing nothing.
- Throwing Down the Gauntlet: He takes Kumiko hostage and threatens to cut her throat unless Daniel fights him.
- Would Hit a Girl: He strikes Kumiko across the face and knocks her unconscious when she tries to help Daniel in the fight against him.
Played by: Thomas Ian Griffith (1989)
- Affably Evil
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Pretended to be a poor, humble, sensei trying to help Daniel, while torturing him with very painful techniques, wrecking his bansai business, and turning him into a brute.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: He's made millions of dollars as a professional toxic waste dumper.
- Evil Counterpart: To Miyagi
- Evil Plan: Of the Vengeance Is Mine! variety, targeting Daniel and Mr. Miyagi for what they did to Kreese in the first movie.
- Large Ham: Oh so very much.
- Manipulative Bastard
- Smug Snake: At the end of the movie.
- Villainous Breakdown: It doesn't strictly affect his actions for the rest of the movie, but when Miyagi privately humiliates him in his own dojo, he snaps and starts screaming at him.
- Villainous Friendship: With Kreese, which is what motivates him into trying to destroy Daniel and Miyagi.
- Villain with Good Publicity
Played by: Elisabeth Shue (1984)
- Beware the Nice Ones: Normally rather friendly, but she has no hesitation to punch when sufficiently pissed off as Johnny finds out the hard way when he forces a kiss on her in front of Daniel.
- Disposable Love Interest: Daniel tells Mr. Miyagi at the beginning of Part II that she left him for a football player from UCLA.
- Plucky Girl
- Satellite Love Interest: She's nice, pretty, the ex-girlfriend of Johnny, and lives with upper-class parents in a Big Fancy House...and that's all that's really known about her before she's easily written out of the sequel.
- Spoiled Sweet: She's a rich girl who's usually nice to everyone, even working-class boys from Reseda. Don't cross her, though, because she's got a pretty mean right hook.
- Uptown Girl: Her relationship with Daniel is type #3.
Played by: Tamlyn Tomika (1986)
- Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: She's surrounded by Asian men she doesn't show the slightest bit of interest in, but as soon as Daniel shows up at the front door... Then again, the other suitor with a chance was Chozen of all people.
- Neutral Female: Subverted. She tries to pull Chozen away from Daniel during their last fight. It doesn't work, but the effort is appreciated.
- Plucky Girl: She gets points for trying to help Daniel against Chozen, despite knowing how dangerous it is.
- Put on a Bus: Daniel mentions in Part III that she chose to take a job with a dance company in Tokyo instead of coming back to the United States with him. He seems less bitter about it than Ali though, possibly because he knew how much she wanted to be a traditional dancer as opposed to just dumping him for another guy, therefore he knows she's following her dream.
- Unkempt Beauty: Try as she might, she can't quite keep her hair out of her face.
- Yamato Nadeshiko: Emphasized by her wearing a kimono and performing the Japanese tea ceremony.
Played by: Robin Lively (1989)
- Disposable Love Interest: Exaggerated. The writers don't even wait for the sequel to dispose of her.
- Girl Next Door: She's fairly cute, rather tomboyish, and works at a pottery store across the street from Miyagi and Daniel's bonsai store.
- May-December Romance: Even though their characters were about the same age in the movie, actress Robyn Lively was 11 years younger than Ralph Macchio in real life, and it showed.
- Put on a Bus: She goes back home to Ohio midway through the movie, and is never seen or mentioned again. Probably because the producers realized the aforementioned May-December Romance just wasn't working.
Played by: Hilary Swank (1994)
Played by: Nobu McCarthy (1986)
- Christmas Cake: By her own decision, since she chose to remain a spinster than becoming a prize wife to Sato
- Mama Bear: A blink if you miss moment, but before Chozen breaks out the knife, Yukie was the first one to try to run across the bridge to try to get Kumiko away from him.
- Parental Substitute: To Kumiko, her orphaned niece
- Yamato Nadeshiko: Similar to Kumiko.