The original film series has examples of:
- Actor-Inspired Element: Pat Morita himself designed the bonsai logo that was sewed onto Daniel's gi.
- Actor-Shared Background:
- Tamlyn Tomita, like Kumiko, was born in Okinawa.
- Danny Kamekona was from Hawaii, where the movie was filmed.
- AFI's 100 Years... 100 Cheers: #98
- Cast the Expert: The referee in the final match is Pat E. Johnson, a karate expert and former student of Chuck Norris. He instructed many movie stars in karate. He is credited as the "fight instructor/choreographer" for the film.
- The Cast Showoff:
- Elisabeth Shue actually grew up playing soccer. She played with the boys as long as she could before finally taking up gymnastics.
- Ron Thompson was so skilled in martial arts that he was allowed to choreograph his own fight scenes.
- Dawson Casting: Ralph Macchio was 21 when the first film was made, playing a 17 year old. He was 26 playing an 18 year old in the third film. Not many people noticed thanks to Macchio's boyish good looks and high-pitched voice,note making this one of the few effective examples of the trope. Avoided in the reboot, as the kids are actual kids. Poked fun at in a 90's commercial for Brisk Iced Tea.
"Daniel-San": Kid? I'm 35.
- Deleted Scene: There were two confrontations between Daniel and Johnny which were eventually cut from the film:
- The first takes place in the school cafeteria just after Daniel has bought lunch for Ali. Seeing them about to take a seat, Johnny hurries over just in time to sneak a piece of blueberry pie onto Daniel's chair. Standing up with his pants covered in blueberries, Daniel is equally embarrassed and livid. In a brave act of revenge, Daniel smears what is left of the pie across Johnny's shirt and mayhem ensues. A photo from this scene can be found on the back of the novelisation.
- The other scene occurs later in the film and also takes place at school. Coming up from a drink at the fountain, Daniel finds himself face to face with Johnny and stands up for himself once again by questioning the practices of the Cobra Kai.
- Executive Meddling: Thankfully avoided in the original film, the studio demanded that the quiet scene in which Daniel discovers a drunken Miyagi mourning his lost wife and child, who died in a relocation camp while he was away being a war hero in Italy during World War II, be cut because it "disrupted the flow of the movie". The director apparently went to war to keep it in the film. Pat Morita would later say that it was this scene that earned him an Academy Award nomination for his portrayal of Mr. Miyagi. (Ralph Macchio disagrees, citing his presence in the entire film as the reason.)
- Irony as She Is Cast: William Zabka (Johnny) had no martial arts experience prior to being cast in the film, except being an accomplished wrestler.
- Scully Box: The crew had Pat Morita stand on a 4-inch box so they could fit him into the face-to-face shot.
- Throw It In:
- The song drunkenly sung by Mr. Miyagi was one he heard when he was a child. This even gets worked into the second movie as being Miyagi and Yukie's old song.
- The song playing in the country club Daniel crashes in the first movie is heard again in the second movie, on the radio in the cab ride from the Okinawa airport. Neither occurrence is a plot point.
- Trope Namers: Wax On, Wax Off, and formerly "Sweep the Leg".
- Unintentional Period Piece: There are scenes in an arcade, which have been almost completely replaced by home video game systems. This was excused in the 2010 remake taking place in China where arcades live on like Japan. Also, the presentation of karate as the ultimate self defense martial art in an otherwise realistic setting is obviously made in an era before Mixed Martial Arts, which demystified traditional martial arts.
- What Could Have Been:
- The role of Daniel La Russo was allegedly initially offered to Sean Penn. Since he was trying for more adult roles he turned it down.
- Charlie Sheen also turned it down.
- Chuck Norris was offered the role of Kreese, but he didn't want martial artists to be portrayed in a bad light (he would later play himself in Sidekicks, another movie with a Miyagi-like mentor and a Kreese-like villain).
- Toshiro Mifune auditioned for Mr. Miyagi. Although he was great in the audition (according to director John G. Avildsen in the DVD Commentary), it was felt that his version of Miyagi was "too serious" - and too scary - and played much like the samurai warriors he played in the Akira Kurosawa movies and he was turned down. His English was also quite poor at the time, which would have required him to learn most of his lines phonetically.
- Mako was offered the role of Mr. Miyagi but he turned it down to do Conan the Destroyer. He did eventually play a similar character in Sidekicks.
- Word of Dante: According to the commentary track on the home video versions of the movie, William Zabka came up with a loose backstory for the Johnny Lawrence character, in order to better "get the feel" for playing the character. He states in the commentary that he envisioned Johnny as having no father, and that Kreese is the closest thing to a father figure he had in his life.
The animated series
- Screwed by the Network: Was given little to no promotion on NBC during its original run and was quickly axed after only thirteen episodes due to abysmal ratings.
The Video Game
- No Export for You: Inverted: Despise being programmed in Japan, the game was not released there. Not that the programmers or the Japanese audience cared about the game anyways.