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Series / Cobra Kai

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Daniel LaRusso: I heard you beat up a bunch of teenagers.
Johnny Lawrence: I didn't beat up any teenagers. I kicked the shit out of a bunch of assholes who deserved it.

Cobra Kai is a television series that premiered on May 2nd 2018 on YouTube Red. It is a distant successor to The Karate Kid film series.

The series centers around Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), once the star pupil of the Cobra Kai karate dojo. Down on his luck, he rediscovers his talent after saving a teenager from bullying. Seeing an inherent discipline vacuum, he decides to re-open the Cobra Kai dojo, and personally takes the student he rescued, Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), under his wing.

This draws the attention of his former rival, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio). Daniel has led a successful life after his adventures in the 1980s. He is now a Happily Married father of two who runs a network of car dealerships. But since the death of his sensei, Mr. Miyagi, he has found trouble keeping balance in his life.


The story is about two men addressing their demons the only way they know how: through martial arts.

See the full trailer here The full series can be viewed here. The first two episodes are free and can be viewed without a subscription.

A recap page is in the works. Contributions are appreciated.

A second season, also slated for 10 episodes, has been announced, and will premiere on YouTube Red in 2019.


This series contains examples of the following tropes:

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     A to H 
  • Action Girl:
    • Daniel LaRusso has been training his daughter Sam in karate since she was a little kid. He even had his own dojo inside the house. While she no longer trains, dealing with a handsy Kyler shows she still retains those skills.
    • Aisha's rise as a Cobra Kai student — starting from kneedropping Miguel on her first day of lessons — shows that she is one as well.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
    • When Johnny makes fun of Cruz's huge moustache at Robby's house, his buddy Trey can't help chuckling a bit.
    • When Johnny paints a giant dick on Daniel's billboard, Louie and (to a lesser extent) Amanda find much more amusement in it than Daniel does.
  • Adults Are Useless: Part of the reason why Johnny, despite his insensitive methods and aggressive philosophy, attracts so many bullied high school kids is that their teachers, for all their efforts in educating students in microaggressions, are oblivious to the bullying they face, both online and face to face. It's even mentioned when Miguel's mother, after seeing his bruised face from Kyler, suggests that he go to the teachers for protection, Miguel says that would only make the matter worse.
    • Johnny and his ex-wife are also this, being neglectful and inattentive parents to their son.
    • Amanda and Daniel have shades of this trope as well, the former being a Stage Mom who worries more about the social status of Sam's friends than whether or not they are a good influence, while the latter is something of an Overprotective Dad but is still too wrapped up in running his business and in his feud with Johnny to really give Sam the guidance that she needs. Not to mention they both let Anthony get away with everything under the sun.
    • And then there's Yasmine's dad, who apparently believed his daughter without so much as a raised eyebrow when she tells him she hit a deer with her SUV (and not someone else's car).
    • Although they mess up with their own children, both Johnny and Daniel avert it with their students. Johnny brings much needed confidence and confrontation to Miguel, Aisha, and Hawk, while Daniel teaches Robby focus and work ethic.
  • Adult Fear: Many of the problems and worries the adult characters face, especially in regards to their children, make sense.
    • Carmen discovering her son being carried home by a stranger beaten unconscious has much of this. Though it can be ridiculous at times, her worries about her son getting hurt during the tournament make sense with this.
    • Johnny's relationship with his estranged son has this trope all over it, as well as the path the kid is going down.
  • Aesop Amnesia: Johnny didn't seem to learn a thing from his first defeat or how wicked Kreese's method of training turned out to be, and tries to indoctrinate the same kind of training style onto Miguel. When Daniel calls him out on it, he tries to defend himself by saying while Kreese was an asshole, his lessons worked. In the end, all of his students turn into reckless bullies who are destroying their lives just like Johnny did in the past. And to make it worse, Kreese himself shows up thanking Johnny for bringing the old, evil Cobra Kai back.
    • Daniel, too, seems to have lost the balance that he learned while Mr. Miyagi was still alive. While his concerns over the return of Cobra Kai are ultimately vindicated by the end of Season 1, he still approaches them with a grudge rather than a more nuanced view, and ends up doing a few things that make his wife wonder what the hell has gotten into him.
      • And for bonus points to this trope, keep in mind that Daniel pulls a move that would make Sato Toguchi (pre Heel–Face Turn) proud enough to adopt him as his honorary nephew — after having previously spent an entire film learning how unhealthy and dangerous it is to hold lifelong grudges.
      • Even at the end of the season, when Daniel has supposedly begun to find his balance again, he forgets one of the most important aspects of Miyagi-Do karate when he decides to open a dojo and take students. Miyagi-Do is meant to be passed "from father to son". While this obviously doesn't need to be literal, it's supposed to involve a close one-on-one bond between teacher and student. Miyagi himself scoffed at the idea of teaching it to a class.
  • Aesop Collateral Damage: All the business owners in the Cobra Kai dojo's strip-mall who got their rents doubled as a result of Daniel manipulating Mr. Zakarian to get back at Johnny. Amanda calls him out on it hard as soon as she finds out and Daniel realizes the error of his ways, but Zakarian's tenants are still screwed.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Many of the dumbest decisions any of the characters make are done while drunk. Truth in Television since excessive alcohol consumption often induces poor judgement
  • The Alcoholic: The first thing Johnny does after waking up is drink an old beer on his night stand, spit it out, then continue drinking it. Later in the same episode, he gets drunk and drives to the Sports Arena while still drinking heavily. Ironically, the only wreck to happen is when some teenager on her phone t-bones his parked car.
    • His ex-wife has also has traits of this, spending more time at picking up men at bars than being an attentive mother to their son Robby.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys:
    • LaRusso's daughter, Sam, was attracted to Kyler the local jerkass, but after witnessing Kyler's true personality she breaks up with him. She breaks up with Miguel when his growing jerkass personality goes too far.
    • Johnny believes this trope wholeheartedly, as evidenced by his story about how he originally met Ali, and how he tries to encourage Miguel by stating that every girl wants to date a Cobra Kai. Still, Johnny may have a point, as evidenced when after Eli becomes "Hawk", with his mohawk, punk attitude, and tattoo, he starts getting a LOT more attention from Moon.
  • All-Loving Hero: The reigning All-Valley karate champion strays into this trope, to the point where a viewer might find themselves cheering for Miguel to pulverize him. It doesn't help his case that he was merely being announced, and instead snatches the mic away from the announcer to give a tedious speech about acceptance and call for a slacktivist moment of silence.
  • Almighty Janitor: Well, more like Almighty Alcoholic Deadbeat, but Johnny is entitled to this trope all the same.
  • Alpha Bitch: Sam's friend Yasmine is hot and rich, but also a mean-spirited bully who looks down on everybody and uses social media to torment them.
  • AM/FM Characterization: The music choices when Daniel's in the frame tend to be warmer and mellower. Conversely, Johnny tends to get 80s metal/hair metal songs for his leitmotif.
  • And Starring: Veteran character actor Ed Asner, who plays Johnny's stepfather Sid, gets this credit.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Daniel's son Anthony is this to Sam (and everyone else) in spades.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Miguel apologizes before kicking his female sparring partner Aisha at Lawrence's behest. She then tackles him and viciously kneedrops him in retaliation.
  • Asian Airhead: Kyler is a rare male example of this, relentlessly bullying Miguel and his friends, and later Sam with false rumors of her promiscuity after she rejects his advances, and the one responsible for reigniting the feud between Daniel and Johnny by claiming Johnny jumped him. He also turns down Daniel's expertly prepared sashimi, unaware of its status as a Japanese delicacy, and when asked where his parents are from (As in, what country they originated), Kyler answers "Irvine?"
  • Ass-Kicking Pose: LaRusso is striking one on a huge billboard advertising the LaRusso Auto Group.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Johnny subscribes to this fighting philosophy.
    Johnny: So I'm gonna teach you the the best defense that you can know. And the best more offense.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: Through Johnny's efforts and persistence in bringing back Cobra Kai, Kreese manages to get revenge for losing the tournaments in the first and third films, and his return indicates he's just getting started.
  • Badass Boast: "Prepare to face the fury of the Hawk." (Borders on Narm Charm.)
  • Badass Creed: "Strike first, strike hard, no mercy", of course.
  • Bail Equals Freedom: In the pilot, Johnny Lawrence is arrested and bailed out by his stepfather in the process of saving Miguel from a gang of bullies. The arrest is never brought up again (though Johnny would have a reasonable case for dismissal given the circumstances), though the fight is.
  • Batman Gambit: Daniel uses one of these to get the Cobra Kai dojo's rent doubled. He invites Armand Zakarian, who owns the strip-mall, to dinner and pretends to want to buy it. Zakarian immediately gets suspicious of why Daniel would want to buy such a shitty strip-mall in a crappy part of the valley and during the negotiations Daniel "lets slip" that a nearby mall charges twice as much as Zakarian does in rent. Then he withdraws the offer and Zakarian goes ahead and raises the rent on all the stores at the mall. Daniel achieves his objective just by manipulating Zakarian's suspicious nature and greed.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Johnny gets hit by this twice. At first, he wishes he could attract a full dojo of students. But when he accomplishes just that, he is dismayed to see the new students are all nerds and "losers" who can barely fight. Then he wishes he could turn them into genuine badasses. He accomplishes this, too — at the cost of them becoming the kind of bullying jerkass he himself once was. Oh, and their success also brings Kreese back into Johnny's life.
  • Berserk Button: Johnny's car might be a hunk of junk that costs more to fix than it's worth, but Mr. Miyagi is no longer around to save you if you touch it.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: At the beginning of the series, Aisha is arguably the meekest and most inoffensive of all the characters who have lines. On her first day of Cobra Kai lessons, Miguel — clearly aware of Aisha's plight of being forced to spar with no training — apologizes to her before knocking her down with one kick. It doesn't stop Aisha from tackling Miguel, executing a brutal kneedrop on him, and leaving him groaning on the mat.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Miguel's grandmother only speaks Spanish, but she understands English just fine, so all the conversations at the Diaz home tend to involve both languages.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Cobra Kai wins the All Valley tournament on its 50th anniversary, but things simply did not turn out the way anyone expected:
    • Johnny isn't happy about the result since Miguel defeated his own son by exploiting an injury and essentially became the same kind of fighter he used to be right in front of him.
    • Miguel ends up realizing that he drove away Sam over his rabid "No Mercy" attitude. Sam was not able to witness Miguel's victory after leaving before the match started — and she wouldn't have been cheering for him anyway.
    • Sam views Miguel as someone who was being bullied, then fighting against bullies, and then transitioning into becoming a bully.
    • Sam does get to patch things up with Aisha after watching her do well at the tournament (she got defeated when her opponent ironically swept her leg). Johnny then tries apologizing to Robby, who thanks to Daniel's advice, understands that he means it.
    • Daniel was also probably sincere about congratulating Johnny and is still proud of Robby for doing his best, deciding to show him his idea of turning Mr. Miyagi's home into their own dojo in the hopes of gaining more students.
    • Post-tournament, the return of Kreese in Cobra Kai's dojo, showing his own plans for their return.
  • Bland-Name Product: Picturegrams, a social media website that Sam uses, is a stand-in for Instagram. Which is really weird, considering that Instagram is owned by Facebook, which appears without the Bland-Name Product treatment.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Kyler and Yasmine's stock in trade.
    • After a hit-and-run incident where she t-bones Johnny's car, Yasmine tells her father that she hit a deer.
    • Every time he is in front of Sam or Daniel, Kyler puts on a Nice Guy act to mask his jerkass behavior. And after she rejects him, he tells everyone that Sam performed oral sex on him in a movie theater.
  • Bowdlerization: Promos have Johnny referring to his students as part of a "pansy-ass" generation. Presumably people offended by that would be really upset to find that in the actual episode, he calls them a "pussy" generation instead.
  • Brick Joke: During the All Valley Tournament Committee meeting one of the members suggest as a way to "shake up" the tournament and boost attendance by replacing the red mats with a white fist with blue mats with a gold fist, most of the members think it's a bad/stupid idea. Then during the actual tournament we see they actually went with his recommendation anyway.
  • Bring It: Johnny's attitude towards Daniel at the end of their first real confrontation in the new Cobra Kai dojo.
    Daniel: "You and I — this — we aren't done." (turns to walk out)
    Johnny: (with a smirk) "I'm right here, man."
  • Bromance: Episode 9 — where Daniel and Johnny almost manage to become friends — is super-bromantic while they're together. And then Daniel introduces his new student to Johnny — Johnny's own son.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: Daniel and Johnny both, to varying degrees, beatify Ali Mills (Schwarber), a woman who moved on from the Encino Valley karate bubble and likely forgot about them both decades ago.
  • Call-Back: An exchange between Johnny and Miguel harks back to an early scene in the The Karate Kid and underscores the difference in Johnny’s and Miyagi's approach to training, subverting the latter's Wax On, Wax Off techniques.
    Miguel: Hey Sensei, is there any particular way you want me to wash these windows?
    Johnny: No, I don't give a shit.
    • Speaking of Wax On, Wax Off, a brief exchange between Daniel and Robby during the latter's Wax On, Wax Off montage when Robby waxes Daniel's cars mirrors one during Daniel's own such montage when Daniel was painting Mr. Miyagi's fence. Daniel's wife then lampshades it after Robby storms off by saying "I think you're enjoying this a little too much."
    Daniel: "I'm done." Miyagi: "Both sides?"
    Robby: "I'm done." Daniel: "Both lots?"
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Johnny goes to his stepdad Sid, who has been shown to be a mean and uncaring man, to give back all the money Sid has given him. Sid scoffs, sure that Johnny will come crawling back soon and begging for more. Johnny makes it clear that he has no more use for Sid at all.
    Sid: Of course you'll be back. You need my money!
    Johnny: I never needed your money, it was just the only thing you had to give. Goodbye, Sid.
  • Casting Gag: William Zabka and Diora Baird (who plays Johnny's ex-wife) played a couple in Hot Tub Time Machine. Whether or not it's intentional is up for debate, but show producer Josh Heald also wrote Hot Tub Time Machine.
  • Central Theme: By the end of episode 10, it's clear the main theme is the importance of mentors/father figures and the effects they can have on your life, for good or ill.
  • Character Development: As the protagonist, Johnny gets some of this — from being a Jerk Ass bully himself to someone who trains bullying victims in karate so they can turn the tables on their tormentors. Deconstructed since they just end up becoming bullies themselves.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: Johnny beats up the bullies who were assaulting Miguel and attacked Johnny when he interfered. When the cops arrive, they arrest him since all they saw was an adult beating up some teenagers. Later, Daniel, not knowing the full story, gives Johnny crap about his actions.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Cobra Kai karate as taught by Johnny is supposed to be like this. When attacked, you fight back with everything you have and do not hold back.
    • In his first major victory, Miguel embraces this trope wholeheartedly, issuing Kyler's gang a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown with fists, feet, chairs, and even a lunch tray.
    • Also deconstructed since it means not holding back means nothing is sacred and thus requiring sacrifice of morals.
  • Continuity Nod: To The Karate Kid Part III in Episode 7: Daniel mentions Mr. Miyagi's Little Trees as part of a Noodle Incident, and John Kreese's associates Terry Silver and Mike Barnes are brought up when Johnny tries to repeal Cobra Kai's ban from the All-Valley Karate Championships.
  • Contrived Coincidence: While drunkenly reminiscing outside the sports arena where the climax of the first movie took place, Johnny’s car is t-boned by an SUV and taken to one of LaRusso's body shops after the teen girl driving the SUV flees the scene. And to top it off, Daniel's daughter was one of the passengers in the SUV.
  • Cool Shades: Lawrence puts a pair on before driving away in his sports car.
  • Cool Old Lady: Miguel's grandma Rosa is all on-board with him becoming a fighter. She's also a Deadpan Snarker and likes to smoke pot.
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive: It's a stretch of character, but Daniel comes off this way when he uses his influence to increase the rent on the strip mall where the Cobra Kai dojo is located in the hopes of driving Johnny out of business. He at least has the decency to realize that he's becoming unbalanced after his wife calls him out on it, although this does nothing to help the people hurt by his actions. note 
  • Crazy Homeless People: Johnny makes an ill-advised decision to recruit Lynn, a shiftless homeless woman, to help advertise his dojo. While she is not actually violent, she clearly lacks the focus to hold Johnny's Cobra Kai sign for any length of time. Meanwhile, Johnny himself gets mistaken for a bum by a few people, including Kyler, Yasmine/Moon, and (hilariously enough) Lynn.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Befitting the twisted equivalent of Mr. Miyagi that he becomes, Johnny handily mows down every gang of jerkasses who incurs his wrath. At least until the police arrive.
    • When Miguel finally puts his training to use against Kyler and his cohorts in the lunchroom, he utterly demolishes all four at the same time.
  • Curse Cut Short:
    • In one of the teaser trailers, when Miguel asks Johnny if there is any particular way he wants him to wash some windows, the response from Johnny is:
    Johnny: No, I don't give a sh-
    • Daniel, when he spies the defaced billboard.
    Daniel: MOTHERF-
  • Cutaway Gag: When Miguel is being nursed by his mother in episode 4:
    Carmen: (about Johnny) Mama, this man is a bad influence.
    Miguel: He is not! You don't know him!
    Carmen: I know he's a loser.
    Miguel: He is not a loser! If you knew him, you'd see — he's a great man!
    (Cut to Johnny's squalid apartment, with him passed out on the floor next to a spilled can of Coors.)
  • Dare to Be Badass: Johnny literally tells his students "All that matters is that you become badass!"
  • Darker and Edgier: While the original films never shied away from violence or a few Getting Crap Past the Radar moments, this series is clearly targeted towards an audience who has no qualms about darker topics such as harsh language, dysfunctional families, and sexuality.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates: Invoked In-Universe after Louie suggests that Daniel engage in a little Twerp Sweating with Kyler to keep him in line. Anoush objects that doing so will result in this trope:
    Anoush: Exactly. You're going to drive Sam right into this guy's arms. Trust me, I date girls with Daddy Issues, they're the worst... (lower) and the best.
    • The series skirts this trope again when Miguel and Sam get together, with the latter being painfully aware that her father isn't going to smile on her dating the Cobra Kai's prize student. Luckily for her (we guess), Miguel becomes a jerkass and ruins their relationship before the issue can come to a head with Daniel.
  • Deadly Prank:
    • Two of Daniel's salesmen think it will be hilarious to haze Robbie and tell him that Daniel wants him to move a car on the show floor closer to the window. They give him the car keys and wait for Hilarity Ensues. Robbie has no idea what he is supposed to do and almost runs over a group of customers.
    • Daniel's cousin decides to get back at Johnny by torching Johnny's car. As Johnny points out, the fire could have easily spread and burned down the whole neighborhood.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Daniel, Johnny, Amanda, Robby, Miguel, and Dmitri all get their moments at various points in the series.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: The series looks at the typical bully character in 80s teen movies (of which Johnny is considered one of the archetypal examples) and explores what that kind of character would end up being in the future, as well as the kind of environment that would create such a bully in the first place. Johnny was a Jerk Ass in the original films and still is to some extent, but it's shown that this behavior stems partially from a troubled life, and a lack of a decent teacher/father figure to provide him with any proper guidance. All he's had is his stepfather and John Kreese, the former having abused him emotionally, and the latter physically and emotionally. The philosophy of Cobra Kai itself only served as negative reinforcement, amplifying his nastier traits, as shown with how his students turn out by the end of season one.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: As expected for a series who focuses on someone who was a bully in the 80's. So far in the series, Johnny has shown a dislike for immigrants, opposition to women fighting (while claiming the army doesn't allow them), disregard for medical problems like asthma and physical defects people are born with, and a general dislike towards the current "pansy ass generation" he lives in.
  • Did Not Think This Through: When Johnny has Miguel learn how to use his legs by pushing him into a pool with his hands bound and Miguel takes a while to get back to the surface, Johnny says to himself that he probably should have asked Miguel if he knew how to swim first.
    • Daniel attempts to get Cobra Kai closed down by getting the strip mall's owner to hike up the rent. Unfortunately he is so focused on stopping Johnny that he does not consider how this will affect the mall's other businesses. Who will now have a much harder time getting by and likely end up closing down.
  • Diner Brawl: A cafeteria variation, when Kyler and his posse decide to engage in their usual shenanigans. This time, they all get hit with a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Disappeared Dad: One of Johnny’s failings based on of his son Robby's reactions to him:
    Robby: Don't try to play dad now, you're a pathetic loser.
  • Disco Dan: Johnny still drives a sports car from The '80s, listens only to "hair metal" bands, and even prints flyers for his dojo in the same style as the original Cobra Kai. He also shows a distressing ignorance of social media.
    • He also uses a seriously outdated flip-phone for a cell phone.
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Kyler and his gang attack Miguel simply because Miguel accidentally ruined their plan to buy alcohol with fake I.D.s.
    • In response to Johnny reopening the Cobra Kai dojo, Daniel raises the rent on the strip mall property where it's located, affecting not only Johnny but all of the area's tenants. Amanda calls him out on this.
    • During a timeout, Hawk attacks Robby while the latter's back is turned and injures his shoulder simply because Robby made a crack about Hawk's haircut.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Johnny's students as a whole, but specifically Miguel and Aisha end up giving Kyler and Yasmine, respectively, what they've long had coming to them.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Even when he's down and out, Johnny would sooner die on the street than accept money from his dickish stepfather. Aisha tells Sam she wants none of her sympathy after she was beaten at the All Valley tournament, although they still managed to reconcile with one another.
  • Double Entendre: During the opening minutes of Episode 2 we see Daniel going about his day set to Dean Martin's "Ain't That a Kick in the Head", functioning as both a reference to his famous Crane Kick, and highlights his feelings when he happens upon the reopened Cobra Kai dojo.
  • Downer Beginning: The series begins by showing a day in the Humiliation Conga that Johnny's middle years have become.
  • Do Wrong, Right: One of the premises on which the Cobra Kai karate style is built. The idea that strikes should be for maximum damage and happen before suffering an attack is not a new one to martial arts (among others, krav maga is based on it). Johnny fails to acknowledge genuine wisdom or importance to it, so he creates instead a group of people willing to do whatever. Also, Johnny prefers that people, if they must do hurtful things, do so to the person's face rather than behind their back.
    • When Robby storms out of the dealership after being the victim of Louie's prank, he almost punches Daniel when the latter runs after him. Daniel defuses the situation by teaching Robby how to punch.
    Daniel: If you're going to punch your boss, you gotta make a tight fist.
  • Dramatic Drop: Daniel is drinking a cup of coffee in his kitchen when he looks out of the window and sees Johnny standing in his backyard obviously pissed off, and the shock causes him to drop the cup which shatters on the kitchen floor.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: Even though he quit the dojo decades ago as a result of his experiences in the films, Johnny failed to learn that Cobra Kai is inherently flawed by virtue of its aggressive and ruthless dogmatism, instead believing it was only this way because Kreese was a colossal asshole. He finally gets it once his students become the same kind of bullies that he used to be, despite him attempting to prevent this.
  • Dramedy: The page on That Other Wiki describes it as "comedy/drama".
  • Drowning My Sorrows: As a hard-luck alcoholic in a World of Jerkass, this is one of Johnny's more prominent habits.
  • Drunk Driver: Johnny is no stranger to driving while intoxicated, and he does it again when he hits rock bottom in the first episode. In a Karma Houdini twist, though, the only damage his car ever incurs in the series is mostly not his fault.
  • Dude Magnet: Sam LaRusso attracts three guys in the first season.
  • Easily Forgiven: Thoroughly subverted throughout the series.
    • Aisha is not able to forgive Sam for abandoning her socially and especially her role in Yasmine's pig meme, and even takes a shot at Sam when she says that Kyler does not mind that she sucks. Not until the tournament, anyway, where there is effort by Sam to rebuild the relationship does Aisha start to forgive her.
    • Robby has a lot of bitterness towards Johnny for abandoning him and his mother. In fact, the only Precision F-Strike in the series is done by Robby when he see's one of his Dad's flyers. It is only because of Daniel's intervention that Robby is able to let go of some of his rage.
    • And of course, from their first meeting onward, it is crystal clear that Daniel and Johnny — despite the fact that their climactic final battle was 34 years ago — both harbor a certain contempt towards each other.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: John Kreese shows up like this at Cobra Kai, alive and well.
  • Eureka Moment: In the first episode, Daniel was no doubt trying to be kind when he tells Johnny "Hey, look, I don't blame you for what happened back in the day, all right? I know that wasn't you — it was Cobra Kai. We're all better off without it, am I right?" But that ends up giving Johnny the best idea he's had since high school, and their feud is set into motion.
  • Everyone Has Standards: While Johnny himself did some vicious things in the first film, he finds himself genuinely disturbed when Aisha revealed she's a victim of cyber-bullying. It's more because the bullies are hiding behind anonymous email accounts, though. Back in his day, you teased someone to their face, and bullying was more honorable.
    • More seriously, he finally gets to see the ramifications of spouting an aggressive "no mercy" attitude when he sees what jerks his students have become.
  • Evil Virtues: Despite what Cobra Kai ends up doing to its students in the long run, Cobra Kai does a good job of practicing inclusion and providing a helping hand to bullied kids stand up for themselves and gain confidence.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: After joining Cobra Kai, Eli a.k.a Hawk shaves the sides of his head and styles the middle into a blue mohawk.
  • Excrement Statement: When Johnny is having an extended Heroic BSoD from learning his son is training under Daniel, one of the things he does is drunkenly urinate on the car Daniel gave him as a peace offering.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Daniel has a large appreciation and closeness to Japanese culture and seems to stem both from his closeness to Mr. Miyagi and the latter's death.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The entire Cobra Kai team, but the standout is Eli, aka Hawk. He begins as a meek, disfigured nerd, but his training from Johnny turns him into an unhinged psychopath who wouldn't look out of place among Lord Humungus's marauders.
  • Funny Background Event:
    • Before the fight at the strip mall, Kyler shoves Johnny who drops the slice of pizza he had just bought from the mini-mart. While Johnny teaches Kyler's gang a lesson, the homeless lady can be seen eating the pizza he dropped.
    • After inviting Johnny in for breakfast, Daniel and Amanda excuse themselves to argue over how best to placate their guest and get him out of their hair. Back at the table behind them, Johnny can be seen furiously and forcefully salting the hell out of his food.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Robby's shoulder after Hawk dislocates it with an illegal attack. Unlike Daniel in the first movie, Robby does not overcome his injury to win the final match.
  • Gang of Bullies: Kyler and his friends. Daniel's unethical cousin Louie also appears to have a couple of violence-prone henchmen on call. In the end, Miguel and his fellow Cobra Kai students become a gang of their own.
  • Generation Xerox: Miguel, Sam, and Robby's arc in the first season follows pretty closely to Daniel, Ali and Johnny's arc in the first movie.
  • The Ghost:
    • Mr. Miyagi passed away years before the series began, but he's still remembered fondly by Daniel and his mother and Daniel incorporates everything he learned from him into his business and family life. Several times during the series, Daniel wishes he was still around to give him advice and even spends a scene visiting his grave. Eventually, when Robby becomes Daniel's karate student and fights in the All-Valley tournament, Daniel has him fight for Miyagi-Do Karate as he did 34 years ago.
    • Ali never appears in the flesh during the first season. However, she is constantly brought up, be it in Johnny's memories, by Counselor Blatt during the dance and near the end of the season when Daniel fills Johnny in on what became of her.note 
  • Gone Horribly Right: Johnny successfully teaches a bunch of bullied teenagers to stand up for themselves and fight back against their tormentors. He fails to anticipate the aftereffects, that teaching a bunch of angry kids a martial arts philosophy based on ruthlessness, aggression and being merciless would lead to inevitable escalation. Sure enough, they all end up becoming the very types of people he was training them to defend against.
    • And just to further drive this trope home none other than John Kreese himself shows up at the end to congratulate Johnny on Cobra Kai's revival.
  • Glory Days:
    • Subverted with Johnny who, despite his Disco Dan tendencies and pride in his achievements in karate, has more or less moved on from the past. He is not proud of what he did under Kreese's guidance and wants his Cobra Kai to be better. That said, according to his actor, Johnny hasn't totally moved on — in Zabka's words, he's "stuck in 1989."
    • Daniel is a successful businessman and has a great family, but he seems to have trouble moving on from his past (implied to be a result of Mr. Miyagi's death.) He built his career on his identity as the Karate Guy and likes to show off that he still has the skills that made him two time All Valley Champion. On the other hand, he believed that Johnny was no longer the same Jerkass he was, since he even mentioned it was not him, but Cobra Kai. However, seeing Cobra Kai back made Daniel think Johnny didn't change and was still "the same old prick."
  • Good Feels Good: Robby initially starts working for Daniel only to spite Johnny, but he ends up respecting Daniel enough to become his karate protege and even protect his business from his former delinquent friends.
  • Graceful Loser: Robby loses the final match — but his mentor Daniel takes it much better than Kreese took Johnny's original loss.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Episode 5 shows Daniel visiting Mr. Miyagi's grave and apologizing for having not visited in over a month and pruning the bonsai tree left by the tombstone, strongly implying that Daniel makes these trips regularly.
  • Graying Morality: The series aims for something much closer to Grey and Gray Morality than the Black and White Morality from the original film. Johnny retains some of his Jerkass traits and gives his students the same Cobra Kai training he had, but he's doing it so that they'll become more confident, assertive, and able to fight back against anyone who bullies them. Daniel is understandably wary of the rebirth of Cobra Kai, but he grabs the Jerkass Ball and goes out of his way to antagonize Johnny even though Johnny's plan doesn't involve getting back at Daniel at all and couldn't care less about his former rival. By the end of the first season, the series reconstructs the black and white morality from the first film. While Daniel's teachings turn Robby into a better person who's willing to let go of his anger towards his father, Johnny's only end up leading his students onto the very path that ruined his youth. However, he does realize what he has done. A large sign of this is the return of the morally black Kreese.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Kreese still haunts Johnny even after being kicked out, as he reminisces about the time after his loss when Kreese decided the best way to reprimand him is to CHOKE JOHNNY. It doesn't help that Cobra Kai's victory in the tournament has inspired Kreese to bring them back to their former glory.
  • Groin Attack: A rare girl-on-girl example: Aisha introduces Yasmine to the Melvin.
  • Hate Sink: Kyler and Yasmine (also see their respective character entries). Kreese will likely become one as the villainous teacher he probably still is next season.
  • He's Back: Johnny is resurrecting the Cobra Kai karate school. The trailer even lampshades it by overlaying "Back in the Game" by Airbourne over a montage of scenes.
    • Kreese now plans to seize the opportunity of Johnny's success to return the Cobra Kai to what it used to be rather than what Johnny wants it to become instead.
    • Following a visit to Mr. Miyagi's grave, Daniel cleans out the dojo, dons his old gi and headband, and decides to re-commit himself to carrying on his late Sensei's legacy.
  • Healing Hands: Amusingly subverted through a Bait-and-Switch gag. In one scene, Daniel prepares to do Miyagi's famous pain-suppression technique... but he's no Magical Asian, and quickly decides to call in a real medic instead.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam:
    • Johnny makes more than one attempt to leave behind his grudge with Daniel and/or patch things up with his biological son. It never works. Though by the end of the first season, they’re at able to tell that Johnny is trying to be serious.
    • Daniel also has a few moments where he tries, but fails, to put the past behind him He eventually finds balance again.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Johnny's son Robby begins the series as a thieving, drug-trafficking delinquent. He becomes more responsible and sympathetic when Daniel takes him under his wing.
    • Although Moon is merely a Satellite Character, when she befriends the Cobra Kai, she ends up apologizing to Aisha for the earlier cyberbullying — and insisting that Yasmine should apologize, too. When Yasmine refuses and is subsequently humiliated, Moon stays with the Cobra Kai and cheers for Eli/Hawk in the tournament.
  • Heel Realization:
  • Heroic BSoD:
    • Robby starts working for Daniel hoping to deliberately cause this for his father Johnny. He ultimately succeeds... but only after Daniel has taken the boy under his wing and become a father figure to him. When the truth is inadvertently revealed, both Daniel and Johnny feel betrayed.
    • Johnny seems to be having another one as he contemplates Cobra Kai's hollow victory at the All Valley Tournament. Sure they won, but his relationship with Robby is no better than it was before Robby became Daniel's student; meanwhile he made his own students into the same sort of crap person he was and is clearly dismayed at having proven himself basically almost no better than Kreese (though while Kreese intended this, Johnny most certainly did not.) Kreese returning to congratulate his efforts only makes things worse.
  • He Who Fights Monsters: Miguel and the other kids Johnny trains initially just want to be able to defend themselves against the people bullying them. They end up becoming ruthless bullies themselves in the process.
  • Hollywood Genetics: Sam LaRusso is only 5' 3" in height, despite her parents both being 5' 9".
  • Hope Spot: The ninth episode looked like both Johnny and Danny were going to reconcile, only to discover Robby.
  • Horrible Judge of Character: Sam LaRusso's track record in this department is quite bad as the series starts. Her closest friends are the worst kind of mean girls and of the three guys she's attracted to, the first one is an insufferable bully and the one after him transforms into a complete Jerkass but it takes him hitting her to fully realize it. Luckily, she wises up later on.
    • Yasmine's Beta Bitch, Moon, finds herself attracted to Eli aka "Hawk" after his Cobra Kai transformation; whether this sticks after his disqualification in the All Valley tournament remains to be seen.
  • Hourglass Plot:
    • At first, Robby is jealous of Miguel because of his close relationship with Johnny. By the end, Robby lets go of his anger at him, but Miguel hates Robby now because he thinks he's going to lose Sam to him.
    • A more mild one, but Kyler begins as a bully that Eli and Miguel have to quietly avoid out of fear. By the end, Miguel and Eli, now Hawk, are the bullies and Kyler leaves the party rather than attract their notice.
  • Humiliation Conga: Up until he reopens the Cobra Kai dojo (and for a good while after), Johnny's existence is nothing but one aggravation after another, until he's pretty much a Jerkass Woobie.
     I to R 
  • I Have No Son!: Johnny's stepdad, Sid, attempts to disown him due to his constant alcoholism and legal issues, even offering him money to do so. Johnny eventually turns it around by paying Sid with the some of the dojo's proceeds and vowing never to return.
    • Played with between Johnny and Robby. Johnny wants very much into his son's life, but is utterly dismayed when he learns that Robby has become Daniel's protege.
  • Imaginary Love Triangle: When Miguel sees Sam with Robby, he assumes Robby is trying to move in on her and Sam is starting to fall for him and tries to fight Robby. The truth is, Sam only had feelings for Miguel and, while he did feel attracted to Sam, Robby accepted that she was in a relationship with Miguel and was just helping Sam escape from being grounded so she could meet Miguel at the beach party.
  • Improvised Weapon: The lunchroom fighting scene, where Miguel shoves a chair in the path of one opponent and uses a lunch tray as both an attack and a shield.
  • Inherent in the System: Despite Johnny's belief that the only problem with Cobra Kai laid with Kreese, as the first season progresses even he comes to realize that when taken to its logical conclusion, the Cobra Kai mantra of "Strike First. Strike Hard. No Mercy." is nothing but a recipe for creating aggressive and merciless assholes driven by chips on their shoulders or thirst for power... like he was.
    • Part of the reason Miguel and his high school friends became Cobra Kai students in the first place is that their teachers can't be watching over them 24/7 and are woefully ill-equipped to deal with modern cyberbullying.
  • Innocent Inaccurate: Danny when he has Kyler over for dinner, thinking that Kyler's parents are immigrants (really from Irvine).
  • Insecurity Camera: Subverted. When two of Robby's former buddies attack him because he refused to help them break into the dealership, he gets them to back off by pointing out that they are standing in front of a security camera that has captured the entire altercation.
  • Internal Deconstruction: The series deconstructs Johnny's characterization as the spoiled, rich bully who embraced Cobra Kai's thuggery in the first Karate Kid movie by showing that he was actually an emotionally abused youth who found an escape from his abusive stepdad and real mentorship (even if it was wrong) from Kreese and the Cobra Kai dojo. While Daniel's victory at the All-Valley tournament was a great accomplishment for him, for Johnny the loss caused him to lose the girl he loved, his surrogate father figure, and the one thing in his life that gave him meaning.
    Johnny: Just because you live in a nice house doesn't mean nice things are going on inside.
  • Ironic Echo: After the initial beatdown by Johnny, Kyler attacks him from behind with a chokehold, loudly remarking "What's the matter? Having trouble breathing?!" Less than thirty seconds later Johnny has beat Kyler's gang down again, reversed Kyler's punch and is holding him in a chokehold of his own, from the front, looking him right in the eyes.
    Johnny: What's the matter? Having trouble breathing?
  • Jaded Washout: Played with. Johnny is a divorced handyman and binge drinker who lives alone, but still has martial arts skills as some bullies find out. Later he finds his calling by being The Obi-Wan to bullied kids.
    • Daniel also has shades of it. While he is a very successful business owner with a loving family, he still seems to consider being All-Valley Karate Champion two years running his most important achievement, to the point that he still builds his ads around hs "karate champ" status and displays the trophies he won 34 years earlier prominently in his home.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Johnny does when he points out to Daniel that he was only defending Miguel from being assaulted by Kyler and his bullying buddies— and even then, only responded in kind when they didn't take a hint and attacked him— and again when he shows up, pissed off, at Daniel's residence because Louie's attempt to torch his car could have endangered his entire neighborhood. There's also the plot point of him teaching bullied schoolkids how to defend themselves where he points out that schools' methods of teaching about microaggressions and alerting authority figures to bullying are largely useless outside of a school setting and they need to learn how to handle things on their own.
    • On the flipside, while Daniel's own actions and methods may not have been the most ethical, he was right to assume that Miguel would end up like Johnny if he stayed with Cobra Kai.
    • Even if it is largely a self-serving way to dodge responsibility for being in her son's life, Shannon Keene is right in her criticism of Johnny as a father. At the point Robby is in, you don't get any do over's, and he did give up on day one.
  • Karma Houdini: In a series where the plot is often driven by reality ensuing from impulsive decisions, Daniel's utter lack of consequences from kicking a drink out of his business rival's hand in a momentary fit of anger is a particularly notable oversight.
  • Kick the Dog: The Cobra Kai at various points in the tournament, particularly in the final match. Even aside from repeatedly hitting Robby's injured shoulder, Miguel shows his opponent absolutely no respect whatsoever.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: While the Cobra Kai students becoming bullies themselves is a horrible thing, nobody is going to feel sorry for Kyler and Yasmine when they get their asses kicked by the kids they bullied.
    • Early on, Johnny takes this quite literally, spin-kicking Kyler into the dirt to open their fight in the first episode. Reality Ensues, of course, when he suffers pain for failing to warm up before doing it.
  • Kids Are Cruel: Kyler and his gang savagely bully Miguel and his friends at every opportunity, and neither he nor Yasmine have any issue with turning Sam and Aisha into laughing stocks on social media until the whole school is anonymously taunting them with crass memes and encouraging them to commit suicide. Even Johnny — the original vicious bully of the Karate Kid universe — can't help feeling appalled on Aisha's behalf.
    • Miguel and the Cobra Kai students prove to be no better, basically becoming as bad as, if not worse than, Johnny himself once was (i.e. getting into drunken fights over a girl, giving someone a front wedgie and making it go viral, taking cheap shots during the All Valley tournament, etc.)
      • Regarding the front wedgie, Sam seemingly has no problem sharing a laugh with Aisha over it after learning that it went viral and between the two of them, no fucks are given to the inevitable negative effects that will have on Yasmine.
    • When Johnny's students are wondering where he is on tournament day, Hawk is quick to speculate that their sensei might have killed himself. In response, Aisha offers up this gem of Cobra Kai insight:
      Aisha: No, sensei would never kill himself. It's too pussy a move.
  • Killed Offscreen: According to Johnny, John Kreese passed away sometime after the original trilogy. Turns out to be not true when Kreese reappears after Cobra Kai wins the tournament. It remains to be seen whether Johnny was blatantly lying about Kreese's death, merely mistaken or misinformed about it, or meant his statement in a "that man is dead to me" kind of way.
  • Kitschy Local Commercial: The TV ads for the LaRusso Auto Group feature the man himself doing some painfully cheesy martial arts moves, terrible special effects and caps the whole thing off by reminding the audience that all clients gets a bonsai tree with a purchase.
    • Daniel's business rival, Tom Cole, has his own narmtastic "Yankee Doodle" commercial (with a Revolutionary War theme, an Incredibly Lame Pun, and a subtle Take That! shot at Daniel's company).
  • Like a Son to Me: Miguel and Johnny's relationship develops with this dynamic, Miguel being Johnny's second chance at being a father figure. Later on, Robby, Johnny's biological son, and Daniel develop this kind of relationship.
  • Mama Bear: Carmen's reaction to Johnny bringing an unconscious Miguel to his home, telling him to never again come near her son, gives this impression. It is clear that despite being naive about the problems Miguel is having at school, she loves Miguel dearly.
  • Medal of Dishonor: The All-Valley Karate Championship trophy becomes this for Johnny as it is proof to him that all he did was create a new generation of thugs and become just like Kreese.
  • Mistaken for Masturbating: When Miguel starts training in his bedroom to loud music, his grandmother hears his exertions and immediately assumes he is masturbating.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Johnny finally realizes that the "No Mercy" training style from John Kreese only served to turn his students into old copies of him.
    Johnny: Look, I know you wanna win, but it's gotta be the right way. You don't have to fight dirty.
    Miguel: Dirty?! There's nothing dirty about winning, sensei. You taught me that.
  • Mugging the Monster: The bullies assaulting Miguel take offense when Johnny tells them to knock it off. One of them — Kyler — shoves Johnny. Johnny then wipes the floor with them.
  • My Beloved Smother: Miguel's mother is absolutely horrified by the thought of any harm coming to her son, and Miguel initially has to keep his involvement in Cobra Kai a secret from her. She eventually warms to the idea of him being a fighter — but even then, she can't help covering her eyes when it looks like his opponents have the upper hand.
  • Nice Girl: Sam is genuinely polite and friendly, and inevitably draws the line at the jerkass antics of Kyler and Yasmine and Miguel.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Hoo-boy, where to begin?
    • Daniel accidentally gives Johnny the inspiration to restart Cobra Kai when he tells Johnny it was Cobra Kai that was responsible for Johnny's bad behavior.
    • Amanda's understandable anxiety about her daughter's social status cause her to get careless about what kind of friends Sam is making. Their cruelty towards many students, including Aisha and Miguel, help give rise to a new generation of Cobra Kai, not to mention the hit and run accident that eventually prompts Johnny to reopen Cobra Kai.
    • Blatt tries to dissuade the students from cyber-bullying by telling them how a student's mother called her about her son getting mocked for his facial scar. Since she's obviously talking about Eli, he just gets mocked even more.
    • Johnny trains Miguel for a few months and unintentionally boosts Miguel's confidence too high and too fast. Despite getting in a solid kick in on Kyler, Miguel's first fight with Kyler and his goons results in him getting beaten unconscious.
    • In an attempt to drive Cobra Kai out of business, Daniel launches a Bat Man Gambit involving Armand Zakarian, the owner of the Strip Mall where Cobra Kai is located. At the end, Cobra Kai faces higher rent but so do all the other business owners on that strip mall. Amanda rightfully calls him out on this disregard for collateral damage. This Prompts Daniel to visit the grave of Mr.Miyagi to regain balance in his life.
    • Daniel's abrasiveness towards Johnny during the committee meeting only makes Johnny look more sympathetic, and Cobra Kai gets back in the tournament.
    • Sam's poor communication with Miguel, and hiding him from her dad because he is Cobra Kai, start to make Miguel suspicious about her and quite hurt. Leading to Miguel's Start of Darkness.
    • Amanda grounds her daughter on the solid grounds that she was involved in a potential crime. This includes being cut off from all social media and communications. Already feeling hurt, this causes Miguel to get suspicious of her even more. This suspicion in plays a big role in the incident where Same and Miguel's relationship ends.
    • Daniel's blanket description of Cobra Kai students, and warning his daughter to avoid anyone associated with it, made his daughter reluctant to introduce Miguel. She ends up deciding to hide her relationship with him, playing a role in the hurt feelings and suspicions Miguel has when he sees Robby dining with Daniel's family.
  • Noble Demon: What Johnny has become over the years. He's still a Jerkass, but has a soft spot for people trying to improve themselves. His new Cobra Kai dojo even reflects this aspect of his personality. He shows that the aggressive mindset taught in the dojo can have positive effects on students with poor confidence or crippling passivity. His primary flaw also manifests in the dojo — that people get corrupted by power and aggression if taught only to exploit it, not control it.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: What is Johnny's reward for intervening to save Miguel from Kyler's gang? Being maced and arrested by the police — and the incident serving as further ammunition for Daniel to rib him with.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Ralph Macchio sounds awfully Noo Yawk for someone who's supposedly lived in Southern California for almost 35 of his 50 years.note .
  • Not So Different: A significant focus of the series is showing that, despite being rivals, Johnny and Daniel actually have a lot in common. Both are stuck in the past despite showing clear proof that they worked on the future. They also both began as downtrodden outcasts with missing (or outright abusive) fathers, who found solace and a new father figure in the martial arts, and who both sing along to REO Speedwagon.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Johnny sees the Cobra Kai philosophy through this. He remembers how Cobra Kai empowered him and gave him an escape from his miserable home life. He blames all the bad things that happened on Kreese and his corrupting influence. He is thus completely unprepared for the inherent problems in such a philosophy until he is an adult and sees the reaction as someone wiser and through the actions of his own students.
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: This trope ensues when Johnny attempts to get the Cobra Kai unbanned from the All-Valley karate tournament... and Daniel is one of the organization's board members.
  • The One That Got Away: It is very clear that to varying degrees, neither Daniel nor Johnny ever fully got over Ali. Johnny constantly reminisces about the time they were together, and Daniel knows a little too much about her current life from her Facebook despite not being friends with her on the social network. One of the few things both men can agree on is that Ali's husband must be a total dork.
  • Only Sane Woman: Daniel's wife, Amanda (well, whenever status isn't brought up). In episode eight, she doesn't give a damn about family ties and tries to speak out against Louie and his horrible actions. And after Louie's antics result in yet another confrontation between Johnny and Daniel, the two are ready to throw down in LaRusso's back yard until his wife intervenes with some pretty epic Deadpan Snarkery.
    Amanda LaRusso: Yeah, you two seem to have this pretty well in hand. Just a normal Saturday afternoon and a couple of grown men about to kick each other into a pool. You know, as much as I would love to watch you and your childhood karate rival duke it out, I kinda don't want to get any blood on the patio. So what do you say we try to resolve this over some breakfast instead?
    Daniel LaRusso: (To Johnny) Wanna go inside?
    Johnny Lawrence: I could eat.
  • Opposing Combat Philosophies: The series goes into this a bit more than the original movie. In practical terms, Cobra Kai focuses on Combat Pragmatism street fighting with overwhelming offense, while Miyagi-Do Karate is more of a traditional style that places an emphasis on defense first and balance in all aspects of life.
    • In training philosophies Cobra Kai is all about going as hard as you can, pushing yourself to your breaking point and coming out stronger on the other side. Miyagi-do is about letting your mindful efforts flow through your entire life. Acting mindfully in certain areas of life will bring benefits in other areas of your life, bringing balance to your life. Cobra Kai is a fighting method than can be applied to life. Miyagi-do is a life philosophy than can be applied to combat.
  • Ordered to Cheat: Notably inverted. Johnny, unlike his former teacher Kreese, doesn't want his students to fight dirty. Unfortunately, they do so anyway because they see it as inherent in the philosophy.
    • It's a minor one, but in the first episode, Johnny says Daniel only won the tournament because of an illegal kick. Come Episode 10, he teaches Miguel how to do it, and it's scored as a point.
  • Overprotective Dad: Daniel has shades of this when he asks his daughter Sam if there are any guys she knows he should be worried about. He also tries to make his daughter promise she will stay away from anyone who's a member of the Cobra Kai dojo.
  • Pacifist Dojo: The Miyagi-do, very much helped by the fact that Daniel became a Martial Pacifist.
  • Parental Obliviousness: Danny and Amanda are more concerned about if Sam is popular than about how her popularity is achieved.
  • Parental Substitute: Johnny for Miguel, and later on, Daniel to Robby.
  • Party Scheduling Gambit: "Different But Same." The Cobra Kai throw a Wild Teen Party to spite Yasmine. They succeed in royally pissing her off.
  • Perspective Flip: The entire point of the show is to do this for the Cobra Kai. In the original film, the Cobra Kai were the villains, and their creed ("Strike first, strike hard, no mercy") was a mantra of brutality. Now the Cobra Kai are the protagonists — and often the heroes. Their creed, too, is examined in a more nuanced light, as bullying victims can apply it to gain confidence and initiative ("strike first"), apply themselves 100% to everything they do ("strike hard"), and keep fighting back even when life is unfair ("no mercy"). By the end of season 1, however, Johnny's students are going too far, transitioning from bullying victims to being bullies themselves — and Johnny knows it. In season 2, we will see if he can rein them back in — especially now that his original brutal sensei, John Kreese, is back in the picture.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad:
    • Once Johnny gives the demeaning nickname of "Lip" to Eli, Demitri tells him he can't make fun of others' physical appearance, and when Johnny says the real world doesn't care about it, Demitri says the real world can call the police on him and makes fun of his age. Two scenes later, Demitri is seen riding along the bullying campaign against Sam and making fun of her. Subverted in that Johnny's actions and speech encourage his students to follow the same path he followed, becoming the bullies they once feared.
    • Counselor Blatt spends more time worrying about students wearing culturally insensitive or non-gender neutral costumes at the school Halloween party than the cyberbulling problem that is rampant among the students.
      Counselor Blatt: Instead of "sexy nurse," how about "gender neutral hospital worker?"
  • Poor Communication Kills:
    • Every single time Johnny and Daniel are about to set aside their grudge, something happens to put them back at each other's throats. Biggest offender would be episode nine, when Johnny finds out Robby is training with Daniel, who's unaware he's Johnny's son.
    • Johnny is fired from his handyman job because he mounted a TV on the wrong wall. The woman said to mount it opposite the door, but there were two doors in the room and Johnny misunderstood which one she meant. Neither want to admit that they might have been wrong, and Johnny then seals his fate by telling her to "stop bitching".
    • The feud between Johnny and Daniel restarts because Daniel fails to find out Johnny’s side of the story, and Johnny is too pissed off to tell Daniel what really happened. When they are actually forced to talk things out properly, they are able to address the issues that caused the conflict and realize that they Not So Different.
    • Both Sam and Miguel start creating rivalries of their own, both due to the stories about how the other family is evil, and because they keep putting obstacles in their relationship. What ultimately breaks them up is when Sam gets her phone taken away by Amanda and is unable to answer Miguel's calls/texts, leading to him assuming the worst when she finally shows up at the party with Robby.
    • Johnny's biggest failure in season one is his inability to properly teach his students that his version of Cobra Kai is supposed to be about empowerment and not letting other people mistreat them. However, this also large in part comes from his Nostalgia Filter meaning he cannot see the inherent flaws within Cobra Kai's philosophy until it's too late.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero: Johnny is shown as a xenophobic, sexist, alcoholic jerkass at various points throughout the series, not to mention completely insensitive to one of Miguel's friends who has a cleft lip.
    • Downplayed, but Daniel is not immune to this either, asking Sam's boyfriend Kyler (who is Asian), where his parents are from, thereby automatically assuming they must be immigrants. It goes to show that despite their differences, both Daniel and Johnny are ultimately products of their generation.
    • When Aisha rises in the Cobra Kai, her adoption of Johnny's sexist insults ("What a bunch of pussies!") raised more than one reviewer's eyebrow.
  • Power Trio: Minoring in Freudian Trio, Aisha, Miguel and Hawk are the Superego, Ego and Id, respectively. Aisha is the most intellectual of the three, and the one who spends most time reflecting over her actions. Hawk revels in the power and status Cobra Kai membership gives him and is entirely driven by raw rage. Miguel drifts between the extremes, capable of extreme violence but also shows something resembling fear at his own capacity.
  • Product Placement: Throughout season 1, with only a few exceptions (celebrating his and Miguel's good fortunes, the "cleaning up my life" montage in episode 8 and the last scene of the last episode being the more notable ones), Johnny is never seen drinking anything (alcoholic or otherwise) other than Coors Banquet beer. Daniel also specifically asks for Ketel [One] vodka for his martini.
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: Over the course of the first season most of Johnny's students go from being bullied outcasts in need of help and guidance to being a hyper-aggro Gang of Bullies themselves.
  • Reality Ensues: Has its own page.
  • Redemption Quest: Johnny is seeking redemption for himself, and Cobra Kai. His son Robby begins a redemption journey of his own, from thieving dropout to Daniel's protege.
  • Reformed, but Not Tamed: Johnny may no longer be the arrogant bully who once almost killed Daniel, but he will always be a jerkass on some level.
  • Role Reprisal: After 34 years, William Zabka and Ralph Macchio take on the roles that made them stars (Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso, respectively). Also returning is Randee Heller, who played Daniel LaRusso's mother, and Martin Kove as John Kreese in the season finale.
  • Rousing Speech: Johnny gives one of these to his students on tournament day — and he delivers it in his trademark crass way, too.
     S to Y 
  • Selective Obliviousness: Despite Johnny explaining that he only beat up Kyler and his friends because they were assaulting Miguel, Daniel ignores the explanation and chalks it up to Johnny being the same jerkass he was in high school.
  • Self-Serving Memory: When Johnny tells his life-story to Miguel about why he hates Daniel LaRusso, he tells a story that paints Johnny as the victim in the first movie. He says Daniel was making moves on Ali (even though they had broken up); he says Daniel sucker-punched him without provocation (even though Johnny was clearly bullying Ali and Daniel both); about the school dance beating, he says he hadn't done a thing to Daniel in months (even though he and his gang tripped Daniel during soccer practices and ran him off a hill on their motorbikes); he even goes as far as saying Miyagi had assaulted him and his friends (when they were all but trying to kill Daniel). And through it all, it's abundantly clear that Johnny believes every word of it.
  • Sensei for Scoundrels: Johnny might not be the outright Evil Mentor that Kreese was, but he solidly occupies the Darker and Edgier side of this trope. And his students end up going too far. The great tragedy is that Johnny never wanted to be one. He assumed that Kreese, not Cobra Kai and its ethos, was the reason he and his companions turned into what they were, and was far too happy to see his wimpy students badass up to see the damage he was doing before it was too late.
  • Sequel Hook: Daniel starts a dojo to train others in Miyagi-Do karate, his daughter Sam resumes her karate, and John Kreese returns to Cobra Kai.
  • Sequel Series: While set 34 years after the first film in the series, The Karate Kid, the seventh episode in the first season acknowledges the events of Part III, revealing that Cobra Kai's ban from the All Valley Tournament is because of Kreese, Terry Silver, and Mike Barnes' actions. The same episode also acknowledges Johnny's departure from Cobra Kai after he was strangled by Kreese in the beginning of Part II when he was questioned about Silver and Barnes, where he comments that he doesn't know either of them.
  • Serious Business: Karate is this trope to many (though not all) inhabitants of the valley... especially Xander Stone's mother.
  • Servile Snarker: Johnny's stepdad's nurse is... not really given any due courtesy. She in turn sasses her boss at any given chance.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Daniel wears a snappy suit when he's working at and advertising the LaRusso Auto Group car dealerships.
  • The Smurfette Principle: Aisha is the only girl on Team Cobra Kai... and that's only because Johnny needed all the students he could get.
  • Spoiled Brat: Daniel's son Anthony is a rude little shit obsessed with video games. (His Distaff Counterpart in this regard is Yasmine, a Daddy's Girl who is obsessed with cyberbullying.)
  • Stage Mom: Downplayed, but Daniel's wife, Amanda, is more interested in what social status her daughter's friends are than what kind of people they are.
    • Not downplayed at all with Xander Stone's mom Patricia.
  • Start of Darkness: One episode reveals the bitter home life that Johnny experienced as a child, which is what drew him to the Cobra Kai in the first place. For all Kreese's moral failings, he gave young Johnny more attention and guidance than his own stepfather ever did.
  • Still Got It:
    • Once Kyler shoves him outside of the strip mall, Johnny shows that despite being well into middle age, he can still wipe the floor with anyone who isn't Daniel LaRusso or Mr. Miyagi.
    • Similarly, Tom Cole learns that despite the fact that Daniel's two All-Valley Karate Championship trophies were both awarded more than 30 years ago, the man still has enough mojo to spin-kick a drink out of your hand.
    • A handsy Kyler finds out the painful way that just because Sam hasn't practiced for a few years doesn't mean she's forgotten everything.
  • Stylistic Suck: Johnny's half-assed fliers for the new Cobra Kai dojo. Not a single character who sees them reacts positively to them.
    • Similarly, Daniel's TV commercials are beat-for-beat perfect impressions of the kind of cheesy TV commercials that a businessman who used to be a local sports hero might make.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: Miguel is written as one for Daniel, being the kid who is mercilessly bullied by a gang of bigger kids. Or at least, that's what he was at first. He later turns out to be one for Johnny, while Robby turns out to be the true substitute for Daniel. Likewise, Johnny tries to be one for Miyagi, but he ends up being one for Kreese himself, and Daniel is still a more appropriate (if flawed) substitute for Miyagi.
    • Sam seems to be one, at least partially, for Julie Pierce from about mid-season on, i.e. becoming a target for bullying after rejecting a jerk's advances and having to rely on her karate training to fend him off at one point.
  • Take That!: In-universe example — At Johnny's instruction, Miguel starts his first match of the first season's karate tournament by using the Crane Kick. It works, and Daniel is visibly irritated at the sight of that, much to Johnny's amusement. Sam isn't exactly happy to see it, either:
    Sam: "I can't believe he stole your move!"
    • Daniel returns the favor when Johnny confronts him about his decision to coach Robby, referencing Johnny's failure as a parent.
    Johnny: "What do you think doing?"
    Daniel: Coaching my student. Somebody needs to be there for him."
    • Another in-universe example is Tom Cole's "Yankee Doodle" car commercial, also targeting Daniel, albeit with a bit more subtlety.
  • Teens Are Monsters: Kyler and Yasmine to a T. They have no problem hurting others just For the Lulz; Yasmine especially gets her rocks off making fun of Aisha's size while Kyler gets his jollies humiliating Sam simply for her refusal to put out.
  • Tell Me How You Fight: The Character Sheet indicates how Johnny's top three students do things. But what about others?
    • Kyler doesn't engage without his Gang of Bullies around, indicating his gutlessness and lack of skill.
    • Yasmine uses psychological tactics like text messages and innuendo. She also has no issues ordering others to do her dirty work or calling them cowards for refusing. Bottom line, she's a Dirty Coward who can easily be stopped cold with one blow (or wedgie).
  • Thicker Than Water: Daniel keeps his cousin around, despite the mean-spirited and illegal things he does to his business and friends, only because he's family. This is discussed In-Universe, with Daniel's mother and Amanda getting into an argument about this trope. After Louie tries to beat up Johnny and set his car on fire, however, the trope is averted, as Daniel fires him.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!: Aisha rips Yasmine a good one — by means of a super painful wedgie.
    No mercy, bitch!
  • Thug Dojo: And unintentional, at that. Johnny wants his Cobra Kai students to stand up for themselves and kick ass, but he isn't keen on them becoming the bullying jerkasses that he and the rest of John Kreese's generation of Cobra Kai were. He fails so hard at the latter that Kreese himself shows up to congratulate him.
  • Toilet Humor: While it is Daniel rather than Johnny who commits most of the petty acts in their feud, Johnny still can't resist the temptation to vandalize Daniel's billboard — by spray-painting a giant dick in his arch-rival's mouth. Everyone but Daniel laughs it off, revealing that even after a life of success, he still has more to learn about overcoming his insecurities.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Johnny originally restarted Cobra Kai to spite Daniel and reclaim his dignity, but eventually starts expressing sincere affection and encouragement for his students, even going as far as to claim (in front of Daniel, no less) that his students have made a difference in his life. He doesn't take it well when his star pupil, Miguel, devolves into the ruthless, dirty fighter Johnny himself used to be.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Daniel comes across as being a bit more of a dick than the films. Though it's only in his dealings with Johnny and being completely unable to not see him as the same Johnny from when they where kids (though this was initialy averted; Daniel only began to suspect Johnny of being the same when he started Cobra Kai.) This does ultimately help him explain to Robby how being Johnny's son doesn't make their problems the same, and that he should be more willing to forgive his father over what made him the way he is.
    • His mother Lucille has taken a level as well as she criticizes everything Amanda does when hosting dinner and admonishes her for making completely justified complaints about Louie's work behavior.
    • By the end of season one, every named character in Cobra Kai has taken several, with Eli and Miguel being the most pronounced. Johnny isn't exactly proud of causing this, feeling Miguel has become a new version of his old self.
  • Toxic Friend Influence: Sam is a Nice Girl but her friendship with Yasmine causes her to alienate her old friend Aisha and to abandon her old interests like science.
    • Eli/Hawk might not have actually goaded Miguel to take a swing at Robby... but if it weren't for all the booze Hawk brought to the party, maybe Miguel could have reacted more rationally to seeing Robby and Sam together.
  • Training from Hell: Johnny takes this approach for Miguel, including a sequence where he forces Miguel to unlearn his instinctive reflex to use his arms first when fighting — by pushing him into a pool with his hands bound. Not that Johnny lets up when his dojo becomes full of new students — he openly mocks the ones who smack to him of being losers or "pussies" (which is nearly all of them), singles out and humiliates the ones who complain, and orders a ''face-punching exercise'' when they flinch too much. He eventually lightens up, but even in the week leading up to the tournament, his training includes exercises like running from angry dogs. The Cobra Kai fighters' performance at the tournament speaks for itself — for both better and worse.
  • Training Montage: This wouldn't be a proper Karate Kid story without at least one.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Among the Cobra Kai who actually have a character arc, Aisha is the only one who is female or black.
  • Two-Salesman Car Dealership: Previews show the Larusso Auto Group has at least five new-car franchises (Jeep, Honda, Nissan, Porsche and Audi) from four locations (Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Sherman Oaks and North Hollywood), but in-series we only see one dealership, Audis and used cars.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: At one point, Johnny accuses Miyagi of assaulting him and his friends unprovoked (read Self-Serving Memory). He also doesn't seem to remember that the same man he's accusing of assault had saved his and his friends' lives from Kreese, as the second and third movies would reveal.
  • Unreboot: Cobra Kai is a distant sequel to the original The Karate Kid (1984). While the second film and even the maligned third film are still considered canon, no mention is made of The Next Karate Kid and the only way that The Karate Kid (2010) could still be considered canon is by way of Celebrity Paradox, as Jackie Chan is established to exist in the tv series.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid: Miguel, Eli/Hawk, Aisha... and, in the beginning, Johnny.
  • Victory Pose: When Hawk advances in the tournament, he yells toward the sky, arms akimbo and fists clenched, then removes his gi and flexes his shoulders to make the hawk tattoo on his back "flap its wings."
  • Watch the Paint Job: The catalyst for Johnny intervening on the side of the bullying victim Miguel is when Kyler violently pushes him into Johnny’s flashy red sports car. One thing leads to another and Johnny ends up kicking all their asses.
  • Wax On, Wax Off:
    • With the movie series being the Trope Namer, this is clearly referenced with Daniel having gone on to own an auto dealership.
    • Pausing the series causes a hand to appear wiping a "Wax On" text, pushing Play again has the hand wipe a "Wax off" text.
    • When Daniel starts training Robby he has him do a bunch of chores in a certain way just like Mr. Miyagi did to him, and just like with Daniel, Robby is pretty pissed at having to do chores instead of learning to fight before being shown he was learning Karate. Daniel's wife accuses him (apparently not without cause) of enjoying being on the other end of the trope a bit too much.
  • Wedgie: Aisha delivers a very painful Melvin (front wedgie) to Yasmine that ends up going viral on social media.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Johnny clearly wants to help Miguel and the other kids become more confident and capable of standing up for themselves. Unfortunately, he uses what Kreese taught him as a guiding force and ends up turning them into bullies themselves.
  • We Used to Be Friends: Aisha and Sam when the latter starts hanging out with Yasmine and her Girl Posse, who mercilessly taunt Aisha. They patch things up in the end, though.
  • Wham Line: After the tournament at the end of the first season, Demetri says: "I respect the safety-in-numbers aspect of joining a gang." This fails to be a Heel Realization for Miguel, though.
  • Wham Shot: Season one ends with Johnny quietly contemplating his hollow victory at the All Valley tournament, when a man enters the dojo and congratulates him on his success. As he tells him that Cobra Kai's return was just beginning, the man comes out of the shadows to reveal himself as none other than John Kreese.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Amanda is rightfully appalled at Daniel causing the rent of the strip mall to be raised, not only for being petty to Johnny but also because of all the innocent owners also getting their rent raised.
    • Later, Sam is appalled when Miguel gets drunk at a party and takes a swing at Robby (never mind that the attack hits HER). Miguel attempts to apologize to her, but only manages to further convince her that the Cobra Kai are exactly as awful as her dad said. She has a point — starting a fight over a girl at a beach party? Miguel's teacher wouldn't know a thing about THAT kind of degenerate behavior.
    • At the tournament, Johnny is on the calling side of the this trope twice. The first time is when Hawk gimps Robby with an illegal attack, causing Johnny to cry "What the hell?!" at Hawk before rushing over to (attempt to) tend to Robby. The second is when Miguel proudly tells Johnny that he's found Robby's 'weakness'. Again, Johnny rebukes his student, telling him to win the "right" way, but he fails to make an impression, and Miguel proceeds to fight dirty, winning the tournament. Far from being happy with the Cobra Kai victory or seizing the opportunity to rub it in the face of his arch-rival Daniel, Johnny simply walks over and sincerely apologizes to Robby. The final scene of the season begins with Johnny drowning his sorrows while staring at his now-meaningless trophy.
  • When I Was Your Age...: Johnny whips out this trope when he meets Aisha, learns about cyber-bullying, and is subsequently disturbed by the "pussy" nature of it all. In his day, you teased people to their faces, and there was honor and respect to bullying!
  • Wild Teen Party: Daniel's daughter Sam hosted a pool party while Daniel and the rest of his family was at the country club. Daniel was not pleased, to say the least, since the guys were wearing his swimsuits.
    • Later, the Cobra Kai throw an even wilder teen party (with copious booze) on the beach to humiliate Yasmine.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Swap out "unresolved sexual tension" for "unresolved urge to beat the everliving hell out of each other", and this trope describes the relationship between Daniel and Johnny to a tee. The showrunners know that Daniel and Johnny just have to fight again, but they also know they can't let it happen too soon, or allow the tension between them to drown out the new generation's share of the story.
  • World of Jerkass: Things have not improved since the first movie. Bullying is still a major problem and the authorities are impotent to stop it. The only teenager who isn't a jerkass (though not entirely innocent herself) is Sam, Daniel's daughter. Daniel himself takes a few levels in jerkass once the bane of his teen years goes back into business, and the bullied teens go down the path of bullying themselves thanks to Johnny's well-meaning but twisted guidance. And if John Kreese's sudden appearance in the Season 1 finale is any indication, it's only going to get worse.
  • Would Hit a Girl: At Johnny’s urging, Miguel kicks fellow Cobra Kai student Aisha while apologizing. She then promptly charges him and kneedrops onto him, much to Johnny’s approval.
    Johnny: Girl's a natural Cobra.
    • In episode 9, a drunken Miguel takes a swing at Robby and strikes Sam instead when she intervenes to stop him. It was an accident, but he doesn't apologize for it right away.
  • You Have GOT To Be Kidding Me: Pretty much said word for word by Johnny when he spots a huge billboard for the LaRusso Auto Group with a picture of a suited up Daniel striking an asskicking pose with the caption "We Kick The Competition!"
    • Johnny drops another one when he realizes that one of the girls who trashed his car is Daniel's daughter. Later in the season, he practically whispers another one during a confrontation with Daniel after having the harsh realization that his son not only chose to learn karate from Daniel instead of him, but is perfectly willing to use what he's learned to protect Daniel from him. Along with probably thinking a third one when his thought-to-be-dead teacher John Kreese catches wind of the new Cobra Kai's victory and arrives at the Dojo.
    • Sam to her mom when Amanda grounds her and restricts her Internet/social media usage to nil.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With: In his confrontation with Kyler's gang, Johnny straight up tells them "Trust me, you guys are pissing off the wrong guy on the wrong day." And they are.