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"STRIKE FIRST! STRIKE HARD!! NO MERCY!!!"
Daniel LaRusso: I heard you beat up a bunch of teenagers in that parking lot out there.
Johnny Lawrence: Oh, that. No. I didn't beat up any teenagers. I kicked the shit out of a bunch of assholes who deserved it.
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Cobra Kai is a Fighting Series that premiered on May 2nd 2018 on YouTube Red, later renamed YouTube Originals. It later moved to Netflix who also took over production for the third season. It is a distant successor to the Karate Kid trilogy.

Since Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) was beaten by Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) in the final round of the 1984 All-Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament, he has had a fall from grace. He has gone from the star student of the Cobra Kai dojo to being a much-abused handyman living in squalor who also neglects his son Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan). Down on his luck, he rediscovers his talent after saving his new neighbor Miguel Diaz (Xolo Maridueña) from a Gang of Bullies. Seeing an opportunity, he decides to re-open the Cobra Kai dojo and personally takes Miguel under his wing.

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Meanwhile, Daniel LaRusso is now a Happily Married father of two who runs a chain of car dealerships, but is having trouble communicating with his teenage daughter Samantha (Mary Mouser), who begins to fall in love with Miguel after he uses his martial arts training to stand up to some bullies who are harassing her. Worse yet, ever since the death of his sensei, Mr. Miyagi, Daniel has found trouble keeping balance in his life — and the return of Cobra Kai is the last thing he needs.

The story is about two men, going decades back, addressing their respective demons in the only way they know how: through martial arts.

See the full trailer here The first two seasons can be viewed here. The first two episodes are free and can be viewed without a subscription. A second season, also spanning 10 episodes, premiered on YouTube Premium on April 24, 2019; the first episode is free, although it was all temporarily available in late 2019. The teaser trailer for it is available here. The full trailer for Season 3 was released on December 9, and the season itself premiered on Netflix on January 1, 2021, with Season 4 already greenlit before its release. Season 4 is set to premiere on December 31, 2021, and the first teaser is here; the show was renewed for a fifth season in August 2021.

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To tie in with the series, IDW published Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues, a four-part comic that features Johnny retelling events of the original movie to his students from his Sympathetic P.O.V.. A Beat 'em Up video game adaptation of the series under the same title, developed by the Brazilian studio Flux Games, was released on the Nintendo Switch, PlayStation 4, and Xbox One on October 27, 2020, and Windows on January 5, 2021.

Also has a recap page.


Cobra Kai contains examples of:

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     A to H 
  • Action Girl:
    • Daniel LaRusso has been training his daughter Samantha in karate since she was a little kid. He even had his own dojo inside the house. She's Still Got It and becomes her father's student again over the course of the show.
    • Aisha's rise as a Cobra Kai student — starting from kneedropping Miguel on her first day of lessons — shows that she is an Action Girl as well.
    • Tory is a Dark Action Girl who makes her first appearance in Season 2, when she holds her own against the Cobra Kai star pupil Miguel on her first day.
  • Actually Pretty Funny:
  • 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.
    • 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.
    • Although they mess up with their own children, both Johnny and Daniel avert it with their students. Johnny brings much needed confidence to Miguel, Aisha, and Hawk, while Daniel teaches Robby focus and work ethic, helps Demetri overcome his insecurities, and gives Chris a path to be strong without having to be aggressive.
    • In the Season 2 finale, after multiple fights break out, Demetri tries to get a teacher. The teacher doesn't even bother. That might've been justified given what Doug Rickenberger just did to the teacher who intervened seconds before, and is mentioned at the start of Season 3 to be the policy.
    • When Hawk's gang chases Demetri in the mall, they pass by a security guard who is on break, oblivious to what's happening around him.
    • Robby's mother prioritizes going out with men or getting drunk at bars than seeing to her son's wellbeing. Near the end of Season 2, she agrees to go to rehab.
    • Season 3 goes through lengths to either justify or subvert this trope. The school gets called out for not having teachers available during the brawl, which was rebutted by laws not allowing them to intervene in school fights (sadly Truth in Television in some areas). Amanda realizes that she doesn't have nearly as much of a handle on the situation as she thought she did and starts meeting Daniel and Sam halfway. Johnny finds a much better middle ground with his methods.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Carmen discovering her son being carried home by Johnny, beaten unconscious. 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. The second season ends with Miguel in the hospital courtesy of a brutal gang fight, and Johnny is well-justified in context to sit there thinking "It's All My Fault".
    • By the end of Season 2, everything Daniel and Johnny have done to help the children of their community has only made everything worse, with Miguel critically injured, and their own children injured and on the run respectively.
    • Season 3 continues this. Both Daniel and Johnny absolutely lose it when they discover that Cobra Kai broke into Daniel's home and assault the kids.
  • An Aesop:
    • Holding onto past grudges, no matter who started it or how justified it may be, is toxic and can bleed into the lives of those you care about the most.
    • People need reliable parental/mentor figures in their lives. Good mentors can turn entire lives around if given enough time and effectiveness, while bad ones can send people down paths that lead to misery. As both Daniel and Johnny learn, the hard way, teaching impressionable teenagers is a huge responsibility and you should provide a positive influence towards them. Otherwise, they'll head towards a path of self-destruction. So if you get a chance to be a mentor, you'd better be damn careful what you say and do because your students are always listening and will learn from the example you set.
    • Just because you choose to ignore people who bully you, doesn't mean bullying will go away by itself. The only way you can stand your ground against bullies is to learn to defend yourself, physically and mentally.
      Miguel: Instead of burying your heads in the sand, pretending that bullying doesn't exist, or that you could just get rid of it, what you need to do is teach kids how to defend themselves.
      Sam: Physically and mentally. Because sometimes the scars you can't see are the ones that hurt the most.
  • 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, vicious Cobra Kai back.
    • Daniel 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.
    • 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, like from Daniel to his daughter. Miyagi himself scoffed at the idea of teaching it to a class.
    • It gets so bad that in Season 2, despite preaching that Miyagi-Do is about finding balance and fighting only for self-defense... Daniel routinely ignores his own advice in his single-minded obsession with destroying Cobra Kai (which is even more glaring considering that he previously spent an entire film learning how horrible it is to hold lifelong karate grudges). His vengeful attitude trickles down to his students, which stokes the fires of the feud between the two dojos for the entire season until inevitably an all out brawl breaks out on the first day of school, and Daniel not keeping on top of Robby's anger issues leads to him ignoring Miguel's attempt to end their fight and breaking his spine.
  • 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 Armand Zakarian to get back at Johnny. Amanda calls him out on it as soon as she finds out and Daniel realizes the error of his ways, but Zakarian's tenants are still screwed.
    • Played much more tragically in the aftermath of the big fight between the Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do Students during the first day of school, where Sam needs stitches and a broken rib, while Miguel spends much of Season 3 in a wheelchair. All because Tory chose to pick a fight with the girl her boyfriend cheated on her with.
    • The consequences of the school fight bleed into everything. Because of it, the LaRussos have their name dragged through the mud to the point they are on the brink of losing their dealership and thus the jobs of all their employees there. Even when they avoid that, Amanda's attempt to end this through "diplomacy" only incenses Kreese to the point that he sends a snake to the dealership to scare the customers and employees.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Many of the dumbest decisions any of the characters make are done drunk, as excessive alcohol consumption often induces poor judgement...that's already impaired by strong emotions, such as Johnny pretty much every time he gets really drunk, Miguel at the canyon party when he thinks Sam is dumping and/or cheating on him, and Sam at Moon's end-of-summer party when goaded by Tory.
  • The Alcoholic:
    • Just about the only thing we see Johnny drink is Coors Banquet, and his apartment is littered with beer cans. He makes an attempt to clean himself up and start drinking orange juice, but even after a date involving some pretty heavy drinking, he goes home and pops yet another beer.
    • Johnny's ex-girlfriend Shannon has traits of this, spending more time at picking up men at bars than being an attentive mother to their son Robby. In Season 2 she checks into rehab.
  • All Girls Want Bad Boys:
    • Johnny believes this 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...until he becomes a bully himself, leading Moon to break up with him, something Demetri takes pride at taunting Hawk over.
    • Demetri gains a lot of social standing after the school fight, with girls flirting with him in the hallways (much to Hawk's ire) and him eventually entering a relationship with Yasmine.
    • Deconstructed when Miguel turning into a bad boy becomes the fatal fracture between him and Sam, and it takes him shedding his ties to Cobra Kai to get that relationship back.
  • Almighty Janitor: Johnny is a deadbeat father and an unemployed repairman, but he's also a master of Cobra Kai karate and becomes an influential force in the local community after opening a strip-mall dojo. Even after presumably not fighting in years, the only injury he takes while kicking the crap out an entire group of bullies is when he strains his own leg booting one of the punks square in the face.
  • Alpha Bitch: Yasmine of the "rich girls" clique in season 1 is a mean-spirited bully who looks down on everybody and uses social media to torment them. She eases up over the course of Season 3, as getting publicly humiliated by Aisha gave her a taste of what it was like to have everyone laughing at her now.
  • Always Someone Better:
    • Miguel is this to Robby, and not just at karate. In addition to defeating Robby at the All Valley Tournament, Miguel has a better relationship with Robby's father than he does, and is Robby's main rival for Sam's affections, with Robby (correctly) fearing that Sam still has lingering feelings for Miguel even while she's dating Robby. Then after the school brawl, Miguel becomes a local hero for overcoming his paralysis and Sam leaps back into his arms, while Robby is vilified and spends months in juvie for having accidentally injured him in the first place. Miguel has pretty much the life that Robby wishes he had.
    • This parallels the relationship between Daniel and Johnny. Daniel starts the series as a well-respected and successful local businessman, while Johnny is unemployed and directionless. To add insult to injury, Daniel's business bases its marketing around Daniel's victory in the All Valley, while Johnny's own All Valley champion status is mostly forgotten about. Daniel also proves to be a better father figure to Johnny's own son than Johnny ever has.
    • Ironically, Robby himself is this to Hawk during the brief period in which both are members of Cobra Kai towards the end of Season 3. Hawk already resents Robby for eliminating him from the All Valley, beating him in a skirmish at the mall and putting Miguel in the hospital in the school brawl, and he is not pleased when Kreese allows him to join the dojo and shows clear favoritism towards him, and Robby wins the admiration of Tory and Kyler by successfully completing Hawk's failed plan to steal a snake from the zoo.
    • In the third season, it's revealed that Chozen Toguchi (the main antagonist of the second film of Karate Kid) is this for Daniel. When the two meet after more than thirty years Daniel finds out that not only Chozen has reformed himself but also has become a master of his own dojo in Okinawa. When they fight again (albeit in a sparring match rather than a duel to death) Chozen proves to be leagues above Daniel in combat skills and even reveals that he knows techniques of Miyagi do karate that Daniel never knew about. Is not just at martial arts, but Chozen has left his past grudges a long time ago and is now a worthy successor of Miyagi, something that Daniel still struggles to be.
  • AM/FM Characterization: The music choices when Daniel's in the frame tend to be warm and mellow. Conversely, Johnny gets 80s metal/hair metal songs for his leitmotif.
  • And Starring:
    • Veteran character actor Ed Asner, who plays Johnny's stepfather Sid Weinberg, gets this credit.
    • From season 2 onwards, "With Martin Kove as John Kreese"
  • Androcles' Lion: In Karate Kid Part II, Daniel saved a little girl in Okinawa during a typhoon. In the present day, thirty years later, that girl grew up into a CFO for Doyona who shows up just in time to save Daniel's dealership from going under.
  • Annoying Younger Sibling: Daniel's son Anthony is an overweight Spoiled Brat who does nothing but play video games and make demands of people.
  • Antagonist Title: As of Season 3, after Kreese takes back control of the Cobra Kai dojo and steers it down a far more villainous path.
  • Apologetic Attacker:
    • Miguel apologizes before kicking his female sparring partner Aisha at Lawrence's behest.
    • Demetri also apologizes before and after he knocks Hawk out in the Season 2 finale.
    • Season 3 has Bobby apologize to the Lord above and to a very drunk Johnny before sweeping the leg.
  • Arch-Enemy: Cobra Kai is this to Miyagi-Do, dating all the way back to the original The Karate Kid film. The latter half introduces Eagle Fang, a La Résistance splinter faction of Cobra Kai consisting of those that left Cobra Kai (either by choice or exclusion from Kreese). Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do later form an alliance to take down Cobra Kai once and for all.
  • Arc Villain:
    • Season 1: For the first half, it's Kyler—given that his bullying is what led Miguel to learning karate from Johnny and Johnny himself reopening Cobra Kai. After Miguel defeats Kyler and his gang in the lunchroom, the rest of Season 1 turns into a Good vs Good situation that reaches it peak with Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso coaching their students (Miguel Diaz and Robby Keene respectively) in the All-Valley finals.
    • Season 2: John Kreese (the original big bad from The Karate Kid) returns and fully cements his big bad status by taking over the dojo after the West Valley High School brawl. Though in terms of the current generation of bullies, it's Hawk who serves as the season's central antagonist (leading an attack on Demetri, trashing of Miyagi-Do, and escalating the school brawl).
    • Season 3:
      • Kreese becomes an even bigger threat now that he has fully taken over Cobra Kai and turns it into the thug dojo that was seen in the original Karate Kid, with Tory gradually replacing a disillusioned Hawk as his most ruthless student.
      • During Robby's time in juvie, Shawn Payne becomes his biggest rival and main antagonist which culminates into a battle with him after Robby takes Kreese's strike-first philosophy to heart.
      • In Kreese's flashback, Captain Turner becomes this, being the one who taught Kreese (and Terry Silver) his "no-mercy" philosophy (through the art of Tang Soo Doo) and becomes Kreese's final boss by battling him over a pit of snakes.
    • Season 4: Kreese again, as he prepares his dojo for the 51st All-Valley Tournament with Robby and Tory as his champions and most vicious fighters. Except now he'll have the help of his war buddy and Karate Kid Part III main antagonist, Terry Silver.
  • Arc Words: Cobra Kai mottos: "Strike First, Strike Hard, No Mercy," and "Cobra Kai Never Dies."
  • Artistic License – Education:
    • In "Counterbalance", Miguel beats up Kyler and his posse in the cafeteria and after the fight is over, is dragged to the office where the counselor attempts to call his mother. However, Miguel's grandma, who doesn't speak English, answers the phone instead. In the end, Miguel is implied to get away with the fight without his mother finding out and without a hint of some sort of punishment. In real life, Miguel would most likely be kept in the office until the school could get hold of his mother, and he would certainly be getting suspended for fighting in school, as most schools have zero tolerance policies and suspend everyone involved in a fight with no regard for determining who initiated hostilities, who threw the first punch, or whether the assaulted party fought back or let themselves be wailed on. That Miguel got off so lightly could be justified by the school's lack of competency when it comes to dealing with bullies, and their hesitancy to do anything about bullying until someone sues the school or gets put in the hospital (like happens in the Season 2 finale).
    • The setup for and consequences of the school brawl in the Season 2 finale:
      • Tory assaults a teacher, hijacks the intercom, and announces she's going to kick Sam's ass for kissing Miguel. She then leaves to seek out Sam in the hallway, and they engage in a fight, which escalates into an all-out riot. In real life, Tory would never have been able to get into the office to speak over the intercom. Even if she did, she would've been quickly tackled and restrained by school security or cops stationed at the school. Furthermore, no school would release students into the hallways after Tory threatened a student's life on the PA, nor would there be any gathering of students in the hallways waiting for a fight to start; the school would have been locked down instantly, as in a time period where school shootings are commonplace, it would be assumed that Tory has a knife or a gun and is about to shoot up the school.
      • Once the fight breaks out, there is not a single security guard to be seen anywhere in the halls. The principal says to get security on the radio, but we don't see them until at least five minutes later when one of them breaks up Nate and Bert. In a big city school in Los Angeles, there'd be least a dozen or so security guards on the scene in seconds, along with dozens of police officers and SWAT teams. There's also the fact that only one teacher is shown trying to break up the fight. Sure, it's not their jobs, but if something like that were to happen in real life, there would be at least a half-dozen teachers piling on the kids trying to break them apart. And the students wouldn't be getting trained by Kreese in the Cobra Kai backroom that evening, they would all be arrested and sitting in holding cells at the police station until their parents bailed them out. Most of them also likely would've been expelled, sent to an alternative school and placed under constant mandatory behavioral counseling.
      • Everyone who participated in the fight gets suspended for two weeks, while Tory and Robby are expelled (Tory for instigating the brawl by challenging Sam to a fight and then injuring her, Robby for putting Miguel in the hospital with a spinal cord injury). Although reality is being applied here, with even Sam and Demetri getting suspended because most schools have zero tolerance policies towards fighting regardless of who started it, it's unlikely Robby and Tory would have been the only ones expelled. Hawk and Doug Rickenberger would likely have also been expelled and sent to juvie, and probably for longer than Robby since they had malicious intent and hurt a lot of people, as well as having no reason to fight (Hawk was the one who escalated things by literally pushing Sam back into the fight as she was trying to flee from Tory, and Rickenberger beat unconscious a teacher who tried to intervene).
    • In season 3, Kyler is shown wearing a Cobra Kai t-shirt under a hoodie when he bullies Demetri in the cafeteria. In real life, Kyler likely would not be allowed to wear such a shirt to school due to it being the equivalent of wearing gang affiliated apparel or tattoos. A teacher or administrator likely would make him cover it up, change it, or wear it inside out.
  • Artistic License – Law:
    • Kreese convinces the landlord to sign the lease over to him instead of Johnny, which is treated as though Kreese has completely stolen the dojo away from Johnny, but the business itself and all of the property in the building would still belong to Johnny. Johnny could, if he chose, leave Kreese with an empty studio and no license to conduct business within it. Of course, since Johnny didn't even know he would need insurance or a health permit to open a dojo, it's reasonable to conclude Johnny was lax when it came to the paperwork on all those things and was not in a mood to fight the claim, especially after what happened to Miguel and his remaining students allying with Kreese now.
    • In the Season 2 finale, Stingray is interviewing for a job as a security guard at the school, despite having no experience, no qualifications, and no permits or licenses that would permit him as an adult to work with children. He wades into the school brawl, blatantly only targeting the Miyagi-Do students, using karate techniques, and congratulates a Cobra Kai student (Hawk) rather than attempting to de-escalate all of the fighting students. For this, he gets put on probation and must remain a considerable distance from all students, when in real life he would most likely be thrown in prison for blatantly attacking minors (especially notable since the only thing that kept Tory out of juvie for cutting Sam with a spiked bracelet was being her ill mother's caretaker).
    • In season 3, Amanda finds out that Kreese had a Personal Protection Order instituted against her when she and Daniel go in to get one against Kreese. The desk sergeant confirms she can still fill out the forms, but he states that it wouldn't mean much since it means they have to stay a distance away from each either way. In actuality, the PPO only prevents the person named to not approach; the petitioner is free to go anywhere. By getting one herself, Amanda would be able to prevent Kreese from approaching her or abusing the PPO by forcing her out of locations like he does at the town hall meeting. Had she not gotten the PPO, Kreese could legally enter the LaRusso dealership and force Amanda to leave before she would have the ability to call the police on him to have him arrested and cited for trespassing. The PPO would also give the LaRussos more standing to pursue harassment charges against Kreese for planting a cobra in one of their cars or sending a gang of his students to break into their house to start a fight.note 
    • After the school fight, Tory gets expelled, and is placed probation as an alternative to juvenile hall because she's the primary caregiver of her sick mother and her brother. She's left having to work two jobs to make ends meet while also trying to get her GED, until Kreese coaxes her back to Cobra Kai by intimidating her seedy landlord. In the real world, Tory would not have been allowed by her probation officer to return to Cobra Kai. Probation comes with conditions and if they are violated, Tory could be subject to fines or go to prison, and be separated from her family. In real life, Tory would be required to attend public school somewhere else or take an online program, be required to take mandatory behavioral counseling, she would have to work to provide care for her mom and brother, and she absolutely would be prohibited from taking karate classes or associating with anyone in Cobra Kai. Since Tory is the sole earner for her family, she'd have no choice but to take her probation terms more seriously than she does in the show. We don't see a probation officer make a home visit or call her to check if she's meeting the conditions of her probation at any point either, although we do see Tory have to check in with one at an office (which is where she runs into Robby when he shows up for his first appointment).
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts:
    • All of the kids who begin training in Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do develop to black belt level (and beyond) both in terms of rank and skill. By the time of the tournament Cobra-Kai students and Robby have been training for less than a year. This should be much too fast for them to have the same physical conditioning and performing some of the advanced techniques they are displaying. Similarly, they are all elevated to black-belt level in martial arts when they really should be beginners. Particularly egregious given that many of those they are competing against would be from more established dojos and would likely have been training much longer than any of these students. This is partially an artifact from the original movie, where Cobra Kai had been training for a long time while Daniel only had a few months. While a point was made that Miyagi's personal instruction gave Daniel an edge, it was very much a Cinderella story regardless. With an entire school of newcomers, Cobra Kai doing as well as they did is significantly less likely.
    • Kyler and the other bullies are evidently wrestlers and do show some techniques from wrestling in their fight scenes but they are easily overcome by the primarily striking-based karate students and Johnny, even when they have those characters in wrestling holds that would be very difficult to escape from such as a rear-naked choke position. Partially justified as the Cobra Kai students, and Miguel in particular, are taking their training extremely seriously and training frequently and hard while Kyler and his friends are shown as slackers.
    • Zig-zagged with the general fighting style displayed by the karate students in the series. Most of the fights incorporate grappling techniques such as throws and sweeps that would be more typical of Judo or Jujutsu/Jiu-Jitsu than karate. Although traditional karate does incorporate some of these grappling techniques for throws, locks and sweeps, sport karate (the kind that would likely be winning points-based tournaments) would typically focus much more heavily on fast striking than any grappling techniques. However, this is justified in that Cobra Kai's style of karate is derived from Tang Soo Do as taught to Kreese and Silver by Captain Turner in Vietnam, and Johnny is specifically teaching his students how to defend themselves from bullies in a street fight, with winning tournaments being a secondary goal.
    • Johnny's teachings in general. Johnny flat out says he doesn’t allow parents in class when Stingray first shows up to the dojo. In real life, parents would demand to supervise the class and see what their kids were being taught. Especially at a dojo who’s creed is “strike first, strike hard, no mercy.” He almost definitely would have been cancelled and probably even sued by these parents.
    • The film series had its' own share of artistic license, but the fighting in general was fairly grounded and depicted realistically. This series ramps the combat closer to a traditional action movie, with more acrobatics and roundhouse kicks able to redirect someone's forward momentum entirely.
  • Artistic License – Military:
    • The US servicemen who briefly appear in Daniel's Okinawa trip are not wearing any patches or nametapes on their uniforms, and are wearing incorrectly colored t-shirts.
    • Notably averted in the Vietnam War flashback. The Viet Cong really did use poisonous snakes as weapons, in multiple modes, and were also known to treat POWs cruelly, so forcing American prisoners into trial by combat over a snake pit isn't that much of a stretch.
  • Artistic License – Sports:
    • Robby enters the All Valley Karate Tournament as an unaffiliated combatant in the Season 1 finale, which might work in certain types of tournaments or brackets but proper sponsorship and verification of abilities would be expected at this level (in the original film Miyagi had to lie about Daniel being a black belt, and they stole one for him to wear).
    • Aisha and Bert's participation in the All Valley Tournament in season 1, and Sam and Tory's participation in the tournament in season 4, establishes that the tournament does not have the gender or weight divisions that would be expected of a combat sport in real life, so that all of the main characters can fight in the same tournament.
  • Asian Airhead: Kyler is a rare male example, 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: Daniel strikes one on a huge billboard advertising the LaRusso Auto Group, playing up his karate persona.
  • 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 defense...is more offense.
  • Awesome McCoolname: One of the tournament committee members who overturns the ban of Cobra Kai from participating in the All Valley Tournament compliments Johnny, saying that Cobra Kai is a "badass name for a dojo, by the way." Which earns a fistpump of agreement from Johnny.
    • Subverted with Eagle Fang, Johnny's second dojo that he forms in season 3 from Miguel and other students Kreese kicked out of Cobra Kai. Johnny says the name "elicits power and dominance," but Mitch and Bert find it bizarre and ridiculous.
  • Awkward Silence: When Johnny and Daniel meet at the hospital elevator after the school brawl that left Sam scarred and Miguel in a coma, they don't speak to (or even look at) each other.
  • Back-to-Back Badasses: The Wheel Technique, focused on sensing your combat partner and operating in perfect tandem, allows two to fight like twenty. Sam and Robby become adept with it early in Season 2.
    • In the final battle of Season 3, Sam and Miguel are briefly shown in this position as the Cobra Kais initially enter the house. Later, Hawk and Demetri are in this position after the former changes sides and do the Wheel Technique themselves.
  • Badass Boast: Hawk's "Prepare to face the fury of the Hawk."
  • Badass Bookworm: Several of the students are academically gifted, particularly Aisha, Hawk, and later Sam and Demetri. Other than Sam, their "nerd" status is part of their being bullied and fighting back.
  • Badass Creed: Cobra Kai's "Strike first, strike hard, no mercy".
  • Bail Equals Freedom:
    • In the pilot, Johnny 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 and the fact that Miguel, the homeless woman, and the mini mart owner could all testify as to what was happening), though the fight is when Daniel sees Kyler's injuries.
    • Downplayed in Season 3. In "Aftermath", Johnny is once again released on bail after getting into a brawl outside a bar. Johnny's court appearance is never shown onscreen, but it's stated that he only avoided jail time because his friend Bobby, who is a pastor, convinced the judge of his good character and he was let off with probation.
  • Bait-and-Switch: Season 3 features a flashback of a 60's diner employee getting bullied by a Jerk Jock, played by Martin Kove's son Jesse, so we're led to believe that Kreese is the jock, but it turns out he's the employee.
  • Bank Toaster: A rare non-bank variant, as LaRusso Auto gives each customer a free bonsai tree. Tom Cole even counters this by offering his customers a free drought-resistant cactus.
  • Bar Brawl: What happens when Johnny and his old Cobra Kai buddies (sans Dutch) get together for One Last Field Trip and end up in a bar. After some jerkass insults Tommy, a brawl erupts between the Cobra Kai gang and the jerkass's friends. All of the former Cobra Kais managed to hold their own during the fight.
  • Bash Brothers: One of the first things Daniel tries teaching Sam and Robby is the wheel technique, which involves moving in tandem with a partner in a close space without directly seeing what they are doing. He starts on solid ground, then ups the training by putting them on a wooden disc in a pond so they can each feel balance shift as the other moves. This proves to be valuable training for them later on when confronting Hawk's gang at the mall. Amusingly, in the same episode Daniel gets pulled away and has to work hard to meet their quota at the car dealership, he convinces Amanda to work with him and they accomplish a similar thing except when it came to closing car sales.
  • Batman Gambit: Daniel uses one 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 worthless 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.
  • Battle Couple: In Season 2, Sam and Robby team up to defend Demetri when the latter is attacked by Hawk and his gang. Similarly, Tory and Miguel begin dating and start training together. In Season 3, Sam and Miguel reconcile and also get their respective dojos to combine. They are standing side by side when the Cobra Kais attack the LaRusso house, though they get split up to have one on one fights with Kyler and Tory.
  • 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, and 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 John Kreese back into Johnny's life.
  • Became Their Own Antithesis: A huge theme through Season 3. Miyagi-Do shows a lot more outward aggression and starts a lot of physical brawls with Cobra Kai when Cobra Kai is being more of a nuisance than anything. Additionally, Amanda pulls a Season 1 Daniel move by trying to get Kreese evicted.
  • Berserk Button:
    • Johnny's Firebird might be a hunk of junk that costs more to fix than it's worth, but if you risk scratching the paint, he WILL make you regret it.
    • Criticizing Kreese's cobra tattoo is also a really bad idea, especially if you're a smartass kid.
    • Sam is Tory's button. Hearing from Kreese that Sam's back with Miguel is enough to prompt Tory to lead a gang assault on the LaRusso house.
  • Best Her to Bed Her: Sam and Miguel during "The Good, The Bad, and the Badass". Sam's in a frisky mood after they just saved the All-Valley tournament, so she goads Miguel into a bit of sparring. Eventually, Miguel gets Sam into a loose headlock, and they stare at each others' lips, intent on kissing, only for the moment to be ruined at that moment as Robby shows up.
  • Betty and Veronica:
    • Season 1
      • Nice guy Miguel's Betty to douchey Kyler's Veronica for Sam's Archie.
    • Season 2
      • Miguel's douchey Veronica to Robby's nice guy Betty for Sam's Archie.
      • Nice girl Sam's Betty to Dark Action Girl Tory's Veronica for Miguel's Archie.
    • Season 3
      • Robby's Veronica to Miguel's Betty for Sam's Archie. See also Betty and Veronica Switch.
      • Episode 5 teases Kumiko's Nice Girl Betty and Amanda's Mama Bear Veronica to Daniel's Archie. Given that Daniel is already married to Amanda, he sticks with Veronica.
      • The final two episodes also tease Carmen's Betty and Ali's Veronica to Johnny's Archie. Seems like he also sticks with Betty.
  • Betty and Veronica Switch: In Season 2, Robby is the nice guy Betty to Miguel's Veronica for Sam's Archie. Over the course of Season 3, Miguel takes a level in kindness as he recovers from his injuries and never gets influenced by Kreese, while Robby makes a Face–Heel Turn under Kreese's influence. Sam chooses Betty in both cases.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: At the beginning of the series, Aisha Robinson 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 primarily speaks Spanish, but she understands English and can speak it a little bit, so all the conversations at the Diaz home tend to involve both languages.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Season 3 ends on this, compared to the more "bitter" than "sweet" ending of Season 1 and the straight Downer Ending of Season 2. Kreese is still running Cobra Kai, has successfully converted Robby over to his side, has contacted Terry Silver, and Tory has completely given into her hatred and rage. However Johnny has reconciled with all the people he cares about, he has started a healthy relationship with Carmen, Hawk has finally seen the error of his ways and rejoined the protagonists, Miguel is now close to 100% healthy and rekindled his romance with Sam, and Johnny and Daniel merged their dojos together at the prompting of their students finally at some level of peace with one another. The season ends with Daniel and Johnny beginning a training session with everyone having the same end goal: getting rid of Cobra Kai once and for all.
  • Blatant Lies:
    • Two plot-relevant examples from Kyler — his account of what happened with his fight with Johnny and his spreading of malicious lies about what Sam did with him in a movie theater (she punched him after he tried to grope her).
    • Kreese when he and his gang of Cobra Kais show down with Johnny's Eagle Fangs in a park. Kreese claims to care about his students, despite the fact that he expelled Bert and a bunch of other kids because they refused to feed a live mouse to a snake, expelled Mitch for losing a single fight to Kyler, and didn't bother visiting Miguel at the hospital, instead visiting Robby (the kid who put Miguel in a coma in the first place). And let's not forget he outright tried to kill Johnny in a parking lot after the he got the second place trophy in 1984's All-Valley.
  • Bond One-Liner: After Demetri trips Hawk during soccer practice in Season 3:
    Demetri: I guess that's why the Europeans call it football.
  • Bookends:
    • Season 1 has Daniel discovering that Johnny reopened Cobra Kai, and confronts Johnny in the dojo before asserting "This is not over." At the All-Valley Tournament at the end of the season, Johnny promises Daniel that he will regret getting involved when it's over and Daniel scoffs saying "Like this will ever be over."
    • Season 2 starts with Johnny showing mercy to Kreese immediately before getting attacked for it. At the very end of the season, Miguel shows mercy to Robby, and gets kicked over a balcony for it.
    • Season 3's first episode ends with Daniel offering to team up with Johnny for a specific purpose. Season 3 last episode ends with Daniel and Johnny finally on the same page, merging their dojos to fight against Cobra Kai.
  • Boring, but Practical: Having dealt with Robby's antagonists at the beach (which Robby used Daniel's iPhone to record; "Moment of Truth," S 2 E 4), Robby suggests using the footage — simple and relatively straightforward tactics in a plain setting — to promote Miyagi-Do. But Daniel doesn't want his school to be burdened by flashy, violent marketing, preferring instead to wait for the right "fish" to find him. This boring approach does end up being practical, as it's shortly after this point that Daniel's class starts to grow.
    • At the tournament ("Mercy," S 1 E 10), almost all of Miguel's tactics work this way. Right up until he meets Xander Stone and then Robby Keene, he steers clear of anything flashy.
  • Bowdlerization: Promos have Johnny referring to his students as part of a "pansy-ass" generation. Presumably they were worried people would be offended by the actual line, where he calls them a "pussy" generation instead.
  • Brick Joke:
    • During the All Valley Tournament Committee meeting in Season 1, one of the members suggests "shaking up" the tournament and boosting attendance by swapping the red mats with a white fist for blue mats with a gold fist, but most of the members think it's a stupid idea. When the actual tournament rolls around, however, we see that they went with his proposal anyway!
    • Johnny and plantains. The first time the Diazes invite him to dinner, he says the bananas are good. When corrected, he says "In America, they're bananas." When Johnny finds out Miguel is dating Tory, he tells him to focus on his training by stating "You can play hide the plantain later," and gets a chuckle from Miguel.
    • The woman who bitched at Johnny in the first episode re-appears as one of Johnny’s Tinder dates in Season 2.
  • 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."
    • Played for Laughs when Sam goads Miguel into a bit of sparring while they're in a frisky mood.
    Miguel: Okay! [stands up] Alright, you lookin' to take on the champ?
    Sam: [smiles] I seem to remember flipping you on the ground with surprisingly little effort!
    Miguel: [gets into fighting position] Well let's see you do it again. Don't hold back.
    Sam: [grins, assumes fight stance] I wouldn't worry about it.
  • Broken Pedestal: Johnny starts to realize that his students are turning into sociopaths because of the foundational Cobra Kai lessons after seeing them used against Robby, so he starts trying to pull in a different direction talking about honor and discipline. While Miguel is more open to this change of approach, the other students start seeing this as hypocrisy to what he has been teaching (in addition to finding out Robby was his son, making his punishment of Miguel and Hawk seem based on favoritism rather than honor), and start to side with Kreese because he hasn't been backing away from it.
  • Bullied into Depression: Hawk joins Cobra Kai because he's being relentlessly bullied over his lip scar. Aisha's reason is a combination of cyberbullying and fat shaming. Both are behind Miguel as the top three students of the Order Reborn dojo.
  • Bully Hunter:
    • Given prominent focus throughout the series. Johnny just happened to be nearby when Kyler and his gang started beating up on Miguel, which incited some memories of his own past as a teenage bully, but he didn't get involved until his car got dinged up in the process. He didn't have much interest in becoming a sensei but justified reopening Cobra Kai under the idea of taking kids who needed help and giving them something to work for. He later expresses disgust that kids would cyber-bully... as physical teasing at least takes some courage and ownership of your actions. He starts to realize the path he is going down has its own problems and decides to change his tune to prevent his students from becoming monsters.
    • Daniel is fully aware of this trope and the pitfalls of trying to fight back. When he creates Miyagi-Do Karate even he has to step back a few times to remind himself it is not about beating Cobra Kai but about being able to counteract the toxicity and hopefully inspire them to be better. Unfortunately, the rivalry that develops between the two dojos poisons both schools, leading to an odd form of Mob War developing in the community.
    • The Miyagi-Do attempt to become this in Season 3, after Cobra Kai continue to come after them in "revenge" for Miguel's injury. It goes as poorly as you'd expect, with the major incident leading to Demetri getting his arm broken by Hawk while Sam's PTSD triggers leaving her unable to properly help.
  • Bullying a Dragon: In the first episode, Kyler and his goons get belligerent with Johnny when he tells them to leave Miguel alone. In the resulting fight, Kyler and all three of his friends end up on the ground — repeatedly — and Johnny honestly suffers more from not stretching first than any of the (few) attacks they manage to land on him.
  • Call-Back: Has its own page.
  • Calling the Old Man Out:
    • Season 1: 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.
    • Season 2: After getting played by surrogate father figure Kreese for most of the season, Johnny finally throws him out of his dojo and warns him to stay away from Johnny's students. Unfortunately, it doesn't stick.
  • Casting Gag: William Zabka and Diora Baird (who plays Johnny's ex) 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.
    • Hawk's real name is Eli, which is ironic because Jacob Bertrand palling around with a boy named Eli on his previous show.
  • Celebrity Paradox:
    • The Rocky franchise exists in the Miyagi-verse, since Johnny mentions first meeting Ali during a screening of Rocky III and he and Daniel liken the idea of having a friendly rematch as akin to Rocky and Apollo in that movie. The first and fifth Rocky movies were directed by John G. Avildsen, director of The Karate Kid trilogy.
    • Johnny's favorite movie is Iron Eagle, which starred Rob Garrison (Tommy) as Packer.
    • When Amanda confronts Kreese at his dojo, she calls him Rambo. The sequel, Rambo: First Blood Part II, starred Martin Kove as Michael Reed Ericson.
    • In season 3, when Johnny and Miguel are looking for pictures of Johnny to post to his Facebook profile, Johnny offers up younger pictures of himself...captioned as Billy Zabka.
  • Chance Meeting Between Antagonists: These occur so frequently that it seems like fate really wants Daniel and Johnny to collide. To the point where "You've got to be kidding me!" is practically Daniel's catch-phrase.
    • In the Season 2 premiere, Daniel and Robby happen to run into Johnny at the hardware store, allowing Robby and Johnny to have their first confrontation since the All Valley Tournament.
    • The LaRussos go out on the first first date in a while on the same night that Johnny and Carmen go on their first date. Not only do they happen to go to the same restaurant at the same time, they get seated at adjacent tables and can't be moved because the restaurant is booked.
  • Chaos of the Bells: In the Season 3 finale "December 19", an electric guitar rendition of "Carol of the Bells" plays as Tory leads the Cobra Kais in an assault on the LaRusso house.
  • Character Development: Many of the legacy characters from the original films have gone through this in the years since we last saw them, while the younger generation go through this due to one of the main themes of the series being impressionable teenagers caught between different teachers.
    • Johnny goes from being the archetypal '80s Jerk Jock bully in the original film, to a Jerk with a Heart of Gold who teaches kids how to defend themselves from bullies. His relationships with his students help him to see the flaws in Cobra Kai's original teachings. He also develops a close, father-son type relationship with Miguel, in contrast to how he failed as a father to Robby. He drops some of his xenophobic attitudes after getting to know Miguel and his family better (compare his complaining about immigrants in the first episode to correcting Kreese when he refers to Miguel as Mexican in Season 2) while still remaining a Politically Incorrect Hero overall. In Season 3, he gets closure on his past failures after a pep talk from Ali, allowing him to commit to a serious relationship with Carmen, and he and Daniel finally put their rivalry aside.
    • Chozen has changed significantly since The Karate Kid Part II. In the film, he was a Hate Sink villain who picked on Daniel with little to no provocation, proved himself to be a Dirty Coward by failing to help Daniel rescue a little girl from a typhoon, and then tried to murder Daniel for "dishonoring him". When he returns in Season 3, he has become a much better man. He reveals that Sato gave him a chance to redeem himself and taught him the true meaning of Miyagi-Do karate after he became a Death Seeker, and he took the chance to become a humble master practitioner. He even acts as a mentor to Daniel, teaching him a new Signature Move that he uses to defeat Kreese in the Season 3 finale.
    • Sam goes from being an upper class girl trying to fit in with the popular clique at school, who is hesitant to step in when her "friends" are bullying her actual friends, and hides her relationship with Miguel from her parents because she's afraid of her dad rejecting Miguel due to his biases agsinst Cobra Kai, to being willing to stand up for her Miyagi-Do peers when they're being bullied and also standing up for Miguel to her dad.
  • Chekhov's Skill:
    • Episode 5 shows Johnny teaching Miguel more specific moves and sparring with him, going into detail about how to change your line of attack, staying aware of your surroundings and how to slip out of a choke hold. Miguel ends up in a lunchroom brawl with Kyler's gang where all of those moves are needed. He even admits it's become second nature to him now.
    • Once a season, Daniel teaches his students a move that they later use in a fight.
      • Season 1: Daniel demonstrates a complex move to Robby that involves propping yourself on one hand to do a two-legged kick from the ground. Robby is shown practicing balancing on one hand, and later uses it in the tournament to score a point against Miguel.
      • Season 2: Daniel teaches Sam and Robby the Wheel Technique, which serves them well when fighting Hawk's gang at the food court. When Hawk changes sides in the Season 3 finale, he and Demetri use the technique to take down several Cobra Kais.
      • Season 3: Daniel teaches Sam how to fight with bo staffs in the LaRussos' home dojo. In the season 3 finale, when Tory corners Sam in this dojo and begins attacking her with a pair of nunchucks, Sam grabs one of the staffs to block Tory's attacks and disarms her.
    • In Season 3, Chozen teaches Daniel a new technique within the Miyagi-Do pantheon which allows him to essentially paralyze the limbs of his opponent temporarily with the use of pressure points. The goal, to subdue foes in order to force surrender or kill in the midst of war. Daniel uses these moves to immobilize Kreese in the season finale.
    • In Season 3, Sam teaches Miguel the drum technique during a bout of sparring, which we see him use that evening (and one episode later) when he gets a second wind to defeat Kyler.
  • Color Motif:
  • Combat Pragmatist: Deconstructed. Johnny struggles to find the line of morality between Cobra Kai standing for winning at absolutely all costs and having some sense of honor. His students often interpret his message more ruthlessly than he intends, forcing him to backtrack. Kreese's version of Cobra Kai embraces absolute pragmatism, which causes Johnny further problems.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • In Season 1, Episode 5, Daniel mentions his first trip to Okinawa, which happened in Part II.
    • To The Karate Kid Part III in Episode 7: Daniel mentions Mr. Miyagi's Little Trees as part of a Noodle Incident.
    • When the kids from Miyagi-Do train in a meat locker, there are boxes labled FERNANDEZ everywhere. It seems Freddy is in the meat business now.
    • Robby finds Daniel's Okinawan hand drum in the Miyagi dojo, and Daniel mentions how it "saved his life," referring to the climax of The Karate Kid Part II.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Much of the conflict and ensuing resolution in the series is driven by them.
    • While drunkenly reminiscing about the tournament where he lost to Daniel, Johnny's car is t-boned by an SUV with Daniel's daughter inside, and then his car is towed to Daniel's auto dealership. Then Sam happens to show up.
    • The confrontation that kicks off much of the series involves Johnny being present when Kyler (Sam's friend and then love-interest) is beating up Miguel (his neighbor) and ends up intervening. This leads to Daniel confronting Johnny for beating up his daughter's boyfriend.
    • Immediately after Johnny meets Carmen's new boyfriend, he happens to be in the same bar as the guy, while he loudly boasts about how he's just going to dump her after he sleeps with her. The San Fernando Valley just isn't that small.
    • While at the beach club with the LaRussos, Robby realizes that his old crew is at the same club, stealing wallets on the same day.
    • Justified in some cases (there's not much to do at home and the kids are very social, so of course they'd constantly go out — the mall is a common hangout for kids, mutual friends invite them to parties, they go to school together, they're rushed to the local hospital, and so on).
    • The mother of all of these happens in Season 3. Daniel heads to Japan to try and save his dealership's contract with Doyona, but the deal falls through and he heads to Okinawa to see Mr. Miyagi's old village. That he almost instantly runs into his former love interest isn't implausible (she runs a dance school that's holding a public performance). But it turns out that she's still in touch with the girl who's life he saved in The Karate Kid Part II, who happens to be a highly placed executive in the same company he needed to make a deal with. This is sort of handwaved as being a sort of cosmic karma.
    • As of Season 3 it is revealed that all three of the main teenage characters from the original film had children in the same year, as Daniel, Johnny and Ali all have 17 year-old kids.
    • Robby Keene's life is practically defined by this.
      • In season 1, Robby swallows his pride and decides to go see Johnny, just in time to see him giving Miguel his old gi. Seeing his father having a father-son moment with some random kid leads Robby to go off and work for Daniel to spite his father.
      • Later in the season, the discoveries that Robby is Johnny's son (for Daniel) and is getting trained by Daniel (for Johnny) happen because Robby is in Daniel's home dojo waiting for him.
      • In season 3 episode 8, Robby happens to encounter Sam play-fighting with Miguel when he goes to Miyagi-Do just looking for a place to crash. This is the final straw that leads to Robby choosing to join Cobra Kai.
  • Cool Shades:
    • In the first season, Johnny puts a pair on before driving away in his sports car. It doesn't make him as cool as he thinks he is.
    • In "Back in Black", both Johnny and Miguel wear a pair while in his new car. Stopping at a red light, they draw the attention of a mother-daughter pair in the next car over. Johnny warns Miguel to play it cool before they drive off.
  • Cool Old Lady: Miguel's grandma Rosa is all on-board with him becoming a fighter and beating up bullies. She's also a bit of a Deadpan Snarker (in her own language) and likes to smoke pot.
  • Continuity Snarl: In season 2 episode 8, Sam's birthday is established to be October 14, 2002, as shown when Daniel goes through a scrapbook and we see a card that says "Sam's first birthday," dated October 14, 2003. That would make her 14 in the first episode of season 1. Yet in episode 6, when Daniel tries to get Sam to spar with him, the dialogue establishes Sam to be 16 ("eight years ago, I was 8," Sam says), which would put her birthday in 2001. The 2001 date also happens to make more sense since if Sam were 15 in season 1, she'd be too young to drive a car without a learner's permit (she agrees to take Yasmine to school in episode 2 after Yasmine totals her car in the hit-and-run on Johnny's Firebird, she drives Miguel on their first date, etc.).
  • Corrupt Corporate Executive:
    • 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 Amanda calls him out on it, although this does nothing to help the people hurt by his actions. (It's worth mentioning that because of laws passed in the 1960s, when Ronald Reagan was governor of California, just becoming a car dealer in Southern California requires, at minimum, shades of this through territorial exclusivity)
    • Tom Cole, Daniel's business rival, takes advantage of Daniel's reputation suffering in the aftermath of the school brawl to convince Doyona to cut ties with Daniel.
    • Terry Silver was already one in The Karate Kid Part III where he bribed prosecutors and juries, illegally dumped chloride sludge, and schemed to humiliate Daniel and Mr. Miyagi as revenge for their humiliation of Kreese. Season 4 sees him up to his old tricks again as Kreese calls on him to help train his Cobra Kais for the All-Valley and counter Daniel's alliance with Johnny.
  • Cranky Landlord: Armand Zarkarian, the owner of the strip mall where Cobra Kai sets up their dojo, is even worse than most examples of this trope. While he couldn't care less if his tenants' businesses are safe or law-abiding, he seizes even the most half-assed excuses to raise their rent. And he betrays Johnny by granting the lease for the Cobra Kai dojo to Kreese.
  • 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. By Season 3, she thinks Johnny is stalking her, and maybe even has a crush on her.
  • 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.
    • Amanda is livid about Sam getting suspended for her part in the school brawl, seeing as Tory was the aggressor in the matter and Sam was only fighting back.
  • Cultural Rebel: Played for Laughs, Daniel invites Kyler over for dinner. He prepares authentic Japanese sashimi. Kyler, who is of east Asian descent, says he's not fond of fish...but he loves fish sticks. Half the joke was the casual ignorance of rejecting a meal offered by a gracious host and the other half was that he prefers standard American food rather than Asian cuisine because of his ancestry (Daniel asks where his parents are from, he says they're from Irvine, or so he thinks).
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Season 1:
      • 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.
      • Tom Cole's boba tea stood no chance against Daniel's reverse crescent kick.
    • Season 2:
      • When Robby is jumped by his former thief gang in Season 2, Daniel easily takes down all three of them.
    • Season 3:
      • Daniel and Johnny vs. an entire chop shop. They never stood much of a chance.
      • In juvie, Shawn and his two thugs take Robby down and then kick him viciously. It takes advice from Kreese for Robby to "strike first" for this to be an even match.
      • Cobra Kai vs Miyagi-Do at Golf n' Stuff. Goes the complete opposite direction of their last encounter. Miyagi-Do starts this fight (though CK obviously antagonized them), and Cobra Kai wholly wipes them out, ending with Hawk breaking Demetri's arm while Sam watches.
      • Kreese's combat trials featuring Mitch vs. Kyler (the former suffering from The Worf Effect), Tory vs. Sarah (the basketball player Kreese recruits), and Hawk giving a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown to Brucks.
      • Robby trying to pick a fight with Johnny after the latter pins down Kreese (albeit temporarily). Johnny still manages to beat his son without even trying.
  • Curb Stomp Cushion: Miguel decides to stand up against Kyler and his gang after his friends bail, he does this despite being in a confined space and outnumbered 4 to 1. He does manage to get in one clean kick, about the only thing he had practice on, and his friends admit that despite being stupid it took guts to even try.
  • 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 and grandmother 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 Banquet.)
    • Happens twice in "Nature Versus Nurture"
      • At the end of a flashback, Kreese offers Betsy a lift. Immediately cut to a gas pump with the words "LIFT" written on it as Johnny and Daniel gas up Daniel's Audi.
      • Kreese holds his cigar cutter against Tory's skeezy landlord's finger. Right after the man yields, we cut to Miguel slicing a hot dog diagonally.
  • Cyberbullying: In Season 1, it's Yasmine's go-to tactic for making fun of Aisha's size (for example, posting: "the buffet table is under attack"), and later Sam after Kyler begins spreading rumors about her.
  • Dare to Be Badass: Johnny literally tells his students "All that matters is that you become badass!"
  • Dark Action Girl: Tory Nichols is a skilled fighter from her first appearance, and by the end of Season 3, she's proven herself as one of Kreese's top pupils.
  • Dark Reprise: The song "Cruel Summer" gets this treatment for the Season 2 teaser trailers, and plays out the Season 2 finale.
  • Darker and Edgier: The original films didn't shy away from some intense violence, but were more subdued inspirational movies that could appeal to all ages. This series is a lot more cynical and regularly features harsh language, graphic violence, alcohol and drug use, dysfunctional families, mental illness and sexuality, which ups the target audience a few years.
  • Date Rape Averted: In Season 1 Episode 3, Daniel busts down the door when he finds Kyler taking Sam into a classroom at the Halloween dance. He tries to warn Sam that Kyler is bad news, but Sam doesn't heed his warning and dismissively shoots him down for not keeping to his promise of not openly humiliating her, then furiously storms off. Daniel had read Kyler's texts to Sam in which he promised to have "something BIG" to show her at the school dance, and between that and what Johnny has told him about how Kyler and his gang were picking on teens half his size, it's very likely Kyler might've been trying to get Sam alone so he could pressure her into having sex with him, and rape her if she refused. Kyler's language with Brucks in the next scene where Brucks says "You had her in the palm of your dick" and they mention the bracelet trick having worked on another girl, and the fact Kyler does try to grope Sam in a darkened movie theater in the very next episode, supports this.
  • 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 Sam gets together with Miguel, with the latter being painfully aware that her father isn't going to smile on her dating 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... though Sam's inability to be open with her dad about her boyfriend is the core of their initial relationship troubles. Thankfully mitigated when she and Miguel get back together in Season 3, and Daniel catches them kissing in the Miyagi-Do dojo. Sam stands her ground and convinces her dad to talk to Miguel.
  • Deadly Prank:
    • Louie thinks it will be hilarious to haze Robby and tell him to move a car on the showroom floor closer to the window. They give him the car keys and wait for hilarity to ensue. Robby has no idea what he is supposed to do and almost runs over a group of customers.
    • Later, Louie decides to get back at Johnny for the dick on the billboard by torching Johnny's car. As Johnny points out, the fire could have easily spread and burned down the apartment complex. Not to mention that Louie brought along a couple of biker thugs who attacked Johnny when he caught them in the act.
  • Decon-Recon Switch: The series takes a more realistic look at the original Karate Kid's moments and ideas for good and bad. For all the negative consquences and dismissal that Johnny and Daniel experience through the revival of Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do throughout the valley, they still manage to have a positive effect on the lives of the future generation, using karate to teach lost and weak-willed people to stand up for themselves and gain genuine strength both physically and mentally.
  • 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 both what would have created such a person, and what would happen to them in the future. It's shown that Johnny was once a sweet kid, but with a miserable home life, where his stepfather alternated between criticizing and ignoring him. John Kreese was even more abusive (emotionally and physically), but at least gave Johnny attention and encouragement, causing Johnny to embrace his aggressive and violent worldview.note  All of this caused him to peak in high school, leaving him with an attitude that doesn't work in the adult world, and an endless nostalgia for his youth. He ends up a miserable, alcoholic manchild in his 50's with neither a stable career nor family life. And even when he tries to use his karate skills to build a stable life, his toxic conditioning continues to cause problems. As shown with how his students turn out by the end of Season 1.
    • Follow along on this one. A waiter gets easily bullied, but stands up to them and even beats them in a fight to win the heart of a young lady. He joins the war effort to try and help people and makes a camaraderie with his brothers in the army. He joins a special force but they get all captured after he chooses not to blow up a location with his fellow soldier still within the blast radius, only for said soldier to be killed in front of him instead. He's forced to fight to the death with his captain who mocks his inability to discard his humanity and reveals that his girlfriend died in a tragic car accident right before the mission. He ends up defeating the captain using some pragmatic action, and sends him to his death for his troubles. He earns the undying loyalty of one of his other friends in the army. Sounds like a solid, if trope filled, army story for a hero right? That's the life of John Kreese and Terry Silver.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: As expected for a series who focuses on someone who was a bully in the 80s. So far in the series, Johnny has shown a dislike for immigrants, opposition to women fighting (while claiming the US Army doesn't allow them), disregard for medical problems like asthma or physical defects people are born with, and a general dislike towards the current "pansy-ass generation" he lives in.
  • Dented Iron: Kreese is much older now and surprisingly spry for his age, but no longer has the physical edge he once had. It's implied his knuckles never properly healed after his encounter with Miyagi in Part II.
  • Designated Girl Fight: In Season 2, Tory and Sam develop an animosity towards each other, mainly from Tory feeling jealous that Miguel still has feelings for her. It culminates in the season finale, where she publicly calls her out to a brawl after seeing Sam and Miguel kiss.
    • Happens again in Season 3, though at least this time the two go through plenty of other male combatants to get to each other.
    • In bringing in new recruits to fill out Cobra Kai ranks, Tory fights against the only girl scouted.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • Johnny reopens the Cobra Kai dojo without having any clue about OSHA regulations, business insurance, advertising, or "handshake" deals. All of those things come back to bite him on one level or another, and it all ends with Johnny losing the dojo to Kreese at the end of Season 2.
    • 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.
    • In Season 3 Amanda pulls the same move Daniel did above to finally get rid of Kreese after going to the police failed. Apparently she doesn't consider what would happen if this move didn't work... which is pissing off the most psychotic person in the Valley. She learns her lesson very fast as Kreese makes short work of Armand and his nephews, then sends a cobra to clear out the dealership.
  • Diner Brawl:
    • Season 1 features a cafeteria variation, when Kyler and his posse decide to engage in their usual shenanigans in the school lunchroom after Sam confronts him about his sexual harassment. This time, they all get hit with a Curb-Stomp Battle courtesy of Miguel, wanting payback for their earlier altercations with him.
    • Season 2 has a fight in the mall food court, where Robby and Sam fend off Hawk and his gang to protect Demetri. They also demonstrate successful use of the wheel technique.
    • Season 3 shows that Kreese's girlfriend Betsy fell for him after he beat up her abusive jock boyfriend David and his buddies who picked on him while he was working as a diner busboy.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • Johnny wasn't much of a presence in Robby's life, right from the moment he was born. He's trying to make up for it now, but Robby feels it's too little, too late.
    • Daniel mentions losing his father when he was eight.
    • Miguel's dad apparently was a bad man, so Carmen left him (with Miguel in tow) before Miguel was old enough to know him.
    • Johnny grew up with an asshole stepfather, and later mentions never having known his real father. It seems this is largely why he never felt equipped to be a father for Robby.
  • Disaster Dominoes: Season 2 is a hotbed of this, but Moon takes it to an extreme. She invites both dojos to her house in an attempt to smooth out the bad blood brewing between the sides. She becomes an Unwitting Instigator of Doom in the process (also see that entry here).
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Kyler is the first real villain of the series: his bullying is what initially drives Miguel. But halfway through the season, he's soundly defeated and ceases to be a threat. The rest of Season 1 is a battle between Johnny and Daniel's opposing philosophies, where both characters are sympathetic. In Season 2, John Kreese emerges as the new Big Bad.
  • 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 and uses a seriously outdated flip-phone for a cell phone. Not to mention his social views... When he does finally get a smartphone in Season 2, he still ends up perplexed when he meets a woman with a smart watch, something that he had no clue even existed.
  • 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 vandalizing his billboard, Daniel manipulates Johnny's landlord into doubling the rent on the strip mall property where Cobra Kai is located, affecting not only Johnny but all of the mall'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. Hawk is immediately disqualified on the spot.
    • Hawk's response to a bad Yelp review from Demetri is to attempt a five on one beating in the mall, then again in the school.
    • Tory's response to seeing Sam drunkenly and mistakenly kiss Miguel is to pick a fight in school which rapidly engages the rest of the Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do students, including a prolonged beating for both girls and nearly disfiguring Sam with her spiked wristband (which destroys her blouse and catches her arm instead).
    • In the Season 3 finale, both Johnny and Daniel come after Kreese for him sending Cobra Kai to break into Daniel's house to assault their star pupils. So he attempts to murder both of them in return. Only Johnny and Daniel's defense stopped them from getting stabbed by a sai and broken glass respectively.
  • Distaff Counterpart: In a Season 2 episode, Johnny meets an attractive redhead at a bar who basically seems like a female version of himself. She intentionally bumps into him as a way of introducing herself (a move that Johnny suggested to Miguel earlier), and they both long for the simpler days of yesteryear. But Johnny cuts their date short without even getting her number when he learns that Carmen's boyfriend plans on pulling a pump-and-dump on Carmen.
  • Distant Sequel: The series is set 34 years after the events of the first film in the original trilogy.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Miguel and Aisha end up violently humiliating Kyler and Yasmine, respectively, after being bullied by them for most of the first season.
  • Do Not Call Me "Paul": Hawk does not like being called by his old name, even (or especially) by his old friend Demetri.
  • 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 wants none of Sam's sympathy after she was beaten at the All Valley tournament, although they still managed to reconcile with one another.
  • Double Entendre: A rare non-vulgar example occurs in the opening minutes of Episode 2, when we see Daniel going about his day set to Dean Martin's "Ain't That a Kick in the Head". The song functions as a reference to both his famous Crane Kick and to his unpleasant surprise when he spots 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.
  • Downer Ending:
    • Season 1 ends with Cobra Kai winning the tournament (and defeating Daniel's protege Robby) in an underhanded manner, leaving Johnny appalled at the bullies he has unwittingly created. Worse still, John Kreese reappears to congratulate Johnny for his "accomplishment" and hint at his own malevolent intentions for karate in the valley.
    • The ending of Season 2 is incredibly bleak. Failures to deescalate tensions between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-do schools led to an all-out school brawl that destroys the reputations of Johnny and Daniel, have Miguel and Sam hospitalized with the former possibly paralyzed for life, and Kreese takes over Cobra Kai.
    • Season 3 is lighter than the first two (see Bittersweet Ending above) but it still ends with Johnny and Daniel's failure to help Robby pushing him straight into the arms of Kreese.
  • Do Wrong, Right:
    • One of the premises on which the Cobra Kai karate style is built. Johnny attempts to mitigate it by emphasizing that, if you're going to attack someone, 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.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: The very first episodes invoked this, playing into the popular fan argument that Johnny was the "true" victim and hero of the original movie. Johnny has an extended flashback of the events of the first movie and it is naturally self-servicing, removing any instance in which he bullied Daniel.
  • 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.
    • In Sam's nightmare at the start of Season 3 Episode 7, she is shown practicing in the Miyagi dojo and drops her water bottle at the appearance of Tory in the backyard.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point:
    • Season 1: 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 dogmatic ruthlessness, 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.
    • Season 2: Daniel preaches many of the philosophies of Miyagi-Do Karate, mainly in terms of teamwork and self-defense, but he never learned (let alone taught) one of the most important facets: how to deescalate a situation or walk away from a fight. This has been a problem for Daniel ever since the opening act of the first movie. He'll often poke the bear without stopping to consider the consequences — this got the hell beaten out of him more than once in the first movie, and it has trapped him in an Escalating War with Cobra Kai in the series. Unfortunately for all involved, Daniel's students end up following his example. Instead of using karate to find balance, they actively pick fights with the Cobra Kai students even when the latter want to stop fighting, and this leads to tragedy in the season finale.
    • Season 3: Amanda always does her best to come off as the voice of reason, and generally does so to good results by tempering Daniel's worst traits. However she fails to consider just how insane things have gotten in this war. She attempts to go to the police only to be shown that they won't take it seriously without a ton of witnesses (like the school brawl). She tries to play dirty herself only to underestimate just how far Kreese is willing to go to get what he wants. For her and a more "normal" setting, Kreese is an Outside-Context Problem that can't be solved by normal means. Her attempts indirectly escalate the war to an even worse degree than it already had been, to the point she's forced to relent and understand that Daniel really does have to fight back with his dojo (though she still sees fit to snark about it when she can).
  • Dramedy: The series is a 30-minute comedy with dramatic and dark moments sprinkled throughout.
  • Drill Sergeant Nasty: Johnny ends up becoming this as he gains more students. In a contrast to Kreese in the first film, who is shown with a largely trained group of students, Johnny is shown treating brand new recruits with high levels of aggression and verbal harassment. It's not entirely clear if he does it on purpose to weed out those with weak dedication or because that's the only way he knows.
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Johnny has spent the better part of the last 20 years drinking heavily due to general depression over how crappy his life has turned out.
    • After Miguel gets injured in the school brawl at the end of season 2, Johnny spends the next two weeks going on a drunken bender and getting into fights at bars.
  • 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: Samantha LaRusso attracts three guys in the first season (Kyler, Miguel, Robby). Lampshaded by her dad when he happens to walk in on her having a sparring-turned-makeout session with Miguel in the Miyagi-do.
  • Eagleland:
    • Johnny shows shades of a mild Type B, being a crude and boorish Jerk with a Heart of Gold while taking pride in referring to his karate as "American". A Deleted Scene would have highlighted this in which he dismisses Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu as "Brazilian crap" and claims his karate is inherently superior because it's American when trying to (unsuccessfully) get students from a BJJ academy to join Cobra Kai.
    • Kreese is a straighter example of a Type B, insulting a shopkeeper for speaking Spanish while going "America, love it or leave it."
  • Emerging from the Shadows: John Kreese shows up like this at Cobra Kai, alive and well.
  • Erotic Dream: Johnny has one of these about Carmen in Season 2, where the two are shown kissing passionately and sparring in his dojo (with her coming out on top), all set to the tune of "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake. This prompts Johnny to act on his feelings for Carmen in real life and later ask her out.
  • Escalating War: The feud between Johnny and Daniel (and by extension, Cobra Kai and Miyagi-do) escalates throughout the show. Amanda is one of the few people to call both men out on it. Unfortunately, by the time the two sensei are prepared to bury the hatchet, the rivalry has infected their students. . . a bunch of teenagers prone to poor impulse control and taking such things way too seriously, with tragic results.
  • Eskimos Aren't Real: In season 3, Johnny calls his new karate dojo Eagle Fang, because he wanted to name it after an animal that kills snakes and believes that mongooses aren't real.
  • "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.
    • Consistent with his portrayal in the first film, Johnny prefers fair fights and at the original tournament hesitated when Kreese ordered him to sweep Daniel's leg. When he sees his students resort to cheap shots he scolds them for it, but is too shocked at how they were applying his "no mercy" attitude to properly reign them in.
    • Even Kreese has his limits despite being such a psychopath. He's sympathetic to Tory's plight of having to care for an ill mother, and he has zero tolerance for any attempts to harass a girl, both coming from his upbringing in his past. So he intimidates the landlord into backing down by threat of cutting off his fingers to manipulate Tory into returning to Cobra Kai.
  • Evil Counterpart: By season 4, the majority of the main characters in the Miyagi-Do / Eagle Fang alliance has an equivalent character in Cobra Kai.
    • Terry Silver to Daniel LaRusso: Trained karate masters who are also rich influential businessmen (with the former being the latter's former Evil Mentor).
    • John Kreese to Johnny Lawrence: Two Johns who are the co-senseis to their wealthier counterparts (with the former also being the latter's former Evil Mentor).
    • Tory Nichols to Samantha LaRusso: The Action Girls, both of whom have a history with Miguel and Robby. Which leads to...
    • Robby Keene to Miguel Diaz: The top male student, both of whom have a history with Sam, Tory, and Johnny (Robby being the son that Johnny failed, Miguel being the son-figure that Johnny is succeeding).
    • Kyler to the Binary Brothers (both of them being his bully victims):
      • To Eli/Hawk. The Brute and The Berserker. While both were The Bully, especially toward Demetri, Hawk is a bully trying to mask his insecurity as a former bullied victim, whereas Kyler is a bully just For the Evulz. Hawk eventually reforms and defects from Cobra Kai, whereas Kyler is still a bully and remains loyal.
      • To Demetri. When it comes to embodying their dojos' philosophies, both might as well be the best as it. Kyler exemplifies an Attack! Attack! Attack! merciless personality even before joining Cobra Kai (without much Freudian Excuse whatsoever), making him easily the dojo's most ruthless student, whereas Demetri exemplifies an Awesome by Analysis personality of utilizing defensive techniques and only fighting when needed to, making him easily the dojo's most pragmatic student.
    • Doug and Mikey to Chris and Mitch: Two pairs of best friends, all of whom were Elite Mooks and the former henchmen of Hawk. But while Chris and Mitch left Cobra Kai and joined Miyagi-Fang as reformed bullies, Doug and Mikey remain loyal, continuing to be the bullies under an Evil Mentor.
  • Evil Is Not a Toy: Johnny sees Cobra Kai through a Nostalgia Filter, he left after Kreese assaulted him in the parking lot after the tournament but still viewed Cobra Kai itself as a place where he felt powerful, had friends and gained confidence. He wants to disassociate the dojo from Kreese, but is blinded to the fact that their philosophy and training style is inseparable from the Thug Dojo it became.
  • Evil Old Folks:
    • Kreese. The man is now in his 70s, yet he's still just as ruthless as he was from the original The Karate Kid trilogy. It can only get much worse in Season 4 with Terry Silver coming back to help the deranged man in the worst way possible.
    • Sid Weinberg to a lesser extent. He's mainly a Jerkass to Johnny, but even he has his Pet the Dog moments. Then again, his "little incident with his secretary" might say otherwise about his moral boundaries.
  • Evil Virtues: Despite what Cobra Kai ends up doing to its students in the long run, Cobra Kai is impressively inclusive, loyal, and helps its students gain confidence. The group doesn't care about race, gender, social status or economic class, if you're willing to work hard, learn to fight, and never complain, they'll accept you as one of their own. That's probably why they're so effective at forging Undying Loyalty, to their own detriment, in the end.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change:
    • After joining Cobra Kai, Eli flips the script, shaves the sides of his head and styles the middle into a blue mohawk, taking on the nickname Hawk. Hawk dyes it red partway into Season 2 to signify his increased aggression and brutality (even changing the color of his tattoo's mohawk to complement it).
    • At Coyote Creek, Raymond chooses to flip the script, braiding his beard and taking on the new name Stingray.
    • Miguel's hair takes on a pompadour during his "bad boy" phase.
    • When Sam is trying to fit in with the popular kids in season 1, she wears her hair loose and also pays a lot of attention to it. In season 2, she pulls her hair back more often, both because she's training again and because she's more humble now that she's not focused on being one of the popular kids. In season 3, while she's dealing with PTSD, her hair is very messy, as if she hasn't been taking much care of it, but once she gets through her fear of Tory and reconnects with Miguel, she begins taking more care in styling her hair.
  • Expy Coexistence: Picturegrams, a social media website that Sam uses in season 1, is a stand-in for Instagram. Which is strange, considering that Instagram is owned by Facebook, which appears without the Bland-Name Product treatment. In Season 2, the writers decided to just forgo using fictional social media sites, and Instagram is both mentioned by name and shown being used (Sam, Miguel and Aisha have Instagram feeds), as are Facebook (which is how Daniel has been cyberstalking Ali) and Yelp (Demetri's negative review of Cobra Kai leads Hawk to go after him at the mall with a couple of thugs).
    • In Season 3, Tom Cole manages to snag exclusive rights to sell Doyona vehicles in the Valley. This is presumably done to avoid bad press with any real Japanese car brand, even though Daniel is shown selling Toyota cars at his dealerships.
  • 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.
  • Face/Heel Double-Turn: Sympathy swings back and forth like a pendulum in this series.
    • In the original film, Daniel was an up-and-coming underdog to contrast Johnny as The Bully. 34 years later, the script has flipped, and Johnny is now the underdog trying to put his life back together while Daniel has succumbed to Revenge Before Reason in opposing him. However, as the series goes on, Johnny's students take his teachings to their logical conclusion and become bullies themselves while Daniel regains his inner balance and turns his students to a better path.
    • At the beginning of the series, Miguel is an innocent bullying victim while Robby is a troubled delinquent. As a result of their mentors' teachings, Miguel ends the first season as a bully himself while Robby has started to walk down a better path. However, Season 2 sees Robby succumb to Revenge Before Reason regarding his resentment of his father and Miguel, leading him to break Miguel's spine in the season finale, while Miguel realizes he went too far with the Cobra Kai mindset and begins showing mercy to others.
    • In Season 3, Hawk loses faith in Kreese and defects from Cobra Kai to join the Miyagi-do/Eagle Fang alliance at around the same time that Robby joins Cobra Kai and becomes Kreese's new top student. In fact, Kreese allowing Robby and Kyler to join was one of the factors that contributed to Hawk's decision.
  • Fake Shemp: Whenever a flashback that wasn't filmed for the movies shows one of the adult characters, they are always filmed from behind or below the neck. The exception is Johnny's mom because she was never seen before the series began, while his stepfather was filmed with an obscured Body Double, and Ed Asner providing his lines (as it would be difficult for him to look like he was in his forties).
    • Averted for the 1984 All-Valley tournament, as during the original shoot, John G. Avildsen shot hours of tournament footage from multiple angles. The Cobra Kai production team incorporated a lot of this footage into the show via flashbacks. One of them includes William Zabka's mother, who was in the stands in different angles that went unseen until 2018, and there are at least three new angles of Daniel giving Johnny the Crane Kick from the same take that was used in the finished Karate Kid.
  • Fatal Flaws: As of the second season, these become key plot points for each of the core characters; see the respective character sheets of the Cobra Kai and Miyagi-do sensei and students for more.
  • Fighting Back Is Wrong: The first students of the reactivated titular dojo are all bullied kids looking for a method to defend themselves, and Johnny wants them to develop inner strength and not have it become a Thug Dojo like it happened when he was a student and Kreese was the sensei... but because the only way Johnny knows how to teach is based on Kreese's methods, most (if not all) of his students become raging bullies anyway who "fight back" against their own bullies in a severely escalated fashion. Overall, the show's stance leans towards "fighting back is okay if it is in self-defense, you have exhausted every other alternative solution to your problem, and you stop once the threat has ended".
  • Final Battle: Being a martial-arts tv show, each season ends with this.
    • Season 1: The All-Valley tournament, particularly the final matchup between Cobra Kai's Miguel Diaz (coached by Johnny Lawrence) and Miyagi-Do's Robby Keene (coached by Daniel LaRusso). While Miguel does win the fight for Cobra Kai, this is actually a Downer Ending, as Miguel completely succumbs to his vicious tendencies, much to Johnny's dismay.
    • Season 2: The massive West Valley High School brawl between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do. While Miyagi-Do does technically win the battle (given that their core fighters beat their Cobra Kai counterparts), this also concludes with a massive Downer Ending, on both sides, as Sam and Miguel end up in the hospital (the latter on death's door), Robby is on the run from the law, Daniel's and Johnny's PR plummets (the former having to shut down Miyagi-Do), and Kreese completely taking over Cobra Kai and turning it into the Thug Dojo that he always envisioned.
    • Season 3: The LaRusso house fight pitting Daniel's Miyagi-Do and Johnny's Eagle Fang against Kreese's Cobra Kai, followed by Daniel and Johnny themselves taking on Kreese (and a fully-corrupted Robby Keene) at the Cobra Kai dojo. The latter fight is also mixed with a flashback of Kreese's battle against Captain Turner.
  • For Want of a Nail: The entire premise of the show depends on the absence of Mr. Miyagi. If he’d been present, it’s extremely likely he would have been able to prevent the reigniting of Daniel and Johnny’s rivalry and all the consequences of this.
  • Foreign Culture Fetish: Daniel has a large appreciation and closeness to Japanese culture, which seems to stem both from his closeness to Mr. Miyagi and the latter's death.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • When Kyler gets handsy and tries to grope Sam in a darkened movie theater, Sam crisply and effortlessly breaks his grip and punches him hard enough to knock him back into his chair. This is the first sign she's Still Got It after learning karate from her dad as a child. She later proves it on her date with Miguel by performing a flawless leg throw takedown, and then throughout Season 2.
    • Demetri wears a fair amount of blue-based clothing during season 1, foreshadowing his eventual joining Miyagi-Do.
    • In Season 1 Episode 7, a family dinner shows that Daniel's cousin Louie is making business pitches to other people using the LaRusso name, which Daniel doesn't appreciate and tells him not to drag his name into these things. In the next episode, Louie later brings some biker friends to trash Johnny's car late at night (because of Johnny earlier vandalizing the LaRusso billboard), talking as though he was acting under Daniel's order. This only incites Johnny to confront Daniel directly as his home, despite Daniel having no knowledge of what Louie was doing.
    • Demetri reveals that he’s considering rejoining Cobra Kai, because while he doesn’t like the idea of getting hit in the face, he does like the “strength in numbers mentality of joining a gang.” By the end of Season 2, the conflict between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do has essentially escalated into an all-out gang war.
    • In Season 2, Kreese tells the students that a move relies on making the enemy think you're retreating, "and that's when you strike the hardest" - right after Johnny finds out he's homeless and officially makes him a co-sensei.
    • During the Coyote Creek exercise in "Lull", Hawk kicks Miguel into a tree, with the latter hitting it back-first. However, he can still stand and fight back. Three episodes later, Robby kicks Miguel off a school balcony, whose back smashes onto a metal railing. This renders Miguel comatose and leaves him with spinal injuries.
    • Demetri gives eyes to Yasmine in the first episodes and tries to talk her up at a party in the first season. After their respective ordeals they start dating in Season 3.
    • In "Now You're Gonna Pay", when Johnny arrives at Sid's house to ask him money to pay for Miguel's surgery, the camera is totally focused on the sculpture he steals (to sell and get the money) after Sid kicks him out.
    • At the start of the school fight, when Sam and Tory are circling each other before the punches begin flying, Robby ends up on the side behind Tory, and Hawk ends up on the side behind Sam. By the end of season 3, Robby and Tory are on the same side as Robby joins Cobra Kai, and Hawk and Sam are now on the same side due to Hawk joining the Eagle Fang / Miyagi-Do alliance.
  • Formally Named Pet: On her first date with Miguel, Sam wins a stuffed octopus while playing Ice Ball, and names him "Señor Octopus". She makes the octopus their relationship mascot, even bringing an octopus-themed card when she visits Miguel in the hospital.
  • Four-Philosophy Ensemble: LaRusso Auto Group has Daniel (Optimist), Amanda (Realist), Louie (Cynic), Anoush (Apathetic) and Robby (Conflicted).
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble:
    • In "Take a Right," the scene where sanguine Johnny and his buddies (choleric Bobby, melancholic Jimmy, and phlegmatic Tommy) are unwinding at a bar with some beer gives off this vibe.
    • LaRusso Auto Group has Daniel (sanguine, the charismatic face of the company), Amanda (melancholic, driven and focused in her work), Louie (choleric, a rude and obnoxious prankster) and Anoush (phlegmatic, quieter than Louie but still fun-loving and friendly).
    • Miguel's friend group in Season 1 has Miguel (sanguine, a confident Nice Guy who knows how to stand up for himself), Hawk (choleric, a brash and arrogant Berserker), Demetri (melancholic, a cynical, sarcastic, introverted nerd) and Aisha (phlegmatic, quiet and reserved but empathetic to Miguel's emotional problems).
  • Freudian Trio:
    • The "nerd trio", Miguel, Hawk and Demetri. Hawk is the Id, having a cocky attitude, poor impulse control and always acting on his emotions. Demetri is the Superego, a nerdy intellectual who acts based on logic and has very little emotional intelligence. Miguel is the Ego, being more socially adept than Demetri and more rational than Hawk.
    • The three main female karate students, Sam, Tory and Aisha. Tory is the Id, a Hard-Drinking Party Girl who has no qualms stealing from the beach club and reacts violently to any perceived slights. Sam is the Ego, a Nice Girl with a rigid sense of right and wrong and a tempermental streak. Aisha is the Superego, a calm and reserved Book Smart nerd.
    • In Season 3, the three dojos' philosophies line up with this. Kreese's Cobra Kai is the Id, focused on strength and dominance without mercy and having a "take what's yours" attitude to the world. Daniel's Miyagi-Do is the Superego, focused on inner peace, balance and respect. Johnny's Eagle Fang is the Ego, having an aggressive fighting style balanced with a strong sense of honor.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Miguel and Eli are both downtrodden losers at the beginning of the series. Miguel turns into the toughest kid in school, and dabbles with bullying, while Hawk graduates to becoming an outright psychopath.
  • 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, Homeless Lynn 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. At the end of Season 1, Miguel and his fellow Cobra Kai students have become a gang of their own. Not to be outdone, the end of Season 2 has Daniel's Miyagi-Do students fully willing to engage in a Mob War with their Cobra Kai rivals.
  • Gaslighting: Kreese is the patron saint of this. It's not his ability in a fight or his willingness to cross lines that makes him dangerous. It's this. He will find your weakness and exploit it for all it's worth, while laying on just enough truth and charm to keep the pace in his favor.
  • Gendered Insult: Thanks to Johnny's influence, Cobra Kai's students have no problem using the word "pussy", or anything that involves addressing males with terminology that refer to the opposite sex.
  • 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. And it doesn't end there.
  • The Ghost:
    • 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. Johnny even makes an attempt to reconnect with her. At the end of Season 2, she sends a friend request on Facebook, and finally makes a reappearance in Season 3 after a Facebook correspondence with Johnny.
    • Terry Silver gets some appearances in archive footage and is mentioned a few times in the first two seasons. Then in season 3, we see him in flashbacks to Kreese's time in Vietnam, and in season 4, he shows up in person.
  • Give Geeks a Chance: In season 1, the "nerd" clique of Miguel, Demetri and Hawk, have the hots for the hot rich girls clique of Sam, Yasmine, and Moon respectively. By the end of season 3, Miguel is dating Sam and Demetri is dating Yasmine. Hawk briefly dates Moon after the All-Valley but she breaks up with him midway through season 2 for being a bully, and Demetri relishes taunting Hawk over his loss.
  • 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, John Kreese himself shows up at the end to congratulate Johnny on Cobra Kai's revival.
  • Glory Days:
    • Johnny is still wistful for the days when he was the toughest kid in town and the big man on campus. His life in adulthood has been a string of failures.
    • 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), still viewing his victory as All-Valley Champion with the same gravitas of having won a world title. He built his career on his identity as the Karate Guy, has his trophies prominently displayed at home, and likes to show off that he still has the skills that made him two-time All Valley Champion.
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Downplays the Western convention. In tournament, the Miyagi-Do fighters wear white gis, while the Cobra Kai fighters wear black gis. In the dojos, both sides wear white gis.
  • 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 Ladies Like Purple: Sam's wardrobe has a fair number of purple/maroon/red and blue patterned clothes. These highlight how Sam is part of the bridge between those dojos along with Miguel. She wears those colors whenever things are happening between her and Miguel, blue being the color of Miyagi-Do and red being the color of Cobra Kai/Eagle Fang. Their relationship is literally the glue between the dojos, and so her wardrobe colors are the mixture of these two colors.
  • 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, 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.
    • Comes back in Season 2, with Johnny trying to become an Internal Reformist and fix his mistakes that led to the new Cobra Kai again becoming a Thug Dojo. Miguel takes his lessons to heart, and both he and Johnny start acting as better men. Meanwhile, Daniel's well-intentioned resurrection of the Miyagi-Do Dojo is largely benevolent... but tainted by his It's Personal issues with Cobra Kai being reflected by his students. This results in a Rival Dojos situation where, while Cobra Kai is the primary provocateur, Miyagi-Do is heightening the tensions between the two, thanks to innocent misunderstandings, Alcohol-Induced Stupidity, and some messy Love Triangle shenanigans. This culminates in a massive school brawl between the two groups of students, with the biggest casualty being Miguel, who while demonstrating he Took a Level in Kindness from Johnny's reform attempts offered Robby mercy, only for an enraged Robby to accidentally kick him over a stairwell and into a 10-foot drop onto a metal railing with his back, possibly crippling him.
    • Season 3 is closer to being The Good, the Bad, and the Evil, with Cobra Kai now firmly under John Kreese's control, who undoes everything Johnny attempted to do, openly promotes the Bully Brutality behavior of his students, and expels anyone he considers too weak to be a part of his Thug Dojo. Daniel is still building up Miyagi-Do with several new students while Johnny tries to atone for his mistakes by quitting karate altogether before Miguel convinces him to starts his own, third Dojo that Johnny intends to be tougher than Daniel's without reaching the excesses of Kreese's. By the end of the season, Johnny and Daniel have properly made up and joined forces against Kreese, who has recruited Robby to his side. Although interestingly, there's still shades of graying morality by revealing Kreese to be a much more complex character, and while in no way justifying his actions, shows that he is motivated by a genuinely horrifying Freudian Excuse that easily trumps Johnny's shitty childhood.
  • Groin Attack: A rare girl-on-girl example: Aisha introduces Yasmine to Melvin.
  • Hands-On Approach:
    • In Season 1, Miguel tries to show off his karate skills on his date with Sam, which she cutely calls him out on, then does a flawless leg throw takedown on him. Once he's on the ground, of course, the date still reaches the conclusion he was hoping for.
    • In Season 3, Sam teaches Miguel the drum technique after he notices the hand-drum. He then counters by performing a takedown on her. Then she pulls him in for a kiss, and they lock lips before Daniel walks in and catches them.
  • Happy Ending Override: The original movie ended on a note implying that Johnny and Daniel managed to reconcile their differences, with Johnny being the one to hand Daniel the trophy after he lost. This series showed that the two never truly made peace with one another, with underlying resentment still being present over the past 34 years.
  • Hard Truth Aesop: Although anyone theoretically can redeem themselves for their past behavior, but they have to want to redeem themselves for it to stick. Johnny, for all his faults and baggage, sincerely tries to improve his life and make a positive impact on his students, making him much more sympathetic than in the original Karate Kid. However, Kreese, no matter how traumatic his backstory or how difficult his life since, appears not to learn from his past mistakes and remains as destructive and unpleasant now as he was three decades ago. Johnny means well when he decides to give Kreese a second chance, but this ultimately turns out to be a terrible mistake, as Kreese takes advantage of his goodwill to steal his dojo.
  • Healing Hands: Amusingly subverted through a Bait-and-Switch gag. When Robby's shoulder is injured by Hawk, 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.
  • Heel–Face Revolving Door: Happens more than once, with the theme of impressionable kids being caught between opposing philosophies.
    • Robby starts out as an aimless, thieving juvenile delinquent, until Danny takes him under his wing and teaches him Miyagi-do. He starts to genuinely change, becomes committed to Daniel and his philosophy, but then comes the big school fight, resulting in him nearly killing Miguel and ending up in jail. The personal and emotional fallout of all that results in him falling under Kreese's sway, and rejecting both Daniel and his father.
    • Miguel, by contrast, starts out as an entirely sweet, kind and caring kid who's just trying to escape being bullied. His experiences with Cobra Kai make him more aggressive, belligerent and violent. But his relationship with Johnny pulls him back from the worst excesses, and he pulls back from his angrier persona.
    • Kreese reintroduces himself into Johnny's life as the same smug, domineering jerk he always was, but Johnny soon figures out that he's actually a sad, broken down old man, much like Johnny was on the road to becoming, and decides to give him a second chance. Kreese backs him up for several episodes, but soon proves that he's still much the same as he used to be.
    • Hawk is a more dramatic example, starting out bullied, frighted and meek, he fully embraces the Cobra Kai lifestyle to the point of becoming one of the worst and most aggressive bullies, and one of Kreese's most devoted followers. At the end of Season 3, Kreese's actions finally go too far, and he switches sides to fight with his former friends.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • When Moon 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. She later proves that she's genuinely changed when she breaks up with Hawk after he attacks Demetri.
      • Slightly downplayed with Yasmine. While she still has a bitchy attitude throughout Season 3, she's far less malicious compared to her pre-wedgie personality, distancing herself from Kyler and actually able to empathize with Demetri when the latter is picked on.
    • In Season 3 Hawk finally sees what Kreese is making him do and thanks to some earlier prodding by both Johnny and Miguel, rejoins the protagonists.
    • Also Chozen had an off-screen one. He was able to salvage his relationship with Sato and find peace with himself to the point that he was willing to teach Daniel new Miyagi-Do techniques that Mr. Miyagi was unwilling to teach him.
  • Heel Realization:
    • Miguel seems to realize how the philosophy of Cobra Kai has wrecked his relationship with Sam, and was distraught when he tried to find her after the tournament only to learn that she was long gone.
    • Johnny gets his own Heel Realization in turn. As the tournament progresses, he becomes more and more concerned about the growing ruthlessness and unsportsmanlike behavior from his students. When Miguel defeats Robby by exploiting an injury, winning the tournament for Cobra Kai, Johnny is nowhere near as happy as he was when he got the Cobra Kai unbanned from the tournament in the first place. Kreese's sudden return where he congratulates Johnny certainly won't help him or Miguel.
    • Season 2 has Johnny trying to teach the kids this lesson, but is ultimately thwarted by Kreese.
    • Several Cobra Kai, most notably Chris, realize this after Hawk takes things too far and trashes the Miyagi-Do dojo and steals Miyagi's medal of honor. They leave the class and join Miyagi-Do.
    • Season 3 we see this in real-time with Hawk. After Kyler is laying more of a beating nearby on Miguel, he starts looking around at the carnage. His former friends are getting the absolute shit kicked out of them by guys he never tolerated before, and outright hated in some cases. He sees Demetri getting put in the same armbar he himself used earlier to break his arm and with that, plus the words of Johnny and Miguel fresh on his mind, finally sees what he has become.
  • 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 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 bullies 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.
    • The end of the second season has both Johnny and Daniel suffering from this after the brutal injury that Miguel received at the hands of Robby. They just stand next to each other in the elevator, not even having enough energy to accuse or snipe at each other.
  • 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.
    • Following a visit to Mr. Miyagi's grave, Daniel cleans out the dojo, and is back in his karate gi and head band performing familiar katas, complete with Theme Music Power-Up (specifically the victory music when he won the tournament).
    • 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.
    • After the events of the first season finale, Sam goes into the family dojo by herself and, remembering the time she spent with her dad, does a kick flip with renewed excitement, showing she is interested in returning to her karate training.
  • 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.
    • Daniel is intensely upset with the restoration of Cobra Kai, only seeing that name associated with the bullies who tormented him. He pulls some business contacts to get the rent raised at the strip mall where Cobra Kai has set up, hoping to drive them out of business with the inflation. He proudly tells this to Amanda, who chastises him over such petty, immature and immoral behavior and not thinking of the people beyond Johnny he was hurting.
      • In the Season 3 finale, Daniel fights Kreese, who was shown to be a murdering psychopath, due to him sending the Cobra Kais after his daughter, his Miyagi-Do students, Miguel and his Eagle Fang Karate friends, at his home. Daniel uses his newly obtained skills from Chozen, and when he does, the look on Daniel's face, the approving nod from Johnny, and the music conveys a sense that he's was about to straight up murder Kreese, making him just like Kreese. However, Sam and Miguel arriving brings Daniel back from crossing that line.
  • History Repeats:
  • Hollywood Restraining Order:
    • Stingray's written out of the show in season 3, having gotten a restraining order forbidding him from going within 500 feet of minors after he assaulted several Miyagi-Dos during the school brawl.
    • Kreese takes out a restraining order against Amanda in season 3 after she slaps him.
  • Honor Before Reason: Robby and Miguel are on both sides of this trope, but in different seasons. At the tournament, Robby chose to continue fighting with a dislocated shoulder, which Miguel exploits. At the school brawl the following season, Miguel chooses to help Robby up and ends up being kicked over the top floor railing.
  • Hopeless with Tech: Johnny's knowledge of technology appears to have not progressed past the 1980s. He's got no idea how to use a computer and has minimal knowledge of the internet.
  • Hope Spot:
    • The ninth episode of season 1 looked like both Johnny and Daniel were going to reconcile, only to discover Robby.
    • Season 2, ninth episode has them reconciling again, agreeing that they don't have to be friends, but they can stop being enemies. Then Daniel finds Robby and Sam sleeping off her inebriation at Johnny's.
    • In the Season 2 finale, Robby and Johnny are finally on good terms for the first time in the entire series, and Johnny was trying to be a dad to Robby for the first time in years and then....well....we all know what happened.
    • In the season 3 finale, Ali chats up both of them, and talking them to reconciliation. They may not like each other, but are willing to make an alliance of convenience against Kreese.
  • Horrible Judge of Character:
    • Sam has a poor track record at the start of the series. Her closest friends are the worst kind of mean girls. Of the three guys she's attracted to, Kyler is an insufferable bully who torments kids half his size and only is interested in getting into her pants. Miguel transforms into a complete Jerkass but it takes him trying to start a fight with Robby to fully realize it. She seems to get somewhere with Robby, but he betrays her trust by withholding from her crucial information that would change her opinion of Miguel, and then later he cripples Miguel in the school brawl. Then she goes back to Miguel, with more long-term success now that Miguel has ridded himself of the worser Cobra Kai traits.
    • Miguel falls into this a bit over season 2, not noticing Hawk turning into a bully under Kreese's teachings, or how deep Tory's petty grudge against Sam goes, until it's too late.
    • Johnny is all too inclined to give Kreese a second chance, despite warnings from Daniel (who got tricked into training with Terry Silver as part of Silver's scheme to get revenge for Kreese) and from Johnny's old Cobra Kai friends (who had stable home lives, meaning they weren't as dependent on Kreese as Johnny was) not to trust him.
  • Hourglass Plot:
    • Basically the beginning of Cobra Kai. In the original ''Karate Kid'' film, Daniel starts out living in the lower-income Reseda apartments with a working class single mother, whereas Johnny is seemingly living the life as a rich kid (with both of his parents) in the Encino Hills. Fast forward to Cobra Kai, and Johnny is now living as a single, lower-class estranged parent in the Reseda apartments, whereas Daniel is now a happily married man living in the Encino Hills, who also happens to own a car company.
    • At the start of season 1, 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. Then in Season 3, it comes full circle, for Robby now hates Miguel for stealing Sam from him while Robby was doing time in juvie, and Miguel hates Robby for paralyzing him and the burden that put on his family.
    • At the start of season 1, Kyler is a bully that Hawk and Miguel have to quietly avoid out of fear. By the end of the season, Miguel and Hawk are the bullies and Kyler leaves the party rather than attract their notice. When Kyler returns in season 3, he is the one who is afraid of Hawk after Hawk intimidates him by beating Brucks to a bloody pulp during Kreese's tryouts.
    • A brutal but very well executed and nuanced one occurs in Season 2 in relation to Season 1, cementing the show's Graying Morality ethos: this time, it's Daniel who inadvertently passes on his flaws to his students, with Robby injuring Miguel by being too ruthless and wrathful towards his rival, who Took a Level in Kindness that Robby exploited, all caused by Sam partaking in Alcohol-Induced Stupidity which aggravates a Love Triangle, resulting in Johnny again being reduced to a jobless, broken man without a dojo, in a reversal of his Season 1 arc.
    • In Season 3 Episode 8, much like Season 1 Episode 9, a jealous boyfriend sees Sam flirting with another boy, takes a swing at the other boy, only for Sam to be caught in the middle. This time around, though, Sam is not as innocent as she was in the season 1 instance, since she did cheat on Robby with Miguel at Moon's party before this (as opposed to Miguel who only jumped to conclusions when he saw Robby having dinner with the LaRussos). And instead of being mistakenly hit by Miguel when he's aiming for Robby, Sam intentionally puts herself between the two and shoves Robby away as he tries to punch Miguel.
  • 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.
  • Hypocritical Humor: When Aisha tries to join Cobra Kai, Johnny initially refuses her because girls are too emotional and interrupt you when you're speaking. She tries to retort-"QUIET!"

     I to R 
  • Idiot Ball:
    • Since Johnny tends to not think things through and prefers to settle things with his fists, he tends to not realize he has a legitimate legal beef with the LaRussos. Whether or not Daniel's gripe with him is valid or not doesn't change that Daniel tends to be the aggressor while Johnny tends to be more reactive. It was Daniel who went into Johnny's dojo and started making vague threats, it was Daniel's cousin Louie who torched Johnny's car as payback for disrespecting their family with the billboard graffiti, and it was Daniel who kicked in the door to Johnny's home and assaulted him. Particularly with the auto incident: had Johnny sat on Louie after catching him red-handed committing arson, called the police, and pressed criminal charges against him, the financial, legal, and even PR burden it would have put on LaRusso Auto would have quite effectively ended their feud for good in his favor, if not outright ruined their entire business by making the LaRussos look like rich mafiosos who sic hired goons on their enemies. Amanda even implies as much when she pressures Daniel into giving Johnny a new car to make things right. Heck, even the very fact Daniel teaches his Miyagi-Do classes for free in order to attract (potential and actual) students away from Cobra Kai is predatory pricingnote  and is highly illegal under antitrust law.
    • Amanda's plan to go to the police about Kreese about the arcade fight might have been more successful if she had gone straight to the police, and not first taken a completely unnecessary trip to his dojo to tell him what she was doing, giving him ample opportunity to beat her to the punch along with evidence to set himself up as the victim. More importantly, she's well aware at this point that Kreese is a dangerous psychopath yet still chooses to confront him alone knowing full well that if he had decided to harm her there wouldn't have been a thing she could do to stop him. Furthermore, throughout all of her arguments as to why Kreese should not be trusted, she always fails to mention the very important fact that her daughter and her friends are getting violently beaten on a constant basis, one of Kreese's students who hurt Sam in the school brawl, and another one broke Demetri's arm.
  • I Have No Son!:
    • Johnny's stepdad, Sid Weinberg, 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 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.
    • Done spiritually when Daniel finds out that Robby was Johnny's son and knew full well their longstanding feud. Daniel cuts him off entirely for the bald-faced deception, but immediately has a change of heart when Robby enters the tournament as an unaffiliated fighter, and then gets injured right before the finals.
  • 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 while Robby had some interest in Sam, he was respectful of their relationship while Miguel saw him as a rival because he was friends with the family. He was only at the party with Sam because he was helping her escape from being grounded so she could tell Miguel about this.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • In the lunchroom fight, Miguel shoves a chair in the path of one opponent and uses a lunch tray as both a weapon and a shield.
    • In the school brawl the following season, Chris uses a textbook to finish off Mitch, while Tory uses her spiked bracelet as brass knuckles on Sam.
    • When Robby prepares to fight his old group of thieves on the beach, his replacement in the old gang, Derek, ambushes him with an oar.
    • True to the way of Miyagi-Do, Daniel uses rod fishing as improvised quarterstaff training for Sam.
  • Informed Poverty: Johnny lives in a crappy apartment with a laundry list of problems that probably means it isn't up to residency code. He only manages to open Cobra Kai with a "severance" check from his rich stepfather, and only gets that up to code by exploiting Miguel for free labor and subletting to a yoga instructor for a period. Eventually, the dojo does turn a windfall (by the end of season 2, Johnny has to teach two classes), but then Johnny loses the dojo to Kreese at the end of season 2, and is apparently without any form of income for most of Season 3, eventually regaining only Miguel, Mitch, Bert, and about four other students for Eagle Fang. Yet he seems to have no trouble continuing to pay rent and his bills, buying new suits, going on expensive dates and constantly putting away packs of beer and bottles of liquor. (Maybe that expensive sculpture of Sid's that he pawned to raise money for Miguel's surgery was worth a lot?)
  • 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. In Season 3, Miguel and Sam use this very argument to save the karate tournament. Bullying cannot be stopped so you might as well give these teens a place to compete fairly and safely and the concentration on the All-Valley generally has the physical bullying grind to a halt for a few months.
  • Innocently Insensitive:
    • Daniel asking his daughter's Asian boyfriend Kyler where his parents are from, right after mentioning Mr. Miyagi was from Okinawa. They're actually from Irvine ("I think"). Although it is possible that despite Kyler being of East Asian descent, doesn't know what sashimi is, so Daniel is curious where his parents originated from.
    • Johnny can't help himself but comment on Eli's cleft palate scar and recommends that he get it fixed as soon as possible. When he learns that this is what it looks like after it got fixed, he recommends that Eli sue the doctor, not realizing that he's leaning directly into Eli's insecurities. Prior to that, he tells Eli to "get off the autism spectrum pronto" when the latter reveals that to him. However, Johnny soon starts bullying Eli intentionally as a means of toughening him up.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Johnny's strong bond with Miguel mirrors Mr. Miyagi's with Daniel. Daniel attempts this with Robby with brief success (before the latter joins Cobra Kai).
  • Intergenerational Rivalry: Kreese (a man in his 70s) is this to both Johnny and Daniel (both men in their 50s). To the former, he was Johnny's Evil Mentor and Broken Pedestal; to the latter, he was Daniel's Big Bad (being the one who mentored Johnny himself as The Bully to Daniel and sought help from Terry Silver as a means for revenge). Season 4 adds Silver himself to the mix, being Daniel's Evil Mentor during the events of The Karate Kid Part III.
  • 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 vulnerable youth who found an escape from his distant stepdad through the mentorship (even if it was wrong) of 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.
  • The Internet Is for Porn: Johnny has next to no knowledge about computers, having to spend a lot of time just trying to turn his first one on and set up the internet. Once he does go online, the first thing he checks out is "Hot Babes" and "Wet T-shirt."
  • 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. He echoes, "What's the matter? Having trouble breathing?"
  • Irony: In the Season 2 finale, Robby tells Johnny before the school brawl that he and Daniel really have a lot to learn from each other, which points to an indication of wanting them to team up in some form. By the Season 3 finale they realize he was right and they do indeed team up to take down Kreese once and for all, with Sam and Miguel further helping this out by helping their dojos' students bury the hatchet as well. However, by this point Robby himself, who made the suggestion in the first place, has turned against both Daniel and Johnny and sided with Kreese against them.
  • Jaded Washout: Played with. Johnny is a divorced handyman and binge drinker who lives alone, but still has excellent martial arts skills, as some bullies find out the hard way. Later he finds his calling by being The Obi-Wan to bullied kids.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • When Daniel accuses Johnny of beating up "a bunch of teenagers," Johnny correctly asserts that he was only defending Miguel from being assaulted by Kyler's gang. He has another good point when he further states that Daniel doesn't know his daughter as well as he thinks. Later, Johnny has a point again when he shows up, pissed off, at Daniel's residence because Louie's attempt to torch his car was not just an attack on him, but endangered his entire neighborhood. There's also the plot point of Johnny teaching bullied schoolkids how to defend themselves after the school system has proven totally useless.
    • Not a complete Jerkass, but Danny's antipathy toward Cobra Kai is clearly more intense than is justified, and he's quick to make negative assumptions about Johnny. Still, his insistence than the Cobra Kai philosophy was leading Miguel and the other kids down a dark path turns out to be right on the money. By the end of Season 3, Johnny, Miguel, and nearly every one of Johnny's original students realizes that Daniel was right and they team up with him and his Miyagi-do students to take down John Kreese and Cobra Kai once and for all.
    • 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-overs, and he did give up on day one. Johnny himself is also right in his criticism of Shannon as a mother.
    • Johnny is quick to draw attention to Eli's for his cleft palate scar, and scoffs at the idea that he should be more sensitive about it. He tells Eli that the world isn't going to dance around his appearance, and it's up to him to change the narrative. It's a harsh lesson, but when Eli flips the script, restyles his hair in a mohawk and adapts a new persona, it's completely successful changing how he's perceived.
    • In Season 3, when Kreese visits Robby in Juvie he points out that sometimes you're going to have to strike first in the real world. It's a dangerous lesson, and Kreese is starting to manipulate Robby with the intention of getting him to join Cobra Kai, but in those particular circumstances, striking first allows Robby to get the upper hand over the bullies who'd been tormenting him, and earn their respect in the process. Which has the benefit of Kreese gaining Robby's trust.
  • Karma Houdini:
    • In a series where the plot is often driven by reality ensuing from impulsive decisions, the utter lack of consequences from Daniel kicking a drink out of Tom Cole's hand in a momentary fit of anger and Johnny stealing a sculpture from Sid's house to raise money for Miguel's surgery are particularly notable oversights.
    • As of the end of Season 3, Hawk is fully this, as despite his various actions, he's forgiven after a simple apology.
  • Karma Houdini Warranty:
    • Trey and Cruz escaped any consequences for their criminal behavior in Season 1, as they walked away shaken but relatively unhurt from their fight with Robby and were never arrested. In Season 2, they are on the receiving end of a Curb-Stomp Battle from Daniel when they're caught snatching wallets from a beach club, while Season 3 confirms they wound up in prison shortly afterwards, where Cruz gets a few more smacks from Johnny.
    • After stealing Johnny's dojo, corrupting his students, denying any responsibility for the school brawl and painting himself as a Villain with Good Publicity for most of Season 3, Kreese finally gets some measure of comeuppance in the Season 3 finale when Daniel and Johnny both kick his ass and Daniel uses Chozen's Pressure Point technique to briefly make him have traumatic flashbacks to when Miyagi held him in this position.
  • 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 does this literally, jump-kicking Kyler to open their fight in the first episode. Reality Ensues, of course, when Johnny suffers pain for failing to warm up first.
    • Let's be clear, while Kreese is not exactly a saint, good luck finding anyone that wasn't cheering when he threatened finger amputation on Tory's landlord who was essentially trying to coerce her into selling her body to him so she can avoid eviction (reminder that she's a minor as well). While he was doing it for the real purpose of gaining Tory's unconditional and absolute loyalty, it was still very cathartic to see.
  • 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 laughingstocks 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, Aisha giving Yasmine a front wedgie and making it go viral, then being unable to take her loss at the tournament with dignity; Miguel and Hawk taking cheap shots at Robby, etc.)
      • Hawk is easily the worst of them all, going as far as to attempt to beat Demetri up over a Yelp review, vandalize the Miyagi-Do dojo (and steal Mr. Miyagi's Medal of Honor in the process), and more (prior to his defection from Cobra Kai).
      • Tory comes in as one of the most vicious of her generation, with her defining moments being starting the school fight and lacerating Sam's flesh, peer pressuring Hawk to break Demetri's arm, and leading the assault at the LaRusso house. It's no surprise she becomes Cobra Kai's top student (alongside Robby) under Kreese's regime.
      • Speaking of Kreese's Cobra Kai, they've pretty much reached new lows as outright criminals at this point. Examples include a series of antics at Golf n' Stuff (including messing with Chris during his shift) to bait Miyagi-Do into a fight, as well as the LaRusso house fight.
  • Killed Offscreen:
    • Mr. Miyagi, of course. Daniel carrying on his legacy is a recurring theme throughout the series. Episode 5 even marks as a tribute to Pat Morita (who passed away in 2005).
    • Sato and Yukie from The Karate Kid Part II are established to have died in the interim (much like their actors) between that movie and Daniel's return to Okinawa in Season 3.
  • Kitschy Local Commercial:
    • The TV ads for the LaRusso Auto Group feature Daniel doing some painfully cheesy martial arts moves, terrible special effects as one would expect from a late night TV ad, and caps the whole thing off by reminding the audience that all clients gets a free bonsai tree with a purchase.
    • Daniel's business rival, Tom Cole, counters with has his own narmtastic "Yankee Doodle" commercial (with a Revolutionary War theme, an Incredibly Lame Pun, and the promise of a free drought-resistant cactus).
  • La Résistance: In season 3, Johnny opens a new dojo, Eagle Fang. For all intents and purposes, it's a splinter group since its ranks are made of kids that Kreese weeded out of Cobra Kai (Bert, Mitch), ones who were disillusioned by Kreese's teachings (Hawk), or stayed loyal to Johnny (Miguel). They eventually ally themselves with Miyagi-Do.
  • Last-Name Basis: This happens regularly to Daniel and Sam, respectively thanks to Johnny and Tory.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Daniel states that karate saved him from bullying during the PTA meeting in Season 3, Episode 1, only for somebody to yell out, "Bullshit! I heard you were the real bully!"
  • Letter Motif: The series expands the one from the original film — the 1984 Cobra Kais were Johnny, Bobby, Jimmy, Tommy, and Dutch. To set them apart, Ali was "Ali with an I" and Daniel, who could have easily been "Danny", never once was.
    • Miguel is named with the same pattern as Daniel to mark him as the new Karate Kid and although it would seem to be a subversion for Cobra Kai, Carmen also calls him "Miggy".
    • Likewise Robby is Daniel's student but still Johnny's son.
    • And "Tory-with-a-Y" fits in Cobra Kai to a T.
  • Like Father, Like Son: Robby is just like his father Johnny when he was his age: a Delinquent with an aloof dad who would later take up karate under John Kreese. The big divergence comes from Robby having first trained with Daniel before he's trained by Kreese.
  • Like a Son to Me:
    • Miguel and Johnny's relationship develops with this dynamic. Johnny is reluctant to admit he's using his relationship with Miguel as a means of having the father-son relationship he couldn't have with Robby.
    • Robby, Johnny's biological son, and Daniel develop this kind of relationship.
    • Kreese views Johnny as a surrogate son figure to him, and extends these same feelings to Robby when he gets Robby to join Cobra Kai.
  • Love at First Sight: The "nerd" group of season 1 are all smitten with the "rich girls" clique when they first catch a glimpse of them at the cafeteria: Sam for Miguel, Yasmine for Demetri, and Moon for Eli. By the end of season 3, Sam and Miguel, and Yasmine and Demetri, are in relationships. Hawk has a brief relationship with Moon in season 2 that ends after she dumps him for turning into a bully.
  • Love Freak: In Season 1, Xander Stone, the reigning All-Valley karate champion, strays into this trope, to the point where the viewer is cheering when Johnny tells Miguel to pulverize him. It doesn't help his case that he's merely being announced, and instead snatches the mic away from the announcer to give a tedious speech about acceptance and call for a slacktivists' moment of silence.
  • Lovable Alpha Bitch: Yasmine loosens up into one by Season 3 in light of her humiliation and the karatekas gaining so much social standing. She disapproves of Hawk ruining Demetri's science project, shows disgust when Kyler publicly humiliates Demetri by doodling a penis on his cast (which she corrects through writing an innuendo-laden compliment over it), and gets a relationship with Demetri in the process.
  • Love Triangle: The Miguel/Sam/Robby triangle is a repeat of the Daniel/Ali/Johnny triangle. It gets more complicated when Miguel dates with Tory creating a love square because Miguel and Sam still have feelings for each other. So Sam/Miguel/Tory as a lesser extent. Arguably, when the triangle was Miguel/Sam/Kyler in Season 1, it was also a repeat of the Daniel/Ali/Johnny triangle given their social statuses.
  • Malicious Misnaming: In "Different But Same", Johnny says "Relax, Danielle" after Daniel asks him to slow down while test driving a car. This is also a Call-Back to the first movie, when Dutch mockingly addressed Daniel as "Danielle" right before the tournament.
  • 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. When Miguel is critically injured following the big brawl at the end of Season 2, Carmen lashes out at Johnny at the hospital and ends their burgeoning relationship.
    • Amanda is much the same way. She initially writes off the bullying and karate as kids doing kid stuff, but after the school brawl and the injuries inflicted on Sam by Tory, she certainly supports Tory getting expelled...and once the dust settles, is not content with Tory getting a slap on the wrist, and pissed that Sam got suspended for defending herself. After a follow-up brawl in which Demetri's arm gets broken and Sam breaks down in tears, she goes marching into Cobra Kai to give Kreese a piece of her mind and slaps him, enough so to give him a justification to get a restraining order against her by describing the confrontation with exact words.
  • Manchild: Stingray, after seeing a Cobra Kai demonstration, joins the group despite being several years older than the rest of the students. He attempts to become a security guard at their high school, despite having no training or experience other than his limited karate training. For this he gets put on probation and can't go near children.
  • Married to the Job: Daniel becomes so passionate about teaching Miyagi-do that he puts aside his duties at the dealership, to the point of harming his relationship with Amanda and being Exiled to the Couch.
  • Martial Pacifist: Daniel tries to live up to the standard set by Mr. Miyagi in trying to take the peaceful route, but admits he always had trouble being a hothead. While he demonstrates that he still has his karate skills and there are a few close calls, he doesn't get into a legimate fight until Season 2.
  • Master-Apprentice Chain: Daniel was the student of Mr. Miyagi, and Johnny of John Kreese. Both become teachers to the next generation of Miyagi-do and Cobra Kai students, respectively.
  • 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.
  • Men of Sherwood: Far from being a Red Shirt Army, background members of both Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do are portrayed as being very competent fighters (which makes sense, considering they have the same level of karate training as the main cast). Even an unnamed Mook can put up a decent one-on-one fight against a named secondary character, although they will generally lose to top-tier fighters like Miguel, Robby, Sam, Tory and Hawk.
  • Meta Twist: Episode 9 of both of the first two seasons have Daniel and Johnny having a heart to heart and realizing that they have more in common than they thought, only for circumstances to contrive to have them back at each others' throats by the start of the next episode. Episode 9 of Season 3 flips this on its head by ending on a note that implies another bust up between the two is imminent, with Johnny's Green-Eyed Monster flaring up when he sees Daniel hugging Ali at the Encino Oaks Country Club. However, in the following episode, this doesn't materialize, and the two end the season more closely aligned than ever and having apparently buried the hatchet for good this time.
  • Mistaken for Masturbating: When Miguel starts training in his bedroom to loud music, his grandmother hears his exertions and immediately assumes he is masturbating.
  • More Diverse Sequel: The series features a significantly more diverse cast than the original The Karate Kid, where Mr. Miyagi was the only prominent non-white character, reflecting the increased diversity in the San Fernando Valley since 1984.
    • Just within the Cobra Kai dojo itself, you have the Ecuadorian Miguel Diaz, African-American Aisha Robinson, and the Jewish (and possibly autistic) Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz. Miyagi-Do has the African-American Chris, and the Asian-American Nathaniel.
    • The female representation is also heightened with Aisha, Sam and Tory as Action Girls, and Daniel's wife Amanda has a more important character role than any of the love interests in the prior movies. Miguel's mother Carmen (who happens to be the main love interest to Johnny) is also a prominent character in the series.
    • This also applies toward the bullies as well. The main bully at West Valley High School, Kyler, just so happens to be Korean-American, whereas Shawn Payne, the resident bully at the Sylmar Juvenile Corrections Center, is African-American.
  • Motive Decay: All of the background Cobra Kai students that are holdovers from Johnny's run that are still loyal to Kreese's Cobra Kai by the end of Season 3 go through this, going from a Ragtag Bunch of Misfits who started learning karate to defend themselves to a thinly-veiled criminal gang who go around attacking people for seemingly no reason other than For the Evulz.
    • Dieter, Mikey, and Edwin accept Kyler into Cobra Kai without question, even though them watching Miguel beat Kyler up in the cafeteria back in Season 1 is what inspired them to join Cobra Kai in the first place. They ought to have had as much of an issue with Kyler's recruitment as Hawk did, yet apparently they didn't have an issue with that at all. A couple of them are even complicit in Kyler's bullying of Demetri, and Kyler going after Miguel again in the home invasion brawl at the end of the season.
    • Both Mikey and Rickenberger have history with Robby too, as Robby beat both of them up twice in Season 2 at the mall and the school fight, yet they seem to have no problem with accepting Robby into Cobra Kai. Hawk has issues with Robby joining Cobra Kai due to this history, so Mikey and Rickenberger ought to have had similar reservations as well, yet apparently they didn't.
    • All of them buy into Kreese's narrative that Cobra Kai need to attack Miyagi-Do for what happened to Miguel, while not noticing how ludicrous it is that he later tells them to target Miguel himself and welcome Robby, who injured Miguel in the first place, into the dojo. While Hawk realizes how ridiculous this is and defects as a result, these background Cobra Kai students that were both loyal to Hawk and holdovers from Johnny's Cobra Kai ought to have come to a similar conclusion and defected with Hawk, yet they inexplicably never question Kreese throughout all of this and stay loyal to him, which really makes them seem like robotic, brainless Mooks with no sense of agency whatsoever.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • In Season 1, 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.
    • Taken to absurdly high levels in Season 2, where both Johnny and Daniel realize the rivalry between both dojos resulted in a complete war, leaving most of the cast seriously injured and mentally scarred. Johnny even comes to realize Cobra Kai's philosophy is in no way a good one and admits resurrecting it was a terrible mistake. Daniel himself resigns from teaching karate in his own dojo and admits that he failed to uphold his late mentor's philosophy.
    • Season 3: Hawk sees just how far he has gone during the assault on Daniel's house to the point you can see him having an internal battle with himself right in the middle of it. Thankfully his good side finally wins out.
  • 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.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Mr. Miyagi was named for famed Okinawan karate master Chojun Miyagi, the founder of Goju-Ryu Karate, with dialogue saying an ancestor brought it to Japan from China. When Daniel sets up the Miyagi-Do Dojo in Season 2 a picture of Chojun can be seen alongside Mr. Miyagi and drawings of other Japanese figures, implying that they were related.
    • The Miyagi-Do shrine from the animated series, which the producers have confirmed is not canon to Cobra Kai, is seen in Chozen's dojo in Season 3.
  • Nice Girl: Sam is genuinely polite and friendly, and inevitably draws the line at the jerkass antics of Kyler, Yasmine, Miguel, and robby.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The sheer amount of disasters unwittingly caused by the heroes is such a long list, it needs its own page.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain!: On the other hand, the villains sometimes (unwittingly!) cause cases of Heroic Second Wind.
    • Best demonstrated in the third-season climax, when Tory smashes the portrait of Mr. Miyagi next to a heavily-struggling Sam, and Kyler makes the mistake of bragging that his side has the upper hand on a still-recovering Miguel.
    • Tory's decision to lead her gang in a home invasion of the LaRusso house to begin with ends up being a mistake, as it gives the Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang students something to bury the hatchet over.
  • Nice, Mean, and In-Between: Subverted with Sam, Moon and Yasmine. In Season 1, Sam is the nice, being complicit only by inaction in the bullying perpetuated by the other two and clearly ashamed of their behaviour. Moon is the in-between, as an Innocent Beta Bitch who particpates in and laughs along with Yasmine's cruel treatment of Aisha, but does so without malice and apologizes when she realizes how badly Aisha was hurt by it. Yasmine is the mean, as a spiteful and unrepentant Alpha Bitch. In Season 3, after Yasmine's return from being Put on a Bus, Moon is now the nice, as a naive and cheerful All-Loving Hero, Sam is the in-between, being much more aggressive in her role in the dojo rivalry but still at heart a good person who wants to stand up for herself and her friends against Cobra Kai's bullying, while Yasmine remains the mean, despite having mellowed out, as a rude and cynical Lovable Alpha Bitch.
  • 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:
    • Reconstructed over the course of the show. Some grudge elements aside, all of Johnny and Daniel's actions are with the best in mind for their students, and yet it results in an Escalating War between the two dojos that leaves everyone worse off by the end of Season 2. However, as Bobby points out to Johnny, it's important to do the right thing simply because it's the right thing to do, even when it doesn't always work out, and Johnny and Daniel both face up to the consequences of their actions and turn things around for their students by the end of Season 3, which highlights their Determinator traits and the positive influence they have had on their students.
    • 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.
    • Subverted with the lunchroom fight. At first, it seems Miguel will be punished for standing up for Sam to Kyler and beating up him and his gang. However, when the school calls his home his grandmother answers instead of his mom, and agrees to keep the incident a secret, and this helps him to win Sam's affections, meaning that ultimately he was rewarded for his heroism.
    • Robby sportingly offering Miguel a hand up in the final of the All Valley gives Miguel the opportunity to further aggravate his shoulder injury.
    • Johnny releasing Kreese from his chokehold during their fight in the Season 2 premiere allows Kreese to cheap shot him and knock him to the ground.
    • Miguel offers Tory a hand up in their sparring match when she first joins Cobra Kai, which she takes advantage of to take him to the ground.
    • Moon's well-meaning but ill-advised attempts to end the dojo rivalry by inviting members of Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do to a Wild Teen Party at her house only serves to increase tensions between them. She also gets the cops called to her house to break up the party.
    • Miguel's decision to show mercy and apologize to Robby when he has him pinned to the ground in the school brawl winds up putting him in the hospital with a life-threatening spinal injury when Robby, enraged by Miguel throwing his love for Sam in his face, attacks him and accidentally kicks him over a second floor railing.
    • Deconstructed with Kreese's flashbacks in Season 3. Kreese joined the army and shipped out to Vietnam with good intentions, wanting to serve his country and be a hero. He and his squad were captured by the Vietnamese and put in a nightmarish prisoner camp where they were forced to fight each other to the death when Kreese refused to set off a bomb and blow up their mission target because his friend Ponytail was too close and would have been killed. To make matters worse, Ponytail was killed minutes later anyway. Then Kreese discovered that his girlfriend had been killed in a car crash while he was away. All of these experiences led Kreese to adopting the worldview that mercy and altruism are a weakness, and all that matters is who is strong and weak, turning him into the violent sociopath he is in the present.
  • Not a Date: In Season 1, Miguel has to use the pretense of "not a date" to get Sam to go out with him when she initially turns him down saying that she's putting off dating in light of Kyler trying to date-rape her. This makes the strength of her feelings for him more apparent when she kisses him at the end of the date.
  • "Not Important to This Episode" Camp: This appears to be where Anthony LaRusso has gone after season 1. In season 2, he spends the summer away at camp. And in season 3, he only appears for one scene in "Miyagi-Do" scolding Sam like a disappointed parent for teaching the Miyagi-Do kids in secret (and is conveniently away at a sleepover when the Cobra Kai gang attacks the LaRusso house).
  • Not Me This Time:
    • Sam's introduction to Tory comes when the latter approaches her (and Aisha) at the country club with a stolen bottle of liquor (much to Sam's dismay). Later, when Amanda's wallet goes missing, Sam is quick to accuse Tory of stealing that, as well. Tory is pissed off by the accusation both because her personal experiences (as revealed in later episodes) make getting accused of theft a sore subject for her, and because the wallet was actually stolen by Robby's delinquent ex-friends.
    • When Hawk and his gang vandalize the Miyagi-Do dojo, Daniel storms into the Cobra Kai dojo to confront Johnny, who firmly (and honestly) denies any knowledge of the trashing. Despite the fact that Johnny has previously vandalized one of Daniel's billboards, he had nothing to do with this vandalism.
  • "Not So Different" Remark:
    • In "Different But Same", after grabbing a drink together while taking Johnny's new car for a test drive, Daniel and Johnny come to the realization that they actually have a lot in common: both had to grow up without a father, found a new father figure in their senseis, and like REO Speedwagon.
    • In "Feel the Night", Miguel and Daniel finally have a heart to heart, and it's clear the two finally come to see how similar they are, with Daniel telling Miguel that he too grew up in Reseda.
    • In "December 19", Ali calls Johnny and Daniel out on being more alike than they are willing to admit, and the two grudgingly accept that she has a point.
      "And the truth is, you guys are more alike than you want to admit. Maybe you recognize parts of yourselves in each other, and maybe you don't always like what you see."
  • 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, while blaming all the bad things that happened on Kreese and his corrupting influence. Johnny 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. The other alums of Cobra Kai, who immediately call out Johnny for bringing back Cobra Kai (and especially Kreese), comment on how toxic Kreese's influence was on their lives and that the "no mercy" mentality fails horribly in the real world.
  • Obstructive Code of Conduct:
    • Averted with Cobra Kai's "strike first, strike hard, no mercy", which is meant to liberate people of their fears and inhibitions and change their lives for the better (even though sometimes this means taking immoral actions, like deliberately injuring your opponent in a tournament to win). Miguel, Aisha and Hawk are the best examples of that, especially for the fact that Miguel showing mercy to Robby during their fight was what ultimately got him paraplegic and in a coma.
    • Played straight with Miyagi-Do's "karate only for self-defense". Robby, who was taught that by Daniel, is constantly bullied at juvie until Kreese visits him and talks to him about the Cobra Kai philosophy, which he puts into use to finally get the upper hand on the bullies. While Sam spends season 3 realizing that "defense takes on many forms," and also can include "striking first" to stop a problem before it can start.
  • Old Master: Daniel comments several times how confident and wise Mr. Miyagi always came across, and now that he is approaching Miyagi's age when they first met he wonders how much of that was an act and he only looked all knowing and unstoppable. (His encounter with Chozen filled in some of those blanks.)
  • Once a Season:
    • The first episode of each season sees Johnny get into a fight (Kyler's gang in season 1, Kreese in season 2, some bar patrons in season 3).
    • The fifth episode of each season has a semi-major fight scene which is the culmination of everything building throughout the season in a moment that drastically changes the flow of the story
      • Season 1: Kyler and his gang get clubbed by Miguel, who they'd bullied. This fight is what causes Cobra Kai's membership numbers to skyrocket
      • Season 2: Hawk and Demetri's growing tension comes to a breaking point with the mall fight. The events leading after it (particularly Hawk's vandalism of the Miyagi-Do dojo) is what led to a defection of Cobra Kai students into joining Miyagi-Do.
      • Season 3: The Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai tension reaches a second peak since the school fight during the arcade fight, and the breaking of Demetri's arm. To a lesser extent, Shawn and Robby's fight also is this, although with less immediate plot impacts.
    • The ninth episode has a party scene of some sorts (in Season 3, it's cut short as the country club party is mostly in the next episode, though it's sorta made up for by Sam's fake "keg party" that's just a pretense for her get all the Miyagi-Dos and Eagle Fangs gathered at her house).
    • Every ninth episode has Johnny sitting down and eating with somebody (Daniel in season 1, Carmen and the LaRussos in season 2, Ali in season 3)
    • In the ninth episode, something drastic happens with Sam and Miguel (the breakup in season 1, them cheating on Robby and Tory respectively in season 2, them making out in the dojo and getting caught by Daniel in season 3)
    • The tenth episode has a major fight scene of sorts (obviously).
      • Season 1: The All-Valley Tournament, culminating in a showdown between Cobra Kai's Miguel Diaz vs. Miyagi-Do's Robby Keene.
      • Season 2: The high school brawl between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do. Prior to the fight, their senseis (Johnny and Daniel) face off against each other at Johnny's apartment.
      • Season 3: The LaRusso house fight between Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do against Cobra Kai, followed by showdown between Daniel and Johnny vs. Kreese (and Robby to an extent). The latter fight is mixed with a flashback of Kreese's showdown against his captain.
    • The final episode of each season has a scene that involves Johnny going into the dojo after hours and finding Kreese there.
      • Season 1: Kreese arrives at the dojo to congratulate Johnny on his victory.
      • Season 2: Kreese reveals to Johnny that he took over the dojo and its students during the latter's absence.
      • Season 3: Kreese fights Johnny, but not before revealing Robby Keene as his top student.
    • In keeping with the tradition of the movies, each season has a Miyagi-Do student learn a new Signature Move which comes in handy in a fight later in the season:
      • Season 1: Robby uses the double leg handstand kick to score a point against Miguel in the final of the All Valley Tournament.
      • Season 2: Sam and Robby use the Wheel Technique to fight off Hawk's gang at the mall.
      • Season 3: Daniel uses the pressure point technique taught to him by Chozen to defeat Kreese in the finale. Daniel teaches Sam in quarterstaff use, which she uses to fight back against Tory. And Sam teaches Miguel the drum technique, which he uses against Kyler.
    • Johnny's TV getting broken by beer bottle (Season 1), fight (Season 2), and sex (Season 3).
    • Sam and Miguel both have a case of getting hot and bothered by violence once a season. In 1 and 3 with each other, in Season 2 with Robby and Tory respectively.
    • Someone makes a Precision F-Strike. Robby in Season 1, Hawk in Season 2, Nathaniel in Season 3.
    • Each season ends with a Sequel Hook teasing the return of a classic character from the film series: Kreese in Season 1, Ali in Season 2, and Terry Silver in Season 3.
  • The One That Got Away: It is very clear that to varying degrees, neither Daniel nor Johnny ever fully got over Ali Mills. 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 having friended her. One of the few things both men can agree on is that Ali's husband must be a total dork. Unsurprisingly both of them being able to actually talk to her in Season 3, and speak through their issues is enough for them to both move on.
  • Official Couple:
    • Daniel and Amanda LaRusso.
    • Johnny Lawrence and Carmen Diaz.
    • Miguel Diaz and Samantha LaRusso. Their relationship drama is as much a contributor to many plot points as Johnny and Daniel's rivalry is.note 
    • Hawk and Moon. Unfortunately subverted, with Moon breaking up with Hawk after the latter Took a Level in Jerkass.
    • Demetri and Yasmine, even though the latter doesn't want to admit it in public.
  • The Oner:
    • The battle royale at the end of "No Mercy" is filmed with long tracking shots through the school hallways, moving between several different fights all taking place at the same time.
    • A similar long tracking shot is used during the brawl at the LaRusso's house in "December 19".
  • 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 irresponsibility. 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.
    • Season 3 shows though that even this has its limits against someone like Kreese. She still snarks against a lot of what's going on but she's far more willing to accept the situation for what it is and actively support Daniel's efforts (plus he's actually showing up to work this time which helps). Another thing shown is that once it starts harming your family directly such as traumatizing Sam, it can cause one to go start going out of their way that won't work long term; such as slapping Kreese which, as well deserved as it was, ended up working against them later on making it impossible to prosecute him. Even acting overly emotional when Amanda spots Sam practicing karate even though she was not allowed to do it anymore.
  • 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 that can be applied to life. Miyagi-do is a life philosophy than can be applied to combat.
    • Discussed in Season 3 Episode 9 when Sam brings Miguel over to Miyagi-Do to spar.
      Miguel: [looking at a picture of Mr. Miyagi] So this is the guy that founded Miyagi-Do?
      Sam: That's Mr. Miyagi. Taught my dad everything he knows.
      Miguel: Oh. Like how Sensei Lawrence learned everything from Kreese.
      Sam: Mr. Miyagi was nothing like Kreese. Miyagi taught karate the right way, focusing on defense.
      Miguel: Yeah, but sometimes the best defense is more offense.
      Sam: This is the problem. The styles are so far apart. Your sensei will never see eye to eye with my dad.
      Miguel: I think it's the other way around.
  • 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 Johnny has already taught them to do whatever it takes to win.
    • 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. It's played with in that according to the rules as stated by Ali in the original movie, the kick itself was legit; the only off-limit targets were below the belt.
  • 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. His wife Amanda has to be a more calming voice for Daniel, who just wants to fix things. Daniel is proven right on a lot of Sam's bad choices (like Kyler), but she has to learn that first hand. While Sam has to prove her dad wrong about Cobra Kai.
  • Pacifist Dojo: The Miyagi-do is supposed to be this on paper, but in practice the students don't deescalate conflicts or attempt to make peace insomuch as they goad their opponents into attacking first so they'll feel justified in fighting back. Daniel realizes this in the aftermath of the Mob War at Sam's school.
  • The Paralyzer: The secret Miyagi pressure points Chozen teaches Daniel involve striking an opponent on certain parts of their body and numbing their arms and legs, to prevent them from fighting back. Daniel uses the technique successfully against Kreese, who tries to slice him with a shard of broken glass during their battle in the Season 3 climax.
    Chozen: If an enemy insists on war, then you take away their ability to wage it. Yeah?
  • Parental Substitute: Johnny ends up as such for Miguel, and later on, Daniel ends up being this for Robby without realizing he was replacing Robby's actual dad Johnny. In a moment of truce, Daniel and Johnny talk about how Mr. Miyagi and John Kreese served as their parental figures too.
  • Parents Walk In at the Worst Time: In Season 3 Episode 9, Daniel happens to walk in on Sam making out with Miguel in the Miyagi dojo. He's too stunned by sight of his daughter French-kissing Johnny Lawrence's star student to ask anything more than "Is that my drum in your pocket?" (Miguel having stuffed the Okinawan hand drum into his shorts pocket while Sam demonstrated the drum technique on him)
    Sam: Look, I'm sorry, Dad. I should've told you that I invited Miguel over.
    Daniel: All right, new rule. If you're gonna bring boys over to the dojo, leave the door open.
    Sam: Come on, Dad, it's not 1984...
  • 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, he makes an earnest effort to rein them back in and succeeds with Miguel, but Kreese successfully corrupts the other students even further.
    • We also get to see how insufferably smarmy and self-righteous Daniel appears to Johnny. While it doesn't excuse Johnny for his actions back in school, it's suddenly a lot easier to understand why he wanted to beat this guy up so badly.
    • In Season 3, we finally see the other side of the puzzle. Before we saw how Cobra Kai itself could find a home for many students. But how could a psychopath like Kreese when he's given full reign to do as he pleases? He weeds out the ones he knows won't stomach his worst tendencies, actively recruits teenagers with a nasty mean streak, but he makes sure to provide the right amount of positive reinforcement at the perfect times to gain his students' Undying Loyalty. With how he treats Robby and Tory it's very easy to see why Johnny viewed him as a potential father figure. And how does he manage to keep operating when so many people outside the dojo know first what a toxic monster he is? By Playing the Victim Card every chance he gets and selling the image of a humble veteran trying to help his community.
  • Police Are Useless: In Season 3, Amanda tries to file a restraining order against Kreese, and a helpful policeman tells her that Kreese has already filed one against her, and there's nothing he can do to resolve the matter. The police are conspicuously absent throughout the series, even when Miguel is crippled, and later when Kreese tackles Daniel through his dojo window. Robby goes to juvie and is put on probation, but that's it.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad:
    • Once Johnny gives the demeaning nickname of "Lip" to Eli, Demetri tells him he can't make fun of others' physical appearance, and when Johnny says the real world doesn't care, Demetri says the real world can call the police on him and makes fun of his age. Two scenes later, Demetri is riding along the bullying campaign against Sam and making fun of her.
    • Counselor Blatt spends more time worrying about students wearing culturally non-inclusive costumes at the school Halloween party than the violence and cyberbullying that are rampant among the students. Unsurprisingly, none of the students take her the least bit seriously.
      Counselor Blatt: Instead of "sexy nurse," how about "gender neutral hospital worker"?note 
    • In Season 2, Daniel is accused of cultural appropriation by people online after they see his You Tube commercial for Miyagi-do, which heavily uses Japanese imagery and music. Daniel, of course, is actually very respectful and knowledgeable of the culture due to the Japanese native Mr. Miyagi passing down the traditions to him... but random Youtube viewers would have no way of knowing that and would rather call him "Daniel LaRacist".
    • In Season 3 Hawk exploits Counselor Blatt's personality by invoking physical immunity and "safe space" to get away with bullying.
      Blatt: Did [Sam] enter your personal bubble without your verbal consent?
      Hawk: Yeah, she definitely triggered me in my safe space.
    • Twice during the Los Angeles city council meeting covering the All-Valley Tournament's cancellation in Season 3:
      • The Valley wants manholes to be renamed "maintenance covers".
      • Kreese asserts on Roberts being addressed as "Councilperson", not "Councilwoman", having learned about this from the discussion the council had two minutes earlier about gender neutral address. He's really only doing this to get on her good graces and make Daniel look bad.
        Daniel: I apologize, Councilwoman Roberts. But this man—
        Kreese: "Councilperson" Roberts.
        Roberts: Thank you, Captain Kreese.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Communication failures are so utterly rampant in this series, they need their own page.
  • Politically Incorrect Hero:
    • Johnny is shown as a xenophobic, sexist, alcoholic jerkass at various points throughout the series, not to mention completely insensitive to Hawk, who has a cleft lip and is on the autism spectrum. With that said, it's shown that his attitude is born out of ignorance rather than true hatred, and he does become more open minded as the show goes on (correcting people about the Diaz family's country of origin and fully opening Cobra Kai to female students).
    • Downplayed, but Daniel is not immune to this either, asking 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.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Kreese is dismissive of Miguel, referring to him as "that Mexican". At the same time, he's also progressed in some other ways, as he has no problem having female students in Cobra Kai and even lets a female netball player try out for a spot in the dojo when he's talent-scouting for new recruits in Season 3.
  • Posthumous Character: Miyagi has been dead for years by the time the series starts, though Daniel still aspires to live up to his legacy, and would yearn for his late father figure to be there for him in the flesh during an emotionally troubling time.
  • 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 awareness at his own capacity.
  • Precision F-Strike: Once a Season.
    • Season 1 has Robby seeing an ad for Cobra Kai (featuring Johnny Lawrence) and going, “It’s my fucking dad.”
    • Season 2 has Hawk calling Demetri a “fucking nerd” during an argument with Moon.
    • Season 3 has a bloody, exasperated Nathaniel yell "they kicked the fucking shit out of me!" when he shows up at Sam's front door after being beaten up and robbed by Hawk's gang.
  • Product Placement:
    • Johnny is rarely seen drinking anything (alcoholic or otherwise) other than Coors Banquet beer. Daniel even mocks him for it when he orders one at a Mexican restaurant while everyone else is drinking a classy cocktail.
    • Daniel also specifically asks for Ketel [One] vodka for his martini.
    • When Johnny discovers the Internet, he spends most of his montage watching movies and videos on YouTube. You know, the company that produces the first two seasons.
    • Johnny uses Facebook to reconnect with Ali.
    • Johnny acquires a new Dodge Challenger that factors significantly into the plot.
    • Johnny's new TV and smartphone (as well as the TV he hangs up in the pilot episode) are prominently Sony.
    • Anthony plays on a PlayStation Vita in the first season (and orders a new one from Alexa when his dad takes his away).
    • Every laptop in the show is a Dell.
    • Season 3 makes it clear to anyone doubting that it's being sponsored by Microsoft.
  • 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.
      • Inverted to most of them over the course of seasons two and three (Miguel, Aisha, Hawk).
    • However, Robby Keene eventually suffers from this trope, being a star-student of Miyagi-Do who looked to be moving on from his delinquency days, only to end up in juvie after letting his rage get the best of him against Miguel, and joining Kreese's Cobra Kai under the impression that both Johnny and Daniel betrayed him.
  • Put on a Bus:
    • Although Daniel offers to have his son Anthony study karate over the summer, he chooses to go off to camp.
    • Yasmine is off vacationing in France during the summer, although Moon sees one of her vacation photos.
    • Aisha is put on one in Season 3, as her parents immediately moved her into a private school and got the hell out of the Valley after the brawl.
  • Put on a Prison Bus: Stingray's fate after the school brawl is being placed on probation and not being allowed within 500 feet of minors.note 
  • Reality Ensues: For a show that is based on the Karate Kid series, it has quite realistic consequences. So much that some are best to be left on the recap pages, and others are on its own page.
  • Real Life Writes the Plot:
    • Because of Pat Morita's death in 2005, the character Mr. Miyagi also passes away as well (albeit 6 yers later). This also applies to Nobu McCarthy (Yukie) and Danny Kamenkona (Sato).
    • Due to other commitments preventing Chad McQueen from reprising his role as Dutch, the character's role was written such that he ended up behind bars for an unspecified crime at some point following the disbandment of Cobra Kai in 1984.
    • Tragically reversed with Rob Garrison, who played Tommy. His Season 2 guest episode ended with his character's death, and Garrison himself passed away shortly afterwards. However, the episode was not written with any certainty that Garrison would soon pass, and in fact both Garrison and the showrunners had expressed interest in Tommy returning for Season 3.
  • Red Herring: Both John Kreese and Terry Silver get this treatment in Kreese's flashback.
    • The audience is led to believe that the jock bullying the waiter is Kreese, given his despicable personality, his talk about showing "no mercy" to the opponent, and the fact that he is played by Jesse Kove, Martin Kove's real-life son. When really, the waiter being bullied is Kreese.
    • The fellow soldier with the ponytail in Vietnam alongside "Twig" should be Terry Silver, right? He has the ponytail that Terry Silver donned in The Karate Kid Part III, along with a bit of that boisterous personality. He's killed off during a special-op mission, with the reveal that "Twig" is actually Terry.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni:
    • Season 2 with the Rival Dojos: Cobra Kai remains firmly red, while Miyagi-Do is doing its absolute best to stay firmly on the blue end. This also applies to each of their fighters and their rivals, which include...
      • Cobra Kai's Johnny Lawrence (Red) and Miyagi-Do's Daniel LaRusso (Blue)
      • Cobra Kai's Tory Nichols (Red) and Miyagi-Do's Samantha LaRusso (Blue). While the pair hated each other from nearly the start, Tory has generally been the more aggressive one against Sam.
      • Cobra Kai's Mitch (Red) and Miyagi-Do's Chris (Blue). While both joined Cobra Kai in Season 2, Chris was always the reluctant fighter, and was the first one to defect when Daniel came into the dojo.
      • Cobra Kai's Hawk (Red) and Miyagi-Do's Demetri (Blue). Interestingly, Eli (before becoming Hawk) starts out as the more meek, quieter Blue Oni to Demetri's mouthier Red Oni.
      • A gradually inverted example with Cobra Kai's Miguel Diaz and Miyagi-Do's Robby Keene. While they initially were the Red Oni, Blue Oni respectively in Season 1 (Miguel being the aggressive brawler willing to fight dirty, Robby being the peaceful fighter who fights fairly), Season 2 has Miguel slowly becoming more of a Internal Reformist (thanks to Johnny's guidance)—ending the season as the Blue Oni, whereas Robby possesses an Attack! Attack! Attack! personality that makes him the most aggressive of all the Miyagi-Do students—ending the season as the Red Oni. This reaches its climax at the end of the school fight in which Miguel shows mercy after managing to pin Robby down, only for the latter's rage to get the better of him and knock Miguel off the balcony. By the end of Season 3, the two had sort of switched sides, with Robby joining Cobra Kai under Kreese while Miguel followed Johnny to Eagle Fang, who have sort of merged with Miyagi-Do.
      • Also inverted with Cobra Kai's Bert and Miyagi-Do's Nathaniel. Bert is the Blue Oni, being Cobra Kai's Token Good Teammate and the least vicious student (which unfortunately gets him kicked out of Cobra Kai), whereas Nathaniel is the Red Oni, being Miyagi-Do's Token Evil Teammate who still carries on the Cobra Kai mindset to Miyagi-Do (much to Daniel's chagrin).
  • 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. It doesn't stick.
  • Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: When Johnny makes his appeal to get Cobra Kai entered into the All-Valley tournament for season 1, he claims that Kreese passed away sometime after the original trilogy. Daniel clearly doesn't believe him since Terry Silver used this exact same lie on him in The Karate Kid Part III. Sure enough, Kreese reappears after Cobra Kai wins the tournament. The Season 2 opener confirms Johnny genuinely did think Kreese had died.
  • Reformed Bully:
    • Johnny's old Cobra Kai friends have all matured, regret their past behavior, and plainly see Kreese's "No Mercy" training as the unrealistic and ultimately useless bullshit that it was.
    • Seasons 2 and 3 are about Miguel shedding the worst of the Cobra Kai mentality that Johnny had instilled into him, regaining his relationship with Sam in the process.
    • Hawk begins the process at the end of season 3 when he decides to come to Demetri's aid, and spends season 4 patching things up with the people he drove away when he gave in to Kreese's philosophy.
    • Yasmine becomes one in season 3, distancing herself from Kyler and hooking up with Demetri.
  • 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.
  • Retcon: Mr. Miyagi's first name was originally shown written in Japanese characters as Nariyoshi in the second film, but was mentioned as Kesuke in the fourth film, which the Cobra Kai producers consider to be canon. It was changed back to Nariyoshi in the series, as shown in his grave when Daniel visits it.
  • Retired Badass: Something of a theme in the series. Daniel and Johnny are both in their fifties, but have stayed in pretty impressive shape, and only lose fights when they're at a severe disadvantage (if even then). Kreese is in his seventies, but he can still fight Johnny to a draw, and might well have killed Daniel if the latter hadn't used Chozen's secret "pressure point" strike to get the upper hand. Speaking of which, Chozen is also now an old man, yet he's more than capable of giving Daniel an ass-kicking training session. Even the OG Cobra Kai gang — Bobby, Tommy, and Jimmy — are not to be trifled with.
  • Revenge Before Reason: Tory in season 3. Despite being on probation for trying to maim Sam, she repeatedly goes after Sam with the intent of terrorizing her, knowing full well that she could end up in jail for it.
  • Reusable Lighter Toss: A biker tosses a Zippo on Johnny's car covered in gas.
  • The Rival:
    • Season 1:
      • Miguel Diaz vs. Kyler, the latter being Miguel's main high school bully (until Miguel beats him and his gang in the school cafeteria).
      • Aisha Robinson vs. Yasmine, the latter being Aisha's main high school bully by mocking her for her weight and nerdy interests. This results in Aisha eventually giving her a much-deserved painful wedgie that puts an end to Yasmine's bullying.
      • Miguel Diaz vs. Robby Keene. Robby seeing Johnny embracing Miguel is what leads him to work for LaRusso Auto and learn karate from Daniel out of revenge, whereas Miguel becomes jealous of Robby given the latter's relationship with Sam. Both fight against each other during the All-Valley finals, with Miguel winning (albeit by attacking his injured shoulder).
      • Johnny Lawrence vs. Daniel LaRusso, reignited after their 1984 bout. Johnny resents Daniel after the latter manages to ride off his success after beating him in the All-Valley, whereas Daniel resents Johnny for bringing back the very same dojo that tormented the former throughout his high school years. This culminates in the All-Valley tournament, with both men coaching their students (Miguel Diaz and Robby Keene respectively) in the finals.
    • Season 2: Cobra Kai vs. Miyagi-Do. Examples include...(all of whom fight against each other in the season finale)
      • Johnny Lawrence vs. Daniel LaRusso. The rivalry intensifies after Daniel decides to open up Miyagi-Do, but reaches its peak during the aftermath of the West Valley brawl,, resulting in numerous students injured (particularly Sam and Miguel), two students expelled (Robby being on the run from the law), their P Rs shattered, and even more collateral damage toward the Valley community as well.
      • Miguel Diaz vs. Robby Keene, both of whom are the top male students to their respective dojos. Their rivalry adds in a little more depth regarding their relationship with Johnny, with Robby being the son that Johnny failed, whereas Miguel being the son-figure that Johnny is currently succeeding with. This reaches its peak with Miguel kissing Sam (Robby's girlfriend) and the two pitted against each other in the school fight, resulting in Robby kicking Miguel off the balcony out of rage for everything the latter has done to him (i.e steal his girlfriend, father, All-Valley victory).
      • Samantha LaRusso vs. Tory Nichols. Tory resents Sam for having the privileged lifestyle that the former could never have, whereas Sam looks down upon Tory for her vicious nature. This reaches its peak when Miguel cheats on Tory with Sam, and Tory kicks off the school brawl by attacking Sam in revenge.
      • Hawk vs. Demetri, both of whom were former bullied nerds (and best friends) that eventually Took a Level in Badass after joining their respective dojos (Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do). Demetri becomes Hawk's main target after the former disses Cobra Kai (via Yelp review), which culminates in their face-off during the school brawl (resulting in Demetri winning through Awesome by Analysis).
      • Chris vs. Mitch, both (former) best friends who were part of Hawk's gang during their time at the dojo. Their rivalry ignites after Chris leaves Cobra Kai in response to Daniel's rousing speech against the dojo, joining Miyagi-Do in the process.
      • Bert vs. Nathaniel, the smallest students in their respective dojos (Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do).
    • Season 3: The rivalry between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do continues, with Eagle Fang (a splinter faction of ex-Cobra Kai members) as a wild card. Eagle Fang eventually forms an Enemy Mine with Miyagi-Do once Cobra Kai becomes a greater threat. Particular examples include...
      • Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso vs. John Kreese. Much like their dojos, Johnny and Daniel eventually form an Enemy Mine with each other to take down Kreese and his students once and for all.
  • Rival Dojos: Once Daniel starts up Miyagi-do as a rival dojo to Cobra Kai, this becomes the central conflict of the series. Then Kreese wrests control of Cobra Kai from Johnny, and after other shennanigans Johnny finds a new dojo, resulting in three rival dojos. Then goes technically back to two when Sam and Miguel get Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang to form an alliance.
  • Rousing Speech:
    • Johnny gives one of these to his students on tournament day — and he delivers it in his trademark crass way, too.
    • Miguel has to give one at a town hall meeting in Season 3 (with Sam's help) to convince city officials to let the All-Valley Tournament continue.
  • Ruder and Cruder: The show has a lot more profanity, crass humor, and adult content than the films it was based off on. Granted, the original movies has their fair share of profanity, but the show does not shy away from dropping F-bombs.

     S to Z 
  • Selective Obliviousness: Despite Johnny explaining that he only beat up Kyler and his friends because they were assaulting Miguel, Daniel still assumes Johnny hasn't really changed and only bad things can come from reopening Cobra Kai.
  • 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 (they had broken up); he says Daniel sucker-punched him without provocation (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 (he and his gang tripped Daniel during soccer practice and ran him off a hill on their motorcycles after he saw Daniel scoping them out at Cobra Kai); 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.
    • For all the times Johnny accuses Daniel of winning the 1984 tournament because of an illegal kick, he fails to remember the only reason why Daniel chose to perform that move in the first place was because it was his last resort, since Johnny and Bobby before him had been ordered by Kreese to assault Daniel with illegal moves and managed to cripple him twice. And even if the Crane Kick was considered an illegal move in-universe, Johnny's "illegal contact to the knee" gives him no right to speak about unfair victory, because Daniel played by their rules and still won.
    • Daniel isn't completely immune to this either, as while he is more accurate in terms of what Johnny and the Cobra Kais did to him he has a tendency to downplay his own bad behavior that only made things worse. This factors into Poor Communication Kills as both Amanda and Sam have heard his stories many times over and came to see them as exaggerated; being knocked off his bike and rolling down a steep grass hill was a legitimately dangerous event but as Daniel called it a cliff they tend to laugh it off.note  For that reason it takes a while into the show before others understand what Daniel was talking about, as Amanda comes to realize that the stories about Kreese were not exaggerated.
    • Ali Mills eventually sets the two of them straight, after explaining to the two that there are three distinct versions of what happened between the two back in the day: there's Daniel's version of the story, and then Johnny's version of the story, and then there's actually what happened.
  • 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 this trope. He assumed that Kreese, not Cobra Kai and its ethos, was the reason he and his friends 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:
    • Season 1: Daniel intends to start a dojo to train others in Miyagi-Do karate as a response to Cobra Kai. Sam reconsiders her karate training and is prepared to start again. Johnny finds John Kreese returning to the Cobra Kai dojo.
    • Season 2: A huge brawl in the high school between Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do students leaves Sam hospitalized, Miguel with a spinal injury that may cripple or kill him, and Robby on the run for aggravated assault. Daniel and Johnny seem to realize that their rivalry has poisoned their students, though both seem to prefer retiring as sensei instead of working to heal the rift. Kreese takes over Cobra Kai from Johnny, promising to teach the kids "right." And Ali friend requests Johnny, likely setting the stage for her arrival into the series (and not a moment too soon considering she's a pediatric surgeon and there just happens to be a casualty of the Escalating War inside the school who could use one of those).
    • Season 3: Daniel and Johnny finally come together by merging their dojos. Kreese has successfully indoctrinated Robby and Tory and has full control of the most ruthless Cobra Kai yet. He also makes a call to his old buddy Terry Silver to enlist his help. This is all leading to the next All Valley where Kreese promises if Cobra Kai doesn't win, he will leave for good.
  • Sequel Series: The series is a distant continuation of The Karate Kid film series, set 34 years after the first film, The Karate Kid (1984).
  • Serious Business: This show is more or less a full-on deconstruction of this trope with respect to karate. Daniel's victory at a karate tournament for teenagers several decades ago is remembered across the valley widely enough to be used as an advertising gimmick for his car dealership. Kreese and Johnny are bitter enough about their loss that they're still trying to avenge it. And the rivalry between opposing dojos is so intense that is grips the town in a series of massive brawls. In Season 3, the rivalry progresses into attempted murder.
  • Servile Snarker: Johnny's stepdad's nurse tends to fend off any insults from her employer by firing back with her own quips. Despite this, she does seem to actually care about Sid's health — at least enough to interrupt him when his heated bickering with Johnny is threatening his blood pressure.
  • Sex Is Violence:
    • Played for Laughs when Daniel clears out his home dojo and tries to get a sparring partner. Sam's not in the mood (after receiving a harassing message from Yasmine), so he goes to Amanda. Amanda reminds him what happened ten years ago when they hit the mat for a little "karate", nodding her head in Anthony's direction.
    • Sam has a moment of this with her current Love Interest once a season. The farthest she's gotten is in Season 3 when she brings Miguel to the Miyagi dojo for some private sparring, which culminates in him on top of her, French-kissing her...and getting caught by Daniel.
      Daniel: And, uh, [points a finger back and forth between them] keep the sparring to a minimum. Understood?
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Used when Johnny and Carmen finally sleep together. The two are shown heavily making out in Johnny's apartment (knocking his television off the wall in the process), and the scene ends with them going to the bedroom with a closed door. The next episode starts off with them waking up together in Johnny's bed.
  • Shadow Archetype:
    • Season 1 subtly shows Johnny and Daniel are this as mentors: Daniel clings to Mr. Miyagi's teachings, focusing on balance and inner strength which becomes outer strength. Johnny takes the "good" parts of Cobra Kai seeks to "toughen up" his students into "badasses," focusing on building outer strength which becomes inner strength. Both are ending up in mostly the same place: taking troubled youths and giving them confidence and the ability to stand up for themselves, but their starting points to get there are in opposite directions.
    • Season 2 features both Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai becoming this to each other, both as institutions and even down to specific characters having counterparts, highlighting the Grey-and-Gray Morality of the season:
    • Season 3's flashbacks make Kreese this to Mr. Miyagi to an even greater extent than he already was in the films. Both men served in the armed forces, witnessed the horrors of war and had to deal with the death of their Love Interest while they were away, but while Mr. Miyagi never wavered from being a kind and honorable man whose wartime experiences only strengthened his belief in pacifism, Kreese allowed those experiences to warp him into an Ax-Crazy Social Darwinist and adopted the mindset that mercy is a weakness as a result.
  • Sharp-Dressed Man: Daniel wears a snappy suit when he's working at and advertising the LaRusso Auto Group.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Johnny name-drops a number of 80s metal bands that he likes, which usually feature in the soundtrack.
    • One of the first things that Johnny does after discovering the internet is watch Iron Eagle.
    • Johnny attempting to wean Miguel off his asthma inhaler cold turkey is similar to Sidekicks.
    • Demetri and Daniel discuss Game of Thrones several times, using the plot details as life lessons.
    • Demetri tries to geek out with Hawk about Doctor Who, mentioning that the latest Doctor is female.
    • Sam calls Robby's fake limp trick "pulling a Keyser Söze".
    • Robby is seen reading Lord of the Flies, an apt metaphor for what went down a few episodes previous.
    • When Amanda confronts Kreese at his dojo, she refers to him as Rambo.
    • Daniel tries to get Anthony started in karate, only to get his refusal while playing Tekken 6.
    • Robby's middle name, "Swayze" and the discussion of Dirty Dancing that follows. Dance films are to romance what sports films are to masculinity, and the writers of the show know it!
  • Sitcom Arch-Nemesis: While Johnny is Daniel's teenage rival, in the business world Tom Cole owns his own chain of car dealerships that rivals Daniel's. The competitive streak gets rather comical at times.
  • The Smurfette Principle:
    • Aisha is the only girl on Team Cobra Kai in Season 1... and that's only because Johnny needed all the students he could get. Miguel has to actually talk Johnny into letting her join by appealing to the fact that her family is loaded and Johnny is financially strained.
    • In Season 2, Cobra Kai adds another girl in Tory, but Sam ends up the only girl in Miyagi-Do.
    • In Season 3, the show bends over backwards to make this the case. Kreese has a number of girls in his classes at Cobra Kai, but Tory is the only one of them who gets any storylines of her own (and Aisha has departed). Kreese does scout a player from the girls' basketball team and lets her try out for a spot in the dojo, but she loses her initiation fight with Tory, so Kreese cuts her. And Sam continues to be the only girl in Miyagi-Do. And Johnny's startup dojo Eagle Fang is made entirely of boys that Kreese kicked out of Cobra Kai for one reason or another. By the end of the season, Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do have merged and still maintain this with Sam being the only girl there.
  • Society Marches On: The show addresses some of the things that has changed regarding martial arts since the original film. In real life different forms have risen up as the new big thing, from Taekwondo to Mixed Martial Arts, with Karate being seen as more quaint in comparison. There's a scene early in season 1 where Amanda talks to execs from the ad agency LaRusso Auto contracts to do their marketing, she talks about how in the 1980s, karate was to the San Fernando Valley what college football is to Texas, and Daniel's Crane Kick victory is a local legend (with it being depicted in the All-Valley Sports Arena on giant banners).
  • Sore Loser:
    • With all the demands from Johnny to become badass, some do not take defeat lightly at the tournament. Aisha storms off after she loses, cursing at Xander Stone. Hawk disqualifies himself after getting knocked on his ass by Robby and attacking him during the reset.
    • Kreese manages to groom his students into having this sort of mindset, as seen by Tory's reaction to losing her rematch with Sam in the season 3 finale and Hawk defecting at that moment.
  • Special Guest: Dee Snider appears As Himself in the fifth episode of Season 3, performing at a concert that Johnny takes Miguel to.
  • 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: Xander Stone's mom Patricia is quite overbearing in the way she cheers him on from the stands.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers:
    • Samantha LaRusso and Miguel Diaz. Miguel is the top student of Johnny's Cobra Kai, a place her dad has very personal reasons to dislike due to both the bullying he endured from Johnny and being manipulated by Terry Silver. Sam understands full well how poorly her father will likely react to her dating his teenage Arch-Nemesis' star pupil, so goes to great lengths to conceal the relationship... which means Miguel thinks she's dumping him for Robby, which becomes fact after one bout of Alcohol-Induced Stupidity. Then they find their way back to each other, though, after circumstances cut Robby out of the picture and Miguel renounces his ties to Cobra Kai, and are the ones to help bring their sensei's dojos together. Their relationship drama is as much a plot contributor as Daniel and Johnny's rivalry.
    • Sam and Robby (noticing a pattern here?) The LaRussos actually really like Robby and think he's a great kid, nothing at all like his dad... but he's still Johnny Lawrence's son, and there's still that level of friction in their relationship. Slightly different from Sam and Miguel, both understand the potential pitfalls of their relationship, and ease into revealing it to Sam's parents. But then the relationship ends abruptly after Robby puts Miguel in the hospital at the end of the school brawl, setting off a chain of events where Sam gets back together with Miguel while Robby joins Cobra Kai.
  • 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.
    • Most of the karate students seem to be following this path.
      • Cobra Kai turns a bunch of bullied kids into bullies thanks to the Strike First policy. Hawk is the worst of them all, remaking his entire identity to have a large mohawk and several tattoos — and a violence-prone jerkass attitude to go with it.
      • Robby, despite following Miyagi-Do training, can't let go of his own anger towards Miguel (between Johnny having practically adopted Miguel, and Miguel taking advantage of Sam in her drunken state), leading to him knocking Miguel off the balcony. His feelings of being betrayed by Daniel and Johnny over season 3, and his bitterness at Sam having no regrets over cheating on him with Miguel, leave him open to being manipulated by Kreese and Tory. He ultimately chooses to join Cobra Kai to spite both his dad and Daniel.
    • We get to see Kreese's in Season 3. Turns out getting his team captured because he wouldn't blow a charge (to save a comrade that ultimately got executed mere minutes later anyway), finding out his girlfriend died while he was overseas, having to fight to the death for the amusement of his captors and having a captain that openly gloated most of this while attempting to kill him to save his own hide while preaching "no mercy". Yeah...no shocker to see that it changed him.
  • 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.
    • Just because Sam hasn't practiced for a few years doesn't mean she's forgotten everything. A handsy Kyler finds this out the painful way, while Miguel finds out in a sexy way.
    • When Johnny attacks Kreese, the original Cobra Kai sensei manages to fight his former prize student to a draw — no small feat, given that Kreese is geriatric enough to be a legitimate Vietnam veteran in 2018.
    • When Johnny goes to a bar with his old Cobra Kai buddies in Season 2, a sexually-harassing punk and his pals learn the hard way that — even if Reality Ensues — Bobby, Tommy, and Jimmy can still kick just as much ass as Johnny can.
    • In Season 3, Daniel spends a day sparing with Chozen, his nemesis from Karate Kid Part II. It soon becomes obvious that Chozen has not merely kept his fighting skills on par with Daniel's, but is clearly a level better.
  • Stone Wall: Combines with Victory by Endurance to be Aisha's default fighting strategy. Miyagi-Do fighters tend to focus on defensive moves and wait for an opening, which contrasts the Attack! Attack! Attack! Cobra Kai method. This is best seen in Demetri's victory against Hawk in the schoolyard brawl, as Hawk had no idea how to respond to someone deflecting his attacks.
  • Stylistic Suck:
    • Johnny's half-assed fliers for the new Cobra Kai dojo. Not a single character who sees them reacts positively to them.
    • Daniel's TV commercials involve him karate-chopping prices and announcing that all buying customers get their own Bonsai tree for free. "We kick the competition!"
    • Daniel's business rival Tom Cole counters Daniel's ads by creating one that essentially disses Daniel, in which he dresses up like a Yankee, invokes that Daniel is not patriotic, and offers his customers a free drought-resistant cactus (implying Daniel is a water waster).
      Cole: You...musket down here!
  • Sudden Sequel Death Syndrome: Johnny's high school friend and former Cobra Kai teammate Tommy shows up halfway through Season 2 only to die from cancer at the end of the episode. Tragically, the trope extended into the real world, as the actor who played Tommy — Rob Garrison — passed away himself only a few months after Season 2 aired.
  • Suicide Is Shameful: Brought up in the last episode of Season 1. When Eli/Hawk speculates that Johnny might have killed himself, Aisha dismisses the notion as being "too pussy a move" for their sensei.
  • Swapped Roles: In the original movie, Daniel was the Working-Class Hero while Johnny was the Privileged Rival. Here, Daniel has become a self-made man with a loving family, while Johnny is just scraping by living in a rundown apartment and can barely afford rent.
  • Swiss Cheese Security:
    • Despite the massive brawl at the end of Season 2, and the administration's measures to increase security, during Season 3 Johnny and Kreese are able to waltz in to the school to recruit students for their dojos whenever they feel like it.
    • Though Johnny does try to justify it by mentioning to Miguel that he went to school there and thus would know every secret way into the school. As to why a school would have a secret way in, or never noticed his very conspicuous presence within the school once he did is another story entirely. Not to mention that it has been over 30 years since he went to school and times had changed. So how would it be easy for even the Johnny who hadn't gone to the place in a while to get in?
  • Sympathetic P.O.V.: The first episode gives us a flashback of events from Johnny's perspective to the original film. At his lowest point, he remembers the events as being the Big Man on Campus with a loving girlfriend and it all went downhill the moment Daniel moved into town. Daniel proceeded to move in on his girl, get his karate teacher to beat up Johnny and his friends, and suffered a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown from Kreese after he lost in the tournament to Daniel. Naturally since this flashback is from Johnny's perspective, there's definitely a self-serving element to it. The spin-off comic elaborates on this, showing how Johnny's troubled home life and Kreese's teachings did little to help the situation, but framing it as a story he's telling his students to motivate them for the All-Valley.
    • Season 3 does this for Kreese himself, showing how a relatively well meaning young man would eventually morph into the vile psychopath he is in present day.
  • Taking the Fight Outside:
    • Inverted when Johnny and Daniel are squaring up to fight, only for Amanda to defuse the situation with some deadpan snark, asking them if they'd rather come in and talk it through over breakfast instead of beating the crud out of each other. Daniel promptly asks Johnny "Wanna come inside?", and Johnny grudgingly replies "I could eat."
    • Inverted again in a Season 1 Deleted Scene when some Brazilian Jujitsu instructors catch Johnny handing out flyers for his dojo outside their school. One thing quickly leads to another, and the head instructor challenges Johnny to come inside so they can settle this on the mat. Johnny retorts that he's okay with fighting on concrete.
    • Later, Johnny and Daniel plan to go into his home dojo to have one friendly match to lay their rivalry to rest. Too bad Robby is in there to accidentally pour some lemon juice on it.
    • In Season 2, when Daniel and Johnny find themselves coincidentally having a date night in the same restaurant, the infamous Crane Kick comes up again. Daniel accuses Johnny of just being jealous that Daniel's leg can go that high, Johnny half-jokingly retorts that they can go out to the parking lot and see whose leg goes higher.
  • Technician vs. Performer: This ends up defining the difference between Daniel's Miyagi-Do Karate and Johnny's Cobra Kai. Daniel wants to teach traditional Okinawan Karate with a heavy emphasis on discipline, knowledge and skill. Johnny is focused on high energy Tang Soo Do full of theatrics with the promise of becoming badass.
  • Teens Are Monsters:
    • Season 1: Kyler and Yasmine to a T. They have no problem hurting others just For the Evulz. Yasmine especially gets her rocks off fat-shaming Aisha on social media. Kyler, meanwhile, gets his jollies routinely harassing Miguel, Demetri, and Eli simply for existing, and slut-shaming Sam when she attacks him for trying to rape her in a theater.
    • Season 2: Tory. She thinks nothing of not only assaulting Sam on school property — with spiked knuckles, no less — but she hijacks the school's intercom system to announce threats to Sam first.
    • Season 3: While Yasmine has all but distanced herself from this trope (even going so far as to have a relationship with Demetri), Kyler becomes even worse. He accepts an invitation from Kreese to try out for a spot at Cobra Kai, with the intention of making himself an even stronger bully; however, he knows now not to cross Hawk after seeing how Brucks fared and only engages Miguel because he's still recovering from a brutal injury. That leaves only Demetri, whose arm sling proves the ideal canvas for making a full-sized drawing of a penis and being a laughingstock at school.
  • Tell Me How You Fight:
    • In season 1, Kyler doesn't engage without his Gang of Bullies around, indicating his gutlessness and lack of skill. Even when he joins Cobar Kai in season 3, he continues to be this, as he only goes after Miguel while acting as a member of Tory's gang and while Miguel isn't 100% recovered from his injuries in the school brawl...and still loses anyway.
    • 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).
  • The Bus Came Back: Yasmine comes back to the show for the third season, as do Kyler and Brucks.
  • Thicker Than Water:
    • Deconstructed in Season 1. As Amanda points out, Daniel only hired his cousin Louie to work at his car dealership because they were related and Daniel's mother insisted on always looking out for family. Except Louie is a terrible employee, pulling mean-spirited and potentially illegal pranks at work, making deals using Daniel's name without his permission, and causing an absolute nightmare for Daniel when he brings a bunch of biker thugs around to Johnny's apartment who burn his car, for which Daniel finally fires him.
    • Reconstructed in Season 3. Louie proves his Undying Loyalty to the LaRussos by being the first person to check up on Sam when she's hospitalized after the brawl in the Season 2 finale. Out of desperation, they rehire him as the brawl has ruined the dealership's reputation, and Louie grabs his second chance with both hands. He knuckles down and does his job properly, and (especially once Anoush is rehired) actually turns out to be competent when he isn't wasting time pulling immature pranks.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!:
    • Season 1: Aisha rips Yasmine a good one — by means of a super painful wedgie.
      "No mercy, bitch!"
    • Season 2: Tory starts the final brawl by calling out Sam.
      "I'm coming for you, bitch!"
    • Season 3:
      • Tory again calls Sam out after bringing reinforcements during the battle at the abandoned laser tag arena.
        "Sam LaRusso! Where are you, bitch?"
      • Shawn Payne gives one in the form of a mocking respite after unplugging Robby's computer.
        "You got lucky this time...bitch."
  • This Is Gonna Suck: In episode 6, when Demetri questions Johnny's teaching style in his snarky way ("He does realize the Nazis lost the war, right?"), Miguel has this look for almost the entire exchange — and for good reason, as Johnny quickly humiliates Demetri in front of the whole class.
  • This Means War!: Two specific moments from Season 2:
    • When Johnny shows to Kreese Daniel's Youtube Miyagi-Do ad that calls Cobra Kai students "snakes in the grass".
      Kreese: This is an act of war. It demands an immediate response!
    • When Daniel discovers the vandalism of his dojo, he never actually says "This means war!", but that moment is the start of him going off the deep end against Cobra Kai.
  • 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. Even worse, Season 2 ends with Kreese hitting the Reset Button on Cobra Kai on all fronts, and he makes it more of a thug dojo by seeking out known thugs like Kyler to fill his ranks.
  • 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. The stunt also leads to Sam being further bullied at school in light of her having rejected Kyler's unwanted advances.
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Interestingly involves opposing fighters: Tory, an unashamed drinker who favors flat sneakers and dark plaid motifs; and Sam, a sober creature with a thing for bright or pastel motifs and slightly-raised boots.
  • Took a Level in Badass:
    • Miguel started the series as a skinny, awkward kid with the complete inability to stand up for himself. After a few weeks of training his confidence improved, but became a detriment as he ended up trying to fight multiple people at once in an enclosed space. A few more weeks of training and a more advantageous situation, he was able to fight off the same four people at once.
    • After spending Season 3 terrified of Tory, Sam gets her second wind when Tory breaks a picture of Mr. Miyagi, giving her the resolve to fight back with a staff and disarm Tory of her nunchucks.
    • Sam spends seasons 2 and 3 being more openly willing to stand up for the people she cares about, rather than be a bystander or keep important relationships a secret from her parents.
    • Demetri over the course of the series goes from a complete, passive-aggressive wuss who was near intolerable to be around and had no physical ability whatsoever, to one of the best fighters of either dojo who also starts taking zero crap from anyone openly. By the end of Season 3 he's one of the true leaders of Miyagi-Do instead of only being one by default.
    • Hawk is arguably the most pronounced example in the series. He goes from being considered a nerd and a freak by everyone around him who was afraid to even say a single word to anyone, to a legitimately tough and intimidating guy who can kick some serious ass. Johnny even went on a speech about becoming badass and used the newly transformed Hawk as an example when doing so back in season one. Just compare his fear and submissiveness towards Kyler and his thugs back in the first few episodes to him beating Brucks to a pulp and scaring the hell out of Kyler in season three.
  • 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.
    • A consistent theme of the series is that with the exception of Kreese and potentially Terry Silver, as of Season 3 all of Daniel's former enemies have become better people and found ways to move on from the attitudes and behaviors that made them antagonists in the films.
    • Miguel weans himself away from the darker side of the Cobra Kai teachings as Season 2 progresses, and in Season 3, completely distances himself from his friends in Cobra Kai upon finding what they've been doing under Kreese's leadership. This earns him a second shot at a relationship with Sam, who is happy to see him back to his old self again.
  • 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 initially 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. Still, pulling strings to increase the rent on an ''entire strip mall'' just because the guy you dislike is legally operating there is a pretty dick move; Daniel-san must have taken notes from Sato Toguchi and Terry Silver. Plus, when Sam tries telling him how several of her classmates (including her current boyfriend) are in Cobra Kai and aren't bad people, he dismisses this, tells her that anyone associated with Cobra Kai is bad and implores her to stay away from them. It takes him walking in on Sam making out with Miguel, and her making clear Miguel is someone she's willing to fight for even if it means siding against her dad, to get Daniel to actually sit down and get to know Miguel.
    • 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 1, every named character in Cobra Kai has taken several, with Hawk 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.
    • Tory gets this in Season 3. In Season 2 while she had a hot temper and a willingness to do as she wished, it was tempered with her legitimate love for Miguel and her loyalty to her friends at Cobra Kai. Even in Season 3 she opens by being a good caregiver to her ill mother and working towards her GED (as she got expelled for starting the school brawl) and working two jobs to pay rent. Unfortunately, her guilt from the school brawl, Kreese picking the right spot to help her in her predicament because he needs her as a soldier for his dojo, Miguel's poor choice of words in their only conversation of the season and the discovery that Miguel and Sam are working together and potentially rekindling their relationship sends her off the deep end completely. She is more than willing to break into Daniel's house to destroy everyone there and try to beat the shit out of Sam with nunchucks (technically a downgrade from her spiked bracelet but at least Sam was fighting back that time).
    • Robby has improved his life greatly under the LaRussos' tutelage and hospitality, but due to perceiving Daniel as betraying him by turning him over to the cops, he lets himself become susceptible to Kreese's teachings, and comes to join Cobra Kai upon getting out of juvie.
  • Toothy Bird: In Season 3, Johnny Lawrence decides to counter Kreese taking over Cobra Kai by starting a dojo named after a snake's natural predator: Eagle Fang Karate! With the motto "Bite like an eagle".
  • 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.
    • 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.
  • Trailers Always Lie: The trailers for Season 3 imply are large part of it will focus on Daniel and Johnny teaming up to take down Kreese. While this does happen, it's not until the season finale. Their initial team up was to find Robby after he went on the run and the partnership goes south fairly quickly.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • The trailers for Season 2 made no secret of Demetri joining Miyagi-Do.
    • The teaser trailer for Season 3 is even worse, showing that Miguel wakes up from his coma and Robby was sent to juvie for injuring him. The poster art for season 3 also gave away that Johnny would start Eagle Fang.
    • Season 4 didn't even have to do a trailer but decided right off the bat to announce Terry Silver's return.
  • 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: We see Cobra Kai and Miyagi-do training sessions frequently. Their different styles are often contrasted by intercutting between them in the same montage.
  • True Companions: Most of the Cobras, especially Miguel, Aisha and Hawk. Even in Season 2, after Miguel and Hawk have a hellacious fight during a training session which got emotionally charged when it's revealed Hawk was the one who trashed Miyagi-Do and stole Miyagi's Medal of Honor, Hawk simply states "We were enemies for one day, but we're Cobra Kai for life." and that's the end of any animosity between the two for the rest of the season.
    • It's this very thing that lays the groundwork for Hawk's eventual Heel–Face Turn. He still regularly visits Miguel in the hospital and is friendly with him at school. Even as Miguel openly rebels against Cobra Kai he never goes very far in antagonizing him and notably avoids fighting him during the Season Finale. In fact, it was Kyler starting to gain the upper hand on Miguel that starts getting him to realize what he's been doing.
  • Two Girls to a Team: Aisha and Tory are the only female members of Cobra Kai in season 2. (Aisha was the Smurfette in the first season.)
  • Twofer Token Minority: Among the Cobra Kai who actually have a character arc, Aisha is the only one who is female and black.
  • Two Lines, No Waiting: The two main storylines of the show center around Johnny and Daniel, which parallel each other in many ways. Other characters have their own subplots that intersect with one or the other, but this contrast underlines the entire show. In specific episodes, one might focus a little on one side at the moment, but the following episode will switch to balance it out.
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: While Cobra Kai manages to restore most of its good standing through Miguel's performance at the All-Valley tournament, Kreese comes back, and spends all of Season 2 usurping control of the dojo from Johnny. By the end of the season, he's succeeded, and reverted the dojo back to its old ways.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: At one point, Johnny accuses Miyagi of assaulting him and his friends unprovoked. He forgets that the same man he's accusing of assault intervened when Kreese started choking him, as the second movie would reveal.
  • Un-Reboot: This 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 yet made on-screen of The Next Karate Kid (although the producers confirmed it is canon in interviews) 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, or it's a fictionalization of Daniel's actual life somehow.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Ali of all people returns to give Daniel and Johnny a reality check. Neither version of their past together is entirely accurate and they're both fairly equally responsible for the problems that have occurred over the course of the series. That, and teaming up against Kreese, is what allows them to finally set aside their nonsense and reconsile.
  • Unreliable Voiceover:
    • Some of Johnny's narration spoken over original The Karate Kid clips of Daniel and him mixing it up portray him in a much more innocent or less aggressive light than what's on screen.
    • Innocent little Bert tells his teammates he was "buying...milk" at the mini-mart in the Season 1 finale "Mercy", while we see him actually slapping the latest issue of Big & Bootylicious on the counter (featuring the "42 Phattest Cabooses").
  • Unresolved Sexual Tension: Despite being separated and dating other people, Sam and Miguel spend Season 2 pining for one another, and end up resolving it in Season 3.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Just the tip of the iceberg here.
    • Right off the bat, the entire series is more or less kicked off by Daniel commenting to Johnny that they're all "better off without" Cobra Kai. This apparently gives Johnny the epiphany that the best times he had were in Cobra Kai, prompting him to start it up again. Had Daniel not made that comment, all of the later fallout might not have happened.
    • Season 1: Sam's reluctance to tell her parents about dating Miguel leads to his mild insecurities which grow when Robby eats dinner with them. Then when her lie about the car accident catches up to her, Amanda confiscates her phone which means she cannot return Miguel's messages, which leads to more insecurities which ultimately result in his drunken rage and his accidental strike against Sam, ending their relationship and cementing Miguel's turn towards the dark side. Had Amanda let Sam text Miguel to say "Hey, I'm grounded and won't be able to talk to you for a day or two," things wouldn't have gotten so far.
    • Season 2: Unlike Season 1 where a lot of the above were just really unfortunate miscommunications on top of really terrible timing, Sam isn't as blameless. After getting drunk and getting mad at Robby, she kisses Miguel upon finding out he returned Miyagi's medal of honor, and Miguel kisses her back. An enraged Tory sees this, and decides to pick a fight with her at school. At the same time, trying to hide Sam from her parents while drunk leads to Robby taking the blame and getting disowned by Daniel. Between finding out about the kiss and having his relationship with Daniel wrecked, Robby is in a terrible emotional state during the brawl, causing him to hit Miguel when his guard was down and knock him off a second story landing. Miguel ends up in the hospital, Robby goes to juvie and never gets a chance to smooth over trying to deny Miguel credit for returning the medal, Daniel has to temporarily shut down Miyagi-Do, Kreese gets an opening to seize control of Cobra Kai, and he eventually is able to manipulate Robby into joining Cobra Kai.
      • You could argue that Moon might be more culpable here. If she hadn't invited both Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai to the same party, Sam wouldn't have gotten so wasted trying to one-up Tory and leading to the above happening.note  All because Moon wanted to heal the chakras of both sides or whatever. The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions.
  • Used to Be a Sweet Kid:
    • By the end of Season 1, many of the nice, downtrodden students who joined Cobra Kai have become rather vicious bullies. Even those who aren't outright bullies have become increasingly aggressive and belligerent.
    • Flashbacks reveal that Johnny was once just a normal, impressionable kid whose rough home life led him down a dark path.
  • 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 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 (in the youtube interface pausing the series causes a hand to appear wiping a "Wax On" text, pushing Play again has the hand wipe a "Wax off" text).
    • Played with when Johnny reopens Cobra Kai, he uses Miguel for manual labor cleaning up the place and getting it somewhat appealing to potential customers, but he sees it more as payment for otherwise free training and not specifically to help him build muscle. Miguel even asks if there is a specific way he wants the windows cleaned and Johnny says "I don't give a shit."
    • When Daniel starts training Robby he has him do a bunch of chores around the dealership 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. Amanda accuses him (apparently not without cause) of enjoying being on the other end of the trope a bit too much.
      • Daniel holds to this principle when opening Miyagi-Do to other students. The first thing he invites them to do is painting a fence, and many scoff at him for trying to get free labor and leave (in the original movie it was implied Miyagi used it to test Daniel's patience and obedience). Daniel's own son Anthony, who was showing more interest in karate than ever before, declines an invitation to train with Sam and Robby because he knows Daniel is going to have him do chores.
      • Demetri does recognize the purpose of the menial actions building muscle memories, but he whines the whole time and just wants to see the cool stuff. He's reluctant to learn at all and is on the verge of quitting when Daniel takes pity and changes his approach.
  • Weak, but Skilled: At the All-Valley Tournament at the end of Season 1, most of the Cobra Kai did remarkably well because Johnny focused on getting a fire in them that made them more aggressive and aware of opponents weak points. Thus many other participants seemed to be so focused on flashy, energy wasting moves they left themselves open to attack. This is both a comparison and contrast to Robby who, like Daniel before him, learned a hyper efficient moveset that made it seem like every action was calmly practiced beforehand.
  • Webcomic Time: Much like the original film series, which spent five years to show roughly one year in the characters' lives, the show does not align with the real world timeline. The first season takes place over roughly one school year, the second season takes place over the summer and ends on the first day of the next school year and Season 3 is similarly only over a few months, starting two weeks after the previous season finale and ending right before Christmas. In particular Xolo Maridueña, who plays Miguel, is noticably several years older by the time Season 3 comes around.
  • Wedgie: Aisha delivers a very painful Melvin (front wedgie) to Yasmine that ends up going viral on social media.
  • 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 at the end of Season 1, but their different martial arts prevent them from ever becoming close again.
    • Seen with the "nerds" clique of Miguel, Eli, and Demetri.
      • Demetri tries to stay friends with Miguel and Eli, but as the two of them fall deeper into Cobra Kai, Demetri tries to bridge the gap, only to end up needing to join Miyagi-Do and becoming Hawk's enemy, culminating with Demetri shoving Hawk into the trophy case during the final confrontation of Season 2. While Demetri and Miguel do end up staying friends (despite minimal interaction in season 2), Demetri and Hawk get on MUCH worse in Season 3, being openly antagonistic of each other. Likewise, Miguel cuts ties with Hawk as he wants nothing to do with Kreese and is pissed off about Hawk breaking Demetri's arm and seemingly being okay with Kyler joining Cobra Kai (since Kyler's bullying of the three was why they took up karate). However, thanks to some well-placed words and regrets, Hawk finally has his Heel–Face Turn at the end of the Season and all three are once again friends within the Miyagi-Do / Eagle Fang alliance.
    • Mitch and Chris were friends who joined Cobra Kai, but Chris doesn't like the cruelty, so defects with several other Cobra Kai to join Miyagi-Do. In Season 3 they reconcile when Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do merge.
    • Averted with Bert and Nate. The intensity of the rivalry between the two is similar to Demetri and Hawk, and Mitch and Chris, but the two do not appear to know each other outside their feuding dojos.
  • 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 1: The last episode 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, John Kreese comes out of the shadows.
    • Season 2: The last episode ends with Johnny abandoning his smartphone. As he walks away, a notification pops up on it — a Facebook friend request from Ali Mills Schwarber.
    • Season 3: Miyagi-Do is starting their next lesson at the end of the Season...as Miguel and the rest of Eagle Fang walk in. Then Johnny walks in as well, Daniel and Johnny bow to each other and then start the lesson for their new merged dojo.
  • 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. And she has a point — starting a fight over a girl at a beach party? Sensei Lawrence 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. Season 2 opens with Johnny ripping into his students for this.
    • In "Take a Right," Johnny meets up with Cobra Kai OGs Tommy, Jimmy, and Bobby, and mentions that he and Kreese are rebuilding Cobra Kai. The others react with incredulous anger, pointing out that those of them who got anywhere in life did so in spite of Kreese's teachings, not because of them, and agreeing that the only thing that can happen is that this crop of kids turn into the same kind of Jerkass degenerates they were. The remaining episodes prove it.
  • When I Was Your Age...: When Johnny learns about how Aisha is being cyberbullied, he's 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 hosts a pool party while Daniel and the rest of his family was at the country club. Daniel is not pleased, to say the least by the fact that 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.
    • Moon throws one at her house in Season 2 that gets so wild the cops arrive to break it up.
    • Sam pretends to throw one at her house at the end of Season 3 but it's actually a ploy to get Miyagi-do and Eagle Fang to meet up to discuss an alliance.
  • 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 Badass: By the end of Season 3, the number of significant characters who aren't highly proficient in karate could probably be counted on one hand.
  • World of Jerkass: Things have not improved since the first movie.
    • Right from the outset, 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.
    • The Season 2 finale makes things even worse. A massive brawl between Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai breaks out in school, with no one (well, besides Demetri) trying to deescalate it any way. Everyone is brazenly fighting at every opportunity (Robby tries to stop it initially before getting tackled by Miguel), the students sit back and just film it on their phones, only one teacher tries to stop it (and gets his ass kicked in the process) and chaos ensues. By the end of it, absolutely no one is better off for what happened and many lives are ruined in the process.
    • On a broader level, almost every bit character without a name is going to be rudely indifferent at best, and an outright jackass at worst.
  • World of Snark: Nearly every character in the show snarks. Johnny is one of the few who doesn't.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Because females are now involved in karate, they are equally as likely to get hit by others as males are.
    • 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, and he does apologize for that...but not for trying to start a fight with Robby, which is what Sam wanted him to apologize for.
    • In the Season 3 finale, we see Sam and Tory each fight their way through several male fighters before facing off against each other for round 2.
  • Yellow Face: More in the sense of "cultural appropriation," Daniel's love of Karate, Japanese culture and using it in his business can come across as an Italian-American trying to act as though he is Japanese. Obviously, the full context is that love comes from being introduced to it by his friend, mentor and father figure Miyagi, but with his passing other people can't understand that, and he gets called Daniel LaRacist by trolls in the comments.
  • 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!"
    • Daniel has a non-verbal version of this when he sees the Cobra Kai dojo reopen in Van Nuys.
    • 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 after learning that she was in the car that hit Johnny's car and confiscates all her electronics.
    • Johnny says this phrase word-for-word when he finds out that Daniel and Amanda are seated at the table next to him in Season 2.
    • Daniel's reaction when Sam admits to him that Robby caught her and Miguel having an intimate moment at the dojo.
  • You Have No Idea Who You're Dealing With:
    • Season 1: 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.
    • Season 2: While the phrase itself is never used, Demetri returns to Cobra Kai looking to rejoin. The only one there when he visits is John Kreese, and Demetri proceeds to be Demetri around him whilst Kreese stares at him with increasing malevolence. Finally, Demetri looks Kreese in the face and realizes how much he's pissing him off. Cut to Demetri running out of the dojo with a bloody nose.
  • Your Approval Fills Me with Shame:
    • Johnny gives his students a Rousing Speech about how they will enter the tournament and be completely badass, and in the opening ceremonies Cobra Kai made their entrance with a team building chant of their name. When Cobra Kai's star student Miguel gains an advantage in the final match by fighting dirty, he justifies his means thusly: "There's nothing dirty about winning, sensei. You taught me that." Johnny realizes despite his efforts he has become John Kreese to these kids. When they start chanting "Cobra Kai" again, he does not look proud.
    • Johnny is ambivalent about the praise he sometimes receives from Kreese for being ruthless, since he's trying to distance himself from Kreese's prior teachings.
    • Hawk's Heel–Face Turn in the Season 3 finale is inspired by Kyler, his former bully, congratulating him for helping beat up his former friends.

"You are all Cobra Kai for life because Cobra Kai never dies."

 
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"I'm Gonna Be Somebody"!

Miguel increasingly become more healthy and able in his physical physique whilst exercising to recover from his disability. Eventually, he throws his crutches and wheelchair into the garbage once he nearly fully recovered, complete with WASP's "I Wanna be Somebody" playing in the background.

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5 (2 votes)

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Main / ThrowingOffTheDisability

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