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Series / Cobra Kai

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

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

The series centers primarily around Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), once the star pupil of the Cobra Kai karate dojo, now a divorced and much-abused handyman living in squalor. Down on his luck, he rediscovers his talent after saving a neighbor from bullying. Seeing an opportunity, he decides to re-open the Cobra Kai dojo, and personally takes the teenager he rescued, Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), under his wing.

This draws the unwelcome attention of Johnny's former rival, Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), who now leads a successful life after his adventures in the 1980s. He has become a Happily Married father of two who runs a network of car dealerships, but 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 addressing their demons the only way they know how: through martial arts.

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

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

A second season, also spanning 10 episodes, premiered on YouTube Premium on April 24, 2019. The teaser trailer for it is available here. Season 3 has been announced for 2020.


Cobra Kai contains examples of:

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     A to H 
  • Action Girl:
    • Daniel LaRusso has been training his daughter Sam in karate since she was a little kid. He even had his own dojo inside the house. While she was years out of training, dealing with a handsy Kyler shows she still retains those skills. She also shows them off later with Miguel.
    • 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 makes her first appearance when Johnny issues his new students a challenge to spar with "the champ", Miguel. She not only says "I'll take him on", but has the audacity to question whether the Cobra Kai really know how to fight. In the ensuing duel, she lands enough moves on Miguel to impress both Johnny and Kreese.
  • Actually Pretty Funny: When Johnny makes fun of Cruz's huge moustache at Robby's house, his buddy Trey can't help chuckling a bit.
  • 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 and confrontation to Miguel, Aisha, and Hawk, while Daniel teaches Robby focus and work ethic, helps Demitri overcome his insecurities, and gives Chris some much needed balance.
    • In the season 2 finale, after multiple fights break out, Demetri tries to get a teacher. The teacher doesn't even bother.
    • When Hawk chases Demetri in the mall, they pass by a security guard who is on break, oblivious to what's happening around him.
    • Robbie'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.
  • Adult Fear:
    • Carmen discovering her son being carried home by a stranger 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 the kid 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 thing worse, with Miguel critically injured, and their own children injured and on the run respectively.
  • 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. 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 Mr. Zakarian to get back at Johnny. Amanda calls him out on it hard as soon as she finds out and Daniel realizes the error of his ways, but Zakarian's tenants are still screwed.
    • 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 may have a fractured rib, while Miguel suffers a Career-Ending Injury and may in fact die. All because Daniel and Johnny keep on repeating their mistakes.
  • Alcohol-Induced Idiocy: Many of the dumbest decisions any of the characters make are done drunk. Truth in Television since excessive alcohol consumption often induces poor judgement.
  • The Alcoholic:
    • The first thing Johnny does after waking up is drink an old beer on his night stand, spit it out, then continue drinking it. Later in the same episode, he gets drunk and drives to the Sports Arena while still drinking heavily. Ironically, the only wreck to happen is when some teenager on her phone t-bones his parked car.
    • Johnny's ex-wife 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.
  • Alpha Bitch: Sam's friend Yasmine is hot and rich, but also a mean-spirited bully who looks down on everybody and uses social media to torment them.
  • AM/FM Characterization: The music choices when Daniel's in the frame tend to be warmer and mellower. Conversely, Johnny tends to get 80s metal/hair metal songs for his leitmotif.
  • And Starring:
    • Veteran character actor Ed Asner, who plays Johnny's stepfather Sid, gets this credit.
    • In season 2, acting credits end with "With Martin Kove as Kreese".
  • 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.
  • Artistic License – Martial Arts: A fairly minor one, but while the Valley is modernized in every way, the only two martial arts schools in the area seem to be Cobra Kai and later Miyagi-Do karate, despite California being a major hotbed for Mixed Martial Arts schools, and the San Fernando Valley only an hour away from Torrance, where the original Gracie Academy is located. Miguel mentions MMA in the first episode, so it clearly exists, but one would think there would be more than two choices for martial arts instruction in the area.
  • 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: LaRusso is striking one on a huge billboard advertising the LaRusso Auto Group, playing up his karate person.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Johnny subscribes to this fighting philosophy.
    Johnny: So I'm gonna teach you the the best defense that you can know. And the best more offense.
  • The Bad Guy Wins:
    • Through Johnny's efforts and persistence in bringing back Cobra Kai, Kreese manages to get revenge for losing the tournaments in the first and third films, and his return indicates he's just getting started.
    • Kreese ultimately wins at the end of Season 2 as well. While Johnny is away dealing with the impending death of Tommy, Kreese uses the opportunity to worm his philosophy into the Cobra Kai students, for which it works on all but Miguel who remains 100% loyal to Johnny. When Johnny returns and starts trying to reverse course on Cobra Kai's old philosophy it quickly becomes clear that no one but Miguel has any intention to. Once Miguel gets seriously injured in the season ending brawl, Kreese has fully taken over the dojo as the Cobras believe that Miguel showing mercy is what led to it, and blame Johnny completely. Kreese also retook ownership of the dojo via Mr. Zakarian, as Johnny had only made an unofficial "handshake deal" for it beforehand.
  • 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 Lawrence is arrested and bailed out by his stepfather in the process of saving Miguel from a gang of bullies. The arrest is never brought up again (though Johnny would have a reasonable case for dismissal given the circumstances), though the fight is.
  • Bar Brawl: 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 jerk insults the crew, Johnny strikes and one breaks out. All the former Cobra Kais managed to hold their own during the fight.
  • 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 shitty strip-mall in a crappy part of the valley and during the negotiations Daniel "lets slip" that a nearby mall charges twice as much as Zakarian does in rent. Then he withdraws the offer and Zakarian goes ahead and raises the rent on all the stores at the mall. Daniel achieves his objective just by manipulating Zakarian's suspicious nature and greed.
  • 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.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Johnny gets hit by this twice. At first, he wishes he could attract a full dojo of students. But when he accomplishes just that, he is dismayed to see the new students are all nerds and "losers" who can barely fight. Then he wishes he could turn them into genuine badasses. He accomplishes this, too — at the cost of them becoming the kind of bullying jerkass he himself once was. Oh, and their success also brings Kreese back into Johnny's life.
  • Berserk Button: Johnny's car might be a hunk of junk that costs more to fix than it's worth, but if you risk scratching the paint, he WILL make you regret it.
  • Beware the Nice Ones: At the beginning of the series, Aisha is arguably the meekest and most inoffensive of all the characters who have lines. On her first day of Cobra Kai lessons, Miguel — clearly aware of Aisha's plight of being forced to spar with no training — apologizes to her before knocking her down with one kick. It doesn't stop Aisha from tackling Miguel, executing a brutal kneedrop on him, and leaving him groaning on the mat.
  • Bi the Way: After breaking up with Hawk, Moon ends up getting a girlfriend.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Miguel's grandmother only speaks Spanish, but she understands English just fine, so all the conversations at the Diaz home tend to involve both languages.
  • Bittersweet Ending: At the end of season 1, Cobra Kai wins the All Valley tournament on its 50th anniversary, but things simply did not turn out the way anyone expected:
    • After the result is announced, Johnny reluctantly stands by his excited students as Miguel accepts his trophy, but the victory is decidedly soured by the fact that Miguel defeated Johnny's own son by exploiting an injury and essentially became the same kind of fighter Johnny used to be, right in front of him.
    • Miguel ends up realizing that despite winning the tournament, he drove away Sam over his rabid "No Mercy" attitude. Sam was not able to witness Miguel's victory after leaving before the match started — and she wouldn't have been cheering for him anyway, since she has seen Miguel go from bullying victim, to anti-bully champion, to becoming a bully himself.
    • Despite her other disappointments, Sam does get to patch things up with Aisha after watching her do well at the tournament. Aisha is happy to mend that fence despite disappointment at being defeated by, ironically, a leg sweep.
    • Johnny apologizes to Robby, who probably understands that he means it thanks to Daniel's advice, but doesn't seem ready to truly reconcile with his father.
    • It's debatable how much Daniel was being sincere in his congratulations to Johnny, but he seems to be more accepting of the reality that Cobra Kai is here to stay. He's definitely proud of Robby for his performance, deciding to show him his idea of turning Mr. Miyagi's home into their own dojo in the hopes of gaining more students.
    • Post-tournament, the attention Johnny brought to the revived Cobra Kai dojo prompts the return of Kreese, who clearly intends to shape the Valley's karate to his own malevolent ends.
  • Bland-Name Product: Picturegrams, a social media website that Sam uses, 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, they drop this and Instagram is both mentioned by name and shown being used, as are Facebook and Yelp.
  • Book-Ends: Season 2 is cushioned by them. One of the first scenes of season 2 is 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.
  • Boring, but Practical: Having dealt with Robby's antagonists at the beach (which the latter used an i-device to record; "Moment of Truth," S 2 E 4), Daniel suggests using the footage — simple and relatively straightforward tactics in a plain setting — to promote his dojo.
  • 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, one of the members suggests "shaking up" the tournament and boosting attendance by replacing the red mats with a white fist with 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 "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."
  • 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:
    • An exchange between Johnny and Miguel harks back to an early scene in the The Karate Kid and underscores the difference in Johnny’s and Miyagi's approach to training, subverting the latter's Wax On, Wax Off techniques.
    Miguel: Hey Sensei, is there any particular way you want me to wash these windows?
    Johnny: No, I don't give a shit.
    • A brief exchange between Daniel and Robby during the latter's Wax On, Wax Off montage when Robby waxes Daniel's cars mirrors one during Daniel's own such montage when Daniel was painting Mr. Miyagi's fence. Daniel's wife then lampshades it after Robby storms off by saying "I think you're enjoying this a little too much."
    Daniel: "I'm done." Miyagi: "Both sides?"
    Robby: "I'm done." Daniel: "Both lots?"
  • Calling the Old Man Out: 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.
  • Casting Gag: William Zabka and Diora Baird (who plays Johnny's ex-wife) played a couple in Hot Tub Time Machine. Whether or not it's intentional is up for debate, but show producer Josh Heald also wrote Hot Tub Time Machine.
  • Character Development: As the protagonist, Johnny gets some of this — from being a Jerkass bully himself to someone who trains bullying victims in karate so they can turn the tables on their tormentors. Deconstructed since they just end up becoming bullies themselves.
  • Crime of Self-Defense: Johnny beats up the bullies who were assaulting Miguel and attacked Johnny when he interfered. When the cops arrive, they arrest him since all they saw was an adult beating up some teenagers. Later, Daniel, not knowing the full story, gives Johnny crap about his actions.
  • Combat Pragmatist:
    • Cobra Kai karate as taught by Johnny is supposed to be like this. When attacked, you fight back with everything you have and do not hold back.
    • In his first major victory, Miguel embraces this trope wholeheartedly, issuing Kyler's gang a No-Holds-Barred Beatdown with fists, feet, chairs, and even a lunch tray.
  • Taken to its logical extreme in Season 2's finale where multiple weapons are used, from accessories to even books. Unsurprisingly, it leads to many nasty injuries and no one comes out clean.
  • Continuity Nod:
    • To The Karate Kid Part III in Episode 7: Daniel mentions Mr. Miyagi's Little Trees as part of a Noodle Incident, and John Kreese's associates Terry Silver and Mike Barnes are brought up when Johnny tries to repeal Cobra Kai's ban from the All-Valley Karate Championships.
    • In season 2 Daniel tells his new students about his time training with Silver at Cobra Kai, in an effort to convince them not to see the Cobra Kai students as their enemies.
  • Contrived Coincidence:
    • While drunkenly reminiscing outside the sports arena where the climax of the first movie took place, Johnny’s car is t-boned by an SUV and taken to one of LaRusso's body shops after the teen girl driving the SUV flees the scene. And to top it off, Daniel's daughter was one of the passengers in the SUV.
    • The Cobras and Miyagis ending up at the same party (by invitation of Moon) at the same exact time that the LaRussos happen to go to the same exact restaurant as Johnny/Carmen, who are forced to sit together because there's no other seating available so everyone's tensions are forced to reach an all-out climax by the start of the school year.
  • 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.
  • 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 his wife calls him out on it, although this does nothing to help the people hurt by his actions. note 
  • 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.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • Befitting the twisted equivalent of Mr. Miyagi that he becomes, Johnny handily mows down every gang of jerkasses who incurs his wrath. At least until the police arrive.
    • When Miguel finally puts his training to use against Kyler and his cohorts in the lunchroom, he utterly demolishes all four at the same time.
    • The rival car dealer's boba tea stood no chance against Daniel's reverse crescent kick.
    • When Robby is jumped by his former thief gang in season 2, Daniel easily takes down all three of them.
  • 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.)
  • Dare to Be Badass: Johnny literally tells his students "All that matters is that you become badass!"
  • Dark Reprise: The song "Cruel Summer" gets this treatment for the Season 2 teaser trailers, and plays out the season two finale.
  • Darker and Edgier: While the original films never shied away from violence or a few Getting Crap Past the Radar moments, this series is clearly targeted towards an audience who has no qualms about darker topics such as harsh language, dysfunctional families, and sexuality.
  • Dating What Daddy Hates:
    • Invoked In-Universe after Louie suggests that Daniel engage in a little Twerp Sweating with Kyler to keep him in line. Anoush objects that doing so will result in this trope:
    Anoush: Exactly. You're going to drive Sam right into this guy's arms. Trust me, I date girls with Daddy Issues, they're the worst... (lower) and the best.
    • The series skirts this trope again when Miguel and Sam get together, with the latter being painfully aware that her father isn't going to smile on her dating the Cobra Kai's prize student. Luckily for her (we guess), Miguel becomes a jerkass and ruins their relationship before the issue can come to a head with Daniel.
  • Deadly Prank:
    • Two of Daniel's salesmen think it will be hilarious to haze Robby and tell him that Daniel wants him to move a car on the show floor closer to the window. They give him the car keys and wait for hilarity to ensue. Robby has no idea what he is supposed to do and almost runs over a group of customers. (Actually he almost poisoned them with carbon monoxide from the exhaust, which is why you don't start a car in an enclosed room full of people.)
    • Daniel's cousin decides to get back at Johnny by torching Johnny's car. As Johnny points out, the fire could have easily spread and burned down the whole neighborhood.
  • Deconstructed Character Archetype: The series looks at the typical bully character in 80s teen movies (of which Johnny is considered one of the archetypal examples) and explores what that kind of character would end up being in the future, as well as the kind of environment that would create such a bully in the first place. Johnny was a Jerkass in the original films and still is to some extent, but it's shown that this behavior stems partially from a troubled life, and a lack of a decent teacher/father figure to provide him with any proper guidance. All he's had is his stepfather and John Kreese, the former having abused him emotionally, and the latter physically and emotionally. The philosophy of Cobra Kai itself only served as negative reinforcement, amplifying his nastier traits, as shown with how his students turn out by the end of season one.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: As expected for a series who focuses on someone who was a bully in the 80's. So far in the series, Johnny has shown a dislike for immigrants, opposition to women fighting (while claiming the 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.
  • Designated Girl Fight: In season 2, Tory and Samantha 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 Samantha and Miguel kiss.
  • Didn't Think This Through:
    • When Johnny has Miguel learn how to use his legs by pushing him into a pool with his hands bound and Miguel takes a while to get back to the surface, Johnny says to himself that he probably should have asked Miguel if he knew how to swim first.
    • Daniel attempts to get Cobra Kai closed down by getting the strip mall's owner to hike up the rent. Unfortunately he is so focused on stopping Johnny that he does not consider how this will affect the mall's other businesses, who will now have a much harder time getting by and likely end up closing down.
  • Diner Brawl: A cafeteria variation, when Kyler and his posse decide to engage in their usual shenanigans. This time, they all get hit with a Curb-Stomp Battle.
  • Disappeared Dad:
    • 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 into bad stuff, so his mom took him away while he was pretty young.
    • Johnny grew up with an asshole stepfather, and later mentions never having known his father. It seems this is largely why he never felt equipped to be a father for Robby. He wants to be a better one though.
  • 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 reopening the Cobra Kai dojo, Daniel raises the rent on the strip mall property where it's located, affecting not only Johnny but all of the area's tenants. Amanda calls him out on this.
    • During a timeout, Hawk attacks Robby while the latter's back is turned and injures his shoulder simply because Robby made a crack about Hawk's haircut.
    • 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 which rapidly engages the whole school, including a prolonged beating for both girls and nearly disfiguring Sam with her spiked wristband (which destroys her blouse and catches her arm instead).
  • 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.
  • The Dog Bites Back: Miguel and Aisha end up giving Kyler and Yasmine, respectively, after being bullied by them for most of the first season.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Even when he's down and out, Johnny would sooner die on the street than accept money from his dickish stepfather. Aisha tells Sam she wants none of her sympathy after she was beaten at the All Valley tournament, although they still managed to reconcile with one another.
  • Double Entendre: During the opening minutes of Episode 2 we see Daniel going about his day set to Dean Martin's "Ain't That a Kick in the Head", functioning as both a reference to his famous Crane Kick, and highlights his feelings when he happens upon the reopened Cobra Kai dojo.
  • Downer Ending: Season 2 ends with Miguel seriously injured and hospitalized, Robby and Sam's relationship ruined, Robby possibly going to jail, and Daniel giving up teaching karate at Miyagi-Do after his efforts to undermine Cobra Kai only escalate things. The only person who wins is John Kreese, who manages to seize ownership of the Cobra Kai dojo from Johnny along with the faith and respect of Johnny's students, leaving Johnny alone once more.
  • Do Wrong, Right:
    • One of the premises on which the Cobra Kai karate style is built. The idea that strikes should be for maximum damage and happen before suffering an attack is not a new one to martial arts (among others, krav maga is based on it). Johnny fails to acknowledge genuine wisdom or importance to it, so he creates instead a group of people willing to do whatever. Also, Johnny prefers that people, if they must do hurtful things, do so to the person's face rather than behind their back.
    • When Robby storms out of the dealership after being the victim of Louie's prank, he almost punches Daniel when the latter runs after him. Daniel defuses the situation by teaching Robby how to punch.
      Daniel: If you're going to punch your boss, you gotta make a tight fist.
  • Dramatic Drop: Daniel is drinking a cup of coffee in his kitchen when he looks out of the window and sees Johnny standing in his backyard obviously pissed off, and the shock causes him to drop the cup which shatters on the kitchen floor.
  • Dramatically Missing the Point:
    • Even though he quit the dojo decades ago as a result of his experiences in the films, Johnny failed to learn that Cobra Kai is inherently flawed by virtue of its aggressive and 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.
    • Daniel preached 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.
  • Dramedy: The page on That Other Wiki describes it as "comedy/drama".
  • Drunk Driver: Johnny is no stranger to driving while intoxicated, and he does it again when he hits rock bottom in the first episode. In a Karma Houdini twist, though, the only damage his car ever incurs in the series is mostly not his fault.
  • Dude Magnet: Sam LaRusso attracts three guys in the first season.
  • Easily Forgiven: Thoroughly subverted throughout the series.
    • Aisha is not able to forgive Sam for abandoning her socially and especially her role in Yasmine's pig meme, and even takes a shot at Sam when she says that Kyler does not mind that she "sucks". Not until the tournament, anyway, where there is effort by Sam to rebuild the relationship does Aisha start to forgive her.
    • Robby has a lot of bitterness towards Johnny for abandoning him and his mother. In fact, the first Precision F-Strike in the series is done by Robby when he see's one of his Dad's flyers. It is only because of Daniel's intervention that Robby is able to let go of some of his rage.
    • And of course, from their first meeting onward, it is crystal clear that Daniel and Johnny — despite the fact that their climactic final battle was 34 years ago — both harbor a certain contempt towards each other.
    • When Kreese shows up, unsurprisingly neither Johnny or Daniel are particularly thrilled. Kreese does, through emotional manipulation, get Johnny to seemingly forgive him but it's clear that Johnny is still wary of him and is only giving him a second chance as he feels he succeeded in his own second chance. When he finds out that Kreese has not really changed in any capacity he burns the bridge.
    • It's also clear in Season 2 that Robby truly hates Miguel, while Miguel has started to learn to let any contempt towards Robby go. Robby lies about Miguel returning Miyagi's Medal of Honor just to prevent Miguel from getting back in Sam's good graces. This action is the spark that leads to the last two episodes spiraling out of control. When Miguel has Robby beaten in the finale, he relents after realizing he doesn't want to be a bully that beats someone when they're down and even apologizes to Robby. Robby in his anger proceeds to viciously attack Miguel until he trips over the stair railing getting his spine seriously injured. While Robby obviously never intended for Miguel to fall over like that (as seen by his absolute horror after the fact), he has no qualms about beating the crap out of him.
    • Hawk and Demetri, who are friends throughout the first season and part of the second season, go their separate ways when Demetri gives Cobra Kai a bad Yelp review. Demetri becomes part of Miyagi-do, and Hawk tries on several occasions to beat the crap out of him. It seems they might be reconciling at Moon's party, only for Hawk to dump his beer on Demetri's head, and Demetri to retaliate by humiliating Hawk with an epic "The Reason You Suck" Speech. Their fight (and presumably friendship) ends with Demetri pushing Hawk into a glass trophy case; after a while, they don't even seem to know why they're fighting but neither will back down.
  • Emerging from the Shadows: John Kreese shows up like this at Cobra Kai, alive and well.
  • Eureka Moment: In the first episode, Daniel was no doubt trying to be kind when he tells Johnny "Hey, look, I don't blame you for what happened back in the day, all right? I know that wasn't you — it was Cobra Kai. We're all better off without it, am I right?" But that ends up giving Johnny the best idea he's had since high school, and their feud is set into motion.
  • Everyone Has Standards: While Johnny himself did some vicious things in the first film, he finds himself genuinely disturbed when Aisha revealed she's a victim of cyber-bullying. It's more because the bullies are hiding behind anonymous email accounts, though. Back in his day, you teased someone to their face, and bullying was more honorable. More seriously, he finally gets to see the ramifications of spouting an aggressive "no mercy" attitude when he sees what jerks his students have become.
  • Evil Virtues: Despite what Cobra Kai ends up doing to its students in the long run, Cobra Kai does a good job of practicing inclusion and providing a helping hand to bullied kids stand up for themselves and gain confidence.
  • Expository Hairstyle Change: After joining Cobra Kai, Eli a.k.a Hawk shaves the sides of his head and styles the middle into a blue mohawk. He 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).
  • 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.
  • 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 and stepdad, who were never seen before the series began.
  • 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.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: Eli, aka Hawk. He begins as a meek, disfigured nerd, but his training from Johnny turns him into an unhinged 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, the homeless lady can be seen eating the pizza he dropped.
    • After inviting Johnny in for breakfast, Daniel and Amanda excuse themselves to argue over how best to placate their guest and get him out of their hair. Back at the table behind them, Johnny can be seen furiously and forcefully salting the hell out of his food.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: Robby's shoulder after Hawk dislocates it with an illegal attack. Unlike Daniel in the first movie, Robby does not overcome his injury to win the final match.
  • Gang of Bullies: Kyler and his friends. Daniel's unethical cousin Louie also appears to have a couple of violence-prone henchmen on call. 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.
  • The Ghost:
    • Mr. Miyagi passed away years before the series began, but he's still remembered fondly by Daniel and his mother and Daniel incorporates everything he learned from him into his business and family life. Several times during the series, Daniel wishes he was still around to give him advice and even spends a scene visiting his grave. Eventually, when Robby becomes Daniel's karate student and fights in the All-Valley tournament, Daniel has him fight for Miyagi-Do Karate as he did 34 years ago.
    • Ali never appears in the flesh during the first season. However, she is constantly brought up, be it in Johnny's memories, by Counselor Blatt during the dance and near the end of the season when Daniel fills Johnny in on what became of her.note 
  • Gone Horribly Right: Johnny successfully teaches a bunch of bullied teenagers to stand up for themselves and fight back against their tormentors. He fails to anticipate the aftereffects, that teaching a bunch of angry kids a martial arts philosophy based on ruthlessness, aggression and being merciless would lead to inevitable escalation. Sure enough, they all end up becoming the very types of people he was training them to defend against. And just to further drive this trope home, none other than John Kreese himself shows up at the end to congratulate Johnny on Cobra Kai's revival.
  • Glory Days:
    • Subverted with Johnny who, despite his Disco Dan tendencies and pride in his achievements in karate, has more or less moved on from the past. He is not proud of what he did under Kreese's guidance and wants his Cobra Kai to be better. That said, according to his actor, Johnny hasn't totally moved on — in Zabka's words, he's "stuck in 1989."
    • Daniel is a successful businessman and has a great family, but he seems to have trouble moving on from his past (implied to be a result of Mr. Miyagi's death.) 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. On the other hand, he believed that Johnny was no longer the same Jerkass he was, since he even mentioned it was not him, but Cobra Kai. However, seeing Cobra Kai back made Daniel think Johnny didn't change and was still "the same old prick."
  • Good Colors, Evil Colors: Downplays the Western convention. The Martial Pacifist Miyagi-Do fighters wear white gis, while the He Who Fights Monsters Cobra Kai fighters wear black 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 Loser: Robby loses the final match — but his mentor Daniel takes it much better than Kreese took Johnny's original loss.
  • Grave-Marking Scene: Episode 5 shows Daniel visiting Mr. Miyagi's grave and apologizing for having not visited in over a month and pruning the bonsai tree left by the tombstone, strongly implying that Daniel makes these trips regularly.
  • Graying Morality:
    • The series aims for something much closer to Grey and Gray Morality than the Black and White Morality from the original film. Johnny retains some of his Jerkass traits and gives his students the same Cobra Kai training he had, but he's doing it so that they'll become more confident, assertive, and able to fight back against anyone who bullies them. Daniel is understandably wary of the rebirth of Cobra Kai, but he grabs the Jerkass Ball and goes out of his way to antagonize Johnny even though Johnny's plan doesn't involve getting back at Daniel at all and couldn't care less about his former rival. By the end of the first season, the series reconstructs the black and white morality from the first film. While Daniel's teachings turn Robby into a better person who's willing to let go of his anger towards his father, Johnny's only end up leading his students onto the very path that ruined his youth. However, he does realize what he has done. A large sign of this is the return of the morally black Kreese.
    • 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 Dueling Dojos situation where, while Cobra Kai is the primary provocateur, Miyagi-Do is contributing to the feuding atmosphere as well, 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 stair-well and into a 10-foot drop onto a metal railing with his back, possibly crippling him.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Kreese still haunts Johnny even after being kicked out, as he reminisces about the time after his loss when Kreese decided the best way to reprimand him is to CHOKE JOHNNY. It doesn't help that Cobra Kai's victory in the tournament has inspired Kreese to bring them back to their former glory.
  • Groin Attack: A rare girl-on-girl example: Aisha introduces Yasmine to the Melvin.
  • Hands-On Approach: Played with when Miguel tries to show off his karate skills on his date with Sam, which she cutely calls him out on, right before executing 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.
  • He’s Back:
    • Johnny is resurrecting the Cobra Kai karate school. The trailer even lampshades it by overlaying "Back in the Game" by Airbourne over a montage of scenes.
    • Kreese now plans to seize the opportunity of Johnny's success to return the Cobra Kai to what it used to be rather than what Johnny wants it to become instead.
    • Following a visit to Mr. Miyagi's grave, Daniel cleans out the dojo, dons his old gi and headband, and decides to re-commit himself to carrying on his late Sensei's legacy.
  • Healing Hands: Amusingly subverted through a Bait-and-Switch gag. In one scene, Daniel prepares to do Miyagi's famous pain-suppression technique... but he's no Magical Asian, and quickly decides to call in a real medic instead.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Johnny makes more than one attempt to leave behind his grudge with Daniel and/or patch things up with his biological son. It never works. Though by the end of the first season, they’re at able to tell that Johnny is trying to be serious.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Johnny's son Robby begins the series as a thieving, drug-trafficking delinquent. He becomes more responsible and sympathetic when Daniel takes him under his wing.
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 crap person he was and is clearly dismayed at having proven himself basically almost no better than Kreese (though while Kreese intended this, Johnny most certainly did not.) Kreese returning to congratulate his efforts only makes things worse.
    • The end of the second season has both Johnny and Daniel suffering from this after the brutal injury that Miguel recieved 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 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.
  • 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 exploited. At the school brawl the following season, Miguel chose to help Robby up and ended up being kicked over the top floor railing.
  • Hope Spot:
    • The ninth episode looked like both Johnny and Danny 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.
  • Horrible Judge of Character:
    • Sam LaRusso's track record in this department is quite bad as the series starts. Her closest friends are the worst kind of mean girls and of the three guys she's attracted to, the first one is an insufferable bully and the one after him transforms into a complete Jerkass but it takes him hitting her to fully realize it. Luckily, she wises up later on.
    • Barely averted with Yasmine's Beta Bitch, Moon. She finds herself attracted to Eli aka "Hawk" after his aggressive Cobra Kai transformation, but eventually dumps him after his jerkass behavior escalates to assaulting Demetri over a negative Yelp review of the Cobra Kai dojo.
  • Hourglass Plot:
    • At first, Robby is jealous of Miguel because of his close relationship with Johnny. By the end, Robby lets go of his anger at him, but Miguel hates Robby now because he thinks he's going to lose Sam to him.
    • A more mild one, but Kyler begins as a bully that Eli and Miguel have to quietly avoid out of fear. By the end, Miguel and Eli, now Hawk, are the bullies and Kyler leaves the party rather than attract their notice.
    • A brutal but very well executed and nuanced one occurs in Season 2 in relation to Season 1, cementing the show's Graying Morality and Not So Different ethos: this time, it's Daniel who inadvertently passed on his flaws to his students, with Robbie injuring Miguel by being too ruthless and wrathful towards his rival, who Took a Level in Kindness that Robbie 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.
  • Humiliation Conga: Up until he reopens the Cobra Kai dojo (and for a good while after), Johnny's existence is nothing but one aggravation after another, until he's pretty much a Jerkass Woobie.

     I to R 
  • I Have No Son!:
    • Johnny's stepdad, Sid, attempts to disown him due to his constant alcoholism and legal issues, even offering him money to do so. Johnny eventually turns it around by paying Sid with the some of the dojo's proceeds and vowing never to return.
    • Played with between Johnny and Robby. Johnny wants very much into his son's life, but is utterly dismayed when he learns that Robby has become Daniel's protege.
  • Imaginary Love Triangle: When Miguel sees Sam with Robby, he assumes Robby is trying to move in on her and Sam is starting to fall for him and tries to fight Robby. The truth is, Sam only had feelings for Miguel and, while he did feel attracted to Sam, Robby accepted that she was in a relationship with Miguel and was just helping Sam escape from being grounded so she could meet Miguel at the beach party.
  • Improvised Weapon:
    • 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.
  • 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.
  • Innocently Insensitive: Danny 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 Danny is curious where his parents originated from.
  • Insecurity Camera: Subverted. When two of Robby's former buddies attack him because he refused to help them break into the dealership, he gets them to back off by pointing out that they are standing in front of a security camera that has captured the entire altercation.
  • Internal Deconstruction: The series deconstructs Johnny's characterization as the spoiled, rich bully who embraced Cobra Kai's thuggery in the first Karate Kid movie by showing that he was actually an emotionally abused youth who found an escape from his abusive stepdad and real mentorship (even if it was wrong) from Kreese and the Cobra Kai dojo. While Daniel's victory at the All-Valley tournament was a great accomplishment for him, for Johnny the loss caused him to lose the girl he loved, his surrogate father figure, and the one thing in his life that gave him meaning.
    Johnny: Just because you live in a nice house doesn't mean nice things are going on inside.
  • Ironic Echo: After the initial beatdown by Johnny, Kyler attacks him from behind with a chokehold, loudly remarking "What's the matter? Having trouble breathing?!" Less than thirty seconds later Johnny has beat Kyler's gang down again, reversed Kyler's punch and is holding him in a chokehold of his own, from the front, looking him right in the eyes.
    Johnny: What's the matter? Having trouble breathing?
  • Jaded Washout:
    • Played with. Johnny is a divorced handyman and binge drinker who lives alone, but still has 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.
    • Daniel has shades of it. While he is a very successful business owner with a loving family, he still seems to consider being All-Valley Karate Champion two years running his most important achievement, to the point that he still builds his ads around hs "karate champ" status and displays the trophies he won 34 years earlier prominently in his home.
  • Jerkass Has a Point:
    • 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.
    • Daniel's own actions may not have been the most ethical, and both his daughter and his cousin played their own roles in visiting unnecessary grief upon Johnny, but Daniel was right to assume that Miguel would end up like Johnny if he stayed with Cobra Kai.
    • Even if it is largely a self-serving way to dodge responsibility for being in her son's life, Shannon Keene is right in her criticism of Johnny as a father. At the point Robby is in, you don't get any do overs, and he did give up on day one.
  • Karma Houdini: In a series where the plot is often driven by reality ensuing from impulsive decisions, Daniel's utter lack of consequences from kicking a drink out of his business rival's hand in a momentary fit of anger is a particularly notable oversight. Robby's two delinquent friends — Cruz and Trey — have also thus far escaped any real retribution for their criminal ways.
  • 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.
  • Kids Are Cruel:
    • Kyler and his gang savagely bully Miguel and his friends at every opportunity, and neither he nor Yasmine have any issue with turning Sam and Aisha into laughing stocks on social media until the whole school is anonymously taunting them with crass memes and encouraging them to commit suicide. Even Johnny — the original vicious bully of the Karate Kid universe — can't help feeling appalled on Aisha's behalf.
    • Miguel and the Cobra Kai students prove to be no better, basically becoming as bad as, if not worse than, Johnny himself once was (i.e. getting into drunken fights over a girl, giving someone a front wedgie and making it go viral, taking cheap shots during the All Valley tournament, etc.)
    • When Johnny's students are wondering where he is on tournament day, Hawk is quick to speculate that their sensei might have killed himself. In response, Aisha offers up this gem of Cobra Kai insight:
      Aisha: No, sensei would never kill himself. It's too pussy a move.
  • Killed Offscreen: According to Johnny, John Kreese passed away sometime after the original trilogy. Turns out to be not true when Kreese reappears after Cobra Kai wins the tournament, and the Season 2 opener confirms Johnny genuinely did think he was dead.
  • Kitschy Local Commercial:
    • The TV ads for the LaRusso Auto Group feature the man himself doing some painfully cheesy martial arts moves, terrible special effects and caps the whole thing off by reminding the audience that all clients gets a bonsai tree with a purchase.
    • Daniel's business rival, Tom Cole, has his own narmtastic "Yankee Doodle" commercial (with a Revolutionary War theme, an Incredibly Lame Pun, and a subtle Take That! shot at Daniel's company).
  • Like 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; the big divergence comes from the teachers they have (respectively, Daniel and Kreese).
  • Like a Son to Me: Miguel and Johnny's relationship develops with this dynamic, Miguel being Johnny's second chance at being a father figure. Later on, Robby, Johnny's biological son, and Daniel develop this kind of relationship.
  • Love Freak: The reigning All-Valley karate champion strays into this trope, to the point where a viewer might find themselves cheering for Miguel to pulverize him. It doesn't help his case that he was merely being announced, and instead snatches the mic away from the announcer to give a tedious speech about acceptance and call for a slacktivist moment of silence.
  • Love Triangle: The Miguel/Sam/Robby triangle reflecting the Daniel/Ali/Johnny triangle. Became more complicated when Miguel dates with Tory creating a love square because Miguel and Sam seems still have feelings for each other. So Sam/Miguel/Tory as a lesser extent. And Miguel/Sam/Kyler too in Season 2.
  • 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.
  • Medal of Dishonor: The All-Valley Karate Championship trophy becomes this for Johnny as it is proof to him that all he did was create a new generation of thugs and become just like Kreese.
  • Mistaken for Masturbating: When Miguel starts training in his bedroom to loud music, his grandmother hears his exertions and immediately assumes he is masturbating.
  • My God, What Have I Done?:
    • 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.
  • Mugging the Monster: The bullies assaulting Miguel take offense when Johnny tells them to knock it off. One of them — Kyler — shoves Johnny. Johnny then wipes the floor with them.
  • My Beloved Smother: Miguel's mother is absolutely horrified by the thought of any harm coming to her son, and Miguel initially has to keep his involvement in Cobra Kai a secret from her. She eventually warms to the idea of him being a fighter — but even then, she can't help covering her eyes when it looks like his opponents have the upper hand.
  • Nice Girl: Sam is genuinely polite and friendly, and inevitably draws the line at the jerkass antics of Kyler and Yasmine and Miguel.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: The sheer amount of disasters unwittingly caused by the heroes is such a long list, it needs its own page.
  • Noble Demon: What Johnny has become over the years. He's still a Jerkass, but has a soft spot for people trying to improve themselves. His new Cobra Kai dojo even reflects this aspect of his personality. He shows that the aggressive mindset taught in the dojo can have positive effects on students with poor confidence or crippling passivity. His primary flaw also manifests in the dojo — that people get corrupted by power and aggression if taught only to exploit it, not control it.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • What is Johnny's reward for intervening to save Miguel from Kyler's gang? Being maced and arrested by the police — and the incident serving as further ammunition for Daniel to rib him with.
    • An underlying theme of the show. Some grudge elements aside, all of Johnny and Daniel's actions are with the best in mind for their students, and by the end of season 2 they are left with undeniable proof that everybody involved is worse off for their involvement.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Ralph Macchio sounds awfully Noo Yawk for someone who's supposedly lived in Southern California for almost 35 of his 50 years.note .
  • Not So Different: A significant focus of the series is showing that, despite being rivals, Johnny and Daniel actually have a lot in common. Both are stuck in the past despite showing clear proof that they worked on the future. They also both began as downtrodden outcasts with missing (or outright abusive) fathers, who found solace and a new father figure in the martial arts, and who both sing along to REO Speedwagon.
  • Nostalgia Filter: Johnny sees the Cobra Kai philosophy through this. He remembers how Cobra Kai empowered him and gave him an escape from his miserable home life. He blames all the bad things that happened on Kreese and his corrupting influence. He is thus completely unprepared for the inherent problems in such a philosophy until he is an adult and sees the reaction as someone wiser and through the actions of his own students. The other alums of Cobra Kai, who immediately call out Johnny for bringing back Cobra Kai, comment on how toxic the influence was on their lives and that the "no mercy" mentality fails horribly in the real world.
  • The One That Got Away: It is very clear that to varying degrees, neither Daniel nor Johnny ever fully got over Ali. Johnny constantly reminisces about the time they were together, and Daniel knows a little too much about her current life from her Facebook despite not being friends with her on the social network. One of the few things both men can agree on is that Ali's husband must be a total dork.
  • Only Sane Woman: Daniel's wife, Amanda (well, whenever status isn't brought up). In episode eight, she doesn't give a damn about family ties and tries to speak out against Louie and his horrible actions. And after Louie's antics result in yet another confrontation between Johnny and Daniel, the two are ready to throw down in LaRusso's back yard until his wife intervenes with some pretty epic Deadpan Snarkery.
    Amanda LaRusso: Yeah, you two seem to have this pretty well in hand. Just a normal Saturday afternoon and a couple of grown men about to kick each other into a pool. You know, as much as I would love to watch you and your childhood karate rival duke it out, I kinda don't want to get any blood on the patio. So what do you say we try to resolve this over some breakfast instead?
    Daniel LaRusso: (To Johnny) Wanna go inside?
    Johnny Lawrence: I could eat.
  • Opposing Combat Philosophies: The series goes into this a bit more than the original movie.
    • In practical terms, Cobra Kai focuses on Combat Pragmatism street fighting with overwhelming offense, while Miyagi-Do Karate is more of a traditional style that places an emphasis on defense first and balance in all aspects of life.
    • In training philosophies Cobra Kai is all about going as hard as you can, pushing yourself to your breaking point and coming out stronger on the other side. Miyagi-do is about letting your mindful efforts flow through your entire life. Acting mindfully in certain areas of life will bring benefits in other areas of your life, bringing balance to your life. Cobra Kai is a fighting method than can be applied to life. Miyagi-do is a life philosophy than can be applied to combat.
  • Ordered to Cheat:
    • Notably inverted. Johnny, unlike his former teacher Kreese, doesn't want his students to fight dirty. Unfortunately, they do so anyway because 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.
  • 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.
  • Parental Substitute: Johnny for Miguel, and later on, Daniel to Robby.
  • Party Scheduling Gambit: "Different But Same." The Cobra Kai throw a Wild Teen Party to spite Yasmine. They succeed in royally pissing her off.
  • Perspective Flip: The entire point of the show is to do this for the Cobra Kai. In the original film, the Cobra Kai were the villains, and their creed ("Strike first, strike hard, no mercy") was a mantra of brutality. Now the Cobra Kai are the protagonists — and often the heroes. Their creed, too, is examined in a more nuanced light, as bullying victims can apply it to gain confidence and initiative ("strike first"), apply themselves 100% to everything they do ("strike hard"), and keep fighting back even when life is unfair ("no mercy"). By the end of season 1, however, Johnny's students are going too far, transitioning from bullying victims to being bullies themselves — and Johnny knows it. In season 2, he makes an earnest effort to rein them back in and succeeds with Miguel, but Kreese successfully corrupts the other students even further.
  • 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 about it, Demetri says the real world can call the police on him and makes fun of his age. Two scenes later, Demetri is seen 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 cyberbulling 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"?
    • In season two, Daniel is accused of cultural appropriation by people online after they see his commercial for Miyagi-do which uses heavy Japanese imagery. 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.
  • 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 one of Miguel's friends who has a cleft lip.
    • Downplayed, but Daniel is not immune to this either, asking Sam's boyfriend Kyler (who is Asian), where his parents are from, thereby automatically assuming they must be immigrants. It goes to show that despite their differences, both Daniel and Johnny are ultimately products of their generation.
    • When Aisha rises in the Cobra Kai, her adoption of Johnny's sexist insults ("What a bunch of pussies!") raised more than one reviewer's eyebrow.
  • Power Trio: Minoring in Freudian Trio, Aisha, Miguel and Hawk are the Superego, Ego and Id, respectively. Aisha is the most intellectual of the three, and the one who spends most time reflecting over her actions. Hawk revels in the power and status Cobra Kai membership gives him and is entirely driven by raw rage. Miguel drifts between the extremes, capable of extreme violence but also shows something resembling fear at his own capacity.
  • Precision F-Strike: Once a Season.
    • Season One has Robby seeing an ad for Cobra Kai and going, “It’s my fucking dad.”
    • Season Two has Eli calling Demitri a “fucking nerd”.
  • Product Placement:
    • Throughout season 1, with only a few exceptions (celebrating his and Miguel's good fortunes, the "cleaning up my life" montage in episode 8 and the last scene of the last episode being the more notable ones), Johnny is never seen drinking anything (alcoholic or otherwise) other than Coors Banquet beer. Daniel also specifically asks for Ketel [One] vodka for his martini.
    • Johnny's love of Coors Banquet continues into season 2. At one point, Daniel even snarks about Johnny ordering Coors instead of a margarita while eating dinner at a nice Mexican restaurant.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Reality Ensues: Has its own page.
  • Redemption Quest: Johnny is seeking redemption for himself, and Cobra Kai. His son Robby begins a redemption journey of his own, from thieving dropout to Daniel's protege.
  • Reformed, but Not Tamed: Johnny may no longer be the arrogant bully who once almost killed Daniel, but he will always be a jerkass on some level.
  • Rival Dojos: In the second-season trailer, we see Daniel making good on his promise to get Miyagi-Do up and running, with several new students, as a counterbalance to Johnny's.
  • Rousing Speech: Johnny gives one of these to his students on tournament day — and he delivers it in his trademark crass way, too.

     S to 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 (even though they had broken up); he says Daniel sucker-punched him without provocation (even though Johnny was clearly bullying Ali and Daniel both); about the school dance beating, he says he hadn't done a thing to Daniel in months (even though he and his gang tripped Daniel during soccer practices and ran him off a hill on their motorbikes); he even goes as far as saying Miyagi had assaulted him and his friends (when they were all but trying to kill Daniel). And through it all, it's abundantly clear that Johnny believes every word of it.
    • 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 assaulting 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.
  • 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 starts a dojo to train others in Miyagi-Do karate, his daughter Sam resumes her karate, and John Kreese returns to Cobra Kai.
    • Season 2: 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).
  • Sequel Series: While set 34 years after the first film in the series, The Karate Kid, the seventh episode in the first season acknowledges the events of Part III, revealing that Cobra Kai's ban from the All Valley Tournament is because of Kreese, Terry Silver, and Mike Barnes' actions. The same episode also acknowledges Johnny's departure from Cobra Kai after he was strangled by Kreese in the beginning of Part II when he was questioned about Silver and Barnes, where he comments that he doesn't know either of them.
  • Start of Darkness: One episode reveals the bitter home life that Johnny experienced as a child, which is what drew him to the Cobra Kai in the first place. For all Kreese's moral failings, he gave young Johnny more attention and guidance than his own stepfather ever did.
  • Still Got It:
    • Once Kyler shoves him outside of the strip mall, Johnny shows that despite being well into middle age, he can still wipe the floor with anyone who isn't Daniel LaRusso or Mr. Miyagi.
    • Similarly, Tom Cole learns that despite the fact that Daniel's two All-Valley Karate Championship trophies were both awarded more than 30 years ago, the man still has enough mojo to spin-kick a drink out of your hand.
    • 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.
  • Stone Wall: Combines with Victory by Endurance to be Aisha's default fighting strategy. Though downplayed, it also becomes the key to Demetri's victory against Hawk in the schoolyard brawl
  • 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 are beat-for-beat perfect impressions of the kind of cheesy TV commercials that a businessman who used to be a local sports hero might make.
  • 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 shortly afterwards.
  • 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.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute:
    • Miguel is written as one for Daniel, being the kid who is mercilessly bullied by a gang of bigger kids. Or at least, that's what he was at first. He later turns out to be one for Johnny, while Robby turns out to be the true substitute for Daniel. Likewise, Johnny tries to be one for Miyagi, but he ends up being one for Kreese himself, and Daniel is still a more appropriate (if flawed) substitute for Miyagi.
    • Sam seems to be one, at least partially, for Julie Pierce from about mid-season on, i.e. becoming a target for bullying after rejecting a jerk's advances and having to rely on her karate training to fend him off at one point.
    • Daniel ends up briefly talking to a fisherman who dispenses a little advice in a manner not too unlike Mr. Miyagi himself. Daniel even notes that for a moment it felt like Miyagi was still alive talking to him.
  • Take That!:
    • In-universe example — At Johnny's instruction, Miguel starts his first match of the first season's karate tournament by using the Crane Kick. It works, and Daniel is visibly irritated at the sight of that, much to Johnny's amusement. Sam isn't exactly happy to see it, either:
      Sam: I can't believe he stole your move!
    • Daniel returns the favor when Johnny confronts him about his decision to coach Robby, referencing Johnny's failure as a parent.
      Johnny: What do you think you're doing?
      Daniel: Coaching my student. Somebody needs to be there for him.
    • The practice of Take That's continues unabated in season 2, as Daniel can't resist slipping the line "Don't be a snake in the grass" into his Miyagi-Do commercial, while Johnny's commercial responds by implying that Daniel's "free" karate lessons are worth exactly what he charges.
  • Teens Are Monsters:
    • Season 1: Kyler and Yasmine to a T. They have no problem hurting others just For the Lulz. Yasmine especially gets her rocks off making fun of Aisha's size on social media. Kyler, meanwhile, gets his jollies humiliating Sam simply for her refusal to put out, and routinely harasses Miguel, Demetri, and Eli simply for existing.
    • 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.
  • Tell Me How You Fight: The Character Sheet indicates how Johnny's students do things. But what about others?
    • Kyler doesn't engage without his Gang of Bullies around, indicating his gutlessness and lack of skill.
    • Yasmine uses psychological tactics like text messages and innuendo. She also has no issues ordering others to do her dirty work or calling them cowards for refusing. Bottom line, she's a Dirty Coward who can easily be stopped cold with one blow (or wedgie).
  • Thicker Than Water: Daniel keeps his cousin around, despite the mean-spirited and illegal things he does to his business and friends, only because he's family. This is discussed In-Universe, with Daniel's mother and Amanda getting into an argument about this trope. After Louie tries to beat up Johnny and set his car on fire, however, the trope is averted, as Daniel fires him.
  • This Is for Emphasis, Bitch!:
    • 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!"
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 Kindness: Johnny originally restarted Cobra Kai to spite Daniel and reclaim his dignity, but eventually starts expressing sincere affection and encouragement for his students, even going as far as to claim (in front of Daniel, no less) that his students have made a difference in his life. He doesn't take it well when his star pupil, Miguel, devolves into the ruthless, dirty fighter Johnny himself used to be.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass:
    • Daniel comes across as being a bit more of a dick than the films. Though it's only in his dealings with Johnny and being completely unable to not see him as the same Johnny from when they where kids (though this was 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 are in Cobra Kai and aren't bad people, he dismisses this, tells her that anyone associated with Cobra Kai is bad and orders her to stay away from them.
    • His mother Lucille has taken a level as well as she criticizes everything Amanda does when hosting dinner and admonishes her for making completely justified complaints about Louie's work behavior.
    • By the end of season one, every named character in Cobra Kai has taken several, with Eli and Miguel being the most pronounced. Johnny isn't exactly proud of causing this, feeling Miguel has become a new version of his old self.
  • Toxic Friend Influence:
    • Sam is a Nice Girl but her friendship with Yasmine causes her to alienate her old friend Aisha and to abandon her old interests like science.
    • Eli/Hawk might not have actually goaded Miguel to take a swing at Robby... but if it weren't for all the booze Hawk brought to the party, maybe Miguel could have reacted more rationally to seeing Robby and Sam together.
  • Training from Hell: Johnny takes this approach for Miguel, including a sequence where he forces Miguel to unlearn his instinctive reflex to use his arms first when fighting — by pushing him into a pool with his hands bound. Not that Johnny lets up when his dojo becomes full of new students — he openly mocks the ones who smack to him of being losers or "pussies" (which is nearly all of them), singles out and humiliates the ones who complain, and orders a ''face-punching exercise'' when they flinch too much. He eventually lightens up, but even in the week leading up to the tournament, his training includes exercises like running from angry dogs. The Cobra Kai fighters' performance at the tournament speaks for itself — for both better and worse.
  • 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.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Among the Cobra Kai who actually have a character arc, Aisha is the only one who is female and black.
  • Two-Salesman Car Dealership: Previews show the Larusso Auto Group has at least five new-car franchises (Jeep, Honda, Nissan, Porsche and Audi) from four locations (Woodland Hills, Tarzana, Sherman Oaks and North Hollywood), but in-series we only see one dealership, Audis and used cars.
  • Ungrateful Bastard: At one point, Johnny accuses Miyagi of assaulting him and his friends unprovoked. He also doesn't seem to remember that the same man he's accusing of assault had saved his and his friends' lives from Kreese, as the second and third movies would reveal.
  • Unreboot: Cobra Kai is a distant sequel to the original The Karate Kid (1984). While the second film and even the maligned third film are still considered canon, no mention is made of The Next Karate Kid and the only way that The Karate Kid (2010) could still be considered canon is by way of Celebrity Paradox, as Jackie Chan is established to exist in the tv series.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom:
    • Season 1: Sam's reluctance to tell the LaRussos 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 reply to any messages or calls Miguel is sending 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.
    • Season 2: Unlike Season 1 where a lot of the above were just really unfortunate miscommunications on top of really terrible timing, Sam gets a LOT more blame here. After getting upset with Robby for lying to her about Miguel returning the Medal of Honor, she drunkenly kisses Miguel which directly leads to Tory calling her out on the first day of school and starting the massive brawl. Her desire to avoid punishment from her parents for getting drunk leads to Robby bringing her to Johnny's place to sleep it off and Daniel finding out, once again reigniting their feud AND getting Robby disowned by Daniel. While Robby was mostly understanding, the combination of that plus finding out from Tory that she kissed Miguel leads to him angrily taking advantage of Miguel after showing mercy and getting Miguel's spine broken. In pretty much every situation in both seasons, had Sam just told the truth from the start, a great majority of the tragedies likely would've been avoided.
    • Moon in Season 2: If she hadn't been Too Dumb to Live and invited both Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai to the same party, Sam wouldn't have gotten so wasted trying to one-up Tory, she wouldn't have drunkenly kissed Miguel (and Tory wouldn't have instigated the entire final brawl), Robby wouldn't have ended up taking her to Johnny's place (and Johnny's budding bromance with Daniel wouldn't have been once again nipped in the bud), Robby wouldn't have been disowned by Daniel, Miguel wouldn't have ended up in the hospital, Daniel wouldn't have quit teaching Miyagi-Do, maybe even Kreese wouldn't have had an opening to seize control of the bloodied and vengeful Cobra Kai, and Robby probably could have smoothed over trying to deny Miguel credit for returning the medal. All because Moon wanted to heal the chakras of both sides or whatever. The road to hell is indeed paved with good intentions.
  • Victory Pose: When Hawk advances in the tournament, he yells toward the sky, arms akimbo and fists clenched, then removes his gi and flexes his shoulders to make the hawk tattoo on his back "flap its wings."
  • Watch the Paint Job: The catalyst for Johnny intervening on the side of the bullying victim Miguel is when Kyler violently pushes him into Johnny’s flashy red sports car. One thing leads to another and Johnny ends up kicking all their asses.
  • Wax On, Wax Off:
    • With the movie series being the Trope Namer, this is clearly referenced with Daniel having gone on to own an auto dealership.
    • Pausing the series causes a hand to appear wiping a "Wax On" text, pushing Play again has the hand wipe a "Wax off" text.
    • When Daniel starts training Robby he has him do a bunch of chores in a certain way just like Mr. Miyagi did to him, and just like with Daniel, Robby is pretty pissed at having to do chores instead of learning to fight before being shown he was learning Karate. Daniel's wife accuses him (apparently not without cause) of enjoying being on the other end of the trope a bit too much.
    • Subverted with Demetri's training. He 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.
  • Wedgie: Aisha delivers a very painful Melvin (front wedgie) to Yasmine that ends up going viral on social media.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Johnny clearly wants to help Miguel and the other kids become more confident and capable of standing up for themselves. Unfortunately, he uses what Kreese taught him as a guiding force and ends up turning them into bullies themselves.
  • We Used to Be Friends:
    • Aisha and Sam when the latter starts hanging out with Yasmine and her Girl Posse, who mercilessly taunt Aisha. They patch things up at the end of Season 1, but their different martial arts prevent them from ever becoming close again.
    • Demitri tries to stay friends with Miguel and Eli, but as the two of them fall deeper into Cobra Kai, Demitri tries to bridge the gap, only to end up needing to join Miyago-Do and becoming Eli "Hawk's" enemy, culminating with Demitri shoving Hawk into the trophy case during the final confrontation of season 2.
    • Mich 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.
  • 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, the man comes out of the shadows to reveal himself as none other than John Kreese.
    • 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.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Amanda is rightfully appalled at Daniel causing the rent of the strip mall to be raised, not only for being petty to Johnny but also because of all the innocent owners also getting their rent raised.
    • Later, Sam is appalled when Miguel gets drunk at a party and takes a swing at Robby (never mind that the attack hits HER). Miguel attempts to apologize to her, but only manages to further convince her that the Cobra Kai are exactly as awful as her dad said. She has a point — starting a fight over a girl at a beach party? Miguel's teacher wouldn't know a thing about THAT kind of degenerate behavior.
    • At the tournament, Johnny is on the calling side of the this trope twice. The first time is when Hawk gimps Robby with an illegal attack, causing Johnny to cry "What the hell?!" at Hawk before rushing over to (attempt to) tend to Robby. The second is when Miguel proudly tells Johnny that he's found Robby's 'weakness'. Again, Johnny rebukes his student, telling him to win the "right" way, but he fails to make an impression, and Miguel proceeds to fight dirty, winning the tournament. Far from being happy with the Cobra Kai victory or seizing the opportunity to rub it in the face of his arch-rival Daniel, Johnny simply walks over and sincerely apologizes to Robby. The final scene of the season begins with Johnny drowning his sorrows while staring at his now-meaningless trophy. 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...: Johnny, when he meets Aisha, learns about cyber-bullying, and is subsequently disturbed by the "pussy" nature of it all. In his day, you teased people to their faces, and there was honor and respect to bullying!
  • Wild Teen Party:
    • Daniel's daughter Sam hosted a pool party while Daniel and the rest of his family was at the country club. Daniel was not pleased, to say the least, since the guys were wearing his swimsuits.
    • Later, the Cobra Kai throw an even wilder teen party (with copious booze) on the beach to humiliate Yasmine.
      • Moon throws one at her house in season 2 that gets so wild the cops arrive to break it up.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Swap out "unresolved sexual tension" for "unresolved urge to beat the everliving hell out of each other", and this trope describes the relationship between Daniel and Johnny to a tee. The showrunners know that Daniel and Johnny just have to fight again, but they also know they can't let it happen too soon, or allow the tension between them to drown out the new generation's share of the story.
  • World of Jerkass: Things have not improved since the first movie.
    • 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. And if John Kreese's sudden appearance in the Season 1 finale is any indication, it's only going to get worse.
    • 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 Demitri) 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 enjoy it, 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.
  • World of Snark: Nearly every character in the show snarks. Johnny is one of the few who doesn't.
  • Would Hit a Girl:
    • At Johnny's urging, Miguel kicks fellow Cobra Kai student Aisha while apologizing. She then promptly charges him and kneedrops onto him, much to Johnny’s approval.
    Johnny: Girl's a natural Cobra.
    • In episode 9, a drunken Miguel takes a swing at Robby and strikes Sam instead when she intervenes to stop him. It was an accident, but he doesn't apologize for it right away.
  • You Have Got to Be Kidding Me!:
    • Pretty much said word for word by Johnny when he spots a huge billboard for the LaRusso Auto Group with a picture of a suited up Daniel striking an asskicking pose with the caption "We Kick The Competition!"
    • Johnny drops another one when he realizes that one of the girls who trashed his car is Daniel's daughter. Later in the season, he practically whispers another one during a confrontation with Daniel after having the harsh realization that his son not only chose to learn karate from Daniel instead of him, but is perfectly willing to use what he's learned to protect Daniel from him. Along with probably thinking a third one when his thought-to-be-dead teacher John Kreese catches wind of the new Cobra Kai's victory and arrives at the Dojo.
  • 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.

"Cobra Kai never dies."

Video Example(s):


Cobra Kai - Robby's training

Daniel trains Robby by having him do various jobs around his car lot, like waxing cars, pulling up a flag, and cleaning windows.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (1 votes)

Example of:

Main / WaxOnWaxOff

Media sources:

Main / WaxOnWaxOff