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Tear Jerker / Cobra Kai

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"Wake up, Mom! I'm a freak. I'm never gonna have any other friends besides Demetri. I'm never going to get a girlfriend, I'm never going to be anything other than a kid with a weird lip!"
Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz
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In a world that has gotten no easier since their day, one should not forget what Cobra Kai is about: the past haunting the winner, the loser, and the next generation.

All spoilers on this page are left unmarked. You Have Been Warned!


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    General 
  • Johnny's life in general. He grew up without a father and his mother married a rich man thinking the financial security would be good for her son. Unfortunately, it had the exact opposite effect as the man's abusive nature drew him into the arms of Kreese, who severely messed up his view of the world. After losing the All Valley tournament, his life became a series of failures for over 35 years while he had to watch the kid that signified the downward spiral of his life become very successful. While he eventually gets back on his feet, getting money, stability, friends, and even some of his family back, a series of poor decisions on several people's parts caused him to lose all of that and put in the same position he was in at the beginning of the series.
  • Just the entirety of Hawk's character arc. He started off as a disfigured nerd who was bullied severely enough to tearfully regret that he was ever born, and Demetri is his only friend. Then he discovers Cobra Kai, "flips the script", and - for a time - vastly improves his lot, gaining confidence, fighting skills, an expanded social circle, and even the affection of a beautiful girl. But the resentment of his earlier life (and Kreese's corrupting influence) is too heavy a burden for him, and Hawk ultimately becomes a savage, hateful bully himself. By the end, Hawk has abandoned all of his old "nerd" interests, he has driven his girl away, he routinely bullies the newer Cobra Kai students, he has escalated the dojo war by trashing Miyagi-Do and stealing Mr. Miyagi's Medal of Honor, he has assaulted even Demetri, and - worst of all for Hawk's future - he has fallen completely under Kreese's influence. At the end of season 3, Hawk does manage to turn things around, joining Johnny and Daniel's combined dojo after making up with Demetri... but he still has a lot of amends left to make, including to Nathaniel, Sam, Johnny, and most of all, Daniel.
  • Sam and Aisha's friendship. The two were apparently very close until Sam started prioritizing her social standing and ditched her for a group of popular girls, even after they publicly humiliated Aisha. While Sam eventually apologizes, it's only after Aisha gains social standing, and it's made clear that Aisha doesn't entirely forgive her. In season 2, Aisha tries to give their friendship another chance, which Sam quickly ruins by falsely accusing Aisha's new friend, Tory, of stealing her mom's wallet, then blaming Aisha for her choice in friends. After this, Aisha cuts off all ties with her for a while. To make things worse, Aisha is forced to move after the school brawl in Season 2, meaning that they can never truly reconcile.

    Season 1 
https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/cobrakaijohnnychoke.jpg
"How does second place feel now?"
  • Johnny's downward spiral after that fateful Crane Kick to the face. In that instant, not only did he lose the respect of perhaps the only reliable father figure he had, he discovered he had nothing else to rely on. Sadly, this is all too often Truth in Television for people who peak in high school.
    • During his half-drunken ride to the All Valley Arena, fans may at first wonder why he's still playing that old tape in his head so many years later. Then he gets there and starts thinking back on how Kreese ripped his trophy apart, called him a loser, and physically attacked him in front of his friends. Seeing it from an outsider's perspective at the start of The Karate Kid Part II, most viewers probably just thought "Man, that kid's sensei is a real jerk." and forgot about it once the story got going. From Johnny's perspective, though, this came from the only other adult in his life (apart from his mother) who saw any value in him and that he could look up to. That betrayal cut him deep, and even after all that time the memory is still very painful to him.
  • When Miguel gets thrashed by Kyler and his gang in the locker room, Johnny is the one who finds him beaten bloody and unconscious, and is clearly struck by it, carrying Miguel to his home and nearly closing the dojo.
  • Johnny's whole relationship with Robby. The series opens with a wide chasm between father and son, and their relationship never gets repaired. Despite how Johnny manages to turn his life around, Daniel still all but replaces him as Robby's father figure, and that clearly hurts him even worse than a Crane Kick to the face (but there is some hope by the end of Season 1, thanks to Daniel's positive influence).
    • The first episode shows Johnny's fridge door being bare except for a picture of Robby from 2010, yet Johnny lives alone, foreshadowing that things aren't at all good between the two. This is confirmed with the following episode, where the vice principal at Robby's school calls up Johnny because Robby was caught selling drugs. When Johnny tries to give his son a pep talk over the phone, the latter responds by calling his father a "pathetic loser," not even caring that the vice principal is right there. The wince on the woman's face as he hands the receiver back to her matches the one on the viewer's face as the poisoned state of the father-son relationship becomes all too clear.
  • Johnny's argument with his ex-wife Shannon gives away just how much the two have come to loathe each other, with some truly mean comments made by both parties. What is even worse is at this point, Robby's life is going downhill, and Johnny is desperate to get his mother to intervene but to no avail. Shannon has truly given up — on both of them.
    • On a more gently sad note, there's that half-wistful, half-regretful look on Johnny's face when he sees a man bonding with his young son in a diner. It reminds him of the sort of loving father he could —and should— have been for Robby all along, and motivates him to make a heartfelt appeal to Miguel's mother to let him resume training.
      "I know there's no do-overs, but that kid... he's the only person in the world who hasn't given up on me. And I don't want to give up on him."
  • Robby sinking into the couch, watching TV with headphones on while his mother takes another one-night stand into the bedroom - after she canceled plans with him to do so. Him putting on the headphones, in particular, mirrors how Johnny used to use his own headphones to tune out his stepfather's abuse.
    • And later, looking on as Johnny bonds with Miguel (which makes Daniel's bond with Robby that much deeper of a cut in return).
  • Daniel gets a big one in Episode 5, "Counterbalance", after getting a well-deserved tongue-lashing from his wife over his actions in trying to run Johnny out of business. Realizing he's in the wrong for the first time drives him to the one place he can find his center - Mr. Miyagi's grave. After a bit of self-reflection while trimming the Bonsai at the grave, Daniel remembers Miyagi's definition of what Karate is and should be - balance in every aspect of life, not just in fighting - and he immediately heads home, digs out his old headband and gi, and begins practicing a kata while the victory theme from the end of the first film plays triumphantly in the background as the episode ends.
  • The flashback to when young Johnny discovers the Cobra Kai dojo and asks his parents if he can take lessons. Johnny's mom is all for it and has a big grin on her face as he excitedly tells her all the awesome things he saw at the dojo. Sid, on the other hand, mocks Johnny's desire to learn karate and states that it'll just be a waste of time and money. Johnny's mom tries to defend the idea, but Sid just yells at her and keeps insulting Johnny. The verbal abuse and bickering become too much for Johnny to handle, and he turns on his cassette player so he can tune it out.
  • When Johnny and Daniel arrive at Daniel's practice room to find Robby there, and The Reveal that Robby has been lying to Daniel the whole time. Johnny sees how much respect Robby has for Daniel, even being ready to fight his dad in Daniel's defense, and it instantly sends him into a Heroic BSoD. Then it becomes a double tearjerker when, despite Robby's defense of him only moments ago, Daniel freaks out at Robby's deception and orders him to get out of his life.
  • During the locker room scene where Daniel explains to Robby how messed up Johnny is due to Kreese's influence, it cuts to Johnny walking down the arena hallway and coming across a picture of the man. Johnny just stares at it and the audience can see his sorrowful expression reflected in the frame as he realizes he's unwittingly become the same kind of teacher that Kreese was.
    "Mr. Miyagi always told me there was no such thing as a bad student, only a bad teacher. And your dad had the worst teacher there ever was."
  • Johnny has a sorrowful Little "No" of despair when Miguel gets ready to win the tournament by once again ruthlessly targeting Robby's shoulder, cementing Johnny's failure to avoid repeating the past and once more injuring Johnny's own son. In fact, the whole scene plays off as an antiheroic breakdown as Johnny finds he can't celebrate his dojo's victory thanks to their dirty deeds and his failures, can't reconcile with his son while simultaneously discovering that Daniel is being a better father figure to him, and gets struck silent when Daniel sarcastically (or not) congratulates him on getting what he always wanted. It's no wonder he's next seen Drowning My Sorrows.
  • Miguel looking for Sam after the tournament, and finding out she already left. Even after everything that has happened, he still has feelings for her — and he now realizes what the path he's going down has already cost him.
  • Sam's reaction toward Miguel's chilling declaration that he'll beat down Robby in the finals — she immediately goes to her mom to leave, as she can't watch her newly minted ex-boyfriend beat up another friend of hers out of jealousy.
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    Season 2 
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"You are all Cobra Kai for life. Because Cobra Kai never dies."
  • Johnny spills his guts to Miguel about when Robby was born. With his mother dead, and with a kid on the way, Johnny neglected to welcome his son into the world and instead drank his sorrows. It's clear that at this point, he wants to make up for being a lousy father to Robby by at least being a good father figure to Miguel.
  • Very subtle, but after Daniel reiterates to Robby how karate was always used in self-defense, Robby gleefully replies that Cobra Kai was the exception to this tenet and enthusiastically notes how surprised and unprepared his dad will be by their preempt. The look on Daniel's face after this may or may not spell My God, What Have I Done?.
    • This horrifically foreshadows Robbie's inability to let go of his aggression towards Miguel and Cobra-Kai (especially as he starts falling for Sam) and his failure to understand the bases of Miyagi-Do - after being trumped by Miguel again in the finale, he snaps and attacks his rival while he's trying to apologize, leading to his accidentally almost killing Miguel.
  • Daniel's emotional devastation at seeing the dojo vandalized and Mr. Miyagi's Medal of Honor stolen. He's so hurt that even when he's confronting Johnny about the incident, he's clearly struggling to hold himself together. It is at this point that he goes off the deep end against Cobra Kai, opening the door to a cascade of tragedies that end with Robby possibly facing jail, Daniel's business and marriage on the rocks, and Miguel on death's door.
    • You can also see just how close he is to tears when he says the following line to Johnny:
      "You don't earn a Medal of Honor by stealing it."
  • Tommy's reintroduction is pretty depressing. The audience is treated to a brief flashback of him, Johnny, and Bobby hanging out on their dirt bikes in the first film before showing him in his hospital bed hooked up to machines and close to death's door. Even as he puts on a brave face, seeing what that jovial young man has become thanks to old age and disease is a sad sight to see.
  • Tommy's death in the woods is both this and a crowning moment of heartwarming, as he got to spend his last day on Earth not waiting to die in a hospital bed, but on a road trip with his old Cobra Kai brothers. All the same, it's still tough to watch Johnny and the others wailing over Tommy's corpse before the paramedics put him in a bodybag... and then we later learn that Kreese used Johnny's time away to start setting up his ultimate takeover of Cobra Kai.
  • The moment when Daniel learns that Anoush has quit, and Amanda has to explain to Daniel what a mess he has made neglecting the dealership to spend all his time training his Miyagi-Do fighters. While Daniel had seemed to find balance again at the end of season 1, he completely lost that balance (despite his assurances that "Balance is my thing!") over the course of season 2. Amanda expresses such heartbreaking disappointment in him that it feels like she, too, is on the edge of leaving him. Maybe Daniel isn't a psychopath like the worst Cobra Kai... but his feud with them is still costing him what matters most in his life.
  • Lucille and Daniel reminiscing about Daniel's dad. He's only been mentioned in passing a few times throughout the franchise, so to hear a full memory of him is both sad and heartwarming.
  • Samantha's melancholic drunkenness and shame during and after the party, which prompts Robby to shelter her with his dad so she can avoid letting her parents see her in that condition. Unfortunately, it only makes things worse by reopening the rift between Daniel and Johnny (when they were just starting to patch things up again), and seemingly causing Daniel to write Robby off as a loser like his father.
    • The look on Robby's face as he's clearly crushed by Daniel breaking with him (for good this time)... then he still tells Johnny how much Miyagi-Do helped him and how Johnny and Daniel could both learn from each other.
  • While Hawk's character arc dived sharply through the last half of season 2, the aftermath of the school brawl — when he officially forsakes Johnny's mentoring in favor of Kreese's because his Cobra Kai best friend (Miguel) has ended up in the hospital — is almost certainly Hawk's jerkass event horizon. There's seemingly no hope of him coming back now.
    Hawk: (To Johnny) Miguel is in the hospital because of you. He showed mercy to Robby Keene because of you. If he dies, that's on you.
  • The state of Johnny's life at the end of season 2: Miguel, his star student who looks up to him, has been hospitalized by his actual son, who's turning into a Generation Xerox of Johnny's own worst traits at that age, and his romance with Miguel's mother abruptly ends because of what happened to her son. On top of all that, Kreese (who Johnny foolishly trusted) robs him of the Cobra Kai dojo itself, which will now be perverted into the Thug Dojo that Kreese always wanted - and Johnny is powerless to stop it, because the remaining Cobra Kai students are siding with Kreese, blaming Johnny's "weakness" for what happened to Miguel. At the end, he is once again alone, with no job, no students, no love, and no family (blood or otherwise) by his side. While Johnny is not 100% blameless for things arriving at this point, it's still crushing to see all his hopes, dreams, and good intentions destroyed in the span of a single episode.
    • As Johnny sees Miguel lying comatose in the hospital, he pulls out his phone and sees a voicemail from him. Johnny plays it and learns Miguel had tried coming to him for advice about the Tory/Sam situation that morning but missed him before he left for the day (because Johnny had left to drive Robby to school) and offers to go with him to the burger place to talk about it after school. Once the message ends, Johnny completely breaks down and starts sobbing in the hospital hallway.
    • The end of the second season is a heaping helping of My God, What Have I Done? for any number of characters; but especially for Johnny and Daniel. Their once seemingly innocent dojo rivalry has effectively erupted into a Mob War where their students paid the price. In fact, both men are so distraught in the aftermath that when they end up in the hospital elevator together, they cannot find one word - even in peace - to say to each other. They just know that neither of them can pretend to be the innocent party on this one.
    • Both men seem to realize that this is all their fault, but neither has any idea how to move forward from it and try to reconcile themselves and their students. They both just look so broken, having stared their ultimate failure in the face.
  • Johnny isn't the only sensei to see his hopes and dreams shattered. The aftermath of the school brawl and pressure from his wife both drive Daniel to give up teaching karate altogether. He even apologizes (with his voice breaking) to a portrait of his late mentor for failing to uphold Miyagi-Do karate's philosophy.
    "I tried my best. I thought I was doing the right thing. I'm sorry."
  • The new remix of Cruel Summer that plays at the end. In this version, the lyrics are sung in a somber tone that perfectly reflects just how alone Johnny has become at the end and how disastrously everything turned out.

    Season 3 
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"I just wanted to show that we couldn't be bullied."
  • The first trailer confirms that Robby is indeed incarcerated most likely for injuring Miguel. After everything he did to reject his old criminal lifestyle and become a better person, he still wound up behind bars because of an accident caused in a Moment of Weakness. And while we're on the subject, another trailer shows Robby will have at least one scene where he gets gang-beaten by the other prisoners.
  • Johnny at the start of the season — drunk, aimless, and getting into pointless fights that even as a Cobra Kai master, he cannot win. At the start of season 1, he gets mistaken as a homeless person. For the first couple episodes of this season, with his badly bruised face and drunkenness, he comes across MUCH more like a bum, and it's painful to see him like this.
  • Daniel is now suffering nearly as badly as Johnny as the entire town has turned against him, seeing him and his students as the face of the riot and Miguel's injuries. His business is going under, Sam is suspended, Robby is gone, and there is a strong public outcry against the Miyagi-Do dojo. About the only damn thing going right for Daniel at this point is that Johnny is finally desperate enough to at least try to collaborate with him, and even that quickly washes out when they run out of leads to find Robby.
  • Moon reveals to Yasmine that after the brawl, Aisha's parents were afraid of letting her return to West Valley and enrolled her in a private school. They even sold their house, apparently moving to get away from the community they’ve lived in for years.
  • When Johnny goes to visit Miguel for the first time since he woke up from his coma, he blames his sensei for his current predicament, lashing out at him and tells him, through tears, to leave.
  • Carmen's predicament seeing Miguel so distant and sullen following his discharge from the hospital, since he cannot walk or do the things he used to love to do, particularly karate. It hits hard if you've ever been the parent of a child who now uses a wheelchair - or such a child yourself.
  • The first couple of Kreese flashbacks, in a roundabout way. It's revealed that he was actually heroic in his youth, first saving a woman from abusive Jerk Jocks and then becoming a sufficiently badass soldier to be field promoted into the Green Berets during the Vietnam War. It's genuinely tragic that this fine young man will inevitably become the sociopathic monster that Kreese is today.
    • The final flashback especially qualifies as this. It's brief, but you can see in his facial expression and tone of voice that he's so desensitized to the horror, possibly resembling PTSD, that whatever humanity he had left has been all but snuffed out. It doesn't make him sympathetic, but you start to see why he treats everything he experiences as a war... because the war never left him.
  • When Kreese visits Tory and tries to convince her to return to Cobra Kai, he mentions that he knows her mother is sick, and that his mother was sick as well. When Tory asks if his mother got better, he says that she had a different kind of sickness, and that he couldn't see it until it was too late.
  • Seeing Sam suffer from anxiety and panic attacks in the aftermath of the school brawl is not comfortable to watch, especially when she freezes and breaks down completely following the fight at the abandoned laser tag arena at Golf n' Stuff, where Hawk snaps Demetri's arm.
    • Then there's Demetri's arm being broken by Hawk. Demetri begs Eli not to do it, but he does so anyway which leads to Demetri screaming and crying in pure agony all while Sam watches looking absolutely heartbroken, as she was unable to intervene thanks to her own trauma from her fight with Tory at the school after she heard her voice and the other Cobra Kai members outnumbering her. As mouthy as Demetri was in previous seasons, it's hard not to feel sorry for him here.
      • When Amanda shows up at the hospital and begins to chew out Samantha for starting another fight, she sees her daughter in tears and her anger immediately fades away as she consoles her daughter. When Samantha cries about Demetri getting his arm broken and her being so scared that she couldn't stop it, Amanda finally realizes that Daniel was right about the kids having to defend themselves and she's horrified by what Samantha went through and hugs her and tries to say that everything will be ok.
      "I just wanted to show that we couldn't be bullied..."
      • Even Hawk looks uneasy when he hears Demetri begging and only does it after Tory and the other Cobra Kai members egg him on. Once he does the deed, he clearly shows regret for doing so and realizes he crossed a line.
    • Kyler, on the other hand, shows no such qualms. He gets a look at Demetri's sling, and what does he do? Doodle a big-ass dick the whole length and, for good measure, parade it around for the rest of the campus to see who all laugh at him. And to rub even more salt in the wound, he messes up Demetri's hair and laughs at him again. Even Yasmine wasn't happy about how he's being treated.
  • Despite the being overshadowed by the sheer brutality of the moment, when Hawk is going full ground-and-pound on his former bully Brucks, there's a brief flashback to Eli in Season 1 when he was being mocked in the cafeteria for his cleft lip. It's a small reminder of the person Hawk use to be and the root of all his bitterness and rage. It's arguable that it was actually Eli whaling down on Brucks, not Hawk.
  • Kumiko remained unmarried despite her Auntie's wishes and receiving many proposals. She joked that none of them had ever fought to the death to save her, which Daniel points out (also jokingly) is a tough act to follow. While this was mostly them having a laugh about their past, it's sad that Kumiko lost contact with someone who put his life on the line to save her and that she remained unmarried because none of her suitors ever measured up to that. Then, she had a reunion with Daniel and learned that he married and had a family. Even though there are no hard feelings, that revelation must have been a little heartbreaking for her.
  • Everything that happens with Robby is heartbreaking. At the start of the season, he's on the run from the cops, and everything that happens from then until his eventual joining with Kreese is the result of him feeling constantly betrayed and abandoned by everyone he cares about.
    • Daniel tries to get him a lighter prison sentence by making him turn himself in, but when the cops close in without warning, Robby sees this as Daniel selling him out. Robby is so hurt that every time Daniel calls him in the prison, he just hangs up at the first sound of Daniel's voice.
      • Daniel is unfortunately not able to follow through on his promise to visit Robby regularly. Not long after Robby's arrest, Daniel learns his business is in danger of going belly-up and is forced to travel to Japan in his attempts to save it. All the while, when Robby finally does get a visitor and Robby asks who it is, you can tell he was secretly hoping to see Daniel again.
    • Throughout his incarceration, Robby becomes the target of a trio of juvie bullies who he is unable to defeat with his Miyagi-do skills. They go on to gang-beat him, steal his pillow, mock his troubled relationship with his father, and otherwise do their damnedest to make Robby feel like poor Daniel did at the start of the first Karate Kid.
    • Johnny tries to visit Robby in juvenile hall, but ends up passing on their meeting after Miguel's grandmother had implored him to stay and pray during his surgery, leading Robby to believe his own father had chosen Miguel over him.
    • Robby is able to log onto a prison computer and see that his email inbox is full of worried messages from Daniel, Amanda, Shannon, and even Sam, all begging him to contact them. He does start to write an apologetic reply to Sam, only for one of the juvie bullies to unplug the computer just to be a dick. The universe won't even let Robby have that!
    • And when Robby finally does get out of juvie, he learns that Tory had been telling the truth about Sam really loving Miguel all along, and he catches them both sharing a romantic moment. After being betrayed by his sensei, his father, and now his girlfriend, he finally decides to throw his lot in with Kreese because there's no one in his corner anymore.
    • Remember at the end of season 2, when Robby told Johnny that he and Daniel could both learn a lot from each other? Now at the end of season 3, Johnny and Daniel are finally ready to do exactly that... and Robby has already pissed away his chance to be there.
    • What makes this even sadder is that while all of this is happening, and despite that Robby initially wants nothing to do with him, Kreese's guidance is the only thing improving Robby's life. Through Kreese's simple advice of "strike first", Robby is able to earn his bullies' respect in prison and get them to leave him alone. Then Kreese offers him a place to stay, and he finds comrades and friends with the other Cobra Kais. Robby finally feels that someone has his back again and willingly lets Kreese's poison in, culminating in him putting on a Cobra Kai gi and attacking his own father in the season finale, all while spitting Kreese-esque vitriol. It's no wonder that when Daniel finds out Robby has joined Cobra Kai, he doesn't even look angry, just heartbroken about how he had gone so wrong with Robby and utterly failed him. If everything else is on Robby, this part is definitely not.
  • The same goes for Tory. At the start of Season 3, she's been expelled from school, and the only reason she's not in juvie right alongside Robby is because of her home life. She's working two menial jobs just to survive while doing community service while being creeped on by a lecherous landlord while trying to find the time to complete her GED so that she might eventually climb her way out of this hole. And as though it's not enough that Tory is poor, overworked, and desperate, Kreese plays on this to draw her back into his cult. He feeds her anger and manipulates her lingering feelings towards Miguel, which inspires her to jeopardize her future when she leads not one but two separate assaults on Sam and Miyagi-Do. Her rage and bitterness has not only destroyed any chance she had at salvaging her relationship with Miguel, but pushes Miguel right into the arms of Sam, her most hated target.
    • What makes it even worse is that Tory put her family's security at risk just to pursue a petty grudge. Her mother cannot work because of her terminal illness, and her brother can't do anything because he's a child, leaving Tory as the primary breadwinner. If Tory goes to juvie, her mother will likely be placed in a care home and her little brother sent to foster care. One can only imagine how Tory would react to this from a cell. Sadly, because this is Tory, who will do anything to get revenge regardless of the consequences, she may well use this as fuel to her already-strong resentment and do something even worse. Tory very much exemplifies Mr. Miyagi's warning to Daniel about the ultimate consequence of revenge: there's going to be two graves to fill.
      • On a even sadder note, it might make one wonder if Tory genuinely cares about her family. How would her mother and little brother react to her violating her probation and being locked up for good? Did she ever stop to consider that for one instant past the second episode of season 3? Tory is more likely to give in to her resentment (and go on a rampage) than think about the consequences of her actions, and forget about the Heel Realization ever coming. If her mother knew everything, she'd probably give Tory the biggest Disappointed in You there is. Perhaps worst of all, there's the bit where Tory says to Robby "At least I know what kind of person I am"... it's like she already knows that she's damned to a life of violence and despair, and she's just given up.
    • "On the section on home life, just check off 'stable'. They don't care, they never come to check." Tory saying this to Robby in the Probation Services office just serves to illustrate how the deck has been stacked against her all her life. If this is all that society itself can do to help Tory (and all the other struggling kids), it's little wonder that she follows Kreese's path of darkness so readily.
  • Mr. Miyagi's final letter is likely to provoke two different kinds of tears. Tears of sadness since he's clearly aware that he's going to die soon and is saying goodbye. Tears of joy due to the grace he shows and the love he expresses for his surrogate family. By the end, both Daniel and Kumiko are openly weeping.
  • Even after everything he's done, it's hard not to feel a little bad for Hawk finally realizing that he's aligned himself with the same kind of people who bullied him to begin with. He decides to stop, right then and there, by passing up the chance to attack Demetri in favor of knocking away his captors. Their expressions afterward clearly show that he figured Demetri would still be scared to face him, but is ultimately relieved that Hawk's serious about both his apology and wanting to work with him to take down the remaining students.
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