Karate isn’t a martial art for those who want to show off their new moves – it’s an ancient philosophy that offers its students an alternative path towards spiritual fulfillment. Mr. Miyagi is arguably the only person in The Karate Kid franchise, Cobra Kai included, to understand that the heart of karate isn’t strength but nonviolence.
There are more than a few characters in Cobra Kai who manage to endear themselves to viewers, even if they take the roundabout way to find themselves. That said, being a good person doesn’t automatically make someone likable. Earning affection is the same as earning respect, it requires time and emotional labor.
10 Terry Molts From A Fawning Sycophant Into A Dangerous Serpent
Terry’s outward demeanor suggests that he’s bound to Kreese’s domineering will. He plays the role of sycophant with devastating precision but molts into a dangerous serpent when he concludes that Kreese is no longer fit to promote Cobra Kai’s destructive philosophy.
Snippets of Terry’s violent persona are revealed in Cobra Kai through flashback sequences taken from The Karate Kid Part III (1989). He eventually betrays Kreese and has the latter thrown in jail under false pretenses, an act of pure malice that sets Terry up as Cobra Kai‘s ultimate antagonist.
9 Kreese Reveals That He’s Still The Same Monstrous Sensei He Used To Be
Kreese loses his capacity for mercy during the Vietnam War when he’s forced to choose between survival and his captain’s life. He establishes Cobra Kai as a dojo for students willing to engage with his distorted vision.
Kreese rewards success with praise and failure with the utmost cruelty, as seen when he strangles Johnny for losing the All-Valley Tournament. He returns to haunt his old dojo in the TV series, initially posing as Johnny’s wellwisher before revealing that he’s still the same monstrous Sensei.
8 Tory’s Bloodthirsty Attitude Makes Her Particularly Unlikable
Tory’s life is not a pretty picture – as the only non-disabled member of her family, she has no option but to fight for everything, including basic needs like housing and food.
Kreese lights a fire under Tory’s insecurities, transforming her into a brutal brawler who exhibits little concern for her opponents’ plight. Although she’s not a villain by nature, her bloodthirsty attitude makes her one of the more hateable characters in Cobra Kai.
7 Robby Is Trapped On An Emotional Rollercoaster With No Exit
Robby is trapped on an emotional rollercoaster that he has no idea how to escape from. He befriends Daniel in order to enrage his estranged father, but learning Miyagi-Do karate helps him acquire some much-needed inner peace. His character arc takes a turn for the worse after Miguel’s unlucky accident and subsequent coma.
Robby decides never to open his heart up to anyone else when he ends up in jail. Johnny’s frantic attempts for reconciliation only serve to push Robby further away and into Kreese’s waiting arms.
6 Johnny Gets A Chance To Revive His Broken Dreams In The Form Of Miguel Diaz
Johnny is far too complex a character to be pigeonholed as a villain. He not only acknowledges his first All-Valley defeat but actually applauds Daniel for beating him.
Unfortunately, Johnny remains embittered with Kreese well into adulthood, which consequently prevents him from building a stable life for himself. Johnny gets a second chance to revive his broken dreams in Cobra Kai, taking Miguel Diaz under his wing and forging the timid boy into a formidable warrior.
5 Hawk Reverts To Eli Only After Breaking His Best Friend’s Arm
The only thing that Eli Moskowitz wants is to be included. Instead, he receives an unending stream of abuse for his medical condition. Eli turns his deepest fear into his greatest strength by “flipping the script” on his detractors, forcing them to recognize his potential for the first time.
Eli discards every hint of his previous life in order to become Hawk, a relatively belligerent character who resembles the bullies he once despised. Hawk reverts to Eli after breaking his best friend Demetri’s arm, but he manages to retain most of his hard-earned confidence.
4 Samantha Manages To Step Out From Under Her Father’s Overwhelming Shadow
Sam is a genuinely affable character from the beginning. She refuses to date Kyler when he continues to harass Miguel and bravely weathers the storm of rumors that her ex inflicts on her as revenge. On the other hand, Sam is unable to forgive Tory for her incessant bullying, even after the latter tries to make peace.
Sam’s weakness is her father – Daniel demands that his daughter stay on the Miyagi-Do path and ignores her personal feelings in the process. Thankfully, Sam steps out from under Daniel’s shadow during Season 4’s All-Valley Tournament.
3 Daniel Remains As Cordial And Open-Minded As Ever
Daniel has always been an exceptionally cordial person, right from his introduction in The Karate Kid (1984). He overcomes his apprehensions with Mr. Miyagi’s help and gradually establishes an unbreakable sense of self-esteem.
Daniel is pretty much the same in Cobra Kai, except significantly older and slightly wiser. Like Johnny, he remains entangled in his messy past, although he adapts to the 21st century a bit faster than his old rival. Daniel inadvertently disassociates from his family in his bid to extinguish Cobra Kai, but ultimately finds his way back to them.
2 Demetri Eventually Blossoms Into His Best Possible Self
Demetri’s pessimistic nature is a knee-jerk mechanism developed to protect himself from a world that insists on hurting him for no reason. He resigns himself to a life of loneliness and shame, explaining why he can’t comprehend the notion that other people would ever want to be friends with him, let alone date him.
Demetri’s self-confidence is restored, brick by brick, under Daniel’s compassionate mentorship, which allows him to blossom into his best possible self. Demetri’s innate charm eventually leads him to his first romantic relationship.
1 Miguel Learns How To Balance His Fluctuating Emotions Better Than Anyone Else In The Series
Miguel begins his character arc as a friendly teenager who abhors the idea of hurting other people for any reason, even in self-defense. Johnny teaches him how to stand up for himself, but the Cobra Kai mindset, unfortunately, seeps into Miguel’s impressionable mind, drastically altering his personality.
Miguel’s descent into darkness is further compounded by his paralysis, making him lash out at his mother and Sensei. However, Miguel learns how to adjust his emotions and once again becomes the gentle teenager that everybody loves.