It’s not good to put people, even fictional ones, on a pedestal. The higher the pedestal is, the easier it is for the person to, metaphorically, fall from it. That can often happen even when fictional characters are looked to as role models. It’s important to realize, however, that a good role model doesn’t necessarily mean that a character never makes mistakes and presents themselves as perfect. What that means is that a character makes mistakes and grows from them, like so many of the characters in Cobra Kai.
All of the characters in Cobra Kai are flawed, dramatic, and layered. They make mistakes, they grow, and sometimes, they fall back down. Some of the characters make more violent mistakes than others, and some refuse to learn the lessons presented to them until it’s almost too late. It’s the latter that don’t make the best role models.
10 Good Role Model: Miguel Learns To Respect His Own Limits
Miguel is someone who initially wants to see the good in people. He tries to talk things out with bullies, but doesn’t realize the situations he’s in are going to be more than he can handle. It takes him joining Cobra Kai and briefly becoming something of a bully himself to realize that there have to be limitations to the confrontations he gets involved in.
That’s only exacerbated when he has to learn to walk again after the brutal fight at school and the pressure of competing for the fate of his dojo mounts. Miguel decides to walk away from the competition, feeling overwhelmed and a little lost, to find out more about his past. While the way he does it, not telling his mother anything until he’s already gone, isn’t his smartest decision, he does what he thinks is right for himself.
9 Bad Role Model: Robby Continues To Have Trouble Making Good Decisions
Robby wants to be a good kid, and he wants to be a successful kid. He wants to be able to do better in life than either of his parents have. Unfortunately, Robby continually makes the worst possible decisions to get himself there.
Initially, he runs scams and steals with a group of older kids to make a little extra money. He skips school on a regular basis to do whatever he wants. Briefly, Robby thinks he’s found a way to turn his life around by staying with the LaRusso family, but that also backfires for him when the rivalry between his father and Daniel becomes a part of his own life. Robby ends up in a juvenile detention center for his crimes, and then Robby turns to Kreese at Cobra Kai for help instead of the people who genuinely care about him. Robby doesn’t seem to learn from his past mistakes, but continues to trust the people he shouldn’t.
8 Good Role Model: Demetri Learns To Give Things A Chance
Demetri is terrified of anything that could even potentially be dangerous when the series begins. He keeps his head down and tries to avoid any kind of confrontation whatsoever. He’s also brilliant, which means he learns the statistics about even the most mundane things, making him see the danger and potential for injury everywhere he goes.
Despite that, he does eventually embrace karate and start to learn techniques from the LaRusso family. Demetri slowly begins to embrace a little more risk and stand up for himself, becoming a stronger person. Even after he gets his arm broken by members of Cobra Kai, Demetri becomes someone who can face his fears and use logic to try to avoid confrontation.
7 Bad Role Model: Hawk Turns To Violence To Solve His Problems
Hawk certainly has the potential to become a good role model. He’s begun turning over a new leaf in the later seasons of the show. In the first few, however, he allows the aggression and violent mentality of Cobra Kai to completely change who he is.
Hawk becomes a violent bully, ready to start a fight so nobody else can pick on him. He becomes so focused on being the most aggressive person in the room that he breaks his former best friend’s arm without thinking about the consequences until much later. Time will tell if he’s truly learned from the mistakes of his past.
6 Good Role Model: Sam Tries To See Both Sides Of Any Situation
The audience might not have thought Sam LaRusso would have role model potential when she first debuted in the series. After all, she sat in the back seat of her friend’s car during a hit-and-run and did nothing about it. She also stood by while her friends bullied someone she’d been friends with her entire life. Sam. however, didn’t take long to see that she couldn’t just stand by and do nothing.
She becomes a stronger person as soon as she starts speaking her mind and standing up for her own feelings. Even when she’s arguing with her father, it’s more about him not understanding her point of view than simply being the dramatic daughter of the teen drama. Sam tries to understand both her father’s and Johnny’s points of view when it comes to conflict, allowing her to maintain friendships on both sides of the rivalry.
5 Bad Role Model: Daniel Doesn’t Allow For Outside Perspectives
Daniel LaRusso has a habit of thinking of himself as the hero. He’s always seen himself as the good guy whose life is turned upside down by the bad guys, but the reality is a little more complicated than that. Because he’s so focused on the things he knows must be true, Daniel doesn’t allow other perspectives in.
That means he can’t see the good parts of Johnny’s ideas in teaching karate. It also means he can’t understand why Robby and Sam won’t adhere solely to his style of karate. Daniel tends to be unbending, and he would be a better role model if he learned to appreciate other points of view.
4 Good Role Model: Moon Encourages Everyone To Be Open-Minded
Moon might not always appear to be the most academically smart person in the room, but her emotional intelligence is great. She sees a lot more than people give her credit for, and is one of the first of her friend group to stop bullying others to hold on to her popularity.
Moon doesn’t believe that violent arguments can solve problems. Her idea of writing a song to bridge the gap between two groups might not always work, but Moon is willing to try things that don’t involve putting someone through a wall.
3 Bad Role Model: Raymond Worries Too Much About Being Liked
Raymond is an adult spending all of his time getting a group of teenagers to like him. He’s willing to do whatever it takes to belong, like hosting parties of illegal activities for the kids and lying about an assault to the police.
While there’s no reason Raymond can’t be interested in learning karate as an adult, his attachment to a group of teenagers is what’s most worrying. He shouldn’t be so consumed by a group of people so much younger than him wanting to be his friend; he should live his life.
2 Good Role Model: Johnny
There is no denying that Johnny Lawrence makes a lot of bad decisions and a lot of mistakes that put other people in danger. Johnny is a little impulsive and, as Sam tells him at one point, kind of a mess. Johnny, however, is also authentically himself.
He stands up for the right to make his own decisions, he tries to help those he can, and he’s working to find his path in life. Johnny might be learning slowly, but he is learning and growing from those mistakes.
1 Bad Role Model: Kreese Encourages Dangerous Habits
While there is a hint that Kreese might not be the worst of the bad guys in the series with his soft spots for both Johnny Lawrence and Tory Nichols, there’s no denying that Kreese is a bad influence on the teens he teaches.
Kreese teaches them to use violence and aggression to solve their problems rather than get to the root of the problem in the first place. He also manipulates and lies to get what he wants. None of that makes him a good role model.