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Only one member of the original Cobra Kai doesn’t appear in the show

Credit: Jon Hurwitz Twitter

Fan-pleasing season two episode Take a Right reunites the original Cobra Kai, as William Zabka is joined by old Karate Kid co-stars Rob Garrison, Ron Thomas and Tony O’Dell all returned. One notable absentee was Chad McQueen. Dialogue explained his character Dutch was in prison, but in reality McQueen has retired from acting and now works full time building race cars and motorcycles.

Will Smith is one of the show’s producers

Credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images for AFI

Will Smith has a producer credit on Cobra Kai, as his production company Overbrook Entertainment owns a portion of the rights to The Karate Kid, after they produced the 2010 remake, starring their son Jaden Smith alongside Jackie Chan. Cobra Kai creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg say The Karate Kid remake is not part of what they call the Miyagi-Verse.

The show includes never-before-seen Karate Kid footage

Cobra Kai features several flashbacks to the events of The Karate Kid, but the show runners were also able to use previously unseen alternate footage shot for the 1984 film by director John G. Avildsen. This includes a shot of Johnny looking up into the stands to see his own parents sitting there, as well as three new angles of Daniel’s legendary crane kick.

Xolo Maridueña has a super intense training regime

Xolo Maridueña heads up Cobra Kai’s younger cast as Miguel Diaz, who goes from bullied loser to karate champion. Unsurprisingly, Maridueña’s training regimen was the most intense of the cast. Maridueña told Glitter Mag Rocks that his training comprised of “a daily 2-4-hour regiment [sic] of working with professional stunts, martial arts, boxing, strength and yoga instructor teams to get me in amazing shape.”

The show plays on fan theories that Daniel is the real villain

1984’s The Karate Kid presents Daniel as the victim of bullying from Johnny and his friends, but some fans suggest that Daniel is actually the real bully. Cobra Kai explores this, constantly reframing events from the 1984 film to show Johnny’s perspective, whilst also showing how Daniel’s hot temper and tendency to rush to judgment often makes situations worse.

Tanner Buchanan has the most martial arts training of anyone in the core cast

Tanner Buchanan plays Robby Keane. While his character also becomes proficient in karate, you might not have known that actor Tanner Buchanan is in reality the most proficient martial artist in the cast of any Miyagi-verse actor, as he holds a purple belt in tae kwon do. The only other Karate Kid actor more highly trained in martial arts is the remake’s star Jackie Chan.

The Next Karate Kid’s Hilary Swank could still appear

One of the few notable Karate Kid series actors yet to appear in Cobra Kai is Hilary Swank, who played Julie Pierce alongside Pat Morita in 1994’s The Next Karate Kid. The two-time Oscar-winning actress has declined to address the question in interviews, but Cobra Kai’s showrunners have indicated they would love for her to appear, and remain hopeful it may happen.

Jacob Bertrand’s make-up and hair takes two hours to apply

Jacob Bertrand’s Eli, aka Hawk, is notable for his huge mohawk and back tattoo. This obviously means Bertrand has to spend a little longer in hair and makeup than his co-stars. Hawk’s signature haircut takes a full hour to apply, and Bertrand also has to sit for roughly half an hour while his back tattoo is painted on.

William Zabka almost said no to the show

It took a seriously compelling pitch to get William Zabka on board with Cobra Kai, since he didn’t approve of Lawrence reopening the Cobra Kai dojo. Zabka remarked at the Tribeca Film Festival, “It’s Pandora’s Box for him. It’s the snake that bit him, you know.” He ultimately agreed to star once it was made clear the show would explore how Cobra Kai damaged Johnny.

It took a lot to convince Ralph Macchio to be on the show

Daniel LaRusso actor Ralph Macchio also needed some convincing to sign on for Cobra Kai, as he felt protective over the legacy of the original Karate Kid films. It took many meetings with the show’s writers before he agreed to sign on. Of course, both Zabka and Macchio have since said they love the show and are thrilled to reprise their iconic characters.

Peyton List was convinced she’d failed her audition

Cobra Kai season two introduces Peyton List as the troubled Tory. List, who previously appeared in a number of Disney Channel shows, was apprehensive about auditioning for Cobra Kai and was convinced she hadn’t won the role since she auditioned so last-minute. Her intuition turned out to be wrong, as she actually aced the audition, and was thrilled to be offered the role.

The show’s creators were inspired by a How I Met Your Mother plotline

In sitcom How I Met Your Mother, character Barney Stinson is a big The Karate Kid fan, but one episode he states that Johnny Lawrence is the Karate Kid, not Daniel LaRusso. Both Ralph Macchio and William Zabka cameoed in this episode as themselves, and after seeing this, the Cobra Kai creators were inspired to make a sequel series exploring this dynamic further.

Most of the Cobra Kai actors are actually professional dancers

While Tanner Buchanan has martial arts experience, most of his Cobra Kai co-stars were cast based on a background in dance or gymnastics. Aside from the main characters, almost all the kids training at either dojo have worked as professional dancers at some point in their careers. The reasoning is that if someone is used to learning dance choreography, fight choreography shouldn’t be that different.

Nichole Brown wasn’t asked to return for season three

One key character in Cobra Kai’s first two seasons is Aisha, played by Nichole Brown. Sadly, Aisha was written out of the show in season three and hasn’t returned, aside from a brief cameo in season four. Reportedly the show’s writers couldn’t find anything new for her character to do, although there are also rumors that Brown was forced to quit due to health problems.

William Zabka and Ralph Macchio are actually great friends in real life

Credit: Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Netflix

Although Johnny and Daniel have a volatile relationship for much of Cobra Kai, William Zabka and Ralph Macchio are actually good friends in real life. Though they got on well when the first Karate Kid was filmed in the 80s, the two became even closer after the passing of Pat Morita in 2005 and have reportedly been close ever since.

It’s the second time William Zabka and Diora Baird have played a couple

Diora Baird makes occasional appearances in Cobra Kai as Shannon Keene, Johnny’s ex and Robbie’s mother. This is actually the second time Zabka and Baird have played a couple, since they are also together in Hot Tub Time Machine. Released in 2010, the offbeat comedy sees Zabka plays Rick Steelman while his girlfriend, played by Baird, is never even given a name.

You can tell the allegiance of the characters by the colours they wear

Look closely the next time you watch Cobra Kai: if you’re wondering how a character is feeling, all you have to do is look at their clothing choices. Characters feeling secure in their allegiance to Cobra Kai will be seen wearing red, with the darker characters wearing black. In contrast, characters loyal to Miyagi-Do are often seen in blue, and occasionally in white.

William Zabka broke a toe kicking blocks for season one

Relearning stage combat in middle age is bound to be a gruelling process, as William Zabka learned. While kicking through wooden blocks in season one, Zabka felt his toe break. Rather than let his waiting stunt double take over, however, Zabka embraced his inner Johnny Lawrence and simply pulled his toe out of the socket to reset it himself, before going back for another take.

There’s a Cobra Kai video game

If you’re one of many new fans trying to fill the time until season six drops, check out Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues, a video game roughly based on the events of the first two seasons. The side-scrolling beat-em-up lets you play as everyone from Johnny Lawrence to Hawk, and is no doubt much easier than training in karate for real.

Tommy actor Rob Garrison died shortly after appearing in the show

Nostalgic season two episode Take a Right establishes that Tommy is suffering with cancer – from which he dies by the episode’s end. This episode was heartbreakingly true to life, as Tommy actor Rob Garrison was indeed terminally ill. Take a Right proved to be his final acting credit, and he passed away not long thereafter on September 27th, 2019, aged just 59.

Season two gives us a hint about the grown-up Freddy Fernandez’s livelihood

The original Karate Kid features Israel Juarbe as Freddy Fernandez, Daniel’s neighbor who memorably wears a somewhat risque T-shirt with two cartoon pigs on it. Cobra Kai season 2 suggests Fernandez never grew out of his piggy fixation, and went into butchering: when Daniel teaches his students to fight in extreme cold, he uses a freezer room where we see a Fernandez Meat Co. logo.

Tanner Buchanan’s mother is a real karate black belt

Tanner Buchanan got his love of martial arts from his mother, Marlona Buchanan, who has had a lifelong interest in the sport and is a black belt in karate, putting her on par with the professionals. As well as spurring her son to his own success in martial arts, this probably also helped him land his Cobra Kai role.

The show’s creators are considering five different spin-offs

The creators of Cobra Kai have said they’re keen to explore the Miyagi-verse further. Hayden Schlossberg said: “What I can say is that we have a list of at least five different scenarios that we would pursue, that we could consider… some of them are untraditional. Some of them are unlike any kind of spin-off you’ve ever seen before.”

Robbie and Miguel making the tournament final in season one makes no sense

As fun as Cobra Kai is, it demands some serious suspension of disbelief – not least regarding how quickly the kids become karate masters. When Miguel and Robbie make the All-Valley Tournament final they’ve been studying mere months, when in reality years of practice would be required to fight at that level. Of course, the same was true of Daniel in the original Karate Kid.

Mary Mouser got to keep her favourite outfit from season one

One scene that didn’t require intensive fight training was when Miguel and Sam first went on a date in season one. Sam actress Mary Mouser became so attached to her date night outfit, she asked to take it home. While most of the time the cast were not allowed to take home costume or props, Mouser was granted permission on that particular occasion.