All Cobra Kai Characters, Ranked

Cobra Kai Never Dies.

by J.R. Waugh

Cobra-Kai-Characters-Ranked

Cobra Kai is a massive hit Netflix series with critics lauding it for its combination of corny nostalgic fanservice, and engaging teen drama plotlines with well-written characters.  The show has also got some pretty killer fight choreography and is sometimes painstakingly self-aware, reflecting on many important moments of the original film franchise, while still pushing it forward, along with its surviving characters as they usher in a new generation who is equally passionate about karate.  We’ve gone ahead and listed All the Main Cobra Kai Characters, Ranked!

All Cobra Kai Characters, Ranked

We should quickly clarify that listing a definitive ranking of the entire cast of Cobra Kai would be fairly tedious, not to mention, that we don’t know where one-offs and cameos like Carrie Underwood or Dee Snider would place in the list.  We’ve gone ahead and listed the adults and teenage fighters who get the most story focus in their separate categories, ranking them on skill and strengths as a character:

Cobra Kai Characters | The Students, Ranked

 

#8.  Kyler Park

Cobra-Kai-Kyler

The first bully character, this guy makes numerous appearances throughout the show, and despite his tough demeanor being perfect for the old-school Cobra Kai mentality, he gets his butt thoroughly kicked by seemingly everyone.  But this allows the show to explore more untapped potential in the series, where characters must wrestle with their abusive mentalities, instead of pinning their troubles on one central bully.

#7.  Kenny Payne

Cobra-Kai-Kenny-Payne

Kenny represents an interesting angle on the younger, impressionable generations and how they interact with the world of Cobra Kai.  In particular, Kenny interacts more with Daniel LaRusso’s son, Anthony, who turns out to be a cruel bully himself, which further complicates the image Danny is trying to cultivate as somebody who teaches his pupils to rise above being that type of person.  His character has great potential, being at a crossroads while being taken under the wing at Cobra Kai, but for now, falls short.

#6.  Demetri Alexopoulos

Cobra-Kai-Demetri

Demetri is an admittedly fun character, like if the Stranger Things kids had a lanky friend with a fondness for Doctor Who and pined after the most popular girl in high school.  His character, while fun, is treated more often as a prop over which other, more compelling characters like his longtime close friend Hawk develop.

#5.  Robby Keene

Cobra-Kai-Robby

Son of Johnny Lawrence, Robby has persistently been lacking balance in his life, growing up without his father figure for the longest time.  As a result, he latches onto whoever can impart wisdom or guidance, which has resulted in his worldview being twisted and manipulated by Terry Silver and John Kreese.  A superb fighter, but one lacking direction in life, and in need of proper reconciliation with his father, something he may have finally achieved.

#4.  Samantha LaRusso

Cobra-Kai-Sam

Sam is a fun character, serving as the long-standing love interest of series co-lead Miguel Diaz, and the first protege of her father, Daniel LaRusso.  She demonstrates her proficiency with karate earlier than any other character, yet for the longest time, keeps it concealed in an attempt to live her own life.  She has a searing rivalry with Tory Nichols that results in some drastic confrontations.

#3.  Tory Nichols

Cobra-Kai-Tory

Easily the most troubled teen in an angsty cast of high schoolers, Tory has an immediate aptitude for martial arts and is a natural addition to the Cobra Kai dojo.  Her unusually unfortunate upbringing and home life result in her having a perpetual chip on her shoulder, and her dirty fighting tactics are appreciated both by Kreese and Silver, who use her passion for their gains.

#2.  Eli “Hawk” Moskowitz

Cobra-Kai-Hawk

Eli is, in many ways, the character Daniel LaRusso could have become had he joined Cobra Kai first instead of learning from Mr. Miyagi.  He is another example of a teenage outcast and bullied high schooler who finds his identity while learning to defend himself.  Under Johnny Lawrence’s tutelage, and later that of Kreese and LaRusso, he flips the script, diverting attention away from his cleft lip scar for which he has been mercilessly bullied, sports a dyed mohawk, a hawk tattoo, and a nickname to match.  He undergoes the most visible and complicated development as a character, becoming a superior fighter on the tournament mat and having to wrestle with the notion that his rage could turn him into just another bully if left unchecked.

#1.  Miguel Diaz

Cobra-Kai-Miguel

Johnny Lawrence’s new neighbor turned-pupil, Miguel is another bullied teen at his high school, who learns lessons in confidence and hones what turn out to be prodigious talents under his surprisingly adept teacher.  Miguel is such a central character in the series that there are hardly any individuals on whom his actions and attitudes have no bearing.  His arc is still ongoing, with numerous pivots and injuries that have held him back, but he is the heart of the series with a wonderfully supportive family and father figure in Johnny, and his fight scenes are quite great to watch.  Be sure to keep an eye out for his portraying actor, Xolo Maridueña, who stars in the upcoming Blue Beetle film next year as well as season 5 of Cobra Kai.

Cobra Kai Characters | The Sensei, Ranked

#5.  John Kreese

Cobra-Kai-John-Kreese

It shouldn’t be surprising that Kreese is at the bottom of his category here.  While his character and backstory are fascinating, demonstrating a fierce will to survive in Vietnam and protect his war buddy, Terry Silver, his methods prove time and again to be ineffective, but did successfully establish Cobra Kai as a dojo, along with the tenets “Strike First.  Strike Hard.  No Mercy.”  He is outfoxed or overpowered by each of the other sensei characters in the show and is manipulated for his soft spot for Johnny Lawrence as his former protege.  He and Silver used and teach a style of karate known as Tang Soo Do.

#4.  Terry Silver

Cobra-Kai-Terry-Silver

John Kreese’s longtime partner and financial investor, traumatized by his time in Vietnam and featuring a brutal side even greater than Kreese’s, Silver is the natural extreme of Cobra Kai’s methodology.  His return to the scene was aided by his wealth and therapy, which initially provided a balance for his life as well as recovery from cocaine addiction, however, he felt that leaving Cobra Kai behind was a failure he couldn’t overlook, so he returned to the dojo and took Robby Keene under his wing.  His methods are as brutal as ever, using underhanded ambush tactics and even kicking incapacitated characters when they’re down, considered assault with a deadly weapon.  That smile of his truly cloaks a sinister mind.

#3.  Chozen Toguchi

Cobra-Kai-Chozen

Chozen, Danny’s one-time bitter rival in Okinawa, becomes a hero and partner in Cobra Kai.  His initial contact with Danny upon meeting him again is in the form of an apparent grudge match, but he appears to have buried his vendetta and is surprisingly light-hearted in his middle-aged years.  He took over as sensei for Miyagi-Do karate in Okinawa and even trained Danny with some new techniques.  He has been enlisted to help in taking down the Cobra Kai dojo going forward, so we’ll be seeing more of him.

#2.  Daniel LaRusso

Cobra-Kai-Daniel-LaRusso

The original Karate Kid and 2-time All-Valley champion, Daniel found success in adulthood as a renowned car dealership owner while still sticking true to the defense-only principles left behind by his beloved sensei, Mr. Miyagi.  LaRusso held onto his teachings, even to the point of retaining his master’s passion for bonsai trees, and would try to teach Miyagi-Do karate to his children and the surrounding area with varying results.  Though initially clouded by his old rivalry with Johnny Lawrence, he has found common ground with him since then and learned the merits of his offense-centric style.  Danny continues to learn and hone his craft, soon learning there’s more to Miyagi-Do than he realized.

#1.  Johnny Lawrence

Cobra-Kai-Johnny-Lawrence

The ex-degenerate himself, Johnny is invariably the star of Cobra Kai and the show’s greatest achievement as a character.  The ultimate archetypal 1980s bully, his trauma at the hands of former sensei Kreese left him in a bitter alcoholic depression for decades to follow, to the point of him having an illegitimate son, Robby, and then abandoning him to withdraw further into himself.  His character is endlessly fun, like if you froze him in the 80s, and then thawed him in the present day with a lukewarm Coors Banquet to introduce him to the modern world, full of new technology and mentalities to which he must adjust.  Lawrence took a liking to fellow Reseda resident Miguel Diaz, whom he takes under his wing and forms a surrogate fatherly bond as he seeks to correct past mistakes and find his place in the world.

Cobra Kai Ranking Summary:

Students:

  • #8 Kyler
  • #7 Kenny
  • #6 Demetri
  • #5 Robby
  • #4 Sam
  • #3 Tory
  • #2 Hawk
  • #1 Miguel

Sensei:

  • #5 John
  • #4 Terry
  • #3 Chozen
  • #2 Daniel
  • #1 Johnny

This list covers the main characters of Cobra Kai, but there’s a whole wealth of memorable fighters and supportive characters in the cast through the years.  There’s the dorky manchild Stingray, who idolizes Johnny Lawrence and Cobra Kai, taking on his identity in a similar fashion to Hawk, as well as the surprisingly fierce Amanda LaRusso, husband to Danny and mother to Sam, who finds common ground with Tory while trying to support Danny in his vision, giving her character layers of depth.  Finally, there’s a worthy, honorable mention of Carmen Diaz, Miguel’s mother and love interest to Johnny, who along with being a fairly charming character, gave us the ultimate 80s fever dream sequence, which was hilarious and surreal.

Cobra-Kai-Johnny-and-Carmen

While it’s unfair to call some characters bad, it can be bothersome to watch some of them, such as Nate ‘Fortnite dancing’ at a party (but was admittedly really good) or just how often the teenage characters swap romantic partners, but that’s a fairly common teen drama trope.  Characters such as Yasmine feel comically one-dimensional and lack a purpose beyond being an amusing romantic pairing for Demetri, similar to Moon, although she gets some more fascinating writing.  There are even characters like Aisha, who is certainly likable, but were excluded from future seasons.

The characters frequently swap allegiances and there doesn’t appear to be an end in sight beyond its plans to last at least 6 seasons, but it’s also an endlessly fun show to watch.  There are numerous memorable cameos from musicians Dee Snider and Carrie Underwood, wonderful 1-time appearances from numerous original stars like Elisabeth Shue, and some fantastic fight choreography to keep you at the edge of your seat.  In terms of popularity, engaging confrontations, and drama, Cobra Kai never dies.

This concludes our list of All the Main Cobra Kai Characters, Ranked!  Cobra Kai will release season 5 on September 9, 2022, streaming on Netflix.  For more coverage like this, check out our entertainment column!

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