Cobra Kai picks up decades after The Karate Kid. As such, we learn that those characters have grown up and have been living their own lives after the All-Valley Tournament. It's fascinating to find what things have changed and what things have stayed the same. Of course, along the way, we're reintroduced to characters we knew back in the '80s, and we get to see how they've evolved since the film.
Nothing stays the same, and that goes for the characters of The Karate Kid. We're going through seven characters who went through the biggest change from The Karate Kid to Cobra Kai.
7 JOHNNY LAWRENCE
This goes without saying. Johnny Lawrence is the main character of Cobra Kai. We see the events of The Karate Kid through his perspective and find out that he's not such a bad guy. However, after being raised by a rich family, Johnny ended up down on his luck in Cobra Kai. Even then, he grew a lot from the ruthless bully he was back in The Karate Kid. It turns out that Johnny kept getting knocked down all his life, but he still knows how to care for other people.
This is better accented when he starts his own Cobra Kai dojo. He takes a vested interest in his students and is constantly out for their best interests. There are many times in the show when we're rooting for him over Daniel LaRusso at times. He's done some awful things, particularly as a father, but Cobra Kai shows that he's trying to rectify his mistakes and become a better person. He's even denounced Cobra Kai.
6 DANIEL LARUSSO
Daniel LaRusso was the protagonist of The Karate Kid, but a lot has changed since the All-Valley Tournament. Daniel decided to leave the fighting behind and become a family man, which also motivated him to start his own auto company. Daniel has settled down and is far less reckless than he was back in the films.
He also takes pride in his past, but he doesn't seem to relish in it. When he finally becomes the sensei of the new Miyagi-Do Karate, it's clear that Daniel is far from becoming the next Mr. Miyagi. It seems that he gets caught up in the rivalry and, at times, forgets everything that he learned while studying under Miyagi. He still keeps the old lessons that Miyagi taught him and tries to pass them on to his own students, but that's where the similarities end. At least he has a good relationship with his wife and daughter.
5 LUCILLE LARUSSO
Lucille LaRusso is the mother of Daniel LaRusso. She was the one Daniel was living with in The Karate Kid. She was a hard-worker and encouraged Daniel to be content with the things he had in life. It was a nice surprise to see her return in Cobra Kai and have dinner with Daniel's family.
However, Lucille's hard work seems to have paid off by the time we meet her again. She has an appreciation for the finer things in life and has great expectations for Daniel's wife as well. At her core, she's still Daniel's mother that we all know and love, but she has a bit of edginess to her that a lot of people are unfortunately familiar with. She is now a difficult woman to please, but it's only because she loves her son.
4 JOHN KREESE
After John Kreese's defeat at the All-Valley Tournament as well as him choking Johnny Lawrence, things went downhill for him quickly. He was no longer the sensei of Cobra Kai and was essentially on his own for the next few movies. Despite an attempted revival at the hands of Terry Silver, it ended even worse for Kreese. It was theorized that he was even dead, but he returned in Cobra Kai season two.
He appeared to want to turn over a new leaf and reestablish a relationship with Johnny Lawrence, but it's clear that Kreese still had some screws loose. The biggest change is that Kreese was living in a grungy apartment and was down on his luck, just like Johnny was. He tried to convince the Cobra Kai students that he was in all sorts of wars, but it turns out that the military wouldn't take him back. He now had to lie to get the adoration of his new students. In season three, we'll probably see him return to the old John Kreese.
3 ALI MILLS
Ali was the cute ex-girlfriend of Johnny Lawrence in Cobra Kai. While the two were working out their differences, she began to fall for Daniel LaRusso when he came into town. Ali ended up dating Daniel, but their relationship didn't last too long. Johnny and Daniel talk about her in Cobra Kai and find out that she eventually got married and worked as a pediatric surgeon in Denver.
This is a drastic change from the optimistic relationship we saw her hold with Daniel in The Karate Kid. Most relationships in '80s movies seemed like they were designed to last together while having some nostalgic rock music playing in the background. Having apparently left him for some football player after the first film, it's nice to see that she's settled down herself. She seems to have done pretty well for herself, though it seems that we'll hear all about that in the show's third season.
2 JOHNNY'S FRIENDS
Johnny Lawrence didn't work alone in The Karate Kid. He had a lot of friends who studied at Cobra Kai with him. However, they were all bullies just the same. They picked on Daniel LaRusso and were willing to take him down at all chances they had. We meet Johnny's friends again in the second season of Cobra Kai.
Unlike Johnny, most of them have led fulfilling lives. One is a pastor, and one is a family man. Dutch is still in prison and one sadly passed away due to cancer, but they're much different from the "henchmen" they were in The Karate Kid. That said, Cobra Kai showed that they still had what it took to become the top contenders in any fight. They all agreed on one thing, though: bringing John Kreese back was a serious mistake on Johnny's part.
1 MR. MIYAGI
Mr. Miyagi was the wise and lovable teacher to Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid. He taught LaRusso everything he knew, from karate moves to life lessons. He was famous for never striking first and always letting his opponents take care of that themselves. While he and Daniel disagreed several times throughout the franchise, Daniel came to understand that Mr. Miyagi always seemed to know what was best and didn't hesitate to let him know.
Mr. Miyagi didn't go through a big change in the traditional sense in Cobra Kai. Actor Pat Morita, unfortunately, passed away back in 2005, making it impossible to have Mr. Miyagi return. As such, Cobra Kai picks up with Miyagi having already passed away, leaving a hole in Daniel's heart. It was Miyagi's absence that led Daniel down an emotional path where he was ready to take on Johnny Lawrence and Cobra Kai once more.