Wax on, wax off.
For its many faults, Cobra Kai has always had consistently great characters. From our original Karate Kid heroes and villains to the new teenagers, there's a lot of nuance and balance between the characters. Old friends become enemies and old enemies become friends. Season five has a lot of great character work, but there's also some rough patches in there. Anyways, here's my ranking of all twenty Cobra Kai songs from the worst to the best.
20. Kim Da-Eun
Kim Da-Eun was probably the weakest part of season five for me personally. She was just kind of the worst. Every single line was terrible. She sounded like a really bad Star Wars villain. She spoke in riddles, and it didn't help that the Australian actress did a horrible job of disguising her real accent as a Japanese one. The character also just felt out of place in this whole season. And the worst part? When paired with Terry Silver, she took away from his demanding screen presence with how awful she was.
19. Anthony LaRusso
Anthony LaRusso is one of the weirdest characters on this show. He starts off as Daniel's really, really annoying and unlikable son that appears very rarely. In season four, they promote him to a major character. He's a bully. Which makes him even more unlikable. He has almost no redeeming qualities. Every time he was on screen, I hated him, but not in a good way. They gave him a slight bit of redemption in season five...but I still do not like this character at all.
18. Aisha Robinson
Aisha started off as a big character in the first two seasons, but she leaves the Valley after the school fight. I always found her to be annoying. It seemed like they were making a girl version of Miguel, but a lot less likable and a lot less compelling. I just found her annoying. It doesn't help that the performance and writing for this character were lacking. She's not good.
17. Kyler Park
Kyler is the worst. He starts off as the main antagonist of season one, and you just immediately hate his guts. He's a cartoonish bully, but he's effective. Sure, they way overdo it when it comes to what he says and how he acts, but he's just always there as a bad guy. Whenever Cobra Kai shows up, so does Kyler. I hate him. So much. He's so unlikable that I can't put him any higher than this.
16. Devon Lee
Devon is an interesting character. She's not particularly memorable, but she does have a nice journey from Eagle Fang to Cobra Kai. I like the energy that she brings to season four, and then I like her relationship with Tory. She's the best example of somebody that was sucked in by Cobra Kai without having any true motivation besides just wanting to do karate and Cobra Kai being the best option. She's interesting. I don't really have much to say about her. She's not that great. But she's not terrible, either.
15. Demetri Alexopoulos
I'd say there's a pretty big gap in quality between Devon and Demetri. While I've called Anthony and Aisha annoying, Demetri used to be on another level. This character only whined and complained for the first few seasons. He was horrible. He was easily my least favorite character in the show. He improved slightly in seasons three and four, but that doesn't take away the fact that they wrote this character just to bug the audience. I could not stand him.
14. Kenny Payne
Kenny was a weird plot point in season four. He felt somewhat tacked on, but I liked his overall journey. You see this bullied kid try to stand up for himself. They pay off the stuff with his brother just right to send him down the wrong path as he goes to Cobra Kai for help. You see this innocent little kid turn into a savage fighter and one of Kreese's puppets. It's a good arc. They continue this into season five as you see how savage and unforgiving he has become. I really like what they did with him. He's not a huge character, so he can't go much higher, but I think he's good.
Another really, really weird character, Stingray has had a confusing journey in Cobra Kai. He starts off as this hilarious oddball man who just does not understand the situation he's in. Paul Walter Hauser is really, really funny in the role. I love how out of place and weird he was. In the last two seasons, though, he's become more of a plot point. They use him to take down Kreese and then take down Silver, which makes him a much more interesting character. Despite how strange he is, I have fun with Stingray.
12. Carmen Diaz
Carmen is a slightly worse version of Amanda, in my opinion. She's good. She's a good character. She's likable. She's charming. She has some adorable chemistry with Johnny. I love how she's a loyal mother to Miguel and is willing to stand up to Johnny when Miguel is in harm's way. I like where they take her in season five. She works as a plot device for Johnny. On her own, she doesn't have a ton to do. But she's really good at working for other characters. And I mean that as a good thing. She's a solid, solid character.
11. Sam LaRusso
Sam is kind of overrated. She's a good foil to Daniel. I like her position as the middle ground between Johnny and Daniel. She's never fully on Johnny's side, but she's willing to stand up for him against Daniel if Daniel is wrong. I don't think Mary Mouser is a great actress. Her dialogue is stilted and awkward. She uses the same bag of tricks when acting, and it always takes away from Sam's character whenever she's on screen. Story-wise, this character is good, but the acting and dialogue knock her back a significant amount.
10. Amanda LaRusso
In all of the insanity that is Cobra Kai, it's nice to have a voice of reason. Amanda is that voice of reason. She points out the ridiculousness that this whole karate war is. She's the audience POV. Beyond that, she also knows how to keep Daniel or Johnny in check. She's there as a great balance. I like how she mentors Tory in season four. I like how she gets pushed over the edge in season five and leaves Daniel. They use her character really well, even if she doesn't have a massive arc or big, memorable moments.
9. Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz
Hawk has been everywhere: he's been Cobra Kai. He's been Eagle Fang. He's been Miyagi-Do. He's been out of the karate war. I think this makes his character good. The first few seasons make him this loser that becomes confident, but with that confidence comes so much cruelty and bad. His redemption in season three is super satisfying. They find something knew with him in season four, where he loses his confidence and then has to regain it. This is, though, another character that lost some focus in season five, so I can't put him much higher.
8. John Kreese
Ahhh. John Kreese. The first psychopathic sensei himself. Kreese has been given a lot to do in Cobra Kai. I think they've taken his character in some interesting directions. I like how he always stays loyal to Cobra Kai, but is vulnerable when it comes to Johnny. The seriousness that comes with this character sometimes comes off as cheesy, so that knocks him back a bit. He also didn't get a ton of focus in season five. But I like what they've done with Kreese, and season six could be an interesting season for him.
7. Chozen Toguchi
Speaking of characters that didn't get focus in season five...Chozen is not one of those. He got a lot to do in the most recent season, and I absolutely loved his usage. Yuji Okumoto, the actor, did a fantastic job. He's so good at being intimidating but also really, really funny. He executes fish-out-of-water comedy so well. I also love what they've done with his character throughout the show. He's always had respect for Daniel, despite being the main villain of The Karate Kid Part II. He respects Mr. Miyagi, so of course he's willing to come and help Daniel when Mr. Miyagi's legacy is in trouble. He's a really under appreciated character, and was absolutely one of the highlights of season five.
6. Tory Nichols
I originally had Tory a lot lower on this list...but season five shot her up to the sixth spot. In seasons two and three, she felt pretty one-note. She was just cruel. They tried to make her sympathetic in the third season, but it didn't really work. However, season four made her much more nuanced. They nailed the sympathy angle in season four. And then they do a great job in season five of taking their time to give her redemption. You understand her struggle with Cobra Kai and you see it overwhelming her until she's pushed over the edge with guilt and pain and abandons Cobra Kai. They did a fantastic job with her character this season. Definitely the most improved character.
5. Daniel LaRusso
The OG karate kid himself, Cobra Kai has served as an interesting new look at Daniel. He's no longer the charismatic, super likable kid that he was in the original trilogy. Because we are now also rooting for Johnny, there are times where it feels like he's a villain. Daniel is interesting because he doesn't change. He's stayed the same throughout the Karate Kid movies and throughout Cobra Kai. His character flaws cause a lot of problems, but his good traits also often shine through and end up saving the day. They do a really good job of showing that Daniel isn't perfect, but they also make sure you know that he's still the main character of this franchise and has always been the good guy.
4. Robby Keene
Robby has had one of the rockiest journeys on the show. He starts off as this angry, neglected teenager in season one that learns honesty and humility through Daniel. He continues that into season two, but the angry side of him comes out and he severely injures Miguel. Seasons three and four have him become more villainous as he joins Cobra Kai, but he quickly realizes that Cobra Kai creates monsters after he sees the path Kenny goes down. This causes him to understand his father better and it allows him to break down barriers with both Johnny and Miguel, which was one of the most satisfying parts of season five. I really, really dig what they've done with this character in the last two seasons. He's great.
3. Miguel Diaz
Miguel is Cobra Kai's karate kid, but in a totally different way. Instead of having Mr. Miyagi as a mentor, he gets to have Johnny Lawrence. And that makes for a way different dynamic that is all sorts of amazing. Miguel's journey has been so different than Daniel's. Season one is him gaining his confidence, but by the end of that season, he's gone a little too far. Season two has him continue to be at Cobra Kai, but he shows mercy in the finale and pays the price for it. Season three has him gain his confidence again after his injury. Then, seasons four and five send him on a journey of self-discovery as he tries to distance himself from karate and figure out his family life, only to discover that Johnny is his family life and has always been there for him. I think Miguel is the emotional core of the show. All of that plus his innocent charm makes him one of my favorite Cobra Kai characters.
2. Terry Silver
Terry Silver is...wow. I don't know where to start with how much I love this character. I was super excited to see him return in season four, and he absolutely lived up to and even surpassed my expectations. He is utterly insane, but also ridiculously smart. They give you a taste of him in season four. Then, in season five, we get a fully unleashed Terry Silver that shows him as this legitimately evil person who is willing to do terrible, terrible things to win. He breaks Daniel both physically and mentally, and he clearly enjoys it. Thomas Ian Griffith is amazing as this mild-mannered, polite mastermind that can snap off in a second and become terrifying. I love the hell out of this character. He's such a good villain.
1. Johnny Lawrence
Johnny has always been and always will be the best character on this show. The Karate Kid franchise is about two things: mentor-student relationships that mirror father-son relationships and rivalries. Johnny is all of those rolled in to one. He has been on this journey to becoming a better person, and he achieves that journey through finding a son in Miguel. This allows him to eventually mend his broken relationship with Robby and find peace with Daniel. In season five, they REALLY progress him as you see him become the family man and see him helping Daniel at his lowest. Pair that with a bunch of absolutely hilarious politically incorrect and idiotic jokes, and you've got easily, easily the best character on Cobra Kai.