Cobra Kai is one of the strangest shows I think I've ever seen. I'm a big fan of the first Karate Kid, but a legacy sequel TV series to that movie sounds so weird. And it is. But it's good. It's gotten really good over the last few years. This show has some of the best written characters I've seen. It's nuanced. It does a great job of balancing this cast of characters that we've known for a while, but it grounds them and makes them compelling. It's interesting. Anyways, here is my ranking of all five seasons of Cobra Kai.
5. Season 2
Season two of Cobra Kai was a really mixed bag. There's a lot of good ideas in here, but bad execution and continued cartoony elements weigh this season down. They have some seriously strange decisions in here: Daniel's trip to Japan is forced fan service. The school fight in the finale, while narratively good, just plays out like this ridiculous, overblown battle sequence. This is where Cobra Kai took itself too seriously, and it's a good thing that it eased up over the next few seasons.
4. Season 3
Season three is a weird one. It gets rid of this annoyingly serious tone that season two had and brings back the fun, go with the flow vibe that season one had, but it still has a lot of the problems of season two. John Kreese's flashback arc is almost compelling, but it gets way too over-the-top and cartoony to be valid. And, just like season two, the finale seems like a good idea, but a big karate battle is never as cool as it sounds on paper. There's a lot of good in season three, but Cobra Kai was still struggling with the cringe elements here.
3. Season 1
For a legacy sequel TV show to The Karate Kid that aired on YouTube...this is not a bad season of TV at all. Is it really that great? No. Is it ultra-cringy? Yes. But they turn Johnny Lawrence into this funny, fun, and somewhat complicated character that's dealing with the flaws of his personality in the past. Contradict that with Daniel's successful life, and you've got a compelling journey for both characters. Sure, karate being life or death is a strange concept, but once you get past the ridiculousness that always comes along with this show, there's a lot to like.
2. Season 5
Let me be clear: I think there is a HUGE gap in quality between season one and season five. I think the first three seasons of this show are dumb fun. Seasons four and five are actually good TV. I think season five was a frustrating season, because a bunch of the season has some of the best stuff in Cobra Kai, but there's some big, obvious problems staring at you straight in the face. I love Terry Silver. I love the payoff of Robby and Miguel's relationship. I love Tory's redemption. I love the inclusion of Chozen. But this season is bogged down by an overstuffed plot and some problematic pacing. This season was really, really, really good. It's on the verge of greatness. But it's not quite there.
1. Season 4
Season four is, by far, the highest quality and most entertaining season of Cobra Kai. I LOVED this season. Daniel and Johnny finally teaming up is super cool, and there's a lot of problems and challenges that come along with that. As I said before, Terry Silver is an awesome villain. He can be compelling. And he can be terrifying. I love that he represents a bigger threat than John Kreese. Robby and Tory are much more balanced characters. It just feels like this season had everything that was good about Cobra Kai with barely any of its usual problems.