Spoilers ahead for Cobra Kai season five!
Cobra Kai recently kicked its way back onto Netflix for its fifth season, and the stakes for the Miyagi-verse heroes and villains have never been higher. Following their defeat at the hands of the sinister billionaire Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) at the All Valley Karate Tournament, Johnny (William Zabka), Daniel (Ralph Macchio), and the students of the combined Miyagi-Do/Eagle Fang dojo have disbanded. But as Silver and his supercharged Cobra Kai dojos spread across the Valley, friends, foes, and faces from the past will have to unite to stop him from taking his twisted brand global. Below, EW ranks 20 of Cobra Kai's most valuable players based on their performance on the series so far.
20. Kyler Park
Throughout the show's five seasons, Kyler (Joe Seo) has gone from bully who doesn't know karate, to bully who knows karate — but mostly he just gets his butt kicked a lot. Introduced in season one as Sam's shady boyfriend, he tormented Miguel, Eli, and Demetri in the halls of West Valley High, inspiring Miguel to begin his journey with martial arts. He joined the ranks of Cobra Kai in season three, and has remained loyal to the dojo and its philosophy of "no mercy" ever since.
A constant antagonist, his rank on the list remains low due to limited character growth and a pretty terrible fight record. Perhaps now that he's quit the dojo alongside his fellow Cobras, Kyler will change his ways. Or maybe not. Look, not everyone learns a lesson — just ask John Kreese's (Martin Kove) therapist.
19. Kim Da-Eun
Kim Da-Eun (Alicia Hannah) is a cruel sensei brought into the Cobra Kai family by Silver after his search for instructors in the Valley leaves him unsatisfied. The granddaughter of his former master, Kim Sun-Yung, she teams-up with the Miyagi-Do nemesis to help bring her family's legacy — "the way of the fist" — to a global stage in the international Sekai Taikai martial arts tournament.
Da-Eun's methods are brutal, at one point forcing Cobra Kai champ Tory Nichols (Peyton List) to punch a stone until her hands bleed. Despite Sensei Kim's alleged fighting prowess, she is taken down by the combined efforts of her former pupils, Tory and Devon Lee (Oona O'Brien) — the latter having only trained for about a year.
18. Anthony LaRusso
The spoiled, chore-adverse son of Daniel and Amanda (Courtney Henggeler), Anthony (Griffin Santopietro) is barely present until season four, when he succumbs to social pressure and begins to relentlessly bully classmate Kenny Payne (Dallas Dupree Young).
By the season's end, the tables have turned when the Cobra Kai-empowered Kenny puts the hurt on the youngest LaRusso. His attempts to apologize for his past behavior are brushed aside, and he experiences what life on the other side feels like for most of season five. Finally inspired to join his older sister Sam (Mary Mouser) in Miyagi-Do, he plays a crucial role in the takedown of Terry Silver.
17. Raymond "Stingray" Porter
The immature Stingray (Paul Walter Hauser) was the only adult student at Cobra Kai. After he used his martial arts training to assault minors in the West Valley High brawl at the end of season two, he found himself jobless and on probation.
Furthermore, his arrest led to a lifelong ban from the dojo by a disgusted John Kreese. When Kreese is ousted from the karate school by his former partner and war buddy, Silver, Stingray begs for re-entry. Silver beats him half to death, and in exchange for blaming the attack on Kreese, he gifts him membership to the dojo and an expensive new apartment. Stingray eventually reveals the truth, and his testimony is instrumental in sending Silver to jail.
16. Devon Lee
Smart and quick-tempered, the former Eagle Fang student becomes a member of Cobra Kai when her new dojo is bought out by Silver. Paired up with tournament rival Tory Nichols, she slowly forms a bond with the Queen Cobra when she reveals she lost her mother to cancer. A quick study, Devon has the potential to be a martial arts superstar.
15. Carmen Diaz
Carmen (Vanessa Rubio) fled Ecuador with her mother, Rosa (Rose Bianco), and unborn son to escape her dangerous husband, Hector Salazar (Luis Robert Guzman). As an X-ray technician, she has worked hard to provide a better life for Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), often moving them from one place to the next. Initially opposed to his karate training, and convinced Johnny was a "bad influence" on her son, she has warmed up to both, and is now expecting a child with the former Cobra Kai instructor.
14. Mike Barnes
Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan) was a ruthless karate champion hired by Terry Silver to destroy Daniel LaRusso in The Karate Kid Part III. He terrorized Daniel, assaulted Daniel's friend Jessica Andrews (Robyn Lively), and destroyed the bonsai shop Daniel co-owned with Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) — all to force him into competing in the All Valley Tournament. After his defeat, he was banned from martial arts competition and faded from the public eye.
In season five of Cobra Kai, Daniel tracks Mike down for help in his fight against Silver and discovers a reformed Barnes running a furniture store. Unfortunately, LaRusso's return wreaks havoc on his life, and Silver burns his business to the ground. He blames Daniel at first, but then realizes his old boss is behind his misfortune, and teams up with Johnny and Chozen (Yuji Okumoto) in a misguided assault on the Cobra Kai leader's home. His storyline is brief but leaves a mark — mostly on Silver's goons. Here's hoping we see more of him in the future.
13. Demetri Alexopoulos
The neurotic Demetri (Gianni DeCenzo) is the childhood best friend of Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz (Jacob Bertrand). After two unsuccessful attempts to join Cobra Kai, Demetri found his way to Miyagi-Do karate, where he slowly gained a sense of self-worth — and a girlfriend in mean girl Yasmine (Annalisa Cochrane).
However, his allegiance to Daniel's school put him at odds with his former BFF, and during one of the many clashes between the dojos, Hawk intentionally broke Demetri's arm. Despite this brutal betrayal, Demetri forgave his former friend when Hawk quit the toxic Cobra Kai clan. With his Tech Town-honed computer skills, Demetri was an essential part of the mission to hack into Terry Silver's servers and expose his misdeeds.
12. Amanda LaRusso
The LaRusso family matriarch is the best LaRusso and cousin of Karate Kid III's Jessica Andrews. The co-owner of LaRusso Auto Group, she is often the lone voice of reason, frustrated by the increasing number of "childhood karate rivals" that threaten her family, home, and business.
In season five, Amanda finally reaches her limit with her husband's Cobra Kai obsession, and briefly takes the kids to her mother's house in Ohio — where she gets in her first onscreen fight. Despite her lack of martial arts skills, Amanda LaRusso's refusal to back down when it comes to her family makes her one of the bravest characters on Cobra Kai.
11. John Kreese
A diabolical Vietnam vet who's menaced Daniel and Johnny in one form or another since 1984's The Karate Kid, Kreese is the O.G. villain of the Miyagi-verse. He convinced Silver to rejoin Cobra Kai, setting off a chain of events that eventually landed himself in jail.
But prison wasn't enough to hold him, and after months of manipulating events from the inside through his Cobra Kai mole Tory, Kreese made a daring escape at the conclusion of season five. On the loose and out for revenge, he's determined to keep his legacy from being erased.
10. Samantha LaRusso
Samantha LaRusso is one of the best fighters in either dojo, and for good reason: her skills are consistently put to the test. Whether it's a brawl in the halls of West Valley High, a post-prom free-for-all, or a home invasion, Sam finds herself in danger on a regular basis.
While past seasons saw her deal with the effects of PTSD and the pressures of choosing Miyagi-Do over Eagle Fang, her season five search for identity felt half-realized, and could've used more space to breathe. Regardless, when push inevitably came to shove, Sam led the charge into battle, helping Tory and Devon take down Sensei Kim in the climactic fight at the flagship Cobra Kai studio. Now that she's recommitted to both karate and her on-again, off-again, on-again paramour, Miguel, here's hoping it clears the way for a more focused season six.
9. Kenny Payne
The painful bullying Kenny goes through at the hands of Anthony LaRusso and his friends in season four transforms him from a sweet, fun-loving kid into a hardened member of Cobra Kai. Trading in cosplay for high kicks, he becomes the very bully he trained to fight.
He takes a leadership role in season five, representing the dojo in a qualifying fight for the Sekai Taikai tournament, choosing to use dangerous tactics to win. When the truth about Silver comes to light, Kenny is forced to face facts about who he has aligned himself with — and who he has allowed himself to become.
8. Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz
An introverted outsider in season one who suffered from low self-esteem, Hawk found his voice thanks to karate and a haircut. His tumultuous arc throughout the series took him from hero to villain and back, as he wrestled with his own self-loathing.
Despite losing his dojo, life is good for Hawk these days. He's the All Valley male champ, back with his girlfriend Moon (Hannah Kepple), and his friendship with Demetri has been restored. He seems to be at peace with himself, which is good for Hawk and not so good for his storyline, as he mostly takes a backseat this year. He takes a few L's as well, most notably in a waterslide race against Tory, and a fight with Kenny in the Sekai Taikai tournament qualifier. With the tournament looming on the horizon, and a championship title to defend, it probably won't be long before the fighter formerly known as Eli finds himself back on the mat.
7. Robby Keene
The wayward son of Johnny Lawrence has ping-ponged between light and dark, Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai, throughout the series. Following a rough couple of years that involved living in a van and going to juvenile hall, Robby (Tanner Buchanan) and his father finally began to heal their relationship at the end of season four. Their recent road trip to Mexico brought the duo even closer together, setting up new paths for their story to take.
Season five finds him walking the road of reconciliation as he makes amends with Miguel, attempts to rescue Kenny and Tory from the clutches of Cobra Kai, and eventually rejoins Miyagi-Do. With the trauma of the last few years behind him, Robby seems poised and ready to step into a leadership role in the combined Miyagi-Do/Eagle Fang dojo.
6. Tory Nichols
The martial arts bad girl from the wrong side of the tracks, Tory's rivalry with Samantha LaRusso was the thrust of her storyline up through season four. In season five, however, as All Valley Female Champion, she wrestles with the knowledge that her win over her arch-nemesis was bought and paid for by her nefarious sensei Terry Silver.
Disillusioned, the Queen Cobra forms a bond with fellow fighter Devon Lee and tries to keep her from making the same mistakes she did. Her slow burn toward redemption, and her plot to take down Cobra Kai from the inside, make Tory one of the season's most compelling characters.
5. Terry Silver
A sociopathic billionaire hellbent on destroying Daniel LaRusso and conquering the Valley's karate scene, Terry Silver is the jolt of electricity Cobra Kai needed as it headed into its fifth year. His diabolical plan to steal the dojo from John Kreese was a Lex Luthor-worthy maneuver.
The 6'5" supervillain and faux philanthropist buys, cheats, and terrorizes his way to the top of the martial arts mountain. After successfully expanding his state-of-the-art studios across the San Fernando Valley, he sets his sights on taking Cobra Kai international. Although his plans go up in smoke when his crimes are exposed, it would be foolish to count this King Cobra out.
4. Daniel LaRusso
Mr. Miyagi's protege has taken out his fair share of challengers, but season five's face-off with Terry Silver proves to be his toughest yet. Not only does the megalomaniac force the Miyagi-Do dojo to close, but he drives a wedge between Daniel and his wife, almost costing the two-time All Valley champ his marriage.
Despite teaming up with all three of his "karate rivals" to take down his nemesis, in the end, Daniel faces off against Silver alone, delivering a crane kick to his plans for worldwide domination. This final showdown is a reminder that it may have been over three decades since he first took Cobra Kai to the cleaners, but Daniel LaRusso has still got it.
3. Miguel Diaz
The relationship between Johnny and Miguel is the heart of Cobra Kai. The ups and downs of their surrogate father-son bond is the driving force behind some of the series' best plotlines.
When Miguel runs off to Mexico to find his biological father, he quickly discovers why his mother ran from him in the first place, and the value of what he left behind. Heartbroken, he runs into the arms of Johnny, who has driven to Mexico to find him. While this storyline unfortunately feels rushed, it brings the sensei and student even closer together, and sets the stage for Miguel's ceasefire with Robby. Season five may not be Miguel's strongest showing story-wise, but the strength of his journey throughout Cobra Kai keeps him near the top of this list.
2. Chozen Toguchi
Another one of Daniel's former rivals, the one-time villain of The Karate Kid, Part II has made amends for his past and is now fully on team Miyagi-Do, flying in from Okinawa to help stop Cobra Kai's psychotic leader.
A loyal warrior, and expert with the Sai, this lover of Long Island Iced Teas can take down henchmen as easily as he can down a mixed drink. His epic clash with Silver in the finale was one of the series' best fight scenes. Whether he's posing undercover, or over-enthusiastically kicking the butts of Mike Barnes' employees, the delightful Chozen was a highlight of the current season.
1. Johnny Lawrence
The latest installment of Cobra Kai finds problematic fave Johnny Lawrence finally ready to move on from the crane kick that ruined his life. It only took a few decades, a few karate wars, and more than a few Coors Banquets to get here, but he is ready to start putting his house in order — both literally and figuratively.
Make no mistake, however, the father-to-be is still a hilarious jerk (as evidenced by his stint as a rideshare driver), but he's become a jerk with a heart of gold. Now that he's reconciled with Daniel, Robby, and even his ex, Shannon (Diora Baird), he has one last figure from his past to face — his former mentor, and escaped convict, John Kreese. Can he survive another round with the original "badass" of Cobra Kai?