While everyone’s buzzing for the return of Johnny Lawrence, Daniel LaRusso and, most importantly, karate, here’s a look at the Netflix hit’s humble beginnings and how it managed to tap into nostalgia by way of Easter eggs, cameos, and everyone wondering when the show will finally drop that song. 

Cobra Kai Got Its Start As A YouTube Show

Netflix

Before the show moved to Netflix and jumped in popularity, it was already pretty popular over on YouTube Premium. Co-creator Jon Hurwitz told Buzzfeed: “We pitched the show to YouTube first as almost like a practice pitch, and they went all in on the pitch. We hadn't written anything and they said, 'Go make a season.' Everybody else wanted it, including Netflix, but no one was willing to go to those lengths."

"Our experience at YouTube was awesome. We had an amazing team of executives there who really believed in our vision, and everyone there really supported the show. When we were on YouTube, we had events, we had premieres, and we had all these fun things going on. We got to see the numbers rising on the YouTube page. Many, many millions of people were watching the show back then, and it was awesome. It felt big. But in our everyday lives, it wasn't the kind of thing where most people really knew much about the show or had seen the show.”

A Shout Out To The Karate Kid Animated Series

Netflix

In season three, Daniel visits Chozen at his dojo in Okinawa where he spots this shrine. It’s the same relic originally designed for the animated series.

NBC

Cobra Kai Was Almost All About Johnny Lawrence

Netflix

The creators of the show were big fans of The Karate Kid and especially the Cobra Kais, and they initially wanted the show all to be about Lawrence. Said Hurwitz: “This was the early 2000s. We were talking about doing a movie, which would be called Cobra Kai, and Johnny Lawrence would be the center character, and you get to see kind of what happens to a bully in their adult life. But it just never felt realistic to make. So fast-forward a bunch of years later, you know, The Karate Kid remake came and went. And then here we were.”

Ralph Macchio Owns The Original Ford Deluxe From The Karate Kid Movie

Netflix

After filming The Karate Kid Part III, Columbia Pictures gave the actor the car that Mr. Miyagi gifted LaRusso. Macchio decided that, if they were going to do a show, the car had to be in it. “We got to dust it off — it’s been still for about two decades — and then put a new engine in it and get it all cleaned up and looking like new. I love having it in there.”

The Two Lead Actors Are Very Involved In Their Characters’ Stories

Netflix

Actors Ralph Macchio and Billy Zabka know their characters so well that the creators allowed them to be “more involved than a typical lead on a show.” Hurwitz said: “When we first conceived the series, we sat down with each of them and talked through what our visions for their characters were, and it was them sort of shedding their own vision that's been in their heads for all these years about where these characters went, and understanding why we made the choices that we did. But they were all in from the beginning.”

The Show Was Inspired By The Full House Reboot

Netflix

When the billboards started going up for the Netflix reboot sitcom Fuller House, the creators knew that “what’s old is new again,” and started working on their idea to bring The Karate Kid world back to life.

Martin Kove Has Struggled To Keep Kreese Out Of His Personal Life

Netflix

Kove told The Wrap that his character John Kreese is misunderstood, and that he didn’t want to play Kreese one-dimensional. “John Kreese is John Dutton from Yellowstone. If John Kreese owned a ranch, he would be just like Kevin (Costner) is playing it.”

He said that playing the character has caused him some trouble: “A lot of John Kreese has fallen into my personality that, unfortunately, some of it has caused problems for me … It falls into other things you’re doing in your life. And you’ve gotta be careful. It’s innate. It’s not something you can control, you know? Let me tell you: In a relationship, it’s really rough. I’ve had several different tumultuous relationships– same relationship, but very tumultuous. Honestly, I think a lot of it has to do with the values of John Kreese. And you think you will overcome them because you’re Martin Kove, you’re not John Kreese, you’re not the character — but they’re still in there very subtly. They’re still in there. They’re a driving force. Because he’s a winner. And you’re an actor, you want to be a winner.”

Jacob Bertrand Had Little Time Preparing For His Audition

Netflix

The actor who plays Eli Moskowitz (Hawk) somehow pitched up at his audition with an old script, and had about 10 minutes to look at the new script before auditioning for a part. Thanks to his background in karate (he had four years of training), he was cast three hours later.

The Deep Cut Easter Egg

Netflix

When Daniel takes his students to do some meat locker training, the boxes lining the walls are labeled “Fernandez Meats.”. This is a callback to Freddy Fernandez, the kid Daniel meets at the Reseda apartment in The Karate Kid wearing a “Makin’ Bacon” shirt. 

Columbia Pictures

As co-creator Hayden Schlossberg explains: “So it would appear that Freddy ended up in the bacon business after all.”

The Creators Brought Elisabeth Shue Into The Show Before She’d Even Agreed

Netflix

Season two ended on a teaser, with Johnny sending Ali a Facebook request. At that point, however, actress Elisabeth Shue had not yet agreed to be on the show. The creators had a “nuclear option” plan in case Shue declined to join the Cobra Kai fam, which involved Johnny chatting with Ali online throughout season three … only to learn that he was being catfished by Ali’s jealous ex-husband. 

The Big Fight At LaRusso’s House Wasn’t Originally Part Of The Script

The big fight at the end of season three was originally going to happen at Miyagi-Do, but then bad weather and scheduling problems happened, and the creators decided to stage the fight at a house party. 

We Almost Had The “Glory Of Love” Song (And Will Eventually, Probably)

You know the famous Karate Kid II song:

While every fan has been waiting for the show to bring back the iconic tune, it turns out we almost had it in season three. The song was originally used in the bit where LaRusso goes to Okinawa, but due to the episode running five minutes overtime, that part was unfortunately cut. The creators have, however, said that they might still drop the song in, somewhere, in a future episode.

The Miyagi-verse

Netflix

For the three friends and creators of the show who grew up being super fans of The Karate Kid, the possibilities for a Miyagi-verse seem like a no-brainer. Said Josh Heald: “We talk about all eras of these characters and all eras of Cobra Kai and Miyagi-Do and where it was, where it came from, how it evolved, where it's going. We've always felt that this franchise is as big as Marvel. To a portion of people who grew up in the '80s, The Karate Kid and Mr. Miyagi were bigger IP than even Iron Man. It was just sitting there and we never stopped thinking about it. When we approach it, we think about it as Star Wars, we think about it as Iron Man. To us, the possibilities are limitless.”

Thumbnail: Netflix

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