Cobra Kai creator explains how the Netflix series continues to honor the Karate Kid as the story continues to grow


Cobra Kai started out as a series that was mostly based on The Karate Kid lore to tell a new story. Now that the Netflix show has Season 5 on the way, however, it’s fair to say that the acclaimed series has managed to create its own interesting characters and develop storylines and doesn’t need to lean on the past so much. With that in mind, continuing to honor the classic film series and characters like Mr. Miyagi might be harder than it used to be. And one of the show’s co-creators recently answered a question about it at an event.

Series co-creator Hayden Schlossberg was one of many TV creators to take part in Variety A night in the writer’s room event, where he explained how the show continues to pay homage to The Karate Kid as the Cobra Kai world is getting bigger. Schlossberg explained that while there are a lot of new stories in the show’s universe, they haven’t lost sight of the fact that they must always adhere to the above:

It’s fun, you expand the universe. You have new characters, and with new characters [a] new perspective, new backgrounds, and so it brings the modern element. But we start with, ‘Hey, remember the roots.’ The bonsai grows and you can explore different types of characters in a TV series that you wouldn’t see in a movie. But the roots are bullying, mentoring is overcoming things, dealing with the past. It’s that visceral feeling of feeling low and then someone gives you something. On this show it’s karate, but in life there can be a million different things that change you and give you confidence. And so every season, every season finale, something crazy happens.

The success of Netflix could quickly expand the universe launched by the ’80s film franchise but, as the writer and EP mentioned, the setting or “roots” of the film series are present every step of the way. The show is always about bullying a lot, and at this point there’s been more karate than maybe even the original movies offered.

Hayden Schlossberg went on to explain how the Cobra Kai specifically throw honors The Karate Kid but also adds to its story. While talking about what makes the show and movies great, Schlossberg touched on the universal appeal of the martial arts-centric franchise:

It goes back to ‘The soul of the valley depends on who wins this nunchuck fight.’ But at the heart of it all is that I fell in love with The Karate Kid, why it’s a classic. Different cultures meet, people you wouldn’t expect to connect [are] link. Every year we’re like, ‘Okay, let’s forget everything for a second and get back to The Karate Kid.’ Why do we like it?’ We are watching the movie again. And that’s why I think it worked on a global level, because these are universal stories. So we’re trying to focus on that, while taking advantage of the different characters, genders, backgrounds and playing things up to make it feel like The Karate Kid but it’s something totally different.

Season 5 is on the way for those who have Netflix subscriptions and will follow up with the wild ending of the fourth season. I can’t imagine how the series will resolve John Kreese’s betrayal by Terry Silver or how the results of the All-Valley Tournament will impact the main characters. But I’m still excited to watch and wonder if an unexpected character of The Karate Kid happens to make an appearance. Whatever happens, it is clear that Hayden Schlossberg and his collaborators will continue to open up new paths without ever forgetting the past. And that’s something fans should be grateful for.

Cobra Kai Season 5 will premiere on Netflix on Friday, September 9. We still have time to wait but, fortunately, the new shows on TV right now to keep people busy until then.

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