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Mr. Miyagi's Final Appearance Wasn't In A Karate Kid Movie

The Karate Kid is as beloved as it has ever been, thanks to the success of Cobra Kai, but also because it's an extremely easy movie to like. The story of Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) rising above his bullies and finally crane-kicking the snot out of his worst enemy, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), is a classic underdog story with just enough martial arts to keep things interesting. It spawned three sequels, as well as a remake starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. 

While the hero of The Karate Kid is doubtlessly young Daniel, the movie's heart is Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki "Pat" Morita), the calm, eccentric Okinawa-born maintenance man who turns out to be a heroic Army veteran and karate master. Under Miyagi's tutelage, Daniel becomes a better person, as well as a karate master in his own right. What's more, after his three-movie journey with Daniel, Miyagi goes on to teach another troubled youth, Julie Pierce (Hilary Swank), in 1994's The Next Karate Kid. Unfortunately, that one failed to rekindle the franchise's fire, and thus was the last time Morita reprised his most-famous role. Or was it? 

Turns out, The Next Karate Kid wasn't Morita's last rodeo as Mr. Miyagi. In fact, the character's final appearance wasn't in a Karate Kid movie at all.

Mr. Miyagi's last appearance was in an Alien Ant Farm music video

Curiously, Mr. Miyagi made his final appearance in the music video for the Alien Ant Farm song "Movies." The second single from the Riverside, California rockers' 2001 album, Anthology, had to measure up to its predecessor, the group's smash-hit cover of Michael Jackson's "Smooth Criminal." As such, the catchy tune got an accompanying music video that featured the band taking over the screen of a movie theater and appearing as various famous movie characters from the iconic pop-culture milieu of the 1980s

While Alien Ant Farm is certainly entertaining as they cycle through costumes as Ghostbusters, Oompa-Loompas and Edward Scissorhands, the highlight of the video comes halfway through the song, when the band dresses up as characters from The Karate Kid. Suddenly, the doors of the theater fly open, and Mr. Miyagi steps out from the billowing smoke. "Let's begin!" he screams before running down the isle to leap into the movie and "heal" singer Dryden Mitchell's "wounded" leg as a cool nod to The Karate Kid's climactic fight scene. 

It's a pretty short cameo, and certainly a strange place to find Mr. Miyagi, but on the other hand, it's nice that the world got a few more seconds with one of the most memorable characters of the neon decade.

The ghost of Mr. Miyagi looms over Cobra Kai

Alien Ant Farm may have provided the last living glimpse of Pat as the wise sensei of Miyagi-Do Karate, but his memory continues to influence the Karate Kid franchise in its modern iteration. 

Sadly, Pat Morita didn't live to see the brilliant revival of the Karate Kid franchise in 2018's Cobra Kai. The actor's 2005 death precluded any actual participation in the production, but his specter looms large over the plot of the outstanding sequel series. Cobra Kai follows the exploits of Johnny Lawrence (still William Zabka), whom fans will remember as the villain from the original Karate Kid. When a new neighbor moves into Lawrence's building in Reseda, he's inspired to turn his life around by re-opening the Cobra Kai dojo. A grown-up Daniel LaRusso (still Ralph Macchio), now the luxury car king of the San Fernando Valley, takes none too kindly to this decision. He decides to re-open Miyagi-Do Karate to counter Cobra Kai's influence on the youth of the community.

Images of the late Mr. Miyagi are sprinkled throughout the series, and his philosophy of defensive Okinawan karate influences both the development of Danny's dojo and his drive to counter a resurgent Cobra Kai. In addition to the old scenes from Karate Kid, which are interspersed throughout the series (often from a new perspective), Miyagi's home, classic cars, and war medals all appear in near-perfect reproduction. 

Even though Pat's not around anymore in the flesh, the spirit of Miyagi lives on.