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Ranking The Worst Things Cobra Kai Characters Have Done

"Cobra Kai" is a show where absurd things happen on a regular basis. The story is ostensibly about adults working through unresolved issues from their teenage years while a new generation of karate kids trains under them, but that makes the Netflix series sound far too simple and idyllic. In reality, "Cobra Kai" is a series about mayhem, where characters of all ages regularly cheat, beat each other up, and commit a wide range of felonies.

Let's get one thing straight right off the top: Pretty much all of the acts featured on this list are reprehensible, and many of them would result in hard legal consequences in the real world. Attempted murder is a crime in a way that bullying is not, but that doesn't make bullying any more permissible or okay, in any way. No matter what order these deeds end up being ranked in, they are (pretty much) all reprehensible, and would continue to be so in basically any situation. There are also plenty of other bad things the "Cobra Kai" characters have done beyond the contents of this list, from casual misogyny and harassment to emotional manipulation and abuse. These, too, are vile.

All that being said, there is definitely a scale of absurdity to the things the characters of "Cobra Kai" have gotten up to. Relationship drama is to be expected in a show that largely takes place in an American high school, but assault and battery? Less common. So without further ado, here are the worst things characters have done in "Cobra Kai."

Yasmine: Hitting Johnny's car and running

In the very first episode of "Cobra Kai," Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) goes for a self-pity night drive after drinking a considerable amount (more on that later). He winds up at the old sports complex where he lost to Daniel LaRusso in the All-Valley Karate Tournament, and while he's sitting in his car reminiscing about his failure, he gets hit by another car pulling through the lot. The culprit of the collision turns out to be Yasmine (Annalisa Cochrane), a friend and classmate of Sam LaRusso (Mary Mouser), who was driving distracted. Shocked and terrified, Yasmine pumps the gas and speeds away, leaving Johnny to deal with the aftermath.

Leaving out the circumstances that led to Johnny's car being hit, speeding away from an accident that's your fault is reprehensible. In the state of California, hit and runs can be charged as felonies if there is personal injury involved, and Yasmine's case could have at least been a misdemeanor (per Goldstein Law Group). In any case, leaving someone else to hold the bag for your bad driving is inexcusable.

Yasmine's hit and run could have ranked even higher on this list, but there are a few reasons why it doesn't. For starters, Johnny is hardly someone to feel pity for at the beginning of "Cobra Kai," and the car accident ends up being part of the wake up call he needs. Secondly, nobody was hurt. And third, Yasmine had probably just started driving recently, given the character's age. That doesn't make the hit and run okay by any standard, but there are far worse things we'd see later on in "Cobra Kai."

Amanda: Getting Tory fired

Tory Nichols (Peyton List) is a complicated person, to put it nicely. She's prone to fits of rage and violence, she pushes people away from her, and she can be downright cruel. But those behaviors become a bit easier to understand once you know Tory's backstory: Her father is gone, her mother is chronically ill, and she has to take care of her little brother and mom by herself, all while still in high school. That's a staggering emotional load for a teenager, and while it doesn't excuse the bad things Tory does (we'll get there), it does add some important context.

Of course, when Amanda LaRusso (Courtney Henggeler) walks into Tory's place of work in "Cobra Kai" Season 4, she doesn't know all that context. She just wants to defend her own teenage daughter by, well, threatening and intimidating another teenager at her workplace. Their confrontation ends up getting Tory fired, which, given her situation, could have been devastating. She has two other people who rely on the money she makes, and she explains that her checkered legal past makes it difficult for her to find work at all. With all that in mind, this is pretty dirty from Amanda, and the blow is softened only by the aid she later provides for Tory and her family.

Louie: Destroying Johnny's Car

Louie LaRusso (Bret Ernst) doesn't get to do that much in "Cobra Kai," but he makes one big play in Season 1 by destroying Johnny's old Pontiac Firebird as recompense for the vandalism of a LaRusso Auto Group sign. Was Johnny asking for some kind of retaliation when he spray-painted a phallus on Daniel's big billboard face? Of course. But destroying the man's car is a bit of a jump, and also very much a crime in L.A. (per Shouse California Law Group). Or anywhere, for that matter.

To be fair, Daniel takes responsibility for Louie's attack and sets Johnny up with a replacement. The Firebird is also quite old by the time it's destroyed, and is clearly in rough shape, making the actual value lost somewhat debatable. But still, that's destruction of private property via an almost mob-like effort at intimidation. Johnny is right to be angry, even if he did goad the attack.

Hawk: Stealing Mr. Miyagi's Medal of Honor

Hawk (Jacob Bertrand) has had quite an arc through "Cobra Kai," from the quiet kid who was constantly bullied, to being the bully himself, and ultimately becoming a more confident, kinder, and wiser person by the end of Season 4. He's had high highs, but he's also had some low lows, and stealing Mr. Miyagi's Medal of Honor definitely falls into the latter column.

Cobra Kai's vandalism of the Miyagi-Do dojo, led by Hawk, makes him guilty of trespassing and destruction of property in addition to theft. And it's even worse when you realize the nature of what he stole. The horrible mistreatment of Japanese Americans during World War II extended to those who served in the United States military as well (via National Geographic). With that context, the theft of Mr. Miyagi's Medal of Honor feels even more disgraceful, especially given that Cobra Kai is an abusive dojo founded by two white men who consistently distort the actual meaning of karate.

Of course, Hawk probably wasn't thinking about any of that when he took the medal. He probably just wanted to strike back at a group who he saw as the enemy, even though that belief was clearly misguided. Thankfully, the medal was later returned, and Hawk eventually repented for his actions.

Hawk: Cheating in the All-Valley Tournament

Hawk has a lot of pent up rage by the end of "Cobra Kai" Season 1, and he decides to take it out on Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan) at the All-Valley Tournament. After a few rounds of their fight, Hawk attacks Robby from behind with a cheap shot to the shoulder, which ends up seriously hampering his performance going forward. Hawk is immediately disqualified for his attempt to cheat, but the damage is already done; Robby is injured going into the final, severely lowering his odds of taking home the trophy.

This moment can be seen as the true start to Hawk's moral decline. He believes he was right in trying to knock Robby out of the tournament because of all the abuse he has suffered at the hands of bullies in the past. It doesn't seem to matter that Robby is far from the source of Hawk's prior pain; he just wants to take his anger out on whoever's in front of him. Hawk's dirty play at the All-Valley is severe, but things would get worse before getting better.

Miguel: Fighting dirty against Robby

In all fairness to Hawk, he may not have intended to cause serious damage by attacking Robby in between rounds. It may have been a simple intimidation tactic or a spout of anger without any real thought behind it. But when Miguel (Xolo Maridueña) faces Robby later in the championship match, things are very different. Miguel knows Robby is fighting through a serious injury. He knows exactly where that injury is. And he keeps going at Robby's shoulder anyway, knowing full well that he's fighting dirty and putting his opponent in serious physical danger.

This is undoubtedly Miguel's darkest moment in "Cobra Kai." He allows jealousy and ego to get the better of him, and it leads to an All-Valley trophy that he'll never be able to fully enjoy. For most of the show, Miguel is a soft-spoken, compassionate, and considerate person. But in the All-Valley final against Robby, his most vicious tendencies come out. He embraces the Cobra Kai dogma of no mercy, and it leads him to victory. But at what cost?

Anthony: Bullying Kenny

The evils of bullying was a primary theme of the original "Karate Kid" movie, and it remains a recurring motif in "Cobra Kai." The internet era has exacerbated issues of bullying in schools in many ways (per The New Yorker), and stories of children being harassed by their peers remain as prevalent as ever (via The Seattle Times). It's deplorable behavior in the real world, and "Cobra Kai" shows several major instances of bullying and their ramifications.

"Cobra Kai" Season 4 introduces the character of Kenny Payne (Dallas Dupree Young), the younger brother of Robby's friend Sean. Kenny's "Cobra Kai" debut shows him to be a joyful, intelligent, authentic young man — the kind of character who's easy to like right from the start. Unfortunately, upon starting classes at his new middle school, Kenny starts being bullied by an unlikely villain: Daniel LaRusso's own son, Anthony (Griffin Santopietro).

Anthony and his friends quickly reveal themselves to be the worst kind of teenagers: Privileged kids who'd rather put their peers down than deal with their own insecurities. Anthony does ultimately apologize to Kenny by the end of "Cobra Kai" Season 4, but by then, the damage is done. Kenny has already turned to Cobra Kai to learn how to defend himself, and he doesn't seem keen to forgive Anthony anytime soon.

The most despicable part of Anthony's bullying is how entirely unprompted it is. Kenny starts out as the most upbeat, optimistic kid, despite a lot not going right in his life. And as soon as Anthony and his friends see those signs of self-confidence — something they themselves clearly lack — they lash out.

Kyler: Bullying basically everyone

Perhaps the most consistent bully depicted in "Cobra Kai" is Kyler, who berates and beats up Miguel, Demetri, and Hawk early in the series. It is this abuse that prompts Miguel to learn karate in the first place in order to defend himself. Kyler also behaves terribly towards Sam LaRusso after she denies his advances, spreading rumors about her that are misogynistic and untrue.

Most characters in "Cobra Kai" have chances at redemption or at least some extra nuance thrown in at times. So far, Kyler hasn't really received any such explanations to his consistently terrible behavior. He even seems to have thrived under John Kreese and Terry Silver's toxic Cobra Kai teachings, making it more unlikely he'll change course anytime soon. Honestly, given how much nuance nearly every other "Cobra Kai" character has been given in their development, Kyler seems due for a proper arc. It would be hard for any added context, however, to make up for his deplorable behavior thus far.

Tory: Breaking into the LaRusso house

In the aftermath of the climactic school brawl from Season 2, tensions continue rising between the students of Miyagi-Do Karate and Cobra Kai. The rivalry between Tory Nichols and Sam LaRusso is at the core of said escalation, which comes to a head when Tory leads an invasion of the LaRusso house, where Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang are having a meeting.

Let's start with the fact that such an intrusion is illegal. In California, the crime of burglary applies to infiltrating "any commercial structure, residential structure or locked vehicle with the intent to commit grand theft, petty theft or any felony offense once inside," per Shouse California Law Group. Since the Cobra Kai students break in forcibly with the intent to cause both damage to the house and bodily harm to its inhabitants (their enemies), that could easily apply here.

But there's an extra level of maliciousness here that makes Tory's attack even worse. She's out for blood, and she gets some, too. Though the "good guys" manage to fight off their attackers successfully, this is far from a fair fight. Miguel is barely recovered from his near-paralysis, but that doesn't stop Kyler, Tory and the rest of their crew from going after him. It's a dirty sneak attack with the intent to cause serious harm, and it's one of the most ridiculous things to ever happen in "Cobra Kai."

Hawk: Breaking Demetri's arm

As previously discussed, Hawk does some pretty rotten stuff throughout the middle seasons of "Cobra Kai." He fights dirty in the All-Valley, switches loyalties on Johnny and his former friends, and becomes the kind of bully he initially wanted to stand up against. But the climactic moment of his dark side turn comes in the middle of Season 3 when he deliberately breaks Demetri's arm.

Hawk and Demetri became friends when they were young, and though they often struggled to fit in with their peers, they always had each other. That is, until Hawk went rogue. The absolute betrayal of his oldest and closest friend is awful, and it comes to a head when the rest of Cobra Kai pressures him to break Demetri's arm after an ambush. You'd hope that would be the breaking point for Hawk — the moment when, no matter what he'd done in the past, he could go no further on his path of cruelty. But instead, Hawk doubles down, breaks the arm, and leaves the boy who was once his friend defenseless and writhing in pain on the ground.

The only silver lining here is that Hawk eventually makes things right with Demetri. He goes back to the good side at the very end of "Cobra Kai" Season 3, working hard to atone for past mistakes in Season 4.

Robby: Putting Miguel in the hospital

Robby Keene has had a tough life. His dad was a deadbeat and his mom wasn't around much either, leaving him to fend for himself for much of his childhood. He starts gaining a sense of balance in his life after meeting and training with Daniel LaRusso, but that temporary peace doesn't last. Ultimately, Robby's anger at his father twists and focuses on Miguel, leading to a devastating confrontation during the school brawl in "Cobra Kai" Season 2.

There's a lot of drama leading up to this moment on both sides. Robby is mad that Johnny pays more attention to Miguel than him. He harbors a grudge from Miguel fighting dirty in the All-Valley Tournament, and he's angry that Sam kissed him earlier at a party when she was pretty solidly with Robby. On the other hand, Miguel still has a lot of resentment for Robby going into this fight. He wants to prove that he's the best, and he doesn't trust Robby any more than Robby trusts him.

The difference maker, of course, is that Miguel tries to stop the fight. He finds his balance, realizes that what he's doing is wrong and brutal, and after catching Robby in what could have been a game-ending arm lock, he releases him and apologizes. But Robby won't have it. He chooses to make the dirty play, catches Miguel off guard, and brutally kicks him over the school's top-floor banister, knocking him unconscious and nearly paralyzing him. It takes Miguel most of Season 3 to bounce back, and even then he's still not in the kind of fighting shape he once was. Robby pays for his transgression and ultimately comes to atone for it, but he still almost killed someone who had just shown him mercy.

Johnny: Driving drunk all the time

Since the beginning of "Cobra Kai," Johnny Lawrence has come a long way. He's found new balance in his life, tried to atone for his past mistakes and reconcile with the people he's hurt. He's become a better teacher, and a better man. But he's still done some pretty terrible things in the series, and chief among them is his penchant for drunk driving.

According to data from the NHTSA, as recently as 2019, a death related to drunk driving occurs every 52 minutes. While such numbers are better than they were in decades past, they're still horrible.

Driving drunk is a choice — a reprehensible one — and it's one Johnny makes multiple times over the course of "Cobra Kai." Fortunately for him, he wears the protective badge of being a family-friendly TV protagonist, which means he'll probably never face any real repercussions for his actions. But the fact that he hasn't hurt anyone yet doesn't make his drunk driving any more excusable.

Terry Silver: Beating up Stingray

Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) has a long, storied history of doing heinous things in the "Karate Kid" franchise. "Cobra Kai" Season 4 goes so far as to attribute his manic behavior in "The Karate Kid Part III" to heavy cocaine use. When Silver returns in the Netflix series, he seems at first like a much calmer and more grounded person. He's less prone to fits of spastic emotion, he talks Kreese down from some of his more aggressive ideas, and seems, in most cases, measured and balanced.

But then he also beats Stingray (Paul Walter Hauser) within an inch of his life, just to stab his oldest friend in the back with fake assault and battery charges.

Stingray, the only adult student in Cobra Kai, returns after a long hiatus in Season 4 with the express goal of rejoining his old dojo. After Kreese kicks him out, Stingray pleads with Silver, who responds by delivering a brutal beating that lands Stingray in the hospital, barely alive. Silver tells him that if he wants to rejoin the dojo, all he has to do is tell the police that Kreese was the one who attacked him, which is exactly what Stingray ends up doing.

This is extremely messed up, on multiple levels. First and foremost, Terry beats the man half to death while laughing sadistically and showing absolutely zero humanity. Secondly, he does it all so that he can send Kreese to prison. Kreese may be a bad guy in his own right, but he's generally been a friend and ally to Silver. Abusing a hapless, well-intentioned guy to betray a close friend and steal his business? That is some seriously low stuff.

Kreese: Murder and attempted murder

John Kreese is a murderer.

In Vietnam, after being freed from a prison camp with the rest of his squad, Kreese kicked his commanding officer into a pit filled with snakes to die. He did not have to do this. They could have both escaped. But he did it anyway. Yes, there was some beef between the two men, and Kreese's captain wasn't exactly a warm and cuddly guy. But there's an ocean of difference between disliking someone and straight-up murdering them.

Not only that, but Kreese tried to kill again at the end of "Cobra Kai" Season 3. After Johnny came to his dojo to try to take Robby home, he and Kreese got into a brutal fight. The violence went on for a bit before Kreese knocked Johnny to the ground, clearly defeating him. Rather than call the police to have Johnny arrested for trespassing, however, or simply tossing him out on the street, Kreese took a blade off the wall of the dojo and clearly tried to kill Johnny with it.

What was his plan, exactly? Did he think he could get away with murder? Maybe so, since he'd done so before. If not for Daniel's intervention, Johnny may have actually been done for, and Kreese would have become a criminal at large. There is no doubt that Kreese is the most villainous character in all of "Cobra Kai," and he's certainly guilty of the show's worst crimes.