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Why Cobra Kai Fans Have Questions About Johnny And Robby's Relationship

One of the most inventive details about "Cobra Kai" is how the showrunners pay homage to the first three films from the "Karate Kid" franchise. It is also impressive how the series fills in the "Karate Kid" timeline gaps between the end of the third film in the 1980s and the recent era of 2018 when the show starts.

During those 34 years, we come to learn that Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) have lived completely different lives. While Daniel comes to successfully own and manage a car dealership, Johnny's path turns out to be much more erratic and unstable. While Daniel has a loving marriage with two kids in suburbia, we learn that Johnny has a son, Robby Keene (Tanner Buchanan), whom he has neglected, having allowed the teenager's alcoholic mother to raise him.

In many ways, "Cobra Kai" has always been a show about Johnny's redemption from the stereotypical bully he was in the first "Karate Kid" film way back in 1984. He has certainly been redeemed as a more likable, hilarious guy navigating middle age without taking it too seriously, but given how things stand between him and Robby as of the show's 4th season, fans have some questions about the relationship between both men.

Robby subconsciously seeks Johnny's attention

In this Reddit thread, original poster u/KausGo pointed out that some viewers simply do not want to admit that Johnny has, for the most part, not been trying hard enough to reconnect and heal the mental scars he caused Robby for all of his childhood.

According to u/KausGo, certain viewers claiming that Johnny has tried to make amends with Robby overlook some key details. It is not that Robby wants nothing to do with Johnny, but quite the contrary; he subconsciously does things that in some way will put him in his estranged father's life. Redditor u/DrXyron wrote that toward the end of Season 4, "Robby for the first time sought out Johnny. Showing that he actually is now ready to try and fix things." But there are some clues laid out by the OP that shows how he has been trying all along.

A closer look at the earlier seasons will reveal that Robby was always trying to insinuate himself into Johnny's life. Even joining up with Johnny's rival John Kreese (Martin Kove) was a dysfunctional way of trying to get his dad's attention. When a family dynamic is already dysfunctional, going about trying to repair it with dysfunctional approaches is not outside of the norm. Robby is also a complicated character in his own right, so his unorthodox methods play right into classic teenage rebellion.

Some fans adopt a Mandela effect thought process about Johnny and Robby

According to the OP, a case of the Mandela effect could be to blame for some of these forgotten acts of reconnection on Robby's part. Redditor u/_doomslug said, "In S3 he [Robby] obviously can't seek out Johnny because he is locked up but when he learns about Johnny having scheduled a visit he looks nothing but hopeful." The great thing about acting is that glances and gestures can explain just as much as words.

Seeing the crux of the issue from multiple viewpoints allows for a better understanding of where everyone's opinions on this complex relationship fall. But Johnny has yet to apologize to Robby for being an absentee father and leaving his son to be raised in an unstable household. "Johnny left when he was born, he's never had a dad," Tanner Buchanan explained in a 2020 interview with Entertainment Weekly. "His mom has been in drugs and different relationships and alcohol, and she's not been there for him, so he's never had any parents." With that in mind, Johnny would likely need to approach the relationship with a heartfelt apology before anything else.

Robby does hear different versions of his parent's parental choices during his life, but he is still only a teenager. But there is also something to be said about how Johnny always seems to try harder at being a surrogate father to Miguel Diaz (Xolo Mariduena).

It seems like Johnny tries harder with Miguel

During Season 1, Johnny befriends and ultimately mentors Miguel, who lives with his mother in the apartment adjacent to Johnny's. As easy as it is to love the Johnny/Miguel bond, this does make things seem a bit complicated once we learn about Robby in Season 2, Episode 2 titled "Strike First."

It could be said that Johnny is subconsciously trying to repair his failed parental responsibilities through Miguel. There was, after all, that telling Miguel scene during Season 4, Episode 8 where a drunken Johnny calls Miguel "Robby." Miguel then breaks down in tears at the sight of seeing and hearing Johnny's pain at being a failed father.

Redditor u/mossstalgia wrote that "Miguel has never demanded Johnny stay away from Robby," which is a good point since Miguel and Robby are enemies and rivals for most of the series. Even he does not want to deprive or get in the way of Johnny repairing his relationship with Robby. Perhaps William Zabka said it best in a 2021 interview with GoldDerby by describing how "[Robby's] the empty piece that got away and he is trying to figure out ... to get that kid back in ... in the meantime, he found Miguel who becomes a father figure to and he is in love with this kid, too. These kids are what he is about."