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Cobra Kai Could’ve Gone On Forever – It’s Good That It Won’t

Netflix’s surprisingly stunning Karate Kid sequel series Cobra Kai is ending with Season 6. Its ending is bittersweet, because the show is structured in such a way that it could go on theoretically forever. But Tony Stark once said “Part of the journey is the end,” and Cobra Kai’s conclusion is an example of that in action.

Cobra Kai is known as a huge hit for both Sony and Netflix — but the show got its start on the forgotten YouTube Red streaming service. Initially, viewers probably watched out of curiosity more than anything. However, from heartfelt storytelling to blockbuster performances, Cobra Kai quickly became the best iteration of the franchise for Karate Kid fans both old and new. If the show had continued much longer, Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence would either stagnate or become well-adjusted friends, taking away from what the creatives have been able to accomplish. The hardest part of any epic story is knowing when it’s at its end.

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Is Cobra Kai Canceled or Are Producers Simply Ending the Story?
In order to maximize profitability, streaming services are axing the programs that have the most potential for growth. As excellent as every season has been, Cobra Kai doesn’t have much room to grow. The Karate Kid was a dead franchise before 2018, though the films found new generations of fans as Gen X and Millennial parents showed the movies to their kids. While it’s possible that Netflix is cutting the party short, the Cobra Kai showrunners issued a statement implying the decision to end the story was at least mutual.

Fans who watched Daniel crane kick Johnny in the face on the big screen related to the two characters when they showed up in Cobra Kai. Yet due to the inclusion of the students who make up the titular dojo, the show appealed to kids as well. And the perspective switch to Johnny as a sympathetic protagonist was inspired. As kids, things are always light side versus dark side; as adults, the shades of grey become more noticeable. That’s why so much of Cobra Kai has been about revisiting trauma and getting closure.

Thanks to the willingness of seemingly every major actor involved in the original film trilogy (save the late and very missed Pat Morita), TV viewers have gotten to see that journey firsthand. Other than revisiting Hilary Swank’s The Karate Kid character, the series is running out of places for those legacy characters to find closure. The series could continue with Daniel and Johnny moving to the background. However, it’s better to simply end Cobra Kai and look for new opportunities for the remaining characters.

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Daniel Kumiko, and Miyagi in The Karate Kid Part 2
A storyteller never wants to end a story featuring characters they love. Yet the final season of Cobra Kai is necessary to complete the magic trick Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg pulled off. That the quality of Cobra Kai was maintained or better each season is no small feat. Whether the decision was one-sided or mutual, it presents the best possible opportunity for the franchise dubbed the “Miyagiverse” after Morita’s character Mr. Miyagi. Critics of the original films said they should’ve stopped after Karate Kid II, but those sequels were what got the characters and the viewers to Cobra Kai. Now the creatives have to know when to close this chapter.

In fairness, the series is as much about the students at Daniel and Johnny’s respective dojos as it is the two of them. But putting the returning characters into the background to focus on the students’ stories might make audiences feel like they are missing out on the protagonists they love. The young cast understands this and already eager for their own Cobra Kai reboot centered on their characters. A new show with a new name featuring all the same characters would be preferable. It would be like getting extra time with Daniel and Johnny in the way that writing them out of Cobra Kai would feel like a loss.

Unless everything completely falls apart in Season 6, Cobra Kai will finish its run with a clear win, delivering years of heartfelt storytelling no one even thought they wanted. Not only that, the series will leave ample foundation for Swank or the younger actors to pick up the baton, carrying the story forward in new ways. So long as Ralph Macchio and William Zabka are willing, the Miyagiverse would be wise to keep them in the loop. Yet to keep the spotlight centered on them indefinitely would undermine the legacy they’ve built.


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