Karate Kid Tier List of Characters from Cobra Kai and Movies | Fanboys Anonymous

Karate Kid Tier List of Characters from Cobra Kai and Movies

Posted by Anthony Mango Thursday, December 15, 2022

During my binge Watch On, Watch Off review of The Karate Kid films and Cobra Kai series, I had a running mental ranking of certain characters that kept being expanded on (particularly after starting Cobra Kai). Eventually, it got to be too big to keep track of just in my mind, so I put everything down in a tier list.

Rather than keep that all to myself, I've decided to share it here, as I know full well how people tend to love checking out how other people rank things. Plus, it gives more of an insight into which parts of the franchise I've enjoyed the most and which ones fell flat.

This tier list may be adjusted over time—particularly when season 6 of Cobra Kai drops. But I might just soften my viewpoint on some characters eventually, or grow to become a harsher critic as other thoughts creep in as I wait for the next bit of content to binge.

Note: I know I'm missing characters like Betsy, who I didn't bother to rate, as well as tons of bit parts that aren't worth getting into, in my mind, like Little Red. But if you do want me to add anyone who isn't on this list, let me know.


These are the best of the best.

Mr. Miyagi (S+)

I'd give a special distinction of Mr. Miyagi being the only S+ tier character. He's definitively my favorite character of the franchise and stole every scene he was in. The GOAT.

Daniel LaRusso

If anyone challenges Mr. Miyagi for GOAT status, it is clearly the titular Karate Kid himself.

I like that Daniel's never been a flawless character. He's a bit of a jerk sometimes and a little abrasive, but mostly because he doesn't realize it. Once he does notice that, or gets his "holier than thou" attitude in check in Cobra Kai, he'll go to bat to make up for it.

He's had some bad ass moments, some heartfelt moments and is just an overall great character worth following the story of.

Johnny Lawrence

In the first film, he's admittedly nowhere near as complex as he would eventually become. He's still a fine 80s blonde villain archetype, but what really makes him stand out is Cobra Kai, wherein he levels up considerably.

They've fleshed out the character. He's funny, a lovable jerk in an opposite way from Daniel, and has some good development by proxy of the other characters, which is how shows should work in the grand scheme.

Johnny doesn't lose his edge and get neutered by any means, but they still drive home the point that he has a heart. This shows why in the first film, he goes from being the villain to not wanting to do what Kreese says, and ultimately tells Daniel that he's "all right".

John Kreese and Terry Silver

There's a reason these two villains have stuck around the longest. They're the best. Silver is an absolute mad man. Kreese is just rotten. I love seeing them as the antagonists and I really hope they have fitting ends to their stories in season 6 of Cobra Kai.


These are the second-best and are considered very good or great.

Eli "Hawk" Moskowitz

At first, I wasn't liking Eli when I thought he would just be a typical nerd who gets some self-esteem boost and that's it. When they decided to make him go full-on obsessive villain, that's where I started to actually dig the character. Eventually, he reached a point where he definitely needed to rein it back and turn babyface, and that's pretty much right when they did it. Hats off to a great creative team for knowing what to do with this character from day one.

Miguel Diaz

Miguel isn't my favorite character in Cobra Kai (obviously, hence him not being S-tier), but he's arguably the driving force that makes the show happen and the glue that holds it together.

Watching his journey has been a fun ride. He's got some traits similar to Daniel in that he's flawed, but you never doubt that he's a good kid.

Robby Keene

Part of me just wants Robby to win something outright and be the man, if I'm being honest. I loved how he became part of Miyagi-do instead of going straight to Cobra Kai. Bouncing around here and there has been good for him, learning from a variety of masters so each can help him develop answers to the issues he has to overcome.

Robby's reminiscent of Tommy Oliver from Power Rangers, in my mind, and since he's my favorite of that series, Keene's got a special place on this hierarchy for me.

Tory Nichols

Not quite at the same level as Robby and Miguel, but probably on par with Hawk, Tory was a fantastic addition to the cast and a major step up from Aisha. Her home life and the reasoning for her attitude is believable and her transition to a more heroic role was gradual enough that it didn't seem unjustified.


These are the third-best and are considered good, but not great.

Amanda LaRusso

At first, I wasn't super sold on her. Eventually, when she started to be more than just "Daniel's wife who he gets to talk to in certain scenes", I grew to like the character more.

Amanda isn't written to be overbearing like many wife characters fall into the trap of becoming. She's not the nagging "always right" part of the relationship, or the infallible heart that keeps the family together while the bumbling husband keeps screwing up. She's a rock for the family, sure, but you get a sense she's Daniel's partner and not the flip side of the coin we have to compare him to and an idealized parent he can't match up to.

Carmen Diaz

Similar to Amanda, being the mother character is often a thankless gig. You don't have as much to sink your teeth into when you're mostly just worried about your kid and not doing much else.

But Carmen's great in scenes where the adults are talking. I get a sense she's someone people just generally like being around. She loves Miguel, is justifiably upset over certain things but doesn't hold a grudge beyond reasonable doubt, and her relationship with Johnny progressed in a natural way.

Chozen Toguchi

Originally, I wasn't super fond of Chozen in the second film. He was my least favorite compared to Johnny Lawrence and Mike Barnes as far as a direct opposition for Daniel. But when they brought him back in Cobra Kai as a dishonored warrior who still hasn't reconciled all of what happened in that second film, it's given him a lot more to work with and made him a much more interesting character.

Demetri Alexopoulos

The stereotypical hyper-nerd who eventually grows a backbone, but is never "the man" by any means. It works for me.


She was so cute! I definitely liked her the best of Daniel's original three love interest types, by far. Smart, pretty, kind. Big fan of Kumiko.

Kyler Park

I love how much they turned into the skid with him being such a douche with a complete lack of self-awareness and perpetual need to place himself on a pedestal.

Raymond "Stingray" Porter

What a lovable loser.

Samantha LaRusso

While she's the female lead, I often find her the least interesting person to follow for the bigger arcs in comparison to Miguel or Robby. At the start, she was more of a D-tier. At times, she can be A-tier. Overall, she balances out to the B range for me. I hope she has an even better arc in season 6.


These are the fourth-best and are considered average or just okay.

Ali Mills

Frankly, I don't get what's so great about Ali to be gushing over her so much in the first film. Yeah, she's Elisabeth Shue, so points there, and she fills a girl next door vibe, but maybe I just missed the boat in having her be a childhood crush since I didn't watch these films 30 years ago.

With that being said, it's not like she's a bad character. She's just middle of the road.

Anoush Norouzi

The sad sack of the dealership. He fills the role perfectly. It just happens to be a character that doesn't need to appear too often.


If Chris left the show, it wouldn't really change anything. But when it comes to continuity, I like having him around as the biggest dude in any scene who is somewhat of a gentle giant.

Devon Lee

If this were just season 4, she'd be much lower. Season 5, she leveled up and started to have some true character development. I don't think they should spend too much time on her next season, but I don't want them to drop her off the show by any means. She's a great addition to the roster of kids.

Kenny Payne

I like the idea of Daniel's son being a bully, who inadvertently creates a much bigger bully. That story tracks. I just wish Kenny had a growth spurt so I could buy into him being more intimidating when he's consistently up against other characters who should realistically whoop him in any fight.

Kim Da-Eun

She was only in the show for a hot minute, but she quickly appeared to be a true bad ass and a rock solid villain.

Louie LaRusso, Jr.

Eyyyy paisan! What a gagootz.


The running gag of Johnny going to Lyle's pawn shop, only to walk away worse than before, continues to make me laugh.

Mike Barnes

Generic villain in the third film, but someone who I bought into as a physical threat. In Cobra Kai, they took the character in a direction I wasn't expecting. I'm not super fond of this decision, as I think I would have rather seen him continue to be a villain, but I see where they're going with the idea of redemption for nearly everyone. Middle of the road.

Mitch / "Penis Breath"

I get why this kid keeps having heel turn moments. They keep calling him Penis Breath, for God's sake! He's a serviceable supporting character.


Her usefulness in the story dwindled episode by episode to the point that she doesn't even need to be around anymore. But she's had some good moments as the hot hippie popular chick.

Rosa Diaz

If she didn't appear in the final season, I would be disappointed, but I'd be fine with her only having one or two scenes. She's there to spice up a moment and get a laugh and not much else.

Sato Toguchi

Decent villain with a massive grudge. I'll take it.

Tom Cole

What a dick.


Like Moon, her role in the show has basically been sidelined, but she filled a necessary spot of the uber popular mean girl. I like how they had her eventually fall for Demetri.


These are the fifth-best and are considered disappointing as they have more bad than good but aren't entirely irredeemable.

Aisha Robinson

Sam's sad sack friend. It was good to see her join Cobra Kai, but I didn't miss the character when she was written off. There are too many balls to juggle and she was one that fell, but I was okay with it.

Anthony LaRusso

At first, they made him too unlikable for me. Then, he disappeared. By the time they got back around to telling the story of his attitude and turning around into a change of heart, it felt a bit rushed, oddly. I think they had more potential for Anthony that they didn't properly tap into. Good idea, poor execution.

Armand Zarkarian

Couple laughs here and there, but I'm fine never seeing the guy again.


He's not giving us much, but he's a fine extra.


I thought this dude was going to be more of a villain and I'm disappointed he fizzled out.

Captain George Turner

Massive jerk character. He had more potential than what that script ended up revolving around. But he's still a lesser version of Kreese.

Hector Salazar

Miguel hears these stories about his father being a bad guy. We finally get to see him, he's engaging enough of a character, and then, he disappears. Yup. He was a bad guy. See ya!

Maybe it's being harsh to rank him this low considering I liked enough of the character in the tiny bit we did see, but I'm also ranking based on how he was written. For him to not become something more was disappointing.

Nathaniel / Nate

Background extra kid. I like him, but there isn't much to talk about.


When you only have a few lines, it's hard to rank you higher, but he's good for some minor jokes here and there.

Shannon Keene

What a mess. But I buy into her being one of the hot girls Johnny was able to get with, only for them to have no actual chemistry together as a couple. It's good they had her go to rehab.

Shawn Payne

He would have been more effective if he stayed 100 percent a villain, I think.

Sid Weinberg

It took a while for this character to feel like he had any real purpose in my mind. Originally, it seemed like he was written into the show as a "what if" holdover from the first draft and that they didn't have a purpose for him. Making him the reason Johnny came from money, but didn't ACTUALLY come from money, was a good call. But he's still a minor character who I can't justify going higher than this.


If it weren't for his death episode of Cobra Kai, I wouldn't even be able to tell you who he was.

Vanessa LaRusso

Fun for a gag. I like that she and Anoush hooked up.


These are the sixth-best and are considered just flat out bad with next to nothing good about them.

Cruz and Trey

Robby's gang friends are generic characters who are fine in their scenes, but nothing memorable. I honestly couldn't tell you which one is which.

Homeless Lynn

What was this character's purpose??

Jessica Andrews

In the third film, she's garbage. I didn't understand why they gave Daniel a new best friend character who was constantly in these pseudo-romantic scenes while remaining platonic and having no chemistry with Ralph Macchio.

Thankfully, having her be Amanda's cousin at least justified her role retroactively. But that doesn't stop her from being a bore, and I couldn't care less about any of her plot in that third film.

Julie Pierce

You're pushing it, girl. You were almost on the F-Tier bottom of the barrel part of this list.

Julie was pretty insufferable for most of the film. Her energy was very much "I don't CARE that I'm being a bitch. My PARENTS died!" and then running away with her arms flailing.

Eventually, she leveled out, but not enough to place her any higher. I still want to see her appear in some fashion for Cobra Kai, though.

Lia Cabrera

She was introduced as a love interest for Anthony and Kenny. Then, promptly pushed aside. Outside of a few moments of just talking to those two to initially start their issues, she wasn't much. They moved on where Anthony and Kenny just bullied each other and it had nothing to do with her anymore.

Lucille LaRusso

Mom's there to drive home some plot points and not much else. She's an overall blah character who they knowingly wrote out of the second and third films because focusing any more on her would have been a drag.

Piper Elswith

She seemed like she was going to be a bigger character than she turned out to be. In my mind, they introduced her, had her join up, then she disappeared.


These are the absolute worst of the worst.

Basically Every Character in The Next Karate Kid

Colonel Dugan, Eric McGowen, Ned Randall....they're all just trash.

How would you rank everything?

Drop your list in the comments below to keep the discussion going!

fanboys tier list rankings

Tony Mango is the founder, editor-in-chief, head writer and podcast host of Fanboys Anonymous as well as all other A Mango Tree branches including Smark Out Moment. He is a pundit, creative director/consultant, fiction writer and more. Follow him on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.