Netflix has once again elected to strike hard and strike fast, mercilessly renewing Cobra Kai for a fourth season. This news comes months ahead of the show’s third season premiere — now slated for January 8, 2021 — and represents another opportunity for the characters to bounce back after the super dark ending of season 2.
Fans had good reason to worry about Cobra Kai‘s odds of survival after series star William Zabka posted a short video on his Twitter account on October 1, featuring the eponymous dojo‘s logo over the sound of a flatlining heart monitor.
Still, since migrating from the now-reimagined YouTube Red to Netflix in August of 2020, Cobra Kai has been a regular on the streaming service’s weekly list of its top ten most viewed programs. According to Deadline, the show has blown its competition out of the water with an estimated 2.2 billion minutes of viewership under its belt, dominating the Neilson ratings at the beginning of September.
Variety, meanwhile, reports that Cobra Kai was ranked third in popularity on Netflix based on the amount of time and ranking on the service’s charts, beaten only by cult hit The Umbrella Academy and certified bummer Tiger King. With all of that in mind, it isn’t a shock to learn that the series will be returning to sweep pop culture’s leg for another year. The now-official fourth season will be produced through a collaboration between Netflix and Sony TV. Will Smith, James Lassiter, and Caleeb Pinkett are expected to carry on their roles as executive producers.
Cobra Kai never dies
Cobra Kai picks up where the Karate Kid franchise left off three decades ago, expanding on the story of Johnny Lawrence, played by William Zabka. Since his humiliating defeat at the All Valley Karate Tournament, Lawrence’s life has spiraled into alcohol dependency, debt, and dead end work, until a mid-life run in with some high school hooligans reminds him how good it feels to kick teenagers. Co-starring is Ralph Macchio, returning as Daniel LaRusso, now a successful car salesman who has, ironically, become objectively more punchable over the years.
Speaking to Collider, Zabka described the series’ move to Netflix as “kind of our dream from the beginning,” stating that Cobra Kai was pitched to the streaming service early in the show’s development. He also mentioned that he spent the years between the films and the series being regularly approached with ideas for how the character could come back. One of the most surprising ideas came from Pat Morita, who played Mister Miyagi in the original movies.
According to Zabka, Morita wanted to finish Miyagi’s story, sticking the character with a terminal illness and having Johnny Lawrence as his doctor. While Zabka described the idea as “probably the wildest” he’d heard, he also pointed out that he had never imagined that Johnny would wind up the way he’s portrayed in Cobra Kai. “I would not have imagined Johnny that way,” he said. To me, at the end (of the movies) oJohnny was liberated… I wouldn’t have imagined being, you know, in the beer, in the one-bedroom apartment.
Luckily, the show’s co-creators Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald felt differently, and the Karate Kid timeline will continue for at least one more season. Strike first, strike hard, no mercy.