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Cobra Kai season 4: release date, story, season 3 ending explained and what we know

Cobra Kai season 4
(Image credit: TINA ROWDEN/NETFLIX)

Cobra Kai season 4 is officially coming to Netflix. The Karate Kid has had a healthy run on Netflix, finding a natural home after starting life as a premium show on YouTube. The streaming giant confirmed season 4 was in the works at the same time it released the first trailer for Cobra Kai season 3, and while there's no official release date yet, it's looking pretty likely we'll see the story continue in 2022.

If you've finished season 3 of this fantastic show – we'll be spoiling the story so far below, just so you know – you'll likely agree that it's definitely building up to something, which just makes the long wait for Cobra Kai season 4 even harder.

In this piece, we'll explain the ending of Cobra Kai season 3, and how it's likely to shape season 4 of the nostalgic Netflix fightfest. Spoilers will follow. 

Cobra Kai season 4 release date

(Image credit: CURTIS BONDS BAKER/NETFLIX)

There is no official Cobra Kai season 4 release date just yet, but a November 2020 tweet from showrunner Jon Hurwitz indicated season 4 would drop about a year after season 3. That likely means early 2022 is the aim for Netflix.

Exercise caution, though: the global pandemic that's kept us indoors practising our high kicks for the better part of a year could have an impact on Cobra Kai's shooting dates, as the show hasn't yet filmed new episodes. 

Speaking to GamesRadar, Hurwitz said: “We hope to be shooting the show in the coming months,” Hurwitz revealed. “We’re still figuring out some of the specifics, but the intent is for early [2021], to get back on set, with all the Covid protocols in place, and to get back to some karate ass-kicking in the valley.”

Covid has waylaid several big productions over the last year, so we have to hope that Cobra Kai's production goes as smoothly as possible, meaning we don't have to wait long for Cobra Kai (the TV show) to make Cobra Kai (the dojo) get its comeuppance. More on that below.

Cobra Kai season 3 ending explained, and how it could factor into season 4

(Image credit: CURTIS BONDS BAKER/NETFLIX)

Towards the end of season 3, all of the sensible adults in Cobra Kai came together to cancel the All Valley Karate Tournament, arguing that the tournament probably isn't worth teenagers hospitalizing one another. By this point it's easy to forget that Miguel started season 3 in a coma, following season 2's cliffhanger. Perhaps the adults in the room had a point? 

It's okay, though: after a rousing speech from Miguel and Sam about how much they wanted this tournament to go ahead, they got the all-clear and a bet between Cobra Kai, Johnny Lawrence's new dojo Eagle Claw and Miyagi-Do was made. If Cobra Kai doesn't win the All Valley Karate Tournament, it'll disband. If it does win, they'll continue with their current course and Kreese will remain sensei. 

The run-up to this tournament will no doubt form the backbone of Cobra Kai season 4's story, and it's the most exciting the series has ever been.

If you thought the all-out riot at the High School that capped off season 2 was spectacular, the end of season 3 fight was smaller scale, but much more brutal. The Cobra Kai dojo invaded the LaRusso house to fight with Miguel, Sam, Demetri and the rest of the assorted Miyagi-do and Eagle Fang students who came together to discuss a truce. The result was a ton of kids laying waste to the LaRusso house while the adults were at the country club gala.

During season 3, Kreese recruited several school bullies to Cobra Kai, meaning their core group is even more sadistic than before. This brutality led to star Cobra Kai student Hawk breaking the arm of former best friend Demetri earlier in the season, and eventually he decided enough was enough. He chose to do the right thing with…yet more fighting, as he beat the assembled Cobra Kai students and defected to Eagle Claw. 

At the end of his day with Ali, Johnny decided he's ready to get serious with Miguel's mother Carmen, and arrived to tell her only to find Miguel looking bloody after his fight. Johnny and Daniel go to Cobra Kai and scuffle with Kreese in the dojo, leading to them discovering that Johnny's son Robbie is now a Cobra Kai student who wants nothing more than to get back at Daniel and Johnny. 

The appearance, however, of Ali (Elizabeth Shue, reprising her role from the movie) saw her and Johnny reconcile and end things as good friends. That's because she pointed something out to both Daniel and Johnny that Cobra Kai fans have been yelling at their screens for the last few seasons: both characters feel the other one is the bully, and feel unfairly targeted by the other. Perhaps both of them weren't so well behaved in years past?

This revelation, and the alliance between Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do, means that Daniel and Johnny are finally pals, and so are most of the original Karate Kids that joined Cobra Kai. The season ends with a real feeling of togetherness, a much more hopeful tone than we got for season 2's crushing finale.

Cobra Kai season 4 cast: who we expect to return

Cobra Kai season 4

(Image credit: Courtesy of Netflix)

Fans of the film franchise will remember Karate Kid III features multi-millionaire Terry Silver, a war buddy of Kreese's who sends Kreese off to Tahiti after his embarrassment at the hands of Miyagi and Daniel LaRusso, before kicking off a plot to embarrass the pair of them. He fails, predictably. 

It's looking pretty likely that he'll be stepping into Cobra Kai season 4 as a villain, however, as the end of season 3 of the show features Kreese making a phone call for reinforcements. While we don't get more information than that, it's looking like Terry Silver will return. 

Why do we think this? Well, throughout season 3 we saw flashbacks to John Kreese's military service, with the young version of the character played by Jesse Kove, the real-life son of star Martin Kove. 

During these flashbacks we are shown how Kreese developed his "win at all costs" mentality, but also how Kreese and Silver grow close after being captured on a mission gone wrong.

As with everyone else in this universe, Silver is a Karate expert and will probably make Kreese even more ruthless. 

Who else could be joining the party for Cobra Kai season 4? We don't have any solid casting information this far out, but fans are eager to see the return of Hilary Swank, who played Julie Pierce, the main character from The Next Karate Kid. Whether she'll return, and how they'll work her into the plot if she does, is just hopeful fan speculation right now. 

Netflix is remaining tight-lipped about the returning cast right now, but seeing as these characters are a core part of the plot moving forwards, it's likely they'll come back for another round:

  • Daniel LaRusso: Ralph Macchio
  • Johnny Lawrence: William Zabka
  • Miguel: Xolo Maridueña
  • Amanda LaRusso: Courtney Henggeler
  • Samantha LaRusso: Mary Mouser
  • Robby Keene: Tanner Buchanan
  • Hawk: Jacob Bertrand
  • John Kreese: Martin Cove
  • Tory Schwarber: Peyton List

You can also expect to see Demetri (Gianni Decenzo) and Kyler (Jeo Seo) pop up again, as they were present in most of the big story beats and fight scenes in season 3. Expect to see a bigger deal made of several of the Cobra Kai students alongside Robbie, Tory and Kyler, because the roster is looking a little bare when it comes to recognizable faces.

Season 3 notably dropped Aisha Robinson, introduced as Sam's best friend in season 1, without a word. So, don't be sure anyone is returning for Cobra Kai season 4 until it's officially announced by Netflix.

Cobra Kai season 4 can't come soon enough

Cobra Kai has found its perfect home on Netflix. It's the ideal binge-watch show, on a platform where it can find the audience it deserves – and three seasons in, fans are now deeply invested in this extension of a universe that was first introduced all the way back in 1984. Bring on season 4.