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Cobra Kai season 4: cast, story and what we know so far

Ralph Macchio and William Zabka fighting in Cobra Kai, which is returning to Netflix for season 4.
(Image credit: TINA ROWDEN/NETFLIX)

Cobra Kai season 4 doesn't have a release date yet, save for confirmation it's coming some time in late 2021 – but anticipation has never been higher for the Karate Kid spin-off's return. After starting life as a YouTube Premium show, the comedy-drama moved to Netflix in 2020 and found a massive new audience. Now it reigns as one of Netflix's biggest originals, and has even been Emmy-nominated as of this week. 

Cobra Kai season 4 finished filming in May 2021, so we're getting close to the return of old rivals Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and the various younger characters that populate the series. Netflix has more tricks up its sleeve for season 4 – Karate Kid Part 3's Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith) was officially added to the cast in late May, and offers another cool deep cut from the movies' history. 

Executive producer Josh Heald confirmed the show is now in post-production, and offered an exciting update to the series in a recent chat with Deadline – as well as recalling what a tough shoot it's been. "We have never been prouder of a season that we’ve put in the can. We’ve seen it and we know we’ve got the goods. We cannot wait for the fans of this franchise to see everything we did this season knowing everything we went through to put that into place. It’s an amazing memory we’ll all have knowing that it was a battle and we won."

In this feature, we'll tell you everything we know about Cobra Kai season 4 right now, from new cast members to what we expect to happen in the wake of season 3's ending.

Cobra Kai season 4 release date: 2021, confirmed!

(Image credit: CURTIS BONDS BAKER/NETFLIX)

Wondering when Cobra Kai returns to Netflix? Cobra Kai season 4 will release on Netflix later this year, the streaming service has confirmed – so you'll see it land in the final quarter of this year, between October and the end of December 2021. This was confirmed following a recent financial statement from Netflix.

Here's exactly what Netflix said about the show's return to the streamer. "we think we’ll get back to a much steadier state in the back half of the year, certainly in Q4 where we have the returning seasons of some of our most popular shows like The Witcher and You and Cobra Kai as well as some big tentpole movies that came to market a little slower than we’d hoped like Red Notice and Escape From Spiderhead." That's from Netflix's CCO Ted Sarandos, so it's a guarantee you'll see it this year.

Cobra Kai season 4 started filming back in February 2021, and as of May 2021, it's wrapped up. Star William Zabka marked the event on social media, showing off what phenomenal shape the 55 year-old actor is in – the show has finished filming after three-and-a-half months of production, which makes Netflix's planned release date a dead cert.

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Cobra Kai season 4 cast: who we expect to return and the new additions

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. 

Silver will seemingly be be stepping into Cobra Kai season 4 as a villain, however, after 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 now been confirmed that actor Thomas Ian Griffith will reprise his role as Silver for the first time in decades. Here's a teaser:

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As with everyone else in this universe, Silver is a Karate expert and will probably make Kreese even more ruthless. "For now we’ll say we’ve been looking forward to working with Thomas Ian Griffith for a long time and we were very patient with ourselves to find the right moment, and season 4 is that moment," co-creator Hayden Schlossberg told Deadline.

Who else could be joining the party for Cobra Kai season 4? While we don't have a huge amount of solid information at this point, we've had confirmation of a couple of friendly (and unfriendly) faces. Fans are definitely keen to see Hilary Swank coming back to play Julie Pierce again, the main character from The Next Karate Kid. Of course, whether or not she makes it back is an entirely different matter.

With Netflix now trickling out information about returning cast members, we've got a list of those we're expecting to see below:

  • Daniel LaRusso: Ralph Macchio
  • Johnny Lawrence: William Zabka
  • Terry Silver: Thomas Ian Griffith
  • 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
  • Carmen Diaz: Vanessa Rubio

We're definitely expecting to see Demetri (Gianni Decenzo) and Kyler (Jeo Seo) again in Cobra Kai season 4, because they were fairly integral in both the fights and story beats of season 3.  We're also expecting to see a little more focus on some of the other Cobra Kai students as well, because the roster there is looking a little thin. 

While there are no guarantees on who is returning outside of those announced, we've had another tweet from Netflix which promotes Peyton List and Vanessa Rubio to season regulars, and also announces two new faces. 

The cast of Cobra Kai will now be joined by both Dallas Dupree Young and Oona O'Brien, both of whom will apparently be playing regular characters in the show, and will no doubt end up throwing hands and feet at some point as well. 

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Is there a Cobra Kai season 4 trailer yet?

Sadly, it's a little too early for a Cobra Kai season 4 trailer right now, but you might enjoy this anime-style intro for the show built from old footage.

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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 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.