Cobra Kai continues to punch along as one of Netflix's most popular original series, and certainly one of its most popular acquired shows (it was originally a YouTube original before Netflix rescued it). Four seasons of The Karate Kid continuation are out now, with Cobra Kai Season 5 set to premiere on September 9, less than a year after Season 4 came out. If you count the first two YouTube seasons, Cobra Kai is one of Netflix's current longest-running live-action scripted series. It premiered in May 2018, which means only Stranger Things and The Crown have been around for longer. Not bad for a sequel to a movie franchise that started when the average Netflix user wasn't even born yet.
Picking up 34 years after the events of The Karate Kid films, Cobra Kai reunites its stars Ralph Macchio and William Zabka in their roles as Daniel and Johnny to examine what happens when their rivalry reignites vis-à-vis their teenage children, who are also conveniently into karate. Season 5 will see the return of Sean Kanan as "Karate's Bad Boy" Mike Barnes, Daniel LaRusso's (Macchio) foe from The Karate Kid Part III.
To help you train for Season 5, we've put together a list of shows that are like Cobra Kai in some way, whether they're focused on the teen drama or just punching someone in the face.
The greatest part of Cobra Kai is its self-awareness. Revisiting the characters of The Karate Kid decades later only works if it's both tongue-in-cheek and sentimental, mixing fun and respect for the original in an entertaining cocktail. The 2020 film The Paper Tigers isn't based on a previous property, but it has that same formula: Three friends who trained in martial arts as kids get back together many years later as middle-aged men to avenge the death of their teacher, even if their bodies aren't quite up for it. Like Cobra Kai, the film is aware that many years have passed since these guys were badasses, and mines that for comedy. Also like Cobra Kai, there's an intense respect for martial arts and the characters, making it a heartfelt film with plenty of laughs. -Tim Surette
Yes, karate is Japanese and Kung Fu is Chinese, but The CW's action drama Kung Fu shares a lot more in common with Cobra Kai than just having a balanced center around martial arts. In Kung Fu, a young woman named Nicky Shen (Olivia Liang) uses her skills with quick kicks and powerful punches to clean up her community, and while she's not taking down a rival dojo, she is taking out a gang that's terrorizing San Francisco. Kung Fu also focuses on what it's like to be an outsider in your own home, as Nicky's more traditional Chinese family would rather her not risk her life by tussling with gangsters, yet it's through martial arts that Nicky finds her confidence and purpose, just like the kids at Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang. -Tim Surette
Let's get straight to it — you watched Miguel kick a kid through a wall and now you have an unquenchable bloodlust for martial arts. You'll find no better show on TV for that than HBO Max's Warrior, an action drama set in 1870s San Francisco following a Chinese immigrant (Andrew Koji) who works as muscle for gangs in the infamous Tong Wars. That's where the similarities between Cobra Kai and Warrior end, however. Warrior is extremely violent, very bloody, and incredibly serious, and because it's an import from its original home on Cinemax, it's pretty adult, too. But if it's the style and grace of a human body turning into a tornado of clenched fists and whipping feet that you're looking for, you'll find it in Warrior. -Tim Surette
If it's some of the sweet, sweet nostalgia that you're craving, take off the gi, put on some shades, pop a collar, chisel those dimples, and head over to Bayside High for the continuation of the '80s and '90s series Saved by the Bell. Like Cobra Kai, it follows the characters from the original series years later (Zack is governor of California!), as well as a new generation of high schoolers who realize the older characters can't stop living in the past. It also pokes fun at the original by pointing out some of the characteristics of the show that haven't held up well over time. Almost all of the original gang reprise their roles in some capacity. -Tim Surette
In the mood for another show that's the continuation of a movie that came out in the theaters decades ago? Disney+'s The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers follows the same path as Cobra Kai, bringing us up to speed on what's going on with the Mighty Ducks youth hockey program, and, obviously, Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez), the coach from the original movies. Lauren Graham stars as the mom of a young hockey player who gets cut from the Ducks, who have turned into an elitist powerhouse. See? That's kind of like Cobra Kai with the whole script flipping! It's a lot more wholesome than Cobra Kai, but it's also surprisingly funny and a real charmer. -Tim Surette
When it comes to charming shows with '80s nostalgia and subtly poignant commentary to be made, you can't go wrong with the totally rad Netflix original GLOW. A fictional tale based on the real-life ladies wrestling league of the Reagan era, GLOW stars an ensemble cast led by Alison Brie and Betty Gilpin. As Ruth "Zoya the Destroya" Wilder and Debbie "Liberty Belle" Eagan, Brie and Gilpin portray actors whose ambitions were thwarted by institutional sexism and personal life choices. Both Brie and Gilpin -- nominated for a Golden Globe, Emmys, and Critics Choice awards between them -- make the show's skillful blend of lightheartedness and serious drama look easy to pull off and they're just two of many great performers who make the show's unforgettable characters come alive. Each of its three seasons gets better and more satisfying as the episodes go on, and we'll never get over Netflix's choice to un-renew the show before Season 4.
Friday Night Lights ran from 2006 to 2011, and this oldie remains a goodie. It's set in Texas, where high school football is everything, but it's also about community, duty, and the sometimes suffocating ties that bind. Kyle Chandler is damn near iconic as Coach Taylor, a conflicted family guy doing his best to lead the Dillon Panthers to state at all costs; Connie Britton shines as his wife/guidance counselor Tami Taylor; and Taylor Kitsch earns our love again and again as Tim Riggins, the talented athlete struggling with alcohol and problems at home. It's way more intense than Cobra Kai but is just as beloved as a portrait of a community surrounding a sport.
True to its name, this one-season dramedy follows a pair of high schoolers who, well, become teenage bounty hunters. At the outset, Sterling (Maddie Phillips) and Blair (Anjelica Bette Fellini) are normal teenaged twins doing normal teenaged twin things when they accidentally land a job nabbing fugitives to earn cash. With Orange Is the New Black's Jenji Kohan on as a producer, the series has that madcap vibe you can't turn away from even when it goes completely off the hinges. Yet as Sterling and Blair balance crazy adventures with standard coming-of-age rites like dating and school, just like Cobra Kai, TBH remains lovable and sometimes excellent.
Want to see more of the karate and less of the kid? This action-adventure series ran for three seasons on AMC and follows a warrior, Sunny (Daniel Wu), and a young boy, M.K. (Aramis Knight), who go on a journey to seek true enlightenment. Heavy on martial arts and formulas from that genre, Into the Badlands of course required its journeymen to battle many, many foes along the way as they trudge through a post-apocalyptic landscape that's the result of a centuries-old war. Full of warlords, mystics, and magic, Into the Badlands is packed with cinema-level fight choreography, and engrossing conflicts that make it a compelling drama. There's a lot more blood on Into the Badlands than there is on Cobra Kai, so if you're looking for something kid-friendly, scroll down.
If you liked Cobra Kai for its family-friendly take on a dojo in a strip mall, then wait until you get a load of...this family-friendly Disney series about kids doing karate at a dojo in a strip mall! Running on Disney XD from 2011 to 2015, Kickin' It was a half-hour comedy series about a crew of kids who chop and kick their way through lessons about life and friendship. Of course, its mousey home network means this one's a little less gritty and a lot more PG than Cobra Kai, but the fundamental appeals are very much the same.