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Wax on, wax off: How to watch The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai in chronological and release order

Want to get started on watching The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai franchise? Here’s how to do it!

The Karate Kid (1984) screencap
Image credit: Columbia Pictures

Here at Popverse, we don’t have the ability to make you into a martial arts master, but we can give you something more entertaining. Enter our Popverse dojo as we instruct you on the ways of watching The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai franchise. Don’t worry, there won’t be any intensive training. In fact, you will never even have to leave your couch.

The Karate Kid saga began in 1984 when a martial arts instructor named Mr. Miyagi took on a teenage student named Daniel LaRusso. The movie spawned multiple sequels, an animated series, and a Jackie Chan reboot. In 2018 the streaming series Cobra Kai premiered, giving the saga new life. The YouTube original (which later migrated to Netflix) follows the continuing rivalry between Daniel LaRusso and his old nemesis Johnny Lawrence.

If you’re looking to dive into The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai saga, but aren’t sure where to start, then you’ve come to the right place. Here is everything you need to know about watching The Karate Kid/Cobra Kai in release and chronological order.

How to watch The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai in release order

The Karate Kid screencap
Image credit: Columbia Pictures

Are you ready to begin your training? If you’re looking to watch The Karate Kid/Cobra Kai in release order, here is how you would do it.

How to watch The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai in chronological order

The Karate Kid (1984) screencap
Image credit: Columbia Pictures

The Karate Kid/Cobra Kai franchise is actually three different continuities. Yes, there is an entire Karateverse. Don’t worry, it might seem confusing at first glance, but it’s simple to navigate. This watch list will break down the three distinct continuities, giving you everything you need to watch them in chronological order.

The Miyagi-verse

This is the primary timeline for the franchise. It’s the setting for the original films, and Cobra Kai.

  • The Karate Kid (1984)
  • The Karate Kid Part II (1986)
  • The Karate Kid Part III (1989)
  • The Next Karate Kid (1994)
  • Cobra Kai season one (2018)
  • Cobra Kai season two (2019)
  • Cobra Kai season three (2021)
  • Cobra Kai season four (2021)
  • Cobra Kai season five (2022)
The animated universe

In 1989 NBC began airing a Saturday morning cartoon series based on The Karate Kid films. While the show is a loose continuation of the original films, it is considered a separate universe.

  • The Karate Kid Animated Series (1989)
The Han-verse

In 2010 Sony Pictures released The Karate Kid, a film which rebooted the franchise. Despite the title, the film focused on kung fu rather than karate. A sequel is currently set for 2024. The 2010 reboot and its connection to Cobra Kai will be addressed in the continuity section of this guide.

  • The Karate Kid (2010)
  • Untitled Karate Kid movie (2024)

Should I watch The Karate Kid films before watching Cobra Kai?

Cobra Kai season 5
Image credit: Netflix

You don’t need to watch The Karate Kid films before starting Cobra Kai, but it helps. The critically acclaimed streaming series focuses on the rivalry between Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence. Characters and events from the Miyagi-verse are seen in Cobra Kai, but you don’t need to be familiar with them to enjoy the show. The series does a good job at bringing viewers up to speed.

If you do choose to watch the Miyagi-verse films before starting Cobra Kai, you’ll have more context for the characters and their relationships. You’ll also catch some Easter eggs. While it’s not required, I would recommend watching the first three movies in the franchise. It’s not a large number of films to watch, and it will give you a greater appreciation for Cobra Kai.

Where can I watch The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai?

The Next Karate Kid
Image credit: Columbia Pictures

If you have a Netflix subscription, you can stream most of the movies in The Karate Kid franchise. As of this writing, the streaming service has the first three films, the Jaden Smith remake, and all of Cobra Kai. This leaves The Next Karate Kid and the animated series.

The Next Karate Kid isn’t currently on any streaming services, but it is available to purchase or rent on a variety of video-on-demand platforms. Amazon Prime Video currently has an HD rental available for $3.99. Every episode of The Karate Kid animated series has been uploaded to YouTube. Keep in mind, some streaming availability might change as licenses expire.

Is Jaden Smith’s The Karate Kid in the same continuity as Cobra Kai?

Jaden Smith in The Karate kid
Image credit: Columbia Pictures

Technically there is nothing onscreen to contradict Iaden Smith’s The Karate Kid film from being in the same continuity as Ralph Macchio’s films. While the 2010 film is a reboot, it introduces new characters rather than casting new versions of Mr. Miyagi and Daniel LaRusso. Plus, Smith’s film takes place in Beijing, far from the American action seen in the Miyagi films.

However, according to Cobra Kai showrunner Jon Hurwitz, he views the 2010 film as a separate continuity. During an interview with /Film, Hurwitz was asked about the possibility of Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan reprising their roles for a future season. “We've ruled that out completely. Jackie Chan is mentioned in season 1 of the show as a human, so I think in our world, Jackie Chan is an actor and a performer. If the characters on our show have seen a movie called The Karate Kid, they've seen that one,” Hurwitz said.

When will Cobra Kai season 6 be released?

Cobra Kai season 5
Image credit: Netflix

As of this writing, there is currently no release date for Cobra Kai season 6. The upcoming season has been delayed due to the Writers Guild of America strike and the SAG-AFTRA strike. According to showrunner Jon Hurwitz, the scripting stage for season 6 hadn’t been completed when the WGA strike began. Production was shut down in May 2023, and there is no word on when they will resume. For production of Cobra Kai to continue, both the WGA strike and the SAG-AFTRA strike will need to be resolved.

According to Netflix, season 6 will be the final season. It looks like we may not be seeing Cobra Kai season 6 for a while. In the meantime, this gives us a chance to rewatch the first 5 seasons and binge the movies.

Which continuity will the untitled Karate Kid movie (2024) take place in?

Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan
Image credit: Columbia Pictures

The Karate Kid franchise will return to the big screen in 2024. The upcoming film, which still hasn't garnered a title, will combine both universes of Karate Kid, and will feature Jackie Chan and Ralph Macchio reprising their famous roles. The lead character will be a 17-year-old student named Li, who is described as a smart and scrappy skilled fighter who had his life uprooted to Brooklyn, New York. The film is slated for December 2024.

What’s the deal with The Karate Kid animated series?

Karate Kid animated series
Image credit: DIC Enterprises

In 1989 DIC Enterprises and Saban Entertainment produced The Karate Kid, a Saturday morning cartoon series based on the popular film franchise. How do you make a cartoon show about The Karate Kid? Well, the show had very little to do with the plot of the movies. Daniel and Mr. Miyagi became adventurers, traveling the world to retrieve a missing magical artifact.

The two were joined by Taki, a teenage girl who was quick on her feet. Episodes had fantastical plots, like “A Little World of His Own” where Daniel and Mr. Miyagi were shrunk. There’s also a moment where Daniel skateboards on a missile. In case it isn’t obvious, none of this is canon to the live-action films. However, the magical artifact was briefly seen as an Easter egg in season 3 of Cobra Kai.

What about The Karate Kid/Cobra Kai video games?

Cobra Kai video game image
Image credit: Flux Games

The Karate Kid saga has also been told in video game form. Are any of those games canon? Let’s break them down.

  • The Karate Kid (1987) – An NES game that loosely follows the plot of the first two films. Definitely not canon.
  • The Karate Kid Part II: The Computer Game (1987) – A fighting game released for home computers. The game didn’t really have a plot. One level has you play as Mr. Miyagi as you try to catch a fly with chopsticks. Not canon.
  • Cobra Kai: The Karate Kid Saga Continues (2020) – This video game tells an original story based on the Cobra Kai streaming series. It’s a fun game, but various status quo clues (Johnny being a sensei at the Cobra Kai Dojo and Robby being a student at Miyagi-Do Karate) point to this being non-canon.
  • Cobra Kai: Card Fighter (2021) – A mobile game where you collect cards and power ups to duel opponents. Once again, it’s not canon.
  • Cobra Kai 2: Dojos Rising (2022) – A sequel to the 2020 video game. Like its predecessor, it isn’t canon to the Cobra Kai streaming series.

Now you have everything you need to enjoy The Karate Kid and Cobra Kai saga, and you never had to smash your head on any planks! Enjoy your viewing experience, and remember, Cobra Kai for life!


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