Netflix’s Best Series Was Almost Just One Movie

By Matthew Creith | Published

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As far as subscription streaming service Netflix is concerned, it might just be the leader when it comes to compelling television shows tailor-made for a willing audience looking to be entertained from the comfort of their living rooms. The streamer is responsible for successful series like Wednesday, Stranger Things, and The Watcher as of late, but it is the drive to take on established content recently that has made them stand above the rest in the streaming wars. Now, Looper reports that Netflix’s best television series, Cobra Kai, might have had a different trajectory on the platform as it was once conceived as a single movie rather than a multi-season television show.

Cobra Kai cast

Cobra Kai premiered on Netflix in May 2018 and has gone on to stream five seasons and 50 episodes since its inception. The concept of the series was in development for close to two decades, and creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, and Hayden Schlossberg had initially wanted it to be a standalone film on the big screen that would serve as a sequel of sorts to its predecessor The Karate Kid. The character of Johnny Lawrence would have been the central focus of the film as it explores his adult life, but the writers chose not to pursue the film angle as it didn’t seem like a realistic storyline at the time.

Thankfully, Heald, Hurwitz, and Schlossberg held off on making Cobra Kai into a movie, and instead focused all of their attention on creating a worthwhile series that expands upon The Karate Kid franchise as a valuable extension. Cobra Kai does in fact detail Johnny Lawrence’s adult life post his bullying years depicted in 1984’s The Karate Kid, but it also incorporates the character of Daniel LaRusso in the television series as well. William Zabka and Ralph Macchio reprise their roles from the franchise as Johnny Lawrence and Daniel LaRusso, respectively.

Cobra Kai ran for two seasons on YouTube and became so successful in its infancy (thanks to overwhelmingly positive nostalgic reviews) that the series was picked up by Netflix. The television show has generated a lot of buzz since the third season debuted on the streamer, and many celebrities have made guest appearances on the show like Carrie Underwood, Elizabeth Shue, Paul Walter Hauser, Ed Asner, and Dee Snider. As for franchise star Hilary Swank, the actor has yet to appear on the television series despite fans calling for her return.

A financially successful television series overall for Netflix, Cobra Kai has been a critically acclaimed show since it began and lives up to that reputation in its current season. Rotten Tomatoes currently ranks the series with a 96% rating on its Tomatometer, as well as an Audience Score of 92%. Accolades have also come to the television show in the past few years, with Cobra Kai having been nominated for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Comedy Series in 2021, and recognized by other awards shows like the Screen Actors Guild Awards, the Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards, and the People’s Choice Awards.