'Cobra Kai': 10 Episodes That Left Everyone Diving for the Tissue Box

by Susan Ryant

Cobra Kai may be known for being full of action-packed scenes full of karate fights, but sometimes, the Netflix drama will throw in some episodes that will leave you diving for the tissue box. The Karate Kid's badass moments may have outshone its sadder ones, but that's not always the case for its reboot series.

From Johnny's years of pain to Miguel's never-ending world of hurt to one devastating passing, Cobra Kai sometimes offers no mercy when it comes to its tearjerking moments.

Tory's Pain (Season 5, "Survivors")

Tory on Cobra Kai

It's no secret Tory has spent her first three seasons on Cobra Kai as an antagonist, but that all changed in Season 5 when Tory begins having a change of heart for Miyagi-Do upon learning Cobra Kai fixed her All Valley win.

While Tory's had plenty of sad scenes over the years - from learning of her mother's illness to Sam LaRusso turning the tables and becoming the bully at Tory's place of work - the toughest moment in her story to watch was in Season 5 episode "Survivors" which also doubled as a callback to The Karate Kid III. As her senseis train her as a captain, they force her to hit solid stone until it smashes, bruising and bloodying her hand.

Miguel's Halloween Beatdown (Season 1, “Esqueleto”)

Miguel on Cobra Kai

One of the coolest callbacks to The Karate Kid was in Season 1 episode "Esqueleto" when Johnny's protege Miguel wears a skeleton jumpsuit to the school's Halloween dance, making chaperone Daniel do a double take and flash back to his own traumatic Halloween dance.

The night ends similarly for Miguel as it did for Daniel, as he receives a beatdown in the boy's locker room and is left injured on the floor. When Johnny finds his student beaten up, he's left shaken to the point where he rethinks teaching Miguel karate at all.

Hawk Breaks Demetri's Arm (Season 3, “Miyagi-Do”)

Demetri And Hawk In Cobra Kai

Demetri's friendship with Eli Moskowitz goes back years, two nerdy best friends who bonded over shared interests in video games and sci-fi flicks. So, when their rival dojos and Eli's aggressive transformation into Hawk tears their BFF status apart, it's understandably sad to watch.

But the turning point in their friends-to-enemies relationship came in Season 3 episode "Miyagi-Do" when the competing dojos battle it out during a game of laser tag that ended with Hawk, lost in his Cobra Kai rampage, taking things a step too far and breaking his former best friend's arm right in front of everyone.

Miguel Meets His Father (Season 5, "Molè")

Miguel Diaz in Cobra Kai

Since the beginning, the mystery behind his birth father was an underlying storyline for Miguel, but the end of Season 4 saw him ditching the All Valley in order to finally get some answers about who his birth father is.

After accidentally running into his father in Mexico, the storyline took an anticlimactic turn when it's revealed his father is, in fact, as bad of a man as his mother always claimed he was, even questioning Miguel's intentions. The tearjerking moment comes when Miguel accepts his father isn't someone he wants in his life and calls his mother in tears, letting her know he's coming home before Johnny arrives to console him.

Hawk's Backstory (Season 2, "All In")

Eli in Cobra Kai

When Eli starts training at Cobra Kai, he's a sky, nerdy kid who is often made fun of for the scar above his lip. Even his sensei Johnny makes fun of his scar, referring to him simply as "Lip," which fuels the anger deep in Eli and forces him to transform into the merciless Hawk.

But in Season 2 episode "All In," the show flashes back to one of Eli's toughest moments, long before he became Hawk. The flashback starts with his mother on the phone with his school, asking them to do something to put an end to her son's bullying. But when the school says they'll make an anti-bullying announcement, Eli breaks down in tears, telling his mother he's a freak who will always be the kid with the weird lip in the heartbreaking scene.

Johnny Thinks Of His Unborn Child (Season 5, "Head Of The Snake")

Cobra Kai Season 5

While Season 5 was chock-full of shockers, the season finale "Head of the Snake" ended with several pivotal moments in the world of Cobra Kai. One of the toughest to watch was the beatdown Johnny took from terry Silver's minions that left him near-dead.

Bruised and bloodied and definitely injured, Johnny found himself on the floor of Silver's house, about to give up the fight when the sonogram photo of his unborn child flew from his jacket and landed in front of him, giving him the strength to fight back and ultimately win.

Johnny And Robby Reconcile (Season 4, "The Rise")

Robby Hugging Johnny From Cobra Kai

For the majority of Cobra Kai, Johnny had a rocky relationship with his son Robby. Robby always felt abandoned by his father, later joining Cobra Kai while under Kreese's control simply to betray Johnny.

But after a four-season-long rough patch, the Season 4 finale "The Rise" found Robby arriving at the abandoned Cobra Kai dojo to find his father. Robby breaks down, telling Johnny he's tired of the fighting and the hatred, and the two share a tearful heart-to-heart that begins their reconciliation.

Tommy's Passing (Season 2, “Take A Right”)

Rob Garrison as Tommy in Cobra Kai

Season 2 episode "Take A Right" found Johnny reuniting with his best Cobra Kai friends Bobby, Jimmy and Tommy. The three actors who originated the roles in The Karate Kid returned to the reboot for an episode that would end on a devastating note.

Johnny, Bobby and Jimmy break an ill Tommy out of the hospital for a night of bar fights and camping, but by morning, Tommy's illness overcomes him and they find their friend has passed. In a sadder addition to the episode, Tommy's portrayer Rob Garrison lost his health battle in 2019, only five months after the episode aired.

Miguel's Fall (Season 2, “No Mercy”)

Xolo Mariduena in Cobra Kai Season 3 Image via Netflix

Without question, the fan-favorite episode of Cobra Kai will forever be the Season 2 finale "No Mercy." The episode's final moments found the Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai students in an all-out war in their school hallways, where Demetri gave Hawk what was coming to him, Tory literally scarred Sam, and Miguel and Robby wound up in the fight of their lives with a life-changing outcome.

As Miguel and Robby used every karate move they'd learned on each other, once Miguel found himself about to win the fight, he decided to be the bigger person, back down and apologized. But Robby had other plans, using the opportunity to continue fighting Miguel until he accidentally kicked him over the railing, everyone watching as Miguel fell onto another railing, resulting in him becoming temporarily paralyzed in Season 3.

"I Love You, Too, Robby" (Season 4, “Party Time”)

Miguel on Cobra Kai

Season 4 found Miguel and Johnny in some tiffs after he learns that his sensei is dating his mother, but in the end, Miguel wanted more than anything for Johnny to be like the father he never had.

In the episode "Party Time," when Miguel finds a drunk and fallen Johnny on the floor of his apartment, he helps his sensei to bed. Johnny starts on a drunken heart-to-heart, telling the boy he wants to be a father to him and wants to do better. But when Miguel tells Johnny he loves him, Johnny responds with a tearful, "I love you, too, Robby" before turning over, leaving Miguel devastated.

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