Cobra Kai season 3 ending explained: your biggest questions answered

Cobra Kai season 3 ending explained
(Image credit: Netflix)

The Cobra Kai season 3 ending, arguably, kicks off the most important chain of events in Karate Kid history. New alliances are formed, others break down, and there are betrayals aplenty. Then, there’s the small matter of major returns being teased, a potentially series-ending premise being set up, and the crystallisation of a team-up decades in the making.

So, a lot to take in. And you probably have questions. Lots of questions. Thankfully, we have a black belt in Cobra Kai – we’ve watched the entire season and have broken down the main talking points now that the dust has settled on the assault on Miyagi-do. Below, we’ll run through every important question that’s been flying around social media in the wake of the Cobra Kai season 3 ending. But, first: let’s quickly run through what happened in the tenth and final episode of season 3 – before getting to what it all means.

Spoilers for Cobra Kai season 3 follow...

Cobra Kai season 3 ending recap

The Cobra Kai season 3 ending is split into three distinct storylines that intersect throughout the tenth episode: an extended flashback to Kreese’s time in Vietnam, the assault on the LaRusso house, and Johnny and Daniel’s journey from the Christmas party to the Cobra Kai.

Let’s split them apart for simplicity’s sake and start with the Vietnam scenes. Having been captured, Kreese, his captain, Terry, and a handful of other soldiers are made to fight each other over a snake pit – with the loser plunging to their death.

After a series of bouts, Kreese and the captain go mano-a-mano, but not before Kreese is told that his girl back home, Betsy, died. This enrages Kreese, who manages to overcome the captain and – despite the Americans bombing the area and rescuing the soldiers – sends the captain to his death. A grateful Terry tells Kreese “Anything you need, I’m there for you.”

In the present day, Daniel and his wife, Amanda, bond with Johnny and a returning Ali over their dating lives, with Ali even spilling the beans on why she and Daniel broke up: the pair had a fight during Ali’s college days over a male friend that Daniel took to be something more.

After the party, Ali thanks Johnny for “making [her] feel like a kid again” and, while “sometimes it’s good to visit the past” he needs to start looking forward. That gives the spark Johnny needs to tell Miguel’s mother, Carmen, that he loves her – but more on that in a moment.

The big set-piece, though, revolves around the LaRusso house. There, Sam, Miguel, Demetri, and a handful of Eagle Fang and Miyagi-do students are hashing out a truce when suddenly they are attacked by Tory, Hawk, Kyler, and other Cobra Kai students.

Cobra Kai season 3 ending

(Image credit: Netflix)

A fight ensues and Cobra Kai gets the upper hand. Demetri’s arm is all set to be broken (again) and Hawk is offered a free shot at his former friend. However, he has a change of heart and fights off Kyler – before reuniting with Demetri.

Perpetual rivals Sam and Tory also fight it out in the Miyagi-do dojo, with Sam finally overcoming her fear and panic attacks to disarm a nunchuck-wielding Tory. She is surrounded by Miyagi-do students new and old as Tory leaves.

Separately, Johnny and Daniel find out about the assault on the LaRusso house. Johnny confronts Kreese at Cobra Kai (who is currently training Robby). Johnny and Kreese fight and, in the melee, Robby is knocked out cold. Kreese goes in for the kill – quite literally, it appears – on Johnny, but Daniel makes the save.

Using the techniques he was taught by Chozen earlier in the season in Okinawa, Daniel makes Kreese’s body go limp by striking on the pressure points. Daniel is about to finish Kreese, but is stopped by the arrival of Miguel and Daniel.

Finally, Kreese strikes a bargain: whichever dojo wins at the upcoming All Valley tournament, the other must disband. Kreese is later seen calling up an unknown figure for some help.

The season ends with Johnny and Daniel teaching a karate class together – with a combined batch of Eagle Fang and Miyagi-do students.

Are Daniel and Johnny officially teaming up?

It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for – and it’s accompanied by a killer ‘80s song to boot. Yes, one of your questions was probably “What song was playing in the final scene?” but that surely didn’t distract you from Daniel and Johnny combining their dojos (and students) to create one super-dojo to take on Kreese’s Cobra Kai at the All Valley tournament.

We saw earlier in the episode that some minor details on where and how to train still needed to be hashed out. By the episode’s end, though, Eagle Fang and Miyagi-do are on the same page; Daniel and Johnny are both teaching karate classes in the LaRusso’s yard.

That could be a significant shift for the future of Cobra Kai. Much of the first three seasons was taken up by the simmering renewed rivalry between the former tournament finalists. Now, they have a common foe to fight. As Kreese says himself, “The enemy of your enemy is your friend.” He might just find that out in the worst possible way.

As for the song? It was a cover of Phil Collins’ “In the Air Tonight.” You’re welcome.

Are Miguel and Sam officially back together?

Miguel and Sam’s on-off relationship has probably sparked a wave of Tumblr posts and fancams. I haven’t looked. Honest.

By the Cobra Kai season 3 ending, it appears that they’re very much an item again. That mostly stems from the penultimate episode which saw Miguel and Sam engaging in a smooch-heavy session on the dojo floor, and later being interrupted by a raging Robby. There, Miguel pushes Robby away, who retreats into the slithering arms of Cobra Kai.

The fledgling future of LaDiaz (which I’m totally coining right now), seems to be cemented in Cobra Kai season 3’s final episode. The camera lingers on Miguel, who looks over at Sam. She responds in turn with a warm smile, hinting that there’s something going on between the pair.

Cobra Kai season 3

(Image credit: Netflix)

How important is the All Valley tournament?

Let’s not get ahead of ourselves – but the upcoming under-18 All Valley Tournament (in season 4, or potentially beyond that) feels like the endgame for the entire series.

How come? Kreese, Johnny, and Daniel arrive at a wager by the season’s end. If Cobra Kai wins, Johnny and Daniel’s dojos must disband. If the new Eagle Fang/Miyagi-do connection come up victorious, then Cobra Kai must shut its doors for good.

Either way, something’s gotta go – and you’d imagine that eventual tournament final will wrap up any loose ends that the series might have.

Will Ali return?

At this stage, nothing has been confirmed. Elizabeth Shue’s return as both Johnny and Daniel’s former flame, Ali, stood out as one of the highlights of the season. However, her brief two-episode stint felt definitive. Instead of giving in to the charms of Johnny, she ended the night at the Christmas party at the country club in Encino by giving her former beau a pep talk and essentially talking him into the arms of Miguel’s mother, Carmen.

That’s not to say Ali will never be back, though fans can’t have any complaints if she doesn’t return. Narratively speaking, the show would have to jump through hoops to give Ali a reason to stay in LA for more than a few days, while her comeback certainly tied up any lingering loose ends and ill feeling Ali may have had with either Johnny or Daniel.  

Cobra Kai season 3

(Image credit: Netflix)

Who’s now part of Cobra Kai?

Cobra Kai is suddenly looking a whole lot emptier. Kreese, of course, remains as sensei – and he could be joined by another senior figure (more on that in a moment). As for the students, Johnny’s son, Robby, is confirmed to be part of that dojo. Tory, Kyler, and Brucks are the other named characters in Cobra Kai, though expect more antagonists to be added next season just to fill out the cast and give Eagle Fang/Miyagi-do a few more opponents to butt heads with.

Who is Kreese phoning at the end?

Throughout the season, we were offered a peek into Kreese’s Vietnam days. Joining him was a cowardly soldier by the name of Terry. As Karate Kid fans will well know, that’s a certain Terry Silver – the billionaire Big Bad of Karate Kid Part 3 who owns Cobra Kai and sought to humiliate Daniel in the All Valley tournament.

That’s also very likely the person Kreese is calling up at the end of Cobra Kai season 3. The arrival of a cocky moneybags on the scene in Reseda, especially one with a fraught history with Daniel, is sure to see sparks fly – and pretty much serves as the last big character yet to return from the Karate Kid series.

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Bradley Russell

I'm the Senior Entertainment Writer here at GamesRadar+, focusing on news, features, and interviews with some of the biggest names in film and TV. On-site, you'll find me marveling at Marvel and providing analysis and room temperature takes on the newest films, Star Wars and, of course, anime. Outside of GR, I love getting lost in a good 100-hour JRPG, Warzone, and kicking back on the (virtual) field with Football Manager. My work has also been featured in OPM, FourFourTwo, and Game Revolution.