Cobra Kai has finally returned for a third season. The series, a sequel to The Karate Kid films set in the modern-day, has never been more popular, thanks to its move from YouTube Premium to Netflix last year.
While characters from the original films like Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) and Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) have been the big draw for the series, its backbone from the beginning has been a new crop of young stars. Most of these newer characters are back for Season 3, except for one notable exception.
[Spoilers for Cobra Kai seasons 1-3 from this point on.]
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Cobra Kai star Nichole Brown first confirmed that she would not be returning for Season 3 back in September 2019. This was about five months after the second season premiered on YouTube.
“Officially NOT in Season 3 of #CobraKai…” Brown told her followers on Instagram. “Unfortunate, but thank you for the opportunity and time I had on the show.”
Brown played Aisha in the first two seasons of Cobra Kai, the awkward and nerdy former friend of Samantha (Mary Mouser), the daughter of Daniel LaRusso. Like a handful of the show’s other high school misfits, Aisha eventually begins training at Johnny’s Cobra Kai Dojo as an outlet for her frustrations.
Producer Jon Hurwitz explained the character’s absence from Season 3 in an interview with TVLine. Hurwitz stated that he and fellow showrunners, Hayden Schlossberg and Josh Heald, intentionally choose to have certain characters weave in and out of the story season-to-season. Hurwitz further noted that a few characters will be back in Season 3 that sat out Season 2.
“Certain characters we loved in Season 1 didn’t appear at all in Season 2, like Kyler, Yasmine and Louie,” Hurwitz said. “Before the season, we told Nichole the same thing we told those actors: That just because a character doesn’t appear for a period of time doesn’t mean they’ve left the universe, that they can’t return again.”
Heald also explained that they have a longer plan in mind for the series than just season-to-season. With this amount of forethought, he believes that it allows character returns to have more importance.
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The first two seasons of Cobra Kai debuted on Netflix in August 2020. This came after YouTube shopped the series – by far its most popular – to multiple other streaming outlets. YouTube’s premium streaming offerings have so far struggled to reach a mainstream audience and the company is now moving away from scripted content.
A third season of Cobra Kai was already underway when Netflix acquired it. After the first two seasons became huge hits on the platform, it preemptively picked up the series for a fourth, which will most likely drop in 2022.
Cobra Kai season 3 will pick up in the aftermath of the huge fight that broke out between Miyagi-do and Cobra Kai students at the end of season 2. The fight culminated in Johnny’s first student, Miguel (Xolo Maridueña), taking a nasty fall that left him in the hospital with a major injury.