Cobra Kai Is Now Streaming For Free

The first season of Cobra Kai, the YouTube Premium-produced Karate Kid spinoff series that has been earning rave reviews and a fanatical following from its audience, is now available to stream for free. The series, which centers around the mid-life crisis of Karate Kid villain Johnny (William Zabka), has already got two seasons in the can and is heading for its third. The free preview of season one will be available for the next two weeks, ending on September 12. Cobra Kai's third season is likely to debut sometime in the spring of 2020, but the first round of new information about the show has started to emerge.

The show has become a legitimate pop culture phenomenon: recently, YouTube and IDW announced that they would release a Cobra Kai tie-in comic book, and fans have been lining up to get autographs and meet with the cast at conventions since the series began. The show is a bit of a twist on a meme that has been floating through the culture for a while: that Johnny is actually not a villain in Karate Kid and that Daniel (Ralph Macchio), the guy who stole his girlfriend and arguably cheated to win the karate tournament at the end, isn't all he's cracked up to be, either. Before a viral YouTube video that obsessed social media for a few days in 2015, the idea broke into the popular consciousness, strangely, through the CBS sitcom How I Met Your Mother.

In the 2009 episode "The Stinsons," series knucklehead Barney Stinson (Neil Patrick Harris) shocked his friends when he revealed to them that when he watches the original Karate Kid, he roots for Cobrai Kai's two-time, defending All Valley Karate champion, not the scrawny loser from New Jersey who barely even knows karate. The title of the movie being "The Karate Kid" clearly, to Barney, suggested Johnny, who lived for this stuff, not Daniel, who came upon it as a way to steal somebody's girlfriend and get away with it. It was just the right kind of absurd pop culture hot take to explode online, and a decade later, here we are.

The gag paid off a few years later on How I Met Your Mother, too, when during Barney's bachelor party, Robin (Cobie Smulders) hired Zabka to dress as a clown, and reveal himself at the end during a ruse. Zabka is shown to later have been invited to Barney and Robin's wedding. He becomes the best man for a short time when Barney is furious at Ted Mosby, but when Barney re-instates Ted, William is shown to be irritated. He later tries to sabotage Ted's best man duties.

Cobra Kai debuted in 2018 and picks up decades after the original film and showcases a new chapter of the iconic rivalry between John Kreese (Martin Kove) and Daniel (Ralph Macchio). When a new rivalry between opposing dojos is born in the aftermath of Cobra Kai's controversial win at the All Valley Championships, Daniel realizes his next countermove is to open his own karate training school called Miyagi-Do, in honor of his mentor Mr. Miyagi.


"While Cobra Kai does have the same nuances that the Karate Kid had, it's a very new story that brings everything that you loved about the original movie without being a rehash," series star Xolo Maridueña told ahead of Season 1. "In many ways, I think there are a good chunk of people who can relate to the Johnny storyline as much as they can with Daniel San's. I love that Cobra Kai is the flip side."