Cobra Kai: Mike Barnes Had The Perfect Ending (Until Daniel Ruined It)

Warning: SPOILERS for Cobra Kai Season 5Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan) makes his long-awaited comeback in Cobra Kai season 5 but, naturally, his unexpected new status quo in The Karate Kid mythos is ruined by Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), Chozen Toguchi (Yuji Okumoto), and Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith). Daniel and Chozen were on a mission to stop Silver and Cobra Kai's takeover of the San Fernando Valley, and they sought to recruit Terry's old allies to their cause. Of course, LaRusso realized the number one name on that list was "Mike F****** Barnes," his old nemesis from The Karate Kid Part III.


Known as "Karate's Bad Boy," Mike Barnes was Terry Silver's hired gun in The Karate Kid Part III whom he selected out of a karate magazine because of his notorious reputation as a proven winner who was also vicious in tournaments. Promising Barnes a 50% stake in his Cobra Kai expansion plan, Silver made Mike his top Cobra Kai student while he posed as a friend to Daniel. All the while, Terry was manipulating "Danny Boy" and unleashing his dark side in order to drive a wedge between LaRusso and his sensei, Mr. Miyagi (Noriyuki "Pat" Morita). When Daniel-san fought Barnes in the finals of the 1985 All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament, Mike followed Silver's instructions to fight dirty and injure LaRusso. But when it came down to one final point to win the fight, Daniel scored on Barnes for the victory. Terry Silver's master plan was ruined until he returned in Cobra Kai 35 years later and succeeded in taking over karate in the Valley, with an eye on a global expansion of Cobra Kai dojos.

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Of course, when he sought out Mike Barnes in Cobra Kai season 5, Daniel fully expected his Karate Kid III opponent to still be the same aggressive jerk he was when they last saw each other. To LaRusso's surprise, Barnes is a changed man. After he lost to Daniel at the All Valley, Mike spiraled downward until he met his future wife and her family. Barnes turned his life around and became a successful businessman with his own furniture store in the Valley. However, Mike and Daniel's reunion would soon ruin all of Barnes' good fortune. Not only did a confused Chozen beat up Barnes' employees, thinking they were his evil henchman, but as soon as Terry Silver caught wind of Mike giving Daniel the phone number of his attorney, he burned Barnes' furniture store to the ground. Tragically, Mike's business was mortgaged to the hilt, and he lost everything. A distraught Barnes blamed Daniel at first, until he, Chozen, and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) attacked the real culprit: Terry Silver.

Why Mike Barnes' Comeback In Cobra Kai Was Perfect

Cobra Kai Johnny, Mike Barnes, Chozen

When Sean Kanan's return in Cobra Kai was announced, most fans naturally assumed that Mike Barnes would be the same villain he was in The Karate Kid Part III. Instead, Cobra Kai smartly flipped the script so that Barnes turned his life around and became a better person for it. In a way, Mike led a similar life to Daniel, who also became a family man running a successful business in the Valley. But no surprise, getting caught up in LaRusso's feud with Terry Silver resulted in Barnes' perfect new life literally going up in smoke. Yet this led to a dream team-up for longtime Karate Kid fans where all of Daniel-san's movie rivals - Johnny, Chozen, and Mike - join forces to take on Terry Silver and the Way of the Fist senseis.

Hopefully, Cobra Kai season 5 isn't the last time Mike Barnes will appear. "Karate's Bad Boy" is an electric presence in Cobra Kai, and he completes the trifecta of Daniel making peace with all of his teenage enemies from The Karate Kid movies. Mike has also been keeping up his karate skills, and with the fate of the Cobra Kai dojo up in the air at the end of Cobra Kai season 5, it's possible Barnes could return even return as a sensei in season 6, especially after Daniel and Silver ruined his perfect life.

Cobra Kai Season 5 is streaming on Netflix.