- "I know I said you have to... let go of your anger and show forgiveness, but... when the fight comes to you, you have to be ready to fight back."
- ―Daniel LaRusso to Robby Keene[src]
Daniel "Daniel-san" "Danny" LaRusso is one of the main protagonists of The Karate Kid trilogy and Cobra Kai television series.
Daniel was once a bullied high school student who was mentored by a wise karate sensei, who taught him both valuable life lessons and self-defense. Daniel was able to use this training to protect himself and others, winning several championships and beating aggressive opponents that challenged him.
Thirty years after his initial training, Daniel has settled down in the valley and is married, has two children and owns a chain of auto-dealerships called LaRusso Auto Group. He has also retired from karate and uses the martial arts as gimmick to promote his business. When his high school rival Johnny Lawrence resurfaces and opens Cobra Kai Dojo, Daniel is inspired to teach Miyagi-Do Karate to a new generation of students.
Their rivalry has higher stakes then before, and things escalate during a school brawl involving Daniel's daughter, Johnny's star student, and estranged son. The aftermath of the brawl finds Johnny and Daniel becoming reluctant allies, and they are forced to join forces once again when John Kreese challenges their respective dojos in the All Valley Karate Tournament.
Pre-The Karate Kid (1984)
- "What point? That I can take a beating? I mean, every time I see those guys, they're gonna know they got the best of me. I'll never have balance that way. Not with them, not with Ali. Not with me."
- ―Daniel LaRusso to Mr. Miyagi[src]
Daniel was born in New Jersey on December 18, 1966. He spent much of his life in Newark, New Jersey. Little was known of his life in the Garden State, although he said he went to a summer camp, which he first did not want to do, but then made three friends, one of whom was a girl named Judy whom he dated for some time. He also was a member of the YMCA at Newark, where he first was introduced to karate.
However, when Daniel was 8 years old, Mr. LaRusso died of an unnamed terminal illness. Little is known of Daniel's relationship with his father, but he later expressed his strongest memory of his childhood saying goodbye to the elder LaRusso when he was on his deathbed, and being proud of all else being there for his father at the last minutes of his life. Thus it seems likely that Daniel had a very good relationship with both of his parents.
As years passed and Daniel matured into a teenager, Mrs. LaRusso worked hard as a widow, both to put food on the table and be there for her only child.
Daniel seemed to enjoy his early life in New Jersey. When he moved away from Newark and took a last look at the neighborhood he grew up in, multiple friends from the neighborhood and their parents were there to wish Daniel and his mother best of luck in their new home.
Lucille LaRusso was transferred from her current job to a branch office in California. She leased an apartment in the "South Seas" complex in Reseda, California, and took Daniel along from a cross-country venture across the United States that started in Newark and ended in Reseda.
Upon arriving, Daniel befriends one of his neighbors, Freddy Fernandez, after karate kicking a gate door into Freddy's face, but Freddy doesn't take offense, and invites him to a beach party. Before the beach party, Daniel meets his future mentor, Mr. Miyagi, when Daniel goes to ask him to fix their new apartment's leaky faucet.
Daniel then goes to the beach party. It is at this beach party that Daniel first encounters Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue), and is instantly infatuated with her. He attempts to teach her how to bounce a soccer ball in the air. As he does this, Ali's ex-boyfriend, Johnny Lawrence is riding dirt bikes with his friends. They stop to talk, and it is pointed out to him that they can see Ali flirting with Daniel. This leads to Johnny going down to the beach to confront Ali. She is less than receptive, and in his frustration, he breaks her radio. Johnny, the star pupil of the Cobra Kai Dojo, and the winner of the last All-Valley Karate Tournament, beats up Daniel when he tries to insert himself into Ali's private business and attacks Johnny. This leads to Daniel sucker-punching Johnny before being humiliated, and Freddy reluctantly abandons Daniel on the beach after being asked by his friends why he brought a loser like him to the party.
In the following weeks, Daniel occasionally falls under the ire of Johnny and the rest of the Cobra Kai gang, who harass him. Daniel believes his karate lessons from the Newark YMCA are insufficient to defend himself from the likes of Johnny, and checks out the Cobra Kai dojo. In doing so, he sees the star pupil is none other than Johnny, who is Kreese's assistant instructor. While going to the head of the class to teach the white belts, Johnny smirks at Daniel. Daniel departs Cobra Kai and goes to a restaurant across the street to meet his mother, who is glad Daniel disapproved of the dojo as she remarks she would have probably been unable to afford its tuition. Lucille also tells Daniel some good news, she got promoted in her job, but her managerial training program will likely mean nights away from home.
This conflict finally comes to a head at their high school Halloween party, where Daniel soaks Johnny with water in one of the bathroom stalls. Johnny and his friends chase Daniel from the high school to the fence of his apartment complex, when they are finally able to catch up with him, and begin beating Daniel (with the exception of Bobby Brown [one of the more moral and less-corrupted students in Cobra Kai], who tells his friends to leave Daniel alone and that the latter has had enough, only to get rebuked by his friends). Viewing the attack, Mr. Miyagi intervenes. He jumps down from the fence, and beats all of Daniel's assailants single-handedly. When Mr. Miyagi dressed Daniel's wounds, he tried to get to the bottom of why he was assaulted. Mr. Miyagi surmised that their problem was a bad attitude, and it stemmed from their sensei, as Miyagi believed there is no such thing as a bad student, only a bad teacher. When Daniel suggested talking over the problem with their sensei, Mr. Miyagi was reluctant to get involved, but did so after he realized Daniel was trying to solve a problem with his head instead of his fists.
Daniel and Mr. Miyagi go to the Cobra Kai Dojo the next day to attempt to make peace, and ask the sensei, John Kreese to order his students to stop. Kreese teases Daniel that he should fight his own battles, to which Miyagi says maybe so for one bully, but five bullies ganging up on Daniel like last night was too much to ask of anyone. Kreese agrees to even out the odds 1-1 and arranges a fight on the spot, but Miyagi says there is enough fighting. Miyagi finally agrees to settle the issue mano-a-mano through the forthcoming All-Valley Karate Tournament, to which Kreese agrees, as well as order all the Cobras not to harass Daniel until then so he can train.
Mr. Miyagi begins to teach Daniel the ways of karate through a series of labor tasks, including paint the fence, paint the house, wax the car, and sand the floor. Another non-karate way Miyagi teaches Daniel is the art of bonsai arrangement, which was more of a hobby for Miyagi, but also uses it as a way to get Daniel to concentrate. This is noticed by Mrs. LaRusso, who is glad Daniel is starting to adjust, and Miyagi gives her a gift of the bonsai he had been working on.
When the tournament comes around, Daniel enters and despite knowing the rules when he starts. In the first round, he struggles against his opponent at first, and is in danger of losing a point after running out of the ring. However, after getting some advise from Miyagi, Daniel successfully defeats his opponent and moves on to the next round. In round 2, he faces Cobra Kai student Jerry and successfully defeats him. In round 3 he defeats Cobra Kai student and one of his bullies Jimmy. In round 4 he faces Cobra Kai student and one of his bullies Tommy. Despite losing a point to Tommy, Daniel recovers and beats him. In the quarterfinals, he faces Cobra Kai student and one of his bullies Dutch. While Dutch gains the upper hand at first, kicking Daniel in the face, Daniel recovers and defeats Dutch by kicking him.
He makes it to the semifinals, against the Cobra Kai member Bobby Brown. Bobby is told by Kreese to put Daniel out of commission, and despite Bobby's protests about being disqualified and believing he could beat Daniel, he still follows Kreese's orders. Bobby savagely hurts Daniel with an illegal kick to the knee. The tournament is suspended where Daniel will be allowed fifteen minutes to be examined by a doctor, and if Daniel cannot fight, Johnny will win by forfeit. In the infirmary, the doctor thinks Daniel should sit it out, but disappointedly says how well Daniel did out there. Ali is saddened that the Cobras will win and get to jeer Daniel, and Miyagi thinks Daniel should follow the doctor's recommendation, as there is nothing to prove and he did his best up until now. Daniel recalls Miyagi did a pain suppression massage when he had been sore in training, which healed Daniel's arm. Mr. Miyagi agrees to try the massage. Meanwhile, the ring announcer is about to award the championship to Johnny, only to be told by Ali that Daniel will fight. As Daniel hobbles to the ring, the ring announcer surprisingly speaks into his microphone "Daniel LaRusso is going to fight?" as the crowd bursts into applause. The ring announcer then happily says he is glad the finals are on, as that is what the audience came to see.
Daniel starts strong, winning the first two points. However, when Johnny sweeps Daniel's leg and fights more aggressively and underhandedly as per Kreese's orders, Daniel loses the next two points. Johnny grabs one of Daniel's kicks from his injured leg, and elbows it, causing Daniel an insane amount of pain. Daniel is no longer able to stand on that leg, so he assumes the crane technique position as his final stance, and when the ref signals the next bout, Johnny moves forward, only for Daniel to kick Johnny in the face, winning the tournament. Daniel is then rushed by his friends and family, and Johnny grabs the trophy from the organizer of the tournament, and presents it to Daniel, saying, "You're all right LaRusso! Good match!" The movie then closes with Daniel looking towards Mr. Miyagi,who was sitting on the bleachers, and sees him smiling proudly.
The Karate Kid Part II (1986)
- "Live or die man!?"
- ―Daniel, as he prepares to finish Chozen.[src]
Immediately after the tournament, Daniel is showering and changing into street clothes. He is remarking what his athletic future holds, to which Mr. Miyagi dryly remarks "Early retirement". As Daniel and Mr. Miyagi are leaving the All-Valley Tournament, they overhear John Kreese berating Johnny for losing. Kreese then starts to mercilessly strangle Johnny, despite the pleas of the rest of the Cobra Kai. Mr. Miyagi intervenes, and after tricking Kreese into punching two car windows and making both of his hands bleed, Miyagi pulls him down and appears to be preparing a killing blow. However, he only honks Kreese's nose, causing Kreese to faint in embarrassment. Daniel, astonished by all this, remarks how Miyagi could have killed Kreese, but Miyagi philosophically responds that for a man like Kreese, who has no concept of forgiveness, "living is a worse punishment than death". As Johnny and the Cobras dispose of their Cobra Kai gis and leave in disgust, Mr. Miyagi tells Daniel there has been enough fighting for one night and that they should go meet Mrs. LaRusso and Ali at a restaurant for a celebration dinner.
Six months later, Daniel angrily comes to Mr. Miyagi's house with his car, steamily stating that Ali did something to the car. He also tells him that Ali has fallen in love with a football player as well. To make matters worse, he is supposed to go away on a long trip with his mom. But Mr. Miyagi calls his mom, and convinces her to let Daniel stay with him. Miyagi then gets a letter from Tomi Village saying that his father is dying, so he makes emergency plans to travel to Okinawa. On the day of his flight, Daniel is nowhere to be found, so Mr. Miyagi simply gets in a taxi without saying goodbye. At the airport, he is met by Daniel, who figured he must have come there to say goodbye. However, he sees Daniel with a ticket on the same flight as him. He wonders where Daniel got the money, to which Daniel says he emptied his savings account intended for college. Mr. Miyagi does not think it is a good idea for Daniel to tag along, but as the flight is about to depart he approves of taking Daniel with him to Japan.
When they get off the plane, they are told that a car is waiting for them, so they get in the car. But the driver was Chozen Toguchi, who was Sato Toguchi's nephew. He takes them to a warehouse, where Sato is waiting. Sato used to be Miyagi's best friend, until a girl came between them. Miyagi also fled before the two could fight, and this insulted Sato's honor, which he could not get over. Then, they go to Miyagi's house, and see Miyagi's father. While they are in Okinawa, Miyagi tries to teach Daniel the Miyagi family technique, but Daniel is unable to grasp it. Chozen makes life difficult for them when he goes to their house and starts screaming in the night for Miyagi to come out, and destroying the thin walls with a spear. Miyagi's father dies, and Sato gives Miyagi three days to grieve before they must fight. Miyagi goes to Sato's mansion, and talks to Sato while he is trying to break a thick beam of wood, which Miyagi and him had found on the beach when they were still best friends. This is when the famous quote happens. Miyagi says, "Same piece of wood we found on beach that day", and Sato says, "Same!".
Meanwhile, Daniel is hanging out with Kumiko, and it is clear they are developing a relationship, but Chozen is making Daniel's life miserable. Daniel then catches Chozen cheating the villagers on produce with fake weights. And, when Daniel and Kumiko stumble into a building where people are placing bets on how many ice blocks people can break, Daniel is telling Kumiko how the people are doing it wrong. Chozen then challenges him to do better, and while Daniel is trying to leave, Miyagi comes in, and places 600 dollars on Daniel breaking all of the ice blocks. Chozen says he cannot cover that, and that is when Sato comes in and says that Chozen is covered. Daniel succeeds, and this further angers Chozen, who later goes up and robs Daniel to get his money back.
Things come to a head, when a huge storm comes, destroying much of Okinawa. Sato is trapped in a destroyed building, trapped beneath a large piece of wood. Miyagi hears his screams, and runs out from shelter to save his old friend. he breaks the wood, and helps Sato get to shelter. Sato then decides to forgive Miyagi, and disowns his nephew who had done nothing to help people. Chozen then runs into the storm.
There is a huge celebration that the storm has passed, and Kumiko is dancing in the island in the middle of the castle. Chozen ziplines in screaming, and holds a knife to Kumiko's neck. He then orders Daniel to come into the circle, and then drop the bridge. He wants to fight to the death and Daniel accepts in order to save Kumiko. They begin to fight and Daniel holds his own, striking Chozen as often as he is hit himself. However, Chozen begins to get the upper hand, despite Daniel attempting the crane technique, for which Chozen knows the counter and he turns it against him. When it looks as if Daniel is going to lose, Miyagi starts twirling a hand drum. Soon, all of the onlookers are also twirling their hand drums. Miyagi is telling Daniel to use the drum technique, and Daniel finally understands the Miyagi family technique.
Daniel starts to repeatedly punch Chozen in the face, while twisting his upper body with every hit, so it resembles a swinging drum. He knocks Chozen to the ground, and tells him, "Live or die man!" Chozen responds, "Die. Deciding not to give him what he wants, " Daniel says, "Wrong!" and honks his nose, similar to what Miyagi did to Kreese following the tournament,. The camera then focuses on Miyagi, who is once again smiling proudly at his student, and the movie ends.
The Karate Kid Part III (1989)
In The Karate Kid Part III, Daniel and Miyagi return to Los Angeles from Okinawa, Japan only to discover that the South Seas apartment complex is being converted into condominiums, leaving Miyagi unemployed and Daniel homeless. They also learn that Daniel's mother, Lucille, is in New Jersey taking care of Daniel's ill uncle. Miyagi invites Daniel to stay at his house, and Daniel uses his college funds / ice-breaking winnings to realize Miyagi's dream of opening a Bonsai tree shop. As thanks, Miyagi makes him a partner at the business. When Daniel visits a pottery store across the street, he meets Jessica Andrews; though Daniel has a brief crush on her, she tells him that she has a boyfriend back home in Columbus, Ohio, but they remain friends.
Cobra Kai sensei John Kreese is now broke and destitute after losing all of his students. He visits his Vietnam War comrade, Terry Silver, a wealthy businessman who founded the Cobra Kai Dojo with profits from his billion dollar toxic-waste disposal business. Silver vows to personally help him get revenge on Daniel and Mr. Miyagi and re-establish the Cobra Kai, sending Kreese on vacation to Tahiti to rest and recuperate. Silver hires "Dynamite" Mike Barnes, a vicious karate prospect nicknamed "Karate's Bad Boy", to challenge Daniel at the upcoming All Valley Karate Tournament. Silver also hires two goons to help Barnes, called "Snake" and Dennis. Silver sneaks into Miyagi's house to gather information and overhears Daniel telling Miyagi that he will not defend his title at the tournament. Barnes and some cohorts attempt to coerce Daniel to enter the tournament, but Daniel refuses, and Barnes departs in a rage. The next morning, as Daniel and Miyagi are practicing kata, Silver interrupts and lies about John Kreese suffering a fatal heart attack after losing his students, and begs forgiveness for Kreese's behavior.
Barnes and his friends return to make Daniel sign up for the tournament; when Daniel again refuses, a skirmish ensues until Miyagi arrives and fends off the three men. After driving Jessica home, Daniel and Miyagi return to find their stock of bonsai trees missing and a tournament application hanging in place. To replace the missing trees, Daniel and Jessica decide to dig up and sell a valuable bonsai tree that Miyagi brought from Okinawa, and planted halfway down a cliff. As they retrieve it, Barnes and his henchmen appear and retract their climbing ropes, leaving Daniel no choice but to sign up for the tournament. After pulling them back up, Barnes breaks the tree. Daniel returns to the shop with Miyagi's damaged bonsai, which Miyagi attempts to mend. Miyagi tells Daniel that he sold his truck to buy a new stock of trees, and cannot train him for the tournament.
Silver offers to "train" Daniel for the tournament at the Cobra Kai dojo with a series of brutal, violent, offensive techniques. He derides Miyagi's kata forms and pressures Daniel to destroy a wooden practice dummy, causing him several injuries in the process. Throughout his training, Daniel's frustration alienates him from Miyagi. While Daniel and Jessica are at a nightclub, Silver bribes a random man into provoking a fight with Daniel, who responds by punching the man and breaking his nose. Shocked by his aggressive behavior, Daniel apologizes and makes amends with Jessica and Miyagi. Daniel visits Silver to inform him that he will not compete at the tournament, but Silver reveals his true agenda to Daniel as Barnes and Kreese enter the dojo. After Barnes viciously assaults Daniel, Miyagi intervenes and finally agrees to train him. They replant the healed bonsai and begin training.
At the tournament, Barnes reaches the final round to challenge Daniel. Silver and Kreese instruct Barnes to inflict serious damage on Daniel, keep the score a tie, and finally beat him in the sudden death round. Barnes gets the upper hand during the fight while taunting Daniel relentlessly. When the initial round concludes, Daniel wants to concede, but Miyagi urges him on. In the sudden death round, Daniel performs the kata; as a confused Barnes lunges toward him, Daniel flips him to the ground and strikes him to win the tournament a second year in a row. Silver walks away in disgrace while the crowd throws their Cobra Kai shirts back at him.
- "Ah. Only root karate come from Miyagi. Just like bonsai choose own way grow because root strong you choose own way do karate same reason... One day you do own way."
- ―Mr Miyagi to Daniel, about where Daniel's karate comes from.
Daniel is briefly mentioned in The Next Karate Kid, which only reveals that Daniel no longer lived with Mr. Miyagi. In the three decades between Karate Kid and Cobra Kai, Daniel met and married a woman named Amanda LaRusso and they had two children, Samantha and Anthony. When Samantha was 8, Daniel trained her in karate, though she eventually stopped training with him. Also at some point, the bonsai tree store, opened in 1985 with Mr. Miyagi ultimately was unsuccessful and Daniel went into the car dealership business. Daniel and Amanda became parents when Samantha was born on August 14, 2001. In 2002, he and Amanda established the LaRusso Auto Group. Daniel and Amanda gave Samantha a younger brother, when Anthony was born on July 13, 2007. At one point, most likely after the events of The Next Karate Kid, Daniel met Julie Pierce. through Mr. Miyagi. Sadly on November 15, 2011 Mr. Miyagi passed away which left Daniel devastated.
Cobra Kai (2018)
34 years after the events of the first movie, Daniel LaRusso is now 48 years old and a successful car dealer, owning the LaRusso Auto Group, a chain of car dealerships in the San Fernando Valley with his wife Amanda. While working at one his dealerships one day, he encounters Johnny Lawrence, who was at the dealership to reclaim his car, after (unknown to Daniel) Daniel's daughter Sam had been riding in a Range Rover with a friend of hers, who was not paying attention to the road and collided with Johnny's Firebird. Despite Johnny's reluctance, Daniel has Johnny's car fixed for free.
While driving home from work one day, he notices that the Cobra Kai dojo has reopened at a strip mall in Reseda, which revives his rivalry with Johnny Lawrence. Fearing that Johnny will create a new generation of bullies, Daniel becomes focused on trying to close Cobra Kai. This only seeks to inflame tensions, as Johnny has some awareness Daniel wants his dojo closed down, but does not know all the reasons. One night Johnny, whose judgment is clouded by heavy drinking, engages in a sophomoric prank; vandalizing one of the billboards for LaRusso Auto Group by spray-painting a penis next to Daniel's head. This becomes the talk of the town, which makes Daniel the butt of the jokes in online forums and gives rival auto dealer Tom Cole an opportunity to mock the LaRusso Auto Group. This also spills into Samantha's social life; for when she dumps her boyfriend, he retaliates by associating her with the vandalized billboard, causing her to be ostracized from virtually everyone in her class.
Soon after, Daniel manipulates Johnny's landlord into doubling the rent on his tenants, attempting to force Johnny to close. However, this fails due to Johnny's student, Miguel, defeating a group of bullies in the school cafeteria, which is then posted to the internet and causes Cobra Kai to become rapidly popular and take in many more students, as well as Daniel's plan falling through when the landlord accuses him of embroiling him in a conspiracy and dissolves their deal. Another factor that saves Johnny from bankruptcy court is Amanda's disgust over Daniel's plan, saying it will also ruin businesses adjacent to Cobra Kai and that this conniving attitude is not like the man she married.
After Amanda calls Daniel out on his recent actions, Daniel goes to Mr. Miyagi's grave, admitting that ever since his mentor's death, he has lost his way, letting his anger take control of him. Just before he leaves, he remembers the lesson Mr. Miyagi taught him about balance 34 years prior. Thus, Daniel cleans out and rebuilds his old training room, once again resuming his training.
After Daniel tries unsuccessfully to persuade Samantha to go back to karate, he takes in and trains Robby Keene, who, unknown to Daniel, is actually the son of Johnny and had started working at Daniel's company as an act of revenge against his father, after seeing him with Miguel and believing Johnny had replaced him. Daniel begins training Robby with the same methods that Mr. Miyagi had taught him decades earlier, such as "wax on, wax off."
Later, Daniel attends the meeting of the athletic committee for the City Karate Tournament of which he is a member, where Johnny is trying to convince the committee to lift the lifetime ban on Cobra Kai for the events that had taken place in Karate Kid III. Johnny tells the committee that his teachings are different from those of John Kreese and Terry Silver, stating that Kreese himself is dead. When the committee says their sole 1985 entrant was also an instigator who got the ban imposed, Johnny truthfully says he has no allegiance to Mike Barnes. He says that he has learned from his past mistakes and that his dojo is now a place where people who get bullied are taught self confidence and how to stand up for themselves. Despite Daniel's furious objections, the committee is convinced by what seems to be Johnny's genuine sincerity. They vote 3–2 in Johnny's favor to lift the ban and declare his dojo eligible for the forthcoming tournament, which infuriates Daniel.
While at a family reunion, Daniel rants about how dangerous and cruel Cobra Kai is, which affects his daughter Sam, who, unknown to Daniel, was dating a student of Johnny's.
Some time later, Johnny confronts Daniel at his home, as, unknown to Daniel, Daniel's cousin Louie and several bikers Louie had hired destroyed Johnny's car and set it on fire. However, before they come to blows, Amanda quickly defuses the looming fight with an invitation to peacefully discuss the matter over breakfast. When they realize Johnny's side of the story is accurate as Louie was earlier boasting in front of them about his plans for vengeance, Amanda proposes they terminate Louie, as well as give Johnny one of their cheaper cars for free to make amends.
While on a test drive, the two bond together over beers, where they end up visiting Daniel's old apartment and reveal their stories before they met, Daniel learning that Johnny's childhood hadn't been as perfect as he previously thought. When Johnny returns Daniel to his home seemingly friends and having finally put their grudge behind them, and possibly about to do a fight for fun (like the ending or Rocky III between Rocky and Apollo), Daniel introduces Robby to Johnny. When Johnny finds out Daniel is training Robby, his own son, Johnny becomes infuriated. Daniel is shocked and infuriated when he learns that Robby is Johnny's son, once again igniting the fires of hatred between the two men. Feeling betrayed, Daniel tells Robby to get out of the house, as Daniel suspects Robby is involved in some con against him.
The morning of the annual All Valley Under-18 Karate tournament, Daniel is depressed about the events with Robby, and initially refuses to attend the tournament, until he is forced to go by Amanda. They sit in the front row, and Daniel is visibly dismayed when Cobra Kai makes their grand entrance. Then, much to Daniel's surprise, he learns that Robby is participating as a fighter unaffiliated with any dojo. Later, as a deliberate slight and insult to Daniel, Johnny has Miguel use Daniel's signature move, the Crane Kick, to defeat an opponent, which infuriates Sam.
Although initially hesitant, Daniel becomes more and more excited as he watches Robby fight, and approaches Robby after he is injured by being attacked from behind during the semifinal match, and advises him to find balance in his life by letting go of his anger toward his father, forgiving him for not telling him the truth about him and Johnny. Daniel assists Robby back into the ring and agrees to him fighting as a member of Miyagi-do Karate with Daniel as his coach.
Unfortunately, Robby ultimately loses the tournament final to Miguel, after Miguel quickly realizes that Robby's shoulder is injured and targets it to get the win, even pulling Robby's arm when Robby tried to help Miguel up. Afterwards, Johnny approaches Robby and Daniel and tries to apologize, though without success. Daniel coldly congratulates Johnny for getting the win.
After the match, Daniel reassures Robby that he's proud of him and he fought with honor, unlike Miguel. Robby comments that Cobra Kai is going to take over karate in the Valley, something that Daniel says will happen "over his dead body." He then takes Robby to Mr Miyagi's old home, and reveals that he plans to use it as a dojo to continue Robby's training and teach others Miyagi-Do Karate, in order to defeat Cobra Kai in the subsequent tournament and bring them down once again. Unbeknownst to Daniel, however, another old enemy from the past has returned: John Kreese, ready and eager to get his revenge against Daniel once and for all.
Daniel starts training Robby and within no time Sam joins the training. After finding out from Sam that Robby's mom is away and Robby is all alone Daniel has Robby come stay with him. After persuasion from Amanda, as well as some personal reflection, Daniel realizes Cobra Kai is not going to vanish into thin air and his attempts to derail it were ultimately hurtful to Johnny. He goes to the studio with the intent to inform Johnny of Robby's situation, only to see Johnny with Kreese. Jumping to conclusions, Daniel renews his vengeful plans to stop Cobra Kai from taking root in the Valley.
While teaching Sam and Robby, Daniel is concerned that he won't be the teacher Miyagi was but Amanda tells him he does not need to be like Miyagi. In order to get more students, Daniel does commercial where he promotes his Dojo and trashes Cobra Kai. However he has trouble getting more students when some potential students think Miyagi-Do is a facade to get people to do free work. He continues to struggle when Johnny, angry at Daniel commercial then gets his revenge by having Cobra Kai overshadow Miyagi-Do at a Valley Fest presentation. However, things start to look up for Daniel when Demetri, a bullied student, joins Miyagi-Do.
One one night a few Cobra Kai student's under Kreese's order trash Daniel's Dojo and steal Miyagi's Medal of Honor. When Daniel, Robby and Sam see the dojo trashed and Miyagi's badge of honor missing, an angry Daniel goes to Cobra Kai where he confronts Johnny who does not know what Daniel is talking about as he is unaware that Kreese instructed his students to do so.
Despite another setback things look up for Daniel once again when a few Cobra Kai students, unhappy with Kreese's ruthless teachings, leave the dojo and join Miyagi Do.
Daniel's fixation with his dojo and students prevent him for going to work, causing Amanda to pick up all of Daniel's slack and an employee Anush to quit out of frustration for Daniel's absence. Amanda then calls Daniel out for being unable to balance both jobs. Feeling guilty, Daniel makes things right by showing up to work and picking up the clack. He even spends more time with Amanda, causing her to forgive him.
On one morning Kreese shows up at Daniel's house where he threatens Daniel with war between the two dojos and mocks Miyagi's death which angers Daniel. Fortunately, both Daniel and Sam find Miyagi's Medal of Honor on the ground, though both are unaware that Miguel gave it to Robby the previous night and Robby planted it there.
On one night Daniel and Amanda go out for dinner but end up going to the same restaurant where Johnny and his date Carmen are eating, and ended up sitting with them which angers both Daniel and Johnny. However the two bond and resolve their differences when Johnny reveals he kicked Kreese out of Cobra Kai. The along with Amanda and Carmen spend time joking and dancing. Daniel even reveals to Johnny that both he and Amanda have re enrolled Robby in school, which Johnny appreciates. They end the night on good terms.
The next morning Daniel notices Sam did not return from Moon's party the previous night. Both he and Amanda go onto Sam's computer where they see Sam's former friend Aisha messaging her if she is ok after being drunk last night which shocks Daniel and Amanda. Daniel then tracks Sam through his iPhone and finds out she is at Johnny's house. He goes to Johnny's house and knocks on the door. When Johnny opens the door Daniel asks if Sam is there to which Johnny says she is and he tells Daniel to not overreact which angers Daniel. Daniel demands Johnny open the door, but Johnny shuts the door, stating he will bring Samantha to him when he has calmed down. An angry Daniel then kicks the door open, then both he and Johnny have a brief fight which is broken up by Sam and Robby. Daniel angrily tells Robby that it's up to him if he wants to end up like Johnny and takes Sam home.
He drives Sam to school. After a school brawl which results in Sam being severely injured by Cobra Kai student Tory she is sent to the hospital. When Daniel and Amanda visit Sam in the hospital both are shocked to find out Robby kicked Miguel off a railing resulting in the latter being severely injured. Johnny, who is also at the hospital to see Miguel, gets into an elevator with Daniel. Neither man says or does anything, but both glance at each other in shock akin to "What have we done?". Daniel leaves the hospital but when he comes back Amanda notifies him that Sam is getting x-rays and may have broken ribs, and then bluntly tells him to stop Miyagi-Do because of all the pain it has caused. Daniel agrees to do so.
- "I tried my best. I thought I was doing the right thing. I'm sorry."
- ―Daniel LaRusso to a photo of Miyagi[src]
Daniel goes back home where he takes down a picture of Miyagi, saying he did his best to do the right thing and apologizes. Elsewhere, unbeknownst to him, Kreese has taken the dojo away from Johnny.
Daniel is left to pick up the pieces following the school brawl. He is upset when Sam is suspended for two-weeks, but still attempts to reason with Amanda who is infuriated with the outcome. She informs him that the dealership is declining rapidly since the events at the school. He assures her that he will fix everything, a promise that sours quickly when a PTA meeting proves how damaged the LaRusso family name has become. In the meantime, Daniel tries to locate a still-missing Robby Keene, and realizes that he stole a car from the LaRusso lot. His attempts to track Robby through the cars GPS is futile, as Robby removes the GPS. Upon returning to Miyagi-Do, he finds an upset Sam who admits that she feels guilty for everything that happened and feels conflicted over whether or not their the good guys. He reminds her that they try to be which is what makes them better than the Cobra Kai's. Their talk also makes him realizes that like Sam, he can't run away from his problems. He decides to enlist Johnny's help in finding Robby, and is floored to see that John Kreese is not only still in the valley, but has taken over Cobra Kai. Daniel shows restraint as he doesn't let Kreese bait him into a fight, but Kreese eerily warns him that their fight will come one day - it's inevitable. The next morning, Daniel finds Johnny and convinces him to help locate Robby before it's too late.
The unlikely pair venture on a road trip to search for Robby, but their conflicting personalities and views on life continuously get in their way. Their partnership starts an uneasy reunion with Johnny's ex-wife Shannon Keene, before shifting to a surprisingly natural "good-cop bad-cop" routine with two of Robby's former cohorts Trey and Cruz. An unexpected car chase with a thug who stole Robby's van turns violent, when Johnny insists on confronting the man who is joined by his gang. After beating the thugs, Johnny roughly interrogates one of the men and is angered when Daniel pulls him off. Their alliance abruptly ends after a fight between them, with Johnny taking the car that used to belong to the LaRusso auto group. As he's about to leave, Daniel receives a call from Amanda telling him that Robby showed up at Shannon's rehab. He hurries over to talk to the boy who apologizes for getting Daniel involved in everything and offers to pay him back for the van. Daniel isn't worried about any of that and assures Robby that everyone is just worried about him. He apologizes for the last time they spoke and explains that he's going to help him through this next part. Before Daniel can explain, two police officers arrive and arrest Robby who attempts to flee. Daniel is upset with the outcome and promises to visit Robby everyday, but the boy coldly tells him not to bother.
In the days that follow, Daniel shifts his attention to his suffering business. They have been forced to pull their karate-themed advertisements in an attempt to focus their attention on sales, as the manufactures won't be happy with their numbers. A surprise visit from Tom Cole and Anoush brings what seems to be the LaRusso's last hope, as Cole offers to buy the dealership. The offer is extremely low and unappealing to the LaRusso's, who reject the offer. Louie, who is warned by Anoush, informs Daniel and Amanda that Cole secured an exclusive deal with Doyona International in Tokyo. Doyona distributes all the japanese cars internationally, and with Cole's deal the LaRusso Auto Group won't have access to those cars. With his business failing and his dreams crumbling, Daniel is reminded of a bonsai trimming lesson from Mr Miyagi, and realizes what he needs to do. He aligns himself with Anoush to flip the script on Cole and propel the next part of his plan forward. In a last effort to save his company, Daniel flies to Tokyo to converse with the board of Doyona International.
When the board rejects his plea due to the negative press surrounding the LaRusso name following the school brawl, Daniel feels depleted and failure. With his morale the lowest it's ever been, he decides to take a spontaneous trip to Okinawa. He soon learns that the Okinawa he remembers is very different from the one it is today, with Tomi Village having been converted from a quaint village to a strip mall. While exploring the new mall while learning about the villagers that were given jobs, he hears familiar music and is drawn to a group of young women O-bon dancing. He is shocked that the leader of the group is his childhood love, Kumiko, who achieved her dreams of traveling around the world as a dancer. The reunion is cathartic for him and they share where they are in their lives. Daniel reflects on his training with Mr Miyagi and how he is now the age that Mr. Miyagi was when they first met. He still feels a sense of great loss over his mentors death, and wishes he could talk to him again. Kumiko offers to help with that and brings him to her home where she shares a series of letters with him. Mr. Miyagi had continued to write letters back and forth with Kumiko's now deceased Aunt, Yukie. One of the letters is particularly emotional as it was written the week Mr Miyagi died. He wrote how lost he was before meeting Daniel-san, "with his kind heart, strong chi, and loyalty and love for those around him is a guiding light." He writes how proud he is of Daniel and how he has realized that is the people in his life that guide him back to the right path and not the signs. Kumiko gifts Daniel the letter when she is finished reading it, asking if he knows what to do now - and he does.
Daniel is preparing to leave the following morning when Kumiko surprises him with a final visitor - his former nemesis Chozen Toguchi. He remembers the brutal fight they shared over thirty years ago, and how he spared Chozen's life. The reunion is tense and uncomfortable, with Chozen's rigid ways still present despite the passing time. Kumiko leaves the men alone, much to Daniel's dismay, but warns that they have more in common then he might think. Chozen and Daniel venture to a dojo that overlooks the mountains, and Daniel remembers more of Miyagi's lessons as he learns that Chozen has continued the Miyagi-Do ways in Okinawa. He refuses to share secrets with Daniel and labels him a foreigner, which Daniel negates as Miyagi treated him as a son. A sparring match between the two men shows Daniel how much he can still learn, and the men find themselves relating to one another, as Chozen has changed quite a bit since their last encounter. Now having learned Miyagi pressure points and receiving some sage words, Daniel prepares to leave Okinawa once more. But Kumiko interrupts with one last parting reunion - Yuna, the young girl that Daniel saved in Japan over thirty years ago during a typhoon. He is elated to be reunited and she tells him that she is the VP of sales for Doyona International, and can save his business.
He returns to America feeling energized, only to learn that things between Kreese and Amanda escalated during his trip. Daniel is left to pick up the pieces of his drifting family, with Sam refusing to participate in karate while Amanda takes their situation with Kreese to the police. Daniel is stunned at how much happened while he was away, including Kreese's restraining order against Amanda. The situation makes her realize just how serious thing are with Kreese and how psychologically abusive the man is. They work together to outmaneuver Kreese by renting Kreese's dojo space for twice the amount Kreese pays, making a shady deal with Armand Zarkarian. This deal falls through when Kreese overpowers Armand's men, which forces the realtor to concede. As payback for their attempts to tarnish his dojo, Kreese lets a live snake into LaRusso Auto Group during its biggest sales day. With the rivalry between dojos intensifying and the obvious fact that Kreese isn’t going anywhere, Amanda and Daniel both decide to reopen Miyagi-Do, but it’s an off-putting idea to Sam. He takes her fishing in an attempt to understand where he sudden disdain for karate is coming from. She opens up about the trauma that she has from her fight with Tory. Daniel gives her sage advice on conquering her fear, telling her that only she can pick herself up not anyone else. In time, Sam comes around to the idea of practicing karate again and Daniel trains her in boa staff fighting - using the techniques from fishing.
Daniel heads to the juvenile detention center to see Robby on his release day, but is surprised when Johnny is already there waiting. Their arguing escalates just as Robby exits the building. He promptly tells both men to leave him alone. Upon returning home, Daniel learns that the city council has canceled the upcoming All Valley Karate Tournament and rallies together with Amanda to save the tournament. He is joined at the meeting by Sam, Amanda, and much to his surprise, Johnny and Kreese. The rivaling sensei's being to argue in front of the council, shedding a negative light on the tournament and convincing the council to cancel the event. It isn't until Miguel and Sam take the podium that they are able to save the tournament. The next morning, Daniel arrives at Miyagi-Do for training and sees Miguel and Sam kissing. He is surprised by their relationship and a little disappointed in Sam for kissing Miguel when Robby has just been released. He is even more disappointed to hear that Robby saw them already the night before. She asks him to keep an open mind, though he worries that she's inviting more drama into her life by dating.
He upholds his agreement with Sam to keep an open-mind by talking to Miguel. They learn they have more in common than they thought, with both of them coming from the same area, similar family backgrounds, and have similar reasons for getting involved in martial arts. Miguel reveals that Johnny told the events of his high school rivalry with Daniel much differently, so Daniel sheds some light on the matter. He also shows Miguel the yellow car that Mr. Miyagi gave him. At the end of their conversation, they shake hands and part on good terms. That evening, Daniel attends a charity event with Amanda where he is shocked to be reunited with his ex-girlfriend Ali Mills, who is back in town for the Christmas holiday. He is even more surprised when Johnny appears moments later, having attended the event with Ali. He excitedly introduces Amanda to Ali, though he grows uncomfortable as the women begin to swap stories about their times with Daniel and Johnny. By the end of the event, Ali sweetly tells Daniel that they had more good times together than bad. They part on good terms.
Daniel comes home to the aftermath of a brawl as his house and injured Miyagi-Do students along with Sam. He flees to Cobra Kai Dojo to confront Kreese in person. He arrives just in time to save Johnny from a deadly chokehold by Kreese. He kicks Kreese off Johnny and furiously confronts him about sending his students to Daniel's house. He angrily states that if it's a fight that Kreese wants then he's finally got one. The men square off with Kreese reminding Daniel that this was inevitable. As they fight, Kreese threatens that Daniel can't keep the defense-only act up forever, to which Daniel retorts that he doesn't have too. They continue to fight until Kreese lifts him into the air and they collapse through the glass door of the school. Kreese picks up a shard of glass, threatening to reunite Daniel and Miyagi. Daniel remembers his training with Chozen, if an enemy insists on war, than you take away their ability to wage it. He does just that by expertly deploying pressure point attacks that cripple Kreese so he can't fight back. Johnny emerges from the dojo and gives Daniel a nod. Daniel prepares to strike a final blow to Kreese when Sam shouts for her father, having arrived with Miguel. Having won, Daniel tells Kreese to keep his Cobra Kais away from their kids. Johnny supports Daniel but Kreese wants to settle things the old-fashioned way with a tournament. The losing dojo will leave the valley. Johnny and Daniel agree to the terms just as Robby emerges from the dojo telling them all to leave. Daniel is a saddened with Robby's alliance but retreats home for now. He and Johnny unite their dojos as they train for the tournament that will determine not only the fate of their dojos, but the fate of the valley.
- "You know me, I've always been a bit of a hothead, so..."
- ―Daniel LaRusso to Miyagi's tombstone[src]
Throughout the saga, Daniel is consistently friendly, fairly relaxed and open-minded. When first arriving in California he easily makes friends before the confrontation with Johnny and in later life he is shown to be a friendly and easy-going boss.
Daniel is also frequently heroic. He tries to stand up for Ali at the beach, rescues several people during a fierce storm and (perhaps zealously) takes it upon himself to protect people from the negative influences of the Cobra Kai Dojo. Matching this heroism is bravery. When necessary, Daniel demonstrates an ability to overcome fear or difficult odds to do what is right or stand up for himself. Equally, he is prone to panicking in the face of threats. Before learning Karate he freaks out when forced to participate in the tournament, and he is mentally assaulted and worn down in the face of Barnes and Terry Silver. However, he eventually finds the resolve to overcome this fear and panic. In addition, he faces his duel with Chozen, knowing it is to the death, without flinching.
As a teenager it was quite easy for Daniel to fall in love. However a major problem was keeping his girlfriends.
Linked to his tendency to panic is his reaction when faced with a resurgent Cobra Kai. He manipulates the rent of innocent shop owners and conducts a crusade against Johnny's dojo. However, he realizes his mistakes in these reactions and re-dedicates himself to his mentor's teaching of balance. Daniel later proves to be a fantastic influence on Robby. Which causes Johnny to further resent him as he was hoping to try and make amends with Robby.
Daniel, however, does have difficulty with the concept of giving old enemies a second chance, especially when they've proven themselves detestable people many times over. This was largely caused when John Kreese and Terry Silver purposefully tried to ruin his friendship with Mr. Miyagi and have him brutalized at the tournament.
Daniel's current rivalry and distrust of Johnny and Cobra Kai is not only based on their past disdain, but also his disgust at Johnny's inability to learn a lesson since then and at how much Johnny has wasted his life. Though most of their hostility has been due to misunderstandings and outside sources. However it could also be that some of his anger towards Johnny might be due to Mr. Miyagi saving him from Kreese and never saying thank you.
After starting Miyagi-Do Karate he becomes so focused on being Mr. Miyagi and training his students to defeat Cobra Kai that he ignores his wife Amanda and job which angers her, though Daniel manages to make it up to her.
After learning that Kreese is back at Cobra Kai Daniel is shocked and angry, showing he still holds a grudge against Kreese and hasn't forgotten the latter's past actions against him and is further disgusted by Johnny for even letting the man who nearly killed him back into his life. However Daniel doesn't seem to quite understand that despite everything Kreese was the closest thing Johnny had to a father.
Daniel also has a habit of always assuming the worst, especially when it comes to Johnny and Cobra Kai as he wishes not for Johnny to ruin his family's life as he has his own.
By the end of season 2, Daniel is ordered to close Miyagi-Do after a school brawl resulted in Sam possibly having a broken rib and Miguel being rendered unconscious by Robby. Daniel goes home where he apologies to Miyagi. Daniel, knowing despite his past history with Cobra Kai and his intentions, realizes he's just as much responsible for this disaster. His outlook looking quite grim.
- "Daniel was the best fighter that day."
"He was the best around."
"Nothing's ever gonna keep him down."
- ―Chris Cotter, Steve Levy and Randy Scott
Through Miyagi's training Daniel's inherited style is strong in defense and solid in offense, with a notable emphasis on effectively countering his opponent's attacks. These skills assist him during his fights with Johnny and Chozen, the first of which emphasizes his ability to sneak in behind his opponent's guard to strike, whereas in the latter Daniel's karate has become more rounded, due to his experience, allowing to provide effective offense and defense.
During his teen years, Daniel struggled against opponents that were physically stronger, more skilled, and aggressive and dirty fighters. During his fights with Johnny, Chozen and Mike, Daniel struggled when all three fought more aggressively, and when the former and latter fought underhandedly. Despite struggling when his opponents fight more aggressively or underhandedly, Daniel often has one last tactic in the end which allows him to emerge victorious such as the Crane kick, and the Kata which Miyagi taught him.
Even after Miyagi's death in 2011 Daniel still remembers Miyagi's lessons and practices what Miyagi taught him, in particular that karate is only used for defense. He later uses his teachings to instruct Johnny's son Robby, in both karate and emotional balance, which leads to him reopening Miyagi-Do Karate. He also uses Miyagi's techniques to defeat Robby's attackers with astonishing ease and efficiency, which clearly demonstrates just how far Daniel has come from his teenage years when he struggled to take on multiple opponents. During this fight Daniel again displays his style's preference for effective counterattacks; as Daniel notes to Johnny - "you know I'm not going to strike first."
Under Daniel's tutelage, Samantha LaRusso, Robby Keene, Demetri, Chris, and Nathaniel would become skilled martial artists in their own right. With the help of his old enemy Chozen, Daniel would later learn about targeting pressure points, something that allowed him to defeat John Kreese in a fight, switching from defense to offense. Notably, in this instance, Daniel strikes first in anger to protect Johnny whose life was in danger. He also deploys the Miyagi pressure point training he received from Chozen. able to render Kreese incapable of fighting back.
Miyagi's relationship with Daniel was very much father-son. Daniel lost his father at a young age and Miyagi lost his wife and only child during World War II, leaving gaps in both of their lives. When the two met they quickly bonded as mentor and student, then as surrogate family. Lucille Larusso remarks during Cobra Kai that Miyagi took good care of herself and Daniel.
As Daniel owns Miyagi's house in Cobra Kai it is clear that Miyagi willed it, as well as his car collection and personal effects, to Daniel upon his death. Daniel continues to remember and miss Miyagi in the years after his death. After gaining a student in Robby, he trains him the same way Miyagi did. After reopening Miyagi Do, Daniel is focused on being as good of a teacher ad Miyagi. However, after Daniel is forced to shut down Miyagi Do following the school brawl, Daniel goes home where he apologies to Miyagi for being unable to do the right thing.
In season 3, Daniel visits Okinawa in an effort to save his business and visits Miyagi's old village where he revisits many of his memories of his old mentors. Daniel tells Chozen that Miyagi saw him as his son and he discovers that Miyagi hid more dangerous parts of Miyagi-Do from Daniel, presumably to protect him. The visit allows Daniel to learn more about his beloved mentor, reconcile with Chozen, save his business and learn new Miyagi-Do techniques.
Mr. Larusso was Daniel's father. He passed away at some point before the first film. Daniel had a close relationship with his father. At one point in Daniel's childhood, he went to Coney Island with his parents and went on all the rides. Right before he passed away due to a terminal illness, Daniel said goodbye to him. Even years after his death, Daniel still remembers his father and thinks fondly of him.
Lucille is Daniel's mother. He has a close relationship with his mother. It is possible they got closer following the death of Daniel's father.
Ali is Daniel's ex-girlfriend. They first meet on the beach in the first film and become friendly, though this earns the ire of her ex-boyfriend Johnny. Later in the fil, the two would become a couple. In Karate Kid 2 however, Daniel tells Miyagi that she left him for a football player at UCLA after Senior prom. In season 1 of Cobra Kai, Daniel tell Johnny that she is married and living in Denver working as a pediatric surgeon, according to her Facebook profile.
In season 3, Daniel, Johnny and Ali are reunited and Ali helps the two men to reconcile. Daniel and Ali part ways on friendly terms. When Daniel brings up the end of their relationship, Ali tells him that they were kids at the time and the good times that they shared far outweighed the bad.
Freddy was Daniel's friend in the first film. He first meets Freddy after moving to Reseda. They immediately become friendly and Freddy invites him to the beach to hangout with him and his friends. After being beaten up by Johnny at the beach however, Freddy's friends mock Daniel, and then Freddy distances himself from Daniel in order to avoid being ostracized by his friends. Later on in the All Valley Tournament, Freddy and his friends root for Daniel and hoist up Daniel in victory after the latter beats Johnny in the finals. It is possible that Daniel and Freddy reconciled their friendship by the tournament or after, but that hasn't been confirmed as Freddy hasn't been seen or mentioned since the first film.
Johnny is Daniel's first rival when Daniel moved into New Jersey. Despite not actually moving in on Johnny's ex-girlfriend Ali (instead he was just meeting and bonding), Johnny saw it as him stealing her, and immediately confronted her. However, LaRusso kept butting, so Johnny had to push him away, thus causing a rivalry. Their rivalry supposedly ends after Daniel beats Johnny in the finals of The All Valley Tournament. However, their rivalry is reignited when Johnny reopens Cobra Kai over 3 decades after his defeat. Despite this, however, Daniel explained to Robby that it wasn't Johnny's fault for being aggressive, only his teacher Kreese was to blame for teaching him these aggressive things. There are also occasions where both Daniel and Johnny bond, even though those moments are short lived.
In Season 3, Ali helps Johnny and Daniel see that they are more alike than they would like to admit and the two finally reconcile. Previous to this, Daniel indicates to Chozen that he wishes all of his rivalries could end well, suggesting that he desires a good end to his rivalry with Johnny but can't find a way to do it. Daniel later saves Johnny from John Kreese and the two men confront Kreese together, both wanting Cobra Kai to end for good. Now united against a common enemy, the two begin working together to take Cobra Kai down, bowing to each other in respect as they begin training students together.
Daniel's second arch-rival after Johnny and almost most certainly his deadliest. Their rivalry begins in Karate Kid 2 when Daniel and Miyagi go to Okinawa. While he and Johnny may have greatly disliked each other, Chozen's was one of deep burning hatred. Chozen often bullied and harassed Daniel. However, Daniel overcame Chosen in the end by beating him in a fight, and ultimately humiliating him by not giving him is wish to die.
In the second season of Cobra Kai, a flashback of a shocked Chozen seeing Daniel break the ice in Karate Kid 2 is shown.
In season 3, Daniel returns to Okinawa to save his business where he meets Chozen again thanks to Kumiko. Their reunion is awkward because Chozen appears to still harbor anger towards Daniel, leading to another fight between the two men where Chozen shows Daniel deadlier techniques of Miyagi-Do that Mr. Miyagi hid from him. Chozen beats Daniel and is poised to kill him, only to humorously honk his nose as Daniel did to Chozen years before. Having changed for the better, Chozen genuinely enjoys paying Daniel back in such a fashion and drops his act. Recognizing that Chozen has in fact changed for the better, Daniel receives training from him regarding pressure points and Chozen provides Daniel with a secret scroll with more information on the matter. Chozen reveals to Daniel that after their fight, he was filled with shame and wanted to die before Sato saved him and helped Chozen become a better man. Daniel offers his forgiveness to Chozen who accepts it, stating that it means a lot to him. Daniel admits to enjoying the friendly end to their rivalry and wishes that all of his rivalries could end so well. Like Daniel, Chozen has grown up to become a teacher of Miyagi-Do Karate, training others in the lessons that their sensei's had taught them. Daniel later tells Kumiko that he and Chozen learned something important from each other as she had hoped.
Daniel later remembers Chozen's training and uses it to defeat John Kreese.
Mike is Daniel's biggest enemy, but probably his scariest and most dangerous one. Mike was hired by Terry to humiliate, harass, and beat Daniel in the All Valley in order to get revenge on Daniel and Miyagi for ruining Kreese's life after the All Valley in 1984. Mike bullies and harasses Daniel. Daniel however did not know tht he was hired by Terry until later on. In the All Valley, Daniel is beaten and abused by Mike, but the fight is prolonged due to Mike continually losing points with illegal strikes per Terry's order. At one point Mike aggressively berates Daniel. However, in the sudden death round, Daniel uses the kata method to beat Mike and win the tournament.
Mike hasn't appeared in Cobra Kai. In season 2 , his photograph is shown in archive footage from The Karate Kid Part III in a flashback sequence when Daniel tells his students about the time he joined Cobra Kai. In season 3, he is shown in a flashback, fighting and intimidating Daniel in the 1985 All Valley tournament, when Daniel is telling Sam how he had to overcome his fear, though he does not mention Mike by name.
Daniel's second love interest, which occurred in Karate Kid 2. When Daniel and travel to Okinawa, Daniel meets Kumiko, who is the niece of Miyagi's former love interest Yukie. The two become a couple. However, they broke up at some point before Karate Kid 3 due to Kumiko being offered a good job with a prestigious Tokyo dance company.
In Season 3 of Cobra Kai, the two meet again and Kumiko reintroduces Daniel to Chozen, knowing that Daniel's old rival has changed for the better and the two men could learn something from each other. Kumiko later helps Daniel save his business by bringing him Yuna, the young woman he had saved when she was a child and the person capable of helping him to save LaRusso Auto Group.
Yuna and Daniel meet during Daniel's first visit to Okinawa as a teenager. Daniel risks his life to save the young girl during a typhoon, in the process earning the respect of Sato Toguchi.
Daniel's encounter with Yuna would stick with him for decades. In season 3 of Cobra Kai, Daniel meets Yuna again thanks to Kumiko. Although he fails to recognize Yuna as an adult, he instantly realizes who she is after Yuna states that they'd met during a typhoon when she was a child. Yuna appears to be surprised that Daniel remembers her while he is pleased to see her again. Daniel then learns that his act of courage decades before has come back to help him in the present as Yuna is in a position to help Daniel save his business from ruin and is eager to help him.
Jessica is Daniel's best friend who has got crush on her, though never an official girlfriend as she was already in a relationship, Jessica did prove a good friend to Daniel. Though he married and loves Amanda, like Ali and Kumiko, Daniel never allowed himself to forget Jessica.
Julie and Daniel have never been seen together as Daniel did not appear in the Next Karate Kid (He would've been 27 at the time.) , but he was mentioned by Mr. Miyagi. However it has been confirmed they have met through Mr. Miyagi. Due to their own mutual love and respect for their teacher, Daniel and Julie obviously regard each other as family. There are similarities between them.
Louie is Daniel's cousin and former employee at LaRusso auto. Due to Louie being an employee in season 1 of Cobra Kai, Daniel is often seen with him. Daniel however doesn't appreciate some of his antics such as cooperating with a group of bikers into turning the LaRusso Auto Group into a motorcycle company. After finding out from Johnny that he destroyed his car with a group of bikers, Daniel fires him. Louie hasn't been seen since he destroyed Johnny's car, or mentioned since Daniel said he was no longer allowed to step foot in the dealership again.
He however rehired Louie before season 3, due to him being the first one at the door when Sam got hurt. In season 3, Louie tells Daniel that a car had been stolen, which leads Daniel to believe Robby took it.
Amanda is Daniel's wife. They met and married at some point between Karate Kid 3 and Cora Kai. When Daniel's rivalry with Johnny returns in season 1 of Cobra Kai, Amanda tries to be the voice of reason.
In season 2, Daniel becomes so focused with Miyagi Do Karate that he leaves Amanda to deal with the dealership herself, which upsets Amanda because she feels neglected and treated unfairly. Eventually, Daniel realizes his mistake and makes up with her. After the school brawl, Amanda tells Daniel that he need to shut down Miyagi Do, which Daniel regrettably agrees to.
While Daniel loves both his children, It's quite obvious that Samantha's his favorite, although he doesn't admit. This is due to the fact that he is much more closer to her then he is with Anthony as Daniel often teaches Sam karate.
While it's nowhere near as much a train-wreck as Johnny and Robbie's, Daniel's relationship with his own son is far from perfect. While he loves Anthony, Daniel appears to have difficulty "liking" him. Daniel's often disgusted by his son's spoiled brat attitude, laziness, obsession with tech and disinterest with making friends and his overall selfish and arrogant behavior in general.
Robby was a friend of Daniel and former employee at LaRusso Auto. They first meet in season 1 when Robby is hired at LaRusso Auto, but Daniel is unaware that Robby is Johnny's son. Within no time they develop a friendship. They become closer when Robby does karate with Daniel. However, after finding out that Robby is Johhny's son. he kicks Robby out as he feels used and conned. Despite the anger, he roots for him in the All Valley Tournament and eventually forgives him and becomes his teacher in the finals. Unfortunately Robby loses, but Daniel is proud of him for fighting honorably. After the tournament, Daniel takes Robby to his house and enlists him as his first student in the newly re-opened Miyagi Do Karate.
Early in season 2, Robby comes to stay at Daniel house after his mother takes off. This combined with Miyagi Do Karate allows them to interact even more. However, when Daniel finds Robby and Sam at Johnny's house the morning after Sam got drunk in a party, an angry Daniel rebukes Robby and says he lost his trust. Daniel then leaves, making Robby upset. Later at the hospital following the school brawl, Daniel is shocked to learn that Robby kicked Miguel off the railing.
Despite Daniel's feud with Johnny, it is in fact Kreese who is Daniel and Mr. Miyagi's true mortal enemy. In the finals of the 1984 All Valley Tournament during the original Karate Kid film, Kreese tells Johnny to sweep Daniel's foot. Johnny however, loses to Daniel.
In Karate Kid 2, Daniel witnesses an angry Kreese berate and abuse Johnny for losing the tournament. However, Kreese is stopped and immobilized by Miyagi, which impresses Daniel.
In Karate Kid 3, Terry tells Daniel that Kreese is dead, making him sad, but Daniel is unaware that Terry is lying and this lie is part of his plot to get revenge on Daniel and Miyagi for ruining Kreese's life after the 1984 All valley. Daniel is later shocked, when he sees an alive Kreese at the dojo. Ultimately the plot fails, when Daniel beats Mike to win the All Valley.
In the first season of Cobra Kai, Daniel asks Johnny why would he open Cobra Kai after what Kreese did to him?
In season 2 of Cobra Kai, Daniel is shocked to see Johnny with an alive Kreese. Kreese mocks Miyagi's death, but Daniel responds by reminding him of what Miyagi did to his hand, which makes Kreese a little uncomfortable. Later in the season Kreese shows up at Daniel's house, and threatens him with war between the to dojos, as well as insults Miyagi's death.
In season 3, after learning that Kreese sent his students to attack the Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang students, Daniel attacks him in the Cobra Kai dojo and defeats him using the pressure point techniques that Chozen taught him. Daniel agrees to settle the matter with the tournament again and starts working with Johnny to defeat Kreese and Cobra Kai once and for all.
Daniel's second arch enemy next to Kreese and his most despicable. The first time meeting with Terry Silver was in Mr. Miyagi's House and he decides to train Daniel in Cobra Kai for the 1985 All-Valley tournament, but Daniel is unaware that this is part of Terry's plot to get revenge on him and Miyagi for ruining Kreese's life following last years All Valley.. Despite teaching Daniel how to be violent, Daniel eventually realized he was going too far. However after telling Terry he wouldn't compete in the tournament, Terry has Mike Barnes and Kreese come out, making Daniel realize Terry set him up. Fortunately Miyagi saves Daniel by beating up the other three. At the tournament, Terry's plan seems to be succeeding, but ultimately fails the end when Daniel beats Mike in the sudden death around, to become the champion for the second straight time.
While Terry doesn't appear in the first two seasons of Cobra Kai, he is shown in a flashback in season 2 when Daniel tells his students about the time he joined Cobra Kai. In season 3, Kreese calls Terry for help in preparing to face Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang in the tournament.
- A major factor in Daniel and Johnny's differences is that while both had no fathers, Daniel grew up with love, encouragement and Mr. Miyagi's guidance, Johnny however grew up with advantages and his own mother's love but with everyone he knew or would meet viewing him as a thug and a lost cause.
- In 2018, Daniel was inducted into the Fictitious Athlete Hall of Fame.
- One strength and weakness of Daniel's is his loyalty to his family, a trait that was later revealed to have been due to Daniel's mother. However, this loyalty causes Danny to become extremely defensive anytime anyone in his family is criticized or insulted, especially by his rivals, such as Johnny Lawrence, even if the statement about said family member is true.
- Originally, the character was named "Daniel Webber", but after Ralph Macchio booked the part, the character's name was changed to LaRusso to reflect Macchio's Italian-American heritage.
- It was important to the cast and crew to have a positive representation of Italian-Americans, due to the harsh depiction of Italian-Americans in media at the time. Mark Kamen, Randee Heller, and Ralph Macchio was presented with a letter of commendation by the Italians Against Discrimination for The Karate Kid.
- Daniel's education beyond high school remains unknown, as he frequently spent the money he was supposed to use for college. First on a plane ticket to Japan and again when he uses it to open Mr. Miyagi's Little Trees.
- Daniel's father died in 1974, when he was 8 years old. Daniel discusses him again with his mother, fondly recalling a day they all went to Coney Island together, but his father grew ill after.
- His 2010 counterpart is Dre Parker.
- He is a fan of REO Speedwagon.
- His drinks of choice are club soda, Ketel Martinis, and Don Julio 70.
- Daniel is a fan of Game of Thrones.