- "Look... I wasn't taught the difference between mercy and honor and I paid the price for it. If I'm extra hard on you, it's only because you have the potential to be better than I ever was. You want that, don't you?"
- ―Johnny Lawrence to Miguel Diaz[src]
Johnny Lawrence is one of the main antagonists-turned-protagonists of The Karate Kid trilogy and Cobra Kai television series. He was the troubled rich kid of the Valley who started a feud with new kid Daniel LaRusso that lasted over thirty-years. His vicious training with martial arts made him a formidable opponent, as he was the top student at the Cobra Kai dojo.
After losing the 1984 All Valley Karate Tournament, Johnny's life turned upside down and remained that way into his adulthood. He is the estranged father of Robby Keene. In an attempt to reclaim his life, Johnny reopens the Cobra Kai Dojo and becomes a sensei to an entirely new generation of students.
Johnny was born on August 20, 1967, to Laura Lawrence and an absent father. He has some very preliminary memories of his father. When he was very young, he was up late one night, playing with some of his toys, when his mother, Laura, returned and announced that she was going to be marrying Sid, and that their lives would be better. Sid was very rich and could take care of them. This triggered Johnny to scream and run to his room in opposition. When Laura followed him to his room to explain things to him, she found a box of items that used to belong to Johnny's father, and the boy had saved them as keepsakes. This infuriated Laura, whom insisted that Johnny's father abandoned them, and that she was going to destroy the box and the items within.
Laura married Sid Weinberg, a wealthy yet highly abusive man who used his financial power to intimidate Laura and Johnny. Johnny became the primary target of Sid's disdain, being verbally and emotionally abused. Johnny learned to distance himself from the fighting by listening to his Walkman. At school, Johnny didn't have any friends and was bullied by the older students. In 1979, Johnny found a karate dojo called Cobra Kai, with John Kreese teaching his students self-defense inside. This inspired Johnny greatly, and he immediately informed his parents about his desire to begin training there. Sid disapproved of the choice as he Johnny had already failed at magic lessons, drum lessons, and other things, but he relented his onslaught on Laura suggested it could help Johnny make friends.
Once enrolled, Johnny was taken under Sensei John Kreese's wing, where he rapidly advanced in his learning. One day, after Johnny was awarded his blue belt, Kreese found Johnny crying. Johnny explained the problems he was having at home, but Kreese was unsympathetic to Johnny's plight. He told Johnny harshly that the instant tears left his eyes he becomes a loser and that he did not train losers. Kreese forced Johnny to shout that he was a winner, which Johnny did, and in doing so, shed his timid, meek demeanor he had been up to that point.
Johnny eventually took part in the All Valley Karate Tournament in 1981, where he lost his fight to Darryl Vidal in the quarterfinals. Johnny went on to win the tournament in 1982 and 1983, when he beat his friend Tommy in the finals. He became close friends with Cobra Kai members Bobby Brown, Dutch, Tommy and Jimmy. Together, they formed a friend group that terrorized younger students and mocked them for their "loser" ways. They thought highly of themselves because they dated several girls, rode motorcycles, and were the strongest kids at school. They were all part of the school soccer team as well.
In the summer of their sophomore year of high school, Johnny and his friends attended a screening of Rocky III. They were seated behind a group of girls. Dutch threw milk-duds at the girls and one of them, a blonde named Ali Mills, stood up and confronted him. Johnny went on to form a two-year relationship with Ali. In the summer of their senior year, Johnny and his friends went to a bar and got so drunk that he missed Ali's birthday, which led to her ending their relationship.
The Karate Kid
On the last night of summer, Johnny and his friends from Cobra Kai drive their motorcycles to a beach party. One of the friends says their criminal records have been sealed, but Johnny wants to put whatever happened behind him as an "ex-degenerate". Tommy points out that Ali Mills is at the party, and Johnny's attention turns to seeing Ali with an unfamiliar boy, inciting jealousy. Bobby and Jimmy advise Johnny to apply his newfound positive attitude towards Ali, as she is "ancient history". Despite this, Johnny drives down to confront Ali, but she rejects all his advances, and the two quickly get into a fight. The boy, Daniel LaRusso, intervenes, trying to stick up for Ali. Johnny quickly pushes Daniel down, and the two get into a brawl against Ali's protests in which Johnny wins and leaves, but not before being sucker punched by Daniel.
In the following weeks, Daniel occasionally falls under the ire of Johnny and the rest of the Cobra Kai gang, who harass him, which inadvertently gets Daniel kicked off the soccer team. Daniel thinks of joining a dojo to fight back, only to realize the one he checked out was Cobra Kai, giving Johnny and his friends another chance to hurt Daniel by overpowering him on their motor bikes and shoving him down a ravine. After this, the harassment seems to taper off.
During a Halloween school event, Johnny was in a bathroom stall about to smoke a joint, when Daniel put a hose over him and drenched him with water. Johnny, enraged, gathered his friends who were clad in skeleton costumes matching Johnny's, and pursued Daniel down the street, before cornering Daniel at a chain link fence and beating him in revenge. Johnny attempts to continue the beating of Daniel, performing a move that, had it hit its intended target, would have likely killed an unconscious Daniel. Despite Bobby insisting that Daniel has had enough, Johnny tells Dutch to hold Daniel up before attempting a flying kick. That's when, unexpectedly, Mr Miyagi showed up, causing Dutch to drop Daniel and Johnny to fail to hit Daniel. He then effortlessly takes down Johnny and his gang, and takes Daniel to safety.
Miyagi and Daniel later showed up to the Cobra Kai Dojo, requesting of Kreese that his students leave Daniel alone, but Kreese's stubbornness resulted in both Kreese and Miyagi deciding to have Daniel compete against the Cobra Kai in the All-Valley Tournament. Miyagi then requested Kreese to tell his students to leave Daniel alone until the tournament. Agreeing, Kreese ordered Johnny and his gang to stay away from Daniel until the debut of the tournament. While Daniel saw them rarely after that, there was an occasion where Daniel openly taunted Johnny and his friends as he knew they couldn't harm him. Johnny, furious at Daniel's taunts was almost ready to attack Daniel, until he was restrained by Bobby, who reminded Johnny of Kreese's order not to fight. Another chance for harassment occurs at school when Daniel and Ali reaffirm this truce between Johnny and his gang, and it seems that they are going to do something to Daniel, but when a teacher shows up telling Daniel a long and boring lesson, Johnny and his gang leave, not wishing to wait for a fight or listen to this boring lecture.
Johnny would attend the Encino Oaks Country Club for a social event involving many of the members, including Ali Mills and her family. Johnny would share a dance with Mrs. Mills before Ali's mother insisted on having her husband back for the remainder of the evening (whom had been dancing with Ali). Johnny and Ali would start to dance, and Johnny would ask Ali for a truce, but Ali rebuffs this. Johnny would ask Ali to finish the dance number that was going on, which Ali did. But when Johnny spotted Daniel LaRusso spying on them from the kitchen, he would grab Ali and force a kiss on her so that Daniel would see. Ali would get very angry and actually punch Johnny over this. Daniel would run into a waiter covering both of them with spaghetti, and Johnny would join the entire assembled people to laugh and mock Daniel over his dilemma.
Once the day of the All-Valley Tournament finally arrived, Johnny rocked his way up to the finals, where he was pitted against his now-rival, Daniel LaRusso. After Daniel won the first two points, Johnny went to Kreese, who told Johnny to “sweep the leg”, shocking and horrifying Johnny as a result (while also realizing that Kreese may have gone too far). Johnny followed through by sweeping Daniel's foot and fighting more aggressively, allowing him to tie the score. Daniel however ultimately defeated Johnny using the Crane Technique and winning the tournament. Johnny then gives the first-place trophy to Daniel and tells him he's all right (thus showing that he's now become Daniel's former rival).
The Karate Kid Part II
- "That sucks! I did my best!"
- ―Johnny to Kreese after losing the tournament[src]
Immediately after the tournament's conclusion, Johnny argues with Kreese in the parking lot. Johnny argues that he did his best and doesn't believe that second place is that bad. Kreese becomes enraged by the statement and Johnny's loss, and tells him he is off the team. He snatches Johnny's trophy, breaks it in half, and calls him a loser. Johnny angrily calls Kreese "sick", but Kreese quickly puts Johnny into a headlock and strangles him from behind. Johnny's friends, with the exclusion of Dutch, tried to save Johnny from Kreese but are either assaulted or threatened with assault. Mr. Miyagi witnesses the events and steps in, eventually immobilizing Kreese. Miyagi pretends to strike a killing blow before honking his nose, saying that for someone with no forgiveness, living is a worse punishment than death. Daniel and Mr. Miyagi then left Kreese in the parking lot, whilst Johnny and his friends dispose of their Cobra Kai gis, signifying their resignation from the dojo.
Karate Kid Part III
Johnny appears in a montage at the beginning of the movie. He along with his friends permanently left Cobra Kai, as in the present day, the Cobra Kai Dojo is devoid of students. When arguing with Terry Silver about the crane kick, Daniel references his victory over Johnny by saying that the Crane kick worked the last time. This angers Silver who, in return, claims that Daniel's new opponent Mike Barnes is superior to Johnny.
In the three decades since the 1984 tournament, Johnny's life had gone downhill. He did a short stint at community college, though an incident forced him to withdraw. He admitted to partying all of his twenties and most of his thirties away. He racked up a police record of public intoxication and fighting, but was spared harsher criminal penalties because of Sid's influence. In 1994, he and his high school friend Dutch had an incident at a country club that resulted in Dutch being prosecuted, but Johnny was again spared because of Sid's influence. As he collected his criminal record, Johnny's privilege of having a wealthy stepfather helped keep him from suffering the repercussions that others in his position faced. Sid accused Johnny of freeloading off of him later in life, a charge Johnny did not deny. Johnny has cited vacations in Mexico and Reno Nevada involving his high school friends that took place during these years that all involved a alcohol, women, and other debauchery. Johnny worked odd jobs to both support himself, his alcoholism, and the lifestyle he had become accustomed too. At some point, Johnny became certified as a construction worker. In the late nineties or early 2000s, Johnny developed a relationship with fellow alcoholic and addict, Shannon Keene. Shannon became pregnant and they welcomed their only child, Robert "Robby" Keene.
- "I failed my kid on his very first day in this world."
- ―Johnny on the day Robby was born[src]
However, a week before Robby was born, Johnny's mother died. He was driven deeper into his depression by the loss of his mother, who was the only person who truly believed in him. On the day Robby was born, Johnny was drunk at a diner while Shannon gave birth in the hospital across the street. This absence carried into Robby's childhood, with Johnny rarely supporting their child or visiting them. Johnny instead believed that Shannon would be able to handle being a single mother and left. At some point, Sid cut him off financially and kicked him out of his house, although he continued to 'look out' for Johnny via his lawyers keeping Johnny's infractions from being more severe then they were. Further rattled by his losses, Johnny kept to his past behavior of being a troublemaker and continued to have illegal blips such as an incident at Applebee's that resulted in a ban, neglecting to pay child support, and partying. To better support himself and his addictions, Johnny put his construction certificate to use and was hired as a home contractor. He drifted from job to job and moved into a rundown apartment complex in Reseda, where his life reached a stale point of working and being drunk.
In 2017, while living in Reseda, Johnny worked as a home-improvement worker but was fired after an argument with a persnickety customer. Afterwards, Johnny went to a convenience store where he encountered a group of high school students bullying his neighbor Miguel Diaz. The bullies provoke Johnny after they pushed Miguel into his Pontiac Firebird. After a brief fight in which Johnny defeats the posse of students, Johnny was arrested. The next day, Johnny is released from police custody. He comes home to see his stepfather Sid, who has had enough of his problems and gives him a check to "buy him out" of his life. That night, Johnny is at home drinking when he has a flashback of his high school days and goes out for a drive.
While driving around the city at night he ends up at the All-Valley Sports Arena where he was defeated by Daniel LaRusso and was nearly choked to death by his own sensei, John Kreese. He is snapped back to the present when a vehicle driven by Yasmine who was with two other girls end up smashing into his Pontiac Firebird, an enraged Johnny attempts to chase after the teenagers but the crash disabled his car. His car ends up being towed to Daniel LaRusso's car dealership and for the first time in 34 years, he comes face to face with Daniel. Daniel is happy to see Johnny and has his car repaired for free. While at the dealership, Johnny recognizes one of the teenagers from the night before as none other than Daniel's daughter. After his visit at the dealership, Johnny decides to re-open Cobra Kai and his neighbor Miguel becomes his first student.
While teaching Miguel a lesson, Johnny is interrupted by a call from the headmistress of Robby's school, who informs Johnny his son was caught with drugs. An angered Johnny chastises Robby over the phone about the dangers of drugs and how he will throw his life away, to which Robby retorts if that is true he will turn into his father. Hurt by that insult, Johnny asks the school marm to report the matter to Robby's mother (who is nowhere to be found). Johnny then went back to Miguel after the phone call ended, teaching him to imagine his enemy while punching the dummy, giving him motivation.
Another time Johnny was in his office filling out insurance forms, when he was approached by Daniel over the matter of being arrested for the fight with the teens, as one of them was a suitor to his daughter. Without either man getting the full story, they begin trading insults, but it stops short of a fight, as neither man wants a rerun of their high school years. While Daniel berates Johnny for being a go-nowhere who has trouble with his own son, Johnny returns the insult that Daniel ought to get his own house in order considering her daughter's boyfriend and his gang attacked his student, who was smaller than them. This scene reflected that while Johnny is indeed in poverty and a failed relationship, he is far better aware of his troubles than Daniel's own, as Daniel's troubles with his own children are masked by his social status. From a familial and financial standpoint, the tides are turning against Daniel and towards Johnny, albeit very slowly.
After a few months with only having one student (Miguel), Cobra Kai becomes very popular and he gets a full dojo. He eventually goes to Sid's house, where he gives him all the money he used to buy back Cobra Kai. He tells Sid he never needed his money, and then bids him farewell for good, as he no longer needs him in his life. Afterwards, Johnny decides to try to make amends with his son, Robby. After he hears a commotion outside his apartment he discovers Daniel's cousin smashing his car with a bunch of biker goons. Enraged Johnny defeats the goons and makes Daniel's cousin tell him where he lives. Johnny goes to Daniel's house to confront him, but the fight is defused by Daniel's side of the story, who truthfully states he had nothing to do with that and is appalled by Louie's conduct, as well as Amanda, who invites Johnny to have breakfast with them.
Daniel makes amends for the lost car by giving Johnny the car of his choice from the LaRusso Auto Group. During this, Daniel and Johnny begin to bond, and they even visit the former apartment Daniel used to live in as well as drink in a bar. The two then go back to the LaRusso home where they decide to have one last fight. But Johnny discovers Daniel had been teaching his son karate Johnny gets angry and shoves Daniel into his karate trophies, resulting Daniel kicking Robby out of his home. After a night of binge drinking, Johnny goes to the All-Valley Tournament with his class, where he motivates them that they struck first to earn their way there. Cobra Kai has a marked presence at the tournament, with Aisha Robinson making to the quarterfinals, Hawk to the semifinals, and Miguel to the finals after he beats 2017 All Valley champion Xander Stone. Miguel defeats his own son Robby by fighting dirty in the championship round. As the tournament ends, he approaches Daniel and Robby, apologizing to them, and is congratulated by Daniel for the win. After celebrating his empty victory at the dojo, knowing he's driven his son further away and misguided his students, a shadowy figure walks in who congratulates Johnny. The figure emerges and turns out to be his old sensei, Kreese.
Johnny is shocked that Kreese is alive. He however is still angry at Kreese and even attacks him. Despite struggling at first, he is able to get the better of Kreese. He puts him in the choke-hold, but then remembers Kreese choke-holding him following the 1984 tournament. Not wanting to be like him, he shows mercy by letting him go. Kreese however, does not feel the same way and he kicks him. Kreese tries to convince Johnny that they should work together at the dojo but Johnny refuses as he is a better person and knows he is still evil. At the dojo, he scolds Miguel and Hawk for their cheap shots at the tournament, announces that cheating will no longer be tolerated, strips all his students to white belts, and forces Miguel and Hawk to do 50 push-ups. Johnny warns Miguel that there is a fine line between mercy and honor, and he paid an expensive price in the past for crossing that line.
When Kreese fixes his second-place trophy from the 1984 tournament and apologizes for his behavior, Johnny, distraught and crestfallen after a tense meeting with Daniel and Robby, forgives him and allows him to co-teach at the dojo.
When his students are goofing off at a practice, Johnny orders remedial training to give them an attitude adjustment. He orders the kids to mix cement, then borrows a cement mixer from a friend. Demanding several kids get inside the drum, Johnny says they are to make that drum move on their own power or become living statues, frozen in time, and cement. Johnny's lesson to the kids was that they will stagnate just as cement that stays in one place for too long hardens and gets stuck. Kreese congratulates Johnny for getting the students' attitude back on track and offers to buy him beers (though he has mild concern the lesson could have gone too far). While walking with Kreese, Johnny is met by Daniel, who came to speak to him about Shannon's residence being inappropriate for Robby due to her nonpayment of utility bills. However, when Daniel sees Kreese, he is convinced more than ever Cobra Kai is out to ruin him. Disgusted that Johnny is so ignorant to let the man who Mr. Miyagi saved him from back into his life, Daniel doesn't tell him about Robby
When Miguel and Hawk find out that Robby is Johnny's son, they believe he is being hard on them because they dishonorably attacked his son and even confront him. Johnny reveals that while Robby is his son, he does not tolerate cheating and tells them to mind their own business. However, he soon tells Miguel how badly he screwed up with Robby and that what he likes the most about his job as sensei is that Miguel is a good student who takes instruction well.
When Daniel advertises Miyagi-Do karate as a tuition-free dojo, Johnny believes Daniel is attempting to steal his customers. Daniel is indeed attempting to do this in order to stop Kreese, although he privately admits to Amanda that unlike Kreese, Johnny knows his limits. A demonstration by Miyagi-Do at a carnival is suddenly upstaged by Cobra Kai, who give the crowd a rousing performance set to hard rock music, and engineering by Kreese. Johnny ends the show by smashing several wood blocks that are on fire, earning him a standing ovation and causing people to see for themselves that Cobra Kai earned the recent All-Valley win. This is antithetical to Daniel, whose attempt to recreate the infamous ice block break he did in Japan was aborted. The next day, Johnny is able to recruit two new students who have seen their Valley Fest performance; hardware store owner Stingray who wants to achieve his childhood dream, and female teenager Tory Nichols.
After hearing from Miguel that Kreese's stories aren't adding up, Johnny becomes suspicious. He follows Kreese into a homeless shelter. When the two meet face to face, Kreese explains that he couldn't get reenlisted in the army because they wanted young blood, and he has been living in the homeless shelter for a long time. Remembering the blows he himself has been dealt over the years, Johnny puts his full trust in Kreese. Under Johnny's nose however, Kreese poisons several of Johnny's students' minds particularly Hawk and gets them to be more ruthless. When Daniel confronts Johnny about destroying his dojo, Johnny tells him he does not know what he is talking about, as he had nothing to do with that, and was unaware Kreese ordered Hawk and some other of his students to do this. Johnny then tries to get one of them to reveal that they destroyed the dojo by punishing them, but no one cracks. Johnny, however, gets a phone call which forces him to leave for the day but not before telling Kreese to run the dojo.
Johnny goes to a hospital where he meets former Cobra Kai friends Bobby and Tommy and soon, Jimmy. Tommy has been diagnosed with cancer. Knowing that Tommy does not have much time to live, the four spend the day hanging out so Tommy can spend his final day having good memories. That night, Tommy admits that he had feelings for Ali and encourages Johnny not to give up hope that he can change the course that his life took. Tommy dies in his sleep, which devastates his friends. Upon his return to his dojo, Johnny finds out that Kreese has been poisoning his students' minds and turning them into corrupt and vicious human beings, and angrily forces Kreese to leave the dojo for good.
Johnny develops a crush on Miguel's mom Carmen but is upset when she is seeing someone else. However, when he notices that her date is unfaithful, he beats him outside of a bar and forces him not to see her again. He then asks her out and the two go on a date. However, when Daniel and his wife Amanda LaRusso come to the same restaurant and have to sit with Johnny and Carmen both Johnny and Daniel are unhappy. At first, they brag about their dojo's, but after Johnny tells Daniel that he kicked Kreese out of Cobra Kai, the two bond, joke around and appear to be getting along. Johnny even finds out from Carmen that the LaRusso's had enrolled his son into his alma mater, which he appreciates.
After Johnny comes home from his date someone knocks on his door. He thinks it's Carmen, but when he opens the door he is shocked to see Robby and a drunk Sam. He allows them to spend the night. He tells Robby the following morning that he will have to tell Daniel what happened, but Robby tells him not to and that he will take the fall. However, when Daniel knocks on Johnny's door, Johnny admits that Sam is inside but does not allow in Daniel until he calms down, and shuts the door. Daniel then kicks the door open and the two have a brief fight until Sam and Robby intervene. Daniel angrily takes Sam home.
Johnny takes Robby to his first day of school and has an awkward conversation with his son about the LaRusso's, with Johnny ignoring a phone call from Miguel. After Miguel is rushed to the hospital as a result of Robby kicking him off a railing at school, Johnny goes to the hospital. At the hospital, Carmen blames Johnny for Miguel's injury and tells him she does not want to see him again, Johnny listens to a voicemail Miguel left earlier and peaks in Miguel's room, who is lying unconscious, causing him to cry and feel guilty.
Johnny goes back to the dojo where he sees Kreese training several of his students. Kreese tells him he and a landlord made a agreement for him to take full ownership of the dojo. Several of Johnny's students are now training with Kreese, and Hawk blames him for Miguel's injury. Feeling betrayed by Kreese and his students, Johnny angrily leaves the dojo, but not before telling Kreese that if he wants Cobra Kai; it's his.
Johnny goes to the beach where he angrily throws his phone into the sand. He then spots the Cobra Kai logo on his car and in disgust, throws his keys into the car and walks away. Unbeknownst to him, Ali, whom he sent a Facebook message to, has sent him a friend request.
In the weeks that follow the school brawl and his loss of Cobra Kai, Johnny spends his days in bars drinking to soothe his problems. He watches the television which details the events of the West Valley High School brawl. The police appear on the screen, informing the public that they are searching for West Valley High student Robby Keene, who has been missing since the brawl. Robby is wanted in the assault of Miguel Diaz that left the All Valley Karate champion comatose and injured. When a bargoer takes the remote and change it to a football game, Johnny demands them to change it back, which they ignore. When the game ends they return the remote and leave, though they mock Miguel for being "coma kid that nobody cared about". Angered, Johnny follows them outside and attacks them in their car. He is easily overpowered due to his intoxicated nature, and arrested by the police for inciting a fight. Now in a holding cell, Johnny is recognized by a police officer who asks if he is Robby Keene's father. They talk for moment with Johnny claiming Robby is a good kid despite the officer thinking he's a delinquent. He is released from prison in the morning, and goes to the hospital to visit Miguel and his family. He is turned away as he isn't family, so he initially tries to disguise himself as a doctor. His facial injuries quickly prove this line of fraud impossible, leading Johnny to ram his head into a paper towel dispenser in order to be admitted to the ICU. He finds Miguel and tells the comatose boy to fight as he can do this, giving him a pep talk that Miguel subconsciously hears. Johnny is ultimately asked to leave the room by Carmen.
Johnny is discharged and returns to his apartment, only to find a concerned Daniel LaRusso waiting for him. Daniel 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-girlfriend 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.
He learns that Robby was apprehended by the police and serving time in a juvenile detention center. Johnny visits Bobby Brown at a church in which Bobby serve as a pastor. Johnny's drunk and loud nature interrupts the sermon. He reminds Bobby of their past together, though when Johnny refuses to leave, Bobby knocks him out. When Johnny comes too with a bloodied nose, Bobby talks to him and helps him realize that he should focus on the positive aspects of his life. Both Miguel and Robby need him right now, and that's what matters. Johnny wants to visit Robby but isn't allowed to due to his probation. Bobby offers his help, as having a pastor present will guarantee that Johnny can visit. Bobby also helps fund Miguel's surgery to walk again, though his financial contribution isn't enough to help Miguel. Johnny visits his stepfather Sid Weinberg to ask him to donate towards Miguel's fund, though Sid refuses with crude comments about Miguel. Johnny leaves angrily but spots an expensive artifact on a podium near the door. He steals the artifact and pawns them for $2,500 which is the exact amount needed to cover Miguel's surgery. He donates the money anonymously the next day.
He is spotted at the hospital by Miguel's Grandmother, who asks Johnny to stay with them while Miguel is in surgery. Johnny, despite being scheduled to meet with Robby and Bobby at SJDC, agrees to stay to support Miguel. After Miguel's surgery, Johnny leaves the hospital to find Robby who is serving community service. He attempts to speak with Robby by continuously getting in line for food, though Robby becomes angry when Johnny mentions Miguel and tries to reprimand Robby for his actions. He regrets his words and grabs Robby's arm, which leads to the boy jerking away and spilling a bucket of soup everywhere. Johnny is escorted out of the building by security. He goes to a bar to sulk, where is met by a cocky John Kreese. Kreese claims he only took Cobra Kai from Johnny because he was going soft. Kreese invites Johnny to return to the dojo and instruct under Kreese, but Johnny refuses as he knows Kreese can't be trusted. Instead, he goes to see a now awake Miguel who expresses his defeat for not being able to move his legs. He can't reach his phone and Johnny offers to help, pushing the tray away. He commands Miguel to get up, walk over, and grab the phone for himself like a champion. Miguel does as instructed, but falls out of the bed and onto the floor, much to Johnny's chagrin.
Johnny is intent on helping Miguel walk again, and visits him everyday at his apartment to try various tactics of "inspiring" Miguel to walk. These included dangling risque magazines over his wheelchair, lighting his shoelaces on fire, and various other tactics. They all fail as Miguel still can't walk. Johnny witnesses Carmen crying outside of their apartment one night, citing that Miguel's current state is depressive. He never smiles or has fun. Johnny is than inspired to take Miguel to a Dee Snider concert. They lie to the bouncer that Miguel attending the concern is on his bucket list, insinuating that Miguel is dying. They are permitted in and have an amazing time filled with selfies, shoutouts from the lead singer, and dancing. Johnny is elated to see that Miguel is subconsciously tapping his foot to the beat of the music, an act he is able to continue on command after. Johnny returns to his apartment where he learns how to use Facebook on his computer. He looks at the photos of him and Miguel from the concert, then notices Ali Mills' friend request. He happily accepts the request.
He then stresses over what to send to Ali when she asks what he's been up to the last thirty years. He writes several paragraphs to her, which appalls Miguel as the message comes across as desperate. Miguel helps him set up the rest of his profile as it is barren. Johnny decides to take photos of himself doing everything that Ali enjoys, which Miguel reluctantly agrees to help with. They spend the day together with Miguel taking photos of him doing various activities, including trying sushi for the first time. He pretends to like it for the pictures then spits it out disgusted. When he returns from the bathroom, he notices that Miguel is upset. When they return to Johnny's apartment to give the walking harness another chance, Miguel's emotions explode as he blames Johnny for his situation. He calls Johnny weak for letting Kreese steal his students away from him. Johnny argues he should have never brought back Cobra Kai, but during the argument, he notices Miguel walking closer to him. He points out the steps and their argument disappears over their mutual happiness. That night, Johnny tries to write the perfect response to Ali by telling her truth about his life. He tells her about his relationship with Miguel and how he's working to be a better person and help kids. He decides the message is too lengthy and deletes it all to send a simple, "not much, u?".
With everything looking up, including Miguel now being able to walk without any assistance, Johnny considers opening another dojo. He struggles with a name, where to find students, and a location - but Miguel promises to do some recruiting at school. Johnny, in the meantime, tries to find the perfect location on a small budget. He ultimately decides to hold lessons in the park as the space is free. After confronting his former students and owning up to his mistakes, he is met by Mitch, Bert, and others who were kicked out of Cobra Kai by Kreese for being too weak. Johnny announces to the small group that the dojo is called Eagle Fang Karate. He ignores their claims that Eagle's don't have fangs. Things become tense when Kreese and his students arrive at the park as a sign that the bad blood between them still exists. Kreese tries one final time to recruit Johnny back to Cobra Kai, but he bitterly refuses. In the coming days, Robby is released from juvie. Johnny waits for his son on his release date and is surprised to see Daniel there too. They argue and are about to fight when Robby intervenes, now released, and angrily tells both of them to leave him alone.
Johnny obliges and focuses his attention on the cancelled All Valley Karate Tournament. He attends a city council meeting to fight for the tournament alongside John Kreese and Daniel LaRusso, who are also in attendance. .he 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. That night, Carmen visits Johnny to thank him for everything he did to help Miguel not only walk again, but raise his spirits. They kiss and sleep together that night. Everything is perfect for them the next morning, though Carmen has to leave for work before breakfast. As he checks his social media, he is happy to see that Ali is in town for the Christmas holiday and wants to meet. He agrees, so they meet for lunch before revisiting their youth at Golf 'N Stuff. She invites him to a charity gala that evening which he happily agrees to attend, despite having to wear a suit. He arrives in a dapper white suit just in time to see Ali embracing Daniel. The evening is surprisingly pleasant, thanks to the presence of Amanda and Ali. They all swap stories about their youth. When the night is over, Ali admits that she thinks Johnny and Daniel don't like each other because they see parts of themselves in the other that they don't like. She thinks they could actually be friends someday. When Daniel leaves, Ali and Johnny part on a a positive note as she forgives him for his behavior in high school and he finds closure in how things ended between them.
He goes to Carmen's house to confess his true feelings for her, but after seeing blood on Miguel's face, Johnny goes to Cobra Kai to defeat Kreese once for all. He bursts in to see Kreese teaching Robby a forward strike. Kreese delusionally thinks this is fate as the three generations of Cobra Kai's will “melt this whole snowflake generation,” but Johnny rejects Kreese’s offer to join forces, by punching him in the face. They engage in a vicious fight with Johnny gaining the upper-hand as the fight crashes into the main area of the dojo. He is about to defeat Kreese when Robby intervenes and defends Kreese. He attacks Johnny for being responsible for his suffering. Johnny instantly switches to the defense and refuses to fight his son, though Robby is intent on unleashing his pent up anger. He shouts that Johnny is responsible for everything bad that's happened to him, including his trauma at juvie, and lunges at Johnny. Johnny blocks Robby's attack and accidentally pushes him into the lockers. Robby hits his head and is unconscious, much to Johnny's dismay. He crouches next to his son to ensure he's okay, but Kreese takes a sai and attacks Johnny from behind. He than forces Johnny into a chokehold that has the potential to be fatal. Daniel arrives just in time to kick Kreese off Johnny. Daniel furiously confronts Kreese about sending his students to Daniel's house.
Daniel and Kreese continue to fight while Johnny recovers from the vicious chokehold. Kreese lifts Daniel 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 expertly deploys pressure point attacks that cripple Kreese so he can't fight back. Johnny emerges from the dojo and gives Daniel an approving nod while Daniel holds a strike position. He 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, gesturing to Johnny as he does. Johnny supports Daniel's sentiment, 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. Johnny is a saddened with Robby's alliance but retreats home for now. He and Daniel then 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.
Johnny's alliance with Daniel has a rocky start, as the opposing senseis struggle to work together, despite their shared goals. Back at the Diaz apartment, Johnny grows closer to Carmen and the Diaz family. She wants to take things slow, something he begrudgingly accepts. Back at the dojo, Johnny hazes Hawk into Eagle Fang whileDaniel attempts meditation with the Miyagi-Dos. The two end their individual classes angrily, having gotten into a heated argument over their differing styles of karate. Miguel urges Johnny to be the Apollo Creed to Daniel's Rocky, referencing Rocky III when the two opposites had to work together to defeat a larger villain. Johnny is about to follow Miguel's advice when Daniel arrives, apologizing for the days events, and offering beer. Their peace is short-lived, but this time, they agree being co-senseis doesn't work. The next day, they prepare to tell the kids of their decision, only to learn that Hawk has come up with an idea to build an Okinawan sparring deck to serve as a bridge between the two dojos. All the students have agreed to help. Moved by their kids' ability to come forward, Johnny and Daniel agree to the choice and continue their alliance.
The men agree that learning one another's karate styles will help them respect and understand one another. Johnny learns defensive strategies, how to find his inner-balance, and goes through the basics of Miyagi-Do karate. He is impressed by the strength that comes with the style, with Daniel reminding Johnny that Miyagi-Do has saved his life twice. Daniel goes through the grueling process of Eagle Fang, including climbing a chain rope, knuckle pushups, learning to become aggressive instead of defensive, and facing his fears. The men ultimately grow closer and attend a hockey game together as part of Daniel's training, though Johnny creates tension between Daniel and the hockey team. As Daniel fights with the team, Johnny exercises Daniel's Miyagi-Do advice of "no be there".
At Miyagi-Do, Johnny is sparring with Daniel and his students. He takes Daniel's gyoza and gives him his sandwich. He and the Diaz's have dinner with Daniel and the LaRusso's where he explains that Johnny and Carmen are taking things slow. Anthony gets mad that he is at his house where Johnny is shocked to see how he's grown. They end the dinner where Daniel and Johnny tell each other will swap students. Johnny takes Miyagi-Do to a building where he has them jump from one roof to another. Sam argues how dangerous it is but he counters with Sam's previous encounters with Johnny. Later on, Sam changes her mind and jumps to the next roof, impressing Johnny and Miyagi-Do. He comes back to the Diaz apartment where he kisses Carmen and makes it official with her. When he comes back to the Miyagi-Do dojo, he notices Daniel gives Miguel the Miyagi-Do headband and gets jealous.
When Johnny is teaching combos to Miyagi-Do, he gets distracted with Daniel training Miguel. Demetri takes advantage of his distraction and kicks him in the face. Johnny retaliates by tying up Demetri and has his classmates kick him. Back at his apartment, he looks through his memories with Miguel where he looks at his beer can and has a flashback about his mom marrying Sid and angrily throws away his beer can. Robby goes to Johnny's apartment where he confronts his father about Eagle Fang bullying Kenny. When Robby says there will be payback, Johnny warns him not to do anything bad and reminds him of his expulsion. He also tells him about Cobra Kai and how Kreese is brainwashing him the same way he got brainwashed. At Miyagi-Do, Johnny hears his students about Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang's confrontation with Cobra Kai at the drive-in. He gets upset with Miguel's trick but Daniel praises it and tells Johnny that they ended a fight without getting hurt. As Johnny is going to talk to Daniel, Silver and his former sensei Kreese arrive at Miyagi-Do.
Kreese and Johnny talk to each other about his team-up with Daniel. He threatens him to leave Miyagi-Do or he'll use the Miyagi-Do sign to cram it in Kreese. At a bar, Johnny gets mad when Daniel tells him about Silver and because of his history with him, he will take over the training. He agrees on a rematch with Daniel and whoever wins, one of them will take over the training. Later, Johnny begins his training while remembering his encounters with Daniel. He sees Miguel and tells him how to defeat Daniel. Miguel, however, doesn't join his training and doesn't care about Daniel and Johnny's rivalry. Back at Miyagi-Do, Johnny and Daniel argue about their teachings and who is better. The two fight where Daniel and Johnny tie the score. They both fall but are unaware of who won. When Hawk arrives, he shows both dojos that his mohawk was nearly saved off by Robby. Johnny says that Cobra Kai will pay but Daniel rejects the idea. He chastises him for praising Miguel for the sprinkler incident but Daniel counters that his teachings would land his students in the hospital or jail. Realizing the merge failed, Eagle Fang leaves.
Johnny learns about the new updates for the tournament. He gets upset with them but Miguel adds that they need a female member. Bert tells him that he knows a girl in the school debate team but Johnny rejects the idea. Miguel tells Johnny about having Sam back but Johnny also rejects the idea. Johnny and Miguel go to the West Valley High School soccer field to find a female student but fails. The two approach Moon but she rejects their offer. Moon recommends them to talk to Piper. They find her at a gymnastics studio and offer Piper to join his dojo, which she agrees. Miguel praises Johnny for his communication with Piper. While waiting for her, Mitch corrects Johnny about how long they've been waiting but stops talking after he turns around. However, Eagle Fang learns that she joined Cobra Kai, upsetting them. Johnny remembers Bert's idea and he and Miguel go with Bert to watch a debate trial. They watch a person named Devon Lee during the debate. Her quick tempered personality impressed Johnny and recruits her to Eagle Fang.
Johnny and Carmen approach Miguel to talk about their relationship and Miguel acknowledges it, telling Carmen that if she's happy, he's happy. Before Eagle Fang's class, Johnny introduces his students to their new female student Devon Lee. When Devon tells the students her preferred pronouns are she/her, Johnny tells her that he only accepts sensei and student. Devon corrects Johnny but he tells her to be quiet. When he starts class, Johnny is impressed that she has knowledge of the movie Bloodsport. He teaches a lesson about cheating and Cobra Kai's dirty tricks where he has Miguel becomes co-sensei. In the first part of training, Johnny has his students spar with one arm. The next part is to use their other senses. He throws dirt in Mitch's eyes but hits his head on a shelf. The training intensifies when Devon kicks all the male students in the groin. Miguel and Johnny have a conversation where Johnny says he wants to be Miguel's father. After their conversation, he shows Miguel a bunch of watermelons where Sam joins them, in which Johnny agrees.
Johnny and the Diaz's join the LaRusso's to take pictures with Miguel and Sam before their prom. When he gets home, Shannon Keene approaches Johnny about how she encountered Silver. She explains that he gave Robby a car and Shannon money. Shannon ends saying that he needs to deal with them. When Johnny goes to Cobra Kai, he answers Silver's call and tells him to stay away from Robby. He threatens to beat him up and Silver tells him to go to a familiar street: Magnolia and Lakershim and tells him he knows it well. Johnny learns the place is the original Cobra Kai dojo. When he arrives, Silver fights him and defeats him, much to the horror of Kreese who has refused to finish him off due to his reluctant friendship with him. After the fight, Johnny drowns his sorrows in alcohol. When Miguel brings him to his room, Johnny calls him Robby, upsetting him.
On the day of the All-Valley Karate Tournament, he tells his students to get ready for the tournament. He pulls Miguel aside to talk to him about the fight at Stingray's afterparty. Johnny reflects on his experiences at prom and ends saying he needs to focus on the tournament and reconcile with Sam later. After the skills competition, Johnny gets upset with how they are in 6th place. Devon tells him about the point progress but Johnny doesn't care about it. He has a change of heart after Devon tells him to win the one on one matches. Johnny approaches Daniel where the two argue about how their respective teachings affected Miguel and Sam. The two tell each other to stay away from one another. Before Miguel's fight with Eli, he tells him that he's defeated Eli before and take him down. During the fight, Miguel is going to do the flying tornado kick but he pulls his muscle, putting the fight to a pause.
Johnny, Carmen and Rosa are watching the medic tending to Miguel. The three are relieved when she tells them that Miguel's injury is only a pulled muscle. After, Johnny tells Miguel to show who's boss when he's ready to go back to fight. Later, Kreese approaches Johnny about how he didn't know Silver was going to beat him up at the old dojo. He also reminded him that losing would affect him and that Robby was the only one who will give Cobra Kai the victory. Johnny ends saying that Cobra Kai is going to lose. Later, he gives Miguel cream and tells him to hurry back. He tells him to show what he's made of. Despite his motivation, Miguel doesn't return, causing him to be eliminated alongside Eagle Fang. Before the girls final, Daniel and Johnny talk where Daniel admits his teachings have been helpful. Johnny also apologizes to Daniel about showing jealousy over him and Miguel bonding and admits that he should've continued training with him and would've been a stronger fighter. The two reconcile and team up to help Sam for her fight against Tory. During the fight, Johnny is shocked when Sam performs an Eagle Fang kick on Tory, which makes her win round 1. When the score is tied 2-2, Sam and Tory grapple but she is accidentally hit in the elbow, giving the referee a warning much to Johnny's annoyance that the point should be deducted. Despite their re-alliance, Cobra Kai becomes grand champion when Tory defeats Sam. As Sam is defeated, Johnny and Daniel escort her back to the sidelines. As Cobra Kai celebrates and Silver reveals his intention to franchise Cobra Kai, Johnny glares at Robby, who feels defeated despite helping Cobra Kai win. Unbeknownst to Johnny and Eagle Fang, Terry had paid the referee to help Tory and Cobra Kai win. Johnny tries to look for Miguel but Carmen and Rosa tell him that he took an Uber home prior to the finals. Before he heads to the Diaz's apartment, he goes to the Cobra Kai dojo and sees the mantra on the wall. He has a flashback to where he opened the dojo for the first time. Robby visits him where he tells him that Cobra Kai is expanding. Johnny praises Robby for his tournament performance but Robby didn't want to talk about it. He explains that his mentorship with Kenny has turned him into a corrupt individual and how his time time in Cobra Kai affected him. Johnny doesn't believe this and tells Robby that his relationship with Daniel was strong and he got in the way. He also tells him to blame him for everything but Robby refuses to blame him again. The two hug, reconciling in the process. He then goes to Carmen's house where she gives him a letter Miguel wrote. Johnny and Carmen learn that Miguel will be going to Mexico City to find his biological father but Carmen tells Johnny he doesn't know about Miguel. She tells him that she wants Miguel home and Johnny promises to rescue him.
Johnny was an arrogant bully who repeatedly bullied Daniel due to the latter becoming friendly with his ex-girlfriend Ali. During the finals of the All Valley tournament, however, he expresses shock when Kreese tells him to sweep Daniel's foot, which shows that Johnny does know when to draw the line. After losing to Daniel, Johnny lets go of his sadness at losing and anger at Daniel, and personally hands Daniel the trophy and congratulates him, showing he is a good sport. Johnny also defends himself against Kreese when the latter berates him for losing the tournament. He even calls Kreese a loser. By this point it is clear that Johnny sees Kreese's true colors.
In the following decades, Johnny was still greatly affected by his disillusionment with Kreese, losing Ali forever, and further verbal abuse from Sid. Stuck in the past, Johnny doesn't particularly understand the world or modern technology and doesn't attempt to further himself as far as social politics are concerned. He is often baffled by how times have changed; everything from music to modern slang confuses him.
- "I may not always win, but I never back out of a fight."
- ―Johnny Lawrence[src]
34 years after his defeat in the All-Valley tournament, Johnny is a very bitter man. Divorced, working as a handyman, and stuck in the past, Johnny barely understands the world of the 21st century. Smartphones and the Internet baffle him, and modern music nauseates him. Most galling of all, however, is Daniel's success. Everywhere Johnny goes, he is bombarded by ads for the LaRusso auto dealerships, serving as a constant painful reminder that his old rival has succeeded where he failed.
Johnny's relationship with his son Robby is strained, due to Johnny neglecting him his whole life, which has made Robbie resentful towards his father and bent on doing everything he can to make Johnny suffer. While Johnny has expressed the desire to make amends with Robby and Robby himself did seem to want to work things out with Johnny after Shannon tells him Johnny wanted Robby to live with him, Robby goes back to disliking him after seeing Johnny hugging Miguel, though Johnny was unaware that Robby saw him. Despite their failed relationship, Johnny does care about Robby, and Robby in turn shows that he cares for Johnny by accepting his apology following his loss in the All Valley tournament.
- ―Johnny's catchphrase.
After Johnny begins training his neighbor Miguel, he teaches him to be merciless. However, over the course of the first season of Cobra Kai, he begins to care for Miguel and realize that he is the only person that has not given up on him. This way, Miguel becomes something of a surrogate son for Johnny. Johnny tries greatly to redeem himself but is surrounded by people who don't believe he deserves it. Daniel, Shannon and Robbie being the top ones.
Although Johnny had congratulated Daniel after the 84 tournament, he still holds resentment towards him, as even though Daniel and Ali broke up, he was still the one who stole her away. He also views Daniel coming into his life the moment everything really went bad for him and never stopped.
When Johnny was a kid, he was nice and caring, but was often bullied and ridiculed by his stepfather Sid. In the ninth episode of the first season, Johnny tells Daniel about Sid's bullying. It is possible that Sid's nasty upbringing, combined with Kreese's aggressive teachings had a bad mentoring effect and taught him to be a bully towards others.
During the All-Valley tournament, when Robby is harmed by an illegal move from Eli, Johnny rushes on to the mat to see if Robby is badly hurt. While considered odd for a rival sensei to do this, it was likely chalked up to Johnny showing concern for all contestants and reprimanding his own for fighting dirty. During the finals, he demands Miguel fight clean, saying Miguel can win without focusing on Robby's tender shoulder. Miguel disobeys Johnny, vigorously grabbing Robby by the right arm when Robby asked to be propped up. This angers Daniel, who thinks Johnny ordered Miguel to do this, although Robby seems to believe that Johnny did not order it, accepting Johnny's apology. Following the Cobra Kai winning the All Valley tournament, Johnny begins to feel guilty that his karate lessons have turned Miguel into a vicious and dirty fighter.
Johnny attempts to become a better and more honorable person. This includes Johnny scolding Miguel and Hawk for their cheap moves in the tournament, announcing to his students that cheating won't be tolerated, advising Miguel not to be merciless like him, and granting his former sensei Kreese a second chance (as he believes Kreese has changed). This is greatly due to Johnny, who unlike Daniel, wants to give others a second chance and because in the long run Kreese ultimately was the closest thing he ever had to a father and the only other person, besides his mother, who believed in him.
Johnny shows that he still cares about Miguel by advising the latter to me merciful and a better man than he (Johnny) ever was, and telling him that what he appreciates the most, is training him. He even develops a crush on Miguel's mom Carmen, but is sad to learn she already has a boyfriend. However, when Johnny learns the boyfriend only plans to use her for casual sex, Johnny attacks the fornicator and warns him to stay away from Carmen. Johnny tries taking Carmen's advice in trying to end the rivalry with Daniel as no matter who is right, no good comes from a rivalry for either side.
Besides his temper and ignorance of the changing times, One critical weakness Johnny seems to have is his unspoken desire for love and companionship. In years since his mother's death, the rest of the world continued to view him as a degenerate, thug and lost cause. Hence his run in with Daniel and Robbie in the hardware store was what compelled him to give Kreese a second chance. Unfortunately, this has been used against him more than once. This also compels him to make unwise decisions, as when Robby brought the hungover Samantha over. Robbie implored his father not to tell Daniel. Johnny is glad to have his son reach out to him and invites Samantha to spend the night to sleep off her drunkenness. However, he says both of them must do right by Samantha, which means Johnny will have to tell the LaRusso's their daughter is with him.
After Kreese returns, Johnny wants nothing to do with his former sensei, but after the latter fixes his second-place trophy and apologizes for the way he treated him, Johnny, believing Kreese has changed, allows him to co-teach with him at the dojo. However, under his nose, Kreese poisons several of Johnny's students' minds and renders them more ruthless. When Johnny finds out, he promptly kicks Kreese out.
Johnny still cares about Robby, even though the latter is still angry with him. He even tells Miguel how badly he screwed up with Robby. However, when Robby's girlfriend Sam gets drunk at a party, Robby takes him to Johnny house where they spend the night. The following morning Johnny takes him to school. They seem to be on good terms.
Unfortunately, everything ultimately comes crashing down for him during a school fight, when Miguel gets the better of Robby, but lets him go (as per Johnny's earlier advise) and even apologizes to him, only for Robby to kick him over the railing, severely injuring Miguel, which breaks Johnny's heart and causes Carmen to break up with him as a result. Moreover, Kreese takes over the dojo and kicks Johnny out, and several of Johnny's students have joined Kreese and accused Johnny of being responsible for Miguel's injury. Johnny now feels like a complete failure, and apparently disappears after abandoning his car and phone.
Johnny is an extremely skilled and aggressive fighter, with his mentor John Kreese even claiming that Johnny is the best student in the history of the original Cobra Kai Dojo. During his younger days, Johnny would often strike first, coming at his opponents with vicious combos. During his fight with Daniel in the All Valley tournament, the latter had the upper-hand until Johnny fought more aggressively and dirty, which allowed him to come back and almost win.
By adulthood, Johnny's skills improved even further, to the point that he could take on multiple opponents with relative ease, and with Johnny even managing to overpower Kreese (albeit with difficulty) until he showed Kreese mercy, and was subsequently defeated by Kreese exploiting this opportunity. As an adult, Johnny remained an aggressive fighter, though more tactical. His main strength is offense (as Johnny tells his students that more offense is the optimal defense), but Johnny does show solid defense as well, evidenced by his fights with Daniel, Kyler and the latter's gang, as well as Kreese. Thanks to Johnny's tutelage, Miguel Diaz, Eli Moskowitz, Tory Nichols and Devon Lee would become skilled martial artist in their own right.
Under Daniel's instruction, Johnny learn Miyagi-Do karate which strengthened his defense even further. During his fight with Terry Silver, Johnny was able to block most his attacks and hold his own against the senior sensei. However since Johnny is fairly new at Miyagi-Do defense, he ended up losing due to Silver's experience, greater knowledge in Cobra Kai Karate and willingness to fight dirty.
Johnny is incredibly strong. He can smash bricks, as seen during a presentation, and break a bonsai tree pot with a kick. Daniel and Graham have also noted Johnny for his strong grip. He also easily pulled out a man's earring during a bar fight.
Daniel and Johnny have a long and complicated history that began in 1984 during their respective time at West Valley High School. Johnny initiated their rivalry when he saw Daniel flirting with Ali Mills. He began bullying Daniel from that time on, leading to multiple physical encounters that left Daniel injured. They found themselves on opposite sides of the karate world, with Johnny being mentored by the merciless John Kreese and Daniel being mentored by the wise Mr. Miyagi. Johnny viewed Daniel as a "little creep" trying to "steal his girl". Daniel viewed Johnny as a possessive boyfriend and rich kid who always got he wanted. They decided to settle their ongoing rivalry at the All Valley Karate Tournament. The match was intense with Johnny following Kreese's no mercy rules and breaking Daniel's arm. Daniel retaliated by using the crane kick to strike Johnny in the face and win the tournament. After losing to Daniel, Johnny personally gave him the trophy, telling Daniel he was alright. But things took a nasty turn afterward, with Kreese assaulting Johnny for losing. Mr. Miyagi ultimately saved Johnny from the deathly choke that Kreese had him in. While Daniel walked away a champion with new confidence, Johnny had lost the only girl he truly loved, felt disillusioned now that his father figure, Kreese's, true nature was revealed.
Johnny's dislike of Daniel continued as he viewed the moment Daniel came into his life as the moment thing started going bad for him. This was heightened in 2017 when Daniel rose to success as an auto salesman, while Johnny's fall from the riches left him in a dilapidated apartment. They were forced together once more when Daniel's teen daughter, Samantha LaRusso, was involved in a hit-and-run with Johnny's classic car. His car was towed to the LaRusso Auto Group. Daniel is kind to him, while Johnny isn't happy to see him, though the pair remained civil. However, their rivalry is reignited when Johnny reopens Cobra Kai. Johnny was in a fight with a group of punk students who were harassing a homeless person, one of which is Kyler, Samantha's than-boyfriend. Kyler lied to Daniel that he was jumped by Johnny for no reason, sparking Daniel to confront Johnny. Johnny defaces one of Daniel's LaRusso Auto billboards in retaliation, pushing Daniel to do everything he can to shut down Cobra Kai, an act that infuriates Johnny.
Despite their rivalry, they do briefly bond when they find themselves in Daniel's old apartment complex while Johnny is test driving a new car with Daniel. However, they go back to being rivals when Johnny sees his son Robby in Daniel's house, but is unaware that Daniel is unaware that Robby is his son. After Cobra Kai win the All Valley, Daniel, who was unhappy that Johnny's student Miguel won by fighting dirty against Robby, begrudgingly congratulates Johnny. Daniel still wants Cobra Kai out, especially after he sees Johnny and Kreese together. After Miyagi Do is destroyed by some Cobra Kai students under Kreese's order without Johnny's knowledge, Daniel aggressively confronts and blames Johnny, who says he doesn't know what he is talking about. Despite their rivalry, they do have some moments of burgeoning friendship. When Johnny and Carmen are out on a date, Daniel and Amanda sit with them due to their being no tables left, much to Johnny and Daniel's chagrin. Initially they brag about each others dojo and get under each other's skin. However they begin to bond after Johnny says he kicked Kreese out of the dojo and that he wants Cobra Kai to be better. They end the night on good terms.
The following morning however, Daniel arrives at Johnny's house to find Sam, but is rude to Johnny when the latter tells him to calm down, causing the latter to slam the door on him, which Daniel to kick the door open, ultimately cultivating in the two having a brief fight which is broken up by Sam and Robby. After the school brawl, both men realize the impact of their rivalry. Ali helps Johnny and Daniel see that they are more alike than they would like to admit and the two finally reconcile. 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. However, it becomes strained once more due to their different styles of teachings, as well as when the Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang students refuse to jump off the roof except for Sam. Because of this, Johnny and Daniel face off each other once more to determine who gets to become the lead sensei, only for the match to end in a draw. This results Johnny and Daniel's joint Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do dojo going separate ways. However, Daniel and Johnny reconcile to help Sam in her fight against Tory.
Probably the man most responsible for Johnny's life turning out the way it did, yet sadly, the closest thing Johnny ever had to an actual father. But now fully his arch enemy. After joining Cobra Kai, Johnny quickly becomes Kreese's top student. The two would develop a bond, mostly on Johnny's end, as he looked up to Kreese. He followed Kreese's strike first and no mercy. It is likely that Kreese's ruthless antics he instilled in Johnny, was a factor in Johnny becoming a ruthless bully. However, after being instructed to sweep Daniel's leg in the finals of the all valley tournament, Johnny expresses discomfort, while realizing Kreese has gone too far, but reluctantly proceeds. Johnny however loses to Daniel. After the loss, Johnny appears content with second place, but Kreese berates him, calls him a loser, and proceeds to choke him. Johnny however, is saved by Miyagi. Now, realizing how horrible of a human being Kreese is, Johnny and his friends leave the dojo.
Despite leaving Cobra Kai and Kreese, Johnny would be traumatized over Kreese's actions for the next three decades. Thirty four years after the tournament, Johnny reopens Cobra Kai, and begins teaching his students in a similar way Kreese taught him but rather they stand up to bullies than becoming bullies themselves. Johnny is under the impression that Kreese is dead, however, following Cobra Kai's victory in the 2017 All Valley Tournament, Kreese arrives at the dojo, wanting to become partners. Initially, Johnny wants nothing to do with Kreese. However, when Kreese fixes his 1984 second-place trophy and apologizes for his behavior, and recently discouraged by a run in with Daniel and Robby, a longing Johnny forgives Kreese and allows him to co-teach at the dojo in his belief of giving others a chance to change. Kreese eventually shows his true colors is still a corrupt human being, as he is poisoning his students into being more vicious and ruthless. When Johnny finds out, he kicks him out of the dojo. However, Kreese reveals to Johnny that he struck a deal with the landlord to give him the dojo, making him the owner of Cobra Kai again. A handful of Johnny's students have left Johnny and joined Kreese. Realizing he made a mistake giving Kreese a second chance, Johnny angrily leaves the dojo, but not before telling Kreese that if he wants Cobra Kai; it's his.
Johnny creates Eagle Fang Karate to fight against Kreese and Cobra Kai with Miguel and several of his other students joining him. At the end of the season, Johnny fights Kreese and get the better of him, but after tending to Robby, whom he unintentionally knocked unconscious, Kreese uses this opportunity to try to murder Johnny. However, Daniel saves Johnny who states that Cobra Kai needs to end for good. With Kreese proposing to settle the matter at the tournament, the reconciled Johnny and Daniel begin training students together to take Kreese down for good.
Despite Kreese wanting to take down Johnny at the All Valley, he still cared for him when he decided to not attack him when Johnny was lured to the old dojo by Terry Silver.
High school friends
They are Johnny's friends. Johnny met them likely when he joined Cobra Kai as a student. The five would always hang out together. Among the four, he was closest to Dutch, who was his right-hand man. When Daniel comes into the picture, Johnny and his friends would bully and harass him. After discovering that their sensei Kreese is truly a horrible human being, they leave the dojo. Johnny has cited events that took place in Mexico and Reno, Nevada with his friends that took place over the years, that usually involved drinking, women, and debauchery.
One day in 2017, Johnny receives a phone call from one of his friends. He then goes to the hospital, where he meets Bobby, Jimmy and Tommy, with the latter being placed on hospice care. Dutch is the only one not present as he is in prison, but is mentioned and given a toast by the others. Johnny, Jimmy and Bobby take Tommy out of the hospital for the day, and the four hangout. Later that night, Tommy and Johnny have a conversation, where Tommy suggests to Johnny that he should use his good health and time to find another women or make ends with Ali. The following day, it is revealed that Tommy peacefully passed away in his sleep, leaving the remaining trio to grieve the loss of their dear friend. Johnny remains close to Bobby Brown after the event, but drifts from the others as they return to their lives.
Ultimately the love of Johnny's life, yet forever the one who got away. Johnny had met Ali at a showing of Rocky 3 in 1982 and had fallen for her hard. After asking her a couple of times, Ali finally gave him a chance. Johnny and Ali dating regularly. Johnny genuinely loved her and saw her as a sign that he had proven Sid wrong. Through the confidence and skill he gained from Cobra Kai and the love of a wonderful girl, Johnny had felt he proven himself a winner. But sadly it was destined to come crashing down. Ali started to be put off by his arrogance, but the final straw was when Johnny drank with his gang the day of her birthday and showed up drunk. This caused Ali to realize Johnny's good points didn't outweigh his bad and that he was simply a degenerate and a lost cause.
Ali dumped Johnny, but he was determined to win her back. Then last day of summer before school started, Daniel LaRusso came to town. Daniel met Ali at the beach and started talking. But that was when Johnny showed trying to talk things out with Ali, but she simply refused to give him a second chance. When Daniel stepped in, an infuriated Johnny mercilessly beat him up. In the months following. Johnny grew increasingly jealous at Daniel and Ali's growing relationship. He tried several times to rekindle their old love, But Ali turned him down every time. After losing the 84 tournament, it's unknown how the rest of senior year went for Johnny, though it's clear he did learn Daniel and Ali had broken up but had moved on to yet another boy. This was where Johnny realized that Daniel or not, Ali was simply gone. In the end, giving Johnny a second chance was something Ali just couldn't do. Losing Ali forever greatly affected Johnny. Even though Johnny dated several other women over the years he never truly got over her and this was a major reason why no other relationship lasted.
Thirty years later, found Ali on Facebook and decided to write a message to her. However, he was hesitant to press send , as he felt he was being desperate, but a women accidently bumped into him, causing him to accidently hit send. After Kreese takes back Cobra Kai in the season 2 finale, Johnny Johnny goes to the beach where he angrily throws his phone into the sand. Unbeknownst to him, Ali, whom he sent a Facebook message to, has sent him a friend request. Johnny is reunited with Ali who helps him and Daniel to finally reconcile. Ali teases Johnny about his new relationship with Carmen and states that a woman who can make Johnny Lawrence speechless is a relationship he'd better figure out quick. Johnny admits his fears of screwing up with Carmen and Ali reminds him that he hadn't messed things up that day. The two admit to enjoying revisiting their past with each other and recognize that they can't live in the past but the future and whatever that might bring. Johnny and Ali wish each other the best and Ali assures Johnny that he will be happy and that she has faith in him. Johnny and Ali admit that they both needed the closure and promise to always be there for each other. Having finally gotten closure with Ali, Johnny departs to find his future with Carmen.
Sid is Johnny's abusive stepfather. He treated Johnny poorly, insulting and berating him constantly and refused to acknowledge him as his own son. It is possible that Sid's treatment led to Johnny becoming a vicious bully. Johnny hated Sid intensely. Following the death of Johnny's mother Laura, Johnny and Sid continued to detest each other. Sid apparently bailed Johnny out of jail at least once. When Johnny was arrested for beating up Kyler and his gang, Sid bailed him out of jail. After bailing him out, he gave Johnny a check to buy him out of his life, as he felt Johnny was no longer worth it, but Johnny ripped the check, as he did not want his money. However, Johnny would later take the check and use it to re-open the Cobra Kai Dojo.
After Cobra Kai becomes a success, Johnny goes to Sid's house and returns all the money he used to buy the dojo, and tells Sid he never wants to see him again. When Sid arrogantly says he still needs him because of his money, he tells Sid he never needed his money. He then says goodbye and leaves, leaving Sid speechless and confused. When Daniel learned of Sid he began to see there was more going on with Johnny than just Kreese. Johnny approached Sid one last time to ask for funds to help Miguel Diaz's spinal surgery, though Sid's crude response sparked Johnny to cut the man out of his life for good. He also stole an artifact from the house that he would later pawn to pay for Miguel's surgery.
- "I failed my kid... on his very first day in this world... and I've been failing him every day since."
"Sensei, this is personal stuff. You don't have to tell me."
"No, I... I should've told you a long time ago. It... it's one of the most painful things in my life. But one of the best things... has been teaching you. And I want you to know, no matter what happens, I promise... I'll always be on your side... and I'll always have your best interests at heart."
- ―Johnny Lawrence and Miguel Diaz[src]
Miguel is Johnny's top student at Cobra Kai, and like a son. When Miguel first moves in, Johnny is rude to him. However after beating up Kyler and his gang for harassing Miguel, Miguel requests him to teach karate, which Johnny refuses at first, but soon has a change of heart. Johnny trains him in the newly reopened Cobra Kai dojo. When Miguel is beaten up by Kyler and his gang, Miguel's mom Carmen forbids Johnny from training him. However, Johnny then realizes that Miguel is the one person that still believes in him, he then pleads Carmen to have a second chance with Miguel, which she accepts. With Johnny's training, Miguel becomes a strong and skilled fighter, which allows him to overcome and defeat Kyler and his gang, resulting in several students joining Cobra Kai. Overtime Johnny bonds with Miguel and kind of sees him as a son. In the All Valley tournament during the season 1 finale of Cobra Kai, he expresses discomfort when Miguel is fighting dirty against his son Robby. However, when Johnny tells Miguel not to fight dirty, Miguel continues o do so anyway, and defeats Robby to win the title for Cobra Kai. Despite the victory, Johnny feels guilty for turning Miguel into a dirty fighter.
In season 2, Johnny reprimands and punishes Miguel and Hawk for their dirty tactics in the all valley. Miguel then confronts Johnny in his office, to which Johnny says he paid the price for not knowing the difference between honor and mercy, and that he (Miguel) should not make the same error. Johnny continues to bond with Miguel, with Johnny saying what he likes the most is training him. However, Johnny advice backfires, as in the season 2 finale, Miguel gets the better of Robby, but shows mercy after remembering Johnny's advice, only for Robby to kick Miguel off the railing, resulting in Miguel being rendered unconscious, as well as having a severely injured neck. At the hospital, Johnny listens to a voicemail Miguel left earlier and peaks in Miguel's room, who is lying unconscious, causing him to cry and feel guilty.
In Season 3, Johnny is shown with Miguel in the hospital before and after he wakes up, giving him encouragement in the hospital, and training with him after he is released from the hospital. He also tells Miguel that he will always be there for him.
Miguel is one of the few people Johnny will take advice from. Miguel often helps Johnny navigate the modern world, aiding him with everything from technology to his relationships with others. In time Johnny comes to see Miguel as a surrogate son, someone he can do right by after a lifetime of failing Robby. In many ways their relationship mirrors that of Daniel and Mr. Miyagi.
Carmen is Johnny's neighbor and love interest. She initially disapproved of Johnny teaching Miguel karate, which is amplified when Miguel is beaten up by his fellow students. She forbids Johnny from teaching him, but has a change of heart when Johnny promises not to fail Miguel again. As they continue to spend time together and bond over their mutual caring for Miguel, they develop feelings for each other. Carmen advised Johnny to be a bigger man when it came to his rivalry with Daniel. After learning that Carmen's date is using her, Johnny used his martial arts experience to ensure that the man never went near Carmen again. Johnny and Carmen later went on a date. After Miguel's accident, Carmen pushed Johnny away and banned him from seeing Miguel ever again. When Miguel expressed a desire for Johnny to help him learn to walk again, Carmen reluctantly agreed. Her disdain for Johnny turned to love once more when Miguel fully recovered from his spinal injury due to Johnny's help. The pair began to date without labeling their relationship. They had sex and Johnny looked forward to his future with her, until he was side-tracked by John Kreese's coordinated attack on the students of Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang karate.
Robby is Johnny's son and the one he failed the most. It's quite clear Johnny never really planned on being a father as the news of Shannon's pregnancy was a shock to him. Johnny neglected him throughout his childhood, making the latter resent him. But this was due to the depression of his own mother dying and because Johnny never had a true father himself, he didn't know how to be one, and with how much his own life had gone downhill Johnny believed Robby was simply better off without him. While Johnny expressed some desire to make amends in season 1 of Cobra Kai, Robby does not believe him, and still treats him poorly both on his failings as a father and man in general. However, following the All-Valley Tournament, Johnny apologizes to Robby, which he accepts.
The two don't interact much in season 2. Robby still has trouble forgiving him. Later in the season, he shows up at Johnny's apartment, with a drunk Sam. Johnny lets them spend the night. The following morning however, Daniel arrives, takes Sam back and angrily tells Robby that he lost his trust. That same morning, Johnny takes Robby to school, which he appreciates.
In Season 3, Robby still holds resentment over Johnny. When he attempts to talk things through, he grabs Robby's arm causing him to push his father away and spill the soup he's attempting to serve, embarrassing him. He even tells him to leave after Johnny and Daniel fight Kreese.
In Season 4, Robby confronts Johnny about his students bullying Kenny but Johnny warns him about Cobra Kai and how he's getting brainwashed. Later, the two reconcile after Robby admits how his time in Cobra Kai made everything bad despite helping them win the All Valley. As a result, Johnny reunites with Robby, reconciling in the process despite the bet that the losing dojo will shut down.
- Laura Lawrence † (Mother)
- Mr. Miyagi † (Childhood Enemy)
- Shannon Keene (Mother of his child/Former enemies)
- Louie LaRusso, Jr. (Enemy)
- Tory Nichols (Enemy/former student)
- Judy (Former Employer/Enemy)
- Anoush Norouzi (Enemy)
- Rosa (Friends)
- In the original Karate Kid, Johnny was seen as the primary antagonist, until it was revealed that he was manipulated by John Kreese.
- He owned a 1991 Pontiac Firebird until it was destroyed by Louie LaRusso and some bikers he had hired. Daniel would replace it with a 2009 Dodge Charger, which Johnny would mod out into a Cobra Kai themed sports car. Johnny would later abandon this vehicle at the beach. He had previously driven a 1983 Avanti Convertible as well as riding a Honda XL 600R motorcycle when he was in high school.
- In 2020, Johnny was inducted into the Fictitious Athlete Hall of Fame, alongside Daniel LaRusso, who was inducted in 2018, and Mr Miyagi, who was inducted in 2015.
- He is a fan of Poison and Guns N' Roses.
- Johnny is not technologically knowledgeable, and was unaware of the internet until much later in life. He did not own his first computer until 2018. He still prefers VHS tapes over DVDs, and cassette tape players over CD mediums.
- Johnny is one of the more problematic characters in the franchise, due to his dismissing of Miguel Diaz and other characters medical conditions, as well as, blatantly sexist remarks.
- He once demanded Miguel and the rest of his dojo "man up", accepting no excuses, as seen by his "curing" Miguel of his asthma by saying that will not be a handicap in his class and discarding his inhaler.
- He also is dismissive of Eli saying that he might be on the autism spectrum, saying that he doesn't know what that is but he should "get off it pronto".
- His favorite film is Iron Eagle.
- The movie was meant to be a cash in of Top Gun, another fighter jet movie released in the same year as Iron Eagle, but starred Tom Cruise. Johnny dislikes Top Gun, as he believes Maverick not earning the trophy and Goose's death, were ridiculous. Ironically, Top Gun is Carmen Diaz's favorite film.
- Johnny was unaware that he had to deal with regulations in running the dojo, showing his lack of education in business.
- According to Johnny, Tommy beat Darryl Vidal in the quarterfinals of the 1983 All Valley Tournament, to which Johnny remarked he had to face Vidal in the semifinals of the 1984 tournament.
- Johnny Lawrence's main catchphrase is "QUIET!" whenever he gives his students no more questions or motivating them. His quote is also said by John Kreese and also Daniel LaRusso, who says it when he breaks Anthony's Ipad and threatens him to follow his rules or face a worse punishment.
- Johnny won his championship in 1983 by defeating Tommy in the All-Valley Karate Tournament.
- He is one of the only characters who has been both an antagonist and a protagonist.
- In his message to Ali in "King Cobra"