- "I'm gonna have to face him sooner or later. Might as well be today."
- ―Robby Keene[src]
Robert Swayze "Robby" Keene is one of the main characters in the YouTube web series Cobra Kai. He is a minor antagonist-turned-protagonist in season 1 and one of the main protagonists of season 2. He is the son of Johnny Lawrence and Shannon Keene. He becomes the first discipline of the new generation of Miyagi-Do Karate, and one of the best students alongside Samantha LaRusso.
Pre Cobra Kai
Robby was born to Johnny Lawrence and Shannon Keene on February 4, 2002. Johnny was not present when Robby was born. Robby was raised by Shannon for most of his childhood as Johnny repeatedly neglected him which eventually caused Robby to resent him. At some point Shannon began spending more time at bars and with men than with Robby, while Robby became a troublemaker and even a rebellious kid.
Robby is Johnny's estranged son from a failed relationship with Shannon Keene. Johnny is absent for much of Robby's childhood which causes a strained relationship between the two. With his mother frequently behind bars and his father absent since his birth, Robby has no role models in his life. Robby falls in with drugs, stealing, and dropping out of school. After his father, who had a change of heart, hears about this, he comes to Robby's aid and tries to convince him that he loved him and wanted him to have a good life. Robby did not believe his father and refuses to go back to school.
But after discovering that Johnny has changed his ways and seemingly wants to start a closer relationship with him, Robby visits the Cobra Kai dojo to talk to his father, only to see him hugging his student Miguel Diaz. Convinced that Johnny likes his student more than his own son, Robby plots his revenge by getting a job at Daniel's car dealership. However, Robby thrives in the job and develops a friendship with Daniel. Throughout the second half of the first season, Daniel teaches Robby karate the same way Mr. Miyagi taught him, and in the process becomes the father figure and mentor that Robby never had and the two become very close. Robby also stops his bad behavior and begins to change his ways, too.
But after discovering that Robby lied to Daniel about his relationship with his father Johnny Lawrence, Daniel bans him from his house and auto dealership. Robby enters the All Valley Karate Tournament alone and faces off against Hawk in the semi-finals. He loses the first point to Hawk, but wins the second point by using the lessons Daniel taught him. Hawk begins to taunt Robby and in response Robby mocks Hawk's Mohawk. Angered, Hawk kicks Robby while his back is turned and dislocates Robby's left shoulder, which results in Hawk's disqualification and Robby's advancement into the finals. At the urging of his wife, Amanda, Daniel forgives Robby and becomes his coach in the All-Valley Tournament. Miguel, who had hated Robby after a misunderstanding involving his girlfriend, viciously attacks Robby's injured shoulder. Robby puts up a tough fight and scores 2 points against Miguel despite his injury. While trying to help Miguel up, Miguel yanks Robby's arm and further injures his shoulder. With the next point deciding the winner, he ultimately loses to Miguel. Following the tournament Johnny apologizes to his son, and Robby replies, "It's okay, dad.", implying that he does still love his father despite their misunderstandings. Daniel is impressed that Robby maintained dignity, focus, and fair play during the match, as well as performing a two-legged kick that not even he was able to master. In the end, Daniel re-opens Miyagi-Do Karate and takes Robby in as his first student.
Robby begins training with Daniel. While training with Daniel, Robby's arm heals and he is able to take off his cast. While shopping with Daniel they run into Johnny. When Daniel goes to pay Johnny tries to talk to him, but Robby is still mad at him and he tells Johnny he is having a hard time forgiving him. When Johnny accuses him of trying to torture him by training with Daniel whom he refers to as a prick, Robby defends Daniel and says he is a better man than he (Johnny) will ever be.
Sam soon joins the dojo and starts training with Robby. Robby's home-life isn't great as Shannon soon takes off with some guy, leaving Robby home alone with no food or electricity as bills go unpaid. When Robby mentions to Sam about his mom leaving and Sam tells Daniel, who has Robby come stay with him, Sam and Amanda.
Robby along with Sam and Daniel have trouble getting students to join the dojo at first mainly due to Cobra Kai out-promoting them. However, after sometime their luck changes when a bullied victim named Demetri requests to join and they gladly accept. At the mall Demetri is cornered by Hawk and other Cobra Kai members, but Robby and Sam come to his rescue and beat up the bullies. Robby's, Sam's, and Daniel's luck further improves when a handful of Cobra Kai students leave because of the vicious teachings and join Miyagi Do, though Robby and Sam are at first unhappy that the students joining are the ones that tried to beat up Demetri in the mall.
Robby and Sam develop feelings for each other. While Robby initially thinks it is a bad idea for them to date, the two soon realize thy cannot hold their feelings back and start dating. When someone knocks on Sam's door Robby opens it and sees Miguel. He asks him why he is here, and Miguel says he came to give back Miyagi's Medal of Honor which Hawk stole when he trashed the dojo earlier. Not wanting Sam to know Miguel gave it back because he does not want her to rekindle with him, Robby hides it in his pocket and later puts it outside so someone could find it which Demetri does the next day.
Eventually Robby and Sam agree to tell her parents about their relationships, but put that on hold when they see Shannon in the house. Shannon apologizes to Robby for leaving him, and tells him she is going to rehab so she can get better.
Robby and Sam go to Moon's house for a party the night before the first day of school. During the party Sam gets drunk, and unbeknownst to him Aisha tells Sam that Miguel returned the Medal of Honor and a drunken Sam and Miguel share a kiss. After the cops arrive, Robby tells Sam he will take her home but Sam tells him not to because she does not want her parents to see her drunk. He then takes her to Johnny's house and the two spend the night with him.
The following morning Robby tells Johnny that he will tell Daniel that it is his fault he and Sam did not come home, but after Daniel comes into Johnny's house he tells Robby he has lost his trust and forces Sam to leave. Johnny takes Robby to school which he appreciates. Before class he tells Sam that Miguel gave him the Medal of Honor. Sam, who already knew, asks why he did not tell her before, to which Robby replies he was scared their relationship would be put at risk if he did. They kiss and then go to class.
When Cobra Kai student Tory reveals that Sam and Miguel kissed at Moon's party, Robby has a shocked look on his face. Tory then attacks Sam, causing Robby to push Tory against a wall and try to stop the fight. However Miguel arrives and, unaware of Robby's true intention, tackles Robby which causes the two to fight and a huge brawl between the Cobra Kai and Miyagi Do students. Robby and Miguel have a long fight. At times Robby has the upper hand and at times Miguel has the upper hand. When Miguel tells Robby that Sam loves him more than Robby, an enraged Robby aggressively attacks Miguel and gains the upper-hand, but this is short-lived as Miguel recovers, and flips Robby over and traps him in an arm lock. Miguel decides to let him go after remembering Johnny's advice to show mercy and even apologizes to him. However, an enraged Robby attacks Miguel and kicks him off a railing, severely injuring him. Robby is shocked at what he just did. When Samantha screams "Robby what did you do?" Robby runs off.
While at the hospital, Daniel expresses shock over what Robby did to Miguel. At the Cobra Kai Dojo, Hawk angrily tells Johnny that his lesson to Miguel about showing mercy which Miguel followed by showing mercy to Robby, led to Robby severely injuring Miguel. It is currently unknown where Robby is; it's most likely he has either gone into hiding or he has been arrested for his role in Miguel's hospitalization.
With Daniel's training Robby develops into a smart, well-rounded fighter. When he is able to maintain focus his style revolves around a solid defense and counter-striking which is evinced in the semifinals and finals of the All Valley tournament, but when his emotions get the better of him he can become almost blindly aggressive. His techniques mix solid basics with the occasional high risk spinning or aerial move. According to Daniel Robby is naturally talented, and this seems justified as he is able to master Mr. Miyagi's double-leg handstand kick after merely hearing a description of it. Despite having an injured shoulder he is able to put up a tough fight in his final match with Miguel.
In season 2 Robby improves his fighting style and skills with Daniel's training. By becoming a better and more skilled fighter he is able to fend off several Cobra Kai students and put up a fight against Miguel during a school brawl. However, his emotions still gets the better of him at times, resulting him fighting more aggressively and blindly, which is evidenced during the school brawl where he aggressively attacks Miguel when the latter say that Sam loves him over Robby, and after Miguel lets Robby go. However, the latter attack results in him kicking Miguel off the railing, severely injuring him and rendering him unconscious as a result.
Despite being a highly skilled fighter, he doesn't have it easy when fighting opponents who are just as strong and skilled as him. Sam is able to counter him while they practice during training, although they later appear to be evenly matched. After putting up a good fight against Miguel in the school brawl, the latter manages to eventually flip him and put his arm on lock. When Miguel lets go and apologizes however, Robby beats Miguel by attacking him, similar to how Miguel pulled Robby's shoulder when he tried to help him up at the tournament.
Despite his injured shoulder putting him at a disadvantage and causing him to lose to Miguel in the All Valley Tournament at the end of season 1, he came close to beating him, showing that Robby was the better and more skilled fighter. In season 2, despite beating Miguel by kicking him off the railing, he could only do so when Miguel, who had pinned him to the ground, showed mercy by letting him go, showing that Robby was the inferior and less skilled fighter at that time.
Initially Robby is shown to be a troublemaker that skips school, disrespects his father Johnny and hangs out with crooks and troublemakers Kev and Trey, watching adult videos on the computer.
He has a strained relationship with his father Johnny due to the latter neglecting him for much of his life. As a result of Johnny's neglect, Robby has grown to disrespect and resent him. However, after learning from his mother Shannon Keene that Johnny wanted Robby to come live with him and seemingly wants to start a closer relationship with him, Robby visits the Cobra Kai Dojo to talk to his father, only to see him hugging Miguel Diaz. Convinced that Johnny likes his student more than his own son, Robby plots his revenge by getting a job at Daniel LaRussos's (Johnny's biggest rival) car dealership. However, after Robby loses in the finals of the All Valley Karate Tournament, Johnny apologizes to him, which Robby accepts, implying he does care for Johnny somewhat.
Despite his strained relationship with Johnny, he loves and cares about his mother Shannon most likely because she raised him. However, he becomes upset when she prefers to be with men instead of spending time with him.
At first he joins Daniel's car dealership in order to get revenge on Johnny but when he thrives in his job he begins to enjoy his work, develop a friendship with Daniel, and even changes his ways. He soon begins learning karate from Daniel which he ends up enjoying. He forms a friendship with Daniel's daughter, Samantha LaRusso, later in the season, but when he shows up with her to a party her boyfriend Miguel thinking she is hooking up with Robby attacks him, thus starting their rivalry.
After scoring a point on Miguel at the All-Valley Tournament, Robby is merciful and tries to help Miguel up, but Miguel instead yanks Robby's injured shoulder. Despite losing to Miguel in the All-Valley Tournament, Daniel commends him for fighting with honor, which Robby appreciates.
Robby and Sam start training with Daniel. After his mom Shannon takes off with some guy, Robby stays at Daniel's house. Overtime both he and Sam develop feelings for each other. While Robby initially does not think it is a good idea for them to start dating, both he and Sam eventually realize they cannot hold back their feelings and start dating, though they don't tell Daniel and Amanda yet.
When Demetri is attacked by Hawk and other Cobra Kai members, Robby and Sam come to his rescue, showing he will stand up for his own friends.
Both he and Daniel have a good relationship. Robby defends Daniel when Johnny insults him. He even appreciates Daniel for allowing him to stay at his house. However, after Daniel finds out that Robby and Sam are at Johnny's house, he comes to Johnny's house, where he forces Sam to leave and tells Robby he has lost his trust, which makes Robby sad. Robby however still respects Daniel as he tells Johnny that Daniel was good to him, and they could learn something from each other.
Despite forgiving Johnny following the tournament he is still bitter, and at first he is happy that Miyagi-Do Karate will upset Johnny. When they first talk in the store Johnny calls Daniel a prick, but Robby defends Daniel and says he is a better man than he (Johnny) will ever be. However, after Sam gets drunk in party and tells Robby not to take her home because she does not want her parents to know she drank, he takes her to Johnny's house, showing that he still has some trust in Johnny. The next day Johnny drives Robby to school which he appreciates. Robby and Johnny seem to be on good terms.
While trying to save Sam from Tory and attempting to reason with the latter, Miguel ends up attacking him which leads to the school brawl. During the brawl Robby is pinned by Miguel, who then shows him mercy. However, an enraged Robby attacks Miguel and kicks him off a railing, resulting in the latter breaking his back. Now realizing what he has done, a horrified Robby runs away. It is likely Robby feels bad about what happened, showing he did not mean for Miguel to get this badly hurt.
- Robby Keene is comparable to the following characters:
- Daniel LaRusso - both gained their female friend (Ali Mills and Samantha LaRusso respectively) and have rivals who were ex-boyfriends to the female leads after their breakup (Johnny Lawrence and Miguel Diaz respectively). Both are attacked illegally/unethically in the semifinals and finals of the All Valley tournament. Both are being taught by their father-figured senseis (Miyagi and LaRusso) about the balanced way of Karate and the real life lessons (such as the "Wax on, wax off"). Both are hotheads who nearly kill someone at the end of their season/film: in Daniel's case it was in The Karate Kid II, by unintentionally causing John Kreese to nearly murder Johnny Lawrence after he lost to Daniel in the 1984 All Valley Tournament, and in Robby's case it was kicking Miguel Diaz when he showed mercy and causing him to fall down a balcony before critically injuring his spine on a handrail.
- Johnny Lawrence - both are defeated in the finals of Under 18 All Valley Karate Tournament but they eventually accepted defeat by showing respect to their winning opponents. In the beginning, he was like his father, but after spending time with Daniel and seeing Miguel being corrupted by Cobra Kai, that is why he left and joined Miyagi-Do. In the end of the episode of No Mercy in season 2, Robby proved himself to be no better than Johnny was and kicked Miguel off the railing, causing Miguel to be critically injured.
- Hawk attacking Robby after the completion of the point during the semifinals of the All Valley tournament mirrors Bobby Brown illegally kicking Daniel's leg in the semifinals of the All valley tournament in 1984.
- Robby's arm being attacked and yanked by Miguel in the finals of the All Valley tournament is similar to Daniel's leg being injured by Johnny in the original movie.
- The two experience a role reversal in season 2 when Miguel who gets the better of Robby shows mercy, only for Robby in turn to attack him and severely injure him.
- While Robby wasn't important in the first half of season 1, the second half of season 1 and the entirety of season 2 sees him as one of the most important character as his story becomes one of the central plots of the series.
- He reveals in Season 2 during his date with Samantha that his middle name is Swayze, named due to his mother's love of the late actor Patrick Swayze.
- Robby and Miguel have fought each other twice, and both have won once through unethical tactics:
- Miguel won by attacking Robby's injured shoulder, which includes him yanking it when the latter attempts to help up him by offering his hand.
- Robby won by attacking Miguel and kicking him off the railing after the latter released Robby from a hold and apologized for their skirmish.