- "So have patience, my friend. I'm just getting everything rolling. When I'm finished with that kid, he'll be begging me to be his teacher! And you know what he's going to learn from me? Pain! In every part of his body! And fear in every part of his mind! And here's the kicker: he's going to thank me for it. ...Johnny, by the time that little twerp steps into the ring to defend his title, I'm going to have him thinking he's invincible. And then, he's going to find out what pain and fear really mean... right in front of a thousand people."
- ―Terry Silver to John Kreese[src]
A close friend of John Kreese from his military days, Terry Silver is a wealthy and corrupt toxic waste dumper who helps Kreese get revenge on Daniel LaRusso after his humiliation at the 1984 All-Valley Karate Tournament. Also a Karate expert, Silver hatches an elaborate, time-consuming and expensive plot to trick Daniel into training with him so he can lose to Mike Barnes in the All Valley Karate Tournament and redeem Cobra Kai in the eyes of the public. Unfortunately, his plan fails, which leads to Cobra Kai being shut down for over 3 decades.
Military Career (1968-1972)
- "I owe you man, you saved my ass. Anything you need, I'm there for you, your whole life. You hear me Johnny? Your whole life. I owe you."
- ―Terry thanks John Kreese[src]
During the Vietnam War, Silver, Kreese, and "Ponytail" were under the command of Captain Turner. In 1968, While on a mission in North Vietnam, static from Silver's radio caused their team to be discovered and captured by NVA forces. While in captivity, Ponytail was executed much to Silver's horror, and the rest of their team were imprisoned and forced to fight for the North Vietnamese's amusement above a pit of venomous snakes. After one of his soldiers threw another into the pit, he told Silver that the pit isn't the worst part. When an NVA soldier told Silver to fight the captain, a frightened Silver hesitated, but Kreese volunteered, saving Silver's life as Captain Turner would have likely defeated and killed the inexperienced and traumatized Silver. During the fight, the NVA camp was attacked by the US Air Force, and the team was able to liberate themselves after Kreese killed their former captain. Silver then swore to John that since he, "saved his ass," he would be there for him for his entire life, anything he needs.
- "10 years ago nuclear was the preferred waste, you could dump it anywhere."
- ―Terry Silver talking about his illegal company[src]
After his military service, Silver eventually became the CEO of the nuclear waste disposal company DynaTox Industries prior to 1975. though whether or not he founded the company is unclear. Terry also used his fortune to buy John Kreese the original Cobra Kai Dojo, sometime prior to 1979.
The Karate Kid Part III
In 1985, Terry Silver was wearing white martial arts gi and training. He was happy to see Kreese in his mansion and hugs him. When Kreese reveals he is financially ruined, due to the Cobra Kai’s defeat at the hands of Daniel and Mr. Miyagi, Silver makes it a personal mission to help Kreese recover and avenge him. To this end, he sends him to Tahiti to recover from the severe hand wounds inflicted by Mr. Miyagi following Kreese's unprovoked assault on Miyagi, buys him twenty new dojos all over the Valley, recruits “Bad Boy” Mike Barnes to defeat and terrify Daniel, and has his thugs and Mike force Daniel to enter the All Valley Karate Tournament. He also pretends to train Daniel for the tournament, after Mr. Miyagi refuses to do so, though his motives are later revealed to be part of an elaborate plan to have Daniel perform acts that directly conflict with every value he learned from Mr. Miyagi's training, as well as physically hurt him.
He effectively gains Daniel's interest in the Cobra Kai training method, using such tactics as driving a convertible blue Ford pickup truck and wearing a shirt with an altered collar to appear “humble.” He has Daniel perform tasks such as “QuickSilver” method, but his deficient technique causes Daniel to injure himself, which amuses Silver who laughs at Daniel injuring himself, as he is fulfilling Kreese's wish for Daniel to suffer. He even pays a guy to harass Daniel in order for Daniel to get violent, which he does by punching him in the face. When Silver reveals his true motives to Daniel and orders Barnes to assault him, while he and Kreese starts taunting Daniel. Suddenly, Mr. Miyagi arrives and easily beats both Barnes and Kreese. Before fighting Silver, Silver mocks him. Silver then attacks Mr. Miyagi, only for the latter to counter his strikes, and use minimum and well timed offense to defeat him. After being defeated, he finds himself being mocked by Mr. Miyagi. Unafraid, Silver says that Cobra Kai will one day open around the town and he will make sure that Mr. Miyagi will be forgotten. However, Daniel retaliates by saying that Silver, Barnes, and Kreese will be forgotten rather than Mr. Miyagi.
At the climactic All Valley Tournament, Silver orders Barnes to keep the score tied until the sudden death round by committing illegal moves, in order to cause Daniel as much pain as possible before beating him in the end. At one point during the match, he tells Daniel that this is when the real pain begins. However, Daniel via encouragement from Mr. Miyagi uses the kata he was taught to defeat Mike in the sudden death match to score the point and winning the championship. Disgusted & humiliated, Terry walk out of the arena as all of his plans have completely failed.
It is unknown what happens to Silver after the 1985 tournament. It is possible that he goes back to his unethical company. It is possible that he plans another revenge scheme, which most likely does not succeed. It is also possible that he is caught for his illegal and unethical actions at DynaTox and is imprisoned, as well as the permanent closure of DynaTox. After the tournament, the All Valley Committee of 1985 permanently bans Cobra Kai from competing due to his, Kreese's and Barnes’ disreputable and foul behavior.
In "All Valley", the board of the All Valley Karate Tournament tells the current Cobra Kai sensei Johnny Lawrence that the unethical actions of Silver, Kreese and Barnes at the 1985 All Valley Under 18 Karate Tournament, caused Cobra Kai Dojo's lifetime ban from the tournament. The board asks Johnny what his relationship is with Terry Silver, to which Johnny replies that he doesn't even know who that is.
In "Lull", Kreese tells Johnny that "a buddy" took the 1970-1972 U.S. Army Karate Champion photo that Kreese has kept hanging in the dojo since its opening. Kreese seemed upset when Johnny ignored the remark, suggesting that Kreese was attempting to bring up Silver.
He appears in flashbacks to 1968. He was part of a special unit in Vietnam alongside John Kreese, and the men became friendly during training. During a mission, Silver's radio erupted, causing Kreese to hesitate on igniting explosives that otherwise would have killed their friend and fellow soldier ponytail. The hesitation and radio malfunction led to the unit being captured by Vietnamese extremist. The soldiers were tortured and forced to fight one another to the death, solely for the entertainment of their captors. A unit member named Ponytail was executed by the captors, leaving Terry horrified. He blamed himself for his death and their capture, though the unit Captain Turner blamed Kreese. Silver was chosen to fight against Captain Turner, causing Silver to hesitate. His hesitation spurred Kreese to take Silver's place in the fight, mainly out of guilt (most likely). Kreese won his fight against Turner, just as US military forces arrived to rescue the unit. Kreese freed Terry and the other soldiers. Terry hugged Kreese and told him that he owed him for life, and that he would be there for him forever.
After being captured in Vietnam during the war and seeing his fellow soldier Ponytail be killed by the Vietnamese, Terry is shown to be scared and traumatized. After being rescued by Kreese, Terry promises him that he owes him for the rest of his life, and the two would then go on to be close friends.
It can be assumed that Silver's traumatic experiences in Vietnam would have a negative effect on his personality and life, as after military service, he becomes the CEO of DynaTox Industries, that illegally dumps toxic waste into the ocean without showing any remorse.
When Kreese is financially ruined due to Daniel and Miyagi, Terry makes it a mission to avenge Kreese and make Daniel and Mr. Miyagi, most notably Daniel suffer. His goal is to cause Daniel and Mr. Miyagi great pain and suffering. He goes as far to pretending to befriend Daniel and manipulating him into behaving ruthlessly for a short time and performing tasks that cause him great pain, before eventually scaring Daniel by revealing his true motives. During the All Valley tournament, Terry orders Mike to commit illegal moves, which will prolong the fight, in order to cause Daniel a lot of pain. At one point during the fight, Silver makes it clear to Daniel that he wants him to suffer. However, after his plan fails in the end, a disgusted Silver walks out.
Unlike other villains, such as Johnny, Kreese, Chozen and Mike, who were all aggressive and intimidating, Terry is a much more calculating villain. Instead of intimidating people (Daniel in particular), he successfully projects himself to be a good guy, and emotionally manipulates people into trusting him. He knows how to sweet talk his way into earning people's trust. His actions can be seen as far worse than the others, as they make their actions up front, while Terry hides his true nature until it is time for him to reveal himself.
Terry's actions after military service and in his revenge scheme, prove he's a psychopath, and one of the most manipulative and corrupt human beings in the franchise. However, despite his poor character flaws, some positive characteristics he has are his devoted loyalty to Kreese and desire to repay Kreese for saving his life numerous times while in the war.
Like the Cobra Kai mentality, Terry strikes first and hard, and displays a lot of offense. He easily beats Snake and Dennis during his sparing match with them. However, he only possesses very little defense, which makes it easy for Miyagi to beat him. During his fight with Mr. Miyagi, the latter easily wins by countering all of his strikes, while displaying little and well timed offense. Despite his fight with Mr. Miyagi, he is shown to be a better fighter than his friend Kreese, as he lasted a bit longer in his fight with Mr. Miyagi than Kreese.