What Happened to Daniel LaRusso’s Dad on Cobra Kai & Karate Kid?

Daniel & Miyagi

YouTube Pat Morita and Ralph Macchio star in 'The Karate Kid Part II.'

Fatherhood is one of the most prevalent themes in the Karate Kid franchise. For instance, Mr. Miyagi (Pat Morita) acts as Daniel LaRusso’s (Ralph Macchio) surrogate father in the films. 

As fans are aware, the New Jersey native was raised by his mother, Lucille (Randee Heller). His father, however, is barely mentioned in the franchise. 

The Death of Daniel’s Father Is Referenced in ‘The Karate Kid Part II’ & ‘Cobra Kai’

Daniel LaRusso and his mom

YouTube Daniel and his mother talk about his late father in ‘Cobra Kai.’

In The Karate Kid Part II, Daniel offers his sensei words of comfort following the death of his father, who they were visiting in Okinawa, Japan. While sitting with his sensei, the teenager alludes to the fact that his own father passed away during his childhood. He reveals that following his dad’s death, he was consumed with guilt. 

“You know, when my father died I spent a lot of time thinking I wasn’t such a great son. Like maybe I could’ve listened a little more, spent some more time with him together, I felt so guilty, you know, like he did everything for me and I didn’t do anything for him,” explains the West Valley High School student. 

He went on to say, however, that he came to the realization that he “did the greatest thing for [his father] before he died.

“I was there with him and I held his hand and I said goodbye,” says Daniel. 

The character’s father is also referenced in Season 2, Episode 8 of Cobra Kai. Daniel’s mother catches him looking through a scrapbook and figures out that he is having relationship issues with his wife, Amanda. 

During the scene, Lucille asks Daniel if he recalls spending the day at Coney Island with his father. 

“It’s about the best day of my life. Dad and I ate something from every booth on the row,” says the owner of the LaRusso Auto Group. “Nathan’s, cotton candy, frozen custard, you name it. And he still took me on the cyclone five times in a row.”

He then reveals that trip to Coney Island “was about that time that [his dad] started getting sick.”

Lucille then shares a private moment she had with her husband while waiting in line for a ride called “the Wonder Wheel.” 

“We were, uh, waiting in the line on the Wonder Wheel and uh, just us and Dad held my hand and he put his head on my shoulder…He told me he loved me. I could still feel his hair on my cheek. That’s all I ever wanted to know that he was in it with me no matter what,” reveals Lucille. 

Daniel responds by caressing his mother’s cheek and kissing her on the forehead, before saying he loved her. 

William Zabka & Ralph Macchio Discussed the Subject of Fatherhood in the ‘Karate Kid’ Franchise

William Zabka and Ralph Macchio Comic-Con

GettyWilliam Zabka and Ralph Macchio speak at the 2019 Comic-Con in San Diego.

In a December 2020 interview with Esquire, Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, who plays Johnny Lawrence, talked about the subject of fatherhood in relation to the Karate Kid films and Cobra Kai. During the interview, the reporter referenced the scene in The Karate Kid Part II, in which Daniel talks about his dad to Miyagi. Macchio revealed that he was a fan of the scene, stating.

That’s one of my favorite scenes of the trilogy, too. Anytime you ground that connection of having that father figure in your life for a boy growing up is so important.

READ NEXT: Cobra Kai Creators Reveal Important Message

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