Why Fans Are Focused on ‘Cobra Kai’s’ Anthony “Antonio” LaRusso

Griffin Santopietro in "Cobra Kai"

YouTube Griffin Santopietro as Anthony LaRusso in "Cobra Kai" season 3.

The first three seasons of Netflix’s acclaimed series, “Cobra Kai,” has seen the breakout of a few of the teenaged actors, as well as the “Karate Kid” franchise itself. However, one character that hasn’t received as much traction is that of Anthony LaRusso, Daniel’s son, at least for now.

All that might be changing in the upcoming fourth season, however, as well as in light of some new photos released by People teasing the new season. What is Anthony LaRusso’s role on the show? And will he finally make a major impact in season 4? Here’s what you need to know about the “Cobra Kai” character.


Anthony Appeared in Only One Episode of Season 3

Griffin Santopietro as Anthony LaRusso in "Cobra Kai" season 1.

YouTubeGriffin Santopietro as Anthony LaRusso in season 1 of “Cobra Kai.”

Anthony LaRusso has been portrayed by Griffin Santopietro since the first season. According to his website, Santopietro is 14 and was born in Portland, Maine, and raised in Connecticut, where he currently lives. He has also been acting since the age of 9, appearing in such television shows as CBS’s “Bull” and Netflix’s “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.”

Anthony himself only in one quick scene in season 3 (in episode 5: “Miyagi-Do“), in which he appeared alongside his mother as she reprimanded his sister Sam for practicing karate. Anthony gleefully encourages his mother’s rebukes against Sam, and is then told to go wait in the car.

Many fans and commentators were quick to note the actor’s noticeable weight loss. As Looper notes, although the difference in production for seasons 1 and 3 is about three years, the story has only taken place in about the span of a year, hence magnifying the quick growth and change in appearance of the show’s younger actors.

Anthony’s minimal appearance is in stark contrast to his appearance in season 1, which was much more prolific (according to IMDb, he appeared in 8 of the season’s 10 episodes), if not terribly well-received. Uproxx, for instance, back in January 2021, called him the show’s “one glaring, weak link,” and said of his role in season 1: “viewers may remember him…as the lazy, entitled, tech-obsessed brat who cared more about whip cream than he did karate.”

The article went on to say that the character was “all but written out of the show” after the writers’ intentions with him in season 1 failed to take off:

in an effort to draw a stark contrast between Anthony and his father, Daniel LaRusso, in the first season, the writers overshot and annihilated the character so badly that they could only bring him back for a few scenes in three episodes in Season Two, and just the one in Season Three.

It continued to explain that, despite the writers’ best intentions, “The character…did not resonate. The audience rejected it; in fact, the scenes with Anthony in the opening season were more uncomfortable than funny. It was smart to bury him.”


Many Fans Are Anticipating an Anthony-Centric Story in Season 4

Although Uproxx may have accurately tapped into fans’ sentiments, it did come before recent promotional photos conducted by People magazine for the show’s fourth season. One in particular showcased Anthony sitting alongside his father Daniel, with the caption asking whether Anthony will “finally step away from the video games and into the dojo to fight alongside his sister?”

With regard to the photo shoot, some fans have been eager to point out the now-similar looking appearance between Anthony and a young Daniel LaRusso, with one popular post on Reddit showcasing the two side-by-side. “Anthony Larusso finally looks like his father,” the caption reads. One user commented, “He could actually be his kid;” another expressed excitement at the  possibility of Anthony’s new role, saying, “Let’s get this guy in a gi.”

Another popular post from February expressed hope that season 4 will showcase more of Johnny and Robbie together, as well as both the LaRusso kids. One user expressed their excitement at the idea of Johnny training Daniel’s son: “Flipping the script on Daniel and having Johnny be the one to get through to Anthony and train him would be in keeping with the ongoing themes. Fathers training other men’s sons has been an ongoing theme throughout Karate Kid.”

Another well-received post in October listed Anthony as the #1 character who should have a bigger role. One user commented, “Anthony is definitely up there on my list. Having him get more involved could show more of the impact that the karate feud is having on the LaRusso family, especially when his sister’s been hospitalized and Cobra Kais have broken into his house.”

Another popular comment may have summarized the general fan sentiment around Anthony, saying, “if [he] stops being a insufferable…piece of s*** then MAYBE i will like him.”

Given the fact that Santopietro is not set to become a main cast member in season 4, his character’s role in the story is currently undetermined. Will he return to be a more significant presence, as in season 1, except with a more dynamic character arc; one which might actually mirror his father’s, as fans seem to be hoping? Or will the writers continue to ghost him out of the story entirely? Only time will tell. Tune into season 4 on Netflix when it is released December 31 to find out.


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