Tanner Buchanan Had a Heartbreaking Role on ‘The Fosters’

Tanner Buchanan in "The Fosters."

YouTube Tanner Buchanan in "The Fosters" (2016).

As many fans of Netflix’s “Cobra Kai” may be aware, Tanner Buchanan, who plays young Robby Keene on the show, has arguably become the show’s breakout star. He has been warmly embraced by fans, amassing more than 3.5 million followers on Instagram, for instance – far more than that of almost any other “Cobra Kai” star – since the start of his breakout role. His character’s story arc, furthermore, has gained much traction among fans since the end of season 3, with many wondering how the epic story surrounding the son of Johnny Lawrence will conclude.

Many fans of the show, however, might not know how prolific the 22-year-old actor was in the film and television industry before he ever achieved his “Cobra Kai” stardom, including recurring roles on ABC’s “The Fosters,” and Disney Channel’s “Girl Meets World.”

Here’s everything you need to know about Tanner Buchanan’s prolific career before “Cobra Kai.”

Tanner Buchanan Had a Dramatic Storyline as Jack Downey in ‘The Fosters’

Tanner Buchanan as Jack Downey in "The Fosters."

YouTubeTanner Buchanan as Jack Downey alongside Hayden Byerly as Jude Adams Foster in season 3 of “The Fosters” (2016).

Buchanan had multiple notable roles in other TV shows before his time on “Cobra Kai,” usually as a one-time love interest to a main character, similar to Robby Keene.

In 2016, two years before “Cobra Kai,” Buchanan had a six-episode story arc as Jack Downey in season 3 of ABC’s “The Fosters,” a storyline that ended in tragedy. In the show, Jack is a kindhearted but socially inept teenager who befriends main character Jude Adams Foster (Hayden Byerly), a foster child of Stef and Lena Adams Foster (Teri Polo and Sherri Saum). During his time on the show, Jack catfishes Stef and Lena’s foster daughter Callie (Maia Mitchell) by pretending to be AJ Hensdale, Callie’s romantic interest.

Later on, Jack kisses Jude, who is gay, in an attempt to make him feel better after the latter’s breakup with his boyfriend, even though Jack himself was not gay.

In the penultimate episode of season 3, Jack is beaten to death by his abusive foster father after he attempts to call the police for help, sending the central characters of the Adams Foster family spiraling.

Buchanan Has Had Roles in Other Recognizable Shows

Before “The Fosters,” Buchanan also had a recurring role in 2015, when he was 16, as Charlie Gardner, love interest of protagonist Riley Matthews in “Girl Meets World.” He also might be recognized as Mason Kendall, unrequited crush of protagonist Babe Carano, on Nickelodeon’s “Game Shakers,” a recurring role he had from 2015 to 2019.

According to PopBuzz, his first on-screen role was in the ABC’s “Modern Family” back in 2010, when he was around 11, as an extra.

Due to his surge in popularity as Robby Keene, Buchanan recently signed with IBM partners for representation in all areas, according to Deadline, meaning his onscreen appearance will likely only increase. Since his debut on “Cobra Kai,” Buchanan starred alongside TikTok star Addison Rae in “He’s All That,” a Netflix-distributed remake of “She’s All That,” a 1999 film starring Freddie Prinze Jr. and Rachael Leigh Cook.

In a recent interview with VMan, Buchanan revealed that he was working on four other creative projects, including a television series that he’s writing with a friend. “I just think that there’s a lot of good stories out there that just need to be told,” he explained in the article. “If I can create something that even reaches someone in a small, small town and opens their eyes a little bit and gets them to explore and have conversations that might be outside of their comfort zone — that’s all I can ask for.”

As for his “Cobra Kai” character, though he can’t reveal too much, he did confirm that Robby will have to make some serious decisions in season 4, and will experience significant growth. “It’s definitely a rollercoaster,” he told VMen.

How much growth the character of Robby will experience, and in exactly what capacity, is yet to be seen. Be sure to tune into Netflix for the release of “Cobra Kai” season 4 on December 31.

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