Cobra Kai: Sam LaRusso Villain Theory Explained | Screen Rant

Sam LaRusso is one of the main protagonists of Cobra Kai, but a popular fan theory holds that she’s actually one of the show’s villains. The Karate Kid sequel series has done a strong job of building nuanced characters, with most having both compelling motivations and significant flaws. For some viewers though, Sam LaRusso’s bad side has far outweighed her good, pushing her into the territory of an unintentional antagonist.

For most of season 1 of Cobra Kai, Sam is a relatively minor character. She falls out with Aisha, makes up later, starts dating Miguel, and then understandably leaves him after he starts taking the “no mercy” philosophy of Cobra Kai too far. In season 2, she enters the action more directly by resuming her Miyagi-Do Karate training with her father, Daniel. That’s when Sam’s rivalry with Cobra Kai’s Tory Nichols – Sam’s main arc through the show so far – begins. The two girls immediately get off on the wrong foot, eventually escalating their grudge to brutal levels that leave Sam traumatized.

Related: Cobra Kai: Every Miyagi-Do Karate Student Daniel Taught (So Far)

So how is Sam the one in the wrong? Here’s the sequence of events from the fan theory perspective. Sam meets Tory at a country club and is immediately jealous of her because she’s become close with Sam’s old best friend Aisha. Sam was the one who pushed Aisha away in the first place, so she really has no right to be upset. Then later that day, Sam accuses Tory of stealing her mom’s wallet – a serious charge – with no evidence other than the fact that Tory snuck some drinks from the bar, and Sam’s aforementioned immediate dislike for her. The implication is that Sam is being classist. When Tory tries to disengage, Sam physically accosts her. Later that summer, after getting drunk at a party, Tory sees Sam kiss Miguel, who Tory is currently dating. A good deal of responsibility here falls on Miguel to be sure, but Sam is the one who instigates, knowing full well that Miguel and Tory are an item.

In season 3, the full extent of Tory’s difficult life is revealed. She works multiple jobs as the breadwinner for her sick mother and younger brother, all while still trying to live as a normal teenager. When Miguel tries to tell Sam about Tory’s incredibly difficult life, she responds coldly that “Everybody has a sob story” – a wildly insensitive thing to say as someone who drives a fancy car her parents bought her and lives in a big house with a private pool. Overall, Sam comes off as snooty, pretentious, and unconcerned with the experiences of people other than herself. At least, so says the theory.

Is it true? Is Sam LaRusso the villain of her story? In many ways, she shares the blame for the conflict. Tory certainly reacts in extreme ways to their rivalry, and the level of aggression and violence she displays is a touch far to say the least. But that doesn’t absolve Sam from ignoring her own privilege and bias at every turn. Her arc so far has been almost exclusively about overcoming fear and trauma, but if she is to be properly redeemed, she must also overcome her own past mistakes and poor behavior. It’s entirely possible that Cobra Kai will tell that story in the future, but whether Sam will be remembered as a hero or a villain remains to be seen.

Next: Cobra Kai: Predicting Who Could Win Season 4’s All-Valley Tournament (& Who Won’t)

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