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Cobra Kai delivered on many of the Karate Kid cameos fans wanted in previous seasons. But Karate Kid fans have been waiting for Mike Barnes (Sean Kanan) to join Cobra Kai and season 5 finally provided his appearance. While Netflix released a photo of Kanan in Cobra Kai Season 5, they kept details of his storyline secret until the season premiered. 

[Warning: This article contains spoilers for Cobra Kai Season 5.]

'Cobra Kai' Season 5: Sean Kanan holds his fists up as Mike Barnes
Sean Kanan | Curtis Bonds Baker/Netflix

Showbiz Cheat Sheet spoke with Kanna  on Aug. 16 under embargo until after Sept. 9. Now that viewers have had a chance to see Barnes reunite with Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio), and meet Johnny (William Zabka) and Chozen (Yuji Okumoto), we can bring you Kanan’s thoughts. We’ll have more with Kanan here on Showbiz Cheat Sheet.

‘Cobra Kai’ Season 5 has the Mike Barnes v. Daniel LaRusso rematch

Daniel first encounters Barnes at his furniture store. Barnes fights Chozen but Daniel clears it up. It’s only at the end when Barnes blames Daniel for burning down his store that they fight, but again they resolve to team up against Terry Silver (Thomas Ian Griffith)

“It was pretty quick, right?” Barnes told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. “I really like the fact that Barnes has come a long way. He obviously apologizes to Daniel for his reprehensible behavior. When we see him in the beginning, life is going well for Mike. He’s made some huge changes in who he is as a man. He’s married, runs a business and he’s a pretty respectable guy. We see that when push comes to shove and his fuse is lit that he’s still able to draw upon the dangerous part of his personality that made him the Bad Boy of karate.”

Barnes gets the same treatment Cobra Kai gives every Karate Kid villain. It even shows John Kreese (Martin Kove) and Silver aren’t just bad guys. 

I’m a big proponent of self-awareness. I think that that’s an important part of life and it’s nice to see that that’s also reflected in the show because look, a lot of the characters in the original films were pretty unidimensional. That was largely by choice. To have the ability to show more colors in the character 35 years down the road is now a more evolved adult which Mike Barnes is and me being a more evolved person and more evolved actor, it was nice to be able to bring that to the role. It would’ve been disappointing if Mike Barnes came on and there hadn’t been any growth, but I would never think that that would be a possibility with the writing of the big three. 

Sean Kanan, interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, 8/16/22

Sean Kanan agrees Mike Barnes could be friends with Johnny Lawrence 

Barnes didn’t meet Johnny until the season finale, after hijacking the limo he was riding in with Chozen and Daniel. 


How ‘Cobra Kai’ Season 5 Deep Faked Young Johnny Lawrence in Episode 6 Scene

“I think a lot of people wanted to see that for a long time,” Kanan said. “It wasn’t an epic fight and ultimately they pulled together and there’s even a hint of a grudging friendship, the seeds being planted for that. There’s no reason to believe that Mike Barnes and Johnny Lawrence would be enemies. They didn’t know each other.”

Barnes has no love for Silver though, Kanan says.

“I think if Mike had his way, he would’ve cut that ponytail right off Terry’s head,” Kanan said.

‘Cobra Kai’ Season 5 wasn’t the first time Sean Kanan met William Zabka 

Before Kanan starred in The Karate Kid Part III, he met Zabka on a TV show. Kanan was already a fan of Zabka’s. 

This is a really funny story. So I was guest starring on a television show for Fox television called Werewolf back in about 1987, very, very young actor. The other costar in that episode was one of Billy’s best friends. So Billy came to the set and I met him and I was just so excited to meet him. I was a guy that bought a ticket to go see The Karate Kid. I was a fan, right? So I got to know Billy and I’ve gotten to know him much much better over the years and actually spending time filming with him has been outstanding. He is just such a fantastic guy. He’s so talented, so funny and so down to earth, as is Ralph and Yuji. They’re great guys. This couldn’t happen to a nicer bunch of guys.

Sean Kanan, interview with Showbiz Cheat Sheet, 8/16/22