'Cobra Kai' Season 4: Thomas Ian Griffith Is 'Not Just Terry Silver From Karate Kid III' Creators Say

Netflix confirmed that Thomas Ian Griffith would return as Terry Silver in a Cobra Kai Season 4 teaser in May. This wasn’t just a matter of calling up the guy who played him in The Karate Kid Part III. Cobra Kai creators Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg and Josh Heald had to figure out how to incorporate Silver back into the story. Given his role in the third movie, that was no easy task.

Hurwitz, Schlossberg and Heald spoke with Showbiz Cheat Sheet by Zoom on Dec. 2 about Cobra Kai Season 4. Schlossberg and Hurwitz explained the task at hand for explaining Silver’s return 30 years later. Cobra Kai Season 4 premieres Dec. 31 on Netflix. 

Terry Silver has changed since ‘The Karate Kid Part III’

When John Kreese (Martin Kove) goes to visit his old Vietnam War buddy, Terry Silver, he finds a changed man. The last time he saw Silver, Silver bolted after Cobra Kai lost another All Valley Karate Tournament in The Karate Kid Part III. Hurwitz, Schlossberg and Heald had a chance to fill in 30 years of Terry Silver history. 

“I think the thing that we really liked was that this is not just Terry Silver from Karate Kid III,” Schlossberg said. “It’s Terry Silver 30 something years later with all the thoughts and retrospective. Bottom line is he’s somebody who has learned from his mistakes and I think he’s a sounding board for Kreese that Kreese doesn’t have, that’s a contemporary of his. So we liked the idea that he’s teaming up not just to have more muscle, but also to have another perspective that he respects in a way that he wouldn’t Johnny, because this is somebody who knows him in a different way.”

The Terry Silver of ‘The Karate Kid Part III’ won’t work on ‘Cobra Kai’ Season 4

In The Karate Kid Part III, Silver helps Kreese get revenge on Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio). When Mr. Miyagi refuses to train Daniel to defend his title, Silver offers to train him. Silver’s plan is really to destroy Daniel. Keep in mind, Macchio was still playing Daniel as a teenager just out of high school. That wouldn’t quite fly in Cobra Kai Season 4.

“That’s a huge thing with the show,” Hurwitz said. “One of our favorite exercises in the writers room is taking these characters and rewatching whatever material we have from them, whether it’s from the original film or the second or the third or anything beyond. You’re watching the material over and over again and analyzing it. When it came to Terry Silver, it was: this is a crazy person. He does some really crazy things in Karate Kid III so we have to think logically why did he do that stuff? Come up with explanations for that and then figure out okay, where could he have gone after that, that’s interesting?”

Terry Silver was more challenging than other ‘Karate Kid’ characters

Cobra Kai has made a habit of bringing back characters from the Karate Kid movies. The biggest coup so far may have been Elisabeth Shue as Ali. Her return allowed the creators to rewrite an indignity foisted upon Ali in The Karate Kid Part II. The returns of Johnny’s old Cobra Kai buddies and Okinawa characters from Part II may have been more straightforward. With Silver, they had to explain how a grown adult reconciles tormenting a teenager.

“When the audience sees these characters again, there’s an element of getting a taste of what you love from the character but looking at them in a new light,” Hurwitz said. “Looking for new angles in and fun, surprising ways for these performers to be behaving. So yes, it’s an exercise we enjoy with all the characters we bring back.”

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