Cobra Kai: 5 Reasons Kreese Has Become My New Favorite TV Villain

Kreese in Cobra Kai.
(Image credit: Netflix)

There are few TV villains that I have truly grown respect for, and can anticipate their next moves. Many times, they are on huge shows where they are given the chance to shine. I always think of the villains from The Walking Dead, specifically my baseball-bat wielding fave, Negan. Or, I think of The Night King from Game of Thrones. Or, if you really want to get nerdy with me, the Fire Lord from Avatar: The Last Airbender (voiced by Mark Hamill, if you can believe it). 

But there’s one villain from a current Netflix series that makes me rethink every other television villain that I have come to love, and that is John Kreese from Cobra Kai, played by Martin Kove. 

The show is heading into its sixth (and final) season, and through several seasons of the show, he has slowly turned into my new favorite villain on television. Today, we’re going to go over why. 

Kreese about to hit Daniel in Cobra Kai.

(Image credit: Netflix)

He Sticks To His Beliefs And Truly Shows No Mercy 

Look, I’ll be the first to say that I do love character development. I’m a huge fan of character arcs. I have been for many years. A big thing for me is that I sometimes do like when villains end up turning good. It’s a major reason why I love Zuko from Avatar: The Last Airbender so much. 

But man, Kreese truly does just stick to what he believes in and doesn’t give a flying you-know-what about you. 

I think that’s something I genuinely like about him – that his motives really haven’t changed at all. The thing about Terry Silver, the other prime antagonist of Cobra Kai, is that he always wanted to go bigger. To basically take over the world – so much so that he was willing to take Kreese out in order to do it. 

Kreese was never like that. Did he want domination over karate? Yeah, of course he did. To the extent that Silver wanted it? I don’t believe he ever wanted to take it that far. Even with that in mind, he is willing to do whatever it takes in order to make his own dreams come true, regardless of the costs, and we rarely see him stray from this. 

Martin Kove and the class in Cobra Kai.

(Image credit: Netflix)

It Also Doesn’t Stop Him From Using Kids For His Own Advantage

I’ll be the first to say that I’ve never been a huge fan of people using kids. Oftentimes, the kids are unaware of the severity of the situation and don’t really know what to do. That’s sort of how I looked at the Cobra Kai kids when they first started out. 

Kreese knew exactly what he was doing, however. 

He didn’t just use the kids. He molded them into what he wanted. He turned these kids against their friends because he wanted them to believe they were the best in the world, and that there should be no other dojo in the Valley that could compete with them. The Cobra Kai mentality is what led to Dimitri getting his arm broken by Eli in the first place. It’s what led to the Tory and Sam feud. It’s the reason for all the drama. 

You see, that’s what Kreese wants. He thrives off of this rivalry, because he knows that it makes his students better. It makes them angrier, and gives them a no mercy mentality that he wants them to keep. It’s truly what changed the game. 

Is it morally wrong? Yeah, of course it is – but who said we wanted our villains to be morally right? That’s why they’re villains – and I’ll be the first to admit that what he did was smart. Rather than just stealing all of Johnny’s kids, he took them one by one and turned them against him – even his own son. Truly a mastermind. 

Young Kreese in Cobra Kai.

(Image credit: Netflix)

His Backstory Only Adds To His Philosophy Of “No Mercy”

I have to say that when we were given Kreese’s backstory, I wasn’t expecting it to be so tragic. 

I mean, yeah, a part of me was also sort of expecting him to have the typical backstory of a boy who was abused by his father and then in turn developed that mentality, but Kreese wasn’t actually like that. He was actually a standup guy before he went served in a war. He had a girlfriend that he loved and adored and wanted to marry, but everything went to crap when his time in a war zone. 

His girlfriend died in a car accident. His friends were killed by enemy soldiers. He was taunted and nearly killed, called “weak” over and over and over again until he just snapped. From there, he developed that mentality of “no mercy.”

To be honest, it makes me like him more. There are so many times where it feels many villains are just there to be bad. There’s no compelling backstory, no real reason – they’re just evil and that’s that. Sometimes that can be done well, but most of the time, it feels undeserved.

When I think of great villains, I think of the ones who were forced to the brink of their existence and had no choice but to do something extreme to survive – like Negan, like Thanos, like so many others. Kreese is right up there.

Kreese breaking free in Cobra Kai.

(Image credit: Netflix)

At The Same Time, Kreese Has Also Shown Signs Of Compassion 

Kreese has had his moments of compassion, though. While he is still a no mercy guy, we’ve seen him be kind to others. We’ve seen him stand up for his students in certain situations. We also see that within his mind, he is fighting his own battle. 

Specifically, let’s talk about that therapy scene in Cobra Kai Season 5. It was really a partial breakthrough for Kreese – that he sees the people he truly hurt when speaking to the therapist, that there might be a hint of redemption there for him. He’s finally starting to grow up. 

It’s funny, but being in prison was probably one of the best things for him, because it gave him the time he needed to self-reflect. You can tell that he even cares about Tory after finding out about her situation at home. He doesn’t seem like he’s just making that up for show. 

Martin Kove in Cobra Kai.

(Image credit: Netflix)

But He’s Still Himself At The End Of The Day

However, he’s still Kreese – which means he’s still a “no mercy” man who will do anything to achieve what he wants. He may have his moments of compassion, but it will never stop him from getting what he needs, and I just love that. 

Even if he cares about Tory, he still uses her as a spy at Cobra Kai for the intake on Terry. Though it feels like he had a breakthrough with this therapist, he faked her and the rest of the prisoners out, in order to escape. Kreese is running around outside the prison free right now – and we have no idea what he’s planning. 

But we all know it’s going to be epic. 

I don’t know what Season 6 of Cobra Kai is going to hold for him (I have so many questions that need to be answered), whether that means epic fight scenes or more scheming, but I’ll be here for all of it from beginning to end. 

Alexandra Ramos
Content Producer

A self-proclaimed nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire, Alexandra Ramos is a Content Producer at CinemaBlend. She first started off working in December 2020 as a Freelance Writer after graduating from the Pennsylvania State University with a degree in Journalism and a minor in English. She primarily works in features for movies, TV, and sometimes video games. (Please don't debate her on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!) She is also the main person who runs both our daily newsletter, The CinemaBlend Daily, and our ReelBlend newsletter.