Why was Tommy written off Cobra Kai?

Cobra Kai - Season 2 - Episode 206 - Credit: Bob Mahoney/YouTube/Sony Pictures Television
Cobra Kai - Season 2 - Episode 206 - Credit: Bob Mahoney/YouTube/Sony Pictures Television /

What happened to Tommy in Cobra Kai?

Rob Garrison played Tommy in The Karate Kid. In season 2, he’s the reason for a reunion between original Cobra Kai members.

Garrison passed away in 2019 after starring in Cobra Kai season 2.

However, before we talk about that, let’s look at Tommy’s significance to where the series headed in season 3.

In season 2, episode 6, Johnny (William Zabka) gets a call while he’s in the dojo. We don’t know what it’s all about, but whatever it is, it’s serious enough that he asks if Kreese (Martin Kove) can take over lessons for a while because Johnny has to go deal with something. Kreese says of course he can. This will prove to be a pivotal moment that becomes apparent by the end of season 2.

Johnny arrives at the San Bernardino Hospice Center where he’s greeted by Bobby (Ron Thomas). That’s who called to tell Johnny that Tommy, one of their best buddies, doesn’t have much time left.

Johnny enters Tommy’s room and finds him lying in bed hooked up to oxygen watching soccer on TV. He teases Tommy that it’s worse than he thought.

Tommy is happy to see Johnny but surprised he made the trip all that way to do it. Johnny again jokes him, “Yeah, you gonna come and see me?”

After some reminiscing and debating about who was the better fighter between them, Jimmy (Tony O’Dell) shows up. When a nurse comes in to deliver medicine, Tommy asks the guys to give him a minute.

Bobby (Ron Thomas), Johnny and Jimmy step into the hall and Jimmy says the doc told him that Tommy can sign out for 24 hours, but Jimmy isn’t sure Tommy’s up for that.

That’s when Johnny finds out Bobby and Jimmy don’t want to see Tommy rot in the hospice and they’ve planned a little road trip, one last wild night to remember.

Johnny isn’t sure about any of that, but then suddenly the steady beeping from Tommy’s room turns into a flatline. They rush back in to find Tommy unhooking himself from the machines. He looks up at the guys and laughs, “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

So that’s what they do.

They get in a bar fight, set up camp and drink beer around a campfire. That’s when Tommy confesses he’d been in love with Ali, too. Freshman year in homeroom they talked all the time, and he was building up the courage to ask her out when someone else “struck first.” It was, of course, Johnny.

He also confesses that’s the reason he joined Cobra Kai. He wanted to have the same kind of confidence that Johnny did. Except, he teases Johnny, “without the smell.”

The next morning Bobby, Johnny and Jimmy wake up to find that Tommy died in his sleep. It’s one of the most bittersweet moments of the series.

It was great to see old friends catching up and to learn what had happened to them, but it was sad it was a farewell to one of their own.

As it turns out, Rob Garrison wasn’t just playing a sick person. He was dealing with kidney and liver issues, which claimed his life on September 27, 2019. The end of the first episode of Cobra Kai season 3 delivered a major kick to the gut with a tribute to him.

Before the credits roll, a screen pops up with Garrison’s name. Under that is a side-by-side picture of a younger Tommy next to the one from season 2. Under that are the years “1960-2019” with the tribute “Cobra Kai Never Dies.”

All three seasons of Cobra Kai are available on Netflix.

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