The first episode of the new season of Cobra Kai on Netflix concludes with a heartbreaking kick in the gut: a tribute to Rob Garrison, along with the years “1960-2019” and a note that reads, “Cobra Kai never dies.”
Garrison, who played Cobra Kai student Tommy in the original 1984 Karate Kid movie and reprised the role in season 2 of the spinoff series, died on Sept. 27, 2019, after a month-long hospitalization due to kidney and liver failure. He was 59.
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When the actor returned to the role on season 2 of Cobra Kai in April 2019, the casts and crews learned that Tommy had a terminal illness and broke him out of the hospital to give him one last good day — complete with a bar fight where the middle-aged former dojo-mates took on some twenty-somethings (and won, of course).
“Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments on my appearance in COBRA KAI,” Garrison wrote on Twitter after the episode aired. “Makes me feel great. Had a wonderful time doing it.”
Thanks everyone for your wonderful comments on my appearance in COBRA KAI. Makes me feel great. Had a wonderful time doing it.
— Rob Garrison (@therobgarrison) April 25, 2019
Garrison got his start as a child actor in the 1977 movie Starship Invasions. After booking Karate Kid, the actor went on to act on-and-off, appearing in series like The Munsters Today, Columbo, Coach, MacGyver and Homefront. Cobra Kai is now streaming on Netflix.