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Daniel LaRusso is a fictional character in the Karate Kid franchise. He is the main protagonist of the Karate Kid film trilogy and one of the main characters in its spin-off series Cobra Kai. He is portrayed by Ralph Macchio.

Season 1: 34 years after the first film, Daniel is happily married to his wife Amanda Steiner, and has two children, Samantha (born 2002) and Anthony (born 2005). He and his wife own the LaRusso Auto Group, a chain of car dealerships in the San Fernando Valley. He unexpectedly encounters Johnny when his car is wrecked and sent to his intake lot. Daniel, unaware that Sam was a passenger when her friends accidentally caused the wreck, offers to fix his car for free, considering Johnny an old friend. However, he later discovers that Johnny has reopened the Cobra Kai dojo in Reseda. Fearing that Johnny will create a new generation of bullies like those that he and Mr. Miyagi faced in the past, Daniel starts taking steps to undermine Cobra Kai. In addition, Daniel begins to struggle with issues within his family and business. Furthermore, his cousin Louie, who works for him at the dealership, hires a local biker gang to vandalize Johnny's car in Daniel's name in retaliation for Johnny vandalizing Daniel's billboard, forcing Daniel to fire him and give Johnny a new car as compensation.

Johnny's estranged son Robby Keene gets a job at LaRusso Auto Group to get back at his father for neglecting him in favor of Miguel. Unaware that Robby is Johnny's son, Daniel takes him in as his karate student after Louie's antics inadvertently lead Robby to visiting Daniel's house. As such, Daniel proves to be a positive influence on Robby, who later turns against his miscreant friends when they plot to rob the dealership by fighting them off with his newfound karate skills and a security camera. However, upon learning that Robby is Johnny's son, Daniel furiously banishes him from his home and dealership as punishment for his dishonesty. Nonetheless, Robby participates in the All-Valley Karate Tournament against Cobra Kai as an independent fighter unaffiliated with any dojo. In the semifinals, Robby's left shoulder is badly injured when Cobra Kai student Hawk attacks him from behind and subsequently gets disqualified in the process. After Robby apologizes to Daniel for his deception, Daniel decides to reconcile with Robby and coaches him for the duration of the final match with Miguel under the Miyagi-Do name, having been impressed with his performance. Robby loses a close fight to Miguel, who fights dishonorably by exploiting Robby's injury from the semi-finals match with Hawk. With teacher and student reconciled, Daniel plans to expand the Miyagi-Do style and philosophy with an official dojo to oppose Cobra Kai with Robby as his senior student.

Season 2: Daniel opens the Miyagi-Do dojo and offers his lessons for free, threatening Cobra Kai's business. He allows Robby to move into his home after the utilities are shut off in Robby's apartment and Robby is evicted from his apartment due to missed bills from his mother Shannon abandoning him by going on vacation to Mexico with her boyfriend and proceeds to train him and Sam together. During this time, Daniel discovers that Kreese has returned to Cobra Kai. Unfortunately, Daniel has trouble acquiring students, most of whom are not receptive to the chore-based muscle memory training style and defensive techniques he used himself.

Daniel tries to be the bigger man after Cobra Kai upstages their demonstration at the local Valley Fest, even going so far as to refusing to make use of footage of him dispatching three purse-snatchers caught on Robby's phone. He also takes on Demetri as a student, which proves challenging at first due to Demetri's constant whining and desire to take shortcuts. However, at the prodding of Kreese and without Johnny's knowledge, Hawk leads a small group of Cobra Kai students in vandalizing Daniel's dojo and his prized convertible and stealing Mr. Miyagi's Medal of Honor in retaliation for Moon breaking up with him due to the aftermath of the mall fight with Sam, Robby and Demetri. This pushes Daniel too far and he confronts Johnny at the Cobra Kai dojo, leading to numerous students walking out to join Miyagi-Do. Despite this success, Daniel's passion leads to him missing an important lunch meeting and neglecting his auto business, forcing Amanda to run it alone as well as a loss of sales and staff, particularly when Anoush quits and goes to work for Tom Cole due to his resentment towards Daniel standing him up at the important lunch meeting.

Despite an uneasy reconciliation with Johnny, at the prodding of Amanda and Johnny's girlfriend and Miguel's mother Carmen, the rivalry flares again after a misunderstanding caused by Robby bringing Sam to spend the night at Johnny's apartment after she gets drunk at a party, resulting in Daniel furiously cutting ties with Johnny and Robby. To make matters worse, the animosity between the two begins to affect their respective students, and the growing tension between the dojos finally explodes into a massive karate war on the first day of school when Cobra Kai student Tory Nichols picks a fight with Sam in retaliation for a drunken kiss with Miguel at Moon's party. By the time the fight is over, Sam is hospitalized with broken ribs and lacerations on her right arm, while Miguel is paralyzed and accidentally crippled by Robby. Furthermore, this event also allows Kreese to take control of Cobra Kai and force Johnny out. Amanda furiously demands that Daniel close down the dojo and stop all karate activities to prevent future incidents. Feeling that he has tainted Mr. Miyagi's legacy, Daniel reluctantly and sadly obliges.

Season 3: In the aftermath of the school fight, the LaRussos' reputation has been tarnished. People are actively avoiding their dealerships, they have had to withdraw all of their karate-themed advertising due to their reputation being tarnished by Robby's affiliation with Miyagi-Do and his actions against Miguel during the school brawl, while Sam has been afflicted with post-traumatic stress disorder due to the aftermath of her fight with Tory during the school brawl and watching Miguel accidentally being crippled by Robby at the end of the school brawl. Daniel and Johnny briefly team up to find Robby but go their separate ways after defeating a group of car thieves. Daniel finds Robby at Shannon's rehabilitation facility seeking comfort and support from Shannon, due to Robby being devastated about the aftermath of his fight with Miguel during the school brawl, and has the police take Robby into custody in order to lessen his sentence. However, Robby angrily accuses Daniel of betrayal and ends their friendship as he is apprehended by police.

Upon learning that his business rival Tom Cole had a hand in dissolving his business partnership with Doyona International, Daniel heads to Tokyo in order to salvage his business. Discouraged by his failed negotiations, and after an inspirational talk with a local bartender, Daniel visits Okinawa, where he reunites with Kumiko. After telling her of his personal and business problems, Kumiko gives Daniel closure by reading him one of Mr. Miyagi's final love letters to her aunt Yukie and also arranges him a meeting with Chozen in order to reconcile. After a few sparring sessions, Chozen gives Daniel a martial arts move scroll describing pressure point techniques. With his rivalry with Chozen now over, Daniel's business partnership is saved when he learns that Yuna, the young girl that he saved in the typhoon, is now the Vice President of Sales for Doyona.

Upon returning from his trip, Daniel finds out that Demetri's right arm was broken by Hawk during an arcade fight between Miyagi-Do and Cobra Kai and attempts to bring down Cobra Kai through legal means, but fails. They attempt to enlist Armand Zakarian to evict Kreese, but Kreese beats up Armand's nephews and retaliates by setting a cobra loose in the LaRussos' dealership. Left with no other options, Daniel and Amanda choose to resume teaching classes at Miyagi-Do and tries to get Sam's support, who is still traumatized from the aftermath of both the school fight and the laser tag fight. During a fishing trip, Daniel opens up to her about his encounter and fight with Barnes in the 1985 tournament as a means of helping her confront her fear of Tory. Sam's spirits are improved, and Daniel later teaches her a new technique by sparring with her using bo staffs.

When the local city council cancels support for the All-Valley Karate tournament due to the aftermath of the school brawl, Daniel attempts to make a case for re-opening it, but is rejected when he, Johnny, and Kreese show contempt towards each other. Just as all hope seems lost, Miguel and Sam, who have rekindled their romance, make a surprise appearance and persuade the council members to let the tournament go on. When Sam is caught making out with Miguel, Daniel has a talk with him. The two are surprised to find how much Miguel's upbringing mirrors his own (both were humble kids that grew up poor with single mothers, were bullied by richer kids, and turned to karate as a way of fighting back) and agrees to let Miguel continue dating Sam.

Daniel eventually reunites with Ali during the Christmas holidays and introduces her to Amanda, unaware that Ali had invited Johnny after a day out. During their dinner together, Ali prompts Daniel and Johnny to put aside their differences. Simultaneously, Samantha and Miguel manage to get the students of Daniel's and Johnny's dojos together at the LaRusso house to put aside their difference to bring down Cobra Kai, just in time to thwart an attack on the house led by Tory and the rest of the Cobra Kai gang.

Learning of the attack on his house, Daniel goes to Cobra Kai to confront Kreese. He saves Johnny just as Kreese is trying to strangle him and takes on Kreese in a one-on-one fight. After their fight takes them out into the strip mall parking lot, Daniel utilizes the pressure point strikes he learned from Chozen to immobilize Kreese as Kreese tries to attack Daniel with a shard of broken glass. With Johnny's approval, Daniel poises to strike a fatal blow, but Miguel and Sam's sudden arrival brings him back to his senses. Kreese, Johnny, and Daniel agree to temporarily cease hostilities in order to train for the tournament and come to a deal: if Cobra Kai wins the next All-Valley tournament, Daniel and Johnny will stop teaching karate, but if Miyagi Do and Eagle Fang win, Kreese will leave and shut down Cobra Kai. Daniel is also devastated to find that Robby has joined Cobra Kai after finishing his juvenile hall sentence and that Kreese is now grooming him to be one of his star pupils alongside Tory. Finding common ground with Johnny, the pair train together with their students at the Miyagi-Do dojo. Season 4: The philosophical differences between Daniel and Johnny causes a rift in the Miyagi-Do/Eagle Fang union, leaving the students of both factions confused. For a week, Daniel teaches the Eagle Fang students while Johnny takes the Miyagi-Do students under his wing. During this time, Daniel forms a bond with Miguel as he teaches him to drive and fix his mother's car. During this time, Daniel and Johnny discover that Kreese has teamed up once again with Terry Silver. Despite the higher stakes and Daniel revealing to Johnny his own experiences with Silver, their differences fail to subside and a drinking session leads to Johnny issuing a rematch with Daniel. The fight ends in a double-knockout with no clear winner before Johnny finally decides to end his partnership with Daniel after they have another argument in the wake of Cobra Kai attacking Hawk, who eventually joins Miyagi-do and goes back to being called Eli due to having his mohawk shaved off by Robby and the other Cobra Kai students.

Meanwhile, Daniel tries to teach Anthony Miyagi-Do karate but is disappointed when Anthony goes behind his back to pay someone from TaskRabbit to wash the cars for him and gives up on Anthony, though Anthony does warm up to Miyagi-Do after Daniel tells him a story about him and Mr. Miyagi when he looks through the karate scroll that Chozen gave Daniel and confesses to Daniel that he is jealous that everyone else in his family had more memories with Mr. Miyagi than he did. Daniel and Amanda are horrified when they learn that their son Anthony and his classmates have been suspended for bullying new student and Cobra Kai protégé Kenny Payne after Kenny fights off Anthony and his classmates in the middle school library. Daniel's cousin Vanessa, who is a child psychologist, deduces that Daniel and Amanda's lack of attention towards Anthony is the source of his problems. Daniel subsequently strikes discipline in Anthony by furiously breaking an iPad that Anthony snuck into his room despite being grounded and forbidden from using technology. In addition, a rift forms between Daniel and Sam as the latter has taken a liking to Johnny's style of karate due to Sam believing that Johnny understands her predicament with Tory and the other Cobra Kai students better than her own parents.

Daniel enters his students in the All-Valley Tournament alongside Eagle Fang and Cobra Kai. During the tournament, Daniel is dismayed when he discovers that Robby has taught his fellow Cobra Kai students the Miyagi-do style of karate and confronts him. Robby insists that he will do whatever it takes to win and get revenge on Daniel and Johnny for abandoning him. In response, Daniel gives him a lesson to never put passion before principle, because even if he wins, it will mean nothing in the end. However, with Daniel's own students also using both styles of karate with success, he approaches Johnny and agrees to team up once more to defeat Cobra Kai during the final matches of both the boys and girls tournaments. Despite Eli defeating Robby for the Boys' Championship, both Miyagi-do and Eagle Fang lose to Cobra Kai after Sam loses to Tory for the Girls' Championship, which give Cobra Kai the most points overall.

Unbeknownst to Daniel, Silver secretly bribed the referee to rig the final match in Cobra Kai's favor and has gotten Kreese framed and arrested for charges of aggravated assault and attempted murder against former Cobra Kai student Stingray and has taken full control of Cobra Kai. Following the tournament, Daniel decides to renege on his earlier deal with Kreese to stop teaching karate after losing, and decides to take Johnny's advice on going on the offense. While paying his respects to Mr. Miyagi at his grave, he reveals that he has teamed up with Chozen to take down Cobra Kai once and for all.

Season 5: Daniel begins his scheme to take down Cobra Kai with the help of Chozen, but Johnny declines to assist as he wants to focus on his own personal issues with Miguel and Robby. Upon learning of his plans, Silver attempts to dissuade Daniel by warning him that he will retaliate. Suspecting that Silver plans to reach out to Mike Barnes, Daniel approaches Barnes first, only to discover that Barnes has changed and is now running a successful furniture store in Agoura Hills. Having cut all ties to Silver and Cobra Kai, Barnes apologizes to Daniel for his actions against him in 1985 and offers to help Chozen and Daniel by giving them incriminating information, but Silver retaliates by burning down Barnes' store. Silver then works to drive a wedge between Daniel and Amanda by gaslighting Amanda into thinking Daniel is unhinged at an auction hosted by Silver, causing Amanda to storm off and return to her hometown in Ohio. Amanda eventually reconciles with Daniel after learning more about Daniel's negative history with Silver in 1985 from her cousin Jessica Andrews. During this time, Johnny helps a drunken and depressed Daniel to see the impact that his actions are having on his family while Daniel indirectly helps Johnny settle the differences between Miguel and Robby once and for all. After getting a tip from Tory that Kreese was framed by Silver, Daniel approaches Stingray to get him to confess against Silver, who responds by ambushing and severely injuring Daniel at Stingray's apartment.

The subsequent fight leaves Daniel demoralized and unwilling to continue the fight against Silver due to Daniel being depressed about his resentment towards Silver straining his relationship with Amanda and his family. Knowing that they need Daniel's leadership to stand a chance against the rapidly expanding Cobra Kai, Amanda takes Daniel to Mr. Miyagi's house and gives him the advice that Mr. Miyagi had given her the night before their wedding. Robby, who has rejoined Miyagi-Do, reveals just how much Daniel's teachings had meant to him, something that he had finally understood when Robby had become a mentor himself to his friend Kenny, only to watch him become corrupted by Silver. With Daniel's students, Johnny and Chozen gathered as a show of support as well, Daniel is convinced not to give up and decides to re-open Miyagi-Do. At Amanda's suggestion, Daniel and Johnny reluctantly approach Kreese in prison for help and he reveals to them that Silver intends to enroll Cobra Kai in an elite international karate tournament, the Sekai Taikai, as part of his plan to make Cobra Kai a global franchise. In response, Daniel, Johnny, Chozen, and Amanda attempt to convince the committee that Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang is the better choice, culminating in both sides being invited in. Daniel and Johnny, who continue to operate their dojos as the separate Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang, are informed that they must choose a single name by the time of the tournament.

After learning that Johnny and Carmen are expecting a baby, Chozen, Daniel and Amanda spend the night celebrating at a nightclub with the couple. However, while on their way to another bar, a vengeful Barnes confronts Daniel by hijacking the limo and furiously demands retribution against Silver for the destruction of his furniture store. Johnny and Chozen agree to help Barnes, while Daniel refuses to help in his drunken state and subsequently ends up stranded in the middle of nowhere after Barnes drives the limo with Johnny and Chozen to confront Silver. Meanwhile, Daniel's students break into Cobra Kai with Tory's help to steal security footage of Silver's attack on Stingray and upload it to the dojo's YouTube channel. With the footage having been erased, they alternatively upload footage of Silver's confession to Tory about bribing the 2019 All-Valley Tournament referee, breaking the Cobra Kais faith in Silver. Daniel gets picked up by Stingray, who has a change of heart and agrees to help take down Silver by giving him a ride to the Cobra Kai dojo. In a final showdown, Daniel defeats Silver using the Cobra Kai techniques that Silver himself had taught Daniel before finishing the fight the crane kick. Silver is then arrested for his crimes by the police, as the Miyagi-Do and Eagle Fang students celebrate their victory. Daniel and Johnny are also informed by a detective that Kreese has been killed in prison, unaware that he had actually faked his death in order to escape and is planning on revenge.