Played By: William Zabka
Movie: The Karate Kid (1984)
Enrolling into a new school is scary for any teenager, which makes Daniel LaRusso's (Ralph Macchio) character arc in The Karate Kid relatable for anyone who's ever endured high school's pressures. And being accepted by the school's cool kids is always a challenge, especially if the head cool kid also happens to be the ex-boyfriend of the girl you're crushing on. And he's also the dirtiest karate fighter around.
Daniel has the hots for Ali Mills (Elisabeth Shue), a nice, interested cutie whose former fling, Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka), is a martial arts all-star who rolls with a pack of douchebag goons. Johnny's sole purpose in life, once Daniel takes a liking to Ali, is to embarrass the smaller, weaker LaRusso whenever he's not physically kicking the crap out of him.
He's too unlikable to earn the sympathy of viewers. Johnny's late-game personality change, prompted by his loss to Daniel in the third-act karate tournament, finds him saying, "You're alright, LaRusso!" That we still want to crane-kick him upside his head afterward puts Johnny's asshole status into perspective. —Matt Barone