Join Featured Writer R.J. Sills on a history through Power Rangers; it’s morphin’ time!
When you hear ‘Power Rangers’ you think of teenagers in bright colored outfits fighting monsters right? Of course you do! That is one of the key elements of the show and what makes it what it is. Ask anyone who watched it as a kid and they will talk about the original “Mighty Morphin’”, remember Jason the Red Ranger? Tommy the first evil ranger who is known for having the Dragonzord? How about Kimberly, who was every boy’s first crush? These were characters from the series that started it all, although there is more to it than that.
In 1993, Haim Saban took footage from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger and created the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, a show about five teenagers chosen by an ancient warrior known as Zordon of Eltar and his robotic assistant Alpha 5. These teens were given the powers of dinosaurs to fight the evil witch, Rita Repulsa. The second season of the show brought the American created villain Lord Zedd, and with Zyuranger only having one season’s worth of footage for Zord battles and monsters that meant Saban would have to use the footage from Gosei Sentai Dairanger. That includes the suits right? Nope, the production crew teamed up with Toei in Japan to create what is known as “Zyu 2 footage”, taking monster suits and the Zyuranger suits to create new fights scenes for Saban productions to use for new episodes until they could film it themselves in the United States. This actually worked pretty well until they came to the third season. They were able to take Ninja Sentai Kakuranger and make it another season using the same suits and cast. Sadly not the same cast overall though. Halfway through the second season production Austin St John (Jason Lee Scott), Thuy Trang (Trini Kwan), and Walter Jones (Zack Taylor) left because of contract issues, and were replaced by Steve Cardenas (Rocky DeSantos), Karan Ashley (Aisha Campbell), and Johnny Yong Bosch (Adam Park) as Red, Yellow, and Black rangers respectively. During the ranger swap, Jason David Frank (Tommy Oliver) swapped colors instead of leaving, going from the Green ranger to the White ranger! There were not any more cast changes until Amy Jo Johnson (Kimberly Hart) at the end of the third season left for the new Pink ranger to be Catherine Sutherland (Katherine Hillard), making David Yost (Billy Cranston, Blue Ranger) the only ranger to stay on through the entire show since episode one. This show so far has taken Dinosaurs, Chinese mythical beasts, and ninjas but used it all to create one of the biggest childrens television shows of the nineties! So what did they do after this? They kept on going! They even had a theatrical movie release! It was more or less a re-vision of how they got their ninja powers in the third season, making it completely non-canon.
During this, there was a ten episode mini-series called Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers that had a team of power rangers from the planet Aquitar come to assist our heroes when the team of Rita and Zedd turns back time, turning everyone into children. This is fixed by the rangers finding the Zeo Crystal, leading into Power Rangers Zeo! This is the first season to use all the suits as well as zord footage from its Japanese counterpart Chouriki Sentai Ohranger. This series had Rita and Zedd taking a backseat to the Machine Empire as they tried to turn Earth into a planet ruled by machines. With a new series, came a new cast change, Karan Ashley left for Nakia Burrise to replace her as Tonya Sloan. This series also had Tommy move from White to Red, Rocky from Red to Blue, Adam from Black to Green, Tonya stayed Yellow as well as Kat who stayed Pink. Billy stepped down to become more of an assistant at the command center. When a giant pyramid comes from space, bringing the Gold Ranger with it, everyone thinks it is Billy, where as it is actually Trey of Triforia, his powers are weakening and he must give the powers to someone else. When Billy declines the offer to receive them, Zordon has Tommy go pick up an old friend, who turns out to be Jason Lee Scott! The now six Zeo rangers fought against the machine empire until Jason must transfer his powers back to Trey. This season ends with the machine empire being blown up by a trick of Rita and Zedd. It is followed by the movie Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie; as with the last movie, it was all original footage, but unlike it, it was in the same universe we are all used to, giving a start to the Power Rangers Turbo season. During the movie, Steve Cardenas is replaced by Blake Foster as Justin Stewart. Then as the older cast wanted to get away from the show, as a whole was completely replaced halfway through this season. Jason David Frank, Johnny Yong Bosch, Nakia Burrise, and Catherine Sutherland left and their colors were filled by Selwyn Ward (TJ Johnson), Roger Velasco (Carlos Vallerte), Tracy Lynn Cruz (Ashley Hammond), and Patricia Ja Lee (Cassie Chan). Along with the rangers leaving, Zordon and Alpha 5 left for Eltar for Dimitria and Alpha 6 to substitute the mentor role. This is the season that most any Power Ranger fan hates, mostly because their favorite characters left and were replaced by a bunch of new people.
The next season is known as of the best though. Power Rangers In Space follows the destruction of the Command Center by space pirate Divatox in the finale of Turbo, the rangers minus Justin go into space after her. The gang’s shuttle is tractor beamed into a giant space ship where they encounter another Red ranger, later known to be Andros of KO-35. TJ becomes Blue, and Carlos becomes the Black ranger while Ashley and Cassie stay as Yellow and Pink albeit as Space rangers. They stay on Earth to hold back Astronema and upcoming invasion of Dark Specter who turns out to be the big boss of all the previous villains! While trying to find Zordon who has been kidnapped by Dark Specters forces, the team unfreezes Zhane a friend of Andros and the Silver ranger and they realize that Astronema is Andros’s long lost sister Karone! The season ends with a planet wide invasion of the dark forces, and the rangers lose the secret identity and morph in front of everyone to save the day. It all ends with Andros destroying Zordon’s energy tube to destroy all the evil in the universe, Karone comes back to the side of good, and Bulk and Skull the infamous comedic duo of the franchise, leading the charge of civilians against the evil side. This should have ended the show right? After the failed season of Turbo, they went out with a bang on In Space and didn’t care what they did budget wise. This was even the show most kids quit watching who grew up with the original. It might have marked the end of the fan dubbed ‘Zordon Era’ but it did not mean the end of the franchise.
Popularity had grown again somehow and the show continued with Power Rangers Lost Galaxy and the beginning of the ‘Post-Zordon Era’. Somehow, during all this alien invasion stuff, the world had made a giant space colony to find a new place to live. So people who wanted to could leave Earth for the unknowns of space, never to return! Before the colony named “Terra Venture” takes off, three members of the Galactic Space Alliance, Mike, Kai, and Kendrix go through a portal to the planet of Mirinoi. Finding a rock with five swords in them, only to be taken out by the chosen one of each sword. During this, however, one of the soldier’s brother Leo followed them to try and get on the colony himself. A monster is attacking the planet for the swords. Kai gets back through the portal and takes the Astro Megaship from a museum, along with its mechanic Damon, to Terra Venture to rescue everyone. Sadly, Mike is presumably killed and he gives his sword to his brother. Damon, Kai, Kendrix, and a native of the planet, Maya take their own swords and head back for Earth. They get back to Terra Venture just in time for it to launch and along the way, Trakeena and her father try to destroy Terra Venture making them the villains for this season. We later find out that Mike was helped back to health by the Magna Defender who passes his power to Mike. Behind the scenes, Valerie Vernon who played Kendrix had developed Leukemia and her character was actually killed off to be replaced by Melody Perkins who had played Astronema/Karone in the previous season. Thankfully her treatment went very well and her character was revived in the season finale. This big space battle ends with Terra Venture finding a lost planet in a galaxy – turns out it is Mirinoi! The colony is established there and the Galaxy rangers retire by placing their swords back in the stone to wait for people to need their help in the future. In the final battle though, the Magna Defender powers are lost while getting to Mirinoi.
That ends the story of the Galaxy rangers, but there is trouble brewing by way of demons in the city of Mariner Bay. Captain William Mitchell has created a special division of scientists to develop a new set of powers and zords to fight the evil Queen Bansheera and her group of demons. Captain Mitchell personally picks five candidates to become the Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue! These five are chosen for their sacrifice to help others and ability to deal with emergencies. Carter Grayson as Red, Chad Lee as Blue, Joel Rawlings as Green, Kelsey Winslow as Yellow, and his own daughter Dana Mitchell as Pink defended the city until a mysterious person breaks into the Aquabase and steals the prototype Titanium morpher. This turns out to be Ryan Mitchell, Dana’s older brother and Captain Mitchell’s long lost son who was thought to have died in a car crash years ago. He is under the control of the demons and after realizing what has happened, he breaks the curse and joins the team. This ranger is most known for being the first American made Power Ranger. In the sentai counterpart, Kyukyu Sentai GoGo V, there was only the five rangers. Making Titanium the first, but not the last American only used ranger. The demons are defeated but not at the expense of the Aquabase and Lightspeed being destroyed, yet the end of this season ends with the team rushing to help out in a fire as they continue the reason why they were chosen: they helped people courageously.
The next series followed a worldwide law enforcement agency that also worked with extraterrestrials. So they dealt with aliens? Yes, but to further this series, it is set in the year 3000 (albeit, not very long)! The agency known as Time Force travels back in time after an escaped prisoner known as Ransik. Jen, Lucas, Katie, and Trip follow Ransik and his army of mutants to the year 2001, running in to the ancestor of Jens fiancee Alex, Wes Collins. Their Chrono Morphers can only be used by the DNA of Alex unlocking them, so they use Wes to become the Power Rangers Time Force. As the series progresses, Jen begins to lose feelings for Alex as she believes him to be dead prior to the season beginning. As the five recapture the escaped mutants, someone from the future is helping them by sending them extra zords when needed. Meanwhile, archeologists discover what turns out to be the Quantum Morpher. A failed experiment by Time Force to send a Dinosaur designed Megazord back to the age of the Dinos. Being found in present day means Ransik wants the power for himself. Eric Meyers, a member of the Silver Guardians, the peacekeeping force Wes’s father created in response to Time Force and a way to make more money, gets the Quantum Morpher and becomes the Quantum Ranger. As Eric did not grow up wealthy like Wes did, he always resented Wes when they were growing up. This grudge goes on to become the reason Eric does not work with the team and it takes a while for Wes to understand why Eric is like this. Closer to the end of the series, the mysterious ally from the future is found to be Alex recovered from his injuries at the hands of Ransik. He tells the rangers that their actions could possibly be destroying the future. He orders the four from the future back leaving Wes and Eric to defend the world against Ransik and his forces. Once they get back, Jen decides to go back after learning Wes dies in the end of the battle. Ransik surrenders after he hurt his daughter in the process of his attack, turning his ways. Jen reluctantly returns once again to the year 3000, as Wes and Eric both take over the Silver Guardians. Wes and Jen almost kiss, given that their relationship is one of the most notable in the franchise, more memorable than even Kimberly and Tommy in the original! This is actually the last fully produced Saban Productions season. The franchise is bought out by Disney and the next season is still produced with the Saban crew with a mix of Disney, creating what is known as the Disney Era.
Three thousand years ago, monsters known as Orgs tried to destroy the world by pollution. Led by Master Org, an ancient group of warriors defeated the orgs by teaming with giant animals that protected the Earth. The guardians sent their Princess Shayla and a group of the Wild Zords into the sky on a piece of ground to be named Anamaria. Present day arrives and it seems the Orgs have somehow arisen. A few of the Zords have chosen new guardians. First the Yellow Eagle chose Taylor Earhardt to be the yellow ranger, White Tiger chose Alyssa Enrile to be the white ranger, the Blue Shark chose Max Cooper to be the blue ranger, Black Bison chose Danny Delgado to be the black ranger, and finally, our story begins when the Red Lion chooses Cole Evans, an orphan who has grown up in ancient tribes all his life. He is given a small sphere with a lion in it and told he will find the secret of his parents death in Turtle Cove. He finds the other four and with him becoming the red ranger, they become the Power Rangers Wild Force! It seems two Org generals, Toxica and Jindrax survived all these years, finally coming back after their Master Org supposedly returns. Through the series, it is discovered that he is actually Doctor Vincent Adler, a researcher who was friends with Cole’s parents. On a research trip, he finds the remains of Master Org. Tiny seeds that he thinks will help him win the love of Coles mother as he had fought with his father for years over her. He kills them both and lets Master Org take over. An evil Org known as Zen-Aku is released from his prison of 3000 years, he takes control of most of the Wild Zords and the rangers discover he is actually Merrick, one of the original guardians who sacrificed himself, taking control of the Zen-Aku mask to save everyone else. Merrick is saved and joins the group as the Silver Wolf Ranger. This season is also the tenth anniversary of the franchise, so the famous “Forever Red” team up episode is made. Every red ranger since the beginning comes back. Jason from Mighty Morphin’, Aurico of the Alien Rangers, Tommy from Zeo, TJ from Turbo, Andros from In Space, Leo from the Lost Galaxy, Carter of Lightspeed, Wes and Eric of Time Force, and Cole the current red ranger all head to the moon to defeat the remnants of the Machine Empire and Lord Zedd’s own personal Zord, Serpentara. It is destroyed by Cole driving into its mouth with his Wild Force Rider, his motorcycle… The production ran out of money after bringing everyone back, Bandai of America funded the rest of it if they’d promote the new toy. Cold finally defeats Dr Adler, but once the actual Master Org takes over, the Rangers must use all of the Wild Zords to defeat him. After the battle, the rangers retire and move on leaving Merrick and Princess Shayla to guard the Animarium.
This season was fully Disney produced and as such, they moved production to New Zealand to be filmed. In the city of Blue Bay Harbor, there is a secret ninja academy. An ancient scroll told of three of whom would become Power Rangers Ninja Storm! Shane, Tori, and Dustin used the powers of Air, Water, and Earth to become the Red, Blue, and Yellow Wind Rangers, to defeat the evil space ninja Lothor! Lothor has his own two Power Rangers, Hunter and Blake, the Crimson and Navy Thunder Rangers. They eventually are brought back to the side of good, and the group fight to defeat Lothor once again. Their assistant Cam, goes back in time to get the Samurai Amulet. All six work to defeat Lothor’s army and sacrifice their powers to seal him away in the Abyss of Evil. This series is a lesser favorite of some fans given its focus on EXTREME sports, andhow it throws it in the show when the rest of the show tries to be ninja powers: Skateboarding, Surfing, and mostly Motocross. That and the mentor was a hamster. It was a good series. The first series I watched as a kid, so to me it is my Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers.
“Whatever happened to Tommy Oliver?” Anyone ever ask that? Well this series answers that. Power Rangers Dino Thunder follows the now paleontologist Dr. Tommy Oliver. Yes, Tommy got a PhD and is now a science teacher at Reefside High School. Three of his students, while on a field trip, end up in an underground room. They find three gems in an asteroid. Conner, Kira, and Ethan take them and after Mesogog, a failed lab experiment by Tommy and a friend of his, Anton Mercer, arises from the depths of the ocean, the three become the Red, Yellow, and Blue Dino Rangers. Tommy is kidnapped by Mesogog and finds the black dino gem. Making him the Black Dino Ranger. So now Tommy has been five rangers. Ironically, the episode he is kidnapped, is the 500th episode of Power Rangers, making a special of him giving the three other dino rangers a quick history of the previous 10 teams of power rangers. Trent Mercer, a new guy into town finds the white dino gem in Mesogogs lab after he is teleported by an Invisi-Portal in his Dad, Anton Mercer, office. He becomes the White Dino Ranger, but the gem is pure evil energy, taking over Trent completely eventually. Mesogog and the mysterious Anton Mercer turn out to be one in the same. A failed attempt to kill Trent leaves his dino gem free of evil power so he promises his father to not tell the others about Mesogog, but will fight with them in hopes of finding a cure soon. The Dino rangers sacrifice their power to destroy Mesogog after he had separated himself from Mercer.
Our next story in this ever growing world of Rangers, is set in the year 2025. Do not worry, we will not be going back in time here. Aliens and humans interact and co-exist. Except for a few who still want to be a bit more evil. To counter this, Space Patrol Delta, an intergalactic taskforce set on protecting the peace finds two street thugs Jack and Z. The two are arrested in an encounter with Bridge, Sky, and Syd, three SPD cadets who were just given Delta Morphers. Commander Doggy Kruger gives the two a choice, stay in jail, or serve time as SPD Rangers to protect the planet. They join reluctantly and the five are now the Power Rangers SPD. Jack, Sky, Bridge, Z, and Syd become the Red, Blue, Green, Yellow, and Pink rangers. Over the series, Commander Kruger becomes the Shadow Ranger after he finds his wife is still alive but captured by the evil Emperor Grumm. A messenger from the future comes to warn them of Grumm winning the coming battle. He turns out to be Sam, a young boy Z helped in the series, grown up in the future and he became the Omega Ranger. The seven defeat Grumm in the end and Sams future is restored to peace.
Power Rangers Mystic Force follows the story of a group of wizards. A few years back, in another realm separate of the one we know, a war between light and darkness took place. One wizard sacrificed himself and sealed away the darkness. Years later, the day Nick Russell comes to Briarwood an earthquake unleashes the evil back out into the world. A sorceress named Udonna finds Nick and four others named Xander, Chip, Madison, and Vida to become the Red, Green, Yellow, Blue, and Pink Mystic Rangers. The evil Koragg is the team’s worst rival during the series run, going as far as to take Udonnas wand. After Daggeron joins them as the Solaris Knight, they get their “Legend” armaments. Koragg is found out to be the wizard that sealed away the darkness before, also being Udonnas husband, and Nick’s father! The show turned out to be a mix of magic, and Nicks family history.
Millionaire Andrew Hartford has learned of two brothers, Moltor and Flurious who are after the Corona Aurora. An ancient crown with five crystals. The crystals have been spread across the world. Hartford assembles four people skilled enough to gather the Corona Aurora. Ronny, a racecar driver; Dax, a stuntman but aspiring actor; Will, a known high profile thief; and Rose, a highly skilled and smart college student all are chosen to become the Power Rangers Operation Overdrive; Ronny as yellow, Dax as blue, Will as black, Rose as pink and reluctantly, his own son Mack as red ranger. As they journey to find the jewels of the desired crown, more enemies come out of the woodworks to find them. An alien known as Tyzonn arrives to help becoming the Mercury Ranger. All six rangers morphers are destroyed when Thrax arrives. Turns out that he is the son of the infamous Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa. To counter this attack, the Sentinel Knight who had warned Hartford of the evil brothers originally, gathers five previous rangers. Adam Park with his Black Mighty Morphin’ ranger powers intact once more, Tori Hanson of the Ninja Rangers with her powers also restored, Kira Ford of the Dino Rangers with, once again, her powers intact again, Bridge Carson from SPD, who is now Red Ranger after Jack and Sky both moved up in rank at Space Patrol Delta Earth branch, and Xander from the previous Mystic Force team. These five help out and once the Overdrive rangers have their powers restored, they team up and defeat Thrax. This team up is known as “Once A Ranger”, celebrating the franchise’s fifteenth anniversary! This season ends with of course, the team finding the Corona Aurora, but not without finding Mack is a robot… Yet at the last episode, he is turned into a real human. This is a weirder season to say the least.
Power Rangers Jungle Fury follows three students at a secret martial arts school known as “Pai Zhua.” Their Master is killed after the evil Dai Shi is released and takes over another student Jarrod. Casey, Lilly, and Theo then go to a restaurant named Jungle Karma Pizza to find their new master. They find Robert “RJ” James, who owns and runs the establishment, also living upstairs and having enough space for the three to stay as well! He gives them their Solar Morphers to use their Jungle Beasts power and morph into the Red (Tiger), Yellow (Cheetah), and Blue (Jaguar) rangers. RJ later joins the group as the (Purple) Wolf Ranger. RJs old friend and fellow Pai Zhua master Dominic comes to town and harnesses the power of the Rhino to become the Rhino Ranger. After Lilly receives training from Master phant and gaining the power of the Elephant, along with Theo training with Master Swoop to use the power of the Bat spirit, Casey decides to train with RJs father Master Finn to use the power of the Shark. However, two animal spirits apiece are not enough for these three, they find Masters Rilla, Guin, and Lope to learn the ways of the Gorilla, Penguin, and Antelope to gain Jungle Master Mode. Jarrod harnessing the power of the Lion, has second thoughts of housing Dai Shi, his second in command Camille with the spirit of the Cameleon, they join the now Pai Zhua master trio along with RJ and Dom to defeat Dai Shi for good.
In the near distant future machines have taken over and almost completely obliterated the human population. The Venjix computer virus took over any machine it could and drove what was left of humanity in the domed city of Corinth. Dr. K has chosen three people to become the Power Rangers RPM. Scott Truman become Ranger Operator Series Red, Flynn McAllistair as Blue, and Summer Landsdown as Yellow. They protect Corinth until a mysterious man named Dillon comes into the city, along with Ziggy Grover, a former mafia man who was driven out of Corinth for an incident not fully explained. They join as Black and Green series operators. Dr. K is revealed to be the reason for the Venjix virus after a failed attempt to escape a government think tank known as “Alphabet Soup”, they find her old friends Gem and Gemma who used the powers of the gold and silver rangers to defeat Venjix forces outside the dome. Venjix is defeated and the rangers head outside the dome to try and rebuild what has been destroyed.
Sadly, as great and amazing as RPM was, being one of fans most favorite and notable seasons, up there with In Space and Time Force. Even so, Disney cancelled production of all new Power Ranger seasons. Instead, rebooting Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and making a new toy line. This was not a reboot more so than a re-edit. They added in comic book style special effects and new morphing sequences. After this incident, Haim Saban and Saban Productions bought the franchise back from Disney. Effectively ending the “Disney Era” and creating the “Neo Saban Era!”
Most fans thought we would see the greatness Saban left off with in Time Force, but what we got was a water downed version of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. The japanese footage source for Power Rangers Samurai, any aspect of Samurai was copied from Shinkenger, meaning it isnt the best season, the acting of the characters was menial. The season followed the Shiba clan and its families that protected the Shiba clan. Jayden Shiba, being the Red Samurai ranger, and the head of the Shiba clan assembles Kevin the Blue ranger, Mike the Green ranger, Emily the Yellow ranger, and Mia the Pink ranger to destroy the Nighloks. All these powers are passed down from parent to child each generation. This is the reason it was hard for the rangers to accept Jaydens childhood friend Antonio as the Gold Samurai Ranger, he made a morpher himself and used the Octo Zord Jayden has given him as kids. Previous seasons had as low as thirty-two episodes, but given the new production, Disney owned channels could not be used, so Saban and Co. chose Nickelodeon for the Rangers to call home. This meant they would split into two twenty episode seasons. 2011 meant Samurai, and 2012 brought the second season, now dubbed Super Samurai! The rangers discover the powers of the Super Samurai Black Box. This season ended with the defeat of the Nighloks, as well as more episodes going away from the Sentai episodes.
The next seasons combined two sentai seasons into one- Tensou Sentai Goseiger and Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger. Power Rangers Megaforce had five teens chosen by Gosei, a guardian of the Earth to defend it under the attack of the Warstar aliens. Followed by attacks from mutants and even robots, all seemingly controlled by Prince Vrak of “The Armada” so in Power Rangers Super Megaforce, Gosei gives Troy, Jake, Noah, Gia, and Emma the power to harness the past 19 teams, including some never seen on this Earth before! This season is still ongoing, set to premiere more episodes in the fall, so no one is certain what will happen. We now have the Silver ranger Orion from an alien planet, and of course, the coming war where all rangers unite to defend our home!
Some seasons’ history might seem short, but there were a few that seemed too big to note in this already large article of the history on the franchise of one of the biggest children’s television shows ever!