Super Heroes: Power Rangers

Screenshot from ‘Mighty Morphin Power Rangers’ (1993). Copyright goes to Saban Entertainment and Toei Company.

Hi! It’s Annie!

I am not at all embarrassed to admit that my favorite television show growing was definitely some form of ‘Power Rangers’. I grew up watching the original ‘Mighty Morphin’ series with my Aunt while pretty much simultaneously watching the Power Rangers series that were on Disney on my own time. These characters and stories shaped me growing up, especially because there weren’t a whole lot of women superheroes in shows like that. In fact, there really haven’t been until recently. Though many of the episodes were cheesy and they weren’t perfect by any means, many of the series are still loved by many, including me. So let’s get into the series that I think were the best! I apologize if your favorite series isn’t present on this list and I will also say that there are no Nickelodeon shows on this list, because I firmly believe that those are all bad. Sorry.

5. Power Rangers S.P.D

This is the series that I was probably the most into when I was a kid. This one follows a special police force on an Earth in the far future that is now inhabited by both humans and aliens. Let’s be honest, the description of this really doesn’t sound good, but this show was extremely important for many reasons. Firstly, this show had one of the first Black red rangers and he was probably the most dynamic red ranger in the history of Power Rangers. Jack, and Z the yellow ranger, were originally criminals who were forced to steal because they grew up poor. Through his character the show gave its audience some pretty important lessons about the lower class and how badly the government and people of authority often treat the lower class. Not only that, but this show was pretty good for it’s female characters too. Z wasn’t the most focused on, but Syd is arguably the most openly feminine character in Power Rangers. She loved pink and plushies and was never depicted as less badass or smart for her love of those things, which was actually pretty formative for me growing up. Because, yes, I did watch Kimberly, but Kimberly being portrayed as smart was pretty hit or miss. The show featured a female red ranger in a different team too. I should also point out that the green ranger, Bridge, was autistic. They didn’t throw this representation in the show without thought; all of these storylines were well developed. The show never tried to pat itself on the back by shouting out the differences between the characters. They all just were.

4. Power Rangers Dino Thunder

Here we see the return of Tommy from the original ‘Might Morphin Power Rangers’ alongside a completely new team. Tommy was great in this show and this was one of the series that had one of the most interesting plots. Part of the interest here was that this show actually tried to get kids interested in science without banging it’s audience over the head with these themes. This has the pretty typical dino crystal plus super powers plot that the original Power Rangers already had, but with it’s personal villain and science focus, it took the interest of this plot to a new level. I think most people could agree that the stand out character in this series is Kira, which is actually pretty amazing for a Superhero show largely marketed towards boys. Kira was a tomboy, like Power Rangers seems to believe most of their female characters have to be, but she didn’t follow the stereotypical female character storyline either. She wasn’t athletic in order to be tom-boyish. She was interested in music and actually had a pretty emo aesthetic which still was seen as weird at the time of this airing. All that aside though, she was one of the most capable women in all of Power Rangers. Despite female characters being in all forms of Power Rangers, the show still has a tendency to damsel-in-distress them. Kira was saving everyone else more than anyone was ever saving her and often was the one ranger interested in helping Tommy with the science side of things. Yay women in STEM! This also had the classic Power Rangers feel that so many of us are nostalgic for.

3. Power Rangers Ninja Storm

If you’re looking for a good laugh or just a good time, this is one of the best for that. Ninja Storm was made more to be a parody version of Power Rangers than for anything else. But it still manages to make fun of itself while giving the audience loveable characters and an endearing story. This story also involves aliens along with hidden martial arts temples, which is a bit much. But this show highlights more than any other how much Power Rangers relies on the relationships between the characters more than the general plot. The characters grow into more of a team than many other Power Rangers teams ever have. Also, I need to take a second to talk about how important this show was for kids growing up specifically because of representation. There are only two white people on this six person team and one of them is a woman. That’s amazing. There is seriously only one person who isn’t in a minority group on the entire team and he isn’t even a part of the main three. What I do have to say though, is that Tori is the only woman on this team, but I will at least give them that she is the first female blue ranger and absolutely the brains of the main team. This show depicts a Samoan man, a Chinese man, a Argentinian man, a Brazilian man, a white woman, and a white man on a team together. The leader is the Samoan man. Also, I just love the coastal vibes of this show, but I do live in California so that’s to be expected.

2. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

I can already hear the screaming. I know, I know, this show isn’t the one I put at the number one slot. That’s because, honestly, I didn’t like this show until the second wave of rangers came in. Kimberly was almost all of the stereotypes in a female character that I don’t like. Sure she was a Power Ranger, but she was a stereotypical dumb popular girl who’s character revolved around her choice of boyfriend. Before I saw Syd as a pink ranger, I thought giving the pink suit to someone meant they were the weakest ranger that had to be saved all the time. That hurt because pink was my favorite color and because, obviously, only women were ever pink ranger. Jason was a stereotypical jock. Zack and Trini were constantly pushed to the background too, which was completely racist. Let’s not even talk about the color suits they were assigned. The writing didn’t get better, and the characters of color weren’t focused on as much as the others, until Rocky, Aisha, and Adam joined. But I will admit that I’m a bit biased because Adam is my favorite character from Power Rangers in general and Aisha was my second favorite from Might Morphin. Yes, I did like Tommy! He just wasn’t my absolute favorite. Adam was one of the characters that wasn’t stuck with this toxic masculine persona. Him being sensitive was presented as a positive part of his character. Not to mention, I have always absolutely loved Johnny Yong Bosch. This series has a nostalgia about it that none of the others have ever been able to quite replicate, but I still think it had to work a bit at it before it fully got there.

1. Power Rangers RPM

This was the last series that Disney ever created and it followed a post-apocalyptic world where the only living humans were living under a dome constantly under attack by a computer virus. I generally don’t like any sort of post-apocalyptic stories, but this interested me mostly because it’s the darkest a Power Rangers series has ever been. And that’s because it is purposely. Disney already knew that they were getting rid of Power Rangers and nobody else looked like they wanted to pick it up at the time of filming, so Disney told their writers to do whatever they wanted. Which is how this show that barely feels like it’s for kids came about. Firstly, another black red ranger! Yay! Unfortunately, this show doesn’t have much representation after this. There is only one woman on the team and she’s yellow ranger, though the narrative does tell you that she is second in command of the team. The mentor of the Power Rangers is a young woman, one of the only female mentors, and actually the accidental creator of the virus destroying the world. The show even deals with her guilt and her belief that she killed her friends! Her friends end up being alive and though they are Asian representation, they’re pretty stereotyped. They are absolutely horrible as twin characters and are really annoying too. However, this Power Rangers is one of the few with a central character and it isn’t the red ranger. The black ranger is a cyborg who has lost his memory because of the virus and seeks revenge and his memories back. In fact, finding a character without a dead family member in their background is impossible here. Though the representation is lacking; this is the most gutsy and different Power Rangers series out there. This is definitely the best plot a Power Rangers has ever had, though it is disappointing how much it lacks in representation. Most of the actors and actresses in this have gone on to do other big acting roles, so the acting is some of the best in any series. You’ll probably recognize Rose McIver from ‘iZombie’. Power Rangers is actually based off of a Japanese series called Super Sentai and almost every show, except for most of Disney’s filming, re-uses footage of the fully suited characters from that show. This is the only series that Super Sentai fans acknowledge is better than their version. It feels more like a regular television show while still having that Power Rangers feel.

Power Rangers has been a phenomenon for years and is just as popular here as Super Sentai is in Japan. Often times Super Sentai can be a bit more plot developed than our Power Rangers. For example, I don’t watch a lot of Super Sentai, but I did watch Gokaiger and the states absolutely did a disservice to that show. It’s pirates! How did they do a pirate show in the states without actually having pirates like in the Super Sentai show! We also completely disrespected their version of Samurai by making our red ranger a white man when that series relies so heavily on their culture. Seriously, whose bright idea was that? That team should have been mostly Asian and definitely Asian led or we just shouldn’t have touched it at all. Unsurprisingly, both of those were Nickelodeon. Power Rangers has had some issues with that over the years as well as some really cheesy writing. But even besides the nostalgia, there are series that are so worth watching and characters that still teach such important lessons. This is the first show that I watched that depicted people of several different races on the same team and depicted women consistently kicking ass. I’ll always have a soft spot for the light hearted humor and the action. Except for the Megazord fights. Those were always pretty boring to me.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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