In spite of more than one cancellation and change of network, Power Rangers is shockingly still going strong. Perhaps not as ludicrous as it once did in the 90s, but the brand isn’t exactly hurting for content with new seasons, a healthy comic continuity, and a movie reboot that wasn’t anywhere near as bad as it could have been.
At the center of it all has always been the Red Ranger, the perpetual leader of the multicolored heroes. Of course, each new series brings about a new Red Ranger, but it’s hard to forget the ones who started it all. Between Jason, Rocky, and Tommy Oliver, there’s a surprisingly dense amount of history surrounding the Red Ranger.
10 Red Versus Green
Although the first season certainly has its charm, most fans would likely agree that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers doesn’t come into its own until Tommy Oliver’s introduction. The Green Ranger arc is a standout story arc for the show, managing to blend a decent amount of after school drama with martial arts.
It’s also through Tommy Oliver that Jason, the original Red Ranger, starts to gain greater depth. He not only shows genuine leadership qualities, but he does so with a level of courage befitting a leader. Their rivalry allows both characters to individually shine, as well, Tommy especially. Jason and Tommy are almost a more amicable Goku and Piccolo if Piccolo ultimately became the main character.
9 Jason, The Strongest OG Ranger
As Power Rangers would progress through the year, Tommy Oliver would very gradually take on a larger role, essentially becoming the series’ definitive main character until his departure in Turbo. Despite this, however, there was one character Tommy could never quite best no matter how hard he tried: Jason.
The original Red Ranger, Jason stands out as the only character to have defeated Tommy in single combat. During the original series’ Green Ranger arc, Jason ends up defeating Tommy in single combat—something that never happens again during Tommy’s run as a Ranger. That alone asserts Jason as the strongest OG Ranger.
8 From Jason To Rocky
Nothing lasts forever, not even stardom. Due to contractual and pay disputes, the Yellow Ranger, the Black Ranger, and even the Red Ranger ended up leaving Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. While Jason would return in an involved capacity for Zeo, a new Red Ranger had to be found right away: enter Rocky.
Rocky ends up replacing Jason for the remainder of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, serving as the Red Ranger in his stead. Rocky wasn’t just a replacement for Jason, however. He wasn’t as in control, he wasn’t as mature, he wasn’t as heroic or brave, and he wasn’t as strong a leader. This would ultimately lead to some issues for the Red Ranger down the road.
7 Rocky Couldn’t Hold The Lead
Although Rocky took on the role of the Red Ranger, it was clear that he couldn’t—and, frankly, wouldn’t—fill Jason’s shoes. Perhaps the shift in cast was too sudden for the writer’s room, but Rocky simply wasn’t developing as well as he should have. At the same time, how could he? Rocky was a last-minute replacement for the main character.
This was always going to create issues in the long run and ultimately resulted in Rocky losing the Red Ranger mantle between seasons. Going from Mighty Morphin to Zeo, Rocky went from Red to Blue. Perhaps unsurprisingly, Rocky actually shines as the Blue Zeo Ranger, making more of the role than when he was Red.
6 Tommy Oliver, The Real Red Ranger
Naturally, Rocky taking on the role of the Blue Ranger likewise left the Red Ranger spot open. Anyone paying attention at the time, however, would have been able to tell who was going to take Red as their mantle. While Rocky suffered as the Red Ranger, Tommy Oliver slowly began asserting his dominance.
It wouldn’t be long until Green turned White, Red turned Rocky, and Rocky turned Blue. Tommy slowly began taking over plots, serving as the leader and replacing Red with White. Going into Zeo, it only made sense to demote Rocky formally and transition Tommy into the more traditional leader colors.
5 Red Becomes Gold
Although ultimately for the worse of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Jason’s absence would actually end up paying off in the long run. By the time the writers had reached Zeo, they had three and a half seasons worth of experience under their belt, and the character writing had improved dramatically.
With the introduction of the Gold Ranger in Zeo, Jason was transitioned back into the main plot and served as a Ranger again until the end of Zeo. The sixth Ranger role ultimately suits him well. It keeps him in a leadership position while also giving audiences a parallel of Tommy and Jason’s dynamic from the first season.
4 The Strain Of Gold
While most of the Zeo Rangers would end up becoming Turbo Rangers (for a time), Jason wouldn’t be allowed to continue in his Gold Ranger duties. As Zeo progressed, the strain of being the Gold Ranger was starting to get to him. Had he continued as the Gold Ranger any longer, Jason likely would have been killed by its power.
Zeo also marks Jason’s last appearance in the television series as a main character. While he would appear again, he’d only do so in a cameo capacity—often reserved for special episodes that gather previous Rangers together. However, when he does appear, Jason is in his classic Red, unable to trigger Gold.
3 Jason’s Brief Turbo Appearance
Although Zeo formally writes Jason out of the main plot for good, he does appear in the Turbo movie. He’s not too prominent a fixture and he mainly exists to get captured and give the main Rangers some trouble, but his presence is appreciated, especially since this is the last time he appears in the context of the overarching narrative.
Of note, Tommy serves as the Red Turbo Ranger, while Rocky ends up losing his status as the Blue Ranger altogether. Tommy and the rest of the leftover Zeo Rangers would later relinquish their powers to an all-new cast. T.J. would become the Red Turbo Ranger and Tommy would leave the main plot at last.
2 Jason Versus The Machine Empire (Again)
Fast-forwarding far into the future, Jason famously returned in the Wild Force episode “Forever Red.” This episode brought together ten Red Rangers to fight against the Machine Empire, the main antagonists from Zeo. This not only ends up trying all previous series into the old Saban canon, but it also marks Jason’s first appearance as the Red Ranger since he left in season 2.
Hilariously and fittingly, despite Jason fighting alongside the Red Wild Force Ranger, Cole ends up praising Tommy at the end of the episode. All the same, Jason and Tommy both returning—and Jason kicking serious butt—keep “Forever Red” one of the better episodes to this day.
1 None Of The OG Red Rangers Appear During In Space
Jason, Rocky, and Tommy may all have various degrees of importance as far as their status as Red Rangers go, but they were the first three Red Rangers and each one was critically important during the series’ formative years. Up until the end of In Space, the series had centered itself around several story arcs that eased in and out of each other, typically centered on Zordon.In Space ended up tying together all of the series’ loose ends, as it was intended to be the show’s finale—but none of the original Red Rangers end up appearing. Turbo established they were still around and In Space escalated the conflict to such an extreme where their absences are very suspect.