“Recruit a team of teenagers with attitude.” Those words, uttered 25 years ago, signified the beginning of one of the longest children’s action franchises of all-time. Since then, the Power Rangers have survived a couple dozen different incarnations and are still around, entertaining children of all ages. Even better? Between the recent crossover event “Shattered Grid” in the ongoing comics by BOOM! Studios, the recent confirmation that even more films are coming, and the recent 25th anniversary episode in Ninja Steel, there’s never been a better time to be a fan of Power Rangers.
But with a franchise this popular, there’s bound to have been a few copycats over the years. At the beginning, when Power Rangers was this unstoppable wave beloved by children everywhere, everyone wanted to try their hands at getting their own version of the popular fad on their respective networks. That’s why the '90s was littered with so many live action series aimed at children. Everyone wanted a hit television series, so several different TV stations saw countless groups of teenagers pitted against evil aliens and mutated animal hybrids while wearing colorful costumes and occasionally piloting either giant robots or a giant vehicle of some sort. And not so coincidentally, they all tended to air at the same time as Power Rangers. And while some of them are legendarily bad, quite a few of them were actually pretty good, at least compared to the original Power Rangers series. So for this list, we’ve collected twenty of the most memorable rip-offs of the original multi-colored hero team.
20 AFTER V
After V tries to answer a question many people have had at one point or another: what do heroes who save the world on a weekly basis get up to in their time off? The series follows the story of the team known as the Golden Warriors Treasure V, a group responsible for fighting threats too powerful for the military or police.
But rather than centering around the work they do to save the world, After V shows their late night drinking parties and the group commiserating over how their job is just as draining as any other. But they don’t leave the villains out: the main villain actually runs the restaurant the group frequents in every episode.
19 WMAC MASTERS
There’s a good chance you missed WMAC Masters, as the show was only ever placed in syndication, so outside of specific areas you couldn’t even get it. Nonetheless, this show premiered in 1995, and seemed to be as much a rip-off of Power Rangers as it was a kid-friendly version of Mortal Kombat and American Gladiators.
The cast featured legitimate martial artists would compete in a variety of athletic competitions to show off their form, then later battle for the opportunity to win Dragon Stars. And in a bit of continuity, one of the members of this show would go on to play the Blue Ranger on Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue.
Created by legendary manga artist Shotaro Ishinomori, the Voiceluggers are a group of aliens from another planet who use the powers of their secret weapons, the Voistones, to stop the evil Muon Empire and its Emperor, Genbah, from taking over Earth.
The story wound up being Ishinomori’s last story before he passed away, and ran the length of an average Japanese drama with only 12 episodes instead of the usual year long saga most series in this vein get. The show was initially meant to be serious, but like many spin-off Sentai series, wound up descending into an affectionate Super Sentai parody.
17 ULTRAMAN TIGA
Though Ultraman has been around even longer than Power Rangers’ source material, Super Sentai, the series never really caught on Stateside like Power Rangers did. But that didn’t stop Fox from airing a 4Kids dubbed version of the 1996 Ultraman on their children’s block Fox Box in 2002.
Tiga followed a group known as GUTS (Global Unlimited Task Squad) while they fought against an army of alien conquerors, managing to turn the tide after finding the statue of an ancient giant which transforms one of their number into Ultraman Tiga. However, the series wasn’t popular at all, and only got through around half of its episode count before being pulled.
16 GALIDOR: DEFENDERS OF THE OUTER DIMENSION
This one’s a bit of a reach, but Galidor’s still a live action series about some kids fighting an alien menace using alien technology and unique abilities. When Nick Bluetooth and his friend Allegra Zane find a spaceship known as the “Egg”, they’re transported to the other end of the universe.
There, they learn of a powerful ruler known as Gorm, who rules much of the Outer Dimension and has committed countless atrocities. Along with the help of Outer Dimension denizens, Nick and Allegra fight Gorm in an attempt to free the realm of his influence. With a failed toyline and airing on Fox Kids right before the block was canceled, Galidor was unfortunately doomed before it could ever properly get off the ground.
15 MIGHTY MOSHIN EMO RANGERS
A parody of the original Power Rangers, Mighty Moshin Emo Rangers began as a simple fan film spread on social media before it caught on enough to get turned into a mini-series by MTV.
Featuring characters with names like Chaos Mohawk Red Emo Ranger or Introspective White Emo Ranger, the show was just as interested in poking fun at the emo subculture of the mid-2000s as it was having fun with the absurdity that was the Power Rangers of Power Ranger tropes. And poke fun they did, as the show featured a sassy Zordon-esque mentor and a goth Rita Repulsa whose dialogue didn’t match her mouth.
14 MUMMIES ALIVE
One of the few animated entries, Mummies Alive bears quite a bit in common with Power Rangers. Both shows feature an evil sorcerer as their main villain, though in Mummies Alive’s case, the sorcerer’s goal is a bit more targeted than world domination. In the past, a sorcerer named Scarab ended his pharaoh’s son to gain immortality, and was punished by being entombed alive.
But when the son is reincarnated in the present day, Scarab re-awakens for his revenge, and the only thing protecting the boy is a group of mummies assigned to be his bodyguard in the past. When the fighting with Scarab gets fierce, the mummies are able to summon special armor and weapons, courtesy of their connections with their patron Egyptian gods.
13 KAMEN RIDER DRAGON KNIGHT
Regardless of how Masked Rider was received Stateside, the series never had much hope of continuation given that Kamen Rider Black RX was the last television Kamen Rider series for over 12 years. But by 2008, Kamen Rider had long experienced a renaissance in Japan, and with it came a desire to revive it Stateside.
Enter Adness Entertainment and the Wang Brothers, who decided to adapt the 2003 Kamen Rider Ryuki to television, airing it during CW’s CWKids block. The large number of Riders apart of the main series plot was thought to be have great potential for merchandise, but it probably didn't hurt to make the franchise resemble Power Rangers as much as possible either.
12 GINYU FORCE
The Ginyu Force are clearly meant to be a “loving homage” to the multi-colored heroes. Near the latter half of Dragon Ball Z’s Namek Saga, after Vegeta had torn through nearly all of Freeza’s army, Frieza was forced to send for the Ginyu Force; his most powerful and elite set of warriors.
Though they all dressed in Frieza’s standard armor, as aliens from different planets their skin was curiously primary colored, they had different abilities and traits they specialized in, and they had…quite the propensity for posing. Unfortunately for them, they were little more than a speed bump in the Z Warriors battle against Frieza, and after Goku arrived on Namek even the threatening ones were wiped out with ease.
Most of this list won’t have many references to Power Rangers’ Super Sentai source material. But Akibaranger stands out because it actually does have a rip-off of the Power Rangers. The series is meant to be a parody of Super Sentai, featuring adults who are all obsessed with different areas of geek subculture and defend Japanese prefecture Akihabara from their own delusions which eventually start coming to life.
But in a weird moment of Power Ranger inception, an episode of this series’ second season features the team going up against the “Powerful Rangers”, a pair of heroes strongly resembling the Green and Red Rangers from the original series, wearing collars with US flag colors on them.
10 SQUADRON SPORT RANGER
America isn’t the only place where the Japanese Super Sentai carried an appeal. In Thailand, they loved it enough to create their own wholly original property. Sport Rangers starts when an alien race comes to Earth in an attempt to conquer it, when they get shot down thanks to an ongoing war, losing their two major power sources.
Eventually, one of them is found shattered into five pieces, and used as a means to create a group of heroes to protect the Earth. This might just be the first time Earth’s war-like nature has ever been the reason the planet’s been saved.
9 LOS LUCHADORES
As available superheroes to make cartoons from started to dry up, Fox Kids got more creative with some of their choices for new television series. And other than briefly flagging popularity with Power Rangers Turbo, live-action series about good guys fighting bad guys always managed to do quite well.
So in 2001, Fox gave Los Luchadores a try; a series combining the gadgets and monstrous villains of Power Rangers with the ever-popular world of wrestling, specifically Mexican lucha libre style. Luchadores Lobo Fuerte, Turbine, and Maria Valentine would battle against The Whelp, an evil… talking Chihuahua… to protect Union City. Well, you can’t say they weren’t trying to be different. Unfortunately, Los Luchadores only lasted a mere 16 episodes before coming to an end.
8 VAN PIRES
The Van Pires was one of those '80s/'90s era shows that was fond of splitting its show between live-action and animated (or in this case, CGI) bits. For whatever reason, the show is actually named after the villains -- the Van Pires are a collection of anthropomorphic vans that feed off gasoline in other “helpless” vehicles.
The only thing standing in their way? A collection of teenagers (called “Motor Vaters”) who were given the ability to transform into anthropomorphic vehicles as well. Considering the damage gas and oil have done to the environment, we’re not entirely sure the Van Pires were the bad guys in this situation. The only thing the Motor Vaters are saving us from are higher gas prices.
7 TMNT: NEXT MUTATION
It’s true that the Ninja Turtles as an idea pre-date Power Rangers by nearly a decade, but Ninja Turtles: Next Mutation definitely felt like an attempt to capitalize on the rampant popularity of live-action kids’ action series during the mid to late '90s. The series even had a crossover with then airing Power Rangers series, Power Rangers in Space, featuring an infamous scene of the Turtles flying on the Rangers’ space surfboards in the vacuum of space with no space suits.
Next Mutation started not long after the original '80s series came to an end, but it only ran for one year -- and had the dubious honor of adding the new villain Dragonlord… and the “fifth” Ninja Turtle, Venus de Milo.
6 VR TROOPERS
In a way, VR Troopers is probably the most creative series of any of these -- Power Rangers included. With no other continuously running shows to adapt, when Saban decided it wanted to expand they were forced to combine three different Japanese series -- Metalder, Spielban, and Shaider -- to create their next series, VR Troopers.
VR Troopers was the story of Ryan, Kaitlin, and JB, three teenagers who were granted special powers to fight against the forces of Grimlord, a malevolent being from the world of virtual reality, where an entire army of evil mutants lived. Unfortunately, the series could only last a short two years before they ran out of Japanese footage to continue to adapt.
5 MASKED RIDER
Three years into the rampant success that was the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Saban decided to expand the Power Rangers universe. To do so, they looked to the close relative of the Super Sentai source material, finding Kamen Rider. Unfortunately, Kamen Rider had been on hiatus since 1988, but that didn’t stop them from taking the last series to air, Kamen Rider Black RX, and bringing it over to America as Masked Rider.
Masked Rider follows Prince Dex, an alien from a planet where humans descended from insects. When his uncle Dregon conquers their planet Edenoi, Dex is made to flee to Earth, where he makes his last stand as Kamen Rider, defending both planets.
4 BIG BAD BEETLEBORGS
Aside from having the catchiest ear worm for a theme song this side of “Go Go Power Rangers”, Big Bad Beetleborgs was actually a runaway success when it first aired. The story took a ton of liberties with its source material B-Fighter (which was about a secret organization of superheroes), and turned three nerdy kids into superheroes after they stumbled into a haunted house.
The series lasted long enough to get a second season based off B-Fighter’s sequel, changing its title to Beetleborgs Metallix. Goofy as it was, this show was so beloved it was never actually canceled -- it just had to end after they ran out of source material, an unfortunately common story for most of these.
3 TATTOOED TEENAGE ALIEN FIGHTERS FROM BEVERLY HILLS
Most of the series on this list aren’t “rip-offs” in the truest sense of the word -- they just happen to fall under the same genre, but are usually quite different. Well, Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters is most definitely a rip-off. Coming out just a year into the first Power Rangers season, Alien Fighters saw a group of teenagers with attitudes collected by an amorphous alien creature that granted them special powers and transformed to transform them into Galactic Sentinels.
Oh, and they can combine their powers to form a being known as Knightron, similar to how the Rangers create a Megazord. The biggest difference between this show and Power Rangers is the Alien Fighters seem to always be giant, in the vein of Ultraman.
2 MYSTIC KNIGHTS OF TIR NA NOG
What sets Mystic Knights apart from most of these shows is it actually has no Japanese counterpart. Set in the distant past, the show leaned into the potential to use European mythology, featuring more fantasy monsters than a D&D bestiary. As usual, the main heroes are a group of kids -- they wind up in the mystical land of Tir Na Nog, and are given a group of trials to pass by the land’s king, and upon succeeding they’re given special weapons and armor to help protect their home lands from the evil Queen Maeve.
Despite Saban having the confidence to try something wholly original, Mystic Knights didn’t pay off, and the show came to an end in 1999 after only a single season on air.
1 SUPERHUMAN SAMURAI SYBER SQUAD
Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad is what happens when you take everything that’s popular in a single era and toss it all into a blender. It was a rip-off of Power Rangers because it was 1994 and everyone wanted their own. The kids were in a band because garage bands were popular in the '80s and '90s. And the teens fought monsters inside of cyberspace because the internet was just starting to experience its first boom.
Every week, Sam Collins and his band buddies Team Samurai faced off against evil programmer Malcolm and equally evil military AI Kilokhan. As rip-offs go, this was probably one of the better series, and the only thing that brought it to an end was running out of source material.