Since the '90s, Saban’s Power Rangers have played an essential role in both children’s television and to American pop culture. Based on the long-running Japanese superhero series, Super Sentai, the Power Rangers have produced two successful comic book series, three full-length silver screen adventures, nearly two dozen shows and released thousands of action figures and buildable megazords. In 2018, Saban’s Power Rangers celebrates its 25th anniversary, proving its staying power among fans. In celebration, several members of the Saban Brands team confirmed that there would be a special episode that will air on Nickelodeon to commemorate the franchise’s very impressive 25th anniversary.
Over the past 25 years, Saban’s Power Rangers created iconic heroes, vile villains, maniacal monsters and a plethora of impressive-looking zords. But throughout the franchise’s time span, Saban’s Power Rangers has received some massive bruises to the franchise that fans cannot ignore to look at. Between befuddling significant milestones, burning bridges with actors, bad business decisions and the interference of helicopter mothers, the franchise has dealt with irreparable blows that might have polarized their fan base and left a bitter taste in people’s mouths. Here at CBR we're looking at the 15 worst things that has ever happened to the Power Rangers franchise.
15 DIVERSITY ISSUES
Power Rangers producers have done an adequate job of hiring diverse casts to form the Ranger teams. But, there have been times that fans have questioned their diversity decisions. Critics of the franchise found it odd (and allegedly racist) when Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers debuted when Zack (Walter Jones) served as the franchise’s first Black Ranger, while Trini (the late Thuy Thang) became the series’ first Yellow Ranger.
It also took the franchise three years for T.J. (Selwyn Ward) to become the first African-American Ranger and another seven years for Pua Magasiva to become the first person of Samoan descent to lead the team in Power Rangers Ninja Storm. It also took the franchise 18 years for Lauren Shiba (Kimberly Crossman) to become the first woman to lead the Power Rangers Samurai and Power Rangers Super Samurai teams. Hopefully, the franchise will do better with diversity in the future.
14 SABAN’S POWER RANGERS BOMBS IN CHINA
Saban’s Power Rangers was released on March 24, 2017. The film received mixed reviews from critics as it achieved a 44% from Rotten Tomatoes and a 6.1 out of 10 rating from IMDb, and Power Rangers’ total domestic gross was $85 million. But, its international gross was just $56.4 million. One problem of why the international box office could be pointed to China.
It was reported from many publications that the sequel’s fate was possibly sealed when it earned over $1.2 million in one day, meaning there might not be a possibility of a sequel. Another reason that may put the franchise in jeopardy could be because Saban’s Power Rangers did not do the traditional 40 (Domestic)/ 60 (International) split that movie studio look for to approve of a sequel.
13 HORRIBLE 20TH ANNIVERSARY SEASON
In 2013, the Power Rangers celebrated their 20th birthday with Power Rangers Megaforce. The series kicked off with a dream that Troy Burrows (Andrew Gray), the Red Megaforce Ranger, had a legendary battle between every incarnation of the technicolored superhero group and the ultimate evil. Between that epic prophecy and having the Rangers being mentored by Gosei, one of Zordon’s students, what could have possibly gone wrong?
Sadly, Power Rangers Megaforce and Power Rangers Super Megaforce proved to be two of the show’s worst seasons according to fans. While having legendary rangers such as Tommy, Cassie, TJ, Leo, Wes and Emily were nice additions, the villains did not tie into the legacy of the show, and the highly anticipated Legendary Battle only featured the past and present Rangers facing off against an armada of foot soldiers. Talk about missed opportunities!
12 BAD ACTING
The Power Rangers franchise has been a training ground for actors. Past Ranger actors such as Amy Jo Johnson, Johnny Young Bosch, Cerina Vincent, Keith Robinson and Rose McIver have used Power Rangers as a springboard to launch their careers. But not every actor who has appeared in the franchise has either moved onto the big time or was well received by the Power Rangers fan base.
It's no secret that some of the characters created in Saban’s Power Rangers were carbon copies of previously written characters and that the actors did a horrible job interpreting the writers’ work. Also, fans also had issues with actors such as Blake Foster, Alex Heartman and Andrew Gray’s portrayal of the characters and their respective inclusions in the series.
11 BYE, BYE BILLY
Original Ranger actor David Yost appeared on the series from Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers’ “Day in the Dumpster” (August 28, 1993) to Power Rangers Zeo’s “King for a Day” (November 8, 1996). While an older actor portrayed Billy during the two-part “Rangers of Two Worlds,” many fans were surprised that the character was written off the show. Fourteen years after his final Power Rangers appearance, David Yost was interviewed and revealed that he left the show because of his horrible treatment by the Power Rangers crew.
In the 2010 jaw-dropping interview, Yost stated that he walked off the set that day after the crew threw homophobic slurs at him too many times. For a franchise that promotes friendship, diversity and acceptance, Yost’s harassment at the hands of producers was considered a low blow and left a bad taste in fans’ mouths.
10 RITA AND ALPHA TURN HEADS
When Saban Capital Group and Lionsgate announced that they were relaunching the Power Rangers back into theatres, many hardcore fans were excited to see the Rangers return to the big screen. However, fans quickly grew concerned when they saw the first photo of actress Elizabeth Banks as the iconic Rita Repulsa. Gone were the character’s Madonna cones and outrageous hairstyle, as Banks wore a green body suit, a golden staff and a crooked smile.
Fans were also not happy that the Saban’s Power Rangers producers did not incorporate Barbara Goodson’s iconic Rita laugh or phrases into the film. Fans also had a hard time accepting Alpha Five’s re-design which included two glowing yellow eyes and a more alien-like physique, with some media even calling Alpha’s redesign: “the thing of nightmares.”
9 SCARY SUPERMOMS
The second season of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers introduced pop culture to one of its terrifying television villains. Lord Zedd made his debut in “The Mutiny, Part One,” he instantly made an impact on the show. Through his creative use of monster making and insidious schemes, Lord Zedd made it harder for the Rangers to defend Angel Grove and is seen as the show’s best villain to the fan base. But there was one group who didn't like Lord Zedd at all.
Several rumors that swirled around the Power Rangers fan community stated that a group of parents complained to both Saban Entertainment, Inc. and the Fox Kids Network that they found Lord Zedd to be “too scary and evil” for children’s television. After mounting pressure from parents, the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers writing team changed Lord Zedd to be a more comical villain and had him marry Rita Repulsa.
8 MORE SENTAI, LESS ORIGINAL FOOTAGE
Longtime fans of the Power Rangers franchise know that there are two types of footage that the Power Rangers production team uses. The first is original footage that involves original footage such as unmasked Rangers tackling the villains’ foot soldiers and their everyday lives. The second group of footage involves several villain scenes, the teams confronting the monster of the day in uniform and in their megazords.
That footage comes from the Super Sentai series. Many of the franchise’s early seasons up into Power Rangers Turbo emphasized more on the Japanese footage over creating new material. The only time fans saw more original footage happened was in Power Rangers in Space was there was a miscommunication between Saban and Super Sentai. Hopefully, the 25th anniversary season will let their cinematographers and camera operators shine.
7 A PREDICTABLE FORMULA
Since “Day of the Dumpster” first aired on Fox Kids on August 28, 1993, almost every Power Rangers episode follows a specific formula. One ranger is dealing with a life problem and cannot solve it. Meanwhile, the villains amplify the Rangers’ problem by sending down the Monster of the Day to conquer the city. The Rangers fight both the monster of the day and the villains’ foot soldiers and henchmen.
The villains make the monster grow, and the Rangers defeat the enlarged monster in their megazords. After the monsters are defeated, the Ranger solves their problem, learns a lesson and the episode ends. It would be nice if the Power Rangers switch up the formula because the show is slowly becoming predictable to both new and veteran Ranger fans.
6 NICKELODEON’S “SUPER” DISAPPOINTMENT
Saban Brands bought back the Power Rangers franchise from the Walt Disney Company in 2010. The company turned to Nickelodeon in hopes that it could not only rekindle fans interest in the Power Rangers franchise but also attract a new generation of kids to the technicolored superhero team. On February 2011, Nickelodeon began a new chapter in Power Rangers history as it aired the first episode of Power Rangers Samurai.
While Nickelodeon did bring interest back to the franchise, it made a massive behind the scenes mistake. The crucial mistake was the addition of a Super season. By having a Super season, it made the American Power Rangers franchise lag behind its big brother: Super Sentai. As Super Sentai evolved with intriguing themes, stories, and characters, the Super seasons seemed repetitive and disappointed a majority of the fanbase.
5 IGNORING MIGHTY MORPHIN’ POWER RANGERS: THE MOVIE
On July 30, 1995, Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie was released. The Rangers’ first big screen adventure featured brand new zords, a vicious over-the-top villain Ivan Ooze (Paul Freeman), and incredible upgraded costumes. The story focused on the destruction of the Rangers’ original powers and Zordon’s near death. To save Zordon, the Rangers travel to Phaedos get new powers and zords based upon the Ninjetti and save their mentor and Earth from Ivan Ooze’s evil.
However, when Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers returned for its third season, the show ignored the film’s storyline and created a new storyline to accompany the Super Sentai series: Ninja Sentai Kakuranger. By not incorporating the Ranger suits or the film’s storyline into the series, the show started to lose some of their loyal fan bases and set a course of events that no one saw coming.
4 THE TERRIBLE TURBO SEASON
Just as David Yost exited the series, the franchise began to quickly descent downhill. It started when Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie bombed at the International Box Office and earned over $9 million. Unlike Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie, Power Rangers Turbo picked up where the film left off and changes seemed to happen all at once. In half of a season, the show lost Zordon, Alpha and four veteran Rangers.
In their place where a team full of rookies who failed to stop the season’s villain, Divatox, from destroying their Megazords, weapons and the Power Chamber, and were forced to say goodbye to Justin (Blake Foster) in the two-part season finale: “Chase into Space.” While the season introduced us to the first child to become a Ranger and the vivacious Divatox, fans consider Power Rangers Turbo as the series that destroyed the franchise.
3 SABAN SELLS TO DISNEY
In 2002, Saban made one of the worst decisions in franchise history. That decision was selling the Power Rangers to the House of Mouse. Halfway through Power Rangers Wild Force, the ABC Television Network began airing the second half of the series. After the Wild Force season finale, “The End of Power Rangers” aired, Disney moved the show to the other side of the world.
While Disney adapted the Super Sentai series, the Power Rangers made their debut at the company’s theme parks. Despite Jason David Frank’s brief return to the franchise and strong series such as Dino Thunder and SPD, fans did not like this chapter in Ranger history. Even Disney spokesman Jonathan Friedland spoke the company’s disdain for the brand in a 2010 interview. “It didn’t fit the brand,” Friedland said. “Moms didn’t like it!”
2 NO MORE FILMING IN THE USA
One of the worst decisions that the Walt Disney Company made was moving the entire Power Rangers production team out of the country. Since 2003’s Power Rangers Ninja Storm, the children’s television franchise has been filmed across parts of Japan, but mainly in New Zealand. Because of this decision, a strong majority of the actors and crew members that the Walt Disney Company hired were native New Zealanders or Australians.
While Saban Capital Group has hired numerous American actors to portray the Samurai, Megaforce, Dino Charge and Ninja Steel teams, the production crew has not returned to the United States to film any segments for the show since Saban got its franchise rights back. We would highly recommend to Saban Brands that Power Rangers should be brought back to the United States so that many more American filmmakers can have the opportunity to work on this series.
1 BURNING BRIDGES WITH ACTORS
The main problem that the Power Rangers franchise has and that fans have noticed over the past 24 years is that it has a tremendous problem keeping positive relationships with actors. In addition to the production crew’s harassment of David Yost, it was reported that the original rangers were making the same salary as someone working the McDonalds drive-thru. It was also revealed that both the contract and salary disputes were the main reason why Austin St. John, Walter Jones and the late Thuy Thang left the series halfway through season two.
The show’s second Yellow Ranger, Karan Ashley, also took issues with the long work schedule and low salary and exited the show before Power Rangers Zeo. By burning relationships with these actors, Saban showed that it cared more about their profits than their people. Hopefully, Saban Brands has changed their policies regarding Ranger actors.
Which of these were the worst? Let us know in the comments!