?When the Power Rangers first kicked, punched and explosion-flipped their way into American pop culture in 1993, they proved two very important things: first, Japanese television shows are completely fucking nuts; and secondly, if a show contains martial arts, monsters and giant robots that combine to form even bigger robots, kids will completely lose their shit over it, to the point of launching a franchise spanning over fifteen years and fifteen different television series.
At first, the Power Rangers shows followed one big overarching plot (we use that term loosely here). But after Power Rangers In Space, each new season featured all-new characters, all-new Ranger powers and all new villains dressed in oh-so-ridiculous costumes. Eventually, as expected with such a long-running franchise, it began appearing as though the creators started loading ideas into shotguns and shooting people in the face, then whichever idea caused the least brain damage, they went forward with. Regardless, the Power Rangers still remain ingrained in pop culture and nostalgic adulation. These eight series represent the best in Power Rangers history, and some of the best in childhood memories dealing with pretending you can transform into a colorful martial arts expert that gets to ride around in a pretty kickass mechanical dinosaur.
Special thanks to SpiderHyphenMan for suggesting this mighty morphin’ Daily List.
8) Power Rangers: Zeo
The last vestiges of the original series slowly faded away over the course of Zeo, which was a bizarre mix of cool moments and downright terrible ones. In this series, original Blue Ranger Billy Cranston moved from Power Ranger to technical advisor. Granted, this fit his character as he was always more of a tech guy than a martial arts guy, but at the end of the series, the character mindbogglingly ended up permanently moving to another planet because he fell in love with an alien. At the same time, this season also saw Jason Lee Scott returning to active duty as the Gold Ranger and saw the entrance of the Machine Empire, which increased the scope of the series to a universal level. Unfortunately, this season also saw Rita and Lord Zedd degenerate into a bickering married couple living in an RV on the moon, because, um… we have no fucking idea.
7) Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue
Lightspeed Rescue is sort of like the eccentric brother of the Power Rangers family. Presumably wanting to change things up a bit, Lightspeed decided that instead of gaining powers from some extraterrestrial or mystical force, the Power Rangers were a wholly man-made creation. As a special government organization comprised of teenagers, they drove rescue vehicles instead of the usual animal-based zords and battled against demons. Why demons, you ask? Because somebody fucked up and built the Rangers’ hometown on an ancient demon burial ground, obviously (why do demons need a burial ground? Because they just fucking do, alright? It’s Power Rangers, just go with it). As crazy as all that seems, Lightspeed gets major points for at least somewhat succeeding at breaking the Ranger mold. Say what you will about those rescue vehicle zords, it’s still far better than having a goddamn 12-year-old Blue Ranger. Way to almost kill the franchise, Turbo.
6) Power Rangers: Time Force
Time Force surprised many viewers with its unexpectedly great storyline and its set of interesting and compelling characters. The main thrust of the show involved the Time Force Rangers attempting to bring a dangerous criminal back to the future after he traveled back to the 21st Century with a bunch of cryogenically frozen convicts to do whatever it is that bad guys do. Along with astonishingly good acting, the show took into account the whole time travel bit and the Rangers’ interference in the past led to the creation of an all-new costumed crime fighting force not previously present. It also led to the existence of the Quantasaurus-Rex zord. And honestly, good story and good acting no longer matter because THEY HAVE A ZORD NAMED QUANTASAURUS-REX. They win. At everything.
5) Power Rangers: Wild Force
Sure, we can sit here list all the good points of Power Rangers: Wild Force. For example, the Rangers’ costume with their animal-based helmets looked ridiculous yet totally badass and the series featured the most number of zords in any Ranger series ever, offering a bananers amount of possible Megazord combinations. But in the end, none of that matters because Wild Force kicks major ass for one reason and one reason alone: the episode “Forever Red.” This episode reunited all 10 Red Rangers from Power Rangers history to stop the remains of the Machine Empire from unearthing Lord Zedd’s Serpentera zord. Just look at this:
Seriously, this episode made 10-year-old boys around the world experience their first nerdgasm.
4) Power Rangers: Dino Thunder
The last great Power Rangers series, Dino Thunder fantastically tied together the entirety of the Power Ranger Universe. For one, it brought back Tommy Oliver — at various points the Green, White and Red Ranger — but this time as the Black Ranger. This allowed for a priceless fourth wall joke about Tommy needing to go shopping, since he didn’t own black-colored clothing and all Rangers wear their specific color while in civilian garb. The season also featured the 500th episode “Legacy of Power,” which flashbacked to all previous Power Ranger incarnations, and the anniversary episode “Fighting Spirit,” where Tommy faced all of his previous Ranger forms. And if nostalgia overdrive wasn’t enough, Dino Thunder amped up the awesome factor by giving each Ranger a superpower upon transformation. It was like X-Men meets Power Rangers. Not much more to say there because the idea alone gives us a nosebleed from sheer fucking amazingness.
3) Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy
With the end of the previous season, the long-running storyarc that had been continuing from series to series finally ended. As such, Lost Galaxy began with a brand-new storyline and a completely new set of characters and Ranger powers. The new direction incorporated some great ideas, putting a sci-fi twist on the Ranger mythos and introducing elemental powers to the Ranger arsenal (thankfully, though, no one ended up with lame-ass “heart” powers). Galaxy also contained a number of firsts, including the first set of sentient zords and the first season to feature a Ranger dying in battle. However, it didn’t dissociate itself totally from the previous series. Instead, Galaxy walked a transitional line, being neither a direct continuation nor a completely self-contained series. Heck, the villain-turned-hero Astronema from the previous series even took over as the Pink Ranger at one point. And anything that brings back the supremely hot Astronema gets extra points in our book.
2) Power Rangers in Space
Meet the savior of the Power Rangers franchise. After the abysmal ratings of Power Rangers: Turbo, the space-based Ranger series was supposed to be the final installment. However, the franchise carried on (wayward sons) because the ratings for In Space were freaking astounding — and rightfully so. The series took on a much darker and more emotional tone and tied together everything that came before into a huge blockbuster story featuring the Rangers battling against the supreme evil of the galaxy. Whether Andros’ quest to save his sister Astronema, the jaw-dropping eight-episode arc introducing the Psycho Rangers, or the two-part finale featuring the return of the Alien Rangers and culminating with the death of Zordon, which for a young Power Rangers fan is like a stab in the heart, “insanely epic” sums up the entirety of the In Space series. Except for the episode that crossed over with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation, because anything dealing with Next Mutation is just terrible and best left forgotten.
1) Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers
As if it could be anything else. Everything about the original Power Rangers series screams iconic, from the opening theme song to the transformation sequence to even the Rangers themselves. This series made us believe that if we were teens with attitude, there was a good chance we could become Power Rangers. Even the storylines were freaking epic. The arrival of Tommy and creation of the Green Ranger practically blew our child brains apart. When Lord Zedd first came in, he was a total badass and nearly eradicated the Rangers. The departure of the original Red, Black and Yellow Rangers almost drove us to tears, but the introduction of Kat and ascension of Tommy to White Ranger status — with a TALKING SABER of awesome — filled the hole left behind. As good or as bad as the franchise became, nothing really lived up to the perfect timing and all-around brilliant ridiculousness of the original series. Now if you’ll excuse us, it’s morphin’ time.