It’s been a weird twenty-something years. Power Rangers has seen good days and bad days, both supreme bouts of popularity and near cancellation. Yet somehow, this series has survived so long that it’s managed to get three different adaptations to the big screen. To be honest, when I first started watching Power Rangers all those years ago I never thought I’d be as committed to the series as an adult.
One of the reasons it’s managed to have strong, lasting power is the fact that Power Rangers reboots itself every year. Thanks to the footage garnered from Toei’s Super Sentai series reinventing the wheel, Power Rangers is allowed to experiment with crazier ideas every year.
But how do they compare to one another?
Honorable Mention: Power Rangers Ninja Steel
As of this writing, Ninja Steel is only ten episodes in (so halfway through the first half), so I can’t fully rank it among the others yet. I’ve been enjoying what I’ve seen so far, however. Far removed from Neo-Saban’s (when Saban reacquired the rights to the series’ production in 2012) early growing pains, this season resets the age of the team — they’re teens in high school again — and it’s got all of the goofiness of the OG seasons but with better acting. I mean, they just introduced a gold ranger, who’s a country-western star and his helmet has a hat on it. What’s not to like?
20. Power Rangers Operation Overdrive
Summary: Two brothers try to steal a legendary crown (the Corona Aurora), but are imprisoned. Years later, explorer Andrew Hartford uncovers the crown, freeing the two bad bros. Andrew then brings in five folks, including his son, to become Power Rangers and gather the pieces of Corona Aurora before the baddies do.
Operation Overdrive is just a huge mess. I’m not exactly sure who or what to blame for its overall terribleness, but it’s a combination of terribly written plots, terrible acting, terrible suits, a rap opening theme, and a bunch of characters who were all awful jerks. Seriously, this is the only season in Power Rangers where each member of the team is a selfish person with little redeeming value. The worst season of the Disney era, and the worst season overall.
19. Power Rangers Samurai/Super Samurai
Summary: After otherworldly monsters invade feudal Japan, the Shiba clan trains generations of samurai to fight them and keep the otherworld (the Sanzu River) from flooding into the human one.
After Saban reacquired the production rights to the series from Disney in 2010 (which fans have dubbed the “Neo-Saban Era”), they took one of the shows I never thought would be adapted, Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. The original series was unequivocally Japanese, so naturally, there would be translation pains. But Samurai was the victim of a lot of factors. The series had moved to Nickelodeon, seasons were cut down to 20 episodes apiece (thus separating each series into two halves), episodes were aired out of order (the premiere was the fourth one produced), acting was all-around awful (not to mention the worst child acting of the series), and it directly adapted plots from the original Japanese series even if it didn’t make much sense in English. But, regardless of all of these factors, the show became popular enough (again) to keep going, mostly due to how unique of the season’s theme was.
18. Power Rangers Mystic Force
Summary: After dark forces of magic threaten the world, a great sorceress gathers five destined teens to be become Power Ranger wizards and fight the armies of the undead.
Like Samurai, Mystic Force is another season with a theme unique from the rest. The magical world (along with the admittedly cool look for the rangers themselves) could’ve been a great thing. However, the season became too focused on world-building, introducing new characters every few episodes rather than allowing the season to breathe and/or give its core Ranger team the focus necessary. It became a Red Ranger season, meaning the Red Ranger got the bulk of the character work, but this was also a huge misfire since the Red this season (named Nick, sadly) was bland and uninteresting. The finale also had a random “mystical creatures vs. normies” kind of thing that sort of popped up out of nowhere, but the less said about that the better.
17. Power Rangers Megaforce/Super Megaforce
Summary: Five teens are chosen to defend the world from an invading insect army then unlock powers at an alarming rate, eventually resulting in the ability to morph into every generation of Power Rangers before them.
Okay, there’s quite a bit to unpack here. Megaforce was technically announced as the 20th Anniversary of the series, but nothing was officially done about it until Super Megaforce. Imagine the combined 100 episodes of two different shows mangled into a 40 episode nonsense machine and that’s Megaforce. Rapid pacing combined with random tributes to Power Rangers never seen before (not even editing the Sentai exclusive teams out of the footage), and an overall laziness contributed to this season’s downfall. Even more troublesome was what happened behind the scenes during their big anniversary episode. Saban had initially invited a bunch of old cast members but rescinded many of those invites before filming because they had become too expensive. So that’s why you get two minutes of Tommy toward the end of the season and not much more there. But the suits and power changes were cool, so whatever.
16. Power Rangers Turbo
Summary: The Rangers drive cars really fast.
Turbo was such a bad season it nearly ended the series altogether. After debuting with Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie (which is oddly counted in the series’ story despite being f**king terrible), it took footage from the Japanese Carranger, which was made as an intentional parody and saved Super Sentai overseas, and gave it gritty overtones. Its constant need to be taken seriously clashed with episodes where they got baked into a giant pizza or that one where Justin was stuck on a bicycle moving on its own. None of it was helped by a major casting change midway through when the OG cast decided to move on from the project after a few of them had stayed on for like a billion episodes. The one thing that saves this particular series is the fact I liked the new cast quite a bit. Patricia Ja Lee was the first Asian American Pink Ranger, and Selwyn Ward was a great Red Ranger. The two injected much of the needed personality this season (and beyond).
15. Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue
Summary: When Demons attack Mariner Bay, the Lightspeed organization recruits five individuals with expertise to become a rescue squad of Rangers to save the day.
For these next few entries, there are seasons that were almost good but not quite there. These seasons often had great ideas but were hindered by other aspects of the production. Lightspeed Rescue was awesome for a number of reasons: The military theme gave the Rangers a more professional vibe than in seasons past; the suits had a nice, clean look to them; it had a good theme song; they created a unique power ranger for the series; and Carter Greyson was an awesome, no-nonsense Red Ranger who shot first and asked questions later. What keeps it from being great, however, is the lack of interesting villains, often befuddling writing (such as focusing the traditional team-up episode between seasons on some random child actor), and the fact that one of the main villains was just terrible.
14. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S3
Summary: The Rangers get ninja powers before turning into children and then aliens show up.
While fans are nostalgic for Power Rangers‘ initial run, most seem to forget how bad the third season was. A strong brand with a gradual loss of popularity, the writers had no idea what to really do anymore. With an increased budget leading to less Japanese footage, it adapted Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie into the series proper, adding in Ninja Powers, the Tengu Warriors, the Ninja Megazord (even using toy footage when the Ninja Megazord combined with the old Titanus zord), and eventually turning the Rangers into kids for the last half of the season. The brief (and terrible) Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers mini-season debuted here, and those are probably the worst episodes of the initial run. And I’m including Trini’s troll doll. Still a lot better than the seasons higher up on the list, however.
13. Power Rangers Wild Force
Summary: Five people are gathered on the floating island of Animaria, an island full of ancient animals called upon to protect the earth from pollution and environmental junk like that.
Wild Force suffers many of Lightspeed Rescue‘s issues, with uninteresting villains (until the last few episodes anyway), weird decisions (their mentor was the worst), increased focus on Red Ranger, and an overbearing environmental message, but it’s a rung above thanks to some standout episodes. Its crossover, “Reinforcements from the Future,” is one of the best; the 10th Anniversary “Forever Red” episode remains one of my favorites; the suits were cool, and I actually was a fan of its Red Ranger until he committed an actual murder. I can’t look at this season the same anymore, sadly.
12. Power Rangers Dino Charge/Dino Super Charge
Summary: Five, then six, then seven, then ten people gather together when each discovers a long-hidden dino gem, full of a transformative power that helps them fight the forces of evil.
The reason Megaforce was such a hearty failure is that it no longer had the excuse of Saban re-learning how to produce the series. But apparently they needed two series to figure out exactly how to handle things because Dino Charge was a major improvement all around. It had better pacing, better filler episodes (meaning they don’t contribute to the story but often provide character growth or comedy), a better cast of actors (Brandon Mejia is a great Red Ranger), and goes down in Ranger history for having the most Rangers on a single team at ten. Though not all of the Rangers were worthwhile (it’s hard to develop ten different people in 40 episodes) and it fell apart toward the end, Dino Charge was still more enjoyable than most.
11. Power Rangers Zeo
Summary: After the destruction of the Command Center leaves them stranded, Zordon unveils a new set of powers from the Zeo Crystal, and this new level of power is needed more than ever against an invading machine legion.
Although Power Rangers was no stranger to change the first three seasons, the series didn’t officially receive its first major overhaul until Zeo. Accompanied by an opening theme touting these new powers (based off of footage of a new season of Super Sentai) as “stronger than before,” Zeo was an interesting thing. The Machine Empire had a larger villainous scope than Rita or Zedd, but they never accomplished anything concrete. There may have been a new Command Center, powers that technically grow in strength forever (thus leaving a plot hole for fans to argue about ad infinitum), and a starkly different suit overall, but Zeo also felt like a step down from the original series.
It was a strange but much-needed transitional period, resulting in the loss of David Yost (who stepped out of the series due to terrible conditions behind the scenes), the loss of Karen Ashley’s Aisha (who was written out of the show as a child), and the loss of quite a few viewers. This is where the nostalgia ends for most folks. But there were some great episodes within, like “King for a Day,” which featured one of the best Bulk and Skull plots of the entire series.
10. Power Rangers Jungle Fury
Summary: Three students of the kung-fu Order of the Claw are chosen to fight an ancient evil, Dai Shi, and rebalance the chi of the world.
Almost the final season of the series (before Disney decided to give it one last victory lap, RPM), it would’ve been a fine one to go out on. While it’s got some goofy qualities (like talking flies and master karate folks turning into animals at the end for some reason), it was an ambitious season. Featuring only three initial Rangers (with a fourth and fifth debuting much later), this season played out like a kung-fu movie for kids. The suits are pretty cool, the fights were well-choreographed in-suit and out, and instead of making a motorcycle to promote toy sales like other seasons, Jungle Fury chose to add three unique Rangers (who were initially evil puppets: another cool layer).
The finale may have been a bit rushed and unfulfilling, but it featured all eight Rangers fighting an undead army of monsters before a giant King Faux-dorah showed up for ten seconds. Also, the villains had a face turn, and that was pretty cool.
9. Power Rangers Lost Galaxy
Summary: Five strangers pull five mystical swords out of a rock and gain the power to save their floating space colony from an evil scorpion.
While Lost Galaxy isn’t one of my favorites, I have to give credit where it’s due. It’s a season filled with so many of my personal favorite episodes (“The Rescue Mission,” “To the Tenth Power/The Power of Pink,” just to name a few) and one of my favorite sixth Rangers (Magna Defender, who eventually turned his powers over to Leo’s brother Mike), but its shoes were just too big to fill. This was the first season of the series where the cast rotated out every year and the first of the post-Zordon era, and after In Space’s great finale everything felt lacking, naturally.
No matter how good it might’ve been in retrospect, it’s another victim of growing pains. Quite a common problem for the series overall, as you might’ve noticed.
8. Power Rangers Ninja Storm
Summary: After their entire ninja school was kidnapped by the evil ninja Lothor, three less than great ninja students are chosen to become the Wind Ninja Power Rangers and fight to save their fellow ninjas.
Though Disney acquired the production rights to the series mid-Wild Force, its first actual foray into the show was a fantastic debut. Though fans had to get used to a lot of new norms (32 episode series lengths, New Zealand locations and actors, less direct violence), there was an overall newness to the series that felt like a breath of fresh air. This first season focused on three initial Rangers (which had never been done before) before adding two Rival Rangers to the foray and had some pretty great acting from its main cast. The main villain, Lothor, was too hokey for it, and some of the episodes bordered on cartoonish terribleness, but the stark contrast of its style to seasons before and after helped make its mark among the others.
7. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S1
Summary: When evil sorceress Rita Repulsa escapes her prison of 10,000 years, a giant floating head and his robot butler recruit a team of teenagers with attitude. He endows them with dinosaur powers and they learn the value of teamwork and environmental friendliness.
Yes, the season of the series with the most fans isn’t the best one. Though it began the Power Rangers legacy and introduced traditions (like the mythical sixth Ranger) and other mythos to the series, it was back before any nuance was added. There were monster-of-the-week episodes — most of which are unmemorable (save for the “Rapping Pumpkin”), the teens themselves didn’t have as much attitude as advertised (they were goodie goodies who recycled and the like), and it was back before good dialogue was a thing in this show.
But, credit where it’s due and all that.
6. Power Rangers Dino Thunder
Summary: When the Mercer Corporation unleashes an army of dinosaurs, three kids stumble on dino powers and Tommy Oliver recruits them to form his very own team of Power Rangers.
When the ratings for the series began to falter, Disney brought the series back to its roots. A dinosaur theme, three Rangers at the start (which honestly might be why some of Disney’s seasons worked so well), and the return of Jason David Frank as series mentor. Naturally, this meant Tommy Oliver got such a heavy focus (he became a Ranger again and got one of the best episodes of the series with “Fighting Spirit”), but the rest of the cast were no slouches either. It takes quite a bit to take attention away from Tommy, but this team managed to do it.
The teens felt like teens for once (they fought among each other, hated school and things like training), the main villain was complicated (which was a welcome change post-Lothor), and it even managed an evil Ranger plot with everything else going on. It’s not higher on the list because it has to compete with tighter series, but Dino Thunder is highly recommended.
5. Power Rangers SPD
Summary: Space cops in the future.
I’ll just say it outright: S.P.D. was slept on. With the best non-MMPR opening theme (which was no coincidence, as it brought back longtime composer Ron Wasserman) and the best suits from the Disney era, it nails a military theme that Lightspeed Rescue attempted years before. It also has a complicated set of Rangers in its core team and is set years into the future, giving it a different vibe from previous seasons. Plus,
there was a major story thread teased throughout which actually got the most focus toward the end of the season. A Power Rangers season with actual good foreshadowing? Yeah, it happened.
You see, this team was officially the “B-Squad” or the second best. When the A-Squad goes missing mid-season and re-emerges as bad guys toward the end. the final arc became overcoming their “second best” anxiety rather than taking on their generic villain.
4. Power Rangers Time Force
Summary: Earth cops from the future.
Time Force is the closest to B-movie quality the series has ever come. With an older cast (some of whom with previous acting experience, which is why so much of the series is well-acted), a team of Rangers from the future, some of the best suits the series has ever had, the best non-Tommy sixth Ranger (Eric the Quantum Ranger), and an unconventional villain (Rancic) who eventually gave up his evil ways when he put his daughter in danger.
Though it’s not a perfect series, as Rancic is the core of many of its problems (he’s sort of an unsympathetic jerk despite the series trying to portray him as the opposite), and some of the team isn’t as developed as others, the season featured quite a bit of nuance in its storytelling, which hadn’t been present in the series before. It’d be years before it got that level of nuance again.
3. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers S2
Summary: Zordon’s team of teenagers with attitude face even greater challenges than before like how to negotiate proper pay per episode.
The best season of Power Rangers‘ initial run was after they worked out the kinks. Lord Zedd was introduced, Tommy lost his Green Ranger powers and became the White Ranger, there’s an episode where Kimberly impersonates Rita Repulsa, three of the original cast were written out of the show due to contract disputes, Rita and Zedd get married, the Green Ranger and White Ranger fight in colonial Angel Grove, and Kimberly goes back in time and fights a Mexican stereotype cactus monster with the help of Wild West versions of her friends.
Writing this all out highlights how goofy the season was overall, but that’s what I love about it. It wasn’t overly serious like the first season, didn’t have the budget of the third season, and it’s the version of the OG series I remember most fondly. Still not great, but great by early Power Rangers standards for sure.
2. Power Rangers RPM
Summary: After a computer virus creates an army of machines, the remnants of humanity retreat to the domed city of Corinth, where a team of Power Rangers is the last line of defense for everyone.
Intended to be the final season of the series, showrunners decided to go for broke and throw everything they had into creating a post-apocalyptic film for kids. Lifting creative elements from films like Mad Max and Terminator, then adding a Power Rangers layer helped give this season a vibe no other season had before. It was more creatively cemented than years past, and actually had good cinematography, which had made RPM look much different than its predecessors. It truly had a sense of finality and reverence that the series had only had once before.
What keeps it from the top, however, is that behind-the-scenes events (going over budget, shifting showrunners) led to problems toward the second half. Most problematic, one of its major plots aped a famous villain from many years before. This may not have mattered to most fans, but this one small flaw does keep it from the top spot in my eyes. But not by much.
1. Power Rangers In Space
Summary: When an army of villains defeats the Power Rangers, the team escapes into space and gains a new set of powers before returning to Earth and laying the smackdown on errybody.
Like RPM, In Space was originally going to be the final season of the show, but it had such good ratings it basically saved the series. Going for broke, the production team decided to send it off with a space opera. A villainess fondly remembered for her multiplicity (which was huge for a kids show), the return of Adam for a guest-starring role in an episode as the Black Power Ranger, a set of evil Rangers that took multiple episodes to defeat, a Silver Ranger with a cool sword gun, and an actual end to the story started years before in Mighty Morphin episode one.
It featured a finale (which, admittedly, seems weak in retrospect when compared to the better written seasons of the later years) that not only captured Power Rangers at its best but also reflected the series’ campy-yet-serious spirit. It had a scope no other kids show had at the time and truly set the series on the path it’s on today.
There you have it! Those are how every season of Power Rangers ranks among the others.
If you’re looking for particular episodes to watch, here are my favorites:
1. “Doctor K” — Power Rangers RPM E11
2. “Countdown to Destruction” — Power Rangers In Space E42-43
3. “Green With Evil” Mighty Morhpin Power Rangers S1 E17-21