Since last month when I wrote about how Hasbro will no longer partner with Toei to produce seasons of Power Rangers, a lot has been going through my mind. I’ve been a fan of the franchise for most of my life and while I didn’t watch each season as it aired, I have gone back to rectify that mistake. For a franchise that has been in existence for over 25 years, it’s amazing to me that it still has tons of fans across the world. There’s just something charming about watching, what is essentially, superheroes in spandex beat up monsters with martial arts, explosions, and giant robots.
That’s a gross oversimplification, I am aware, but it sums up everything that’s appealing about Power Rangers. Add on legitimate character growth and development, varied and unique settings and powers, compelling villains, and a constant upbeat outlook on life, and it’s hard not to see why the franchise has endeared itself to millions.
Back in 2017, in the leadup to the pretty decent Power Rangers movie reboot where Rita Repulsa was defeated by the power of Krispy Kreme, one of our writers wrote a series of features that compiled a lot of different rankings for the show. What were the best ranger suits? Who were the best sixth rangers? What were the best theme songs? What were the weirdest episodes of the franchise? And, of course, what were the best seasons of Power Rangers?
On the whole, I agree with most of what he said in those rankings, minus one or two seasons here or there (Megaforce is too damn high and Wild Force is too damn low!). Lord knows there’s still plenty of ground to cover with the franchise, so why not dive back in with a new series of features discussing the show.
There are many of you who might only be aware of the first season of the show in the 90s, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and nothing else. You might be surprised to know that each season since 1998 has had a different cast, powers, setting, tone, and was no longer a show about “teenagers with attitude.” Plus, with over 900 episodes across 26 seasons (though some seasons are connected), it can be pretty imposing knowing where to start. This feature is mostly for the newbies: the people who want to learn more about Power Rangers but don’t really know where to start.
Below are five seasons of the show that I think are perfect for newcomers to dip their toes in the franchise. While I’m generally going to recommend ones that I believe are good, the point here is to direct newcomers in the direction of seasons that may be more up their alley. I might not love some of these seasons as much as others, but I can at least take my personal preferences and bias out of the equation and say others I know love them, so why not give some variety?
Besides, if it was up to me, nearly every single sci-fi based season of the show would be on here. Also, because I know some people are going to get mad at me for this, sequel seasons are generally a no go since continuity can be problematic for newcomers. I know that In Space is great, but as the conclusion to six years worth of storylines, it’s not the best place to start.
Power Rangers: Time Force
In what is debatably the last of the Saban-era of Power Rangers (before the series was bought out by Disney), Time Force is notable for several reasons. The biggest comes from the new leadership. While previous teams were typically led by the Red Ranger, this one is led by the Pink Ranger, Jen. She’s a police officer from the future who goes back in time with her teammates to arrest a mutant Ransik -played by Vernon Wells- who killed her fiance, the previous Red Ranger. Bold premise for a season, but Time Force is probably of the best in terms of maintaining a central narrative.
Future seasons have problems when it comes to keeping our heroes and villains interesting, most notably by constantly shuffling villains every dozen episodes or so. Time Force keeps things focused and has a strong sense of identity from that. These actors actually had acting experience prior to filming this season (a rarity for Power Rangers, sadly), which delivers some of the best acting in the history of the series. The ending may be a bit deflating in that you might be expecting a big action set-piece, but the emotions on display by the main cast are remarkable.
Power Rangers: Dino Thunder
Dino Thunder is, in a lot of ways, a callback to Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. It was the first season in a long time that had our cast be high schoolers, have their powers derived from dinosaurs, and it features the return of series alum Jason David Frank’s Tommy. He had played the Green and White Ranger in Mighty Morphin, the Red Ranger in Zeo, and for a time the Red Ranger in Turbo.
While it’s always nice to see Jason David Frank return, he has a tendency to draw attention away from the other rangers. Despite that, there is an air of realism to this season. While our heroes were still fighting giant monsters with superpowers, the problems they ran into during their everyday lives felt all too relatable and weren’t out of the realm of possibility.
Dino Thunder is probably one of the more balanced seasons in the show. There is plenty of character development for both our heroes and villains along with a healthy amount of martial arts fights -as well as special effect fights-. The central narrative is merely okay, but it is bolstered by a wonderful villain named Messogog, and an evil ranger subplot that is handled fairly well. There’s really nothing too memorable about this season besides being consistently good, but always being good is hardly a bad thing.
Power Rangers: Jungle Fury
For a season that focuses almost entirely on martial arts fights, you better believe Jungle Fury delivers some wonderful hand-to-hand fight sequences. For the past several years, Disney and executive producer Bruce Kallish tried to back peddle on the frequent use of martial arts in order to better cater to broadcast standards, but Jungle Fury went all-in on having more up close and personal fight scenes.
The Rangers in this season are martial arts students who learned from various masters in order to better their skills to defeat an ancient evil named Dai Shi. The characters may not have been anything special (with the exception of their mentor RJ, who is a delight every time he’s on-screen), but this is the season you watch almost exclusively for its action moments.
Honestly, the plot takes a back seat once more in favor of character development, but mostly between the main villain’s host body (he possesses a martial arts student named Jarrod) and his lieutenant, Camille. It’s rare to see genuine development on the front of an antagonist in Power Rangers, but that just goes to show how strange a beast Jungle Fury is. The season is at its best during fight scenes, though fair warning, nearly every bit of goodwill is almost thrown out the window in the finale.
Jungle Fury can be a goofy series, but the ending takes things a bit too far, nearly invalidating things in the process. Thankfully, that wacky finale doesn’t destroy any of the awesome fight scenes. You can’t beat Kung-Fu for kids.
Power Rangers RPM
RPM is one of the most divisive seasons in the show, and for good reason. The season was meant to be a series finale of sort for the franchise, as Disney wanted to cancel it but had to produce one more season of the show for merchandising. Because of this, everything and the kitchen sink was thrown into this season, including concepts that were deemed too out there, even for Power Rangers.
In the world of RPM, humanity has been all but exterminated in the robot apocalypse and is hiding out in the city of Corinth, widely regarded as the last city on Earth. Most of the heroes are survivors that have experienced many hardships and trauma and are the last line of defense for humanity. However, there’s a strange air of self-aware parody to the season, bolstered by goofy Megazords for the rangers to pilot and characters who’s comic relief shtick don’t gel with the post-apocalyptic world at all. That’s before we even get to the fact that the show went well over-budget and had numerous production delays.
This should have been a disaster, and yet, many regard RPM as one of the best seasons of the show. There’s a good reason for that: it takes risks and most of them pay off wonderfully. RPM delivers the best character work in the series, bar none, mostly thanks to Dillon, the Black Ranger, and Dr. K, the mentor of this season. The tension and atmosphere are genuinely excellent, and it’s probably the most mature Power Rangers will ever get.
That being said, the second half of the show is somewhat weaker, mostly thanks to the original showrunner and writers leaving halfway through. The action bits are definitely one of the weaker elements of the season thanks to a non-stop use of shaky cam. Even so, RPM is Power Rangers for teenagers, and at times, for adults, making it into a show that anyone can enjoy.
Power Rangers: Dino Charge
As the most recent season on this list, Dino Charge is a breath of fresh air compared to the seasons that it surrounds – many of which are often regarded as some of the worst the show has ever produced-. While it does have another dinosaur theme, Dino Charge and its sequel season Dino Super Charge, are genuinely enjoyable comedic romps that never overstay their welcome. The two seasons don’t take themselves very seriously and deliver some fresh ideas that we’ve never seen in the series before.
The Blue Ranger is a caveman for crying out loud! Plus the main villain just wants to destroy the Rangers so he can marry his girlfriend. Also, the space-time continuum gets obliterated in the finale and the team has to essentially pull a Rick and Morty just to save the day.
Dino Charge offers up the largest team of any season up to this point with 10 consistent team members, albeit two of them are introduced in the second season. Because of that, there’s a lot of well-earned character development, even if it’s not the strongest that the series has had up to that point. Even still, Dino Charge is honestly the most fun I have had with Power Rangers in a long time.
I know there are other, more comedic series like Ninja Storm, but what betrays that season is how little I care for the main cast and outright loathe the villain. Dino Charge knows exactly how to be entertaining for kids while not belittling their parents’ intelligence.