For those who grew up with me during the ‘90s, there’s no question that Saban’s Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was a big thing—and I mean a BIG thing. Remember how we tuned in every week just to follow the adventures of the original Rangers? the countless paraphernalia our parents bought for us? the hopeful expectation that the local video rental store would have a tape with a few episodes just so we could watch those again?
I remember all three, especially the toys I got: a White Ranger Morpher (by then, only MMPR was shown here in the Philippines), then a small key chain in the shape of the White Ranger’s sword, then, when Zeo became almost as successful as MMPR, the Gold Ranger’s staff. Such good memories.
Despite growing up, I still hold a great deal of fascination for the whole series (yes, even the Power Rangers made by Disney), which was reignited and rekindled and re-strengthened when I came across Power Rangers: Wild Force on Cartoon Network, followed by Power Rangers: Ninja Storm, and then Power Rangers: Dino Thunder (will you look at that…). Although I still have A LOT to watch to compensate for the time I couldn’t before, reading up on the Power Rangers chapters I missed (as in “throwing a knife and missing” missed) made the transition easier for me—and warmed and set me up to the idea of how the series went on.
Of all the numerous Power Rangers, here are the five people who I think are the best.
5. Billy Cranston, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
First off, we have Billy Cranston as the first science geek Ranger, who I think both created and reinforced the need for a Power Rangers team to have a scientifically inclined Ranger or member. The original Blue, empowered by the spirit of the Triceratops, was first and foremost an achieving student who would’ve gotten a
normal bright future if it hadn’t been for this guy(?):
Season 1 introduced the teenager who used scientific terms more than anyone else, so much so that his fellow Ranger, Trini Kwan, the Yellow Sabertooth Tiger, out of
sympathy the goodness of her heart, would translate what he said into layman’s terms just so that the other Rangers—and the audience as well—would understand the gibberish he just said. Here is proof.
DAFAQ. Seriously, if the “It’s morphing time” catchphrase wasn’t permanently imprinted on our minds, we would have just given up trying to even spell what he said. Good thing he never actually used the scientific name of his dinosaur when morphing.
Overtime, he gained the confidence needed to become a stable Ranger, with the fighting skills to boot, while still keeping up to date with his love for science—which comes to the rescue at the end of Season 3 of MMPR, when the Rangers were turned into kids; he was the only one able to turn himself back to normal with his own invention (however, it was stolen by Goldar, which prevents the reverting of the others). It is at this time that the Aquitian Rangers (Mighty Morphin’ Alien Rangers) defended Earth in their stead, Billy serving as the only sensible link between the two teams. However, unknown to everyone, his machine ultimately proves to be his own undoing: the reverse-aging accelerates his normal aging, a side-effect no one ever considered, and he needed a cure, or else he would have a Jack life. By the end of Power Rangers Zeo, he was sent to Aquitar for treatment, where he falls in love with Cestria and finally decides to stay there. Thus ends his career as a Power Ranger.
Billy’s growth has become more or less typical for a Ranger: bumbling with little to no confidence about his abilities to experienced enough to be a leader. As with anyone growing up, he gets accustomed to the fact that he is a Power Ranger (so, yeah, he kinda does need to man up). Back that up with a solid group of friends in Trini, Zack, Kimberly, Jason, and eventually Tommy, Rocky, Adam, Aisha, Kat, and Tanya, and you’ve got a niche where you all grow—mature—together.
4. Karone, Lost Galaxy
Skipping Turbo, since it’s basically the same cast as the Zeo Rangers (minus Billy, above), except the transfer of powers, we go to Power Rangers in Space, where Andros (Red Space Ranger), T.J. (Blue Space, former Red Turbo Ranger replacing Tommy), Carlos (Black Space, former Green Turbo replacing Adam), Ashley (Yellow Space, former Yellow Turbo replacing Tanya, who replaced Aisha, who replaced Trini), and Cassie (Pink Space, former Pink Turbo replacing Kat) are battling the Princess of Evil Astronema and her father, Ecliptor. Now, Andros was doing something on the side while being a Space Ranger: finding his sister, Karone. Sometime in in Space, it is revealed that Astronema IS Karone turned evil. At the end, Astronema is turned back to Karone by Zordon’s self-sacrifice (well, his energy wave of purification). Cue the celebration.
After a period of time, in Power Rangers Lost Galaxy (and after the death of Kendrix Morgan, the first Pink Galaxy Ranger), Karone, in her Astronema outfit, infiltrates the auction of the Pink Quasar Saber (the sword that gave the Galaxy Rangers their powers) somewhere, and tries to steal it—or get it back, your choice—when she comes across Trakeena, the main villain, who defeats her soundly and tosses her off a cliff. The divine intervention of Kendrix’ spirit, however, somehow makes possible the transfer of her powers to Karone…
… allowing her to be the second Pink Galaxy Ranger—the first character in the franchise ever to have the transition from main villain to Power Ranger (the Green Ranger doesn’t count since he technically wasn’t a main villain, just an overpowered minion; Rita Repulsa was the main villain at the time). She keeps the power of the Pink Galaxy Ranger for a time until events force her to return it back to a resurrected Kendrix, and after that, she is no longer mentioned—until the 500th episode of the whole series, “Legacy of Power” from Dino Thunder (interestingly, though, she was only introduced as Astronema, and neither Karone nor her time as the Pink Galaxy Ranger is not mentioned).
It is to note that while she was a BEEYATCH being Astronema, she was easily included in the new team of Power Rangers, with atonement as her reason for doing so. A disappointing fact is that the siblings did not have any screen time together as Rangers because when the crossover between Power Rangers in Space and Power Rangers Lost Galaxy happened, the Pink Ranger was still Kendrix.
These facts still do not litigate the fact that Karone still remains as the only person to both fight the Power Rangers as a main villain yet still join the team and fight with them—getting a taste of the evil that the Rangers fight against and the good that the Rangers are about.
3. Schuyler “Sky” Tate, S.P.D.
DAFAQ is wrong with his name?! Kinda fun though… Schuyler… Schuyler…
When he is introduced in S.P.D. (Space Patrol Delta), he is the Blue Ranger of the B-Squad, and how pissed off is he when he learns that a newbie, Jack Landors, was made the Red Ranger, and therefore the leader of B-Squad. Why was he pissed off? It’s just a color, isn’t it? Well, two things: 1) an S.P.D. Ranger is designated a number along with his color—the Red Ranger is always 1 of his/her respective squad and the one in charge; Blue 2, as the second-in-command; Green 3; Yellow 4; Pink 5 (sexism aside; that’s not the issue here); and this does not sit well with Sky because 2a) it was he who is the most familiar with the ins and outs of being an S.P.D. agent, seeing as his father was a Ranger, so his prides puts him in conflict with the fact that he was only Number 2, and 2b) his father was THE goddamn Red Ranger of S.P.D. Earth, influencing Sky so much that his dream was to follow in his dad’s footsteps and be a Red Ranger.
This pride and sense of self-entitlement leads him to more or less be at odds with Jack Landors. And he tries to go and prove to his squad that it should have been him, even to the point of, in an early episode, going alone to bring a space criminal to justice. He finds himself outmatched and beaten until Jack, Bridge, Z, and Syd come for him, and together, they defeat the monster. This is the experience that teaches Sky this lesson the hardest way: that no one in his squad denies his training and his heritage. Just that he was chosen to be Blue as a pride-check sort of thing. This turns out to be for his good later on.
In the middle of the series, the fate of Sky’s father is revealed: killed by the monster Mirloc. It is through this that Jack presents Sky the opportunity to be the Red Ranger so that he may exact justice on Mirloc. He does successfully and realizes that being a Ranger is not about the color or number designation; it’s about being able to fight for justice the way normal people can’t. Since then, he truly comes to appreciate the duties separating every Ranger color from the other, and he becomes an effective second-in-command.
At the end of the series, Jack Landors disappears—well, resigns, but he didn’t say goodbye to his team and his superiors until he was called in for it—and guess who becomes the Red Ranger?
So I guess all’s well that ends well.
2. Anubis “Doggie” Cruger, S.P.D.
This might be the only item in this list in which I considered physical appearance… which is only a small part, considering this man’s (dog’s?) achievements.
Aside from being a cool dog-person (dash indicates it’s quite literal), Doggie, as associates often call him, is
obviously an alien—Sirian—from the planet Sirius where he was a member of the original S.P.D. When the Troobian Empire went and saw his home planet, he led its defense. Although losing the war—the Troobian Empire eventually conquered the planet and killed the whole of Sirian race except for Doggie and, as eventually revealed, his wife Isinia—he scored a major victory against Emperor Gruumm by cutting off one of his horns, thus beginning their heated rivalry. It is worth noting that Gruumm is actually a superb hand-to-hand combatant, besting the B-Squad time and time again, so Doggie’s victory over him proves how skilled the former is.
After escaping to Earth and vowing not to fight again—believing his wife killed during the invasion—he founds the S.P.D. Earth Branch and trains newcomers and oversees all its operations. Over the course of the series, circumstances force him to break his oath and take up the Morpher, allowing him to become the Shadow Ranger, the seventh Ranger of the team, joining the B-Squad and the Omega Ranger. Again, his skills are proven, and by the end of S.P.D., he finishes what he started when he cuts off Gruumm’s other horn and contains him, finally putting the Troobian Empire in shambles.
Doggie possesses the qualities that would render his Ranger-ness a no-question… er(?): he leads the S.P.D. Earth Branch with a sound mind and with very sound judgment, he is unmatched by any of the Rangers on one-on-one battle, he handles field situations as a leader very well, and he has a very merciful character (proven when he recruits Jack and Z into the B-Squad despite their criminal status, reasoning that there is hope for redemption for them).
He is rewarded for all his efforts when he is chosen to become the Supreme Commander of the whole of S.P.D. Ha! New tricks for the old dog!
Honestly, for this list, Doggie would have been #1 if only a lot more people knew about him, but I guess the most popular of them all would be…
1. Thomas “Tommy” Oliver, various
Ah, the quintessential Tommy Oliver, the “legendary” Power Ranger and the most recognized face of the whole Power Rangers franchise. Appearing majorly in four series, with two crossovers for two different ones, he is recognized as the longest-serving Ranger in the history of Power Rangers. Prepare, for this is going to be a long one.
Tommy starts off as a new kid in Angel Grove who practices martial arts—and is actually pretty good at it, equaling Jason’s skills, so much so that it attracts Rita Repulsa to invite him over to the dark side. She puts Tommy under her control and gives him the powers of the evil Green Ranger (first). With it, he wreaks havoc and actually defeats the Power Rangers and destroys the Command Center.
Eventually, the Power Rangers receive additional powers and defeat the Dragonzord; after a one-on-battle with Jason, who destroys the Sword of Darkness, Tommy is restored to his original self—surprisingly with the Ranger power still within him. It is there that he starts to fight alongside the Power Rangers as their sixth member.
As with any complication, though, Tommy has a drawback: his power starts to wear off after repeated use. To cure this, Zordon uses his powers to create the Power Coin for the White Ranger (second).
With this, he brings the Rangers a new hope on their crusade against evil. Tommy retains his white color until the end of the MMPR series (he even becomes the White Ninja Ranger) when he is turned into child by Master Vile.
After having to sit back and watch as the Aquitian Rangers defend the Earth in their stead, and exerting a lot of effort, he eventually turns himself back to normal with the Zeo Crystal and acquires from it the Red Zeo Power (third), becoming Zeo Ranger V.
After harrowing experiences with the Zeo Rangers and their sixth (technically seventh) member, Jason, the Gold Ranger, he graduates from high school and becomes interested in stock car racing. It is here that he is chosen once more as the holder of the Red Turbo Power, becoming the first Red Turbo Ranger.
Not long after, their commandant, Dimitria, states that Tommy has fulfilled his role as a Ranger—as a defender of Earth—and he chooses T.J. to be his successor. Tommy then goes to college and gets his doctorate on paleontology.
He is next seen during the Wild Force crossover “Forever Red” where he uses the Zeo Ranger V power once again to fight the remnants of the Machine Empire, the main villains of Power Rangers Zeo. After the episode, he goes back to anonymity.
He appears next as a high school science teacher at Reefside, California, the setting of Dino Thunder. There, he recruits Connor, Ethan, and Kira, and entrusts to them the Dino Gems, to be the Red Dino Ranger (Tyranno), Blue Dino Ranger (Tricera), and Yellow Dino Ranger (Ptera), respectively. He eventually joins the group when he unravels the secrets of the Black Dino Gem, allowing him to fight as the Black Dino Ranger (Bracchio, fourth and last).
When Trent Mercer is revealed to be the antagonistic White Dino Ranger (Drago) and he was subsequently defeated and recruited into the team, Tommy is there for him when he needed help the most, mostly because Tommy knows what Trent was going through: reminiscent of his past as the evil Green Ranger (TENEN: this is a weird throwback of sorts to Tommy, as the evil Ranger in his time was the Green Ranger and he eventually becomes the White Ranger, and now, the evil one is the White Ranger, so yeah, try to make sense of that statement). When Dino Thunder ends, and with the powers of the Dino Gems gone for good, Tommy officially retires from his life as a Ranger, thus ending his long and illustrious career, proving time and again that he is fit—despite his age—to come to Earth’s defense as a Power Ranger.
It is this dedication and commitment that fans have seen and admired from Tommy: whenever the need to be a Power Ranger arose, he would willingly say yes and ask no questions. And he would fight as if each was his last. His constant service to the different mentors/commanders of the Rangers, and never forgetting where his roots were, serves as a hallmark and physical representation of the phrase “Once a Ranger, always a Ranger.”