In 1993, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers debuted on Fox Kids. The series first started on weekdays but moved to Saturday mornings to the delight of school-age children. With a strangely addicting theme song, the Power Rangers have remained a part of childhoods to the present day.
Saban took a risk adapting the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers for US Audiences. The special effects show it was based off of in Japan was already widely popular, but American audiences were different. Luckily, one year earlier, X-Men had already debuted and proved that team-based shows could work. But could a live-action show about a team of teenagers with attitude also bring more viewers to Fox Kids? Saban’s risks paid off, and the show has lived on for multiple seasons. There was also a darker, live-action movie from Lionsgate films in 2017.
Critics of the show blasted Mighty Morphin Power Rangers for being childish and cheesy. They mocked the colorful spandex warriors and laughed at the original Japanese footage. They couldn’t accept that the series was meant to be fun. Yet, with the fun of Power Rangers, there was also a darker side. Not only did the show have darker moments, but behind the scenes were tough times for the cast. If not for these five, and later six Power Rangers, other localizing teams may not have taken a chance on other Japanese media, such as Sailor Moon.
Our list covers some surprising facts about the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers team.
25. Mighty “Morphin” Power Rangers
After Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was well-received in North America, it was distributed to other countries. Though the current series was tame enough for American children, other countries have their own sets of laws and regulations. Since Super Sentai, which Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was adapted from, were already being localized for some Asian countries, some changes had to be made.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was briefly banned in Malaysia for a simple reason: the title. The word “Morphin,” a slang variation of the word “Morphing,” which refers to transformation was feared to refer to “morphine,” a medication, instead. Malaysian officials believed that “Morphin” was promoting substance use. The show was eventually allowed on air after removing the potentially dangerous word from the show’s title.
24. Party Like It’s 1999
Walter Emanuel Jones is well-known for his portrayal as Zack Taylor, the Black Ranger. His co-star, Austin St. John, played the main hero, Jason Lee Scott. After gaining fame from the show, both men lived together in Glendale, California. Their parties ended up being the talk of the town. They resembled wild frat parties, only with stunt team members and professional back up dancers. There were multiple kegs in the backyard, where tipsy party-goers would attempt to play volleyball. With such a large crowd, the police were often called to their house. They could be told to keep it down but would continue the party shortly afterward. If a party got too rowdy, a police helicopter would show up and shine its spotlight on the crowd as a warning.
23. A Devastating Loss
Thuy Trang portrayed Trini Kwan, the original Yellow Ranger, in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Though her relationship with Saban Entertainment was rocky, she had a strong bond with her other four cast members. They often spent long hours together filming the show, and the cast often recalls the family-like atmosphere. The original three Rangers left in a contract dispute, and they all hoped to one day reunite. Many of the cast did in Power Rangers Super Megaforce’s “Legendary Battle” episode, where past and present Rangers banded together to fight evil.
Unfortunately, Thuy Trang did not make it to that reunion, nor the Huffington Post Power Rangers reunion interview in 2014. She was killed in a car crash in 2001. Power Rangers Time Force’s episode “Circuit Unsure” was dedicated to her memory.
22. Bringing The Heat
Unlike its Japanese counterpart, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers didn’t have a large budget. Saban had to make due with the equipment they had. Due to time constraints, they couldn’t test all of the equipment and props to make sure they met safety standards.
In “Switching Places,” genius Blue Ranger Billy creates a machine that switches his brain to the Pink Ranger, Kimberly. Though the show doesn’t air the accident, the pyrotechnics in the machine caused them both to be set on fire. Though it was an accident, the incident scared both Amy Jo Johnson and David Yost. Though they weren’t injured, it was enough for Amy Jo Johnson to be more cautious and not stand too close to the equipment in later shows.
21. A Deal With The Devil
Rita Repulsa was known as Witch Bandora in Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, which Mighty Morphin Power Rangers took inspiration. From the show’s introduction, we learn that she was imprisoned for years and has returned to conquer Earth. Her Power Rangers backstory is more devious in the original Japanese series. She originally lived in the prehistoric days as Queen of the Dall Tribe. After her son was killed by a Tyrannosaurus avenging its young, she went crazy with grief. She sold her soul to Great Satan in exchange for magical powers, while losing all memories of her son. In her rampage, she was taken down by the other Tribal leaders and sealed away 170 million years. She was accidentally set free in 1992 by unsuspecting astronauts.
20. More Money, More Problems
The cast of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers had to go through an audition process. In the pilot, a different Yellow Ranger appeared. Audri DuBois was cast initially as Trini. She was a powerful, Latin martial artist. Audri DuBois would only appear in the pilot episode “Day of the Dumpster.” Walter Emanuel Jones, who portrayed Zack Taylor, stated in an interview that Audrey DuBois was let go after asking for more money.
Trini was recast as Thuy Trang, who had studied Kung Fu since she was a child. She was one of the few cast members who had martial arts training. Two new pilot episodes were filmed starring Thuy Trang as the Yellow Ranger instead. All future episodes were planned around her new actress and not the original pitch for Trini.
19. The Color Yellow Has No Gender
It’s no secret that they used footage from multiple Japanese Super Sentai shows. The drop in film quality made the switch even more apparent. One significant difference is one of the characters. In the series that Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is based on, Kyuryu Sentai Zyuranger, one the Rangers is a different gender. Many fans believed that the Pink Ranger wore a skirt because she was more feminine than Trini, the Yellow Ranger.
The Yellow Ranger doesn’t wear a skirt because, in the original series, the character was male. Zyuranger’s Yellow Ranger was not only male, but his name was merely “Boy.” The Yellow Ranger was intended to be male and not female. Thanks to Saban’s decision, it showed to viewers that one didn’t have to wear a skirt to be feminine, but if a Ranger wore one, it didn’t make them any less powerful.
18. Being Famous Has Its Downsides
Fame does crazy things to both actors and fans. After the surprising success of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the cast was living well. They enjoyed meeting fans and celebrities visited the set with their kids. The Power Rangers were becoming a household name. Fame also has its downsides. Austin St. John, who portrayed Jason Lee Scott, the Red Ranger, displayed confidence and strength to fans. Kids wanted to be him, and older fans wanted to claim him. Austin St. John’s athletic skills impressed young, female fans. The fans became so obsessed with him that they would rip off his clothing in an attempt to touch him in public. He also had to move twice because fans would stalk his house. After multiple attacks, Austin St. John had enough. He began to shield himself and become more private.
17. Completely Unrealistic Expectations
The filming schedule for Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was extremely tight. It was still unknown if the show would be successful, and Saban was taking a potential hit in profit by moving forward with the show. The cast would try to stay nearby if they had to work the next day.
Thuy Trang, who portrayed the Yellow Ranger, Trini Kwan, and Amy Jo Johnson would often sleep over at each other’s homes to be closer to the set. In 1994, a devastating earthquake hit Los Angeles. They went through the quake together and were shocked when they had to report to work a few hours later. Though they showed up and ready to film, they didn’t end up shooting an episode that day because the rest of the crew stayed home.
16. He’s Special, So Very Special
Jason David Frank, who portrayed Tommy Oliver and the Green Ranger, didn’t initially have a starring role. He was only meant to act as a temporary villain, working for the leading enemy Rita Repulsa. His last episode was expected to be “The Green Candle: Part 2”, an episode that would have had dire consequences for poor Tommy.
After hearing that the character might not return, fans flooded Saban’s offices with pleas to keep the character around. These pleas were before the days of social media and the internet, so fans having to write out letters, address them, and take them to the post office had more meaning. Thanks to fan demand, Tommy was given another chance and became a regular member of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers cast. Jason David Frank enjoyed the role so much that he stayed around for guest appearances on future seasons.
15. Not Such An Easy Sell
When Haim Saban first discovered Super Sentai heroes, he was impressed. At the time, his only experience Producing a tv show was Kidd Video on NBC. Though he didn’t have much experience, he told his partner Shuki Levy that he wanted to bring Super Sentai to American children. America has a history of superheroes clad in spandex, yet it was difficult to sell the premise of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to networks. He thought that tv stations would be thrilled to take on the show, but most of them refused. For seven years he tried to convince them that kids would love a show about teen martial artists fighting alien threats. Evey network turned him down until he met Margaret Loesch, President of Fox Children’s Network. She loved the idea and gave him the green light.
14. Too Much Violence, Just Enough Spandex
As Mighty Morphin Power Rangers rose in popularity, unaware parents were finally watching the show for the first time. Though the show didn’t have any human deaths or graphic stuff, they complained about the amount of violence. Other countries took notice of the violence. In 1994, a young woman in Norway was killed. Though the show was unrelated to the violent crime, it was pulled from TV3 to protect young viewers.
In New Zealand, many parents complained that the show was a poor influence. Parents believed the show was telling kids that the only way to resolve conflicts was by fighting. The show was pulled from Television New Zealand, even though the country became the home of where multiple Power Ranger series were filmed. It wasn’t until 2011, over fifteen years later, that the show was finally allowed back on the air.
13. A Hard Day’s Work
Remember the giant floating head named Zordon? David Fielding was thrilled when he was cast, taking inspiration from powerful gods like Zeus or Odin. Unfortunately, the role wasn’t re-occurring. The series already had a limited budget, and the intensive CG footage that Zordon required was just pushing the limit. All of Zordon’s scenes had to be filmed in one day over the course of a few hours. He had to be shaved bald and sat in a single chair for hours. His face was filmed in different directions with the intention of being reused in different ways over the course of the season. What made this character even more creepy was that his facial footage was shot separately from his voice. Though you may not have noticed as a young child, his mouth movements and speech were not in sync.
12. What’s In A Name?
There wasn’t much planning involved when Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was green-lit. All we know is that there was a tiny budget to pay for the staff and any special effects. The name wasn’t initially set in stone, either. Since the show’s counterpart was Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, Saban tried to keep the dinosaur tone of the series. Each Ranger had a dinosaur themed helmet, so a dinosaur-related name only made sense. He was also unsure if the show would be renewed for another season, so there were no plans at the start to plant the seed for a long-running series. Amy Jo Johnson stated in an interview that when the show began filming, it had the title Dino Rangers. After the show began filming, Dino Rangers was changed to the official title Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
11. The Ultimate Disrespect
The series ended up being more popular than expected. A movie was planned for release in theaters. The movie didn’t use any stock-footage from the original series and was quickly filmed over the course of five months. The cast was used to long hours and short production times. The movie had another problem, the script wasn’t completely written out and had to be filled in as filming happened.
Dulcea was originally played by Gabrielle Fitzpatrick. She would portray a mentor to the team, who was not only intelligent but also a powerful fighter. Unfortunately, Fitzpatrick got ill, so Mariska Hargitay took over. Fitzpatrick recovered before filming ended, so all of Hargitay’s scenes were replaced with Fitzpatrick’s instead. Fans of Hargitay now know that she ended up in a long-running role on Law & Order: Special Victims Unit one year later.
10. Gun Control
In the early 1990s, parents were becoming more concerned with violence in children’s media. All media was becoming more violent and increasingly crawling into content for both adults and children. The ultra-violent video game Mortal Kombat was released in 1993, which made both politicians and guardians more concerned with the media children were consuming.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was already facing censorship or outright banned in some countries. In Season One of the show, the Power Rangers often used their Blade Blasters to take down enemies. These Blasters didn’t shoot bullets, but parents were concerned at how much they replicated actual guns. Parents complained to Saban about these replica guns. In Season Two, the weapons were not used in battle again. The Blade Blasters remained permanently holstered.
9. A Sad Yet Understandable Departure
With low pay, unfair working conditions, and no end in sight, Austin St. John, Thuy Trang, and Walter Emanuel Jones, left in Season two. They knew that Saban Entertainment was making millions from the show, along with toy sales, and not passing along the wealth to the cast. The low wages frustrated the entire cast, but not all of them were willing to quit. In a later interview, Amy Jo Johnson also revealed that the three cast members wanted to become part of a union. Joining a union would guarantee them more rights and fair compensation for the work they performed. Saban Entertainment didn’t think so and refused to change. Saban had to use body doubles, and stock footage to hide their departure for six episodes until their replacements Steve Cardenas, Karan Ashley and Johnny Yong Bosch were hired.
8. It’s Called Improv!
Saban Entertainment may have been inspired by Japan’s Super Sentai shows, but the company didn’t know how to replicate everything. They knew they couldn’t use stock footage for every scene, and the actors they hired would have to perform some time. Often, the cast had to make up their fight choreography. The crew would give the cast instructions on what to do.
Luckily, the cast they picked out were talented and dedicated to their roles. Walter Emanuel Jones, the Black Ranger, was not only a talented martial artist but also a dancer. In an interview, he recalled a time when he was given 30 minutes to do something interesting with a bench. Within that small time, he had to make up a compelling fight scene to impress viewers and look good on camera.
7. Power Rangers Stress Disorder
Saban was thrilled when Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was approved to be aired on Fox Kids. The cast was hired, and a crew was ready to get to work. The most significant issue Saban had was funding this project. He had big ideas but an even smaller budget. The cast wasn’t part of a union, so they were forced to work long hours and only a few months to film the first season. They dubbed their working conditions as “Power Rangers Stress Disorder” The show ended up being more profitable than expected. Saban Entertainment was profiting off of the show, but not reasonably compensating the cast. Austin St. John, the Red Ranger, expressed his feelings over the working conditions, stating that Saban thought minimum wage and catered food was fair compensation.
6. No Fairytale Ending Here
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers primarily focused on friendship and fighting evil. Things changed when the Green Ranger, Tommy Oliver, appeared on-screen. Although he was an enemy on the battlefield, he and Kimberly developed a romance. Their romance would soon end in Power Rangers Zero. Kimberly writes a letter to Tommy, letting him know that she had fallen for someone else. He was happy for her, even though it broke his heart. Tommy would also later move on to develop a relationship with another Ranger.
The script editor for Power Rangers: Wild Force revealed in 2005 that he wanted to reveal that Kimberly ended up marrying Skull. Their son would have been Power Rangers Samurai’s Spike. The idea was later dropped. All we know for sure is that their teenage romance may have ended, but the future holds many possibilities.
5. Who Needs Stunt Doubles?
Ever wonder how the Power Rangers excelled at fighting enemies in their every day and Ranger forms? Many of the cast members were skilled martial artists in real life. Red Ranger Austin St. John has practiced martial arts since he was five years old. He practices kendo but also has a second-degree black belt in Taekwondo and a first-degree black belt in Judo. Yellow Ranger Thuy Trang had practiced Kung Fu since she was a young child. Green Ranger Jason David Frank is a professional mixed martial artist but has studied a variety of styles, including Muay Thai, Wing Chun, and Jeet Kune Do. Black Ranger Walter Emanuel Jones also practices martial arts and is a skilled dancer. Saban Entertainment heavily relied on their skills. Not only did the cast have to act out their lines, but they also had to perform most of their stunts.
4. Not A Very Friendly Work Environment
America is still growing to accept people of different races, genders, and orientations. When Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first debuted in the 1990s, many weren’t so accepting of people who were “different”. The Blue Ranger, David Yost, was often harassed about his preferences. In a 2010 interview, he recalled how the production staff would call him anti-gay slurs and question him about his orientation. Though David Yost loved his role, he hated that he was not considered a real hero because he was gay. He left the show during the fourth season, Power Rangers Zeo, after becoming so depressed that he felt like ending it all. David Yost went so far as to go through two years of conversion therapy. After another breakdown, he finally came to terms with himself on his own, no thanks to his former workplace.
3. The Ending That Should Have Been
Though America has had a long history of superheroes, Power Rangers was a brand new concept. Sentai was successful in Japan, but Saban was nervous about how American audiences would take heroes in spandex. Fox Kids had taken a chance on the show for one season and were still unsure if it would be renewed. Just in case it wasn’t renewed for Season Two, an alternate ending was filmed.
In the alternate ending, the Power Rangers would fight one last epic battle against Rita Repulsa for the fate of the Earth. After defeating her, the team would seal Rita and her evil minions back into the Space Dumpster where she was first set free. She would be sealed away again, hopefully for another 170 billion years. It would have been similar to the final episode of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger “Viva Dinosaurs,” where peace is restored on Earth.
2. A Sea Of Potential Power Rangers
When Mighty Morphin Power Rangers was just a concept, an open cast call was held. Eager actors and actresses from all over the country flooded into the building for a chance to be part of the team. Austin St. John recalled the auditions in an interview with Entertainment Online. He stated that thousands came to audition. Though it was stressful, and some of the lines were a bit embarrassing to shout, it was campy and fun. After the initial open call, the potential leads were narrowed down to smaller groups. Austin St. John, Walter Emanuel Jones, and David Yost, were paired as a group to perform together. After spending so much time auditioning together, they became close friends, even before becoming part of the official Power Rangers.
1. A Parody Of A Parody
Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger is an unofficial Super Sentai show that parodies everything in the special effects genre. In episode five “Delusional Imports,” the show has a little fun with the US team, dubbing them the Powerful Rangers. Many fans believe that Power Rangers is a direct rip-off of Super Sentai shows, while others believe Super Sentai steals ideas from Power Rangers. Akibaranger attempts to mock both. Red Powerful Ranger and Green Powerful Ranger, who wear red, white, and blue collars and belts, appear to mock the Akibarangers for being a team of knock-offs. They criticize the team for taking their “American Powerful Rangers” and claiming it as a “lame” Japan property. The episode was meant to be fun and not a direct criticism of Saban’s adaptation.
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