'Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers': Teenagers with attitude, a childhood with joy

Power-Rangers

Image Credit: Everett Collection

It was an awkward conversation with my college roommate the day we moved in together. “Are you really hanging that up?” he asked, glaring at my Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers poster. “Of course!” I replied unapologetically. I mean, if I was going to have to stare at his giant Moroccan tapestry all year, he could handle my little Power Rangers poster. (And my WALL•E poster. And my Lost poster. Oh, and maybe my Spider-Man and Pokémon posters, too.) My roommate sort of grimaced, trying his hardest to seem pleasant, and I gave him a similar look of pity — clearly, he was deprived as a child.

After all, what’s not to love about the Power Rangers? Jason, Zach, Billy, Kimberly, Trini, and Tommy were my gang growing up! Every afternoon, I would sprint down my windy gravel driveway the second the school bus doors opened, fearing I would miss the beginning of the “Go Go Power Rangers!” theme song, which started right at 2:30 p.m. on Fox Kids every day. For three straight seasons, I never missed a single episode of the colorful, action-filled, Japanese import.

I loved everything about it — the way Alpha 5 would whine “Ei yei yei yei-ei” during stressful moments in the Command Center, the fact that Kimberly’s Pterodactyl zord always emerged out of an erupting volcano, the way Trini would shout “SABERTOOTHEDTIGER!” so quickly when the Rangers were morphing, the way the protruding corner of Zordon’s face made his head look like a speech bubble, the triumphant call of Tommy’s Dragon Dagger (which was so much better than that dumb talking sword, Saba), the extended process of the Ranger’s combining their special weapons into the Power Blaster, the way every character would coordinate his daytime clothes with the color of his Ranger outfit, the fact that they could teleport — it was all magical to me.

And it all came to life during my fifth birthday party, which was a Power Rangers-themed extravaganza. Every guest that came to my backyard celebration was required to wear a solid-colored sweatsuit — that was the price of admission. When someone arrived at the party, my mom finished off his costume by applying a set of white contact paper diamonds to his torso. (That’s me in my finished green getup.) We all played games like “Pin the Morpher on the Power Ranger” (seriously) and “Kick the Putty,” in which the kids would hang on a glider that extended from one tree to another and kick a cut-out putty that was nailed to the ending trunk. Even better, my teenage neighbor, who was a black belt in karate, came over and taught my friends and me some “real” Power Ranger techniques. It was pretty much awesome. Present-wise, I got every action figure any little boy could want — Goldar, the Dinozords (which could be assembled to form the the Megazord), Putties, all the Rangers, electronic Power Morphers, Blade Blasters, and, best of all, my very own musical Dragon Dagger.

In hindsight, the amount of Power Rangers memorabilia that I accrued during my childhood must have cost my parents a fortune, but I don’t feel guilty about having wasted my parents money the way I do with other childhood fads. The reality is that Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers was a pretty quality show. The characters were well-drawn — they had talents, fears, crushes, and genuine humor between them. The sets were expansive, the monsters creative and appropriately villainous (I had a lot nightmares about Madame Woe), and the effects impressive. Was the acting first class? No. Was Rita’s dialogue poorly dubbed over her Japanese speech? You know it. Were the fight-scene visuals repetitive? Of course. But the show had heart, and it took itself seriously enough that the kids watching it did too. I held onto the hope that one day, maybe I would get the chance to be a Power Ranger — ideally the green one, though not the evil green one.

How’s this for a metaphor: It’s kind of like I was a shapeless ball of clay before I watched Power Rangers. When I started watching the show, Finster picked me up, carved me into a little fanboy sculpture, and sent me through his machine. When I came out the other end, I was a full-blown fanatic! I collected comic books, T-shirts, trading cards, lunch boxes, and all sorts of toys. Just when I didn’t think I could be any bigger of a fan, Rita Repulsa threw her wand down to earth in the form of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie, and I grew to a gargantuan size. I still love Ivan Ooze!

I remained dedicated to Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers through the show’s three-year lifespan, even during that awful moment when Kat replaced Kimberly as the Pink Ranger. (I kept following Amy Jo Johnson’s career as a kid, though, and it led to me watching some way too dramatic movies like Sweetwater and Perfect Body as a youngster.) When the franchise began to morph more rapidly, changing its premise every season, my interest waned, but I still stuck around for a while. I watched Power Rangers: Zeo delightedly — the individual episodes of the Rangers having to locate their individual Zeo Crystals remain some of my favorites — and I tuned into Power Rangers: Turbo as well, though it always irked me that that little boy Blue Ranger could morph into an adult body. Stupid, right?! Power Rangers in Space and Power Rangers Lost Galaxy held my attention much less, as most of the original cast was no longer a part of the show, Rita and Lord Zedd had faded away as the villains, and Alpha’s voice had changed. Lame. I stopped watching after that, only occasionally checking in on the show

But Power Rangers will forever hold a place in my heart. To this day, I often make the “Doot-doot-doot-doot-doot-doot” communicator noise when trying to get someone’s attention. I hope other kids are getting as much joy out of it today as I got years ago. The world needs some “teenagers with attitude” willing to fight evil, you know?

And now, a question about my favorite ranger:


More nostalgia on EW.com:
An Ode to ‘Clarissa Explains it All’

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Comments (43 total) Add your comment
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  • Bethany

    I also LOVED power rangers as a kid. We still have some of the episodes on video somewhere…

    • Kevin

      “I’m Dreaming of a White Ranger” VHS is still packed away in my parents’ basement.
      I was extremely obsessed too, went to a stage/stunt show and it was the best thing ever. My power rangers bday themed party was held at a movie theater when the first movie came out, epic!

  • Josie

    Loved Kimberly, I watched the show until the day she left and was replaced by the Aussie Kat bitch :)

    • Nerwen Aldarion

      Ditto! I loved Kimberly so much.

      • KaT

        Double ditto!! I love watching AJJ on Flashpoint nowadays and I was super happy when she popped up on Felicity.

        She’s had a very good career post-MMPR

  • Scott

    I’m waiting for a big screen movie adaption revival that will sure to come with whatever big teen stars of the moment sometime within the decade.

  • Matt W

    White Ranger all the way!

    Power Rangers were my last series of Toys I got when I was a child.

    • Dava

      I agree! The white ranger was the best but Red Ranger was the real leader. Trini was always my favorite to the point that my 6th birthday was a yellow/yellow power ranger themed party. i never watched any of the other incarnations other than the original but my best friend and I played power rangers, literally every single day. My sister always wanted to be the pink ranger and my best friend wanted to be blue. Haha! So nerdy yet so awesome.

  • Paul

    You ever been to Power Rangers Morphicon? It’s crazy seeing where they are now. Tommy is an MMA fighter and is covered in tattoos.

  • J.J.

    I loved the show as a kid but stopped watching it after the Tommy became the White Ranger and the original cast all left it just wasn’t the same. I do however watch the movie whenever it randomly comes on TV.

  • paula

    Power Ranger were a classic, but my favorites were the first episodes with Trini, Jason and Zack, those were awesome. And yes, I also hate it when Kat replace Kimberley and saw not so appropriate made for tv movies like perfect body, for a 10 year old in the 90’s, now is like normal to see 10 year old kids with eating disorders.

  • Kimmy

    All the Power Rangers Eps are now on Netflix.

  • Justin P

    Green Ranger FTW.

  • Kristyna MacKinnon

    Actually where I go to college it is not unusally to see a pokemon poster hanging up in a dorm room or kids still watching the power rangers. The movie is one of rented dvd at the local video rental store

  • Michael Perkins

    Grady, I’m right with you! Fox Kids was my daily afternoon ritual, and my mind was BLOWN when a friend of my aunt’s, Bridget Riley, told me she was the Yellow & Pink Ranger double on the movie! I touched the costume…’twas AWESOME! :)

  • Lenny

    This is one of the best editorials I’ve read on EW. A wave of nostalgia just smacked me in the face. I LOVED this show as a kid. I still have some of the orginal toy line. It’s true that the first set of rangers were the best, though I did like some of the more mature storylines of the later series (a pink ranger died in one season if I remember right). I was delighted when ABC Kids started airing the orginal episodes about a year ago on Saturday mornings. I felt just like a kid again! I could have gone without the 60s Batman-esque BAMs and POWs they added to make it look new. I just ignored it, and watched the cheesy goodness that was the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers!!!

  • jessica

    When I attended/worked at the University of Texas, part of my work study job was testing the A/V equipment in the classrooms every morning, and the DVD I used to test the DVD players was of the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. It was great!

  • Jeanius

    I too loved the Mighty Morphing Power Rangers as a kid. I remember we used to “play” Power Rangers at recess, but after one kid got kicked a little too hard the teachers put a stop to it. Oh childhood….

  • Swarles Barkley

    The blue ranger was my favorite. He was the Hermione of the group and without him the other rangers would have been dead long ago. I love the 80’s/90’s kick that EW is on this summer.

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