Who would have thought that a cheaply made American adaptation of long-running Japanese tokusatsu franchise Super Sentai would become such a global and never-ending phenomenon? In 1993, Saban Entertainment launched Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and three cinematic movies, 22 separate series, and 30 years later, the color-coordinated cadets remain on our screens to this day.
Even though Hasbro is now in charge (and Disney took over for a stint in the 2000s), Power Rangers is still going strong, with Netflix in the midst of developing a total relaunch of the brand. So with its exciting future still formulating, let’s take a look back at the highlights of the past and run through the finest individual PR series of the lot.
While there have unfortunately been some lows over the decades — here’s looking at you, Operation: Overdrive — every Power Rangers series features something to recommend for fans. Just look at the latest entry in the saga. The ongoing Dino Fury has made waves by featuring the franchise’s first ever openly LGBTQ+ Ranger.
Nonetheless, some stand apart from the pack due to their sheer quality. With commiserations to runners-up Mystic Force, Ninja Storm, and Beast Morphers, read on for a ranking of the absolute best Power Rangers series to date.
10. Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue
As the very first entry in the Power Rangers saga not to be connected to the Zordon era in any way, Lightspeed Rescue deserves a lot of credit for ensuring the franchise’s longevity. What really makes it such a refreshing change of pace is the fact that its Ranger team isn’t made up of teenagers with attitude but adults. As the title alludes, Lightspeed has a “first responders” gimmick, with the group being made up of a firefighter, medic, lifeguard and more. The result is one of the most mature PR series, with much less goofy humor than usual.
9. Power Rangers: Wild Force
Wild Force is a fascinating transitionary season in PR history as it marks the first series to be produced by Disney but the last to be shot in the United States, before production was shipped over to New Zealand permanently. Apart from that, it’s notable for its innovative use of the Rangers’ Zords, with the animal-themed robots having a kind of mystical sentience as they are responsible for choosing their Rangers. Plus, it gave us “Forever Red”, which arguably remains the best Power Rangers crossover episode.
8. Power Rangers: SPD
Typically, the Rangers are just a few plucky individuals fighting the good fight, but that’s not the case in S.P.D. Set several decades in the future, it establishes that the Power Rangers have become a massive Earth-defending organization. Focusing on a team of new recruits who must step up to the plate when the planet comes under peril, there’s some great character development in there, too. Plus, the canine Commander Cruger is one of the most memorable post-Zordon Ranger mentors.
7. Power Rangers: Zeo
After Mighty Morphin managed to stretch out its Super Sentai source material for three years, Saban finally decided to start over with Zeo. Coming off the back of MMPR‘s terrific third season, Zeo builds on its predecessor’s foundations to expand the PR universe and deepen the storytelling, with some great twists along the way — including original Red Ranger Jason being revealed as the mysterious Gold Ranger. It’s just a shame its follow-up series, Turbo, dropped the ball.
6. Power Rangers: Dino Thunder
After the intervening series took the franchise in various directions, Dino Thunder marked a return to its MMPR roots — in more ways than one. Apart from the prehistoric theme, it also featured high school Rangers again (though it only began with three of them, giving them more room to grow). Best of all, the most iconic Ranger of them all, Tommy Oliver (Jason David Frank) returned, this time in capacity as mentor… However he does add another Ranger color to his collection when he becomes the Black Ranger.
5. Power Rangers: RPM
The best of the middle-era of Power Rangers has to be R.P.M., thanks to its bold ideas and reimagining of the status quo. Set in its own alternate universe (as confirmed by later series), R.P.M. is essentially a kid-friendly version of Mad Max, as it follows a team of car-themed Rangers protecting the dystopian city of Corinth from the monsters that dwell in the wasteland outside. The series also happens to feature two stars who went on to bigger things — Red Ranger Eka Darville (Jessica Jones) and Pink Ranger Rose McIver (iZombie).
4. Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy
Though In Space was originally envisioned as the grand finale to the PR universe, it proved so popular that Saban pushed ahead with Lost Galaxy — and, impressively, managed to carry over the same level of quality. Following a group of young explorers as they leave Earth for a new homeworld, the series combines sci-fi with a mythic fantasy vibe. It’s likewise famous for being potentially the darkest PR series of them all. Notably, this series marks the first time a Ranger died with Pink Ranger Kendrix killed off two-thirds into the season.
3. Power Rangers: Time Force
Time Force is just an example of everything coming together to make a near-perfect Power Rangers series. The Terminator-like premise sees a group of Rangers travel from the future to the present to foil an escaped mutant felon. On top of its X-Men-esque themes of racism and prejudice, TF features the best PR romance bar none in the blossoming relationship between no-nonsense Pink Ranger Jen and Red Ranger Wes, the ancestor of Jen’s former lover who goes from spoiled rich kid to true hero over the course of the series.
2. Power Rangers In Space
Power Rangers In Space is the favorite of many a fan thanks to its status as the culmination of the Zordon era, tying together MMPR, Zeo, and Turbo in a thrilling, dramatic storyline that liberally borrows from both Star Wars and Star Trek. Astronema, who turns out to be Red Ranger Andros’ corrupted sister à la Darth Vader, makes for a great villain and the ultimate battle, which sees Zordon sacrifice himself to save the universe, is still the finest finale in any PR series.
1. Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Yes, in terms of episode-by-episode quality, Mighty Morphin might not be the most consistently brilliant Power Rangers series, but it’s impossible to rank it anywhere other than first as it’s just so dang iconic. Even after all these alternate permutations of the franchise, there’s still nothing more appealing than MMPR‘s core setup and many of its revolving roster of Rangers remain unbeatable fan-favorites. The reason the saga is still unfolding 30 years later, and with a major Netflix reboot in the works, is thanks to MMPR turning out to be so morphenomenal.