When Fox debuted Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in 1993, it was supposed to be just a brief filler kids show. Before anyone knew it, it had become a full-fledged phenomenon. Ratings were huge, merchandise sales were massive and toy stores nearly became the site of riots with parents buying figures. The series has endured ever since with numerous incarnations and still remains an iconic franchise today. Its original audience are now parents introducing their kids to it and it’s likely Power Rangers will dominate for some time.
However, like any long-lasting show, MMPR has a few skeletons in its closet. Things weren’t always rosy on set with the cast having to endure some rough stuff. Also, the recent Boom comics series has painted a much different picture of several characters that puts them in a darker light. It mars the series to make it much different to watch today. Here are 20 dark facts behind Power Rangers that may mar your appreciation for this series.
20 The Walkout
In late 1994, at the show’s height of popularity, a huge moment occurred. Long annoyed by the lack of good pay, Austin St. John, Walter Jones, and Thuy Trang united to demand more money. To this day, it’s unsure if they quit or if they were fired but overnight, the trio were gone. The show used body doubles and past footage to fool fans until a new trio of Rangers could be cast. St John would later return but it’s still a rough period for the series.
19 Green Vs Red
One unproduced idea for a season was to have Jason and Tommy each leading their own Rangers teams that came into conflict. Interestingly, actors Austin St. John and Jason David Frank have had a serious beef going with each other. They clashed on set a few times with St. John bragging about being in underground fights and Frank calling him a liar. It’s grown over the years with each taking shots at the other in online videos on who’s a tougher guy. Many of the comments can’t be repeated to show how the former teammates aren’t on the same page today.
18 Lord Drakkon
A major moment in the Boom comics series sees the Rangers stumbling onto an alternate reality where Tommy stayed evil. Overthrowing Rita, Tommy, now the twisted Lord Drakkon, became obsessed with controlling the multiverse. He even had a brainwashed Kim as his servant. This set up the epic “Shattered Grid” event as Rangers of various eras had to unite to stop Drakkon with Tommy fighting his evil double. It’s a twisted sight for how the most noble Ranger could have been their greatest enemy.
17 Tommy’s PTSD
In the show, Tommy is brainwashed by Rita as the Green Ranger to be evil. He overcomes it fast and the show brushes it off. In the Boom comics series, the effects are far more realistic. Tommy is constantly haunted by Rita’s voice in his head, imagining her mocking him on how he actually loved being evil. It basically gives Tommy post-traumatic stress disorder which he tries to cover up to aid the team. It’s a darker take on the character that makes rewatching the show in a different light.
16 The Original Yellow
It’s well known that TV pilots change a lot before they become regular shows. That includes a lot of recasting and Power Rangers was no different. Originally, Trini was played by Audri DuBois, a powerful Latina martial artist. The plans would include her being more assertive and basically second in command of the team. The actress was dropped when the pilot was picked up with Walter Jones stating she was asking far too much money. Thuy Trang took over the role but the original pilot has made fans wonder what could have been for DuBois.
15 The Intense Shooting Schedule
Rangers actors all agree that the shooting schedule could be incredibly intense. The producers were pushing for more episodes and thus making the cast put up with long days shooting at a breakneck pace. It got to the point where nothing could stop them. That included in early 1994 when an earthquake struck part of Los Angeles. Despite how terrifying that was, the cast was still ordered to go to work like nothing happened. It’s no wonder so many of the actors got serious stress filming the show.
14 Red And Black’s Wild Parties
The original cast became pretty close as the show became a huge hit. In particular, Walter Jones, who played Black Ranger Zack and Austin St. John, who was Red Ranger Jason, got pretty close. They stayed that way when they both left the show, becoming roommates. Their parties soon became pretty heated to the point that the police would actually have a helicopter fly over to ensure things didn’t get too out of hand. They may have been clean-cut on the show but these two got pretty wild off screen.
13 Too Real With a Sword
Ricardo Medina had played Red Ranger Cole in Wild Force and been popular in the role. Years later, he returned to Samurai now playing the suave swordsman Deker and even better in this part. Sadly, Medina is now considered persona non grata for Rangers fans despite his status as a Red Ranger. That’s because in 2015, Medina stabbed his roommate in a fight with a sword and is currently in prison for voluntary manslaughter. It makes watching his performances here much harder.
12 The Real Reason Billy Left
A crazy turn in Zeo was when, overnight, Billy suddenly aged into an elder man. The explanation was some sort of weird disease and the only cure was to have him leave for another planet. The true reason was that David Yost had long endured some on-set bullying over his lifestyle. He’d kept it quiet for a long time but it finally got to be too much and without warning he quit the show. It really ruins the “family set” vibe to know what Yost had to put up with in that time period.
11 A Hard Day’s Work
Zordon is one of the greatest icons of the Power Rangers franchise. The huge floating head was the mentor to the team and gave out sage advice as well as their powers. One would think David Felding had a good time in the part but that wasn’t true. Basically, he shaved his head for one full day of shooting and that was it. He would do voice-overs but the show just re-used the exact same footage of that day for Zordon in the tube. Felding has cracked how that one day of shooting had him set for life.
10 Too Wild Fans
The show’s huge success came as a surprise to everyone, especially the actors. Overnight, there were huge stars and fans wanted to meet them. The kids were no problem as the actors enjoyed being their heroes. It was the adults that could be the issue. More than one lady tried to get close to Austin St. John to tear at his clothes and have him run off. Also, Amy Jo Johnson had a bad experience with a stalker that caused her to swear off conventions for years. It showed there truly are some downsides to fame.
9 The Tragic Loss
When the show celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2018, it was a huge deal. The cast got together for some reunion panels and articles to talk about their experiences. Sadly, one key cast member was not around. Thuy Trang had played Trini, the original Yellow Ranger and still loved by fans even after she left the show. Tragically, in September of 2001, Trang was killed in a car accident. Her loss still affects the cast and fans feel some pain seeing her life cut so short.
8 Too Much Heat On Set
The early season of the show didn’t have much in terms of budget. It’s why it relies so much on the original Japanese footage and uses so many of the same sets. One episode has Billy and Kimberly using a machine that ends up swapping their minds. The device was meant to fire off some sparks as it worked but whoever put it together didn’t bother checking for safety. The sparks ended up causing a fire that gave David Yost and Amy Jo Johnson minor burns and showed how dangerous filming could be.
7 Finster’s Darkness
On the show, Finster basically looks like a monster Gepetto as he creates the various creatures Rita uses to try and take over the world. He seems a kindly figure with a nice sense of humor. The Boom comics, however, paint a much darker picture. The backstory is that Finster grew up in a quiet alien village and was bored by how peaceful it was. He became obsessed with creating monsters that unleashed destruction. His wife tried to stop him and paid the price for it. It casts the character in a new light to show he’s just as much a monster as his own creations.
6 Cain And Abel
Goldar has always been an imposing figure and a tough fighter. The Boom comics show his origins are even darker than fans could have anticipated. Goldar and his brother, Silverback, were servants of Zedd with Silverback feeling their talents were wasted. When Zedd ordered them to aid Rita, Silverback refused. Zedd told Goldar to slay his own brother and without hesitation, Goldar did so. So the next time one is ready to mock Goldar, just remember he took out his own kin to get ahead.
5 Attempts At Banning
Over the years, Power Rangers has faced a lot of challenges from parent’s groups over the violence. The showrunners have even had to tone down a lot of the fighting due to kids emulating the fighting too much which led to some bans in Canada. The show was also openly banned in Malaysia because officials there thought the “Morphin” title was a reference to “morphine.” It was allowed to air eventually, but it's still notable how the show had to face a few challenges because of concerns over its violent content.
4 Bad Pay Day
While the show may have made the cast stars, it didn’t do too much for their paychecks. At first, it was understandable given the low budget meant they didn’t get huge pay. But as the show became a smash hit, the actors were still denied not only larger pay but also a cut of the massive merchandising. The cast was denied being part of a union which added to the stress of the long shoots. The actors may look back more fondly today but note the set wasn’t always a fun time.
3 Deal With The Devil
A major part of adapting the Sentai series to Power Rangers was changing some of the original Japanese content for U.S. audiences. Often, the original show could be very dark in ways that would never work for American kids. That included the backstory for Rita Repulsa. She was the Witch Bandora who had lost her son and made a deal with a demon for magical powers to gain revenge. Needless to say, there was no way they could use that for the American version and so changed Rita into the semi-comedic figure we know today.
2 Nearly Canceled
Fox and Saban never expected Power Rangers to be such a hit and had planned to end the show after about 40 episodes. It would have culminated in a huge two-part tale with the Rangers finally victorious and Rita banished back into space. When the time came, the show was so huge that Fox had to keep it going. Likewise, Fox had ended their connection with the show after Wild Force only for Disney to swoop in to give it new life on ABC. Disney then tried to have the show ended with RPM only for Nick to start airing it. It's astounding just how many times the Rangers have avoided outright cancellation.
1 Power Rangers SVU
The 1995 big-screen movie was a huge deal for the franchise with a much bigger budget. Originally, Gabrielle Fitzpatrick was cast as the warrior woman Dulcea but had to bow out for a bit due to illness. Mariska Harigtay thus took on the role and spent weeks filming the part. When Fitzpatrick recovered, Hargitay was pushed aside and all her scenes reshot. Today, Harigtay is best known for her starring role in the long-running Law & Order SVU series. Yet it’s interesting how close she came to being part of Power Rangers lore.