The original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers TV series aired from 1993-1999 and comprised a total of 156 episodes. This was the first U.S. series adapted from the popular Japanese kids show, called Super Sentai. While this show eventually proved to be extremely popular with children, launching a new mega franchise, it wasn’t all smooth sailing for the Morphin ones. It took a lot to adapt the series and get it to become the global phenomenon that we all know and love today. As the Power Rangers get set to return in a new big budget movie, we look back at 10 things you likely didn’t know about the Power Rangers.
10. Bryan Cranston Has a Long History with the Power Rangers
Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad) plays Zordon in the new Power Rangers movie. But did you know that the actor has a long history with the Power Rangers? In the mid-1990s, a then-unknown Cranston got a job doing voice over work for Saban Entertainment, which produced the original Power Rangers TV show. If you pay attention, you can hear Cranston voicing some of the villains on the show over the years. The character of Billy Cranston is even named after the actor. Of course, Cranston would go on to find fame as the father Hal on Malcolm in the Middle and then reach cult status as Walter White on Breaking Bad. Now, Cranston is returning to his roots, so to speak, playing Zordon in the 2017 reboot.
9. The Series Was Banned in Canada!
Today, the 90s series Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is viewed as being quite tame. However, back in the day the program was often criticized for being too violent and scary for extremely young children. Believe it or not, this led to the Power Rangers being pulled off the air in Canada, of all places. The violence inherent in the show led to it being banned by Canadian kids’ broadcaster YTV. The removal of Power Rangers from Canadian airwaves caused many fans of the show to complain, and this sparked a debate about violence in programming geared towards children. The Power Rangers remained off channels in Canada until 2011, when the heroes returned to YTV starting with the series Power Rangers Samurai.
8. Visiting the Power Rangers Set Became a Popular Thing To Do in Hollywood
The original Power Rangers series garnered a lot of celebrity interest, and visiting the set of the popular show became a cool thing to do in Hollywood. During the show’s original run, celebrities ranging from comedian Mike Myers and martial artist Jean-Claude Van Damme to Kiss star Gene Simmons and Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea all visited the Power Rangers show set, usually with their kids in tow. The cast have said that so many celebrities began dropping by the set, that production of the show was often delayed. Nevertheless, the cast was grateful for the experience of meeting so many well-known fans of the series. Producers even tried, unsuccessfully, to get some of the famous fans to guest star on the Power Rangers.
7. The McDonald’s / Arby’s dispute
The Power Rangers were a hot TV show and equally hot toy line in the 1990s, and this attracted a lot of companies looking to cash in on promotional tie-ins. One of the biggest companies was fast food giant McDonald’s, which produced a steady stream of Happy Meal toy tie-ins for the Power Rangers. However, relations between producers of the show and executives at McDonald’s turned sour when there was a mention of fast-food rival Arby’s on an episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Naturally, the brass at McDonald’s felt that any fast food mention on the series should have been about the golden arches. McDonald’s threatened to break its association with the Power Rangers, but eventually caved in after realizing how popular the Happy Meal toys featuring the Rangers were. There is a Happy Meal toy tie-in with the new movie out this year too.
6. Too Much Like Voltron
When the U.S. version of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first aired in other countries, it was criticized by some for being too much like the show Voltron. In some countries such as Germany, local TV stations even made the mistake of calling the program Voltron instead of Power Rangers. This irked the producers of the Power Rangers so much that they had the stars of the show embark on a publicity tour in Europe and Asia to help brand the Power Rangers as being distinct from Voltron. Many critics where surprised to learn that the Power Rangers had been on TV in Japan many years before Voltron was even conceived in the 1980s. While it may seem strange that anyone would confuse the Power Rangers with Voltron today, it was a sizable problem when the show debuted in 1993.
5. The Morphine Scare
In several Asian countries such as Malaysia, Vietnam, and The Philippines, the word “morphin” was dropped from the Power Rangers title as government censors worried it sounded too much like the drug morphine. Additionally, the saying “It’s morphin time!” was bleeped out in these Asian countries, as there were concerns the tagline would encourage young people to start doing morphine. In these countries, the series was simply known as Mighty Power Rangers. The word “morphin” was literally dropped from every conceivable aspect of the series. This may seem strange, but these Asian countries happen to be the center for the opium and heroin drug trades, from which morphine is derived.
4. The Disappearing Power Ranger Weapons
Only diehard fans of the show are likely to remember, but the Power Rangers each had their own custom weapon during the first year of the series. Black Ranger had a power axe; Pink Ranger a power bow; Yellow Ranger power daggers; Blue Ranger had a power lance; and Red Ranger a power sword. However, these weapons were only used in Season One of the show, as well as a little bit in Season Two. By Season Three, the weapons were dropped completely – mainly because networks airing the show complained about the violence and its influence on young children who looked up to the Power Rangers. The weapons have since reemerged sporadically in other Power Rangers shows and films, but they have never been deployed as much as they were in the first season of the Mighty Morphin series.
3. The Show Was Originally Called ‘Dino Rangers’
Like a lot of Hollywood fare, the Power Rangers went through a number of name changes and considerations before landing on the title we all know today. While the show was given many names at various times, the one name that was most seriously considered was Dino Rangers. As producers in the U.S. were adapting the Japanese series for American audiences, they thought about calling the show Dino Rangers simply because young children love dinosaurs so much. In fact, there are some rare t-shirts still kicking around showing the Power Rangers in their familiar stance with the title Dino Rangers blaring across it. Eventually though, Dino Rangers was rejected in favor of Power Rangers, owing to the lightning special effects in the series.
2. The Actors Were Only Paid $600 a Week
While some Power Rangers cast members have gone on to bigger and better things over the past 20 years, they were largely unknowns during the series’ first run. And they were paid like a bunch of unknown actors too. While the cast of other 90s sitcom phenomenon Friends were each earning $1 million per episode, the cast of the Power Rangers were paid the paltry sum of $600 a week. That is extremely low by TV series standards and almost criminal, given that Power Rangers was one of the most successful kids show of the decade. Also, the actors on Power Rangers did not receive any royalties from the sale of merchandise – even the toys and other items that bore their likeness. This seemed particularly cruel, but the producers managed to sign the cast to unfavorable contracts, and they paid for it. Or rather, didn’t pay for it as the case was.
1. There Have Been 20 Different Power Rangers Series To Date
While the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers started the craze back in the 1990s, and hopes are high that the new movie will help to revive the franchise, the truth is that Power Rangers never really went away. Various shows and incarnations of the Power Rangers have continued on since the original Mighty Morphin series went off the air. In fact, to date, the have been a total of 20 Power Rangers series adapted for U.S. television, including Power Rangers In Space, Power Rangers Ninja Storm, Power Rangers Jungle Fury, Power Rangers Zeo, and Power Rangers Dino Super Charge. The list goes on. But the bottom line is that the Power Rangers have and continue to dominate children’s programming around the world.