#TransformationTuesday: Here's How the Power Rangers Changed Over the Years
Twenty-two years ago, a group of five teenagers with attitude were assigned a great task: protect the Earth from an alien witch named Rita Repulsa and her army of monsters. The teens formed a team — the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers — and used the power of dinosaurs to fight the good fight.
Over three years, the Rangers piloted giant robots called Zords, added a new member to their ranks in the form of Green Ranger (later White Ranger) Tommy and even hit the big screen in a feature film. After three seasons, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers came to an end.
Except that was actually just the tip of the iceberg.
The Power Rangers have been producing new seasons with hardly any interruptions since 1993. Over two decades, the show has brought in new teams, new powers and, perhaps most importantly, new suits. In honor of the Internet's favorite early week tradition #TransformationTuesday, let's look at how the Rangers' look changed over the years.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993-1996)
Important to note: With few exceptions, all the suits used in Power Rangers were originally used in the Japanese Sentai series. Stock footage from these series was mixed with original footage shot by the American crew to create what we know and love as Power Rangers. The original suits came from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger, which also focused on heroes using the mystical powers of dinosaurs.
These are the classic suits, incorporating each Ranger's dinosaur into their helmet. The white diamonds help break up the outfit, and the colors are as bright as we remember. It may be nostalgia, but these may always be the best suits.
Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers (1996)
In the original Ninja Sentai Kakuranger, these suits were used for ninjas, with sleek lines and ninjato swords in holsters on the back. In America, they were used for the Alien Rangers of an amphibious planet called Aquitar. It's also the first team to only feature one woman, and she was actually the leader of the team versus the typical Red Ranger leader.
For ninjas, these costumes are pretty great. As aliens, they were a bit bland, but luckily they weren't around for long: Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers was just a 10-episode miniseries at the end of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
Power Rangers Zeo (1996)
When the Rangers found themselves outmatched against a new enemy — the villainous and massive Machine Empire — they had to turn to the powers of the Zeo Crystal. "Stronger than before," the theme song announced gloriously, and indeed they were. These new suits used gold to accentuate the usual color-and-white scheme, each featuring a shape on their helmet.
This season began the tradition of switching suits every year like the original Sentai series. Up until this point, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers just shot new American footage and used Zord stock footage from Kakuranger and another Sentai season, Gosei Sentai Dairanger. It was primarily a cost-saving measure on the show's part, since they'd get to use more stock footage, but it also gave American viewers the chance to see their heroes in a new way.
Power Rangers Turbo (1997)
The Zeo powers were used for one season, changing out in the second Power Rangers feature film Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie for the power of cars. Based on Gekisou Sentai Carranger, a parody series, Power Rangers played the stock footage straight as a serious series. When that didn't quite work, the show changed course with a new team of Rangers.
The car element is pretty prominent in these suits, with each Ranger's visor modeling the grill of a car. They're a bit less distinct than the Zeo suits, however.
Power Rangers in Space (1998)
The Power Rangers in Space suits stand out as some of the show's cleanest, sacrificing detail for minimalism. The squares across the chest represent each of the Rangers' colors, including the first black Ranger since Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers.
Behind the suits, this was reportedly set to be the final season. Luckily for fans, it was successful enough for owner Saban Entertainment to produce more. This was the last season to follow the same storyline, with an impressive finale that wrapped everything up. The following years would reveal all the seasons to be set in the same universe, but with a new cast for every team.
Power Rangers Lost Galaxy (1999)
If you're getting Charlie Brown from these outfits, you're not alone. Based on the nature series Seijuu Sentai Gingaman, where each of the Rangers represented an element, Lost Galaxy instead made them intergalactic warriors, modeled after the success of Power Rangers in Space. That theme makes the animalistic outfits and poses of the Rangers quite strange. One of the worst sets of suits.
Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue (2000)
From Charlie Brown to umbrellas, Lightspeed Rescue used a rescue worker motif that blended lots of white with the Rangers' colors. Despite the strange chest pattern, the suits looked pretty good. Notably, this was the first season with an exclusively American Ranger: the Titanium Ranger.
Kyukyu Sentai GoGoV didn't have a sixth Ranger like Tommy, so Power Rangers created one of their own. His design is similar, but different enough to set him apart. There would be a few other American-exclusive Ranger suits over the years, but the Titanium Ranger remains the only such of the core six team members.
Power Rangers Time Force (2001)
Time Force was an interesting season for how closely it followed the plot of the original Mirai Sentai Timeranger. Unlike the other seasons, which just took episode stories or individual plot elements, Time Force changed very little. Four Rangers traveling back in time find a fifth, a novice, to be their red Ranger. This season, like Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers before it, featured a female leader in pink Ranger Jen.
The suits work, having a futuristic vibe without being too far outside the norm. Note that, like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Lost Galaxy and Lightspeed Rescue before, the yellow Ranger has no skirt despite the pink Ranger having one. In each of these cases, the yellow Ranger was a male character in the original Sentai series, while Saban Entertainment chose to make them female instead.
Power Rangers Wild Force (2002)
Wild Force returned to the same color scheme as Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers — no green, no pink — and used Mighty Morphin Power Rangers-esque helmets modeled after their animal spirits. The suits also eschewed white lining for an almost monochromatic look, with some gold accents. It was a bold change, but one that paid off.
Like Time Force before it, Wild Force adapted the source material from Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger very closely. This was also the first season produced while owned by Disney after a sale from Saban Brands. The company would own it until 2009.
Power Rangers Ninja Storm (2003)
Ninja Storm was Power Rangers' first ninja-based season (though Sentai's second, thanks to Kakuranger before this season's source, Ninpuu Sentai Hurricaneger). Instead of starting with a five-person team like the other seasons, Ninja Storm initially featured just red, blue and yellow Rangers, adding crimson, navy and green rangers afterward.
This was the first season since Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers to only feature one female and to make its blue Ranger a woman. The three-person team would be used again twice: next season and four seasons after that.
Power Rangers Dino Thunder (2004)
Dinosaurs again! Dino Thunder used the three-member team at first, later adding a black and white Ranger. The black Ranger, in fact, was original green Ranger Tommy, brought back for one more season.
These suits remain strong years later. Their use of the diamonds on the legs and arms, versus Mighty Morphin Power Rangers' chest diamonds, made for a much cleaner look. The helmets were also really sharp, particularly the initially villainous white Ranger's.
Power Rangers SPD (2005)
Fashioned as a futuristic space police force, SPD's outfits focused on the utilitarian. The female Rangers' suits omitted skirts, while the numbers on the suits indicated their command order. This team could be believed as an actual police force, complete with flashing light on the side of their helmets.
Power Rangers Mystic Force (2006)
The Mystic Force Rangers were magicians, complete with capes, scepters and magical spells. Draw Harry Potter comparisons if you must, but these powers were much more elemental in nature. Their powers were similar to what the Lost Galaxy source material Gingaman indicated, down to sharing many of the same elements with their similarly colored counterparts.
Like Ninja Storm, the series swapped the yellow and blue Rangers' genders. Note that whenever there's a female blue Ranger, the color is much lighter — only Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers featured such a feint blue on a man.
Power Rangers Operation Overdrive (2007)
Operation Overdrive is an odd season compared to the others, featuring the Rangers fighting a variety of enemy factions, instead of just one, and traveling the globe in search of treasures. The suits corresponded to the Sentai series, GoGo Sentai Boukenger, modeling each Ranger after a vehicle of some kind. The suits use a lot of white with chrome trim, while the helmets include headlights. The overall effect is pretty off-putting.
Of particular note is the silver suit, used for the Mercury Ranger. Something about the material isn't right: It's bunched and puckering all over the place. The orange trim is also a particularly bad call.
Power Rangers Jungle Fury (2008)
Like Wild Force before it, Jungle Fury used animal spirits as models for the helmets and suits. The three main Rangers — again, a red, blue and yellow trio — were based on cats, while additional Rangers Violet and White represented a wolf and rhino, respectively. The suits didn't include belts and had a bit too much black to be clean, giving off a ragged effect unfit for a team of kung fu fighters.
The three Rangers at the bottom-middle of the photo — modeled after shark, bat and elephant — were American originals like the Titanium Ranger from Lightspeed Rescue. Unlike the Titanium Ranger, these suits had no bodies inside them: They were Spirit Rangers, controlled mentally by three kung fu masters. They're gorgeous suits, perhaps the best of the season, but it's hard to get too attached to non-characters.
Power Rangers RPM (2009)
RPM, which stood for Racing Performance Machines, dealt with Sentai source footage completely different from the American series. Whereas this season's Power Rangers told a story about a team of Rangers defending the last city on Earth in a postapocalyptic world, Engine Sentai Go-Onger featured animal-based car Zords that talked. It took a lot of twisting of the source footage to make this one work.
The suits are spectacular. The solid color of the main body is offset by fun car-based details, like the seat belts and the wheel cuffs on the arms. Each Ranger also had a number on their suit designed in the motif of their Zord's animal. You can see the animal influences in the helmet too. Overall, it's a strong look.
Power Rangers Samurai (2011-2012)
After RPM, Disney decided to cease production on Power Rangers and air recut versions of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers episodes. Haim Saban, once-head of Saban Entertainment and now in charge of Saban Brands, bought the series back and announced an adaptation of Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. Called Power Rangers Samurai, it was the first incarnation since Mighty Morphin Power Rangers to get a second season (Power Rangers Super Samurai) using the same cast and suits. The series, which previously aired on Fox Kids, ABC Family and Toon Disney, moved to Nickelodeon.
These suits are pretty clever, using the kanji for their assigned element as their helmet motif. The suit calls to mind a traditional wrap garb. It's one of the better designs of the modern Power Rangers era.
This was also the first season to feature a heroic female red Ranger in Lauren, a momentary replacement for regular red Ranger Jayden. It may have just been temporary, but after two decades of only men in the color, it was nice to see Power Rangers making some progress with the times.
Power Rangers Megaforce (2013-2014)
Like Samurai before it, Megaforce was stretched over two seasons. Unlike Samurai, the team added a set of new powers in the second season, called Super Megaforce — and adapted a new Sentai. The first powers, from Tensou Sentai Goseiger, use the animal element of series like Wild Force before it in the helmet. The suits themselves, which have far too much white in the pants to stand out, were originally modeled after angels in Goseiger. That element was dropped in Power Rangers.
Also dropped: Kaizoku Sentai Gokaiger's obvious pirate motif. Yes, despite clearly looking like buccaneers, Power Rangers made no use of the motif, instead calling the suit a super mode for the original outfit.
Notably, in both Super Megaforce and Gokaiger, the Rangers could use special Ranger keys modeled after nearly all the Rangers in previous seasons to use those Rangers' powers — and wear their suits. It was truly good to see the old Mighty Morphin Power Rangers suits again.
Power Rangers Dino Charge (2015-present)
The current season, which will also be extended for a second into 2016, brings dinosaurs back yet again. It's the first season ever to not include a yellow Ranger, while the initial five-person team is the first since RPM to include only one woman.
The suits themselves are really cool, with yellow triangles mocking a dinosaur's teeth across the center. The helmets, like Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Dino Thunder before, use the dinosaur motif on the helmet. Using dinosaurs again, from the Zyuden Sentai Kyoryuger source footage, might be repetitive. We prefer to think of it as a blast from the past, proving you're never too old to enjoy a bit of nostalgia.