Power Rangers has been running almost continuously for nearly 25 years now. That’s a long time for a kids show to keep going. I think a lot of the success lies in the fact that the show basically reinvents itself almost every year. Now, I know it only does this because the original Super Sentai source material changes every year but, it works. It gives us fresh characters and new villains to become invested in. While it may stick slavishly close to a tried and tested formula week in, week out, that yearly shake up reinvigorates the show. Also it keeps the merchandise-machine running.
So with each new team, we get a new Red Ranger. Traditionally the team-leader, the Red Ranger has to be at the shows core. It’s always an ensemble piece at the end of the day, but he (or she) is generally the teams moral centre and the one to rouse them to battle whatever rubber-suited menace wants to crush the city that week.
Now don’t get me wrong. The show’s cheesy as hell and the characters tend to be cookie cutter stereotypes for the most part. I’m not going to argue that it has the depth of some more mature shows out there. It is primarily for kids after all. This list is just to celebrate and point out the characters that through writing and performance, stand out from the rest.
- Jack Landers – Power Rangers: SPD
Being recruited following an arrest for petty theft is certainly an odd way to be inducted into a hero team. Neverthless, Space Patrol Delta’s commanding officer, Doggy Cruger obviously saw something in Jack. As such, not only was he made a member, but also elevated to leader of the team ahead of the current highest ranked cadet, Sky Tate. Jack could be selfish and cocky but over the course of the season, his character developed. He became the leader that Cruger knew he could be and set an example for Tate to follow when he was finally given the red spandex at the end of the season. Jack was a different kind of Red Ranger in that he started as a criminal. That was a totally different direction for the show at that time under Disney and made SPD one of the more interesting of the shows.
- Carter Grayson – Power Rangers: Lightspeed Rescue
Of all the rangers that have appeared in the shows 20+ year history, not all were heroes before they were recruited. Carter Grayson was a firefighter before becoming a ranger. Because of this, he had no problem heading into danger to save others. Something they hadn’t really done in Power Rangers up until this point was give the Rangers a genuine link to their mentor character with a reason for them to respect said mentor. Lightspeed Rescue did that by having Carter directly inspired as a child to become a firefighter by Captain Mitchell. This added a different dynamic to the relationship and gave it more impact when Carter ever disagreed with Mitchell’s decisions because you knew the respect Mitchell got from Carter.
- Andros – Power Rangers In Space
The last Red Ranger of what PR fans call ‘The Zordon-Era’, Andros was a bit of a loner. That is until he met four members of the PR:Turbo team and gave them the Astro-morphers. In Space is hands down one of the best seasons as it brought together six seasons of continuity and wrapped it all up. Andros was a huge part of it. He was, after all, the ranger that caused the Z-wave that destroyed all evil in the universe. He did this by essentially killing Zordon. As difficult as it must be to destroy a mentor, he had the strength to it. This unleashed Zordon’s energy in the form of the Z-wave. The character development that Andros enjoyed during that season was a real testament to how the show had evolved from the early days. Here we had a flawed character who was actually the brother of that seasons big bad, Astronema. Coupled with that was the issue of being non-human on a team of humans. It made him the outsider until he learned how to interact with his team-mates. It led to some fun fish-out-water moments as well as a unique team-dynamic.
- Tommy Oliver – Power Rangers: Zeo, Power Rangers: Turbo
Tommy has always been a divisive character. There are people that love him and people that hate him but there’s no denying his impact on the show. Originally introduced as the evil Green Ranger, Tommy reformed, lost his powers and was granted new ones as the White Ranger. Along with his new powers, he was also granted leadership of the team. A role he wold resume in the following seasons as the Red Zeo Ranger and Red Turbo Ranger. The reason he’s not number one is simply because I don’t feel he earned the leadership role as a character. As the Green Ranger, he was frequently late for things and kept forgetting to wear his communicator so he was unreachable when the other rangers were in danger. Now I know here was a behind0-the-scenes reason for it (lack of Sentai footage featuring the Green Ranger) but it hurt the character and prevents him from being the number one choice in this list.
1.Jason Scott Lee – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
The original and the best. Setting the bar high for leaders from the very beginning, Jason lead his team to victory on numerous occasions throughout the first season and a half. He always seemed to know exactly what to do and was able to coordinate the rest of the team in battle. He was also patient with the others, often training the Blue Ranger, Billy in martial arts to improve his contribution to the team. He took losses personally such as when he was unable to prevent Tommy losing his Green Ranger powers. This is a guy who went toe to toe with Goldar in the Dark Dimension; powerless!! And he held his own against him. It’s a shame pay disputes forced Austin St. John to leave the show as it would’ve been great to see him go on to Zeo as team leader.
Troy – Power Rangers Megaforce
Troy is essentially made of wood. Power Rangers Megaforce is one of the lazier seasons of the show. The characters are barely developed and the ‘humour’ elements make Bulk & Skull look like comedy geniuses. All of this might have been forgiveable if they’d had a strong leader character at the front of the team. Unfortunately we got Troy. He’s so underwritten that he doesn’t really exhibit any personality throughout the two seasons he’s featured in. I couldn’t tell you what his interests are because I’m not sure if they were explored in an interesting way. I’m sure this is down to the way the character was written as opposed to the actor. It’s like they deliberately made him as basic as possible so everyone could relate to him. It made for an uninspiring team leader.
So that’s my list. I’d love to hear what everybody thinks so feel free to comment if you think I’ve missed someone or if you disagree with one of my choices.