Is there anything as excessively family-friendly as the Power Rangers? Well, yes, plenty of things, but of all the colorful kid shows on television, the spandex-clad teens with attitude are famous for their sanitized super-heroism.
Bright colors, awful puns, teamwork, and friendship are synonymous with this long-running series. Even the violence is G-rated — no blood or real damage to be soon. The American cousin of Super Sentai is all fun and games, and doesn’t take itself too seriously.
However, on some occasions, Power Rangers can get a little dark. It might be rare, and certainly difficult to imagine, but the show is not averse to pushing its own limits. For this list, we’ll be taking a look at all different seasons of the show and its feature films to find moments that aren’t so suitable for children. These range anywhere from serious themes to the most emotionally traumatic events young fans have had to endure.
Keep in mind, we’re discussing the Power Rangers here, so if you’re expecting something horrific or adult, you probably have no idea what this show is like. These moments are dark in contrast to the tone of Power Rangers. It’s a children’s show, after all.
Here are 16 Times Power Rangers Was WAY Too Dark For Kids.
16. Tommy Get Brainwashed (Zeo)
Evil schemes are a dime a dozen on Power Rangers: never that intimidating and rarely successful. However, when the greatest ranger to ever live gets captured and brainwashed in an episode of Power Rangers: Zeo, things got surprisingly unsettling.
In the two-part episode “King For A Day”, Tommy was kidnapped by the Machine Empire so that he could be brainwashed into forgetting the Rangers. While the episode consists of show’s typical camp, Tommy’s brainwashing sequence is way creepier than it should be.
Tommy is strapped to a chair in a dark room, forcibly outfitted with some bizarre helmet-device. The camera spins around him as he struggles to get free, grunting and flinching as the device goes to work. At one point, the brainwashing device is attached to another monster simultaneously, who happily screams and laughs as Tommy writhes in pain. For a kids’ show, it’s genuinely disturbing.
15. Kendrix’s Sacrifice (Lost Galaxy)
One of the darker seasons in the franchise rightfully earns more than one spot on this list, but this is arguably one of the darkest moments in Ranger history. In “The Power of Pink”, the crossover episode between Lost Galaxy and the prior year’s In Space, actually sees the death of a Ranger.
Kendrix and Cassie, the pink Galaxy and Space Rangers respectively, have to defeat Psycho Pink, an evil Ranger doppelganger. The fight does not go well as Cassie gets badly injured. In the hopes of saving Cassie, Kendrix valiantly destroys Psycho Pink’s magic sword, which results in a deadly explosion. Kendrix dies, though not before making a Force-ghost farewell.
This marks the first time a Ranger is killed in battle and it’s actually pretty heartbreaking — only made darker by real life trivia. Valerie Vernon, Kendrix’s actor, was written off the show because she was diagnosed with leukemia. Fortunately, Vernon made a full recovery and reprised her role at the end of the season, as Kendrix was fittingly resurrected.
14. Kidnapped By Demons (Lightspeed Rescue)
Ryan Mitchell, the Titanium Ranger, had a surprisingly tragic backstory. The season’s emergency rescue-themed squad was led by Captain Mitchell, who thought his long-lost son was dead. Turns out he was just captured by some demons. Don’t you just hate it when that happens?
While driving on a cliffside road during a thunderstorm, Mitchell lost control of his car and drove off the edge. Somehow bailing out of the vehicle with both children in hand (his daughter being the future Pink Ranger), Mitchell grabbed onto the cliff’s edge and held on for dear life. The grim sequence shows their burning car below as both children scream for their father to save them.
Sadly, Ryan’s grip slips and he falls — until a spectral demon by the name of Diabolico catches him, and tells his dad that he’s taking his son away for the next twenty years. Weird circumstances aside, the scene is traumatic, and it’s rare that the wonderful world of Power Rangers submits civilians to such helpless peril.
13. Psycho Rangers (In Space & Lost Galaxy)
It’s always shockingly bleak when the Rangers get whooped. These fan-favorite villains are probably some of the coolest in the series, but they prove to be pretty intimidating. The Psycho Rangers give the Space Rangers a serious challenge, and they are presented as a much larger threat than your typical monster-of-the-week.
Disguised as the Space Rangers, audiences first meet the Psycho Rangers as they cruelly open fire on a crowd of civilians. Even as the Rangers first engage the Psychos, the heroes are easily defeated. The Psychos have heightened senses, reflexes, and an inherent bloodthirst to kill their corresponding Ranger. They even have grotesque monster transformations, usually used as a last resort in battle.
If it didn’t seem bleak enough, they return for the aforementioned Lost Galaxy storyline where Psycho Pink manages to actually kill Kendrix, the pink Galaxy Ranger. People don’t die on this show — it’s basically a rule — making it especially dark when a Ranger bites the dust.
12. Lord Zedd (Mighty Morphin)
Is this a stretch? Perhaps, but before leaving an angry comment, put yourself in the shoes of an impressionable child. Imagine being five or six years old, watching your favorite superhero show, until one day you see this guy instead of the evil witch you’re used to. Rita Repulsa’s husband, Lord Zedd, is… gross.
Look at this dude! He’s a skinless man with armored ribs and a mask shaped like big sharp teeth! He’s all just muscle tissue, and sports these weird tubes that constantly transport some blue fluid into his body. Sure, he’s an intimidating guy — but this is the design they went with for a children’s series?
With some more money in the budget (a lot more), he could be a horror movie monster. He has an exposed brain, for goodness sake! Look, he might have been really cool in hindsight, but his character design really pushes some boundaries.
11. Thrax (Operation Overdrive)
Rita Repulsa and Lord Zedd had a son. “Once a Ranger” is a two-part episode that serves as both a multi-season crossover and the debut of Thrax, a powerful villain that requires some extra Rangers to handle. Thrax, who was imprisoned in a “space dumpster” like his mom, has come to rebuild the evil empire his parents started long ago.
The weirdest part about this is that Rita and Zedd were “turned good” during the finale of In Space, when Zordon released a purifying wave of “good” energy. When hit with the energy wave, the villainous couple were turned into a pair of normal, everyday humans who didn’t wear sinister clothes or harbor maniacal intentions.
This means Thrax was likely born during the early years of the show, imprisoned as a child, and was unaffected by Zordon’s purifying energy. He was likely living as an evil mutant child in space-confinement for decades, waiting to get out and kill the Power Rangers. Did Rita and Zedd forget that they had a son?
10. Mike Dies Immediately (Lost Galaxy)
Fans would eventually come to know Mike Corbett as the Magna Defender, the sixth hero alongside the Lost Galaxy Rangers. The season doesn’t start him out that way, though, as he is killed off immediately… sort of.
Mike was initially chosen to be a Galaxy Ranger, as he pulled a powerful Quasar Saber from a rock. This saber, imbued with the Red Ranger’s powers, signified Rangerhood as his destiny. However this turns out to be false, as he quickly falls through a fissure during an earthquake on an alien planet.
He passes the saber to his brother, Leo Corbett, before falling to his apparent death. Death in any form is rare in Power Rangers, let alone in a season premiere. Mike’s death would go on to motivate Leo until his eventual resurrection, but to open with the death of a main character was pretty mature for the children’s TV series.
9. Ransik’s Retcon (Time Force & Wild Force)
Mutant criminal Ransik, the main villain of Time Force, has the ability to create weapons by pulling them from his body. He’s just the right balance of campy and intimidating. In Wild Force‘s crossover with Time Force, “Reinforcements from The Future”, Ransik is revealed to have been the creator of the episode’s villains, the Mut-Orgs… and things get weird.
Viewers learn of this event through an unsettling flashback. A grotesquely scarred Ransik wanders the desert until he meets the Orgs, trapped in stone statues. In a bizarre transaction, Ransik agrees to free them in exchange for his special ability. This comes in the form of Ransik swallowing ghostly spirits and proceeding to pull a sword out of his leg for the first time, which is as disturbing as it sounds despite the low-budget effects. All the nonsensical lore aside, the scene is eerie, to say the least.
8. Master Org’s Backstory
Series arch-villains are mustache-twistingly evil, but usually possess some sort of redeeming quality. Sometimes though, they’re just murderers. That was the case for Wild Force‘s big bad, Master Org. The show explains his tragic backstory with a flashback, but by the end of it, he’s not all that redeemable after all.
The rejected side of a love triangle between three scientists, Master Org started out as Dr. Viktor Adler, a genius on the brink of a world-changing discovery. As his research caught the public eye, the spotlight was somewhat overshadowed by the marriage of his colleagues. Jealous of their relationship, Adler was consumed with hatred.
While on a research trip with his fellow scientists and their newborn child, Dr. Adler ate some magic seeds that gave him superpowers. He killed the couple (who were totally unaware of his jealousy) and left their baby for dead. Afterwards, he stays evil for the rest of his life, because that’s just what he wants. Also, that newborn baby was the Red Ranger — but you probably guessed that already.
7. Leap To Our Doom (MMPR: The Movie)
You didn’t think we’d forget this classic piece of cinema, did you?
Ivan Ooze is the perfect embodiment of the show’s goofy and over-the-top tone. He’s diabolical and utterly melodramatic in all the right ways. His presence in Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers: The Movie never dips into intimidating territory, until he decides to tell all the parents in Angel Grove to kill themselves. There’s no missing context here. After brainwashing the parents of Angel Grove, he happily commands them to leap to their doom, driving them to suicide.
They proceed to walk to a large sink hole at a construction site like zombies, in an attempt to do just as Ivan said. This is Power Rangers after all, so no lives were actually lost. Nothing was actually lost, except for childhood innocence — as the kids of Angel Grove desperately hold their parents back from killing themselves, even spraying them with a fire hose to keep them from falling to their deaths.
6. “The Rescue Mission” (Lost Galaxy)
Lost Galaxy’s science fiction influences are obvious from the start, but a full-on homage to the Alien franchise is… unexpected. “The Rescue Mission” is one of the weirdest episodes of the show to date, as Leo and Mike suit up in (yes, Starship Troopers) armor to investigate a derelict spaceship. Armed with rifles instead of spandex, the two Rangers and some expendable extras make their way through the darkened ship as a humanoid-spider creature stalks them.
Of course, the rest of the Rangers team do make an appearance, fully powered-up in typical Rangers attire. Surprisingly though, they only evacuate survivors. Mike and Leo never morph throughout the episode, and instead maintain the homage by waving around their rifle-mounted flashlights at some gruesome space-beast.
5. “Chase Into Space” (Turbo)
The first few seasons of Power Rangers had the heroes experience the occasional loss. Most seasons ended with the destruction of the beloved Megazords, or a hard-earned victory. Turbo doesn’t just end with a loss, though. The “Chase Into Space” two-parter finale has the Rangers completely outgunned and on the run — essentially ending with a retreat.
Divatox and her army successfully destroy the Megazords, and when she surrounds the Rangers’ Command Center, they totally fail to defend it. The Rangers are overrun by her minions, and their base of operations is literally reduced to rubble. This also renders the Turbo powers useless. The only reason the Rangers weren’t killed is because Dark Specter, another big bad of the series, calls Divatox into space against her will.
Even without powers, the team decides to follow Divatox to space… or to visit Zordon on another planet? It’s left somewhat vague, but that’s not important. With no zords, no home, and no Turbo powers, the team hitches a ride on a space shuttle in the hopes of finding Zordon and stopping the villains.
4. Spiteful Kimberly (Power Rangers, 2017)
Sure, Power Rangers 2017 was supposed to be dark and gritty, but we can’t help but give it a mention — specifically for Kimberly’s characterization. The reboot takes the five stereotypical teens and fleshes them out. They’re all varying degrees of misunderstood outcasts, who each have their own set of completely redeemable flaws. Except for Kimberly, who admits to a terrible misdeed.
Kimberly is introduced as a victim of bullying at the hands at her former friends; one of whom is named Amanda. During the film, Kimberly admits that she had feelings for Ty, Amanda’s boyfriend. To break them up, Kimberly shared a sexually explicit photo of Amanda, one that Ty apparently did not approve of. The photo spread around school like wildfire until Kimberly came clean.
Kimberly expresses her regret, especially after seeing Amanda’s parents react to the photo firsthand. She may feel bad about it, but the film paints Kimberly as the victim – even giving her a petty act of vengeance against Amanda during the climactic battle at the end of the film.
3. Mack Is An Android (Operation Overdrive)
Speaking of homages, somebody behind Operation Overdrive really liked Pinocchio — though perhaps Astro Boy is more appropriate. Mack, the team’s Red Ranger, is hinted at being something other than human throughout the season. In the episode “Things Not Said”, Mack is revealed to be an android created by his father, and the audience experiences this reveal with the unsettling imagery above.
The sequence opens with Mack waking up as a severed head on a table, staring at his headless body, and the light-up gears turning at the base of his neck. It might not be full-on body horror, but the moment is completely jarring and uncanny. It only gets more cringeworthy as Mack’s father justifies himself, claiming that he really wanted a child and was “too busy with work to find the right girl.”
We understand that this concept might work for cartoons, but here it’s just way too weird. He built an anatomically correct human boy, sheltered him for most of his life, and even photoshopped children into old pictures to make it seem as if Mack had lived a normal childhood. This is deeply creepy, even for Power Rangers.
2. Post-Apocalyptic Rangers (RPM)
Before Disney resold the Rangers back to their parent company, Saban, they put out Power Rangers RPM. Believing it to the final season of the series, the writers were given newfound creative freedom. As a result, this season is easily the darkest incarnation of the Rangers, taking heavy inspiration from tales of post-apocalyptic dystopia. A Skynet-esque computer virus has ruined the modern world, and turned it into a kind of Mad Max wasteland.
The darker premise is only bolstered by the season’s wide range of serious themes, like government corruption and slavery. Nowhere is this grittier tone more apparent than with Doctor K, the season’s Zordon stand-in. Doctor K is a child genius, stolen away by mysterious suits working for a military think-tank named Alphabet Soup. This secret organization keeps K in captivity, claiming she is allergic to the sun and can never leave. She is enslaved by the group, forced to design weapons and technology— meanwhile the poor girl can’t even remember her own name.
1. Zordon Dies (In Space)
Probably the darkest moment in Power Rangers history, the Rangers’ closest ally and mentor sacrificed his life for the good of mankind. At the end of In Space, Zordon orders Andros, the Red Space Ranger, to kill him. The destruction of his tube would release a powerful energy wave of goodness across the galaxy, turning all of the evildoers into good guys (or rather, into normal people) and thereby saving the universe.
It sounds silly on paper, but for fans watching since the show’s inception, it was absolutely heartbreaking. Zordon was the ultimate paragon of goodness and heroism, and there he was, having one his own Rangers kill him for the greater good. It was like the death of Optimus Prime, but for ’90s kids.
Okay — nothing comes close to the death of Optimus Prime, but surely you understand. Power Rangers taught its young viewers many moral lessons over the years, but the lesson on sacrifice was the hardest one to swallow. Wait a second — shouldn’t the Rangers have just done this in the first place?
What do you think is Power Rangers’ darkest moment? Be sure to leave a comment below and tell us your thoughts!
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