The most terrible things the Power Rangers have ever done

You'd never expect it, but Power Rangers has always been controversial. Oh, sure, when it first debuted, kids went gaga for the show's mix of martial arts, mechanical dinosaurs, grotesque monsters, and hammy acting, but parents? They were less than pleased. After the show became a hit—which happened pretty much immediately—American parents complained to the FCC, claiming that the show was too violent for children, while Canadian adults got Power Rangers removed from the airwaves entirely.

If only they knew. While Power Rangers' fight scenes (which were cobbled together out of far more violent footage from Japan's Super Sentai series) look relatively tame by today's standards, the Power Rangers themselves aren't the squeaky-clean heroes that everybody thinks they are. Racism, kidnapping, drugs, and multiple counts of child endangerment—the Rangers are guilty of it all.

Sure, the galaxy needs saving, but are these delinquents really the best ones to do it? We're not so sure.

The Red Ranger became a gambling addict

Poor Rocky. Despite his positive nature and gung-ho attitude, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers' second Red Ranger is one of only three Red Rangers who never got to lead the team (and the only male on that list). He's the only Red Ranger who didn't show appear in "Forever Red," the Power Rangers: Wild Force episode that reunited (almost) all of the veteran Red Rangers. Finally, he's the only Power Ranger in history who had to retire due to injury—which happened not while fighting monsters, but while training for a karate match.

And then there's the time Rocky became addicted to Pachinko. In the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers episode "Rocky Just Wants to Have Fun," Ernie installs a Pachinko machine in the Angel Grove Youth Center, and Rocky is immediately hooked. Lord Zedd picks up on Rocky's fascination and curses the teen, making him obsessed with the machine (as well as other forms of "having fun," i.e. swinging on the monkey bars at the local playground) and causing him to forsake his monster-fighting responsibilities.

But here's the thing: Pachinko is basically a slot machine mixed with pinball, and thanks to a loophole in Japanese laws, it's an extremely popular form of gambling. That makes for an unsavory addition to the Youth Center, and eventually, Rocky's gambling problem ends in tragedy, as he and all of the other Rangers are transformed into Pachinko balls by one of Lord Zedd's monsters. Alpha manages to reverse the spell and restore Rocky and his teammates to their regular forms, and Rocky kicks his addiction in the aftermath (hey, it's cheaper than rehab)—much to Ernie's dismay.

The Quantum Ranger was a racist

Power Rangers loves its edgy anti-heroes who go on to be members of the team—Jason David Frank's original Green Ranger was so cool that the actor has managed to build an entire quarter century-long career around that one character—and Power Rangers Time Force's Quantum Ranger certainly fits that bill. Eric Myers (played by Daniel Southworth) first appears as a gruff, bitter member of the Silver Guardians, a paramilitary group dedicated to keeping the peace in Silver Hills. From the very beginning, Eric has a chip on his shoulder, thanks largely to the economic divide that separates him from the Red Ranger, Wes Collins, whose dad just happens to be Eric's former boss.

Still, there's a fine line between a lovable rogue and an out-and-out space racist, and Eric crosses it in the Power Rangers Time Force episode "Trip Takes a Stand." Like he normally does, the villainous Ransik employs a criminal mutant to help him destroy the Power Rangers. Unusually, the creature he freed, Notacon, has absolutely no interest in fighting. That doesn't stop the Quantum Ranger from trying to kill Notacon and anyone who's protecting him—in this case, that means Trip, the Green Ranger, who learns early on that Notacon is only in prison because he stole some vegetables to feed himself and his family.

The Quantum Ranger doesn't care. Notacon is a mutant, he surmises, and all mutants are evil. After all, they're just too weird-looking to be nice. Eventually, Eric backs down, but not before Trip gives Eric a stern lecture about judging people (or mutants) by their appearance. While Notacon and Trip live, it's not totally clear that the Quantum Ranger learned his lesson, either—after Trip and his fellow rangers save Notacon from Ransik's goons, Eric warns them that the next time they defend a mutant, he won't be so kind. So is Eric a killer? Maybe not. Is he prejudiced? Oh, heck yes.

Zordon kidnapped a bunch of kids and forced them to sing Christmas carols

If you're making a list of the worst things the Power Rangers have ever done—and, lo and behold, we are—you could probably just include Alpha's Magical Christmas in its entirety. What started as a marketing tool to try and sell some more Alpha toys (spoiler: it didn't work) ended up becoming one of the most-reviled holiday specials this side of Star Wars, and is considered a low mark even in the topsy-turvy, low-budget world of the Power Rangers.

But while the entire premise, in which the Power Rangers' robot maid (technically assistant, but c'mon) Alpha 5 gets lonely because the Rangers are too busy helping Santa load his sleigh, is kind of off, Zordon—the floating head who serves as the Rangers' mentor—takes things way, way too far. Teleport a floating Christmas tree into the Rangers' Command Center to help Alpha get in a festive mood is fine. Plucking random children from around the world to provide Alpha with some company really, really isn't.

To their credit, the kids put on pretty brave faces, especially considering that they were just abducted by a head in a tube, but as Alpha's Magical Christmas goes on, the cracks start to show. The youths' wistful performance of "I'll Be Home for Christmas" is a pretty clear indication that they'd rather be somewhere else (like, say, home), and the speed with which they vacate the Command Center as soon as Zordon opens a portal more or less confirms it.

Rita Repulsa roofied Lord Zedd

As a kids show, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is relatively chaste. Other than the occasional kiss, intimacy doesn't get hotter or heavier than smiles and a few flirty glances. Holding hands is like getting to third base. And that's why, even though she's a villain, it's more than a little alarming when Rita Repulsa drugs Lord Zedd and forces him to marry her.

Even weirder, it's all presented like it's no big deal. While Lord Zedd is taking a brief nap to recharge, which he has to do every hundred years, and the Rangers are busy vacationing in Australia where they spend their time shopping and eating "exotic" foods like lobster, Rita escapes from exile bent on revenge. With her main opposition out of commission, she decides to whip up a "love potion" and bend Zedd to her will—not so much because she has the hots for Zedd's well-developed bod and completely exposed brain, but because she thinks that, with Zedd by her side, she'll be able to destroy the Power Rangers and control the universe.

Calling it a "potion" makes Rita's concoction seem like something out of a fairy tale—and not, say, a frat party—but the boundary that separates science and magic is pretty flexible in the Power Rangers universe, and giving the formula a harmless name doesn't negate the fact that her marriage is based on a drug-fueled deception.

If Rita's going to stoop that low, at least she does it right. The potion doesn't work quite as well as Rita hopes—Zedd's just too strong—but the wedding proceeds as planned, and in true Power Rangers fashion the newlyweds decide to forgo traditional honeymoon activities and instead team up for the one activity that gets them both hot and bothered: trying to kill the Rangers once and for all.

The Navy Ranger beat up the Green Ranger to impress a girl who wasn't even interested

The Power Rangers spend a lot of time under mind control—look, with over 24 seasons and hundreds and hundreds of episodes, you've got to expect a little repetition—but Power Rangers Ninja Storm's "I Love Lothor" episode is a particularly egregious example, and not just because it returns to the creepy love spell trope. While Ninja Storm's big bad Lothor is busy starring in a family sitcom that also happens to brainwash teenage girls, making them fall head-over-heels in love with a man old enough to be their father, a totally separate love spell makes Blake (the Navy Thunder Ranger) and Cam (the Green Samurai Ranger) lust after their teammate Tori (the Blue Wind Ranger).

Naturally, the two teammates spend most of the episode fighting to win Tori's affection and then, when that doesn't work, just straight-up fighting each other, but that's not what makes the episode so creepy. First, the whole time, it's obvious that both teens' advances are completely unwanted, and Tori has to forcefully tell both of them to back off numerous times. Obviously, that's a major problem—love doesn't excuse being a stalker or refusing to take no for an answer—but it's even worse given that Blake has a crush on Tori before the love spell hits. In other words, he's already in love with Tori when the episode begins, meaning that you can't chalk his aggressive, stalker-like behavior up to drugs. That's just how he is.

Oh, and to cap everything off? After Blake sacrifices himself (or tries to—he's actually okay, thanks to "the power of love") to save the team, it looks like Tori starts to develop feelings for Blake, too, only to be hilariously shut down after the spell wears off. So, to recap, Blake pursues Tori and makes her feel uncomfortable, beats up one of his best friends out of jealousy, practically gets the whole team killed when his obsession makes him unable to focus on the real bad guys, and then breaks Tori's heart once he comes to his senses. Ice cold, Blake. Ice cold.

The Red Ranger used a baby as a weapon

Power Rangers RPM already has a reputation for being the "dark" season of Power Rangers—remember, this is the one that opens in a post-apocalyptic world where a computer virus has wiped out almost all of humanity with an army of robot soldiers called Grinders. It gets even more morose in the episode "Ranger Red," which begins with a fight scene in which the Scott, the Red Ranger (and future Jessica Jones star Eka Darville), casually tosses an infant around during a fight scene.

Don't worry, the baby is fine, although not for a lack of trying on Scott's part. When the episode begins, Scott and Ziggy, the Green Ranger, catch a group of Grinders harassing a woman and her child on a playground. After a few wisecracks, Scott leaps into the crowd and comes to the woman's rescue—by picking up the stroller and using it to cream Grinders, all while the baby is still inside.

It's not just one quick strike, either. Scott uses the stroller in a number of different ways, including as a battering ram and a club, all while the distressed mother yells for help. All that, and it doesn't even work: one of the Grinders gets its hands on the baby anyway, forcing Scott to unleash a spinning kick that knocks the robot off its feet and sends the baby hurtling through the air. Scott catches the baby, and the tyke seems to be unharmed—although Power Rangers RPM never follows up on the child's sure-to-be in-depth therapy sessions, which probably last for years after such a harrowing experience.

Everything that happens in Power/Rangers

Power Rangers is for kids. Power/Rangers is definitely not. As part of Adi Shankar's "Bootleg Universe"—a series of grim and gritty short films based on family-friendly properties like James Bond and Spider-Man—Power/Rangers casts the Rangers as former child soldiers who fought against the Machine Empire, with decidedly disastrous results.

With a big-name cast (including James Van Der Beek as Rocky, the former Red Ranger, and Battlestar Galactica's Katee Sackhoff as the Pink Ranger, Kimberly) and a budget that dwarfs those of most other fan films, Power/Rangers is polished and stylish, and mostly famous for being impenetrably dark.

For example, while Rocky hunts down his former teammates as an enforcer for the Machine Army, the former Black Ranger, Zack, snorts coke and has a threesome with the villains Divatox and Scorpina (played by porn stars Bree Olsen and Amia Miley) and dies. Billy Cranston, the Blue Ranger, makes a fortune as an arms manufacturer—and dies. The first Red Ranger, Jason, dies a few hours after his wedding, while the Yellow Ranger, Trini, dies during negotiations with the Machine Army. Tommy, the Green Ranger, kills Kimberly when it turns out that she's actually Rita Repulsa in disguise—basically, everyone besides Tommy ends up dead. It's a bloodbath.

If that all sounds silly, well, it is. If it sounds awesome, then you're in luck: Shankar says he's working on a dark "retelling of the first three seasons" of Power Rangers, which should air on Netflix sometime in the near future.

Zordon forced teenagers to fight monsters when he could've solved everything himself

Real Power Rangers fans know that "Countdown to Destruction," Power Rangers in Space's two-part finale, was supposed to be the very end of the Power Rangers franchise, and as such it wraps up pretty much every plot thread that the show introduced up to that point. In the episode's action-packed conclusion, the Red Ranger Andros and his team fight to save the universe from the United Alliance of Evil, an organization comprised of all of the villains in Power Rangers history.

In order to stop the Alliance's forces, Andros is forced to kill the Power Rangers' mentor, Zordon, by breaking his tube, which sends an energy wave across the galaxy that turns most of the monsters into bad Photoshop filters, transforms a few more into yuppies, and wipes out alien threats for good (at least until the next season, Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, begins).

While Andros saves the day, his actions lead to a really big problem. Zordon's euthanasia, which is consensual, is just fine, but raises a troubling question: if Zordon had that kind of power all along, why didn't he use it? Certainly that'd be better than tracking down teenagers and forcing them to put their lives in danger while fighting off monsters, aliens, and all other kinds of nasty creatures, right?

But, naturally, Zordon doesn't have to answer for his crimes, given that he's already dead, and everyone is so relieved that the crisis is over that they don't ask the really difficult questions. That's probably for the best. Nearly 20 years later, the Power Rangers franchise is still going strong. If the Rangers had decided to question the basic premise of the show way back when, we probably wouldn't have gotten Power Rangers Dino Thunder, Power Rangers Dino Charge, Power Rangers Jungle Fury, and…well, you get the idea.

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