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Tommy Oliver's Best Power Rangers Stories Ranked

The history of the "Power Rangers" franchise is incredible. According to The Los Angeles Times, the series was originally Frankenstein-ed together from existing Japanese television shows and American scenes shot specifically for new storylines. The result is a media behemoth that has changed many times over the course of its decades-spanning existence and features dozens of amazing actors.

Although it's always been an ensemble show, one member of the Power Rangers team stands out in particular: Tommy Oliver. Introduced as an evil Ranger created by the villainous Rita Repulsa to infiltrate the Rangers and tear them apart from the inside, he quickly grows into a true-blue hero. Tommy Oliver goes on to lead the Power Rangers in various forms and is often heralded as the greatest Ranger of all time. He's brought to life by Jason David Frank, who returned to the role many times over the years.

According to Variety, Frank passed away on November 19, 2022, at the age of 49. He was, and will remain, a source of inspiration and awe for generations of kids. To honor his incredible career, we're ranking the best Tommy Oliver-centric stories "Power Rangers" has to offer.

11. Day of the Dino

In "Power Rangers Dino Thunder," Tommy Oliver returns to take on the role of mentor to a new group of teenagers with attitude. Since we last saw him on the series, he went off and earned a doctorate and became a paleontologist. He also helped create the new dino morphers during that time, while working on some other projects that are later misused when his partner Dr. Anton Mercer becomes the evil Mesogog.

Following these events, Tommy becomes a teacher and works to further his research. Episodes 1 and 2 of "Power Rangers Dino Thunder" (titled "Day of the Dino," like "Day of the Dumpster" from "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers'") introduce some of the elements of this story, but primarily focus on the formation of the new team. For the most part, Tommy is a mysterious figure in this opener, with specific details of his past kept hidden from his students and the audience.

For new fans who have never seen "Power Rangers" before, Tommy is an intriguingly enigmatic character who keeps them watching to discover what he's all about. For longtime fans, it's a real treat to see Tommy all grown up and taking on new challenges. He's always been a leader, sure, but we've never seen him as a teacher before, and that is a major thrill.

10. A Ranger Catastrophe

The two episodes that make up "A Ranger Catastrophe" constitute a stand-out Tommy Oliver story. This plot starts off by focusing on Aisha, who discovers a stray cat she wants very badly to adopt while volunteering at a local animal shelter. She doesn't know it yet, but the cat can transform into a human girl named Kat and a cat-like monster, thanks to Rita Repulsa's fiendish control. By the end of the first episode, Tommy is kidnapped, and the Rangers need to figure out a way to rescue him.

The second episode deals more with Tommy's predicament. Since he's the leader of the Rangers, Rita and Zedd want him out of the way in order to destroy the rest of the team. For the most part, what happens to him is fairly generic. However, there is a moment when Rita asks Tommy how Kimberly would feel about him spending so much time with another girl. This is one of the first times the show introduces any kind of potential relationship drama.

Of course, Tommy and Kat later become a couple after Kimberly breaks up with him by mail. They're a very fitting pair: Both join the Rangers after being mind-controlled by Rita and have to cope with that fact. All of this development is set up in this climactic two-parter.

9. Legacy of Power

The "Power Rangers Dino Thunder" episodes "Legacy of Power" and "Back in Black" are, in many ways, the ultimate Tommy Oliver stories — even if he spends most of them out of commission. How can this be? Well, the first installment is essentially a clip show detailing the entire "Power Rangers" timeline, as recapped by Tommy Oliver himself. Of course, he emphasizes his importance in the proceedings quite a bit, but that's only because he really is a titan in this world.

The second half of the story sees the Dino Rangers rescuing Tommy and teaming up with him as the Black Dino Thunder Ranger. This is an excellent way of getting new viewers caught up on the wild continuity of the series, while giving old-school fans a reminder of the good old days. All in all, it's exactly the kind of tribute Tommy Oliver and the "Power Rangers" franchise as a whole deserves after so long on the air.

8. King for a Day

In terms of concept, the "Power Rangers Zeo" episode "King for a Day" doesn't offer anything all that new. Essentially, Tommy's brain gets taken over by a monster capable of manipulating his thoughts. Deep within his own mind, Tommy is immersed in a dimension where he's the king of a machine army and the Power Rangers are the true villains. He's convinced that it's his responsibility to erase them from the galaxy. While this is going on, Tommy's powers are steadily drained from him. 

Luckily, the rest of the team soon arrives to remind him of who he is. This story is all about the power of friendship, and how strengthening those bonds helps define who a person truly is. This is pretty par for the course in terms of "Power Ranger" storytelling — the interesting part is exactly how Tommy is manipulated. The scheme closely resembles the way terrible people in the real world isolate and manipulate others.

Tommy is being lied to, but the lies are so convincing that he comes to believe the truth is false. When his friends arrive to save him, he doesn't simply wake up and say, "That's right, we're the good guys!" Tommy really struggles with this information, doubling over in pain as reality sets in. While it may not have been intentional, this is a pretty effective way of demonstrating the agony that comes with realizing your worldview is completely wrong, thanks to the nefarious actions of others.

7. Return of the Green Ranger

"Return of the Green Ranger" touches on Tommy's struggle with his complicated past. Granted, given the show's target audience, it isn't afforded huge focus. Still, this installment sees Rita Repulsa and Zedd use the Wizard of Deception to re-create the evil Green Ranger and have him take down the White Ranger in order to dismantle the Rangers as a whole. This presents some poignant storytelling possibilities, even if they do get somewhat sidelined for a time travel plot.

The evil couple's ultimate scheme is to send the Rangers back in time, where they'll never be able to escape. But of course, as long as the White Ranger is around, they have hope — he's just that powerful. The only way to take him down is with an evil version of himself. Thus, the evil Green Ranger is born. While the rest of the team is trapped in a past version of Angel Grove, Tommy battles himself, refusing to let Rita's evil win. All three episodes are really entertaining, and it's always great to see Tommy fight himself. If the episode allowed itself to really dig into his character a bit more, it might have made it to the top of the list. Still, it's definitely worth a watch.

6. There's No Business Like Snow Business

Despite the silly title, "There's No Business Like Snow Business" is actually a really interesting trilogy of episodes. While most multi-part "Power Rangers" stories tend to feature one monster or main antagonist, this arc sees one threat introduced before the Rangers solve the central problem. King Mondo and Queen Machina concoct a new scheme almost immediately afterward, creating the illusion of a heavily serialized storyline.

The most interesting stuff going on in this story involves Tommy reeling from the Dear John letter he receives from Kimberly. Turns out, she found a new guy while she was away, and has come to see Tommy as more of a best friend or brother than a boyfriend. To help him deal with this breakup, Billy and Kat take him skiing. He soon meets Heather Thompson on the slopes.

Seeing Tommy develop feelings for Heather (as Kat starts to realize she has feelings for Tommy) is legitimately engaging, even though he's unwilling to pursue them because of his recent heartbreak. Jason David Frank gets to do some wonderful acting that's quite a bit different from his typical fare, tapping into a very different side of Tommy's character. This, of course, is surrounded by all kinds of goofy silliness, but the core of the story is strong.

5. The Green Candle

After the Rangers break the spell controlling Tommy, they accept him as part of the team. That means they'll do anything to protect him. This mentality is put to the test in the two-part story "The Green Candle," in which Rita connects Tommy's powers to a green candle and traps him in her dark dimension. As Goldar informs him, he'll lose his powers forever once the candle burns out.

Although the dark dimension appears to be nothing more than swathes of fog and multiple columns, it's still an effectively scary place where the Rangers' powers aren't as effective. Still, the Rangers (specifically Jason and Zack) are willing to risk traveling there to protect their friend. Luckily, Tommy manages to escape the dark dimension and fight a battle with a monster — but the candle continues to dwindle the entire time.

Interestingly, this story doesn't get neatly resolved. By the end of the arc, Tommy loses his powers and is forced to go back to living as a teenager. Other than proving how committed Tommy is to being a hero (which truly can't be understated), this storyline also begins his romance with Kimberly. He starts out too scared to ask her to a dance, but finds the courage to do so after losing his powers, In fact, he doesn't just ask her to the dance — he shares a kiss with her as well. This proves you don't always need powers to be brave.

4. Inner Spirit

While Tommy's time as the Green and White Rangers accounts for some of the greatest stories in "Power Rangers" history, the character's time doing some serious soul searching as the Red Ranger in "Power Rangers Zeo" shouldn't be sidelined. It's during this season that he learns more about himself than ever before. 

"Inner Spirit" is a great example of this development. Until this point, Tommy usually wins the day by pushing himself mentally and physically. But in "Inner Spirit," he must learn to properly control his Zord by finding peace within himself. The stakes are high: If he fails, the Rangers won't be able to defeat the villain. Thus, over the course of the next three episodes, he finds the other half of a mysterious arrowhead, the peace he's been looking for, and a long-lost brother named David Trueheart. 

It all makes for a surprisingly meaningful character study. Zordon sums things up when he tells Tommy, "This places a great responsibility upon your shoulders. As a Power Ranger, you have defeated many opponents, but your current challenge comes from within yourself and must be conquered within you alone. Until you resolve this inner conflict, the Earth will be in great danger." Luckily for everyone, Tommy does indeed manage to resolve this internal turmoil.

3. Green No More

"Green No More" begins with an ominous warning from a future Tommy. He's projecting himself into the past, to remind the version of himself that dwells there to remember the communicator. From this point on, the story focuses on Zedd's effort to create his own dark Rangers. To accomplish this, he kidnaps our heroes and traps them in his own dimension — referred to as the Other World — where he reveals his sinister plan.

While all that is entertaining, the most interesting aspect of these two episodes is Tommy's slow acceptance that he'll be losing his powers forever. For a few episodes now, Zedd has been draining Tommy's abilities. Zordon and Alpha are doing what they can to save them, but their efforts just aren't working. When Tommy and Kimberly discuss the fact that he's losing his powers for good, their conversation is like one you might have with a friend suffering from a chronic illness.

Of course, "Power Rangers" isn't exactly the place you expect to find such heavy subject matter. It's fascinating, then, that the writers decided to go in such a direction in the first place. Tommy's loss isn't treated like a mild inconvenience — he and Kimberly are mourning a major and inevitable blow. Still, this doesn't stop Tommy from doing the right thing until the very end. Even after his powers are depleted, he reminds himself and the rest of the team that the suit doesn't make him powerful — his heart does.

2. White Light

Even though he's absent through much of these two episodes, Tommy's presence is felt all over the place in "White Light." First, there's the letter Kimberly receives from him, informing her that he'll be returning to Angel Grove at the end of the week. Then, there's the mysterious absence of Zordon and Alpha 5 when a monster begins running amok. We also see Tommy getting zapped away somewhere with almost no context. Finally, Billy manages to get back into the command center, only to discover that Zordon and Alpha are working on a new Power Ranger.

These episodes are a celebration of Tommy Oliver, more than anything else. Most prominently, they feature his triumphant return as the new and improved White Ranger. Not only does he have an awesome costume design, but his Zord is just as cool as the Dragonzord. Plus, he has a talking sword named Saba. On top of that, he's named the new leader of the Power Rangers, a title he holds for a very long time.

While some of these episodes are great because of how they test Tommy's character — and the team as a whole — "White Light" is also just plain fun. Like "Green With Evil," this is a moment that changes the show forever: It introduces the idea of new Rangers and new powers, which ends up getting utilized to rebrand the show every year or so. It's also just really nice to see Tommy get his due.

1. Green With Evil

"Green With Evil" marks the moment "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers" changes forever. Prior to this installment, all five Rangers live stable, comfortable lives, interrupted by the occasional giant monster battle. As long as they keep their identities a secret and stick together, they're safe. However, when Rita Repulsa creates her own evil Ranger, all of that stability gets thrown into chaos. Being a Power Ranger becomes a lot more complicated, and a lot more dangerous.

This new baddie infiltrates the command center, gets rid of Zordon, and almost destroys Alpha 5. That's not all: He proceeds to break into the Megazord and fight the Rangers there as well. Back at school, Tommy (who's just the new kid Kimberly has a crush on, at this point) turns cold, distant, and mean. Soon, Jason is kidnapped and kept as Goldar's trophy in Rita's dark dimension, and an old foe named Scorpina returns after 10,000 years.

Rita and Tommy systemically destroy everything that makes the Rangers feel safe and secure, including their Zords. Of course, they manage to turn the tide by the end of this five-part epic, and Tommy joins the team for good. But from here on out, it's clear that anything can happen. Tommy's introduction to the series is a massive story that tests the Rangers like never before and sets the stage for an incredible legacy that continues to shine decades later.