Top 10 lists are funny.
If someone were to ask us a year from now the same question that prompted this list, you could be forgiven for somehow coming up with a completely new set of titles. That’s not because we’re fickle or indecisive, but because we’re talking about Power Rangers, a franchise that boasts a formidable episode number that climbs north of 800! And while a few (or more) of them could be tossed into the category of half-hours some would like to forget, there’s a ton more that made us laugh, or cheer, or even cry.
So, instead of reaching for a “definitive” list of sweepingly elite installments of this epic franchise, let’s check out a few big favorites, presented from one dedicated viewer’s perspective. When people wonder why we watch this show, for some of us, the answer may lie in this list below. Don’t say we didn’t warn you…
Force from the Future – Power Rangers Time Force
The Time Force season begins with a bang as Jen witnesses the apparent murder of her fiance at the hands of mutant criminal, Ransik, whom she and her friends chase through time, against orders. It is doubtlessly the most dramatic, effective opener to any PR season, and it begins one of my all-time favorite seasons of the entire franchise.
Escape the Lost Galaxy – Power Rangers Lost Galaxy
Forced to work as miners under the ruthless Captain Mutiny, Mike proves he’s more than just Leo’s boring older brother, as he leads a slave revolt against their oppressors and makes a desperate sacrifice in the process. The episode was all-original, shirking the usual practice and using no Japanese Super Sentai footage or storyline whatsoever.
Idol – Power Rangers SPD
The return of Sky’s old friend stirs up suspicion about his past whereabouts and current motives within Space Patrol Delta. In terms of writing, cinematography, and overall mood, it doesn’t get much better than this, in the era that Saban forgot. This is one episode I could recommend to non-fans, which would be quick and enjoyable, yet still easy to follow.
The Rescue Mission- Power Rangers Lost Galaxy
This is not an example of a normal episode of Power Rangers, and that’s part of why it’s among the best. The series went completely out of the box to create a dark, atmospheric, action-packed, but still heartfelt story of the rescue of a drifting alien spacecraft, ravaged by a unique non-terrestrial stowaway.
Fighting Spirit – Power Rangers Dino Thunder
After a long, annoying subplot about Tommy being stuck in his Ranger suit for ages, he “comes back” with arguably the best single episode of the Dino Thunder season. Knocked unconscious by an experiment, he hallucinates a battle with three of his past Ranger forms as he struggles to stay alive. The visual style of the dream sequences was leaps and bounds above what the show is used to shelling out. I also loved the strong spirit of heroism that Tommy’s students embodied, even when hope seemed to be lost. It was the definition of superhero.
Journey’s End – Power Rangers Lost Galaxy
My favorite season comes to a dramatic three-part conclusion as the space colony Terra Venture is struck by an all-out attack just as it arrives on the New World. While many fans would rightly namecheck the sprawling “Countdown to Destruction” for the shortlist of best season finales, this culmination of Lost Galaxy’s season-long arc somehow dialed up the epic even higher for this fan. Never again would a season’s closing episodes be this tightly-woven and impacting.
Dawn of Destiny / Fight Against Fate / Destiny Defeated
Power Rangers Time Force
Remember when I said Lost Galaxy was my favorite? Well, it’s actually a tie with Time Force. And episodes like this are the reason why. Wes comes face-to-face with his unborn descendant, who takes over his spot as Red Time Force Ranger, just as his father is about to pass away and the flow of time ripped open by the vengeful Frax. Seldom had PR become so thoughtful, emotional, and theme-oriented as this.
The Power of Pink – Power Rangers Lost Galaxy
For the longest time, this was my absolute favorite episode. It has nothing to do with the fact that it was part of a team-up with the Space Rangers, or that it included the Psycho Rangers. The episode displayed the true heroism of its lead characters, particularly Kendrix, a Pink Ranger who seldom gets her deserved shine. The lethal conclusion to her biggest battle left many viewers stunned, the preceding team-uppy bits just the icing on an already amazing cake.
From Deep in the Shadows / Truth Discovered
Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue
I don’t know if PR will ever reach this level of awesomeness again. “Truth Discovered” features the most amazing, emotionally-charged Ranger-on-Ranger battle in the franchise, made all the more tense in that the combatants are siblings. The finale of the episode, however, was not a huge, bombastic fight sequence. It was a scene between two people, who end up hanging off of a deadly-high ledge, where one of them simply lets go in order to keep the other alive. It also happens to be a Sixth Ranger intro episode, which is only an afterthought as to why this episode rocks.
Reinforcements from the Future – Power Rangers Wild Force
This episode was written by a fan of the show (who just happens to be talented too), and it shows with the amazingly tight, detailed, heart-infused story. It’s another team-up, but again the spectacle of two heroic casts together has little to do with its lasting impact. It makes use of every single character (of which there are 19, not including the villainous Mut-Orgs), and does so more interestingly than any other crossover could have dreamed of. It not only picks up where the Time Force finale left off, but it adds a deeper sense of richness to the tapestry of both shows, blending them more efficiently than could reasonably be expected. It’s also just kickass and fun, like PR should be. For me, this is the best PR ever got.
Doctor K – Power Rangers RPM
Because I hate the number 10 and there’s no way we were going to end this list without the delightfully salty Doctor K’s journey down the rabbit hole. An emotional backstory that begins at childhood and ends at… well, she’s smart but she’s still working on her adulting. More seasons would do well to follow this episode’s example, not only exploring the Rangers we love but those who make their adventures possible, with equal fervor. It took us too many years for the show to prove that the requisite tech guru character can be more than the stock they’re molded from.
So, if you’re wondering where the hell Mighty Morphin Power Rangers is, rest assured, it’s right where it’s always been: at the beginning of this wild ride we’ve been on since the early 90s, paving the way for decades of laughs and excitement. For me, there simply wasn’t room on the list for any of their exploits, and frankly, it’d be super mega easy to find a list that provided exactly that. Also, the amazingly exciting “Forever Red” crossover. And favorites from every other season that didn’t get a mention, from Power Rangers Zeo to Power Rangers Ninja Storm.
We established that our list of favorites could easily change over time but the startling thing is, in these past several years, my personal list has remained largely unchanged. There’s a huge, widening canyon between the last episode named here and the episode that most recently aired. Over a hundred episodes later, I’m still waiting for the comeback. I’ll hope it comes soon, but if it doesn’t, I know where I’ll be looking to get my Ranger fix.