The Power Rangers are no strangers to the world of villainy, each week facing off against a fresh adversary with dark intentions, typically under the direction of a sinister overlord with a master plan just waiting to be foiled by those pesky, multi-colored younglings in spandex. As Halloween has now come upon us, what better time to talk about monsters than on the week we’ll likely have seen more of them than any other? We’re here to talk about bad guys. Ranking the best (or worst, if you prefer) enemies our costumed heroes have encountered in their decades-spanning adventures.
And for the purposes of this handy list, we’ll define “best” in general terms. We’re not necessarily talking about who’s the strongest physically or who can rack up the most experience points against their supportive, feel-good nemeses. Rather, what we’re interested in here is simply who we like. Who’s the most interesting, the most effective, the most fun to watch dish out their flights of devilry on the unsuspecting masses of the Power Ranger citizenship.
If you’re a dedicated watcher, you could find a gap in the list of unranked names set before you. If you’re a curious newbie, you may find that you’ve missed quite a lot since your last trip through Angel Grove and its surrounding made-up cities that seem positively cheerful for an entire southern coastline that is under near-constant attack from aliens, mutants, robots, and countless other threats. Either the people of these towns are all blessed with superhuman resilience, or there’s a bad guy the Rangers never got around to stopping who managed to cast a spell of selective amnesia blanketing the entire state! As the old lady in the middle of Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue says to the child set upon by literal demons, “There’s no such thing as monsters.”
Our list begs to differ, ma’am.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Let’s just get this one out of the way right now. He’s not the first lead villain the Rangers ever faced, but he’s easily one of the most infamous. After a lengthy season of Teenagers With Attitude defending their sunny community from space witch Rita Repulsa, her randomly-inserted master shows up to let us all know who’s boss. Of course, we didn’t know at the time that he was frightened half to death by several other villains out there in the universe just waiting to drop in and ruin his fun, one after another. But for a while there, Zedd was the worst of the worst. With a horrific character design and a haunting voice, he was among the scariest, most challenging adversaries the high school heroes of Angel Grove would face that year. It’s a crying shame that his menace was diluted over time, where he became one half of a sitcom-like married couple when Rita Repulsa space-roofied him and set them on a path toward even campier fare than before. But no one can doubt that he was one of the most memorable in a long line of baddies hoping to get a piece of the Rangers of the early 90s.
Power Rangers in Space
The first of three villains on this list from a single season, Astronema steps into the arena with a lot to prove. After half a season of build-up from Power Rangers Turbo, she had the unenviable task of being the leading lady behind the United Alliance of Evil, more serious and more powerful than her hilarious predecessor Divatox, with layers of hidden depth hiding beneath her stony gaze. Despite a rocky start where her first “evil commands” inspired more laughter than terror, Astronema grew into an effective badass for a new kind of Power Rangers story. One where the viewer could root for both the villain and the hero, as her connection to Andros, the Red Ranger and her long lost brother, is revealed. Eventually, she would go on to not only reunite with her heroic sibling, but join his ranks as a Pink Ranger of Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, solidifying her spot as a villain to remember.
Power Rangers in Space
Ecliptor was the stoic, deep-voiced but soft-spoken protector of Astronema, having raised her from a young age to do the bidding of their demanding overlord, Dark Specter. In many ways a father-figure to Astronema, despite his lesser rank, he was as loyal an evil general as we’ve ever seen on Power Rangers. And his dark costume, with angular frame and grid-like, green lines accentuate the reserved nature of his mysterious character. A personal rival of the Red Ranger, a role that made all too much sense as the truth is revealed about Astronema’s family, and Ecliptor’s protective instinct takes on darker dimensions. It grows even worse when the third piece to this sinister triangle tip-toes in through the side entrance.
Power Rangers in Space
Now, here’s a bad guy you can really sink your teeth into. Unless, of course, he sinks those chompers of his into you first. The charismatic alien bounty hunter who appears aboard Astronema’s ship offering his services to her in a time of need, whom Ecliptor knows is too convenient to be a coincidence. When it comes to sneaky, conniving, manipulative bad guys, it doesn’t get much better than Darkonda, who charmed his way back into the life of the villainess he had kidnapped as a child, delivering Astronema into the arms of Dark Specter and separating the Red Ranger from his sister for years. One of the first to ever outright plot against their own supposed master and actually succeed in making several gains. With a set of literal nine lives, like a cat that refuses to let the universe see the back of him, the only thing that stopped him from becoming the cackling ruler of the whole flipping Power Rangers Universe was his own hubris, getting turned into a snack for the burning Dark Specter only seconds after celebrating too quickly once Darkonda believed he had finally defeated him. There would be many who followed in Darkonda’s twisted footsteps but none would do it with more gleeful style than the bounty hunter from the unknown.
Power Rangers Lost Galaxy
What a strange road Trakeena led. From the spoiled, bratty daughter of the villainous Scorpius (let’s not even ponder the reproductive requirements for a giant, tentacled insect head to produce a humanoid offspring), to the queen of evil that eventually sends the flying city Terra Venture crashing onto a distant moon, threatening millions. They pulled a fast one on us, letting us think that the boring Scorpius would be the ultimate bad guy, only for him to bite the dust less than halfway through the series, leaving Trakeena to go on a quest of self-discovery, where she returned to the battle with a thirst for vengeance, sending suicide bomber foot-soldiers against the space colony that the Galaxy Rangers were charged with protecting. After murdering her own teacher and fusing herself with a treacherous frenemy, she grew into an unrestrained, power-mad wrecking ball that nearly brought the Rangers to their knees.
Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue
Similar to her bug-eyed counterpart in Lost Galaxy, Bansheera spent the first several episodes of Lightspeed Rescue occupying the seat of the boring bad guy everybody has to keep answering to, her demonic underlings desperately trying to bring her back to life after what we can guess was a well-deserved death long ago. And she made her lackeys wish they never bothered resurrecting her, as she slowly revealed how little she cared about them, sending them one-by-one to throw themselves on every possible grenade in their path, all for her sake. Most Power Ranger villains treat their minions like trash, but Queen Bansheera turned it into a sport, and the last few episodes were her Super Bowl. It’s a rare thing to lather up the villainy to such a degree where you feel a deep satisfaction watching a bad guy’s own servant shoot her, rather than let her win in the end, despite the fact that they both want to see the Rangers take a dirt nap. Turns out the only one pushing up daisies in the end is her. Again.
Power Rangers Time Force
In the year 3000, nearly all crime has been neutralized, except by the accidents of genetic engineering known as mutants, rallied around the crimelord Ransik, who steals a time ship mere moments after defeating Alex, Time Force Officer Jen’s beloved fiance. Seemingly killed in the battle, he leaves the capture of Ransik to her and her team of recently-fired colleagues to track him down through time. Despite his crimes, Ransik proves a different kind of antagonist in that his villainy is spurned on by more than generic space evilness, but rather by poverty, and prejudice from a world ill-equipped to handle his imperfect appearance and the sad circumstances of his birth. He’s no mere victim, but not a mindless conqueror either. His life turns upside-down when his bratty daughter (because Power Rangers loves those, I guess) Nadira is nearly taken out, and he finds he has a chance to put right a small part of what he screwed up on his tirade through time (which, as it turns out, was mostly just a trip to one specific time period, and not the massive Quantum Leap-esque adventure everybody guessed they’d be getting). Never a hero, Ransik carved out a spot as a villain whose grey-tinted journey allowed glimpses into a life that might have been.
Power Rangers Wild Force
With a series like this one, and as rocky a start as he got, it’s a wonder he ended up on this list among the evil elites of the Power Rangers world. Turns out the odd, seemingly underdeveloped supervillain was hiding an astonishingly grim backstory underneath all those sweaty robes. One in which he was only pretending to be a supernatural Org spirit, hoping to trick the underlings he convinced to work for him until he could secure what he was really after. As the jealous, under-appreciated lab partner of Red Ranger Cole’s parents, he could not abide being denied the attention he desperately sought. So he sabotaged their discoveries, and eventually transformed himself into the first human Org, after murdering the Wild Force leader’s mother and father, a horror that most Ranger fans at the time had assumed was only a temporary setback before the inevitable magic resurrection. Well, this is one act of villainy that actually stuck, putting Master Org in the extremely rare company of one who has killed on-screen and not had his heinous activities reversed at a later date. He’s a bad man, that Master Org. Putting a new spin on the phrase “fake it till you make it”!
Power Rangers Dino Thunder
As the darker, reptilian half of the Jekyll/Hyde routine that was Dr. Anton Mercer, Mesogog was the result of a lab experiment gone awry (don’t you just hate those?), leaving him a constant devil on the good doctor’s shoulder, patiently waiting for the chance to break free and make some mischief. Hoping to restore the dinosaurs of old back to life, Mesogog was a walking, talking nightmare that we’re still surprised the sugary-sweet likes of Disney, at the time, even allowed to exist. This was not a cartoonishly loud, laughing bad guy. This was the whispery, shallow-breathing creature that took his cues more from Lord Zedd than from Divatox. To witness the full, American Werewolf-esque transformation from genteel Anton to vicious, raptor-faced Mesogog was a little more than fans bargained for after a year of wacky hijinks on Power Rangers Ninja Storm. It’s fitting too that Mesogog ended up owning the hammy Ninja Storm antagonist Lothor in a memorable crossover battle-of-the-baddies, literally shelving the poor ninja luchador after shrinking him into a lab specimen, where he sat idle until Mesogog’s base was ultimately destroyed. It’s a blessing Mesogog didn’t accomplish his final mission in reviving the dinosaur population. I hear that’s not something that goes over too well in some fan circles nowadays…
So, that’s the end of our list.
Where the frell is Pudgy Pig, amirite? Well, if he had stuck around for a few more episodes and had a deep, introspective journey into his soul, in which he realized his desire to eat all the food of the Earth in a day was really a cry for help stemming from childhood traumas and his fear of radishes was just his body trying to tell him that his father really did love him but was unable to show it, then maybe he would have made this list. Otherwise, he and many other memorable monsters of the past (and present) will have to settle for being an indelible part of our imaginations.
For years, Power Rangers has delighted us with creative, kooky, scary, and maybe, once in a blue moon, even touching stories in which heroes are tasked with protecting themselves and others from the forces of darkness. If this list proves anything, it’s that some of the best stories may be ones in which the dealers of that darkness are equally as compelling as the heroes they come up against. Wherever the ongoing adventures of the Rangers take us in the years to come, we hope this tradition continues.
Thanks for the memories, Power Rangers. Please don’t steal them with a mind-altering spell because we kinda like em.