The Power Rangers franchise left such a lasting impression that countless clones followed in its wake. But how do you know which are fakes and which are genuine works of art?
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The Japanese Super Sentai franchise served as a major inspiration for Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers and the countless sequels that followed. The unmasked Rangers would be played by actors from the United States in scenes adapted for use in Power Rangers. As a result, the show became a ’90s kid’s television phenomenon. The popularity of Power Rangers in the West led to an abundance of cheap knockoffs, even if you believe it was a rip-off of Super Sentai or older shows like Voltron.
Certain series went on to be successful in their own right, but others were poor ripoffs, and a few were never released outside of Japan. With a modern cinematic reboot hitting theaters later this month, perhaps now is a good time to revisit some of the many MMPR clones that have been released. Here are 15 of the best Power Rangers rip-offs ever made. Check them out below.
15. Squadron Sport Ranger
It’s mind-boggling to think that the idea of fusing Power Rangers with sports didn’t arise until 2006. Even though it seems like a no-brainer given the Rangers’ natural athleticism, the concept was actually developed by the Thai series Squadron Sport Ranger. After a two-season run, Dr. Earth has recruited five teenagers and outfitted them in colorful armor to guard some magical medals from the Starhunter alien threat.
In the original Power Rangers series, each of the heroes had a different dinosaur theme, but in Squadron Sport Rangers, each member focuses on a different sport, with the five options being Boxing, Soccer, Swimming, Gymnastics, and Tennis. In addition to the mech robots, the show borrows heavily from the Power Rangers franchise and is visually and tonally nearly identical to the original series. There are some unexpectedly dark moments in SSR, like when the three male Sport Rangers give their lives to save the world in season one. Chivalrous.
14. Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger
In the same way that Power Rangers was the Americanization of Japan’s Super Sentai series, many Japanese fans consider Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger to be a ‘unofficial’ installment of the franchise. HSA, one of the list’s newest additions, debuted in 2012 and caters to a younger demographic with only three main characters instead of the usual five. What makes each Ranger’s armor stand out the most are their brightly colored hairdos.
Remembering the online parody of the Mighty Moshin’ Emo Rangers from a few years back, the three Akibarangers – of the Blue and Yellow varieties – each wear their hair in different styles when they suit up, resulting in styles like Akiba Yellow’s schoolgirl bunches and Akiba Red’s gravity-defying anime cut. One look at Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger shows just how bad things could have been for Power Rangers fans in the West, who were unimpressed by the initial images of the armor in the 2017 reboot movie.
13. Tomica Hero: Rescue Force
When it comes to the Power Rangers, the accusation that they were nothing more than glorified toy commercials has been leveled far more frequently than in the case of Tomica Hero: Rescue Force. Tomica Hero was based on a Takara Tomy toy vehicle line of the same name, and as a result, the heroes in the show used a variety of rescue vehicles to defeat the bad guys and save the day. Given the concept, it’s safe to say that the show borrows heavily from both Transformers and Power Rangers.
Tomica Hero: Rescue Fire, which ran for over fifty episodes and spawned a sequel series, clearly outgrew its status as a merchandise spin-off series and developed a devoted Japanese fan base in its own right. While it never made it to the West, the show’s combination of martial arts with automobiles and construction appeals to kids of all ages and backgrounds, so it had the potential to be a successful international hit.
An extraterrestrial being chooses a group of teenagers and grants them superpowers in order to stop an alien invasion. If you’ve heard this joke before, please let us know. Before it became a real series, Voicelugger was originally intended to be a parody of Super Sentai-style tokusatsu series. Four young Earthlings have been given the power to control a demonic Hell-beast by the Muon Empire.
Instead of using martial arts skills or huge B-Movie mecha, the heroes in this show rely on their vocal prowess to save the day. The show’s most notable gimmick is that the Voistones give their users’ voices supernatural powers. While the great Zordon would have sat on the sidelines and watched his minions do all the dirty work, in the show’s Zordon, Voicelugger Gold, actually joins his minions as their fifth member.
Isn’t it Van-Pires? Similar in appearance to Vampires, but they…transform into vehicles, so…no big deal. Putting the cheesy title aside, this show features a stellar cast, including an uncredited Gary Oldman as a wise mentor and The Who’s John Entwistle on the soundtrack. Van-Pires has a lot of star power and you can’t say he’s lacking it. As a result, it was one of the first shows on television to regularly incorporate CGI segments alongside live-action footage.
Four ordinary teenagers (obviously) are accidentally given the ability to transform into fighting vehicles called Motor-Vaters in Van-Pires, another mash-up of Power Rangers and Transformers tropes. After that, they’re pitted against the titular Van-Pires, their ultimate mortal foes, in a fight for the fate of the world. Though the series only lasted for thirteen episodes, Van-Pires had its moments of brilliance and successfully blended classic horror themes with vehicle-based mechanical concepts for a fresh take on the genre.
10. Ultraman Tiga
There is some debate as to whether or not this entry is a rip-off of the Power Rangers, given that it is a part of Japan’s Ultra series, which began in 1966. Although the series had been away from screens for over a decade, Ultraman Tiga, released in 1996, represented a partial reboot that included many new and contemporary elements more in keeping with the Super Sentai style of animation. A single Earthling named Daigo was the sole focus of the series, and he was tasked with defending the planet from an army of bizarre alien creatures wielded by the spirit of Ultraman Tiga.
Even though it deviates from the standard Sentai format, Ultraman Tiga retains a strong connection to the series, especially during the series’ many climactic battles. Together we can achieve peace, and a hero fulfills his ultimate destiny are both prevalent themes in the show. Ultraman Tiga, unlike some of the other Japanese entries on this list, had an English dub that was broadcast on the Fox network in the United States, although it did not achieve the same level of popularity as Power Rangers.
9. Los Luchadores
Los Luchadores is a television series that fuses the worlds of Power Rangers and Mexican wrestling. As with its predecessor from the 1990s, Saban produced Los Luchadores, which aired on Fox Kids shortly after the year 2000. Taking place in the fictional city of Union City, the show featured a buffoonish mayor and a constant barrage of monster attacks that the Luchadores were tasked with defending the citizens of Union City against.
For this series, the main characters were three Power Rangers-inspired Lucha Libre wrestlers dressed in traditional Mexican wrestling garb. The futuristic aspects of MMPR were toned down to fit with the wrestling gimmick, but the thin plot lines, over the top action sequences, and zany villains were all present and correct.
After two years on the air, this show was supposed to be able to bring together the older WWE demographic with the younger Power Rangers audience.
8. Mummies Alive!
While Mummies Alive! didn’t take as many elements from the Power Rangers series as some of the other entries on this list, it did borrow a few key elements to gain notoriety. Mummies Alive!, a popular animated series in the United States and the United Kingdom, followed the exploits of four Egyptian mummies who must protect Prince Rapses, a modern-day reincarnation, from the evil Scarab.
They used the mystical power of Ra to improve their combat skills, armor, and weapons so they could better protect their young master. Mummies Alive! aired for a whopping forty-two episodes before being cancelled due to low ratings. Mummies Alivenow !’s grown-up audience remembers the series fondly alongside other cartoon classics such as Gargoyles and Street Sharks because time has been kind to the show.
7. Kamen Rider Kuuga
To a similar extent as Ultraman Tiga, Kamen Rider was an inspiration for the Super Sentai series in that both featured high-octane action and schlocky villains. However, in the new millennium, the show returned with a format and style that was much closer to the Sentai style that had become popular in its absence, having ended just before the Power Rangers phenomenon began. There were even times when the Rider and the Rangers fought side by side.
The Kamen Rider series revolved around a human hero who had been genetically modified to take on the characteristics of a bug and was tasked with taking on Shocker, an evil organization hell-bent on gaining control of the world. The idea that the ‘Kamen Rider’ title would be passed down from one character to the next had the greatest impact on Power Rangers was evident in the series. As a result of the series’ continued success, an American remake was made, which we’ll discuss in more detail later…
6. Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverley Hills
Everything about this show sounds like something you’d say to someone who’d never seen Power Rangers before, except for the tattoo part. It’s for this reason that Beverley Hills, Ontario’s Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters clearly establishes itself as an outright fraud. The premise of a group of teenagers hired by a mysterious alien to battle other, evil aliens is included in full, but due to a limited budget, TTAFFBH’s production values were laughable even by 1990s standards, making Power Rangers look even more impressive.
Despite its flaws, the show had the ability to make fun of itself when necessary. To cap it all off, the final episode even parodied the holiday classic It’s a Wonderful Life. If you thought Power Rangers couldn’t get any cheesier before, you should take a look at TTAFFBH for a lesson in true corny nostalgia.
5. Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad
It’s surprising that the popularity of Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad has held up so well despite its obvious ripoff of the Super Sentai format. A Digimon prototype rather than a Power Rangers knockoff, the show’s premise has protagonist Sam being sucked into an electronic world to battle various viruses and his fellow student and love rival Malcolm’s Mega-Virus.
The similarities between Digimon and Power Rangers end there. Sam can use his Arsenal Programs as weapons or armor in the digital world, just like the Zords of the Power Rangers. If combined with Sam, they could form a Megazord-style warrior that was as powerful as the original Megazord. It’s interesting to note that actor Tim Curry, best known for his roles in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and It, provided the voice for the film’s villain, Kilokahn.
4. Masked Rider
Due to the huge success of Power Rangers in the United States, kids’ television executives began looking for other Japanese properties to adapt for an American audience, and they soon found it in the form of the previous entry, Kamen Rider. Produced by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy, the team behind Power Rangers, Masked Rider adhered to the same formula and applied it to the Kamen world.
Just before the premiere of his own series, the new Rider appeared alongside the American Power Rangers as a promotional stunt to show that they shared the same universe. However, the new show failed to gain the same level of popularity as the Rangers in the States. After forty episodes, Bandai decided the viewership and toy sales were too low, and Masked Rider was cancelled. With its alien protagonist trying to blend in as a normal American and the introduction of a small and annoying pet named Ferbus, the show’s lower viewership may have contributed to its lower ratings.
3. Mystic Knights of Tia Na Nog
Not only is Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog a beloved Power Rangers clone, but it also made a concerted effort to stand out and be unique. In Mystic Knights, yet another Saban creation, a medieval setting with swords and sorcery values was envisioned for the tokusatsu format. A typical suit of armor is given to each of the four young protagonists chosen by King Conchobar to defend the land from the evil Queen Maeve and her monsters: Fire.
In comparison to Power Rangers, this show focused more on long-term, ongoing storytelling and developed a devoted audience. Like Masked Rider before it, Mystic Knights was a flop for Saban, and the company decided to focus on making Power Rangers: Lost Galaxy instead of a second series based on the characters.
2. Big Bad Beetleborgs
The Big Bad Beetleborgs series came the closest to replicating Saban and Levy’s Power Rangers success. The three main characters from the show each had their own metallic armor and arm-mounted weapons, which combined to create an amazing toy line. Similar to MMPR’s use of Japanese series footage, Beetleborgs’ giant mech weapons were in full insect-themed force and featured footage from Metal Hero.
The Beetleborgs and Power Rangers shared some monster props and musical cues, but this was more likely a way to save money than a genuine attempt at a shared universe, although the two series never crossed over on-screen. Because the company simply ran out of Japanese footage to adapt, Beetleborgs was forced to come to an end, unlike many other Saban series that were canceled due to a lack of interest or poor toy sales.
1. VR Troopers
VR Troopers, a series that shared as much in common with Beetleborgs as it did with Power Rangers, was another hit for Saban. Despite this, the show’s focus on virtual reality gave it the freedom to experiment with a variety of novel ideas. When the focus was on Ryan Steele’s relationship with his estranged father, it added a personal touch to the story that wasn’t present in previous Saban productions, for example.
VR Troopers, on the other hand, was a blatant rip-off that featured three young people who find themselves thrust into the role of defending the real world from the evil Grimlord while donning futuristic VR armor and weapons. VR Troopers, like Beetleborgs, was cancelled due to a lack of footage, despite the fact that it reused footage from multiple Japanese productions and was commercially successful.
Several years after graduating college, Craig began writing for Screen Rant in 2016, and since then has been ranting mostly to himself in a darkened room. A former sports and music writer, Craig’s passion soon shifted to television and film, where his early exposure to science fiction and comic books paid off. It wasn’t long after many coffee-drenched hours working at night that Craig’s side gig turned into his full-time gig, writing about everything from the zombie apocalypse to Doctor Who’s Starship Enterprise. While Craig has been a part of Screen Rant’s breaking news coverage and slightly controversial ranking lists in the past, he now focuses on features. Craig’s favorite actor is Jim Carrey, and some of his other interests include superheroes, anime, and the underappreciated brilliance of the High School Musical trilogy.