The Power Rangers franchise left such a lasting impression that countless clones followed in its wake. But how do you know which ones are fake and which ones are outright fantastic?
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.
In the end, a few of these series became well-known in their own right, but many others were poor copies of their originals, and a few never made it beyond 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 is a list of the top 15 Power Rangers of all time.
15. Squadron Sport Ranger
When you think about it, it’s amazing how long it took for someone to think of fusing Power Rangers with sports. Considering the Rangers’ natural athleticism, you’d think this would be a no-brainer, but it took the Thai series Squadron Sport Ranger, which is based in Bangkok, to put the concept into motion. Dr. Earth uses SSR to recruit five teenagers and outfit them in colorful armor in order to guard magical medals from the Starhunter aliens. SSR will run for two seasons.
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 universe by employing a similar visual style and tonality. SSR, on the other hand, has some unexpectedly dark moments, such as when the three male Sport Rangers sacrifice themselves 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. Another recent entry, HSA premiered in 2012 and targets an older audience with only three main characters instead of five as is typical in the genre. It’s hard to miss the colorful styled hairdos on each of the Rangers’ armor, though.
Bringing to mind the Mighty Moshin’ Emo Rangers parody that was popular on the internet a few years ago, the three Akibarangers – of the red, blue and yellow varieties all have molded hairstyles when they suit up, resulting in things like the schoolgirl bunches of Akiba Yellow and the gravity-defying anime cut of Akiba Red Initial images of the armor in the 2017 Power Rangers reboot film may have disappointed Western fans, but one look at Hikonin Sentai Akibaranger shows just how bad things could have been. The movie was a disaster.
13. Tomica Hero: Rescue Force
Power Rangers was frequently criticized for being a glorified toy commercial, but in the case of Tomica Hero: Rescue Force, such an accusation would have been far more appropriate. As a result, Tomica Hero’s characters frequently used different rescue vehicles to defeat evil and save the day. Tomica Hero was inspired by Takara Tomy’s Tomica Hero toy vehicle line. Given the concept, it’s safe to say that both Transformers and Power Rangers have been lifted from the show.
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 following in Japan on its own terms. 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 translate well.
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.
Unlike Power Rangers, where the heroes use martial arts skills or giant B-Movie mechs to save the day, the show’s main plot device is the Voistone, which bestows supernatural powers on its users’ voices. When Voicelugger Gold appears in the series as Zordon, he actually joins his team as their fifth member rather than standing by and watching a bunch of kids do the dirty work like Zordon did for years.
Isn’t it Van-Pires? In many ways, they resemble Vampires, but they…transform into automobiles, so… Putting the cheesy title to one side, this show features a stellar cast, including an uncredited Gary Oldman as a wise mentor and The Who’s John Entwistle on the soundtrack. In no way can Van-Pires be said to be lacking in A-list appeal. As a result, it was one of the first shows on television to regularly incorporate CGI segments alongside live-action footage.
In Van-Pires, four ordinary teenagers (again, obviously) are accidentally given the ability to transform into combat vehicles known as Motor-Vaters. 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 horror genre’s staples.
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. After more than a decade away from television screens, Ultraman Tiga in 1996 represented a partial reboot of the series, bringing in many new and contemporary elements that were more in keeping with the Super Sentai style. 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 Sentai formula in some ways, Ultraman Tiga retains a strong connection to the series, particularly 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. Contrary to popular belief, Ultraman Tiga had an English dub that aired on the Fox network in the United States. However, it did not achieve the same level of popularity as the Power Rangers did.
9. Los Luchadores
Los Luchadores is a television series that fuses elements of Power Rangers with 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 from. They succeeded.
For this series, the main characters were three Power Rangers-inspired Lucha Libre wrestlers dressed in traditional Mexican wrestling garb. Due to the wrestling gimmick, the futuristic elements of MMPR were reduced, but the thin plot lines, exaggerated action sequences, and zany villains remained.
Even though this show had the potential to bridge the gap between young fans of Power Rangers and the older WWE demographic, it failed miserably and was canceled after only two seasons.
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.
In order to protect their young master, the group used the mystical power of Ra to enhance their abilities, create unique armor, and sharpen their combat skills. A second season of Mummies Alive! was never greenlit due to the show’s dwindling popularity after its initial forty-two episode run. To its credit, Mummies Alivenow !’s grown-up audience still has fond memories of the series, along with others like Gargoyles and Street Sharks.
7. Kamen Rider Kuuga
Much like Ultraman Tiga, the Kamen Rider series was established long before the Power Rangers were even conceived, and its use of acrobatics and schlocky villains inspired the Super Sentai series. 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 finished just before the Power Rangers phenomenon began. The Rider and the Rangers have even battled side by side on a few occasions.
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 entire world. What may have had the biggest impact on Power Rangers was the idea of new human characters stepping into hero roles and taking over the title of “Kamen Rider” from one person to another. 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
Aside from the tattoo part, the title of this show sounds like something you’d use to introduce someone to Power Rangers if they’d never seen it before.. As a result, Beverley Hills, Ontario’s Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters makes it abundantly clear that they are a rip-off. The premise of a group of teenagers hired by a mysterious alien to fight off other, evil aliens is included in full, but the smaller budget meant that TTAFFBH’s production values were embarrassing even by 1990s standards, making Power Rangers look even more impressive.
Despite its flaws, the show managed to make fun of itself when necessary. The final episode even included a parody of 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 truly 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. There are numerous viruses plaguing the digital world in which Sam finds himself, as well as his fellow student Malcolm and his love rival’s Mega-Virus. The premise of the show sounds more like Digimon than a Power Rangers rip-off.
This is where the Digimon and Power Rangers similarities end and begin. Sam can use his Arsenal Programs as weapons or armor in the digital world, just like the Zords of the Power Rangers. They could take on the appearance of a Dragon or a Cyborg, and when combined with Sam, they would transform into a massive Megazord warrior. Arch-villain Kilokahn was actually voiced by none other than Tim Curry, best known for his roles in The Rocky Horror Picture Show and It.
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. Masked Rider, created by Haim Saban and Shuki Levy, the team behind Power Rangers, followed the same formula for 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. A possible explanation for the lower than expected viewership is the show’s lighter, more comedic tone, in which the alien protagonist tried to blend in as a normal American and a small, obnoxious pet named Ferbus was introduced.
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 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
As with Beetleborgs, VR Troopers had a lot in common with Power Rangers and Saban had another hit on their hands with VR Troopers. 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.