Power Rangers, based off the Japanese franchise Super Sentai, is one of the most popular kids' television and toy franchises in the world. In the ‘90s, especially, it was at the top of the charts on TV and everyone dressed up for Halloween as their favorite ranger. By 2001, the franchise had generated over $6 billion in toy sales alone.
But there are some dark secrets behind the scenes of the show. The actors have a history of being paid less than they should have for being on a non-union show. There have been claims that the creator of the franchise, Haim Saban, was a sociopathic megalomaniac who just saw Power Rangers as an income stream and a source of millions of dollars, but didn’t actually care about the product or the people involved.
Then there are more minor things that might surprise you— things that happened on- and off-set that would leave even the most ardent Power Rangers fan baffled.
Here are 20 things we never knew went on behind the scenes of Power Rangers.
20 The Original Yellow Ranger: Fired For Asking For More Money
Not only were the original actors paid a pittance, but the original Yellow Ranger, Thuy Trang, who played the part for a season and a half, left the show (along with Austin St. John and Walter Jones) after she tried to get a pay raise and couldn’t come to an agreement with executives. Even before Trang, though, an unaired pilot of the show starred Audri Dubois as the Yellow Ranger, and when she asked for more money she was immediately fired.
19 Austin St. John Lived In His Jeep After Leaving The Show
As we mentioned earlier, Austin St. John had to leave the show because he wasn’t being paid enough to live on, and he moved in with his dog in his Jeep. He moved from an outrageous party house to that. He told the Huffington Post that the Power Rangers were paid as much as someone who worked the window at McDonald’s.” He also said, “It was disappointing, it was frustrating, it made a lot of us angry.”
18 The Original Cast Had To Work After The ’94 Northridge Earthquake
On January 17, 1994, a magnitude 6.7 earthquake rocked Los Angeles and caused widespread damage, injuring thousands and killing 57. According to Amy Jo Johnson, she and Thuy Trang were forced to show up to shoot an episode, but “we ended up not shooting because the crew didn’t show up.” According to Austin St. John via the Huffington Post, “We worked around the clock. We worked long, long hard hours on a non-union show. And we’ll just never be paid what we should have been paid.”
17 Jason David Frank And Austin St. John Don’t Like Each Other
Many Power Rangers actors have expressed the familial attitude of the show— that they’re all close— but that’s not always the case. The original Red Ranger, Austin St. John, and Green Ranger, Jason David Frank, didn’t like each other. ASJ made crazy claims that JDF took people's lives in an underground fighting ring, and a few years ago ASJ made a video calling out JDF, albeit underhandedly, saying, “guys with long hair who call themselves martial artists and fighters, that’s a ***** grip. I’m going to throw you around like a ragdoll.”
16 David Yost Was Driven Off The Show
One of the most disappointing behind-the-scenes facts of Power Rangers, and most publicized, is the Blue Ranger, David Yost, being driven off the show due to his homosexuality. On No Pink Spandex, he explained the constant ridicule, torture, and bullying he received from cast, crew, and producers, saying, “I walked off set one day, during the middle of lunch… and the reason I walked off was because I was called “******’ one too many times.” Saban never acknowledged the incidents.
15 The Cast Would Prank Each Other On Set
David Yost told the Huffington Post that he and Jason David Frank “were like best friends.” He was the godfather of JDF’s two kids, and “we were really close and he would prank me all the time. Some of his pranks, they seem extreme, but they are funny.” Austin St. John said he was the youngest and had some “foolish teenager moments where I’d pull shenanigans.” Walter Jones piped in, too, saying that sometimes the pranks turned violent, though they weren’t meant to harm.
14 A Power Rangers Appearance Shut Down An LA Freeway
Back in 1994, when the Power Rangers were at the height of popularity, an appearance at Universal Studios in Los Angeles quickly turned dangerous. Saban estimated an initial range of a few thousand fans showing up, so the Rangers had scheduled a small theater to appear at a theme park. Fans ended up lining up hours beforehand and congested traffic at the entrance to the park. The show had to move venues when 35,000 screaming fans arrived, shutting down the 101 Freeway for 8 to 10 miles.
13 The Show Has Been Massively Censored
The Power Rangers franchise has a long history of censorship, after expressed concern from parents, executives, and government officials that the show and toy brand promoted violence for kids. Even after the show became popular, it was under constant scrutiny— both Canada and Norway pulled it from air after a young girl lost her life while play-fighting scenes with her friends. Then-Vice President Al Gore said it projected “an image of violence that is simultaneously sugary and sociopathic.”
12 Japanese Version: Rita Repulsa Had Powers From Satan
The Japanese version of the show called Super Sentai (which Power Rangers developed from) was much darker than the American version. In Japan, Rita Repulsa was called Witch Bandora. While Rita was a sorceress bent on conquering the universe, Bandora’s evil story stemmed from personal tragedy. Her son, Kai, was eaten by a T-Rex, and she sold her soul to Satan for magical powers, then drove the dinosaurs to extinction. Imagine how that would’ve flown with American parents…
11 Rita’s Annoying Voice Was Due To Actress Getting Fired
Barbara Goodson dubbed the voice of Rita Repulsa, but she was almost voiced by someone else entirely after Barbara was fired for not sounding evil or scary enough. She was asked to do a Wicked Witch of the West type voice, but it didn’t poll well with kids. In coming up with the voice during her audition, she said, “You want it scarier?! I came up with that voice out of being annoyed, and it lasted for five years.”
10 How Haim Saban Described The Power Rangers
Haim Saban created the franchise, but he had problems with the show, too. Austin St. John told the Huffington Post that, “Saban just had absolutely zero conscience about making billions using our faces because it was his idea and he owned it.” Another story says that Saban’s former financial adviser, Matthew Krane, was at Saban’s house one night when the man summed up his feelings of the franchise, calling the Power Rangers “five retards in spandex.”
9 Japanese Version: A Stuntman Became A Cat Burglar
A Japanese stuntman from Tensou Sentai Goseiger, which Power Rangers Megaforce took footage from, used his cat burgling skills from the show in real life. Yasutomo Ihara was arrested in 2014 for breaking and entering and stealing $77,000 worth of cash and valuables from homes. Apparently, “Spider-Man,” as he was nicknamed, couldn’t earn a living wage via the franchise either, so he had to shimmy up poles and trees to break into people’s houses.
8 Cast Members Almost Lost Their Lives On Multiple Occasions
Power Rangers used much of their footage from the Japanese Super Sentai counterparts, but occasionally the US actors would perform their own stunts, especially on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The show was so cheap they didn’t even hire stunt doubles until actors nearly suffocated from leaving their helmets on too long. Amy Jo Johnson has voiced her dismay for herself and other cast members almost dying from doing their own stunts, which she mentioned in an open letter to Haim Saban in Variety.
7 Overall Fatality Rate Of The Cast Members
No one actually perished during filming, but 14 actors from the various series have passed away since appearing on the show. On one hand, you could say that starring in Power Rangers is a cursed experience. The most well-known event was the original Yellow Ranger, Thuy Trang, who tragically passed away in a car accident in 2001 at the age of 27. Jason David Frank’s older brother, Eric, who played his brother on Power Rangers Zeo, passed the same year at 28.
6 Two Members From The Show Were Worse Than Cat Burglars
Two of the show’s actors turned out to be worse than cat burglars. Skylar Deleon, who played an extra in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, currently sits on death row for murdering three people in 2009. Ricardo Medina Jr., who played the Red Wild Force Ranger, is carrying out a six-year sentence for the 2015 voluntary manslaughter of his roommate. Medina Jr. also played the villainous Deker in Power Rangers Samurai— and he took the role to heart, as his criminal weapon of choice was a sword he had in his apartment.
5 Austin St. John And Walter Jones Lived In A Power Rangers Party House
Austin St. John and Walter Jones, the Red and Black Rangers, became best friends while starring on the original show. Jones told Huffington Post in an interview that, “We had lots of different parties… And the parties were memorable… I’d come home sometimes and there were 150 people in our house that we didn’t know.” ASJ confirmed, saying, “Oh man, our parties were always outrageous.”
4 The Audition Process Was Wild
Saban held a large, open casting call where thousands of hopeful actors showed up to star in Power Rangers. Austin St. John showed up on a dare from a friend. The cast was eventually whittled down from those thousands. From there, they did a reading in front of producers while standing on a table— so they could seem “larger than life.”
3 All Of Zordan’s Footage Was Shot In One Day
David Fielding, who voiced Zordon for the original show, told Huff Post that “for budgetary reasons they never filmed the character again. They just reused the footage over and over.” They shaved all his hair and glued his ears back and used makeup on him, then he sat in front of a green screen to film his head, and that was it. After a few hours, his job was done, and he never returned to voice the part.
2 The Original Series Cast Was Poorly Paid
The original cast, despite being household names to many nowadays, was paid peanuts. Austin St. John (the Red Ranger) left the show in 1994 and “ended up sleeping out of my Jeep for awhile with my dog.” The original Pink Ranger, Amy Jo Johnson, told the Power Rangers podcast No Pink Spandex that they got paid something like $600 a week. None of the main cast had agents, so they were all given terrible contracts.
1 The Show Almost Got Canceled Numerous Times
Power Rangers had an expiration date, though that’s a bit baffling as it currently goes into its 26th season— and that’s no exaggeration. After a two-part finale from Power Rangers in Space, called “Countdown to Destruction,” the show was supposed to end after all the villains from previous seasons wreaked havoc on Earth. Ten years later, Disney took over and was trying to end the series after Power Rangers Jungle Fury, but the show just proved to be too popular.
Sources: huffpost.com, reddit.com, awwman.com, complex.com