It can be said that a hero is only as interesting as their villain. This is definitely true for Power Rangers. While some teams have great chemistry with each other, or really cool toys to play with, the show only works well if they have someone cool antagonizing them. So much screen time in Power Rangers is given to the main bad guys coming up with their monster of the week, that if the villains are boring, the entire show suffers for it. That’s why I’m highlighting my favorite Power Ranger bad guys.
5) Divatox (Power Rangers Turbo)
In my article discussing the show’s opening themes, I mentioned how I wasn’t a huge fan of Turbo. However, one thing in that season immediately clicked with me. Series villain Divatox felt like a throwback to Rita’s antics from the first season of the show. Overacting diva? Check. Bumbling henchmen? Check. Complaining about headaches? CHECK. Hilary Shepard Turner takes the opportunity to chew the hell out of the scenery in every take, which works perfectly with the lighter tone Turbo began with.
Divatox also gets bonus points for being one of the few villains to completely beat the Power Rangers.
4) Ransik (Power Rangers Time Force)
Time Force is about a team of, well, Time Cops from the future that travel to the present-day of 2001. Their mission is to take down the evil mutant Ransik before he can Barry Allen the timeline. It seems like a typical Power Rangers entry, with a typical one-note big bad guy, until until Ransik makes a confession in the fourth episode (seen above).
In the future, genetic engineering means every child born is perfect in every way. However, some of that genetic goop was tossed away, and began to mutate. Ransik was born, and forced to live life on the streets away from a society that feared him. After getting mad as hell and deciding not to take it anymore, Ransik decides to gain revenge on this society by making sure it never happens in the first place. Thanks to this, Time Force plays around a lot with class and even race (to an extent) in some interesting ways. While the execution wasn’t perfect (this IS still a kids show), it was nice to see Power Rangers attempt a complex villain more akin to Magneto.
3) Lord Zedd (Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers)
After the first season, it would be safe to assume that season two’s first episode would begin with the same tested formula: The Rangers are off doing some teen-related thing, Rita would spy on them, then make a monster out of something tangentially related to whatever teen-related thing they were doing. In this episode (which premiered in prime-time), the Rangers can be seen competing in a four-wheeler race.
Once it makes the inevitable cut to Rita and her flunkies, instead of the evil space witch yelling at Finster to make a four-wheeler monster, the crew is cut off by the arrival of Lord Zedd. And what an arrival it is. The show manages to cram all kinds of exposition in three minutes. Rita’s actually been answering to Zedd this whole time. Goldar used to have wings, which Zedd magically returns. Goldar actually hates Rita, and immediately throws her under the bus.
When Zedd first appears, you know the Rangers are in for a greater evil. The guy sits on a giant rotating throne, looks like a naked Freddy Krueger with a full face mask, and carries around a giant python that he turns into a staff. Lord Zedd was a walking heavy metal album.
2) Psycho Rangers (Power Rangers In Space)
Speaking of Lord Zedd, in the second season of Mighty Morphin’, he attempts to put a team of evil rangers together. The results are…anti-climactic. Before Power Rangers In Space, there were a few other examples of evil rangers as well. The first example would be the first appearance of the Green Ranger, and later in the same season a team of Putty Patrollers are able to morph into Rangers.
It would get us six seasons to get a proper team of evil Power Rangers, and the Psycho Rangers more than delivered. From their first appearance, they cemented themselves as a genuine threat to the Space Rangers. Whereas most monsters sent down by each season’s big bad are destroyed in a single episode, the Psycho Rangers took a whopping eight episodes to defeat.
Each Psycho was obsessed with killing their corresponding Space Ranger. This would lead to their downfall, as they were each taken down by the team one-by-one. The Psycho Rangers were later resurrected as the big bad for one of the show’s first team-up’s between In Space and Lost Galaxy.
1) Rita Repulsa (Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers)
Was there ever any doubt? In the first five seconds of every episode of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, the first thing you see isn’t a Ranger, a Zord, or even Alpha-5. It’s Rita Fucking Repulsa, exclaiming “AH! After ten thousand years, I’m free! TIME TO CONQUER EARTH!” This tells you everything you need to know, not just about the villain, but about the show as well. Power Rangers has always rested comfortably in the “camp” department alongside greats such as Adam West’s portrayal of Batman. If an evil witch popping out of a space dumpster in the first five seconds doesn’t spark something within you, Power Rangers definitely is not the show for you.
While Machiko Soga’s physical portrayal is great, Barbara Goodson’s overdub is what really sells the character. The constant yelling. The abuse she lays on her own henchmen. Those headaches. While the Rangers versus monster fights are great, they wouldn’t have been half as interesting without Rita’s commentary every episode.
While Zedd replaces her in season two, it doesn’t last long, as Rita returns to re-claim her throne. While the first appearance of Lord Zedd was such a huge deal, it made the return of Rita Repulsa that much more shocking. Through a series of shenanigans, Rita forces Zedd to fall in love with her, turning the two into a super-villain power couple that would stick around for several more seasons.