Power Rangers has been running nonstop for 30 years. Since its debut in 1993 on Fox Kids, the superhero series has grown and changed, introducing team after team of Rangers and creating a legacy that’s tough to match in pop culture. The franchise will be celebrating its big 30th anniversary in style with a Netflix special which will take things back to the beginning.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always is bringing back a large chunk of the original Mighty Morphin Rangers and will give us a look at where they’ve ended up after all this time. We have no doubt this special will be filled with answers to questions fans have had for a long time along with callbacks and Easter eggs galore. With that in mind, we put together this list of essential episodes to revisit so you’ll get the maximum level of enjoyment from the special.
If you want to watch these episodes, the official Power Rangers YouTube channel has uploaded a large majority of the franchise to stream. The original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Super Ninja Steel are also available to stream on Netflix.
“Day of the Dumpster” – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Season 1 Episode 1
What better refresher than to see where it all began? “Day of the Dumpster” moves at a breakneck pace, setting up the world and characters in 20 minutes flat. It’s astonishing to see how an entire franchise was birthed from this rapid fire premiere. There’s so much groundwork laid you’d think it would be an incoherent mess but it manages to balance all the exposition with a charm and silliness that keeps you engaged and smiling throughout. Once & Always will feature the return of original Rangers Billy and Zack, along with robotic sidekick Alpha 5 and the evil Rita Repulsa, so this will be a good way to see where all their journeys all started.
“Teamwork” – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Season 1 Episode 3
Once & Always is set to bring back two lesser known monsters (compared to say, Eye Guy, a monster made out of nothing but eyeballs) from the first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The first of these is Minotaur. While he’s not much to write home about, “Teamwork” is a great chance to appreciate the early status quo of Power Ranges. Many fans, when making “essential” lists, always try to include the big game changing episodes. That’s fair, and there are a few here of that type, but seeing a “typical day” for the characters is also important. It lets you get an idea of what life was like for these characters and how it all affected them 30 years later.
“Foul Play in the Sky” – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Season 1 Episode 14
Along with Minotaur, the evil monster Snizzard is set to make a return appearance! The big question though is will he be voiced by his original voice actor, Bryan Cranston? Yes, Walter White himself played monster voices in the first season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. It’s doubtful they could even afford the well regarded actor at this point but maybe that Netflix money can work some miracles. A smaller question is will Snizzard attack the Rangers with his Tonsil Snakes? (That is his actual attack name and proves there’s nothing in the world quite like Power Rangers.)
“Plague of the Mantis” – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Season 1 Episode 48
Once & Always isn’t just a celebration of 30 years, it’s also being touted as a tribute to Thuy Trang, the actress who played the original Yellow Ranger Trini. Trang passed away in 2001 and from the promo pictures and trailers we’ve seen, Trini has passed away in universe as well. With the loss of Trini playing a central part in this special, “Plague of the Mantis” is a great chance to see why Trini was so special in the first place. This is a rare Trini focused outing, letting us learn more about her and demonstrating why she was the heart of the original team.
“Putty on the Brain” – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Season 2 Episode 5
Much of the promo material for Once & Always focuses on Billy and Zack, played by their original actors David Yost and Walter Emanuel Jones, the original Blue and Black Rangers respectively, and rightly so. They were members of the original team of five Rangers and deserve that spotlight. With the two getting a chance to interact on screen once again after so long, “Putty on the Brain” is a fantastic look at the two’s dynamic in the original series. Put under a spell by Lord Zedd, the two see their friends as Putty Patrollers (the foot soldiers of the season, who will also be returning in Once & Always.) Much confusion ensues and watching Zack and Billy try to solve the dilemma makes us excited to see what the duo will get up to all these years later.
“The Power Transfer Parts 1 and 2” – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Season 2 Episodes 27 and 28
For many people who grew up with Power Rangers but perhaps fell off after the first season, some of the cast photos from the upcoming special may prove confusing. Where’s the whole original cast? Who are these other actors?
Part way through the second season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, the actors for Jason (the original Red Ranger), Zack, and Trini were fired after they rightfully asked for a pay raise. Thus, a trio of characters from the nearby city of Stone Canyon were introduced and all three will be in Once & Always. Rocky, Adam, and Aisha filled the mantles of the Red, Black, and Yellow Rangers respectively and would also be with the show through the end of Mighty Morphin. While the “Power Transfer” isn’t the Stone Canyon Trio’s intro (that would be “The Ninja Encounter”), this two parter is where the three took up the mantle of being Power Rangers. You also get to see why, in universe, Jason, Zack, and Trini left, departing to participate in a peace conference. Will this get mentioned as part of Zack’s backstory in Once & Always?
“A Different Shade of Pink Parts 1, 2, and 3” – Mighty Morphin Power Rangers
Season 3 Episodes 23, 24, and 25
Noticeably, Once & Always will not feature original Pink Ranger Kimberly but instead Katherine, who replaced her towards the end of Power Rangers’ third season. Kat was only the Pink MMPR Ranger for a short time but she made a big impact, especially during this critical three parter. Season 3 of Power Rangers was where the show really started to evolve its storytelling, creating long arcs of episodes and ongoing storylines that helped the show become more than just a “monster of the week” series. “A Different Shade of Pink” will let you know why Kimberly left the team and how Kat was able to take on her powers.
With Kat’s inclusion in the special, all three seasons of Mighty Morphin will be represented with cast members that were introduced in each of those seasons, a wonderful touch that helps the special be a celebration of all three major eras of the original series.
“Rangers of Two Worlds” – Power Rangers Zeo
Season 4 Episodes 46 and 47
One of the biggest questions Once & Always will have to answer for Power Rangers fans is why Billy is back on Earth. During the events of this two parter, Billy was afflicted with a condition that caused him to rapidly age (in reality this was done as a way to not use actor David Yost, who had walked off the set after being constantly harassed regarding his sexuality.) In the show the only cure for his rapid aging was to get him to the alien planet of Aquitar where he could receive extensive treatments. While there he decided to stay with an Aquitian named Cestria, who he could “really relate to.”
Many fans found this to be an odd decision, since it had previously been established that Billy was afraid of fish but now he’d decided to live with, effectively, fish people?! Also, did he fall in love with an alien he met a few hours ago?! The episode never provided answers to these questions (especially since Yost wasn’t involved) so Once & Always has a chance to finally clear them up, especially since Yost will be involved. Maybe it’ll establish that Billy hadn’t fallen in love with Cestria (something the episode only hints at but never outright states) and he eventually decided to return to Earth, explaining his appearance there during Once & Always.
“Countdown to Destruction, Parts 1 and 2” – Power Rangers In Space
Season 6 Episodes 42 and 43
Keen eyed viewers of the first 30th anniversary promo will have spotted a tube in the background of some shots that clearly resembles the one that housed longtime Power Rangers mentor Zordon. Not only that, but it features a noticeable crack. Where did that crack come from and whatever happened to the interdimensional being caught in a time warp? “Countdown to Destruction” was the final appearance of Zordon and he had to be destroyed by the In Space Red Ranger, Andros, in order to purify the universe of its evil. To do this, Andros had to smash Zordon’s tube. In an absolutely genius level detail, the crack in the tube seen in the 30th anniversary promo is at the same angle Andros hit it with his weapon. It’s the little details that go a long way for hardcore fans.
“Beginnings Parts 1 and 2” – Power Rangers SPD
Season 13 Episode 1 and 2
The costumes worn by Adam and Aisha in promo material for the special have given fans some big hints to where their characters ended up. Both sport futuristic uniforms with badges featuring the letters “SPA.” No, they probably aren’t working for a Zordon themed resort out in space. The typeface and design of the badges clearly indicate that they’re members of a Space Patrol agency that we’ve seen before in Power Rangers, most likely named Space Patrol Alpha. This organization hails from Power Rangers SPD, where the Rangers were members of Space Patrol Delta. We hadn’t heard of other branches of SPD before now, so Once & Always looks to be expanding on the organization with the new SPA branch. Does that mean there’s a SPB out there as well?
This two-parter will give you a good overview of what SPD is, how it functioned, and what priorities Adam and Aisha may have now that they work there. Will we get any references to SPD characters along the way? Will this somehow clear up the timeline issues of how SPD supposedly took place in the near future yet there’s been little reference to it since Power Rangers SPD?
“Once a Ranger Parts 1 and 2” – Power Rangers Operation Overdrive
Season 15 Episodes 20 and 21
Another big question Once & Always will have to answer? How did Adam and Aisha join SPA? Aisha was last seen in Africa, having time shifted herself there thanks to a time traveling mission that was needed to get the Zeo Crystal. There’s no hints yet as to what happened to her that lead her to SPA, but we have a better idea with Adam.
During this 15th anniversary special, Adam returned with SPD Ranger Bridge in tow. Perhaps these two working together in this special led Adam to wanting to join SPD or perhaps help found the SPA branch of it? There’s a lot of weird timeline issues with SPD in general so hopefully Once & Always uses this special to help fill in some gaps.
“Dimensions in Danger” – Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel
Season 25 Episode 10
While they don’t play a huge part, this 25th anniversary episode gave us the most recent returns of Rocky and Kat. Both seemed to still be on active Ranger duty, with Rocky using his MMPR Red Ranger powers and Kat wielding her Turbo powers. It wasn’t clear how either of them got those powers back, and it doesn’t answer how Kat now has her MMPR Pink Ranger powers in Once & Always, but ‘Dimensions in Danger’ at least let us know they’ve been back on duty for some time.
We also learned that Kat was seemingly married to longtime Ranger Tommy and had a kid, J.J., with him. There’s no indication J.J. will appear in this special and sadly it looks like Tommy actor Jason David Frank didn’t participate before his death last year. Still, Kat’s relationship with Tommy may be at least mentioned so this episode will help get you up to speed on that aspect of her character.
Once & Always looks to be nothing but a letter of love to the original incarnation of Power Rangers and all the fans who’ve loved it for 30 years. Hopefully this group of episodes will help you appreciate the special all the more and we can’t wait to see it when it drops on April 19, 2023, only on Netflix.