Shipping has been an integral part of Power Rangers since it began. Pairing off two characters and wanting them to end up together romantically has been with the show since Tommy and Kimberly kissed all the way back in season one.
Power Rangers, being a kids show, only rarely gives its audience any kind of romantic relationships and when it does it’s always been female/male. Ashley and Andros. Wes and Jen. Kira and Trent. Ethan and Cassidy. Nick and Madison. Summer and Dillon. Tyler and Shelby.
While these couples all have their merits and have been lovingly embraced by the fandom, a vocal section of the Power Rangers fanbase have taken to “queering the canon” by shipping same sex characters together. Kelsey and Nancy. Danny and Max. Dillon and Ziggy. Chase and Riley.
This isn’t unique to Power Rangers. Look all the way back to Kirk/Spock in the original Star Trek for the most famous example. With two seasons of Power Rangers however, this same sex shipping hit a fever pitch.
In 2011, the character of Antonio was introduced on Power Rangers Samurai. An old friend of Jayden, the two instantly seemed… More than friendly. Check out the scene where the two reunite.
Jayden’s face. The music. Fans instantly jumped on it. To this day there are Antonio/Jayden shippers. It seems like everyone knows about this pairing… Except for the story editor of Power Rangers Samurai, James W. Bates.
When Den of Geek explained the above scene to Bates and how fans had reacted to it, he was delightfully baffled.
“A) I didn’t write that episode. B) It was not intentional. C) Maybe it was a bad music cue. Not that there’d be anything wrong with (the ship), but there is no subtext there. That’s a new one to me!”
As much as Bates didn’t intend for this reading of the characters it would happen once again in the following season he also story edited, Power Rangers Megaforce.
There, it was the characters of Gia and Emma. In their first focus episode, Gia and Emma traveled to find a secret flower that only bloomed once a year. Gia agreed to take pictures with it, but only if Emma promised not to tell anyone. Pretty shippy, right?
Then this scene happened.
Once again, fans leapt at it and Gia/Emma became the most popular ship in Megaforce. This shipping was heartily endorsed by the actresses, who would often post photos together with tags that would reference the ship.
Again, that wasn’t Bates’ intention.
“Fans have made it a much more interesting show than I was allowed to,” he laughs.
Bates also reveals that the plot point of the flower that only blooms once a year spawned from an abandoned plotline pitched by the shows executive producer, Jonathan Tzachor. “Jonathan loves the idea of the thing that blooms once a year or the butterflies that fly at just a certain time. There was a whole butterfly story that was in development at the time that didn’t happen. Troy’s father is secretly a martial artist expert who used the butterfly technique. Jonathan is fascinated with stuff like that.”
While Bates hadn’t heard of either of these ships, he has heard of a less popular pairing:
“The shipping I’ve heard about was Troy/Robo Knight.”
Even if the Jayden/Antonio or Gia/Emma realationships were never acknowledged in the show, that hasn’t stopped fans who have happily written tons of fanfiction and created countless shipping music videos.
Bates is happy fans are engaging with the show. “I can’t knock fandom for what they want. God bless it.”
Shamus Kelley is ready for some action. Follow him on Twitter!