For a show that’s been on for twenty five years, Power Rangers having frusteratingly bad continuity might seem pretty routine but Power Rangers takes it to the next level. Some seasons are in alternate dimensions. Some feature dinosaurs in present day. Some seasons are TV shows within the main series.
Trying to make sense of the timeline and what seasons “count” has had fans tearing their hair out for years and the series keeps making it more and more complicated. Much of this is because of the various production changes over the years. New showrunners come in and the last thing on their minds is how their season fits in with the others.
Some writers try to make an effort but the time crunch and unique production constraints of Power Rangers hamper them. James Bates, story editor of Power Rangers Samurai, discussed that while he considered addressing the problems of placing RPM in a different continuity during the Samurai Clash of the Red Rangers special?
“I’m writing a special with a guy who can’t take his helmet off,” Bates told us. “I had other issues to deal with.”
It’s tough, especially when you’re adapting footage from a Japanese series and don’t have any idea what could be coming down the pipeline. One season you might have race cars as your power source and the next it’s all space themed. It’s tough to get those sort of things to tie together but it’s not impossible. Power Rangers used to be really good at it.
They made the leap from race cars to space themes perfectly. They turned a nature themed Sentai into another space season simply because they wanted to do more space plots. The footage doesn’t have to be a problem. The bigger problem is simply the writing.
The earlier seasons, even if they weren’t tightly connected, didn’t outright contradict each other. They all could exist in the same universe and still work more or less Yeah, Terra Venture somehow being built in a year before the start of Lost Galaxy is dumb but you can work around it. Other things not so much.
Why does Corinth look like an F-Zero level when the Super Megaforce Rangers visit the RPM dimension? Why haven’t aliens started showing up on Earth en masse as SPD would have us believe? Why is the Queen of Vampires a random spectactor on Galaxy Warriors in Ninja Steel? All of these things start to add up and it hasn’t gone unnoticed by fans or even people involved with the series.
Peter Sudarso, star of Power Rangers Ninja Steel,Power Rangers HyperForce, and giant Power Rangers fanboy agrees Power Rangers continuity is beyond confusing.
“When I saw Mig the Fearcat (from Operation Overdrive) was in Ninja Steel? It was just ridiculous,” Sudarso says. “Like, come on. You guys could have done better than that.”
It would have been super simple to just modify the suit and the fans would have more or less accepted it. Not even that much could be done.
Power Rangers can always do better than that but it rarely does. Anytime the series (in recent years) attempts to interact with its own past it falls flat on its face. The big 20th anniversary episode (which aired in the 21st season) featured all sorts of nonsense with various teams showing up with missing Rangers or there being duplicates of certain characters.
Little things that would help tie the various seasons together are just not done. Super Megaforce especially had the chance to really tie up some loose threads and maybe bridge a few seasons together. Instead there was a lone appearance by Casey from Jungle Fury (where he was maybe a ghost?!) and a few Rangers at the end.
It’s not that Power Rangers needs more continuity between seasons or lots of callbacks. Just that when it does it? It should be done right. Other franchises really try to make an effort and they’re often rewarded by fans being more engrossed in the property. Look at Doctor Who. Look at the Arrow-verse. Those shows take the time to really build consistant universes that reward longtime viewers.
Power Rangers just doesn’t seem to care.
After twenty five years Power Rangers continuity is really in shambles. It’s collapsed under its own weight and mistakes. So what now? Well, Ninja Steel has taken one step to trying to make it all work with Dino Charge being relegated to an alternate continuity after the major backlash from how that series ended. Still though, it seems there will never be a way to fully repair the damage done. Perhaps the series should be rebooted entirely.
Other projects Power Rangers HyperForce or the MMPR comics might try and fix it but even the continuity with those is questionable. The comics are in their own timeline (it seems) and HyperForce‘s place in the canon is uncertain. Sudarso thinks the franchise should adopt a universe classification similar to DC comics.
“DC does a really good job of monitoring the universe for the movies,” Sudarso says. “You know, the cinematic universe, and there’s the cartoon universe, and there’s Earth 1, Earth 2, Earth 3, Even the Batman Beyond universe. I think if Power Rangers started labeling things better like that, that’d be kind of nice too. Cause a lot of the times, as a fan, you get lost. I’m sure you feel the same way too, you’re like, ‘Wait, did that happen in this universe? Or did this not happen?’ You know.”
It would really help smooth things out, especially going forward for any new producers or writers who come on to the franchise.
Just because the continuity of Power Rangers is pretty terrible doesn’t mean the series isn’t worth watching. The show can still be good (when it tries) and the enjoyment of it doesn’t solely rest on whether it can pronounce a characters name right or if it can’t decide what the morphin’ grid is. However if it just did a little work to keep things consistant it would make the longtime fans much more engaged with the property as a whole.
After all, those fans are the ones spending money on all these Legacy items the franchise keeps trying to peddle to them.
Sadly, with Power Rangers Beast Morphers apparently being set in the future, Power Rangers continuity doesn’t seem to be on the verge of getting any easier to understand. Good luck figuring this one out, fans!
Shamus Kelley is a pop culture/television writer and official Power Rangers expert. Masked Rider will always be in the main universe, no matter what anyone says. Follow him on Twitter!