30 years ago, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers launched a franchise that is still going strong to this day. And while there have been 21 different incarnations of the team spread across 29 seasons, the original team remains the most beloved in the franchise, even as that team itself went through some changes.
On April 19, the new 30th anniversary Netflix special, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always, will bring back several fan-favorite characters – some for the first time in decades – as they once again face Rita Repulsa for the fate of the universe. And as they say on the show, “Once a Ranger, always a Ranger!”
In honor of this momentous occasion, we’re taking a look back at the core characters from the Mighty Morphin era of the show and exploring what we know about where they ended up after their days fighting Putties came to end.
Jason Lee Scott
The original Red Ranger, Jason Lee Scott (Austin St. John) was the leader of the first team of Power Rangers, although his role on the team was eventually given to Tommy Oliver. Regardless, there was no animosity between the two. In Power Rangers Zeo, Tommy welcomed Jason back to the team as the second Gold Ranger. After giving up those powers, Jason reappeared alongside Kimberly Hart in Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, at a time when neither of them were Power Rangers. The relationship status of Jason and Kimberly in that flick was ambiguous, but they were captured by Divatox and briefly turned against the Rangers.
Years later, Jason and Tommy appeared in the Power Rangers Wild Force episode “Forever Red” alongside every Red Ranger to that point. After a long absence, Jason returned in 2020 for “Grid Connection,” an episode of Power Rangers Beast Morphers. In that story, Jason was once again the Red Ranger, and he led the Legendary Dino Rangers army which consisted of the Mighty Morphin team, the Dino Thunder Rangers, and the Dino Charge Rangers. St. John’s offscreen legal issues may have played a part in him not appearing in Once & Always.
Walter Emanuel Jones’ Zack Taylor was the first Black Ranger, and also one of the first main characters to leave the show. Due to a pay dispute, Jones, St. John, and the late Thuy Trang abruptly left Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, only to be replaced by three new cast members.
The in-universe explanation was that Zack, Jason, and Trini were participating in a global peace conference. A very long peace conference. Although Jones never reprised his role on the show or its subsequent reinventions, Zack’s Black Ranger was implied to have appeared in “Legendary Battle,” the final episode of Power Rangers Super Megaforce.
The Legendary Battle was an epic fight that brought multiple Ranger teams together. Most of the Ranger veterans remained masked throughout, but a few took off their helmets and confirmed their identities There was also a Black Ranger present in Jason’s Legendary Dino Rangers, but once again, it was never actually explicitly confirmed if it was Zack or his successor, Adam.
In Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always, Jones is reprising his role as Zack for the first time in decades. And from the trailers, it looks like he is taking a leadership role among the reunited Rangers.
David Yost had one of the longest stints on the series as the original Blue Ranger, Billy Cranston and was the only member of the team to serve for the entirety of the Mighty Morphin era of the show. He was also one of the first to “retire” from the team while maintaining an active support role for the Rangers that followed. Billy could have been involved with the Rangers for most of his life, but the seeds of his exit were planted in Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers. When the Rangers were de-aged to childhood, Billy was the first to restore his true age with a machine of his own creation.
Unfortunately, that success came with a price in Power Rangers Zeo. Although Billy had settled into his role outside the team, he was struck by rapid aging as a side effect of using his machine months earlier. The only way to save Billy was to take him to Aquitar, and allow him to bathe in the Eternal Falls. Much to the surprise of Billy’s friends, he opted to stay on Aquitar after falling in love with Cestria. This was the onscreen explanation given for Yost’s departure from the series, though years later, Yost revealed that he abruptly left the series due to constant homophobia he faced while on set.
Regardless, Billy was present for “Legendary Battle,” albeit under his mask and without saying a word. The same thing happened again when Billy appeared in the Legendary Dino Rangers army. Once & Always marks Yost’s first official return of Billy since his departure. He is once again the Blue Ranger, but we know little about his life in the decades in-between.
The original Pink Ranger, Kimberly Ann Hart (Amy Jo Johnson), is one of the most popular characters in the show’s pantheon. And yet her fate is very uncertain because Johnson hasn’t reprised her role as Kimberly since Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie in 1997. By that time, Kimberly had already broken up with Tommy off-screen with a “Dear John” letter, paving the way for Tommy’s relationship with Kim’s successor, Kat.
Within the show, Kimberly had to transfer her Pink Ranger powers to Kat in part to save her own life. However, the comic book miniseries, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Pink, revealed that Kimberly never truly lost her connection to the Morphin Grid, and she once again became the Pink Ranger for a mission to stop Goldar. She even led her own Ranger squad, including Zack and Trini. The canon status of this story is debatable, but it is one of the few Mighty Morphin Power Rangers comics set after Kimberly’s departure. That may be all we get since Johnson turned down an invitation to appear in Once & Always, though she recently revealed plans to write her own Power Rangers comic story.
In 2001, Thuy Trang suffered fatal injuries in a car crash which tragically ended her life at only 27-years old. Trang had stepped down from her role as Trini Kwan, the original Yellow Ranger, seven years earlier when she walked out alongside St. John and Jones. Because Trang passed away, the fate of her character had been left ambiguous in the years that followed.
Once & Always’ trailer revealed that Trini is now dead, but she lived long enough to have a teenage daughter named Minh Kwan (Charlie Kersh). This suggests that Trini was present for the “Legendary Battle” and a part of Jason’s Legendary Dino Rangers.
On top of that, the early footage for Once & Always suggests that Trini dies in battle in the special itself while fighting Rita Repulsa in the present day. This makes it far more likely that Trini has suited up as the Yellow Ranger before now. It may also lead to Minh following in her mother’s footsteps.
Jason David Frank’s connection to the Power Rangers franchise can not be overstated. As Tommy Oliver, he was the show’s first breakout character and served as both the original Green Ranger and the original White Ranger. Tommy’s popularity was so immense that he became the new Red Ranger in Power Rangers Zeo, cementing his position as the unquestioned leader of the team.
Unlike many of his other castmates, Frank constantly returned to the franchise over the ensuing decades. He appeared in Power Rangers Wild Force’s “Forever Red” episode, and took on a mentorship role in Power Rangers Dino Thunder. Within that series, Tommy had earned his doctorate and he became a teacher and helped guide a new team of Rangers as the Black Dino Ranger.
Tommy appeared in “Legendary Battle” as the Green Ranger and affirmed his support for the Super Megaforce team. He was notably the only member of the Mighty Morphin team to unmask in that story. But Tommy’s final Power Rangers appearance in Power Rangers Super Ninja Steel’s “Dimensions of Danger” was his most intriguing. In that episode, Tommy displayed the ability to revisit his previous Ranger powers at will. Additionally, it was revealed that Tommy had married his old flame, Katherine ‘Kat’ Hillard, and together, they had a son they named J.J. Oliver.
Unfortunately, Frank passed away last year, and it’s unknown how the franchise will address the fate of Tommy. Once & Always was filmed before Frank’s death, and he had declined to participate. That said, there is a Green Ranger in the trailer for Once & Always, and while Adam Park was a Green Ranger in the Zeo and Turbo eras of show, none of the Mighty Morphin characters ever wore that particular uniform except Tommy.
Remember the “peace conference” mentioned above? That paved the way for Steve Cardenas’ Rocky DeSantos to become the second Red Ranger. And during Power Rangers Zeo, Rocky became the Blue Zeo Ranger. Sadly, Rocky suffered a back injury in Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, which led to Justin Stewart taking his place on the team.
While Rocky was absent from “Forever Red,” he did return as the Red Ranger in “Dimensions in Danger.” DeSantos will once again reprise his role as Rocky in the upcoming Once & Always special.
Johnny Yong Bosch was the second of three replacement Power Rangers actors, and his character, Adam Park, succeeded Zack as the new Black Ranger. He later became the Green Zeo Ranger and the Green Turbo Ranger, until he passed on his powers to Carlos Vallerte. Adam’s connection to his successor played a big part in his guest appearance in Power Rangers In Space. In “Always a Chance,” Carlos’ status as the Black Space Ranger was threatened by a crisis of confidence. Adam risked his life by accessing his original Mighty Morphin Black Ranger powers in order to help Carlos regain the confidence he needed to resume his Ranger career.
Adam had an even more significant impact in Power Rangers Operation Overdrive’s “Once a Ranger” when he helped restore the team’s powers against the alliance of evil. He also reactivated Alpha 6 to help him repair the Morphin Grid, and invited the android to join him at his dojo. Bosch will also return in Once & Always, but it’s unclear in what capacity he will appear. But the “S.P.A.” outfits worn by Adam and Aisha in the trailers suggest that they are likely connected to — and possibly an earlier version of — the interplanetary law-enforcement agency S.P.D.
The last of the trio of first Power Rangers replacements was Karan Ashley’s Aisha Campbell, the second Yellow Ranger. She was well-liked by her teammates, but little is known about Aisha’s life after she left the Rangers and was replaced by Tanya Sloan in Power Rangers Zeo.
Campbell reprised her role in Power Rangers Hyperforce, the tabletop RPG live-stream series, as Aisha was transported to the future to help a new team of Rangers in their time of need. Ashley will be back for Once & Always in a story more firmly rooted in the core Rangers series. And since Aisha doesn’t appear to be an active Ranger in the special, it strengthens the case that Trini was the one appearing as the Yellow Ranger for the past few decades.
Katherine ‘Kat’ Hillard
Kimberly Hart was a hard act to follow, but Katherine ‘Kat’ Hillard (Catherine Sutherland) not only took over Kim’s role as the Pink Ranger, she also won Tommy’s heart. During her initial appearances, much like Tommy before her, Kat was an unintentional enemy of the team, because she was under an evil spell by Rita. She was even a literal cat for a while! But Kat broke free from Rita’s influence and helped Kim, which insured her place on the team.
During Sutherland’s guest appearance in “Dimensions in Danger,” it was revealed that Kat had married Tommy and given birth to their son, J.J. Oliver. Kat will also return in Once & Always as she reclaims her Pink Ranger powers alongside her friends and teammates.
Zordon of Eltar wasn’t always a giant floating head in a tube. Thousands of years ago, he was a mighty warrior who fought Lord Zedd and Rita Repulsa. But by the early ‘90s, Zordon’s powers had waned to the point where he could not survive outside of his special time warp container. Regardless, Zordon guided the team through its early incarnations before he was kidnapped by Dark Specter and taken out into space.
In Power Rangers In Space, Andros caught up with Zordon, only to reluctantly follow Zordon’s orders to shatter his containment unit. Zordon knew that this would be fatal, but his sacrifice allowed an energy wave to pass over the universe that destroyed several monsters and purified the previously evil villains, including Rita, Zedd, Divatox, and Astronema.
The android known as Alpha 5 faithfully served Zordon long before the first team of Power Rangers came along. And he proved to be a good friend to both Zordon and the teenage heroes who followed him. During Power Rangers Turbo, Alpha and Zordon departed for Eltar. He briefly returned to say goodbye to Tommy, Adam, Kat, and Tanya when they retired from the team.
Alpha 6 took over Alpha 5’s role as a liaison with the team, but he was not simply Alpha 5 in a new body. Instead, he was more of a “brother’ to Alpha 5. Although the fate of Alpha 5 was unknown, he will also be back in Once & Always.
The first-ever Power Rangers villain, Rita Repulsa, has a very unique history. After she proved to be unable to beat the Rangers, Lord Zedd came to Earth and placed Rita back in exile. However, she eventually returned and magically convinced Zedd to marry her. Incredibly, Zedd actually grew to love Rita even after he was freed from the spell.
Although Rita and Zedd were redeemed by the Zordon Energy Wave and transformed into humans, a villain named Thrax appeared years later and claimed to be their son. Prior to that, Rita reinvented herself as the Mystic Mother, Empress of Good Magic and leader of the Mystic One in Power Rangers Mystic Force. And her conversion was genuine.
Unfortunately, Rita’s evil influence remains in Once & Always. Somehow, a version of Rita appears in a mechanical body, possibly from the Machine Empire, and she’s back to her old tricks. It’s unclear if the Mystic Mother has regressed to her previous state, or if there are now two Ritas in the universe.
When he first debuted on the show, Lord Zedd was a truly intimidating villain. Over time, his portrayal was toned down, and the marriage with Rita somewhat softened him. Alas, Zedd had no love for his in-laws, including his dim-witted brother-in-law, Rito Revolto, and his even more evil father-in-law, Master Vile. It’s also unknown when Zedd and Rita had a child, if Thrax’s paternity claim is legitimate.
Like Rita, Zedd was transformed into an ordinary human by the Zordon Energy Wave. But that was not the end of Zedd. In Dino Fury, a Zedd clone was created using a sample from before his marriage to Rita. And this incarnation of Lord Zedd once again proved to be a powerful force to be reckoned with.
Bulk and Skull
Farkas “Bulk” Bulkmeier (Paul Schrier) and Eugene “Skull” Skullovitch (Jason Narvy) were inseparable friends throughout the Power Rangers franchise. Although they were bullies in the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series, Bulk and Skull came to appreciate the Rangers. They even became police officers in an attempt to be heroes in their own way.
In Power Rangers Lost Galaxy, Skull was accidentally left behind on Earth while Bulk traveled to the space station Terra Venture for an extended trip through the cosmos. But by “Forever Red,” Bulk was back on Earth and reunited with Skull while co-running a bar called Bulkmeiers.
Power Rangers Samurai revealed that Bulk went on to marry Skull’s sister, and he later trained Skull’s son, Spike (Felix Ryan), “in the ways of the Samurai” …without much success. In the final episode of Power Rangers Super Samurai, Skull finally made an onscreen return, and he appeared to be very successful and wealthy. But that didn’t stand in the way of Bulk and Skull reaffirming their friendship with each other. Neither Schrier nor Narvy were announced for Once & Always, but we wouldn’t be shocked at all if Bulk and Skull make a cameo.
Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always debuts April 19 on Netflix.