SOTBNerdy: When Did the Power Rangers Go for The R-Rating?

SPOILERS!!! Stay away if you don’t want your childhood to be ruined.

Oh, you’re still there? Okay, don’t say I didn’t warn you.

In discussing pop culture with Drizzle Sez, we came across a gritty reboot of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in which Tommy goes completely evil and murderizes everyone within a two-planet radius. This is considered, at the very least, comic book canon, everyone. The “Shattered Grid” arc, which I’ve had the privilege of checking out parts of (while Drizzle has been up on it constantly), is dark.

It’s so dark, it makes the James Van Der Beek “reboot” look like child’s play. It even makes the DC/MMPR crossover look like a game, and that had Lord Zedd being a genocidal maniac. It makes most of the original series look like a Baby Einstein video. Hell, it even makes its prequel arc, the “Black Dragon” arc, look whimsical at times.

A series known for its camp went super dark.

Let me read you something from the Wiki about the series, if you’re interested. Be warned, this is spoileriffic.

…However, by the time Kim caught up, it was too late–Drakkon had appeared and ambushed Tommy, running him through the back and stealing his energy to supercharge the Green Chaos Crystal. Kim began to battle Drakkon and was soon aided by Jen, but it was too late as Drakkon escaped back to his world and all Kimberly could do was hold Tommy’s body as he died…

Death has been a constant theme in Power Rangers lore. But never has death been so gruesomely portrayed in the mythos. I mean, Tommy gets impaled by a dark lord, dies, and evil triumphs in a major way.

Power Rangers went straight “Mr. Stark, I don’t feel so good” and killed folks off, all while giving zero effs about who they made cry. It’s glorious. But, it got me to thinking. Hasn’t Power Rangers always been relatively dark?

I mean, if you remove the camp from the original series, you’ve got five teenagers–chosen against their will–fighting and blowing the crap out of evil, all while destroying countless buildings and, presumably, lives (kaiju logic, folks). Power Rangers RPM dealt with child slavery, Stranger Things-esque government conspiracies, a machine-driven apocalypse, blood, and a lot of stuff you normally wouldn’t find in children’s fluff.

Sure, neither series had Kimberly sending out revenge porn or Billy being on the spectrum and being ridiculed by folks because of it. That’s what Power Rangers (2017) was for. However, the series has been one that, as you get older, you realize that a lot passed over your head, mainly because you were so busy singing “Go Go Power Rangers” in your Jason Underroos. Personally, I was always partial to Zack, but you didn’t have many massively-popular Black superheroes on TV in the 90s. That’s besides the point, though.

To answer the original question, the series has always had a darker theme to it. Granted, the Boom! series has made it a lot more relevant and prevalent. However, let’s be all the way real with ourselves. Power Rangers was a kid’s show with a lot of adult overtones (that’s why I loved the 2017 movie) and violence that seemed pretty harmless growing up, but is grisly as all get out as you get older and start to think about it.

Speed on the Beat

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