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Tommy Oliver: the GOAT of Power Rangers

by Clyde E. Dawkins 4 days ago in superheroes / celebrities ยท updated 4 days ago
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My tribute to Jason David Frank's vast contribution to the Power Rangers franchise

This hurts. This really hurts. I've been a Power Rangers fan since this amazing phenomenon kicked off all the way back in 1993, when I was only eight years old. I've seen many different Rangers for so many years, but the bottom line is, the absolute GOAT when it comes to the Power Rangers is, without question, Tommy Oliver. Sadly, we lost the man who gave us this iconic character, as on November 19, 2022, Jason David Frank passed away at the age of 49. The biggest understatement I could ever say is that Tommy was my favorite Ranger, because those five words just won't cut it. I need to give more than that, it's well deserved.

Of course, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers series began with the original five Rangers: Jason Lee Scott (Red), Zack Taylor (Black), Billy Cranston (Blue), Trini Kwan (Yellow), and Kimberly Hart (Pink). However, as I would learn as I got older, the TV series didn't really tell the full backstory; while the pilot claimed that their were five Power Coins, the story states that there were six, and in a battle between Zordon and Rita Repulsa, the former ended up with five of the six, while Rita got one: the Green Dragon Coin. As we all recall, the series began with Rita's release from that dumpster--after 10,000 years...yeah, we know the rest.

So after a series of defeats by the hands of the quintet, Rita finally decides to unleash her power coin and find the right person to take that helm. Enter Tommy Oliver. The five-part Green Ranger miniseries remains one of the most legendary moments in the franchise. We see Tommy in a martial arts competition with Jason, which ends in a draw, and of course, we see Kimberly really taken by Tommy (more on that later). Rita sees Tommy and chooses him to take on the powers, and after Tommy defeats Rita's putties, Rita takes Tommy into her lair and places him under her control. After receiving all of the info regarding the other five Rangers, Tommy is handed the coin and becomes Rita's evil Green Ranger, and afterwards, Tommy enters the Command Center and completely totals it.

What follows is Green Ranger actually crashing Megazord (through the back door, which still amuses me to this day) and taking out the Rangers before battling (and defeating) them. Green Ranger did a lot of damage during his villainous debut. In Part I alone, he totalled the Command Center, and defeated the Rangers in combat. Afterwards, Tommy receives the Sword of Darkness and also sent Jason to a dark dimension (Part II), where he comes within a hair of literally eliminating Jason (Part III), and we see Green Ranger, Scorpina, and Goldar successful in taking down Megazord (Part IV). However, Part IV ended with the Rangers finally learning that Tommy was the Green Ranger, though Part V gave us this:

Dragonzord debuted as Green Ranger's personal zord, though the Rangers were in trouble, as their own zords were out of commission. However, Alpha managed to bring Zordon back, and that allowed Megazord to return and fight Dragonzord. Though the true mission was freeing Tommy from Rita's control, and that meant destroying the Sword of Darkness, which Jason does after exiting Megazord and fighting Green Ranger one-on-one. Now free from Rita's control, Tommy is offered the chance to join the Rangers; he accepts, marking one of the most iconic moments in the history of the franchise.

The beginning of Tommy's legendary career as a heroic Ranger was quite bumpy. I remember how his early episodes began; how formulaic they were. Putty fight breaks out, monster appears, the five Rangers morph, monster grows, zords enter the fray, and when things get too hot in the proverbial kitchen, that's when Green Ranger comes in. It annoyed me as a kid because I wanted to see more of my favorite Ranger; what I was getting wasn't enough.

And then..there was the Green Candle. How I loathe that candle! In this two-part episode, Rita goes into "scorned Lifetime movie ex" mode and decides to take back Tommy's powers, using the wax she encased Tommy in to create a candle that would slowly siphon Tommy's powers and give them back to Rita. Tommy's abduction led the Rangers (especially Kimberly) to believe that Rita was trying to regain control of him, and after seeing Dragonzord level the city, their fears were confirmed. It was actually one of Rita's monsters, who could take the form of any of the zords, and while the other Rangers fought their foe, Tommy was in the dark dimension, though he got out and joined the others.

Tommy continued to face the loss of his powers as long as that candle was in play, so in the conclusion, Jason volunteered to enter and take the candle, while the others waited for him. As for Tommy, he had to battle Rita's monster on his own for a while, though upon learning about Tommy being in distress, the others joined him and won. As for the candle, the flame burned out, but the transfer to Rita was prevented, as Tommy gave his Power Coin to Jason.

So Tommy was out of the Rangers, but not for long:

Another great Tommy Oliver moment, his return late in Part I of "Return of an Old Friend," which saw all of the parents abducted, and Goldar delivering an ultimatum to the Rangers: their Power Coins or their parents. Of course, the quintet surrenders their coins, but of course, Goldar double-crosses them. And as usual, Goldar's one step behind--as he doesn't have all of their coins. The Green Ranger coin was still in their possession, and after Tommy was teleported, Zordon used a massive amount of his own energy to power up Tommy, and Green Ranger was back in action. He managed to regain the Dragon Dagger, and in a last gasp effort, he regained the coins.

The force field surrounding the coins caused a power overload, but once that calmed down, Tommy was back, but under a bit of a limited power supply. It wouldn't be a hindrance as long as Rita was in play. However, when Lord Zedd entered, that made things difficult for the Rangers, especially Tommy. After ousting Rita, Zed wanted Green Ranger eliminated permanently, as he was a remnant of Rita's failing. Even though Zedd's plans failed, Tommy was slowly losing his powers, and was reminded of the risk he took every time he entered battles. Tommy didn't care. He couldn't just sit by. Even if he was running on damn near empty, it was enough for Tommy to do whatever he could to help his friends.

Tommy's Green Ranger days were no more, but we would see him return again, this time as the high-powered White Ranger. In addition, Tommy became the Rangers' new leader, and this was cemented once Jason, Trini, and Zack left and were replaced by Rocky DeSantos, Aisha Campbell, and Adam Park. Tommy piloted the White Tigerzord (both in tiger mode and fighting mode), and after the Thunderzords were destroyed, he would pilot the White Falconzord (Ninja) and the White Shogunzord. Tommy as the White Ranger was quite epic, and it even included a moment where he actually fought Lord Zedd one-on-one.

Another epic moment came when the White and Green Rangers actually clashed. The three-part episode, "Return of the Green Ranger," featured the Wizard of Darkness sending the other five Rangers back in time, while he created a Tommy clone with the Green Ranger powers to battle the White Ranger. To this very day, I still say this was fan requested, because there had to have been a debate regarding which Tommy was better: Green Ranger or White Ranger.

Tommy took on his third Ranger color when he became the Red Zeo Ranger, also known as Zeo Ranger V. I remember being fascinated by the Zeo Rangers; the uniforms, the color scheme (it was Pink, Yellow, Blue, Green, and Red at that time), and of course, the zords. The Zeo incarnation lasted only a season, beginning the current commonplace practice of having different Power Rangers incarnations every season. It came to a big of an abrupt end in 1997's Turbo: A Power Rangers Movie, which saw the Rangers receive their Turbo powers in order to fight against the forces of their new foe, Divatox. Tommy continued leading the group as the Red Turbo Ranger, and by that time, he was the only member of what I like to call the "Original Six" left. After Jason, Trini, and Zack departed, Kimberly left to pursue her gymnastics dreams, and was replaced by former villainess-turned-heroine Katherine Hillard (more on her later as well). Billy's Ranger career ended with the Zeo season, though Jason did return briefly as the Gold Ranger.

Jason David Frank left the Rangers series after four years, but he would return five years later in the famous "Forever Red" episode of Power Rangers Wild Force. The episode was meant as an early 10th anniversary celebration of Power Rangers, and along with Cole Evans (the season's current Red Ranger), Tommy appeared with (among others) Andros (Red Space Ranger), TJ (who replaced Tommy as the Red Turbo Ranger), and of course, the original Red Ranger himself, Jason.

So one day in 2004, I'm watching a MMPR marathon on what was then-known as ABC Family, and I see JDF promoting the upcoming season at the time, Power Rangers Dino Thunder, which he's in! You know that "shocked blinking guy" GIF you see on social media? That was me when I learned this. I hadn't watched a Power Rangers season in years at that time, but when I learned Tommy was back, I was in. It was like this: where were you when Michael Jordan came out of retirement? That was Tommy Oliver; he was the Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, and Wayne Gretzky of the Power Rangers.

In Dino Thunder, we learned that Tommy is a paleontologist (a career move I still find epic) and originally began as a teacher/mentor for the three budding Rangers: Connor, Kira, and Ethan. However, the episode, "Legacy of Power," featured the trio learning about Tommy's past as a Power Ranger, and it was the following episode, "Back in Black," that saw Tommy, to borrow from Aerosmith, "back in the saddle again," this time as the Black Dino Ranger--his fourth different Ranger color.

I have to mention this; I was always fascinated by Tommy's...chemistry, if you will, with the first two Pink Rangers. Kimberly was definitely taken by Tommy from the start, and as a kid watching this, I often imagined them getting together. That dynamic was always interesting; Tommy was always there for Kimberly, somewhat like a knight in shining armor, though Kimberly was definitely no "damsel in distress," let's make that perfectly clear. And then there's Katherine. Oh man! My adoration of Kat can be saved for another story, but there was definitely a connection there as well. Part of it, IMO, has to be the fact that they both had villainous beginnings before becoming Rangers, but nevertheless, there was chemistry between them as well. According to the Power Rangers storyline, Tommy and Kat became husband and wife. I, to this day, still don't have thoughts about that, especially since I'm a diehard fan of the Tommy/Kimberly connection.

Like I said before, and many times, Tommy Oliver is the greatest Ranger of all time. He made Green and Gold great years before Aaron Rodgers would do the same. We Power Rangers fans are forever grateful to Jason David Frank for his immense contribution to the franchise; and what a contribution it was. As for this Power Rangers fan, well, I just hope I honored JDF very well with this piece. Tommy Oliver will always be my all time favorite Ranger, and those early seasons were a big part of my childhood in the 1990s. JDF will be missed so, so greatly, but he will never, ever be forgotten.

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About the author

Clyde E. Dawkins

Born on March 18, 1985. I am an avid fan of sports and wrestling, and I've been a fan of female villains since the age of eight. Also love movies--especially comedy and horror--and among my favorite TV shows are The Simpsons and Family Guy

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  • Gina C.4 days ago

    Awesome tribute! So many of us will and remember the green ranger. ๐Ÿ’š Thank you for this!

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