Power Rangers Zeo Had the Franchise’s Best Build-Up


  • The lead up to Power Rangers Zeo was hyped with a series of TV serials.
  • These short stingers built up the impending threat of the Machine Empire, all while highlighting that the Power Rangers were gone.
  • This level of hype and advertisement has never been used in the Power Rangers franchise again, and it showcased the zenith of the series’ popularity.

The Power Rangers franchise has now been running for 30 years, with the classic Mighty Morphin Power Rangers still being the most iconic incarnation. For as popular as it was, however, all good things always come to an end. Thus, the first take on the series morphed into a new form that was stronger than before, though it only did so after some of the series’ best promotion ever.

Power Rangers Zeo was lauded by many as a worthy follow-up to the Mighty Morphin series, and it came after an incredible series finale. In between said finale for the previous show and the premiere of the new one, a series of teasers set the tone for the upcoming sequel and the threat coming to Angel Grove. The best — or perhaps worst — part of the entire affair was that the Power Rangers were nowhere around.

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Mighty Morphin Power Rangers Had One of the Series’ Best Cliffhangers

Tommy and Adam watch the Command Center blow up in the Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers finale.

The third season of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers ended with the episode “Rangers in Reverse.” The story involved Rita Repulsa’s father Master Vile inverting the Earth’s development. This makes everyone younger, including the classic Power Rangers, who are now unable to morph. Without its heroes defending it, the planet is seemingly hopeless against the combined machinations of Master Vile, Rita Repulsa, Lord Zedd, Rito Revolto and Goldar. This forces Zordon to summon the alien Power Rangers of Aquitar to protect Angel Grove. The young human Rangers are able to undo the time reversal and recover the mystical Zeo Crystal, but unfortunately for them, the Command Center was subsequently destroyed by a bomb planted by Rito and Goldar.

Such was shown in the final episodes of Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers, which is seen by some as the original show’s “Season 3.5.” If the end of “Rangers in Reverse” wasn’t enough of a shock, this seeming end of the Power Rangers in general definitely was. After all, while the Rangers had been restored to their true ages, they were still unable to morph due to the destruction of the Ninja Power Coins. Thus, for all intent and purposes, there weren’t any more Power Rangers — but a major threat was still out there.

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The Zeo Serial Continued the Story of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Chouriki Sentai Ohranger posing with their weapons

Before Power Rangers Zeo was officially unveiled, fans were left largely in the dark about the future of the brand. Things were hinted at, however, by a segment referred to as the “Zeo Serial.” This was a series of shorts that came after the finale of Mighty Morphin Alien Rangers, with each small segment only slightly informing viewers of what was coming next. This included the newest threat to Angel Grove and life on Earth: King Mondo and the Machine Empire. Rita and her husband Lord Zedd reacted to Mondo’s presence with fear and anger, showcasing that these new villains were far more dangerous than the ones who had vexed the Power Rangers for years at that point.

Human scientists were also shown responding to the seeming alien invasion, with even the comical Bulk and Skull afraid of what it meant. Throughout the serial, the Power Rangers (or rather, the former Power Rangers) were never shown, furthering the sense that Earth had no heroes to stop its impending doom. Each week, one of the shorts was shown alongside reruns of Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers, and as they neared their end, a greater glimpse of the Power Rangers Zeo logo was finally revealed. The entire Zeo serial was described as a glimpse at the “shape of things to come,” evoking the geometric shapes and other thematic elements used in Zeo. It was definitely some of the most effective marketing that the franchise ever employed, though it would be impossible to recreate among the modern fandom.

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The Best Power Rangers Marketing Would Never Fly in the Digital Age

Tommy Oliver as the Zeo Red Ranger V

The secrecy behind Power Rangers Zeo and the Zeo serial was definitely a product of its time. The internet wasn’t nearly as ubiquitous, and given that the franchise’s fans were largely young children, fandom engagement was a lot different than with modern properties. In the 2020s, it would be nearly impossible for a company like Saban to keep business plans of this nature under wraps. On top of that, kids absolutely had to tune in to reruns every week in order to get these brief glimpses at what was coming next, which helped to keep things esoteric.

Without YouTube or a similar source to host these Zeo Serial shorts after they aired, the hype was as high as the footage was unreachable. Again, this simply isn’t the kind of thing that could ever be emulated in today’s pop culture, especially since older fans know about the Super Sentai franchise and how it’s used as source material to produce new Power Rangers shows. The same goes with other mediums, as the lack of the “immediacy” of new television show episodes means that even the popular Boom! Studios Power Rangers comics means that this level of hype can’t be replicated.

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Transitioning to Power Rangers Zeo was a veritable necessity, or at least deemed as such by Saban. It’s believed that the ratings for the once juggernaut Mighty Morphin Power Rangers property were noticeably slipping, and other attempts at adapting tokusatsu franchises were failed tries at recapturing lightning in a bottle. It didn’t help that the suits and general cast had remained the same for years. Thus, Saban went full force into an idea only somewhat touched upon beforehand. Instead of simply keeping the same costumes from Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger but incorporating new Zords from other Sentai shows, the suits were finally switched out, as well. Thus, Chouriki Sentai Ohranger (a somewhat controversial anniversary Sentai series) had the majority of its fight footage used to create Power Rangers Zeo (also initially called Zeo Rangers), giving the brand a crystal-powered fresh coat of paint.

Ironically, despite its importance in setting the narrative stage for the new series, the Zeo Serial isn’t considered canon. This is mainly shown in Bulk/Skull and Rita/Zedd’s reaction to the invasion of the Machine Empire, which differs from the events of the show’s actual pilot, “A Zeo Beginning.” Nevertheless, the Zeo Serial was still an important part of saying goodbye to what the franchise had been and make way for a somewhat darker, more fully-formed show. In the end, the shorts brought the story one step closer to the allowing the Power Rangers to even up the score.

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