It has been 17 years since the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers first burst onto the Saturday morning TV scene, and since then there have been a plethora of wannabes. This year, for example, a re-version of the show was produced for ABC Kids: all new toys, all new zords, all new characters to fill the shoes of our beloved blue and pink rangers. It got us thinking, as we are wont to do: What are the original Power Ranger actors up to? The answer: nervous breakdowns, fatal car accidents, straight-to-VHS movies, and martial arts fame. The Rangers reunion, after the jump.
Walter Jones – Zack Taylor, the Black Ranger
The Black Ranger was one of the best parts of the original series — Zack’s hip-hop swagger and hilarious flat-top added to his awesome fighting moves, plus his gigantic robotic mastodon. But, thanks to disagreements over his contract, Jones was written out of the second season. He returned to later Power Rangers series to do voice work, mostly for monsters and aliens.
Jones kept acting, grabbing small cameos on shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, The Shield, and, later, CSI. He also starred in the independent film Backyard Dogs, a film that earned the dubious distinction of IMDb’s lowest-rated film (though it was later disqualified because it was a straight-to-video production). He continued to do voice work for various video games, including Red Dead Redemption. In 2009, he was arrested for a DUI while driving through Huntsville, Alabama.
Thuy Trang – Trini Kwan, The Yellow Ranger
Trang’s Vietnamese family had fled to America seeking political asylum, and settled in California. Trini Kwan was Trang’s first major role, and as the sabretooth tiger-wielding Yellow Ranger, she kicked some extraterrestrial ass. After she left the show, she played the villain in the movie The Crow: City of Angels and had a small role in Spy Hard.
Trang died in September 2001 during a nasty car accident that plunged the vehicle over a rocky embankment, leaving her companions quadriplegics. An episode of Power Rangers:Time Force was dedicated to her.
Amy Jo Johnson – Kimberley Ann Hart, the Pink Ranger
Johnson may have had the lamest Dinozord on the show (c’mon, Pterodactyl?) but she has the most successful acting career post-Rangers. She had a log-running role on Felicity as Julie Emrick, not to mention various cameos in shows like Spin City and ER, Most recently, she’s been a recurring character on Flashpoint, a Canadian series. In 2008, she had her first child: Francesca Christine.
David Yost – Billy Cranston, The Blue Ranger
Billy Cranston was always the crush worthy nerd of the Rangers, the guy with all the smarts and none of the ladies (but also dinosaur-calling powers). He was the brains of the team, and the original blue ranger — David Yost — stuck around the longest of the 1993 team, becoming a mentor to new generations of rangers. Yost left the show tormented with repressed homosexuality — we entered a program meant to “pray the gay away.” This (predictably) didn’t exactly work, and Yost had a nervous breakdown, moving to Mexico for a year. Upon his return he largely strayed away from acting in favor of production roles on various TV shows and documentaries. This year he returned to the screen in the action movie Degenerate, as well as participating in several pro-gay marriage campaigns.
Austin St. John – Jason Lee Scott, the Red Ranger
The Red Ranger was the jock of the group, the well-meaning martial arts star who would also definitely have been homecoming king. Austin St. John played Jason Lee Scott, one of the original teenagers with attitude, but left along with the Black Ranger in a contract dispute mid-second season. He later returned as the gold ranger in Power Rangers: Zeo and hosted several Rangers special episodes. His acting career quieted down after his stint as the Red Ranger, but his martial arts career amped up: St. John write a book for amateur ninjas entitled Karate Warrior: A Beginner’s Guide to Martial Arts .
Jason David Frank – Tommy Oliver, the Green Ranger
The Green Ranger was the bad ass outlaw ranger, created by the evil Rita Repulsa and then coming over to the ranger team after being freed from her evil spell. He later became the white ranger, filling basically the same role but with a way cooler suit. Off screen, Frank was busy in his martial arts career, earning a place in the World Karate Union Hall of Fame, and beginning to compete professional in public bouts. He now has a six-degree black belt and a Christian clothing line, called Jesus Don’t Tap. In August of 2010, Frank won his debut heavyweight mixed-martial arts match. He’s promised to continue his career — and we can only hope for future ranger awesomeness.