You probably remember the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, and maybe even one of their more blatant ripoffs, Big Bad Beetleborgs. But what about Masked Rider, or Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills? More than a few shows tried to ride the coattails of Power Rangers all the way to the bank, and it's fair to say that very few of them even came close to succeeding.
If one rule from the '90s still holds true today, it's that any hit franchise is sure to be followed by a flock of imitators. After striking gold in 1993 with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, Saban Entertainment immediately flooded the market with some of the mightiest Power Rangers ripoffs ever... and they certainly weren't the only company to try and cash in on the trend.
Keep reading below to see some of the most blatant, fake Power Rangers knock-offs to hit living room screens.
Produced by Saban, Big Bad Beetleborgs follows the lives of "three typical average kids” who, according to the show's theme song, find a haunted mansion where they free a ghost named Flabber who makes them Big Bad Beetleborgs - superheroes taken from their favorite comic book. However, this also brings to life the Beetleborgs' mortal enemies, the Magnavores, led by the evil Vexor, who summons monsters from the comic books to fight them. For the Beetleborg combat scenes, the show repurposed fight footage from the Japanese Metal Hero series Juukou B-Fighter and its sequel B-Fighter Kabuto. This ultimately proved to be its downfall in 1998 when after two seasons on Fox Kids, the show was canceled after allegedly running out of Japanese footage to adapt.
Made to skew to an older neonate audience and capitalize on the '90s obsession with virtual reality, VR Troopers was a grittier knock-off of Power Rangers, which also repurposed Japanese live-action film elements. When teenage martial artists Ryan, J.B., and Kaitlin meet the holographic Professor Hart, inventor of a device that allows passage between the real world and a dimension with evil mutants called "Virtual Reality," they use their high-powered suits to fight the ruler Grimlord and his evil army. Despite high ratings, a toy line, and a video game for the Sega Genesis, the show ended after 100 episodes in 1996 when they ran out of Japanese footage to adapt - in this case Metal Hero series like Space Sheriff Shaider, Dimensional Warrior Spielban, and Choujinki Metalder.
Loosely based on Irish mythology, the Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog was Saban's first attempt at creating a special-effects fantasy series not adapted from Japanese tokusatsu. Set in the kingdom of Kells, a fantasy version of ancient Ireland, the show follows Rohan, a reluctant hero and druid's apprentice, and his friends, who use weapons that can control the classical elements of Fire, Air, Earth, and Water. Together they lead a crusade against the evil warrior queen Maeve. The show aired on Fox Kids from 1998 - 1999; a second season was planned but was ultimately scrapped so its budget could be put toward Power Rangers Lost Galaxy instead.
Adapted from the Japanese tokusatsu series Denkou Choujin Gridman, Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad was a quick-to-market creation funded by Playmates Toys to capitalize on the popularity of Power Rangers. When a freak accident turns high school student Sam Collins into a superhero named Servo, he must stop the villain Kilokhan (voiced by Tim Curry), who lives inside computer circuits, and creates mega-virus monsters to attack electronics. Sam, together with his friends in their Samurai attack vehicles, transform into the Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad to fight the forces of evil. The show ran from 1994 - 1995 in syndication and on ABC before it was canceled.