The original stars of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers made the same salary as McDonald’s employees.
When Mighty Morphin Power Rangers hit the air on Fox in 1993, kids devoured the mash-up of American-made scripts and Japanese-produced action sequences. Every kid wanted a toy Megazord, and half the world’s schoolchildren worried parents about the effects of violence in television by pretending to fight Putties on the playground. But while the power rangers made money hand over fist for Saban Entertainment, The Guardian reports that the series’ stars made about as much money from enthralling the nation’s youth as they would have from working at the McDonald’s drive-thru.
If you ever wondered why three of the original power rangers disappeared midway through the second season, you now have your reason. In an old interview with Huffington Post, Black Ranger actor Walter Emanuel Jones complained that Haim Saban, the founder of Saban Entertainment, had no issue making billions of dollars off of the actors’ work, while barely paying his performers anything.
The thing is, Power Rangers wasn’t a union show, which means that Saban could pay its actors anything it wanted, and all the actors could do about it was quit. Jones said that there was an attempt by some of the actors to get union representation, but for one reason or another, those efforts fell through. Jones left, along with two other actors — Red Ranger actor Austin St. John and Yellow Ranger actor Thuy Trang.
Poor pay wasn’t the only issue that Power Rangers actors faced, thanks to the show’s non-union status. No union meant that Saban didn’t have to follow any union safety rules — something that Amy Jo Johnson, who played the original Pink Ranger, mentioned in a 2017 interview with Variety. She says that she “was paid peanuts and almost died a few times because of the makeshift low-budget stunts we performed.” She left Power Rangers in the middle of Season 3.
In fact, only one of the original Power Rangers made it all the way from Season 1 until the end of Season 3: the Blue Ranger, played by David Yost. Yost also showed up in the follow-up series, Power Rangers Zeo — the only of the original five to do so (though he was joined by Jason David Frank, who played the Green Ranger (and later the White Ranger) starting midway through season one.
However, Yost revealed in an interview with No Pink Spandex that he walked off the set while filming Power Rangers Zeo and never returned because he was “called f*ggot one too many times.”
Despite eventually causing literally every single original Power Ranger to leave, the franchise has managed to create a new season nearly uninterrupted even to this day — with Power Rangers: Cosmic Fury set to release on Netflix sometime this year and a reboot series under development. The upcoming reunion movie, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: Once & Always, managed to bring back Walter Jones and David Yost, though Austin St. John and Amy Jo Johnson didn’t make an appearance. Thuy Trang tragically died in a car accident in 2001, and Jason David Frank committed suicide in 2022.