If you’re an old-timer like me, then you’ve likely spent long, sleepless nights contemplating the meaning of existence. But, if you’re a nerd like me, then you’ve probably also spent just as much time wondering which show from your childhood was better—Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. Both shows were absolute juggernauts in their day, and it’s interesting, because there weren’t really any battle lines drawn on the playground between the two shows. Nay, you could like both Ninja Turtles and Power Rangers, and nobody would want to fight you about which show was better. Sigh. If only political affairs could be just as diplomatic.
That said, since I’m now an adult and I always like comparing things, I’ve actually wondered which show offered more hours of entertainment back in the ‘90s. Now, I’ve done plenty of these Vs. articles before, like Michael Clarke Duncan vs. Vincent D’Onofrio, for who’s the best Kingpin, and The Temple of Doom vs. The Last Crusade to see which was the better Indiana Jones sequel. But, I don’t think any of those was more personal for me than Ninja Turtles vs. Power Rangers. So, I’m interested to see the victor, since even I don’t know who it will be yet. I don’t usually think about the future. I only think about the past. That’s the Millennial way.
You can’t have a series without main characters, so which show had the better cast?
Ninja Turtles’ Main Characters
Even if you don’t like the Ninja Turtles—but how could you not?—you still probably know all four of them. Named after Renaissance artists, Raphael, Donatello, Michelangelo, and Leonardo are pretty much The Beatles of our generation, and by that, I mean that everybody has a favorite. They’re all just so unique, so it makes sense that people have a preferred turtle. Even characters like Master Splinter, April O’Neil, and Casey Jones are super memorable, so yeah, TMNT just has a great main cast of characters. They’re all very likeable.
Power Rangers’ Main Characters
Now, I’m just talking about Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but the five initial rangers (And Tommy), are all super memorable, too. Kind of. Jason was the leader, Kim was the… acrobatic one. Trini was the one who was … scared of heights. I think. Billy was the one with the glasses. And Zack was the black dude. Then you had Tommy, and… yeah. So, maybe their costumes were memorable, mostly because they had respective Zords that they piloted, Voltron style, but the characters themselves weren’t terribly memorable. Zordon was cool, though. “Rangers… Rangers…”
The Character Winner
All of the Ninja Turtles have distinct personalities, while I can only kind of say that for the Power Rangers. So, Turtles win.
Every hero needs a villain. So, which series had the better ones?
Ninja Turtles’ Villains
If we’re going by the cartoon, then you have to include Krang, Bebop, and Rocksteady, who weren’t in the comic and were made specifically for the cartoon (likely to sell more toys). And, I love them since they’re all part of a dysfunctional family, with Shredder, voiced by the late, great James Avery from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air fame, being like the surly papa. If that’s the case, then Krang is the angry housewife, and Bebop and Rocksteady are their knucklehead children. They were just as entertaining as the Turtles, as I loved seeing their antics in the Technodrome. Add in all the other bizarre characters like Baxter Stockman and Leatherhead, and you had a cast of villains worthy of Batman’s rogues gallery.
Power Rangers’ Villains
Power Rangers was slightly different. Yes, we had mainstays like Rita Repulsa, Lord Zed, and Goldar, but MMPR was a very formulaic show. It was more of a villain of the week kind of thing, where a different monster would fight the Rangers, get his butt kicked, and then grow to kaiju proportions so the Rangers could get in their Megazord and trounce him. Don’t get me wrong. It definitely worked. But, villains like Rita Repulsa and Lord Zed were more like background characters who just complained when their monsters lost, which was fine, but a little disappointing in the end.
The Villains Winner
Nobody on Power Rangers holds a candle to Shredder and Krang acting like an old married couple. So, Turtles win.
Backstories are crucial to every series, so which show had the best one?
Ninja Turtles Backstory
The origin of Master Splinter is a little different in the cartoon, the comic book, and the six Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies (which I ranked), but the origin of the turtles is mostly the same throughout. Four turtles walked around in some ooze, grew to a much larger size, learned martial arts from a talking rat, and lived in the sewer. You know, fairly common stuff.
Power Rangers’ Backstory
Believe it or not, but the Power Rangers actually go back to the 1970s in a Japanese series called Super Sentai, which is still ongoing. The basic gist of the ‘90s Power Rangers show was that some astronauts found this dumpster on another planet that they opened, and Rita Repulsa came out with her minions to take over Earth. Zordon, who actually captured Rita, is alerted by her release and tasks his robot, Alpha “Ay-yi-yi” 5 to find “teenagers with attitude” who he can turn into Power Rangers to defeat her. So, yeah. Also fairly common stuff.
The Story Winner
You know what? I know the Ninja Turtle origin is probably more novel, but I’ve heard it so many times, that it’s lost all meaning. Plus, it’s really kind of a rip-off of Daredevil’s origin, which was intentional, of course, since Daredevil inspired the Ninja Turtles, but it’s not as original. So, Power Rangers gets the W.
Both shows are legendary for their action, but which series has the best fight scenes?
Ninja Turtles’ Action
The 2012 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon (which is seriously great if you haven’t watched it) actually makes fun of how silly the action is in the ‘90s cartoon. Back then, we all thought the “fighting” was really cool, but the Turtles rarely used their weapons unless it was against the robotic Foot Clan, and the actual martial arts looks pretty cheesy when you watch it again. Seriously, this is what we thought was cool back in the day? It’s a little embarrassing, to be honest.
Power Rangers’ Action
Now we’re talking! The action is what truly set the Power Rangers apart from the Ninja Turtles as they did genuine martial arts, and went flying up in the air like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with the awesome wire work. There would be explosions galore, and the Zord fights were just an added bonus. It was like two different shows in one with the martial arts and the mech fights. So cool.
The Action Victor
No contest with this one. The Power Rangers had superior action.
Both series are still ongoing, but which one has the better legacy?
Ninja Turtles’ Longevity
Who would have thunk that the Ninja Turtles would still be around today? We’ve gotten multiple movies, several TV shows, toys, you name it.
Power Rangers’ Longevity
I can’t even keep count with how many different Power Rangers shows there have been over the years. There have also been multiple movies, several TV shows, toys, you name it.
The Longevity Winner
This is the toughest category since both have had enduring, fantastic runs. So, I actually asked my Seventh Grade students which one they preferred, and more of them chose Power Rangers, so I defer to my students. Power Rangers win.
The Overall Winner
I honestly couldn’t decide with that last one, as I wanted to pick the Turtles since I love them more. But the legacy of Rangers seems to persist more than the Turtles, at least with my students. So, the Power Rangers win. Whew. That was a tough one. But, what do you think? Sound off in the poll below. For more recent TV shows, like those on the 2021 Summer TV schedule, make sure to stop by here often.