When I first started hearing rumblings that Power Rangers icon, Jason David Frank, had died, I refused to believe it. In fact, my very first thought was, we just lost Batman (Kevin Conroy), so we better not lose the Green Ranger, too. But then, all the major news outlets started confirming his death, and that’s when I learned that yet another one of my childhood heroes had passed away.
The outpouring of grief was immediate, coming in the form of tributes from his fellow Power Rangers like Amy Jo Johnson, to just fans in general lamenting about how much Jason’s character, Tommy Oliver, meant to all of us growing up. But, very much like how I felt when Chadwick Boseman passed away, I thought it was more therapeutic to focus on the actor’s performances rather than to dwell on his death, since as a celebrity, I only really knew him through his work, which is the same for Jason David Frank.
In that way, I’d like to pay tribute to the actor through his most recognizable role as the Green/White Power Ranger, and talk about just why he was such an instrumental (and the best) part of the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers team.
He Was A Villain Turned Hero Who Saved The Team On Numerous Occasions
I’ll never forget when Tommy Oliver first made his appearance on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. He was sparring with Jason in a tournament, and Kimberly, my first childhood crush (Well, her and Sailor Moon, of course, which tracks since I’m almost out of my 30s), was giving him serious flirty eyes that I wasn’t comfortable with at the time. He would later be taken over by Rita Repulsa, and forced to become the villainous Green Ranger, who could single-handedly take down the Power Rangers.
But, because of reasons, he would later break out of the spell and come to the aid of the Rangers on numerous occasions, often kicking butt with his very own Zord (which I’ll get to next), and later losing his Green Ranger powers, only to come back as the even more epic White Power Ranger. In this way, Tommy went from being a villain, to a sort of anti-hero who played by his own rules, to a solidified member of the team all in the span of the two first seasons. It’s that arc that I’ll never forget, and when the green and later white costume came off, it was Tommy all the way for me.
He Had The Coolest Way To Call His Zord
Another reason why Tommy was the absolute coolest was because he had the Dragonzord. Now, all of the original Power Rangers also had their own Zords, but you rarely saw them fight in them, because they usually brought them all together-Voltron-style, to form the Megazord. That said, while the Dragonzord was pretty rad, the coolest part about all of this was just how the Green Ranger summoned his mode of transportation.
The Green Ranger would somehow blow a tune into his sword even though the lips on his mask couldn’t move. It was then that the Dragonzord would rise out of the water like Godzilla or one of his enemies, and go to battle, sometimes to victory, and other times needing the assistance of the other Power Rangers. But, that tune was absolutely amazing. I still sometimes replicate it with my mouth, and true fans know what I’m doing. I’m summoning the Dragonzord, of course. Just like my hero, Tommy Oliver.
He Knew His Place On The Team
Yet another reason why Tommy was the best was because he truly knew his place on the team. Even though he was being controlled by Rita Repulsa when he was the Green Ranger, he knew that the other Rangers had trust issues with him, and so he acted as more of a support system for the team when he was a good version of the Green Ranger, and he was always available whenever the core team needed him, as he was constantly trying to earn their respect and show leadership capabilities.
It wasn’t until he turned into the White Ranger that he became the true leader of the team, and proved that he was so badass, that his ultimate challenge would eventually be himself, which was a compelling turn of events. But, from being a side hero to a leadership role, Tommy has always been a central figure ever since he entered the team, and he would go on to be a central figure in later series that went far beyond the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, as we shall soon see next.
He Went On To Other Instrumental Ranger Duties In Later Power Ranger Series
Here’s the thing. As an old-timer who grew up with the original Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, I kind of lost track with all of the other later Power Rangers. In fact, in my article where I pitted the Power Rangers against the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to determine what was the better ‘90s series, I openly admitted how I didn’t know much about series like Power Rangers Turbo, or Power Rangers Dino Thunder. But, when I did tune into some of those shows, guess who I usually found jumping in for guest appearances.
That’s right, Jason David Frank as Tommy Oliver. In fact, upon researching this article, I found that Tommy Oliver’s character has appeared in the Power Rangers shows Zeo, Turbo, Wild Force, Dino Thunder, Super Megaforce, and Ninja Steel. Not bad for a character who wasn’t an original member of the core team of five in Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.
He Portrayed The Character In Later Projects, Keeping Him Fresh In People's Minds
Lastly, I’m pretty sure that most fans know this, but the people in the suits fighting on the TV shows were not the actors we knew and love, but rather, they came from stock footage filmed in Japan for a popular series called Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger. It’s only when the masks came off that we got Billy, Zack, Kimberly, Trini, Jason, and yes, Tommy, who made up the actual story elements that led into the battles that we all came for in the first place.
That said, Jason David Frank was a legitimate mixed martial artist in real life, and besides frequently going to conventions, he would also don the gear and do Bat in the Sun videos as the Green and White Power Ranger, fighting the likes of characters like Ryu and Scorpion from Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, respectively. In this way, Jason David Frank was keeping the character of the Ranger alive long after the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers from our childhoods, which thankfully helped us to remember all of the great memories we had as kids jumping on the couch and pretending that we, too, were Power Rangers, just like Tommy Oliver.
We’re all going to miss Jason David Frank, but we’ll never forget the Green and the White Ranger, and what an impact he made in all of our lives. Rest in peace, Tommy Oliver.
Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.
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