The fourth season of Power Rangers; a follow up to Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers, adapted from Chouriki Sentai Ohranger. Rita and Zedd have been reduced to homeless rovers on what was once their moon kingdom due to the invading Machine Empire, who want to gut Earth of its natural resources. The Rangers are briefly left powerless after the destruction of their command center. But thankfully, Zordon reveals that he and Alpha have tapped into the mighty Zeo Crystal and they have produced brand new ranger powers, including for the first time brand spankin' new uniforms for the entire team.Zeo is largely where the franchise began to grow up, by introducing a few season-spanning plot threads, becoming slightly less preachy, with charity work a less common plot element, and much more character-driven. Billy, the last original Power Ranger retired from active duty to act in a tech support and Mission Control role, as well as serving as a mentor to the newer rangers under Zordon. Newer characters such as Katherine and Tanya, and even Rocky and Adam, were allowed to grow beyond their Suspiciously Similar Substitute beginnings. Even Bulk and Skull managed some Character Development after going through police training and later becoming private detectives. The show also reintroduced Jason, the original Red Ranger, to return and take up the role of their Sixth Ranger.Zedd and Rita were also not quite out of the picture, as they worked to reclaim their status as the series villains and sometimes their guerrilla strikes against the Machine Empire ended up helping the Rangers. It is one of the more popular seasons, as it had classic characters, an epic scope and decent writing. It also set up the concept of the Ranger changing powers and costumes once a year. It's still not without its problems. One of the biggest criticisms is that it doesn't really have any conclusive ending; the series ends with Jason giving up the Gold Ranger powers and the Machine Empire crippled (but not entirely destroyed) with Lord Zedd declaring "We're back!" and plotting their full return. It goes on straight to the Turbo movie, where Lord Zedd and Rita are mostly irrelevant to the plot and the Zeo powers are suddenly useless.The infamous fan hoax Scorpion Rain was an attempt to bridge this gap, which was then retroactively placed into continuity years later, by being the setup for the events in the ten-year anniversary episode "Forever Red". Basically the story involved Rita and Zedd fighting against the Machine Empire including Zedd's Zord Serpentera, and climaxing with a royal rumble on the moon. Several Fanedits have been made of this "episode", all of which could be found on Youtube, until Saban's copyright banhammers put an end to that. To date, only the original "Scorpion Rain" video produced in the 90s remains active on the site.The official Word of God, given years later, says that Rita and Zedd had taken off for a belated honeymoon and Rita's ensuing maternity leave. Other than the child inexplicably appearing years later, there was no in-series hint of why they suddenly disappeared after this season. Though since the season ended rather coherently much of this can be blamed on Turbo for its lack of series continuity.This season is also infamous for the "Dear John" Letter that Kimberly sent to Tommy in "No Business Like Snow Business". Despite this, however, Zeo is generally considered by fans to be a very good season, with good writing, more fleshed out characterization, and a pretty good storyline. Some also consider it to be in some ways better than the original seasons in terms of quality, especially since it made a dramatic shift in costumes and setting; in other words, Zeo had some big shoes to fill, and they were filled well.Unfortunately ratings that had begun to decline in season 3 dropped even further in Zeo, leading to Turbo dropping several plot points and hastily transitioning to the Turbo powers with barely an explanation.
Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Besides the usual monster attacks, the season finale "Good as Gold" sees the Rangers grow in size in order to combat King Mondo. Sure they could've used their zords, but Trey said there was no time for that. Yeah, right.
Dawson Casting: At the time of the show's filming, Jason David Frank was 22, Steve Cardenas, Nakia Burrise, and Catherine Sutherland were 21, and Johnny Yong Bosch and Austin St. John were 21. Let's see; a bunch of clearly college-aged kids playing high school seniors. They did it again.
Actually, having people in their early 20's playing 17/18 year olds really isn't that big of an example
Giant Mooks: The series first example. In "Good As Gold" King Mondo grows and has a group of Cogs grow with him.
Lampshaded in Episode when one uses "Mook" as a password
Recycled IN SPACE!: Averted. Production took the ancient world cultures theme from Chouriki Sentai Ohranger and downplayed them so that things were kept as generic as possible - so stuff was recycled, but not IN SPACE!
The Ace: Kat. She dives, dances, sings, surfs, skis, trains dogs, trains monkeys... it's finally tossed a lampshade when her friends tease her for moping because the purse she made was so ugly. "C'mon, there had to be something you're not good at."
Advertising Only Continuity: A commercial gave the villain's name as Queen Machina instead of her husband, King Mondo, and had them operating out of the original command center when they were actually operating in the underground Power Chamber.
Arc Welding: The Red Battlezord is said to derive technology from the Alien Rangers' Battle Borgs.
The Artifact: The acronym U.A.O.H. shows up a few times during the season most notably on the floor of the Zeo Zord Hangar. This is an artifact from Ohranger, and it stands for for "United Airforce Overtech Hardware", which was the military organization the Sentai team worked for.
Badass Boast: At the end of "King for a Day, Part 2", Jason delivers one to Gasket:
"You mess with one Ranger, you better be willing to take on the whole team!"
The Bus Came Back: Jason returned to take on the mantle of the Gold Ranger halfway through the season.
Ditto for Zedd, Rita and Finster.
Cassandra Truth: After Bulk and Skull's adventure in "King For A Day", they tried to convince everyone that they helped save the rangers. No one believes them except the rangers themselves, but Bulk and Skull think they're just giving them pity.
The Cast Show Off: Besides the obvious martial arts, Kat's ballet dancing and Tanya's singing.
Characterization Marches On: Adam, Kat and especially Rocky. In MMPR, the replacements were Suspiciously Similar Substitutes who were sort of just....there to fill in spots left behind by better rangers. But now that they were original members of their own team, there was more room for them to grow as characters. Don't be mistaken, the show was still all about Tommy and their personalities were still relatively bland and undefined compared to the originals but at least now they didn't feel like just mere replacements.
Cliffhanger Copout: In "A Zeo Beginning", Alpha's solemn final line at the end of Part I suggests that something happened to Zordon in the Command Center's implosion. This line doesn't make it to the beginning of Part II, where Alpha instead cheerfully reveals that Zordon is just fine.
Oddly enough, the VHS release of the episode (which had the two parter, along with only the Zeo Crsytal search in MMAR spliced together in movie format) kept Alpha's somber dialogue even with Zordon's well being immediately shown.
Also, the third season of Mighty Morphin' ended with the Zeo Crystal being stolen. In "A Zeo Beginning" the rangers find the crystal buried amidst the rubble of the command center, speculating that Rito and Goldar dropped it.
Comic Book Adaptation: A planned series by Image Comics based on the show was slated, but only one issue managed to be released, which ended on a pretty big cliffhangernote The first (and only) issue ends with the Machine Empire now in possession of the old Dino Coin energies after Master Vile gave it to them..
Conservation of Ninjutsu: In one episode the Rangers went up against several hundred Cogs and just tore through them. A few episodes later, a half-dozen were able to hold them back.
Dangerously Genre Savvy: Of all characters, Prince Sprocket. He became well aware of the scenario of "monster grows, rangers fight it, monster is destroyed". He even used it in attempt to get rid of his brother by getting him to grow. Unfortunately, his plan didn't work as his brother managed to survive the fight.
Demoted to Extra: Billy, but even as not a Ranger, he still had an important (and still rather large) role. Rocky also suffered a little from this, which is acknowledged in "Mondo's Last Stand" when he was convinced that the returning Jason was out to replace him.
Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: After years of being largely irrelevant, Rita creates a monster out of Kat's purse. In 1v1 combat, it beats the zords. All of them. Even the Ultrazord, twice.
Dropped Glasses: Happens to Billy with his contacts in "Graduation Blues". It's a good thing he still kept his old glasses.
Evil Versus Evil: Rita and Zedd spend most of the season fighting the Machine Empire
Family-Unfriendly Death: A rather nasty, Mecha-Mooks loophole exploiting death where two groups of enemy mooks have a battle royale. The mooks are Tengas (bird men) and Cogs (spandex robots) You see Tengas and Cogs sluggin it out for a few shots, then it cuts to one Tenga holding down a struggling Cog while another Tenga tore open its stomach and ripped out its electronic guts. This wasn't Chouriki Sentai Ohranger footage that slipped past the censors, either - Tengas were Power Rangers-exclusive mooks, so it was all original footage.
Oh my goodness, Zeo. Louie Kaboom, the temporary leader of the Machine Empire. Under a love spell cast by the new villains he takes on the Rangers in combat, and is eventually defeated. However, unlike most of the mindless minions that fell to the Rangers, he remained alive for a few moments, stumbling around in pain while on fire and professing his love for the villain that brainwashed him.
Fanservice: Jason modeling in the fashion show in "Scent of the Weasel" and wearing red.
Five-Token Band: Tommy (Native American), Adam (Asian), Rocky (Hispanic), Tanya (African), and Kat (Caucasian, from Australia).
Fix Fic: With one well remembered couple throughout the seasons (Tommy/Kim), which ended because of a "Dear John" Letter sent by Kimberly, there are plenty of fics reuniting them that claimed it was a fake (the person responsible usually being Kat), or that Kim was hiding the real reason for the breakup.
Genre Savvy: In "King for a Day, Part 2," Zedd and company enjoy seeing Jason forced to fight a brainwashed Tommy. However, Zedd is smart enough to know right away that the Machine Empire defeating the Power Rangers won't do any of them any good. Much to his displeasure, he knows the only way to retain a chance of conquering Earth someday is to help the Power Rangers.
Happy Fun Ball: the Midas Hound in "The Ranger Who Came In From The Gold".
Heroic BSOD: Rocky goes through one when he thinks he's being replaced by Jason.
Hidden Depths: Skull is revealed to be a talented piano player, but doesn't want Bulk to find out because he thinks he'll lose macho cred. Adam convinces him to give a performance... And Bulk is genuinely amazed. Aww.
Improv Fu: Occurred with Bulk and Skull when they were accidentally sent to a coliseum in another world and they get saved by another warrior, they have to face down a few guards and ultimately, they were able to take them down with the power of bumbling around.
I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Kat has been in love with Tommy since her first appearance way back in season three of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, but when Kimberly breaks up with him, she does everything she can to cheer him up including setting him up on a date with another woman.
Kat: I'm not sure if that was really nice or really stupid...
Lethal Joke Character: The aforementioned purse monster, Impursenator. As stated before, she was a monster made out of Kat's fugly purse, and managed to almost defeat the Rangers without even really trying. They used almost every possible strategy of zords, upgrades, combinations and formations (BOTH SETUPS for the Zeo Ultrazord) and only managed to escape when a) the Machines teleported Impursenator away out of jealousy and b) she merged with the Machines' monster and somehow this made them both sucky.
Mondo: The final defeat of those putrid Power Rangers is mine and mine alone! Rita: That tub of rebuilt parts isn't grabbing my glory!
Notably, Zedd of all people is a subversion. He'd gladly destroy the Rangers himself, but as he asks, "Who cares who destroys those Ranger brats?"
Parental Bonus: The target audience for Power Rangers is 6-11 which means that if their parents were between 20 and 30 they would be born between 1954 and 1970, which means the majority would have been alive for the third moon landing in 1971, meaning they would likely remember the golf ball(s) Alan Shepard left there. Why does this matter you ask? Well Rito finds one ~3 minutes into "The Joke's on Blue". Also qualifies as a Genius Bonus for the kids smart enough to know that too.
Pre-Mortem One-Liner: Shortly before blowing Admiral Abominator the f*ck up with the Zeo Mega Battlezord, Tommy delivers the line "Time for you to weigh anchor, Admiral!"
Put on a Bus: When the Machine Empire came in at the start of the season, the old villains beat a hasty retreat on Serpentera to Master Vile's (in Zedd's case, this was clearly Put on a Bus to Hell). Half a season later, Zedd, Rita and Finster came back, but without Squatt and Baboo.
Real Life Writes the Plot: Billy's abrupt departure, which used an aged-up The Other Darrin and stock footage, came about when David Yost walked off the set after the creators, producers, writers, and directors insulted and harassed him for being gay (as revealed in this interview).
Tempting Fate: When monsters from Rita and the Machine Empire hijack the two Megazords and defeat Auric the Conqueror, Kat utters the worst phrase imaginable "Well at least it can't get any worse..." Just as she says that, Mondo sends down a squadron of Cogs.
Urban Legend of Zelda: "Scorpion Rain". Five one-minute shorts broadcast prior to Foxtel's screening of the final episodes of the season in Australia, created to better link the events of the finale to the feature film of Power Rangers Turbo. In actuality a hoax concocted by Big Name Fans Derik Smith, Joe Rovang, and Amit Bhaumik. Later subjected to Armed With Canon.
What Happened to the Mouse?: It was never explained just what Billy was doing all those times he disappeared and the Gold Ranger would show up.
Prince Gasket gets gunned down by Ultrazord and blows up... into regular size, and then gets a Villain Exit Stage Left when Mondo returns to resume his Big Bad role. And then Gasket never appears again.